Understanding Rifle Scope Parallax Adjustments

Are you confused by parallax in your rifle scope? Read on to learn about rifle scope parallax and how to make adjustments to your scope to remove the problem.

If you are new to shooting a rifle using a scope, or even if you have been shooting for some time, you may not fully understand parallax. Perhaps you are in the market for a new scope, and you have seen that some of them have parallax adjustment features, but you aren’t quite sure what this means, why it might be important, or the true nature of parallax in shooting.

While it can be a difficult subject to understand, we hope to provide you with some easy to understand information to help you get up to speed.

What is Rifle Scope Parallax?

Parallax is a term used to describe the movement that the crosshair appears to make when your head and your eye moves to a different position as you are looking through the scope. It can seem as though the reticle is out of focus, but it’s important to know that this is more than just an issue with the focus. It happens when the reticle and the target are on different optical planes in the scope.

You will notice if there is a parallax issue when you move your head and eye around when you are looking through the scope. It will appear as if the reticle is swimming around the object at which you are aiming.

Naturally, this issue is likely to cause the scope to be off the target, which will lead to missed shots or shots that are poorly placed. This is detrimental to anyone who is hunting with the scope, as well as those who are merely shooting at targets.

Parallax is not always an issue when the hunters are shooting at relatively short distances. However, when shooting at further distances, the issue becomes very apparent. The goal is always to make sure that the reticle stays in place when you are looking through the scope, so you can stay on target.

You have to make sure that the image you are seeing of the target is on the same focal plane as the reticle. Fortunately, there are scopes available today that have a parallax adjustment feature built into them.

Let’s take a closer look at how most rifle scopes are put together to get a better understanding of the anatomy of a rifle scope. This can provide you with some insight when it comes to purchasing a quality scope and fixing issues with parallax.

Scope Anatomy

A rifle scope will have four lenses. At the front of the scope is the objective lens, followed by the focus lens, the magnifying lens, and the ocular lens through which you look. The erector tube is where the reticle will be located.

Those who have a front focal plane scope will find that the reticle is located in front of the magnifying lens. If you have a rear focal plane scope, the reticle is located behind the magnifying lens.

Making Adjustments

Remember, you want to make sure that the reticle and the target are on the same focal plane. You will find that making adjustments and correcting the parallax problem is relatively simple, although it can take some time.

Here are some simple steps you can use when you have a rifle scope with a parallax adjustment knob.

  • Move the parallax adjustment to infinity – this will be your base setting from which you can then make your adjustments
  • Aim the rifle at a target that is at a known distance from you
  • Look through the sight and adjust the ring or knob until the reticle becomes clear and crisp
  • Remove your cheek from the stock while maintaining your look through the scope
  • Move your eye around to see if the reticle remains on target or if it moves when you move your eye
  • If the reticles move, keep making adjustments
  • Continue to move your head and make adjustments to the small diopter until you have corrected the issue
  • Do this until you can move your eye and ensure that the reticle remains perfectly centered and on target.

That’s all there is when it comes to making adjustments to fix parallax. The adjustments that you have made have ensured that the target and the reticle are on the same plane. This is why the crosshairs are staying on target even when you move your eye around.

At this point, you will want to lock in the adjustment. It will be ready to shoot whether you are hunting or aiming at targets for some practice. It will stay at this adjustment, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting every time that you shoot.

However, if the rifle has been dropped, or if you have let someone else shoot the rifle, and they changed the adjustment, you will need to make the adjustments again.

Why Don’t People Notice Parallax More Often?

Parallax is not something that most people immediately think about when it comes to shooting, hunting, and their rifle scopes, even if they have been at it for a while. For many, it just never comes up because it doesn’t present as a problem. For example, those who are shooting at relatively short ranges have probably not had any noticeable issues with their shots, so they never even think about parallax.

For the most part, those who are hunting at between 75 yards and 250 yards have probably not had much trouble with parallax. One of the reasons for this is that many of the scopes that are available today have factory settings that help ensure parallax is not an issue at certain distances. Most of the rifle scopes, for example, are set by the factory at 100 yards to 150 yards.

If you shoot and hunt within those distances, you probably don’t notice parallax at those ranges. Errors at these ranges tend to be small, so they won’t be noticed by most when making a shot. If there are shots that aren’t perfectly on target, the hunter might attribute other issues rather than parallax to the bad shot.

You will find that most of the time, a rifle that has a magnification of up to 9x probably won’t need to have a parallax adjustment. Yet, some scopes will have this feature, such as the BSA scope detailed below.

Scopes for rifles that have 10x or greater magnification should always have a parallax adjustment knob. Scopes of this power and magnification are geared toward hunters who are shooting at long ranges and who can’t afford a shot to be off even a little.

Great Scopes Offering Rifle Parallax Adjustments

There are many rifle scopes available today that could be a good choice for hunters that feature parallax adjustment. Below, we will be looking at two of these scopes, providing you with some details about the features and benefits of each, so you can get a better idea of whether one of these might be right for your needs.

You will find that these scopes can provide you with a substantial amount of power in terms of magnification. We’ve included one scope that goes up to 9x magnification and another that doubles the magnification to 18x. This provides an option for hunters that are shooting at different ranges, but who still want to have parallax adjustment.

Monstrum 3-9x40 Rifle Scope

Monstrum 3-9x40 Rifle Scope

Monstrum offers a high-quality scope that has variable magnification up to 9x, which allows hunters to target out to 500 yards and more. The scope has an adjustable objective lens, which will make it easier to create a sharper focus of the target image while eliminating parallax. The scope can also provide range estimation.

The scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum for added durability. It is also sealed and has a nitrogen-charged tube while provides resistance to fogging and water. This rifle scope also comes with a machined aluminum offset scope mount, which makes it easy to mount to rifles that have a Picatinny rail system.

The Monstrum scope is lightweight, easy to use and adjust, and works well for target shooting and hunting. It does not have an illuminated reticle, but you will find that the crosshairs are still easy to see when using the scope.

BSA S17-618X40SP

BSA S17-618X40SP

BSA offers a scope that has a higher magnification range than what is available on the Monstrum scope. This is a 6 – 18×40 scope that has been calibrated for 17 and 20 grain .17 HMR bullets. It features an adjustable parallax knob and a zoom ring that has an inner drum with markings, along with a fixed inner ring with a window cutout.

You will also find that this is a durable and rugged scope that should not have any problem going out into the field with you. The scope is easy to mount and easy to use. Those who have used the scope have also reported that it is easy to zero and it does a good job of staying zeroed, which means more accurate shots for you.

As with the option from Monstrum, this does not feature an illuminated scope. However, it’s still easy to see the crosshairs, and you will not have to worry about batteries.

What Else Should You Consider When Choosing a Scope for Your Rifle?

While finding a scope that has parallax adjustment is important for many hunters, it is not the only consideration when you are buying a rifle scope. There are other factors that you will need to take into account when you are making a purchase.

Durability is one of the most important. You want to make sure that you are choosing a scope that can stand up to the rigors of hunting in the locations that you like to visit. This often means rugged environments and even inclement weather. Consider the quality of the materials and the types of materials that are used in the construction of the scope.

You may also want to know the type of crosshairs or reticles that the scope utilizes to ensure they are your preference. Some, for example, might want to have an illuminated reticle. Others might be perfectly fine with a traditional crosshair.

Of course, it is also important that you take the time to ensure that the scope will work for your rifle. Consider how it will be mounted, the overall size of the scope, the eye relief, the weight, and more to ensure it is the right solution for your hunting rifle.

There are many great rifle scopes on the market today that have parallax adjustment and that will meet all of your other needs. The two scopes mentioned above are a great place for you to start looking.

Conclusion: Make Parallax a Problem of the Past

Conclusion: Make Parallax a Problem of the Past

When you choose to buy a scope with parallax adjustment, you can easily eliminate any issues that you might have had with parallax. This will help to ensure the accuracy of your shots. For hunters, this means you will be able to take down your prey cleanly and without causing them any undue pain. For target shooters, it means you will be hitting the most accurate shots possible.

While parallax adjustment might not be needed for all hunters and shooters, such as those who are keeping their targets at 150 yards or less, it may still be a good idea to invest in one of these rifle scopes. It means that if you ever do decide that you want to shoot at further distances, you will have a scope that can accommodate without worrying about parallax issues.

Check out the options that we’ve included above so you can see how they compare with all of the other needs and requirements that you have for your scope. It’s time that you got a scope that can take your shots to the next level.

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