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Glass magnification preference?

JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Posts: 8,227 Senior Member

This is a topic for which there is no right answer or wrong answer.  It's simply to get opinions about your preference for scope magnification on hunting rifles.

I'm a proponent of less is better.  Given the choice between 4x12 and 3x9, I'll take 3x9 for most conditions.  I realize that there may be some specialized conditions for which the extra magnification might be useful, but I try to limit my shots at big game to 300 yards, preferably less, and find that 9x is all I need.

The flip side is if I happen to be hunting in heavy cover.  For that, the lower magnification is definitely better.  I would prefer even something less than 3x if possible.  The one rifle I had made primarily for elk hunting sports a 2x8, as I know from personal experience that elk are where you find them.  I've bumped them at spitting distances, and killed them at distances from 75 yards to approximately 300.

I will all concede that there are some specialized applications, such as  prairie dog shooting, for which something along the lines of 6x18 with adjustable target turrets makes sense.  I have one of those, chambered in .204 Ruger, but it also has a heavy 28 inch barrel.  It's not exactly an all purpose rig.

Opinions, please.


Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.


  • earlyagainearlyagain Posts: 7,928 Senior Member
    edited May 2019 #2
    I have 4 to 9× on my bolt action centerfire big game rifles. That was the common wisdom back when they were scoped.

    Those scopes change POI between the low and high magnification settings. I'm a mediocre rifleman. I carry them at the lowest setting. Ive never shot an animal further than 75 yards.

    Based on my above listed experience, if I had it to do over, 4× would best serve my needs and wants. Those scopes have delivered such reliable service for so long, I won't replace them unless they break. Even then the Leupold is warrantied for life.
  • LinefinderLinefinder Posts: 7,856 Senior Member
    Jerry, you know me,dude......if it's a variable,  the more the better.

    "Walking away seems to be a lost art form."
  • mitdr774mitdr774 Posts: 1,785 Senior Member
    "short range" rifles usually have a 1.5-4 or 2-7 on them, bottle necked cartridge rifles usually sport a 3-9 or 4-12.  Even my longest shot on game was done at the lowest power setting for the scope in use at the time.  325 yard shot using 3 power.  Not sure my eyes would allow that anymore.
  • JayhawkerJayhawker Posts: 18,362 Senior Member
    No matter the range of magnification on my scopes, I find that for the most part, they land on 6X and stay there for most of my hunting...
    Sharps Model 1874 - "The rifle that made the west safe for Winchester"
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Posts: 14,855 Senior Member
    Most of my scopes are 3x9 or 4x10, they usually are on the lowest setting unless I am on the bench.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • JerryBobCoJerryBobCo Posts: 8,227 Senior Member
    Jerry, you know me,dude......if it's a variable,  the more the better.


    Of course I do.  Why do you think I started this thread. :)

    Gun control laws make about as much sense as taking ex-lax to cure a cough.
  • AccipiterAccipiter Posts: 898 Senior Member
    I do not have a lot of range anywhere I hunt, so I usually use a 1-4, or a 2-7.  I have some rifles that wear 2-10 or 3-15, but I do not use them much.  I have some 20 and 26 power optics for my bench babies.
    Apparently free thought is punished, and conformity is required, while peckerless cowards run the show.


    Ah......One savors the hypocrisy!

    Karma.........It’s a bitch.
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    In a big game hunting scope, I *rarely* go above baseline (3-9x or 4-12x) magnification.  The exception to that us when using something like Leupold’s B&C reticle where a specific magnification allows for proper holdover at various ranges.

    On a turkey gun, a simple duplex crosshair with fixed/straight 1x magnification is perfect.  All I need is a hold point in case the birds come in close.
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
  • BigslugBigslug Posts: 9,874 Senior Member
    My current primary sports a 2.5-8 based on the hunting I've actually BEEN doing.  The big gun wears a 4.5-14 and was assembled for the hunting I THOUGHT I'd be doing.  After killing three deer with it, all inside of 150 yards, that one's become the backup / special purpose rig.  Any more, it's all about how fast I can get on and drill a milk jug inside of point-blank range than laser rangefinders and holdovers.

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Posts: 6,116 Senior Member
    edited May 2019 #11
    I haven't nailed down a "do all" magnification range for my hunting guns. Even when I took a fairly long shot on an antelope, the 3.5-10 optic was on 6x and it never occurred to me to turn it up higher.

    As it stands right now:

    - .243 Win has a 4-12 (my logic being it would also be my coyote gun)
    - 7mm08 has a 3.5-10 (let's be real, that's just slick marketing to make Leupold's VX-3i stand out from the other 3-9 optics out there)
    - 7mm Rem Mag has a 3-9 (once I get the gun shooting the way I want, I'll probably put a new optic on it. Solid chance that optic is a 4.5-14x40 VX-3i, or Vortex's equivalent)

    I've got a spare 2-7 laying around that I've considered putting on the 7mm08, and then moving the 3.5-10 to the 7mm Rem Mag, but I haven't done it yet and quite possibly won't. I've got that 7mm08 set up juuuuuuuust right and I really don't want to mess with it.
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski
  • FreezerFreezer Posts: 2,757 Senior Member
    I have set up my battery for a variety of situations. My go to gun is a Savage 99f in 308 with a 2x7 Leopold VXII. The Rem 700 Chambered in 280 Rem wears a 4x12 VXII Leopold. My distance rifle is a custom  Mauser in 6.5-06 and wears a 4.5x14 VXL. Each rifle has it's purpose and limits as does each scope. I keep my scope o the lowest setting while hunting. I figure if I need more I can turn it up as needed. You can't play golf with one club, but the Savage covers most of the iron work.
    I like Elmer Keith; I married his daughter :wink:
  • ojrojr Posts: 1,344 Senior Member
    My .22 has a 2-7 Leupy VX2
    The 223 has a  N/F4x14 F1 Shv
    The 6.5x55, has a N/F 2.5-10x42
     The 6.5-06 has a  S&B PM11 4-12x50
    The 30 06 has a 2.5-10 Leica
    The 9.3x62 has a 2.5-8 VX3 Leupy.

    So for me less is better so long as glass quality is good and clicks where used are repeatable.
    The flight was uneventful, which is what one wants when one is transporting an Elephant.
     Reuters, Dec 2020.
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Posts: 12,434 Senior Member
    Mine are all over the place, and are really based on the gun and hunting/ shooting I have planned for it.  I would probably say that my “general hunting” scope preference is a 3-9x40. Three hunting pistols have 2-7 power, scouts have 2x, and the long range gun has a 6-18.

    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • ZeeZee Posts: 28,443 Senior Member
    It depends on the gun and it’s purpose. There is no “do all” with scopes for me. 

    Job = Tool
    "To Hell with efficiency, it's performance we want!" - Elmer Keith
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Posts: 8,609 Senior Member
    In the past, most all of my scopes were handgun/LER, and I was limited to 2-7, 2.5-8, 3-9, and 3-12 power scopes.  Once I moved to rifle scopes on my specialty pistols, now the majority of my scopes are rifle scopes.  I still use handgun/LER scopes for hunting some, especially in revolvers (also use non-magnified dot optics).
    Ideally, it depends on the use or uses.
    My favorite range of hunting scope for big game most of the time is:  2.5-15, 3-15, 4-20, and 4.5-14.
    I sometimes use competition scopes (not often) which range from 8x-15x on the lower end to 32x-55x on the high end.  These have 1/8 MOA turret clicks.  Very rarely would I use these for big game but I have before, when hunting in open country.  I am comfortable using what I have.
    The other range of scopes I use a lot for hunting are my "do everything scopes."
    Since some of my LR hunting specialty pistols are also used for LR steel and prairie dogs, they might be wearing a scope with the magnification range: 6.5-20, 6-24, 5-25, 4.5-27.
    If, hunting in dark timber is the task, I go for lower powered variables.

    "The Un-Tactical"
  • Six-GunSix-Gun Posts: 8,155 Senior Member
    Zee said:
    It depends on the gun and it’s purpose. There is no “do all” with scopes for me. 

    Job = Tool
    ALL tools are hammers.

    (Except for chisels...they’re screwdrivers).
    Accuracy: because white space between bullet holes drives me insane.
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