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One can only dream of having plenty of time, money, and guns to test out every rifle scope until you've found the perfect one or two.. or ten!
So, if the local shooting hub has gotten sick of you hanging around or if your mates' inventory is just as sad as yours, then we sure have the review for you.
From affordable and low budget to second mortgage-worthy, we will tell you if there's a Leupold, NightForce, Bushnell, or a Nikon up our sleeves.
Our comprehensive reviews will leave you with the top rifle scopes you can buy.
QUICK LIST: Best Rifle Scopes in 2021
- NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56 - Best High-End
- Swarovski Optik Z5 3.5-18X44 P (BT) L - Best Under $2000
- Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP - Best Under $1000
- Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40 - Best Under $500
- Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50 FFP - Best Under $400
- Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12X40 - Best Under $300
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12X40 - Best Under $200
- CVLIFE 2.5-10X40e - Best Under $100
- Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24 - Best for AR-15
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56 - Best Tactical Rifle Scope
- Vortex Viper HS LR 4-16x50 - Best Long Range Scope
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9x40 - Best for Low Light
- ATN X-Sight 4K Pro 5-20X - Best Night Vision Scope
- NightForce SHV 5-20x56 - Best for Deer Hunting
- Vortex Crossfire II AO 3-12x56 Hog Hunter - Best for Varmint Hunting
How to Choose a Rifle Scope in 2021
Whether this is your first-time hunting for the perfect rifle scope, or your fifth, with so many options available choosing the ideal optic might seem like a daunting task. To make the process easier there are a few things you can consider.
Firstly, what is your budget? Whether you have $100, $200, $300, $500, $1000, or even more to spend there is a rifle scope that will fit your budget and your needs.
Secondly, what are your shooting activities? Do require a rifle scope for long-range shooting, deer hunting or varmint control? What type of firearm are you going to mount your scope to and what type of reticle or objective do you need? Is the scope going to be a gift for someone else?
We hope to help you answer these questions and more with our reviews and gear guides so you can walk away confident with your choice.
But if you still don't know where to start, keep cruising on down this page. We have highlighted the top rifle scopes in 2020 & 2021 from a variety of the best brands and in a range of price categories, and there is truly something here for everyone!
|BEST RIFLE SCOPES IN 2021|
|AGING EYESThe best scopes for old eyes||COMPARE NOW|
|AR-15The best AR-15 scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|DEER HUNTINGThe best deer hunting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|FFP RETICLESThe best FFP scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|LONG EYE RELIEFThe best long eye relief scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|LONG RANGEThe best long range scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|LOW LIGHTThe best low light scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|NIGHT VISIONThe best night vision scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|TACTICALThe best tactical scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|THERMALThe best thermal scopes||COMPARE NOW|
|VARMINT HUNTINGThe best varmint hunting scopes||COMPARE NOW|
The Best Rifle Scope for the Money
Shopping smart means getting the best of what you can afford, no matter what your budget is. And since we know everyone’s ideal price range is different, we have compiled lists of the top-rated rifle scopes in a range of the most common budget categories.
From low-budget beauties to some of the best rifle scopes in the world, there is something for every hunter in the categories below.
|BEST RIFLE SCOPE FOR THE MONEY|
|UNDER $100The best scopes below $100||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $200The best scopes below $200||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $300The best scopes below $300||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $500The best scopes below $500||COMPARE NOW|
|UNDER $1000The best scopes below $1000||COMPARE NOW|
|OVER $1000The best high-end scopes||COMPARE NOW|
Best Hunting Rifle Scope Brands
Whether you are looking for a low budget brand, or want to go straight to the top shelf, there is an optics company ready to deliver. Check out an A-Z of the best brands and the rifle scopes they have on offer.
This is a brand that dabbles in both the tactical and hunting industry, and they're known for their unbeatable, low budget prices. In our Barska line-up you won't spend more than $100, even for an illuminated reticle and an AO parallax adjustment!
This budget brand doesn't believe low prices should keep you from having high end features. If you're strapped for cash and need an affordable scope today for under $100, Barska is our top recommendation.
This manufacturer is a top of the line brand for affordable and low budget optics. Pragmatic advice that gets passed around from hunter to hunter in the optics world is "buy the best of what you can afford" - and Burris is the epitome of this concept in the low budget category.
This American company has a website that's organized, streamlined, and systematized to help you navigate their huge inventory of rifle scopes to ensure you're getting the right one for your hunt.
- Burris Scout 2-7x32mm Rifle Scope Review (Long Eye Relief & Ballistic Reticle)
- Burris Eliminator 3 Review: 4-16x50mm Laser Rangefinding Riflescope (Model #200116)
- Burris Droptine 3-9X40 Rifle Scope with Ballistic Plex Reticle (Model 200017)
- Burris Fullfield 2 3-9X40mm Scope with Ballistic Plex Reticle (Model 200162)
Speaking of a huge inventory, Bushnell literally has it all, from tactical scopes saved for the elitists, long range hunting scopes for ambitious shooters, to rookie hunters looking for something dependable as a first buy.
This loved American brand has listened and provided to the needs of hunters for nearly a century and is almost always considered the "go to" brand for many hunters in the field.
- Bushnell Trophy XLT Bone Collector Edition 3-9X40 Rifle Scope
- Bushnell Banner 3-9×40 Rifle Scope Review (Model 613948 with Multi-X Reticle)
- Bushnell Elite Long Range Hunter 3-12X44mm (Model E3124H) w/ G2H FFP Reticle
- Bushnell Prime 4-12X40 Rifle Scope Review – Tried & Tested at the Range
Now, this American brand has deep roots in the optics industry and is by far a world-leading brand that has a huge consumer base that's unrivaled by even the best-of-the-best optics manufacturers to date. Their engineers, expert glass-men, and master scientists deliver some of the world's most memorable and currently popular scopes there have ever been and will be.
If you've got the cash in any price range - low, medium, or high, Leupold will be on the lips of many hunters' top recommendations.
- Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Rifle Scope (Model #170680)
- Leupold VX2 3-9X40mm Rifle Scope Review (Model #110797): Matte/Gloss Black or Silver
- Leupold Rifleman 4-12X40mm Scope w/ New Ballistic Reticle (Model #170793)
- Leupold VX-1 3-9X40mm Rifle Scope with Duplex Reticle (Model #113874)
- Leupold Mark 5 Review: 5-25x56mm HD Rifle Scope (High Power & Wide Adjustment Range)
No hunter in their right mind rushes into buying a rifle scope. The same goes for a manufacturer. No company in their right mind rushes into producing a quality rifle scope. Maven took their time to research, develop, and test their production of the ideal hunter's rifle scope, and it proves that time was well worth it.
We weigh in on the quality of their scopes, and where they stand in the market rankings. We can without shadow of a doubt say that Maven has stunned us with the quality they offer at such low prices.
We thoroughly researched how they could provide premium and high-end features such as FFP and wire-etched reticles, ED glass, and exceptional clarity even at max power on their low-cost scopes. Selling directly to the consumer enables Maven to cut out steep retail price points and take advantage of the highest-grade materials available. High-performance, excellent craftsmanship, and affordability has been executed with incredible success, and that is how we can say you get more for less with Maven!
- Maven RS.1 Review & Field Test – How Does it Perform?
- Maven RS.5 Riflescope Review (Hands On)
- Maven RS.4 5-30x56 FFP Review (Tested... Is It Value For Money?)
This underdog optics company has some of the greatest high-end products in the market today. Although they're not as well known as other competing brands in the same category, their optics speak for themselves.
The quality of scopes they have puts them in the premium class, but they literally slash their costs to half of what their competitors sell the same optics for. It's for these reasons that Meopta shimmied its way into our review process. I also predict that they will become a common household name in the optics industry as more of us hunters expose their exceptional scopes.
- Meopta MeoStar R1r 3-12×56 RD Rifle Scope Review (Low-Light Legend)
- Meopta MeoPro 4.5-14×44 HTR Rifle Scope (with BDC Reticle)
If you're an optics freak, then there's a 100 percent chance that you know who this prodigious optics company is... they're also optics fanatics themselves. NightForce has a wide and five-star reputation with not only their tactical scopes, but their hunting scopes too. There's nothing that they can't make.
One of their most imposing company policies is to ensure that your optic will handle the abuse any firearm can dish out. They also painstakingly pay attention to every minute detail that goes into making your scope. With a manufacturing process as meticulous as theirs, you know you're going to get nothing less than the absolute best.
- NightForce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm Rifle Scope (Illuminated MOAR Reticle)
- NightForce SHV 5-20×56 Rifle Scope With MOAR Illuminated SFP Reticle
This brand has been around for ages and is at the point where they no longer have anything to prove. Their monumental optics reputation has reached a peak where hunters automatically trust and love what they have to offer.
The Nikon name is just as powerful as Leupold and Bushnell. And best of all, their scopes are of top-notch quality that are affordable and user-friendly. If you want glass from a tried and tested, favorite, and trusted brand, Nikon is a no-brainer option.
- Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9X40 Rifle Scope with BDC Reticle (Item 16338)
- Nikon Prostaff 7 4-16×42 BDC Riflescope w/ 30mm Body (Model #16324)
- Nikon Monarch 3 4-16x42mm BDC Rifle Scope with Side Focus (Model 6770)
- Nikon ProStaff 4-12X40mm Black Matte Riflescope (BDC) – Model 6729
This is another brand in the line of affordable and low budget optics, but it has an edge to it - it's a subsidiary brand of Leupold & Stevens. With a first-rate parent company behind its back, you know you can get the best out of these economical rifle scopes.
For the no-fuss and practical hunter who can see through the smoke screen of marketing tactics, you'll be drawn to the Redfield name.
Ditching the features that can complicate use, Redfield tacks on only the necessary features that can get you on target without the fancy add-ons and the fancy price tag.
Looking for an economical scope will result in a pathway leading you directly to a quarter century old optics brand - Simmons. As optics are trending towards sporting higher, unneeded bells and whistles and consequently, higher, unneeded retail prices, Simmons stays true to the low budget market.
In fact, their cheapest rifle scope featured in our line-up has a high end feature that you will never see on a low budget scope. Simmons doesn't disappoint if you want the best bang for your buck for as little cost as possible.
- Simmons 3-9X32mm .22 MAG (511039) Rifle Scope Review in Matte Black or Silver
- Simmons 8-Point Truplex Reticle Riflescope 3-9x40mm (Model 510513)
If you're looking for the creme de la creme of optics brands, then you've just found one of them. Describing Swarovski as "expensive" is a massive understatement. If this excites you, then you're most likely never going to go back to any other scope ever again after you've read our reviews.
Swaro is more than world-known, they're galaxy-known - that's how much their famous reputation precedes them. They make some of the highest-performing, most intuitive, and high-precision rifle scopes available. Their optics are tough to compare to and even tougher to beat.
- Swarovski Z6i 3-18x50mm P (BT) L Rifle Scope w/ Ballistic Turret
- Swarovski Optik Z5 3.5-18X44 P BT L Rifle Scope (with 4W Reticle)
- Swarovski Z3 4-12×50 BT 4W Rifle Scope (with Ballistic Turret)
This optics brand has really set its footprint in the high-end rifle scope market, and they've done well. The American brand has glass to rival even the best, world-class optics from European optics manufacturers
Even better, Vortex is run by real life hunters that know their stuff and use the rifle scopes Vortex makes. There's no better way than this to prove to your customers that you believe your optics are the best there is to make long distance, ethical, and hair-splitting accurate shots. This is the legacy that Vortex offers every hunter, not only in the market, but out in the field too.
- Vortex Crossfire II 3-12x56mm AO Hog Hunter Rifle Scope (with V-Brite Reticle)
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope – Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA)
- Vortex Crossfire II Review – 4-12×44 Rifle Scope with Dead-Hold BDC MOA (CF2-31015)
- Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 4-16X42 Rifle Scope w/ Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (DBK-10019)
- Vortex Viper HS 4-16×50 Long Range Rifle Scope Review (VHS-4307)
- Vortex Optics Viper PST 6-24x50mm FFP Scope w/ EBR-1 MOA Reticle (PST-624F1-A)
This long-time veteran of the optics world has led an acclaimed reputation for over 50 years. Trusted and contracted by the US military to produce tens of thousands of the well-known M73B1 sniper scopes, Weaver is certainly no newbie to good glass, durability, and accuracy.
By keeping things simple for the civilian hunter, Weaver scopes have just the right amount of features to create high-performing optics within the affordable price range.
Just seeing the word Zeiss makes me think, "can more really be said?". If you're not familiar with this world-famous brand, then you've got a lot to learn and you have no idea what you're missing out on.
Although they're typically on the "wish list" side of the decision-buying process, they're more than worth their weight in glass. Their astonishing illuminated reticles, intuitive ballistic turrets, and seemingly effortless usability puts this brand above all the rest,
Carl Zeiss is a brand you don't want to put on your toy gun. In fact, they're so nice you might not want to take it out of the box - ever!
- Carl Zeiss Optical Victory HT 3-12x56mm Rifle Scope w/ Illuminated #60 Reticle
- Carl Zeiss Terra 3X 3-9x42mm Riflescope (with 2nd IP Z-Plex Reticle)
8 Things to Consider Before Buying a Rifle Scope
1. Your Budget & Needs
This is perhaps the first and foremost factor to consider when buying a rifle scope. Your budget sets the limits of what features to look for, the quality of the glass, and the overall usability of the product.
It will also narrow down the options for you by naturally weeding out the optics that won't apply to your hunting needs and your financial limits. Our section on How to Choose the Right Optics in this article is a great place to start.
2. Reticle Options
This is another factor to consider since it will greatly help you to determine what range you want to be shopping in.
Are you extreme long range shooting where a ballistic turret would be more appropriate? Maybe you're varmint hunting out to 300 yards where a BDC reticle will be invaluable?
Most of the time for average hunters, a duplex reticle will get the job done effectively and efficiently. You should also be aware that the fancier your reticle gets, the more you might need to increase your budget.
Check out this article to help you identify which set of cross hairs is going to help you maximize your hunting potential.
3. Magnification: Fixed or Variable?
If you're set on a variable scope, it's common sense that you're going to pay a little bit more for higher powered optics. It's also going to to determine how effectively you can use your BDC reticle, what distances you hunt in, the type of targets you're hunting, and whether or not you're going to need parallax adjustment.
For the sake of saving your wallet some stress and ensuring a productive hunt, put a little thought into what range of power you're going to want. For more on magnification and how it's going to affect your hunting prowess, our Parallax article might be of some help and this Reticles article can als0 give you some insight.
4. Parallax Adjustment
This high end feature can drive up the cost significantly unless you've found a low budget AO rifle scope that'll serve you just fine in the field.
In determining whether or not you need to consider this as a factor in your shopping spree for the best scopes, you'll need to take into account your hunting distances, types of targets, and magnification settings.
But, parallax is a tricky and widely misunderstood concept in the sporting world. To get up to date on what it is, how it will affect you, and how to get rid of it, our this article is your best resource.
5. Objective Lens Sizes
To save you some serious cash, you might want to avoid the hype and low light myths of huge objective lens sizes. Although they have a large role to play in how much exit pupil is available to you and having a larger field of view, you will need to weigh it up against a few factors to consider...
Whether or not you want to mount your scope high, how much more weight it's going to tack on, quality of glass, and usable magnification ranges to get the most use out of your large objective lens.
While a large objective lens isn't for everybody, there are definitely some of us who swear by them. To see how objective lens sizes will affect your buying decision, our Objective Lens Diameter: Does Size Matter? article will guide you through an in depth look at helping you to narrow down the options.
6. Your Scope & Firearm Combination
What are you mounting your scope to? Is it the appropriate optics for your firearm? Is it recoil rated for an air gun?
It is important to know about proper scope and firearm combinations - not just so you can make the best buy, but so you can protect your investment and possibly protect your physical well-being and your handsome face.
Whether you run an AR-10, AR-15 or hunting rifle, choosing the right scope for your firearm is just as important as knowing everything about your firearm, knowing your shooting limitations, and knowing vital information about your target.
In a time and age where telescopic sights have quickly dominated the sights market, you can't afford to lose accuracy or money because you chose the wrong scope.
To make sure you don't kick yourself in the rear end for incorrectly mounting the wrong scope to the wrong rifle, this article will give you some comprehensive insights on what to look for.
7. Turret Systems
If you're not sure about what I mean by this, then take a moment to let me enlighten you.
You want a scope that's easy to sight in and can hold its zero, period.
This is a fundamental feature that all optics users must be able to nail, and sometimes it's not due to a lack of skill that can get in the way of these two things. A good, quality, and user-friendly turret system should enable you to get it sighted in fast and hold its zero, no matter what the amount of recoil is.
If you chose your scope correctly, the recoil shouldn't be an issue.
Furthermore, ballistic turret systems are a high end and premium feature that'll enable you long distance aficionados to push your skills to the limits and get dead on - Every. Single. Time.
Turrets are an important factor to consider and if you want to know how to use them effectively, our Turret Systems article is your number one source.
8. Know Your Stuff
This is perhaps the most essential factor to consider, even above budget.
How do you know what to look for if you have no idea what I'm going on about?
You could just pretend you know what parallax, turrets, FFP/SFP, LRHS, #60, and every other vocable, term, and acronym in the book is, but then again, the rest of us would get a kick out of seeing your eyes glaze over.
Now, that would a be good moment to give you a hard time. Instead of being the butt of our jokes, why don't you get caught up on the terminology and join our little tête-à-tête - this isn't a suggestion, it's a direction... even if it is for your sake only.
So, here's our Glossary to get you clued in and running your mouth like a pro!
The Best Hunting Rifle Scopes. Full Stop.
No matter how great each scope is, there must always be a winner. And, these optics will and should be touted as the top rifle scopes in the market - they deserve it.
It doesn't matter what your budget is, if you're new to the sport or a long-time zealot, there's a scope that's been made just for you.
There's no need to waste money on an after-market product or a foreign and unheard-of brand. Any optic that's worth mentioning has been thoroughly reviewed right here so that you can make the most out of your buck.