Almost everything we possess requires cleaning at some point in order for us to get the most out of it. Rifle scopes are no different. Most of us clean our guns on a regular basis but tend to forget about that expensive paperweight sitting on top. 

Properly cleaning a scope isn’t difficult, all it requires is a bit of your time. A properly maintained and clean scope can provide decades of clear and accurate target images. Whether you are shooting in a competition or just at the range having fun, we all want every ounce of light to come through and every click of our turrets to be without grinding.

Most of us do not take off the rifle scope when cleaning our guns. It just takes too much time to unmount, remount then zero back in. If you are going to be leaving your scope mounted when cleaning your rifle, make sure to put the scope lens covers on. When cleaning out the bore or oiling down the barrel, tiny dust flies around. We do not want this dust attaching itself to our precious lenses.

Below we will discuss the most efficient way to properly maintain your scope. Hopefully this article leaves you with some simple cleaning tips and tricks to keep in your back pocket for the next time you pull out that old rifle that needs a tune up.

How to Clean Rifle Scope Lens

Dust Enemy #1

Now a little dirt and dust on your lenses won’t do any physical damage, and you can generally let it sit on your lenses until it becomes noticeable. It’s when you try to clean your lenses improperly that this dust can become dangerous. 

For dusting a rifle scope a cleaning pen brush should be used. Most cloth wipes (or wet wipes) are only going to drag the dust across your lens, turning that dust into muddy sandpaper.

If you ever cleaned a camera lens then a rifle scope lens will seem very familiar. A camera lens cleaning brush can be used on rifle scope lenses as well. When brushing away the dust with your scope cleaning brush you want to brush from the center out, not from side to side, this will provide the most effective dust removal. 

microfiber cloth lens cleaning

Fingerprints Enemy #2 

Now we can deal with those lovely fingerprints and smudge marks. We need to use the thing I just told you above not to use… A cloth.

When you purchase a scope there is going to be a little microfiber cloth included in the package most times. These are the same cloths that come with cameras, eyeglasses, and even cellphone screen protectors. Most of us have a few of these tucked away in the back corner of a drawer or a cupboard somewhere. Make sure not to use your shirt or a towel, microfiber cloths are built specifically for this kind of work.

Using your DRY microfiber cloth rub your lenses in a circular motion. If you are trying to get into the cracks surrounding your scope lens you can put your microfiber cloth over a q-tip and use that to help reach.  

Fingerprints on scope

Cleaning The Rifle Scope Body

Your scope is hopefully a sealed metal tube. In all honesty, cleaning the rifle scope exterior is not going to improve the performance. However, it is always a good idea to clean any dirt and grime off the turrets, just to keep the likelihood low that grit will get in there. 

I only have two pieces of advice in regards to cleaning the scope tube. The first is do not use any cloths that have had any cleaning agents or solvents used with them in the past. Solvents can leak into the joints and start to break down your O-rings. The second piece of advice is to not use the same brush on the turrets that you would use on the lenses. The lens always takes top priority. You wouldn’t wipe off your shoes and then use the same rag to clean your glasses.

When using a brush to clean the turrets always wipe away from any openings. Cramming dust and dirt into the crevasses of every rotating part is the opposite of what we are trying to do here. Turrets are the most handled part of the scope, so it stands to reason that they are probably the dirtiest part of any scope. If the brush just isn’t doing the job then you can drip A LITTLE bit of pure water onto a CLEAN cloth. DO NOT pour the water directly onto your scope. If you have turret caps then leave them off to dry after using the damp cloth.

Battery Check

If you have an illuminated reticle then you probably have a few batteries tucked away in your scope somewhere. And if you have batteries then you will need to check from time to time for scope corrosion. If your scope battery port has corrosion then you can first try to use a pencil eraser to scrub away that corrosion. If the eraser is not doing the job then you can try a very fine piece of sandpaper and rub gently on the battery terminals to get your battery ports back to normal.

Rifle scope battery terminal

A Final Word

If you are going to use a cleaning fluid (not recommended) please make sure you spray it on a cleaning apparatus first. Never spray or pour anything directly onto your scope. 

Removing dirt from your scope does not need to be as stressful as spring cleaning, and you do not need to do it every time you take your scope out. Every once in a while if you notice dirt or light loss, spend a few minutes cleaning your scope.


Arory Mountain Logo