The right set of optics can greatly increase accuracy and response times. It’s important that shooters choose the right set of optics to match their firearms purpose. Home defense weapons will be better off close range optics such as red-dot or holographic sights whereas hunters shooting in large open terrain would be better suited to a variable scope.
Using the wrong type of optics for your firearm are more of a hindrance than a help. A large magnification scope on a firearm intended for hunting in thick brush will be no help to the shooter.
Below we’ve listed things to consider when deciding what optics best suit your needs as well as some example of different types. We’ve also listed some of our favorite scopes that might be worth looking at for your setup.
Things To Consider When Finding The Best Optics For You
The very first thing you need to consider is the intended use of your firearm whether hunting, sport, home defense or a bit on an all-rounder.
Hunters will need to consider what type of hunting they are most likely going to be doing. Open terrain hunting may call for a medium to strong magnification scope whereas thick brush to bird hunting will better suit a reflex sight or simply the iron sights.
Home defense weapons will be better off with reflex sights for quicker targeting in close quarter environments.
Sporting will be completely dependent upon the type of competitive shooting you are involved in, but realistically this will be a reflex or low magnification scope such as a 4x.
An All-rounder is most likely going to be low magnification scope such as a 4x, possibly with a reflex side mounted or canted iron sights.
Type Of Firearm
It’s also important to consider the feasibility of scope size to your firearm. A large magnification scope has no business on a handgun or shotguns that aren’t shooting slugs. There is such a thing as too much scope just as you can also have too much gun for its purpose. This really boils down to common sense and practicality of the weapon.
There are dozens of available reticle patterns on the market so it’s important to find one that suits your shooting style. For magnified scopes you’ll typically come across mil-dot or BDC, these are great as they use dot/hash systems that can be used to zero targets. Reflex sights are very customizable, we’d advise trying a few out but don’t end up with something too obstructive, as you’ll still want a clear line of sight.
MILS or MOA
There are 2 forms of measurement in regards to adjusting scopes, MOA (Minutes Of Angle) that is more commonly used and MILS (Milradian). 1 MOA very closely represents 1″ at 100 yards, using smaller increments, MOA can provide a more accurate measurement than MILS providing an easier measuring and therefore greater accuracy at long range. MILS, however, is close to 3.6″ at 100 yards, hence why it can prove more difficult to zero at greater distances. MILS are used as a simple ruler and the method carries no matter what the distance, you view where the first shot landed and adjust to the MILS on the reticle.
This focuses on reticle position, FFP (First Focal Plane) and SFP (Second Focal Plane). SFP reticles stay the same size regardless of magnification, this can be less distracting for the shooter providing a clear constant scope image. However, This can make using Mil-Dot scopes more troublesome. FFP reticles will scale with the increase/decrease of scope magnification allowing Mil-Dot scope users to be accurate at all levels of magnification, the only problem is at low-level magnification the reticle can be difficult to use thus it’s really only good for long-range shooters.
A decent sight is worth the investment, deals that seem too good to be true are as cheap scopes are usually cheaply made and will break/fail much sooner than a quality sight. To avoid the hassle of having to continuously replace sights spend a bit more early on as it can always be moved across similar firearms. Also, find the right budget, you can spend thousands on high-end scopes but this is typically unnecessary for the average consumer. The most important features to focus on are glass quality and adjustment precision.
Types Of Optics
So there are 2 types of optics, telescopic (magnification) and reflector (reflex). Telescopic sights allow for varying degrees of magnification typically seen on long range hunting rifles. Reflex sights have a fixed magnification but allow for faster target tracking and acquisition, these are found more commonly on home defense or close range hunting firearms.
One of our favourite close range sights is the EOTech 512.A65 Tactical HOLOgraphic AA Batteries Weapon Sight.
This sight is built for durability and easy use. It’s waterproof up to 10 feet and comes with 20-brightness settings allowing for use in a variety of light conditions. It operates 2 AA batteries that provide over 1000 hours of continuous usage. The only downside to this sight is that it is slightly bulkier than others so it can raise the firearm profile but a greater margin.
For medium range, we’re big fans of fixed 4x scopes as it requires very little if any adjustment. One of our favorites is the Ade Advanced Optics 4×32 Fixed Power Green/blue/red Illuminated Reticle Compact Rifle Scope with Fiber Optic Tactical Sight and Weaver Slots.
This sight is small and compact in design allowing for quicker target acquisition, its extremely affordable, and offers red, green, and blue illuminations. This sight is also incredibly lightweight, weighing just over 1 pound, but this does make it less shock resistant than some heavier scopes.
Possibly one of the best scopes to hit the market, the Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25X56mm 35mm, M5B2 Matte Illum. Front Focal TMR.
The Leupold offers greater low-light detailing with their Xtended Twilight Lens System, auto-locking and turns adjustment system that unlocks dials when gripped, an 8:1 Zoom ratio, and its even 100% water and fog proof