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Scope Parallax Wheels

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

Parallax is one of those strange elements of shooting that many do not fully understand. To most, it is how the scope focuses however it is so much more than that.

What is Parallax?

Scope parallax is an inconsistency in the view that you see when you look down the rifle scope. It causes the cross-hair to move across the target when you shift your eye position. This means the reticule will not accurately reflect where your rifle is pointing. This is only a problem in higher magnification scopes and is much more noticeable the higher the magnification.

Since the amount of parallax within the scope is variable depending on the distance of the target to the shooter, it’s important to ensure that you’re always compensating and adjusting for parallax.

Why this occurs

When you look through a rifle scope, the magnified image that you see in front of you is where all of the light rays entering the optic are focused. You are essentially seeing a projected image. Parallax issues occur when the projected image is too far away (front or behind) from the cross hairs inside the optic.

Imagine a reticule sticker on a window, and putting a picture at the end of the garden, the reticule would change where it’s pointed depending on where you stand in the room. This is an exaggerated case of parallax.

To remove parallax issues, you want to get the projected image (the picture) as close as possible to the scope’s reticule, so that there’s no room for movement. Put a reticule sticker on the window and then stick the picture on the other side of the glass. No matter where you stand in the room, the reticule is pointed at the target correctly.

Many modern scopes and optics will have the ability to change the focal point of the image inside the scope and it’s often marked by distance. Adjustment rings may be on the front objective lens, as a middle turret adjustment, or in the rear eye piece, depending on the quality and type of scope that you are using.

For higher-end scopes, you will find that the focus or parallax turret is placed on the left side of the scope. This is where items such as the parallax wheels are placed.

What are the big wheels on the side of scopes?

Parallax wheels are designed to extend the lever force on the parallax wheel, meaning that the parallax adjustment can be made easier and more accurately than with the standard turret. This in turn allows:

  • Less force required to turn the wheel

  • More precise adjustments to parallax

  • Better cold-weather handling

  • Personalisation of your rifle

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