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Riflescopes' popularity grows

By By BEN NORMAN
Outdoors Columnist
Sporting goods stores and gun shops are experiencing the preseason rush as Alabama deer hunters purchase new equipment for the coming deer season. One item that has become standard equipment to Southern hunters is the riflescope.
Technological advancement in sighting equipment has advanced at a rapid rate over the last 50 years. It was not that many years ago that windage and elevation adjustments on a rifle were made with a file and hammer. Today's scopes are caple of changing bullet impact as little as a fraction of an inch by simply turning a knob.
When riflescopes first began to get popular, and some still think this way, many wanted the highest power scopes they could obtain. But just as in a lot of other things, big is not always better. The power of a scope is expressed in the number of times an object is magnified as compared to viewing it with the naked eye. A 4X means an object is magnified 4 times, a 6X six times and so on. Another way of explaining scope power would be to imagine an object viewed with a 4-power scope at 100 yards as being the same view as the object viewed at 25 yards with the naked eye.
There will always be debates over which scope is best, the fixed power or the variable power scopes. Fixed power scopes in 4X or 6X will be adequate for most hunting conditions in the U.S. unless you are going on a groundhog or rock chuck safari. Then, you may want a scope that can crank the power up to 18X or more. One of the best scopes for overall use is a variable with a low end of 3X going to a high end of 9x or 10X. Modern variables are well made and are not near as fragile as the early models.
One of the main points to consider when purchasing a scope is its ability to transmit light. Most big game hunting, and even squirrel hunting for that matter, is at its prime during early morning and late evening. Scopes with a 32 mm objective lens is about the minimum for early and late hunting, and many seasoned hunters and target shooters prefer 40 mm to 50mm.
Other things to consider when purchasing a scope are: Eye relief – the distance between the eye and the scope is important, especially in the harder recoiling calibers. I have a friend who stubbornly keeps getting smacked above the eye by his less-than-adequate eye relief scope. An eye relief of about three inches is acceptable for most shooters. Good resolution – which enables a scope to show fine details. Good contrast – which differentiates target tones are also desirable characteristics in a riflescope.
Never before has the American shooter had a better selection of telescopic sights to choose from. Better call the North Pole and tell Santa Clause which one to put in the sleigh.