Types of Gun Scopes

Gun scopes have many valuable features that all shooters will appreciate. Yet each type is designed for a specific purpose.

Before heading to the gun shop and buying a new scope, you may want to read this article to learn about the various types that are on the market and pick the one that suits you best.

What are gun scopes?

Gun scopes are instruments that allow you to accurately aim at your bullet's target.

Every gun scope device has multiple lenses that magnify your view. In addition, these lenses come with a reticle that enables you to pinpoint where your bullet will hit.

Each of these characteristics and tools will vary from one type of gun scope to another.

Types of Gun Scopes

This list includes 10 of the most common types of gun scopes.

Fixed Scope

Simply put, this is your basic gun scope. The main advantage to buying a fixed scope is that it's relatively cheap.

However, as its name suggests, this type's magnification level is fixed. In other words, you can't zoom in or out while aiming at your target.

If you're looking for a device that enhances your view and shooting precision, you may want to consider alternative options.

Variable Scope

Variable scopes are ideal for shooters who are looking for advanced magnification capabilities.

A variable scope's name is made out of a series of numbers that represent its lens size and magnification levels. For instance, a 5-20X56 variable scope has the following features:

  • Objective Lens Size: The last number in the variable scope's number series pertains to its objective lens size. In our example, it's 56 millimeters.
  • Magnification: This is showcased by the initial two numbers in the series. In the above illustration, the 5-20X indicates that the variable scope can magnify your view by a five-fold and up to 20 times closer.

Variable scopes have advantageous vision tools in comparison to fixed scopes. Yet, there are additional types that are more appropriate for specialized uses.  

Night Vision Scope

In a few words, night vision scopes have built-in infrared illumination instruments that enable you to see in the dark. This makes them ideal if you regularly shoot at night or in environments with dimmed lights.

These scopes are similar to the ones that the military relies on, but they're not as technically advanced.

Tactical Scope

Tactical scopes, which are designed for infantry troops, can increase the magnification level by a fourfold.

While this is relatively low in comparison to variable and night vision scopes, a tactical device's simplified reticles allows soldiers to quickly and easily hit their targets.

Because of its relatively reduced magnification capabilities, a tactical scope is more suitable for shooting from near and medium ranges than long distances. 

Long Range Scope

Here, the term 'long range' refers to a broad category of scopes, and not a specific type.

The majority of these tools have a variable magnification level, but some of them have a fixed one.

Long range scopes are used in shooting competitions, by snipers, and in multiple similar settings.

Hunting Scope

The scopes that hunters rely on have the following traits and characteristics:

  • They can be robustly deployed.
  • The devices are made to be weather resistant.
  • Their magnification level could be up to 20 times.

It should be mentioned that these scopes provide hunters with a bright and clear view of their target, regardless of what the weather conditions are like.

Having said that, they aren't as adjustable as the other types of scopes.

Competition Scope

In comparison to the ones that hunters use, competition scopes are much less durable. This is because they were created for professional firearm competitions instead of outdoors shooting.

Nevertheless, competition scopes can magnify your vision by up to 40 times.

If you are thinking about buying one, you should keep in mind that these scopes are among the largest and heaviest types.

Sniper Scope

Sniper scopes are appropriate for highly-experienced and skilled shooters. For example, the sniper scopes that military personnel use have a fixed magnification level of a tenfold.

Here are some further attributes that define this scope type:

  • It is moderately powered.
  • Its reticles display a lot of details. For instance, a mil-dot reticle gives you information about the distances between objects, the effects of the wind, and other specifics.
  • The adjustment turrets are precise, especially since they can be moved in very small increments.

In short, the accuracy level that this scope provides is crucial for snipers.

Scout Scope

Hunters and members of the military tend to rely on scout scopes, particularly when they're in dense woods.

Scout and tactical scopes have many common characteristics. Some types of scout scopes have adjustable turrets that are akin to the ones that you would find on a sniper scope. However, this isn't always the case.

Shooters regularly use scout scopes with twofold, sevenfold, and eightfold magnifications.

Red Dot Scope

Red dot scopes offer minimal magnification capabilities, if any. Instead, shooters can pinpoint their target through a red dot or laser light.

These types of scopes are typically found in close-quarters shooting environments, such as a range.

At the end of the day, whether you're a hunter, member of the military, professional shooter, or firearms sports enthusiast, you will find at least one type of gun scope that's designed for your needs in the list above.

Now that you know about the different gun scopes that are on the market and what each of them entails, you can head to the gun shop and make an educated and highly-informed purchase.


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