How to Adjust Parallax on a Rifle Scope – All You Need to Know with Tips & More

how to adjust parallax on rifle scope

Parallax correction is something that most modern rifle scopes come equipped with. 

The feature is present in rifle scopes to account for parallax errors that can greatly affect the accuracy of your shots. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will discuss what a parallax error is, why it occurs and how you can utilize your rifle scope to correctly account for it. 

Let’s get started. 

What is the Parallax Effect and How Does it Work? 

adjust parallax

The parallax effect is a visual phenomenon that occurs when you look at objects at longer distances. 

When it comes to rifle scopes, the light enters it through the objective lens and is then projected onto a prism. 

Within the lens, the target image is flipped and reflected many times before it is presented to the shooter (you) through the ocular lens. 

The reticle inside your scope is typically located somewhere between your eye and this projected image of the target that is being presented to you. This is regardless of the “focal plane” of the rifle scope. 

As mentioned earlier, parallax errors typically occur at longer distances (greater than 150 yards). This is because the focal length of your eye’s vision is modified by your brain to compensate for the distance to the target. 

When this happens, it will result in the target appearing clear through the scope but the reticle appearing blurry. It will either appear blurry or it will appear as if it’s swaying in different directions. 

You know you need to adjust the parallax correction of your rifle scope if: 

  • The image of the target is clear but the reticle is out of focus/blurry
  • The image is clear when you look straight through the scope but when you move your head, the reticle shifts left or right. 

These are both signs of parallax errors. 

Naturally, you don’t want your reticle to be out of focus or for it to appear as if it’s swaying slightly in different directions. It can result in inaccurate shots as well as eye strain. 

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How to Adjust Parallax Correction on a Rifle Scope?

Before we start talking about parallax correction, the first step you should take when this happens is to check your reticle’s focus. 

While a reticle can definitely appear out of focus due to a parallax error, there’s also a chance that your reticle may just be out of focus on its own. 

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Adjusting Reticle Focus 

A simple way to do this is to look through the rifle scope at a plain and bright background. Ensure that the background is at least 5 yards away from you. 

Next, use the reticle focus ring to try and bring the reticle into focus. 

Most focus rings for reticles are typically located on the ocular lens of the rifle scope. The ocular lens is the one that is closest to your eye. 

Adjust the ring and bring the reticle into focus. 

This reticle adjustment will ensure that your parallax corrections are valid once you start to perform them.

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Parallax Correction 

rifle scope

As mentioned earlier, most modern rifle scopes come equipped with a parallax correction system. 

This is usually a dial or a knob present on the side of the main tube of the riflescope and is commonly referred to as the side focus. 

These parallax correction systems work by allowing the shooter to adjust the position of the image by moving it either backward or forwards. You move it backward and forward until the image matches the focal plane of the reticle. 

You’ll find that most of these side focus dials will be marked in increments of 50 or 100 yards. 

In order to find the correct position of the side focus dial, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Set up a prominent and clear target that is easily distinguishable from its background. 

Step 2: Place your rifle in a secure resting position. 

Step 3: Set the magnification of your rifle scope to the highest level and then look through the scope. 

Step 4: Shift your head back and forth when you through the scope and observe the position of the reticle. 

Step 5: If the reticle moves or shifts along with your head movement, then this means that your parallax correction system is not correctly adjusted. 

Depending on the range and the magnification of the scope, the correction may be highly fine or very dramatic. 

Step 6: Adjust the soft-focus dial until your reticle becomes sharp and locks fully onto your target. 

Step 7: Once you reach the correct setting, you should be able to look at both the reticle as well as the target without either of them shifting out of focus. 

Try moving your head as well while looking through the scope. If you’ve correctly adjusted the parallax system, then the reticle will not move from its position. 

Once you’ve found the correct adjustment, don’t tinker with it further and just leave it. 

In most cases, you won’t have to come back to this setting unless you have to shoot a shot that is at a much farther distance. 

Even in that case, however, the correction will most likely be quite small. Just keep that in mind. 

Always make sure to have parallax correction in mind every time you switch your shooting distances dramatically. 

You don’t want to be shooting a target that’s 500 yards away using parallax correction settings that you made for a previous shot that was 200 yards away. 

Not only will you not hit your shot but it can cause tremendous eye strain and even long-lasting headaches. 

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Wrapping Things Up… 

So that’s how parallax errors and parallax correction systems work. 

We hope you now have a better understanding of what the parallax effect is and we hope you’ll be more confident now when tinkering with the side focus dial of your rifle scope. 

Make sure that when you’re buying a scope, you keep your shooting distances in mind. 

You don’t want to get a rifle scope with no parallax correction system if you’re going to be shooting at long distances. 

Do you still have questions about parallax correction? Let us know in the comments below.

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