Before you get into rifle scope comparisons you should at least know what the terms used to determine the quality of a rifle scope means. Once you understand what some of the technical jargon means you will have better understanding of how to use a rifle scope too.
Before you launch into your rifle scope review comparison you should learn what terms like “coated” and “multi-coated” mean. You should learn what types of prisms work best and why a 7×50 scope is probably not the best for a hunter.
The best hunting rifle scope reviews will not be the same as the best astronomy scope or the best bird scope. Some of the basic considerations when looking to purchase a rifle scope are the same considerations you should consider when buying a pair of binoculars.
They both use optics to make what you are looking at appear closer.
There are two main considerations when looking for quality; mechanical and optical quality. The price of a rifle scope is primarily affected by the quality of its components. Optical quality includes things like the type of glass selected for the lenses and prisms, the eyepiece design, the amount of care taken in the grinding and polishing of the glass elements, and finally, the quality of the anti-reflection coatings on the glass elements.
Mechanical quality items include the lens barrel material (metal or plastic). Are the lens barrels made of one piece or two piece construction? How are the glass elements secured in place?
Anti-reflection coatings are used by most manufacturers. The purpose of these coatings is to facilitate light transmission. When looking to purchase rifle scope be sure to look at how the manufacturer describes the coatings: If they say “Coated”, then that means they have used a single layer antireflection coating on some lens elements.
The term “Coated’ does not mean that all glass elements are coated. Most commonly, they only coat the first and last elements (the ones you can see).
A step up from “Coated” is the term “Fully Coated”. This means that ALL air to glass surfaces are coated. “Fully Coated” is much better than “Coated”.
Now comes “Multi-Coated”. A somewhat confusing term that means some glass surfaces have multiple layers of anti-reflection coatings on them (again, usually the first and the last while the other glass surfaces have a single layer of anti-reflection coating on them).
“Fully Multi-Coated” is what you should be looking for. It means that all air to glass surfaces have been coated with multiple layers of antireflection coatings. Without a doubt the best way to go.
As an addition, technological advancements are now allowing ‘ruby’ or red multi-coatings. The purpose of these coatings is to further reduce glare when using the scope in very bright light.
When you see a description of a rifle scope, you will almost certainly see two sets of numbers, like 7×50. The first number is the ‘magnification’ number and determines how close the object will appear.
For example, 7×50 means the objects will appear 7 times closer than when viewed with the naked eye.
The most common magnification factors are: 6x, 7x, 8x, 9x and 10x.
If you happen to be looking at variable zoom scopes, then you may see something like 7-21×50. This means that the magnification can be varied from 7 times to 21 times what would be seen by the unaided eye. For variable zoom types, almost without exception, the performance at the lowest magnification setting is better than that of the higher magnification settings. The technical reason for this is that in order for the performance to be the same at the higher magnification setting, the amount of light must be increased by the same magnitude. The result is that the image gets dimmer as the magnification increases.
Objective lens (diameter) The second number in our example above, 7×50 represents the diameter (in millimeters) of the objective lens. So 7×50 means that the front lens is 50mm in diameter. The importance of the second number is that then larger the front lens, the more light entering the binoculars (and thus gets to your eyes). So, a set of 7×50 will see much better in dim light than a pair of 7×25.
Armed with a little knowledge will help you in deciphering what rifle scope reviews are talking about. Just keep in mind that with more magnification and larger objective lens size means the weight and bulk really goes up.
Plus the higher the magnification, the ‘shakier’ the image will be when looking through the site.
As to my personal opinion, a 3-9x40mm rifle scope is the best choice for a hunter. At 3 times magnification you get a really great field of view. Dial up to the 9 magnification to get some really good detail. Plus this combination is not overly bulky, large or heavy.
If you are really considering something with some really high magnification then remember that a lot of hunters ‘overshoot’ their rifles when using high powered scopes. Just because the target appears that close doesn’t mean your caliber gun and ammunition combination can pull off the shot. You will have to know ballistics and trajectory details to get most from these types of scopes. And lets face it, a lot of hunters don’t even know if there rifle is sighted in properly, much less anything about ballistics and trajectory patterns.