Sport Optic Buying Guide: How to choose an Optic

Before we jump into Sport Optic Buying Guide, let us try to understand what Optics is.

Do you know what an optic is?

Optics is the branch of physics that deals with the behavior and properties of light (visible, ultraviolet, and infrared) and its interactions with matter, and the construction of instruments that use it. The applications of optics are found in a variety of technologies like lenses, microscopes, telescopes, lasers, and fiber optics.

How will this article help you in getting the right product?

In this article, you will get all the necessary information about the sport optic and what are some important points to keep in your mind while purchasing a Sport optic like spotting scopes, binoculars, laser rangefinders, etc. After reading this article, you will be able to select the best product with premium features according to your needs and requirements.

How are these optics helping us in our everyday life?

If you are a hunter and use the rifle scope for Your Hunting then it not only increases your accuracy to shoot the right prey but also allows you to shoot the target from a distance, When it’s not safe to approach.

A golf laser rangefinder measures the target distance accurately and its magnification feature magnifies the target to give a better look to improve your decision-making ability during the game. You can connect your mobile phone or digital camera to your spotting scopes to get better pictures of birds, nature, and wildlife from a distance. Digiscoping can be used to get breathtaking pictures of wildlife, nature, sports, and more.

Types of Sport Optics

Today we can see different types of Sports Optics. They are playing an important role in taking sports to another level. You can use them in almost every outdoor pursuit from hunting to the golf game. Some of the most known types of these sports optics are Binoculars, Golf rangefinders, Rifle Scopes, monoculars, spotting scopes, night vision binoculars, and red dot scopes.


First of all, you have to know what a Binocular is. The binocular is an instrument with lenses for both eyes, used for viewing objects at a distance. This optical instrument consists of two small telescopes mounted side by side which you look through in order to see things at a distance.

sports optics

Binoculars have several sizes, features, and specifications to meet the demands of the customers and the application. The applications of binoculars are vast, ranging from being used in leisure activities to Land surveys. Some of the most common applications of binoculars are listed below.

One of the biggest binocular-based hobbies is bird watching. Birds in the wild don’t allow you to get close to them. You can use binoculars to get clearer and closer views of the birds without disturbing them. Another common use of binoculars is to see tourist destinations through a lens. Most tourists around the globe use binoculars to get better views of distant objects.

Hunters often use binoculars to see the game animals. By using this device you can locate your prey from a distance and calculate the distance of the game animal you are looking at. There are binoculars designed specifically for the day-to-day operations of the military. Binoculars help military personnel to locate enemies at a distance and take the necessary actions efficiently.


A monocular is an equipment that has characteristics like binoculars and spotting scopes but it is low-powered and smaller in size. Monocular just like its name is a single-eye device. It has only one lens to see the object at a distance. It is also suitable for those persons who have vision only in one eye.

The much smaller size and portability of the monocular make it suitable to put into your pocket. People with poor vision can use it in their daily life activities like what does that sign across the shopping center say and reading text on a whiteboard. You can use monoculars for viewing more distant objects during hunting, tourism, and military operations. To get a closer view of exhibits, they can be used in museums and art galleries.


A rangefinder is an equipment that measures the distance from the instrument to a target. The process of measuring the distance is called ranging. You can use rangefinders in many sports and industries like Golf, hunting, surveying in forestry, Photography, and Ballistics.

There are three types of rangefinders available in the market which use different technologies. An ultrasonic rangefinder emits sound waves to measure the distance. Soundwave hits the target and returns to the device, it measures the time that the sound wave takes to calculate the distance. Another type of rangefinder is the optical rangefinder. These devices use lenses and different mechanisms to find the distance. It is a slow process to measure the distance.

The most commonly used rangefinders with advanced technology are Laser Rangefinders. They work on the same principles as ultrasonic rangefinders but they use a laser beam instead of ultrasonic waves. These devices eject a beam of light that returns to the device after hitting the target, it calculates the time to measure the accurate distance from the device to the target. Most rangefinders like Golf rangefinders and hunting rangefinders use this technology.

Different rangefinders are specifically designed for different uses and specific features are required for each use. Therefore, you have to decide for what purpose you need a rangefinder. Because golf rangefinder does not do well for hunters mostly. But multi-use rangefinders are also available in the market, in our opinion using these types of rangefinders is not the best idea.

Red dot sights

Another amazing sport optic is Red Dot Sight. It is a device that gives an illuminated red dot aim point for a more accurate, precise, and clean shot. It does not provide magnification of the target because the precision and accuracy of the red LED light is all that’s necessary for target shooting, hunting, and police and military applications

You can also use red dot sight on telescopes and cameras, aside from firearm uses. On cameras, they are used to take photographs of quickly moving objects like flying birds, running animals, and aircraft. The narrow field of view of a Telescope often requires a secondary finder scope, therefore, they use a red dot sight.

Rifle Scopes

Whether you are a shooter or hunter, you need a scope for your rifle to give your best. Riflescope provides you with some level of magnification that helps you to take aim at the right target. By using a scope, you can easily and precisely shoot your target because your target appears closer.

best 308 scope

Riflescope uses two lenses, one is an objective lens and the other is an ocular lens. The ocular lens is the one that is closest to your eye. The objective lens focuses on a point inside the scope when light is passing through it, then the ocular lens magnifies it to give you a larger image of the target.

Different scopes have different magnification settings such as 3x and 9x. 9x magnification allows you to see the target 9 times larger than your normal vision and similarly 3x scopes have the ability to magnify the actual image 3 times. These rifle scopes include ar 15 scopes, ar 10 scopes, thermal scopes, night vision scopes, air rifles scopes, and 308 scopes.

Night vision Scope

Night Vision Riflescopes sometimes called Starlight Scopes are the devices used to hunt or hold target practices in the dark. These rifle scopes are very helpful for hunters and military personnel who works at night or in low-light conditions. Digital night vision scopes have more advanced technology that enables them to be used both during the day and at night. These night vision scopes have become very popular in recent years.

Thermal scopes

One of the coolest optical devices that can be installed on your rifle is the thermal scope. Thermal rifle scope can detect the target in low light or in the dark by measuring the temperature differences between the target and its surroundings. You can use thermal scopes in any weather conditions such as rain and fog where other optical devices cannot deliver. Thermal scopes can also be used in the daytime.

AR 15 Rifle Scopes

AR 15 or ArmaLite rifle 15 is a semi-automatic rifle that is widely used for sports shooting in the United States. These rifles are called modern sporting rifles. It is one of the most beloved rifles in the US. Different Sports optics manufacturers are producing specially designed Scopes for AR-15 Rifles because hunters and shooters mostly use AR-15 rifles.

Scope for 308 Rifles

The .308 Winchester is one of the most versatile, rimless, and bottlenecked rifle cartridges ever created. The .308 Winchester was introduced in 1952 for the battlefield and adapted for use in the commercial hunting market. It is one of the most popular and versatile hunting rounds in the United States and it is used extensively for hunting black bears, whitetail deer, and pronghorn.

A wide variety of rifles are available on the market which is capable of chambering this cartridge. Due to the popularity of the .308 Winchester, top sports optics manufacturers specially designed scopes for 308 rifles. These scopes for 308 are helping hunters to take their hunting to the next level by shooting with precision and accuracy.

Spotting Scopes

A spotting scope is a small and powerful telescope that has been designed for use by day. Its small size makes it portable to take along with you. A telescope always produces a reverse image whereas a spotting scope produces an upright image. It has a lower magnification than a telescope because it does not require high magnification for daylight operations.

spotting scope

You can use spotting scopes for bird watching, surveillance, hunting, and naturalist activities. It can also be used in activities that require more magnification than binoculars because it has more magnification power of 20x to 60x whereas binoculars have a magnification of 3x to 9x generally.

What to Consider When Buying a sport optic?

If you are a hunter, shooter, or wildlife photographer then this guide will help you in picking the right sport optic according to your needs. It will not only save you money and time but you will also fully enjoy the use of your optics.

When it comes to buying sports optics, there are a few important things to keep in your mind while selecting a sport optic. In this article, we will discuss all the important factors, specifications, and requirements necessary to consider in the selection of sports optics. We hope that it will help you in choosing something that works well for your needs.


The first thing to consider in the selection of a sports optic is the brand. There is an incredible amount of options for sports optics available on the market. Plenty of manufacturers are making sports optics. How to choose the best sport optic from a well-known brand is not a big deal now. You can choose the best product available in the market by reading this guide. Here is the list of top brands of sport optics.


nikon sport optic

Nikon is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of optoelectronic and precision technologies products. They are in business since 1917 which is more than 100 years now. Nikon is known for its performance, quality products, and total satisfaction of its customers. It is very famous for its vast variety of sport optics products ranging from riflescopes to marine products. Some of its most famous products of Nikon are binoculars, laser rangefinders, spotting scopes, rifle scopes, and GPS devices.


Canon manufacturers are in the market of sports optics since 1933 which is 85 years now. They are well known for their best-quality Precision Optical Instruments. Some of their main products are Binoculars, lenses, DSLR Cameras, GPS Receivers, and Multi-Purpose Cameras.


Another famous company for producing sport optic is Bushnell.  For more than seven decades, it has led the way. Their never-ending commitment to delivering unique products having unmatchable clarity, durability in extreme conditions, and technology make them stand out from the crowd. They are producing almost all types of sport optic devices. Some of their main products are riflescopes, spotting scopes, Hunting GPS, laser range finders, and night vision devices.

Hawke Sport Optics

Hawke was founded in the United Kingdom. Now it has a presence in over 60 countries. Hawke aims to provide their customers with innovative products, specifically designed to meet their needs and requirements. They offer a wide range of sport optic, from rifle scopes to binoculars, spotting scopes, and red dot sights.

Vortex Optics

Vortex Optics is a US-based company and are in the market since 2002 which is approximately 16 years now. They have dealers located almost all around the globe. All of their products are specially designed, engineered, and pre-inspected to ensure that you receive the best service and product for your money. They are famous for their best quality products such as monoculars, red dots, spotting scopes, ar 15 scopes, and binoculars.


ATN is a leading company in the development of Thermal Imaging optics and Night Vision devices. For more than two decades, they are in the market of sport optics. They focus on innovation, quality, and providing value to their customers. They also provide their best low-light optical devices to their military clients. Some of their top-of-the-line products are night vision scopes, thermal scopes, smart rifle scopes, and hunting accessories.


Another big name in the market for making the best sport optic is Leupold. Leupold is an American manufacturer of binoculars, red dot sights, rangefinders, 308 rifle scopes, and spotting scopes. The company was founded in 1907. The United States Army, The United States Navy, the Secret Service, and the Marine Corps use the company’s scopes. The Nation Championship equipment survey lists Leupold as the most popular scope manufacturer in 2014.


The quality products of Sightmark give you the ability to Make Your Mark. Whether you are serving your homeland or hunting, every Sightmark product assures accuracy and allows you to rely on it. More than one million Sightmark sights are in use since its first release to the market back in 2007.

Some of their best-selling products are riflescopes, monoculars,  laser bore sights, and flashlights. Sightmark has a leading market share of sport optics in more than 40 countries and many retailers in every state of the United States.


The Burris Company was established in 1971 by a design engineer with Redfield, named Don Burris. The Burris is very well known in the market for its quality and reliable product line. Their more than 40 years of optical engineering experience make them able to develop unique products which fulfill the customer’s needs and requirements. They offer scopes, bow sights, spotters, and scope mounts.


Redfield, the iconic name in the sport optic industry was started in 1909. They were experts in producing rifle scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes. In 1998, the factory closed its doors. The Redfield name was bought and sold by different manufacturers and finally, in 2008, Leupold and Stevens’s company bought the Redfield name and all the intellectual property.

Now Redfield is owned by  Leupold and Stevens company and they are producing golf rangefinders, rifle scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and accessories.

Focal Plane

Another important thing to consider while choosing the riflescope is its focal plane. There are two types of focal planes. The first focal plane or front focal plane and the second focal plane or rear focal plane. The first focal plane scopes are expensive compared to the second focal plane scopes.

In the first focal plane scope, the reticle is positioned in front of the magnification lenses and grows and shrinks as the magnification changes. While in the second focal plane scope the reticle of the scope remains static regardless of the magnification changes.


The ratio of the apparent size of the thing when viewed through the device in comparison with, when it is seen with the naked eye. If a 500m away object is seen with any sport optic device with 50x magnification, then it will look equal in size to an object 10m away viewed with the naked eye. Many people believe that powerful magnification means better sport optic and it is true in most cases.

You can determine the power or magnification of the sport optic by its eyepiece. There are different formats of sport optics, they can be either removable or non-removable, fixed, or zoom. The zoom eyepiece has variable magnification power which can be adjusted within its set range. The fixed magnification eyepieces have a fixed magnification power like 20x, or 30x. Removable eyepieces give you a choice of fixed magnification or zoom magnification.

Sports optics with zoom magnification are preferred over fixed magnification devices. If you wear glasses, you need to consider eye relief. The distance between the last surface of an eyepiece of the device and your eye is eye relief. In order to see the full image, you must consider the eye relief while buying a sport optic.

Field of View

The field of view is the open observable area that you can see through an optical device. For example, if two animals are standing 1500 yards away from you, one to your left and one to your right and the distance between these two is 500 feet, then your field-of-view would be 500 feet at 1500 yards while looking through the sport optic device.

Generally, higher-powered devices give you a smaller field of view for more concentration and a wider field of view for lower-powered optics. Field-of-view expressed in degrees is called the angular field of view. You can easily convert the angular field of view to the more practical linear field of view by multiplying the angular field by 52.5.


The lens is one of the most important features of an optical device. The lenses that provide you with a crystal clear image at both high and low magnifications are recommended. There are generally two lenses in an optical instrument, the ocular lens and the objective lens.

The larger lens in an optical instrument is the objective lens. The objective lens is on the end of the device away from the eye. Its purpose is to transmit light back to the ocular lens, which is the lens closest to your eye that you look through. A tube connects the ocular lens to the objective lens.

The objective lens diameter known as the aperture tells you how much light the lens lets in. A larger objective diameter allows more light into the device to produce brighter images and helps you to see better through the device. When deciding on the objective lens size for your spotting scopes, rifle scopes, and binoculars you should choose the biggest but you should also keep in mind the size and the weight.

Lens Coatings

Lens coatings of your sports optic can enhance the durability, performance, and appearance of the lenses. The lens coatings help you to see better your image, color, resolution, and contrast. Anti-reflective coating or AR coating is a thin multilayer coating that limits light reflection by allowing the maximum amount of light through the lens. It is usually of magnesium fluorite coating and applied to both surfaces of the lens.

There are four different types of coatings: Coated Lens, Fully-Coated Lens, Multi-Coated Lens, and Fully Multi-Coated Lens. The coated lens contains a thin anti-reflective coating on one or more of the lens surfaces, usually first and last sets of the lens are covered. A fully-Coated Lens Contains a single coating on all sets of the internal series of glass surfaces that receive a single coating.

Multi-Coated Lens contains multiple coatings. The first and the last lens are multi-covered and all other lenses may be single-covered. A fully Multi-Coated Lens contains multiple coatings on all lens surfaces and each series of lenses is fully multi-coated.

Long Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance from the last surface of an eyepiece to your eye. The people who wear glasses are most interested in eye relief because long eye relief helps them to see things more clearly. People who don’t wear glasses will benefit from long eye relief as well. It is also a common belief that too much eye relief causes a blocked view.


Prisms in the optical system are used to rectify and erect an inverted image by the objective lens. There are two major types of prism, the Porro prism, and the Roof prism. The optical path of the Porro prism is bent like the letter Z  to erect the image. Porro prism design devices are larger than roof prism design devices. Porro prism doesn’t lose the light because all reflective surfaces are completely reflective.

Another type of prism is the Roof (Dach) prism. The “Dach” is a German word that means roof. Roof prisms lose some light because one surface does not feature total internal reflection. The coating on the surface of the lens minimizes the loss of light and is therefore recommended for this type of prism. It has a straight optical path resulting in a compact body.

Waterproof and Fogproof

Another factor to consider when picking the scopes, sights, or rangefinders is the waterproof and fog-proof features. This feature allows you to use the sports optic in any weather condition. If you want to use your scope and sights in fog, rain, or even in the snow then select the product with a waterproof and fog-proof feature.  

Size and Weight

First of all, you have to decide whether you need a small scope or a large scope. People usually like compact, portable, and lightweight devices because every added ounce can cause difficulties during hunting. The heavier sights and scopes resist the wind in adverse weather conditions and properly sit on the guns. Spotting scopes are one of the heaviest sports optics. Small scopes and sights are best for shotguns and pistols while large scopes and sights are best for long-range rifles and guns. You must keep in your mind the purpose for which you need a sport optic while picking the optics.


A reticle or reticule also known as a graticule is a pattern of fine lines or markings built into the eyepiece of a sighting device, such as a telescopic sight in a telescope, a microscope, or the screen of an oscilloscope, to provide references during a visual examination. Today, engraved lines or embedded fibers may be replaced by a computer-generated image superimposed on a screen or eyepiece. Both terms may be used to describe any set of lines used for optical measurement, but in modern use, the reticle is most commonly used for gun sights and such, while graticule is more widely used for the oscilloscope display, microscope slides, and similar roles.

There are many variations of reticles; this article concerns itself mainly with a simple reticle: crosshairs. Crosshairs are most commonly represented as intersecting lines in the shape of a cross, “+”, though many variations exist, including dots, posts, circles, scales, chevrons, or a combination of these. Most commonly associated with telescopic sights for aiming Firearms, crosshairs are also common in optical instruments used for astronomy and surveying and are also popular in graphical user interfaces as a precision pointer. The reticle is said to have been invented by Robert Hooke and dates to the 17th century. Another candidate as an inventor is the amateur astronomer William Gascoigne, who predated Hooke.

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

For close-range hunting or shooting, red dot sights having some magnifications are used. The size of the reticle remains almost the same and does not interfere with shot placement. However, for long-range shooting, you must select from non-illuminated and illuminated riflescopes.  

Exit Pupil

A virtual aperture is called Exit Pupil. Only those light rays which pass through this virtual aperture enter your eyes. The larger exit pupil diameter will allow more amount of light to pass through and reach the eyes. It is, therefore, an important aspect to consider while picking a sport optic product. In elderly people, the eye’s pupil opening is decreased with age, so keep this factor in mind.

Exit pupil is calculated from the diameter of the objective lens divided by Magnification power. For example, a binocular having a 42mm objective lens diameter and a 10x magnification will have a 4.2 exit pupil. ( 42/10 = 4.2)

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