Riflescope Glossary

In our riflescope terminology you will find the most important technical riflescope terms. Of course, if you have any additional questions you may contact us via email customer-service-international@steiner.de at any time!


The optical elements of the riflescope are coated to reduce internal  light loss and glare, which in turn ensures even light transmission,  resulting in greater image sharpness, brightness, color fidelity and  contrast.

Lens coatings range in quality or applications as follows: coated; fully coated (Broadband Coated); multicoated and  fully multicoated (Broadband multicoated). Coated lenses are the lowest performance and basically will not result in much satisfaction. Fully coated lenses are quite economical and can work well depending on your needs. Multicoated or fully multicoated lenses are both very good choices. Fully multicoated lenses give the best light transmission and brightest images, and are therefore the most desirable.

Steiner offers only multicoated and fully multicoated lenses in special formulations using a variety of proprietary mineral source substances to produce outstanding viewing results.

Click Value

The click value is the amount of adjustment for a single movement on the windage and elevation turrets. It can be measure in MOA, centimeters or mils. Each click will adjust the scope’s point of impact ¼ inch at 100 yards (MOA), 1 centimeter or 1 mil at 100 meters (10 cm equal 1 mil). If your scope has turret caps, te adjustment scale can often be found inside the turret caps.



A measurement unit that expresses the refractive power of a lens. A lens with a focal length of 1 meter has a refractive power of one diopter. Lenses with shorter focal lengths have greater power in diopters. Accordingly, a lens with a focal length of one-quarter meter has a power of four diopters. The refractive power of converging (convex) lenses is positive; the refractive power of a diverging (concave) lens is negative

Exit Pupil

Measured in millimeters, this is the diameter of the beam of light that leaves the eyepiece of a riflescope. The larger the exit pupil, the brighter the image will be. Having a large exit pupil is an advantage under low light conditions.

The human eye is capable of dilating between 5mm – 7.5 mm after it adapts to the dark. The closer the exit pupil is to your eye dilation, the bright the images will appear.  To calculate the exit pupil, divide the size of the objective lens by the magnification of the riflescope. For example, the exit pupil of a 3-15x56 is 18.6 at 3x and only 5.0 at full magnification.

Eyepiece (Ocular)

The lens or lens group between the final image in a visual optical instrument and the viewer’s eye. It serves to magnify that image, thereby determining the magnifying power.

Eye Relief

The distance from the ocular (rear) lens of an optical system to a point at which the user’s eye can see the full field of view. “Long-eye-relief” binoculars allow users to see the entire field of view while wearing eyeglasses. Telescopic sights used on hard-kicking firearms must have especially long eye relief to reduce the likelihood of the ocular striking the shooter’s eye or face.

Hold off/ Hold over

At distances beyond your point of zero, Hold Over is the amount of adjustment in your point of aim that is needed to compensate for the trajectory or drop of your bullet. Steiner offers several reticles that have hash marks below the center cross hair that correspond to specific distances to help you determine Hold Over.

Hold Off is the amount of adjustment that is necessary to compensate for wind drift. At longer ranges, wind can cause your bullet to drift away from your target. The Steiner Plex S1/S7 reticles have cascading dots and lines to help you determine Hold Off at distance.

Image or Focal Plane

A plane at right angles to the principal axis of a lens or mirror on which the best image of an object is focused.


Magnification is the degree to which the object being viewed is enlarged. For example, with a 3-15x riflescope, you are able to magnify the object or target from 3 to 15 times bigger that it would appear with the human eye. The level of power also affects the brightness of an image and field of view, so at lower power, the image will be brighter and the viewing area will also be larger.



A unit of angular measure that is subtended by one unit of length at a distance of 1,000 units of length, such as one meter at a distance of 1,000 meters. The spaces between dot centers on mil dot reticles subtend 3.6 inches at 100 yards, 7.2 inches at 200 yards, 10.8 inches at 300 yards and so forth.

Minute of Angle (MOA)

Minute of Angle (MOA) is a unit of measurement of a circle, and is 1.0472 inches at 100 yards. For all practical purposes it is called 1 inch at 100 yards. It is 2 inches at 200 yards, 5 inches at 500 yards, one half inch at 50 yards, etc. Windage and Elevation turrets on scopes usually correlate with MOA, and are most often set to adjust MOA at the rate of ¼ MOA per click, or adjustment.

Objective Lens

The objective lens of a riflescope is the front lens. The diameter of one of the lens is typically measured in millimeters. It is the last number listed in the product description. For example, a 5-25x56 will have a 56mm objective lens. The diameter of the lens determines how much light is delivered to your eye. A larger lens translates into greater detail and image clarity. This is especially useful in low light conditions such as dawn and dusk.

Ocular Lens

The ocular lens is the lens closest to your eye.  You look into the ocular or eyepiece to see the images that are magnified by the scope. The exit pupil is emitted from this lens.




Parallax is the apparent movement of the reticle in relation to the target. This is most noticeable when the eye is moved off of dead center when looking into the scope. If you move your eye a little off center to any direction and the crosshair remains on the same position of the target, you are said to be “parallax free”. If, on the other hand, you move your eye a little bit and the target appears to move within the crosshair, you are experiencing parallax error. Parallax error generally variable power scopes with the greatest zoom ranges.  Some Steiner rifle scopes are preset to be parallax free at 100 yards, while other offer a Side Focus adjustment to eliminate parallax and reduce aiming errors at longer ranges.



Resolution is a measurement of the riflescope’s ability to distinguish fine detail and produce a sharp image. Better resolution also delivers more intense color. Resolution varies in relation to the size of the objective lenses. Generally, a larger objective lens will deliver more detail to the eye than a smaller objective lens, regardless of the magnification.

Actual resolution is determined by the quality of the optical components, the type and quality of the optical coatings, atmospheric conditions, collimation (i.e. proper optical alignment), and the visual acuity of the user.


A reticle or “crosshairs” on a scope provide aiming reference. Steiner offers a variety of reticles for hunting, tactical and precision shooting.



Trajectory is the flight of your projectile after it leaves the barrel. Your bullet flies in an arc and the amount of arc depends on the projectile weight and velocity.

Tube Diameter

The most common tube diameters are 1-inch, 30mm and 34mm. The greater the diameter of the scope tube, the more rigid and durable it is. A larger tube diameter also translates to more elevation adjustment range, which is important for long-range shooting. It also determines which size rings your scope will require.


A turret is one of two knobs located in the center of the scope tube. They are used to adjust windage and elevation when sighting in. They can also be used to adjust point of aim. They are marked in increments or clicks in ¼ MOA, 1 cm or 1/10 mil increments.



Zero is the distance that your scope is sighted in. A 100-syard zero means the point of impact for your caliber and bullet is 100 yards.