Learning about scopes

Good morning All, is there anything known to exist about learning all about Rifle Optics?
Also, any brands to avoid? I’m coming in entry level, been interested in ‘precision shooting’ (i just learned what it’s referred to) with a Rifle for years and now i have the time, not a bunch of money lol but would like a scope for no more than 200 yards eventually…just don’t understand the 4 X ## stuff
Any tips on where to begin would be fabulous! Thanks, Kevin

A starting point: https://www.opticsplanet.com/howto/how-to-choose-a-riflescope.html

Good luck and let us know what you decided to buy.


I just bought a Bushnell Engage Riflescope, 2-10 x 44mm (PN REN21044DG) and I HATE it. The reticle is too light to be seen even in normal light. In all honesty I will probably just throw this piece of garbage away. I have other Bushnell scopes that I love, but not this one. I don’t know that I will buy another scope unless I look through it first.

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First number is your magnification e.g. 2-7 would be a two to seven power variable. Next number is lens size in millimeters. Bigger yields more light input and wider field of view,allowing greater magnification, which reduces that view. Another number to look for is tube diameter. Generally starts at 1" (25.4 mm), and your better scopes will go to 30 or (iirc) 34 mm.
Another thing to look for is eye relief.
I shoot 200 a lot, weekly, and everything from a 3x prism to a 24x ffp(first focal plane) gets the job done. Lots of 3-9x40’s out there, I have a few Nikon’s in that size, and that’s a good 100-200 yard scope imo. Edit to add I use reactive (hi visibility targets, like “shoot-n- see” or similar. Huge difference compared to standard paper. I also use a spotting scope for greater distances, or .22/5.56 at 200 running 2.5-3x sights). If using paper targets and a 7-9x scope at 200, you’ll probably want a spotting scope to see your hits. I love those reactive targets…or freshly painted steel…
There’s also bdc (bullet drop compensation) which has dots or crosshatches on the lens for rough zero at greater distances for a given caliber…
For scopes I have several Bushnell’s, a couple Nikon’s, a couple Primary Arms prism sights, one Vortex, a UTG, a Leupold, a hi-lux, 14 in all. Looking through the glass, they tell different stories, some simple, some complicated. That’s another chapter. Not disappointed in any. The UTG was $110 from Mossberg 6-18x50, and was a fun bet winner, as I outshot a few folks at the club running waay more expensive scopes. For 200 it was fine…beyond that is why I bought the Vortex.
Nikon glass for a budget 3-9x40 amazed me. One scope didn’t hold up in my mini 14 however, so the replacement got put in a 5.56 bolt gun, and the mini got a 2-7 Leupold…100 percent hits on steel at 285 last week with that gun.


As a general starting point, with your entry level comment, scopes generally follow the same general rule of other “glass”…you get what you pay for. Pretty much expect that a $200 scope is not as good as an $800 scope of similar type (magnification, illumination, size, etc). Good glass is expensive. And it’s not something that shows up on a spec sheet. It’s something that shows up when you look through the scope. It’s something that shows up in poor lighting, cloudy or stormy days, dawn/dusk, something that shows up in durability over time or just one incident of bumping or dropping the optic or rifle.

For entry level aka lower budget scopes, I would strongly recommend looking at anything Vortex makes. They very consistently are competitive or better at basically any price point for which they offer a product.

Fixed power costs less and is all else equal more durable than variable power.

Do you already have a rifle, or rifle in mind, specifically, for this scope to go on?


If you aren’t looking to go much past 200 yards you can definitely get by with a red dot or red dot with magnifier. If you are looking for more of a “scope” like a Low Power Variable Optic (LPVO) then Vortex and Leupold both have some more budget friendly options as well. You could look at a 1x4 or 1x6, meaning it has a variable zoom from 1 power up to 4 power or 6 power depending on the optic, which is definitely plenty for 200 yards. Here are a couple of their more budget options:
Vortex Crossfire 1x4

Vortex Strike Eagle 1x6

Leupold VX Freedom 1.5x4


One brand to stay away from is Tasco I have never had a good experience with them again you get what you pay for especially in optics


I’d never use an lpvo for precision shooting. That’s an AR scope, as is red dot/magnifier, more for offhand tactical shooting imo. Small lens, 24mm, where your precision scopes are generally 50-56mm.
For Bruno’s budget and plans, as mentioned 3-9x40 will be less money and better suited.
Quick search 3-9x40 vortex,$149…this one, 12x, 50mm, would make a great 2-300 yard scope, $200…or you can “get by” with a red dot and magnifier…for 3 times the price. :thinking:


The following link provides an explanation on several scope related topics. From a beginners point of view they may generate more specific questions and answers. They explain the difference between MIL vs MOA which is helpful.


223 is my choice, don’t trust rimfire 22’s, had a Henry and at first i thought it was old ammo, my father’s 22 revolver was passed on to me after his death, but then i bought a cheap new box of 22lr, many no fires, bought a more expensive box and it did good, gunsmith said he didn’t see anything out of order…to give you a time stamp, i sold the Henry on Facebook in 45 minutes!
Plus i got a blood clotting disease, bruises aren’t good for me so i need something without a kick. Ty for your response


Right On :white_check_mark:

Thanks a bunch for breaking it down for me!

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Ty Brandon :v:

Interesting, was watching a YouTube video about a red dot and a magnifier that could swivel in when needed, got a 40 cal carbine so that is cool tool

I haven’t heard that name brand in years, growing up dad bought a pair of binoculars of that brand and he returned the replacement and got his money back

Thanks a lot for the replies and advice ~ peace

Wow, great resource - even addresses astigmatism!

Rifle optics are just as diverse as rifle platforms. I have $40 scopes and $4,000 scopes and IMHO the scope when you REALLY get down in the weeds is the most important part of the rifle. When I retired in 09 I worked for a Top 3 scope manufacturer (at the time), I’ve built them, torn them apart, abused them and dialed the guts out of more than a few.

At 200 yards you can do well with just about any quality manufacturer. With a 223 you will probably never dial off more than 2 - 3 MOA, 2 - 3 IPHY or .3 - .5 Mil depending on your flavor. So you are going to be beating up the same gear teeth over and over again. I recommend some form of “turret” or “target knob” that “clicks” not a coin slot and a friction ring.

Repeatability and Precision: Are the two things you are looking for in a scope or more precisely scope adjustments. You NEED to know what the scope is doing to drive the boolit where it is supposed to go. I harp on this because manufacturers will tell you their scope has 1/4 MOA adjustments,or .1 Mil or 1/4"@100 yards (most of them are not). YOU must verify YOUR scope’s tracking and return to zero.

Power: If you want to shoot the a$$ out of a gnat you first have to see the a$$ of the gnat. @ 200 yards with a 223 I would want something somewhere between 16 and 20X on the high end. If you will never hunt with it the bottom number doesn’t matter. A fixed power may be good on most occasions but a variable will allow you to dial down for atmospheric conditions that preclude the use of high power optics. Too much can be a bad thing.

Reality VS Cost: I can set you up with everything your heart desires in an optic and you will still shoot “groups”. For true precision work the weak link must be the shooter NOT any of the components. The ammo must be perfect, the optic and the rifle. In reality your rifle is probably no better than a 1/2 MOA, your ammo (from a box) is similarly flawed. Collectively you are probably going to be shooting 1/2 MOA groups “at best” at worst 1 MOA. Somewhere in the middle is real.

At some point with enough practice you will have the “Ah-Haaaa” moment where you realize you are out shooting your rifle. That’s when things get expensive.

FWIW I’d give a new(er) company ARKEN a shot, I have heard good things about them. They are following the same entrance to the industry Vortex did to much success. Sometimes its good to get in early.




I saw Craigs recommendation for 16 or 20 power for the higher magnification. Please don’t make my mistake and buy a cheap 6x24 power scope. They get blurry in the 18 and up power ranges.

Something I haven’t seen mentioned is the magnifier. Generally the higher magnifiers cost more. Divide the high magnification by the low. For example a 3x9 has a 3 power magnifier. A 3x12 has a four power magnifier. A 3x18 has a six power magnifier.


What size target are you wanting to hit at 200 yards? A 30 inch gong, could be done with A1 style sights. A 6 inch plate, you’ll want some magnification. With a .223, you don’t need a ton of vertical adjustability, so a 1 inch tube scope is fine. The larger the tube diameter, the more adjustable the vertical is on the scope. I just put a Riton 6-24x50 scope on a heavy barrel Savage I’m setting up for 4H silhouette shooting, and to eventually shoot it at 300 yards.

Go check out this channel on YouTube. He has a little bit of a fowl mouth, but is funny, and tests a lot of scopes. And he really puts them through the wringer.