More and more people are taking up an interest in hunting and in firearms. This means that there is also a growing interest in accessories. Accessories have the ability to turn an average hunting day into a great one. For rifles, there are many accessories available to add on and enhance your shooting experience.
One of these accessories is a scope. Scopes are used by rifle owners for different reasons. There are some scopes for night use, others are intended for shorter ranges, some are better for varmint hunting and some are designed for long range shooting.
Long range shooting is definitely gaining in popularity among gun enthusiasts. It is a great sport, but it does require you to have the right tools. In addition to a rifle, you will definitely need a long range scope.
What is long range shooting?
Long range shooting is shooting that takes place at a distance that requires the shooter to factor in ballistics, especially windage and bullet drop. It is important to calculate these two factors into the equation in order to accurately hit a target at a distance.
In the sport of shooting, long range shooting is generally broken down into different classes. Benchrest shooting involves distance that are between 100-1000 yards. F class shooting is typically 300-1000 yards as well. Practical Precision shooting involves targets that are 100-1800 meters out and use steel targets.
Other factors that contribute to deciding long range shooting are, weather and caliber and the distance at which you consistently hit your target. For a .22 rifle, any distance over 100 yards is considered long distance. If you are using centerfire rifles, any distance over 400 meters is considered long range.
What to look for in a long range scope
Before heading out to purchase a scope for long range shooting, you should keep in mind a few factors. All scopes will have similarities, but they will have some differences as well. Consider the following when looking to purchase a long range rifle scope.
The objective lens is the part responsible for how much light is let into the scope. A wider lens lets in more light and can give you a clearer picture. Just be aware that a bigger objective lens will be bulkier and take up more room on your rifle and also be heavier.
In fact, when it comes to long range scopes, the lens is probably the most important aspect. The lens of the scope needs to be able to present to you a crystal clear image of the target. This should be true for both high and low magnification levels.
Good long range scopes have magnification that start at 10x. Great long range scopes will run from 20x-30x. You absolutely should consider your skill level and know what is the maximum distance you will be shooting.
Fixed or Variable
A fixed scope will only have one level of magnification. A variable scope will have the ability to flip through different levels of magnification. Deciding between the two will really come down to personal preference. Some scope users like to have the ability to pull back and view more of the terrain as they are hunting. Whether a scope is fixed or variable will not have a big impact on the price difference.
Reticle type are divided into 2 categories-plane type or BDC.
Plane types are either first plane or second plane. First plane reticles do not require you to make any additional calculations when shooting. However, the more you increase the magnification, the smaller the target will appear.
Second plane reticles are fixed, usually at the highest magnification level.
A BDC, Bullet Drop Compensation, reticle uses estimation points stacked vertically beneath the crosshairs. These estimation points correspond to your rifle’s zero range.
As with any major purchase or investment, durability is a key factor. Considering the conditions that you will be using the scope under; it makes sense to look for a durable one. Keep in mind that your scope will be subjected to all kinds of weather and terrain. Look for a scope made from aircraft grade aluminum, or a similar material.
Some scopes will have a special coating on the lenses. This is to protect them from getting scratched. Other lens coatings are used to help transmit the light better, resulting in a clearer view. Generally speaking, the more types of coating that a scope has will equal a higher price.
This is an important factor. Eye relief refers to the distance between your eye and the scope that allows you to see a clear picture. Given the recoil of some firearms, this is important. The minimum recommendation is 3.5” of eye relief.
MIL or MOA
These are both measuring systems to use when shooting with a scope. It comes down to which one you are more comfortable using.
MIL, or milliradians, is .36 inches at 100 yards.
MOA, or minute of angle, is 1.047 inches at 100 yards.
Long range scopes typically use one or the other, but not both. It makes sense to know which system is more comfortable for you before you purchase a scope. Most hunters use MOA, whereas military users are comfortable with MIL.
Proper mounting is key
In order to use a scope with our rifle, you will need to mount it properly. There are different styles of mounts. The type of rifle and scope you plan on using, will determine the mount you need. Generally speaking, you will use either a rail mount or ring mount.
In the case of extreme long range shooting, which is anything greater than 2000 yards, the mounts need to be more specific. You will need to use a long range tapered rail or a tapered scope mount.
It is important to realize that a level scope will use about 50% of the scope’s total elevation travel. If you were to use a tapered rail or tapered mounts, you would be tipping the scope more forward. This will give you 70% - 90% of the total elevation that the scope offers.
Tips for long range shooting
Long range shooting is a different and specialized sport. It involves aiming at targets that are at a much greater distance than usual. In order to have the most success at long range shooting, keep a few points in mind.
1.Optics are crucial
A large part of long range shooting success is thanks to the scope. Make sure that you are purchasing the best scope for your skill level and shooting distance needs. A good scope will help you in low light conditions and be able to adjust for windage and elevation.
2.Rings and Mounts
You should buy the best possible rings and mounts. This will ensure that your scope is properly mounted to your rifle.
3.Check the screws
It is a good habit to check your rifle screws often. Make sure that everything is properly tightened.
4.Clean your rifle barrel
This may seem obvious, but it needs to be stated. If the barrel of your rifle is dirty and has debris, it will have a negative impact on your accuracy. Since the whole purpose of a scope is to increase your accuracy at a distance, you want to be sure all parts are working to your best advantage.
5. Break in your rifle
Your rifle should be broken in before you do serious hunting. It is not hard to break in, you just need some time. A good way to break in the rifle, is by shooting it and then immediately cleaning it to remove any copper or residue. You can use inexpensive ammo for this process.
6.Use the right bullets
Long range shooting is very specific. You need to make sure you have the proper equipment, and that includes bullets. Be sure to purchase bullets that are both a right fit for your rifle and for the type of game you will be shooting.
This may mean that you pay a little bit more, but having the right ammo will go a long way towards a successful day on the range.
7. Know the elements
Long range shooting is often done outdoors. And no matter what type of equipment you may have, you cannot control the weather. You need to learn to shoot while the wind is blowing. Practice shooting in windy conditions and in different types of terrain.
It is simply not possible for you to level your rifle by sight when out in the field. For long range shooting success, it is important to use a level bubble. This tool is mounted to the body of the scope and leveled to the crosshairs.
The position you use when shooting at long ranges is important. If you decide to use a bipod, make sure that you lay straight behind your rifle. You can use your toes to move forward and load the rifle into the bipod. Using this position will also help to minimize muzzle jump during recoil.
10. Steel is best
To fully appreciate long range shooting, you should use steel targets. There is nothing as satisfying as hearing that ping against the metal. You can paint your targets white so that you can spot them easier. Using a steel target will also allow you to see where you hit.
11. Use a rangefinderOne of the best tools you can use for long range shooting is a rangefinder. This handy device will help you to get a correct range reading. This is crucial for making the appropriate adjustments on your scope’s elevation dial.
Factors to Remember
Long range target shooting is becoming quite popular and is a lot of fun. There is nothing like the sound of pinging metal as your shot hits the target! In order to enjoy success with long range shooting, you need to have the proper materials; definitely a good rifle and you will absolutely need a long range scope to go along with it all.
Picking the right scope is crucial. You need to think about the maximum distance you will be shooting. You also need to keep in mind a few other points when selecting your long range scope.
Magnification ability is important. You can select a decent long range scope with 10x magnification. You can also pick a great one that goes from 20x-30x. Along with magnification capability, is to decide if you need a fixed scope or a variable scope.
A fixed scope will have one level of magnification. A variable scope will have several different levels of magnification. Again, your level of experience and the desired maximum shooting range will help determine which features are best for you.
You want to be sure that no matter which scope you choose, that it has lens coating. This is extremely important. Lens coating protects the lenses from scratches. On a scope, the lens is necessary for passing light through and allowing you to get a clear picture of the target. You do not want anything to interfere with the view.
It is also strongly recommended that you choose a scope that has been O ring sealed and nitrogen purged. This process ensures that no moisture or dirt can enter the lens. This guarantees that your scope will be waterproof, shockproof and fog proof. This is critical. When you are out in the field, you do not want to worry about environmental factors that could negatively affect your view or the use of your scope.
Look for a scope that is crafted from aircraft grade aluminum. Again, this is a feature that will allow the scope to stand up under all types of conditions. You want to be sure that the long range scope you choose can go the distance.
Long range shooting is a satisfying experience. Make sure you have the proper equipment and you can take your shooting game up a notch.
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