Choosing a tac 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!
Top Tactical Scopes for Ultimate Precision
|Leupold Mark 5HD||5-25X 56mm||Tremor 3||Under $2500||View on Amazon|
|Swarovski Z6i||3-18X 50mm||4A-I||Over $2500||View on Amazon|
|NightForce NXS||5.5-22X 56mm||Illuminated MOAR-20 MOA||Under $2500||View on Amazon|
|Meopta MeoPro HTR||4.5-14X 44mm||BDC||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Bushnell Tactical Elite LRHS||3-12X 44mm||G2H||Under $1500||View on Amazon|
|Redfield Revolution TAC||3-9X 40mm||TAC-MOA||Under $300||View on Amazon|
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!
Top 6 Best Tactical Rifle Scopes
Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56 – New to 2018!
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?
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!
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!
Meopta MeoPro 4.5-14X44 HTR – Best Tactical Scope Under $1000
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!
Bushnell Tactical Elite LRHS 3-12X44
Bushnell goes all out with a scope that can provide the best of both worlds: hunting and tactical. To get dual-purpose use in a pinch, the Elite can do it. It’s a long-ranging hunting scope that’s been outfitted with an FFP G2H mil reticle that can still land you tight groupings at those extended ranges.
It’s complete with a 30mm tube, side focus, and RevLimiter tech to return to your zero in a jiffy. The optical quality has been designed to impress with HD quality that might make you a Bushnell fan if you weren’t one before. If you can’t settle on whether you should put your funds towards a “regular” or tactical scope, go for one that can essentially be both!
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!