Reader question: I’m looking for the best rimfire scope. Where can I find a guide to buying one?
Rimfire guns produce little recoil and, oftentimes, the rifles are lighter; hence, many shooters prefer them for small-game hunting.
If you’re shooting at varmints and short-range targets with these guns, rimfire scopes will greatly work to your advantage.
Don’t depend on a popular brand-name for the scoping of your rimfire rifle. Instead, look for the functional features that count most in rimfire scopes.
This is a case of “more does not necessarily mean better.” You need to have just the right magnification for smaller targets – 4x and lower generally work just fine.
Much higher magnification may result to blurred or less bright optics and lower depth of field.
Movements are magnified, field of view becomes narrower, and the price of the scope goes up with the number of X’s.
Understand what magnification labels mean. A label is often written as a number or numbers, followed by x, then another number.
An example of this is 4×30 or 3-9×40. The first number or numbers and x, such as 4x or 3-9x, means that the image can be amplified 4 times or variably amplified from 3-9 times the actual target size. The last number indicates the size of the front lens of the scope, which should be around 5 times the maximum magnification of the scope.
For instance, in the label 3-9×40, the maximum magnification is 9. The lens size should be 45 (i.e., 9 x 5). The label says 40, which is less than 45.
This simply means that at the 9x magnification, the scope will work fine under normal lighting but not as good under darker conditions.
The solution would be to use the x9 power during daylight, or simply to work on lower magnifications, of course.
You shouldn’t buy the scope solely on the aspect of lens size. Large lenses (like x50!) mean larger scopes, and will lead to issues on mounting, balance, and added weight to the rifle.
Best rimfire scopes work for different guns
For most game-hunters who prefer the standard .22 calibre rifle, their choice of scope would be a 2-7×30.
A variable 3-9×30 will also be a good choice. This gun-and-scope tandem is perfect for distances of around 50 yards or less.
Usually, however, the 2x still works better for small moving targets at close range, while a 9x could be great for longer shots backed with good light and steady rest.
Increased accuracy, velocity and range are good reasons for owning the newer .17 calibre rifles, such as the .17HMR and Winchester .17 Super Mag.
They work well with 3-9×40 and 4-12×40. The latter is much preferred for targets that range from small games to much smaller pests and varmint.
The terms parallax adjustable (PA) or adjustable objective (AO) on the scope’s label actually address the same thing –parallax correction.
To best illustrate, aim your finger at a target across the room using your dominant eye to line the target, close one eye and then the other one.
When you close the other eye, the target does not line up with your dominant eye. Most shooters don’t even bother about this tiny bit, and it’s really no cause for worry.
Rimfire scopes contain finer reticles and are commonly manufactured to have parallax-free sight, or are usually set for 60 yards or less – just about perfect for small targets at shorter distances of 25-60 yards without need for constant refocusing.
Parallax starts to become an important consideration when a shooter regularly uses magnifications of 9x and higher, or does long-range precision shooting.
Choose a scope that is parallax-adjustable for close and distance targeting.
For the serious shooter, scopes must have durability and water-proof features to work under rugged conditions.
Lastly, high-quality scopes don’t come cheap, so ask for a lifetime warranty.