Is your scope's reticle focused? Your eye may be compensating for a slightly out of focus reticle without you realizing. Aiming with even a slightly out of focus reticle will cause eyestrain and result in aiming errors. This is how to focus a rifle scope reticle.
Is your riflescope's reticle focused? You will surely notice if the reticle is severely out of focus. Well, what if the reticle is only slightly out of focus? Would you notice then? Maybe not.
When you asked yourself: "My scope blurry when zoomed. Why is my rifle scope blurry at high magnification?", that is when your rifle scope needs to be focused only once-for YOUR eyes. If another shooter uses your scope, it must be refocused for their eyes. But how to fix a blurry scope? That is the purpose of this article.
Your aiming eye will compensate for a slightly out of focus reticle without you realizing it. Your scope's reticle may not actually be focused for your vision. Prolonged aiming with an out-of-focus reticle will cause eyestrain. Eyestrain may result in aiming errors.
If your scope's reticle is not focused, the reticle must be focused for you and by you. It is better to focus your riflescope's reticle before you sight-in than after.
Riflescope reticles are normally focused in the factory for 20/20 visual acuity. Since eyeglasses normally correct vision to 20/20 acuity, the scope reticle will still probably be in focus even if you do wear glasses.
Whether you wear glasses or not, focusing a scope should be checked before you sight in. Your visual acuity may have changed since your last vision test.
In this article, to make sure you can understand "How to Focus a Rifle Scope ", I will cover the following:
Reticle Focusing Systems
Riflescope reticle focusing systems only focus the reticle. They do not focus the image.
Your scope could have one of two types of reticle focusing systems. Both types focus the reticle by moving the ocular lens forward and backward.
The whole eyepiece bell is twisted to adjust reticle focus with one type.
The eyepiece is the section of the scope nearest the shooter. The eyepiece, which includes the ocular lens, runs forward or rearward on fine threads around the scope main tube.
With such fine threads, this type of system may require several twists of the eyepiece to adjust reticle focus.
However, once set, eyepiece reticle focusing systems rarely work out of adjustment because eyepiece reticle focusing systems include a lock ring at the forward end of the eyepiece to maintain the eyepiece position.
Only a focus ring containing the ocular lens at the end of the eyepiece bell is twisted to adjust reticle focus with the other type.
The ocular lens moves forward when the focus ring is turned clockwise and backward when turned counterclockwise. The rest of the eyepiece bell does not move with the focus ring.
With coarser threads, this system, sometimes called "fast focus eyepiece rifle scope", is quicker to adjust.
In a hurry, the reticle can be focused while viewing through the scope.
Also, since only one hand is required to adjust the reticle focus, the shooter's trigger hand can focus the reticle while the other hand continues to support the rifle in the shooting position.
However, focus ring systems do not have a lock ring. They are easier to adjust than eyepiece reticle focusing systems, but they are easier to get out of adjustment as well.
You can check the focus of the scope reticle at home or you can do it at the shooting range.
The reticle focusing operation is slightly different if done outside at the shooting range. The inside method of focusing a reticle is explained in detail first. The differences for the outside method will be explained afterward.
Check the current focus setting before you tamper with it; it may already be adjusted correctly for you.
Wear the same eyeglasses to focus the reticle that you will wear when you shoot if you wear glasses. Do not attempt to focus the reticle when you are tired.
Be certain the rifle is unloaded.
Bring the rifle to your shoulder and view a large area of plain, light-colored wall through the scope. The reticle must contrast with the color of the wall.
The wall must well-lit and not have any shadows, pictures, wallpaper patterns, or other distractions; nothing that will draw your focus to it.
(If you do not have a satisfactory wall, remove the lens caps, center a clean sheet of white paper in front of the objective lens, scrunch the paper back around the scope tube, and wrap a rubber band around the paper to hold it in place. With the paper covering the objective lens, point the scope toward a window or a lamp and view the reticle.)
View the reticle with your aiming eye for no longer than two seconds before you lower the rifle.
Resist your urge to view the reticle for longer than two seconds.
(Do not cheat. Viewing longer than two seconds gives your aiming eye the chance to accommodate the reticle. You do not want your eye to focus the reticle; you want to focus the reticle for your eye.)
The wall will be out of focus, but that is alright. You are focusing the reticle now; not the image.
Was the reticle in clear focus the instant your aiming eye viewed it? Look at something out side of the scope for a few seconds then look back to the wall and bring the rifle to your shoulder again.
Are you sure the reticle is focused? Do the focus check at least three times to be certain.
Does the reticle look fuzzy? Were both crosshairs sharp or was only the vertical or horizontal crosshair sharp?
Maybe the reticle seemed sharp but you still wonder if it could be even sharper. Perhaps the reticle became clear after you viewed it for a few seconds.
(Your eye was accommodating the reticle if the reticle was fuzzy when you first viewed it but became clear after a few seconds. That is why you should not view the reticle for longer than two seconds while checking its focus.)
In any of these cases, the reticle must be refocused for your visual acuity.
Do not change the focus setting if the reticle was clear the instant you viewed the wall through the scope. The reticle is already focused for your vision.
If your scope has an eyepiece reticle focusing system and the reticle focus was good, all you have to do is check that the lock ring is securing the eyepiece.
(If your scope has an eyepiece reticle focusing system, do not confuse the power ring with the eyepiece lock ring if your scope also has variable power. The power ring has numbers around it. The eyepiece lock ring is smaller and does not have numbers.)
Hold the eyepiece with one hand. Do not let it turn if the focus was good.
Turn the lock ring counterclockwise until it is snug against the eyepiece with your other hand. The lock ring may already be snug, but you should check it anyway. You are done if the reticle was in focus.
There is no lock ring to tighten on a focus ring system. You can leave the focus ring where it is or you can install a pop-open lens cap to hold the fast-focus ring in place. The lens cap body must be snug and must extend past the focus ring to grip the eyepiece bell.
Focusing the reticle with an eyepiece or with a focus ring require slightly different techniques. Since focusing the reticle with a focus ring (fast-focus) is easier than eyepiece focusing, it will be explained first.
Focus Ring Reticle Focusing
To focus the reticle with a focus ring, remove the lens caps and turn the focus ring all the way forward (clockwise).
Bring the rifle to your shoulder, point it at the wall, and view the reticle.
Forget the two-second viewing rule for now. If the reticle is not in focus, slowly turn the focus ring counterclockwise.
Is the reticle getting sharper? Good.
Keep turning the focus ring counterclockwise. Stop when the reticle looks sharp.
Close your eyes to rest them for a few seconds.
Now open your aiming eye, looking through scope both eyes open for two seconds.
Lower the rifle.
Was the reticle in focus the instant you opened your eye? If not, turn the focus ring 1/2-turn counterclockwise and view again.
Stick a sliver of tape on the top of the focus ring as an index mark if the reticle was in focus.
Turn the focus ring two turns counterclockwise.
Raise the rifle to your shoulder and view through the scope again.
The reticle will probably be out of focus now. That is okay.
While viewing through the scope, slowly turn the focus ring clockwise. (Clockwise this time.) Stop when the reticle is sharp. Rest your eyes again.
Now, applying the two-second viewing rule, look at the reticle again.
Lower the rifle.
Was the reticle in focus the instant you viewed it?
If not, turn the focus ring 1/2-turn clockwise and view again.
If it was in focus, stick another sliver of tape on top of the focus ring. (You should have two slivers of tape on the focus ring now.)
Turn focus ring clockwise half way to where the first sliver of tape would be on top.
The focus ring should be in the mid-range between the two positions where the reticle seemed to come into focus.
Take another two-second look at the reticle. If the reticle is in focus the instant you see it, take a break for a few minutes to rest your eyes.
When you return from your break, raise the rifle and give the reticle another two-second view. The reticle focus is set for you if the reticle was sharp the instant you viewed it after you return from your break.
One of the advantages of a focus ring system is that it does not have a lock ring that must be loosened before making focus adjustments. On the other hand, a disadvantage of a focus ring is that it does not have such a lock ring.
There is no lock ring to tighten to hold the setting after the focus has been adjusted.
There is usually just enough internal friction to hold the focus where you set it.
Fortunately, refocusing so precisely as described above before every shot is not necessary.
Until your vision changes noticeably, setting the focus ring somewhere within the range you just determined should be sufficient for most of your shooting.
Since you have just gone through so much trouble, you should have a way to quickly return to your focus setting.
Apply a dab of paint, correction fluid, or fingernail polish to the top of the focus ring to mark the position.
After the paint dries, you could install a pop-open lens cap to hold the focus ring in position.
Eyepiece Reticle Focusing
The eyepiece reticle focusing system is adjusted slightly differently than the focus ring system just explained. The reticle is focused by turning the whole eyepiece to move the ocular lens forward or backward.
Holding the lock ring with one hand so it does not turn, twist the eyepiece counterclockwise to loosen it from the lock ring.
Since most eyepiece focusing systems are at the 20/20 setting with the eyepiece nearly full forward, you should start from the full forward position.
Holding the eyepiece this time, turn the lock ring forward (clockwise) as far as it will go. Now turn the eyepiece clockwise as far as it will go too.
Stick a sliver of tape on top of the eyepiece as an index to help you count turns of the eyepiece.
Bring the rifle to your shoulder and view the reticle for two seconds.
The reticle will probably be out of focus for you at the full forward position. The reticle has probably gotten fuzzier. That's okay; the whole point of this exercise is to focus the reticle anyway. Besides, the full forward position is a good place to start.
Turn the eyepiece one full counterclockwise turn while you hold the lock ring with your other hand.
Raise the rifle to your shoulder.
Do not attempt to view the reticle while you turn the eyepiece. Do not view the reticle for longer than two seconds.
Doing so will allow your eye to accommodate the reticle giving a false focus.
Remember, you must focus the reticle to your eye; not your eye to the reticle.
Also, the eyepiece threads are so fine your aiming eye will probably fatigue before the eyepiece is focused if you continue to view the reticle.
View the reticle for no longer than two seconds.
Lower the rifle after each view.
Did the reticle get any sharper after just one turn? Not sure? The eyepiece threads are so fine you may not notice a difference after just one turn.
Twist the eyepiece one full turn counterclockwise at a time. Hold the lock ring in place so it does not turn.
Count each turn of the eyepiece using the sliver of tape as an index.
Raise the rifle and view the reticle only after you have made a turn.
View the reticle for two seconds after each full turn of the eyepiece.
Is the reticle getting sharper? Turn the eyepiece counterclockwise one turn at a time viewing the reticle between turns until the reticle is sharply focused.
Give the reticle as many two-second views as you need between turns to be certain the reticle appears sharp.
When the reticle finally is sharp, mentally note the number of counterclockwise turns from the full forward position.
Continue turning the eyepiece counterclockwise one turn at a time after the reticle is sharp. That's right - keep turning counterclockwise.
Remember to count the turns. Check the reticle after each turn. Look for the reticle to start going out of focus again.
Eyepiece threads are so fine it may take two or three turns before the reticle starts going out of focus again. Stop when the reticle just begins to get fuzzy again.
Take several two-second views of the reticle; as many as you need to be certain the reticle is slightly out of focus.
Do you remember the number of eyepiece turns since the reticle first appeared in focus?
Turn the eyepiece clockwise half that number of turns.
Now the eyepiece should be just about half way between where the reticle first appeared in focus and where it began to get fuzzy again.
It is okay for the sliver of tape to be at the bottom of the eyepiece if the focus range was an odd number of turns.
View the reticle. Is the reticle in focus the instant you view it? Set the rifle aside and take a break for a few minutes to rest your eyes.
Be careful not to disturb the eyepiece position. Do not turn the lock ring yet. Just take a break.
When you return from your break, raise the rifle and view the reticle for another two seconds. Is the reticle still sharp after you rested your eyes?
If the reticle was sharp the instant you viewed it after your break, the reticle is focused for you.
You can set the lock ring to hold that focus position now.
Stick a sliver of tape on top of the eyepiece if the first sliver is not on top.
Hold the eyepiece where it is with one hand.
Turn the lock ring counterclockwise with your other hand until it is snug against the front of the eyepiece.
Holding the lock ring still this time, turn the eyepiece 1/8-turn counterclockwise.
Hold the eyepiece again and turn the lock ring counterclockwise snug to the eyepiece.
Now, holding the lock ring, turn the eyepiece clockwise tight against the lock ring.
The sliver of tape should be close to the top again. Do not be concerned if the sliver of tape is not exactly on top.
The eyepiece threads are so fine it will not make a noticeable difference if the tape is not exactly on top.
There! The reticle is focused and the lock ring is set. Remove the sliver of tape.
You are done.
How to Focus a Rifle Scope Reticle At The Shooting Range
Focus the reticle at home if you have a suitable wall. Get it out of the way if you can before you head to the range.
However, you could focus the reticle outside at the shooting range if you do not have a suitable wall at home.
The procedure will be the same except you must use the sky as your featureless background instead of a wall.
Some sunlight is required to focus the reticle outside. A clear blue sky is preferred.
Do not look directly at the sun.
Be certain your rifle is not loaded.
Aim above the tops of the trees.
There must be no distractions in the field of view (FOV).
Crank up the magnification to narrow the FOV if your scope has variable power.
Focus the reticle as described previously depending on whether your scope has an eyepiece or a focus ring system.
You should recheck the reticle focus at the range even if you focused it at home.
Is the reticle focused now? Good!
Now you can proceed with boresighting and zeroing.
Thanks for reading this article and I hope it has helped you to learn more about "How to Focus a Rifle Scope Reticle".