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Need help picking the best rifle scope?
So you finally did it, you finally purchased that brand new stainless steel 308 marlin express lever action rifle. Next on your list should be tracking down the best rifle scope that you can afford.
Soon you will be just a brief time at the gun range away from being able to confidently shoot out to 400+ yards. Exciting isn’t it? Wait a second, 400 yards? That is 4 football fields! There is absolutely no way you will be able to see 4 football fields! Let alone make a kill shot on a buck, especially not something any smaller like a coyote or bobcat. What on earth are you going to do?
Maybe it isn’t a stainless steel 308 marlin for you, but whatever the gun may be the time eventually comes when people decide they need to find a scope. Well guys, I am sure a lot of us have been in this conflict before and there is really only one solution. After shooting iron sights for most of my life, I had been going through this dilemma as well, and I know a lot of others who had the same issues. Honestly, scopes can be confusing and it takes a lot of research to find that scope that it going to be the absolute best rifle scope for you.
Now, to be more specific it is time to buy a GREAT rifle scope, let’s be realistic there are certain scopes on the market that you honestly could see better with the naked eye. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that cheap means junk, as you will see with the scopes that we review down below.
What will you be using this scope for?
We are first going to go over some of the things you need to find out before you look to purchase a scope, then we are going to go over my reviews of the best rifle scopes that are on the market at reasonable prices. We will go over scopes for various different purposes, whether it is competition shooting, predator hunting, long range, medium range, or short range hunting. Now the main question that you are going to have to decide for yourself, is what am I going to use this scope for? Do I need to shoot 200 yards, 400 yards, 1000 yards? Will I be using this during rifle season, in the snow, rain, freezing temperatures, or in the heat at shooting competitions?
Majority of the hunting I do in Kansas you can barely see more than 200 yards before you run into trees. Knowing this, I primarily use single power scope which mainly just means I cannot adjust it. Even by accident, which has happened to me before, twice. This is the main reason that I like a single power scopes, no matter what happens whether I lean the rifle on a post and it slides off I do not have to worry, hopefully, about the sights being off. I really suggest a single power scope to anyone who can be clumsy like me, or if you will ever shoot past 150 yards. However, I do have a predator rifle that has an adjustable scope on it, and it is the standard 1 click equals 1/4 inch at 100 yards, once you get comfortable adjusting on the fly these scopes can become very handy. These are honestly very simple to use now a days, and can easily be adjusted even in the field when you are moments away from putting the hammer down on your next wild game.
I also look for great eye relief on scopes, I have had some occurrences with scopes and ended up with a nasty headache. Plus the last thing you ever want to happen is finally convince your kid, or nephew, or girlfriend, or wife to go shooting with you or try hunting. Then when they are sighting in on their target, anticipating the shot, BAM! The rifle fires and as you look at them and expect excitement but instead you see a black eye, or bloody nose.
Some things to consider
Now that you have decided what you are going to use this scope for, and what kinds of distances you are going to be shooting it’s time to ask some more key questions. Such as how large do you want your prey or target to appear in your lens? What kind of reticle do you want? Whether it is battery powered, or not. If you want a thicker reticle for lower light or fine cross hairs? Personally I prefer the traditional cross hairs. When I am looking for optics I find one that fits my distance to a T, find what your weapon shoots at or what you are even capable of shooting at in your region and look for the best rifle scopes in that market. If you are in Georgia or Tennessee and in wooded areas and you can rarely see more than a few hundred yards, chances are you don’t need a scope that can shoot 1,000 yards. If you are in Texas or Wyoming and you have wide open spaces where you can see for a mile, you may want to invest the extra money into some more advanced scopes. The next thing I would advise to anyone wanting to purchase a scope is do NOT break the bank, I promise somewhere there is a scope that fits your needs in your price range. It may take some digging, or some bargain shopping, but there will come a scope in your price range that will fit all your needs. We are going to go over a few different scopes that will fit any ones budget.
As far as pros and cons to whether or not you should get a short distance scope, or a long distance scope, I would opt for the medium to long distance scope. Personally, I am a fan of iron sights so if I am going to be hunting within a short distance, I will always be using iron sights. Although recently I have found that many of the shorter range sights are really good. One major flaw I have found with some short distance scopes is the closer that the target it, the longer it usually takes me to sight in on the target. Which is one reason why when you are looking for a scope you should be trying to find one with a larger lens diameter. A longer lens diameter is why a lot of the time I can usually drop a long distance scope right on my target or general area of my target. One of the flaws of a long distance scope however is even the slightest jerk, or shakiness could result in a horrible miss. If you lift the rifle even the slightest amount before the shot, and if you are shooting a few hundred yards you could easily be several feet above the deer. One reference I could use to this is if you have ever shot a black powder before, at least the traditional ones, usually when you shoot you see smoke and spark like the rifle is going off about half a second before the rifle actually shoots. Which this usually leads you to pull up on the rifle, like you are anticipating the shot. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but even the slightest jerk can make you shoot over your target several feet especially if you are shooting out past 100 yards.
The Best Rifle Scope Reviews
As far as good scopes go for the price in the 100-400 yard range, I would consider Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Mate BDC 600 to be a great contender. Nikon of course is known for making quality stuff as it is and this scope lives up to the name all day. One of the biggest pros on this scope, other than the price of course is the great eye relief it offers. If any of you have ever been head butted by your scope then I am sure you would agree that it not only hurts like a son of a gun, but it is also very dangerous. By far my favorite characteristic of this rifle scope.
Now with the BDC 600 reticle you will be able to have a thick, standard cross hair which will be perfect for low light situations. Waterproof protection, fogproof protection, 1/4 MOA hand turn tactical setting, recoil resistant, light transmission up to 98%. There is absolutely no doubt that with this scope on your AR, you are destined to bag some groceries! Just note that this scope is designed to be used with .223 so if you are looking to use it for a higher caliber rifle then this might not be the best rifle scope for you.
I have quite a lot of friends that have this scope on a variety of rifles, all of them rate it very highly and some are tried and true Leupold fans that never buy anything but a Leupold scope. If you are looking for a great medium-long range scope and are planning to shoot .233, look no further as this could be the best rifle scope for you!
The Vortex Crossfire 2 4-12×44 Riflescope Deadhold BDC MOAAs is another very nice scope, made of aircraft grade aluminum and features fully multicoated lenses with multiple anti-reflective coatings to increase light transmission. The large eyepiece give you a very fast-focus that allows quick and easy reticle focusing which make this rifle another great contender for the best rifle scope for the money.
It has O-ring seals keep out moisture, dust and debris which give you reliable performance in most environments, and the barrel is filled with nitrogen gas which inhibits internal fogging.
Vortex Optics also offer a no questions asked lifetime warranty on all of their products, it doesn't matter where it was purchased from or how it happened, they will happily repair or replace your scope without asking you to fill out a warranty card or keep hold of your receipt. It's also fully transferable in case you ever plan on selling your scope and upgrading.
Another feature I really like are the capped reset turrets which ensure that your settings won't change once the caps are in place. . The scope has a hard-coat anodization and a low glare matte finish, both of these are of very high quality and after many months of testing my scope still looks like it's in pristine condition.
I have tested all of my scopes for hundreds of hours before writing this review and I have to say that I really like this scope! It's waterproof, internally fogproof, It also has the 1/4 adjustments as well and comes with a bikini removable dust covers which are a very nice touch.
The Vortex Crossfire 2 would be a scope that you could use for big game hunting, small game, or predator hunting. It is a great all around use scope to consider which feels closer to the quality of higher priced scopes., However one of its drawbacks is that it's not a long distance scope, I personally feel that this scope suits my needs perfectly and it has become a go to scope of mine in recent months.
ATN X-SIGHT II 5-20 Smart Rifle Scope comes with 1080p video wifi GPS image stabilization, range finder, shooting solution, and IOS and Android Apps! I couldn’t believe half of what I was reading that this scope can do, with this scope you will feel like you are on your own TV show. Who knows! Maybe if you spend some time with this scope and learned how to edit clips, you even could be on TV! This scope is capable of recording your hunt in 1080p full HD. Can’t find a cameraman for your hunt? Tired of videotaping your own hunts? With this scope all of those worries will fade away. Not only is it amazing that this scope can do this, but the picture is great as well. The images are extremely clear just as if they had been taken with a high definition camera. Thanks to Obsidian II this scope is able to offer night vision as well! As if the video camera wasn’t good enough, night vision at the push of a button? Am I in a dream guys? Don’t let the hunt end with this scope. Predator or nuisance hunting after dark has never been so easy.
Want to video after dark? No problem, the after dark video is just as crystal clear. Have you ever went to range a deer and moved too quick and spooked them? Do you not have a range finder? Or are you thinking about purchasing one sometime soon? Maybe you can save some money on a range finder by purchasing this scope. Ranging your prey has never been any easier and is just a few clicks away! Don’t like the reticle that’s shown? No problem, there’s 7 more to choose from! This scope does come in a higher price range however considering all of the features I think it would be well worth it. Consider this, if you were to buy a 1080p camera separately, and a range finder separately, and a regular scope and a night vision scope (plus having to switch them out all the time)… That would probably cost just as much or more! Plus it would be a lot more of a hassle switching between them. With the ATN X-Sight II 5-20, it's all at your hands and just a few clicks away! Personally I also want to create some videos of my hunts which is something that attracted me to this scope, as well as the all in one daytime and night vision feature. You get a lot for your money and it's a very good all in one scope that does everything very well so I have no trouble recommending it as this is easily one of the best rifle scopes I have ever used!
I also wanted to add that this scope is offered in a 3-14 version called the ATN X-Sight II 3-14 that is also cheaper but with all the same features.
The Leupold 114933 VH-Hog Rifle Scope is most definitely another contender for a scope hunter on a budget. This scope has been designed with a focus towards mid sized predator hunting and with the word hog in the name thats not very surprising. From my testing of this scope out in the field, it works great considering its budget price. Many of my friends have also tried this scope out on their small caliber rifles when out hunting hogs and other mid sized varmints and they have all had a great expirience with it.
Our conclusion was that it works well for short-medium distances, however I would look elsewhere if you are after a scope that can be configured for medium to long distances. My friends where all still shocked at how well this scope performs in shorter distances, which is not surprising considering from our experience, Leupold scopes are great quality and made from a great company here in the USA which offers a lifetime warranty on all of their scopes.
I would most definitely recommend the Leupold 114933 for anyone looking to use it on a high power rifle, and for any type of hunting. As stated above though, you will more than likely want to keep this scope to shooting at short distances to medium distances, but there are no real limits on the caliber of rifle that you can use it with.
Now my next question is going to be, how many of you guys like shooting an AR? If you do, then this may be the best rifle scope for you. The UUQ / Aipai C4-12×50 AR15 Rifle Scope with dual illuminated reticle , a red laser and holographic dot sight is the next scope we are going to review. Now personally, I have always been a fan of the normal iron sights or the traditional cross hairs, however I have found that modern red dot and holographic sights have become better and better! The holographic dot, which sights come in red or green, can reach distances of up to 100 meters. Want to shoot past 100 meters? Just a few clicks and you can remove the holographic dot.
This scope with its 4-12x magnification and a 50mm lens diameter can reach out quite a distance. The diameter of the lens helps when needing to get your sights on a quick moving target in a hurry. It comes with a red laser to help you accurately fire your AR without having to put you eyes to a sight which could prove very useful for dynamic shooting ranges or chasing after your prey. You can trust this scope in any terrain or weather condition due to being not only waterproof but fogproof as well!
There is no doubt that the UUQ C4 is an absolutely great all around scope, whether it is for predator hunting, small game hunting, or big game hunting. Overall I mainly use this as a fun scope that is stuck on my AR for predator hunting and for the shooting range. The price of the UUQ C4 is also on the low end making it an attractive option for the scope hunter looking for a great AR scope which and the fact that it comes included with a rail, holographic sight and laser in one easy package makes it a very good deal.
Leupold VX-1 3-9×40 Waterproof Rifle scope Matte Black Duplex Reticle 113874 is yet another good scope for a tight budget, although in this case I think probably for a good reason. Although this scope would be great for short distances, such as a predator gun or maybe a brush type rifle it is not meant for great lengths of distances. Also, depending on your conditions of where you are hunting that is a better than average chance you will have a difficult time when you are looking through the sights while hunting.
It is waterproof, fogproof, and it has Leupold's classic lockable eyepiece which keeps focusing steady and constant. It uses a fine hair reticle, which is why I stated above about depending on what region you are hunting you may have some issues seeing very well through the scope. It has the micro-friction windage and elevation dials with a 1/4 MOA click, which is easy to set and reset in a rush.
It is a Leupold which is one of my favorite brands, and an american made brand as well which like Vortex offers a lifetime warranty on their products. I would however choose the 14933 VH-Hog Rifle Scope reviewed above over of this one.
UTG 3-12×44 30 mm Compact Scope AO comes with 36 color Mil-Dot Rings and a lifetime warranty. I love this scope for its premium zero locking and it's special housing design to keep from having issues with illumination during heavy recoil, it isn’t a surprise that this scope has a 4.3 out of 5.0 rating with over 800 customer reviews! I have many friends that own this scope and quite a few of them have asked me to include it in this write up. This scope is yet another one of the very affordable options, however once again it is not meant for long range distances so this could be a deal breaker for you. However, this would be a great tactical scope for shoots, competitions and predator hunting. This scope has fog-proof protection, rainproof protection, is shockproof, and has a 30mm tube built on True Strength Platform.
This scope would be, in my personal opinion, a great selection for competition shooting or predator hunting in its price range. I do not regret my purchase of this scope and the glowing reviews on amazon show that a lot of hunters or shootists share the same opinion. The one thing that I found most interesting about this scope is the EZ-TAP Illumination Enhancing, this is a 36 color multi-mode operation that can help in most all weather conditions, along with a statement from my color blind mentor who says that this feature really helps him find a color that is usable with his eyesight. Knowing personally from the man who taught me most of what I know about the outdoors being color blind, I know that there are a lot of struggles involved in day to day life of someone who is color blind. Any company that adds features to assist this outdoors man to be able to keep up despite lack of color vision are alright with me.
The next scope on my list is the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle 3.9x 40mm Rifle Scope with 3.3-inch eye relief. I am sure that plenty of you guys reading this were wondering when we would get a Bushnell scope added in,. Although it took awhile here it is. Bushnell being the industry leader for over 65 years in optics leads these people to create, really, just the best scopes out there. Hands down. This specific scope is a low budget, low cost scope however I wouldn’t let that scare anyone away because just the fact that Bushnell put there name on this scope means that it is top notch quality and would be reliable in most any situation. This scope has everything that has been on my wish list, this would include fast focus, it's 100 percent water proof, fogproof, and it has eye relief so no getting a nasty bump on the head. It has easy 1/4 MOA adjustable windage and elevation. It is a durable scope, that you would be able to trust in the field in most situations. However, it is just a 3-9x magnification. So keeping that in mind, this is still not going to be a rifle scope you will be shooting for a very long distance.
This is a scope that will be primarily for around 200 yards or less. It will also hold up to hi-power rifles however so there are no restrictions on the caliber of weapon. If you guys want a scope for not a lot of money, and you won’t be shooting over 200 yards, I honestly think the Dusk & Dawn Multi-X is the best rifle scope right here. For under $100 plus free shipping from amazon you would have everything on a realistic wish list for this price range, confident brand, quality options, durable, low light 40mm lens, Multi-X reticle with the 1/4 adjustments, water proof, fog proof, and of course eye relief. This is a beautiful scope, especially for the price.
So What's The Best Rifle Scope?
Now that we have reviewed several different scopes, from all different kinds of price ranges it is time to decide which scope best fits your needs. Personally, I feel like if you are needing a long range scope out of these options, I would go with the Nikon P-223, at least if you are looking for an affordable scope. This scope has all the specs you could ask for from a medium to long range scope. With the waterproof lens, fogproof lens, 1/4 adjustments which you can do in the field easily. It has great eye relief, the the reticle is very simple but easy to see through, and not to forget its excellent price tag. With all of these added features this scope would easily make it on the list of top choices for the best rifle scope available. I would most definitely say this is your scope if you are wanting a scope for a medium to long range hunting rifle.
If you are looking for a scope for predator hunting, or competition shooting then I would most definitely have to say the best rifle scope for you would be UUQ C4 – 12×50 AR15 Rifle Scope, with the interchangeable sights between red laser and holographic it would fit any of your needs. Red laser being effective at up to 100 meters means that you could be dangerous in any competition speed shoot or predator hunt. Don’t want the red laser sight? No problem, you can easily remove it with the click of a button. This scope also comes with the additional features which I would look for in any scope, such as the waterproof and fogproof features. Also, the 50mm lens makes it so quick to get set on your target, perfect for both competition shoots and for predator hunting.
Now for my opinion, on the best priced, and all around best rifle scope for the money would have to go to the Vortex Crossfire 2. Vortex creates some incredibly competitive optics at great prices. I could easily see this scope being used for most any kind of hunting, whether it be small game, large game, or predator hunting. I could even see this scope being somewhat practical in a competition shoot, considering the lens size. With this scope having fogproof protection, waterproof protection shockproof and having 3.9-4.4 inches of eye relief there is no weather condition going to keep you out of the hunt. All things considered, brand, durability, price, quality, and the amazing warranty, it would be hard to say that this scope is not the best rifle scope for the money and it even feels like it's comparable to scopes of a much higher price range that it. Even if you don't take my word for it have a look at the amazon listing and check out the other great reviews of this scope.
If you are trying to self produce your own footage, or you have to run a camera, a rangefinder, and a rifle. Or even if you just have to swap night vision scope out with your regular scope, I honestly think the ATN X-Sight II would be a good purchase. It literally can do everything, if you want to videotape your hunt, or one of your family members or friends hunts then this scope will do it for you. Want to go do some nuisance hunting at night? Switch to night vision and let’s go! Even the evening footage is nothing short of spectacular, although just the fact that a scope can do any of this is amazing. It has all the great features of the other scopes, such as water proof protection, fog proof protection, and eye relief. Plus it has so much more, including WiFi and GPS. Personally, I love to video my hunts and I have created some videos before owning this scope which led me to finding that it is a pain to video your own hunts without something like this. I also dont often use a rangefinder finder, mainly because I don’t shoot past 200 yards however it has proven incredibly useful when I am shooting at longer distances saving me the cost of an additional range finder. Not having to have a separate night vision scope is also something that has appealed to me. It's 2016 and we have the technology to have both a daytime and night time scope in the same package!
So those are my final picks, if you want a scope that can do it all and you are okay with spending a little more money, the ATN X-Sight II is your pick. If you are looking for a great scope for a very reasonable price, the Vortex Crossfire 2 4-12x44 is your scope. If you are interested in shooting competition or mainly predator hunting, then the UUQ C4 is your best bet. Last but not least, if you want a reasonable, all around, medium to long range scope the Nikon P-223 is by far my favorite option.
In the end however, picking a rifle scope is completely up to you. We can’t pick one for you, whether you are needing one for an AR for predator hunting, or needing one for a 30-06 for elk hunting, or a .243 for deer hunting. If you are needing a scope for 100 yards, 200 yards, 500 yards or a 1000 yards. Each person has different kinds of needs when it comes to choosing the best rifle scope for them, and all we can do is let you know the different things to look into when thinking about a rifle scope, and you choose what fits you best.