Last Updated on May 17, 2021
Do you know how rifle scopes came to be? Well, apparently, the whole concept was derived from the application of the telescope. Hunters and long-range shooters were so fascinated by how close objects looked while using a telescope that they thought… “Why not mount this equipment on a rifle and see if it can help us improve our marksmanship?”
The weight was obviously an impediment, but after a couple of tries, they managed to get it right. Okay, enough with the history lesson. Let’s now look at some of the best rifle scopes currently in the game.
We understand that finding something that suits your needs can be an uphill battle, but we’ve got you. We’ve been reviewing different products in the market, and this is what we came up with:
|Best Overall||Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Riflescopes||
|Best Value||Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope||
|Premium Choice||Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Side Focus Riflescope||
|Nikon BDC600 P-Tactical Rifle Scope||
|Monstrum G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope||
Vortex is an American optical equipment brand that specializes in the production of top-tier optics for hunting, birdwatching, and different outdoor recreational sports. However, their rifle scopes are also among the preferred models used by law enforcement.
The Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope has multi-coated lenses and an extra-low dispersion glass. Commonly abbreviated as an ED, extra-low dispersion glass contains rare-earth compounds that are responsible for reducing chromatic aberration—a visual defect.
The multi-coating—also known as the anti-reflective coating—is liable for minimizing glare, improving the transmittance of light, preventing heavy scratches, and keeping fog or snow from making your vision blurry. The scope’s body is composed of durable, aircraft-grade aluminum, which keeps those lenses safe.
The first focal plane is a definite plus. It’s basically telling you that you don’t have to worry about the stadia marks because they’ll always remain relevant regardless of the magnification. And that’s a huge bonus because no hunter likes to keep making adjustments to their scope while engaging a target at a specific magnification.
The Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope has exposed turrets, so you’ll find it easy to make adjustments at a moment’s notice even if both you and the target are on the move.
Unfortunately, this scope is not all that perfect. You’ll still have to contend with the issue of the reticle edges moving out of view at maximum magnification.
There’s no doubt in our minds that Sightmark outdid itself with this one. This versatile digital scope is hands down the best rifle scope in the day-and-night vision category.
You’ll be getting a state-of-the-art 1920×1080 HD sensor that guarantees full clarity during the day, and should you feel like switching over to night mode, all you have to do is flick the arrow on the left side.
The night mode setting still comes with additional options: you could switch to white, black, or use the typical green.
On top of the 1080 HD sensor for excellent resolution, you’ll also be getting 10 reticle options, and a battery life of 4.5 hours. The battery life indicator changes from green to yellow and finally to red. Red means you’ve got less than an hour left.
The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope has a detachable 850nm IR flashlight for long-distance detection. What’s more, this feature enhances the quality of images taken at night, and offers an accurate target acquisition. By the way, it’s detachable because in some states, IR lights are considered illegal.
Even though most users don’t always immediately notice the weaver rails added to the scope, they’re actually significant. Because of them, you can easily add any other accessory that you’d like to use during your adventures.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with an SD card. And that’s certainly a drawback because you’ll have to purchase one, if you wish to collect data by recording videos.
To understand why this particular riflescope is considered the premium choice on this list, we’ll first talk about the CDS feature. CDS is an abbreviation for Custom Dial System, a feature meant to help the user effortlessly compensate for bullet drop, and make adjustments on the fly. You’ll want to experience some form of flexibility in the context of different conditions, calibers, and loads, and that’s what this system guarantees.
The Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Side Focus Riflescope’s CDS also has an added feature—the ZeroLock. An elevation dial that locks into place so as to ensure users don’t inadvertently rotate off zero. And that’s not all. To enhance accuracy, Leupold again decided to add a quick button press feature. It’s the thing that’s in control of the two-turn elevation dial-up.
You can work with the VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Side Focus Riflescope in all weather conditions. Its scope doesn’t seem to be affected by fog or water, and it’s totally shockproof. But then again, this shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the Leupold brand only manufactures waterproof scopes. What makes this unit so different from all the other products on the market, is the incorporation of the second-generation Krypton/Argon waterproofing.
Scientifically, nitrogen molecules are smaller in comparison to Krypton/Argon molecules. And due to that fact alone, the latter is usually considered to be more effective in reducing the diffusion of sealed gases found inside a scope. The reduction of gases helps to get rid of the thermal shock effects that users keep complaining about while using different models.
Added clarity is also a perk that you get to enjoy here. And that’s achieved in two ways: through the blackened lens edges, and the guard-Ion Rain Shielding. Both features work together to reduce unwanted glare and protect the scope against fingerprint smudges.
The VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Side Focus Riflescope has all the features that any hunter would love, but that price is the one thing that knocked it out of the top two spots.
To date, the Nikon BDC600 P-Tactical Rifle Scope is still one of the most sought-after scopes in the market. Besides the fact that it’s great with precision, it also helps users avoid ammunition waste.
If we were talking about a contest, the BDC 600 reticle would give all the other reticles a run for their money. It comes with a 600-yard distinctive aiming circle and a Spot-On technology that offers additional functionality to those who prefer using different ammo.
Side note: this scope was designed for the 233 rounds.
The next feature that you’ll for sure fall in love with, is the Parallax Free 100 Yard Setting. It guarantees that you’ll hit any target that’s within 100 yards, even if you feel like you’re not in a comfortable position—Definitely the reason why indoor shooters prefer running with this unit.
We’ll finish this off by talking about the multi-layered anti-reflective coating, the zero-reset turrets, and the generous constant eye relief features.
So first off, your images will always appear bright and crisp thanks to the multiple anti-reflective layer coatings, which facilitate high amounts of light transmission. Secondly, you won’t have to deal with scope-eye from recoil, since the BDC600 P-Tactical Rifle Scope provides a 3.6-inch eye relief. And lastly, once you get the right zeroing adjustment, you won’t have to make adjustments a second time because those settings will be saved by the zero-reset turrets.
We’ll give the Nikon BDC600 P-Tactical Rifle Scope a B+ rating. We could have given it an A, but it doesn’t have flip caps.
Exceptionally designed for long-range target shooting, the Monstrum G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope has a parallax adjuster, with a setting that can handle a target that’s more than 1500 yards away.
Its reticle is illuminated, so even if you find yourself in a low light situation, not being able to find the range will never be a thing. And that’s not all. Once you’ve magnified that target, the first focal plane won’t compromise its image in any way.
Like several other scopes, the Monstrum G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope also has a multi-coated lens, but an interesting eye relief that will make it easy for you to focus on any target that’s moving. Oh, and we guarantee you that the pictures taken will be crystal clear.
Sadly, it doesn’t come with the best mount rings, and the clicks aren’t as audible as we’d like them to be. Adjusting a rifle scope is always easy if you can hear that click every time you try to make adjustments, so that’s definitely a drawback.
You’ll be getting precise adjustments courtesy of the 0.1 mil click value located on the Bushnell AR Optics Rifle Scope’s turrets. You’ll also be getting a fully multi coated optics and a caliber specific reticle, the two things that any hunter would consider important in a scope.
So if you add those two features to the eyepiece that adds more accuracy to the equation, you’ll be working with a rifle scope that has an optimal light transmission, and offers incredible brightness.
They say the offers better versatility in comparison to other brands because its drop zone BDC reticle can still handle the 55 and 62 grain. But you’ll definitely have to get used to it before you start feeling comfortable with it.
There are a couple of reasons as to why this model didn’t end up in the last position. First and foremost, taking into consideration what it brings to the table, we’ll say it’s pocket-friendly. A 25x magnification power and a 56mm lens are not bad features.
You get to see targets that are pretty far away and that objective lens is big enough to ensure your light transmission rate is sufficient. But even those two features, together with the O-ring feature that protects it against fogging, weren’t strong enough to hoodwink us into thinking this is a top-class model.
The Ade Advanced Optics Long Range Rifle Scope is a delicate rifle scope. If you’re not careful, you’ll break it on day one. We also realized getting clear images was not so easy, as you had to make several adjustments. We’re appreciative of the fact that they added green light to it but it washes out during daytime. Last but not least, it scratches easily.
Most riflescope manufacturers keep assuming that users who buy their products know how to mount and operate them. That’s why you’ll sometimes buy a scope and find no instructional manual in the package. Fortunately for us, Athlon doesn’t discriminate. Whether you’re a rookie or an expert, you’ll get a manual.
We also liked how the magnification adjustments are smoother than usual, and the power setting so accurate, thanks to the high precision erector system, operated by a high precision Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machine.
But this is why it came last on this list. First off, its usable magnification range is a joke. Even though it’s been listed as 27x, you cannot go beyond 16x. Secondly, we were stoked to learn that it has turrets, but they’re extremely difficult to turn. Thirdly, if you don’t take your eyes off the target, you won’t know how many clicks you made. And lastly, the warranty just makes you feel like the company’s mocking you.
Rifle scopes are different, and as such, they do serve different purposes. Some are classified as jacks-of-all-trades, while others fall under the specialized tools category. So, before you invest your hard-earned money on anything, make sure you’ve understood your needs.
There’s something else worth noting. On several occasions, we’ve seen people invest in military-grade scopes thinking that the equipment is what they need to improve their marksmanship. But to be honest, we think that’s ridiculous.
The truth is, anybody can achieve any level of marksmanship with or without a quality scope. This tool is important, but it doesn’t account for much in that equation.
That being said, here’s a list of things to consider:
You’ve noticed the numbers inscribed on every rifle scope. You might have seen something like, G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope. The 6-24x is the magnification range. It means you can work with a magnification power that starts at 6x, and make adjustments all the way up to 24x. Assuming your scope has numbers inscribed in the same fashion, it’s a variable scope.
But if the scope has something like, 6x-24, that would mean its magnification power is fixed at 6x. You won’t be able to go further than that or even lower.
People have different tastes and preferences. Some prefer the variable scope because it gives them enough room to make adjustments, while others prefer the fixed one because it’s budget-friendly and guarantees a clearer view.
A rifle scope’s magnification is unequivocally one of the most—if not the top—important factors in this trade. It can simply be defined as the range to which the user is able to multiply their naked-eye vision. Let’s say you end up buying a rifle scope that has a magnification power of 3x. You’ll basically be tripling the power of your natural eye.
You can easily tell what a scope’s magnification is by looking at its name. A great example is the Bushnell AR 1-4×24 Drop Zone Optics. The 1-4x range tells you the number of times that target will be magnified.
A long-range shooter will most likely settle for a high magnification scope because shooting a target that’s more than 800 yards away is practically impossible if you’re using a 1-4x power scope or any other scope classified as a lower magnification device.
A scope with stellar performance will most likely have a larger objective lens. ‘Larger’ means it will allow more light in, and hence, create a detailed image even in a low light situation. Figuring out how large a scope’s objective lens is, is pretty easy. Just look at the digit(s) that follow the (x) that represents its magnification power.
Let’s go back to our previous example: the G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope. The objective lens in this scope is 50, and the measurement is usually in millimeters.
But you still have to be careful not to go too big when it comes to the objective lens. An exaggeration will increase the overall weight of the scope, and that’s a problem you don’t want to deal with.
This is not a common aspect because it’s rarely found in low-magnification scopes. In non-technical language, parallax is an optical illusion that tends to increase as the scope’s magnification power increases. Subsequently, giving the user a significantly larger margin of error that has to be rectified.
You’ll find an adjustment ring on the objective bell that will help you take care of that.
How heavy your scope feels will not only affect the rifle’s balance, but also how comfortable you feel while holding it. Think about where you’ll spend most of your time shooting. If you’ll have a few sandbags to help you cushion the rifle, you can go as heavy as you want. But if you’re thinking of stalking a deer, or running up and down a hill, a lighter scope is more appropriate.
Rifle scopes have more than one lens. And on one of those lenses, you’ll see an image that has been implanted. That’s what a reticle is.
It’s usually located behind the lenses (Second Focal Plane), or ahead of them (Front Focal Plane). The size of the FFP reticle will change as the scope’s magnification changes. So the more you zoom in, the more it increases in size, and vice versa. The situation is different with the SFP reticle. Nothing changes regardless of how much you zoom in or out.
In military school, they’re taught this: if you want to win a battle, work on your tactics. But if you’re looking to win the war, all your focus should be on the logistics. The type and number of batteries in a scope should be one of your primary concerns.
For starters, don’t go for a scope that has its weight listed without the batteries. It will completely mess up your accuracy. Also, if they’re using some generic batteries, stay away from them. Only invest in rifle scopes that come with premium quality batteries.
We thought we should finish this off with the big one—The Price. The one factor that influences supply and demand in all markets.
We’ll keep it simple, and say this: the price of a scope doesn’t have a direct correlation to how well it performs. How well a scope does will depend on what you want to use it on. So if you’re the kind of person who only believes in investing in expensive items, we say do whatever makes you happy. But if you’re serious about buying a scope suited for your needs, forget all about the price, and focus on its specifications/features. That’s how you hit the jackpot.
Our number one rifle scope is the Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope. We believe this scope isn’t only suited for advanced shooters, but also guys who’re just starting out. The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope with detachable 850nm IR flashlight is our pick for the best value. And if you are of a different opinion, feel free to reach out. We’d like to hear what you have to say, and maybe learn a thing or two from you.
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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