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Less is more when it comes to scope magnification #7648109 10/31/19 12:51 PM
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The saying "less is more" is true in so many ways, including the magnification you choose when hunting with a deer rifle.

I don't think I've ever started a thread that created more debate than one that focused on the need to turn the magnification down on your scope when taking shots. I know it sounds backwards to say that not making the deer appear closer is going to make for a better shot but the best shooters know it's true. You don't have to count the hairs to get off your best shot, as much as some try so hard to believe. In fact, some of the best shooters use fixed, 2X and 4X scopes because they're reliable and provide all the magnification needed to make shots that others would only make with the scopes set to it highest magnification.

It all has to do with how the mind, eyes, and muscles work together when taking aim at a target. I like to equate it to trying to stay centered in the lane when driving down the highway. Focusing on a more distant point keeps the mind and muscles from reacting to slight variances seen with the eyes in the same manner as using a higher scope magnification creates shakiness in the sight picture. Simply put, a higher magnification causes your mind and muscles to "chase" a point of steadiness the body cannot achieve. By turning the magnification down, you create a sight picture where the target appears more steady to the mind and eyes, yet still plenty good enough to know where the rifle is pointed. AND THIS TRUE WITH OR WITHOUT A SHOOTING REST.

I never hunt with my rifle's magnification set to anything higher than 6X, and will set it lower, sometimes much lower when hunting in closer quarters. In fact, the only time I'll turn it to it's highest setting is when checking targets at the range. Also, there are those who would religiously recommend only using a spotting scope at the range, and a good pair of binoculars in the field so there is no need to change the magnification to get a better or closer view of a deer. They don't want to find themselves having to play with the scope when it becomes time to make the shot.

Last edited by Texas Dan; 10/31/19 12:57 PM.

Dan,

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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648124 10/31/19 01:05 PM
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I generally keep the scope on 8 power for most of my ROW and edge hunting. Two days ago, when I shot a hog (just 250 yards), I was shooting off a rest - the blind window sill - I cranked the scope up to about 12 power and made the shot. But that’s just me.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648134 10/31/19 01:15 PM
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Most of my deer hunting is done in Northeast Oklahoma, where visibility averages less than 100 yards due to brush and terrain. My scope stays on 3 or 4. If I need to crank it up for a long shot (exceptionally rare), there is typically time. I shot a decent 8-point last weekend during the OK muzzleloader season at 40 yards. He just appeared out of the brush like magic. If my scope was on higher power, I probably would not have been able to find him quick enough for a shot.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648135 10/31/19 01:16 PM
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Well said Texas Dan! I agree 110%. My old golf coach from college has taken more deer and other animals in his lifetime than you and I could take putting ours together. He was a hunting machine. He always told me you don't need more scope magnification than a 2-7x40. His reasoning was exactly what you wrote about.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648148 10/31/19 01:27 PM
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I hunt on about 3X. My hunting scope is a 1-8 and is plenty.



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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648191 10/31/19 01:55 PM
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The Ruger 22-250 has a Leupold Fixed 6 on it. It's attack driver.

For whatever reason, the 270 and the 300 Win Mag are typically shot on about 7.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648196 10/31/19 02:02 PM
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Depends on the gun, range, and terrain; 3-9x40 on the 308 carbine, 1.5 x 5 on the AR, and 5-25x56 on the long range gun; start them all at lowest, for quicker closer in shots, if longer range, I'll have time to dial it up...

Disagree with best shooters using lowest power scopes, just not the case anymore in my world, or law enforcement, or military, or long range shooters, etc.... to each his own

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648203 10/31/19 02:09 PM
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Different situations call for different scope settings. So....no one 'rule/concept' is going to apply to all persons I am sure you would agree.

The idea that 'tricking' yourself into believing you are taking a more steady shot...actually makes you a 'better' shot, I might argue.

I think in hunting scenarios...most folks experience a certain degree of excitement (nerves, increase in heart rate and breathing) and those things can/will effect accuracy.

IF it is being suggested that a lower scope setting will not reveal the inherent movement we all have...(thus providing more confidence)...I'd say maybe for some folks.

But higher scope magnification doesn't 'cause' shakiness, it simply REVEALS what is already there. As concerns deer hunting at ranges under 300 yds. (most encounters), Minute Of Angle accuracy is simply not needed. So pick a scope setting that allows you good field of view and a reasonable presentation of the reticle on the animal. Remember too...that there is a difference in reticle size between 1st and 2nd focal plane scopes.

Now...when you start stretching distances...or when your quarry is smaller (Varmints) you'd be well advised to increase the scope magnification IMO. When the demand for precision is greater.... then the need to 'see' rifle movement is also.

Accuracy at distance requires the shooter be able to steady the rifle, control their nerves and breathing, not turn the scope down because you don't like what you see. You can't shoot MOA if you can't see MOA.

There are good reasons to use only enough magnification for the purposes of deer hunting however.

1. Better field of view. It's never a bad thing to be able to see more of the entire target area.
2. Better light gathering capability (actually just a better exit pupil).
3. Easier to find the game if a follow up shot is needed.
4. Novice shooters or those with trouble controlling their nerves 'might' be less disturbed not knowing how much they are actually moving around. I'm OK with that, but rifle movement is not caused by magnification.

Last edited by flintknapper; 10/31/19 02:12 PM.

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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648213 10/31/19 02:15 PM
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I keep mine on 9X, because that’s as high as all mine go. The better I can see something the easier it is for me to hit it.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648214 10/31/19 02:18 PM
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I won't argue that reducing the magnification will work for many, or probably even most hunters. But it's a crutch, not a cure, for less than precise shooting. The best option is to practice a lot and learn to control your nerves. If you don't have the time or inclination to do that, then turn your scope down.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648243 10/31/19 02:38 PM
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Years ago I had a Nikon 3.5-14 and shot a buck across a bit of a valley at 180 yards. There was a lot of brush between us but none that was in the way, or so I thought on 6x. I knew he was huge but his spread ended up at 14 1/4" so I turned up the scope to make sure he was legal. When I did so, at 12X I could now see this tiny redbud tree jutting out of a brush pile between us, and it was (Murphy's law) exactly in line with my shot. I was able to move and get a clear shot but I'd have never seen that otherwise. Like most 'absolutes', less is more does not always hold true.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648249 10/31/19 02:44 PM
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I started hunting, in my teens, with iron sights. Then I realized that my Dad and brother were killing more deer with their scoped rifles, and making good shots, even in dim light. Solution...got myself a 4x scope and used it for years. Then got a 270 and a 6x scope, and later a 3x9. All of that worked, but as the shots got longer and I got more competent, I went to variable scopes with higher top end magnification. Finally decided that I felt comfortable at 8 power, when in open areas and 4 in tighter areas. Tuesday’s hog was shot at 12 or 14 power. There was a little wobble when I put the scope on him, but the crosshairs were right where I wanted them when the rifle fired, and I watched the bullet snap him to the ground. Before I shot, I could only see about the top half of the hog, since he was in a low spot, and I don’t know if I could have made the shot or placed the bullet as well at 4 power. I needed a bit more precision, so I cranked up the scope.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648258 10/31/19 02:49 PM
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Ive hunted with iron sights and up to 16x. The 16x on my vortex is worthless in hunting situations and not very good ever. Most scopes I hunt with are 3x9 and I usually have them on 9x. Sometimes I will back it down to 6 or so but mostly only when its getting dark or really early. I have shot from the stand all the way on 3x several times but usually prefer more magnification if lighting permits.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648298 10/31/19 03:45 PM
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stir (in line with most of Dan's posts as of late)

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648309 10/31/19 03:56 PM
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True for most average shooters, however, excellent shooters with proper training, form and function will always benefit from better equipment and higher magnification.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648340 10/31/19 04:27 PM
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The variables are the best of both worlds. I like the general use of 6x for the field of view/target acquisition, but it’s also very nice to crank it on up to 12-14x once you’re on the animal if you have the time to do so.

I honestly feel 4x-6x is much too limiting in many shot situations. Certainly no need to limit oneself to that with all the great variable scopes available these days. It ain’t 1972 anymore.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #7648622 10/31/19 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Nogalus Prairie
It ain’t 1972 anymore.


Yeah, but I wouldn't mind going back. Simpler times.

Graduated High School that year coincidentally.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Blank] #7648640 10/31/19 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Blank
True for most average shooters, however, excellent shooters with proper training, form and function will always benefit from better equipment and higher magnification.


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Dan,

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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Nogalus Prairie] #7648644 10/31/19 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Nogalus Prairie
It ain’t 1972 anymore.


I assume you believe the human mind and body works much differently today than it did in 1972?


Dan,

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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648663 10/31/19 10:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Texas Dan
Originally Posted by Nogalus Prairie
It ain’t 1972 anymore.


I assume you believe the human mind and body works much differently today than it did in 1972?


I can honestly say mine does. I was 18 yrs. old in 1972. 65 years now.

Pretty much everything on the 2019 version of my body hurts. Or if it doesn't hurt, doesn't work.

The mind, well you've seen my posts here. 'Nuff said. wink


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648672 10/31/19 10:52 PM
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I use 2-7 and 2.5 to 15 more often than the others and most of the time those are turned down to the lowest setting or close to it.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: scalebuster] #7648687 10/31/19 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by scalebuster
I keep mine on 9X, because that’s as high as all mine go. The better I can see something the easier it is for me to hit it.


I was told this by a rancher I used to varmint Hunt with around Fort Stockton when I was a kid. He was the first person I met that built his own custom rifles and hand loaded. He had the first fiberglass stock I’d ever seen and one nice swivel chair varmint calling rig built to in the back of his truck. He used a 16X scope on a 6mm. I had a 4X scope on a 270 and liked what he was shooting much better. A shotgun was used if they got too close. I have always felt the same way about scope power. This man was pretty serious about his varmint hunting. His wife had a full length coat made out of white bobcat bellies.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648720 10/31/19 11:53 PM
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I keep my scope on 3x when walking to stand or sitting in stand. I crank it up to 9x for anything 100 yds or further. My old eyes need all the help they can get.


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Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648733 11/01/19 12:09 AM
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Low power to acquire target. Then all the way up for me. My NF goes to 16x for a reason. Aim small, miss small.

Re: Less is more when it comes to scope magnification [Re: Texas Dan] #7648738 11/01/19 12:15 AM
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I usually start out with scope on 4 power. If I glass and see an animal depending on distance the animal stops for a shot I will increase the power if need to.

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