Why is My Rifle Scope Blurry?

Reviewed by Rob Monster
Rob Monster

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Blurry-Rifle-Scope

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Hunters get some satisfaction when they aim and lock their target. There is nothing better than having your target at the center of the field of view. You know you will hit the target once you fire. But, there are times when tilting your head, repositioning the rifle, or anything else doesn’t give you a clear image. The image through the rifle scope is unclear, and the reticle is blurry. This could be because of some problems with your rifle scope.

There could be numerous reasons for the rifle scope to be blurry. Dirty lenses, blurry reticle, issues in the vision at high magnification, focusing for parallax, mirage are some of them. The following article will help you to deal with the issues mentioned above.

Lenses are unclean

Just like any other glass, lenses also attract a lot of foreign substances, especially fingerprints. These alien substances on the lens are the cause for hampering the image’s clarity through the lens. Thus, the sight picture through the lens becomes a blur. The solution is to clean both the lenses of the rifle scopes regularly. You can clean the lenses using specially made wipes for glass or by using a tool called a scope brush or lens pen. The scope brush or lens pen is a tool that has a fine brush on one end and felt-tipped flatter brush on the other end. Turn the scope upside down, so the gravity works in favor of the cleaning process. Then, use the fine brush to clean the ocular end and eyepiece end to remove the foreign particles and dust from the lens.

Using the delt tipped end, gently run it over both the lenses to remove streaks, fingerprints, and watermarks. You don’t need any damp cleaner with this approach. Moreover, this approach works very fine. If you don’t get satisfactory results after using the lens pen, you should opt for a liquid cleaner. Start with putting a small drop of water and then gently rubbing it over the lens. Further, clean the leftover water on the lens using a cloth, tissue, or any dedicated fabric used for lens cleaning.

Blurry Reticle

This is one of the most frustrating causes for rifle scopes owners- an out of focus reticle. The reticle needs to be appropriately focused for your eyes to view a clear image. Assuming that your eyesight remains constant, these settings are done only once. If, over time, your eyesight changes, then the scope setting needs to be changed again. If you lend your rifle scope to someone else, they need to set it according to their eyesight. Further, you have to recalibrate it once you get it back.

Follow the below steps:

  • If you are a person with glasses, wear them.
  • If your scope has eyecups, remove them.
  • Release the lock of your rifle scope if it consists of a locking mechanism
  • Don’t directly look at the sun. This can cause severe damage to the shooting eye.
  • Twist the eyepiece out that is in the anti-clockwise direction all the way.
  • Select a blank background. You are not supposed to focus the scope viewing the target. Identify the blurry reticle looking through the scope.
  • Relax your eye muscles. Rotate the notch of the eyepiece and quickly look through the scope again to identify the reticle. You have to be swift so that your eye muscles don’t adapt to the blurry reticle.
  • Repeat the above step until you get a perfectly sharp reticle.
  • You also have to take care of the diopter setting, if your scope has one. If your scope has multiple users, use a marker for your specific settings.
  • After the reticle is sharp, black, and crisp, it is correctly focused. If you don’t accurately focus the reticle, it can cause you eye strain.

Blur Image during high magnification

Scopes will also be used at high magnification. Many scopes tend to use their clarity when used under high magnification. There is a clear scope image at lower magnification or short distance targeting but, loses the sigh picture quality on magnification proves that the issue is linked with parallax. This is when the images are shaky when the target is too close. The scope manufacturer may place factory settings at a point probably 150 to 200 yards. These scopes will have a magnification power of less than 10.

Shooting targets for a short distance will cause them to be blurry, affecting the image quality. To fix this issue, alter the rifle scope’s magnification settings to lower to see if the image quality is hampered. Another reason could be scope manufacturing. Cheap scope models are built with low optical power. Thus, they cannot stand high magnification power. It is always preferred to buy a high-value scope depending on the use.

Focusing on Parallax

Modern rifle scopes have variants that have either fixed focus or adjustable focus. Focus and parallax are two different features, but both somehow contribute towards image clarity. A rifle scope with fixed focus or fixed parallax will have a fixed preset focus (usually in yards). Most fixed focus scopes are manufactured with a scope of 50 yards or 100 yards. If you look at the target with fixed focus, the scope image will not be clear even with the lowest power setting. For example, if you own a rifle scope with parallax set to 50 yards and try to see a target at 35 yards, it will not be clear or concise. The reason is if the focus is set 50 yards, then a target 35 yards away is out of focus. This is why scopes with adjustable side focus or with side parallax adjustment are more preferred.

The focus or parallax of a rifle scope with adjustable focus or adjustable parallax can be altered through an ocular bell or a side focus feature. The parallax of the adjustable models is measured in yardage. While using these models, the parallax yardage needs to be matched with the target’s distance (in yardage). So, for a target 50 yards away, the parallax needs to be adjusted at 50 yards theoretically to get a clear image. If the shooter or hunter does not match the parallax yardage to the yardage of the animal or target, then the image quality is degraded, and the sight picture is unclear.

Managing Mirage

Mirage is the illusion of water or steam in the air from a distance due to the sun. It is one of the most likely causes for blur scope image and has nothing to do with your rifle scope settings. Mirage can appear at any distance, be it long or short. So, how to fix this? One of the primary ways to manage changes in the heat is altering the magnification power. The potential of scope will be definitely affected due to mirage, but reducing the magnification might help focus better.

The aim of reducing the magnification is that high-magnification tries to capture wavy illusions. Thus, the image will be shaky and not precisely on the target. Under low power, the scope is at least steady in the target area. The other types of mirage can affect close-range focus too. They are barrel mirage and suppressor mirage. The heat waves that the gadget radiates can also affect the image quality leading to uneven focus.

Conclusion

Dealing with a blurry scope is not a challenging task. It will help if you have a good understanding of the working of the scope. This will give you an idea about where and what needs to be adjusted. If there is a problem in manufacturing the scope, there is nothing you can do about it. Ensure the lens and the focus are on the same line to have crisp images. Following the above guide will help you find the real issue with the scope and also find a solution to it as soon as possible.

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