Why Is My Rifle Scope Blurry? [Troubleshooting Rifle Scopes]

New and even experienced shooters are likely to encounter a blurry scope at one point. But is this a major problem & can it be fixed? As it turns out, a poor scope image can significantly impact accuracy and target identification. Aside from the firearm itself, the scope is the most important accessory in your shooting arsenal. In this post, we’ll cover what creates a blurry scope image and how you can fix it!

Blurry Scope Reticle

image of a blurry scope reticle

Many hunters and new shooters skip a very important step – getting their rifle scope focused. They simply mount their scope and ignore their target distance and reticle focus. Don’t make this mistake!

A blurry scope image & poor reticle focus can significantly impact your accuracy. In the sections to come, we’ll cover exactly how to fix this very common scope issue.

How To Fix It?

If you’re a beginner & don’t understand the basics of rifle scopes, use our guide to get your scope dialed in!

Step #1 – Get Set Up

Before you jump to making a ton of adjustments, you need to get everything setup. Here are some basic tips.

  • If you wear contacts or glasses, put them on.
  • Remove all caps that cover the adjustment knobs on your scout rifle scope.
  • Unlock your adjustable eyepiece so that you can make adjustments later on in the process.

Safety Tip: Make sure your firearm isn’t loaded & never look directly into the sun or another source of bright light.

Step #2 – Eyepiece Adjustment

Turn your eyepiece all the way counter-clockwise. Once you cannot move it any further, stop and move on to the next step. Note that some scopes may require some force to rotate the eyepiece.

Step #3 – Find A Blank Backdrop

aiming a rifle scope at a blank target

Pick a white wall or other blank target to aim at. Get into your regular shooting position and look through the scope for the first time. Is the reticle blurry?

Tip: Do not pick a dark target or your reticle will be difficult to see.

Step #4 – Relax Your Eye Muscles

After you have identified that your reticle focus is off by aiming through the scope, quickly move your head away. Do not aim through the scope for too long or your eyes will start to adjust. Let your eye muscles relax before looking again. This rule holds true for the Top LPVO Rifle Scope and other types of high magnification optics!

Step #5 – Dial In Your Eyepiece

Rotate the eye piece clockwise & re-check the reticle quality.

Is it still blurry? If so, remove your eyes again, wait a few seconds, then repeat the process.

Step #6 – Lock In Your Settings

Once, you have your settings just where you want them, lock your adjustment knobs. Many shooters even mark it with a contrasting color marker so they don’t need to repeat this entire process if their scope looses focus.

Making Parallax Adjustments

image of a side focus scope adjustment knob

A parallax adjustment is the apparent shift in the position of an object/target viewed along two different lines of sight. Believe it or not, it can affect the accuracy of your shot if not corrected. Luckily, most of the best rifle scopes come with a parallax adjustment knob.

Parallax setting adjustment tips:

  • Pick a specific distance to adjust your settings. Make this distance as close as possible to the actual distance you plan on shooting during a hunt or on the range.
  • Rotate the adjustable objective bell feature until your scope and reticle are crystal clear on the target at the specified distance.
  • If you plan on shooting from far longer or far closer distances, you may need to adjust this feature again!

Do I See A Mirage?

Have you ever aimed through a rifle scope, only to realize that what you thought was your target was actually just a mirage? Most long range shooters have experienced this at one point. All of a sudden the reticle or target seem blurry and wavy.


What’s the cause?

Mirage is caused by the varying temperature of the air, refracting the light and creating an illusion that can make it difficult to accurately aim your shot. In other words, the scope or the target are very hot.

There are limited options to fix a mirage for long range shooting.

  • First, try adjusting your position. Even small movements in direction & position can change the intensity the mirage.
  • Let your scope & rifle cool down – Your best bet is to simply take a brief brake in-between firing off rounds. Let your rifle scope cool and the mirage should dissipate.

General Rule of Scope Adjustments

Have you ever wondered why some rifle scopes cost more than others? If it is not already obvious to you, not all rifle scopes are created equal.

One of the biggest factors in price is adjustability. More expensive scopes often have a greater range of adjustability, allowing the shooter to fine-tune the scope for their specific needs. Review this list of premium Rifle Scopes for Coyote Hunting if you want top of the line gear!

These finite adjustments are especially important for long-range shooting, where even the slightest miscalculation can mean the difference between hitting the target or missing it entirely.

However, price tag doesn’t always equal quality & performance. Many of the Best Low Light Budget Rifle Scopes I’ve used were cheap and performed great! So don’t break the bank trying to get the “best” scope. However, you should be aware that many of the cheapest scope options will have limited ability to adjust reticle focus & other important features.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do rifle scopes have focus?

Yes, almost all modern scopes have a focus adjustment feature. This is most commonly called a parallax setting & it allows a shooter to focus their scope to their specific vision and eye sight. A cheaper rifle scope may not have the parallax setting knobs that allow you to adjust to the proper focus.

Why does my rifle scope fog up?

Generally speaking, your rifle scope may fog up from excessive moisture and condensation in the air. When it is hot out, the lens coatings are often cooler than the dew point of the air. This will result in fog appearing on your scope lens. You can also clean rifle scopes with a lens pen.

Does the focus on a scope affect accuracy?

Yes, the focus on your rifle scope will affect your shooting accuracy. An out of focus scope will be very difficult to shoot precisely from medium to long range. We always recommend taking the time to focus properly so that a shooter can be confident when they look through the scope.

Can you Unfog a scope?

Technically, you should not have to unfog your rifle scope. The scope itself is sealed and backfilled with an inert gas. Therefore the fog is only on the outside and will dissipate as the scope warms up to match the temperature of the shooting environment. You can always wipe the lens with a soft cloth if our running low in time.

The Bottom Line

By now, you should clearly understand that a blurry image or blurry reticle is not something that you want! In fact, it is a major issue and something that you should get fixed right away. Follow our step-by-step process to focus your scope lens and start shooting like a pro!

But this is not the only issue shooters encounter on their rifle scopes. Check out our post on fixing canted scopes if you want to learn how to diagnose and correct even more common scope issues!

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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