Illuminated reticles improve reticle visibility. When you can see your crosshairs, you can hit your target.
Since illumination is now a common feature in a riflescope, there is an overabundance of scopes to choose from.
I kept this list of the best illuminated reticle scopes short to include some field-tested and crowd approved riflescopes at various price points.
I compare cost, reticles, illumination, warranty, and more to give you an idea of what’s available and what it’s best suited to.
The Best Illuminated Reticle Scopes
1. Leupold VX-6HD 4-24x52 – Best for Low Light
For the best of what Leupold has to offer, it comes as no surprise that the VX-6HD is an expensive scope. The 4-24x52 scope is the epitome of go big or go home.
- Huge objective
- Excellent optics
- Motion sensor tech
- Electronic reticle level
- CDS-ZL2 elevation dial
With a huge 52mm objective lens, the VX-6HD is one of the best lowlight scopes. Complete with Leupold’s Professional-grade optical system, the sight picture is clear, sharp, and ready for the hunt in any condition.
Bringing the kind of optical quality needed for first and last legal light hunters, the reticle has a vital role to play. Leupold offers multiple illuminated reticle options from the FireDot to the Varmint Hunter and the TMOA.
The CR2032 powers reticle illumination as well as the MST (Motion Sensor Technology) and the Electronic Reticle Level. After five minutes of inactivity, the scope will go into standby mode but will reactivate when motion is detected. When you’re unintentionally canted, the reticle will flash. By the way, this will also help when you’re mounting and leveling the scope.
If you’re going for long-range shots, make use of Leupold’s Custom Dial System with your first free CDS-ZL2 elevation dial. It makes for fast, easy, and accurate long-range shots based off your ballistics.
There’s no doubt that the Leupold VX-6HD offers plenty for the lowlight hunter or long-range shooter. The only potential obstacle is the cost.
2. Trijicon AccuPoint 1-4x24 – Best Battery-Free
The Trijicon AccuPoint line of scopes are known for their battery-free illumination. That means the TR24 is powered by fiber optics and tritium to bring an illuminated aiming system to your LPVO.
- Battery-free illumination
- Glass-etched reticle
- Close-mid range
- Battery-free illumination
The only downside about battery-free illumination is that it’s not as bright when compared to battery powered illumination. However, to avoid the need to keep spare batteries on hand or failure due to a dead battery, the AccuPoint is a must-have.
Everyone knows that Trijicon is an expensive manufacturer, but their scopes are built like tanks. The Accupoint will last, and as an LPVO, it’s an excellent scope for your AR-15 or even a muzzle loader.
As far as the price, it’s a scope under $1000. You don’t have to do much digging to find out why. The illumination system is one reason but adding quality optics, a glass-etched reticle, and completely weatherproof housing, the AccuPoint is excellent for duty use to the hunt.
Its simple Triangle Post reticle is not going to be a favorite with everyone, but those looking for a minimalistic reticle with a clear, unfettered FOV will see the advantage.
3. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15x44 – Best Under $1000
Geared towards the turret twisters, the Viper PST Gen II 3-15x44 can take you long range for under $1000. It has upgraded features that reflects its status above the Diamondbacks but remains more affordable than the Razors.
- Illuminated reticle
- Glass-etched reticle
- Exposed turrets
- 30 mm tube
Though it’s not as high powered as its 5-25x sibling, its 3-15x44 configuration lends itself to duty use, home defense, and even some long-range shooting. However, with its tactical features, it’s on the heavy side at 28 oz. Add to that rings and whatever else you have on your rifle, and you’re toting around quite a bit of weight.
This might be a worthy tradeoff for those looking for the EBR-4 (MOA) reticle. It’s glass-etched, can be used for ranging, and it’s in the SFP, so it never changes size. Though the EBR-4 allows for fast holdovers, the exposed turrets can be engaged with a hard and positive return to your zero with the RZR Zero Stop.
With 10 levels of illumination on the side focus knob, you’ll see the reticle in every light condition. For convenience, the illumination knob features intermittent off positions between each setting.
Designed for the tactical and precision shooting circles, the Viper PST Gen II is a scope that has it all.
4. Primary Arms GLx 1-6x24 – Best LPVO
Primary Arms has the well-recognized ACSS reticle. In the GLx 1-6x24 FFP scope, the ACSS takes on the Raptor M6 design with partial illumination on a glass-etched reticle for close and mid-range use.
- ACSS reticle
- Tactical turret
- Not daylight bright
The GLx scope is outfitted with all the features you want to see on an LPVO. It has an interchangeable throw lever, an optional exposed MIL turret, and it has AutoLive that automatically powers down to conserve battery life.
While it does offer 10 illumination settings with intermittent off positions, I wouldn’t say that it’s daylight bright. Its highest setting is hard to see in daytime conditions, and it does leave you wanting. However, I found it most useful in low light, and I really like that it’s just the chevron and horseshoe that’s illuminated – it reduces flaring and bleeding when the illumination is too high.
Some of my favorite features is that even though it’s an FFP reticle, it’s still quite large at 1x – bigger than the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x FFP at the same power range. It’s also waterproof, and I really like that it has longer eye relief than the specs state. I measured somewhere between 4-5”.
In bright conditions, the non-illuminated crosshairs of the reticle are highly visible and still stand out. Come dusk, the dim illumination is exactly what’s needed.
5. Sig Sauer Sierra6 BDX 2-12x40 – Best Rangefinder Scope
Interestingly, not all laser rangefinders offer illumination and yet nearly all rangefinder scopes have illumination. One such scope I’ve personally handled is the Sig Sauer Sierra6 BDX 2-12x40. Combined with Sig’s BDX KILO rangefinder, I can range and my scope will illuminate the right holdover.
- BDX technology
- Digital reticle
- 10 illumination settings
- NV compatible
- Anti-cant level
- No intermittent off
The Sierra6 offers a lot of features comparable to some of the best alternatives like the Leupold VX-6HD but in a more affordable package. For instance, they share an electronic reticle level feature to eliminate cant. The scope also has a motion sensor technology called MOTAC. Though it automatically deactivates illumination after 5 minutes, the timer is adjustable.
Now I actually like the digital reticle the Sierra6 comes with. With the BDX disabled, you have five illuminated holdovers presumably for 500 yards. However, if you pair it with a BDX rangefinder and use the app, you’ll unlock access to its full potential for your ballistics.
Once you’ve ranged your target, the compensated windage and holdover points will illuminate and then you follow the grid to your non-illuminated holdover. That is a downside but only the windage and elevation crosshairs have embedded LEDs. The other downside is that there are no intermittent off positions on the illumination knob. Luckily it has MOTAC, right?
6. Bushnell Match PRO 6-24x50 – Best Under $500
The Match PRO 6-24x50 scope is not only an affordable scope for under $500, but it’s also the best scope for .22 matches. Built with high magnification, MIL turrets, side focus, and an FFP reticle, it combines illumination and competition scope features that’s best for the money.
- MIL/MIL system
- Locking turrets
- Glass-etched reticle
- FFP reticle
- No ED glass
I guess that’s where the cost savings come from – the lack of ED glass. I suppose you’d need to pay more for that but for the most part, people are happy with the Match Pro scope’s performance. The optics have Bushnell’s Ultrawideband Coating that will provide better image quality than without, and since it has up to 24x magnification, you’ll need optical benefits the coating provides.
What I really like is that it has a matching turret and reticle system. Too often at low price points you’ll see a MIL turret with an MOA reticle, but not in the Match Pro. The turret adjustments are .1 MIL with Bushnell’s Deploy MIL dot reticle. Yes, this model provides illumination with intermittent off positions and will be ready to be engaged for those lowlight matches.
Other features include its locking turrets, EXO Barrier exterior lens coating, and parallax adjustments all the way down to 10 yards. For .22’s that need a 25-yard zero and enough travel to still dial out, you can do that with the Match Pro.
7. Bushnell Legend 3-9x40 – Best Under $200
Bushnell came out with a new Legend scope in the classic configuration, the Legend 3-9x40 with an illuminated reticle. As you can imagine, it’s an entry-level scope in the affordable price range that many will gravitate towards as a value buy.
- Illuminated reticle
- Intermittent off
- 6 illumination settings
Though this is an illuminated reticle scope, there are only 6 brightness settings. You could say that it’s limited but at least it has intermittent off positions, and it’ll be easy to use. What many will like about it is that only the 0.5 MOA floating center dot is illuminated. The crosshairs remain black, but the duplex style reticle will aid in fast target and reticle acquisition in lowlight conditions.
Bushnell went ahead and gave the Legend scope FMC (Fully Multi-Coated) optics with an exterior lens coating, the Rainguard HD, on the objective lens. This is pretty good for beginner scope quality especially considering it’s a scope under $200. It’s IPX7 rated, so it’s waterproof as well. I would advise that you keep the caps on the turrets if the weather looks iffy.
For a 1” tube, classic 3-9x40 configuration, and a reticle in the SFP, the scope comes in just under 1 lb. It’s lightweight, has a simple, no-fuss reticle, and matching no-fuss illumination. For the money, it fits the bill.
8. Leapers UTG 3-12x44 AO – Best Budget
The Leapers UTG 3-12x44 AO scope is one of those digital optics that has a little bit of everything but is still considered to be in the budget category. With quality spread out, shooters can get a taste of digital features in an affordable package.
- EZ-TAP IE system
- Special circuit design
- Zero locking target turrets
- SWAT adjustment
- Quality issues
There have been reports about various quality issues ranging from glass clarity to the illumination not working. Fortunately, Leapers does offer a lifetime warranty but there are conditions that apply, so first and foremost, make sure you buy from an authorized retailer.
The first thing I noticed is that it’s marketed with an AO in the model name. AO stands for Adjustable Objective of which this scope lacks. I’m forgiving of it because it’s essentially advertising that it has a parallax correction feature, which it does have via the SWAT feature. But it’s actually in the form of a side focus that focuses down from 10 yards to infinity.
The EZ-TAP IE (Illumination Enhancing) system offers red/green reticle illumination or access to a 36-color palette to illuminate the reticle in the color you prefer. That’s a little overkill but many will like the custom adjustability.
To make sure the illumination stays intact during recoil, the scope has a special circuit design. The erector tube is also built to hold zero under heavy recoil or dual recoil with air rifles.
Instead of including a separate sunshade in the box, Leapers designed the objective bell with the TactEdge. It’s basically a built-in sunshade. Plus, they throw in flip-open lens caps and twist-lock mounting rings to get you shooting right away.
A Guide to Choosing the Best Illuminated Reticle Scopes
In general, scopes with illuminated reticles vary in cost. It’s not the illumination system that sets the cost difference but overall quality from the optics to additional scope features. The cheapest scopes with illuminated reticles from manufacturers like Bushnell, Vortex, and UTG range from $100-$200.
For under $1000, you can find mid-tier illuminated reticle scopes from multiple manufacturers like Vortex, Leupold, Meopta, Burris, Athlon, and more. Of course, there are high-end scopes ranging from $800 to over $2000.
Regardless of the budget, you’ll find an illuminated scope that will fit the bill.
|Leupold VX-6HD||Best for Low Light||Under $2000|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||Best Battery-Free||Under $1000|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||Best Under $1000||Under $1000|
|Primary Arms GLx||Best LPVO||Under $600|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||Best Rangefinder Scope||Under $1000|
|Bushnell Match PRO||Best Under $500||Under $500|
|Bushnell Legend||Best Under $200||Under $200|
|Leapers UTG||Best Budget||Under $150|
Configuration & Specifications
Illumination in a scope is now a common feature for many shooters from the hunting fields to the competition class. However, a scope that is best suited to the task at hand will be determined by its configuration and specs. When illumination is added, it offers reticle visibility in any application.
The field of view will determine how large of a space you can see through the scope at minimum and max magnification. Generally, the wider the better, but it does narrow as magnification is increased.
The eye relief is an essential piece of data as it will determine how close you need to be to the ocular lens to see the entire FOV without aberrations. It can also determine how suitable it is for your rifle.
The exit pupil is the size of the cone of light that is seen through the eyepieces. In a riflescope, it’s generally very large at minimum magnification, and is great for low light shooting. However, it does get very small at max magnification making it darker and possibly harder to see the sight picture. There’s a balance to acquire between magnification and exit pupil if you’re shooting in low light even if you have an illuminated reticle.
|Product||Magnification||Objective Lens||Field of View (@ 100 yards)||Eye Relief||Exit Pupil|
|Leupold VX-6HD||4-24x||52 mm||28.1-4.8 ft||3.8-3.7”||13-2.2 mm|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||1-4x||24 mm||94.2-24.1 ft||3.2”||17.53-5.08 mm|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||3-15x||44 mm||41.2-8.6 ft||3.4”||14.7-2.9 mm|
|Primary Arms GLx||1-6x||24 mm||104.7-18.3 ft||3.5-3.3”||9.5-3.8 mm|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||2-12x||40 mm||52.5 – 8.7 ft||3.9-3.7”||8.4-3.3 mm|
|Bushnell Match PRO||6-24x||50 mm||18-4 ft||3.7”||8.3-2 mm|
|Bushnell Legend||3-9x||40 mm||37.5-12.2 ft||3.5-2.9”||13.3-4.4 mm|
|Leapers UTG||3-12x||44 mm||34-8.5 ft||3.3-3”||13.1-3.7 mm|
The type of reticle that is chosen will have a lot to do with your application and how much of the reticle is illuminated. If it was just about having an illuminated dot all the time, you could easily opt for a red dot sight and perhaps a magnifier as well to get similar benefits to a riflescope.
However, riflescope reticles offer a lot of information on the glass lens such as bullet drop, wind drift, and possible auto-ranging.
|Product||Reticle||Focal Plane||Adjustment Value|
|Leupold VX-6HD||Multiple||SFP||0.25 MOA|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||Triangle Post||SFP||0.25 MOA|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||EBR-4 (MOA)||SFP||0.25 MOA|
|Primary Arms GLx||ACSS Raptor M6||FFP||0.1 MIL|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||BDX-R2||Digital||0.25 MOA|
|Bushnell Match PRO||Deploy MIL FFP||FFP||0.1 MIL|
|Bushnell Legend||Multi-X Illuminated||SFP||0.25 MOA|
|Leapers UTG||Mil-Dot||SFP||0.25 MOA|
On average, not all riflescope illumination is created equal. Though many scopes offer the same battery type and comparable battery life runtimes, the illumination system will vary between scopes.
Such things to consider are the number of illumination settings, whether it’s night vision compatible, intermittent off positions, motion sensor technology, and partial or whole reticle illumination.
Though it’s tempting to fall into the trap of more illumination is better, it’s really not when it comes to illuminated reticles. Dim brightness is what you’re really after since too bright illumination will ruin night vision adaption, flare the reticle, and washout the FOV.
Though red dot sights are suspect to the same type of disadvantages, bright illumination is needed because it’s the primary aiming system. Without it, you don’t have a reticle.
Though the most common illumination color is red, there are green and amber colors available. Some digital scopes may offer multiple color selections. To learn more about red VS green illumination, read on here.
|Product||LED Color||Illumination Settings||Intermittent Off||Partial or Whole Illumination||Battery Conservation||Battery Type|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||Red, Green, Amber||Adjustable (Tritium/Fiber Optics)||No||Partial – triangle only||No||N/A|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||Red||10||Yes||Partial||No||CR2032|
|Primary Arms GLx||Red||10||Yes||Partial – chevron & horseshoe||AutoLive||CR2032|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||Red||10||Yes||Partial – holdover dots only||MOTAC||2x CR2032|
|Bushnell Match PRO||Red||10||Yes||Partial||No||CR2032|
|Bushnell Legend||Red||6||Yes||Partial – center dot only||No||CR2032|
|Leapers UTG||Red/Green, 36+ Colors||Adjustable||Yes||Whole||No||CR2032|
The electronics and extra knob for the battery compartment and illumination control adds to a scope's dimensions and weight. But usually other things like glass, optical assemblies, and objective lens size are the main factors that will determine a scope’s overall heft.
|Leupold VX-6HD||14.7” (L)||25.5 oz||Yes|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||10.3 x 2 x 2”||14.4 oz||Yes|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||14.3” (L)||28.1 oz||Yes|
|Primary Arms GLx||10.25”||21.3 oz||Yes|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||10.8” (L)||21.4 oz||Yes|
|Bushnell Match PRO||14.5” (L)||14.5 oz||IPX7|
|Bushnell Legend||12.3” (L)||14.8 oz||IPX7|
|Leapers UTG||14” (L)||22.7 oz||Not disclosed|
Lifetime warranties without conditions are the industry-best warranties you want to look for. However, there’s a catch when it comes to illuminated reticle scopes. Since it requires electronics to power the illumination system, many warranties only offer a few years’ worth of coverage.
Be sure to look at the specifics when considering an illuminated reticle scope that comes with a lifetime warranty. The coverage on the illumination system is likely outlined in a separate warranty.
|Leupold VX-6HD||Lifetime Guarantee||Electronic components are covered for two years from date of purchase|
|Trijicon AccuPoint||Lifetime Warranty||Tritium lamp warrantied for 15 years|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||VIP Warranty||Unconditional, unlimited, fully transferable|
|Primary Arms GLx||Limited Lifetime Warranty||Fully transferable, no receipt required, normal wear and tear covered|
|Sig Sierra6 BDX||Infinite Guarantee||Electronics covered for 5 years|
|Bushnell Match PRO||Lifetime Ironclad Warranty||Electric components are covered under a 5-year warranty|
|Bushnell Legend||No Questions Asked Lifetime Warranty||Electronic components are only covered under a 1-year warranty|
|Leapers UTG||Lifetime Warranty||Conditions apply|
On average, shooters who are often in lowlight conditions or shooting targets where crosshairs are difficult to see, illuminated reticles offer unparalleled advantages. An illuminated reticle improves reticle visibility and thus accuracy since a shooter can see their aiming point.
The primary benefits of an illuminated reticle rifle scope include increased reticle visibility in various lighting conditions and contrast on a target in various terrains.
This is advantageous to hunters, law enforcement, and competition shooters especially in low light conditions or on targets that are difficult to see due to the terrain or light conditions.
Illuminated reticles in riflescopes are legal for hunting as they do not project a laser or artificial light on game. They're also contained in the scope and improve reticle visibility. However, the onus to determine the legalities of illuminated reticles is on you as state laws can change.
In general, riflescopes that have illuminated reticles are usually glass etched. This means that the reticle is visible with and without illumination. If the battery fails, the non-illuminated reticle is still visible and effective. The illumination, however, will not work. It requires a power source.
Overall, many manufacturers make scopes with illuminated reticles. Vortex makes illuminated reticles for select scopes as well as Leupold, Burris, Zeiss, Meopta, Bushnell, Primary Arms, and more. Some of Vortex’s illuminated reticles include the V-Brite, EBR-4, AR-BDC3, EBR-8, and more.
Illuminated Scopes: Worth it or Gimmick?
With so many illuminated reticles available, the choice comes down to personal preference. Illumination is just a feature of a riflescope, but the configuration, specs, and perhaps additional features will determine if a scope is best for you.
Personally, I like battery powered illumination even though there are battery-free options. While many illumination systems are not ‘daylight bright,’ I don’t need that on my big-game rifle. I need dim illumination. I’m not too concerned about the weight it adds either. You’re talking about maybe a few more ounces. Weight can be cut elsewhere.
At the end of the day, reticle illumination is worth it and not a gimmick. Those with aging eyes, those who shoot in low light conditions or clear dark buildings, and those who need some reticle contrast against a target will know that it’s better to have illumination when you need it than to be without it.
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