How To Set Parallax on Rifle Scope: Our Top Tips

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Learning how to set parallax on a rifle scope is an important thing to know, especially when it comes to accuracy.

As a natural movement that occurs when aiming your scope, adjusting for the motion is essential.

This guide will discuss what parallax is, how you can prevent it, and what adjustments are best for shooting at a distance.

What Is Parallax?

There are multiple ways that parallax can be defined, but it generally occurs when your head shifts when aiming your rifle.

Some suggest that it’s the natural bobbing of your head, while others say parallax is most noticeable when you purposefully move your head.

Regardless, it’s a common issue that can be problematic in many instances.

To better understand parallax, it’s best to imagine yourself aiming down your rifle scope and looking at a target.

Light first enters through the objective lens and is then transferred to a prism.

Next, it is reflected through the ocular lens so that you can see the target.

When looking into your scope, you’ll also see a reticle between the target and your eye.

If you’re shooting at a distance (often more than 150 yards), your brain adjusts your vision to compensate for this distance.

You might notice that your reticle will look blurry until you adjust your viewing angle.

This process can also lead you to adjust your head so that you can get a better, clearer view of where you’re shooting.

This step is where parallax occurs, the time when you’re adjusting your viewing angle to get a clearer image.

Unfortunately, the blurriness can cost you an accurate shot and can often be impossible to change without parallax correction.

Do I Need to Worry About Parallax?

When looking for the top things to find in a high-quality scope, there are many features to consider.

Parallax is often one of them, but it will depend on the type of shooting you intend to do.

If you hunt closer to your targets, parallax is less likely to happen than at a distance.

In fact, most people don’t worry about parallax until they’re working at over 150 yards, if not more.

The problem is, it’s impossible to predict what type of shooting conditions you’ll be entering for each hunting trip.

In these instances, it’s always best to have parallax adjustments available if you decide to work at a distance.

As a rule of thumb, these types of hunters are the most likely to need parallax adjustments at some point.

Closer Than Factory Settings

If you intend on firing at shorter distances than your factory settings are designed for, these adjustments are essential.

It is particularly important for air gunners who usually never go beyond 100 yards.

If you’re working within 50 yards of your target, parallax adjustments are crucial.

Using High-Powered Options

The higher the power of your optics, the more magnification you’ll have within your grasp.

As expected, higher magnification also means a higher likelihood of swaying, leading to parallax.

If you’re known to use magnifications around 10 times, you will want to consider these adjustments.

Hunting Smaller Targets

When hunting small targets, like squirrels and groundhogs, parallax adjustments can help.

As you move your scope to match the movement speed of small targets, it can cause your reticle to become blurry.

Hunting Big Game

Although they are much easier to see at a distance, hunting big game can also be challenging with blurry optics.

When you adjust your parallax, you’ll be able to ensure your kill zone is as accurate as possible.

Besides, being as little as half an inch outside of your kill zone can cause undue harm to the animal.

tips on how to set parallax on rifle scope

How To Set Parallax on Rifle Scope

Undoubtedly, finding the perfect parallax correction for your scope requires a lot of patience and adjustments.

You’ll want to continually work with the focus to find excellent clarity for optimal visibility and accuracy.

Let’s get into the steps you can follow to get the ideal adjustments for your scope.

Step 1: Focusing the Eyepiece

Also known as the diopter, the first thing you’ll want to do is focus your eyepiece.

If your eyepiece isn’t focused correctly, any parallax adjustment isn’t going to make a difference.

This step is also something to do once and not be adjusted again unless your vision changes.

To focus your diopter, you’ll want to point your scope at a blank surface, such as a wall, and look through it.

Then, close your eyes and reopen them, looking through the scope and staring at the reticle.

If the reticle looks blurry, sharpen your diopter and follow the previous steps again.

Continue closing and reopening your eyes while making sharpness adjustments until the reticle looks clear.

With the perfect adjustments in place, lock them in and move on to the next step.

Step 2: Learn Your Parallax Adjustment Features

Every scope is different when it comes to parallax adjustments.

Some come with factory-installed adjustments, while others allow for customization.

Let’s go over the three most common adjustments you’re likely to encounter.


Depending on the type of scope you own, manufacturers can often pre-install parallax adjustments.

In these instances, you won’t have any adjustable knobs (turrets) to make customizations.

In most cases, factory-set parallax adjustments are between 50 and 100 yards.

Adjustable Objective (AO)

If you’ve noticed a unique ring on your rifle scope, you likely have AO.

AO, or an Adjustable Objective, allows you to customize the parallax adjustment by spinning the ring slowly to your ideal settings.

Adjustment Turret

The final and most common option for rifle scopes is to have an adjustment turret.

Turrets, also known as knobs, can easily be turned to find the ideal adjustment for clarity and accuracy.

Step 3: Adjust the Parallax By Type

As you can guess, how you adjust the parallax of your scope will depend on the type of adjustment features you have.

Let’s get into the easy-to-follow steps for each of the three most common adjustment options.

For Factory-Set

Factory-set parallax adjustments are often referred to as a fixed objective or any scope without adjustment features.

By far, this is the simplest type of scope to use, especially for beginners.

That said, it doesn’t give you much wiggle room if you’re working beyond the factory-set distances.

When manufacturers add factory-set adjustments, they choose the distance range to account for parallax.

Most often, the distance will be between 50 and 150 yards.

If you’re shooting targets at over 100 yards, you might experience less clarity than desired.

The easiest way to work with factory-set parallax is to change the distance at which you hunt.

Instead of changing your scope to match your hunting, you’ll need to match your scope.

For Adjustable Objective (AO)

AO parallax rings will typically have markings along the surface that show you specific distances in meters or yards.

You can use these values to adjust your scope to the distance you intend to shoot at.

For example, if you’re working at 200 yards, you’ll want to set your parallax to 200 yards on the ring or dial.

One of the best ways to know what distance to set AO to depends on your target’s distance.

If you have a laser rangefinder, you’ll find that this tool will make things significantly simpler.

All you have to do is point the rangefinder at your target, take the reading, and use the distance to adjust your scope accordingly.

When making these adjustments, you’ll want to ensure you keep your eye, cheek, and head placement the same each time.

Continually look at the center of your scope while staring at the same object for the most accurate adjustments.

For Adjustment Turret

Like an AO, you’ll need to play with your scope a little bit to find the ideal settings.

As it has an easy-to-use knob with similar distance markings, the process should be relatively straightforward.

All of the distance markings on adjustment turrets correlate with your target’s distance.

Again, it would be best to use a laser rangefinder to get the most accurate measurements possible.

You can then turn the turret to the respective distance to get a reliable adjustment value.

You’ll also want to continue making any additional turns as needed until you find the perfect clarity.

Step 4: Lock in Your Settings

The final step of adjusting the parallax on your scope is to ensure that you lock in your settings.

Like your focus, the parallax is something that you’ll have to worry about only once.

Unless someone else uses your gear, you’ll likely never have to adjust it a second time.

It’s also common to double-check your settings at the beginning of the season or if you accidentally drop your rifle.

Your parallax adjustments could be knocked out of place and will need to be recalibrated.

how to zero a scope without firing

Setting Parallax on a Scope

When learning how to set parallax on a rifle scope, most of the steps aim to ensure that the reticle is perfectly focused.

With the ideal adjustments, you’ll be able to confirm your shots are accurate more often than not.

And by taking the time to make minor adjustments, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your shooting.


Parallax. (2022, September 27). In Wikipedia.

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