The editor ex­plains the mean­ing of all the num­bers in­scribed upon a scope

Just what do all those num­bers mean? The editor tells all

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Ri­fle scopes are usu­ally de­scribed with num­bers, which is all well and good when you un­der­stand, but hope­less when you’re new to the sport. There are two main types of de­scrip­tion:

The first looks like 4 x 40, or 10 x 50, which tells us that these are fixed mag­ni­fi­ca­tion mod­els. The first num­ber tells us the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion and the se­cond num­ber is the size of the ob­jec­tive (front) lens in mil­lime­tres. These used to be very pop­u­lar, but to­day have be­come less com­mon.

The se­cond type might read 3- 9 x 40, or 4-12 x 50, and the same rule ap­plies ex­cept these scopes have vari­able mag­ni­fi­ca­tion, or what’s some­times called ‘zoom’. these are fine virtues. Fixed mag’ scopes can also be lighter and more com­pact. They used to be more re­li­able than vari­able scopes, but that’s not such a big is­sue to­day. All op­ti­cal de­vices have im­proved mas­sively over time and old prob­lems, like the lenses fog­ging up, have all but dis­ap­peared on high­qual­ity op­tics.


Now we un­der­stand what the num­bers mean, how do we choose a model to suit our needs? I think it’s fair to say that to­day, most peo­ple choose vari­able mag’ scopes for their ver­sa­til­ity and abil­ity to be adapted to suit al­most any sit­u­a­tion. For the hunter, the 4-12

“might read 3-9 x 40, or 4-12 x 50, and the same rule ap­plies ex­cept these scopes have vari­able mag­ni­fi­ca­tion”

So, the first one can be var­ied from 3x all the way up to 9x to suit the con­di­tions in which you find your­self. The last num­ber is the ob­jec­tive lens di­am­e­ter in mil­lime­tres.

Fixed mag’ scopes are sim­ple and less ex­pen­sive than vari­able mag’ mod­els, and for some peo­ple x 50 is a great all- rounder. Be­ing able to drop the mag’ low makes for a bright im­age and a wide field of view, ideal for tar­get­ing rats and feral pi­geons around the farm­yard. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the higher the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion, the darker the im­age and the nar­rower the field of view. Turn­ing mag­ni­fi­ca­tion up al­lows for more pre­cise shot place­ment on dif­fi­cult tar­gets, such as a pi­geon’s head at 30 yards. The ex­tra mag­ni­fi­ca­tion al­lows us to see pre­cisely where we need the pel­let to land, and to place the shot right on the mark.

Big­ger ob­jec­tive lenses are of­ten touted as be­ing able max­imise the im­age bright­ness and that’s true, to a de­gree, but the qual­ity of the lenses and their coat­ings play an even big­ger part in that quest. It’s bet­ter to buy a medium- sized scope of high qual­ity, than a huge scope with poor lenses. Qual­ity counts when it comes to op­tics, so al­ways buy the very best you can.

BE­LOW: The last num­ber in 4-14 x 44 is the front lens di­am­e­ter in mil­lime­tres

ABOVE: Scopes are de­scribed in num­bers as we see here

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