If you’ve ever tried to buy a scope, you’ll find that eye relief appears in every model as one of the main features. And it is no surprise why.
In fact, eye relief can either make it or break it when shooting. If you pick the right one – you’ll enjoy your shooting to the max. But if you don’t – then you’ll regret it. And there are many reasons for this to happen.
The main one is that eye relief will tell you how far you should place your eye when looking through the scope.
If you pick something that puts you too close and the gun has a lot of recoil, then you may get hurt. And if you choose something too long – then you may not have as much precision as needed.
Of course, several other factors come into place here – so it is essential to know all about them. And that’s what we’re going to explain in this article.
If you want to know everything there’s to know about eye relief – then you’ll want to read everything we have here. So keep scrolling – you won’t regret it.
Whаt іѕ Еуе Rеlіеf?
To put it simply, eye relief refers to the distance between the eye of the shooter and the lens of the scope (or eyepiece). This distance is the ideal one to watch through the scope and see everything clearly, with no obstruction or distortion.
Without eye relief, shooters wouldn’t be able to focus correctly when looking through a scope. In fact, it would be like trying to see a television with a resolution that doesn’t fit the screen – so no matter where you sit – the image would be all distorted and impossible to figure out.
Apart from that, eye relief is measured in millimeters (mm) or in inches. Most eye relief measurements go from 4 to 100 millimeters or about 1 to 4 inches.
Why Does Eye Relief Matter?
So, if eye relief tells you how far to place your eye when looking through a scope – is it really that important? Well, of course, it is.
To test how vital eye relief truly is, let’s make a short test.
Look for any scope you have around (if you have any). Now try to look through the scope to anything either close or far away without distortion, obstruction, or just an image issue.
Could you achieve the right image? Probably you couldn’t. If you did, you were fortunate then.
Now, let’s go over a few different things that eye relief helps with. The first is image quality:
Most of the time, what you’ll see through a scope is the crosshair, and that’s it. The rest of the image will be so blurry that it would look as if the scope were damaged. But it isn’t – you’re just watching from the wrong distance.
If you’re watching from too close, then the image will not only get blurry but dark. The rings around the scope will start eating the image away as well as the crosshair until the visuals are so small that you can barely see through it.
That’s why eye relief matters. Because it tells you what distance to watch from if you want the fullest and clearest picture possible. And of course, that’s essential for shooting – if you want a comfortable time doing so.
But there’s still another factor to think about. Eye relief won’t only help to see through a scope well enough; it can also help to prevent high-caliber guns from causing damage.
If you have a .300 Remington Ultra-Magnum, then you’re likely to get tons of recoil. That means, once you shoot, the gun will push back towards your head. If you try to set your eye too close to the scope while shooting, then you may end up getting hurt. But of course, a long eye relief can prevent that.
Finally, you will also find that eye relief helps people who use glasses to aim better.
This happens because eye relief requires that you use no glasses at all. But in case you do – knowing how far you need to watch from will help you get to the right place if you have lenses.
Otherwise, you may end up never getting an ideal image. And that can be super troublesome when looking through.
Overall, we can say that eye relief helps with image quality, to prevent issues from recoil, and to help people with glasses adjust better to the piece. Without eye relief, it would be pretty hard to get any of these factors right.
How is Eye Relief Measured?
Now let’s explain how you can measure eye relief or how manufacturers do it.
But first, we have to explain how scopes work. All scopes, by default, have the purpose of magnifying the light that you see through the lenses. These lenses capture the light in front and pass it through a channel that converts the light into a cone.
This cone of light reflects into the eyepiece, which is where the user will see everything in front of the scope. Of course, the eyepiece can vary exponentially.
The eyepiece is usually measured in diameter (mm), and depending on the size of the eyepiece or “Exit Pupil,” manufacturers eventually calculate the eye relief.
Typically, the eye relief is directly related to the size of the eyepiece. The larger the eyepiece is, the larger the eye relief will be.
But of course, the larger the tube diameter of the scope, the more likely it is of high magnification. So, the eye relief will have to be large as well.
Manufacturers consider both the diameter of the eyepiece as well as the magnification options. Of course, different magnification levels also require various eye relief, so there are tons of features to consider.
In short, eye relief depends heavily on the scope size, magnification, and field of view. Next, we’ll explain how they all meet.
Eye Relief and Its Cousins (Magnification & Field of View)
Eye relief doesn’t work by itself. As we explained in the above section, it relies heavily on many factors. Here, we’re going to explain two of them: magnification and field of view.
Let’s start with the field of view (FOV).
Field of View
This is the amount of distance you’ll see through a scope. For example, if you’re looking at 100 yards away with a 10x magnification – then the field of view can be anywhere from 10 feet to 50 feet.
That amount of FOV will tell you how much you can see through the scope. The more FOV, the piece has, the more you’ll see around at such magnification.
It needs almost no explanation – it refers to how scopes help people watch things closer than they are. In other words, it is the power of a scope to get things closer through an image.
If a target is at 1,000 yards, then seeing it without scopes can be impossible. But if you have 20x of magnification, then you can see it as if it were at about 50 yards or even less.
Where They Meet Eye Relief?
So, how does the field of view and magnification relate to eye relief?
Well, the more you increase magnification, the less field of view you will have. And the less field of view you have – the less eye relief you will need.
What this means is, high-magnification scopes often get you close to things that are far away, affecting FOV. When FOV gets smaller, the fewer the things you can see through the scope – so your eye relief gets also smaller.
If there’s an object at 1,000 yards and you have a scope with 20x magnification, then you can get it as close as 50 yards. But if the eye relief was initially at 100mm with no magnification, then you will now get as close as 5mm to the scope if you want to see through it correctly.
Another way to put it is by saying that the level of magnification directly affects how much eye relief you will need. The more magnification a scope has, the closer you will need to get to the scope.
Of course, the field of view and the size also matter. So, even if you have tons of magnification, you may still don’t need to get too close as long as the diameter of the scope is large enough.
But still, the general idea is that more power demands less eye relief. And less power requires more eye relief.
For scopes with no magnification, the FOV and the eye relief will be the same – at all times. One example would be the scopes for handguns. There, you will need long eye relief with a decent field of view.
So, did you understand? Well, we hope so – let’s now go over the different types of eye relief out there.
Types of Eye Relief
It is not enough to know how eye relief works and how other features such as magnification & field of view affect it. You will also need to know about the different types out there if you want to get the most out of it. So, let’s get on with that!
Standard Eye Relief
The first type of eye relief, and the most common, is the standard eye relief.
This refers to riflescopes that offer between 3.5 and 4.5 inches – that would be around 50mm to 110mm.
A standard eye relief works well with scopes with high magnification over 10x – so they’re pretty useful for long-range shooting. Of course, they also work with the most potent guns – such as Magnum rifles.
Apart from that, standard eye relief helps with balance. They don’t add too much weight to the scope, so handling a rifle eventually feels easy. Aiming, of course, will be far more comfortable with a standard eye relief than other types.
But of course, you won’t have as much flexibility when it comes to getting comfortable. You will have to stick to the eye relief the scope says, and that’s it. And sure enough, this can affect the field of view as well as accuracy if you aren’t comfy when shooting.
But overall, this is the standard, the most common type of eye relief you’ll find. And it is also the easiest to use – but not the most practical.
Аdјuѕtаblе Еуе Rеlіеf
If you truly want something that adds convenience when using, then you’ll find no better choice than an adjustable eye relief.
It refers to those systems that you can adjust according to your needs and comfort. They usually work better with scopes at around 10x of magnification, but they also appear in all kinds of scope.
For those who want extra viewing capacity without losing FOV or comfort, then an adjustable field of view may come in pretty handy.
But of course, adjustable eye relief comes at a price – it makes scopes a little heavier, a little harder to use, and often more expensive.
Still, making the scope safer, more comfortable, and practical is worth all the drawbacks an adjustable eye relief may have.
Ѕhоrt Еуе Rеlіеf
Then you’ll find short eye relief. It refers to all those that need no more than 125mm or 5-inches of total eye relief. And they can go as small as 13mm or 0.5-inches.
These aren’t adjustable and often demand you to get pretty close to the scope, which can be somewhat uncomfortable.
Especially people who wear eyeglasses will find short-eye-relief scopes pretty tricky to use. The same will happen with rifles that produce lots of recoil, which can make it dangerous for users after the gunshots.
That’s why they’re mostly used for scopes on the low-budget category or scopes with tons of magnification mounted in rifles with low recoil.
They are not definitely bad, but they don’t offer the same advantages as adjustable or even standard eye relief offers. Luckily, they’re still pretty useful for those who want extra accuracy – as that’s what they offer the most.
Lоng Еуе Rеlіеf
Now we meet the long eye relief, referring to all those scopes that need at least 125mm or 6-inches in total space from the eye to lens.
It won’t be the best idea in case you want to shoot in a long-range – but can still handle decent distances.
The ideal use for an extended eye-relief scope would be in handguns or automatic rifles. Especially those with no magnification will massively benefit from using a long eye relief.
The advantage is that the crosshair or internal axis will not move as much, and the dark inner part of the scope won’t appear as much through the lens when you’re looking through.
They also offer a comfortable aiming position and allow users to adjust their distance from the scope according to their needs.
As a last benefit, they help high-recoil guns to be used more safely. You will have a smaller chance of wounding a brow using a long eye relief than using a short one.
Overall, they’re pretty useful for those who don’t want to rely on much magnification or want to fire high-recoil guns.
Guns & Eye Relief
Now that you’re somewhat familiar with the types of eye relief available let’s now explain how eye relief works depending on the gun you choose. And sure enough, how you can get the most out of it accordingly – here’s what we mean:
Handguns or pistols are those guns that you don’t hold close to the face. Instead, you keep them at arms-length – so they don’t need short eye relief. You will need long eye relief, or at least adjustable to long distances.
In fact, the eye relief on scopes for handguns is usually measured in several inches and sometimes even feet. You can find eye relief for this type of guns going from 10 inches up to 25 inches and more. That would be 2 feet in total of eye relief. And in millimeters, that will be more than 600mm.
Apart from that, scopes for handguns don’t usually have magnification. That’s why long eye relief is pretty common on those scopes. That way, you can achieve decent image quality without having to make an effort adjusting your eyesight to the eyepiece.
Using scopes with shotguns is similar to using a scope with a handgun. But it is not because you hold shotguns far from your face, but because shotguns have a broader accuracy. This means you won’t have as much precision with a shotgun as you will have with a rifle or handgun.
That’s why shotguns may also use long eye relief. They usually don’t require the shooter to take their time aiming and magnifying. Instead, they need more rapid movement and less care.
So, an eye relief of about 6 inches up to 10 inches can be ideal for a shotgun. You won’t hold the shotgun at arms-length like a handgun, so you won’t need too much either.
However, some users who like to take their time and aim correctly with shotguns may want a short eye relief. Anything about 3.5 up to 4.5 inches can be ideal for a shotgun – especially those with little recoil like 20-gauge models.
On top of that, shotguns don’t require much magnification either. You are unlikely to find this type of scope offering more than 3x of magnification – so adjustable eye relief is often not needed.
You can work well with short or standard eye relief on a shotgun’s scope.
Finally, we meet the real deal – the eye relief for rifles.
Here, you’ll find that it also depends heavily on the type of rifle. For example, some rifles with high-caliber magazines may produce a lot of recoil. In that case, you will need more eye relief. About 6 inches or 150mm would be enough for a high-recoil rifle – but for the most powerful ones that can be too little.
But if the rifle doesn’t produce too much recoil, then the shooter will rely heavily on accuracy. In this case, a short eye relief would be a better choice. Something offering about 3.5-inches or 90mm will be enough in this case – and you can go even lower for the smallest rifles.
Of course, most rifles work well enough with a standard eye relief of about 4.5-inches or 115mm. That will be ideal for working on a scope offering 10x of magnification and for activities that require looking as far as 500 yards or more.
For the best experience, some users prefer using adjustable models. They provide the ideal comfort depending on the user’s need and don’t require sticking to either long or short eye relief. However, they still have a limit of adjustment, and the adjustability may hinder magnification and quality.
But of course, it all depends on the quality of the scope in its entirety.
In short, almost any type of scope will work well enough for rifles, as long as it meets the user’s and rifle’s demands.
Choosing the Right Eye Relief
Now that you’re well aware of almost everything, there’s to know about eye relief – it is time you start considering picking or finding out the ideal option for your needs.
There are so many types and factors to think about that this may take a lot more time than you expect. But if you follow our advice and read this article thoroughly without leaving a single thing behind – then you’re likely to get a better product.
Still, picking the perfect eye relief is pretty tricky – so take your time. Don’t rush out without first knowing with certainty what you need and want.
We usually recommend trying a few scopes before going for your final choice. That would improve your overall experience in the end, and ensure that you’re sure of what you’re getting.
So, don’t let such a complicated feature keep you from buying a scope. Instead, use everything in this article and what you have learned from experience – and choose the right eye relief accordingly.
You won’t regret taking enough time when buying. A wise choice in this matter will make your shooting experience way better. So start learning now!