If you want to improve your aim while shooting across long-range, you’ve probably been introduced to scopes. While rifle scopes negate iron sights’ sight limitations, they are relatively more prone to damage, but how fragile are they?
How Fragile Are Rifle Scopes?
Rifle scopes are relatively fragile but can still withstand falls, handling, and low impact if you get a premium model. The scopes’ settings, however, can get altered in transport, accidents, and manhandling. You should learn to reset, reposition, and recalibrate the scope to avoid inconvenience.
In this article, you will learn the three scenarios in which your rifle scope might get damaged. For each, you’ll discover how vulnerable your scope is and will find out why the myth of fragility exists.
Finally, you’ll find out the best durable rifle scope brands and how you can take care of your piece to avoid extensive damage.
How Can a Rifle Scope Get Damaged?
Fragility doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are specific threats an object is vulnerable to for it to be labeled as fragile. Since scopes are only slightly fragile, it means there are merely a handful of scenarios in which the rifle scope might get damaged. Below are the three key ways your scope might be adversely impacted.
Dropping a Rifle With the Scope On
When you’re not actively shooting your rifle, you may get careless handling it. Over a decade, you can expect the rifle to fall from your hands or high places at least one time. The question is, how dangerous is this for the scope?
If the scope is well made and the eye-piece is nested in a sufficient non-metallic cushion, the scope remains relatively unharmed. The objective lens is at the highest risk of receiving damage if your gun falls with the scope on.
If the scope side hits a hard enough surface, the lenses might crack. Otherwise, they might get loose and begin rotating internally.
Holding the Rifle by the Scope
Sometimes, you can’t correct instinct, and it is too tempting to handle the scope, especially when you’re not in the firing position.
Riflescopes are not at a high enough risk here, and you’ll only affect your zero. Expect to reset the zero to the desired position if you accidentally grab the scope.
If you handle the scope by mistake, the zero will shift slightly, but if baggage handles are transporting the rifle, you can expect most turrets to drastically off by the time you receive the gun.
Still, one can’t call the scope fragile in this instance as the “damage” is mostly reversible and done to the settings and not the scope’s structure.
Using a High-Powered Rifle
When you fix a scope meant for a lower impact rifle on a higher-powered one, you are setting it up for more bumps, recoil, and movement than it is intended for. In such a case, your scope is almost guaranteed to get damaged before its average lifetime.
One way this damage occurs is when the assembled parts loosen up enough to let air into the scope tube. This can cause significant damage in the long run as humidity can condense on the inside, making the scope useless.
To avoid this fate, you should make sure your scope compliments the gun you use it with.
Why Do People Think Scopes Are Fragile?
From the section above, you can glean that scopes are quite durable. This begs the question as to why they garnered a reputation for the fragility in the first place.
Some factors contribute to the myth of scopes’ fragility, and one of those factors is their constant comparison with iron sights. Iron sight is an aiming device entirely made of metal with fewer components.
These are great for short-distance aiming and are much more durable than scopes. Therefore, the comparison highlights scopes’ fragility, but this is only in a comparative sense and not a functional aspect.
Wood, for example, is more fragile than iron. That doesn’t mean you cannot have a wood cabin. Functionally, wood is tough enough to function for construction.
We shouldn’t judge scopes by their comparative durability but a functional one. Most modern scopes are durable enough to function atop the rifles they are made for. The keyword here is “modern.”
That brings us to the second reason novices might believe scopes to be more fragile than they really are—first impressions.
When scopes were first introduced to the market, they had fewer protective measures and would easily break if dropped or handled roughly.
Despite years of research and development, word spread, and manufacturers, they have not been able to outrun the stigma of beta scopes. To an extent, the initial criticism was a godsend as that forced manufacturers to make durable hunting scopes.
Durable Rifle Scopes To Consider
By now, you understand that scopes’ durability is often underestimated, and you may want to purchase one. However, you cannot buy a second-hand scope or one manufactured too long ago.
You also shouldn’t purchase pieces made by manufacturers with less than two years of market history.
When you buy from an established brand, you know the manufacturer is invested enough in its reputation to avoid making fragile pieces just to make a quick buck.
Buy exclusively from brands that, for them, their reputation is more important than the profit they make from short-term scope sales.
To simplify this, we have compiled the following list of brands that match the above criteria:
- Hensoldt: Over a billion dollars in annual revenue with a multinational service proposition
- U.S. Optics: More than 28 years of market history in the optics field
- Nightforce Optics: 29 years of market history in the optics field
How to Take Care of Your Rifle Scope
Once you have procured a high-quality scope, you should take care of it to avoid unnecessary impact from falls and mishandling. Moreover, getting a custom turret can simplify the settings, making it easier to reset to zero.
Finally, you should use the scope with the rifle power it is meant for. As long as you take care of the above, your scope will remain unharmed.
Final Thoughts: How Fragile Are Rifle Scopes
Riflescopes have been unfairly labeled as fragile because of their comparison to iron sights, which are more durable. From a functional perspective, good scopes are durable and can last a long time as long as you avoid mishandling them.
All in all, buying a scope from a reputable brand and using it with the right rifle can sufficiently offset the piece’s vulnerability.
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