Will centerfire scope work on a rimfire rifle?

June 3, 2021

Will centerfire scope work on a rimfire rifle?

Centerfire Scopes and Rimfire Rifles

Can you use a centerfire scope on a rimfire rifle? Warne Scope Mounts is here to answer your burning questions about centerfire scopes, and whether or not they work on rimfire rifles. And even if centerfire scopes can be fitted to rimfire rifles, is it worth the time and investment?

Rimfire Rifles and Rimfire Scopes

Small caliber rimfire rifles are great for hunting small game and target practicing at relatively close distances. The advantages of rimfire riles are their low recoil, inexpensive rimfire ammunition (centerfire ammunition is more expensive) and accuracy for short-range targets.

Rimfire scopes were designed for low-recoil firearms and thus typically have less eye relief than a centerfire scope built to handle larger caliber ammunition and more recoil. This doesn’t mean you can’t use a centerfire scope on a rimfire rifle. You can, but you need to ask yourself why you would want a more expensive centerfire scope with a 100-yard parallax for a short-range rimfire rifle (20, 30 or 50 yards).

warne rimfire rings on rimfire rifle

Can You Use a Centerfire Scope on a Rimfire Rifle?

Centerfire scopes can work on rimfire rifles, provided the base and rings can be matched up to the diameter of the centerfire scope you go with. One reason rimfire rifle owners might opt for a centerfire scope is quality. Centerfire scopes are generally built for long-range hunting and target shooting and are more durable, made of higher quality materials and components than a typical rimfire scope.

Two issues that pop up when mounting a centerfire scope on a rimfire rifle are parallax and eye relief. Since your rimfire rifle wasn’t designed for long-range shooting, in most cases, you may have to adjust (or have a professional adjust) the parallax of the centerfire glass (usually 100 to 150 yards). Or you will have to dial back the power of your scope to center the crosshair on objects at closer ranges.

Finding parallax on a rimfire firearm at 100 to 200 yards with a centerfire scope could be an issue as well – but chances are if you’re using a rimfire rifle, you’re not planning on shooting anything at that distance anyway.


So, can you use a centerfire scope on a rimfire rifle? The answer is yes, you can. Some gun owners prefer centerfire scope quality and durability over rimfire scopes. These folks don’t have any major issues with parallax – or else they’ve learned how to deal with these parallax differences. In some instances, centerfire scopes may cost more than the actual rimfire rifle, but these last longer and are less fragile than rimfire scopes, making them worth the investment.

But if you’re using a rimfire rifle and have found a decent rimfire scope, you probably don’t need to swap over to a centerfire scope. Also, remember that rimfire scopes don’t work on centerfire rifles. They weren’t designed to handle that much recoil, plus the shorter rimfire eye relief on a centerfire rifle could be an issue as well.