We have put together best rifle scope reviews guide which consists of the best hunting scopes on the market today. There are various elements to consider before purchasing and we are sure the below rifle scope comparison guide will assist in making your decision easier.
It is designed so that the user may sort the columns by the different features or elements based on specific requirements or preference.
Included in the guide are 7 columns:
- Best Rifle Scope & Image – The rifle scope product name and an image of the scope
- Magnification – Low to high end magnification range of the scope
- Objective Diameter – The diameter of the objective lens measured in millimeters
- Length – Length of the scope in inches
- Weight – Weight of the scope in ounces
- Price – The approximate prices. $ = under $399, $$ = $400 to $999, $$$ = $1000 to $1999, $$$$ = $2000 or more
- Ratings – The average user rating from Amazon.com out of 5 at the time of posting
Top 10 Best Rifle Scopes Comparison Guide
What’s a Rifle Scope?
Unlike thermal binoculars… A scope, or telescopic sight, is actually a miniature refracting telescope which is mounted atop a firearm. Through a combination of magnification and an internal image pattern, or reticle, the scope provides the user with an accurate aiming point.
While most common on rifles, scopes can be used on any modern firearm including shotguns, handguns and muzzleloaders. Of course each of these firearms requires a specific scope designed for use on that particular type of firearm.
In other words, although your favorite handgun may be designed to accept any scope, mounting one of the rifle scopes discussed here may not necessarily provide the desired results.
What is a Rifle Scope Used For?
A scope provides an accurate aiming point.
If you have just picked up your first firearm you may be wondering why you need a scope.
Yes, most rifles do come equipped with “iron sights” consisting of a rear aperture and front sight post which allow for use without a scope.
The advantage of adding a scope is an increase in both range and accuracy. Even a low powered scope provides some magnification for more precise aiming.
Scopes with a higher power of magnification allow for very accurate aiming at ranges beyond that of even the healthiest naked eye.
What to Look For in a Rifle Scope?
First, you need to decide what you will be using the scope for and on what firearm it will be mounted. Some scopes are specifically designed for small caliber, low recoil firearms and are best when hunting small game or target shooting at shorter ranges.
Others are designed for large caliber hunting or tactical rifles and are more suited to hunting big game at extended ranges.
Second, you must determine another sort of range – the price range you are comfortable with. The cost of a scope can vary greatly, from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars.
In many cases, especially long range scope precision shooting, the cost of the thermal scopes can equal or even exceed the cost of the firearm itself.
While there is truth in the saying “you get what you pay for” there is no point in paying for more than you need.
Third, learn the basic terminology used to describe scopes and their standard specifications. Buying a scope, especially online, can be a frustrating task for the new shooter.
Knowing what is meant by “reticle” or “multi-coated” will make you a more informed consumer and help ensure you are getting what you need.
Basic Terminology and What it Means to You
Magnification – this refers to the “power” of the scope, or how many times greater than the naked eye the scope will make images appear.
Many of today’s scopes are variable magnification, meaning they offer adjustable magnification within a given range. For a scope which offers a range of 3 times magnification on the low end and 9 times magnification on the high end this would be displayed as “3x-9x”.
For the majority of hunting applications a power of 3x-9x or 5x-20x is going to meet your needs. Those hunting big game at longer ranges may opt to select a larger power scope such as a 4x-25x or 10x-40x, both of which are also popular with benchrest shooters.
Tube and lens diameters – the size of the tube, or main body, and the lens are measured in either inches or millimeters depending upon the manufacturer.
The most common tube diameters are 1” and 30mm, with the 30mm being slightly larger. The diameter of the objective lens is also measured in millimeters and the larger the diameter the more light the scope allows to enter the main tube.
A general rule of thumb is that the greater the diameter of the objective lenses relative to the tube diameter the clearer the picture, especially in low light conditions.
However, lens quality is almost as critical as the diameter and a better quality; smaller lens can easily out perform a larger lens of less quality.
Reticle – this is the aim point the shooter will see when looking through the scope. While early reticles consisted of little more than two pieces of thin wire with the aim point being the crossing of both pieces (crosshairs) today’s options have expanded greatly.
Modern reticles include a wide variety of styles and patterns including: the original crosshair, target dot (crosshair with larger dot at aim point) and even mil-dot (crosshair with mille radian range markings).
In most instances, especially hunting, a mil-dot or other range finding reticle is unnecessary. Not only will you find that many of the available functions are never utilized the extra clutter added to the picture will become a distraction.
The best all-purpose reticle is a duplex cross hair, which combines a thicker outline for quick accusation and a thinner inner line to avoid blocking too much of the target.
Eye relief – this is the distance the users eye must be from the rear of the scope to achieve a clear picture and is often overlooked when purchasing a first scope.
If the distance is too far then the user will find it difficult to properly mount the rifle.
If the distance is too short the user is more than likely going to take a painful strike to the face when the rifle recoils.
An eye relief of 3-4in is generally acceptable for hunting rifles. Shooters who wear eye glasses will want to opt for a higher relief.
But is it Waterproof and Fog Proof?
Once you have decided to spend your hard earned money on a scope the last thing you want is for it to be ruined the first time you drop it in snowbank, fall in a flooded stream or get caught in a thunderstorm.
The scope manufacturers realize this and have made “waterproof” and “fog proof” strong selling points. But is it true?
In truth, any modern scope worth its salt is waterproof and fog proof – otherwise it would not last a single season.
However, some are more waterproof than others. When selecting a scope for field use, rather than pure target practice, you need to make sure it is gas filled and utilizes o-rings.
The gas, usually nitrogen, will help guarantee many seasons of reliable, worry free use no matter what the weather throws at you.
Keep in mind that laminated scopes rely upon batteries and the opening to the battery compartment is more likely to allow water to enter before the main tube.
Top 5 Best Rifle Scopes
Any of these scopes would be great buys.
Most of it comes down to personal preference and requirements. Just like with any product you can pick up a really great scope if you are willing to fork out a fair bit of cash. However, there are some really great scopes in every price range.
Here are our top rated – best rifle scopes covering a range of prices.
Nikon Pro Staff Rimfire 3-9×40 Black Matte (BDC150)
Nikon is known for quality optics, including telescopic scopes, and now they are offering a small bore specific scope built upon the same design proven effective on large bore hunting rifles.
This alone puts the BDC150 ahead of the pack, because the fact that rimfires rifles are more popular than ever there are very few scopes designed for use with them – and even few which can be considered quality scopes.
Unlike many rimfire scopes the BDC150 is full sized, with a 1in tube and 12.4 in length. This allows for generous eye relief and full size, easy to use adjustment knobs.
The reticle, with its 50 yd parallax specifically designed for .22LR, permits easy sighting and effective use out to 150 yds or more. By including a zero-reset turrets you can simply sight in at 50 yds and dial in your future ranges.
As would be expected from Nikon, all lenses are multicoated and provide good visibility and up to 98% light transmission – necessary for trouble free shooting from dawn to dusk. As with all Nikon scopes the BDC 150 is nitrogen filled and equipped with O-rings to provide waterproof, fog proof and shock proof worry free use.
Simmons 8-point Truplex reticle riflescope, 3-9×40(matte)
Every shooter’s dream is to find best thermal scopes which provides a quality workmanship which will stand up to the normal bumps and bangs of hunting without costing more than the rifle it is being fitted to.
The Simmons 8-point offers just that.
Equipped with the Truplex reticle, the 8-point allows for precise targeting without the bells and whistles more suited to the range than the tree stand. Furthermore, the audible click True-wind windage and elevation adjustments lets you know that the proper setting has been made and that it will stay where you need it.
All models are equipped with fully coated, high quality lenses for clear, bright target image and are waterproof, fog proof and recoil proof.
Schmidt & Bender Police Marksman 5.25×56/LP DT MOA P4-reticle
Not that long ago shots out to 2000 meters were not only difficult but nearly impossible.
While advances in modern weaponry have reduced these shots from fantasy to legend, it still takes an extraordinary scope simply to see a target at that distance.
The Marksman was designed for just that purpose.
The lighted, graduated reticle is designed specifically to allow for quick target accusation and shot adjustment at extreme ranges in any light condition and is battery operated. The 5x magnification will also ensure that the shooter is acquiring the correct target, even when that target appears as no more than a dot on the horizon to the naked eye.
Although the Marksman is more closely related to a telescope than it is to many bargain scopes it is still built for rugged use in a variety of terrains and weather conditions. While the battery units classifies it as water resistant rather than water proof, due to a 3m submersion limit, you will find that it is unaffected by either water, fog or the shock of high caliber recoil.