If you are like me and have a passion for shooting, then you know exactly how big of a difference owning the right scope can make when it comes to shooting. It doesn’t matter if you are just learning to shoot or if you are a 10 time rifle competition award winner, having the right model chosen for your rifle can make a HUGE difference in your accuracy and confidence. Finding the best rifle scope is challenging especially going into 2016, so we’ve done all the hard work for you below.
Making the right choice can be a the difference between putting a bullet right where you want, or missing your mark 5 inches out. With so many brands out there on the market, it can be extremely confusing to figure out which one will fit your requirements the best. Our primary goal is to make sure that we help you find the best choice for your needs.
Our interactive chart below and the detailed review information that follows will help you decide what option is best for your shooting style.
Our Interactive Chart and Key:
Included in our detailed comparison chart you have the following data:
- User Reviews: User Reviews & Information on Many Websites
- Video Reviews: Video Reviews about each optic by users around the web.
- Rifle: While most models fit any rifle, but this is our preferred pairing.
- Rating – This is the average user rating on many websites. This is very useful when seeing if people are truly satisfied with what they just purchased.
- Price – Approximate Prices on many websites. Prices do vary and are subject to product availability and promotions. For our purposes we have developed the following key: $ = Under $75, $$ = $75 to $150, $$$ = $150 to $225, $$$$ = $225.00 and up.
The rifle scope choices you see above are our personal hand picked selections and we feel they are great all around rifle scopes for the price for that particular rifle pairing. This is a great list to work from, but it’s not all inclusive. If you are new to shooting, we are going to dive into what a scope really is and why you should have one, even if you are just starting out.
If you want to narrow things down to finding the best rifle scope for your application, then feel free to jump in using our interactive table of contents below.
Quick Jump Menu:
- 1 Quick Jump Menu:
- 2 Our Rifle Scope Reviews of the Top Choices in Each Category:
- 2.1 Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14×40 – One of our Favorites with the 30-06:
- 2.2 Simmons .22 Mag Trueplex Rimfire – For the Budget 22 Rifle Build:
- 2.3 Vortex Strike Fire Red Dot – Our Favorite Budget Model for the AR-15:
- 2.4 Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 – Our Favorite Model for the 22 Rifle:
- 2.5 Redfield Revolution 3-9×40 – Our Favorite Lesser Known Model:
- 2.6 Leupold 3-9×40 – Our Favorite High-End All-Purpose Model:
- 2.7 Making Your Choice: Finding the Best Rifle Scope
So Just what is a Rifle Scope and what is it used for?
Now that we’ve given you our favorite products on the market today, let’s take a moment to dive in and look at the humble telescopic rifle sight and why it’s important to own one. It so often plays second fiddle to the rifle it is attached to. We spend hours discussing and debating rifles, but when it comes to optics, we frequently make near-random choices. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Each step in the selection process is extremely important when selecting the right product of choice for your application.
The rifle scope game has changed the whole way we hunt and shoot. If it weren’t for optics there would be no magnum cartridges or short magnums or even ultramags, for that matter. If you can’t get a better look at targets 400 yards away there is precious little point in having cartridges that shoot flatter than the fodder we had at the turn of the century. Most models and brands allow the modern hunter to fire at the vitals of an animal out past 200 yards, whereas with iron sights one really just points at the whole animal and hopes for a hit.
In addition to improving our chances of making contact with the target, rifle scopes allow the sportsman to better see what the target is. A quick glance at the number of hunting accidents per year shows that they drop off to almost nothing by the 1960s, around the time that optics came into common use.
Modern militaries make use of rifle scopes these days as well, and not just for select operators like snipers or designated marksmen. These days many plain old grunts have rifle scopes and it makes all the difference in both accuracy and target acquisition. Of course, while we’re listing off everything else, we can’t forget the advent of night vision. Now, thanks to these awesome additions to shooting technology, we can not only see in the dark, but accurately target the things we couldn’t see before. Whether you are a police sniper or a coyote hunter, night vision scopes allow you to keep working from dusk until dawn. That’s a lot to get from a simple tube with some glass in it.
All of this new technology has had a huge impact on the world of shooting in the last fifty years. But what’s even better is that while the selection and quality has increased, prices just keep dropping. The best rifle scopes on the market in the 1940’s cost more than the rifles they were attached to and were far from what any modern buyer would call reliable. These days you can walk into a box store, shell out $40, and walk out with the a scope that would make a WWII-era sharpshooter drool.
A lot of this improvement has to do with modern manufacturing techniques. There was a time when lenses had to be ground by hand, metal parts had to be machined by hand, and everything had to be fit together by a real person who knew what they were doing because scopes are delicate, tricky pieces of equipment. Automated manufacturing has cut the time and cost of production and now allows the average shooter to acquire products that were once only obtainable by the truly devoted or very well-to-do. These days we can pick up reasonably priced models and still have plenty of cash left over for a solid rifle to attach it to. What a wonderful age we live in.
Our Rifle Scope Reviews of the Top Choices in Each Category:
There are literally hundreds of options you can choose from when selecting your next rifle scope which is why getting the information you need with our detailed comparsons is so important. The great news is that 95% of scopes out there can usually be fit to one form of rifle or another. Each model usually has a preferred pairing, but with some slight adjustments to the rails, windage and elevation, you can usually make just about any optic fit the rifle of your choice. Any scope is better than not having one at all and any of these scopes we have provided you with our product reviews below should keep you extremely happy down the line. The optics listed below have stood out a little bit more for us, and should work for most basic rifle applications.
Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14×40 – One of our Favorites with the 30-06:
For this application we’d recommend the Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14×40. If you’re out specifically to get a wall-hanger, this particular product’s level of magnification and slightly-larger-than-normal 40mm bell will not only allow you to see your trophy, but to see it clearly in low-light conditions. The real bruisers tend to present themselves either early in the morning or right at dusk, so a bigger bell that gathers more light is well worth it.
The 30-06 doesn’t produce that much recoil so there is no need to select a product based solely on durability. Not that the Buckmaster lacks in this area; it is more than stout enough for vigorous hunting. If it does break Nikon’s warranty allows you to get a new replacement free of charge if the company is responsible for the problem or allows for you to purchase a brand new replacement at 50% off MSRP if you break it yourself. Turnaround time for getting your replacement scope is about three weeks. With an MSRP of $399.99 the Buckmaster 4.5-14×50 is enough glass to get the job done on a hard to find buck with a price that is hard to beat. For more in depth reviews about this fantastic 30-06 model, you can check out the details at this page here.
Simmons .22 Mag Trueplex Rimfire – For the Budget 22 Rifle Build:
For a budget .22 rifle build it’s almost impossible to beat the Simmons .22 Mag Truelplex Rimefire. It’s practically impossible to get this much fun out of any other model. One other thing to mention – it looks absolutely awesome on a stainless model Ruger 10/22 if you own one. It seems like it was perfectly made for the budget Ruger if you don’t plan on competitive shooting and just need a good basic model to go plinking on occasion.
The retail online usually runs in under $40.00 which is an incredible value. It comes equipped with fully coated scope lenses and a HydroShield that maintains a great field of vision regardless of what’s happening with the weather. If you are on a budget, it’s going to be extremely difficult for any other option in the .22 rifle category to even come close to the quality of the simmons. Everyone that I know that runs this optic constantly raves about the accuracy for the price in comparison to other .22 models. If I had my choice, I would go with the Nikon prostaff all day long, but for the money, the Simmons is a fantastic choice.
Vortex Strike Fire Red Dot – Our Favorite Budget Model for the AR-15:
For this application we’d recommend the Vortex Strikefire Red Dot. The AR-15 is a rifle that is expected to play many roles. Finding the right model that is applicable to being used for varmint hunting, competition and home defense isn’t easy, but the Vortex Strikefire has a number of features that increase its utility to fill many assorted roles. For starters, Vortex makes a very good, tough rifle scope that can be counted on to hold its point of focus coupled with crisp follow through that allow for varmint hunting. The product’s overall durability makes it ideal for law enforcement and military training drills, which can be hard on any scope. The Vortex’s 2x Red Dot magnification range allows the user to be comfortable enough at close quarters so that images are clear at short ranges for self-defense purposes and the red or green dot reticle makes for an extremely handy tool in low-light conditions.
Vortex’s typical MSRP is under 200.00, which is pretty low considering the features you get for the price. The warranty on a Vortex is also rather impressive — a lifetime factory warranty — with a warranty on the illuminated reticle not caused by deliberate damage to the product. There are less expensive options out there for AR scopes, but the Vortex Strikefire probably offers more value per dollar than any other.
Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 – Our Favorite Model for the 22 Rifle:
For this category we recommend the Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 Rimfire. With near non-existent recoil and a job description that usually involves short range work you can put almost any model you’d like on a .22 caliber rifle, but the Nikon Rimfire 3-9 or something like it will allow you to get much more enjoyment out of your 22 Rifle. Many choose to put no more than a 4X magnification power on a 10/22, but the increased versatility of a 3-9 magnification allows for the varmint shooter to scan territory at 3 power and then move up to 9 power to pick out hard-to-find or partially-obscured targets such as gophers that like to hide in the grass.
The Rimfire’s 40mm bell will allow for as much light transmission as a normal centerfire scope, resulting in improved clarity over many of the scaled-down models folks usually place on .22s. To top things off, the Prostaff Rimfire is not an overly expensive product. Its current MSRP is $149.95, which doesn’t break the bank. Nikon can also be counted on to honor their warranty, which allows the owner to get a replacement for free if a factory defect causes trouble. If you break it yourself, Nikon will allow you to purchase another at 50% off the MSRP.
Redfield Revolution 3-9×40 – Our Favorite Lesser Known Model:
For more of a one-size fits all use with multiple rifles we like the lesser known Redfield Revolution 3-9×40. When it comes to picking an all-around scope, one that is useful for almost any application, a great deal must be rolled into a single package. The Revolution is flexible, with a 3-9 magnification scale, and easy to mount on a variety of firearms with its relatively small 40mm bell. It also offers crisp, clear lenses and a rugged construction that will put up with being transferred amongst firearms regardless of the level of recoil produced. The Revolution also offers ample eye relief, which is handy because the pull length between various guns is far from the same.
The Revolution also comes at a price just about anyone can live with. The MSRP on the revolution is $199.99, not bad for a product with such a broad range of possibilities. The icing on the cake is that the Revolution comes with one of the best warranties in the business. Any problems caused by Redfield will be remedied for free and most damage caused by the owner, within reason, is taken care of for the price of shipping. If you’re going to have just one scope to swap around, the Revolution is hard to beat.
Leupold 3-9×40 – Our Favorite High-End All-Purpose Model:
In this category we’ve picked the Leupold 3-9×40 or any Leupold of similar design. Leupold products cost a bit more than some of their competitors but they are well worth the extra cash. The 3-9 magnification range is favored by many and Leupold offers several bell diameters to suit individual needs. Clarity and resolution are always top-notch with Leupold products and they always deliver excellent durability.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about a Leupold product is the warranty. Based on the Leupold limited warranty, if you break your Leupold, even break it in half, it is usually replaced in a short period of time with the owner only being out the price of postage. This warranty moves with the optic from owner to owner even if it is traded, swapped or sold. Leupold is very good about honoring its warranty that you are almost always better off buying a Leupold brand new. Leupolds on the used market wear the same price tag as the new ones because the seller knows you can ship it off to Leupold and have it repaired to like-new condition. The high level of quality and an excellent warranty program have made Leupold products nearly ubiquitous with American shooters, and for good reason.
Making Your Choice: Finding the Best Rifle Scope
The current 2016 market features more variety than ever before, which is fantastic in terms of price and selection, but it can make things a bit confusing when it comes to picking out a new one. Which one is the best for your particular situation? Well, the truth of the matter is that the answer depends on who you are and what you want to do. If you already have a few of these in your arsenal, you’ve probably formed some ideas and opinions about what you need, but if you’re just getting started all the numbers and specifications can get a little maddening.
Whether you are building your arsenal for competition or are focused on adding a scope to your mosin nagant, making the right choice can be a tricky thing to plan out.
The first thing that must be determined is what kind of shooting you wish to do with your new toy. Will you be hunting big game, target shooting, varminting, competing or just plinking. Or will the new purchase be required to meet several of these needs? Let’s say we’re in the market for something new to mount on a new .270 Winchester. The rifle is primarily going to be used for hunting mule deer, but it would be nice to squeeze in a little prairie dog practice as well.
Meeting these needs will require that it needs to be rugged and reliable enough to get kicked around in the hills chasing deer, but also solid and clear enough for the little varmints. It would also be nice if it wasn’t too bulky or heavy because mule deer hunting involves a lot of trudging. Oh yeah, and let’s try not to break the bank on this purchase either; we need some money left over for ammo, tags, travel and snacks.
Okay, let’s address the issue of ruggedness, which is our primary concern with this combination. Without knowing anything else about the product, maybe the best bet for ensuring your new purchase is tough is to buy one with fewer parts. Fewer parts equals less breakage, right? Perhaps a fixed-power version is worth considering? We really don’t want to have a problem with this rifle ten miles out in the field when we finally find that big buck. How about magnification?
A rifle scope with a 4X magnification is probably enough for the applicable range of the .270 when it comes to mule deer, but we might like a little more for the prairie dogs. Varmints are a lot smaller than mule deer, so let’s go with a 6X magnification to hedge our bets. Now that we know what we’re looking for we can start getting down to specific brands.
What do we want when it comes to picking a brand? Of course we want to pick a company with a good reputation; it’s just comforting out in the field. Next we have to ask what little niceties the company offers in terms of warranties and return policies. Even the best products can experience breakage and it would be nice not to have to endure too many hassles when it comes to having repairs completed.
Finally, and oftentimes this is the determining factor in the real world, we need to look at price. If we had a million bucks in the bank we could just buy one of each and toss them if they didn’t work out. Here on planet Earth we need to be a little more careful with our money, so we need a product that minimizes price and maximizes value. After all, if the price isn’t right the other factors don’t really matter that much.
Now we can start shopping around in earnest. Since fixed power scopes like aren’t that common anymore we have a fairly short list. We have run across a few that don’t meet all of our criteria but will eventually arrive at the the same quality as these shotgun scopes here or as the Leupold FX-II 6×36. Here we have one of the best overall choices from a well-respected company that is just what we’re looking for in terms of ruggedness and durability. It only weighs in at 10oz so it won’t be a pain to lug around. We’re also pretty happy with the warranty policy and turnaround time for repairs that Leupold can be counted on to provide. What about our last criteria? An MSRP of $299.99 puts it squarely within our price range.
Naturally, the process above won’t work every time, but the steps can serve as an excellent guide when it comes to picking up a new optic. Our reviews are meant to give you an idea of what is to be expected from a product you’re considering buying. These reviews aren’t meant to be taken as gospel when it comes to making your choice, but they should get you on the right track and allow you to start looking around for the right scope that fits your needs, even if it’s expensive.
Getting a little advice from someone with experience can save you a lot of time in the long run. With this short list we’ve attempted to answer some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to choosing the right model for a specific rifle or a specific set of needs. As with all such lists this one is incomplete, but it will hopefully be of some use even if your particular situation presents a different set of issues.
Detailed Review Guide Wrap-Up:
Thanks for taking the time to stop in and check out our site. I’m hopefully you were able to get a lot of great information out of our rifle scope reviews so you can find out exactly what the right optic will be for your situation going forward. If there’s a brand you’d like to see us review in more detail, please feel free to reach out to us at any time. We will be happy to take suggestions and provide whatever detailed information we can on new products out there in the market as we get our hands on them. If you have suggestions, please feel free to stop by our contact page and drop us a line.