Everything You Need To Know About Telescopic Sights (air rifle scopes explained)

Telescopic Sights

It can be difficult for customers to know which telescopic sight, also known as an air rifle scope, is right to buy when there’s so many available on the market. And so in this guide, we’re going to break down everything you need to know about them without waffling on about all the stuff you don’t need to know.

So by the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll be able to make a fully informed decision about which scope is right for you (and you won’t be bored to tears).

The Ocular Lens

This is the lens that is closest to your eye and it is often fitted with a screw in, screw out facility, which enables the shooter to focus the scope for their particular eyesight. In some cases, shooters who wear glasses can dial in the scope so that the need for the glasses is removed whilst shooting.

Eye Relief

Every scope is also designed with a certain amount of eye relief. This eye relief is the distance that you will need to place your eye from the ocular lens to get a good un-blurred sight picture and it can range from anything from one to four inches. Scopes like the MTC Connect can be perfect for a new shooter as they are a short eye relief scope and this makes them easy to use and set up, since the shooter’s head position is less critical.


Scope Reticules

All scopes have a reticule, which could be a simple cross hair (30×30 ret) or a mil-dot or half mill-dot or the fantastic MTC SCB reticule. The reticule is extremely important as it is what you will be using to aim your rifle. The 30×30 ret is perfect for high power rifles as the rounds essentially fly on a flat trajectory. However, air-rifle pellets fly in an arc and because of this you need multiple aim points. Scopes like the MTC Viper and Hawke half mill-dot series are perfect as each line of the reticule will correspond to a set distance to where the pellet will strike.

Magnification – First And Second Focal Planes

At the ocular end, you will often find the magnification ring; which is quite simply a lens that enables you to make the image look closer or further away. Now, you may hear shooters talking about first and second focal planes. The basics of it are this; if your scope has a 1st focal plane, when you increase the magnification, the reticule will also increase in size along with the image. If you have a 2nd focal plane, the reticule will remain the same size and only the sight picture will get bigger. The vast majority of HFT and hunting scopes are 2nd focal plane.

If you are a hunter or a plinker, then 10x magnification is perfect as it will give you a clear sight picture out to 50 yards and a good depth of field.

The Objective Lens

Air Rifle Scope Objective Lens

At the far end of the scope is the Objective lens, which can range from under 30mm to over 60mm in diameter and as a general rule of thumb, the smaller the objective lens, the larger the depth of field that you can see. The objective lens primary function is to gather as much light as possible and give you a good sight picture.

The Tube

In between the objective and ocular lenses is the tube which usually comes in either 25mm or 30mm sizes. Within this tube is the reticule, which is usually etched onto a lens or-in some cases can be a wire filament. You also have the picture reversal apparatus, without which, your targets would look upside down. The whole scope is then filled with nitrogen, so that it will not fog up on a cold day. Attached to the tube are the windage and elevation turrets and the scope will usually have adjustable parallax at either the objective lens end or mounted on the side.


What is Parallax or, more importantly, what is Parallax error? Well, to explain it is fairly simple. Hold your hand out in front of you and raise your index finger so it is pointing towards the ceiling. Close one eye and, with your arm outstretched, move your hand so that your finger covers a point on the wall (your finger is your scope’s reticule and the point that it is covering up is the target). Now, move your head left and you will see that even though your finger has not moved, when your head is to the left, your finger/reticule is now to the right of the target. So, now move your finger back to the left so that it is covering up the target again and move your head back to its central position and your finger should now be to the left of the target.

More targets are missed through PX error in HFT then any other form of error. To compensate for this, most quality scopes have Parallax adjusters, which will enable you to set your scope with a parallax of 40 yards for a 40 yards target and no matter how much you move your head about, your cross hairs should remain on the target. The problem is though that not all targets are at 40 yards, but can instead vary from say 8 to 45 yards and as you are not allowed to adjust your scope in HFT, you have to find a happy medium.

Depth Of Field

This is one of the most important parts of your scope’s make up and buying the wrong sort of scope for the shooting that you want to do will cost you time and money. If you are going to hunt or shoot Hunter Field Target you will want a scope with a large depth of field. The way to check this is to take your scope and set the Parallax for about 25yards and place the magnification on 10x. Look at a target 45 yards away and adjust the Parallax until the 45yard image becomes slightly blurred. Then look closer and closer until the image becomes blurry again.

A good scope like the Hawke Panorama or the MTC Viper should have a clear image from 45 yards down to about 15 yards. If you want to shoot Field Target, then you will want a scope with 2 to 3 yards DOF, these types of scope have large objective lenses and high magnification and you use the parallax adjuster to dial in the range.

Popular Rifle Scopes

Here are some of the most popular air rifle scopes we sell:

Hawke Airmax 30 SF Compact 4-16×44 AMX IR Scope

Specialist scopes designed by airgunners for airgunners! Airmax scopes feature our H2 optics in a variety of configurations designed to suit airgun characteristics. Capped Target Turrets 30mm Mono-tube chassis Wide Angle Side Focus Illumination 16 layer Fully Multi-Coated lenses High torque zoom ring Fast focus eyebell AMX reticle designed for airguns Nitrogen purged. Shockproof. Waterproof. Fog proof. All calibre rated. Hawke No-Fault Lifetime Warranty. AMX Reticle Both the AMX and AMX IR glass etched reticles…

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Hawke Vantage 4-12×40 AO Mil Dot Scope

An extensive range of scopes to suit all calibres and disciplines. All Vantage riflescopes feature our H2 optics in a variety of configurations. Capped Low-Profile Turrets 1 Inch Mono-tube chassis Adjustable objective for parallax correction 11 layer Fully Multi-Coated lenses High torque zoom ring Fast focus eyebell Nitrogen purged. Shockproof. Waterproof. Fog proof. All calibre rated. Hawke No-Fault Lifetime Warranty. Mil Dot Reticle The classic Mil Dot features multiple aim points for hold-over and hold-under.…

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New Hawke Eclipse SF 3-12×50 IR 10x Half Mil Dot

11 layer fully multi-coated optics for maximum clarity Side focus control for parallax adjustment to infinity 1 inch mono-tube chassis for superior strength Glass etched 10x ½ mil-dot reticle Five level of red and green illumination ¼” at 100yards low profile, no-snag fingertip BDC turrets Fast focus eyebell and high torque zoom ring Threaded objective/ocular for optional accessories Elasticated lens caps supplied

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Zeiss 4-16×50 Conquest V4 (reticle 68)

The Conquest V4 line of high-performance riflescopes combines the tried-and-true ZEISS optics concept with a rugged and functional design. Their compact design and perfect balance between a wide field of view and large magnification range is ideal for all types of hunting. The V4 models are equipped with a 4x zoom and functional, high-precision, and fully reliable mechanical components. Special models have a ballistic turret with a wide reticle adjustment range (elevation and windage). As…

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MTC Viper-Pro 3-18×50

This revolutionary new scope contains the best and most sophisticated turret design available anywhere, the top turret contains a micro gearbox rotating at a 6-4 ratio – this means that three rotations of the top turret translates to a single rotation or the indicator drum making it much easier to know where you are in terms of rotations. Its turret ‘window’ shows a customisable ribbon that shows exactly the information you want from Mills to…

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