Overview of Rifle Scopes

Overview of Rifle Scopes

Whether used for sport, hunting, law enforcement or military operations, rifle scopes are very popular. Even the best, highest quality rifle with the latest features may not perform up to expectations without a well-matched rifle scope. This article provides an overview of rifle scopes including the basics of rifle scopes, how to mount a rifle scope, and some new technology in rifle scopes.

The Purpose of Rifle Scopes

The use of a scope can make rifle firing safer as well as more efficient and more accurate. Using a rifle scope makes rifle firing safer by allowing more reliable target acquisition, avoiding the possibility that a shot will not hit exactly where it is intended. It is more efficient because it is more straightforward than trying to acquire a target with a iron sight. And it is more accurate because the technology allows for more precise aim.

The Basics of Rifle Scopes

Rifle scopes differ from shotgun scopes in that they’re not designed to accept the kind of recoil a shotgun causes. In addition, a shotgun scope must have a longer eye relief in order to avoid knocking the scope into the shooter’s face with the recoil. Rifles can safely be shot with a shorter eye relief distance.

A rifle scope is basically a tube with an ocular lens at one end and an objective lens at the other and a reticle in the eyepiece to help establish the range to the target, and make compensations for bullet drop and windage. Rifle scopes may be a low, medium, or high magnification scopes, or they can be variable, with adjustment being made by the shooter.

Rifles scopes may have adjustments for a number of elements, including focus, elevation (vertical adjustment), windage (horizontal adjustment), magnification powers, the illumination of the reticule, and parallax compensation.

Mounting a Rifle Scope

Though a few rifles come with a scope, most scopes are purchased separately and mounted. There are two systems for mounting rifle scopes. One involves a scope base made to fit the rifle and scope rings made to fit the scope being used to attach the scope to the rifle. The other is to use scope mounting rails, for which there are proprietary systems, as well as the well-known Picatinny rail, also called STANAG 2324 rail, MIL-STD-1913 rail, or simply a tactical rail.

New Technology in and for Rifle Scopes

New technology for and in rifle scopes is ongoing and wide-ranging. Here are some examples:

  • A new standard rail adaptor system agreed to by NATO countries in May, 2009 is planned to replace the Picatinny rail.
  • Laser scopes, like the Burris Eliminator Laser Scope, are now being developed.
  • CCD and LCD technology are being combined in the ELCAN Digital Hunter, which the shooter connects to a laptop computer with a USB cable to access a ballistic software package. After entering the muzzle velocity and ballistic coefficient of the ammunition being used, the software calculates the bullet drop and the information is stored in a computer chip in the scope. Adjustments to the software’s calculations are made through an LCD screen atop the rifle scope, and one can also view an automatic video of the shot there.
  • The SAM from Zeiss is a scope with an integrated ballistic calculator.

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