How Do Rifle Scopes Work of 2022 (A Step by Step Guide)

A scope plays a vital role in the case of aiming your rifle. It provides accuracy at firing long distances, magnifies the object or target, and indicates your aim. To use it properly, users should know how do rifle scopes work.

The scope is a gear built with a series of lenses. When the object lens passes the light, it creates a focal point where the reticle remains. Then the erector system flips the image, and the magnification of the image is complete. At last, the eyepiece allows the shooter to focus and prevent recoil.

Before using or choosing a scope, you should learn about their working principle. This will let you shoot with more precision and allow safer gun usage.

What is Scope? How Does it Work?

The scope is a kind of gear used on top of the rifle. It is a device that contains a lot of lenses in series. These lenses help in magnifying. There are some types of reticles too. An aiming instrument is there which assists you where your bullet will hit.

A rifle scope can be comparable with a telescope. Suppose you are using a telescope to watch the full moon. The device helps you observe the moon from the earth with multiple magnifications. Similarly, the rifle scope allows you to see your target clearly and more precisely from a distance.

You will find many variations of rifle scopes in the market. These scopes vary from each other in their configuration, styles, construction, and value for money. Sports shooters argue about these scopes based on how they are configured and built up.

Working Mechanism of Different Types Of Scope

Scopes come in different sizes and shapes. They are categorized on their magnification level too. Different rifles have different requirements for a scope.

External Materials Of A Rifle Scope

Multiple scopes are there to support the rifle feature. Let us dig deeper into the details.

Fixed Scope

Many scopes will give you the option to adjust. You will be able to accommodate them the way you need them.

But the fixed scope has got a fixed magnification level. You will get only what you see. The scope does not offer you a zoom-in or zoom-out feature to get a better view of the target. Due to this limitation, it is the most basic scope out there and is less expensive.

Working Mechanism

This type of scope works based on the standard procedure. It follows the objective, erector lens, magnifier, and eyepieces. Though here, the magnification is fixed.

Variable Scope

A variable scope is the inverse of the fixed scope. From the tag name, it can be understood easily.

While fixed scope does not offer you to adjust zooming, you will find it in variable scope. The magnification can be adjustable. You can change it to your suitable condition.

The scope has got a series of numbers in names. For example, 5-20X56. Here, the end number says the objective lens size. For this, it is 56 mm. The first two indicate the level of magnification. For this, it can be magnified from 5X to 20X.

Working Mechanism

This scope works on the same principle as the fixed scope. But the only difference is it can be magnified based on the requirement. That is not possible in fixed scope.

Tactical Scope

You can tag any gear with the tactical title nowadays. But this type of scope was built for a specific purpose. This is for beginners. You can call them infantry troops. These were made for them. They use this in their training. It is the perfect scope to shoot for the country’s military.

The scope of this category has low magnification levels. As this type of scope was not built for long-range shooting. They often have a low 4X magnification with simple reticles. It helps to get the targets at the shortest range.

Working Mechanism

Tactical scopes commonly have uncapped turrets. It has a one-centimeter click, as well as a first-plane reticle. That’s because the turret clicks and reticle sub tensions are linked. When the turret is spun ten times, the point of impact will change one line on the reticle.

Night Vision Scope

If you go hunting at night, this will come in handy. You can find visibility through it in low-light conditions. This scope has a built-in infrared illuminator, which helps you to see where there is almost no light available.

Working Mechanism

A thermal scope creates pictures or thermograms using infrared light (which is why it is also called an infrared scope or IR scope). Hot items appear bright in a thermal image, whereas cold things appear dark. This is because it displays varying degrees of heat.

Long Range Scope

It is a broad category of scopes. Many scopes fall under this category. For example, the competition scopes and sniper scopes.

With over 10X magnification scopes, it could be categorized as a long-range scope. Most of these scopes vary in their magnification level. You will find some fixed long-range scopes well.

Hunting Scope

This one seems to be less complicated than other tactical scopes. These are very durable. Hunting scopes are made so they can be very robust and weather resistant. This is because they will be used outside of the element.

Hunting is typically not done in the long-range. So, this type of scope generally gets a magnification of 20x or below it. It cannot be adjusted. Hunters usually want easy-to-use and detailed scope. So, they experience minimal distraction at the time of hunting.

This type of scope generally focuses on creating a big and clear image of the object. It will give you the same output in all weather.

Competition Scope

The scope which is built for the competition purposes is highly magnifiable. They are less durable. This type of scope is not suitable for hunting purposes or any tactical situation. They usually are extensively sophisticated, and the light transition is often nullified.

In the case of shooting competitions, you are required to hit a specific target from a distance. The distance must be considerable. This is where the competition scopes typically shine.

Their magnification can be up to 40X. Some of them are really powerful. They are gigantic in comparison with the other scopes.

Sniper Scope

There is a regular misconception among people about the scope the snipers use. People think that snipers use massive scopes with lots of magnification facilities. But it is a mistake.

Snipers prefer to shoot with powerful scopes that are moderately built up. The reticle is built inside, delivering valuable and detailed information. You may be surprised to know that a fixed 10x scope is commonly used for snipping in the military. This is much lower in power.

You will find a mil-dot reticle here. It is a common thing in these scopes. This gives the shooter information about the distance, windages, and more helpful information.

A sniper scope is not user-friendly for regular users. They may face difficulties while using. These scopes have exclusive adjustment turrets. This allows precise movement in tiny increments and provides accuracy, which is everything for a sniper.

Working Mechanism

Light travels through the objective lens and focuses on a single point inside the scope, dubbed the focal point. The image is then inverted and caught by the erector lens, which is also known as the “picture reversal assembly.”

This technology rotates the picture and provides light to the magnifying lens in the appropriate orientation.

Red Dot Scope

The red dot scope is small. It has no magnification at all. If you use a red dot scope, you will only see a red dot in the center. This is the aiming point. It does not work like laser light. It is only visible when you look through the scope.

This type of scope is widely used in closed combat situations. It is famous in the tactical kind of combat or competition. It shows how fast the shooter can find their target and shoot accurately.

As it has no magnification at all, this is not for long-range shooting. You may find it helpful in close-range shooting if you can adequately utilize it.

Working Mechanism

A red dot scope features a spherical mirror on its axis focus that reflects the light generated by an LED. The light from an LED bounces off of that glass, forming your reticle.

This allows you to see your reticle and see through your optic. But it prevents anyone on the other side of the optic from seeing it.

Scout Scope

There are some other scopes like the scout scope. It is used widely for different purposes. Scout scopes and tactical scopes are almost similar. Both military and hunters use it based on their position.

This type of scope has low magnification, usually 2X, 8X, or 7X. Among them, 7X is quite popular. It has adjustable turrets. However, many do not use that.

How Different Parts of A Rifle Scope Works

You are already in the middle of the article. You have already learned about scopes. You learn about different types of scope that are available in the market. Now, let us get to know how each part of a rifle scope works.

Interior Portion Of A Rifle Scope

Several steps are followed when a rifle scope works. Every step is discussed below.

Objective lens

Here the light wave enters the objective lens. This lens is made mainly on purpose. It is big so that it can capture more light, and the rays can start their journey to the user’s eye.

There is a distance between the target and the objective lens. Due to this reason, the image enters that lens upside-down.

Objective lenses are coated with certain chemicals. It is often covered with a layer of enhancements. These coatings help to filter a certain amount of light.

It also reduces the reflection and allows the maximum amount of light to enter. This helps to perform better in low light conditions. For some colors, the coating is selective.

There are particular rifle scopes, named Leupold, that are coated in this way. The color filters are being used here for more excellent resolution.

When the light passes through the objective lens, it creates a focal point.

Erector System

The second phase of light traveling occurs in the erector system. It contains a series of two lenses. Its primary purpose is to make the image flip. The erector system flips the image in the right side up orientation.

This can also be called elevation adjustment. A spring system is activated when the turret is on. It then adjusts the image of the target. In some cases, the physical position of the reticle is adjusted. However, it is a rare scenario.


The Erector system also performs the magnification of the image. Here, the system’s two lenses synchronize and come back and forth with each other. This is how contraction and expansion happen. The distance that develops ultimately magnifies the image.

A second focal length is created by the two lenses. The reticle is positioned here. That is, between the erector system and the eyepiece, the reticle is placed.

As it is located after the erector system, the reticle is responsible for the magnification. That’s why FFP reticles “grow” as magnification increases.

If the tube is longer, they build more room for the erector systems. There are more than two lenses that have to be moved. The more distance they can move apart, the higher the scope’s magnification.

One reason a scope like the Swarovski z8i 1-8x has a smaller form factor than the Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25X is because of this.


When the light passes the erector system, the light has to move through more than two lenses. It allows the shooter to focus and helps to focus on the image and the reticle to their eye. Here, the final focal point is named the exit pupil.

The exit pupil can be closer to the lens on low-recoil weapons like the AR-15 or other semi-auto carbines. This gun uses lower magnification optics. It allows for faster target acquisition. If a high caliber bolt has a more extended exit pupil, it is advantageous to shooters. The shooter will find a perfect eye position to prevent the rifle’s recoil.

The most important and final part of a rifle scope is the optical sensors. One needs to take care of their eyes. So these sensors perform complex functions to retain the shooter’s eyesight and allow maximum comfort for their vision.

Using Scopes with Your Rifle

Rifle users have shown interest in rifle scopes for the last few years. They are investing in rifle scopes to get a better experience. Long before, it was not that scopes were not famous. But most users didn’t feel the urge to use additional gear on the top of their rifles.

How do rifle scopes work

For the right reasons, rifle scopes are becoming increasingly popular. Scopes mounted on top of your rifle provide several advantages. This includes the satisfaction of improved accuracy in a more extended range and improved scoreboards.

It also helps to satisfy the psychological and personal fulfillment. The advantages outnumber the disadvantages. It makes the rifle scopes a must-have item for any hunting aficionado.

We’ve decided to compile a description of some of the benefits of using rifle scopes. So, here they are!

Longer Range

The range is one of the most crucial aspects. It influences one’s shooting experience.

When unfamiliar with the range concept, the shooter may feel uncomfortable in the field. They are either too close to or too far away from a wild animal to have a chance.

The lack of such knowledge will only put the rifle user in a perilous situation. It will potentially result in their death. Nobody wants to take a chance like that!

Rifle scopes provide you with a more extensive range and a better picture of what you’re shooting at. Distant targets will now be much closer to you. It will provide you with more room and help you hit your target more accurately.


When it comes to firearms and shooting targets, accuracy and precision are critical. You want to strike your goal with the fewest number of attempts and the shortest amount of time.

Everyone has days when they aren’t as lucky or perfect as they want. A rifle scope can help ensure accuracy in these situations. If you have a rifle scope, your odds of having a greater level of accuracy are substantially better rather than if you don’t.

As a result of the increased precision, more rounds will be successful. Less time will be spent, and fewer bullets will be needed.

Uplifting Confidence

When employing a powerful weapon like a rifle, users must have confidence and belief. They must use this one’s ability to utilize their mental strength.

As a result, psychological factors play a significant influence. It later determines how effective a shooter you may be. Not only do you need the best gun, but you also need the right mind and talents to use it.

A rifle scope is an optional accessory that will increase your confidence. If you use a scope with a rifle, it can improve your skill. Moreover, it will help you to aim accurately and precisely. It can make you a better shooter.

Saves Time

A scope saves you valuable time. It will help you target precisely and not going to waste your bullet.

However, it has got a negative side too. Though the disadvantage is short, the iron sight might fail in terms of reliability. It can increase eye fatigue and run the risk of exposure to a laser environment.


In the last few years, the basic design of scope has remained unaltered. The growth of weapon scopes has aided in advances in military technology, sports hunting, and innovative tactical procedures. Rifle scopes are among the most technologically advanced and well-engineered devices on the market.

At this point, you know everything about scopes and how do rifle scopes work. So, select the optimum scope for your purposes. Remember that your optics’ quality and coatings are crucial to striking your target. If properly cared for, high-quality optical glass can last a lifetime!

Louis Harry

I love to hunt and shoot and in this course, I can feel the irritation of time-consuming shopping for the scope, especially in online so a good product review can help you to get over this and to provide you the basic knowledge so that you can get along with the dealing. But all the content available in online are not equally effective and helpful. Even most of them are really boring and lack of information or full of wrong information. Read More

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