Shooting Mystery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

What Is a Rimfire Scope? [Complete Guide for Beginners]

What is A Rimfire Scope-

Rifle scopes. Rimfire scopes. Centerfire scopes. Are they all the same?

The short answer is Rimfire scopes are more geared toward short-range shooting.

This article will focus and go through everything you need to know about Rimfire scopes, their advantages, how Rimfire differs from Centerfire scopes, and some dos and don’ts when you have a Rimfire scope.

What Is a Rimfire Scope?

Rimfire scopes are best for short-range shooting and usually go with scopes with a parallax of about 25 or 50 yards.

You do not want to go for Centerfire scopes with the typical 100-yard parallax setting. The Centerfire scope might not work as well.

Now here are some points to remember about Rimfire scopes:

  • Rimfire scopes are mounted on rifles with low recoil.
  • Are a bit delicate and MUST NOT be installed on high-recoil rifles.
  • Best for beginners as the recoil force can easily be controlled.
  • Rimfire ammunition also comes in a lighter casing which also affects the zeroing process.
  • Rimfire scopes tend to have SHORTER eye relief. Eye relief is basically the minimum distance needed from the rear lens to your eyes in order to get a full picture.
  • Contrary to Centerfire scopes, there is less risk in Rimfire scopes to get hit by a scope after firing.

Features to Look for in Rimfire Scopes

#1 Reticle Design

Reticle Design

Reticles have undergone a lot of redesigning and upgrade in the last couple of decades. A popular example would be the duplex crosshair.

It’s marked by 4 heavy lines starting from the edge of the circle and taper down to finer lines and hash marks as they meet in the center.

The finer lines and indicators help in pinning down a target when aiming.

But before you get all excited…

Be careful to not choose one with multiple marks as this might COMPROMISE a clear sight picture.

Let’s take an example: Complicated reticles can only block the sight picture and the shooter will only see clusters of hash marks when used on low magnification.

The better choice? Centerfire scopes are more suitable since it’s specifically designed for aiming 100 yards or more.

#2 Adjustable Parallax Setting

This leads us to the second feature: Parallax adjustment — useful when you see the crosshairs floating in and out of focus.

When the target and lines do not lie on a similar focal plane within the tube scope, the sight picture becomes obscured, and an adjustment on the parallax is required.

This instance all has something to do with parallax. Accuracy is DECREASED when used at extremes: Really close range or long-distance targets.

The effect of different focal planes becomes magnified, up to a point it’s not useful at all.

There are some with fixed parallax and come in factory settings. However, there are scopes that allow for manual parallax adjustment.

Rimfire scopes can easily function PARALLAX-FREE at mid ranges, provided that the parallax is fixed.

For Rimfire or during small game hunting (around 20-25 yards), we recommend an adjustable parallax that can be set from 50 yards down to 25 yards.

It will be the best option for any precision match scope. Higher parallax calibration is necessary for farther distances.

#3 Focal Plane

Focal Plane

Aside from design, placement is also an important factor to consider. There are two options where reticles can be placed:

  • First Focal Plane (FFP)
  • Second Focal Plane (SFP)

FFP or First Focal Plane is when the reticles are located at the FRONT of the tube. It’s placed closer to the objective lens. A closer placement to your objective lens increases magnification and causes the lines to grow larger.

Who benefits most from FFP? FFP is more dependable for shooters engaged in long-range shooting.

SFP or Second Focal Plane, on the other hand, is when the reticles are found at the BACK of the tube. This time, it is closer to the ocular lens. SFP DOES NOT change the size of the reticle when the magnification range is increased or decreased.

There is an almost equal divide in the opinion regarding which one is better between FFP and SFP.

But the end to this debate is simple: It boils down to the nature of the activity that a shooter will engage in.

For example, in small game hunting, SFP is preferred for Rimfire since the crosshairs and target remain clear even at low power.

Does FFP go best with Rimfire? If one uses FFP at low scope power, the crosshairs would be a blur which will only cause sighting difficulties and impair accuracy.

#4 Scope Power

Power refers to the magnification capability of a scope. However, as you may have guessed, it’s not a crucial feature when talking about Rimfires.

For long-distance shooting, 30x would be a great advantage.

Now, this is NOT ALWAYS the case. For a Rimfire rifle, one can settle with a maximum of 16x. Unlike when using Centerfire, there is no need for high-powered options.

You can go for 2-7x, 3-9x, or 4-16x which would be your best pick for Rimfire scopes.

#5 Turrets

There are two types of turrets for rifle scopes.

  • Capped turrets only call for a one-time adjustment during the zeroing process. After everything is aligned, there is no need to move them.
  • The second type is exposed turrets. These kinds of turrets make it possible to manually adjust them when needed. For long-range shooting or targeting varmints, a variable scope would require these types of turrets as they can help with your precision.

For close-range shooting, capped turrets would be your best pick.

Difference Between a Rimfire and Centerfire Scope


Rimfire and Centerfire scopes have a few differences that can be advantageous depending on the type of activity you are planning.

Range of Shooting

In contrast to Rimfire scopes, Centerfire scopes come with a preset parallax setting of about 100 yards.

A Centerfire scope has MORE power than a Rimfire scope. It can easily shoot a target that is 300 yards away.

Pretty impressive, right?

Generally, a Centerfire scope is a better pick for mid to high-range shooting. 


When a shot is fired, Centerfire scopes come with high recoil. But don’t let bruises scare you away.

Centerfire scopes are a better fit for shooters with more experience and know the proper eye relief. When caught unprepared, the recoil would cause scope marks around the eyes or worse, a small cut.

Ammunition used in Centerfire scopes and Rimfire scopes is also different.

Rimfire ammunition, aside from recoil impact, adds to the reason why Rimfire is better for newbies the cost for the Rimfire ammunition is less than that of Centerfire.

Price and Scope

Oftentimes, Centerfire scopes are Mil-Dot or MOA scopes. This means that they double as range finders. The scope reticles help achieve an estimate of the target’s distance.

In effect, a Centerfire scope would cost MORE than a Rimfire rifle scope.

Eye Relief

Eye Relief

A Centerfire scope has longer eye relief than a Rimfire rifle scope.

Rimfire scopes have shorter eye relief and when focused, they tend to be parallax-free at short ranges. In addition, when the ammunition is fired, the firearm will produce higher recoil.

Centerfire scopes require more distance to account for the rearward thrust. Thus, one needs to make sure that there is enough distance from the riflescope from the eye during recoil.

Parallax Adjustment

Another main difference between Rimfire and Centerfire scopes boils down to the parallax adjustment or parallax setting.

Centerfire scopes have a side knob to adjust parallax. This knob is also known as a side focus.

For bench shooting target scopes, they usually have the side focus built into the adjustable objective or “objective bell”. The side control or side focus comes in handy when there’s a need to shift between close and far targets and all are within a single shot string.

Parallax adjustment is much easier in a Centerfire scope due to the presence of an adjustable objective.

But here’s the catch: Parallax calibration is necessary as the distance from point of aim increases.


A Rimfire rifle scope is BEST paired with a low recoil rifle. A gun with low recoil would lessen the need to move your head or make a shooter flinch after firing.

The problem with high recoil firearms would also be the RISK of having misalignment after each shot.

Shooters using this firearm would need to recalibrate and zero again to make sure the alignment is precise.

Both a Rimfire and Centerfire improve accuracy. Again, it would depend on the activity and familiarity of the shooter with the gun used.



Rimfire and Centerfire rifles also differ in the type of ammunition used.

Rimfire ammunition costs LESS than Centerfire ammunition. In addition…

  • This ammunition is perfect for beginners as there is low recoil and is relatively light.
  • Works well for short ranges, around 25-50 yards. However, note that the ammunition rounds for a rimfire rifle scope are not reloadable.

On the other hand, Centerfire scope ammo is best for larger weapons with high recoil. They also…

  • Work best for far distances, about 100 yards and more.
  • Centerfire ammunition has various purposes making them great for rifles, shotguns, or handguns.
  • Centerfire ammunition is also reloadable, making them more reliable compared to rimfire ammunition.

Finally, Centerfire ammunition is also heavier than Rimfire rifle ammo. This is the most blatant difference when comparing the ammo of Rimfire and Centerfire rifles.

This adds stability especially when the target is at a far distance. However, when it comes to ammunition cost, ammo for a Centerfire rifle would cost more than a Rimfire rifle.



#1 Can You Mount Rimfire Scope on a Centerfire Rifle?

With this type of weapon, it’s highly discouraged to mount Rimfire instead of Centerfire scopes.

A Centerfire rifle is built with more durability and can withstand high recoil. Rimfire options are less sturdy and would likely be damaged if mounted on a Centerfire rifle.

#2 Can You Mount Centerfire Scope on a Rimfire Rifle?

Yes, a Centerfire scope can be used on a Rimfire. However, you should take note that at close distances, it might not be that useful.


That’s everything you need to know about Rimfire scopes!

We hope this article gave you a clearer idea of its usage and necessary specs, how it’s different from a centerfire scope, recoil, and proper riflescope distance, as well as the difference between Rimfire and Centerfire ammunition.

Happy target shooting!

FINAL TIP: If you’re looking for scopes that are meant for nighttime use, then you can check out our Buying Guide on Night Vision Scopes for some options.

About the author