Scope magnification can make all the difference between hitting your target square on and sending rounds off into the woods, yet it can be a confusing element to understand at first. If you're just getting into hunting or sport shooting, we've put together this quick guide to explain scope magnification and give you some good examples to help you choose the right scope for your setup, shooting style, and preferred conditions.
What Is Scope Magnification?
Scope magnification indicates how many times the view through a scope has been increased and is displayed as a number followed by an "x". A 3x magnification example would mean that the view through the scope is three times that of the actual object or target. But that's just one component of scope magnification. In your search for a scope you're sure to come across scope magnification displayed as "00x00" where the first one or two digits represent the magnification, and the last two digits reference the size of the lens.
So, let's take 3x32 – This is the same 3x magnification example but the 32 identifies the size of the lens as 32mm. Scopes come with many lens sizes ranging from 15mm to 56mm and while the viewing angle may seem wider with larger lenses, it isn't – it simply presents a clearer image to provide enhanced accuracy.
Scope Magnification Distance Guide
Sights With 1-4x Magnification
This level of magnification is great for target shooting up to approximately 100 meters, hunting smaller game, or simply defending your property. Scopes in this range display up to four times larger than the actual target.
Sights With 5-8x Magnification
If you're shooting targets up to 200 meters away or hunting in forests or other closed landscape areas, 5-8x scope magnification is a good fit and will provide a view that is up to eight times larger than the actual target.
Sights With 9-12x Magnification
Targets that are over 200 meters away require further scope magnification of 9-12x. If you plan to hunt in fields or other open landscape areas, you'll want a scope that can provide a view up to 12 times larger than the actual target.
Sights With 13-24x Magnification
If your target is significantly further than 200 meters away, many hunters and sport shooters will recommend 13-24x scope magnification. This level of magnification is suitable for areas with great visibility and vast open space where accuracy is essential.