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What is Field of View in a Rifle Scope?

Thanks to the advancements in scope technology, most firearm enthusiasts and hunters prefer to use an optical sighting device for their rifles, shotguns, and even their handguns. The reason for this is simple. Nowadays, rifle scopes provide a level of accuracy that’s unmatched with the traditional metal scopes or using no scope at all.

This post goes into the details of field of view in a rifle scope. What is field of view (FOV)? It’s the area you can see when you look through your scope. Depending on the physical attributes of your scope, like objective lens diameter, scope tube diameter, as well as magnification settings, the field of view changes. It is never as wide as what your natural eyesight has.

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Another reason why today’s firearm enthusiasts and hunters use a rifle scope is because of its ease of use. For instance, while the traditional metallic rifle scopes required the shooter to line up the front sight to the rear sight along with their target, with the latest rifle scopes, all you have to do is line up the reticle or crosshairs to the target, and you’re good to go.

Also, it is much easier to aim with the newer rifle scopes that are available in the market today than using no scope or the traditional metallic rifle scopes. But despite their popularity, there’s still some confusion when it comes to the different terms that are used when aiming with a rifle scope – History of Rifle Scopes and their Use by Sharpshooters.

One of the most asked questions by beginner firearm enthusiasts is, “What is the field of view in a rifle scope?” In the following lines, we’re going to take a closer look at what the field of view (FOV) is in a rifle scope, along with answering some other questions that are common amongst beginner firearm enthusiasts.

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What does Field of View Mean for a Rifle Scope?

The Field of View (FOV) is basically the measurement of a target in feet at 100 yards. In other words, this is what the shooter is able to see through the rifle scope from right to left while looking at a distance – How do you Adjust a Rifle Scope Up, Down, Left, and Right?

It is important to note that as the magnification is increased, the field of view will decrease accordingly. For instance, at 6x magnification, you will be able to see everything surrounding the target, while at 24x magnification, your field of view will be comparatively diminished since you will be focused more on the target.

When choosing a rifle scope, you will need to be sure that the scope does not give an effect known as “tunneling.” So, what is tunneling? – Choosing The Best Rifle Scope

This is when looking through the scope feels like you’re looking through a tunnel as you increase the magnification of the scope. This can be bad for your aim and will not allow you to get a clear shot at the target. This is why you should do your research to find a scope that does not give that tunneling effect while zooming in on a target.

Is Field of View Always Measured at 100 Yards?

As mentioned above, the field of view refers to the area that is visible when looking through the scope at 100 yards away. This field of view depends on the level of magnification of the scope setting.

In short – yes, for comparison purposes the field of view is always measured at 100 yards. That’s the number you typically can see when you look at the specifications of a rifle scope.

The higher the scope magnification, the smaller the field of view is going to be. There are a few things that can affect the field of view of a scope. For instance, you could have two similar scopes that give a completely different field of view. This is mostly due to the contours and shape of the glass that is inside the scope.

When choosing a rifle scope, you want to go with a make and model that has a higher field of view even at a higher magnification. Along with that, you will also want your rifle scope to have a constant field of view that’s in proportion to the level of magnification of the scope – What Is a Rifle Scope Bubble Level? – Best Level for Scope Alignment.

For example, if the field of view is 120 feet at 1x magnification, then you should expect it to be at 1/4thof that at 30 feet or 4x magnification. If you find that it’s more than 30 feet at 4x magnification, then you will be losing a 1x field of view.

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Do You Need a Large or Small FOV?

Most hunters should shoot game at ranges that fall between 50 to 150 yards. This means that the highest levels of magnification are not required while aiming most of the time.

But, what is required while aiming is a wider field of view along with a long eye relief when aiming, and for good reason. A wider field of view allows you to aim more accurately at the target, which is why a minimum of 1x magnification and a maximum of 2.5x magnification is recommended for a rifle scope while aiming at a dangerous game at ranges of up to 150 yards.

Yet, much of it depends on your personal preference and on the size of the game you’re hunting. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that larger magnification reduces the field of view significantly.

What Determines FOV in a Scope?

The field of view in a scope can generally be determined by the amount of magnification of the scope combined with the focal length of the eyepiece and target. Because of the varying level of magnification of different rifle scopes, the field of view also typically varies depending on the manufacturer of the scope – Best Rifle Scope Magnification and Power Range.

When choosing a rifle scope, it is important to note that the diameter of the objective lens should not be considered as a determining factor when it comes to finding the field of view.

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For instance, a large field of view is going to require a more sophisticated lens system in the scope to generate a crisp and clear image of the target.

Having said that, large objective lens diameter and scope tube diameter typically indicate a higher-quality scope at a higher price point. You will usually find that high-quality (expensive) scopes have a larger field of view, come with a larger objective lens, and scope tube.

The larger diameter of the objective lens and tube will impact the exit pupil of the scope which in turn will provide you with a brighter image as there’s typically better light transmission in larger-sized scopes.

You also usually get wider adjustment ranges for windage and elevation when you have a scope with a larger tube. The exit pupil will not determine the field of view. Neither will the eye relief.

There’s one thing to consider though. All optical qualities of your scope will be negatively impacted if it is mounted wrong.

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Is FOV Impacted by Magnification?

Magnification is basically how close you can view the target from a distance as compared to what is visible to the naked eye. For instance, looking straight down at a target range would be hard to see without a scope. However, when you do look at the target down the range through a rifle scope, the target becomes far clearer.

Needless to say, when it comes to rifle scopes (like the Vortex Diamondback HP scopes), magnification is an important factor to consider since it helps you aim at targets that are farther away.

That being said, it is also important for beginners to note that while magnification can help you get a closer look at the target, not using the right amount of magnification with your rifle scope can have the opposite effect. In other words, more magnification alone does not determine a higher level of accuracy. So, how does one find the perfect magnification for their rifle scope depending on their situation? – What is the Rule for Rifle Scope Magnification vs Distance?

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For those who are going to be using a rifle scope for the first time, it is important to remember that as the magnification of the scope increases, the FOV will decrease, and when the magnification is decreased, the field of view will go up.

A good example of this is the 3x variable scope, which is the most commonly found configuration. The 3x variable scope can have a field of view of slightly over 30 feet at the 100-yard mark, while at 9x of magnification, the FOV could be around just 14 feet.

It should also be noted that even a larger objective lens diameter is not going to make a difference in these numbers. That being said, the FOV could also be affected by the shape and the contouring of the glass that’s been fitted in the scope, which means that it is possible to have two different rifle scopes with identical specs but a different field of view – What Do the Numbers Mean on a Rifle Scope? – Guide to Scope Numbers.

The amount of magnification offered by a rifle scope is usually given in the product description and is marketed by the manufacturer to attract firearm enthusiasts – The Best Rifle Scope Manufacturers.

Magnification of 3x, 6x, and 9x are common when it comes to rifle scopes. Needless to say, the more the magnification, the further away you will be able to aim through the scope while shooting a target – Vortex vs. Leupold Rifle Scopes – Who makes the best optics?

Do all Scopes have the Same FOV at the same Magnification?

A field of view is measured in feet at 100 yards. This is the area that is visible to the shooter from left to right while looking through the scope at a target. As the magnification is increased, the field of view goes down.

Whether you are at a shooting range or out hunting, a higher level of magnification is desirable since it allows the shooter to get a narrow field of view while aiming. You also have the choice to choose between a standard fixed scope magnification or a variable power scope.

Scopes that have a magnification ranging between 3 to 9 in deer guns are considered to be a standard, but you can get scopes that have a higher magnification range. Usually, the higher the magnification, the smaller the field of view will be.

On the other hand, for handguns, a magnification range of 2x is considered to be standard. At the end of the day, the amount of magnification you wish to achieve with the riflescope is mainly going to depend on where you are going to use the firearm and what you are shooting.

Keeping in mind what we have learned about FOV and magnification in rifle scopes, the answer is a simple one. No, all rifle scopes are not going to have the same field of view at the same level of magnification whether it’s 2x, 3x, or 9x and above. It all comes down to the manufacturer of the scope.

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Final Thoughts

For those who have less than perfect eyesight, using a rifle scope is the best way to get the most out of your trips to the shooting range or while out hunting caribou. All you have to do while using a rifle scope is to adjust the reticle focus at the ocular or eyepiece according to your eyesight to get a clear picture of your target.

Since using a rifle scope is also extremely easy, there’s no steep learning curve for beginners or experienced firearm users who are trying out a rifle scope for the first time.

Click here for more information on scopes, red dots, holo sights, etc.

Aaron Bennett