Choosing a Scope
Unlike rifles, your choice of suitable scopes may limited and can be expensive.  In FT, competitors are permitted to range find targets using high magnification scopes, but not dedicated lasers.  Once you know how far away the target is you can adjust your aim point to compensate.  To do this accurately the scope must have a magnification of at least 32X, but a higher magnification such as 50x will improve range finding.  There are 2 main types of range-finding scopes, those that have a sidewheel and those that have the parallax adjustment on the front of the scope.  Both work, but sidewheels are usually easier to operate and read the distance without breaking your shooting position.  The other advantage of a sidewheel is the ability to fit an oversize wheel that will give greater spaces between the ranges by virtue of its increased circumference, that doesn’t make rangefinding any better it just makes it easier to read the distance. 

Another aspect of scopes is the physical dimensions which can sometimes be misleading.  The objective lens diameter (the one at the front) determines how much light the lens collects and therefore how bright the sight picture is.  A big lens will gather more light than a smaller one of the same quality.  This can be really important on an overcast day or if shooting at dusk or dawn.  The important thing to realise is that not all lenses are equal.  Companies such as Leupold and Bushnell spend enormous amounts of money on developing special glass and coatings to maximise image clarity, resolution, and brightness and as a result, their 40mm objectives outperform most 50mm lenses on brightness and clarity by some margin.  With top-quality optics, you can see incredible detail at a long distance which may just be a blur on many others that have much larger objectives. The main advantage of a large objective lens is to give a shallow depth of field, this is something we rely on heavily for rangefinding.

So big is not always better, quality is usually the differentiator.  The scope tube is also generally available in 2 sizes, 25mm and 30mm but 34mm is starting to become more common.  The bigger tube is usually touted as better but in most instances, the extra dimension is used to give the turrets more adjustment range rather than to pass more light.  Many high-end scopes often have 25mm tubes but the quality of the internal mechanisms and lenses still mean they outperform 30mm tubes, so again don’t always believe that bigger is better. 


Choosing a Scope for general shooting
Not everyone wants to shoot FT and the scopes we use for competitions are pretty much useless for everything else.  If you don’t need to range find the range of scopes is much wider and much cheaper but it’s still worth going for quality, looking through a really clear lens which is bright and sharp is a joy, but obviously that comes at a cost.  For most shooters, a solid 4-16 magnification scope with an objective lens around 40mm that focuses down to 10 yards, has a 25mm tube, and a front parallax adjustment from a reputable brand is all they need.  £150-£350 will put you in this area. These scopes tend to change by the manufacturers fairly frequently so at any given time what’s goodwill change. On scopes below this point, they are often made with lower quality components and will fail much sooner.  A premium brand like Bushnell or Leupold whilst very expensive can last a lifetime if looked after whereas a really low-cost Chinese no-name scope may only last a year or two and we’ve seen a few that have failed on their first outing. 

Mounts
You’ve got a scope and got a rifle so you’ll need mounts to bring them together.  We tend to recommend either Sportsmatch or BKL mounts as they’re really well machined and grip the rifle solidly.  Single strap mounts are usually fine for PCP’s, double are better, but on a spring rifle, they need to be double straps to prevent the recoil from moving them.  Really low-cost mounts are often badly machined so the front and rear mounts are crooked and don’t keep the scope in line with the barrel or don’t grip the rifle rail tightly enough to prevent it moving.  The one-piece mounts for springers can be useful if you have a really heavy recoil on a springer but usually, they don’t fit PCP’s because they run across the cutout where you load the pellet so we tend to stick to 2 piece mounts as they’re more useful and can be used on most rifles.  You will probably need to shim the scope so many of us use Sportsmatch height adjustable mounts which puts much less stress on the scope than shimming, they’re expensive but have proven to be excellent mounts and are much easier to set up than packing bit’s of plastic film into the rear mount.

Don’t do the bolts on the scope tube up tightly, there’s supposed to be a gap between the body and straps and you’ll crush the scope if you do so only take them a maximum of 1/8th turn past finger tight, it’s only where they attach to the dovetail on the rifle they need to be torqued up to any degree.