Scopes Buying Guide

Scopes Buying Guide

Magnify your target with SCHEELS’ durable and rugged selection of scopes. Our large selection of scopes is compatible with rifles, air-guns, handguns, shotguns, muzzleloaders, and purpose-specific configurations by leading-industry brands, including VortexLeupoldSwarovskiNikon, and many more. In our Scope Buyer’s Guide, we’ve helped you narrow down the basic features and specifications, so you can find the most reliable scope to withstand every outdoor pursuit ahead.


With a variety of scopes available, it’s important to first consider the magnification power options to determine how close your viewing area will appear to the naked eye.

Variable-power scopes are designed with an internal mechanism to adjust the magnification power, meaning the lens system and its position in the tube adjusts to the amount of magnification power needed. Variable-power scopes are the most common and widely used scopes for versatility and accuracy.

A variable-power scope magnification size is represented by the first two numbers. For example, 5-20x50 indicates the magnification power can be adjusted within the range of 5x to 20x.

Fixed-power scopes are designed with a fixed magnification power, meaning the magnification power cannot be adjusted. Fixed-power scopes are not as common as variable scopes and tend to be less accurate.

A fixed-power scope magnification size is represented by the first number. For example, 3x32 indicates the magnification power cannot be adjusted.


Scopes Objective Lens & Tube Diameter

Complementary to the magnification power, the objective lens and tube diameter are important to consider as well to determine how much light will pass through the lens.

Objective lens diameter indicates the size of the front lens, closest to the viewing area, in millimeters — directly affecting how much light will pass through the lens. For example, a 5-20x50 scopes objective lens is 50mm.

Tube diameter is the measurement of the main tube. The most common tube diameter size is 1 inch or 30mm. A 1-inch scope tends to be light, thin, less internal adjustments, and less light transmission. The 30mm scope tends to be heavy, thick, more internal adjustments, and better light transmission.


Stay focused on your target and adjust your scope with the Minute of Angle (MOA) adjustment. The MOA will determine the point of impact on a target. If a scope has an adjustment of 1/4” MOA, then with every click of the adjustment knob, including the windage and elevation, the bullets impact will adjust to 1/4” at 100 yds.

Windage is the horizontal adjustment to determine which way to move the bullets impact left or right.

Elevation is the vertical adjustment to determine which way to move the bullets impact up or down.

Parallax is the standard focusing knob on all scopes to adjust the reticles aiming point to the eye. As a result, the parallax adjustment puts the reticle on the same focal plane as the target. Parallax is the most important with a magnification power over 10x and most effective at a longer distance.


To prolong the longevity of a scope, reduce glare and reflection, lens coatings are films applied to the lens surface. Depending on the layer of lens coating applied, this will increase light transmission and contrast to create a clear image.

Single-coated lenses have a single layer applied to at least one lens surface, resulting in a low illumination image.

Fully-coated lenses have a single layer applied to all lens surfaces, resulting in a low-to-mid illumination image.

Multi-coated lenses have multiple layers applied to at least one lens surface, resulting in a mid-to-high illumination image.

Fully multi-coated lenses have multiple layers applied to all lens surfaces, resulting in a high illumination image.


Scopes Eye Relief & Exit Pupil

Exit pupil is the bright circle in the center of each eyepiece. This bright light will determine how bright an object will appear when it hits the eye. By simply dividing the objective lens diameter by the magnification power, this will be the exit pupil. For example, if a scope is 3x32 (32 divided by 3), the exit pupil is 10mm.

Eye relief indicates the distance between the scope’s eyepiece and your eyes which is most important for long-lasting comfort and use. 


The field of view indicates the visible width of the area, normally in feet, that can be viewed at a diameter of 100 yards. If the magnification power is high and the objective lens diameter is low, your field of view will be narrow. A wide field of view is best for a clear perspective of your outdoor pursuit.

Scopes Field of View


Once you’ve found the scope to fit your needs and expectations, don’t forget to secure it with a durable, long-lasting mounting system designed from steel or aluminum. We’ve narrowed down the basic features of a mounting system below.

Bases are a one-piece unit to add additional support to scope rings, so your firearm is reinforced with ultimate support.

Rings are two-piece clamps to attach the scope to your firearm. The lower half of the rings attach to the scope base and the upper half of the rings attach to the lower base for reinforcement.

Rails are available in a variety of styles to stabilize the mounting platforms for accurate and durable alignment.

Covers add an extra layer of protection to your scope to withstand the elements, including water-resistant, moisture-proof, eliminate debris from scratching the scope lenses and frame.

Once you’ve purchased your scope and compatible mounting system, our team of experts can help you mount your scope at your nearest SCHEELS location.

Find our full selection of scopes HERE.