How to Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope: Why is it so important?

Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

As an ardent hunter and sharpshooter, I’ve long understood that the secret to a successful shot isn’t solely about precision; it also hinges on having a clear, unobstructed view through your rifle scope. This is where “Eye Relief” takes centre stage – a pivotal factor that can determine whether your shot is a hit or a miss.

In the world of rifle scopes, eye relief is akin to a golden ticket leading to a realm of precision and accuracy. It’s the distance from your eye to the closest surface of the eyepiece that unveils the full splendour of your target and its surroundings. Picture a world where your vision remains unhampered, where the view is crystal clear, and you don’t need to squint or strain to focus on your target. That, my friends, is the magic of eye relief.

The beauty of eye relief lies in its simplicity; it guarantees an unobstructed view of the entire field of vision. It opens the gateway to a world where you’re not just a hunter or a shooter; you’re a sharpshooter, an observer, and an integral part of the environment itself.

What’s intriguing is that eye relief isn’t a one-size-fits-all concept. It’s typically measured in inches, although some European brands may use millimetres. Manufacturers acknowledge that every shooter’s perception of eye relief varies, which is why they present it as a range in their specifications. This range accommodates those subtle differences and ensures you find your ideal eye relief sweet spot.

Whether you’re an experienced sniper or a novice venturing into the exhilarating world of firearms, understanding the nuances of eye relief is your secret weapon. It’s your ticket to a world where every shot finds its mark and every view takes your breath away. Welcome to the realm of rifle scopes and eye relief, where precision and clarity walk hand in hand, and each shot is an unforgettable experience.

The Significance of Eye Relief with Rifle Scopes

Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

For all the firearm enthusiasts out there, let’s delve into a topic that often goes unnoticed but wields tremendous influence in the realm of shooting – the importance of eye relief when using rifle scopes. I can’t stress this enough: comprehending and correctly implementing eye relief is a game-changer in precision shooting. Here’s why:

First and foremost, it all boils down to recoil. Whether you’re firing a high-calibre rifle or a shotgun, the intensity of recoil can vary. That jolt is a swift reminder that you’re dealing with a powerful machine. Without the right eye relief, recoil can turn into your worst enemy.

This is where eye relief swoops in to save the day. Adequate eye relief ensures that your eye isn’t too close to the eyepiece. Why is this crucial? Well, when that round is fired, recoil can drive the scope backwards, and without sufficient eye relief, it might collide unpleasantly with your face. Ouch! Trust me; you want to steer clear of that at all costs.

Now, let’s discuss the dreaded “scope bite.” It’s also known as “scope eye” or “rifle tattoo,” and it’s exactly what you want to avoid. Scope bite occurs when inadequate eye relief allows recoil to thrust the scope directly into your face. I’ve had an encounter with this unwelcome visitor, and it’s an experience I won’t soon forget. The bruising, the pain, and the lingering discomfort – it’s not an encounter you’d wish for.

I vividly recall the day when a perfect shot turned into an unforgettable lesson. In the heat of the moment, I hadn’t paid enough attention to my eye relief. As I squeezed the trigger, that powerful rifle’s recoil sent the scope right into my brow. The outcome? A painful encounter with a scope bite that left me wincing in agony.

That experience etched a lesson in my memory that I’ll carry with me always. Proper eye relief isn’t just a technicality; it’s a lifeline. It marks the difference between an enjoyable shooting experience and a painful one. It’s about preventing injuries and upholding your shooting confidence.

If you’re curious and want to witness what scope bite looks like, I encourage you to search for “scope bite” on Google Images. A picture paints a thousand words, and in this case, it’s worth understanding the importance of eye relief.

While eye relief undeniably plays a pivotal role in preventing scope bites, it’s essential to acknowledge that other factors can also contribute to such incidents. Elements like an incorrect shooting stance, misaligned scopes, or unfamiliar firearms can come into play. So, it’s not just about eye relief; it’s about considering all relevant factors for safety.

Steps for Adjusting Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope

Eye Relief on Rifle Scope

When it comes to adjusting the eye relief on a rifle scope, the goal is to find that sweet spot where you can have a crystal-clear view of your target without any distractions. Whether you’re an experienced marksman or a novice, these are the steps to master this essential skill.

First and foremost, understand that eye relief on a scope is a fixed setting, but you can customize it to your preferences by moving the scope forward or backwards in the rings. This adjustment ensures your shooting experience is both comfortable and accurate.

Start by temporarily mounting the scope in the rings without securing it completely. Close both eyes and shoulder your rifle or shotgun naturally in a comfortable position. This serves as your starting point.

Now, the magic begins. Open both eyes and look through the scope with your dominant eye, which is typically the same side as your shooting hand. Your mission here is to ensure your view remains clear and unobstructed.

Regardless of whether you’re a standard or cross-eye dominant shooter, this technique works. Take note of which eye is your dominant one; this is the key to proper eye relief adjustment.

Here’s where the fine-tuning comes into play. If you notice a wide, dark ring around the scope’s outer edge but can still see the entire reticle, it means the scope is too close to your eye. Move it forward in the rings. If you only see a portion of the reticle with a dark ring at the outer edge, the scope is too far away. Move it back towards your eye. Your aim is that perfect Goldilocks moment.

Repeat the adjustment process until you achieve a full field of view of your target without any dark rings or dark spots around the edges. This is when your shooting vision becomes sharp and unobstructed.

Once you’ve found that optimal eye relief, mark the position in the rings. A small piece of masking tape or any other non-permanent marker will do the trick. This mark ensures you can easily return to this ideal setup in the future.

Now, place your rifle or shotgun on a bench and check if the reticle is level. A crooked reticle can throw off your accuracy, making this step crucial.

If the reticle isn’t level, use a scope level tool or any other leveling tool in your arsenal to make the necessary adjustments. A level reticle is your path to pinpoint accuracy.

Finally, it’s time to secure your scope in its optimal position. Follow the manufacturer’s specifications for torque, using a scope mounting torque wrench to ensure everything is locked in place.

The Optimal Eye Relief for a Rifle Scope

eye relief scope

When it comes to determining the best eye relief for a rifle scope, it’s somewhat like finding the perfect fit for your favourite pair of shoes – a balance between personal preference and industry guidelines. Here’s my perspective on this critical aspect of shooting:

Eye relief specifications provided by scope manufacturers are more like ballpark figures than an exact science. If a scope’s specs indicate an eye relief of 3″-4″, it often leans closer to the lower end, typically around 3 inches.

The industry average for eye relief hovers around 3 inches, but remember, this can vary depending on the brand and the price range of the scope you’re considering.

Here’s an interesting tidbit – if you’re willing to invest a bit more in your scope, you’ll likely find better eye relief options. As the cost of the scope rises, the eye relief ranges tend to improve, offering you more comfort and flexibility.

Now, let’s discuss personal preferences. The ideal eye relief can vary from one shooter to another. While many shooters find 3 inches of eye relief perfectly adequate, others, especially those using shotguns or high-powered calibres, may prefer more generous eye relief, around 4.5 inches or even more. For those dealing with exceptionally high-recoil firearms, eye relief in the range of 5 to 6 inches might be a necessity.

Speaking of recoil, it’s a significant factor in determining your ideal eye relief. For most shooters and most firearms, a 4-inch eye relief is generally sufficient to provide both safety and a comfortable shooting experience. However, when you’re dealing with guns that generate a substantial kick, such as magnum rifles or heavy shotguns, it’s wise to err on the side of caution and opt for more extensive eye relief to prevent any unpleasant surprises.

Other Extremely Important Scope Specifications

rifle scope eye relief

When selecting a rifle scope, there’s more to consider than just eye relief. While eye relief is undeniably crucial, other specifications play pivotal roles in shaping your shooting experience. Here are a couple of essential scope specifications that should be on your radar:

Light transmission is a paramount specification that dictates how much light passes through the scope and reaches your eye. Various factors, including the quality of the lens elements, the size of the objective lens diameter, and lens coatings, influence it. When you’re cranking up the magnification on your scope, it can sometimes reduce light transmission, potentially calling for adjustments to your eye relief, especially when you’re aiming at the longer end of the magnification range.

The importance of light transmission depends on your shooting conditions. In broad daylight, you might get away with a scope that could be more brightly. However, if you’re out there during the golden hours of dawn or dusk or in other low-light situations, having a clear and bright field of view is an absolute game-changer.

Now, let’s talk about image quality. When you’re dealing with high magnification levels, you’re bending a significant amount of light, which can bring about some challenges. High magnification, particularly at the edges of your field of view, can introduce distortion, like what you might experience when using binoculars or wearing eyeglasses.

High magnification can also have implications for your eye relief, especially in long-range shooting scenarios. It might require you to adjust your shooting position to maintain a comfortable and accurate aim.

And then there’s the issue of image clarity. When you’re pushing that magnification to the max, you need to keep an eye out for image quality concerns like colour accuracy and chromatic aberration. Distortion or blur can throw off your aim and make target identification a real challenge.

Want to know about the Best Rifle Scopes? Check out our guide

Field of View in Rifle Scopes

Field of View in Rifle Scopes

In the realm of rifle scopes, a wide field of view is akin to having a panoramic window into the world of your target. It’s a game-changer, and here’s why:

Imagine a scope that offers a wide field of view. It’s like opening a door to a whole new world. With a broad, unobstructed view, you get to see not just your target but also the surroundings around it. It’s the secret to staying aware of your environment, enhancing your situational awareness, and making sure nothing takes you by surprise.

Acquiring your target becomes a breeze when you have a generous field of view. You can lock onto your mark with ease, maintain your focus, and make those precise shots. It’s like having a spotlight on your target, and it’s all thanks to that wide view.

In simple terms, the field of view in rifle scopes is all about the width of the image you see through the scope. But here’s the kicker – this width can vary significantly, even when scopes have identical magnification. So, the next time you’re shopping for a scope, remember that a wide field of view isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have for a shooter who wants to stay in control of the situation.


What is proper eye relief on a scope?

Proper eye relief on a scope is the distance from the rear lens your eye requires to see a complete picture. For fixed-power scopes, the industry average is about 3 1/2 inches. With variable scopes, you’ll typically start around there at lower magnification, and it might decrease to about 2 1/2 inches at maximum magnification.

Does eye relief change with magnification?

Yes, eye relief can change with magnification. In general, the higher the magnification and the larger the field of view, the shorter the eye relief.

What are the two adjustments on a rifle scope?

The two adjustments on a rifle scope are called turrets. The top turret is for adjusting elevation, and the side turret is for windage adjustments.

Is higher or lower eye relief better?

Higher eye relief is often better because it allows more light to reach your eye, providing a brighter and clearer picture. However, it’s essential to find the right balance, as highly high eye relief can also have drawbacks.

What is the minimum distance for eye relief?

For comfortable viewing, especially if you wear eyeglasses, aim for a minimum of 15mm of eye relief to see the entire field of view.

Does adjusting a scope move the point of impact?

Yes, adjusting a scope moves the point of impact. The adjustment knobs, known as turrets, shift the bullet impact point to the target centre. The elevation turret controls vertical adjustments, while the windage turret controls horizontal adjustments.

Is exit pupil distance the same as eye relief?

No, exit pupil distance is not the same as eye relief. Eye relief is the distance from the eyepiece lens to where the exit pupil is formed (eyepoint), while exit pupil distance is related to the size of the exit pupil in the context of binoculars or scopes.

Which part of the scope do I use for scope eye relief adjustment?

The scope itself does not have a built-in eye relief adjustment. You adjust eye relief by moving the scope closer to or farther away from your eye within the scope rings.

Can I send a scope back to the factory to have the eye relief adjusted or extended?

The possibility of having the eye relief adjusted or extended by the factory depends on whether the scope has a mechanical issue or if the settings are within factory specifications but not to your liking. Some higher-end scope brands may occasionally offer this service, so contacting the manufacturer is the best way to find out.

Where can I find a long eye-relief rifle scope?

Many upper-level rifle scope brands offer scopes with longer eye relief, providing more room between the scope and your face for heavy-calibre shooting. Brands like Nightforce, Zeiss, Vortex, Leupold, Meopta, and some upper-end Bushnell scopes are good places to start your search.

 What does a “long eye relief scope” mean?

When people seek a “long eye relief scope,” they are looking for a scope with a factory-specified eye relief longer than the average. This is often desired by shooters using heavy calibres to ensure ample space between the scope and their faces while maintaining a clear view.

What is the best long-eye relief rifle scope on the market?

The “best” long eye relief scope is subjective and can vary depending on individual preferences and needs. However, in terms of long eye relief, Nightforce scopes are often mentioned for their generous eye relief and are worth considering, but the “best” choice ultimately depends on your specific shooting requirements and budget.

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