How to Buy a Rifle Scope – In-Depth Buyers’ Guide with Tips, FAQs & More

It can definitely be confusing buying a rifle scope, especially if you buy one for the first time. 

In order to make the right decision, you need to think about what sort of shooting you’ll use that rifle scope for. 

Quick Summary

In this post, we will list all of the factors that can help you determine which rifle scope would be the most appropriate one for you. 

These factors include:

  • Magnification 
  • Fixed power vs variable power 
  • Objective lens
  • Scope reticles
  • Focal plane types
  • Eye relief 
  • MOA or MRAD

Let’s get started.

The Ultimate Buyers’ Guide to Choosing the Right Rifle Scope 

rifle scope

As mentioned earlier, you need to think about what you will use your rifle scope for in order to reach an informed decision about which one would be best. 

In order to do that, you need to think about the different factors and variations that rifle scopes are available in. 

These factors are: 


The magnification of a rifle scope refers to how close the target appears in the scope as compared to the naked eye. 

For example, if you’re looking through a rifle scope with 8x magnification, then the image is shown to you would be 8 times closer than it would be if you saw it with the naked eye. 

Many inexperienced shooters feel that one should buy a scope with as much magnification as possible. 

While this may seem like a good idea, it’s not. 


Because scopes with higher magnifications cost more money and in many cases, you may end up never using the higher magnification. Hence, your money will have gone to waste. 

Here’s a handy guide to what magnification you should get depending on the type of hunting you will do: 

  1. If you shoot primarily up to 100 yards, then a scope with 1 – 4x magnification will work best for you. 
  2. If you shoot primarily up to 200 yards, then a scope with 5 – 8x magnification will work best for you.
  3. If you shoot primarily beyond 200 yards, then a scope with 9 – 12x magnification will work best for you.

While browsing scopes, you may come across scopes that have a single number defining their magnification while others that have a range of two numbers. 

That’s because there are two types of magnification… 

Fixed Power vs Variable Power 

A fixed power scope means that the rifle scope will use only a single magnification. 

However, a variable power scope can switch between different magnifications within the range that is defined for it. 

For example, a 3 – 9x magnification scope can have a magnification of anywhere between 3 to 9 times compared to the naked eye. 

So, which one should you go for? 

In most cases, variable power scopes are better since they are more versatile and allow you to shoot in a number of different environments and scenarios. 

However, if you’re confident that you’ll only be shooting from one distance every time, then it can be a good idea to go for a fixed power scope since they are less expensive. 

Note: If you want to know a complete guide about scopes click HERE.

Objective Lens 

buy a rifle scope

The objective lens is the lens that is farthest from your face and closest to the target, i.e., the lens at the farther end of the scope. 

In most cases, the bigger the objective lens, the clearer your image will be. 

However, you don’t just want to go for a scope with the biggest objective lens since this can hurt you by adding excess weight onto the rifle. 

This list gives you a fair idea of what size objective lens you should go for depending on the type of shooting you will do: 

  1. If you have a rifle with low recoil and will be using it for short-range hunting, then go for a smaller objective lens of 28 mm or under. 
  2. If you have a rifle with high recoil and will be using it for medium-range hunting, then go for an objective lens with a size between 30 mm and 40 mm. 
  3. If you’re shooting at long-range and/or in low-light with high magnification, then go for a bigger objective lens of size 50 mm or higher. 

Note: If you want to know Who Makes UTG Scopes click HERE.

Scope Reticle

The reticle is the point that helps you aim when you look through your rifle scope. 

There are mainly three types of reticles: 

  1. Duplex: It’s the simplest reticle pattern and is perfect for hunting and target shooting. 
  2. Mil-Dot: The mil-dot is similar to the Duplex but it helps estimate the target’s distance based on size. 
  3. BDC: A BDC reticle helps you estimate bullet drop and is great for long-range shooters. 

Focal Plane Types 

A rifle scope can either be a First Focal Plane (FFP) scope or a Second Focal Plane (SFP) scope. 

In FFP scopes, the reticle’s size adjusts with the image as you change the magnification. 

However, in an SFP scope, the reticle’s size remains the same when you change the magnification. 

Simply put, you should go for an FFP scope if you’re a long-range shooter. Otherwise, you should always go for an SFP scope. 

Note: If you want to know How to Dial in a Scope click HERE.

Eye Relief

The eye relief of a scope can be defined as the farthest distance from your eye to the scope that allows you to get an unobstructed view inside it. 

We highly recommend that you get a scope with adequate eye relief if you want to avoid a bruised eye. 

Generally, the higher your gun’s recoil, the more eye relief you will need on your scope. 

We recommend a minimum of 3 – 4 inches of eye relief. With guns with higher recoil, it should be even more than that.


When you use the turrets (knobs) to adjust your reticle, the changes in the reticle’s angles can be measured in either MOA or MRAD. 

Simply put, MOA translates to a shift of 1 inch per 100 yards whereas a Milliradian (MRAD) translates to a shift of 0.36 inches per 100 yards.

It doesn’t really matter which one you go for but if you’re an inexperienced shooter, we would recommend MOA as it’s easier to understand and keep track of. 

Note: If you want to gain information on How Much is a Night Vision Scope click HERE.

Wrapping Things Up… 

So, that’s how you find the appropriate rifle scope for your needs. 

As long as you think about all of the factors listed above and understand which option would fit your shooting style, you really can’t go wrong. 

Which rifle scope did you buy? Let us know in the comments below. 

If you want to know more information about scopes click HERE.


  • John Moses

    John is the Editor in Chief here at The Outdoor Stores. His area of expertise ensures that there is no one better to suggest which rifles are most suitable for your hunting experience. He is also available for you to contact him personally to discuss the types of animals you want to hunt and the terrain you will be hunting on. Feel free to read his posts for expert opinion on Rifles, Scopes, Rangefinders, Bonoculars and Monoculars.

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