By: Wesley Oaks
Rifle scopes can cost as much as the rifle itself, and for good reason. A good scope can extend the functional range, accuracy, precision, and usefulness of your firearm. But just because it costs a lot and is said to be durable doesn’t mean you can just stick it on your gun and forget about it.
No one wants to be caught out hunting and discover his scope isn’t working. The following seven tips for maintaining your rifle scope can extend the life of the scope, protect your investment, and ensure that it works correctly for you when you need it most.
#1 Wipe It Down
The first and easiest tip for keeping your rifle scope in good working order is to give it a good wipe down every time you use it. Keep a gentle cloth handy when you’re out shooting and use it to rub off marks and debris from the outside of the scope before putting it away.
You may think that some marks and dirt won’t really impact the function of the scope, but that’s a dangerous assumption to make. Over time, buildup can really add up and attach itself to your scope, which can warp or corrode the part. A quick wipe down of the outside of the scope can make a big difference.
#2 Snug the Scope Rings
Firing the rifle can result in a lot of recoil, especially if you’re using a powerful caliber. This recoil is normally absorbed largely by the stock and your shoulder.
But that’s only if everything is attached properly. If your scope rings are loose, the scope itself ends up absorbing some of the recoil. This can break some of the fragile internal parts and make your expensive scope completely unusable.
It’s essential that you go through and snug-up your scope periodically. You may not need to do it every time you shoot, but I would err on the side of caution. A quick check of the rings prevents a broken scope.
#3 Clean the Lens
This is perhaps the most obvious tip, but it’s still important to clean the lens correctly. There are special cleaners, wipes, and brushes you can use to clean the lens. Do not just wipe it with a shirt or random rag!
If you don’t want to purchase a special cleaning kit, most experts agree you can get away with eyeglasses cloth and cleaner. Microfiber and the gentle spray are key. Anything too abrasive can scratch the sensitive lens and ruin your scope.
I recommend cleaning your scope every time you use it. Most rifle cases have some place to store extra things like cleaners. I would make sure the scope cleaning cloth and spray are in there for you to use every time.
#4 Transport with Care
Many people assume that once a scope is secured, you don’t have to worry about it coming loose, but that isn’t the case. Jostling and moving the rifle and scope can cause it to lose its zero or worse: be permanently damaged.
If you find you’re often losing zero on your rifle scope from transportation, here’s some quick tips to reset your scope to factory zero.
Always transport your rifle with care to protect the scope. When driving or moving the rifle, keep it in a padded gun case if you can, because the cushions absorb the bouncing motions of cars and carrying. If your hunting spot is off the beaten path (like mine is), it may be a bumpy ride to your property, and a cushioned case can be a big help.
As you’re walking or hiking to where you plan to shoot or hunt, take care where and how you walk. Take your time getting there, so you don’t fall or run the scope into anything accidentally. Leave earlier if you have to in order to make it to your blind on time.
#5 Don’t Forget the Batteries
Some of the nicer scopes use illuminated reticles. These can help extend your hunting time into the low-light times of the morning and evening. They are a top-notch feature that many serious gun enthusiasts like to include when they buy a scope.
These scopes often use a small battery to power the illumination, and while these batteries can last a long time, you still don’t want to be out there when the battery dies. Imagine it’s dusk when a monster buck comes across your blind. When you pull up your rifle, the scope’s battery is dead, you don’t get a good view of the buck, and you miss your chance. It’s every hunter’s worst nightmare!
Don’t let this happen to you. Checking and changing the batteries with regularity can help avoid this situation.
#6 Get the Right Stock Torque Settings
This tip doesn’t refer directly to the scope itself, but the stock’s stability does directly affect how long the rifle scope can be used. It doesn’t matter if the scope is mounted so securely that it’s basically welded to the rifle if the stock’s torque isn’t quite right.
An incorrectly set up stock won’t disburse recoil properly, resulting in extra pounding on the scope. Over time, this can cause the scope and break.
Look at the manufacturer’s recommended torque specs for the stock and match that as close as you can. Remember that for stocks, inch-pounds are used, not foot-pounds.
#7 Make It A Routine
All of these tips are great, but if you don’t make a habit of completing all of them, then none of them will matter. Rifles take a lot of pounding and abuse between the actual shooting and carrying it out where you're hunting.
Make these tips a regular part of your firearm maintenance routine, and your scope’s life is going to extend for a much longer time.
I recommend wiping your scope down, cleaning the lens, and transporting with care every time you use the rifle. Checking the batteries, snugging the scope rings, and checking your torque settings are something you can do every one to three months, depending on how often you use your rifle.
Have fun and keep shooting!
Wesley Oaks is a blogger at gungoals.org. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.