2 minute read

While many people assume that you need more zoom the further you get out, more zoom comes with its own downsides.

Share the knowledge...

Zoom

Zoom is the range of magnification that a scope might have. The figure is how many time’s ‘closer’ the image will appear in the scope than it actually is.

For example – a 3-9 scope (a common range) starts at the low end having a three times magnification, and at the ‘long’ end – nine times.

How much magnification do you need? Depends on your intended use and target size. However, distance is not always the determining factor here.

While many people assume that you need more zoom the further you get out, more zoom comes with its own downsides.

Look at it this way – a rabbit and a deer are very different in size, but sometimes engaged at similar distances. While shooters have often put a smaller scope (2-7) on a 22LR (the bunny buster) than the deer hunting rifle (3-9) – wouldn’t the extra magnification actually make more sense on the bunny gun – where you are going to have a smaller target?

However

Conversely, too much zoom comes with more weight, with a narrower field of view, and with the temptation to zoom in too far – resulting in losing the target in the scope or having to deal with the amount of movement, mirage and general finickiness that a high mag zoom can induce. I have watched1 many field shooting competitors loose a piece of steel at 800 meters, then spend way too much time trying to scope the countryside in the scope – before finally realising they should power down, find the target again, and power back up. In fact, for a lot of 600-1k shooting – 15x power seems to be a sweet spot – on steel targets that is. Start shooting tiny little groups on paper, and a massive 40x or more can become useful.

Some suggestions

While everyone develops their own preferences, and there are some caveats, some common ranges would include –

  • 1-4 – short-range engagement – often found on AR platforms for a run-n-gun style shoot
  • 2-7 – the traditional bush gun mag range
  • 3-9 – common for bush – but also suited to many 22LR rifles
  • 3-15 – the crossover – a rifle that is hunted and competed with
  • 5-25 – the ‘standard’ long-range rifle scope
  • 5-40, 5-50, 4-80 and more – the realm of benchrest, F-Class and tiny holes in targets

  1. and done it myself 

Originally published: September 26, 2018

Lasted updated: September 25, 2018

About Kerry Adams

A constant learner with an inquisitive mind, Kerry created Precision Shooter as a way to share what he was learning from the community of experts he found himself surrounded by.

Somewhere along the line, he picked up one or two things himself. But don't call him an expert.

Website
View All Posts

Share the knowledge...

Tikka TAC A1

It just starts with the gear!

We also have a range of training courses available. Learn how to set up that new rifle, use a rear bag properly, calculate a ballistic solution and wrap it all around proper fundamentals. 

I know. We all hate popups.
But, the fact remains that eMails are the best way for us to keep you up to date with what is going on at Precision Shooter. Facebook and Google are not as a reliable method of search as they once were when it comes to firearm related websites.

Join over 10,000 shooters who are part of the Precision Shooter Community - every week you will get a short update from me. Be the first to know about new resources, upcoming events, courses and more.

As a thank you, you will also instantly get a copy of our training targets - which we use for zeroing, drills, general practice and more. Just print and go!
We respect your privacy. No SPAM. Ever. Hit escape to make this go away.