Rifle Scopes During an Extremely Cold Weather

The word “cold” is a relative term.

If you live in the tropics, for instance, the word means something entirely different than if you were residing in Alaska.

Temperatures of about 20 degrees Celsius, for example, aren’t low enough to prevent you from hunting or going to the range for some trigger time.

But when temperatures dip below 35 degrees Celsius, you may have to rethink your hunting strategy. You need to be even more mindful about protecting your rifle scope.

What Happens if You Expose Your Scope to Extreme Weather? 

Various things can happen to low-quality hunting optics in extremely cold weather. Cold temperatures, for instance, can cause screws and springs brittleness in low-quality optics.

However, the best rifle scopes for cold weather can withstand the effects of cold. It takes super-chilly conditions for high-quality scopes to succumb.

While the extreme cold may not necessarily damage your rifle scope, it can affect its functionality in other ways.

“Leaving your rifle scope in cold weather may not damage it, but warming the unit too quickly might.”

Riflescopes feature components made from different materials, including glass, metals and plastics.

These parts expand and contract as they experience temperature changes. The expansion and contractions can cause thermal and physical stress within the scope.

Thermal Stress 

To understand how thermal stress affects a riflescope, let’s talk about how a hot glass plate reacts fresh from the oven.

The plate cracks when it comes into contact with a cold surface, such as a countertop. The plates’ outer area contracts because of the sudden temperature change while the interior expands because it’s still hot. The imbalance in thermal stress causes the plate to break.

Similarly, moving a scope from freezing to hot air causes the cold lenses to crack, especially during windy or rainy weather because of the rapid temperature drop.

That said, it’d be best to allow the temperature to reduce slowly to prevent thermal stress.

Cracked lenses can also result from a reverse situation when you expose your rifle scope to warm air quickly.

So, avoid exposing your rifle's optics to hot air after being in the cold for an extended period.  

Warped Components 

Different materials have varying thermal properties. For instance, metal expands and contracts more than glass.

Rapid temperature changes can exert pressure on specific components of your riflescope, making these areas contract and expand faster than others.

If you cool off a warm scope rapidly, the metal barrel will contract faster than the lenses, causing the lenses to break.

Conversely, heating a cold scope causes the metal barrel to expand faster than the lenses. The ripple effect is a noticeable lens misalignment or gaps between the lenses and the barrel.

You can avoid these physical stresses by slowly allowing your rifle scopes to change temperatures.

Moisture is the Problem, Not Cold Temperatures 

Extreme cold weather isn’t the primary cause of gaps between the barrel and rifle scope lenses. On the contrary, moisture is the main culprit. 

For starters, moisture causes fogging, enabling mold and corrosion to thrive inside the scope.

Humidity can trigger a series of problems that can affect the long-term usability of your rifle scope more than cold air will – and that’s where purging comes in.

The best rifle scopes for cold weather come with inert gasses such as argon and nitrogen instead of air.

Air can carry dust and moisture, which can significantly meddle with the quality of the image as you look through the scope. Inert gas helps push air out of the scope, preventing the fog from forming.

In addition, the inert gasses help push air out of the scope, preventing the fog from forming.

The quality of spotting scopes is crucial when using your scope in cold weather. 

Avoid low-quality scopes because they’re vulnerable to fogging, frost and dust inside the lenses. 

On the other hand, the best cold weather scopes are sealed against the effects of extreme cold weather. 

You Can Prevent Cold Weather Induced Fogging with Lens Coatings

Fogging can happen outside your scope, lenses and moving parts, irrespective of quality. So, it’d be best to consider the lens coatings when looking for the best cold-weather rifle scope. 

Your rifle scope lenses fog when moisture condenses on them. This happens when the lens temperature is lower than the dew point of the air.

Because cold air retains less moisture than hot or warm air, it is less likely for any fog on your scope lenses in cold weather to have condensed from ambient air.

Instead, your body produces moisture through respiration and perspiration, causing the lenses to frost or fog if you breathe or hold them close to your body. However, this is common with binoculars, rangefinders and spotting scopes because these are used with the eyepiece held close to the face.

You can prevent fogging by breathing away from the eyepiece. Also, avoid touching the eyepiece without gloves on your hands to reduce the effects of body heat.

In addition, lens coatings can help keep moisture away, creating debris and fog-resistant surfaces.

When It Comes to Rifles and Extremely Cold Weather, Quality is Crucial

The Stealth Vision®️ Scope is designed with temperature-induced stresses in mind.

 Arguably the best cold-weather rifle scope in its class, it features proprietary rubber seals and adhesives to secure lenses while safeguarding them from the physical stress caused by the barrel.

Meanwhile, the lenses are insulated from thermal stress to ensure they don’t heat or cool too fast.

Further, the high-quality seals ensure moisture doesn’t enter the scope when the barrel and lenses expand at varying rates during temperature changes.

Stealth Vision ® leverages revolutionary technology backed by the experience of an eye doctor to produce some of the best long range scopes and binoculars.

View the full range of our products to pick the one you’ll use for your next long range shooting or hunting session.

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Can your rifle scope remain functional in cold weather? Find out how extreme cold affects your rifle scope.

 

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