How To Tell If Your Rifle Scope Is Broken

A rifle scope is a very important part of shooting accurately and without a good scope you are going to have some serious problems when shooting at longer ranges. Scopes are great and very helpful indeed, but they can break and they can break in various different ways.

However telling if your rifle scope is actually broken may be a little more difficult than just noticing that your shooting is off. That’s why we’re here today, to tell you how you can tell if your rifle scope is broken.


One of the easiest ways to tell if your rifle scope is broken is if you can hear parts moving or rattling around on the inside of it. If you think that your scope may be broken, but aren’t sure of it, you can try lightly shaking it and turning it from side to side to see if you hear any movement on the inside.

If you hear any movement your reticle, lens, or other internal components of the rifle scope may be loose or damaged. If this is the case the only real solution is to either bring it to a professional for repairs or to just get a new scope; sometimes loose parts just can’t be fixed.

Loose Controls

If you go to make adjustments on the turret or on any of the other dials and controls that adjust the scope and they are loose or wobbly, you may have a problem. Loose or wobbly adjustment components indicate that the adjustments you try to make aren’t going to be made right, or maybe not at all.

Your scope may very well be broken if the knobs are wobbly because making adjustments can be made nearly impossible. You may be able to tighten the wobbly controls either by yourself or with professional help, however chances are that you will require a new scope.

Parallax Problems

Another sign that your rifle scope may be broken is if you are having parallax issues that you just can’t seem to fix. Parallax of course has to do with the line of sight in which you are looking at the target and you should be able to easily adjust it with the parallax adjusters. However if you are having issues getting a sharp image through your scope no matter what adjustments you make, your scope is probably broken and will require either repairs or complete replacement.

Dropping It

We know that this sounds quite obvious, but a good way to know if your scope is broken is if you drop it. Sure it sounds pretty simple, but we really can’t stress enough that scopes are very fragile and delicate objects with various internal components that can easily be broken by a high impact drop. If you drop your scope from more than 2 or 3 feet you will most likely have a broken scope.

Uneven Clicks

Another clear sign that your scope is broken is if you go to make adjustments with the knobs and dials and the clicks you feel are uneven. A functioning scope will always have the exact same amount of resistance when spinning the dials and should have the same amount of distance between those clicks.

If the resistance changes from click to click or if the distance between clicks is uneven, you may very well have a broken scope. Having improperly functioning dials will lead your shooting to be off. The dials may be able to be fixed, however once again you may just need to replace the scope all together.

Click Value Changes

The next thing that would indicate a broken scope is if the click values shift from click to click. Every click should be proportional to the previous clicks and the following clicks and each adjustment should have the same change ratio from one to the next. If they aren’t that means that the adjustments you are making are uneven, random, and even quite arbitrary, in which case you can be sure that your adjustment dials are broken.

POI Does Not Correspond

Your rifle scope may be broken if the point of impact of your shots and the changes in the point of impact does not correspond with the adjustments made to the dials of the scope. If your shooting is fine your POI changes should match the changes made to the scope’s dials. If you click the elevation dial 4 times to increase the elevation, but the shots only move up by a factor of 2 or some other factor that doesn’t match adjustments made, your scope is probably not functioning the way it should be.

Reticle Shift

Of course the reticle of your scope should always be in the very center of the lens and in the center of your line of sight. If the reticle has shifted and is no longer centered then you have a problem. Not having a centered reticle will obviously cause your shooting to become inaccurate. This is perhaps one of the biggest problems that you could have and may constitute the need for a new rifle scope.

Shot To Shot Variance

If you can’t properly zero in your scope in a reasonable number of shots, you also have a problem. Also if there is a great variance between the points of impact from one shot to the next, but you haven’t changed the position of your rifle that is a clear indication that your scope is broken. An experienced rifleman should be able to create a good, close, and tight grouping of shots and should be able to zero in their rifle with just a few shots at a short range. If this is impossible then there is most likely a problem with your scope.

A Loose Connection

Another good way to tell if your scope is broken is if the connection between the scope and the rifle is loose. It may just be the case that you haven’t attached it properly, but it may also be the case that the bearings and rings holding the scope into place are broken. If your scope wobbles on the rail you will need to either tighten it or replace the parts holding it in place.

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