Choosing The Best Optic For Survival

Choosing the best optic for survival can be just as tricky as picking the best gun. Many survivalists spend all their time picking out a gun, but never get a scope to go with it.

Maybe they think optics are too expensive, too much of a hassle, or maybe they just think they’re enough of a sharp-shooter with iron sights. Either way, not having an optic is a costly mistake.

Attaching a scope to your rifle makes you a much more effective shooter, and might be the one thing that saves you in a SHTF scenario.

Why Every Survivalist Should Have An Optic On Their Rifle

Anyone who plans on using their rifle for defense or hunting needs to have an optic that goes with it. If not attached to the gun at all times, then at least stored in their bag so it can be attached later.

Everyone likes to think of themselves as professional marksmen, but if you’re truly in a survival situation, then hitting your target is a matter of life or death. Do you really want to trust your survival to iron sights?

If it’s dark or if your target is far away, it’ll take significantly more time to line up your shot properly. If you miss, your target will run away unpredictably, making it even more difficult to land the next shot.

A scope improves the accuracy of the shooter by making targets appear larger and increasing clarity, especially in situations without much light. That way you’ll be able to land a clean hit on your first shot.

Plus, even a beginner can hit most targets with the help of a scope, making it an ideal addition for anyone who hasn’t been training their marksmanship.

There are several factors that determine the effectiveness of a scope. I’ll cover each of them below.

Objective Lens Size

The objective lens is the front end of the scope where light from your target enters the scope and reflects towards your eye.

The lens size is what determines the field of view (FOV) of your scope. FOV refers to the total amount of area you can see through your scope. A higher FOV means you would see more area than a scope with a lower FOV.

A good lens size for survival is around 30mm or 40mm. You can get a scope with a larger lens size if you want, but keep in mind that the larger your lens the more difficult it’ll be to carry it around and not damage it.

Besides, a 30mm or 40mm lens size is plenty big enough. Most people won’t get any benefit out of a larger lens size, so don’t burden yourself with something bigger than necessary.

Optic Style

Your two main choices for optic styles are either tube body or holographic, also known as heads-up.

Tube style optics are the best choice for survivalists because they’re generally better quality and good for general use.

Also, tube body optics can have variable magnifications settings while holographic sights are fixed magnification.

Variable Magnification VS Fixed Magnification

Scopes can be either variable magnification which allow you to zoom in and out on your target, and fixed magnification scopes which are locked in at a certain magnification.

Variable magnification allows you to zoom in at the perfect distance to line your shot up just right. This allows you to shoot at both long and short distances equally well, unlike a fixed magnification scope which is effective only for targets at a certain distance.

However, fixed magnification scopes have their benefits too. For example, fixed magnification scopes have no moving parts which makes them sturdier. They won’t change magnification settings while you’re moving around either, so you can just pull it out and be at the correct magnification every time.

The ability to change the magnification setting on your scope is a must-have for any survivalist, and is why I recommend using a variable magnification scope.

When shopping for scopes you’ll see their magnification settings listed something like this: 3-9x40mm. That means it has a variable magnification setting of between 3 times to 9 times, and the lens size is 40mm.

You’ll see optics with other magnification settings, but the 3-9x40mm is the standard, and the one I recommend getting.


You don’t need a lot of adjustments, but there are two which I consider necessary. They are elevation adjustments, windage adjustments, and eyepiece focus.

Anything else is unnecessary and likely won’t ever be used. A scope with more adjustments is going to much much more expensive than a similar scope without them. Stick to the basics and you’ll be better off.


There are many types of reticles to choose from. It’s important that you get a reticle you like, and this is largely up to personal preference.

However, the simplest solution is usually the best choice for most people. If you don’t already have a personal favorite that you’ve trained extensively with, I suggest using a duplex reticle.

A duplex reticle is just like a regular crosshair reticle, but the lines out thicker near the outside and thinner near the middle where your target will be.

The thick outer lines make it easy for your eye to find the center of the scope while the thin inner lines don’t obstruct your view of the target.

Don’t want to go through the trouble of searching for a scope? The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9x40mm is a great choice that isn’t too expensive.

Don’t throw away your iron sights just because you’ve got an optic. Things can go wrong, and having your iron sights as a backup is always a good idea.

Don’t have a gun yet? Check out this blog post for info on which ammo types are best for survival and some quality guns that will help you during a survival situation.


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