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Top Three Factors for Choosing Optimum Optics

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According to the United States Army, the average soldier will hit a man-sized target 10% of the time at 300 meters using the M16 rifle. Graduates of the United States Army Sniper School, however, must achieve 90% accuracy at 600 meters using the M24 sniper rifle.

In addition to reducing the enemy’s ability by eliminating high-value targets, one of the most important jobs of a military sniper is to provide detailed reconnaissance from a concealed position.

Even though most of you probably aren’t military snipers, you can still benefit from learning some of the same skills — and from using similar equipment such as rifle optics to become a better shooter.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following story about a Weatherford, Texas, man who stopped a robbery in progress using his AR-15 with optics.

Caught in the Act

Early one morning about a year ago, Kwin Smith was at home when he spotted an unknown person approaching other homes and vehicles in his neighborhood. Kwin retrieved his rifle, carried it outside and saw the man rummaging through the contents inside a vehicle that he knew didn’t belong to him.

Kwin approached the car and knocked on the window with his AR-15. He ordered the suspect to exit the vehicle and get down on the ground. With his free hand, Kwin used his cellphone to call 911. The entire time Kwin kept his AR pointed at the man while he waited for police to arrive and take him into custody.

Obviously, in this situation Kwin could have done the same thing whether or not he had optics on his rifle. But the fact is if he were forced to engage the suspect, he would have benefited from using optics.

Adding optics to your rifle can give you a major advantage. But as with any firearm accessory, you need to train with the setup you plan on using. In other words, if you add a scope to your rifle, you need to not only understand the terminology involved but also know how to use it.

With that in mind, here are the three most important considerations when choosing optics for your rifle:

  1. Magnification power: The magnification level you choose will dictate how you can use your scope. For example, a 4x scope wouldn’t work very well for someone shooting from a distance of 1,000 yards. On the other hand, a 30x magnification would be overkill if you were simply hunting. A lower magnification such as 6x would effectively allow you to track your target and shoot faster. For your average target shooter, I don’t recommend a magnification higher than 10x.
  2. Reticle pattern: For novice shooters, a “reticle” is the cross hair or aiming point in your field of view when you look through the scope. There are several options when it comes to reticle patterns on scopes. For example:

    One of the most common is the duplex. This is the pattern most people think of when they think of reticles. It’s one of the more basic patterns and works well for both hunting and target shooting. Plus, the duplex pattern naturally focuses your eyes toward the center of the scope and can make shooting in low light easier.
  3. MOA or MRAD: When it comes to adjusting your scope there are two types of measurement. MOA — which means “minute of angle” — is the most common. One MOA equals about one inch (1.047”, to be exact) at 100 yards. This is the best unit of measure to use for precise zeroing. MRAD stands for milliradian and measures about 3.6 inches at 100 yards or three feet at 1,000 yards. Now, this measurement is very different from MOA, but with it you can make smaller adjustments to improve your shooting. The MRAD adjustment is popular among long-range shooters, however, I would personally use the MOA measurement system.

Now that you have some idea of what you might want in a riflescope, you should keep in mind that a quality scope isn’t cheap. In fact, it’s easy to spend more on the scope than you did on the actual rifle. If you are interested in a premium scope, I recommend looking at brands such as Leupold or NightForce.

Don’t forget that if you purchase a scope, you have to buy scope rings as well. If you are new to shooting, you also may want to pay someone to install your new scope for you.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you primarily use your rifle for hunting or home defense. A scope on your rifle serves a valuable purpose — and might one day save your life.

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