What is Eye Relief and How it Works?

Finding a clear shot through your rifle’s lens while you’re on a hunt or participating in any US sports event is mandatory. You just can’t compromise as sometimes you get a single opportunity to prove your skills. But ask yourself, is a good and expensive gun enough to do wonders? Nope! Certainly, it isn’t.

To have a strong grip over your target, you need to have excellent supporting gears. Or at least, something that would help you to hit the bull’s eye as you pull that trigger. However, you cannot win over the situation, if you don’t know about eye relief.

So, what is eye relief, and how it works? If the question still confuses you, then this is the right place to unearth the answer.

What is Eye Relief?

Many shooters don’t bother much about the eye relief and most of them don’t even know that it exists. So as long as they can aim the target, it’s all good for them. But it is important to understand your scope’s mechanism to get the most out of it.

So, eye relief is simply the distance from the shooting eye and the rear lens. In other words, it helps you keep a gap between your eye and scope’s ocular lens to view the target’s complete image that is developed through the scope.

If you would hold it closely, the target would look fuzzy. Contrarily, going too far to see the object would turn the image into a dot, right in the lens’ center.

Types of Eye Relief

If you don’t how to maintain eye relief, you won’t have a perfect focus whenever would peek through the scope. And no matter how many times you would play with your scope’s adjustment you won’t get your desired outcomes. The image you see would be extremely distorted and difficult to figure out.

Eye relief is measured in inches or millimeters. And most of them range from 4 mm to 100 mm (1 to 4 inches). So, before you know how eye relief works, you should understand the different types of eye relief available. So, let’s find out!

Standard Eye Relief

The standard eye relief is the most common and widely used in riflescopes, which provide measurements between 3.5 inches to 4.5 inches (50 mm to 110 mm).

This eye relief type works great with high magnification scopes (10x or above). Therefore, it can be trusted when it comes to long-range shooting.

Plus, the standard eye relief offers an ideal balance, as it doesn’t weigh heavily on your scope. As a result, handling your rifle becomes no sweat.

But, it does lack comfortableness due to limited flexibility. This can affect accuracy along with the Field of View (FOV) as you won’t feel relaxed. Nevertheless, it is easy to use as compared to other eye relief.

Adjustable Eye Relief

A comfortable hand can help a shooter to aim perfectly. So, if you’re looking for some extraordinary comfort and convenience, then the adjustable eye relief could be your pick.

One of the best things about this eye relief is that you can adjust it just the way to want. If you want to enhance your viewing capacity without compromising on FOV or ease, then you got a solid reason to go for adjustable eye relief.

And despite the adjustable eye relief supports all scope types, it is highly recommended for scopes with 10x magnification capacity.

And although it’s a bit expensive, you may not find any other eye relief that assures safety, accuracy, and fun.

Long Eye Relief

The long eye relief maintains an approximate 6 inches (152 mm) distance between the scope and shooting eye. It doesn’t require magnification, so if you have an automatic rifle or a handgun without magnification features, then you can go for this eye relief.

Another good thing is that there are almost zero movements of the internal axis or crosshair. Also, it keeps the darker part of the scope out of your sight as you look through the lens.

More to this, you can adjust the distance through the scope, and this feature would give you a magnificent aiming position. However, if you like taking long-range shots, then it is not recommended.

Short Eye Relief

Lastly, it’s the short eye relief that provides 0.5 inches to 5 inches (12.7 mm to 127 mm) distance between your eye and scope.

It’s an unalterable eye relief, and you have to get very close to the rare lens to see the clear target. So if you wear glasses, then the short eye relief would give a tough time on your hunt.

Moreover, short eye relief is found in some low-budget scopes with quite puzzling magnification modes. But they aren’t bad, especially for the experts.

Eye Relief’s Relation with Scope, Magnification, and FOV

The eye relief functions depend on several factors, such as the scope’s size, the field of view (FOV), and magnification. So let’s dig up one by one about each element’s role.

Role of Scope

Almost every eye relief has a similar working mechanism. Nevertheless, you first need to understand how scopes work and how it helps in identifying eye relief’s size?

The main purpose of a scope is to magnify the light when you see it through the lens. It happens when the front lens captures the light and converts it in a cone. In the next phase, the light cone is reflected in an eyepiece, creating the object’s image.

(Yes! It’s typically physics)

And while the eyepiece is measured by its width (inches or millimeters), most manufacturers use its size to estimate eye relief’s proportions as well.

This means both of them have a similar size. So this also confirms that when a scope tube’s diameter is large, the magnification would be large as well, and so will be the eye relief.

Role of Magnification

Magnification is a part of the scope that helps a shooter to watch targets closer to its actual position. It works like a “Zoom” feature you mostly see in the camera, however, with excessive power and accuracy.

For example, your target is 500 yards (1500 ft.) away. So do you think you can shoot it without an excellent magnification? Not at all. You won’t be able to see that it even exists. But if your scope has great magnification, you would easily aim your target.

Role of Field of View (FOV)

Magnification without Field of View is impossible and it also has a strong relationship with the eyepiece. The basic work of FOV is to inform you about the distance you could see using the scope.

So the higher number of FOV your eyepiece has, the greater magnification you will experience.

Therefore, it is important to remember that all the above-mentioned factors are required for outstanding eye relief.

The Trio Makes Eye Relief Work

Eye relief performs enormously exceptional when scope, magnification, and FOV works fine and adjusted properly.

What happens is with increased magnification, you get decreased FOV. So, the lesser the FOV would be, the fewer eye relief you will require.

In other words, if you have a high-magnifying scope, you will see things much closer than reality, but it will also affect the FOV by shrinking its size. And when FOV will get smaller, you will likely see fewer things as you peek through the scope. And as a consequence, your eye relief will get smaller too.

For example, if your target is 1000 yards away and you are using 10x magnification, then you would see the target at a 100 yards distance from your scope. But before scoping the object, if the eye relief was already set to 100mm without magnification, then you would have to maintain a 5mm distance between the scope and shooting eye to see the target clearly.

This confirms that your magnification level directly influences your eye relief. The higher magnification level your scope would have, the closer you will need to keep the shooting eye to the eyepiece. Thus, maintaining a short eye relief.

On the other hand, Field of View (FOV) jumps in and changes everything. How? Well, imagine you are using a high magnification scope. So, this means it will affect the eye relief and you will have come near to the scope, right? But here’s the twist!

If your scope has a large diameter, then there won’t be any need to get closer to the scope, and you can easily maintain eye relief with all your comfort.

Nevertheless, the standard idea remains the same – high magnification demands low eye relief, whereas, low magnifications requires high eye relief.

You should also keep mind that if your scope is without magnification, the eye relief and FOV will remain constant no matter what.


Shooting is a skill that requires learning and practice. But, if you don’t know the technical stuff, you might lose your hunt, as you would be busy adjusting your scope to get a clean sight. Most shooters don’t even know about their gadgets and weapon’s basic anatomy.

Unfortunately, a simple question like, “what is eye relief and how it works,” makes them speechless. So, avoiding such mistakes is mandatory to become an expert. Therefore, make sure you learn about eye relief because that’s the best way to enhance your shooting capabilities.

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