How To Zero A Rifle Scope or sight

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Learn all about rifle scopes, shooting, marksmanship, camouflage, how to make hides and how to track targets in the US Army Sniper Guide. Download it here

Buy a Rifle Scope Guide

A quality rifle scope that's well suited for what you're using it for it essential and will make your day out a lot more successful and therefore fun! This page is about scopes rather than sights (definition difference covered on my types of scopes page)

Typically you'll buy a rifle scope or sight for the following activities:

  • Air rifle hunting: One of the most common especially in the UK. While ranges are not that great (max 45 metres) the accuracy required for a kill coupled with the small target area and in many cases, target movement means that a scope is much more than an accessory, it's a key part of your armoury.
  • Air rifle Target shooting: Anything from fun plinking in the garden to competition. Comp shoots tend not to use telescopics but if you're target shooting for sun then buying a scope will make it much more fun.
  • Hi Power rifle hunting: Where you can spend serious money! Scopes for hi power rifles may need to stand up to big kick recoils
  • Airsoft combat: A scope can be very helpful when trying to spot the enemy in cover as well as help with longer distance aimed shots. And of course scope makes an airsoft rifle look very cool!
  • Paintball combat: For guns with good accuracy a telescopic scope can be handy when taking long distance aimed shots, especially when you need to make the first shot count as opposed to the normal scatter/bombard method! Otherwise a popular addition is a reflex sight - a red dot or laser sight.



Selecting the correct rifle scope to fit your needs involves a number of considerations from mechanics and construction, to image quality and magnification. Keep in mind when and where you shoot most often and choose a riflescope with features that best fit the requirements of your particular sport.


  1. Mechanics: You'll want to consider weight, bulk and ergonomics. Important if you're going out for long periods or want to keep weight down for ease of movement - or maybe you are, or are buying for a junior or  smaller lady shooter. In which case don't get them a 4-16x56 monster!

  2. Image Quality: For optimum image quality, it is important that the optical system of a riflescope deliver as much light as possible to the eye of the shooter. The lighter or brighter the image, the sharper the resolution, and the clearer the shot.
    • As a rule the lower the light, smaller/faster the target or longer the distance then the bigger then lens should be and more variable the magnification - This is why a 3-9x40 is considered the best all rounder at least when starting out.

  3. Magnification: Choose a riflescope with the magnification or power that is appropriate for your particular application. My ebay shop scopes all fall in the Beginners to Medium range.

    • Beginner/Budget: Go for a 4x20 or 3-7x20 with fixed mounts, easy to use and cheap.

    • Low power - (example: 4x32, 3-9x32) Idea riflescopes for close range, airsoft and slower moving targets. Good light management with brighter sight picture and wider field's of view than the 4x20 type even in low-light conditions and thick brush.

    • Medium power - (example: 3-9x40, 4-12x42) My recommendation for hunting all sized game at close to medium range. Really good for combat gaming as well. Consistent best sellers on ebay.

    • High power - (example: 6-18x40, 6-24x40) Longest ranges and smallest targets in lowest light. Typically more of a hi power hunters scope than an air rifle one.

  4. Type of cross hair - Cross Hairs can help you estimate range and therefore compensate for wind and shot arc drop.

Buy a rifle scope Types of cross hairCross hair
Simple X marks the spot. Does not aid range finding. Found mainly on budget scopes.

Very widespread and popular. The point to point distance of the 30-30 is equal to 30 inches (76cm) at 100 yards. In visual language this means that at 4x magnification the average deer body (not including legs & antlers) will fill the 30-30 area at this distance. Half fill it at 200 yards. Be twice the size at 50 yards etc.

Mil Dot
Similar principle to 30-30. Developed by US Marine snipers in the 1970's and now the standard for all military scopes. Can be complex but allows more accurate range estimation for experienced users. Basically the small dots vs target size equate to distance when the size of target is known. Handy when you're a sniper and your targets are all errr human sized!

Red dot -
As the name suggests a red dot is projected onto the target. No range find properties as intended for short range work only.

Learn all about shooting, marksmanship, camouflage, how to make hides and how to track targets in the US Army Sniper Guide. Download it here

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