The scope world is a big one, a very big one. Scopes can be broken into dozens if not hundreds of categories, and two of those categories are long and short eye relief scopes. Both optics have a certain design and idea of use behind them and they offers different advantages and disadvantages to the user.
Short Eye Relief
Short eye relief scopes are what most picture when it comes to scopes. Eye relief is between 1.5 to 5 inches and is often considered a regular scope.
- These are the most common scopes and almost exclusively found on rifles.
- Short eye relief scopes are only effective on long guns and are the most common and more powerful scopes.
Short eye relief scopes mount further to the rear of the rifle and gives the user a wider field of view. This wider field of view allows the user to see more at a magnified level. A short eye relief scope is easier to make adjustments to since you don’t have to reach further on your rifle.
- A short eye relief scope will also keep the weapon’s balance more positioned to the rear of the rifle.
- Short eye relief scopes give the shooter a clearer and more concise picture than long eye relief scopes.
Short eye relief scopes can provide a brilliant level of magnification, it’s not uncommon to find 40 power short eye relief scopes.
- Short eye relief scopes can often provide a bullet drop compensator dialed in for a specific caliber. This allows the shooter to take a longer range shot with ease.
- These short eye relief scopes can provide a more complicated and potentially more useful reticle and system for taking long range shots and compensating for windage and bullet drop.
Long Eye Relief
Long eye relief scopes are generally considered anything further than 6 inches and beyond of eye relief to effectively work. This eye relief can start at 6 inches and can go a lot, lot further.
- Long eye relief scopes can be used on handguns, and are the preferred scopes for large hunting revolvers.
- Long eye relief scopes are limited in power, you’ll never see a 40 power long eye relief scope.
Long eye relief scopes are the only scopes effective on handguns when partnered with magnifications. Long eye relief scopes often have a much shorter magnification level.
- The most powerful are commonly only around 8 power max.
- Long eye relief scopes are also better for large caliber, powerful cartridges. More powerful caliber have a more powerful recoil, and the recoil pushes the weapon backward. If your eye is too close to the scope then you may get a nasty black eye.
Long eye relief scopes allow the user to easily access the chamber of their weapon on bolt action rifles. With the scope mounted forward of the action, you can also rapidly load the weapon.
- Long eye relief scopes are easy to mount of surplus rifles like the Mosin Nagant and on Scout rifles. This allows the use of stripper clips to rapidly reload the weapon. Certain weapons like the Winchester 94 either need a long eye relief scope just to eject rounds.
The difference between long and short eye relief scopes is quite major. Traditionally short eye relief scopes are designed for long-range and precision shooting. These scopes work best for those looking for a precision shooting weapon.
A long eye relief scope allows users to mount a scope to handguns, rifles with restricted scope options and, of course, heavy recoiling weapons like shotguns and cartridges like the 375 H&H magnums. Long eye relief scopes are about hitting your target with speed.
Both optics have their highs and lows, luckily the optics world offers lots and lots of options for both categories.