Lever-action rifles are some of the most purchased hunting rifles used in the United States. Typically shorter, lighter and faster-handling than other types of rifles, the weapons are especially popular for hunting in densely-wooded areas. There are essentially two different types of scopes that can be mounted to lever-action rifles: short-eye relief and long-eye relief. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages depending on the needs of the shooter.
Short-Eye Relief Scopes
Short-eye relief scopes are designed for long-range shooting. These scopes are capable of greater levels of magnification than long-eye relief scopes, they are traditionally mounted on the receiver of the rifle near the shooter's eye. One disadvantage is the close proximity to the eye, which might be hazardous when shooting some of the heavier calibers. Another disadvantage is that these scopes require more time to acquire the target. This might be a liability in the close-range hunting typically done with a lever gun.
Selecting a Short-Eye Relief Scope
Shooters should avoid cheap, knock-off brands of optics. Almost all mainstream optics companies produce quality scopes that meet the shooter's needs. Expect to pay anywhere from $400 to $1200 -- in 2011 prices -- for a quality scope. The shooter must look for the maximum level magnification, the number of adjustment increments and the illumination of the targeting recticle.
Long-Eye Relief Scopes
Long-eye relief scopes are usually considered the preferred scope for mounting on a lever-action rifle; they are typically mounted forward of the rifle's receiver. Long eye relief scopes allow faster target acquisition, but do not possess the magnification of most short-eye relief scopes. Long eye-relief scopes are frequently referred to as "scout" scopes by the shooting community.
Selecting a Long-Eye Relief Scope
Most of the concerns with short-eye relief scopes also apply to long-eye relief scopes; the factors of durability and illumination become especially important. Select a scope that handles the abuse inherent to rugged terrain. Purchase a long-eye relief scope with the largest objective lens possible.
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images