How to Clean a Rifle Scope

How to Clean a Rifle Scope

Do you know how to clean a rifle scope? Read on to learn more about proper cleaning techniques that you will want to use to ensure your scope is in good shape.

Buying a scope is a big purchase for most hunters and target shooters. Therefore, you want your rifle scope to last for a long time once you find one that you like and have it mounted on your rifle. Taking care of your scope includes more than just remembering to put the lens caps on and making sure that you don’t bang it around and drop it. It also means you need to learn how to clean a rifle scope properly.

If you haven’t cleaned high-quality optics before, it might not be quite as straightforward as you would imagine. You need to learn how to clean your scopes the right way to ensure they are clean and that you don’t damage them. Below, you will find the information you need to start cleaning your scope like a professional, along with some information on products that can help.

Tips for Cleaning Your Rifle Scope Lenses

If you are going to be shooting, whether it is at targets or you are out hunting, you want to make sure that your scope is in great shape. This means that you will want to clean it regularly to ensure it is properly maintained. Proper scope cleaning and maintenance tend to be simple, and it shouldn’t take up much of your time. You just need to make sure you commit to doing it.

Dust the Lenses

Dust, even if you can barely see it, can cause scratches on your lenses. If you have coatings on the lenses, it can help to reduce the risk of scratches, but they can still happen. Therefore, you want to make sure you keep your lenses free of dust.

You will want to dust the lenses before you use a microfiber cloth to clean them. This is because even though the microfiber cloth might be soft and safe, dust trapped between the cloth and the lens can cause scratches as you rub.

You can dust the lenses using a soft camelhair brush, for example. You can also use a lens pen for the job. Make sure the optic you are cleaning is facing downwards, as well. This will help loose dust to fall away. Even if you don’t see any dust, you should still brush the lenses to make sure you’re in the clear before you clean any further.


Once you have made sure that you have removed all of the dust, you can head to the next step. Polishing the rifle scope lens is easy. If you have a lens pen, which you use for dusting, it can also be used for polishing. Many lens pens on the market, such as the one detailed below, do an excellent job polishing the glass.

You can also use a microfiber cloth to polish the lenses. Spray a small amount of lens cleaner onto the cloth – not the lens – and then polish using gentle circular motions. Sometimes, you might not even need any lens cleaner. A nice tip to help you get into those nooks and crannies around the edge of the lenses is to wrap a microfiber cloth around a Q-tip.

When you are buying microfiber cloths, it is important to choose a high-quality option that will be able to remove oil, smudges, dirt, and more.

The Battery Compartment

If you have a scope that has a battery compartment, make sure that you are cleaning that out, as well. Dirt and debris may have gotten into the compartment. You want to make sure that no moisture has made its way into the compartment, as well. It’s also a good idea to check on the batteries to make sure that they aren’t corroding.

Only Clean When It Needs It

Clean the rifle scope only when it needs it. If it’s dirty or dusty, you will naturally want to clean the lenses and the body. Just don’t overdo it. You don’t have to clean the scope just for the sake of cleaning it. The more you clean the scope the greater the chance of causing small amounts of damage to the lens.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Scope Lenses

Just as you need to know more about how to clean the lenses properly, you also need to know some of the biggest and costliest mistakes that scope owners sometimes make. Knowing these mistakes helps to ensure that you don’t make them with your scope.

First, you never want to use any type of abrasive material when you are cleaning your lenses. This means you don’t want to use your shirttails or the sleeve of your coat. Even though they might seem soft, they are abrasive and can damage the lenses. Additionally, don’t clean the lenses with the same materials that you are using to clean the body of your rifle or the scope housing.

Only use quality microfiber cloths or special lens cloths/cleaning tools for your lenses. Make sure that you have cloths that are only for the lenses, as well. They can pick up particles if you are using them to clean other surfaces, which can then be transferred to the lens and cause scratches.

Second, you don’t want to use those abrasive types of cloth and materials to wipe condensation from your lenses. Again, it can cause damage to them.

Third, you should never use Windex or similar household cleaners on your scope, as it can cause damage. If you need to use a cleaner, make sure it is lens cleaner for high-quality optics. You can find options that will also provide extra anti-fogging protection. If you’ve had issues with condensation, these can be a good option to consider.

Next, don’t spray the cleaning solution directly onto the lenses. Even though they might be sealed, there is a chance that they could damage the seals the more often you do this. Spray the solution onto your microfiber cloth instead.

Cleaning the Rifle Scope Body

While you may not need to be quite as careful when you are cleaning the body of the scope, you still want to make sure you don’t damage it. Therefore, you should still dust the body first, using a different brush than you use for your lenses. You can also wipe down and clean the body with microfiber cloths.

You should pay extra attention to the turret system of your rifle scope. You do not want to brush dirt and grit into your turret system, as it can cause issues with their movement. If you get some debris in those threads, you should be able to remove it using a Q-tip and some isopropyl alcohol. Lens pens can work well for the turret system, too. Just make sure that you have more than one lens pen.

Make sure that you are cleaning the body of your rifle scope when you are cleaning your lenses. You should do them at the same time to get into the habit. You could do them at the same time you clean your rifle after a hunt or after shooting at targets if the scope is dirty.

Helpful Products to Consider for Your Rifle Scope

Below are some products to consider as a means to help you keep your rifle scope nice and clean and that we’ve mentioned throughout the article.

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

MagicFiber Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

MagicFiber is a popular option for those who need to clean optics for cameras and scopes. The microfiber cloths are soft, and they can absorb and remove fingerprints, oil, dust, and other elements that might be marring your scope.

The cloths are available in a range of different quantities. You could opt for a 2-pack, 6-pack, 13-pack, or a 30-pack. These measure 6” x 7”, although there is an option for an extra-large pack that measures 16” x 16”. This is overkill for cleaning a scope, but the large cloths can serve other purposes.

They are safe to use on any type of delicate surface, which makes them an ideal choice for your rifle scope. As long as you use them properly, you will not have to worry about scratches.

LensPen NLP-1

LensPen NLP-1

As we’ve mentioned above, lens pens are a nice solution for cleaning away dust, helping with polishing, cleaning the turrets, and more. The LensPen NLP-1 is affordable, and you may find that having several of these available is helpful when you are cleaning your scope, as well as other lenses you might have. For example, they work well for binoculars, rangefinders, cameras, and more.

The pen features a twist cap activator and has a retractable and extremely soft natural brush. The brushes are made in clean rooms, so you can be sure they are free of debris when you get them.

It works well to remove oily fingerprints, dust, and more. The cleaning tips have been infused with a carbon compound that allows it to absorb oil and other debris. There are no liquids needed for the lens pen, which means it will not dry out. Each of the pens is capable of providing 500 cleanings.

Monstrum Rubberised Flip-Up Rifle Scope Lens Cover

Monstrum Rubberised Flip-Up Rifle Scope Lens Cover

You want to make sure that you are keeping your rifle scope’s lenses safe no matter where you are, including in the field. If you are not happy with the current lens covers you have, you might want to consider the Monstrum lens cover. It is available in a range of sizes, so you should be able to find a solution that will fit your scope.

The rubberized lens cover is a flip-up model, which can be helpful for those who are hunting. The flip-up mechanism is spring-loaded, and it will fit snugly onto the scope, so you don’t have to worry about it falling off. Not only will it protect the lens from abrasion and dust, but it will be fast and easy to flip up when you are getting ready to take a shot.

The lens cover is an affordable way to provide some added, preventative protection to your rifle scope.

Other Tips for Keeping Your Rifle Scope Safe

You want to have a great hunt, and you want to keep your rifle scope safe and in good working order. The following are a few simple tips that will help.

Keep the Cap on the Scope

Some hunters claim that they don’t want to fiddle with the scope lens when they are hunting, so they stuff them in their pack or pocket and then traipse through the woods and fields. This leaves the lenses exposed, and it is only a matter of time before an errant branch or a patch of thorns eventually causes a scratch.

Putting the caps on and taking them off takes no time at all. If you want to keep your scope safe, this is one of the preventative measures you will certainly want to follow.

A Cleaning Kit for the Hunt

While you might want to believe that your hunt will go perfectly and you won’t have any issues with your scope getting dirty, we all know that anything can happen. Therefore, it makes sense to have a separate cleaning kit that you can put in your pack, so you can clean the lenses if you notice that they are dusty or dirty. The last thing you want to have happen is to miss your chance at bringing home meat for the winter because of a dirty lens.

Conclusion: Take Great Care of Your Scope and It Will Take Care of You

Never forget just how important it is to keep your scope clean, so you can take the shots you need to have a successful hunt. If you want to take accurate shots that will put down an animal quickly and ethically, taking care of your rifle scope is essential.

Now that you know how to clean the rifle scope, it will be easy for you to ensure you are keeping the scope in great shape. The items mentioned above are helpful tools that could help to make the cleaning easier and help with preventative care in the case of the lens cover.


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