How Does a Rifle Scope Work?
By GDC Staff
At the root of it, a rifle scope serves one major purpose: magnification of the target for more accurate shooting. Similar to looking through binoculars, a riflescope makes the target – be that paper or a game animal – appear larger, clearer and in greater detail than seen with the naked eye. This magnification allows shooters to place a shot with a much greater degree of accuracy, especially at extended ranges. Rifle scopes are especially popular for serious target shooters and big game hunters.
To oversimplify things, riflescopes work very much like telescopes with light passing through a series of lenses. Generally speaking, the more expensive the scope, the higher quality the components used to build it, and ultimately, the clearer and better the optic will be. Unlike a telescope, however, riflescopes have a reticle, also sometimes called crosshairs. That reticle, which is traditionally a “plus” shape superimposed over the target, is essentially the aiming point on the target when the shooter pulls the trigger. Riflescopes are mounted on the rifle using available mounts to fit the particular rifle or handgun, and then adjusted – or zeroed – to shoot at the chosen distance, most commonly 100 yards.
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