Why Put A Pistol Scope on A Handgun?

by Steve Coffman, last updated on

Most firearms owners use some kind of optics on their guns. Be it a rifle, a pistol, or any other handgun; mounting optics can be excellent for magnifying your target, clarity and also provide improved accuracy.

Scopes can be beneficial for accuracy as they provide proper magnification and a cross-hair which makes keeping your eye on the target even easier. 

The question we are dealing with today is about pistol scopes and using them on handguns. 

For clarity, let’s first know that pistol is a type of handgun. It is the first handgun, more precisely. So, you can surely mount a pistol scope on a handgun, but efficiency may differ on the type of handgun you are using. 

Why Do We Use A Handgun or Pistol Scope?

A pistol scope is a much easier one to tackle than the ones on a rifle. This is because even after mounting the scope, you can still hold the handgun at your arm’s length and follow the cross-hair, which is unlikely in a rifle scope.

Pistol scopes provide a single point of focus, so it is easier to place the dot on your target instead of realigning the rear and front sights. These also work pretty well if you increase the distance, which otherwise becomes an issue with pistols.

But you can also severely go wrong when trying to get a pistol scope as you need to keep quite a few things in mind. 

What to Consider in A Pistol or Handgun Scope?

Aspects like long eye relief, effectiveness, accuracy, parallax, adjustment knobs, high-performance glass are crucial when choosing a scope. Let’s take a look in detail:

Long Eye Relief

Long eye relief allows the shooter to have a full field of view. This not only saves from any possible recoil but also provides a more extended range. As pistols have more recoil than rifles or other heavy guns, you definitely need generous eye relief to dodge a scope eye or mishap.

A good eye relief will be narrower depending on the range of magnification. So, the higher the magnification, the closer you need to hold the eyepiece.


Scopes should always be lightweight as they are mounted on a gun. More when you are using a handgun. This is because a heavy scope will only add weight to the handgun, which unlike rifles, has a single-handed usage and does not have many anchor points.

High-Performance Optical Glass

Pistol scopes should be equipped with premium high-grade optical glass that provides the necessary brightness and clarity even at an arm’s length. 


Having a corrected parallax is extremely important because it can move the scope off-target, resulting in missed or poor shots if it’s not. 

Parallax is only adjustable in high-end scopes, and a slight error in the alignment can make your target appear in different optical planes. 

Mount Type

If you use an ill-fitted or weak mount to secure your scope, it will affect the gun’s balance and accuracy. Always check for high-grade mounting rings so that they hold the scope rail tightly and keep it in place.