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Why Is Too Much Scope Magnification A Bad Thing


having too much magnification on a scopeA certain attitude pertains around scopes and riflery. This attitude is specifically targeted at long range shooting and shooters in general. This attitude is not contained to new and inexperienced shooters. These shooters can be experienced gunslingers when it comes to pistols, modern sporting rifles, shotguns, or sports like hunting and 3-gun. Although new shooters who have recently gotten bit by the shooting bug are not immune to it too.

4 Points To Think About

This attitudes inserts the prevailing thought that the higher the magnification a scope has the better it is. This unfortunate attitude and thinking process is flawed, and for many reasons. The main reason is does the mission or overall objective require a high powered optic? If you do not need a powerful optic you are handicapping yourself. Sure you can see a deer fine with a 4 power optic at 300 yards, but with a 20 power optic you count the ticks right?


Sure you can see the animal better, but first it’s not required. Secondly, you’ve cut off your field of view substantially. A higher magnification isolates your field of view. Deer number one is a nice four point, but deer number 2, the one you can’t see, is a ten point. A reduced field of view could also be a danger to other hunters, if you are zooming around in 20x for a 300 yard shot you may not see another hunter enter the picture.


High magnifications will also dim the amount of light coming through the scope. When you increase the magnification you are reducing the exit pupil diameter. This affects the amount of effective light transmission the scope transmits to the shooter. If you are placing 1500 yard shots or even further a larger optic may be necessary. However, very few shooters have the skill and know how to do so.


A higher magnification will also translate to more scope quiver when focused onto a target. The high level of magnification makes even small movements throw the reticle drastically off target This means everything you do, including your heartbeat, can affect your shot. Higher magnification also reduces the optical clarity of a target. Even taking a long range shot can be risky on a blurry image.

Higher Magnification Drives Up The Price

For a high magnification, especially variable scope, to be effective it has to be high end. Rarely do I say price equals quality, but when it comes to a high powered optic it’s somewhat true. You are not going to find a good, high powered optic for under a thousand dollars.

A thousand dollar optic with an effective magnification past 30 will cost more than a thousand dollars. If you are looking for a scope with say 80 power, be prepared to throw out more than three grand for a quality model. Price is a another consideration. Only a small part of the shooting population would ever effectively use a magnification of 80, so for most it would be a waste of money.


These higher magnification scopes are also very, very big, and quite heavy. They are not always suited for field work due to the weight and can be hard to bring the bear in a fast moving situation.


Simply put the greater the magnification does not always mean a better optic. A smaller optic, like a 3-9x or a 4-12x, or even a 6-18x is still a quality option. These magnification levels will cover most of the situations an average shooter will find themselves in. A Leupold with a magnification of 3-9x is just as well built as a Leupold in say, 10-40x power. The main difference is the objective one is trying to achieve.


Shoot Out

There is nothing wrong with a high powered optic per se, but these optics are for a specific type of shooter. It’s important to understand that unless you are a dedicated long range shooter there is nothing wrong with a 3-9x power scope. The fact is that most people will benefit from having a lower powered optic. The clarity is better, the field of view is wider, the light transmission is higher, and they are much lighter and much more affordable. A high quality optic is a high quality optic, regardless of its magnification.