Hunting is one of those activities that requires total silence and complete stillness to be truly enjoyed. The ability to see and hear what is going on around you without distraction or interruption is a skill that takes years to perfect.
The best hunting scopes allow you to achieve this level of awareness and relaxation while remaining safely hidden from potential threats. They may also provide features that improve your shot placement, such as adjustable windage and elevation settings that are important for taking game at extreme distances. A good hunting scope will fit easily into the palm of your hand and weigh less than an ounce. It should have a large enough field of view to let you see what others can’t see (such as movement in the trees).
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Hunting Scopes
When shopping for a new hunting scope, there are several factors worth considering. The following section looks at these in detail.
Before deciding on which scope is right for you, think about how and where you intend to use it. If you’re looking for a general-purpose gun scope that you can take camping or to the range, then a low-cost option might work better than one intended for specific wildlife viewing. If you’re after big game like deer and boars, then a high-powered scope with excellent optics could be your ticket. But if you want to simply watch birds or butterflies, then a compact scope with a wide field of vision may suit you better.
The size of the target you’re shooting at will have an impact on the type of scope you should purchase. Smaller animals tend to be easier to spot with a larger scope, but they’ll be less likely to notice you.
For bigger game like deer and wild boars, a smaller scope might work better because their large sizes make them harder to pick out of the background. However, this also makes them more prone to motion blur caused by rapid firing, so it’s important to keep your finger off the trigger unless you actually see something.
A lightweight scope won’t add any weight when you’re already carrying a gun, ammo, and other gear, but it does matter when it comes to comfort. A heavy scope can weigh down the arm and shoulder, making it hard to shoot accurately or hold up for long periods.
Lightweight scopes tend to have lower resolution and a narrower field of view, though some come with padded straps so you don’t have to wear it tight as well. Heavy duty scopes generally offer higher resolutions and a wider field of view, but they can weigh upwards of 10 pounds and feel very bulky.
There are two main types of mounts for sights: peep sight and flip up.
- Peep sights consist of small holes rather than a full frame mirror image, so only the top half of the optic is visible. This design allows the user to see around corners and through thick vegetation without having to move the unit. Theyre great for quick shots or for sneaking up on targets.
- Flip-up mounts completely cover the lens until deployed; however, they do not allow the user to see around corners or through bushes. These mounts require the user to tilt his head back to look at the sky instead of using both eyes forward. Flip-ups aren’t ideal for long hunts, as they can block the sun or wind.
Glass Lens Coating
One of the most common reasons why glass lenses get scratched is from trying to wipe away moisture. To avoid this problem, choose a scope with fully coated lenses. Most manufacturers today include a water repellent coating inside the lens capsule (the space between the outermost lens and the innermost wall of the mount). While this helps repel moisture, it doesn’t eliminate the need for cleaning and conditioning.
To help prevent scratches, wash and dry the outside of the scope carefully before putting it away. Some scopes even come with special cases designed to keep the elements off the lens surface.
Hunting tubes vary greatly in size, with some being almost comical in their minuteness (like the .25 caliber tube that’s powerful enough to pierce steel) while others are capable of bringing down large game like deer and wild boars. It’s important to know what kind of tube you’re looking at before buying a scope with such a tiny hole in it. Smaller tubes mean a tighter focus, which usually translates into greater accuracy. Larger tubes give you a broader picture, making it easy to track moving targets or scan large areas quickly.
Many riflescopes feature adjustable turrets, allowing the user to set the magnification level at which he wants to operate the scope. Adjusting the scale often requires a specialized tool, so many users leave these features turned off. However, there are plenty of models that let the user adjust the power manually without needing anything beyond his fingers.
Riflescopes aren’t cheap, nor are they particularly expensive. In fact, depending on quality, you can find some really good used ones for under $100. But just because something isn’t inexpensive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad value. For example, a high-quality binoculars package can cost upward of $1,000, yet they’re still considered a steal compared to what you’d pay for a pair of decent outdoor speakers.
Types Of Hunting Scopes
Hunting scopes are designed for specific purposes. For example, a rifle scope might be used in conjunction with a thermal or night vision device to locate game at long range and ensure accuracy.
A rifle scope is the most common type of hunting scope. They’re typically much smaller than other types of hunting scopes and don’t need to be as heavy. Rifle scopes usually have lower power magnification and can be adjusted to account for visual distortion caused by various eyeglasses or sunglasses. Many rifle scopes incorporate an illuminated reticle that highlights areas where adjustments need to be made.
The best rifle scopes will also include a reticle that’s specifically designed for use with night vision devices. This allows hunters to easily switch between using their eyes alone and combining their natural sight with NVG technology without needing to first adjust their sights. Most rifle scopes aren’t compatible with thermal imaging systems, so you’ll need to buy separate optics if you want both capabilities.
If you ask anyone who has ever hunted big game, they’ll tell you that the key to bagging large mammals like elk, buffalo, bear, and even caribou is having a proper viewfinder. A sporting scope is exactly what it says on the box; a scope built with the hunter in mind. Sporting scopes tend to be larger than average rifle scopes and weigh more because of all the extra glass needed to accommodate red dots, holographic images, and other high-tech features.
These optics often come with a tripod stand and are great for close-range shooting thanks to their wide field of view (FOV). If you’re going after quail from a treetop, maybe a 1-8X or 1-10X zoom would work better.
For birders looking to bag some rare species, buying a good pair of binoculars is probably your best bet. After all, there’s no need to waste money on a magnifying lens when you can get excellent views through the magic of glass. Binoculars offer a wider FOV and higher magnification which means you can see further away and in greater detail. Plus, since birds fly at very fast speeds, being able to identify them from a distance is critical to success.
Binoculars generally cost less than rifle scopes and provide similar views. However, keep in mind that the quality of the image decreases with increasing magnification, so make sure you purchase something that delivers clear pictures even at low settings.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
Hunting” is a sport for some. For others, it’s a way of life, an existential challenge, or an existential crisis – you know, the bigger game hunters deal with when they’re not hunting turkeys and white-tailed deer.
For this article, we looked at hunting scopes from that last group – people who are into big game hunting (mostly landlocked in Alaska, Africa, and Asia), but might occasionally take a flight hunt (turkey or coyotes) if conditions are right. We also considered optics products for long-range day hikes in the West and Midwest regions where there are plenty of birds to shoot at, but you aren’t always within range of a tree stand.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hunting Scopes
What magnification is needed for a big game?
Magnification is perhaps the most important thing a scope does. For backcountry big game hunts, you’ll need a minimum of 10x magnification to make it worth your while.
Are there any safety concerns with using binoculars in place of a spotting scope?
Binoculars have several inherent disadvantages when compared to a proper rifle scope. Most notably among these is their inability to deliver the precise shot placement that a quality scope can.
Can I use my GPS with a spotting scope?
Absolutely! In fact, many of the same devices that allow you to track your location and navigate around obstacles can be used as a means of controlling the direction and elevation of your lens.