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5 Types of Telescopic Sights/Scopes You Must Be Familiar With

different types of scopes
Written by Erik Himmel

A scope could make or mar your hunting or shooting expeditions. If you don’t even know what type might suit you, you’re asking for trouble.

Well, you’re in luck! Keep reading to get well familiar with all the different types of scopes out there so you can make good use of your scope for optimum precision and accuracy.

Explained: Different Types of Scopes

Basics of Riflescopes

Riflescopes are the aiming devices, which enhance your vision when aiming. They consist of the objective and ocular lens, windage, elevation turret, power selector, and reticle.

The objective lens is larger than the ocular lenses. While facing the target, its job is to gather light around the target to get a clearer picture and transmission of the light to the ocular lens. This lens grips in the objective bell of the scope.

The smaller ocular lens faces the shooter. It focuses on the light coming from the objective lens to give a focused sight. Both lenses are great as they’re well-coated to repel water and light transmission

The windage and elevation turret are two knobs for the reticle adjustment. The windage on the right side of the scope adjusts the reticle’s horizontal movement, whereas the elevation turret mounted on the scope adjusts the reticle’s vertical motion.

The power selector is for magnification adjustment in adjustable scopes: you can zoom in and out by adjusting it.

The reticle is a bullseye crosshair, mainly in the form of Mildot and Duplex, which helps with the exact aiming point.

Other parts include the scope tube, eyepiece, parallax error knob, and erector lenses.

Types of Scopes In Terms Of Optical Magnification

1. Fixed Scopes

As the name specifies, fixed scopes are only extended to a certain point. There is no zoom in or out; it’s fixed at a certain zoom ratio.

These single magnification scopes will show 3×50mm. “3×” shows the magnification and specifies much of your view will be zoomed than natural sight. Remember, it cannot be 2× or normal.

Their inflexible limit is a little drawback. Nonetheless, they prevent parallax error and give a brighter sight. They offer more optic precision and speed because of holdover reticles.

Additionally, they are lightweight, shorter, and economical. They provide extended eye relief, making them the sniper scopes.

2. Adjustable Scopes

Adjustable or variable scopes are not bound to a certain zoom ratio. They provide a range and can zoom in and out between that range only.

This adjustable magnification power will show you a range like 3-8×50mm: objects can be zoomed from 3 to 8 times more than natural sight. Their adjustable range makes them the best pick for almost everyone.

Functionally, it will be zoomed out when you’re searching for the prey to broaden your view. Once the target’s locked, zoom in and get the precise shot. That’s why they’re great for far-away targets.

Lastly, only experts can adjust them.

General Types of Rifle Scopes

1. Aperture Sights

Aperture Sights

Aperture or peep sights were used in military battle rifles in the past but they have been replaced with other modern sights. These optic-free scopes were composed of two sights: a rear and a front sight. They were mostly made of steel or aluminum to avoid misreading.

The rear sight used a circular-shape or a peephole while the front used a mounted 90-degree like a simple line, which directed to the exact center of the aperture. In this way, aiming through the aperture would have guided you towards the center.

2. Open Sights

Open Sights
These are quite similar to the aperture sights: being optic-free and having a traditional scope with a rear and front sight. These two sights fall into the category of iron sights and use almost the same materials.

The rear sight uses a nick, or some other type of notch of different shapes to give the exact center.

They are usually used in police firearms and hunting shotguns. They can be in the shape of a bead, ramp, post, and sometimes in a U or V.

3. Red Dot

Red Dot

Red dot sights are free from all the complications of keeping your head still and eye in line for the perfect aim. They’re almost parallax error-free; hence, making them better than iron sights.

A simple red dot reticle gives you the precise aiming point. It remains at the center no matter what. The size of the red dot depends on your preference. Bigger dots offer speed but less precision, whereas smaller ones are more precise but take a bit of time for you to aim at something.

Remember that they don’t offer any zoom. These quickly-aimed sights are perfect for semi-automatic rifles usually used by law enforcement agencies and the military.

4. Laser Sights

Laser Sights

Their ease of use and speed are simply unmatched. When using them, there’s no need to aim through a peephole.

A tool or a small portable device projects a laser beam (which is barrel aligned) on your aiming point. These are used as an additional aiming reference. These devices have a limitation though. They can add some extra feet in the dark, but the sun decreases their range.

They’re easy to target and are also to become a target because the beam will also lead the target to you.

5. Reflector


Reflector sights are non-magnification optical devices. They use reflecting glasses that offer a luminous portrayal of the object. This projection provides the best focus possible.

They don’t allow zoom in or out but offer the wider range of the field-view and target inside the view, which is super highlighted. Unlike iron sights, you don’t have to dig deep for aiming. There’s also no need to align because your reflector gives the precise image with your eye movements.


The right scope could make all the difference in your hunting or shooting expeditions. Now that you know what type of scope might suit your individual needs most, start looking for the best choice right away! Who knows, maybe we could help …


  • What does 4-12×50 mean on a scope?

Ans. This determines the magnification and size of the object lens. “4-12” shows the magnification power: it’ll zoom the object 4 to 12 times more than natural sight. “50” refers to the size of the object lens, which offers a brighter horizon.

  • What is the best magnification for rifle scopes?

Ans. It depends on your needs. To cover the field-view and have a quick look on the target, try 4× to 6× max. The target can also be shot with a long range scope ranging from 18× to 30×.

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About the author

Erik Himmel

A Part-Time Firearm Instructor

Hi, this is Erik. We all know firearms are dangerous, but only when one doesn’t know how to use and care for them. I have 15+ years of experience with different types of guns and for the last 10 years, I have taught numerous people how to hold and shoot a gun while staying safe and keeping the surroundings unharmed. My neighbors are some of my biggest admirers who enjoy talking to me about their guns, firearms safety and maintenance.

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