A good hunting 'scope must meet severe requirements. The picture you see must be bright and clear out to the edges without distortion or color. Most 'scopes?good and poor?give a pleasingly bright picture in summer sunlight. Perhaps the best way to test the comparative brightness of two 'scopes when no special equipment is available is to set them up, pointed at a target, after sundown. Then take repeated looks through both as the light fails. The one with which you can see the target when the light is so far gone that you cannot see it with the other is the better of the two. With a good 4X hunting 'scope at dusk you will be able to shoot game that is invisible to the unaided eye. It is like looking through binoculars with cross hairs added to the field.
Since eyes vary from nearsighted to farsighted and are frequently astigmatic, the 'scope must have a means of adjustment to the individual eye. It must also have adjustments for elevation and windage?meaning vertically and horizontally?so it can be sighted in for the particular rifle and ammunition and the particular distance involved. These adjustments are most commonly provided by two turrets that house calibrated screws with "clicks" indicating the amount of movement. On low-power 'scopes, turning a screw one click usually means half a minute of angle?or changing the bullet's impact ? inch per 100 yards. Higher-power 'scopes are commonly equipped with quarter-minute clicks that mean ? inch change per 100 yards.
Though the 'scope with internal adjustments is the typical one, there are a few makers who provide 'scopes with mounts that move the entire instrument precisely instead of adjusting it internally. In trying out two of these I found there was little choice in precision between the adjustable mount and the internal adjustment.
HOW MUCH POWER?
The choice of power in a hunting 'scope is controversial. Formerly most hunters preferred 'scopes of 2? or 2? power, largely because the field of view is larger than with higher powered 'scopes. I have even known men who liked a 'scope of no magnification because the field is so large?nearly 100 feet at 100 yards. Such a 'scope might be most useful on a shotgun in the brush in states where rifles are forbidden for deer hunting. The trend, however, is toward 4X 'scopes. Some western hunters, shooting mostly at long range, have gone in for 6X. I like the 4X as the best compromise. The field of view is about 30 feet at 100 yards as against 40 feet for a 2?-power 'scope. But it has seemed large enough to me even at 50 yards.
There are several makers of good hunting 'scope sights in this country
at present, and most of them produce a variety of models. You can buy hunting-type 'scopes of 1, 2?, 3, 4, 6, 8 and 10 power. The W.R. Weaver Company makes a 'scope with powers varying from 2? to 5?a slight turn of a ring changes the power. A recent German 'scope offers powers of from 4 to 10. 'Scopes of 8 and 10 power are mostly used for shooting varmints such as woodchucks, crows and coyotes.
Years ago the best German sights were better optically than any of ours. This is no longer true. In testing several American makes against one of the best German 'scopes I decided that ours had the edge optically. Japanese 'scopes, which are also available and are produced by workmen, who get a dollar a day in our money, are beginning to offer competition. So far the Japanese instruments vary greatly in quality?some are pretty good and some are pretty bad.
CROSS HAIRS OR POSTS
Having chosen the maker and power of the 'scope you want, it remains to choose what is called the reticle or reticule, both words meaning the aiming device. Formerly most men preferred a flat-topped post, probably because it looked like the blade of the iron sight they were used to. Today most prefer cross hairs. They obscure less of the target than anything else that you can see as well. I like the kind that subtend?that is cover?one inch of the target per 100 yards. These hairs are easily seen in poor light and do not hide too much of the target. A flat-topped post?the flat top subtending or covering about four inches at 100 yards?is all right. But I've found it hard to "hold" above the game on a long shot with the post because it hides the target much as an iron sight does.
Some men like the center "dot," which resembles a round droplet of water. As far as I know, T.K. Lee, an expert rifle shot of Birmingham, Ala., put the dot on the market. He makes the cross hairs with thread from the female black widow spider (most makers use very fine wire for this). These are incredibly strong for their diameter, and when installed are so fine you can hardly see them. The dot, a droplet of a secret substance resembling shellac, covers the intersection of the cross hairs and seems to be floating unsuspended. It varies in diameter from a size that covers one inch at 100 yards to six inches.