rifle aiming the target

What Do The Numbers Mean On A Rifle Scope? Analyzing The Digits To Improve Your Shot

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Rifle manufacturers are consistently making improvements to their scopes to offer hunters and rifle enthusiasts reliable equipment. With a wealth of models on the market, it can be difficult to decipher the evolving technology and how best to capitalize on the functions to improve your shooting experience. You may be an experienced shooter and still ask "what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope?" So do not worry, we have gathered everything you need to know!

What Do The Numbers Mean On A Rifle Scope?

The numbers on a rifle scope reflect the range of its magnification (or power) and the size of the objective lens. The first 2 numbers relate to the minimum and maximum magnification level of the scope, also known as the zoom scope, whilst the last number refers to the objective lens diameter in mm. Navigating and understanding these numbers are critical for improving the speed and accuracy of your shot.


Magnification Or Power

A rifle scope's primary function is to magnify the chosen target, and the most common series of numbers you will see on a scope signify the magnification level.
The magnification, or power, is specified as a multiplication factor compared to the naked eye, meaning that a target in the reticle of a scope with a ‘3-9' power range can appear 3 to 9 times larger depending on where the shooter sets the zoom.

The first number signifies the lowest magnification and the second number the highest. Some scopes with a fixed power will just have one number; for example, ‘4x40mm'. This signifies that the target in the reticle of this scope will appear four times larger, or four times closer, than the naked eye. The higher the number, the higher the magnification.

I learned how to fire a sniper rifle, which I'm sure will be useful at some point.

Paul Giamatti

Variable power on a scope will always have the numbers separated with a dash, and most modern rifle scopes will have this capability. Variable power enables a shooter to have far greater versatility at the range or in the field because of the number of values that can be set in between the lowest and highest settings.

Deciding on the power of your scope will depend on the environment and the expected distances to your targets. For example, if you are hunting in thick forest or areas of close cover, you would be better off using a low-power fixed scope, like a ‘4x' or a variable power scope with a low power of 3.5x or lower. This increases your overall field of vision, which can allow you to quickly acquire the target and freely switch to other targets.

If you are operating in mountainous areas or long range environments, then a rifle scope with a high fixed or variable power is the best option (i.e: ‘16x' or a ‘20x'). This will provide the shooter with a clear image of a small target even if it's hundreds of yards away. Most hunters will opt for rifle scopes with variable powers like ‘3.5-10x' or ‘4-12x' because they allow for large variations from long range to close cover.

soldier using  gun with scope

image source: pexels

Objective Lens Size

This is the final number in the sequence and signifies the objective lens size in millimeters (mm), also referred to as the objective diameter of the scope. For example, the ‘3-9x40' scope has a variable power of 3 to 9 times and an objective diameter of 40mm.

The objective lens of a scope is the one closest to the target and farthest from the rifle's stock. The larger the lens, the greater its capacity to let light in, and as a result the target will be illuminated. The more a scope magnifies a target, the larger its objective diameter needs to be to maintain brightness and clarity. For instance, a ‘3-9x32mm' scope will not be as clear on 9 times magnification than a ‘3-9x50mm' scope, which will be bright on all variable power settings. 

Rifle scopes with low objective diameters will get darker and darker the more you magnify the target, so opting for a larger objective lens will be of great benefit, especially in low-light conditions.

In low-light conditions, scopes with larger objective diameters are more effective due to their larger exit pupil. The exit pupil is the size of the beam of light that leaves the scope and can be calculated by dividing the objective diameter by the power. For example, a ‘4x32mm' scope will have an exit pupil of 8mm. To help put this in perspective, the human pupil on a clear sunny day will vary between 2mm to 4mm depending on the brightness. At pre-dawn or after sunset, the pupil will vary from 5mm to sometimes as high as 9mm.

So, even though a scope with a larger exit pupil will have a minimal effect during the day, it will be a huge benefit to precise vision in low-light conditions.


Tube Diameter

Tube diameter is the diameter of the scope's tube. When you're wondering "what does the numbers mean on a rifle scope," you should know that you aren't likely to find this number displayed on many scopes; but it is found on the manufacturer's box in the description and details. You will need to know this number as it's necessary for purchasing the correct rings to mount the scope on your rifle.

Two of the most common sizes for scope tubes are ‘1inch' and ‘30mm', with the latter being the largest. A larger tube diameter enables the lenses inside the scope to be larger, allowing more light to pass through for clearer vision. ‘30mm' tube diameters are often more expensive, with ‘34mm' versions being even more so.

How The Scope Works

A fundamental part of answering "what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope?" is understanding the basic workings of the scope. The scope has four main components: the glass, optical coatings, parallax adjustment and eye relief.


Glass (The Lens)

High-definition glass or extra-low-dispersion glass (ED glass) is used to make the lens of the scope. It directs the wavelengths of external light into a focal point, increasing clarity, sharpness and true-to-life colors.


Optical Coatings

Reflected light in rifle scopes is the main cause of decreased light transmission and blurry images. When light hits a glass surface, between 1% and 5% of the light is reflected. To eliminate this chance of reflection on the ED glass, manufacturers coat the surface with a thin chemical film (commonly magnesium fluoride). Multiple layers reduce glare and light loss, which results in vibrant, clearer images.

There are three main terms used to describe the types of coatings available for your optics:

  1. Coated - Single layer on the exterior surfaces of the glass for protection from abrasion
  2. Multi-coated - Multiple coats on the exterior surfaces of the glass to prevent abrasion and reduce glare
  3. Fully Multi-coated - All glass surfaces are thoroughly coated to maximize durability and the best light transmission


Parallax Adjustment

Every scope has a standard focusing knob which adjusts the reticle to your eye. The reticle is the series of fine lines in the eyepiece that measures the scale/size of distant objects. Parallax occurs when you are viewing distant targets, with magnification over 10x, and the reticle appears to shift or move. To return the reticle to the same focal plane as the target, use the parallax adjustment.

Most scopes that do not have adjustable objectives compensate for parallax by being preset to find focus at 150 yds. However, if you are looking for a higher power scope for distant targets, consider one with an adjustable objective.


Eye Relief

Eye relief refers to the physical distance that you can hold the scope from your eye without losing sight of the entire image The eye relief on a rifle will vary with the power of the scope, but try to find options with generous eye relief, as it will allow you to acquire the target more quickly, especially for running shots.
Most hunters will use 3" to 4", but for those of you with large magnum rifles, you will need maximum relief to avoid injuring yourself when the rifle recoils.

Common Terms To Understand

If you are new to rifle scopes, you will probably encounter terms you don't understand. To avoid confusion, we have defined a few important terms that will help answer your question "what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope?"


Field Of View (FOV)

The field of view references how wide the area is (in feet) that you can see at 100 yds. The higher a number is, the wider the area appears, while a smaller number indicates a narrower area. Therefore, as you increase the magnification, the FOV becomes smaller. These numbers are influenced by the focal length of the objective lenses, the design of the eyepiece and the power of the scope. If you are interested in close cover, quick-target acquisition, you will need a wider field of view, so you should seek a smaller power.


Minute Of Angle (MOA)

When designating variances on a target at 100 yds, MOA is the term used to describe the adjustment on a scope. To calculate MOA at any distance, just multiply the distance in yards by 1.047 and then divide by 100.

For example: If the adjustments on the scope are 1/4 MOA, then the bullet's point of impact will move 0.26175" (rounded to 1/4" at 100 yds) for every click of the adjustment knob.


Milliradians (MILs)

MILs serve the same function as MOA. They are both equal at 100 yards, but their math is different:

  • 1 MOA = 1.047 inches or 1/4" at 100 yards
  • 1 MIL is equivalent to 3.438 MOA
  • To calculate the inches in 1 MIL, multiply 1 MOA (1.047") by the amount of MOA in 1 MIL (3.438)

Conclusion

Understanding these terms, along with the components of the scope and its numbers, will ultimately improve your overall accuracy, speed and target success when shooting. We hope this has helped to answer "what do the numbers mean on a rifle scope?" If you are seeking a way to improve your confidence and success rate when shooting, take time to familiarise yourself with your scope and then practice with a target!

best long range caliber

Best Long Range Caliber: Top 8 Options To Try

Long range hunting is not for beginners. There is a certain level of science associated with this hunting style that you must achieve over time, not instantly. It is a task that requires plenty of practice and a good lengthy range to work on. You have to adjust for everything including the wind and weather conditions.

Not every hunter will be good at long range hunting. You have to have patience, determination, and the perseverance to admit your flaws to yourself so that you may correct them while practicing. If you decide to jump into long range hunting without enough practice, it’s likely that you’ll end up wasting your day.

One thing that many expert hunters will recommend when you first start long range hunting is to make sure you are using the right caliber for the job. Certain cartridges can make it easier to have a successful day on the field.

Comparison Table of the Best Long Range Caliber


Reviews of The Best Long Range Caliber


ammunitions

The best calibers used for this type of hunting are often flat-shooting and hard-hitting. You want to use long range calibers that have a great track record for successful hunts.

Fast magnum cartridges are a good place to start, however, speed is not the only thing you need to consider when looking for the best long range caliber. You also need to think about recoil and reloading options as well. Here are our suggestions for the best long range caliber ammunition that you can use for this often difficult type of hunting.



.300 Winchester Magnum

Although there is an endless amount of .30 caliber cartridges available on the market, it seems as if there are more appearing every day. There was a time when the .300 was believed to be the fastest of all, however, today, it has been overrun by the many .30 caliber cartridges that with extreme shooting power. So, if it’s not the best of the best, why is it included on this list?

The .300 Winchester Magnum can shoot very flat and it produces a recoil that most shooters can easily manage. That means you don’t have to deal with the harsh recoil that you would receive with the much faster .30s.

The Winchester Mag can also benefit from a broad range of high-quality .308 bullets. Although it may not be the fastest caliber cartridge on the market, or the fastest in its category, the .300 Winchester Magnum can still provide serious hunters with quality results. It is capable of forcing a 150 grain bullet at 3,2000 fps, and a 180 grain bullet as much as 3,000 fps.

The ammo is usually easy to find which is another plus. You can purchase it at most sporting good stores, and you have plenty of factory loads to choose from. Velocity is a good thing, and vital when long range hunting, but the .300 Winchester Magnum proves that you don’t always need the fastest caliber to have a successful hunt.



7mm remington magnum

The 7mm Remington Magnum is now over 50 years old, along with several other 7mm cartridges that were introduced at the time from other brands. But regardless of how many different types of 7mm calibers there are, the Remington Magnum is by far the most popular. And after half a century, it is still considered one of the best long range calibers on the market.

The 7mm Remington Magnum can drive a 140-grain bullet at 3,000 fps. And the heaver 160-grain bullets can travel even faster than that. There is a large selection of bullets available from Remington that are different densities from .284 to .310 and everything in between.

Heavy bullets are good if you want deep penetration and retained energy. However, they can be difficult to find at your local sporting goods or hardware store.

The 7mm Remington can be used for any type of hunting you have in mind. And unlike the heavier bullets, they can be found anywhere ammo is sold.



7mm Shooting Times Westerner

The 7mm Shooting Times Westerner or STW was first developed in 1979 by Layne Simpson. While it never reached the same level of popularity as the Remington Magnum, the STW is just as good, if not better than the Remington caliber cartridge.

The STW features the same design as the 8mm Remington Magnum which is necked down to allow use of 8mm and 7mm bullets. Hunters in the western part of the nation appreciated the 7mm STW because it was a flat shooting, medium bore cartridge.

The 7mm STW is a hard hitting caliber which can propel 160-grain bullets as fast as 3,200 fps. It carries more than 2,000 lbs. of force at an impressive 400 yards. And when you use heavier or longer caliber bullets, you don’t have to worry about them drifting as much when using the STW.

Although the Shooting Times Westerner may not be as popular as the 7mm Remington Magnum, it is still a great quality long range caliber that deserves some recognition.



8mm Remington Magnum

Another popular choice for most hunters is the 8mm Remington Magnum. The caliber cartridge has many loyal fans who will always turn to this product over any other in the same category. The 8mm

Remington was first developed in 1978. It features impressive ballistics and is one of the best choices out there for hunting large game in the U.S. and foreign countries. The only issue with the 8mm Rem. Mag, is that it needed a long action bullet and when it was first made available, there weren’t many .323 bullets produced.

The .338 Winchester Magnum however was already a popular option, and at the time there were plenty of .30’s for hunters to choose from. As a result of this, the 8mm Remington Magnum was forgotten by most consumers. However, there are still plenty of long-range hunters who are big fans of the 8mm. And it has a lot of features that make it a high-quality caliber. It is capable of firing 180-grain bullets at 3,300 fps and 200-grain bullets at 3,000 fps.

The 8mm Remington Magnum produces as much s 2 tons of muzzle energy and can shoot flat enough for you to hunt successfully in open country.



.220 Swift

The .220 Swift was the very first factory cartridge to break the 4,000 fps record. The .220 was first introduced to the public in 1935 by the Winchester brand. They placed the cartridge inside a Model 54 bolt-action rifle for testing and were more than pleased with the results.

Early releases of the .220s received mixed reviews from hunters. Most believed that it was a barrel burner. A few changes were made to the design and today the .220 Swift is considered a great cartridge for hunting small game such as squirrel or rabbit. That’s because the barrels that are made today are capable of handling the fierce speed behind the .220 Swift.

The 40-grain Nosler Ballistic Tip Load by Federal shoots from the barrel at an impressive 4,250 fps. It is also one of the best to hunt small game with from far away distances. There are very few varmint loads now available that can hold up the same way that the .220 Swift can.



.30-378 Weatherby

In the 1950’s, Roy Weatherby started experimenting with a .30 caliber load made from his company’s .378 Magnum. And that is how the 30-378 Weatherby caliber was invented. In 1996 this cartridge became more commercially available and the statistics were very impressive.

The Weatherby is capable of sending a 180-grain bullet out of the barrel at a speed of more than 3,400 fps. It could also produce a staggering 4,676 ft. lbs. of energy. Weatherby manufactures several variants of their Mark V line that is chambered especially for this cartridge, however, the firearms pack some strong recoil and ammo can cost around $150 per box.



.270 Winchester Short Magnum

The .270 Winchester Short Magnum or WSM is similar to the .300 Winchester Short Magnum and is capable of driving a 130-grain bullet more than 3,2000 fps. Because the .270 Winchester is so popular among hunters, there are many varieties of the .277 bullets available to purchase. The .270 Winchester Short Magnum is extremely accurate and generates enough force to kill all types of game large or small.

And thanks to the short length of the .270 WSM, it can be chambered in lightweight rifles making it the perfect cartridge for hunting in the mountains. This cartridge generates about 10% more recoil than other popular models, but it retains around 20% more energy at 300 yards. This makes the .270 Winchester Short Magnum a good choice for long range hunting.

It is recommended for varmint hunting with light 100 and 110-grain bullets. For larger game such as deer, you will need to use 130-grain bullets. Any heavier bullets such as 150-grain will work best on caribou and elk.



.338 Remington Ultra Magnum

The .338 Remington Ultra Magnum is a great long range hunting round, but hunters should be aware that it can generate a very high recoil level that is intolerable for many hunters. But, if you can deal with the recoil issue, this cartridge can deliver an impressive 225-grain bullet at 3,200 fps. That generates around 4.500 lbs. of energy and shoots flat enough to be considered the best possible long range cartridge there is.

The case for the .338 is developed using a shortened .300 Remington Ultra Magnum rebated, beltless case that has a modified shoulder and necking to accept a .338 bullet. Experienced hunters who can take the kick that this .338 caliber can handle will love using it for long range hunting. It is the ideal cartridge to use for taking long distance shots on moose, elk, or caribou.

What Exactly is a Caliber?


While it seems like a question that all experienced hunters should be able to answer, there is a little confusion when it comes to what people are referring to when they talk about calibers. The word “caliber” is one of the oldest terms in relation to firearms. It originated in Ancient Greek times long before the first firearm was made. Then ‘caliber’ referred to hard wood objects that shoemakers used to mold leather to create footwear.

Over time, the term was used to describe bullet molds, but it was initially used to describe lead sling bullets and not the firearm bullets we are familiar with today.

After the first firearms were made, the term made it to the Early Modern English language which can be used to describe everything from quality to measurement. Initially, it was in reference to the diameter of the bore, or barrel of a gun. Since practically all firearms were muzzle-loaders prior to the 1850s, and all firearms used round lead balls, there wasn’t a need for a term to describe the different sizes of ammo.

Today we associate the word ‘caliber’ with the diameter of ammunition since there is now a broad range of bullets available such as .22, .45, 9mm, and so on. However, caliber is also used to describe the type of firearm that can be used with each type of bullet, such as a .45 Caliber Rifle.

When referring to bullet caliber, you are talking about the diameter of the slug portion of the bullet cartridge. However, the caliber number may be slightly off from the actual measured diameter of the slug. The same goes when referring to the caliber of a gun barrel. The actual diameter could be slightly smaller or larger, but the gun still uses the specified cartridge.

weapons and calibers

Which is the Best Long Range Caliber for You?


There are many different types of long range caliber cartridges available, some that are more powerful than others. Finding the caliber that works best for you depends on what type of game you are hunting and how much experience you have using a caliber with a powerful recoil.

By learning more about how each caliber on this list works, you will be able to narrow down your choices and find the right cartridge to use for each long range hunt you have planned.

rifle on a stand

Let’s Get Zeroed: A Newbie’s Guide to Pro-Level Rifle Shooting

Want to Start Driving Tacks at the Gun Range? Well, it's Safer and Easier Than You May Think . . .

Take a few deep breaths and relax your muscles. Focus your eyes. Feel the carved wood on your cheek and cold steel in your hands. Release your breath halfway. Now gently pull your index finger back slowly . . . slowly . . . slowly . . .

KAPOW!

Wasn't that fun?

Now just imagine the buzz you'll get popping off a few clips with a real rifle at a real gun range.

Let's face it. Guns are controversial and they can be straight up scary if you don't know what you're doing. But they can also be safe, ridiculously fun, and super useful. How, might you ask, are guns useful for anyone other than cops and soldiers?

For one thing, shooting sports are awesome. Seriously, how cool are those dudes in the Olympics cruising on itty-bitty skis while lighting up metal targets in spandex jumpsuits? That's right. They're very, very cool. You know who else is cool right now?

Hunters. Believe it or not, hunting is having Renaissance. From onetime hippies to plaid-jackets hipsters, a new wave of hunters are learning how to shoot so they can ethically harvest meat of their own. But plinking targets and filling your freezer aren't the only benefit of rifle shooting . . .

Thinking about personal safety is a drag. We get it. Why would anyone want to think about nightmare scenarios when you could just kick it and eat Oreos? The reason is that it could save your life. Keeping a firearm for personal safety may not be for everyone, but a gun will stop a perp more effectively than some Double Stufs. At least most of the time.

For all their bad PR, firearms have tons of upsides. There's a reason they've hung around since the 14th Century and got a nod in the U.S. Constitution. But what if you're a total newbie who wants to learn safe rifle shooting? It can be scary (and dangerous!) to even touch a rifle without the right experience. Fortunately, you can do a lot of leg work before ever heading out to the range.

danger sign

Image via pngimg.com

Homework That Doesn't Suck

So you're ready to jump in and learn a thing or two about rifle shooting. There's more to study up on than you might think. But trust us, these topics are way more fun than trigonometry:

Intro to Rifle Shooting 101: The Absolute Basics

  • Firearms Safety: The VERY Most Important Thing
  • The DNA of a Rifle
  • Learn the Laws, Don't Fight `Em
  • The Many Types of Rifles
  • Choosing the Right Gun

Intro to Rifle Shooting 201: Takin' Baby Steps

  • All About Optics
  • Getting Loaded (Not Like That . . .)
  • Physically Taking a Shot
  • How To Actually Hit the Target This Time
  • Sniping Like a Sniper


First Off, Don't Get Dead.

If you're interested in rifle shooting you're probably also interested in life. And by that we mean preserving your own life and the lives of those around you. If this is the case then you ABSOLUTELY MUST go all in on firearms safety before you do anything else. Rifle shooting is a fun, rewarding sport, but people (including you) can die if you cut corners. Take these safety rules to heart, `cause they ain't no joke!

Ahh Yes, Sensei . . 


Wax on, wax off . . .

As far as we know it's not possible to learn rifle shooting by osmosis. You can get the gist of things on YouTube, but that can't replace real-world practice. One of the best possible ways to learn gun safety is by enlisting a mentor. Most hunters and sport shooters learned from a mentor of their own at some point and many are willing to pay it forward for a new sniper-to-be.

Don't Point That Thing at Me!

Some rules of firearms safety are obvious. Muzzle control is one of those rules. Practicing good muzzle control means that you never (EVER) allow the muzzle of your gun to point towards yourself or another human being. Not when your gun is loaded, not when you gun is unloaded . . . really . . . not ever.

While maintaining proper muzzle control seems stupidly obvious, you'd be shocked how many people screw this up. It's easy to get overconfident once you've been rifle shooting for a while and found a groove with gun safety. Just remember it only takes a nanosecond of carelessness for that muzzle to end up pointed somewhere dangerous.

Un-Lock and Un-Load

It's pretty hard to accidentally shoot someone with an unloaded gun. That's why it's important to keep your rifle completely unloaded until you're ready to shoot. Never bring a loaded firearm into a home or a vehicle and store your gun and ammo in separate locked cases. This is one of those common sense rules that should be easy to follow, but it's not the only one . . .

Use Your D*mn Head!

The A-number one best way to stay safe while rifle shooting is to simply use your head. Common sense is absolutely critical when handling guns and there's no replacement for good judgement.

DO

  • Compulsively check that your gun is on "safe" until you're ready to shoot
  • Double down on muzzle control when loading and unloading
  • Keep your gun's action open when it's unloaded

don't

  • Lean a loaded rifle against a car or building
  • Mix rifle shooting with drugs, alcohol, or exhaustion
  • Shoot with people who practice substandard gun safety

There are some times in life (like punk rock and professional cycling) when breaking the rules is kinda cool. Rifle shooting is not one of those times. Lock up your gun safety habits and you'll get WAY more cred.

This Is Not `Nam Smokey, There Are Rules . . .

So we know that rifle shooting can be super fun. You know what's not super fun? Getting arrested. While it's critical that you build A+ gun safety skills, you'll also need to get familiar with the local and federal laws governing rifle use and ownership in your area.

Gun Laws Are WAY Serious. Who Knew?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know that guns are a touchy subject in the U.S. Think we're kidding? Take a look at some gun laws across the country. Strict states like New York and California have minimum sentences that include jail time. Less strict states like Texas and Alaska can hit you with massive fines. Learn the rules in your state, but don't stop there.

Rules of the Road

If you're planning to take a road trip that involves rifle shooting, err on the side of caution and borrow a gun from a friend when you get there. If it's imperative that you bring your own, then carefully research the gun laws in each state on your itinerary. There may be special regulations about how and when you can travel through a state with your rifle. Don't fight the law. The law will win (again).

The Literal Nuts and Bolts

Safety is king when it comes to rifle shooting. But you'll probably want to know how a gun works too. Let's take a look at a few key components of a rifle:

Rife-What?

The name "rifle" refers to a gun's long barrel. The inside of the barrel has twists called "rifling" like the threads on a screw. The rifling forces a bullet to spin as it travels through the barrel increasing stability and velocity.

inside the Canon rayé première

Image by Med via Wiki Commons

Stock Up, Baby

The stock on a rifle is the area that comes into contact with a shooter's body. The section where the non-trigger hand rest is called the forestock and the area touching the shoulder and cheek is called the buttstock. Yep, we said butt.

Get Into the Action

The action on a rifle is the area where the bullet is loaded and fired and the spent shell casing is ejected. There are several different types of rifle actions. Keep reading to learn more.

SO MANY SHOOTIN' IRONS, SO LITTLE TIME . . .

If you plan to start rifle shooting you should know what kinds of rifles are out there. Let's have a gander:

Bolt Action

Image by Well

Bolt Action - These World War I era guns push a bullet into the firing chamber manually with a handle directly behind barrel.

Lever Action

Image by Marlin Firearms via Buds Gun Shop

Lever Action - Most often associated with cowboys in the West, lever action rifles cycle bullets with a handle below the action.

Break action gun

Image by CVA via Cheaper Than Dirt

Break Action - Break action guns open at a hinge point allowing the shooter to drop bullets in by hand.

pump action rifle

Image by Core15 via Cheaper Than Dirt

Pump Action - Pump action rifles push and pull bullets into the action with a level that doubles as the forestock.

semi automatic rifle

Image by Sturm, Ruger, and Co. via Buds Gun Shop

Semi-Automatic - Semi-automatic rifle cycle one round at a time into and out of the action the action.

automatic rifle

Image via ​YWD​​​

Automatic - You guessed it. Full automatic rifles cycle multiple rounds through the action by simply pulling the trigger.

Nerd Out and Find Your (Lethal) Soul Mate

We're guessing the one thing you desperately need in your life is an excuse to burn countless hours scrolling the Internet. Well HIGH FIVE. That's exactly what you'll want to do before picking out the right gun for your first rifle shooting adventure. No, you can't learn how to shoot safely on the Internet alone. But you can benefit from a whole world of experienced shooters who have shared their wisdom about what you'll want to look for in a gun.

Set New Life Goals. At Least for When Rifle Shooting.

The first thing you'll need to decide is what you want to shoot at. Are you planning to eventually hunt? Well, what's the biggest game you'll pursue? Maybe range shooting is more your bag. Are long range competitions in your future or are you happy to just plink some targets. All of these questions should inform your choice.

soldier carrying a rifle on his shoulder

Image via pexels.com

Don't Be a Hero

One of the biggest mistakes many new hunters make is choosing a gun that's too powerful for them. Trust us on this one. Start with the smallest gun that will meet your needs and step up from there. Nobody will be impressed with your bazooka if you can't hold onto it. But there are a bazillion options out there, what's the best brand?

Holler at Your Boys

Reach out to your friends, family, and social media network to help pick through the many brand and model options. Rifle shooters tend to be brand loyalists, so don't take their recommendations on blind faith. Each brand has its own signatures, so keep shopping around until you find one that feels like "your gun." Next, you'll need to put something on it . . .

Kiss My Glass: A Primer on Optics

Finding the perfect rifle is great, but it's not worth much if you can hit anything. This, my friend, is why scopes were invented. Hunters and sport shooters use many different kinds of optics to make sure their projectiles stay on course. Let's learn more:

Gun Mounted Optics:

open irons peep site

Photo by Rab Cummings via Outdoor Life

Open Irons (peep sites) - Non-illuminated, no magnification power

red dot crosshair site

Image by CSSSFIRE via Gun News Daily

Red Dots - Illuminated bead or crosshair over the target, no magnification power

fixed magnification scope

Image via Adobe Stock

Fixed Magnification Scopes - Magnifies target at one constant power that can't be changed

variable magnification scope

Image via Pixabay

Variable Magnification Scopes - Shooter can zoom in and out for 1x to 10x magnification

Non-Gun Mounted:

Binoculars - We all know `em and love `em

man holding a binocular

Image via Pixabay

Monoculars - Less focus than binos, easier to pack and carry

monocular key chain

Image by Scoo via Wiki Commons

Spotting Scopes - Extreme zoom, over a mile or more, very large and heavy to carry

standing spotting scope

Image by Phil Plait via Flickr

Range Finder - Provides digital reading of distance to target

soldier holding a range finder

Image by Tom Ouellette via CJTF-HOA

Ammo Makes the World Go `Round

Getting to know your gun is only half the battle when you're starting out rifle shooting. Here's a shocker: You won't be able to shoot without any ammunition in your gun! Choosing a bullet in the right caliber can be the difference between feeling like a sniper and leaving the range with a sore shoulder. But, um, what's a caliber?


gun ammunition

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Seriously, What's the Deal with Calibers Anyway?

When it comes to rifle shooting, caliber refers to the internal diameter of a rifle barrel. At the risk of sounding obvious again, you MUST put the right size bullet in your gun or things will end poorly. Think exploded gun barrels . . . Not good. But what's the right caliber for you? And what's with all the confusing decimal points? Let's dig in.

SO MANY SHOOTIN' IRONS, SO LITTLE TIME . . .

If you plan to start rifle shooting you should know what kinds of rifles are out there. Let's have a gander:


Small Caliber Rounds - These are ideal for plunking cans, target practice, and small game hunting

  • 17 HMR
  • .22 L-R
  • .22 Magnum

Mid-Caliber Rounds - These are your all-around classics for the range, small game, and big game hunting

  • .270
  • .30-.30
  • .30-06
  • .308

Large Calibers Rounds - These rounds will pack a lot of power (and kick!). Save these for your moose, elk, and bear hunts.

  • .300
  • .338
  • .30-06
  • .357 H&H

OK, Let's Send It!

Alright, enough of this book learnin'. It's time to get out on the range and make stuff go boom. Right? Right?!

Wait, But First . . .

It's critical that you double check all your safety precautions in those final few moments before your start lobbing lead. Have you looked over your gun to make sure it's in working order and loaded properly? Do you have eye and ear protection? Is the range safe and clear of all people and obstructions? Sweeeeeet. Let's set up a shot.

CHECKLIST

  • Safety glasses
  • Earplugs
  • A target

Get Yourself Comfy


Finding a stable resting position, or set, is one key to a successful shot at the rifle range. Make sure you're in a comfortable position and your gun is stable on a sandbag, pad, or firing bench. Even slight shakes and jitters in your body and send a round wildly off course. And we mean slight . . .

Mind Over Matter

Even the movement of your breath and heartbeat can cause a bad shot. Take your time and relax to help lower your heart rate. Breath slowly and deeply. Take one large breath and release half the air from your lungs. Now hold your breath to eliminate motion in your chest before the big moment.

soldier on a machine gun

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SURPRISE!

Release the safety mechanism on your gun and focus your eyes on the target. Draw back the trigger so slowly that you feel the slack tighten up from the trigger. Don't pull hard, jerk, or slap the trigger. Your trigger pull should be so smooth that it surprises you when the round fires. How'd you do?

OK, Fun's Over. (JK!)

Dude! Not bad for your first time out!

Your first few shots will definitely be exciting, but don't space out. Immediately eject the spent shell casing, reengage your safety, and ensure proper muzzle discipline. Now let's grab those binos and see if you actually hit anything.

Now Tighten Up Those Groups, Bro.

You did everything right. You followed all the safety protocols. You're shooting a quality gun with solid optics. You even made a silky smooth trigger pull. So why was your shot four inches down and to the left of the bullseye?

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Back to School, Back to School

If your technique is sound and you're still spraying the target then you probably need to zero in your gun.

You need to what now?

The zero point is the point at which the crosshairs on your scope and the muzzle of your rifle barrel hit the same thing. This means that when you put your scope on a target the bullet goes where you actually tell it to go. To find your zero point, start but refer back to your scope's instruction manual.

swat member on his rifle

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Baby Steps...

Every scope is a little bit different, so seriously, read the directions. Open the turrets on the top and sides of the scope and determine which controls lateral deviation (know as windage) and which controls vertical deviation (elevation). Make incremental adjustments to each turret between shots. Your shots should not only get closer to the bullseye but also get closer together.

Once you're hitting consistent bullseyes (or close to it) you're zeroed in and ready to take your game to the next level.

HOW TO SNIPE LIKE A BADASS

Let's say you've been clocking some solid hours at the range. You're making good progress, but can't help noticing that steely-eyed regular at the end of the range who is always smoking tiny groups at 500 yards. Seriously, how does he do that? What are the traits the separate elite shooters from everyone else?

Common Traits of Badass Shooters

  • They have elite quality guns, optics, and ammo.
  • They work very hard on breath control, heart rate, and smooth trigger pulls.
  • They intentionally add uncomfortable shooting conditions like bad weather into their practice routine.
  • The shoot more rounds and more days in a year than most people.


The Proof Is on the Target

We've got bad news and good news. The bad news is that you can't become an elite shoot over night. The good news is that you really can do it with practice. Really! Keep a healthy respect for gun safety, take the time to learn your rifle inside and out, put in your time at the range, and we promise you'll see the results on your targets.

If You Remember Nothing Else . . .

There's a lot to remember about rifle shooting, but don't get overwhelmed. If you only take three things from this article it should be the following:


You Can't Shoot When You're Dead (or in Jail)

Firearms safety is always the first priority. No ifs, and, or buts. Period. Full stop.

DO. NOT. BE. A. HERO.

You will have more fun if you're not intimidated by your gun. Pick a style, model, and caliber that feels fun to shoot, even if it's just a .22 or other small caliber.

Sniping Is a Journey, Enjoy the Ride.

It's normal to have bad days at the shooting range. Don't get frustrated if you're all over the target. Tomorrow's another day.

Now Get Out There and Get Loud

Enough talk, let's get out there and shoot! Rifles are tools to be respected, but they don't need to be feared. So find yourself a mentor, do your homework, and get poppin' at the range. With a little bit of experience and a lot of diligence, rifle shooting is a sport that can provide a lifetime of fun and confidence.

a hunter using a rifle with ffp scope

Best Semi Auto 308: Our Top 4 Picks To Consider

While there are many Semi-Automatic .308 rifles available on the market, there are three that tend to stand out among all the rest due to their amazing performance, durability, accuracy and reliability. Those are the Century Arms C308, the Ruger SR-762 and the Springfield M1A. If you are in the market for a .308, these three rifles should be at the top of your list.

Our choices for the best semi auto 308 have their own list of pros and cons that make them more or less desirable to potential buyers. These reviews will help you determine which is the best option for you based on your level of expertise and what you plan to use the rifle for primarily.

The 4 Best Semi Auto 308 Rifles


Century Arms C308

The Century Arms C308 is a good choice for those who need an affordable option when buying a Semi Auto .308. Most semi-automatic rifles are very expensive with the majority of all high-quality models in the $1K and up price range. If you are on a tight budget, yet still want to purchase a semi auto .308, you should consider the Century Arms C308. This rifle is typically available between $500 and $700.

The Century Arms C308 has many similarities to the HK G3, one of the most recognized battle rifles ever made. Surplus parts from the HK G3 are even used to manufacture or repair the C308. Both models have the same delayed blowback system among other similar features.

Features for the C308 include a detachable box magazine that can use 5 or 20 rounds. These are available anywhere guns and ammo are sold and are typically priced around $10 per magazine. Additional features include a safety switch and forward charging handle.

The safety is located by your thumb when you are holding the firearm. For some who are new to using semi-automatics, the forward charging handle may feel awkward at first. However, it is a feature that you will get used to over time as you practice using the rifle.

Using a similar design to the HK G3 may not be an advantage in all areas for the C308. That’s because the G3 design isn’t the best when you want to practice precision target shooting. Expert target shooters will definitely notice the difference when they start using the C308. However, average shooters and beginners may not.

The rifle is still capable of delivering 2 MOA groups at 100 yards. Fortunately, what the design lacks in sight and precision, it makes up for it in overall durability.

One upgrade that the C308 has over the HK G3 would be the addition of the Picatinny rail. This is mounted to the top of the receiver and makes attaching various scopes and optics to the rifle much easier.

The C308 also has a few disadvantages, with one of the biggest being that it has a plastic trigger guard and lower assembly. The original G3 had a more durable metal assembly. The good news is that you can always swap this part out with G3 surplus or aftermarket replacement parts.

PROS  

  • The Century Arms C308 is a great value for the price
  • It includes a Picatinny rail that makes it easier to install scopes
  • The magazines for this rifle are very affordable and easy to find
  • It is a durable and reliable rifle

  CONS

  • It isn’t the most accurate .308 available
  • Comes installed with plastic trigger guard and lower assembly that isn’t very durable

Overall, the Century Arms C308 is the best option for a semi-automatic rifle if you are on a budget. While it may not be the very best in the industry, when you are looking for a semi auto that is under $1,000, this is easily the best product at a great value.

Ruger SR-762

There are several reasons why the AR-10 market has become exceedingly popular in recent years. Many gun enthusiasts who are already drawn to the AR platform, yet want a larger caliber, have turned to this particular type of firearm. Ex-military service members who have used AR’s in the past and are now looking for a rifle to use for target shooting or hunting also like the overall feel and function of this model.

One of the best AR-10’s that you can buy right now is the Ruger SR-762. This high-quality rifle has many advantages that make it a great firearm. But you should be prepared to pay out a lot for this particular AR. It retails between $1,500 to $2,000.

The AR market has a lot to offer gun enthusiasts. With so many models currently available, owners should never have to worry about running low on spare magazines, customization options or aftermarket replacement parts.

Because of these advantages, the SR-762 and all other AR-10’s of the same quality are the most practical choice that you can make when looking for the best semi auto 308.

Some of the top features found on the Ruger SR-762 include the folding iron sights, a picatinny rail that can be used to easily add optics, and the two stage piston system, which Ruger claims is the best on the market.

Perhaps the biggest drawback on the SR-762 is the trigger which has been described as gritter than those on other AR-10’s. The Ruger brand isn’t well-known for manufacturing guns with the best quality triggers, so it isn’t a big surprise to those familiar with the brand. The good news is that you can easily replace the trigger with aftermarket parts if you want.

PROS  

  • Owners have endless customization options
  • Two-stage piston system
  • Picatinny rail makes it easy to add optics
  • Folding iron sights
  • Ergonomic rubber grip

  CONS

  • Gritty trigger

Overall the Ruger SR-762 is a reliable AR-10 that does everything you would expect a quality semi auto to do. It is a dependable rifle that is highly accurate and precise. If you want to invest in a quality military-grade rifle, this is the best option for you.

Springfield M1A

The Springfield M1A is a civilian version of the military’s M14, which as been used in the service since the 1950’s. The M14 is still used today as a designated marksman’s rifle.

The M1A is available to purchase in a variety of styles and sizes, and a broad range of options so that you can own a semi auto that suits your particular needs. You can choose from the 16.5 SOCOM model, the 22” Standard Model, or the 18” Scout Squad model.

The 22” M1A is considered the best out of the three by many because it delivers optimal range and velocity. The shorter M1A models are still good quality rifles, but they are better suited for tight conditions.

The M1A has a classic look, especially when the firearm is outfitted with a traditional wood stock. When you are looking for a stylish rifle to add to your collection, this is the best semi auto 308 in that category. The design is based on the original M1 Garand, which was another accurate, solid and reliable firearm.

The biggest disadvantage of the Springfield M1A would have to be the overall weight and length of the rifle. It is much heavier and longer than other models which can make it difficult to use or transport.

Another downside is that the safety is located inside of the trigger guard. This means you have to put your finger inside the trigger guard to turn it on or off, which is a feature that many gun owners don’t like.

PROS  

  • A broad variety of customization options to choose from
  • Accurate and precise shooting
  • Reliable, durable rifle
  • Classic style

  CONS

  • Heavier than most Ars and longer which can make it difficult to use
  • Safety is located in the trigger guard
DPMS Oracle 16” .308 Winchester

The DPMS Oracle 16” .308 Winchester is very similar to the 5.56mm Oracle rifle. This semi-automatic .308 firearm features a compact size, rugged military carbine features, and impressive .308 firepower. This Oracle rifle helps to bridge the gap between carbine and full-size firearms. It delivers a strong AR punch in a surprisingly small size.

You can count on this and other DPMS rifles to be reliable and dependable weapons because the company has been involved with manufacturing AR-style rifles for many years. All their rifles and the parts used to manufacture them are Made in the U.S.A. to the highest level of accuracy. DPMS adds a battle-tested experience to every product that they produce.

The .308 Winchester 7.62 NATO caliber rifle has a magazine capacity of 20+1. It is 16” long and made from solid HBAR 4140 chrome-moly material. This rifle has a barrel twist of 1 x 10” and the stock is Pardus 6-position collapsible.

The upper receiver is Extruded 7129 T6A3 flat top and the lower receiver is a Billet 6061 T6. It has an A2 pistol grip, railed gas block sights, and is also optics-ready. Here are a few more specifications for the DPMS Oracle 16” .308 Winchester.

  • Fire Control: Standard AR-15
  • Handguard: Glacier Guard
  • Flash hider: A2 birdcage
  • Overall Length: 32.5”-36.5”
  • Overall weight: 8.3lbs.
  • Mfg. Number: RFLROC

The DPMS Oracle is a top-rated semi-automatic rifle that many owners would highly recommend to their friends. It is reasonably priced at around $799.

The Benefits of Owning a .308 Semi-Automatic



The .308 Semi-Automatic Rifle is arguably the most versatile rifle that you can own. This centerfire rifle can be used for practically any purpose that you would need a rifle for. These firearms can be used to hunt all types of big game found in North America from deer, elk, or caribou to black bears.

The .308 Rifle is also an excellent choice for tactical training or target shooting because it can hold a 20 round magazine capacity. However, it is not the best choice for in-hone defense against intruders. While it may be effective, it could be too effective since it could send rounds through the walls of your home into the walls of nearby houses. A better choice for protection and defense would be a handgun, shotgun or rifle with an intermediate caliber.

The .308 Winchester round is one of the most popular among all others in this category. That is because the Winchester long range caliber has gained a strong reputation over the years for being extremely accurate. It is currently the best-selling centerfire rifle caliber that is used for hunting in both the U.S. and throughout the world. The previous owner of that title was the .30-06 Springfield round.

It’s important to keep in mind that no rifle is perfect and there isn’t one firearm that can do everything and do it accurately each time. Rifles and guns, in general, should be viewed as tools in a toolbox. Each one has a specific purpose and should only be used to fulfill that purpose.

The different features can help each tool perform its duty, and therefore you will need different types of tools, or guns, for different types of shooting, such as hunting long range and short range.

A .308 semi-automatic can make hitting a long distance target easier. You can go big game hunting, provide protection for your home or assist with an emergency disaster situation using this versatile tool. Now that you know the benefits of owning a .308 Semi-Automatic, it is time to decide which make and model you should consider.

Semi Auto 308  rifle


Which Semi Auto 308 is the Right Choice for You?

There are plenty of semi-automatic .308 rifles currently available for every type of hunter or shooter. You can find affordable rifles such as the Century Arms C308, or rifles with a classic style like the Springfield M1A.

With so many AR models on the market, it is easy to find customization options and aftermarket parts so that you can upgrade your rifle exactly how you want it. The best semi auto 308 for you is one that will make your hunting or target practice sessions easier and more enjoyable.