How to Choose a Rifle Scope for Short to Medium Range Shooting

Being a long range marksman might sound fascinating, but let’s face it – do you really need a long range scope?

For starters, you need to have the correct rifle. And by no means, will it be cheap. Moreover, it’s far from easy to master the skill required for long range shooting.  And to make matters worse, long range scopes will cost you a pretty penny.

But, that’s not why we are here – to put down long range scopes. No. We are here to tell you why a short to medium range rifle scope can fulfill almost all your shooting desires.

Whether you are planning to hunt small game or just do some casual target practice, short to mid range scopes are more than sufficient to fulfill your needs. And honestly, contrary to popular belief, even if you are looking to hunt down big, dangerous game like buffalo or bear, you’re less likely to require a long range scope or rifle.

So, how exactly do you choose the perfect short to medium range scope for your needs? Well, we have prepared the following guide, which should make things easier for you.

Let’s get started, shall we?        

Guide to Choosing the Ideal Short to Medium Range Scope

Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s important to understand what the difference is between short, medium, and long range rifle scopes.


Short Vs. Medium Vs. Long Range Scopes (Magnification and Range)

Short Range Rifle Scopes

If you plan on hunting or doing target practice within the 100 yard range, a mid-budget good ar15 scope should work. Short range scopes can come in two varieties – fixed magnification and variable magnification.

In case of a fixed magnification scope, the ideal power would be 2x or 2.5x. And for variable magnification, a 1-4x rifle scope would be perfect. You can also use the 1-4x scope for medium range shooting as well.

And as we mentioned earlier, close to mid range scopes are better suited for hunting down dangerous game. Why, you ask? Well, usually, hunters prefer hunting down large game animals at a distance of 50 – 150 yards.

And, if at that range you use a long range rifle scope, your field of view will be severely compromised due to the large magnification. Needless to say, things can quickly take a turn for the worse if the animal decides to charge at you.

Medium Range Rifle Scopes

Medium Range Rifle Scopes

If your preferred shooting range lies between 100-300 yards, you need a medium range rifle scope. Like short range scopes, you can opt for a scope which has either fixed or variable magnification.

For medium range shooting needs, you either need a 4x fixed magnification scope or a scope with variable magnification like 2-7x or 3-9x.

With scopes with variable magnification above 4x, you can essentially cover a much longer range. However, the range you can cover not only depends on the scope but also on your rifle’s capabilities and the cartridge.

If you own a Ruger 10/22, which happens to be an ideal short to mid range rifle, you are reading the right article.

Long Range Rifle Scopes

Long Range Rifle Scopes

Since long range rifle scopes aren’t the focus of this article, we won’t say much on the topic. These scopes can cover a range greater than 300 yards. And the highest magnification goes beyond 10x. For some scopes, it can even go up to 30x and beyond. Check out the VORTEX 4-16×50 Viper for extreme distance.

The Lens

When it comes to the lenses of a rifle scope, there are two main things to consider – the scope’s Objective lens and the coating of the optical system.

Objective Lens

How does the Objective lens determine the quality of the scope? Well, simply put, the larger the objective lens, the more light it will gather, and a result, produce brighter and clearer images. Moreover, the field of view is directly proportional to the size of the objective lens.

Lens Coating

Like the Objective Lens,  the type of lens coating also helps determining the quality of the image produced by the scope. The coating of the lenses helps minimize image distortion from mirages and glare. In case of a rifle scope, there are 4 types of lens coating:

1.     Coated Lenses – The optical lens has a single layer of chemical coating.

2.     Fully Coated Lenses – All the optical lenses have a single layer of chemical coating.

3.     Multi Coated Lenses – The objective lens has multiple layers of chemical coating.

4.     Fully Multi Coated Lenses – All of the outer optical surfaces have multiple layers of chemical coating.

As expected, Fully Multi Coated Lenses offer the best image quality among the 4 types of coating. However, these types of lenses will also end up costing more.

You can also check the ultimate guide on choosing a rifle scope.

Other Factors to Consider

Long Range Rifle Scopes

1. Glass Reticle

Nowadays, all good rifle scopes come with etched reticles which help you understand the bullet drop and wind adjustment. The vertical markings help compensate for the bullet drop, while the horizontal markings compensate for the wind speed.

Some reticles are specifically designed with the bullet in mind, so make sure you pay close attention to that before you purchase the rifle scope.

2. Build

If you want your scope to last a lifetime, make sure that you buy one which is made of Aircraft grade aluminum. Also, the scope should be purged of either Nitrogen or Argon. This will ensure that it can handle all types of weather conditions.

3. Eye Relief

Eye relief is the maximum distance at which you can get the full field of view. Ideally, you should consider scopes with an eye relief of 3.5 inches and above. A rifle scope with generous eye relief will help prevent accidents.

4. Brand

While a rifle scope from a renowned brand may not come cheap, it’s wiser to invest in one. Not only will the quality be superior, but you’ll also get a product which is reliable and last you years to come.

Moreover, top rifle scope brands like Nikon and Vortex Optics provide excellent customer support. And in some cases, they even offer Lifetime Warranty and Replacement on their products.

Final Words

Well, there you have it – a complete guide to help you choose a rifle scope for short to medium range shooting.

If you take your hunting seriously, we’d recommend you invest on a high end product, instead of a cheap one. It will not only last you a lifetime but will also save you money in the long run. If you’re looking for specific rifle scope models for short to medium range shooting, the low power variable optic article from Mark Grimsley has you covered!