Rifle Scopes Explained- What Do the Numbers Mean on a Rifle Scope?

If you are a firearm enthusiast, then chances are you use some type of optical sighting device to help you sight your targets easily.

Whichever firearm you own, whether a rifle, handgun, or even a shotgun, a scope will offer you the simplicity you need when making shots.

The experience you get when shooting with the best rifle Scope is unimaginable regardless of the range you are shooting at. That aside, there is plenty to learn about a rifle.

This rifle scopes explained review would detail everything you need to know about Scopes, from the terminologies used to the numbers. So just stick with us until the end.

Riflescope Parts and Functions – With Rifle scopes Explained

Well, you have seen them since all the scopes come with them. Understanding the different parts of scope is essential to learn their different functions. Let’s take a look at some of them.


Scopes come with two primary lenses. The ocular lens and the objective lens. The ocular lens is found at the shooter’s end while the objective lens is at the target end.

The objective lens is one to focus on as it has a significant role it plays on the scope. When a scope has a larger objective lens, it tends to be brighter, but magnification will decrease.

It isn’t entirely true that a larger objective lens will increase magnification. Formal Magnification, as well as a great profile, then thicker lenses, will do the job. Otherwise, a large objective lens only offers full control over brightness.

Lens Coating

While having a scope with a large objective lens is good to control brightness, lens coating also offers brightness and clarity. Different scopes have different lens coatings, but they all sort of work the same.

There are commonly four coatings: coated, fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. They all come with different coats of chemicals on the objective lens. The more the coats, the higher the performance and price.


Reticles come in several types. There are individual articles about scope reticles explained because reticles are a broad topic on their own. Shooters have their reticle of choice because they all come with strengths and weaknesses.

One that may work for one shoot, I will not work for the other. Your experience as a shooter will also determine the kind of reticle you own. Some of the reticles include mill-based reticles, simple crosshairs, and german reticles, among others.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is how far your dominant eye is from the scope for the best view through it without parallax. Different scopes will come with larger or smaller eye relief.


Magnification of a scope is the part where you get to zoom the target to be bigger. Magnification always comes in as numbers. Different shooters on a scope mainly because need magnification in order to sight their targets from far distances.

Field of View (FOV)

This is the distance you stand from your target. It is mainly known as yards or feet. Field of view is essential to enable the shooter to view the target through the scope.

Different Types of Rifle Scopes

Below we shall generalize the different scopes and their purposes. This is because different scopes are used for different purposes, and not all serve the same.

Tactical Scopes

Tactical scopes are those that have the least magnification to simply extend the distance of Engagement. The magnification can be as low as 4×.

Sniper Scope

If you think you own a sniper scope, then it’s probably a moderately powered optic. This is because everyone cannot use the real super powerful sniper scopes.

The military usually uses these super-powerful sniper scopes. If you are to use such a scope, you need to be well trained for long-range shooting.

Hunting Scopes

These come with little extra features and are quite simple to use. They usually come with a plain reticle and a larger objective lens. This is to give a hunter ease of use.

Competition Scope

Scopes with a magnification of 40 times are usually used for competitions. These are good for pinpoint accuracy, for example, shooting a dot that is way smaller than an inch while standing from a distance of 50 years or even more.

What Do Scope Numbers Mean?

Now that you have got to know the different parts and types of scopes, let’s look at the numbers. What do these numbers on each scope mean? For you to best understand this, we will take you through different examples.

Let’s start with a rifle scope having 3-9×40.3 means three times, implying that the target you will see through the scope is 3 times closer than what you see with your naked eye.9 means 9 x implying 9 times closer than what you see with your naked eye.

40 is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. Search scope is variable, meaning you can worry about the magnification from 3 to 9 or anywhere in between.

A 20-6×80 rifle scope means you get a minimum magnification of 20 and a maximum magnification of 60. The objective lens diameter is 80 mm. Such a scope is a zoom scope because of its generous magnification and objective lens size.

Remember that any number before the x is the magnification power of the scope. Sometimes it is called the power range. Some scopes have a fixed magnification, for example, escape with 4 x 32.

This means that the scope has 4 x magnification power and an objective lens of 32 millimeters. The others have variable magnification power like those were mentioned before.

What Is The Best Rifle Scope For You?

The best scope for you is one that will cover all your needs. Look for a scope that will work best, depending on the type of shooting you will be doing. The affordable scope will be great as you only need something for your needs.

Remember, you don’t have to buy just anything because of the magnification. Check for Optical quality and also lens coating.

You can carry out some research before because you will find a variety of scopes on the market. Reading different reviews will let you know what will work and what will not.

How to Mount a Rifle Scope?

The first thing you need to do is prepare the working area and get the right tools you will use while mounting the scope.

You will need the scope and rifle, of course, before anything else. Then the following are some of the tools you will use.

  • A screwdriver
  • Scope rings of the right size and height
  • A level
  • Blue Loctite
  • Scope base
  • Workbench
  • Rifle vice

Unload the rifle and make sure to keep it facing in a safe direction. Next, remove the bolt. Once you are done, secure the rifle onto the vice and mount the scope base onto the receiver. Now align the base with the mounting holes that are on the receiver and tighten them.

After, get the Rings and attach them to the base. Never use the scope to pivot the rings. Once you pivot the Rings, correctly tighten the screws.

Remove the top half of the Rings and fix the scope inside the Rings. Replace the top half you had removed and then lightly tighten the screws.

When it is secured, remove the rifle from the vice and then hold it as if you aim at a target to adjust the eye relief.

To move the scope far away from the eye but not too far. Make sure you still get a clear view of the target. Next, you need to level the scope reticle. To do this, use a leveling kit.

Place it on the receiver and then adjust the rifle so that it is also leveled. Make sure that your rifle and Scope are both leveled.

Once everything is in check, tighten the Rings properly. Now check again to see that the rifle is still leveled and eye relief is ok.

Common Mistakes When Choosing a Rifle Scope

Most shooters tend to make mistakes when choosing scopes for their rifles. Some tend to select a scope that is more powerful than what they intend to use it on.

Some first-time scope buyers purchase scope rings that are too long. The Rings end up mounting the scope way too high, yet the objective lens of their scope requires a low mount.

Another common mistake is buying a scope because it is expensive. A lot of people think that an expensive product is the best.

They forget what they are going to use the product for, and sometimes they compromise on quality and Performance. Buying a scope simply because it is expensive may end up disappointing you in the long run.


Riflescopes are basic devices that every shooter must own for the best accuracy and the best shooting experience.

Getting to know your rifle scope better is essential to get the results and performance you require from it. We hope you found our rifle scopes explained guide useful and interesting.

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