Last Updated on June 13, 2021
It doesn’t matter if you have a $1,000 rifle if you’re just going to throw a $20 scope on it. But the problem is that a more expensive scope doesn’t always equal a better product, so if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can end up spending a ton of money for a scope that doesn’t do what you need.
That’s why we reviewed seven of the best scopes out there. We also created a comprehensive buyer’s guide that will walk you through everything that you need to know about these scopes.
This way, the next scope that you purchase for your rifle will be the last one!
|Best Overall||Sniper MT4-16X50AOL Hunting Rifle Scope||
|Best Value||TASCO MAG39X32D Rimfire Scope||
|Premium Choice||Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Rifle Scopes||
|Burris Fullfield E1 Hunting Rifle Scope||
|Nikon Prostaff P3 Predator Hunter Riflescope||
If you’re looking for a top-notch scope for your rifle, you can’t go wrong with the Sniper Hunting Rifle Scope. It’s available for a great price and comes with a lifetime warranty. Moreover, it has an outstanding 4x to 12x magnification range, which makes it extremely versatile.
Even better, the 3.9″ to 4.3″ of eye relief is extremely forgiving, and with the QTA technology, you can quickly focus and make adjustments. Finally, this sight has an illuminated reticle with two color options that you can cycle through: red and green.
However, while this is our top choice, it’s certainly not perfect. You get a crisp image for this price point — if you’re willing and able to spend the money — but there are definitely sights out there that can give you a clearer image, especially in low-light situations.
When you want the best scope for .22-.250 rifles for the money, you want the TASCO MAG Rimfire Scope. Not only is it extremely affordable, but it also comes with a 3x to 9x magnification range, and you can make extremely precise adjustments at ¼” MOA per click.
However, this is a budget sight, and that’s extremely noticeable when it comes to eye relief. At 3″, it’s sharp, which can make it difficult and uncomfortable to use for novices and experts alike. While this sight does come with a warranty, it’s only a 1-year warranty.
Vortex Optics makes top-notch scopes, and its Strike Eagle Riflescopes line is no exception. There are two different magnification options: a 1x to 6x and a 1x to 8x. Not only do you get a tremendous top-end magnification paired with a true 1x level, but it also has an illuminated reticle for low-light conditions.
When you pair that with the anti-reflective coating that Vortex Optics puts on this scope, it quickly becomes one of the best scopes on the market for low-light situations. However, all these features come with a tradeoff: the price.
This is a premium scope through and through. It’s not cheap but it’s worth every penny.
A top-notch option that you can choose from is the Burris Fullfield E1 Hunting Rifle Scope. Like many premium choices, it comes with a lifetime warranty, even if it is a little expensive up front.
That said, this sight does have three different magnification ranges to choose from, although only the 3x to 9x option has an illuminated reticle. But what really sets this sight apart is the trajectory-compensating technology that’s built right into the reticle. It helps you adjust for both bullet drop and wind, which significantly improves your ability to hit distant targets.
This is a long-lasting and durable sight that you’ll love year after year.
The Nikon Prostaff P3 Predator Hunter Riflescope is a premium choice that delivers outstanding performance. The 3x to 9x magnification range makes this an extremely versatile choice, and the spring-loaded reset turrets allow you to set up each shot with ease, even when the conditions change.
Moreover, the 3.6″ of eye relief is generous, even if it’s not the most available. But while it comes with a lifetime warranty, Nikon has discontinued this product, which makes it tricky to get this warranty honored.
Nikon should still honor the warranties of its scopes, but there have been many complaints that Nikon doesn’t want to work on them anymore because it no longer manufactures them.
There are few optics companies more well-known and well-liked than Leupold. The VX-Freedom Riflescope highlights everything that Leupold offers, and it’s not hard to see why it’s so popular.
This scope is an American-made option that comes with a lifetime warranty, though it’s unlikely that you’ll ever need it due to how well made these scopes are. Additionally, the 3x to 9x magnification range is outstanding, and the eye relief ranges from 3.66″ to 4.17″, which is also phenomenal.
While this scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle, the optics are incredibly bright, which helps quite a bit. This scope is a bit expensive, but it’s a high-quality option that’s well worth the cost.
The BARSKA Contour Riflescope has an illuminated reticle, a great 3x to 9x magnification range, and an outstanding 3.9″ of eye relief.
Additionally, it comes with all the necessary mounting rings, saving you even more money. However, while this scope comes with a lifetime warranty, the company wants $25 every time you send it in, and you still have to pay for shipping to and from. It simply doesn’t make any sense to use the warranty for a scope at this price point. Moreover, the BARSKA Contour Riflescope is not as durable as other rifle scopes, so you’ll likely end up replacing it despite the “lifetime warranty.”
Finally, it’s a second focal plane scope, meaning that you’ll need a little more practice to hit targets at changing distances.
With so many features and specs for each rifle scope, you probably have a few questions even after reading the reviews. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide that will walk you through everything that you need to know, both before and after you make your purchase.
One of the most important decisions that you need to make when picking out a scope for your rifle is the magnification. Too little magnification means you won’t be able to effectively see your target, and too much means that close-range objects can be impossible to hit.
So, keeping that in mind, how much magnification do you really need? For most hunting applications, we recommend a 3x to 9x magnification range. The minimum 3x magnification allows you to hit almost every close-range target, while the 9x magnification is more than enough for experienced shooters to hit distant targets.
Keep in mind that more magnification doesn’t always mean you can get long-range targets. You still need to account for the maximum effective range of your rifle, windage, and skill level. That’s because for long-distance shots, even the slightest movements can cause you to miss your target.
If you’re a novice shooter, you might not know the difference between a first focal plane or a second focal plane reticle. While it’s a simple difference, it’s an important one.
First focal plane reticles never change size when you’re looking through the scope. So, whether you’re looking at your scope at 3x magnification or 10x magnification, the reticle will fill up the entire scope.
Second focal plane reticles, on the other hand, will appear larger at higher magnifications. This means that at the lowest possible magnification, the reticle can be hard to see, and at full magnification, it will appear just like a first focal plane reticle. This has a more significant impact than it simply being hard to see when you’re using lower magnification. That’s because most reticles have different hash marks for windage and bullet drop, and having a reticle that changes sizes renders those features unusable.
Simply put, first focal plane reticles are easier to use, but they’re typically more expensive.
Eye relief refers to the distance that you need between your eye and your scope to see everything clearly. It’s an extremely important measurement because if you don’t have enough eye relief, your weapon’s recoil will send the scope directly into your eye.
Moreover, without enough eye relief, you’ll have to get “on top” of your rifle to see through the scope. This can prevent you from getting into the proper shooting position, making it extremely uncomfortable.
We recommend at least 3.5″ of eye relief, but the closer to 4″, the better. You can get by with as little as 3″ of eye relief, though it’s a bit comfortable. We find that anything under 3″ is borderline unusable for anything but an airsoft gun.
There’s no doubt that one of the most popular features in modern scopes is an illuminated reticle. But do you really need it?
The short answer is no, but just because you don’t need it, that doesn’t mean you won’t want it. Optics are notorious for dimming the surrounding area, and the part that is hardest to see is often the reticle.
An illuminated reticle helps with that, but it doesn’t help with seeing through the rest of the optic. Keep in mind that some optics do a better job with light transmission than others, mitigating the necessity of an illuminated reticle.
So, an illuminated reticle is more important if you’re looking to save a few bucks with a lower-end sight than if you opt for a high-end sight.
The last thing you want is to get your new scope only to realize that you have no way to use it! That’s why it’s so important to make sure you can mount your new scope to your rifle before you buy it.
You need to consider two different factors when determining whether you can mount a scope to your rifle. First, you need to ensure that the mounting system is compatible. The most common mounting types are Weaver and Picatinny rails, although Dovetail mounts are out there too.
If the mounting system matches, you can easily mount your new scope. But if it doesn’t, you’ll need an adapter to use your new scope.
From there, you need to ensure that there is enough clearance from the front of your rifle to the scope. It’s common for your weapon’s iron sights will block your new scope’s view. If this is the case, you have two options. First, you can remove your weapon’s iron sights. Some weapons make this easy, while others don’t. Second, you can invest in a riser mount. This will elevate your scope a bit and give you a clear view out of your sight. Riser mounts are extremely popular and won’t affect performance after you zero in the scope.
Once you’ve mounted your new scope to your rifle, you might think that it’s time to head out to the field and start shooting targets. But it doesn’t matter which sight you choose — if you don’t take the time to zero it in, you’re never going to hit a thing.
There’s little doubt that no matter how much you spend on your new sight, you want it to last. While every company will swear up and down that its product will last, only those that offer a warranty will do anything about it if it doesn’t.
However, when you’re looking at warranties, it’s important to look into the details. That’s because some lifetime warranties truly mean that the company will take care of you. Others load it full of fees and so much red tape that they’re impossible to take advantage of. That’s why there can be a noticeable difference in the quality of various sights, even if they all claim to last forever.
We’re confident that this guide has the perfect scope for your rifle, and we’re hopeful that we’ve given you the confidence to track down and purchase your next sight.
Finding the perfect scope for your rifle doesn’t need to be a complicated task. If you’re still in doubt after reading the reviews, why not opt for the Sniper MT4-16X50AOL Hunting Rifle Scope? It’s the top choice for a reason, and it’s a great combination of performance and affordability. If you’re looking to save a few bucks, buying the TASCO MAG39X32D Rimfire Scope is a great way to get a quality scope on your rifle now without breaking the bank.
Featured Image Credit: timotheos, 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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