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Speaking objectively, some scopes have an adjustable objective. This allows you to focus better at varied ranges, and requires adjustment (depending on how far your target is from your scope). This can help make some lower-priced variable scopes more dependable as far as point-of-impact goes, but again it usually means that a higher mount is required, which can make the rifle top-heavy.
Adjustable objectives are useful mainly for long-distance and/or precision shooting. So, if you are just going hunting, you probably won't need a variable. However, the choice it up to you.
*Weaver rifle scopes offer a range of scopes with adjustable objectives.
At first glance, a larger objective (or forward lens of a scope) seems to make sense. After all, larger objectives gather more light, which in turn makes for a brighter view—especially in low-light conditions. Yet, many experienced shooters object to super-size objectives, claiming those extra millimeters are meaningless.
When all is said and done, 40mm seems to be as big as you want to go. At dusk or daybreak, any good scope will gather enough light to allow you to sight into dark, brushy areas and see much more detail than you can see with the naked eye. What's more, larger objectives have a some drawbacks (because the line of sight is higher, the scope must be mounted higher on the gun—this makes the gun top-heavy, more difficult to sight and tougher to handle).
In a nutshell, smallbores can make for a big scoping challenge. Like a kid with ADHD, they can have focusing issues. You can get a feel for the optical challenge of scoping a rimfire by using your binoculars. When you focus on an object at, say, 100 yards, you'll see that the binos remain in reasonably sharp focus as you look at optics at greater distances – just like the scope on your big-game rifle works. Hwever, when you look at closer objects, the focus becomes fuzzy. And,, the closer you focus, the fuzzier things become.
What do you see when you refocus your binoculars at about 10 yards? You see that the short-range focus is so critical that you are out of focus when viewing something only a few feet nearer or farther away. Bummer. Why is this a problem for rimfire shooters? Because you usually shoot a smallbore at close ranges, where focus is critical. To top it off, this whole problem is made worse because you tend to shoot your rimfires at constantly changing distances.
There are a lot of things that can happen to a bullet on its way to the target. That's why, when sighting a target through a scope, shooters are comparing point of aim to point of impact. Simply put, when firing a bullet from over 600 yards, where you are aiming is not going to be where the bullet lands.
All sorts of variables work on a bullet during its long flight to the target. Ideally, shooters want point of aim and point of impact to be the same. They line up these points with fine adjustments to the scope once range, heat, and windage have been factored into the shot.
The simplest solution is to use low-magnification scopes. This is because lower-power models have greater depth of focus—meaning they are more forgiving than optics of higher magnification.
We can see this at work with a variable-power scope simply by setting it at low magnification and seeing how the close-distance focus is sharper than at the high end of the magnification range. This, of course, is why scopes made specifically for rimfire use are almost always of modest magnification, usually 4X or even less.
The general rule of thumb when you are buying a scope for a big-game rifle is to pay about as much for the scope as you do for the rifle. But did you know that this rule applies even moreso to buying a scope for a rimfire?
Believe it or not, the optical demands of rimfire shooting are actually greater than those of shooting at long range with big-caliber rifles. You can pick up a quality rimfire scope from any number of makers (including Weaver, Bushnell, and Leupold).
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|