What scope power numbers mean?

1980te72lift

New Member
Apr 23, 2021
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Chicago, IL
Okay, dumb question from a novice. Scopes have three numbers so what do they mean and folks here talk about low power scopes on 30-30s so what would that be one good for up to 200 yards or so? And what would be the max power you'd put on a 336 30-30 and a 35? And I'm headed to a gun show this weekend and in case I want to try a used one need to know what I'm looking at. Some recommends? Thanks and sorry but I'm learning and you guys are great.
 

kidoggy

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Apr 23, 2016
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depends how far you are shooting and how good yer eyes be I guess.
mine are no longer what they once were.
I am good with open sights out to around 100-150 or so. with 100 probably being more realistic.
all my rifles with scopes ,I put the 3X9X40 vx-3 Leupold on them.
I seldom shoot past 400 yards and will only do so under perfect conditions with regards to wind , rifle rest and such.
imo, this scope is more then satisfactory for 90 % of hunters.
if your goal is to be one o them long range sniper hunters ,I would recommend, in the words of tim taylor "MORE POWER!!!!!!!!!!!! " ;)



I have two family members who are snipers in our military and while I have no desire to take such shots myself while hunting , I am in awe of their abilities to do so.

just be sure to put in a lot of range time before you do so ,if you decide that is you desire.

my best advice is to know the capabilities/ limitations of yourself and your tools and use wisdom in your choices.
 
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JimP

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Mar 28, 2016
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If you have 3 numbers on a scope then it is a variable scope, in that it will have one low magnification and then increase to the max magnification.

So if it was as Kid said a 3-9 not 3x9 the low end of the power will be 3x or 3 times bigger than looking at it with just your eyes, the 9x would be 9 times bigger. You would also have the whole range of magnification from 3x-9x by just turning the dial. For close shooting you would want it down on 3x, for long shots 9x.

The other number at the end of the numbers is usually a 40 or 50. This is the objective lens size in millimeters. The larger the number the more light gathering capabilities the scope will have. So a 50 is better than a 40 or so the theory goes.

For a 30-30 I would keep everything on the lower end, even out to 200 yards even if you need a scope. I hunt with a open sight muzzle loader and can make accurate shots out to 150 yards on deer size animals. Also a 30-30 is considered a close range rifle. 0-150 yards or a little bit further but not much more. The 30-30 round has a rainbow type trajectory once you get out past that 100 yard mark. What that means is that you have to point the barrel higher to get the bullet to impact where you want it to at further ranges.

If I was to scope a 30-30 I would be looking at a 2x scope on the low end and perhaps 7x on the high end or even a fixed power of 2.5x or even a 4x scope. A very exultant scope would be the Leupold VX Freedom 2-7x33. This scope has the low end 2x power and a higher end power of 7x but it has a smaller objective of 33mm. But unless you take shots at or near dark it should work fine.

The fixed power scopes will be cheaper than the variable ones are.
 
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kidoggy

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Apr 23, 2016
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If you have 3 numbers on a scope then it is a variable scope, in that it will have one low magnification and then increase to the max magnification.

So if it was as Kid said a 3-9 not 3x9 the low end of the power will be 3x or 3 times bigger than looking at it with just your eyes, the 9x would be 9 times bigger. You would also have the whole range of magnification from 3x-9x by just turning the dial. For close shooting you would want it down on 3x, for long shots 9x.

The other number at the end of the numbers is usually a 40 or 50. This is the objective lens size in millimeters. The larger the number the more light gathering capabilities the scope will have. So a 50 is better than a 40 or so the theory goes.

For a 30-30 I would keep everything on the lower end, even out to 200 yards even if you need a scope. I hunt with a open sight muzzle loader and can make accurate shots out to 150 yards on deer size animals. Also a 30-30 is considered a close range rifle. 0-150 yards or a little bit further but not much more. The 30-30 round has a rainbow type trajectory once you get out past that 100 yard mark. What that means is that you have to point the barrel higher to get the bullet to impact where you want it to at further ranges.

If I was to scope a 30-30 I would be looking at a 2x scope on the low end and perhaps 7x on the high end or even a fixed power of 2.5x or even a 4x scope. A very exultant scope would be the Leupold VX Freedom 2-7x33. This scope has the low end 2x power and a higher end power of 7x but it has a smaller objective of 33mm. But unless you take shots at or near dark it should work fine.

The fixed power scopes will be cheaper than the variable ones are.
to add to what jimp said concerning the 40 -50 mil diametors ... the 50 will gather more light then the 40 , this is true . though you will probably not even notice the difference except in poor light situations ( first light ,last light or dull grey days ) in those situations there can be a huge difference .

I say this simply because if you look through them in a store you probably won't see much difference .
personally ,I have never felt a need to go up to a 50 but that is just a preference . to each their own.
 

RICMIC

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Feb 21, 2012
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I find it odd that many are hyper-focused on reducing the weight of their rifle, some even getting to the sub-five pound weight, and then putting a mega-scope on top. There are advantages and trade-offs for everything you do. JimP covered it pretty well, and I agree that a 1x-4x, or a fixed scope up to 4x is ideal for a 30-30 or 35. I have the Leupold Freedom 2x-7x scope on my mini-30, and it is ideal on that rifle; inexpensive, lightweight, and reliable. I've had one rifle (338 WM) that had a 50mm scope on it when I bought it. After one hunt I sold it and went to a 42mm.
 

Rich M

Active Member
Oct 16, 2012
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I shoot 225 yards with 357 mag rifle and a fixed 4x scope. As my eyes get older, I find I like more magnification for target shooting. I'm comfortable at 250 yards with a 3-9 for target shooting and will quickly shoot 250 yards with 6x when hunting. A 2-7 or 2-8 or 3-9 scope is a really good mix for close to medium ranges (say 300 max).

A 30-30 with a pointed bullet is good for 300 yds IMO. 2-7, 2-8 and 3-9x40 will do anything that gun can do.
 
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bdan68

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Nov 13, 2013
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For a 30-30 I'd want to mount a scope as low as possible, so even a 40mm objective lens would be too big. I think something similar to the Leupold 1.5-4x20mm would be ideal. Such as this one:

 

Shane13

Active Member
Aug 8, 2012
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Abilene, Texas
The first two numbers are the magnification range. They're written with a dash between to represent the range from the low end up to the high end, such as 3-9 or 4-12 or whatever. That is typically followed by an X and then the 3rd number, which represents the diameter of the objective lens. So something like 3-9x40mm or 4-12x50mm, etc.... If you're reading it and want to sound like you know what you're talking about, you'd say, "three to nine by 40mm" (not three by nine by 40).

A .30-30 is a slow round, so you won't be shooting it at long distances. You could do just fine with a fixed 4X probably. I wouldn't put more than a 3-9X scope on it.