Eye relief : how to set up on a rifle scope

Eye relief

One of the common questions amongst rifle users is “how to set up eye relief on a rifle scope?”.  Rifle users not only ask questions on how to set up eye relief, but they also want to know how to adjust it. Firearm recoil is one of the main reasons why eye relief is essential for your rifle scope. In this article, we will discuss changing the eye relief on the rifle scope. 

What Is Eye Relief On A Rifle Scope

What Is Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance your eye has to be from the rear lens to see the entire scene. Eye relief, to put it simply, is the space between an eyepiece’s closest surface and its farthest point, at which the user can see the entire object. 

A fixed-power scope typically has a diameter of 3 1/2 inches. For most variables, you’ll start at lesser power and roughly 2 1/2 inches at maximum magnification. On the spec sheets for variable scopes, the lower number is frequently suppressed, just the higher, more manageable number being given. Others give you both figures so you’ll know what to anticipate when the scope is up to its maximum power.

Eye relief is typically given as a range of inches while looking at or studying the manufacturer’s specifications. Since no two people perceive eye relief similarly, a range is supplied as a rough guide.

Eye Relief: Why Is IT Important With Rifle Scopes?

When talking about eye relief scope, we need to know why they are essential. When you set out to mount a scope, you must first check the eye relief of your rifle scope. This is because, no matter the size or gauge, almost every rifle or shotgun produces some recoil when a round or shell is discharged. The recoil can go from practically nothing to something considerably more forceful. Recoil is a factor every good shooter must consider when doing a scope mounting. 

The scope eye relief will affect how close the shooter’s face and dominant eye will be to the sight when a cartridge is fired using a rifle or shotgun equipped with a scope. The shooter may suffer a scope bite injury if they are close to their rifle when it fires and recoils. This can happen if the scope has a short eye relief, in the 2″–3″ range, which makes the scope very close to the shooter’s eye. So, if you plan on using your rifle efficiently, you should probably use a long eye relief. 

What is a Long Eye Relief Scope?

Although the length of a proper eye relief scope can go much, much further, a long eye relief scope is commonly defined as any scope with an eye relief that begins at 6 inches. Users may attach scopes on weapons with substantially greater recoils without worrying about being punched in the eye because of the enhanced eye relief. This implies that a scope can be added for precision shooting to pistols, rifles with limited sight options, high recoiling weapons like shotguns, and cartridges like the 375 H&H magnum.

Long Eye Relief Scope vs. Regular Eye Relief 

When selecting a scope for a particular shooting scenario, choosing the correct eye relief is essential. High magnification ranges are vital if you are a long-range shooter. It is also necessary if you are doing some competitive shooting. A forward scope mounting is not something you should pick.

You don’t want a scope right up in your face restricting your field of view if you hunt in rugged terrain or shoot close-range targets in cramped tactical scenarios.

Although it might seem obvious, you might not be aware that these factors consider eye relief. Unbeknownst to you, eye relief significantly impacts your shooting experience. The next time you provide a scope, don’t overlook it. Let us take a close look at regular eye relief and long eye relief. 

  • Regular Eye Relief 

Before discussing long eye relief scopes, let’s first discuss regular eye relief, which is the industry standard and ranges from 3.5 to 4 inches. The majority of rifle scopes are in this range.

The physics of optics provides shooters with the finest balance and comfort when they are in front of the scope base. Also, the physics of the field of view and magnification at this range play a role. In comparison to their lengthy eye relief competitors, regular rifle scopes will offer higher magnification capacities. These scopes are easily 10x and above.

For most shooters, 3.5–4 inches behind the sight is sufficient space to prevent bloodied eyebrows when their rifle recoils. The shooter is supposed to use these scopes with one eye open. The shooter’s field of view is reduced compared to longer eye relief scopes, plus the typically higher magnification range that these scopes feature.

The diminished situational awareness brought on by a constrained field of view isn’t a serious concern because most people utilizing these scopes shoot long-range targets in open spaces.

Compared to forward long eye relief scopes, rear mount regular eye relief scopes will make your rifle feel more balanced and easier to grip. To line up your shots, you won’t feel like you’re battling a heavy-nosed rifle.

As you change the variable magnification setting on a variable magnification scope, keep in mind that the eye relief will also change. To maintain a clean view, you will need to wriggle a little closer to your scope as your power increases.

  • Long Eye Relief 

Long eye relief refers to scopes with an eye relief of greater than 4.5 inches. Long eye relief is sometimes referred to as scout scope. Long eye relief is frequently used in forward-mounted barrels of rifles and shotguns. 

Unlike short eye relief, the benefits of long eye relief and installing a sight so far down the barrel outweigh any potential awkwardness. Below are some benefits. 


Finding your scope base sweet spot doesn’t need to stress your neck. A fun day at the range can last longer with less stress. With a forward-mounted scope, you can carry your rifle more comfortably. This is important if you need to carry it while hiking because you may do so at the rifle’s center of gravity. 

Ease of Loading Ammunition 

Second, a forward-mounted scope makes it simpler to load ammunition into your bolt action for subsequent shots.

Peripheral Vision 

Third, it’s essential to use forward-mounted scopes with both eyes open. You’ll be able to see peripherally if you use both eyes. You will find it simpler to engage your targets with a clear vision and the scope’s naturally wide field of view.

How To Set Up and Adjust Eye Relief On a Rifle Scope

This phase can be confusing because a scope’s standard eye relief is fixed. Move the scope tube forward or backward in the ring or rings if you want to change the eye relief to a setting that the shooter will prefer. This would help you get good eye relief. Here is how to set up and adjust for the correct eye relief on a rifle scope. 

Step 1 

The first step in getting the proper eye relief is for the shooter to close both eyes, shoulder the rifle or shotgun, and place their face on the stock as they would ordinarily do after the scope has been temporarily mounted in the rings. Then, with both eyes open, observe with the dominant eye what they can already see via the scope.

The dominant eye for a right-handed shooter is typically the right eye, while the dominant eye for a left-handed shooter is the left eye. It doesn’t matter if you are a standard dominant shooter or crossed eyes dominant, the above described method works well. 

Step 2

It’s vital to pay attention to what the shooter first sees. This is because if you stare through the rifle scope eye relief for more than 20 or 30 seconds, your dominant eye will try to refocus or adjust. Also, if you gaze through the scope at a specific object and notice a wide dark ring around the outside of the scope but can still see the entire reticle, then the rifle scope eye relief should be moved away from the shooters eye. 

Step 3 

Before you start shooting, ensure that The scope mount has been adjusted back in using the ring screws toward the shooter’s eye; if you look through it and see a dark ring around the extreme outside edge of the telescopic view and can only make out a portion of the reticle. 

Step 4

If you or the shooter can see the entire reticle and the target when looking through the scope, it indicates that the eye relief is adequate, and the scope should be marked in the rings at that precise location.

Step 5

Repeat this step until the scope eye relief is positioned so neither you nor the shooter can see any dark rings, spots, or the reticle in the field of view. This would make your shooting more accurate. 

Step 6

Finally, before shooting, use a scope level tool or any scope leveling tool to level the reticle if it isn’t leveled gently. After that is finished, you can use a scope mounting torque wrench to torque the scope ring to the ring manufacturer’s specs. Once again, ensure that the reticle is well positioned and level. 


If you are doing a lot of hunting with your rifle, you need to know what eye relief means. Regular eye relief is the industry standard, and the majority of rifles fall in this range. On the other hand, Long eye relief is frequently used in forward-mounted barrels of rifles and shotguns. So, when you are next considering buying a new rifle, be sure to read this piece first so you can brush up on your knowledge of eye relief.