How to Zero a Rifle Scope

Rifle scopes have reached a point where they are more popular than ever before. Rifle scopes are used by hunters, tactical shooters, and even people looking for a rapid use home-defense optic and especially tactical rifle enthusiasts looking to find the perfect optic for their AR-15. With optics becoming more and more popular, it’s important to know how to zero a rifle scope.

There are many, many different kinds of scopes out there. This guide is designed as a general guide for zeroing a rifle optic. Some scopes may require very specific instructions on how to zero them.

Whenever in doubt, refer to your scope’s actual instruction manual. Most scopes will fall into this guide when it comes to zeroing an optic, but there may be small detail changes. This includes particular ranges, or particular loads the rifle scope is supposed to be using.
While this isn’t a guide on how to install a scope, it is incredibly important that your scope is installed correctly. If the scope is not correctly installed it can be impossible to zero. Depending on the scope rings or mount setup, the installation may be slightly different for each scope. Always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

For a typical variable magnification scope, the use of scope ring or a single piece mount is most often required. Any mounted scope rail needs to be tightened to the receiver and Loc Tite should be applied. The scope rings or mount should be mounted to the rifle and it must be secure.

The scope mounting system needs to be tightened down until it doesn’t move if the mount uses traditional screws. Traditional screws will most often require the use of substances like Loc Tite to make sure the scope rings or scope mount does not become loose from recoil when firing a rifle.

If the mount or rings utilize a QD mount, it needs to be locked tight and fit the scope rail appropriately. The scope should be positioned to ensure that the scope has correct eye relief. Correct eye relief should be listed in the instruction manual. For holographic scopes, the eye relief will not matter as much as it will when installing a scope for a rimfire rifle.

The reticle of the scope should be positioned so the scope is level. The vertical crosshair should be perfectly up and down. This will ensure the scope is perfectly level.

When you zero a scope to a rifle, you are also zeroing it to a specific type of ammunition. This is called a load, and factors that change a load include overall length, bullet weight, velocity, and projectile type.

Once a scope is zeroed to a certain load of ammunition, this load will be the most precise for that scope. Other loads of the same caliber may cause slight variations in accuracy. These variations are typically small and only make a significant difference at long range, or when measuring groups with precision devices.

For hunters and precision target shooters with variable scopes it is best to choose one type of ammo and stick with it while hunting or target shooting. For scopes like red dots, these variations between ammunition will hardly ever create a noticeable variation in accuracy.


You can zero a rifle with almost any target. The easiest targets to use are targets that are designed for bull’s-eye shooting and are divided into grids. These grid boxes are most commonly a square inch.

This allows the shooter to easily adjust the scope based on how many inches it is away from the bull’s-eye. These targets are very common and easy to find in sporting goods or gun stores. When hanging the target, it is a good idea to use a larger piece of material behind the target.

This material is best often left blank and allows for shooters to see if they are hitting off target. Simple pieces of cardboard work well as backing for a target.

Once your target is established, back up to roughly half the distance you plan on shooting the rifle at. At half the standard range, a shooter can easily adjust their rifle on target before moving back to their normal firing range.

From here you’ll set up your shooting position. The most precise and accurate method is using a bench rest and a sled or a gun vise to secure the weapon.

This takes the human element out of zeroing the scope and stabilizes it as close to perfectly as possible. Alternatively, a shooter can set up behind a rifle in the prone position, with sandbags or a bipod to aid in stabilizing the rifle.

Regardless of your method of shooting, stabilization is the most important factor. To correctly zero a rifle and scope, shooters need a stable platform to shoot from.

Once a shooter is in position, they begin the zeroing process. For bolt actions, single shots, and AR-style rifles, the shooter can remove the bolt, and separate the action and look down the barrel. Shooters then adjust the weapon until the barrel is in relative line with the target.

The shooter can gaze through the barrel, and then the scope. If the scope is significantly off of the target, the view between the barrel and scope will be significantly different.

Other rifle designs are more difficult to remove the actions and impossible to look through the barrel. For these rifles, shooters can utilize a laser bore sight. This device fits into the chamber of the weapon and sends a laser directly down the barrel.

A shooter can adjust the scope until the reticle covers the laser on the target. This method can be used with any rifle, and is a very effective way to aid in zeroing an optic. This helps the shooter reduce the time and ammunition needed to zero an optic.
These devices are quite affordable, and easy to both find and use.

Once a shooter has gotten their reticle as close as possible to being on target, it is time to go hot. When zeroing a rifle scope the best practice is to take the necessary time to do it correctly. Apply the fundamentals to each and every shot taken.

Load and fire three rounds without making adjustments, or moving the target or rifle. Once the three shots are fired, unload the rifle, and ensure the action is opened. Once this is done, move on down range to the target.

Inspect the target. Your three shots are your “group.” This group should share some relatively similar characteristics.

These three shots should all be in one general area of a target. For example, the three shots may not be right on top of each other, but are all left and low of the bull’s-eye. If the three shots are randomly placed both high and low or both left and right, or any variation of this, there is an external issue.

This issue can be connected to fundamental skill issues, the method your scope is attached to the rifle, the method the weapon is stabilized, or an overt and odd ammunition issue. If this is the case, the shooter needs to reevaluate their rifle, ammunition, scope and skills.


If the group is routine, the shooter should measure, and then apply those measurements to their rifle scope turrets. Turrets are different from scope to scope and turrets feature different adjustment measurements per click.

Turrets adjust the reticle up and down and left to right; this allows the scope to be aligned to where the rifle is shooting. This measurement will correspond to distance moved on the target.

Repeat the process of shooting three rounds and adjusting the scope until it is striking the bull’s-eye of the target. Once this is complete, place a new target on the target holder and shoot three more shots to confirm the zero.

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Once the shooter confirms his or her zero, they should move to the range they expect to be shooting at. Once at this range, the shooter should clean their bore at least one time. Shooters should ensure the weapon is clear and then run a boresnake or punch rod with brush through the barrel to clean it.

The shooter should then shoot three shots and observe where it strikes on the target. When safe to do so, they should repeat the process of zeroing their rifle by making adjustments, and firing. Shooter will then repeat this process until the rifle is zeroed at this range.

A shooter can then call it a day, pack it up and go home. Alternatively, they can move the target or themselves back even further and zero the rifle to ensure it is accurate at ranges beyond what the shooter expects.
This is optional, but can be very handy in unplanned situations.

Zeroing a rifle to a scope is an absolute necessity. The more time a shooter takes and applies the fundamentals, the more precise their scope will be. Every step should be done appropriately, from setting the scope on the rifle, to securing the rifle into a stable firing position.

Skipping any step, or being lazy about it, will result in frustration at best, or a poorly zeroed rifle at worst. Shooters should take their time, be safe, and always double check their zeroes.

Here’s another look from Youtuber Rated Red

Editor’s note: Chris Frenchak is a firearms enthusiast and gun collector. He has a number of guns, like his AR-10 or M&P 9mm that he shoots regularly. He is a firearms hobbyist and has been adding to his firearms collection for over 20 years. He is also the lead editor at GunBacker.

Scopes for Coyote Hunting


Scope selection varies by region, usual range to target, time of day you’re afield.

Hunting a natural predator can be an exhilarating and rewarding experience. There’s nothing quite like hunting something that can be just as clever and canny as you are.
Coyotes fit this bill nicely. They’re smart, fast, tough creatures that also happen to be destructive to livestock and other game animals like pheasant and quail. All of this combines to make coyote hunts a popular and enjoyable pastime.

That is, if you can actually hit the sneaky suckers. Coyotes are a challenging animal to hunt. They’re smarter than a lot of common game animals like whitetail and even turkeys, and they’re stealthy and cautious at all times.
If you’re looking to go after this wily creature, you better make sure that you and your gear are up to the task, or you’re sure to go home empty handed.
Today, we’re going to be talking about one of, if not the most important piece of gear for coyote hunting: your optic. Coyotes are small, fast, and sometimes like to hunt in low light around dawn and dusk, so you’ll need all the help you can get if you want to down some song dogs this year. A good optic is a strong step in the right direction, while a poor one will definitely leave you hanging out to dry.

There are so many different high-end choices out there these days that choosing just one to mount on your rifle is somewhat of a daunting task. How do you pick one scope from the thousands that are out there? Well, first you need to define your needs.
A 40x target scope and a 3-9x hunting scope can both be perfectly good scopes, but for dramatically different types of shooting. You will likely be hunting varmints from a distance, so you won’t have a need for a red-dot sight or a high-priced optic like a holographic EOTech sight.
For coyote and other varmint hunting, here’s what you need.

This is the most contentious, and also most subjective, part about choosing any scope, and that almost goes double for choosing a predator scope for coyote hunting.
The magnification you need is going to vary wildly based on your environment, your rifle, and even your personal skill level.
First, consider your environment. What’s the local geography like? The terrain? Are you in woodlands, covered swamps, or wide open plains?
If you’re somewhere in the Deep South, like I am, you might have to make a 300-yard shot, but most of your hunting is going to be under 150 yards or so. For this, a 3-9x is going to be just fine. You’ll want to stay away from closer range optics, like Aimpoint’s.
For those who hunt Great Plains country, you might have to make shots as far as 400 yards, sometimes even more. I’ve personally taken shots on coyotes as far as 800 yards, but that was with a rifle that I know very, very well. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable reaching out much further than that and still being sure of an ethical kill on a coyote-sized target.
For those longer shots, magnification in the 14x to 20x range is more on par with what you’ll want to make sure you can not only spot something small like a coyote, but also land an accurate killshot.
I like a 4-14x variable optic, personally. It has a wide enough view on the low end to make those close-range shots where the coyote is just about in your lap, but also enough magnification to easily spot coyotes slinking through the grass at 300-plus yards.

Like I said before, coyotes rarely cooperate and come out to stand in the open during broad daylight, preferring to be more cautious during the day, and a little more active around dusk and dawn.
Why does that matter? Because if your scope doesn’t pull enough light to see the coyote, good luck even knowing it’s there. A good coyote scope will be able to pull in ample light to make those “20 minutes after sunset” shots, and may even have an illuminated reticle to make shots like that even easier.
Of course, if you live somewhere that allows night hunting, you’ll need something that can do an even better job in this area because you’ll be working from spotlights.
How do you get a scope with good light-gathering abilities? Mainly, get one with a large objective lens. The objective lens of a scope is the end that points towards your target. It’s typically measured in millimeters, and when you see that something is a 4-16×40 scope, it’s the last number in the listing that tells you the objective lens has a diameter of 40mm.
For a good low-light scope, you’ll also want something that has very clear, high-quality glass. Bargain-bin scopes at your local gun store need not apply.
Personally, I like a scope from a quality manufacturer like Vortex, U.S. Optics, Bushnell, Sightron, etc., and with at least a 40mm objective lens, but more preferably a 50 to 66mm objective lens.

There are fancy target reticles out there that will help you estimate distance, judge bullet drop automatically and correct for windage. Do you know how these reticles work? If so, great! Mil-dot and BDC scopes are wonderful for hitting targets at unknown ranges in variable scenarios.
Don’t know what a milliradian is and don’t want to learn? That’s OK too!

Most hunters will really be OK with a simple duplex reticle for coyote hunting. Learning your gun, using consistent ammo and learning your windage and elevation holds with a simple crosshair is going to be of more use to most hunters than learning how to use a MRAD, MOA or BDC reticle.
If you want to get a reticle that’s tuned to your particular hand-loaded bullet, or mil-dot reticle that you can use target shooting, go for it. Just don’t be fooled by the manufacturers (or other gun blogs) that say you need them for coyote hunting. Use what you’re comfortable with, and learn to use it extremely well. That’ll make you a much more effective varmint hunter, I promise.

For those of you who can walk 100 yards to a treestand and reliably call coyotes to you on any given day, you don’t need to worry about this section too terribly much.
For the rest of us mere mortals who have to schlep our rifles several miles, getting in and out of vehicles at different stands, a rugged scope that isn’t going to get scratched up, knocked around or lose zero is a must.
That’s why I recommend quality brands with a solid reputation, and a good warranty policy as well. There’s nothing worse than shouldering your rifle to take aim at that coyote in the distance and finding a big scratch on your scope lens, or worse, taking a shot and realizing your zero has shifted so badly you’re nowhere near the target.

This is another area where you get what you pay for and it definitely behooves the aspiring coyote hunter to spend a little more on quality glass. Coyotes have some great natural camouflage that makes them very difficult to spot in their usual habitats.
This means that you need a scope with good clarity that won’t wash colors out, which means good, high-quality glass, well-made, that’s multi-coated and fog-proof. These are features that you only get in more expensive scopes, but optics makers like Burris and Vortex are offering insanely good scopes with these features, at very affordable prices. Whether you go after coyotes once a year, or you’re continually picking them off from your front porch to protect your livestock, there’s a scope out there that will help you get the job done.
With a sufficiently rugged optic like the ones mentioned in the sidebar, and the right magnification, your next coyote hunt should be a breeze.

Here’s a few scopes to check out for coyote hunting:
  • Trijicon ACOG Rifle Scope
  • Vortex Viper PST Gen II 2-10x32mm
  • Nightforce Optics 5-20×56 SHV Riflescope
  • Leupold – Mark AR™ Mod 1 Riflescopes
Editor’s note: Matthew Collins is an active contributor at GunBacker. He enjoys both competitive shooting and gunsmithing. When you don’t see him at the range, you can catch him on Instagram and other gun-related website


Vortex Viper HS LR 4 16X50

A Quick Review of this Awesome Rifle Scope

Тhе Vоrtех Орtісѕ Vіреr 4-16Х50 НЅ LR rіflе ѕсоре іѕ one of the fаvоrіtеs fоr huntеrѕ аnd ѕhооtеrѕ. With a quality scope comes the price that you must pay, something аrоund $600. It’ѕ thе “gо-tо” аnd “muѕt-hаvе” fоr you guys/gals that need a quаlіtу scope fоr your precision long range itch.

Тhе ехtrа іntеrnаl ѕсоре аdјuѕtmеntѕ, thе ВDС аnd ЅFР rеtісlе, аnd ѕuреr НЅ LR сараbіlіtіеѕ іѕ whаt’ѕ gіvеn іt іtѕ mіghtу rеvіеwѕ асrоѕѕ thе bоаrd. What does that mean exactly?

BDC stands for bullet drop compensation, and it is ballistics reticle. These reticles are capable of giving shooters a true point of aim for a known distance to compensate for bullet drop.The vortex viper scope has an advanced optical system.

SFP is the second focal point – A riflescope’s reticle is placed in either the first focal plane (FFP) or the second focal plane (SFP). The main difference between them is that an SFP reticle will appear to be the same size regardless of magnification.

The XD glass of vortex scopes delivers an image that is sharp and clear from edge to edge. The XR multi-coated lenses of Vortex Viper HS capture most light from dawn till dusk. The 4 x zoom range will pull you closer to the target.
The exterior lenses of the Viper scope are protected by ultra-hard, scratch resistant Armortek coatings.
The Vortex long range scopes offer exposed target-style elevation turrets for dialing elevation at extended ranges.
The CRS zero stop allows you to get back to referencing zero even after coming up several revolutions on the turret.

Fog & Water Proof
The Vortex Viper scope is purged with argon and sealed to prevent any loss of Ar (argon) caused by changes in pressure or temperature.

Last Glimpse
Vortex Viper HS LR 4 16×50 riflescope is considered an evolutionary upgrade with its dead-hold BDC reticle comes with many functional features that is well received by shooters and hunters.
The rifles cope 4 X zoom capablity makes it a very friendly eye box which allows shooters to get on target easily and quickly. The opportunity to shoot that 20 pointer are measured in terms of the fraction of seconds.
Vortex Viper HS LR 4 16×50 rifles cope is built on an ultra-strong 30mm one-piece machined aluminum tube. The Vortex scopes windage and elevation designed for optimal adjustments. Its waterproof and fog proof features make it an all-weather rifle scope that you can’t be without.

  • Маgnіfісаtіоn: 4-16Х
  • Роwеr Vаrіаbіlіtу: Vаrіаblе
  • Оbјесtіvе Dіаmеtеr: 50 mm
  • Lеngth/Wеіght/Тubе Dіаmеtеr: 13.7 іnсhеѕ/21.4 оunсеѕ/30 mm
  • Fіеld оf Vіеw: 7.4 – 27.4 fееt/100 уаrdѕ
  • Еуе Rеlіеf/Ехіt Рuріl: 4 іnсhеѕ/3.12 – 12.5 mm
  • Rеtісlе: Dеаd-Ноld ВDС
  • Аdјuѕtmеnt Іnfо: 1/4 МОА wіndаgе/1/2 МОА еlеvаtіоn/Сlісk
  • Орtісѕ Соаtіngѕ: Fullу Мultі-Соаtеd
  • Fіnіѕh: Вlасk Маttе
  • Wаtеrрrооf/Ѕhосkрrооf: Yеѕ/Yеѕ
  • Раrаllах Ѕеttіng: 50 уаrdѕ+
  • Аіrgun rаtеd: Nо
  • Іllumіnаtеd Rеtісlе: Nо
  • Моuntіng Rіngѕ Іnсludеd: Nо
  • Best Uses: Big Game Hunting, Varmint Hunting, Target Shooting

Rifle Scope Guide2: Mounting Glass

[su_heading size=”30″]Now that you’ve bought a new scope, it’s time to affix it to your rifle, a daunting but not impossible task for marksmen.[/su_heading]

If there’s any one trend I see a lot of as a professional precision rifle instructor, it’s improperly mounted riflescopes. If we look at what a rifle scope is from a fundamental standpoint, it’s a mechanical aiming device that gives us the ability to bring a distant target up close and personal, which in turn allows the shooter to pick a relatively precise aiming point that the shooter hopes to put a bullet into if everything else goes well.
It’s a complicated process that requires a custom fit, and it’s not always something you should leave up to the guy behind the counter at your local sporting goods store. As a matter of fact, if you’re leaving a rifle to have the scope mounted for you, you’re getting off on the wrong foot about as soon as you walk away from the counter.
Mounting your rifle scope isn’t an overly complex task, and with the right tools and some very basic knowledge, it can be done properly, with little to no stress.
Before we do anything with the rifle scope, we need to adjust the rifle’s length of pull (if it’s adjustable) to your body type and structure. I do this without a scope on the rifle simply because if there’s a scope on the rifle, nearly every inexperienced shooter out there will sacrifice a comfortable shooting position to look through the optic.
Not a good starting point because we’re all different sizes and shapes. Precision rifles aren’t a one-size-fits-all affair. Make sure your cheek is centered on the rifle’s cheek piece, and your shooting hand can comfortably reach the grip without a severe bend in the wrist, which can inhibit proper trigger manipulation.
Make adjustments as necessary, and check this fit in a couple positions outside the prone or the bench to make sure that as your position changes the rifle fit works for them all, with only minor tweaking of your head position on the cheek piece.
Now, we’ve established a baseline by properly adjusting the rifle to fit our body, not the other way around. If your stock isn’t adjustable, that’s OK, we’ll get to how to set eye relief for comfort in a bit.

MOUNTING A RIFLESCOPE STARTS with having some simple tools at your disposal. A set of Allen and Torx head drivers, a torque wrench, some blue Loctite, and a simple scope leveling kit is really all you need, aside from your regular shooting gear. Your scope mounting base, or the piece that attaches to the action, should come with the required fasteners, as should your rings.
Don’t ditch the instructions either; you’ll need those to get the proper torque specs for your selected parts.
The mounting of the base to the action is really the weakest point in the system if you don’t have an integral rail like you’d find on an AR, or most custom bolt-actions. It’s a good idea to test fit your scope base screws to see if they’re the correct length for your base and action.
Most of the time this isn’t an issue, but in the event that it is, you’re looking to make sure your bolt closes without contacting any of the front action screws, and that the rear screws don’t protrude below the surface of the inner dimension of the action.
Once that’s all good, degrease the mount and the top of the action with some solvent, and dab a little bit of the blue Loctite on the screws.
Start with the inner screws on the action, the ones just in front of and behind the action’s ejection port, and work your way outwards.
Get each fastener just hand tight, working from inside to out.
Once that’s done, apply the proper torque value as per the manufacturer’s
instructions. You’re done. Blue Loctite on your base mounting screws is the cheapest insurance you’ll ever buy for your scope mounting system.

NEXT, WE’RE GOING TO LEVEL up the rifle using the bare base, and a scope leveling kit from Weaver. This kit is simple and cheap, and if you’re going to be mounting rifle scopes, or swapping scopes a lot, it’s a kit you should always have in your range bag.
Bag up the rear of the rifle, and apply some tension to your bipod’s cant adjustment so it doesn’t flop around. Place the barrel level clamp on the barrel and get the level close. Next, put the action level on the base, and move the rifle so the level is true.
Then adjust the fine-tune feature on the barrel level to true level. Now we have a reference level to go off of when we take the action level off the base and set it aside for later. The next step is to take a look at where we need to put the rings on the bases to make room for a couple things.
We want to make sure that the scope’s objective bell housing isn’t going to contact the front of the mounting base, and we want to make sure that we can slide the scope fore and aft in the rings about a quarter of an inch to adjust for optimal eye relief.
Pull the top caps off the rings and set them aside, careful to keep the front top cap with the bottom of the front ring, and the same for the rear rings. It’s not necessary, but I’m kinda OCD about this.
Install the rings to the bases in the correct slots that we’ve established from the previous step. I like to keep the fasteners on the opposite side of the bolt for bolt-action rifles so I don’t tear up my knuckles when I manipulate the bolt. Using one hand, slide the rings forward in the mounts to keep that forward mounting surface on the ring engaged with the mount, and then apply the proper torque value as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
Repeat for the rear ring. If you’re using an unmount system, just make sure the entire mount is slid forward in the mounts.
Under the forces of recoil, that mount wants to go forward while the rifle moves rearward. Any small space in there for the rings to get a running start at the base, it’ll eventually work itself loose.
Now, most will say that it’s time to lap the rings, and I’m here to tell you, you’re wasting your time. You might actually be doing damage to those expensive rings you just bought by lapping them and not having the experience and know-how under your belt to know when enough is enough.
Modern machining technology is advanced enough that your rings are cut and
bored from one piece of material. Mounting bases, although there is a slight possibility that they could be warped, are consistent enough now that I don’t give it a second thought.

FROM HERE, YOU’LL PLACE THE scope in the rings, and put the top caps on. Insert the fasteners and tighten until there’s just enough friction on the scope body that the scope doesn’t roll or flop to the side. Making sure that the scope is on the maximum magnification setting, get behind your rifle and with your cheek in the position it was when you set the rifle’s length of pull, move the scope fore and aft in the rings until you have a full field of view without any shadows. Check this outside of the prone or the bench position in the standing and kneeling positions to make sure you don’t have any surprises in the field when you try to obtain a sight picture.
Now we have the eye relief set for that magnification, which will be the shortest possible eye relief for that optic. (Eye relief changes with magnification – more on that in another installment.)
From here, we need to tighten the ring top caps to hold the rifle scope in place permanently. Get the rifle back on the bench and bag up the rear end.
Now we’ve got to level the rifle using our baseline established with the barrel level. Once that’s done, we need to now level the rifle scope to the rest of the world.
This can be done in two ways, and it depends on how you’re going to be using your scope. If you’re dialing your turrets, it’s best to level the scope from the turrets. If you’re using a reticle for holdovers, it’s best to use a plumb-bob, or some other vertically plumb surface, at about 50 yards from the objective lens to level the reticle.
Either way, we’re leveling our aiming system to track true with the vertical plane of the rest of the world. Plumb-bob leveling is a bit trickier, but you’ll get the drift of that after we talk about turret leveling.
Place your level on top of the elevation turret, and rotate the scope so that the top of the turret is level with the barrel level.
Now comes the tricky part, which is applying tension to the ring top caps without pulling the scope out of level. Some rings are better at this than others. American Rifle Co.’s clamshell-style rings with a single fastener can be tightened without pulling the scope out of level.
Traditional four-screw top caps require some more finesse.
Start by making sure that there’s an equal space between the top caps and the bottom of the ring. We don’t need feeler gauges here, folks, just an approximate. Start by tightening each screw in an X pattern, and only apply a little tension at a time, keeping your eye on the turret and barrel levels.
Once you’ve gotten the screws tight enough that the final torque application isn’t going to move the scope, using that same X pattern, apply the proper torque setting as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Repeat this for the rear ring.

GUESS WHAT? YOUR SCOPE IS now mounted, with a custom fit to your body, your eye, and your comfort. I can’t stress enough about how important this process is. If I had a dollar for every rifle scope that was improperly set up on a student’s rifle, my son would have a pretty healthy college fund set up by now, and he’s seven.
As shooters, one size doesn’t fit all, even though most people think that’s the way it is. Setting yourself up for success with a rifle starts at ground zero by making sure your components are properly set up, not only mechanically, but for your body and eyes.
Precision shooting requires a very systematic approach to everything we do with that rifle. Consistency equals accuracy, and in order for shooters to be consistent, they need to be set up for success and step off on the right foot.

Story and Photos by Caylen Wojcik

Rifle Scopes Buying Guide: Part One

Buying Guide

If there’s one question I receive, or view as a question posed on the vast expanses of the internet, it’s “what scope should I buy?” The resultant answers are usually comprised of about 95 percent useless information, whereas the remaining 5 percent is generated by folks who have a solid understanding of how to make a good choice with optics.

Optics aren’t cheap, and it’s always a good idea to subscribe to the “buy once, cry once” policy when it comes to buying them. Why is that useless information percentage so high? Because there’s an incredible amount of old and untrue information continuously being circulated throughout the shooting industry.
We’re going to touch on some major points on how to select an optic that best suits your needs as a shooter, and follow-up with a deep dive into some of the more technical aspects of optics in future issues.
When someone presents the optics question to me, I cut right to the chase and ask them what they’ve budgeted. I want to see where their expectations lie, which is going to help me direct them to certain brands that have the highest quality and feature rich products that fit that budget.
That said, how they present their answer can also indicate whether they really know what they want, or if they’ve got no idea and are looking for more help than just a product recommendation.
If that’s the case, or the budget is flexible as a result of the customer being educated, their options can open up significantly. Budget is important, because if it’s fixed, this is what you’ve got to work with, and options can be narrow. That’s not always difficult, and it’s not always easy either, especially if the budget isn’t in line with the features they expect to get.
Throw the obvious component of quality in there, and quickly that expectation can get sideways depending on how much they can spend. Let’s face it, no one wants to spend the money that they work hard for on a crap product.
The optics industry has progressed at a rapid rate over the last decade, and there are a lot of budget minded scopes out there that are rich in features.
It takes education to be able to navigate the industry marketing and hype, though, which is what we’re ultimately looking to sift through.

ONCE WE DIAL IN THE BUDGET, my next question is about the intended use, or the customer’s requirements. Requirements will drive the features the customer needs the optic to possess. If the scope is to be used for hunting, that drives more questions such as what kind of country does the customer hunt?
Open western hunting where the possibility of longer shots occur? Timber country? Or thick coastal temperate rainforest? For the open country, you’re going to want the ability to precisely adjust for elevation, have the ability to adjust your field of view based on the range to the target, and have adjustable parallax for those longer shots. A front focal plane reticle also helps here, but more on that later. For those hunting in tight timber country, a scope that’s really effective at light transmission is a huge plus so that you can take advantage of every available minute of shooting light in those deep dark pockets of timber.

Here, a front focal plane reticle probably isn’t necessary, and for those closer ranges, a bullet-drop-compensated turret/reticle combination might be the best option for quick shots. If we’re looking at an optic for competitive shooting, then that’s going to direct us to a more full-featured tactical optic. We can see that understanding requirements is educational in itself, which might result in upping the budget to get the features needed.

ANOTHER COMMENT I HEAR A lot is “the glass is awesome …” This is a pitfall that lots of consumers unknowingly take. We can prevent this through education. Lens construction, clarity, image resolution, color and contrast resolution are all complex optical engineering topics that warrant their own discussions.
For the purposes of this article, I want to skim the surface and give you the information you need to know.
First off, if you’re looking for more light transmission, you’re not going to get it from a bigger objective lens, or a bigger main tube. Those two items have zero influence on light transmission, which is one of the biggest misconceptions people have on rifle scopes.
Light transmission has everything to do with the refraction rate of the optical system, how many lens to air transitions the incoming light has to navigate before it gets to your eye, and the effectiveness of the coatings on the lenses.
Further, there are a lot of optics companies out there that optimize the brightness and clarity of their lenses for in-store fluorescent lighting because that’s where the vast majority of scope purchasing decisions are made by the consumer. The scope might look bright and clear in the store, but it might not be all you thought it would be in fading light when you’re trying to find that animal your buddy is trying desperately to talk you onto.
If you’re interested in an optic, or a couple you want to compare, tell the sales guy you want to take them outside for a look. You might even want to strategically plan your visit in the evening to get the best representation of the conditions you’ll be hunting in. Just a thought!
Side-by-side comparisons are absolutely necessary, and can be an eye-opening experience, pun totally intended here. You’ll be astonished that some of those super expensive brand names are less than optimal performers in low light and high glare conditions, and you’d never know it unless you did that side-by-side comparison. It’s your money, and you as the consumer have the right to know before you buy.

THE METHOD WITH WHICH YOU AIM your rifle through a scope is using a reticle, or the cross hairs.
There’s a lot to be said about this, and again, it’s its own topic entirely, but for this article, I just want to focus on the big picture. There are two types of reticle placements inside your optic: a placement in the second focal plane, and a placement in the first, or front, focal plane.
This is very important to know, as it directly influences your ability to use the reticle for elevation or wind holds.
Reticles in the second focal plane were the most common about five to seven years ago. This means that the reticle subtensions (the precisely measured spaces between all those little dots or lines) remain the same size through the whole magnification range of the scope. The target gets bigger or smaller, but the reticle stays the same size.
This can be a valuable feature for someone to have, especially hunting in tighter country where speed and simplicity is a must, and the chances of holding for elevation or wind are slim.
Conversely, I’ve seen lots of missed easy shots because the optic possessed a bullet-drop-compensated reticle, but the shooter had the scope on the incorrect magnification for that reticle to function properly.
Know before you go. On the other hand, front focal, or first focal plane, reticles grow and shrink proportionally with the scope’s magnification. This lets you use your reticle for elevation and wind holds no matter what magnification you’re using. For Western hunters, and most definitely competitors, this is a must-have feature for those longer shots in windy conditions.

HOPEFULLY YOU’VE GLEANED SOME information out of this article to help you make a more educated optic purchase in the future. There’s a lot that goes into making this choice, and although we touched on the major points here, there’s an incredible amount of information that we still need to discuss so you as the consumer can fully grasp these concepts and make a more informed decision when you buy.
Further, don’t ever take anything when it comes to optics for face-value. Get out there and see for yourself. Everyone’s eyes are completely different, and just because a scope works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. Remember, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
Knowledge gives us the power to follow our own paths with confidence. Look for more articles on optics in coming issues. ?Another compact lightweight option from Leupold that is feature rich is the Mark 5 3x-18x. This is an optic that the author prefers to use on gas-operated platforms.

Story and Photos by CAYLEN WOJCIK

LEAKED: USMC Test Calls M27, M38 DMR Into Question

On the heels of the USMC’s effort to field 15,000 more Heckler & Koch M27 Infantry Automatic Rifles, as well as the M38 Designated Marksman Rifle variant, The Firearm Blog has received a copy of a 2016 report intended to justify procurement of accessories and additional M27s to fill a need for a special purpose rifle (SPR). The report documents a test conducted at Quantico, Virginia, by the Product Manager, Infantry Weapons Product Management Office (PdM IW). 9 M27 IARs were tested, each firing 2700 rounds over the course of the test. Notably, the Lead Engineer and Assistant Product Manager for this test was the recently-retired Salvatore Fanelli, who worked at Heckler & Koch in the early-mid 2000s.

Despite the document’s overall upbeat tone, it does not present a picture of a system “ready to field”. The optic chosen for the test was the Leupold Mark 4 2.5-8x36mm variable power scope, part number 60150, one mounted to all 9 weapons via a LaRue mount. This particular optic is a strange choice, being a virtual antique by today’s standards (the optics themselves are leftovers from the Mk. 12 SPR program of the early 2000s), and having a mix of mil reticle and MOA adjustments. This latter feature means that an operator cannot make adjustments in the same increments as what is shown on the reticle. For a simple concept validation test this would not be a problem. However the intent, as stated in the document, was to test the:

feasibility and practicality of using the M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle (IAR) as a
Special Purpose Rifle (SPR) to fulfill an Urgent Statement of Need.

[emphasis mine]

Reportedly, the reason for choosing this optic (the 3-9 version of which is slated for use with the M38 which descended from this test) was simply that they existed in inventory at the USMC logistics base in Albany, left over from 2000s-era Mk. 12 SPRs. This raises the question of exactly what logistical pipeline the M38 will depend on for replacements. If the Leupold scope cannot be procured somehow, then the M38 as a system is unsustainable at the start.

The appendices of the document indicate that the rifle system is far from optimally reliable when equipped with the tester-preferred KAC sound suppressor. Guns in the “Bravo” test group, all of which were equipped with that suppressor, experienced bolt over base malfunctions indicating an extremely high cyclic rate and marginal weapon reliability in the suppressed configuration. The test was conducted in winter, when temperatures were low, and used Mk. 262 ammunition, a round well-regarded for its consistency and suitability with 5.56mm weapons. However, USMC forces abroad are now using the M855A1 EPR round, which typically produces much higher cyclic rates than Mk. 262. Despite the obvious cyclic rate issues when suppressed, the equipment used to measure cyclic rate reportedly malfunctioned, and no further mention of cyclic rate issues was made until the appendix.

Coupled with that, point of impact shifts of up to 5 MOA between the suppressed and unsuppressed configurations raise the question of whether the weapon is suitable for suppression at all: Cyclic rate and reliability are marginal at best when suppressed with the KAC unit, precluding an “always suppressed” doctrine to fix the POI shift issues. At the same time, the test manager concludes that “POI shift is not as important as it once was”, an unusual statement when concerning a system that is intended for precision use against point targets while either suppressed or unsuppressed.

In brief, the weapon system demonstrated in this test does not seem to be suitable for issue in that configuration. Unfortunately, the M27 and M38 platforms as they currently stand are fixed specification items. Engineering change proposals (ECPs) to the weapon itself would be necessary to make it suitable for use in this role with the KAC suppressor, or a greatly improved and much more durable model of the OSS suppressor used instead. This presents an issue for the M38 DMR program, as the original intent was to use off-the-shelf components along with the in-inventory M27 rifle to produce a designated marksman’s rifle or special purpose rifle to fill an urgent USMC need. ECPs or new suppressor designs potentially change the M38 program from a non-developmental effort, into a new developmental program which could potentially deviate the M38 specification away from the current issue M27.

There is another layer to uncover here, as well. Looking through the 4 November 2016 Infantry Training & Readiness Manual, we see something a little odd:

Pictured: Oddly specific.

The Infantry Training & Readiness manual lists the M27 (not M38) “Designated Marksman rifle”, as well as the “Leopold (sic) Mark IV 3X-9X scope”. No other T&R listing is this specific, and no other lists a manufacturer, as that would imply weapons must be procured from that vendor. This raises the question of whether a change to the T&R Manual was made in an attempt to “backdoor” the M27 with the Mark 4 scope as a designated marksman rifle system, eventually leading to the M38. To say this would be out of the ordinary is an understatement; it’s virtually the opposite of how the process is intended to work.

Disclosure: I am now an employee of Knight’s Enterprises, LLC. Any statements made in this or any other article are my own and not promoted by or associated with Knight’s Enterprises, Knight’s Armament, or any affiliate company. Despite my relationship with Knight’s, I try to maintain an objective perspective on small arms development. However, it is impossible to eliminate bias completely, therefore any analysis made in this article should be taken with that fact in mind.

Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP

And Why you should Get One
First off if you’re not familiar with the Vortex Scopes it is a high end piece that goes well with anyone that’s into long range shooting. The Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 is a FFP scope, there are some differences to a second FFP. In this segment we’ll keep it real simple.

Frontal Focal Point – First focal plane scopes are specifically designed for “tactical shooters and hunters” where the distance to target changes and is often unknown. FFP scopes place the reticle in front of the erector.

The first focal plane reticles do not grow or shrink in size as magnification increases, but it appears they do. The reticle is being magnified to match the magnification of the target. The reason this is important to tactical shooters are many. First and foremost tactical shooters and hunter tend to use mil scales to calculate bullet drop and wind calls.

The basics of a first focal plane scope, the mil scale is the same at 2x as it is on 10x. So the scale is always the same. Tactical shooters are also speed based shooters – either need to follow up quickly or engaging the target immediately. So it means they may not have time to calculate the difference in magnification and the difference it makes in mil scales.

Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP Cool Stuff

  • Adjustable turrets
  • Illumination
  • Parallax Adjust
  • Reticle focus is at the rear

Another feature that seems to stand out is the reticle brightness stands out more than other PST scopes. This may be due to the smaller lense bringing in less light so that it allows the reticle to light up more. (based on HighJaker86 Youtuber observation)

Go to Euro Optics for Vortex Viper PST scopes.

Sources: Vortex, Euro Optics, HighJak86 Youtube

Leupold VX-6 HD Multi Gun Scope

Whether you’re looking to top your custom rifle like this one, or just a factory gun that shoots really well, one thing you need to know is: Your optics are just as important as your rifle when it comes to accuracy. Good rule of thumb is to spend as much money on your optics as you do on your rifle. The gold ring of Leupold and the VX-6 models of rifle scopes is worthy of being on top of any rifle ever built.

The VX-6 line of rifle scopes comes in various different kinds of models, from the 1-6×24 all the way out to the 7-42×56 models. Most of this line comes with a 30mm tube, however the higher magnification units come with a 34mm tube, which allows for greater windage and elevation adjustments, which is ideal for long-range shooting, as it is with this model.

This scope features unsurpassed light transmission, un compromised mechanical performance, and unbeatable optical clarity. The VX-6 is undeniably as good as it gets when it comes to high-end optics. The powerful 6-1 zoom ratio makes this scope ideal for all ranges, whether you’re stalking animals in the timber or laying out prone to take a 700-yard shot at an antelope. You can count on a good field of view and the ability to put the crosshairs right on the hair you want to hit.

The features and benefits of this scope are nothing short of spectacular. Leupold’s quantum optical system with legendary extend-twilight lense coatings and diamond-coat tube, combined with edge black and lead-free lenses enable the scope to provide crystal-clear images at those most critical hours when game is most active, and sub-standard optics falls short.

The extreme fast-focus eyepiece ensures a generous eye box, superior field of view, and an optical diopter adjustment in the field. The illuminated reticle VX-6 models feature either traditional or super bright fire dot illumination. The one-button low-profile design allows users to choose between 12 intensity settings. Proprietary motion sensor technology automatically deactivates illumination after five minutes of inactivity, yet reactivates as soon as any movement is detected. It comes with twin bias spring erector system, and a pop-up zero finger click adjustment ensures maximum adjustment for range and precision.

The 34mm tube on this scope is very rugged, it gathers a lot of light, and it’s unbelievably lightweight. The scope weighs in at 24.3 ounces, making it a great choice for those of you looking to top an ultralight rifle, and still keep it ultra-light.

All Leupold VX-6 rifle scopes have Custom Dial System, and include a free customized dial with purchase. the CDS dials allow you to quickly dial your elevation to different sight-in ranges with a custom adjustment matched to your specific ballistic information. The CDS dials change out easily allowing for flexibility with different loads, conditions, and caibers. Every CDS dial features quarter-MOA ajdustments, or one centimeter per click for the metric versions, which is finger-adjustable, and no adjustment covers to lose, making it simple to operate and extremely accurate.

CDS Advantages

  • Swap dials quickly by loosening set screws.
  • Match dials with specific loads for maximum accuracy.
  • Precision ¼-MOA click increment adjustment.
  • No adjustment covers to lose.
  • One revolution stops available for custom dials.
  • Use in tandem with Leupold’s RX rangefinder family for unmatched long-range precision.

The CDS system works by laser-inscribing your scope’s elevation dial to match your load, velocity, and conditions, once you have validated your data. Your scope will be in perfect sync with how your rifle and loads shoot, regardless of shooting factory ammunition or handloads. Each CDS dial is unique, taking all practical ballistics and environmental factors into account, and is a must for anyone looking to take shots at animals out past 500 yards and be consistent. Each VX-6 rifle scope is waterproof, shockproof, and backed by Leupold’s full lifetime guarentee, and the Leupold gold ring electronics warranty.

If you’re into hunting and expect to deliver every time you go out. Get a scope that’s dependable, lightweight, and performs flawlessly without any problems, each and every time to the field, the Leupold VX-6 model is just that scope. Pick one up online at Euro Optics they have a sale with discounts up to 35% off, click the links below to see further details.
Leupold VX-6 sales.

Sources & Photos: Euro Optics, Leupold, Wikipedia, Sportsmen News TV

Long Range Shooting with Leupold’s CDS

There’s a ton of advantages to having a CDS system. Leupold’s Custom Dial System® (CDS®) helps you easily compensate for bullet drop and make ultra-quick adjustments on the fly. You can customize your scope’s elevation dial to match your exact load, velocity, and conditions for unprecedented precision. All it requires is for you to range your target, simply turn the dial to the correct position, aim dead on, and squeeze the trigger.

The following video shows Fred Eichler using the CDS on a Rock River 223 rifle with Hornady 53 grain V-Max rounds as he sights in on targets at 400 to 600 yards while in windy conditions, have a look.

Video Transcription
You need to check it out, I wish every single one of my clients would have this on their scopes.

You know, shooting in the really windy conditions we have today, there’s probably a 20-30 mile an hour wind, and I’m shooting a wind-plex on this scope, so what’s nice: Along my horizontal line in this Leupold: I’ve got hashmarks that basically represent one Minute of Angle, so I’m able to adjust along my horizontal line for wind, and still hit dead-on. What’s great is, I’ve got Tim running the Leupold spotting scope behind me, and he’s gonna help me dope the wind with the wind-plex.

This is a Rock River 223 shooting a Hornady 53-grain superformance V-max bullets out of this setup. I just got this gun zeroed at 200, so now we’re gonna walk it out to 600-yards. Let’s do this.

Alright, that’s 300…


Let’s roll it to 400.


Alright, there’s four-hundred, now we’re just going to walk it out to 5. It’s literally that simple. All I’m doing, 500 yards is the 5 mark on my CDS, that’s all I have to do. If I was shooting at something at 450, all I do is put that distance right there, 4.5, that’s 450 yards. That’s how easy this is to use. We’re talking about long-range shooting now, with a Rock River 223.

Alright, I’m clear now all the way out to 500. The CDS has helped me hit every single time out of 500, now I’m going all the way out to 600 yards in this wind. Alright Tim, help me out with the wind, what do I need, buddy?

“Ten MOA!”

Alright, Ten MOA to the right, 600 yards. Let me fine-tune this bad boy. There’s our 600-yard target. [Shot, TING]


[Laughter] That’s awesome. Alright, I’m gonna go one more. That’s just, what, an inch off? Two inches?

“Yeah, you’re right on it, right on the middle there. With as gusty as it is, give it the same *indistinguishable*”

[Shot] [PING]

[Laughter] I love it! That is awesome! Thank you, man! That’s 600 yards. I don’t know if you could tell but we’ve literally got– what’d you figure out for value, 25?

“Between 25 and 30, but it’s gusty, so it’s hard to- it’s not consistent!”

We just hit– I just hit two out of three at 600 yards with a CDS Leupold dial Tim just dropped in five minutes ago.

“That’s awesome. That’s impressive.”

That’s sweet. Thank you man, that is a good time. What’s cool isn’t really– [fade out]

Sources: Leupold Optics Youtube, Fred Eichler