6 large fixed power hunting rifles

When I started shooting in the 70s, a man with an automatic weapon was considered rich. If his rifle was a Leupold or if it offered variable magnification, that guy was rich. I didn’t get my first rescope until I was a teenager. It was a cheap Weaver 4X, but it changed my life; I started shooting like the gun writers in the magazines were bragging about. Now, fixed power rifles are almost extinct. Anyone using a fixed power today can be seen as poor and little better than if they were using open sights. But that’s the wrong way to look at it.

Fixed power chucks actually have several advantages over variable power chucks. First, they are smaller and lighter. One reason they are lighter is because they contain fewer lenses than variable objects. Also, the less light the lens has to pass through, the brighter the image you see. Fixed objects are often more reliable and hold zeros better than variables because they have fewer moving parts. And because they are less complicated to build, they tend to be less expensive than variable powers of the same quality.

Choosing the right magnification

scoped rifle photo
Author’s Remington Model Seven with a Burris fixed 2.75X scope. Richard Mann

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you’re using a fixed-power rifle scope, you’re never going to shoulder your rifle only to discover you’ve set the magnification too low or too high for the shot you need to take. The other side of the coin is that this makes choosing your fixed power field magnification really important. You don’t want a rescope that will limit your shooting possibilities. Although there are some fixed power objectives with 10X and ultra high magnification, they are specialized instruments. Most fixed-power hunting models have a magnification between 2X and 8X.

I’ve always felt that 1X zoom for every 100 feet you intend to shoot is a good guideline. This equates to a 3X rifle at 100 yards, a 6X rifle at 200 yards, and so on. A decent shooter can hit anything they need to hit with that much magnification. In fact, for big game hunters who operate in open country, you don’t even need that many. I took my first mule deer in an open Montana pond at 318 yards with a fixed 6 power scope. My first black bear was taken in a Montana high meadow at about 220 yards with a fixed 4 power.

When you get into the wood things change. Once, while sawing a hardwood ridge, I noticed a whitetail rubbing its antlers on a sapling. I could see him clearly with my 6X binoculars, but when I shouldered my rifle, he was invisible through my fixed 2.5X scope. There just wasn’t enough resolution to see him through the clutter, and he was only about 75 yards away. Although it may seem to defy all conventional wisdom, in these cases you need more zoom than in open locations where shots are usually longer.

The best application for the 2X to 2.5X fixed power scope is on a dangerous game rifle where the shots will be close and a wide field of view is appreciated. Leupold’s FX-II Ultralight 2.5X20mm is an ideal rifle for dangerous game at close range. Low-magnification fixed-power scopes with at least 9 to 10 inches of eye relief, such as the Burris 2.75X Scout Scope, work well on Scout rifles. Both are particularly useful for the quick-shooting running game. I have received many mushrooms this way in Africa.

photo of Meopta field
Quality fixed-power riflescopes, like this Meopta MeoStar R2 8X56 RD, can deliver outstanding low-light performance. Meopta

The fixed 7X and 8X powers are somewhat specialized. Those with illuminated reticles and large objectives, such as GPO’s Spectra 7.5X50i and Meopta’s MeoStar R2 8X56mm RD, offer low-light performance equal to or better than any rifle scope. They are not even free. Meopta will set you back about $1,500. These are high end rifles and are very popular in Europe where a good deal of hunting is done at night. The combination of large exit pupils, high twilight factors and exceptionally good glass allow you to see well enough to shoot in minimal ambient light conditions.

The best all-purpose big game fields with fixed power

The best fixed-power riflescopes for the average big game hunter offer 4X or 6X magnification. But there aren’t many options. Barring tactical sights and low-end Chinese optics, Leupold is really the only quality choice. They still deliver their iconic and seemingly invincible 7.5 ounce FX-I 4X28mm fixed power. No parallax at 60 yards, traded for burst but will work on a center rifle. Leupold’s excellent 13.6-ounce fixed power FX-3 6X42mm is one of my favorite rifles. At 6X, it perfectly splits the 3-9X zoom range, which for years was the most popular variable scope sold. I have one mounted on a Remington Model Seven with a stud built by Jerry Dove that is chambered for my 2Fity-Hillbilly wildcat cartridge.


I was shooting that rifle late one evening near the Republican River in Nebraska when a big 8-gun and some came walking by about 70 yards. I punched him and they sped off into a recently cut cornfield, stopping in what I thought was a little over 300 yards. I had a doe tag too, so I kept the net on that 6X42 just up on the larger doe. The old girl fell from the shooting. I don’t see how things could have gone better with any variable power. Two shots – one at 70 and one at 300 yards – and two deer down. Fixed power pushbuttons work. But if you want one, you better get it now before they’re really gone.

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