What Do The Numbers Mean On A Rifle Scope?

By Archer | Scope

Mar 23
Rifle Scope Close Up

What Do The Numbers Mean On A Rifle Scope?

No one scope is right for the job! Being able to see the sight and target both clearly at the same time is the key to hitting that bull’s eye.

With so many jargons ad endless models of scopes floating around, I hope this article will help you understand the terminology and what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope so you can make a better decision when it comes to choosing The One.

What is a Rifle Scope?

A rifle scope is also known as a telescopic sight. It is a sighting device that is based on an optical refracting telescope. These devices are used in all types of systems that requires accurate aiming. They are most commonly found on firearms, more particularly rifles.

Man With Long Rifle
Image Via Flickr CC: Viewminder

These scopes can help out more than one thing. For one, they relieve the shooter of the worry of lining up the front sight with the rear sight and lose focus on the target while lining up the sights. In this article, I will be writing about what the numbers mean on a rifle scope and their purpose.

What are the Magnification Types for Rifle Scopes?

The main topic is the numbers in the scope. They measure the magnification power rating of a rifle scope. The magnification refers to how much larger an object will appear when looking through the scope in comparison to how it would look using just the naked eye. The numbers just tells you how powerful the magnification power in a scope.

There are two types of rifle scope magnification. The first one is the scope with a fixed magnification, though they’re not as popular as they used to be but they still have some uses. These scopes are set at a specific zoom ratio. The most popular configurations of this type are 4×32, 6×42 and 10×42.

The second one is the scope with a variable magnification scope. This type of scope can change the zoom ratio of the image you will see. It’s like adjusting your camera lenses manually before you shot that perfect picture by just rotating that magnification ring at the front of the eyepiece.

Ruger Rifle with a Mueller Rifle Scope
Image Via Flickr CC: Mitch Barrie
A Ruger 10/22 rifle with a Mueller APV 4.5-14×40 rifle scope.

What is Variable Power?

Many scopes have variable power as shown in the image (Mueller APV 4.5-14×40 rifle scope) above. The first number on the rifle scope connotes its magnification power. For example, 4.5-14×40 means the scope has a magnification power ranging from 4.5x on the low end to 14x on the high end and a variable magnification with a 40mm target lense.

To simplify, you will see the image 4.5 to 14 times bigger by just adjusting that magnification ring right in front of the eyepiece. The fourty (40) is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. The way you can describe this scope is “four point five to fourteen by forty”.

The objective lens is found in the objective bell that is in front of the scope. Do note the larger the objective lens size the brighter the image through the scope appears but larger lenses are heavier and can add a bit more weight the scope.

What are the Uses for Different Magnification Scope?

Lower magnifying scopes, like with the numbers of 1-5x are best used for close range or quick shooting like turkey hunting. The most common zoom scopes is the 3-9x. These scopes are good for everyday hunting uses such as deer or prairie dog hunting. Can be use for close range or long range shots with good accuracy. The newer scope models have a magnification of 8 or more; for example the 9-12x scopes, it is pretty much used exclusively for long range target shooting and competition shooting.

The ring on the back of a scope indicates what setting is selected. These scopes are popular as they allow the user to choose different power settings. Low power for close range while high power for precision? A good variable scope gives you the best of both worlds.

In the fixed rifle scope, the numbers have the same meaning as the variable scope as explained above. The difference is the user cannot adjust the magnification power for a fixed magnification scope.

Conclusion

Here is a little tip, when choosing the best long range rifle scope you have to consider, as magnification increases the brightness diminishes. For example a scope at 4x magnification power the image in the scope will be brighter with a 50mm objective lens than with a 32mm lens.

Not all scopes have variable magnification. A few scopes have fixed magnification but if you’re planning for a long range hunt or target practice then you better choose the scope that have a variable magnification instead of a fixed one.

So there you have it. I have explained the meanings of those numbers in the scope a bit thoroughly. Hopefully you understand this information and make use of this to better buying decisions.

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About the Author

I love adventures and the great outdoors!

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