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If you've recently mounted a scope on your rifle, you might have noticed additional usage directions in your scope's technical manual instructing you to use something called eye relief. You probably wondered about it. What is eye relief on a scope? Is it something new you need to buy?

For hunters new and seasoned, it can feel like a hassle to get caught up in the technical aspects of your hunting equipment, but it is important to know what you are using and how to use it correctly.

So, what is eye relief on a scope? We will walk you through the easiest explanation, go over the importance of eye relief, and show you how to adjust eye relief on your scope. The next time you're in the field, you will know how to make your scope work for you. Let's turn our gaze toward the most important bits.

What Is Eye Relief On A Scope?

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Having recently mounted a scope, your first assumption about eye relief is that it's probably another piece of equipment you need to use. When we talk about eye relief on a scope, we are actually just talking about the distance between the scope and your eye. There are no additional purchases to make or installations to do.

What is eye relief on a scope? This is the short and simple answer: distance. Eye relief is all about distance.

Think about the last time you used binoculars or a microscope or a telescope. Did you press your eye directly against the lens of the scope? We all know it's a pretty common prank to line a scope with black marker and then trick someone into using the scope sothat they will come away with a ring of black around their eye.

But that's just the thing: using a scope like that is a prank. It might be funny, but pressing your face so closely to a scope that your skin digs into the equipment isn't the proper way to use a scope.

To use a scope properly, people are instructed to get only bring their eye close enough to the scope that you can see through the lens. For most people, that means that your eye or the skin around your eye is not making actual contact with the scope itself.

How close you need to be to use a scope properly varies by the type of scope or what the scope is used for. But all the same, using any kind of scope does not require any contact with the eye. If your face is touching the scope, then you aren't using the scope properly.

​Where Scopes Are Used

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Scopes are used all the time, both professionally and for recreation. We've mentioned that you can find scopes in science equipment, such as a microscope or a telescope. But you can also find many scopes in recreational or sports activities. Binoculars in particular are common everyday scopes that can be used for bird watching or even for viewing national monuments from a distance.

For hunters, the scopes you are more familiar with are probably the scopes mounted on your rifle. These are scopes that allow you to see targets better from a distance, or even help you correct your aim.

Scopes used on rifles include range-finding and mil dot scopes. And just like any other scope, you don't need to press your eye directly to the scope on your rifle to see through the scope comfortably. In fact, rifle scope manufacturers encourage the exact opposite.

This is where eye relief on a scope comes into the picture

The Importance Of Eye Relief

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When you ask what is eye relief on a scope, you also need to ask about the importance of eye relief on a scope. Eye relief on a rifle scope is important for a lot of reasons, which is why scope technical manuals give explicit direction to how to properly site through a scope.

The directions are there for a reason, the same way that your rifle will recommend the type of ammunition to use. Make no mistake: ignoring either of those directions can be dangerous. For scopes, the importance of using eye relief boils down to three things: safety, better viewing, and ease of use.


Better View

Ease Of Use

Adjusting Eye Relief On A Scope

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Using a scope on a rifle should be ease. If you've installed the scope correctly by following the technical manual, then the scope should be mounted in the right place.

If the scope is mounted in the right place, then you should be able to hold your rifle comfortably and be able to site through your scope without compromising a proper hold. There should be very little adjustment needed. However, on the off chance that you do need to adjust the eye relief on a scope, here are a few tips:

How To Know If You Need To Adjust

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If you want to know if you even need to adjust the eye relief on your scope, then there are a few signs you should be aware of. In general, the ideal viewing through a scope will offer a crystal-clear image of the full visual field without a lot of effort on your part.

However, if you experience any of these problems when looking through a scope, then you might be either too close or too far away from the scope and outside the optimal eye relief range. Problems include:

  • Loss of light
  • Clipped view
  • Vignette or shadows
  • Reduced view
  • Injury from recoil

If you've had any of these problems then you probably need to rethink how you're using your scope. Remember that the recommended eye relief for your scope is not a mere suggestion. Many of these problems can be fixed by simply correcting the distance between your eye and the scope lens. It's a simple adjustment.

​Altered Magnification

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Some scopes come with the option of altering the magnification of the scope, which changes the view through the scope drastically. Altered magnification on a scope might mean that objects through the scope are much closer or much further away than they actually are. For many scopes, such as binoculars, adjusting the magnification of the lens also means that you are adjusting the ideal eye relief for the scope.

Here is the basic rule of thumb: the more magnification is increased, the less eye relief you have. This is why microscopes and telescopes have such a close eye relief. This is also why rifle scopes have longer eye reliefs.


What is eye relief on a scope? The basic answer is that eye relief is a measure of distance between the scope and your eye. Eye relief on a scope is a matter of safety to accommodate recoil as well as a way to ensure better viewing and easier use of the rifle scope.

You might need to adjust the eye relief on your scope if you experience any issues, such as injury from recoil or reduced view. You might also need to adjust the eye relief if your scope can alter its magnification. Using eye relief on a scope will ultimately make your life, and your hunting, easier.


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