Is there an Ideal Hunting Scope Power?
Dr. John Woods 10.26.15
Studying a riflescope catalog will only make you dizzy. The same for an optics web site. There are just so many brands, so many types of scopes, features, finishes, and other options that it can get confusing. The costs of good optics have also skyrocketed these past few years. Truly you get what you pay for, but some of the top end scopes cost more than my first car.
So, you managed to save up your dollars and you bought a new or good, used hunting rifle. Now you want to get a really good scope to complement the rig. Fixed scopes are so passe, but when you shop for the variable models, you run into such a wide berth that you are not sure what to get.
I am not sure there is a “standard” variable power range scope any longer, but it used to be the ubiquitous 3×9 most often with a 40mm objective lens (these are the subject of another article later). Today there are 2.5x by something, 3.5x by something, and even 4x by something. The top end power range could be an 8-10-12 or higher.
Over the past decade or so I have conducted an informal survey of the “ideal” power range setting for a hunting rifle. This included a wide variety of long gun types, including bolt actions and semi-auto ARs, and FNs for white-tailed deer, elk, antelope, mule deer, wild hogs, varmints, and nuisance game.
In all of the occasions when I had the opportunity, I would sight the rifle at a live game animal at distances from 50 to 200 yards or so. Without consciously looking I would rotate the power range ring on whichever scope and rifle combination I was using at the time to determine which power view gave me the best picture of the animal.
In every case, whether I just observed or in fact pulled the trigger to harvest the animal, the riflescope power setting was on the 6-power. I did this dozens of times with as many different rifles and scope set ups, so it was no accident and not a limited sampling of attempts. I took this so far as to buy two 6-power fixed scopes. So, next time you set your adjustable scope, try the 6-power.