Last Updated on March 26, 2021
Whether you’re aiming at targets or protecting your home, there’s no better way to upgrade your pistol than getting a top-notch scope. But your setup is only as strong as its weakest link.
If that happens to be your scope, you can find yourself in a world of trouble as your rounds fly well off target.
That’s why we took the time to create reviews of the best .22 pistol scopes out there. We also developed a comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything that you need to know when selecting your next pistol scope!
|Best Overall||Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight||
|Best Value||BSA RD30 30mm Red Dot Sight||
|Premium Choice||Leupold FX-II Handgun Scope||
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Rimfire Scope||
|Hammers 3-9x40AO .177 .22 Magnum Scope||
If you’re looking for the perfect red dot sight to put on your pistol for quick target acquisition, this Bushnell scope is the ideal combination of performance and affordability. It features a crisp 3 MOA red dot reticle, which is an excellent blend of precision and visibility.
Moreover, it has 11 different brightness settings. This lets you extend your battery life without sacrificing visibility. While this scope doesn’t come with a lifetime warranty, you’re unlikely to need it with Bushnell’s ultra-durable design.
As long as your pistol has Picatinny rails, this is the perfect scope for you.
If you’re looking for the best .22 pistol scopes for the money, the BSA RD30 red dot sight has to be at the top of your list. Not only is it extremely affordable, but it also doesn’t lack features.
For starters, there are 11 different brightness settings to cycle through, which allows you to optimize your reticle for both visibility and maximum battery life. Even better, it fits pistols with either a dovetail or a Picatinny rail.
But it’s not the top pick on this list for two reasons. First, while the 5 MOA red dot is great for visibility, it’s far too large for any kind of precision shooting. Also, BSA only offers a 1-year limited warranty, which isn’t long enough even when considering the low price of this sight.
Leupold is well-known for its premium, American-made scopes. The Leupold FX-II Handgun scope is no different. For starters, you get a lifetime warranty, which means it’s the last pistol scope that you’ll ever need to purchase. You likely won’t even need that warranty due to its extremely durable design that includes a scratch-resistant lens.
From there, it utilizes Leupold’s proprietary Twilight Max Light Management System, which gives you up to 20 extra minutes of light through the scope when you’re using it at twilight. This can be the difference between hitting your target and heading home empty-handed.
Finally, while this is a top-notch choice, make sure you know what you’re getting when you make your purchase. This is a 4x magnification scope and does not offer a 1x magnification option. So, it’s not a scope you want for home defense.
Vortex Optics is a premium brand that you can’t go wrong with. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is not a home defense scope, but you’re still getting a top-notch hunting scope.
The Crossfire II comes with an anti-reflective and a fully coated eyepiece for extra brightness in low-light conditions. You also have multiple magnification levels to choose from, starting as low as 2x and working up to an impressive 7x magnification.
With all these magnification ranges, Vortex Optics installed a fast focus eyepiece that allows you to quickly cycle through magnification levels without losing focus. Like with all Vortex Optics scope, you get a lifetime warranty. But this is a more expensive scope option.
While this Hammers scope isn’t quite overly expensive, it’s not cheap either. It’s still a versatile option if you’re in a pinch, though.
To begin with, the Hammers scope has a variable magnification range, starting at 3x and going all the way up to 9x. This allows you to accurately target objects as close as 5 yards, while still having the capability to hit more distant objects.
Moreover, since it has easy-to-adjust windage and elevation turrets, it’s easier than ever to adjust it to your conditions and hit your target. Overall, it’s a good but not great option for distance pistol shooting. Just keep in mind that Hammer didn’t illuminate any of the optics, so if you’re going to be shooting in low-light situations, you’d be better off selecting a different scope.
The BSA Edge Series pistol scope is a more affordable pistol scope with changeable magnifications. The minimum magnification is 2x, and you can power up to a 7x if you’re shooting at a farther target.
But beyond its variable magnification and lower price tag, it’s hard to find things to like about this scope. It doesn’t offer any illuminated optics and only comes with a 1-year warranty.
While neither of these things is a deal-breaker by itself, we still find that it’s probably worth it to spend the few extra bucks to get a better all-around scope.
We know that you have a ton of questions when you’re picking out a pistol scope. Whether you’re picking out your first scope and don’t know what you’re looking at or if you’ve owned and fired guns your entire life, we’ll walk you through everything that you need to know.
By the end, you’ll know exactly what you should get for your pistol.
You might find yourself wondering why you need a pistol scope at all or if a pistol scope is right for you. While there are a few limited circumstances where you might want to leave the scope at home (like when concealed carrying), more often than not, a scope can be beneficial.
Scopes can improve your target acquisition time, improve your accuracy, help you hit distant targets, and much more. Shooting is more complicated than pointing and pulling the trigger, and if you have the right scope, it can make it easier and save you a ton of frustration.
Even better, compared to rifle and shotgun scopes, pistol scopes are incredibly affordable. You can get a top-notch scope without coming close to breaking the bank, making it easier than ever to reap additional performance advantages.
They aren’t ideal in every situation, which is mainly due to their size. Pistols are small, and scopes can make them feel a bit bulkier, which can affect your draw time and ability to holster your weapon.
Furthermore, this can make it difficult to conceal-carry your pistol, which might be a requirement depending on where you live. This makes a scope more of a drawback when carrying in public.
But if you’re keeping a pistol at home for defense, a red dot sight can be a huge advantage. Not only does it improve your chance of hitting your target, but it also lets you aim down the sights quicker than you could with traditional iron sights.
There are two types of pistol scopes on this list, and the one you want depends on what you plan on using it for. If you’re adding a scope to a pistol for home defense or close-range target shooting, a red dot scope is what you need.
But if you plan on shooting targets that are farther away, you want a traditional barrel scope with variable magnification levels.
Red dot scopes have massive advantages over iron sights, but if you’re looking to shoot distance targets, they’re not what you’re looking for. That’s because most red dot scopes only come with 1x magnification. While this gives you unlimited eye relief and a great field of view, it doesn’t help you see distant targets.
But there are plenty of applications when you’re looking to improve your target acquisition time without pinpointing a distant target. When selecting a red dot sight, make sure that you check out the MOA red dot size: the larger the number, the larger the red dot. Large red dots are easier to see, but it makes it harder to get precision shots. We like a 3 MOA red dot size for an outstanding balance between precision and speed.
Finally, red dot sights need to have variable brightness settings. This ensures that you can always see your reticle but preserve your battery life and keep the reticle from getting fuzzy if you have too much light.
A variable magnification pistol scope looks just like a traditional rifle scope. The difference is typically its size. Pistol scopes are a little smaller and offer much better eye relief, which is critical for aiming.
While you can get higher magnification levels with a variable magnification scope, the tradeoff is with your field of view and eye relief. While these scopes make it far easier to hit distant targets, if you’re looking for quick target acquisition and close-range shooting, a variable magnification scope is going to be worse than having no scope at all.
When it comes to shooting a pistol, the more eye relief, the better. In fact, while rifle and shotgun scopes measure eye relief in inches, pistol scopes measure eye relief in feet. The reason for this is obvious. When you’re shooting a pistol, you have your arms extended, and the last thing you want is to fire your pistol with it just a few inches from your face. For starters, it would be incredibly inaccurate. More importantly, the recoil would slam the pistol back right into your face. So, not only would you likely miss your shot, but you might also break your orbital socket in the process. It’d be a bad day all around.
When you’re making a purchase, you want to be getting a high-quality product. While every brand promises to deliver a “high-quality” product, a warranty is the manufacturer solidifying that promise.
Companies like Leupold and Vortex Optics might have you spending a little more money up front, but you know that you’re getting a top-notch product that will last forever, so you’re saving money in the long run.
If you ever plan to hit your target, you need to see what you’re shooting. This can be a problem when you’re shooting in low-light situations, which is why you need a scope that maximizes visibility. Some scopes excel at this, while others don’t offer anything to help you out.
Not only can you get an illuminated reticle to help you see your sights when you’re shooting in low-light situations, but you can also adjust the brightness of the lens itself. Both the Leupold and Vortex Optics scope has features that maximize the amount of light, which can be the difference in making your shot early in the morning or heading home empty-handed.
Before you make any purchases, check to see if you can mount a scope to your pistol. It might seem elementary, but the last thing you want is to find the perfect scope and then find out that you can’t mount it to your pistol.
There are a few different mounting designs, but the two most common are Picatinny rails and dovetail rails. Verify what’s on your pistol before making any purchases. If you have Picatinny rails, the top choice on this list is best, but if you have dovetail rails, the budget pick is another phenomenal option.
Take a few extra seconds to see what you can mount to avoid any last-minute disappointments.
It doesn’t matter what kind of scope you purchase. If you don’t sight it in, you won’t hit your target. It’s important that you take the time to sight your scope correctly.
While you typically sight a rifle scope to 100 yards, you should sight a pistol scope to 25 yards. You are generally shooting at closer targets than you would with a rifle. If you are exclusively shooting distant targets with your pistol, you can sight it in at 50 yards instead of 25.
The right pistol scope can take your average pistol and put it over the top. The wrong one can make a great pistol and ruin it. That’s why it’s so important to get the best scope the first time. Hopefully, this guide walked you through everything that you need to know and gave you the confidence to purchase a pistol scope.
Any of the scopes among our reviews will take your pistol to the next level, so what are you waiting for?
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Featured Image Credit: W. Scott McGill, Shutterstock
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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