Hunting Guide: Importance of Sniper Scope

Getting the right scope is a very relative matter. It depends on what rifle you are using, how long you will shoot, and the conditions of shooting. There are other answers than picking the most expensive one.

Actually, there is no single answer. You can’t even imagine a set of scenarios that will give you the right scope every time. A lot of variables go into selecting a sniper scope for hunting. That’s why you have to understand each parameter. And get a feeling of what will be good for you.

Yes, there are certain standards. All of them are explained in this article. However, you must understand how those play out in the real world and get the best scope for you.

Choosing a Sniper Scope: What to Look For?


This article has outlined all the different aspects one must understand when choosing a scope for a hunting sniper rifle.

Holding Zero: How Long the Sope is Going to Hold Its Zero

A rifle that is not holding zero for long is garbage. The longer a rifle can hold zero, the better it is.

Now, why does the rifle lose zero?

There are reasons that have nothing to do with scope quality, like-

  • Mounting and installation process
  • Bad maintenance
  • Not following the manufacturer’s specification (e.g., not pairing it with the proper rifle)

However, a bad-quality scope will lose zero for the following reasons-

  • Recoil
  • Environmental conditions
  • Poor quality material and built

Now, there are not many ways to confirm the quality of holding zero. That’s why brand recognition and reviews of the best sniper scopes are the most important factors here. You should check the return policies and do some field testing if possible, or get some reviews from trusted sources.

Also, ensure that the scope’s recoil rating is compatible with your rifle. Another section of this article talks about the materials that are also related to holding zero.

Precision of MOA or MIL


There is a lot of discussion and math about MOA and MIL. However, this write-up will not go there. You can read thisbook on optics training for that.

The model should have a reputation for precision MOA. For precision shooting, you need a ¼ MOA or 0.1MIL. For tactical or hunting expeditions, go for ½ MOA or 0.5 MIL.

There is a debate between MOA vs MIL. Just use the one that you are comfortable with. And most of the time, it is what people around you are using.

Magnification and Objective Lens

Now, there are two scenarios here.

One is where you aim for a maximum of 300 yards, and most of the time, it is around 100 yards. Here, you will want a fixed three or four-power scope. A variable scope from three to four that goes up to nine or twelve is also good, but you need to stick to the base powers.

Another situation is when you are shooting more than 300 yards. Here, you should go with a 4 to 16-power variable scope. This will allow you to take both close shots and aim as far as a kilometer.

Do not go into the twenties for magnification.

A bigger objective would be great. This combination of magnification and objective lens will allow you to manage recoil, a follow-up shot, and overall situational awareness.

But for small distances, you can go for 40-44 millimeters. For larger distances, 50 or 56 millimeters is good. Remember that larger objective lenses will elevate the scope higher which might create problems for proper position.

Eye relief/ Eye box

Other than a nasty blow to your face from the recoil, improper eye relief can also result in constant adjustment and a strain on the eye to get a full-sight picture.

First of all, anything under two inches is bad. Manufacturers will mark the eye relief for the scope. Make sure it is compatible with the rifle and your personal preference. You should know how to adjust the eye relief to get that crisp scope shadow.

Dials and adjustment options

A good scope should let you know the following adjustments-

  • Elevation dial – adjusts the vertical aim and helps with bullet drop.
  • Windage dial – adjusts the horizontal aim and helps to adjust for the horizontal movement of the bullet for wind. However, it is less important and you should learn to manually adjust it as it is continuously changing.
  • Parallax adjustment dial – adjustability should be down to 10 or 15 yards and all the way up to infinity.

Choose the ones with turret caps and a locking mechanism. They are far better at protecting the sensitive equipment.

Reticle type


If your scope will predominantly be used in the top half of its magnification range, a First-Focal-Plane (FFP) reticle is recommended. Otherwise, a Second Focal Plane (SFP) reticle is more suitable. BDC< Crosshair, Christmas tree reticles are our choices.

Glass quality

A smaller, high-quality glass will give you a more vivid and crisp picture than a larger, low-quality glass. Other than the raw quality of the glass material, you should look for certain types of coatings in a glass. Those can be-

  • Anti-Reflective Coating (AR Coating)
  • Anti-Glare Coating
  • Hydrophobic Coating
  • Dust-Resistant Coating
  • Scratch-Resistant Coating
  • Dielectric Coating

Other materials and built quality

Anything wrong with a precision device like scope can make it useless. If a scope is reviewed as good for a certain rifle and condition, then it is good.

Now, you need to look for the following characteristics in your rifle scope-

  • Waterproof
  • Fog proof
  • Low light reflection
  • No lens flares
  • Low-light performance

A larger tube will help the objective lens to function better.

Scope weight


Scopes can weigh a lot. Hunting in the western states will involve much hiking in hilly terrains. You have the heat and other equipment as well. 10-20 ounces for a scope is reasonable. If you are going over that, make sure that the weight is worth it and that you are not hauling it for long.

Illuminated reticle

Just make sure you don’t have it too high. This will make your eye dilate for the brightness, and you won’t be able to focus on the target. But this feature is a must. There should be a dial to adjust the illumination.

Brand and model


This is crucial when it comes to scopes.

Now, it is understandable that you must go for a good brand of scopes. But you also need to be aware that there are models of those brands that are subpar. They lack durability, are heavier, and bulkier, and have various other problems. So, please check the reviews for that particular model.

Now, you will not have any names here but look for the following characteristics in a reliable brand.

  • The brand should be old enough to showcase that it can keep its promises and deliver for its customers.
  • Good customer service is a must.
  • Good warranty.
  • There should be a good return policy. This shows the confidence of the manufacturer.
  • Better if the manufacturer is US-based.
  • You can look for service centers near you from that brand.

Our personal favorite is Leupold.


The last piece of advice would be not to cheap out on the scope. If you have a good rifle, pair a worthy scope with it. Go for a good brand. Understand the basics if you haven’t already. Then, you will better understand what to look for in a sniper scope for hunting.