How to Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope – Full Guide with Tips & More

how to adjust eye relief on a rifle scope

There are several aspects to consider when you’re mounting and adjusting a scope onto a rifle. 

One of these aspects that is particularly confusing to newer shooters is eye relief, what it is and how you can adjust it. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will expand upon what eye relief is, what role it plays when shooting and how you can adjust it to your preference. 

We will also discuss some commonly asked questions that people have regarding eye relief. 

Let’s get started. 

What is Eye Relief? 

adjust eye relief

The term “eye relief” isn’t just limited to rifle scopes. It comes up in all types of optics such as binoculars, telescopes, and microscopes as well. 

In each case, the concept is the same: the eye relief of a scope can be defined as the farthest distance from the eyepiece to the shooter’s eye that allows them to see a full and clear view through it. 

This means that it’s the farthest ideal distance that the shooter can look into the scope from and still accurately shoot their weapon. 

If the shooter goes farther away from the scope than the eye relief, then their view gets obstructed. 

Eye relief is typically measured in inches when it comes to rifle scopes except for a few European manufacturers that provide the eye relief in millimeters. 

When you look at the specifications of the scope and look at its eye relief, you’ll notice that it will be presented in a range of measurements. 

A range is provided because not all people have the same perception of eye relief. 

Hence, a range is provided as an approximation of the distance where most people will be comfortable. 

Why is Eye Relief Important? 

Eye relief measurements and getting a scope with the appropriate eye relief are important because of one single aspect: weapon recoil. 

The recoil of different firearms can vary heavily. Some weapons have next to no recoil while others recoil fairly violently. 

Hence, you need to have a scope that can accommodate this recoil. 

For example, if you get a scope with a short eye relief (say 2 – 3 inches), your face and your dominant eye will be fairly close to it when aiming. 

Then, once you shoot the weapon, it’s going to kick back violently and if your face is that close to the scope, there’s a chance it’s going to hit you in the head.

This type of injury is nothing to scoff at as it can result in severe complications and even permanent scarring in some cases. 

Hence, you definitely need to think long and hard about eye relief when you choose a scope for your rifle. 

If your firearm doesn’t have a ton of recoil, you can get away with a scope with short eye relief. 

Otherwise, always go for scopes that have a longer eye relief. 

The type of injury you get from your scope kicking back while firing has a ton of different names in the community such as: 

  • Rifle tattoo 
  • Scope bite 
  • Scope eye 

And many more. 

Out of the ones we’ve listed, scope bite is by far the most common. 

How to Adjust the Eye Relief of a Rifle Scope?

eye relief on a rifle scope

You may be confused about how to adjust the eye relief of scope since the eye relief is something that comes fixed with all scopes. 

You can’t actually change the eye relief of a scope. However, what you can do is change the position of your scope on your rifle. 

This can be done by adjusting the scope on the mounting ring (or rings) on your rifle stock. 

Here’s how you can do it: 

Step 1: Mount your scope temporarily onto the rings on your rifle at a position that you feel will be optimal for shooting. 

You don’t have to be super accurate at this point. Just mount it approximately at the position that you think would be best. 

Step 2: Close both of your eyes and put your face on the rifle stock and in a position that you would normally be in when shooting. 

Make sure that this is your default, comfortable position when operating your firearm. 

Step 3: Open your eyes and quickly look through the rifle scope with your dominant eye. 

Depending on what you see, you’ll have to make some changes. 

Step 4a (too close): If you see a wide, dark ring on the outside of the scope but can see the entirety of the reticle, this means you’re too close to the scope. 

In this particular case, you should move the scope further down the rifle stock to fix the eye relief. 

Step 4b (too far): If you look through the scope and can only see a dark ring on the outside edge with only a portion of the reticle inside, this means you’re too far away from it. 

In this case, you would bring the scope closer to yourself on the rifle stock. 

Step 5: If you look through the scope and see the entirety of the reticle with only a narrow dark ring around it, then you’re in a perfect position. 

Step 6: Once you’ve found the optimal position for the rifle scope, it’s important that you mark it on your rifle in some way. 

One way to do this is to mark it by using masking tape. 

Important note: Make sure to take note of what you immediately see as soon as you open your eyes and look through the scope with your dominant eye. 

This is because once you open them, your eyes will try to re-focus and adjust the image if you look through the scope for more than 20 seconds. 

Hence, you need to make your judgment based on what you immediately see when you open your eyes. 

Wrapping Things Up… 

That brings us to the end of our post on how to adjust eye relief on a rifle scope. 

Eye relief is highly important to ensure you don’t get hurt while shooting. Hence, you should definitely do your research when it comes to the eye relief of the scope you intend to buy. 

If you have any more questions about eye relief, let us know in the comments below. 

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