It’s been more than a decade we have been active in the industry of rifles and their accessories; over this considerably extensive period, we have learned so many things people don’t know about. We have disclosed the secrets for the ease of the shooters.
So if you are new to this field, don’t know what scope you should buy for your rifle, and what do the numbers on a scope mean, keep reading this article. I’ll tell you all that you want to know.
Based on this vast experience, I will explain what numbers mean on scope & what they tell us? Before you buy a scope, you must be aware of the meaning of all those, or else you may select an ineffective & incompetent scope for your rifle. Resultantly, you will have to pay a lot more for another one, and it will go on till you get to know what numbers tell. So, let’s get started now.
Rifle Scope Number Definition
The number on the rifle scope implies the magnification power of its lens. Some scopes have changeable magnification to select by turning a power ring according to your choice on the scope. For example:
- 4 X 32 sight means the scope magnifies the image four times.
- 6 X 32 sight means the scope with a six times magnification power.
How to Read Scope Numbers and their Meaning?
You must have seen a numeric serial such as 3-9×40 with scope names, titles; but I don’t know what they mean. So here in this how to read scope numbers guide, I will tell the meaning of each number in detail.
“3” Means Minimum Magnification:
Usually, people think that this number equation symbolizes Magnification, that’s fair enough, but they don’t know what it means. In the equation, the first digit shows the minimum power of Magnification. Different scopes keep different magnifier power limits already built in them, and you can change this magnification power as you need it, and it fits the situation.
If you aim for long-range shooting, you should have a sharp eye to focus on the target, or else you need to have a crisp, precise, and sharp scope to lock in your target accurately.
For getting a close-up shot of a distant target, you need the zoom-in option, and that’s what Magnification does for you. This first digit, “3,” tells that the minimum Magnification you can set is 3, which means where your prey is standing, you can have the image of that target three times closer to the actual distance.
So, this minimum magnification power allows the shooter to have a quick shot with the maximum chances of success. If your scope is good enough, that will not allow a single-round miss from the target at all. Usually, you cannot watch your mark in a dark mode; at night, you will need a scope, and if it is far away from you, then the magnification setting will help you out.
“9x” Means Maximum Magnification:
The 9x is the symbol of maximum magnification power you can have in scope. When you go on the field for shooting or hunting, if your target is not near to you, and you are not getting the exact image of the same, then you will need more zoom in power to make the picture more prominent, so that your eye can see it clearly and lock in the target with accuracy.
If we put this scenario in a hypothetical case, suppose your target is at 400 yards from you, and you have a vision of 20/20. Now, you won’t see your target with your naked eye because it will show you too small to see. So, what will you do now? Now you can use your maximum magnification power option to make the image more significant enough to be easily visible to your eye.
So, with the help of this 9x digit, you can get the image nine times closer to its actual distance, or you can make the image nine times bigger than your bare eye can see without Magnification.
So, this is how maximum scope magnification explained and helps the shooter by allowing him to stretch the image large enough that you can focus on the target easily from a considerable distance. To cut a long story short, maximum Magnification gives you a nine times bigger picture of the target than its actual size. And that’s what you need to shoot with ultimate perfection and maximum accuracy.
“40” Means Diameter of the Objective Lens:
In the series of numbers, it comes at the end “40”. It shows the diameter of the objective lens. The objective lens helps the light to pass in through the scope. That helps your eyes to get a brighter and clearer image of the target. The more your objective lens diameter is, the wider the field of view will be. And same goes for the price of the scope.
But it doesn’t mean that this will help your vision with the increase of the diameter. On the contrary, you should always keep this in moderate limits because when you increase the size of the objective lens diameter, the size and weight of the scope go up, and it becomes heavier. And you cannot lock in the target with a heavy scope effectively.
So, it would help if you kept this range between 30 to 40 mm, which is a fair enough diameter for a healthy shooting and hunting venture. However, if you don’t read a scope, you won’t get the best one. So, you should know what do the numbers on a scope mean necessarily.
So, these were the numbers that come in a series with the name and title of the scope. And this series shows that the scope has variable Magnification. Another form of Magnification that comes with the scope is fixed Magnification. Now, I’ll tell you about it, how it symbolizes scope, and how we can understand it.
Some Other Scopes with Fixed Magnification
Do you know how to read scope numbers and their meaning? Of course not. Because the scope mentioned above numbers are the perfect example variable scope, the first digit shows the lowest Magnification, and the second digit indicates the maximum Magnification. In contrast, the last & third digit shows the diameter of the objective lens. Some other scopes come with a different number series, such as 4×40 mm.
Now, 5x means you will get to see the target five times closer than you can see with your bare eye. But, you won’t be able to change this zoom-in setting; it will not go up, not down. So the only setting you can enjoy with the fixed scope is the first digit of that scope.
And the next digit, 40 mm, again shows the diameter of the objective lens. It can vary with the types of scopes. The more you increase its diameter, the wider area you will get to view, and the more light will pass on through scope to your eye. It helps in viewing the target in lighting capabilities, such as dusk dawn, low light, etc.
I hope you got the answers about variable and forced scopes numbers, and you got the idea of; what the numbers on a scope mean? And now, we’ll talk about some other numbers that come with a scope, but they are a bit separate, usually not written with the title and name of the scope. But you find these in product descriptions and specifications.
Also Read: Guide on How to Adjust a Rifle Scope
To make your shopping a scope always a good deal, you should know how to read scope numbers and their meaning. However, as we have lightly discussed above, the numbers with the scope name & title always show the magnification range and objective lens diameter.
Now, we’ll talk about some other numbers, and these do not necessarily come with the title or name of the scope. But, they exist there somewhere in description, features, or specifications.
So, if you want to learn the complete science of numbers, you need to keep on reading this article a bit further. So, let’s grab one after another.
Field of View (FOV):
Since we discussed the field of view above, you must get some ideas, such as discussing the field of view and Magnification. So, if we put this in an example to develop your better understanding of the subject, that’ll be awesome, I guess.
So, if you have a scope with numbers 100 ft on 600 yards, that means you will be able to see the 100th of what you see with your naked eye at the max magnification setting. Because as we know, the more you increase the power of Magnification, the less you will get a field of view.
So, these both, the field of view and Magnification, go opposed to each other. So, if one goes up, the second goes down, and vice versa. So, you need to pick these numbers by observing and understanding them well before placing an order for the scope.
When you focus on your target, look at your crosshairs; you will struggle with parallax if they move. It is because parallax transpires when you look at the target, and your image doesn’t pass through the scope on its first lens and gets on a rare lens, which means you will not get a clear and bright image of the target anymore.
In other words, you will have to compromise over the quality of the visual. If a scope says 10-12 yards for parallax adjustment, the scope is trying to tell you that you can adjust the parallax down to these numbers maximum. It is the absolute limit, and you won’t be able to go down than this number, whether it’s 19 or 12 yards or any other number.
Eye Relief Distance:
Usually, it goes between 3 to 4 inches, but what is it, and what do 3 to 4 inches mean? Before I answer this question, let’s know something else about eye relief, its significance. It is one of the most important and overrated figures after magnification numbers if I tell you my experience.
I always prefer to have excellent eye relief in a scope. If you keep a branded or an expensive rifle, and you also bought a great scope manufactured by some big name of the market, but it doesn’t offer you a vast distance for eye relief. For me, it doesn’t work at all. I will leave this scope right away for no other reason but eye relief.
It is the space your eye and your rifle scope share. If you do not get a scope with a standard distance between your vision and the scope, it can play havoc with your eyes, face, or forehead.
Because when you pull the trigger, the rifle recoils back extremely fast, and if your vision is just tied to the scope, it can hurt you severely. It’s called scope bite. So, to avoid scope bites, you need to keep this eye relief distance in mind.
The standard distance a great scope offers is 4 inches; it can vary a bit higher or lower with the type of scope and rifle, but you should try utmost to buy one with the maximum eye relief distance to avoid a scope bite.
The diameter of the circle of light goes through the shooter’s eye, and we call it the exit pupil. What exit pupil you should go for, before you decide this, you need to know something else as well.
Usually, the human eye’s iris is 5 mm in low lighting conditions and 3 mm in fat light scenarios. So, it would help if you chose the exit pupil somewhere between these two figures. It provides you a circle of light that passes light to your eyes; the more extensive the circle, the bigger the target will get, the brighter and clearer the image.
On the other hand, the smaller the circle of light, the less you will get the clarity; it will provide a substandard image of the target.
After studying the complete information given above, what have you got to learn about numbers? I am sure now you have developed your understanding of what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope. So, wherever you go shopping for a scope, always keep these numbers in mind, and assess the features and specifications of the scope.
You can get scope number meanings with the help of these scope numbers. One thing more to keep in your due diligence is the weight of the scope. Because the more your scope will be heavier, the more difficult it will be to handle it accurately. So, try to utmost select one with a lighter weight.
So, if you can make it up with all these numbers well, you will surely get the most acceptable optical partner for your rifle, and it will be possible because of the numbers because numbers rule the universe. So, keep these numbers in due consideration. Good luck!