Understanding the Parts of a Rifle Scope - NSSF Let's Go Shooting

Understanding the Parts of a Rifle Scope

Understanding the parts of a rifle scope will help long-range shooting enthusiasts and hunters achieve accurate, ethical and precise shots at great distances.

To utilize a rifle scope to its full potential, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of its components and how to use them. A rifle scope is composed of multiple parts, including the lenses, reticle, turrets, and eyepiece, each playing a crucial role in sighting and aiming at a target. In this article, we will explain the different parts of a rifle scope in detail and provide tips on how to use them effectively to enhance your long-range shooting and hunting skills. Whether you are a seasoned marksman or a novice shooter, this guide will help you maximize the performance of your rifle scope and take your shooting skills to the next level.

In this video, Former Army Ranger sniper team leader and author of the Long-Range Shooting Handbook, Ryan Cleckner, walks viewers through the parts of a rifle scope.

What are the Parts of a Rifle Scope?

Here we lay out and label the different parts of a rifle scope. Understanding the terminology and anatomy will enable you to communicate accurately and effectively with other shooters and navigate the different components of the scope to optimize your shooting performance.

Scope Specifications

The scope’s specifications, which are typically represented by a series of numbers, represent the adjustable magnification range and objective lens size of the scope. This article takes a closer look at what these numbers mean and how they can impact your shooting experience.


Parts of a Rifle Scope - Gun University

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Objective lens

The objective lens is the big lens at the front of the rifle scope. It collects and focuses light from the environment and brings it into the scope. The size of the objective lens affects how much light the scope can collect, which determines how bright and clear the image will appear.


The reticle, also known as the crosshairs, is the aiming point in the scope that helps the shooter to align the rifle with the target. Explore various scope reticle types and their pros and cons to help you make an informed decision when purchasing a scope.

Scope Body

The scope body is the main tube or housing of the rifle scope that contains the optical components and provides a mounting platform for the scope on the rifle.


Turrets are the small knobs on top and/or on the side of a rifle scope that allow you to adjust the scope’s point of impact, which is where the bullet hits the target. They are used to compensate for different distances, wind, and other factors that can affect the bullet’s trajectory. By adjusting the turrets, you can align the crosshairs of the scope with the target, improving your accuracy and increasing the chances of hitting your intended mark.

  • Windage Turret – The Windage turret is the knob on the side of a rifle scope that allows you to adjust the horizontal point of impact. By turning the Windage turret, you can move the crosshairs left or right, adjusting for wind and ensuring that your shot hits the intended target.
  • Elevation Turret – The Elevation turret is the adjustment knob located on the top of a rifle scope that helps shooters compensate for bullet drop caused by gravity. It is used to adjust the vertical point of impact, enabling the shooter to move the crosshairs up or down, ensuring that your shot hits the target precisely a varying distances.

Magnification Adjustment

The Magnification Adjustment is a mechanism that allows the shooter to adjust the magnification level of the scope, changing the size of the target in the scope’s image.

Ocular Housing

The Ocular Housing or “eyepiece” is the end of the scope that the shooter looks through, which helps focus and magnify the image of the target.

Properly setting up your rifle scope’s ocular focus is essential for achieving accurate shots and ensuring a comfortable shooting experience.

Ocular Lens

The Ocular lens is the lens in the eyepiece of a rifle scope that helps to focus and magnify the image of the target for the shooter.

Understanding the various components of a rifle scope is essential for anyone interested in long-range shooting. Each part has a specific function that contributes to the overall accuracy and precision of the scope. Knowing how to use these parts effectively can make a significant difference in your shooting skills, allowing you to hit targets at greater distances with ease. By understanding the lenses, reticle, turrets, and eyepiece, you can customize your scope to your specific shooting needs and improve your overall accuracy.

As you continue to practice and refine your skills, your knowledge of your rifle scope’s components and functions will become second nature, and you’ll be able to shoot with confidence and precision.


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Learn more about rifle scopes from GunUniversity.com here.


Scope Ring Finder Tool

Find the perfect combination of rings, bases, and lens caps for your scope and rifle using the Gun University Scope Ring Finder.


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