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Choosing a tactical scope for your rifle can be more difficult than choosing a hunting rifle scope. The options are many, and the demand for precision and state-of-the-art technology can drive scope prices way past your comfort zone.
However, it's no secret that military, law-enforcement, and survivalists may be geared towards tactical scopes for precision, robustness, and repeatability as lives may depend on it. If this is the case, your best bet will be scopes that are offered for much more than we dare to mention here.
However, if you're a serious civilian who wants to outfit your AR with a tac scope to complete the "look" or you want pin-point .25 MOA accuracy with a lot of travel room, this could be the lineup for you. It may not be a Schmidt & Bender, but we promise we've still got some expensive models lined up for the runway!
QUICK LIST: 7 Best Tactical Rifle Scopes In 2020
- NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
- Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20X50
- Swarovski Z6i 3-18X50
- Meopta MeoPro HTR 4.5-14X44
- Bushnell Tac Optics LRS 6-24X50
- Redfield Revolution TAC 3-9X40
Top Tactical Scopes for Ultimate Precision
|NightForce NXS||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Trijicon Accupoint||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski Z6i||CHECK PRICE|
|Meopta MeoPro HTR||CHECK PRICE|
|Bushnell Tac Optics LRS||CHECK PRICE|
|Redfield Revolution TAC||CHECK PRICE|
Top 7 Best Tactical Rifle Scopes
What's the difference between tactical and hunting scopes? Some say there's no difference, it's just a marketing ploy to charge extra bucks on the same product, but is that really true?
As we go over some of the best rifle scopes around, you might be surprised to learn a thing or two about actual and obvious differences between types of scopes. Like what you may ask?
The price tag on a tac scope is often indicative of quality. While there may be a few exceptions to the rule, it's best to spend as much as you feel you are serious about its use. Exposed turrets are going to be the norm on high-performing tactical scopes. With this, you'll want to ensure you have audible, tactical clicks and that your adjustments track consistently with its provided range.
Tube diameters may seem to get larger with tac scopes and that's because they do. It's said that it provides added robustness to tube integrity, but what is definitely known is that it adds more adjustment range for longer shots.
Reticles can get carried away with tac scopes as they can become extremely complicated and attention-seeking. How? Tactical reticles not only compensate for bullet drop, but they can also provide for wind drift, and act as a rudimentary rangefinder. However, reticles can try to eat up as much space on the FOV (field of view) as possible, so you may want to decide which type of reticle you'd prefer.
These are just a few features that are iconic trademarks of a tac scope, and most of the time, they're "all the rage." However, if decked-out, flair, and vanity isn't your style, you might find that they're not all as beastly, heavy, and egoistic as some people make them out to be. Want proof? Here's our lineup rolled out on the red carpet!
1. NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56
This brand is known worldwide for their tactical rifle scopes. So, what can you expect from the elite American brand? Maximum performance for any rifleman. Available with a series of reticles, this one comes with an illuminated .250 MOA tactical reticle. To makes groupings even tighter at those extreme ranges, you could opt for the MOAR-T with .0625 MOA hash marks on the glass-etched, unobtrusive reticle.
The Hi-Speed Turret System will get your adjustments there faster than ever. You might appreciate the integrated power/eyepiece ring, or maybe you won't, though you won't know until you read the full review!
2. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
Just one look at this beast, and you know it's a tactical scope at heart. There is nothing "average" about the dual-purpose scope with 1/10th MIL adjustments. As expected from Leupold, it's available with several types of tactical reticles from the TMR to the Combat Competition Hunter reticle. Obviously, sniper competition and combat use is what this scope was made for - everything else will be a piece of cake.
You might like the throw lever that's been incorporated to make extremely fast power changes. You might also like the huge 35mm tube that makes this scope a force to be reckoned with. You might just like the fact that it's a Leupold. Has it won you over yet?
3. Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20X50
This is a brand that is well-known within the tactical and combat communities. You can bet the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Special Ops, and various law enforcement agencies have more than a few Trijicon scopes and sights mounted to their weapons. One such scope you might come across in the armory is the long-ranging AccuPoint TR23-2 rifle scope. Here's what the big deal is about.
- High magnification
- Dual illumination system
- No batteries required
- 30 mm tube
- Mil reticle/MOA turrets
We're not huge fans of mismatched reticle and turret systems. It makes for more math and it complicates things for most shooters. However, mismatched systems are still usable and functional but it's not for every one. Besides, if this Trijicon was a mil/mil scope, it wouldn't be in this price range. Add to that a FFP reticle and again it's definitely not in this price range.
A SFP, dual illuminated, mil-dot reticle is easy to use with its 1 mil spacing and max of 10 mil crosshairs. The center dot is illuminated in either green or amber, and it doesn't take batteries to illuminate or control brightness intensity. Instead, Trijicon uses fiber optics and Tritium so you can see your center point for rapid target acquisition during both daylight and low light conditions.
Even though the AccuPoint has a 30 mm tube, it doesn't provide a huge amount of adjustment travel with only 40 MOA. But, if you mount a 20 MOA rail to your rifle, you can push your long-range goals out past 1000 yards.
Every buyer has commented on the scope's crisp turret clicks that are intentional and true to their function. Glass quality is said by users to be the best in this price range. While Trijicon isn't giving anything away about what they're using or doing, whatever it is, it's working.
If you want a long-ranging, high-quality, and high-performing scope from this American, authoritative brand in this price range, the AccuPoint TR23-2 is your no-brainer choice.
4. Swarovski Z6i 3-18X50
Yes, a tried-and-true trooper makes the list for its 30mm tube, ballistic turret, and impressive HD image quality. True waterproof and submersion-proof qualities really takes this scope to whole new level when harrowing weather isn't a good-enough reason to call it a day.
Automatic features ensure battery life is preserved for the moments you need it most. What about long range shots? It won't be a problem since you have three zero stops to personalize for your loads at known distances. Take things a little further and opt for the illuminated 4W-I reticle with fine cross hairs and hash marks to correct for wind drift.
It might be the ultimate hunting scope, but the luxury features of the Z6i sure do raise the bar when you need the kind of accuracy expected for a tactical scenario!
5. Meopta MeoPro 4.5-14X44 HTR - Best Tactical Scope Under $1000
- Long range rifle scope
- Second focal plane
- 4.5-14X magnification
- Etched glass reticle
- MeoShield External Lens Coating Protect Against Scratch and Abrasion
Meopta can easily keep up with scopes more than twice its price, but it doesn't feel the need to burden the buyer with hefty costs. However, just because they're more price-friendly than other A-class brands around, it doesn't mean the American-made MeoPro is an inferior optic. You might notice that it sports some of the same luxury features that other high-end brands brag about. But, Meopta doesn't have to toot their own horn since we will do it for them!
We offer up this particular scope for its quality and value. Its price-point makes it a more reasonable and realistic buy for a shooter who has less than $1000 to spend. The MeoPro can easily be integrated in either the hunt, at the range, or for a tactical scenario as its HTR name implies.
It's darn near perfect for a shooter who wants a versatile, high-performing optic while on a budget. Did we mention that this scope barely weighs anything? Check it out if the combo of tactical turrets, glass-etched reticles, and lightweight mean anything to you!
6. Bushnell Tac Optics LRS 6-24X50
- Hunting Scopes Rifles
- Versatile top of the line
- Another quality product
New to join the Bushnell family is the Tac Optics line of rifle scopes. At the long-range end of the series is the 6-24x50 model with the G2 reticle in the first focal plane (FFP). Set to impress and perform, this Bushnell is a professional shooter's lightweight choice at the bench or in the field.
- High magnification
- G2 reticle (mil)
- IPX7 rating
- No ED glass
"Tactical" has been a catchall catchphrase for manufacturers when they want their scope to seem better than the rest. But, there are legitimate features that separates a true tactical scope from the rest, such as exposed turrets, a mil-based reticle, extreme high power, and more adjustment travel, all of which the LRS has.
But, for the high price and comparable scopes within this price range, it's kind of a shocker to see it lacks ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass. It should be standard for this price range. FMC (Fully Multi-Coated) optics are expected, and Bushnell tacks on their Ultra Wide Band, RainGuard, and EXO Barrier Protection coatings.
With the G2 reticle, this model lacks the illuminated reticle option. To be clear, this is the BT6245FG model. It's a mil/mil scope with hash marks at each half and 1 mil position. You'll have tons of room to make use of the high power and extend your long range goals with the 30 mm tube body that gets you 23.9 mils of adjustment travel with both elevation and windage turrets.
There's no featured Zero Stop, but you can reset your turret to zero using an Allen key that's provided with the scope purchase. The Tac Optics scope weighs 27 ounces and is 13.8" long - sort of lightweight compared to other scopes with the same features.
As a new scope and line from the brand, we're chomping at the bit to see how it fares with tacticool fanatics in the near future.
7. Redfield Revolution TAC 3-9X40 - Best Tactical Scope Under $300
Not all tac scopes are going to be extreme long-ranging scopes, and not all tac scopes have to cost several thousand dollars. The Revolution TAC scope is the most affordable optic in our lineup, and it happens to be one of the most popular scopes of the lot. Who needs more than this? Adjustments are audible, precise, and the glass is crystal clear. Better yet, the economical scope is made right here in the USA.
Redfield has a solid footing in the tactical and military field. The TAC scope is the flagship optic for the Revolution rifle scope series. It's extremely compact, has aggressively-knurled dials, and it comes with their No Excuses Lifetime Warranty. We'll say it now as we've said before, there's not going to be a better tactical rifle scope buy in this price range for the quality you're getting. Redfield is a clear winner in our books - they should be in yours too!
What to Look For in a Tactical Rifle Scope
You really should ask yourself what your purposes are for buying a tactical scope. Is it for sniper competition, military and law-enforcement use, or for personal protection for your property?
What is your max yardage range in which you'll be taking most of your shots? Do you plan to shoot during low light hours or at night? Are you pairing it with a night vision device or some sort of artificial lighting source?
These are just some questions you should think about before deciding on any one scope. There is not a one-size-fits-all tactical rifle scope that will perfectly fit your needs. Sometimes the best place to start is with asking yourself, how much did your rifle cost, or how much are you planning on buying one for? Then, spend the same or more on your scope!
In the meantime, rely on our helpful tips to give you a kick start in the right direction while you figure your needs out.
- Quality glass - The best glass will always outperform high-powered scopes with poor glass. Glass quality is always the fundamental element that will determine overall scope performance.
- Quality coatings - Maximize image quality with the highest quality coatings available: fully multi-coated. Additional lens protectant and transmission enhancement coatings are always a bonus.
- Magnification - The higher the power, the further out you can see. This might be beneficial for long-ranging purposes, however, high power also tacks on weight.
- Repeatability - Being shock/recoil-proof and able to hold a zero can mean everything in the field. Look to the scope's track record and stay brand-specific.
- Turret/reticle accuracy - Pay attention to accuracy, clicking quality, and reticle movement when you sight-in to ensure windage and bullet drop corrections will be right where you need them to be. This is a must for higher-end scopes and not recommended on budget scopes.
- Ballistic turret/reticle - Accuracy, ease-of-use, and intuitive systems are going to be the most convenient features you want to look for. Try not to fall for the "hype" features that complicate use unless you plan on mastering the system to be a pro with that brand’s turret system or reticle.
- Elevation/Windage Adjustment Range - If long shots are in your future, look for a scope with wide travel ranges. For ex. 80-120 MOA for elevation and 60 for windage.
- Low light quality - Glass and coating quality is going to make a huge difference here. If you're using a scope for nighttime hunting, you might want to check out a Night Vision Rifle Scope instead.
- Cost - Spend as much as you are serious about your use. If the tac scope is for range and target practice to get tight groupings, a cheaper scope will get the job done. If the tac scope is for high-intensity situations like sniper competitions, combat, law enforcement, etc., spend as much as you can.
- Warranty - Most scopes come with a limited lifetime warranty these days. If you're putting in quite the investment into your scope, you might want to be brand-specific to ensure you get the customer service and repair/replacement coverage you deserve and expect.
No One-Size-Fits-All Tactical Scope
Tac scopes are going to sport a lot of the same features, but how it's integrated into the scope for overall performance is where you'll be able to tell the duds from the shiners. A scope with multiple zeros is only as good as its adjustment travel range, and a scope with extreme magnification is only as good as its glass quality.
Narrow down the options by evaluating your needs. Sometimes it might mean a custom feature here and there, and other times, a generic scope that fits the bill will work just fine. Most of all, just get to know your scope and your rifle. With a good pair, you'll be unstoppable!