There's a vast array of rifle scopes on the market today, which can be bewildering even for the seasoned hunter. For those new to the sport choosing the right rifle scope the choice available can seem daunting. Rifle scopes range in price and quality, from hundreds to even thousands of pounds, so making the right choice at the outset is imperative.
So, first things first: a rifle scope is simply a metal tube encasing a series of lenses - allowing you to view the target on the same 'focal plane' as the sights, meaning that you don't have to keep your rear and front sights in focus - the scope does this for you. For the beginner and experienced rifle-man, or woman, this radically reduces the complexity of getting the shot right.
Rifle scopes have various magnification levels and you can purchase variable or fixed versions - the difference being the fixed have a set magnification and the variable are, you guessed it, variable! Both types are durable and well-made rifle scopes have a long life. The specifications for a scope are usually quoted in the format '4x32mm' to describe the level of magnification. Year on year the magnification levels and sophistication of scopes seems to increase, but when choosing the right rifle scope it's sensible to consider your needs carefully. The highest magnification levels are probably pointless if you are shooting rabbits or other small game, though they may be useful if you are hunting deer and larger game.
It's also important to understand the light transmission qualities of the different types of rifle scope. Light is transmitted through the lenses of the scope to your eye - pretty obvious stuff - but it's crucial to understand that as the light passes through the lenses some is lost on the way. This is particularly relevant when shooting in poor light, either due to the weather or time of day. In terms of light transmission the best quality - and most expensive - rifle scopes can offer up to 98% transmission. However 90% is more often the case and should be adequate in most circumstances.
In terms of cost there is a huge variety of rifle scopes available. What you pay will ultimately determine the quality of scope, but will naturally depend on your budget. If you're buying your first scope the best approach is to go for a recognised brand from a reputable dealer. Most dealers and stockists are experts in their fields and will be happy to discuss your options when buying your first scope. Whether you have a shotgun or rifle you've probably invested a fair amount of money in the gun itself, and if you are planning to shoot on organised hunts there will be further costs involved. For these reasons alone, it makes sense to ensure that the equipment you are using is the very best you can afford!