BY James Brown, 7 Minutes
We have come a long way since the inception of the scopes that were first used in rifles during the mid-1800s, revolutionizing an entire industry single handedly.
It is not that difficult to find the best rifle scope if you have the right knowledge.
Whether you want it for game hunting or you want to practice becoming a better shooter, knowing that it plays a major role in determining the accuracy of your shot is crucial.
Essentially, a scope is all about tubes, sighting system (for long range accuracy), an objective lens, ocular lens, windage adjustment, elevation adjustment, eyepiece etc. that allows you to zoom in on your target effortlessly and precisely.
You may have heard of terms like light transfer, eye relief or a field of view of the scope. Do not worry, we will explain everything in detail why these things are essential and what you should look for in a scope for your rifle.
It does not matter if it is your first time buying a scope or your tenth, there are so many options in today’s market to choose from, it blows our mind, how can anybody not gets confused if they do not know, what to look for.
We have spent a significant amount of time researching the best of best scopes. However, we really avoid cheap rifle scopes though there are few recommendations that we find are great if you are in the budget.
In the end, it all comes down to your need, weather you want it for sports, game hunting, shooting, varmint shooting or perhaps killing zombies.
We put emphasis on few things that include clear/bright view, Crisp Images, lightweight, accuracy, weatherproof, Operates in low light, wintage and elevations, comfortable eye-relief, warranty & customer service.
So without further ado, let’s look at the best rifle scopes in the scene this year so you don’t have to open the box and find disappointment.
The leupold VX-2 is one of the most recognized rifle scope produced by the company. The scope is 100% waterproof, rugged, lightweight and compact.
The low light capabilities of this scope is great, price is affordable and overall built quality is rugged.
It doesn’t matter if you want to involve in hunting, target shooting or sniping, there is no replacement for a scope for long range shooting.
One of the best things about Leupold VX-2 is its clarity, its brightness and its magnification especially during late in the evening and early in the morning.
The VX-2 comes with a magnification of 3X to 9X with an objective lens of 40mm. The field of view with this rifle scope is decent featuring over 34 feet of the field of view at 3X magnification from 100 yards and over 14 feet at 9X magnification.
The index match lens system enhances light transmission and significantly improves the sharpness of the sight picture resulting in 94% of light transmission providing a well contrasted image.
On top of that, the lens is multi coated and featuring blackened edges to reduce the glaring effect to the minimum and provides the brightest, razor sharp image possible.
The ability of this scope to zero in for your rifle and your ammo is quick. The windage and elevation adjustments for this scope turn at ¼ MOA per click at 100 yards providing a range of 52 MOA.
A durable scope is one of the most important things to look for as a hunter to withstand wear and tear caused by rough handling.
The tool is purged with a mixture of Argon/Krypton gas to make it fog proof, makes it great against weather situations like rain or cold.
The exterior lens is coated with Diamondcoat coating, which protects the lens from dust and basic starch.
The eye relief ranges from 3.7 inches to 4.2 inches, which feels natural complementing its overall usability. Another great feature this scope has is its warranty. The manufacturer will replace, repair and damaged riflescope free of charge for their customers without any proof of ownership for life.
Over the years Nikon has come up with such great products, And, Nikon Prostaff 5 BCD is no exception. Especially for hunters.
The prostaff 5 already has a good reputation amongst hunters. So lets jump on to main specs for better understanding of this product.
Prostaff 5 is widely regarded as one of the most popular rifle scopes on the market currently.
It comes with the first focal plane BDC reticle (which is traditionally reserved only for premium scopes) with distance lock technology, making the FFP scope slightly powerful than the SFP (second focal plane).
As you increase the magnification range, the BDC(ballistic drop compensation) recital gets slightly bigger with an increase in zoom, which allows you to use the spot-on app where you can print out your ballistic chart for exact load matching BDC reticle at any distance, which is great because earlier with SFP, you can only use it at maximum magnification.
Prostaff 5 also comes with a quarter MOA vintage and elevation adjustment turrets designed in a way, when you turn dials in at the range.
You hear a smooth click giving a good conformation of the changed settings. One of the good things about Prostaff 5 is its side parallax adjustment which is important if you want to shoot at a long-range distance (beyond 100 yards) making it decently accurate.
This scope weights only 17.2 ounces and is about 13.6 inches long. It offers a 44mm eyepiece with a tube 1-inch in diameter offering a well-polished matt finish on the overall body, which is easy to mount on your rifle.
The tube is filled with nitrogen gas to neutralize fogginess and the O-ring seal makes it a sturdy and a waterproof scope.
If we talk about the magnification of Prostaff 5, it comes with a 3.5-14x variable power optic magnification with a 4 X zoom ration and a 40 mm objective lens. Another thing we liked about Prostaff 5 is the amount of focal adjustment you will get with it.
This scope is ideal for hunting than to precision shooting, although you can use it for both but, you will find maximum value out of it during hunting.
Another great feature we like about this scope is its comfortable eye relief and adjustable viewing ring, which can easily be adjusted from high to low without any hindrance.
It also features a fully multi-coated lens for maximum light transmission, which is crucial in the hot and cold environment.
Even though they do not market it anywhere, it comes with big turrets and sunshades. And honestly, we are really impressed with the quality it delivers considering the price of this rifle scope.
The Vortex diamondback HP 4 works flawlessly for both tactical and hunting purpose while maintaining affordability.
The great thing about this rifle scope is its ability to produce high resolution and crisp images even during dusk.
Vortex diamondback is a 4-16 magnification-powered dead hold BDC scope. It delivers a good wide range of magnification from 4X, all the way up to 16X, which is more than enough at even 250 plus yards that easily makes it the best rifle scope for the money.
We really like the way they designed the magnification ring, we never had a problem adjusting magnification even with gloves. Plus it holds a nice and tight grip making the transition smooth.
It also comes with an adjustable eye ring at the back of the scope to give a clear and crisp image.
Diamondback HP has adjustments for both elevation and windage under the protective cap.
It does have a BDC type reticle giving you versatility and ease of use up to some point for hunters. Although BDC reticle is great for specific loads but we do not like how it under-performs once you start changing bullet weights. Therefore, whenever you are zeroing the rifle make sure you test it at the different range to see where your point of impact is.
The Diamondback HP comes with a lot of room if you want to mount it with a one-piece or a two-piece mount, which gives you the freedom to be able to move it around as you, may not always have the perfect placement.
What we have noticed with this scope is that the scope keeps getting out of focus more and more with each shot, which makes you adjust the focus after each, shot. However, we contacted vortex about the issue and they had it fixed in remarkably less time props to their excellent customer service.
The light transmission with the Diamondback HP is remarkable even in low light because of its fully multi coated lenses giving it a good mid-level light transmission. Certainly, it is not the best, but one of the best is the same price range.
We would highly encourage you to always choose Diamondback HP over the regular diamondback as you will be able to adjust the focus on target because of the parallax adjustment on the sides in Diamondback HP.
The tube is purged with argon gas with O-ring seal making it waterproof and fog proof. The Objective lens is 42mm and is not too heavy or too light, right in the sweet spot.
The tube is 1 inch in size with adjustment graduation is of ¼ MOA and travel per rotation is 15 MOA. The riflescope comes with a nice 4-inch sunshade to keep the glare off.
Overall Diamondback HP can give you 80% of the performance of expensive scopes at 20% of the price.
Check out the user review and price of the product here.
The vortex Viper HS-T is a mid tier rifle scope manufactured for hunting, long range precision shooting and tactical purpose.
This rifle scope offers one of the best image quality out there for scopes under $1000 and certainly one of the best we've come across.
The viper HS-T is a second focal plane rifle scope, the HS-T stands for the Hunting, shooting, and Tactical, which actually makes sense if you look at the performance it delivers, without a doubt it is a powerhouse combining two of its most popular scopes and their best features at an affordable price.
The scope is 13.7 inches long and 20.8 ounces while the higher model is slightly bigger, It is equipped with a hash mark based second plane reticle, which makes it perfect for an accurate hold at greater distances.
The target style windage and elevation turrets are remarkably precise, repeatable and very durable builds specifically for dialing.
It comes in MOA and MRAD reticle with two different power options, 4-16X44 is ideal for hunting scene out to 800 yards. While the 6-24X50 is ideal for shooters who are looking to shoot out beyond 1000 yards.
The Viper HS-T has an objective lens of 50mm and is built on a solid 30mm one-piece aluminum tube, 75 minutes of adjustments in both windage and elevation with MOA version.
The scope has parallax adjustments from 50 yards(roughly 45 meters) to infinite with a 4-inch eye relief.
The quarter inch minute of angle adjustment provides a 12-inch MOA adjustment with one full revolution of the turrets.
It features an extra low dispersion XD glass, which is great because it increases resolution as well as the color fidelity of the lens.
All lenses are multi coated to increase light transmission with proprietary XR coating. The armor tech coating helps protect the lens from scratches, oil, and dirt. The scope is purged with argon and O-ring sealed yields a fog proof and waterproof scope in diverse weather conditions and temperature.
Just a quick note, when zooming in on a hot day if you can’t see the target very clearly, it’s because of the mirage and difference in the atmospheric temperature force light to refract giving a distorted view.
The glass on Viper HST is incredibly crisp and clear allowing looking at the subtlest details at the farthest distance so you can hit your target without a hiccup.
We love how they designed a simple reticle system, you will find no hash marks, horseshoes and complicated dots that make your shooting/hunting session effortless.
Another great thing we love about this scope is its great edge-to-edge clarity and its dispose of tactical style turrets, which provides accurate and easy to read elevation and windage adjustment.
The Nikon P-223 is a reliable and durable scope for the money. With P-224, Nikon has manufactured a tool that not only comes at a very reasonable price but it also over delivers.
This product has every feature one could wish for in a rifle scope to match its in class rivals makes it the best budget scope.
This riflescope has a fixed parallax setting at 100 yards and a 3.6-inch eye relief.
The maximum adjustment is at 80 MOA with a field of view of 33.8 feet, which is a good size of the area if you look at how cheap the scope is which will be at 11.3 feet at maximum zoom of 11.3 feet.
The lens in this scope is fully multi-coated, filled with nitrogen and rubber sealed which makes it fog proof and waterproof.
Nikon P-223 has a 600 BDC reticle (bullet drop compensation) especially with the .223/5.65 NATO round with 55-grain polymer tip bullet. You can zero in the scope at 100 yards, every dot below that is 200 yards, 300 yards and so on, and every dash is 250 yards, 350 yards and so on.
The scope is 3-9X magnification scope, the turrets are well built, adjustments are crisp and after you have zeroed in you can turn and lift the cap without having to reset everything.
Each click on the turrets is a quarter inch at 100 yards giving it fine adjustments. At this price point, the clarity on this scope is remarkable; you will get up to 98% of light transmission enhancing visibility in the dark and dusky environment.
Nikon nailed its spot on ballistic match program support which helps its customer with accurate field adjustment parameters based on a range of the target, ammunition caliber etc.
This scope is designed for one thing, get the best features out of the scope in the lowest amount of price possible makes it the best hunting scope for the money.
UTG is well known for manufacturing quality scopes for low price and BugBuster is one of them. Despite being low price, the scope is loaded with different features like illuminated Reticle, durability and its compact design.
Lets jump on to the main features of this rifle scope to see what else it can do.
The scope is a 3-9X adjustable magnification scope with the 32mm objective lens, It has a coated lens which allows the light transmission at its maximum.
The thickness of the tube is 1 inch and the eye-relief is 3.5’ to 4.5’ inches with ¼ MOA per click adjustments.
The great thing about this scope is the amount of feature it offers considering its price. It is a CQB scope, which allows you to focus the target down to 300 yards and with the adjustable objective; it makes the scope parallax free.
Another good the about this scope is its size, it a very small scope if you exclude the sunshade.
The quick detach rings works just fine and fast, just pop the side switches and remove it from the gun. It makes it great for the people who are constantly switching the scope with different sides.
The scope is a quite heavy duty, it is built on True Strength platform and purged with nitrogen and completely sealed making this scope waterproof, fog proof and the company claimed it’s shockproof as well though we haven’t really tested it.
The BugBuster is RGB reticle, it has red, green or black settings, while the green and red uses the battery.
The range estimating mill dot reticle in BugBuster will allow you to hold over high enough and still hit your targets without having to make any adjustments or lose the original settings you have on your scope.
This scope comes with front and back flip-up covers, which fits in really nice and tight. Even with the 32mm objective lens at 9X magnification, the scope provides good light transmission and still has a very good range of view.
The ATN Thor HD is a high-end high performance thermal rifle scope with an ability to work perfectly during the day or the night.
This gun scope is packed with features especially its ability to see through dense fog or smoke.
The Thor HD is a thermal optic scope that comes in a variety of different reticle, solid duplex, and a duplex with a dot in the center, dot with three lines, a pepper with lateral hash marks, a graduated ballistic ladder, a small pepper and duplex with hash marks.
The Good part about THOR is that it has an integral rangefinder all we have do is take the reading above and below the target then scope will tell you the target’s range makes it the best rifle scopes with rangefinder.
The only reason Thor HD is not our top pick is because it is a bit expensive so not everyone is going to buy it.
Thor-HD 384 Thermal Rifle Scope offers an E-barometer, gyroscope, E-compass with Video recording saved in a micro SD card and GPS in it as a bonus you can control it through your device (iPhone or android) all with an app to get instant access.
This scope has an internal camera and one of its great features is that it can remember setting for multiple rifles and it can re-calibrate the settings once you place it back on that same rifle you have used before just select the profile you have named for that particular rifle.
The only thing we do not like about this scope is its battery backup, you will need to invest in an external power source if you want to use the scope for more than an hour.
It takes four AA batteries, the battery compartment is good and well-designed in the right place. However, the user interface is little complicated than other digital scopes on the market.
The smart range finder quickly ranges in on your target, then the reticle sets to work by adjusting its point of impact. The scope can work both during the day and during the night.
You can connect the scope to an apple or an android device via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth for live video streaming.
You will get the free firmware updated for this device, which runs the scope which can add-in new features to the scope.
Another high quality premium optics from Vortex, the razor HD gen II is high end gun scope designed for long range precision shooting.
The images quality with this rifle scope is one of the best long range scope on the market with sharpness, brightness and high color fidelity being a result of premium extra low dispersion glass.
The Razer HD gen II is one of Vortex’s higher end scopes. The glass quality of this scope is excellent, made-up of its top tier-1 glass.
Not to mention a great magnification range from 4.5X to 27X with no tunneling. At the maximum magnification, the edge-to-edge quality of this scope is flawlessly giving a field of view of 20.5 feet makes it the best long range rifle scope under 2000 dollars.
The reticle design in Razer HD II is very impressive available in the first focal plane and in our opinion it is the best long range scope for the money.
Elevation and Turrets are well built and designed delivers a 113.5 MOA at its disposal.
Razor HD II has a locking mechanism in the most simplest manner, just push the upper part of the turrets down you can lock it in place.
In addition, it comes with an excellent illumination design and the built quality is spot-on due to which it is a bit heavier than other models at the same range giving you a feel of a rugged, heavy duty, super robust scope weighing 48.5 ounce.
The lens system covered with armortek coating has an adjustable eyepiece on the back, you can easily fine tune it up to 600 yards.
The scope is built for long-range, precision shots and tactical operation. Razor HD II features APO optical system, which delivers impressive image quality through its high density, extra-low dispersion glass.
This scope is completely waterproof and fog proof thanks to the O-ring sealed tube and argon purging. It is made up of aircraft-grade aluminum from top to bottom making it shockproof.
The ATN X Sight-II is a digital scope with both day and night capabilities, available in 3-14X magnification and 5-18X magnification making it the best hunting scope.
An obsidian core processor powers the scope, it acts much as a GPS enabled video camera as well as a gun sight.
X-sight II can record 1080p video at 30 FPS though we feel the clarity of 1080p is not quite there. It also can take still photos on a micro SD card in-addition to switch between day and night vision modes on demand.
The scope houses the micro-SD card slot, Micro USB and Micro HDMI output for remote access and viewing under the same waterproof cap.
One of the great things about this scope for hunters is that it also provides a digital compass, GPS & Geo tagging for navigation as well as to keep track and display, where you have been on the map so that when you come next year for hunting, you don’t have to find a new place to hunt all over again.
Overall the X-sight II is 11.5’ inches long and weighs about 2.5 pounds but to our experience, it felt a little bit heavier with adding batteries. In addition to that, the scope comes with a build in electronic range finder to figure out the distance between the target and the rifle.
Another great thing we like about this scope is how you can download and update its software to add in more features. In-addition to this, this scope will automatically capture the ambient temperature as well as the atmospheric pressure.
Our main concern with X-sight II is its battery life, which is not so good, it can last up to 2 hours on four AA internal batteries.
If you are using this scope for hunting like us which is definitely its primary reason it is used for, you may want to buy rechargeable batteries which can last up to 8 hours of battery life.
Another great feature of X-sight II is its smart shooting solution, As soon as you zero in at a given distance, you tell it at what distance range you have zero in at and it will automatically compensate with the bullet drop and how much the wind drift will affect it, to match to that distance.
The night vision of this scope is great, you can seamlessly transition to a night vision settings without a hiccup. We were not expecting much from this scope for its night vision capabilities because if you are looking for a quality night vision scope, be prepared to spend thousands of dollars but honestly, we were impressed by how effective the night vision of this scope is.
It is an amazing riflescope packed with features, though battery life is not good but you can fix that with spending extra bucks.
The second number in the above example, 44 in 3-10X, is the diameter of the objective lens in millimeters. The larger the diameter of the scope the more the light transmission will take place.
The more the light transmission, the brighter and crisp the target will look and the amount of clarity it offers in low light condition is remarkable.
The bigger the objective lens the more field of view the scope offers. The only downside to having a bigger objective lens is that it will make the scope a little bulky.
There is a misconception that the size of the tube controls how much light is reaching your eye but that is far from the truth. In reality, the exit pupil (objective lens) does that.
With that said a larger tube gives rigidity and robustness to the scope due to larger rings and greater cross sectional area.
Glass Used In Scope
The Extra-low dispersion glass also known as HD glass due to the term is commonly known by the public but has nothing to do with high definition, nonetheless, it delivers crisp images and superior color fidelity.
ED glass narrows down the visible light to a single focal point rather than directing it at different points along the optical axis.
It results in the elimination of chromatic aberration and produces authentic colors.
Coating on the Optics
Every time the light hit the surface of the glass, it limits the light transmission as the light reflects by 5%.
To overcome this, a thin film of chemicals such as magnesium fluoride is used to coat the surface of the glass, which reduces light loss, glare and increases light transmission resulting in brighter and crisper images.
The reticle is the visual markers also known as crosshairs, which provides with an aiming point in the riflescope.
They are available in different combinations that include pointed posts, dots, multiple dots, bars, duplex, BDC and Illuminated. The most common out of all the reticle is of duplex and multiplex design where the main crosshair is thicker for easier viewing even in the low light condition.
However, for long range shooting, you will want a reticle that displays MIL or MOA for hold over. The sub-MOA reticle is great for hunting or long range shooting. While for close range and fast target shooting red dot and other illuminated.
Purging the scope with nitrogen or argon prevents the scope from fogging inside the lens.
It is important to have a waterproof scope, especially during the hunting session. Having a ring sealed tube will ensure that the rain or the river will not affect your scope.
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