A Way of Life in the USA

Hunting is a way of life in the United States, and we are here to help you be as successful on the hunt as possible.

The Best Hunting Rifle Scopes on the Market

  • November 30, 2016 /

Scope mounted on a rifleHunting has quickly become a year round sport. With the amount of game that is available, outdoorsmen can literally spend the entire year hunting for some creature, whether it is deer, elk, or hog, so that hunting season never has to end. There are plenty of hunters that are taking advantage of the possibilities. They just need to make sure they have the proper equipment before they get out there on the field.

Depending on what you are hunting for, there are different size caliber guns and cartridges that are needed to be effective hunters. Scopes are also an important part of hunting with special hunting optics that have been designed to handle any type of gun or cartridge. This allows the hunters to be more successful as they hunt down their prey.

There are even hunting scopes that can now calibrated to specific caliber weapons that analyze and balance out the bullets arced trajectory. These scopes were created precisely for hunting in thick cover for dangerous game species. There are even scopes that have integrated laser range finders that show the range to the target on the inner part of the scope’s objective lens.

When one looks at the hunting scopes on the market today, and then thinks back to what hunting scopes used to be like, it’s unbelievable how different they are. Hunting scopes have evolved beyond their predecessors, so much so that you can no longer compare them equally.

Features to Look for in a Hunting Scope

Your first consideration should be what your needs are in a hunting scope. What type of weapon do you use? What types of ranges to do you hunt at?

Weapon Compatibility

If you have a powerful rifle, then you need a more durable scope, since a weak scope can be destroyed by the kickback rattling it to pieces. A small rifle doesn’t need a really durable scope, so this can save you money and weight on your gun. You have to consider if you are looking at a scope that has plenty of capability, but may not be necessary for the type of hunting you are doing. However, if you are using a more powerful rifle, it is important to find a scope that can withstand the rattling that comes with it.

It is even possible to find good optics that can be used with a pistol, bow, and shotgun. They are 1x optics that are used on short range weapons. They can lessen the time from the trigger to the target, and they make shifting to multiple targets that much easier. If you are using a nontraditional weapon that doesn’t let you use a normal scope, you can use eye relief scopes. Eye relief is the distance from the rear lenses of the scope to your eye. Some rifles need the scope to be mounted forward of the action, so this requires a long eye relief scope making the traditional short eye relief scope difficult to mount.

As you are shopping, if you find a scope with BDC, or bullet drop compensator, they were created for a special caliber and weapon in mind. Your bullet drop compensator will not be of any use if your weapon and caliber do not match your scope.

Magnification and Hunting Range

Your scope also needs to fit how you are hunting, and at what range. If you have a scope that works effectively to 300 yards, but you don’t hunt at that range, then it won’t be that useful to you. Most hunters find that 3 to 9 power optics are enough for their hunting needs. Others who are brush hunting or stalking may need something with lower variable magnification like a 1 to 4 power optic. Having too much magnification means you won’t be able to see your target, or, if you can, you may not be aware of what part of the target you can see.

Hunters that use long range obviously need a good long range rifle scope, so that they can see their prey as well as the area surrounding it. The level of magnification they needs allows them to see the small environmental changes, so they can decide on wind calls. At long range, you should be able to tell how the grass is moving, or the dust is blowing, so that the hunter has an accurate wind call. There are also laws on the length of the deer antler, and if you can’t see the antlers, how can you tell if it’s legal?
Reticles also help long range hunters easily make longer shots. You can either use a mil-dot reticle, or a bullet drop reticle. The mil-dot reticles are more universal than the bullet drop reticle, but hunters need to know what the bullet drop of their weapon is at varying ranges. Bullet drop compensators are specially dialed into a specific caliber, bullet weight, and barrel length.

Type of Hunting

This is one of the bigger questions that will determine the type of scope you need. How you hunt will completely effect the range and scope requirements that you have. You will need a scope that can be quickly planted on a target if you are hunting in the bush. A variable optic with both long range and close range settings is needed if you are hunting in the mountains or in the fields. Different environments need different scopes.

A wide objective lens on a simple fixed powered scope can be used well in a tree stand. It will collect and effectively use light, since your light may be blocked in a tree stand from the leaves above you, especially in low light. When that happens, you need all the light that you can get, so your shot is precise and effective.

If you are stalking, then you need to be fast, particularly if you are using a handgun. Short range hunters do not need as much magnification, although they may need lighter optics for specific reasons. If their scope is lighter, that makes their weapon lighter, and easier to maneuver. Plus, long eye relief or zero magnification scopes are easier for hunters to point their weapon instinctively at their target, and then in fact be on target.

Essential Scope Features

Hunter Carrying a RifleDurability is something that is essential in all scopes and hunting styles. Make sure your scope has the features that can help give it a long life. You also want to consider the features the scopes can have that will improve your overall scope quality, and what will increase your hunting satisfaction. Here are some features that are essential to your hunting success.


You can have different waterproof levels ranging from rain proof all the way up to Navy Seal proof. Depending on where you are hunting, this will determine what type of waterproofing your scope needs. If you are out in the marsh or swamps, you want a little strong waterproofing. Just hunting out in the woods? Then something simpler should work for you. No matter where you hunt, you will need some type of waterproofing. One thing to look for are O-rings with reinforced seals, and if a scope doesn’t mention anything about waterproofing, then that is a sign that it is not waterproofed at all.


Your weapon is going to feel a lot of shocks from being dropped and jostled, and from you running and walking. Whatever you are doing, your weapon is experiencing it as well, so if your scope isn’t shockproofed, and you drop it, it is now useless to you. Make sure your optic is shockproofed so you don’t lose your zero.


Since the best hunting time is in the evening and in the morning, you will encounter fog when you are on the hunt. As the morning sun is coming up, you will have a lot of evaporating dew, and as the sun sets, rolling fog can accompany it. Internal fog can develop on your lense, and that is not easy to get rid of unless the scope is fogproof.


Another important consideration is the materials that were used in making the scope. Is it constructed of polymers and plastics? If it is made of aluminum, is it air craft grade aluminum? Is it a single piece of construction, or multiple pieces? This will determine how strong the piece is, and if there are any areas of weakness. If it is made of one single piece of aluminum, for example, then it will have less failure points. It will also be stiffer, and less likely to bend, or to have the inaccuracies related to bending.

Lense Coating

Reducing glare and having a clearer and brighter image is the product of a good coating. There are several different types of coating, and, as always, the better the coating the scope has, the better the image you will see. You will see different coating ratings, and they have different meanings. What this means is that the coatings are on either one side or both sides of the lenses. It will also let you know how many lenses are really coated. This is a list of the different possible coatings:

  • Coated
  • Fully Coated
  • Multicoated
  • Fully Multicoated (which is the best there is)

Adjustment Turrets

Some turrets can be adjusted with a tool, a bullet casing, or a coin. If you have a short range scope, this shouldn’t be a big deal. Medium to longer range scope may need to have a dial. A turret should be easy to adjust, and the adjustment should be both audible and tactile. When you don’t have those clicks to count, you will have a harder time focusing. Also, these adjustments will need to match your reticle, and if you scope is in mils, but you have adjustments that are in MOA, you will need to make sure you know how to do the conversions.

Field Of View (FOV)

Your field of view is the area that you can see through your scope at the range of 100m from right to left. If you have a wider field of view, the better the result you will get. Your field of view will change depending on your magnification, so it will get larger as you decrease the mag and smaller as you increase it.

Loading a hunting rifleObjective Lens Diameter

The diameter of the objective lens will determine how much light you will have entering the scope, and how efficiently the light is transmitted to the ocular. The larger the diameter, the greater amount of light that goes into the scope, so you will be able to see well in poorly lit conditions. Each diameter size has bad points and good points, so the best thing to do is to pick the largest objective diameter’s weight that you can work with. Your average hunter will work well enough with a 32mm to 40mm objective diameter to convey enough light.

Tube Diameter, Length and Weight

The efficiency and portability of the scope is depending on its length, weight, and tube diameter. Most hunting scenarios should be ok with a one inch tube. Tube diameters that are 30 millimeters are stronger, and they can be adjusted using turrets. This is convenient when you are using shooting at long distances, and you are using higher mags.
If you need a lightweight weapon, then the length and weight of the scope are vital considerations. If you put a heavy scope on a lightweight rifle, the rifle itself becomes useless. You can find scopes that are as light as 227 grams, but the average weight of a scope falls between 340 to 397 grams.


When you are looking at scopes, you need to find one with a reticle that is thick, and is easy enough to see in a lot of different situations at different times of the day. Reticles are pretty important for hunting as a target crosshairs can be easy to see on white paper, but not as easy to see on an animal while you are hunting. So, you need a reticle that is not only easy to see, but clear and large enough to catch your eye. You should be able to make a shot, and not have to make adjustments with the turrets.

Best Hunting Rifle Scope Under $1000

Vortex Viper Pst 6 24×50 Riflescope W/ Ebr-1 Moa Reticle

This Vortex Viper PST (Precision Shooting Tactical) Riflescope was created to consistently provide duplicating accuracy at tremendous distances in unforgiving circumstances and under duress. It has six models to choose from that include a choice of reticles for either the first or second focal plane. The Vortex Viper PST is created with a one piece 30mm tube that is machined from aircraft grade 6061 T6 aluminum to give you the optimal durability and rigidity. You also have plenty of room for excessive range elevation adjustment.

Nightforce SHV 4 14x56mm

The Nightforce SHV is one of the highest performance and well-balanced scopes on the market. It is a robust scope that is made of an aircraft grade aluminum alloy that has a lot of high-quality features including an optimally precise light transmission, a sophisticated 56mm objective lens, weather and shock proofing, durable construction, individual reticles, and reliable adjustment controls. It also has an awesome price at under $1,000. Keep in mind, because of its 56mm objective lens diameter it is a bit wider and bulkier for some hunter’s preferences.

Bushnell Elite G2

If you want optical excellence, guaranteed reliability, and precision engineering, you don’t need to look any further than the Bushnell Elite G2. Developed in the finest family of tactical riflescopes that you will find worldwide, the Bushnell Elite was designed with law enforcement and military feedback. Bushnell creates elite tactical riflescopes for the most difficult tactical shooting circumstances that you can face. They feature precise optics and blacked-out cosmetics, plus the Ultra-Wide Band Coating that increases brightness at both dusk and dawn. The Elite G2 also offers the Rainguard HD lens coating that maintains a clear view no matter what the weather conditions are. It is constructed with a 30-millimeter one piece tube that has the argon removed for the greatest reliability. This is one of the best scopes for long range delivery that also offers precision and superb visibility for the entire magnification range. It also features a G2 Designated Marksman Reticle (DMR) that has mil-hash marked with a First Focal Plane (FFP) reticle that is created for correcting holdover, ranging, and windage.

Aimpoint H34L Hunter Long Sight with Ring, 34mm

The Aimpoint H34L reflex sight is only one of the four scopes that make up the Aimpoint’s Hunter series of sights that were introduced in 2010. They were designed to imitate the appearance of a standard rifle scope, so it is ideal for hunters that move fast, or hunt for dangerous game up to 100 yards. It is also very useful when you are hunting at close range in thick cover since your magnification will be deficient, but the 2 MOA red dot reticle and a total lack of eye relief gives you accuracy of your target.

Unlike previous Aimpoint versions that were created for use with short and lever actions, the Aimpoint H34L was created to be used with both long and standard actions. It is specially created to endure the recoil that is generated from rifles. It also features a very large 39mm, objective lens that is multicoated with durable 34mm tube wall that is top mounted with a 12 position push button brightness adjustment pad. The Aimpoint H34L sight is completely waterproof that lets hunters go out in all kinds of weather, plus it lets you turn on the sight and leave it on for five years using just one single battery.

Best Hunting Rifle Scope Under $500

Leupold VX 2 39 x 40mm Rifle Scope

The Leupold VX 2 is a scope that has been trusted by hunters all over the world. It gives you a high performance experience with all the features that serious hunters are looking for. The VX 2 has finger-adjustable click windage, elevation dials, and tactile power indicators, plus when you are hunting in low-light, it has the clarity, brightness, and contrast that you need. Durability, complete waterproofing, and the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee is also included.

Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Riflescope, 3-12×42

The Nikon Monarch 3 BDC is created by the well respected and well known Nikon manufacturer that has had a long standing reputation of constructing high performance rifle scopes. Nikon features the Monarch series as their flagship line. The Monarch has 33 percent more magnification than the 3 9 x 40mm scope. It also features an extra-large ocular lens, the maximum amount of light transition, and a wide field of view. This is the ideal scope for those that like to hunt at ranges of 100 to 600 yards.

Nikon has created an optical system that gives the hunter extra sharp, extra bight, and extremely flat sight picture that lets hunters see from dawn until dusk.

Also, the Nikoplex duplex reticle gives hunters a straightforward aiming point that still uses Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic technology, as well parallax adjustment that is easy to reach and side focused giving you unrivaled sight picture from any angle.

Plus, the easy to adjust turrets offer 1/4 MOA click-stop moves that lets you hear and feel the adjustments as you make them, without recoil that will throw your shot off target. The positive click adjustments let you zero in fast and easy while maintaining your setting, even when you have repeated backlash.

Leupold VXR HOG 1.25-4 x 20m Rifle Scope –

Created with feedback from Brian “Pigman” Quaca, the Leupold VXR HOG 1 4 x 20 mm rifle scope offers the exclusive Leupold’s non-illuminated, Pig Plex reticle that is a specific reticle for pig hunting. It was created to give you fast target achievement, and is perfect for framing a quick moving hog.

The Leupold VXR HOG uses the Leupold’s Quantum Optical System that offers lead-free optical glass. The optical glass includes geometry that is expanded with a mix of Ze-max design software and Leupold’s own Zygo Interferometer that maximizes your resolution giving you precise and sharp imaging in any light condition.

When the mechanical aspect of the VAri-X system have been preserved, and the optical elements have been repositioned while using new lens coating, the Quantum Optical System will give you up to 94 percent light transmission for superb resolution.

Plus, the large eyepiece will make it simpler to find the right eye relief, and to find those fast moving targets. It will also make it simpler to see a full sight picture that will totally fill the eyepiece, making it the ideal choice for those that hunt dangerous game in thick cover.

Finally, it is easy to zero and focus this scope with the included lockable Fast-Focus eyepiece, the tactile power selector, and the 1/4 MOA finger click adjustments for both elevation and windage.

Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 PA

The Vortex Viper 6.5 20×50 PA riflescope is a great pick for a beginner, or for those that hunt occasionally, but still want a quality scope. It includes the superb quality XD Glass that gives you precise visual output, a patented force spring system that steadies spring pressure and raises the strength of the erector system which lessens inconsistencies when you are aiming. It also has an XR anti reflective coating that lets you aim easily in bright conditions.

It also includes a lot of the nice features of turrets and adjustments, but a lot of them are more for show than they are useful. This scope is awesome for shooting with a default magnification of 14x due to the mil-dot sight that lets you guess the range, bullet hold power, and windage, as long as you don’t vary the power which will give you incorrect mil-dot sighting, and hard, irregular adjustments that you can’t do while you are on the field.

Nikon M-308 4 16 x 42mm Riflescope w/ BDC 800 Reticle

The Nikon M-308 gives you a large magnification range that includes an oversized lens which is a great feature for a heavy caliber rifle. Instant target acquisition is due to the quick-focus eyepiece, and the fully multi-coated optical system gives you bright sight pictures. The scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and it has long range shooting accuracy.

Best Rifle Scope Under $200

Leupold VX-1 3 9 x 40 Waterproof Riflescope

The Leupold VX-1 offers an affordable, yet effective scope from the company of Leupold. It comes with a standard multi-coated lens system that gives you brightness, great contrast, and high-performance, with micro-friction windage, and dials for elevation adjustment with a 1/4 MOA click rate that are easy to set and then reset. The Leupold’s classic lockable eyepiece will keep you in steady and constant focus, while the waterproof 1” tube mounts that are durable no matter where you go. It also comes with a Leupold scope cover that for additional protection of your VX-1 when you are not using it, and it comes with the Leupold Full Lifetime Guarantee.

Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Matte BDC 600

The Nikon P-223 boasts a return to target turrets and zero capability. This scope gives you an eye relief feature for additional convenience, plus it uses a bullet drop compensator to help you when you are aiming over varying ranges. This Nikon product is one of the best options under $200 with clearer glass than what many of its competitors offer. If you have a rifle using either 223 Remington rounds or 5.56 NATO, this is a great option for you.

Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope

The Nikon ProStaff possesses the Nikon’s fully multicoated optical system, and it has a very versatile magnification range of 4 to 12x. The Nikon ProStaff can help you make pretty much any shot comfortable for you, and its optical systems can transmit up to 98% of the available light, so you will always have the most brightness when you are in a low light, or low contrast, hunting scenario. For simple field adjustments, Nikon ProStaff uses a unified zero-reset turret that lets you sight like normal, and the lift the spring-loaded adjustment knob and rotate it to your zero and then reengage. You can make simple field adjustment by just dialing your subsequent ranges.

If you love the patented BDC reticle, so that you hold “dead on” at ranges beyond what you thought were possible, the BDC has unique see-through ballistic circles that give you a superb advantage during long-range shooting, and it also allows you a have a normal sign picture for those short-range shots.

The Nikon also boasts of liberal, constant eye relief, plus there is no more kickback. It also includes other features like the quick-focus eyepiece, nitrogen-filled, waterproof and fogproof O-ring-sealed housing, and the optional sunshade accessory. This is the ideal scope for hunters that like diverse conditions to hunt game.

Redfield 67095 Revolution 3 9×40 mm Accu-Range

The Redfield 67095 is part of the new Redfield Revolution series scopes. It includes state-of-the-art American design and construction. The Redfield 67095 features the Redfield’s Illuminator Lens System that mixes first-class optical glass and cutting edge lenses that have multilayer, vapor-deposition coatings that give you unmatched image quality, a larger field of view, and superb light transmission. Lots of research and design has gone into Redfield’s exclusive Rapid Target Acquisition (RTA) eyepiece that gets rid of the eye relief “sweet spot” that gives you fast and precise target acquisition.

Additionally, you will get your choice of a 4-Plex reticle or the Accu-Range reticle that gives you hold over points up to 500 yards with absolute precision. Also, AccuTrac™ adjustment system makes sure that you receive the greatest amount of repeatability and reliability.

Finally, the Redfield 67095 offers a lockable eyepiece that it is totally fogproof, waterproof, and shock proof. It allows hunters to go out in any type of weather, and use any type of firearm they want without worrying about creep.

So, the next time you are out choosing a new riflescope, make sure to do your research and look for those scopes that match your hunting style and your weapon. You don’t want to be caught with a scope that is too heavy for your rifle, or that isn’t the right type of scope for the range you are hunting in. Once you have determined your needs, with all the products that are available on the market today, you should have no problem find a scope that is perfect for you.