What Is A Sniper Scope & How Do You Use One?

What Is A Sniper Scope

To the untrained observer, those who use sniper scopes well are inhumanely accurate.

But using a sniper scope effectively isn’t as difficult as you may think. Chances are, you already know how they basically work if you’ve ever looked through a telescope.

How Sniper Scopes Work

Sniper scopes are, in essence, miniature telescopes that are mounted to the top of your sniper rifle. Thus, the same physical processes that allow astronomers to capture the light from distant stars also allow you to magnify your target and estimate where you need to aim to hit a distant shot.

First off, light is collected from the objective lens at the end of the sniper scope. This is usually the wider lens of the scope relative to the end where you’ll put your eye. As light passes through the sniper scope tube, it hits a focus in the middle of the scope where the light is bent to a single bright point.

The bending of the light allows it to be focused on the eyepiece, which is at the other end of the sniper scope. This provides a magnified image of the thing you’re seeing at a distance and magnified depending on the type of objective lens the scope is built with.

Things become more complicated if the sniper scope has multiple magnification types or different kinds of reticles. However, this is the basic process that all sniper scopes use in the end.

How to Use a Sniper Scope

Becoming skilled at using a sniper scope takes lots of experience and in-depth guides. Here’s a brief summary of how to use a sniper scope:

  • First, mount the riflescope on your rifle by using either predrilled attachments or drilling the scope to your rifle yourself. Most scopes are specialized to work with certain kinds of mounting rails, like Weaver or Picatinny.
  • Next, you'll need to align your reticle and adjust for eye relief. Keep your mounting rings loose and rotate the scope until the reticle or cross is properly aligned and the reticle is right-side up. Then adjust the scope before tightening the mounting rings so you have enough space between your eye and the eyepiece when taking recoil into account (otherwise you’ll get a black eye)
  • Fiddle with the windage and elevation adjustment dials depending on how high or low you are relative to your target and based on the wind. These knobs can move the reticle side to side or up and down and allow you to compensate for the above variables
  • Fix the lens if it is a variable model – that is, pick your magnification setting.
  • Take lots of practice shots with your new scope from the distance at which you’ll use it the most. You can adjust the scope continually until it helps you land shots consistently
Sniper ZT 5-25x50 FFP First Focal Plane (FFP) Scope with...
  • Hunting rifle scope providing crystal clear targeting at 5-25x magnification, with a 50mm objective diameter and an eye relief of 3.7-3.8 Inches
  • Glass-etched/First focal plane(FFP) reticle. Reticle illumination in both red and green with multiple brightness intensities
  • Capped reset turrets are finger adjustable with 1/4 MOA clicks that can be reset to zero after sighting in.

How to Read a Sniper Scope

Reading a sniper scope is fairly easy once you get used to it.

First off, consider how the scope is advertised. A 4-12×30 scope can magnify between 4x and 12x and has a 30 mm objective lens. Meanwhile, a 10×50 scope can magnify at 10x power with a 50 mm objective lens.

When looking at your reticle, regardless of reticle type, there should be a crosshair with a line going horizontally and one going vertically. The horizontal line can help you adjust for wind. The vertical line will help you adjust for both bullet drop and elevation differences.

The dots on each of the lines represent different standards of distance. Many sniper scopes use a MIL or MOA system of measurement. One (1) MOA dot is equal to 1.047 inches at 100 yards while 1 MIL is equal to 3.6 inches at 100 yards.

There’s a lot more to successfully using a sniper scope. We hope this has served as a basic overview of these very worthwhile tools.


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