If you’re an avid hunter, you probably know that the proper scope can make the greatest rifle even better. With so many to choose from, finding the right one to take your shooting to the next level can seem like a daunting challenge. Knowing what to look for can make your decision easier and your next hunting trip a major success.
The main function of a hunting scope is to magnify potential targets and allow the shooter to line up the perfect shot through the use of a reticle, or crosshair. Scopes generally offer magnification levels ranging from 1 to 50 times normal. Some scopes have a fixed magnification level; others allow you to adjust the magnification level based on that model’s range. The right level of magnification for you and whether or not you need an adjustable model will depend on the type of hunting you do.
The other feature you need to look for in a good hunting scope is the means by which it mounts to your rifle. Some scopes come with mounting kits, but some require you to make that purchase separately. Talk to your scope’s retailer if you aren’t sure what mounting kit or method is best for you and your rifle. If you’re not comfortable mounting the scope yourself, you can probably find a local gunsmith who will do it for you for a fee.
Hunting scopes are available with or without built-in rangefinders. If you’re looking for one with a rangefinder, keep reading to learn more about basic rangefinder functions and what other features are available and might best meet your personal needs and preferences.
While a basic scope gives you magnification and crosshairs mounted to your rifle, a rangefinder can calculate the distance to your intended target, make ballistics adjustments based on ammo info, and account for the upward or downward angle between you and your target.
Different rangefinder models generally advertise ranges of 500 to 1,500 feet. When considering the best range for your hunting needs, don’t forget to take accuracy into account. Spending extra money for a model with a longer range but less accuracy is a waste. You want to make sure that you look for models with the best accuracy at the distance ranges you want.
Clarity and light handling are also major factors to take into consideration. Great accuracy at a long distance is useless if poor clarity keeps you from making out the details of your target. Some models offer great clarity in brighter light, but can be less helpful in low light or snowy (white out) conditions. Make sure you understand how well prospective models will work for you based on when and where you plan to go hunting.
For an added advantage, you can find rangefinders that will allow you to input basic ammo data. This data is then used to make trajectory compensations, giving you a better chance at lining up the perfect shot. If your hunting expeditions often involve windy conditions, you can look for a model that will compensate for wind speed and direction.
If you know that you’ll spending time in rainy or snowy conditions, make sure you look for a model that is water resistant, or even waterproof.
Keep in mind that the best scope and rangefinder in the world are not substitutes for basic safety precautions. If you opt for a basic scope, remember that magnification improves your visibility, not your ability to shoot accurately. If you go for a rangefinder model, proper use can improve your odds, but there are still no guarantees. Basic safety precautions and plenty of practice and patience will always be your best hunting tools. Having quality accessories can make you a more successful hunter, but only if you become proficient using them.
When it comes to budget matters, you can find scopes that cost well under $100. Added features and better functionality can drive the price up significantly, so make sure you keep any budgetary restraints in mind as you compare models.
Armed with this knowledge and the confidence that comes with it can help you make your next hunting trip the most successful yet!