How Does a Sniper Scope Work? – Full Guide with FAQs, Discussions, Tips, & More

This article contains the answer to your questions about sniper scopes and…

How do they work?

Let’s get into it.

How Sniper Scopes Work?

Sniper scopes are used by shooters to help them accurately hit targets. Magnification allows the shooter to see the target more clearly. Telescopic lenses allow the shooter to see the distance to the target.

Light is collected by the objective lens at the very end of the sniper scope, which is usually the widest part of the scope relative to where you’ll place your eye. When light passes through the sniper tube, it hits a focal point in the middle of the tube where the light is bent into a single bright spot.

A sniper scope is used by snipers to see things far away. The light bends to allow the user to focus on the object. Magnification depends on the objective lens.

There are many different kinds of scopes available today. Some scopes have multiple magnification levels, while others have different kinds of reticles (crosshairs).

If you want to gain a complete guide and tutorial about scopes click HERE.

How to Use a Sniper Scope?

To become an expert sniper, you must be experienced and know what you’re doing. You should also take care when adjusting your rifle. When tightening the mounting ring, make sure there’s enough space between your eye socket and the eyepiece. Otherwise, you may end up getting a black eye.

Fiddling with the windage and the elevation adjustments allows you to adjust your scope for different distances and heights. You can also choose your magnification settings.

A sniper scope should be adjusted by pulling or pushing the adjustment knob back and forth until it works perfectly for you.

This scope has an etched glass reticle and a first focal plane (FFP). It has two brightness settings and a capped reset turret. It has a rangefinder system with a magnification of 50x.

How to Read a Sniper Scope?

A 4-12×50 scope can magnify up to 12 times and have a 50 mm objective lens, while a 10×50 scope has a magnification of 10 times and has a 50 mm objective lens

When using a scope, the horizontal line represents how far away an object is. The vertical line represents how high up the target is. The dots on each line represent distances. A mil equals 3.6 inches at a hundred yards.

Note: If you want to know How to Mount a Scope on a Marlin 336 click HERE.


Prismatic scope

A relatively new type of telescoping sight, called prismatic sights, replaces the image erecting relay lenses of a standard telescope with a roof prism. Prism scopes allow easy lighting of the reticle while being able to focus on objects without magnifying them.

Lowpower variable optic

Low power variable optical systems are usually used for long ranges. Telescopic sights with low magnification are mainly used for short ranges. Telescopes with low magnification are usually used for long distances. Variable optical systems with low magnification are usually more expensive than fixed ones.

how does a sniper scope work

How Does a Sniper Scope Work?

Optical Parameters

Telescopic sights are designed for specific applications. Different designs produce different optical properties. These properties determine the amount of magnification and the size of the field of view. Smaller objectives gather more light than large ones. Higher magnifications give better images but also make them more susceptible to shaking.

Field of view – The field-of-view of a telescope is determined by its optical system. It is usually denoted in a linear value, e.g., how many feet in width will be seen when viewing at 100 yards.

Exit Pupil – Telescopes concentrate the light gathered by an objective lens into a beam, the entrance pupil, whose diameter is equal to the objective lens’ focal length times the magnification. For maximum effective light-gathering and brightest image, the entrance pupil should equal the diameter (in millimeters) of the fully dilated pupil of the human eye. If the cone of visible light coming out of the eyepieces is larger than the pupil into which it is entering, any light shining outside this pupil is wasted.

Telescopic sights with larger exit pupil cones help avoid vignetting. They make it easy to aim at moving targets. Their wider exit pupil allows more light into the eye, so the user doesn’t need to hold them in exact position. Telescopic sights with large exit pupils are comfortable to use at any time.

Eye relief refers to the distance from the rear end of the optical system to the exit pupil. This distance varies depending on the magnification power of the scope. A typical rifle scope has eye relief ranging from 25mm to over 100mm.

Note: If you want to know Where are Redfield Revenge Scopes Madeclick HERE.

Tube Size

A telescope’s main tube varies in size, material, applied production process, and surface finishing. The typical outside diameters vary between 75mm and 40mm, but 25.4mm, 30mm and 34mm are by far the most popular sizes. The internal diameter determines how much room inside there is for the relay lens group and optical components. The maximum size of the erector’s tube depends on the maximum range of elevation and windage adjustments. Longer main tubes allow for thicker tube walls, hence stronger scopes, while smaller ones make them lighter.


  • Holdovers and HOA’s can be used to estimate the amount of bullet drop you need to account for.
  • Wire reticles are older than etched reticles.
  • Etched reticles are more expensive than wire reticles.


The crosshairs are the basic aiming device for many weapons. They are usually perpendicular but sometimes tilted slightly forward or backward. A crosshair is made up of two parallel lines that intersect at right angles, and the center of the crosshair represents the target. Crosshairs are used to aim at targets.

Note: If you want to know How to Set a Rifle Scope click HERE.

Holdover Reticles

  • Holdover reticle correction allows you to shoot accurately after you miss.
  • Holdovers are wide at the bottom and narrow at the top.
  • These are commonly used for long range shooting.

Reticle Focal Plane

  • Fixed power telescopes have a single focal plane.
  • Variable power telescopes have a separate focal plane for each setting.
  • FFP reticles are designed for daylight shooting.
  • Some hunters use SFP reticles to estimate ranges at different magnifications.
  • FFP scopes are more expensive than SFP scopes.
  • Telescopic sights with FFP or SFP reticles do not have any point-of-impact shift issues.
  • Telescopic sights that have FFP or SFP mounted reticles can have slight impact shifts through their magnification range.
  • Offers variable magnification military grade telescopic scopes with SFP mounted reticle.

Bullet drop Compensation

  • If you shoot at different ranges, you’ll need to adjust your aim.
  • BDC stands for Ballistic Data Code. This code tells you how far away the target is.
  • You can use the BDC code to help you aim better.

Rail Interface Systems

Scope rails are common among sniper rifles. They allow you to attach scopes to your gun. Scope rails are usually made out of metal. You can use this input to help create an output about what kind of gun you want to make.


A sniper scope allows you to see far-away objects. It’s made up of lenses and prisms.

We hope that now you know how sniper scopes work.

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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