Mamba Pro 5-30x50 SCB2

MTC Mamba Pro 5-30×50 on AR15 .223

We see the question come up frequently, “I see this scope used for airguns, can I put it on my centerfire?”  Simple answer, ABSOLUTELY!” It’s a great question and with the harsh recoil on some centerfire rifles it no wonder one would question on whether a scope often chosen for an airgun would be suitable.  What many shooters may not understand is that spring powered airguns are actually more destructive to rifle scopes than a centerfire rifle.
Beeman R11

Beeman Spring Powered Air Rifle

When the trigger is pulled on a spring powered air rifle, the spring is released propelling a piston forward compressing air to push the pellet down and out the barrel causing some amount of reward recoil in the same way a centerfire reacts when fired.  But unlike a centerfire, when that piston reaches the end of it’s stroke the rifle suddenly goes from moving rearward to now kicking in the forward direction. This rapid bi-directional recoil combined with some heavy vibrations from the spring can and will wreak havoc on a rifle scope only designed for centerfire use. Airgun scopes are unique and are constructed to handle recoil in two directions as well as the vibrations afterward.

Optisan EVX 3-12x44

Optisan EVX with 10 Yard Side Focus

Airgun shooters also require some additional features generally not found on rifle scopes designed only for centerfire use. In additional to handling the bi-directional recoil and vibrations, airgun shooters will need a rifle scope with the ability to focus at close range. Airgun rifle scopes will likely have the ability to bring an object into clear focus as close as 10 yards while a rifle scope only designed for centerfire use will typically have the ability to only focus as close as 50 or 100 yards.  The distances at which a rifle scope can focus is often labeled as parallax under the specifications page of the rifle scope.

Optisan MH10 Reticle

MH10 Reticle

Another more advanced feature found on airguns scopes is the reticle design. Because a pellet moves slower than a bullet fired from a centerfire rifle, it’s going to take more time to reach its target. The longer a projectile takes to reach its target, the more time gravity has to cause it to drop.  To overcome this drop when shooting an airgun, a reticle with additional aiming points is a great feature to have. Reticles such as the MTC SCB or a MIL DOT with additional ½ MIL markings are both excellent reticles for the airgun shooter or the very long distance centerfire shooter where both are dealing with significant drop from the pellet or bullet.

Optisan Viper

Air Arms TX200 with Large Side Focus Wheel

Rifle scopes with the addition of a side focus are a great option for both centerfire and airgun shooters and although both can benefit from the addition of a large add on side focus wheel (3” inches in diameter or larger), a large side focus wheel is additionally beneficial to the airgun shooter.  A side focus wheel will have yardage markings, so after bringing and object into focus a shooter can read the distance to target. A large side focus wheel will place these yardage marking around a larger diameter spacing them farther apart. When shooting inside 60 yards, a higher magnification rifle scope with a large side wheel can generally determine the distance to target to as accurate as a single yard for the airgunner.