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How to Read Rifle Scope Magnifications


Hunting | Optics


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Simplifying the designation applied to rifle scopes.

Rifle scopes follow a relatively simple designation pattern detailing their exact zoom factor and lens size. These two values are important in that zoom zise dictates how close to the target / target area the shooter can zoom up to. Lens size dictates just that, overall physical lens size which, in turn, dictates the overall size of the resulting 'picture' as well as how much light enters the lens thus delivering a clearer picture of the target / target area. Some maginifiers are of a fixed type which results in no zoom factor range being displayed (as in a 3x40mm). Most often times, however, you will encounter a lens designation like 3-15x50mm such as the Overgaard Long Range or the 3-18x44mm by Leupold. As a general rule-of-thumb, the greater the capabilities of the scope (i.e. magnification and size), the higher the purchase price will be.
Knowing that, the following scope magnification...
3-15x50mm
...breaks down as...
3-15
Zoom Range (3 to 15x)
x50mm
Lens Size
Therefore, the zoom size of the above example is a range between 3 and 15 times the actual 'picture'. Lens size dictates the overall picture size as well as clarity due to more light entering the lens.
Similarly, the following scope magnification...
1.5-4x20mm
...breaks down as...
1.5-4
Zoom Range (1.5 to 4x)
x20mm
Lens Size
Again, the zoom size of the above example is a range between 1.5 and 4 times the actual 'picture' - considerably smaller than the perious example and maybe perferable when hunting smaller game at closer ranges. The lens size dictates an overall picture of 20mm.
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