Thursday, March 24, 2011

Airsoft 101: What is Parallax?

Technically speaking, parallax is the visible displacement of an object when viewed from two different, nonlinear points. The first time I first encountered this phenomena was with an old-school viewfinder camera as a kid. The view finder (i.e. the window you look through to take the picture) and the actual lens of the camera are located in two separate points so what you see in the viewfinder, isn’t necessarily the photograph you actually take. What you see, and what the lens “sees” are actually two different perspectives. This same visual discrepancy can affect your target practice if you use a high-power scope with your airsoft gun.

You may have noticed parallax before but dismissed it as the scope being out of focus. Parallax occurs whenever you move your eye slightly off-center to the edge of the exit pupil, the tiny aperture in the optic device where light passes through, making the cross hairs seem to move across the target. This illusion indicates that the parallax setting is not properly set for the distance you are aiming. When set correctly, the cross hairs should sit still, properly centered on target.

Why should you care?

If you aren’t using a "target" or a "varmint hunting" airsoft rifle scope, you probably shouldn’t care all that much about your parallax setting. You simply don’t require that degree of accuracy. If you spend a lot of time in target practice, however, or have a sniper role on the field, this simple setting is important.

Where do I adjust the parallax?

You can find the parallax adjustment ring on most high power scopes (i.e. power of 12 or higher) at the end of the scope’s objective bell (the part of the scope closest to the target.) Usually these rings feature suggested settings, but as you become more familiar with your airsoft firearm and scope, you can perfect the parallel adjustment and significantly improve your shooting performance.

Quick steps to adjusting your parallax…

  • Secure your rifle - preferably on a shooting rest with vise

  • Zero in your scope so that it's properly sighted in

  • Determine your shooting range and dial in the suggested setting on the parallax adjustment ring

  • While looking through the scope, shift your eye back and forth, checking for perceivable cross hair movement

  • If you can identify movement, slightly adjust the setting until you have eliminated the illusion

When you have determined the perfect setting, mark the scope’s adjustment ring so that you can easily find the setting again. I recommend using something non-permanent, like white out, as you may not have the setting 100% perfect just yet.

About the Author: Mike Zhang is the President and COO of Airsoft Megastore, an airsoft retailer offering electric and gas powered airsoft guns. Please visit Airsoft Megastore to shop for airsoft AEGs, full metal airsoft rifles or the right airsoft gas gun for players of any experience level.

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