What is Eye Relief on a Scope (Basic and Advanced Guide)

One of the most misunderstood specifications of a rifle scope is the eye relief. Hunters and rifle enthusiasts in the beginning stage often get startled when they’re asked what is eye relief on a scope. Whether or not you understand in-depth, this is something fundamental to the overall quality of a scope’s performance.

What is Eye Relief on A Scope – What is it and Why is it so Important

To put it simply, eye relief refers to the distance between your eyes and the lens. The industry average for eye relief is close to around 3 ½ inches at full magnification. Most of the time, the lower initial is not mentioned, but some manufacturer states both.

All about Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

about Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

Getting smacked on the face by the scope is something that many amateur hunters experience. If you do not want a rounded hole around your eye, if you don’t want to be misunderstood as someone who got boxed in the face, then you must learn about eye relief. When you buy scopes with proper eye relief specifications, the unfortunate incidents we just mentioned are a lot less likely to occur.

The thing that makes eye relief so crucial and subtle is balance. If proper balance is not achieved, then it creates a problem. The problem arises when you don’t know how to measure eye relief for a scope. If you keep the scope too close to the eye, you see things blurry and unfocused, while if you hold it too far away, the picture turns into a dot.

These specifications vary based on brands and models. They can also differ in zoom ranges like long and short zoom ranges. For example, for a 3×9 scope, eye relief’s range is much higher at 3x than 9x.

Why You Got Smacked and How it’s Related to Eye Relief?

Now, you may ask, why do you end up having a cut around your eye? The prime culprit is the recoil. Recoil often translates as a kickback, refers to the sudden backward movement, occurs when you take a shot. So, how is it related to eye relief?

If your scope’s eye relief is inadequate, then that backward movement will catch your eye. Find ranges with an excellent amount of eye relief; there will be a lesser possibility of you getting hit by your own scope.

So you have to buy scopes, considering the high recoil factor of a gun. Buying a 14x or 20x scope for 300 Winchester Magnum, for example, would not be a wise decision to make.

Understanding the Numbers

Why do the scope manufacturers use the 3 ½ inch standard? There is something else related to it. Here comes the field of view specifications. The specification is offered either in meters or feet compared to 100 yards. It informs you of the length of view you can have from edge to edge.

How to Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

How to Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

With the scope of the fixed setting, it is difficult to adjust the eye relief manually. To accommodate eye relief in the correct manner, you have to switch the scope either backward or forward in the ring to set the eye relief to your liking.

Here we’re providing you an extensive look into the matter.

Determine your dominant eye. Some dominate the right eye while others the left eye. And some are cross-eye dominated. This adjustment process is suitable for both.

It is safe to note that the dominant eye refocuses itself while you’re peeking through the lens for more than 15-25 seconds.

Now, while looking through the scope, if you see a broad black ring around the outer layer and see the whole reticle simultaneously, the scope is too close. That means it needs to be positioned slightly away from your eye.

Similarly, while looking through the scope, if you again find that the ring covers a slightly lesser portion of the outer side and see a part of the reticle, then the scope is positioned too far in front, so it has to be placed back in the rings and close to your eye.

Now when you look through the scope and find an entire field of view without any dark outer shadow around, then you know that it has the right eye relief. You should mark the scope in the ring at that position.

Now when you find such features present and locate the exact position where the eye relief is perfect, you can mark the location on the ring using masking tape. Then set the rifle on the bench to check if the reticle is level.

If your reticle is not level, then you can use a quality scope leveling tool to level it to the optimum order.

After finishing the entire process uses a torque wrench to ring it down to manufacturer specifications.

What is a Good Eye Relief?

First of all, know that the eye relief specifications provided by the manufacturers are not absolutely to the point. It is slightly less than what is said. For example, if your manufacturer says that your scope has an eye relief of 3’-4’ mark, then you can expect it to be close to 3’ mark.

Some scopes offer better eye relief than others, and a straightforward trend you’d notice is, it tends to get better as you increase the price point.

Now, you’re not supposed to go less than the standard 3” inch eye relief mark. But on the whole, you can have a scope with 4-inch eye relief to do away with the heavy recoil issue.

To Sum Up

Overall, eye relief is one of the several key features that your rifle scope must offer with an appropriate measurement. A good eye relief lets you take aim and fire with no discomfort. Makes you take shots smoothly and quick.

You don’t buy rifle scopes every day, so finding out the best one is a must. And no scope gives you the smoothness of quality firing experience without proper eye relief. So, as you now know, what is eye relief on a scope, find scopes with the best eye relief specifications, and enjoy firing every round!

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