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Choosing a scope for rimfire plinking

Choosing a scope for your rifle comes down to many competing factors. There’s quality, availability, price, and often competing recommendations from friends, magazines or internet forums. One often overlooked variable is fit-for-purpose. IS the scope you’re looking at ideal for the type of shooting you want to do?

A 6-24×56 with Milrad reticle is great, but not necessary for scrub hunting in New Zealand. Equally inappropriate would be a 3-9×40 with duplex reticle on an F-Class rifle. While either situation could be made to work, neither would produce outstanding results.

I’ll be doing a series of articles on fit-for-purpose scopes, to help with choosing a piece of glass for your next project.

4x32 with torch
This simple 4×32 with attached torch is great for possum hunting and can be used for plinking as well. Not so great for target shooting.

Rimfire plinking

Shooting tin cans or pieces of paper on your own land, or just at the range for fun, does not require an expensive or elaborate scope setup. Often this kind of plinking is done open-sighted, but for those with failing eye-sight or those who just like to practice with optics, a low-magnification scope such as the Classic Rimfire range from Weaver would do the job well.

Rimfire scopes are often not made to stand up the recoil of centrefire rifles, so if you plan on swapping scopes between rifles, you should probably look at a low-magnification centrefire rifle.

If your budget is seriously lacking, you can look at the Kilwell Huntsman¬†or Nikko Stirling Mountmaster, both offered by Serious Shooters and various others. A 3-9×40 with duplex reticle, it’s all you need to get started. These are often the types of scopes included with package deals. You should eventually upgrade to something a bit higher spec if you intend hunting with it.

In the same vain, don’t buy cheap scopes off Trademe, unless you are looking for something for airsoft or paintball. I’ve checked these out and while a few are acceptable, many are sloppily built and have magnification ranges vastly different from what is stated, as well as adjustments that are inaccurate. These can do the job if you are buying your first .22, but do not attempt to hunt with these. Low-quality scopes can lead to unethical kills.