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How Do You Use a LPVO Scope: All You Need to Know

L.p. Brezny | Updated May 12, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Hand turning a knob on LPVO

If you’ve just bought your first LPVO or want to buy one, you’ll need to know how to use it. You don’t want to be one of those people fumbling with their scope on their first outing.

So, here’s everything you need to know about how to use LPVO scopes.

More Reading: Best 1-8 FFP Scopes

Once you’ve read this article and when you’re looking for more, I highly suggest our write up on the best 1-8 FFP scope options on the market today.

How to Use an LPVO Scope

The good news is, if you’ve used any other tube gun scope before, you’ll find out that an LPVO (or Lower Power Variable Optic scope) functions quite similarly. The biggest differences between an LVPO and a regular scope are the overall size and, sometimes, the objective bell. 

LVPOs are most often short and have a small front lens in comparison.

Using a First Focal Plane vs Second Focal Plane LPVO

The first thing to decide when you look at an LVPO is choosing the first or second focal plane. Both are equally good. It’s really a matter of personal preference.

First Focal Plane

The reticle in the first focal plane is placed toward the front of the scope. As you zoom in, the reticle gets bigger. This lets you use the reticle’s windage and elevation hash marks with great precision.

Second Focal Plane

This reticle in a second focal plane is positioned behind the magnification. As you zoom in, the reticle stays the same size. 

This is handy if you’re shooting small targets at a long distance because the reticle lines won’t become outlandishly thick. Conversely, if you zoom out, the lines won’t become thin as a hair. This type of scope is quite popular among hunters.

LPVO Placement

Grey LPVO mounted on a gun rail

The key part of LVPO placement is ensuring the eye relief is set to your preference. Eye relief is the distance between the back ring of the scope and your eye when you hold the gun.

Too much eye relief, and you’ll see a black ring through the lens. You also lose some of the zoom, so focusing the scope properly may be an issue.

Too little eye relief and the scope will slam into your face from the gun’s recoil. Unsurprisingly, focusing can also be an issue here.

You also want the gun positioned on your shoulder for maximum comfort and control. So, hold the gun there and adjust the scope forward or backward as needed.

You get a rough positioning when you mount the rings to the Picatinny rail. Fine adjustments come from moving the scope within the loose rings. Once the eye relief is set, tighten the ring screws to prevent the scope from moving.

LPVO Training

LVPO training is done like with any other scope – take your gun to the range and shoot it. It’s all about practice and familiarizing yourself with your LPVO.

In particular, use the zoom feature as you shoot at a target from one stand.

If you have a scope with hash marks, set up at 100 yards (91 meters). Move the gun so that each hash mark is centered over the target. Then shoot. 

Afterward, measure how far off from the center each shot is. This tells you the holdover or hold-under and how to adjust for wind.

Shooting With an LPVO

Shooting with an LVPO is the same as with other tube scopes. 

So, what’s important is learning where the bullet will hit at a given range with the scope centered. Ballistics tables can help you learn about elevation and windage adjustment. (Reference: LPVO 101 Introduction)

Here’s a great video that thoroughly goes through how to make these adjustments:

Frequently Asked Questions

How does an LPVO work?

An LVPO works by enlarging the image you see through the scope. This allows you to place your shot with more precision than iron sights or a 1x scope with no magnification.

What distance should you zero an LPVO?

You zero an LPVO at the average distance you expect to shoot. Then, you do a holdover for shots farther and a hold-under for shots closer in.

Can you use a LPVO for hunting?

You can use an LPVO for hunting. Many do. I have several rifles with LPVOs ranging from a rimfire to a .45-70 Government and have even killed a bear in Canada with a .45-70 using a red dot.

For more reading take a look at our article explaining what a daylight bright LPVO is or this one that talks about what LPVO the military uses.


  1. Vortex Nation, LPVO 101. Retrieved from https://vortexoptics.com/blog/lpvo-101.html

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