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Old June 14, 2019, 02:23 PM   #1
idek
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your optimal magnification for off hand precision (updated for clarity)

**Update**

I posted my original question a couple days ago, and, looking back on it now, I realize I really asked two different questions...
1) what is your preferred magnification...
2) what magnification gives you the optimal precision...

My intent was to focus on the second question, but I did a poor job of it, and so responses reflected two different lines of thought. My apologies for that.

The answer to the first question could be very dependent on size of target, shooting distance, terrain, etc. For example, 6x may give someone better precision, but for a deer at 50 yards, 2x is good enough for it not to matter.

The second question eliminates many of the other considerations (I think). Forget FOV, how big the target is, and so on. Basically, if you want to place a shot with the most precision you can (from an offhand position), what magnification are you most apt to choose?

Some people have mentioned that lack of a steady hold and trigger control limit most people's precision more than sights do when it comes to off hand shooting. That's exactly the point of this post. I'm curious as to what point people feel that increasing magnification is still improving their shooting precision.

*for a little more clarification, I didn't want to focus on Olympic style stance, because I don't shoot that way. And when I referenced a hunting stance, it wasn't because I wanted to turn it into a hunting topic, but because I thought everyone could visualize the type of stance I meant if I called it such (and because I don't know of a better name for it).

Last edited by idek; June 17, 2019 at 01:14 AM. Reason: clarification
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Old June 14, 2019, 03:08 PM   #2
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Little more info required .

What are you hunting ? What gun and caliber of gun ? What will be expected distance ?
Hunting tree squirrels requires a different set up than when hunting wild hogs .
The devil's in them pesky details .
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Old June 14, 2019, 03:19 PM   #3
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My usual elk hunting rifle is chambered to the .35 Whelen, scope a Burris FFII 3x9X. Seems like every time I've gotten a shot at an elk the scope was set a 3X. The one elk I used my 30-06 the scope was also set at 3X. The one very long range shot (for me)the scope was set at 9X, but the elk were totally unaware of my presence and I had more than enough time to change power setting. The last deer I remember shooting the scope, a 2x7 Leupold was set at 2X. I hit the deer but an accident prevented me from recovering the animal. That was almost 19 years ago. It seems probably 95% or more the scope was set at it's lower power when using a variable.
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Old June 14, 2019, 04:55 PM   #4
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Almost all my scopes are 4-12 power.
I carry them on 2 power.
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Old June 14, 2019, 05:02 PM   #5
HiBC
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My minority opinion is that it just does not matter much. For nearly all of us,its our ability to hold and squeeze that limits our ability to shoot offhand at elk,not magnification. 2 X or 3 X are adequate to place shots on big game animals at offhand ranges,generally speaking.
Within reasonable limits,I don't agree that moderately high magnification will show too much wobble and mess you up.
The wobble is there,regardless.Not seeing it does not make you shoot better.
For myself,10X or 12X works fine offhand.however!! Reduced field of view of high magnification makes it ore difficult to acquire the target In extreme cases,its tough to place a shot in a scope field of brown blur.

My favorite hunting rifle for most purposes in Colorado has a 6X by 42 mm Leupold on it. I have never found that scope to be a hinderance in the woods.

Some folks would disagree.You can turn a variable down,but with a fixed magnification scope I'd call 6X a good max,and many prefer 4X

Having said all that,I do not think magnification is the key factor. IMO,its far more important the rifle/scope is set up to fit you.

Tape a target,elk pic or a dot,on the wall,or,walk in the woods.Pick a target with your eyes. Close your eyes.Shoulder the rifle.Open your eyes.
You should be looking through the full field of view with the crosshairs on the target. Too many folks use big scopes that require tall rings.

Is eye relief correct?


If a rifle/scope is set up right,you can follow the critter with your eyes and shoulder the gun like wingshooting a pheasant. For myself,3X or 6X does not matter much.


My fixed X scope is never set on the "wrong" power. Its always the same.That makes it easier to estimate range and Kentucky a little bit

Last edited by HiBC; June 14, 2019 at 05:07 PM.
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Old June 14, 2019, 06:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Almost all my scopes are 4-12 power.
I carry them on 2 power.
I haven't figured out how to do that yet.
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Old June 14, 2019, 06:53 PM   #7
NoSecondBest
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HiBC pretty much got it right. It doesn't really matter as far as working. It's just that it messes with your head until to tune it out. Shooting big game while hunting, a very good power regardless of the distance is 4-6x. You get a decent amount of magnification and the field of view is generally decent as well.
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Old June 14, 2019, 08:15 PM   #8
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Most of my scopes are 3-9X40's with a few 1-4X or 1-6X scopes thrown in. I used to like 2-7X scopes, but anymore just use 3-9's or 1-4's.

For really fast close range shooting something with 1X on the bottom is amazingly fast and accurate, much more so than irons or dot sights. The difference between 1X and 2X on the low end is substantial. I could never really tell any difference between 2X and 3X on the low end and that is the reason I stopped using 2-7's.

I've shot game offhand with scopes set on 2X scopes at near 200 yards and would feel comfortable shooting big game with any of my 1-4X on scopes on 4X out to 400 yards. I like more magnification (3-9X40's) for smaller targets and shooting at the range, but wouldn't feel handicapped at all with a 1-4x or 1-6X scope for big game hunting. At least out to 400 yards which is about the limit of my skills.

I ALWAYS leave mine on the lowest magnification, and usually make the shot at that setting. I've had a couple of situations where I cranked the scope up to take a possible longish shot only to have game suddenly pop up at under 30 yards and have trouble finding them in the scope. I was able to make the shot once, the other time it cost me a chance.

But how a scope fits your eye and rifle are important too. I've always thought a fixed 6X would be too much magnification for the way I hunt. But my brother bought a fixed 6X SWFA target scope on a 30mm tube recently. The FOV is pretty wide and just playing around with it at the range it may have changed my mind.
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Old June 14, 2019, 09:04 PM   #9
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3x9x40 and always carry it on 6x for deer with a 30-06. A squirrel gun would be 4x in 22 lr because you're shooting shorter distances.
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Old June 15, 2019, 02:51 AM   #10
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Quote:
My minority opinion is that it just does not matter much. For nearly all of us,its our ability to hold and squeeze that limits our ability to shoot offhand
I'm sorry, but I have to agree with this one statement more than anything else that's been said.
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Old June 15, 2019, 05:23 AM   #11
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Look at it this way: 4x is adequate magnification for distances suitable to the normal shooter's ability to make an accurate offhand shot in a hunting scenario.
You don't have to be able to count the animals eyelashes to place a killing shot on the vitals.
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Old June 15, 2019, 07:10 AM   #12
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4x for .22
6x for 30-06

I am a Luddite and like fixed power scopes on hunting rifles. They are far less mechanically and optically complex so for less money I get brighter optics in a more rugged package. Provided I’m right about the magnification.

For range work, zooms up to 18 or even higher.

I recently put a little Simmons 4x scope on a 10/22 build. I think I paid $28 for it, yet I am extremely happy with it.

My 6x is a Burris because sometimes I am not a cheapskate. After years of use, 4x might have been better but 6x has been fine.

Last edited by stinkeypete; June 15, 2019 at 07:21 AM.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:04 AM   #13
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How 'bright' the scope is, is more important than the magnification.
4x is my preferred magnification.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:15 AM   #14
CarJunkieLS1
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I use 3-9x40's alot on my hunting rigs, I always carry and use them on 4x I've shot as close as 20 yards and as far as 117yards on a running coyote and 4x was more than adequate for every situation I've ran into hunting.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:18 AM   #15
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I like to keep my 3-9x scope on 4x when walking slowly in lightly-wooded areas and 6x for walking in open areas and in blinds where we might shoot as far as 300 yards, but as close as under 100 yards.

In an open area, I feel comfortable shooting offhand with 6-8x at ranges between 100 and 200 yards, but have been gifted, being steadier than many of my shooting buddies and have done well at various turkey shoot matches over the years.

At 76, I've noticed that I'm not as steady as I was at my peak, but still get the job done.

The "clutter" that I've seen in many recent scope reticles lately might be confusing and be detrimental to quick offhand shooting, but it's whatever you're comfortable using.

Setting a rifle up so it comes up quickly and in perfect alignment with the scope for full image without changing head position is very important, but if anything is a little off, offhand setup at lower powers should align more quickly than at the highest powers.
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Old June 15, 2019, 10:10 AM   #16
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When hunting the long range rifle had a 4x14. While hunting never had it set above 4x, and 300 yd shots were common. Out of an elevated stand with a bench. For closer in off hand, have 1-3x or 2-8x scopes, and they are set on lowest power.

Go to the range and shoot off hand quickly at 100 yds on higher power, then try it with higher power. For me, a HUGE difference between 2x and 6x. Then try at a closer range, say 50 yards. See how quickly you can even find the target set on 6x, then try a 1 or 2x.
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Old June 15, 2019, 12:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
So speaking from a precision standpoint only...
the OP is not asking about hunting, so, I would answer for precision when shooting OFFHAND (which I take to mean standing, unsupported) it would be the highest power that the shooter can hold consistently on the target.

And that's going to be a bit different for each of us, and different for all of us, over time. At 20, I was a lot steadier an offhand shot than I am now at 60+.

When the crosshairs jump off my target because of my heartbeat, I need a rest, or a lower power, and probably both. Breathing, I can control, heartbeat, not so much...

Got a 6-18x variable on my .22-250. 18x is nice for close looking at the target but tough to be steadiest (for me, even on a rest), and then there is the high power heat shimmer, to. To LOOK, I crank all the way up, to SHOOT, I go back to 9x or lower.

So, get a variable, and stand there, aiming (shoot if you want) do it at every power setting possible, and you'll find out, for yourself, what the highest power you can accurately use offhand, is.
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Old June 15, 2019, 01:14 PM   #18
T. O'Heir
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Like HiBC says, it has nothing to do with the magnification. It's whether or not you can shoot off hand.
"...limited stability + high magnification = a shaky image...." Nope. The high magnification just makes the shake more visible. You also have a much lower FOV. And you're physical ability to hold an 8 pound or so rifle up and still matters too.
"...a variable..." Will be heavier, thus changing the balance of the rifle. Most shooters put 'em on one 'X' and leave it there anyway.
"...heartbeat, not so much..." Sure you can. Diet, exercise, enough sleep, etc., etc.
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Old June 15, 2019, 03:13 PM   #19
zeke
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Quote From original poster

"To begin with, my internest is not so much in formal, Olympic-style shooting but rather the type of stance one would likely use when hunting."

Kinda sounds like hunting to me, but he appears too be somewhat contradicting himself.
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Old June 15, 2019, 06:44 PM   #20
RaySendero
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For hunting:
2 rifles are iron sights
I also use a 2.5 and a two 4X fixed.
Use all variable scopes set on lowest power.

But for targets and competition I have not seen the upper limit.
Was shooting a 22LR silhouette match with scope full 24X.
One of the top US shooter was next to me shooting 50X !!!
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Old June 15, 2019, 10:54 PM   #21
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I use a fixed 3x power Nikon scope on my AR. Is more than adequate magnification for me. Any more than that and I do get that shaky image thing going on.
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Old June 15, 2019, 11:44 PM   #22
TimW77
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Too many variables!!!

Although too many variables, in general, without these variables or for an "all-around" or "do-all" scope...

I like 1X up to a maximum of 2X on the low end and 1X (or 2X) per 100 yards depending on the game...

So, my 1.1-4X, 1.5-6X and 2-12X are ideal FOR ME...

T.

Last edited by TimW77; June 16, 2019 at 01:45 AM.
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Old June 16, 2019, 10:22 AM   #23
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Quote:
"...heartbeat, not so much..." Sure you can. Diet, exercise, enough sleep, etc., etc.
No, you can't. Diet, exercise, enough sleep, etc., can have an effect on your heart rate, but unless you're some kind of mystic fakir you can't "hold a beat, let it half way out, shoot, then finish letting out the beat" the way you can with your breath.

I have heard some people talk about "learning to shoot between heartbeats"
Not something I've mastered, I guess.

Quote:
"To begin with, my internest is not so much in formal, Olympic-style shooting but rather the type of stance one would likely use when hunting."
Quote:
Kinda sounds like hunting to me, but he appears too be somewhat contradicting himself.
Might sound like hunting, but isn't.
so, remarks about spotting and hitting various game at range, or where to set your variable in the field don't really address his question.
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Old June 16, 2019, 01:38 PM   #24
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My limit is 5x for offhand/standing field position, while shooting at stationary or swinging targets @ 100 yards with a hunting rifle.

I found it extremely difficult for me to pick up a close range spooked/running whitetail deer with the magnification set at 4x.
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Old June 16, 2019, 05:08 PM   #25
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I don't hunt, but for offhand target shooting any magnification greater than 3-4X is not necessary and probably counterproductive.

If you can hold very hard offhand (I can't) you might be able to use higher magnification.
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