What Is Scope Eye Relief? (How To Adjust It)

Eye relief of a rifle scope is the horizontal distance between the shooters eye & scope lens. Getting just the right amount of eye relief is very important for shooters to be able to shoot accurately.

Many manufacturers will list the optimal eye relief distance in their specifications. But we still recommend you manually measure with a tape measure or other measuring device.

Eye relief is one of the most misunderstood aspects of optics. In this post, we’ll teach you what is scope eye relief & how to adjust eye relief scopes! We’ll also teach you why there is no best eye relief for everyone. Some shooters want short eye relief, while others need much more space. Keep reading to find out more.

What Is Scope Eye Relief For Rifles?

picture demonstrating rifle scope eye relief

Scope eye relief is the distance from the outer surface of the eyepiece lens to the position where the exit pupil is formed. In simpler terms, it is the distance from the lens to the shooters eyepoint. When it comes to eye relief (also called eye box), you need to consider the below things.

  • Too little eye relief can result in severe injury if the rifle recoils while you are looking through the scope. This is often called a scope bite.
  • Too much eye relief can make it difficult to acquire and maintain a clear image. You will lose visibility of your target if your eye is too far from the lens you can also quickly lose light transmission into your eye socket.

When shopping for the best scopes, the eye relief should always be a very important factor. There is a reason why most manufacturers provide this information in their product specifications, so you can be sure that you are getting the right scope for your needs.

How Do You Measure Eye Relief Of A Scope?

If you want to measure the eye relief on your own scope there are a few steps to understand.

  1. The first thing you need to do is grab a friend & a tape measure.
  2. Assume your shooting position with your rifle scope aligned on a target.
  3. Then have your friend measure the distance from your eye to the scope lens.

Also, be aware that if you wear glasses that can also have an impact on setting up adequate eye relief. Glasses take up space and shorten the distance between the rear lens and your eyepoint. For this reason, people with glasses often opt to use a long eye relief scope.

Unfortunately, not all scope manufacturers can be 100% trusted. You may see a scope claim to have a 4.5″ scope eye relief, but in reality its closer to 5″. In my experience, this is especially true with cheaper scopes & optics. The recommended eye relief distance is about 3.5″-4.5″ for most shooters. This distance should help avoid scope bite & create a clear sight picture.

What Eye Relief Is Best For You?

All shooters will have to take their own personal situations into account before determining the best scope eye relief for them. There are several factors to consider before picking the best distance.

Factors Influence on Optimal Eye Relief
Firearm Type and Recoil Recoil: Heavier recoil demands longer eye relief.
– Action Type: Bolt-action rifles allow slightly shorter eye relief.
Caliber and Bullet Velocity High Recoil Calibers: Need longer eye relief to prevent injury.
Bullet Speed: Faster bullets require longer eye relief due to abrupt rifle movement.
Shooting Position and Style Prone vs. Standing: Different positions require different eye relief.
Quick Target Acquisition: Close shooting demands more forgiving eye relief for quick aiming.
Scope Magnification and Design Variable vs. Fixed Magnification: Variable scopes may vary in eye relief.
Scope Size: Larger scopes might have different eye relief due to design.
Personal Preference and Comfort Individual Anatomy: Facial structure affects comfort with specific eye relief.
Glasses/Sunglasses: Wearers might need longer eye relief.
Intended Use Hunting vs. Precision Shooting: Hunters need quick eye relief; precision shooters require consistent eye relief for accuracy.
Scope Mounting Height Mounting Height: Affects natural head position, influencing eye relief needs.
Recoil Pad and Shooting Stance Recoil Pad: Well-padded stocks can mitigate recoil, affecting eye relief.
Shooting Stance: Different stances influence shooter’s position relative to the scope.
Budget and Scope Quality Quality of Optics: High-quality scopes offer forgiving eye relief and clearer sight picture.

When Is Short Eye Relief Good?

There are several situations where you might want to choose a shorter eye relief scope for your rifle.

  • If you have a smaller rifle or one with no adjustable stock, a shorter scope can be a good choice.
  • High magnification range & long distance shooters opt for short eye relief
  • Great for low recoil weapons

This what makes short eye relief scopes great for AR-15s and other assault rifles. Another benefit of shorter eye relief scopes is that they tend to have smaller objectives, which can make it easier for more precise shooting in low-light conditions. However, one downside is that they provide less magnification than longer scopes, so they may not be ideal for long-range shooting.

When Is Long Eye Relief Good?

If you’re the type of hunter who likes to stick to high-recoil weapons, then you’re going to want a longer eye relief scope on your rifle. That way, when the gun recoils, your eye won’t be right up against the scope and risk getting hit. Be sure you know how to adjust your rifle so that you know how to align your rings properly. Tips like knowing how to level a scope go a long way to improving your accuracy.

When Is Medium Eye Relief Good?

Medium eye relief on a firearm is particularly advantageous in scenarios where shooters require a balance between the short and long eye relief options. This eye relief configuration is often preferred for riflescopes on rifles used in diverse shooting activities, such as hunting or tactical applications.

Here are the benefits of medium eye relief.

  • Allows for a comfortable and versatile shooting experience.
  • Accommodates various shooting positions without sacrificing the situational awareness that can be limited by short eye relief.
  • Provides enough distance to prevent scope-related injuries.
  • Offers sufficient proximity for quick target acquisition and enhanced accuracy in dynamic shooting environments.

Overall, medium eye relief is well-suited for firearms intended for multi-purpose use, where adaptability and a broad range of shooting scenarios are essential.

Which Scope Has The Best Eye Relief?

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is our favorite long eye relief scope for shooting long distances. It’s one of the best budget friendly long distance scopes on the market today.

FAQs – Eye Relief

What is the average eye relief on a rifle scope?

The average eye relief on a rifle scope is about 3-4.5 inches. But this can vary depending on the specific scope and the shooter's preferences. There is a mix of short and long eye relief scopes in our list of the best 300 win mag scope on the market.

What is the eye relief on a Burris scope?

Eye relief on a Burris scope is 9.2-12 inches, depending on the model. This means that you can position your eye at a distance of 9.2-12 inches from the eyepiece and still see the full field of view.

What size rings for Burris scout scope?

If you have a Burris scout scope, it has a 30 mm tube, so you need 30 mm rings to mount it. In fact, we have a list of the very best 30mm rifle scope rings that you can buy. Be sure to get rings that are high enough to clear the turrets on the scope.

Does scope tube size matter?

Tube size is definitely a factor when shopping for the best rifle scopes. Large scopes tend to be tougher and more durable than smaller optics. They also allow a shooter to have a larger range of elevation adjustability so they can dial in their shot from various distances.

Can you increase eye relief on a scope?

You absolutely can increase eye relief on a scope by using a lower magnification setting. For example, if you have a 4-12 x 40 scope and are finding that the eye relief is too short, try using the 4x or 8x magnification settings instead. This will effectively increase the eye relief by making the image appear larger and allowing you to move further back from the eyepiece. And if you are not familiar with these numbers on scopes, be sure to study up. You have to understand your equipment in order to use it best.

Does eye relief change with magnification?

The short answer is that eye relief changes slightly depending on your magnification. The longer answer is that it depends on the design of the specific rifle scope, telescope or spotting scope you are using. Some scopes have a little more or less eye relief at higher magnifications, but this varies from brand to brand.

The Bottom Line

Now you know everything there is to know about good eye relief. Not all scope setups are the same. You now know that the distance between your eye & the optic lens makes a big difference. Pick the best eye relief that matches your specific needs & weapon. Let us know which works best for you!

About the author

Charles Neser

I'm a life long hunter & gun lover. Currently pursuing my Master's Degree (M.Sc.) in Animal Nutrition at University of the Free State.

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