What Is Eye Relief on a Scope?

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What is eye relief on a scope that question comes to everyone mind when I am going to buy or adjust it on the scope? Eye relief is one of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing a rifle scope. The eye relief will determine how far away you can be from your target and still have a clear view through the scope.

Eye relief also determines what type of shooting positions you’ll be able to take, like standing or sitting without having to hold the rifle too high up, which can cause neck strain.

Shooters need to know how far they need to hold their head back for an image of their target through the scope will be clear and sharp.

Why Is Eye Relief Important With Rifle Scopes?

There are many benefits of having proper eye relief with rifle scopes:

  • The most important reason is the safety of your eyes, which should always be a top priority for any shooter.
  • By keeping a safe distance away from the scope, you will protect yourself and avoid injury if something breaks or falls off of it while firing at targets in the range.
  • You will also reduce the risk of something falling on your lenses and breaking them.
Close up of a rifle with a mounted scope

Some shooters tend to place their face directly in front of a rifle scope, thinking it is more accurate when placing the crosshairs for shooting targets at specific distances.

However, this can be very dangerous because you are putting yourself close enough to get hit in the face by a rifle bullet if something falls off of your scope. Also, some scopes are not configured to be used in this manner and can cause you problems with accuracy or lead to injury when they get knocked out of alignment.

If the eye relief on the scope is limited, with the range of 2”-3” range, and the shooter is so close when the rifle or shotgun fires, then the recoil might drive the scope into their face.

How to Adjust Eye Relief on a Rifle Scope?

Adjusting the eye relief on a scope is often as simple as loosening two screws, sliding one lens over and tightening the screws back down. Many scopes only require this adjustment to be made once or twice during their lifetime, so it’s not a big deal even if you don’t know how to make those adjustments.

However, if your eye relief has been adjusted previously and you cannot get it back close enough for comfortable shooting, then there is a chance that the scope needs repair. Most issues can be diagnosed by looking through the eyepiece.

Most people don’t think about the distance between their eye and the scope until they are in front of these high-powered rifles with scopes that have very short eye reliefs (the distance between your eye and the scope).

When looking through a rifle’s scope, it is important to pay attention to how far away from the eyepiece you can put your face. If there isn’t enough distance between your face and the end of the lens, then this issue is referred to as “scope bite.”

Scope bite can result in a lot of damage and discomfort when the scope makes contact with your face. If you are looking through the eyepiece of the scope and notice that it is too close to your face, there might be something wrong with how it was adjusted on its rail or rings.

Man looking at his rifle scope

It’s essential that you pay attention to the eye relief and makes sure it is far enough from your face to not cause damage but close enough for a comfortable view of the target in front of you. Eye relief matters when shooting high-powered firearms with scopes.

The dominant eye is the right eye for a right-handed shooter, and for a left-handed shooter, it is the left. However, there are cross-eye dominant individuals, and in these cases, a right-handed shooter has a dominant left eye and vice versa.

Eye relief is the distance from your eye to the scope that provides a good view. Scopes and rifles come with different ranges of eye relief, which can be measure eye relief in inches or millimeters. The rule of thumb for people who wear glasses is to find a rifle scope with at least 3″ (or 75mm) of eye relief, so they don’t have to hold their head too close to the stock.

What Is A Good Eye Relief For A Rifle Scope?

A good eye relief should be 20 to 30mm away from your dominant and shooting eye.

You must know how much distance between your face and the end of a scope’s eyepiece before looking through it for more than five seconds because this can lead to damage or injury if it makes contact with someone’s face.

It is also important to note that while the manufacturers can give you a good estimation of what should be an appropriate distance, it doesn’t account for everyone. Every individual might have different eye relief preferences. A scope with poor or inadequate eye relief will likely cause pain after prolonged use even if properly set up.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created KeepGunsSafe.com with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.