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There are heaps of manufacturers that deliver tactical tanks from Schmidt & Bender to Steiner and Trijicon.
But to keep the options relevant for those on a budget, I looked for scopes mostly under $1000 with a few high-end options and a couple budget budget ones too.
The best tactical rifle scopes can easily run upwards of $2000. Geared towards law enforcement and the military, it's not uncommon to look for the same features for home defense.
I looked for scopes with robust tubes, illumination, glass-etched reticles, and LPVO scopes, and I compare them all below!
QUICK LIST: 7 Best Tactical Rifle Scopes In 2023
- NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56
- Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
- Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20X50
- EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP
- Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50
- Burris RT-6 1-6x24 Tactical
- Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20
Top Tactical Scopes for Ultimate Precision
|NightForce NXS||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Trijicon Accupoint||CHECK PRICE|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 ffp||CHECK PRICE|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24 Tactical||CHECK PRICE|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||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 I go over some of the best tactical scopes, you might be surprised to learn a thing or two about the differences.
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 expect to get out of the scope.
Exposed turrets are the the norm. With this, you'll want to ensure you have audible, tactical clicks and that your adjustments track consistently with its provided range.
Tube diameters get larger. While it can be said that a fatter tube adds to robustness and 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 eat up a lot of the FOV (field of view), so you need to evaluate which type of reticle you'd prefer and if it's right for your application.
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 less-is-more is your kind of 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 my 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.
- Long range
- Wide magnification
- Huge adjustment range
- Side focus
- Illuminated SFP reticle
- Analog illumination
I guess having the illumination in the third turret (side focus) wasn't as common when the NXS came out as it is now. So, it largely went accepted that at you had illumination by pulling out the turret.
However, it's limited in that you cannot adjust the brightness without unscrewing the battery compartment (third turret) and using a screwdriver to adjust it. I think that is a major drawback, but it's designed as a set-it-and-forget-it type illumination.
Since it's excellent for long-range work, you can always opt for the MOAR-T with .0625 MOA hash marks on the glass-etched, unobtrusive SFP reticle. Yes, you'll need to max out to 22x to use holdovers.
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. Largely personal preference, I think this scope will fit those looking for these features.
2. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
Just one look at this beast, and you know it's a tactical long range scope at heart. There is nothing "average" about the dual-purpose scope with 1/10th MIL adjustments.
- FFP reticle
- Side focus
- Professional grade optics
- Zero stop
- Zero lock
- No illumination
It really depends on the reticle that you choose if you get illumination, but there are by far more non-illuminated reticles than there are illuminated when it comes to the Mark 5.
Several types of tactical reticles are available 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.
The Mark HD has the works when it comes to Leupold glass. As a long-range beast, it has a zero stop and zero lock. I think the lock is fantastic especially given that you have exposed turrets. So, whether it's consistently in a patrol car or hauled out to the boonies for 1000-yard shooting, nothing is going to get in the way of accuracy.
I like the included throw lever for fast power ranges, the huge 35 mm tube, and the fact that it's a Leupold. It looks the part and certainly acts the part of a long-ranging tac scope.
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. EOTech Vudu 1-6X24
If you’re tossing up between the best law enforcement or tactical scope brands around, take a gander at EOTech. Check out the Vudu if you want to scope out what they have beyond the best holographic sights in the market.
- MIL & MOA reticles
- Speed-ring reticles
- FFP reticles
- Great glass
The EOTech has some of its own perks such as an FFP reticle with the brand’s iconic speed ring which I love and find so fast and easy to use. With a few reticle options to muse over, you have the option of choosing a MIL or MOA reticle and even a calibrated 7.62mm or 5.56mm reticle good up to 600 yards on glass.
The scope has all its quality features covered from its aluminum, weatherproof, 30mm tube body to its XC High-density glass. The elevation turret can be reset to zero, you have revolution marks, and illumination is push-button control.
As an incredibly accurate scope that tracks and holds its own, it’s well-suited to 3-gun comps, duty use, and even hunting. I'd recommend keeping an eye on those turrets since they don't have a zero stop, but the zero reset will help double check that things are A-ok.
The Vudu 1-6x24 from EOTech has very desirable LPVO specs. We suppose you could pit the Vudu against the Trijicon VCOG 1-6x24 scope. While excellent, the VCOG will cost you significantly more. What team are you on? Team Trijicon or Team EOTech?
5. Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50
- MR1-MIL reticle
- Zero stop
- Lifetime warranty
- No included throw lever
Not much into complex, Christmas tree reticles? CT (Crimson Trace) has the mil-variant reticle that I really like! The MR1-MIL reticle has a .05 center dot and 8 mils of onboard holdover in each direction of the dot. It’s in the FFP, easy to see, and is glass etched.
With 10 brightness settings, it conveniently features incremental ‘off’ positions between each illumination setting. Best yet – it’s daylight bright, seriously, it is.
From the exposed, 0.1 click turrets to the parallax focus and magnification ring, the knurling is grippy without being aggressive, and there’s enough resistance to get smooth movement without too much ease.
It’s been CT-tested to meet MIL-STD-810G requirements, so it’s rugged, tough, and “proof” with any prefix you want to use… water, fog, submersion, shock, drop, thermal – you name it.
You won’t be limited to X-year warranties or needing to dig up a receipt. The Hardline Pro comes backed with a lifetime protection warranty – no receipt, no registration, no charge. If it’s broke, they’ll fix or replace it, and I think that's value.
With tactical must-haves, the warranty, and hands-on field test all checked off – this scope is a favorite especially for a DMR-style rifle!
6. Burris RT-6 1-6x24 Tactical
The Burris RT-6 is a tactical scope for a home defense or target shooting rifle. The 1-6x24 is a practical option for the carbine. For the money, quality, and Burris Forever Warranty, the LPVO has, at the very least, plenty of value for the SHTF prepper.
- True 1x
- Ballistic AR reticle
- Short/compact length
- Speed lever
No lens caps
Burris typically doesn’t include lens caps with their scopes, so it should come as no surprise that this will be an aftermarket purchase. The RT-6 is short at 10.3” in length and weighs 17.4oz that is comparable to other LPVOs.
While big and exposed turrets are a norm for tactical style scopes, I like that the RT6 keeps its turrets low-profile and capped. It protects the adjustments especially in CQB and fast-paced engagements. With 100-600 yd holdovers on the reticle, there’s not much need for dialing anyway. Adjustments are in ½ MOA and the 30mm tube offers up 80 MOA total travel.
The SFP reticle is the Ballistic AR (5x) that has BDC holdovers out to 600 yards. It’s calibrated to be ideal for .223 and .556 calibers. I kind of like that the only illumination on the reticle is the center .25 mil dot and segmented circle - acts like a red dot. Windage and elevation crosshairs are not illuminated.
Illumination is powered via a CR2032 battery. It has 11 brightness settings with intermittent ‘off’ positions which is what the third turret is (not parallax correction). Because the reticle is glass-etched, it’s still visible even without illumination which I find preferable especially in bright conditions.
To focus it, the integrated ring on the eyepiece is for diopter adjustments. The power lever is unique and incredibly versatile. It can be repositioned anywhere on the power ring and even moved forwards or backwards to best fit your liking.
The RT-6 is an affordable LPVO with practical features that makes it a fast scope for multiple applications from CQB engagements to needing more power to identify perps and assess the situation at a distance. With a price under $400, it fits the cost, quality, and performance expectations many preppers and target shooters may have. It's certainly a favorite of mine.
7. Monstrum Tactical 1-4X20
Not all tacti-cool scopes are going to cost you an arm and a leg, and not all tac scopes are long-ranging. The Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20 scope enters the picture to give you a different perspective and an affordable scope alternative.
- Glass-etched reticle
- Build quality issues
As a mass-produced optic, there may be some bad ones that escape quality control for issues with either workmanship or materials. But I like that the scope is immediately covered under the 1-year warranty if there are any issues even given its low price point.
While the tactical LPVO has some tactical features such as a BDC ranging reticle, illumination, glass-etched reticle, and a throw lever, it also lacks some of the obvious tac perks such as an over-sized, exposed elevation turret and fat tube. The good thing is that the turrets are fully protected from the elements and you shave off the extra weight that you really don’t need with an AR-15 scope.
When used for 100 yards or so, the LPVO is right at home. You may not even need the illumination. But I do recommend using it if you want your tac scope to get you through the hog hunt or compound security tonight, it can be a major benefit once low-light and dusk creep in.
Believe it or not, not everyone can afford or even wants an expensive scope. While there are multiple reviews on high-end scopes that many average Joes will not ever buy, people want the truth about the cheap stuff. This is one of those diamond-in-the-rough scopes that is worth its salt, and Monstrum Tactical makes a lot of these.
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 competition, military and law-enforcement, or personal protection?
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?
These are just some questions you should think about before deciding on any one scope. There is no one-size-fits-all tactical rifle scope that will perfectly fit for multiple applications.
With that, I compare some features to help you pick out which scope does has what it takes for your application.
Glass & Coatings
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.
Maximize image quality with the highest quality coatings available: fully multi-coated. Additional lens protectant and transmission enhancement coatings are always a bonus.
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||Fully Multi-Coated||Undisclosed|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||Fully Multi-Coated||Undisclosed|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||Fully Multi-Coated||Japanese Glass|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||Fully Multi-Coated||Japanese Glass - XC™ high-density, low dispersion|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||Fully Multi-Coated||Green Multi-Coated Glass|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||Fully Multi-Coated||Japanese glass|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||Multi-Coated||Chinese Glass|
Magnification, Objective Lens & Tube Diameter
On average, 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. But magnification is related to glass quality.
If you're going long-range, it's best to invest in scopes that have premium glass for maximum sharpness and resolution at those higher magnifications.
|Scope||Magnification||Objective Lens Diameter||Tube Diameter|
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||5.5-22x||56 mm||30 mm|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||5-25x||56 mm||35 mm|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||5-20x||50 mm||30 mm|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||1-6x||24 mm||30 mm|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||4-16x||50 mm||30 mm|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||1-6x||24 mm||30 mm|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||1-4x||20 mm||1 inch|
Being shock/recoil-proof really means figuring out if the scope can hold zero. Tubes have turret erector systems that take a pounding especially with high-recoil rifles. The more information a manufacturer provides about the tube, erector system, and recoil-resistance, the better.
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||Tested for impact and recoil at 1250 Gs|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||35 mm tube for added durability|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||Ruggedized design tested to military standards|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||Single-piece construction and anodized finish. Rugged shock resistant design prevents damage from heavy recoil and rough use.|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||Stress and durability tested as outlined by MIL-STD-810G protocols.|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||30 mm tube recoil-rated to withstand beyond 50BMG in both directions.|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminium, 1 inch sealed tube|
Turrets & Reticles
Pay attention to accuracy, click quality, and reticle movement when you sighting in. Without accurate tracking, not only is sighting-in success not guaranteed, but you may not be on zero the next time you pull out your rifle.
On average, there are simple duplex to complicated drop reticles. All types have a role to play but its simplicity or complexity will depend on your preferences and application. Then there's also SFP VS FPP reticles to consider and illumination.
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||ZeroStop™ Turrets – Instant return to Zero.||Illuminated MOAR-20 MOA (SFP)||.250 MOA|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||M5C3 Zerolock® Adjustments||Tremor 3 (FFP)||0.1 MIL|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50 (TR23-2)||Crisp, true MOA turrets.||Battery-free Illuminated Green TR23-2G Mil-dot (SFP)||0.25 MOA|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||Precision, tool-less adjustable elevation & windage turret dials.||Illuminated SR-1, SR-2 & SR-3 (FFP)||SR-1: 0.2 MRAD SR-2: 0.5 MOA SR-3: 0.5 MOA|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||Exposed tactile turrets with Zero Stop.||Illuminated MR1-MIL (FFP)||0.1 MIL|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||Capped, low profile turrets.||Ballistic 5X||0.5 MOA|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||Finger-adjustable, capped turrets.||Dual Illuminated Rangefinding BDC (SFP)||.5 MOA|
If long shots are in your future, look for a scope with generous travel adjustment. For ex. 80-120 MOA for elevation and 60 for windage. This can give you an idea of how far out you can go, whether or not you may need a 20 MOA rail, or ultimately, if you even have enough to zero.
|Scope||Elevation Adjustments||Windage Adjustments|
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||100 MOA||60 MOA|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||35 MIL||17 MIL|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||40 MOA||40 MOA|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 SR-3 FFP||SR-1: 29 MRAD |
SR-2: 100 MOA
SR-3: 100 MOA
|SR-1: 23 MRAD |
SR-2: 80 MOA
SR-3: 80 MOA
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||25 MIL||25 MIL|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||80 MOA||80 MOA|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||Undisclosed||Undisclosed|
Price & Features
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 competition, combat, law enforcement, etc., spend as much as you can.
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||Under $2000||2000-meter-long distance ranging, fully waterproof, fog-proof and shock-proof.|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||Under $2500||35 mm tube for increased adjustment range, throw lever, 1/10th MIL adjustments.|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||Under $1000||Battery free illumination, MIL reticle/MOA turrets, crisp turrets, assembled in the USA.|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||Under $1000 - Under $1500||Choice of 3 different reticles, rugged build, accurate tracking and XC™ High Density glass.|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||Under $1000||True daylight bright illumination, uncluttered MIL reticle, durable build quality.|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||Under $400||LPVO with true 1x power, Capped low-profile ½ MOA turrets, Repositionable Speed Lever, Illuminated SFP Ballistic Glass-Etched Reticle, Made in the Philippines.|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||Under $100||An affordable, well rated scope with BDC ranging reticle, illumination, capped turrets and throw lever.|
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.
|Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x56||Limited Lifetime Warranty||Transferable, registration required, repair or replacement for mechanical defects in materials and workmanship.|
|Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56||Lifetime Guarantee||Free repair or replacement, no proof of ownership, no time limit.|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 5-20x50||Lifetime of Original Owner||Repair or replacement or registered products for defects in material or workmanship. 15 year warranty on the tritium lamp.|
|EOTech Vudu 1-6x24 FFP||NoBS Warranty||Limited lifetime warranty, repair or replacement of all issues related to materials and workmanship. Transferable and no proof of purchase required.|
|Crimson Trace Hardline Pro 4-16x50||Crimson Protect Limited Lifetime Warranty||No receipt or registration required. Electronic components are covered.|
|Burris RT-6 1-6x24||Burris Forever Warranty||No repair/replacement charges, No receipt needed, No questions asked, Lifetime warranty, Automatically fully transferable.|
|Monstrum Tactical 1-4x20||30 Day Satisfaction Guarantee & 1-Year Warranty||30-day no questions asked return policy. 1-year warranty for replacement for manufacturing defects.|
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!