How Does a Rifle Scope Work – 3 Step by Step Guide 2021

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Would you find anyone who loves firearms and never used a rifle scope? This is the most important part of a rifle that makes the shot perfect. Anyone using a rifle needs to hit from long distance and scope can do the trick. There is a common question how does a rifle scope work?

A rifle scope means to hit a target with accuracy from a distance. It will improve your hunting experience and will prove the rifle to perform well in any scenario. A bad scope can ruin your hunting experience so, choosing a perfect rifle scope is necessary.

What is Rifle Scope

A scope is made of aircraft level aluminum that has an internal mechanism to find a target closer. It works with elevation adjustment drum, protection cap, picture reversal assembly, and scope tube. Internally there is the more detailed structure of ocular assembly, the aperture in Second Focal Plane, mounting rail, and First Focal Place reticle.


Through all these things, finally, we can see the target closer to us. It is mostly like, we need to go inside scope to know what does the inside of a rifle scope look like.  Moreover, we need to know how the parts of a rifle scope work. 

How Does A Rifle Scope Work

A rifle scope is made from many tactical and mechanical processes that we need to know gradually. We should gather necessary information too about how to use a rifle scope; after knowing how it works.

How Does a Rifle Scope Work

Anti Fog and Condensation:

Fogging was a common problem for old scopes, now the modern scopes are filled with nitrogen krypton and argon gas. The leakage is controlled strictly as it does not get foggy anymore. The main functionality of scope is mostly similar to a telescope. 


This is the crosshairs or aiming point of the rifle that make the target easy to shoot. These are mostly working with FFP and SFP scope and can bring the target closer and the accurate reading comes from the reticles. There are different styles of Reticles used in modern scopes, those are crosshair, single dot, german reticle, duplex, bullet drop compensation, and many more. 

Scope Lenses:

Modern scopes are combined of eight different lenses and those are Objective, Erector, magnifying and ocular lenses. Generally, the view comes in the scope, it magnifies and then projected in front of us. 

How The Lenses Work

  • The objective lens takes place in the full forward position of the scope
  • The view is transferred from the objectives to the erector lens assembly and it processes the image
  • The main view is upside-down in this position and comes through the magnifying lens and falls on the ocular lens. 
  • This ocular lens is closer to the hunter’s eye and he can see the target clearly. 

These days, these lenses are manufactured by Zeiss, Nikon, and Leupold, those are highly sophisticated lens manufacturers. 

How Does The Magnifying Process Work

Before getting a clear idea on the scope, we also need to know about the magnifying mechanism. First, the main image falls on the objective lens, then it transmits to the erector lens that is a flipped version, and finally, it becomes in the right position in the magnifying lens. 


We can see the final view through the ocular lens that is visible by us and this is the final output. 

How Do The Two Knobs Work?

The main two knobs of scope allow adjusting the elevation and windage. So, these two knobs are very much important for operation. 

Elevation Knob:

It works mainly with the up or down point of the bullet to set the aiming point. These are generally set on the top of the scope. It works combined with the windage adjustment. For maintaining the elevation knob we need to take care of balance, mount, and other issues. Professionals adjust the knob according to the need and final output. 

Windage Knob:

It is placed beside the scope and it manages the bullet to move left or right. It can be managed to 60 yards for shooting. When the shooter intends to target up to 200-300 yards then the wind will impact the result. Then only the knowledge of shooters can make the right impact from it. 

Parallax Knob:

This is the most advanced technology added to the scope. Generally when the reticle offsets a target, sometimes there is an optical illusion too. The parallax knob can be changed its position to remove the illusion and get the real target seen on the scope. 


The main ring of the magnification controls the Ocular lens setup and we can adjust the target closer. For that, the shooter generally assembles the full setup of an ocular lens then it is possible to make the target closer.  For the FPS and SFP scopes, the reticles are adjusted separately and with the skill of the shooter, he makes necessary adjustments. The overall management brings the answer to the question How does a rifle scope work.

The present scopes are modified according to the need of shooters and they are highly sophisticated. These things are now made with eye protection, eye relief, and other advanced things. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do rifle scope adjustments work?

Generally rifle scope comes with elevation, windage and parallax knobs, those allow you to adjust the range and other features to hit the target easily. Parallax knob allows to make the target more clear in low light. Mil-Reticle is also very effective in achieving targets in any weather condition.

What do the numbers mean on a rifle scope?

Each rifle scope comes with 2 different numbers, from which the first one tells about the magnification and the second one tells about the objective lens diameter. That means 10X50 means, it is capable of 10x magnification and has a 50mm objective lens.

What does it mean when a scope is 4×32?

The number means 4 power magnification and it is a 4x zoom. Similarly 4-16x is a variable power scope that can be adjusted from 4x to 16x. Low magnification scopes are perfect for closer range and firing at moving targets.

What does 3 9×40 mean for a rifle scope?

Generally , it means the magnification power and each number means a 100 yards. So a 3-9x power means it can shoot upto 900 yards effectively.

Final Verdict

Knowing a rifle scope is a matter of huge technical knowledge and ideas. This is a piece of small equipment with a lot of mechanical arrangements. Knowing all these will help you to manage a scope well.

Handling a scope with care will give you years of service and we have shared our knowledge with you to make the query easy. Hope you have got the relevant answers of How does a rifle scope work?. Good luck with hunting and use of a scope properly. 

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