How to avoid scope bite

eye relief

Kirsten Joy Weiss’ latest video is on the subject of avoiding scope bite. Most of the time scope bite is nothing more than a slight pain and embarrassment. Other times it can be worse. A friend of mine, a veteran hunter and hunting magazine writer, has a large semi-circle scar above his eye from shooting a .30-06 in a weird position. He was camping in some remote mountain and his first aid skills were less than adequate, so he is now marked with a scar that just screams “scope bite” to every shooter he meets.

My own humiliating story is that I once had to go to the E.R. after a large scope bite wound would not stop bleeding 8 hours later, despite my best efforts. In my defense I was shooting a large caliber rifle with an experimental non-production scope that had very little eye-relief. When the scope eventually went on sale a year later, the eye relief was much improved.

This scope bite incident cost my insurance provider thousands of dollars and wasted a lot of my time … not to mention the humiliation of being at a gun range with blood pouring from above my eye.

Kirsten gives advice how to hold a gun, which is good advice, my advice is never buy a cheap scope that has too little eye relief, especially if you are putting it on rifle chambered in a high powered round (.30-06 and more powerful).



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • USMC03Vet

    This video was easy on the eyes……

    • SP mclaughlin

      honhonhonhon

    • Hyok Kim

      better than me.

  • Shootin’ Buddy

    Or, you could just buy a Scout Rifle and stop all this Fudd crap.

    • Kelly Jackson

      I’m pretty sure the whole “scout rifle” concept is the definition of fudd crap.

      • MR

        Muzzlebrake, he meant to say muzzlebrake.

        • COL Bull-sigh

          Depends on how rough he handles it in the woods!

      • ostiariusalpha

        Nah, bruh, the fudds hated on the scout rifle like it owed them money. Detachable mag, fancy tactical sling, synthetic stock, etc.; might as well have been their red-headed stepchild.

        • iksnilol

          But most scout rifles were built from milsurp bolt actions.

          • ostiariusalpha

            The Steyr Scout was the only scout rifle made for a very long time, it didn’t get much love from anyone but Jeff Cooper’s most dedicated followers. It was only much later that short-barreled bolt actions with long eye relief scopes gradually became accepted (though they dumped all the other features of a true scout rifle). The reintroduction of the detachable magazine is pretty recent also.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but there’s been also plenty of homemade “scout rifles”. I don’t think they are a modern trend.

      • Tom of toms

        And the idea was that bolt guns of the time wete typically more accurate and more reliable for the long term, one-gun, survival scenario. No parts fudd. Sorry, pal.

    • Bill

      I don’t know what Fudd crap is, and own and use a Scout Rifle, but it’s hard to put a 25X Scout scope on a .408 Chey Tac.

  • Tyson chandler

    Yes, KJW is easy on the eyes!

  • BearSlayer338

    How does someone even get scope-bit?
    I mean seriously,I’ve been shooting since I was 13 and I haven’t ever gotten scope-bite and I don’t know anyone who has.

    • JK

      I think you just jinxed yourself.

    • Andrew

      The same dummies who somehow figure out how to get the web between their index finger & thumb chewed up by a pistol slide. Natural selection, I guess.

      • COL Bull-sigh

        Been there–done that! (But only once!)

    • Major Tom

      It’s easy to get scope eye. The scope offers too little eye relief or the recoil is more than you anticipated or you’re in a different stance/position than you’re used to.

      It’s just one of those things that happens to lots of people.

      • BearSlayer338

        Hasn’t happened to me and I hunt with a .338 Winchester Magnum.(hence the name)

        • Major Tom

          Maybe you’re just really lucky. I once got scope eye from a BB gun because I held it like a complete novice. (And I flinched it into my own face.)

          • BearSlayer338

            Don’t be a novice then,I always keep the scopes 5 or more inches from my face.

          • You’re so cool, I want to be like you when I grow up.

          • Major Tom

            I was a kid then. Now I know better.

          • Nicks87

            That’s funny because most scopes have an eye relief of around 3-4 inches. Unless it’s a scout scope or a pistol scope any closer or further and you will not have a very good sight picture. Which makes me question the truthfulness behind your comments.

          • COL Bull-sigh

            I use an L&S prismatic red-dot with infinite eye relief. No black eyes here. My last 2 deer were one shot-one kill with my .270. I probably would couldn’t use it for long-range hunting over 300 yards, though

        • Jeff

          I never got hit by a .338 either, but I have been by larger and smaller cartridges. It’s not all about the cartridge – it’s about the rifle/scope/recoil/face/neck/stance combination. (And you don’t find many scopes of over 4x magnification with 5″ of eye relief).

    • Sianmink

      usually it’s cause they don’t have the butt nestled snugly to their shoulder.

      • COL Bull-sigh

        “…butt nestled snugly to…shoulder…” WOW–that must have been some wild party!!!

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      Good for you. You are so badass-professional-oper8r.

      • BearSlayer338

        No I just know how to use my guns right I guess a good portion of people don’t realize scope close to head on something with recoil= pain.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          Which can easily still happen with a high powered rifle, even if you experienced. Especially in hunting, when you have to shoot fast and have a limited window of opportunity…

          • BearSlayer338

            I know what hunting is like I go every season with my .338 Win Mag,I get at least one buck every time and make myself some awesome jerky or sausages out of the meat.

          • Nicks87

            Wow, you are one bad SOB, bro!

          • COL Bull-sigh

            When are we going hunting next?

    • Dan

      I wondered that too, then while working up handloads for a friends rifle he had a crap scope on the rifle, I loaded the last cartridge pull the trigger and whack! Not sure how why or what but i ended up with a black eye and my nose felt like i had been punched. Thankfully there were no witnesses

      • BearSlayer338

        Maybe the reason I haven’t got it then is because I use high quality scopes on my rifles, especially my .338 WM cause that is my go to hunting rifle.

        • Sadler

          It mostly happens with older variable magnification scopes. You get really bad vignetting on max magnification, causing you to move up on the scope. That, along with awkward shooting positions when hunting or just shooting out in the field leads to scope bite of varying degrees. Even $200 scopes today don’t have the bad vignetting.

        • Dan

          That is part of what i think happened i remember having to be a lot closer to the scope but to happen on the last shot? I don’t know maybe I rushed it and the butt slipped off my shoulder idk after it smacked my face i didn’t care as to the why. Has never happened to me with my .338LM or .50bmg.

    • Nicks87

      It happens when people aren’t thinking about what they are doing and get too focused on pulling the trigger as fast as they can instead of thinking about the other fundamentals of shooting. It happened to me when I was very young and hasn’t happened since.

    • TheNotoriousIUD

      Maybe people sometimes need to bring their eye closer to the scope due to glare or rain or something.

    • COL Bull-sigh

      If you put the scope you had on your .22 when you were 13, on a .308, you probably would have a different story. Short eye relief is usually not a problem for a .22 (thank goodness!).

      • BearSlayer338

        I don’t shoot .22’s,I only shoot .32 acp or bigger in handguns or 7.62×39 in rifles or bigger. I find .22’s to be very boring to shoot,even when I started shooting at the age of 13,I found .357 magnum(S&W M66) much more fun to shoot the first time I went shooting.

  • noob

    hmm are those rubber eye-relief and anti-glare hoods you can get to put between your eye and the scope worth anything? or are they an unnecessary bit of tacticool?

    They don’t look like they would cushion your eye, but if you are touching the hood you know your eye is too close.

    • Anonymoose

      Rubber eye reliefs are only really useful with NV scopes, unless you’re trying for MAXIMUM SLAV.

      • mosinman

        Who doesn’t go for MAXIMUM SLAV?

        • iksnilol

          I use a tracksuit instead of a pajamas… Adidas of course.

          • mosinman

            don’t forget pointy toe loafers and Stoli

    • Cymond

      Mock me all you want, but I have some of those rubber hoods on my rimfire scopes. It’s nice to block out all distractions in my peripheral vision. Of course, that would be a bad idea outside of a traditional shooting range, but that’s not what I use them for.

  • DW

    Just go NOSCOPE.

    MLG420YOLOBLAZEIT

    • Jeff

      You mean on all those new bolt rifles with no sights and no provisions for sights?

      • DW

        I don’t think you get the joke?

  • Biglou13

    Over 40 yrs ago when I was young, stupid and in the Navy, I bought a rifle in 7mm Rem mag. Course I had no idea what the recoil was like. Took my buddy Tom with me to the range, in Ca. no less, and commenced to shoot my new Winchester model 94 and the rifle. I don’t remember what brand it was anymore. One thing I realized was never keep my upper body stiff. This way my body would bend at the hip backwards after I shot the gun. In other words the rifle and my body were one unit. I’d didn’t pass this modicum of knowledge to Tom and he fired the 7mm. Needless to say he had a nice semi circle bruise above his right eye. Don’t remember how he explained that to our Division officer.

  • aarrrr

    how to avoid scope bite aka how not to become a pirate

  • Fruitbat44

    Cool little video. Hmmm . . . I have also heard “Scope-bite” referred to as “Sniper’s Eye.” .

  • The_Champ

    A friend of mine, who is a really phenomenal shooter, owns a .460 Weatherby. He shoots it well, but I’ve seen him collect one or two bites from that monster of a gun.

  • Jeff

    If you don’t have a Weatherby eyebrow, you probably haven’t been shooting enough.

  • Ronaldo Olive

    After a very long period firing guns in my long (started around 1980) gun writer career, I finally had my first – and, hopefully, last – scope bite last year. It was during a shooting session with Brazilian Marine Corps’ SpecOps Battalion, the Tonelero Battalion, when I was trying its French-made Hécate II .50BMG anti-material rifle. With the massive muzzle brake fitted, the gun’s recoil is generally manageable, but things changed when I removed the piece and added the long sound suppressor. Although offering a considerable reduction in sound levels, the muzzle braking effect was lost. It happened in the final shot of a 5-round series: the scope hit the metal frame of my prescription sunglasses, which in turn hit me lightly above he right eyebrow. Lightly, indeed, but enough to produce a small bleeding cut, which subsequently was taken care of by the unit’s doc present at the range. We all have an excuse for scope bites, right? Mine is that I did not properly adjust the stock length for adequate recoil absorption… The attached photo, by my son André Olive, may entertain you all..

  • iksnilol

    Eastern scopes have a shock absorber thingy built in that ensures correct eye relief and prevents scope bite.

    Never understood why somebody hasn’t made an aftermarket piece like this for standard scopes without them.

    • Hyok Kim

      Actually Americans beat them to it. But for some reason, they stopped using that feature later on.

      http://auctions.bidsquare.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/198/lot/73026/?url=%2Fview-auctions%2Fcatalog%2Fid%2F198%2F%3Fpage%3D14

      • iksnilol

        Ah, Western scopes made sense back in the day.

        • Hyok Kim

          Initially I liked the design of Warner Swazy scope, but then I read it had problem keeping zeros. Anyway, that rubber thing wouldn’t help me now since I wear glasses, which why I am forever looking for a scout scope. Unfortunately Zeiss doesn’t make scout scope, and those who make them, I am not impressed with their optical quality.

          • iksnilol

            Ah, nah, I didn’t mean the design of the scope itself. Just having that little eyepiece there.

            I also wear glasses but I flip them up for shooting with scopes.

          • Hyok Kim

            I am sorry I didn’t mean you meant the scope itself. I was just gabbing, putting my historian’s hat on.

            I do so also, but sometimes in a hurry, one might forget or not have the time to do it.

          • iksnilol

            Nothing to be sorry over, history is always interesting… Well, not always but in regards to stuff like firearms and optics it is. 🙂

            Old scopes were probably not as good as todays… then again we do have crappier scopes than they could have imagined back in the day.

  • adverse

    What’s a scope?

    • COL Bull-sigh

      A scope is like a horse–if you get too close, it kicks you!

  • Digger

    264 mag. Right between the eyes. Bleed more than the deer! It all boiled down to shooting in a “weird position” while sitting in a tree!! It happens…..
    Couldn’t pass the shot! Good shot, just bad shooter position!

  • grifhunter

    Scoped shotgun, rifled slugs and shooting from a bench (or prone) = permanent semicircle ring over right eye.