Scope Basic Terminologies: Understanding the Ins and Outs of a Rifle Scope

Beginners entering into the world of shooting are often confused by terminologies thrown around by the experts. For example, abbreviations like “MOA” or “FOV” get talked about so often that sometimes figuring out the meanings behind these letters can get quite challenging – especially if it’s your first time scope shopping. But fret not because this post will bring you up to speed about the basic terminologies for scopes. It’s important to understand such terminologies because doing so will allow you to better understand product specifications and help you get what you need out of shooting supplies.





The first thing to take note of is the reticle of a rifle scope. The best rifle scopes on the market are created with a reticle system, which is basically a system of dots, lines, and crosshairs. These details appear superimposed on a target when you look through the scope. Although popular reticle colors include red, green and amber, red reticle systems are battle proven and usually regarded as the most accurate.

Magnification is the power rating of a scope and it’s indicated by a “X” in product specifications. For example, a magnification of 10X means that the object will appear ten times closer than it is. For individuals who plan to go on long-range shooting excursions, scope magnification will play an important role in determining which scope to purchase.

Ocular Lens
Some scopes are created with many different lenses, but the ocular lens of a scope will always be the lens that’s closest to your eye when you’re looking through the accessory.

When you see the word “objective” in relation to scopes, it’s all about the lens and specifically, the lens closest to the object you’re looking at. Objective lenses are measured in millimeters and diameters. The larger the objective lens, the more light that will enter the scope.

Minute of Angle (MOA)
Minute of Angle (MOA) is a circular unit of measure. Generally, a 1-inch MOA means that you’ll get to see for up to 100 yards. And in the same vein, a MOA of 2 inches means that you’ll be able to see for 200 yards, and so on.

Eye Relief
If you’re shopping around for a scope, it’s important to choose one that provides adequate eye relief. To increase your chances of hitting your target, you’ll need to choose an accessory that’s comfortable to use. Eye relief refers to the distance your eye must be from the ocular lens to still get a full view through the scope and it plays a huge role in ensuring your comfort while you’re out on a hunt.

Field of View (FOV)
Field of View (FOV) refers to the amount of area seen through the scope. By design, the higher the scope’s magnification, the lesser field of vision you’ll have. So, when shopping for a rifle scope, you’ll often have to decide whether you want a powerful field of vision or better magnification.

When you read product specifications that refer to optics, you’ll likely see three types of rifle scope optics: coated, full-coated, and multi. To put it simply, a coated single optics has a coating on at least one lens. Fully-coated optics has a special coating on all lenses in a scope. Finally, multi-coated optics has coatings on many of the lenses (but not all of them).

The term resolution refers to how sharp an image appears through the accessory. The higher the resolution, the sharper the image will be through the scope. Likewise, lower resolution scopes will make objects appear less sharp through the scope.

The click on a rifle scope refers to the adjustment notch on windage. It can also refer to the elevation turret of the scope. For most purposes, a 1/4 inch click will change the point of impact at 100 yards. Although 1/4 inch notches are the most common, some rifle scopes are created with 1/8, 1/2, or even 1-inch notches.


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