Your Guide to Buying Sights and Scopes for Your Rifle

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Your Guide to Buying Sights and Scopes for Your Rifle

The sight or scope on a rifle is one of the most important components that make up the gun as a whole. The purpose of a sight or scope is to enhance the accuracy of the shot being taken by magnifying the target being shot at. For example, if a shooter wishes to shoot at a target that is a great distance away, a scope can be used as a means of getting a better grasp of the location and environment of the target.

There are many different types of scope available, all of which are available on the likes of eBay at affordable and sensible prices. Before finalising the purchase of a scope, one should understand the ins and outs of both the way the scope works, and the best way of choosing one. This guide is written with the aim of helping with these considerations and ensuring that the transaction is as smooth as possible.

Components of a Rifle Scope

Whilst it may appear to amateurs and shooting beginners that a riflescope is merely a telescope placed on top of the gun, it is, in fact, a lot more than that. There are a vast number of components that make up a riflescope, all of which play a vital role in the accuracy of the shot and the shooting experience.

One should understand the basic anatomy, so as to ensure that the scope being purchased is suitable and tailored to personal specifications. Here is a table underlining the main components of a rifle scope and describing their functions in detail:

Rifle Scope Component

Description and Function

Eye Piece

The eyepiece on a riflescope is the part of the scope through which the shooter looks. There are scopes for rifles that feature adjustable eyepieces that allow shooters to alter and modify the eyepiece in order to best suit the eyesight of the shooter.

Outer Shell

The outer shell of a riflescope is the basic framework of the whole scope. It provides a basic level of structure and support to the rest of the other important elements that make up a riflescope. There are two main ways in which the outer shell of a riflescope is made. The first is a cast outer shell and the second is the stronger, more robust, ‘forged’ outer shell. The more commonly used metals in the production of the outer shell are titanium or aluminium. However, less modern outer shells may be made from different metals. The standard sizes for outer shells are either 30 millimetres or 1 inch. It is important to take note of the size of the shell or tube when purchasing a scope so that the scope sits perfectly on top of the rifle and is not being used to the detriment of the accuracy of the shot.


The lens of a riflescope is one of the more adjustable components of the sight. It is the objective lens that allows for shooters to see targets clearly and accurately in the distance. The larger the lens, the more light that can be stored in the lens and therefore a clearer image of the target should be provided. There is also an ocular lens that is connected to the eyepiece but this lens is often referred to generally as part of the eyepiece itself. The objective lens should have a ‘power ring’ to allow for the modification of the magnification of the lens.


This component is also another element of a riflescope that comes in a variety of different styles. The main purpose of the reticle,, however, is to provide the shooter with a means of making the shot more accurate by gifting them with a point of aim (This is commonly referred to as POA). The reticle allows for the shooter to centralise the target and align it with the point of contact of the bullet. Reticles are regularly referred to as crosshairs.

Adjustment Turrents

The adjustment turrents on a riflescope are useful for two main reasons. The first adjustment turrent allows the shooter to modify the position of the reticle or crosshair to play to the strength of the wind before shooting. With the wind being such an important environmental factor in the accuracy of a shot, being able to adjust the scope to account for it is an extremely important feature. The second adjustment turrent is used to modify the point of aim of the scope due to the distance between the scope and the rifle. This is generally known as the elevation turrent. These turrents are usually found on the side and the top of the riflescope and play an important role in the tailoring of the shot to the affects of external factors.

The Numbers on a Rifle Scope or Sight

When purchasing a riflescope, one will be confronted with a series of numbers that determine the type of scope it is. For the purposes of buying a suitable and sufficient riflescope for the type of shooting that is to be undertaken, these numbers need to be understood.

There are two forms of numbers that are provided to those wishing to buy a riflescope. Here are two examples:

-  4x32

-  3.5-10x50


The first number provided always refers to the ‘power’ of the riflescope. The power is a means of measuring the level of magnification that the scope provides compared to what the human eye can see without the scope. The reason there are two different forms of number that may be given is because there are two different types of power:

-  Fixed Power:Fixed power scopes are slowly being replaced by the more modern type of power that is to be described below. Power scopes labeled fixed are done so because the power on these scopes cannot be modified. The ‘4’ in the example provided refers to the fact that the power of the objective lens magnifies the target 4 times more than the human eye would see without the scope.

-  Variable Power: More modern and widely used scopes can now be adjusted in terms of power. Therefore, the ‘3.5-10’ in the second example means that the power of the rifle scope can be modified anywhere between 3.5 times and 10 times more than the naked eye. Variable power scopes are extremely useful for when one wishes to change up the type of shooting being undertaken.


The number that comes after the power is a measurement of the diameter of the objective lens. Therefore, the ‘32’ in the first example means that the scope has a lens diameter of 32 millimetres and the ‘50’ in the second example means that that scope has a lens diameter of 50 millimetres. As mentioned above, a larger lens means that more light will be let in to the scope and thus a more lucid image of the target is provided.

Rifle Scope and Sight Buying Considerations

There are also a number of other considerations one should take into account before purchasing a riflescope:

-  Eye Relief:Eye relief is the distance between the scope itself and the eye of the shooter. When one is shooting, it is not wise to have too short a distance between the eye of the shooter and the scope so as to avoid any bodily damage being done during the recoil of a gun. However, the eye relief on a scope should be suitable enough that one can still gain a clear image and idea of the target.

-  Tube Diameter: When buying a riflescope or sight, make sure that firstly the tube diameter matches up to the specifications of the rifle. The diameter of the outer shell or tube can play a role in the performance of both the scope and the rifle. For example, an outer shell with a larger diameter will be more robust and powerful, as well as providing more opportunity for the shooter to modify the scope to personal requirements.

-  Type of Shooting: The type of shooting being undertaken plays an important role in determining the magnification of the scope. For example, close range shooting at 100 metres or less requires little magnification, as the quickness of the movement of the target needs to be accounted for. Thus, a large field of view is needed. On the other hand, long range shooting requires a larger amount of magnification for the extended distance between the target and the shooter.


If one is new to hunting or buying sights and scopes for a rifle, the buying process can appear to be overwhelming. However, if one is aware of the details surrounding riflescopes then the transaction need not be so.

Remember to buy a scope that is best suited to the type of shooting or hunting that is taking place and take note of the specifications of both the rifle and the scope before settling for a purchase.

Being well informed on the ins and outs of riflescopes can lead to a sensible and educated purchase, as well as helping with the shooting experience as a whole.  

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