Let’s Have Some Airgun Friendly Scope Specifications

Of course, just about all of us are using riflescopes with our air rifles. But have you noticed that there are no airgun friendly scope specifications out there?

“But wait a minute”, I hear you say. “What do you mean by airgun friendly scope specifications?

Well, it’s my contention that the vast majority of us are shooting our air rifles at ranges of 50 Yards or less. Many are hunting. The animals and birds which are hunted with airguns tend to be small. That requires very accurate shooting for an ethical, one-shot kill.

Probably 30 – 40 Yards is more typical – even for expert hunters like Jim Chapman who are great shots.

And then there’s all the people who enjoy plinking with airguns. Again, close-range shooting – maybe 20 to 25 Yards – is the norm at small targets.

Even Field Target matches are shot to a maximum range of just 50 Yards by outstanding shots with some spectacular equipment – as we see with competitor Bill Rabbitt, below.

Let's Have Some Airgun Friendly Scope Specifications

Yes, I know that we all like to see the YouTube videos with great shooting at 100 Yards and even more. And then there’s benchrest competitions such as Extreme Benchrest, of course, where the finals are shot at 100 Yards.

But how many of us actually shoot at these distances ourselves? Not many, I believe.

So the point is this…

All riflescopes have specifications given for ranges of 100 Yards. That’s the specs for field of view and turret windage adjustments. That makes sense for firearms, of course. But for airguns? Not so much…

And I’ve seen scope-mounting instructions from one major airgun manufacturer that seriously suggest sighting-in the scope of your new, Zillion FPS, .177 caliber breakbarrel air rife at 100 Yards. What? You have to be joking!!!

Finally, all the airgunners I know use hold-over with a graduated reticle of some sort to accommodate changes in range to the target and wind effects. Mil Dots are most common, of course. They’re all using regular second focal plane scopes too. This means that the reticle graduation specs are only valid at one (two, or at the most three) specific magnifications.

Let’s clearly understand what these magnifications are and what the graduations represent for airgunners!

Below, Aztec Optics scopes are among the few which make the magnification(s) for correct reticle use explicit. They do this with a clear red line on the zoom ring. Aligning the two red lines sets the magnification for correct reticle use –  to 18x in this case. (There’s another red line at 9x too for use at that magnification).

Let's Have Some Airgun Friendly Scope Specifications

Yes, expert air rifle shooters already know all this stuff. But I’m willing to bet that many – particularly if they are new to airguns – do not.

For these reasons, I feel that it’s time to make a push for airgun friendly scope specifications. Let’s see scope specs that bear a closer relationship to the ranges at which most of us shoot and the manner in which we do it.

This will give many of us a far better understanding of riflescope capabilities. It will also help all of us make the right buying decisions when purchasing a riflescope for airgun use, especially when there’s such a wide range of products to choose from.

Let's Have Some Airgun Friendly Scope Specifications

Sample Airgun Friendly Scope Specifications

Everyone knows UTG scopes from Leapers. So let’s look at the specifications for two of their most popular models and see how they translate into airgun friendly specs. Note that some measurements are rounded up to the nearest appropriate whole number, for simplicity.

UTG 3-9 x 40AO Scope (Model SCP-U394AOIED)

The Mil Dot reticle for this scope is designed to be used at 9x magnification.

 Manufacturer's Spec 100 YardsAirgun Friendly Spec 40 YardsAirgun Friendly Spec 25 Yards
Field of View At Max Mag (9x)11.5 Yards13.8 Feet8.4 Feet
Field of View at Min Mag (3x)34.5 Yards41.4 Feet25.9 Feet
One Click on Turret0.25 Inch0.1 Inch0.06 Inch
Reticle Division at 9x3.6 Inches1.44 Inches0.9 Inch

UTG 8-32 x 56 AO Scope (Model SCP3-UG832AOIEW)

The Mil Dot Reticle for this scope is designed to be used at 10x magnification, but can also be used at 20x and 30x magnifications.

 Manufacturer's Spec 100 YardsAirgun Friendly Spec 40 YardsAirgun Friendly Spec 25 Yards
Field of View At Max Mag (32x)3.7 Yards4.44 Feet2.8 Feet
Field of View at Min Mag (8x)34.5 Yards15.7 Feet9.8 Feet
One Click on Turret0.125 Inch0.05 Inch0.03 Inch
Reticle Division at 10x3.6 Inches1.44 Inches0.9 Inch
Reticle Division at 20x1.8 Inches0.72 Inch0.45 Inch
Reticle Division at 30x0.9 Inch0.36 Inch0.23 Inch

To me, such airgun friendly numbers are much more relevant for our use. What do you think?