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Varmint hunting is more than just an adrenaline-pumping sport, hobby, and means to earn a living.
It's a way to manage pest populations from getting out of hand, reduce predacity on your livestock, and prevent the risks associated with disease transmission. Sounds a little more serious now, right?
So, what's the best scope to mount on your scout, AR, or .22 rifle when you want to make an example of the jack rabbits plaguing your garden or the coyotes stalking your chickens?
Every stalker's hunting conditions are different, so you'll have to answer that question for yourself. But, we'll give you a hand in which direction to aim when you're ready to scope-up and eliminate your prey!
Top Varmint & Coyote Scopes
|NightForce NXS||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Crossfire II Hog Hunter||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14x42||CHECK PRICE|
|ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9X||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris Scout||CHECK PRICE|
|Maven CRS.1 3-12x40||CHECK PRICE|
|Barska AO Varmint||CHECK PRICE|
It would be ideal if those pesky pests prowled your property in broad daylight and slept at night like human beings do. Unfortunately, that's hardly ever the case. Predators like hogs, coyotes, and wolves will require some stealth and the right equipment come dusk. Rodents like squirrels and prairie dogs make for a fun take-down during the day, and you may even have to be several hundred yards away to get that shot.
Because hunting conditions are going to vary widely, you best know what rifle you want to mount your varmint scope to and consider the range of your actual hunting grounds. This means that there's not going to be the "one" scope that will get the job done, they're all going to be different. The scope you will need will depend on what, where, and when you're hunting.
- Are you wild boar hunting at night? Playing whack-a-mole with groundhogs? Out-foxing the kitten-snatching fox?
- Are you in the open plains of Wyoming or are sub-100 yard shots the average distance out where you live?
- Will you be better off with a night vision rifle scope for nighttime hunting?
- Is your rifle a quiet .22 LR for near-shots, or is it a .223 Remington or .220 Swift for long-distance prowess?
If you're looking for the one-size-fits-all suggestion here, you're going to be terribly disappointed. But, if you need an idea on what scopes could fit the bill because you already know the essential tidbits of your hunt and prey, you're in the right place!
We'll dish up some of the most well-known and approved varmint scopes that should give you a head start in the buying hunt.
Our Picks for the Best Rifle Scope for Varmint Hunting
1. NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56
Yeah, we went all out with this one. The NXS is good for everything, and it looks like a bad-ass that will get the job done - because it can! It has the best of everything you'd need to take down prairie dogs at 1000 yards and beyond. Crank up your power and expect to see image quality stay true.
The SFP, glass-etched, illuminated reticle with 2 MOA tall and 2 MOA wide crosshairs means extreme precision on small targets for those really long distances. The 30mm tube, Hi-Speed Turret System, and 1250G-resistance all speaks to its expertise in the field.
If there's a scope you want on your varmint rifle or really any rifle you're serious about hunting with, it's going to be this NightForce. With the NXS on your side, vermin won't stand a chance!
2. Vortex Crossfire II 3-12X56 AO Hog Hunter
If you're in the South, you might already own one of these bad boys, and you can probably attest that it's true to its name. The Crossfire II is an ideal scope for the avid hog hunter. When nighttime looms without the right gear and equipment, feral hog hunting shouldn't be attempted. Instead, head out with the right stuff to be better prepared for success. What's the right stuff? We're glad you asked.
It would look like an illuminated center-dot reticle with V-Brite, robust and durable 30mm tube, and provisions for image focus and parallax correction - the AO. The right stuff should also include a weight that can handle heavy recoil for some serious loads barreling out towards the pig.
A lot of the right stuff sounds just like a great Vortex scope. Ha! Whaddaya know? The Vortex has it all.
3. Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14x42
Entry-level price point, mid-range performance, and high-end customer satisfaction. The Fullfield II is the right kind of mid-range scope to take deer, elk, and of course, varmints. Whether it’s squirrels, coyotes, rabbits, or foxes, this Burris scope is a hunter’s scope.
- Adjustable objective
- Ballistic Plex reticle
- Made in Philippines
- Lifetime warranty
- No other reticle available
The Fullfield II 4.5-14x42 is only available with the Ballistic Plex reticle. If you don’t like it, you may want to choose a different scope. However, it’s simple, uncluttered, and can be matched with any caliber. The Burris Ballistics Reticle Analysis Tool is an excellent calculator that will provide you with the distances for each holdover.
Being in the second focal plane, crosshairs might be a little thick for hitting squirrels at 800 yards, but it will definitely put you in range if you’re looking at bigger prey like foxes and coyotes. As additional info, it’s wire and non-illuminated.
Instead of a side focus, the Burris scope has an adjustable objective (AO) for focusing at various distances. Turrets are capped and offer up ¼ MOA adjustments with a total of 40 MOA in elevation and windage travel. According to buyers, it tracks excellently and remains accurate out to 700-800 yards. It can handle big-boy kick too beyond 50BMG.
Given its low price point, the Burris Fullfield II is a popular, quality riflescope. Since Burris backs it with their Forever Warranty, it makes the deal even sweeter. Even small things like losing the caps have been quickly replaced by the manufacturer. What you’ll need to get on your own are lens caps. It’s not such a big deal when you can grab the scope for less than $200.
4. ATN X-Sight LTV 3-9x
There are hunters that need night vision for their nighttime varmint and coyote hunts. This is where the ATN X-sight is a welcome scope to this lineup. Affordable, accurate, and simple. ATN nails it with the new design.
- Digital NV
- One Shot Zero
- Long battery life
- Not smart
The LTV series of X-Sight scopes is a simplified and scaled-down version of the older X-Sight II line. Even though it’s done away with all the extra bells and whistles of digital NV, many love the bold move to make this happen.
This results in a scope that is affordable, incredibly lightweight at 1.6 lbs, and it’s a whole lot slimmer than the night vision scopes of yesterday.
It features ATN’s One Shot Zero that allows you get on point with no wasted ammo. They also kept the HD video recording feature that you can upload online to share your hog hunting success on social media.
Like many old scopes that would only last for a few hours on one battery charge, the LTV scope one-ups them all with a long-lasting battery life of 10 hours. That’s plenty of time to make one heck of a night for hogs or coyotes.
With night vision on your scope, you can take your varmint hunting skills beyond your own honey holes. Take on contracts for local ranchers and teach the kids how to rid the farm of rats. Night vision scopes could improve your varmint hunting efforts.
5. Burris Scout 2-7X32
If you haven't heard of the Scout, shame on you! You need to get moving more as scout rifles are made to see action, and you won't get any action if you're not on the prowl. The Burris scope is incredibly lightweight which is perfect for lighter rifles like an AR as it won't weigh it down or seem top-heavy.
It's designed to sit forward on your rifle, so you have all that generous eye relief, the ability to keep two eyes open for increased situational awareness, and full clearance for mounting in front of the ejection port.
It might be a little scope, but in no way is it little in performance and quality. Index-matched, Hi-Lume coatings, one-piece tube, double internal spring-tension system, and full weatherproof-ability makes this Burris optic a winner in the field. Since it's designed to be extremely compatible with scout setups, no vermin will escape your sights. We almost feel sorry for the little guys - not!
6. Maven CRS.1 3-12x40
To hunt in lowlight or to pick out tan varmints against tan terrains calls for the clearest and sharpest of glass. Maven answers that call with the CRS.1 3-12x40 hunting riflescope.
- C-series glass
- CSHR reticle
- Lifetime warranty
- Made in Japan
- No FFP model
The CRS series of riflescopes from Maven are designed for the hunter with SFP reticles, mid-range magnification, and are completely fogproof and watertight. While FFP is becoming more popular in the hunt, SFP is still a practical focal plane for many hunting conditions and average distances, and the CRS series cater to that.
Based off the C-series of Maven’s binoculars, the CRS.1 has exceptionally clear, high contrast, sharp glass, as confirmed by my field test. Having been sourced and made in Japan, it speaks to both the optical and build quality of the scope. With superb resolution for picking out details in low light and noticeable edge-to-edge clarity, this is mid-range quality at an entry-level price point.
The CSHR reticle is wire, in the second focal plane, and based off the RS.1 SHR reticle. As such, it remains the same size from low 3x to high 12 power, and I found it to be highly visible in both lowlight and daylight bright conditions.
Very simple yet effective, the reticle has BDC holdovers along the elevation crosshair. Turrets are low-profile and capped. Adjustments are made in ¼ MOA clicks and the 1” tube offers up a total of 50 MOA travel. These are audible and I was also able to feel the adjustments with gloves on.
From the reticle type to the magnification range, the CRS.1 scope offers the varmint hunter extreme close-range work to long-range potential. That reticle has thin center crosshairs to put it on the coyote or prairie dog even at great distances.
Backed by a lifetime unconditional warranty, Maven presents an uncomplicated rifle scope for the straightforward pest hunter.
7. Barska 4-16X50 AO Varmint
The Barska 4-16X50 AO Varmint rifle scope has earned a mention. For a scope under $100, it's a great buy to get a taste of what high power, illuminated reticles, and parallax correction features can do for your varmint hunting.
It's in in no way fair to compare this scope to other brands and quality that we've mentioned in our lineup. But, if you're on an extremely tight budget, and you want to plink off some pests around the farm and property line, the Barska rifle scope might just make you proud!
What to Look For in a Varmint Rifle Scope
The oft repeated features are going to be reiterated over and over again whenever we recommend a rifle scope for any purpose. Buying the best of what you can afford will never get old here. Buying the best glass you can afford plus some is a mantra we live by.
To help clarify what your needs could be, let's start with magnification. Go higher for long ranging distances, and stay with low power scopes for close-mid ranges. The higher the power, expect to spend more for ultimate clarity.
Illuminated reticles are essential to varmint hunting since critters come out of the woodworks when the sun calls it a day. Variable reticle brightness may also make all the difference when it can potentially wash out your target and sight picture.
BDC reticles are nice to have and can be vital for extreme long-range shots. However, a complicated reticle at night can easily complicate things. Know your gun and your what your rounds will do at given distances, and then a simple duplex reticle should be all you need.
Lastly, your rifle matters a lot. High-velocity and flat shooting caliber guns get it done! But, whether you're a .22-250 or .223 loyalist, we're not going to join in on the age-long debate right here.
- Quality glass - The best glass is always the best buy. You'll see a lot more and a lot further versus trumped-up scopes with poor glass.
- Quality coatings - Same rules apply when shopping for quality glass. The coatings should match the quality glass and cost of the scope.
- Magnification - 1-9x is plenty enough power for close-mid range shots. Higher power scopes are for long shots - you won't need it in the woods, but you will need it for wide, open plains over several hundred yards.
- Repeatability - Scope has to hold zero. Check on track record or be brand-specific.
- Reticles - Opt for an extremely accurate BDC reticle for extreme long-range shooting. Basic crosshairs should get the job done for most hunting if you intimately know your rifle and loads.
- Illuminated reticles - Enables fast target acquisition and better low-light potential.
- Low light quality - Varmint hunting at night can't be done if you have a low-grade scope. For nocturnal creatures or varmints that are most active at night, a night vision rifle scope or high-quality low-light scope will go miles in how long you can stay out.
- Cost - Hunting closer to dusk? Spend more. Daylight hunting rodents sub-400 yards? You can compromise on price if budget limits you. Otherwise, spending more money on a quality scope will never be a regretful purchase.
- Warranty - Optics will fail at some point in time. Whether it fails after a few hundred rounds or after decades of service is what matters. Invest in your scope, and ensure you buy from a company that can offer a warranty that matches the quality of the scope. Warranty not good enough? Be brand-specific.
Deer and elk hunters get to mount their trophy racks to their walls. Do varmint hunters feel swindled out of their physical show of success? Not at all! While a feathered mess of a crow might not be wall-worthy, a handsome pelt makes for a conversation starter, gift, or a comfy pair of slippers.
Vermin can spread disease, cause harm to livestock, and devastate crops. The potential dangers are enough of a reason to assuage the threat - a call which many hunters are more than willing to answer. We wish you happy hunting after you've checked in with local, state, and federal regulations. Good luck!