Top 10 Best Rifle Scope For Target Shooting – Reviews

Best Rifle Scope For Target Shooting

Have you been looking for the best rifle scope for target shooting? Buyers put emphasis on the rifle, but without an efficient scope it’s going to be difficult to hit that target. 

Long-range or short-range precision target shooting demand task-specific and serious precision instruments. Target shooters favor the first-plane reticles featuring fine cross-hairs and aiming systems with (or without) a central dot. 

For windage and elevation adjustment you will usually need scopes which have1/4″ or preferably 1/8″ MOA movement per click.

Since the top competition riflescopes are designed for benchrest shooters who are reaching out a mile or more, they feature much more magnification than the average 3-9x hunting scopes. 

The optics of choice among these marksmen are sophisticated target models starting with fixed lenses of 35x up to 60x magnification. Therefore, these competition style scopes are optimized for defined shooting challenges and dedicated rifles.

While most of these gargantuan scopes are built on 30mm and 34mm tubes, with weight often exceeding more than 2 pounds, luckily there is the choice of lightweight 1-inch target riflescopes for every shooter.

As buying a cheap 40-power target scope is not an option, we are recommending optics with optimum performance for target shooting such as target-style turrets and caliber-specific reticles with a reasonable price tag.

While the main trust of this guide are the reviews, we have also added other information that you may find useful such as who these scopes are for.

Name

Magnification & OL

Reticle

FOV

Price

Nikon 4-12x40mm 16451 Active Target Special BDC Riflescope

4-12x40mm

BDC Predator

7.9 - 23.6 ft @ 100 yds

Leupold Rifleman 3-9X50mm Matte Wide Duplex 58160

3-9X50Mm

Wide Duplex® reticle

13.1 to 33 feet @ 100 yards

Leupold 110816 VX-2 6-18X40mm Riflescope

6-18X40mm

Fine Duplex

15.20-6.70/4.90-2.10(ft/100 yd & m/100 m)

Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16x44 Long Range Riflescope with Dead-Hold BDC (MOA) Reticle, Black (VHS-4305-LR

4-16x44

BDC (MOA) Reticle

27.4-7.4 feet/100 yards

Primary Arms 4-14x44 FFP

4-14 X 44

ACSS HUD/DMR reticle

27.20 ft / High: 7.85 ft

Tasco Target Varmint 6-24x42mm Rifle Scope

6-24x42

Mil-Dot reticle

13'-3.7'/4.3-1.2(ft.@100yds./m@100m)

Monstrum Tactical 4x30 Ultra-Compact Rifle Scope

4x30

Range Finder Reticle

26.5 feet(@100 yards)

Nikon Prostaff Target EFR 3-9x40 AO Precision Reticle

3-9x40

Matte Precision Reticle

16.9 Feet(@100 yards)

BARSKA 6.5-20x50 AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope

6.5-20x50

Mil-Dot Reticle

16/5.3@6.5x, 5.7/1.9@20x(ft@100yds/m@100m)

Mueller Tactical 8-32x44 Side Focus Mil Dot Reticle

8-32x44

Mil Dot Reticle

9.3feet(8×)–2.5feet(32×)at100yards

Our Picks

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Nikon 4-12x40mm 16451 Active Target Special BDC Riflescope

Nikon 4-12x40mm 16451 Active Target Special BDC Riflescope

Score: 5  Andrew Garfield

Along with 3-9x40, a riflescope 4-12x40mm belongs to the Nikon Active Target Special family and both are available in black, Realtree MAX-1 and Mossy Oak Brush finish. The Nikon 4-12x model is a typical example that target and varmint scopes are probably, the closest relatives in the riflescope world.

The best confirmation of that relation is the Nikon’s BDC Active Target Reticle, which utilizes SFP fine crosshair with ballistic circles for the drop compensation. While preventing their target from being obscured, these 3 inner circles within the scope also allow for quicker distant setting to the target.

Actually, the BDC Predator reticle offers you the exact aiming points at various yardages for your specific ammunition and loads (.223Rem and .22-250Rem) and makes shots at moving targets easier.

For target-shooters, it means the size of the first circle at 100 yards is slightly smaller than the typical bull's eye at the target while the next circle down touched the bottom edge of the bull's eye.

Features:

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    The new Active Target Special features spring-loaded Instant Zero-Reset capped turrets, which allow shooters quickly make 1/4” adjustments in the field.
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    The convenient quick-focus eyepiece is matched with consistent eye relief of 3.6”, rendering the Nikon Active Target as an ideal target riflescope for both bolt action & AR rifle platforms.
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    Nikon applied multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds on every glass surface that paired with objective 40mm bell provide bright and vivid sight pictures along with the optimum light transmission.
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    The Nikon Active Target scope line is constructed from sturdy, lightweight aluminum alloy and nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed to be completely waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.
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    The package also includes removable ARD (Anti-Reflective Device) designed to eliminate game-spooking objective lens reflection.

-  Designed as a budget dual use scope, the Active Target Special has surprisingly little flaws. Shooters criticize mainly Nikon`s unique BDC Active Target Reticle since it is a little harder to hold a group on the target as of the open circle reticle in the center.

Paired with Nikon's spot on ballistics and the right cartridge loadings, a 4-12x40mm Active Target Special BDC Riflescope is easy to be dialed in for some long distance shots

Leupold Rifleman 3-9X50mm Matte Wide Duplex 58160

Score: 4.2  Andrew Garfield

As you probably know the Leupold Rifleman Series is their entry-level scope, but we have included Rifleman 3-9X50 because its value is second to none, and it comes, like all Leupold scopes, with a lifetime guarantee.

Though an inexpensive scope, Rifleman 3-9x50mm is overburdened with features and overall Leupold quality. A well thought reticle matched with glass system combines brightness, clarity, and contrast needed for longer shots downrange as well as close dangerous game situations even in low-light conditions.

Apparently, the standard Wide Duplex reticle with a larger center gate is ideal for zeroing in on moving targets or for the situations where light is critical, but 3-9x magnification range is almost perfect for deer hunting.

Features:

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    Like first, this compact, just 12.4 inches long riflescope with weight of only 14.5 ounces is constructed of 1" tube machined of durable aircraft quality aluminum to handle rugged use under all conditions.
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    The Rifleman features repeatable accuracy due to the rugged 3x Leupold lens erector system. The capped turrets have precise 1/2 MOA increments allowing you to make the exact adjustments of windage and elevation. 
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    However, a generous eyebox ranging from 3.7 to 4.2 inches is more than adequate eye relief for high power cartridges and rapid target acquisition.

-  There are some negative but “harmless” critics on short optics body and limited space for mounting rings, but a much more realistic comment would be where Leupold has skimped a bit to cut down on production costs.

-  It is the glasses that are only fully coated, not multicoated or fully multicoated, which has the effect of lowering the ability of the scope to gather light.

As every compromise, this riflescope is not perfect but if you are looking for more features and less price tag loaded in a compact package from the renowned manufacturer, than a Leupold Rifleman 3-9x50mm scope is your choice.

Leupold 110816 VX-2 6-18X40mm Riflescope

Score: 4.4  Andrew Garfield

After a few dual-use scopes, we will make an overview of a pureblooded target shooting riflescope coming from the American company known for their decorative gold ring, Leupold.

The excellent but not overpriced, this VX-26-18x40mm Adjustable Objective Target Riflescope provides competition shooters for medium to long-range shooting with a set of features such as precision, accuracy, and dependability.

As Leupold boasts with a wide variable zoom range from 6x to 18x, it features an actual magnification of 6.4 to 17.2x, but it is already plenty of distance for both target and varmint shooting.

Though specialized for rigorous competition at all ranges, the VX-2`s crisp crosshairs matched with Leupold modified version of Ballistic Aiming System are also designed to help you to consistently make accurate, ethical, long-range shots in hunting.

Features:

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    As previously mentioned, the first quality that we want to highlight is a Fine Duplex reticle, located in the 2nd focal plane. Thin posts and crosshairs offer less target coverage, which renders precision shots on small targets easier.
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    Leupold VX-2 has large target-style windage and elevation capped turrets allowing a 67 MOA adjustment range with 1/4 MOA click values. The main feature of this scope is its easily adjustable objective that no longer requires a locking ring.
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    The glass is the expected Leupold quality, providing Index-Matched Lens system with Multicoat 4 lens system (formerly available only on Vari-X III riflescopes) and DiamondCoat protective coatings, which defends against external damage and boosts light transmission. Also, lead-free optical elements have their lens edges blackened for reducing unwanted glare and diffusion, which in turn, provides better resolution.
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    The optical system is housed in waterproof and fog proof 1" main tube machined from lightweight and durable 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum and features a twin bias-spring erector system that increases holding force.

-  As of very thin crosshairs, this scope would not be ideal for hunting in the woods at morning light or evening.

-  Although it has a great eye relief of 4.8" at low magnification, some shooters find inadequate changing of eye relief distance at highest power at only 3.7".

Considering all above pros and cons, we believe that VX 2 is perfect to mount on small bore .22 caliber target rifles to benefit target shooters and occasionally varmint hunters.

Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16x44 Long Range Riflescope with Dead-Hold BDC (MOA) Reticle, Black (VHS-4305-LR)

Score: 4.8  Andrew Garfield

Vortex Optics Viper HS (Hunting Shooting) series utilizes many of the best characteristics of Vortex's popular Viper PST riflescopes though they are mainly meant for hunting.

Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16x44 LR riflescope is designed to serve dual service as hunting and target scope for extending shooting distances where bullet drop and wind drift become critical. For those tasks the Viper HS specific reticle is responsible.

Dead-Hold BDC reticle is placed at SFP, and effortlessly enables engaging midrange to long-range targets. The reticle comes with very fine crosses that makes them ideal shot placement at longer ranges as they do not obscure the target. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is set in MOA with adjustment graduation of ¼ MOA per click.

Features:

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    The Viper HS 4-16x44 LR (Long Range) model features exposed, capped tactical-style turrets to provide fast, 1/2 MOA click value, accurate and easily read elevation and windage adjustments.
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    Adjustment knob for Side-Focus allows for parallax setting, and it is located on scope's left side and is easily accessible from shooting position.
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    Like all Viper HS optics, the Long Range model comes with Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS), an aid in return to zero after dialing temporary elevation correction.
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    This optical system is highlighted with a 4x zoom range and Precision-Force Spring System to ensure maximum repeatability and ease of adjustment.
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    All glasses surfaces are multicoated with Vortex proprietary XR Lens Coatings to increase light transmission and resolution.
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    The riflescope is built on the strong 30mm one-piece machined aluminum tube to ensure strength and waterproofness and argon filled to prevent internal fogging.

-  While the Viper HS does not have an illuminated reticle, the reticle crosses are little on the thin side, and they are less useful at night or dim light, so we would not suggest it for a thicket/ dark timber rifle.

-  The only thing we found wrong this scope is the reset procedure on the windage dials, due the turret does not appear to seat back down very smooth and you have to wiggle it a little.

Among the most exceptional rugged optics in the shooting industry, Viper HS 4-16x44 Long Range Riflescope can withstand extreme loads, which means it can be placed in the most powerful long-range rifles without the reticle going out of alignment.

The Viper HS is ideal for a wide range of shooting applications and one of the best riflescopes for the target shooting in midrange price class with the bonus of Vortex lifetime warranty.

Primary Arms 4-14x44 FFP

Score: 4.8  Andrew Garfield

As we know, the optics have changed over the last few years, and now some less expensive scopes are packed with features unthinkably recently for glasses bellow thousand dollars.

Primary Arms is a Houston, Texas-based company that imports riflescopes from a manufacturer in China but the secret is in better Quality Control and proven components.

The dominant feature on this PA scope is the first focal plane reticle, the functionality generally found on scopes costing 3x as much. The practicality of the FFP standard Mil-Dot reticle means that no matter what magnification you choose, the distance between the dots will remain the same relative to the target downrange.

Configured as dual-use scope, the Primary Arms Tactical 4-14x44mm is ideal for accurately ranging in the field or on the range.

Features:

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    The medium power zoom of this Front Focal Plane scope matched with 1/10 mil clicks is perfect for accurately ranging in the field or on the range. Though it is not as bright as an S&B, Primary Arms scope has a surprisingly good brightness to the very edge of the glass for a budget scope.
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    A side-mounted parallax adjusts knob is not in the same plane as the adjustment dials, but it gets the job done keeping the reticle parallax free and the target image sharp at extended ranges.
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    The covers for the adjustment knobs can be removed, and dials would provide an audible and tactile "click" for each position they turn.

-  However, there are some reviews that the turret adjustments are mushy and they do not track accurately.

A lot of knowledgeable gun enthusiasts purchase this scope for a “budget precision” rifle as part of an under $1000 bench rest/varmint build. Overall, this is a very good entry-level riflescope for long-range precision shooting as long as you understand what its limitations are.

Everything is a compromise to the price, but the PA has offered FFP scope at a price point that is affordable to those who don't have thousands to lay out on a scope.

Tasco Target Varmint 6-24x42mm Rifle Scope

Score: 4.2  Andrew Garfield

The Tasco scope earns a spot on our list for its accuracy and overall high quality design. As the name suggests, this scope is useful both for target practice and shooting varmint. 

What makes this possible is its multicoated optics. The scope mounts quickly on most rifles. It doesn’t look too different from others, but the image quality is clearer and in HD. 

If you’re using this for varmint or hunting, the HD clarity makes all the difference. Its objective lens is bigger than on most scopes, giving you brighter images. 

The extra brightness also comes in handy if you are target shooting or hunting in low lit areas. Do you need to fine tune the scope? No problem as the 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments let you do just that. 

The scope’s durability is right up there with the best scopes that Tasco has made. Overall it’s a reliable scope for shooting.

Features:

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    The Varmint scope is equipped with HD optics. With this you get crisper, clearer images even at long distances.
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    The scope is argon purged so it is waterproof. Even if you’re shooting at a range, condensation can develop, so a waterproof and fog proof scope helps.
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    It has a 1/4 MOA elevation and windage adjustment features. This allows you to set the accuracy level where it needs to be.
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    The optics are multicoated and reinforced. It’s not only stronger but also makes images sharper.
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    The scope is made from high quality materials. This ensures its longevity compared other scopes.

Pros

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    HD quality
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    Well-designed reticle
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    Waterproof
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    Durable optics
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    Not affected by condensation

Cons

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    Turrets need adjustment out of the box
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    Optics could be a bit brighter
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    Maximum magnification causes slight blurriness

The Tasco Target Varmint is a well-designed scope, aimed at mostly at beginners but also suited for long time shooters as well. For quality and performance are also superior to other similarly priced scopes.

Monstrum Tactical 4x30 Ultra-Compact Rifle Scope

Score: 4.2  Andrew Garfield

The Monstrum rifle scope may be compact but it’s not lacking in features and quality. Because of its compact size it doesn’t add a lot of weight to your rifle. 

The optics are exceptionally good and provide clear, crisp images. The end result is the images are clear, with good contrast and sharpness. The reticle is a little thick but it’s not a deal breaker. 

The illumination is good and helps you see the markings in low light. The turrets are well made and adjusting is easy. The scope mounts on Weaver or Picatinny rails and it holds up to extended use. 

In spite of the compact size, the scope still provides a good FOV. If you’re into target shooting or hunting, the specs on the Monstrum will do just fine.

Features:

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    The scope has a compact built, but it has a 2.5 inch eye relief and 30 mm objective lens. This makes the scope suitable for long range shooting and hunting game.
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    The reticle comes with range markings etched on the glass. This allows you to estimate the target range accurately at long distances.
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    The scope weighs only 12 ounces and 6 inches long. This makes it one of the lightest scopes for rifles.
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    There are rail mounts built in the scopes. You use this to secure the scope on a Picatinny or Weaver fitted rifles.
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    The scope is made from durable, high grade materials. Unlike other target scopes, you can use the Monstrum for wood hunting as well.

Pros

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    Compact, solid design
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    Lightweight
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    Compatible with Picatinny and Weaver rails
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    Excellent optics
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    No glares

Cons

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    A bit difficult to use on an AK47
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    ​Thick reticle
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    Reticle markings a bit dark

The Monstrum Tactical offers good value for your money. It is a no-frills scope but it has all the essential features needed for precision target shooting. it’s also good for hunting and getting rid of varmint.

Nikon Prostaff Target EFR 3-9x40 AO Precision Reticle

Score: 4.7  Andrew Garfield

The Prostaff Target is made especially for the. .22 air rifles and similar firearms.  The scope is at its most effective when used for long range focusing as it makes target acquisition easier. 

If you’re having trouble hitting the target, the Prostaff can remedy that. You can adjust its objective lens and focus from 10 m and up. This scope is also equipped with an enhanced reticle plus a 50 yard parallax setting for precision. 

This is the feature that makes it suitable for range shooting. It also helps that the lenses have been coated to prevent unwanted reflections and glare. 

The scope is both shock proof and waterproof so you can use this in different situations. The durable design also means it is for those who do a lot of long distance shooting. 

Features:

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    The Prostaff has an enhanced quick focus eyepiece. This enables you to focus on the target without sacrificing comfort.
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    The objective lens can be adjusted down to 10 m. You get a good deal of flexibility in parallax free viewing for better target acquisition. 
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    The scope is made of heavy duty materials for extra durability. Even with constant use the scope will hold up fine.
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    Its precision target system has been upgraded for this version. The new version is easier to use and is ideal for air rifles and target shooting.
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    The lens have multiple coatings for added durability. The multiple coatings also improve light transmission for a better view.

Pros

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    Compact design
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    Accurate from from long range
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    Easy to use
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    Comes with zero reset turrets
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    Comfortable to use eyepiece

Cons

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    Manual is a bit sparse on details
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    Adjustment click sounds a little weak
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    No mount rings

The Prostaff 3-9x40 is a cut above the rest in terms of quality. The optics are good and it’s as much for target shooting as hunting and is suitable for most shooters.

BARSKA 6.5-20x50 AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope

Score: 4  Andrew Garfield

The Barska scope puts premium on precision, so it is appropriate for target shooting. Mounting on a rifle is easy and provides you with plenty of benefits in long range shooting. 

Because its objective lens is 50 mm, it captures clearer, sharper images. The scope is equipped with an adjustable objective so it’s easier to adjust the parallax. The scope is not just for target practice but also hunting and getting rid of varmint. 

If you do take this in the woods, the scope will hold up. It is shockproof waterproof and fog proof. Both the AO and magnification are easy to access, and the elevation and windage adjustments are intuitive. 

It also has a target dot reticle for convenient use, and the optics provide a lot of light. Like other Barska products, this is backed up by a lifetime warranty.

Features:

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    The Barska 20x50 scope is argon purged and been fortified against damage. As a waterproof, fog proof and shockproof scope you can use this for long stretches without wear and tear
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    The optics maximize image transmission and clarity. Whether it’s dusk or dawn you’ll still see the target clearly.
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    The objective lens is designed for easy adjustments. By modifying the settings you’ll be able to collect as much light as possible.
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    The scope is built out of a one inch tube. This is standard for scopes, but the construction here is more robust.
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    The Barska has simple adjustment controls built in. This makes it suitable for those new to target shooting. 

Pros

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    Can be mounted on all popular rifles 
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    Compact design
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    Easy to use
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    Waterproof
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    Adjustable

Cons

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    Needs some adjustment to hold onto zero
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    Gets a bit blurry beyond 16x
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    Screws need to be fastened real tight

The Barska scope may be classified as an entry level or basic scope, but that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. It is an effective scope and should suit beginners just fine.

Mueller Tactical 8-32x44 Side Focus Mil Dot Reticle

Score: 4.1  Andrew Garfield

The Mueller 8-32x44 earned a spot in our list for its high quality design. Its glass is crisp, bright and clear. If you have used a low quality scope before, you will immediately see the difference in the image. 

There are lots of ways to adjust the scope view, but it’s straightforward. The eye relief is just the right distance and the exit pupil is just the right size. 

It’s a bit small when you set the magnification level to high, but that’s par for the course for most scopes. The scope is accurate even at 200 yards and out. 

It’s easy to adjust the controls and the magnification provides a lot of details. The eye to scope and FOV distance are sensitive, but it’s not by much and is manageable. With a good rifle you’ll have no issues hitting up to 500 yards.

Features:

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    The Mueller Tactical is equipped with a side focus knob for easy adjustment. By making simple tweaks here you’ll be able to fine tune it.
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    It has a mil dot reticle to assist with your aim. Using this you can mark your targets and shoot with greater accuracy.
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    The scope has a fast focus eyepiece for easy aiming. Using this you’ll be able to do shoot with precision.
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    The scope has a matte black color to complement most rifles. The finish is also ideal for those who hunt as it blends in the environment.
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    The scope also has specially designed optics for a clearer view. Even at a distance you’ll be able to spot a target and hit it.

Pros

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    Clear images
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    Waterproof
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    Very adjustableEasy to focus
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    Easy to focus
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    Good tracking

Cons

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    Side knob a bit hard to adjust when new
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    Instruction manual is brief
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    Loses a bit of clarity at maximum magnification

The 8-32x44 is an all around target shooting scope. For those new to target shooting, it’s a great way to improve accuracy. Even seasoned users will find a lot to like here as well.

How We Wrote This Review

The question you’re probably asking is, why you should trust these reviews? We are aware there are a lot of rifle scope reviews online, but we differentiate ourselves by focusing exclusively on target shooting. 

It may not seem like much but there is a difference and we took note of this. We also made sure the scopes were reviewed by experts and those who have done target shooting. 

We also took into account the views of target shooting buffs who tried the ten scopes we have here. We then conducted a thorough assessment and comparison, listing the pros and cons as well. 

Before settling on the ten here we had to go over several shooting scopes. We picked out the top products from the leading brands and filtered the list. From the dozens of target scopes that we looked at, we settled on these ten.

Target Shooting Without a Good Scope! Can You Imagine?

There are a lot of rifle scopes online, but these scopes provide a lot of advantages for both novice and seasoned shooters.

The scopes are tailor made for target shooting, so the adjustment controls, clarity, weight and other aspects take target shooting into consideration. These scopes also provide excellent optics. The clarity is HD and colors are produced properly so you can get a better shot.

These scopes are also meant for long term use. Many come in a solid one-piece design and made from heavy duty materials. They are also waterproof and fog proof so you don’t have to deal with condensation.

The bottom line is these scopes are more efficient than your regular optics. There’s a reason why they are made for target shooting and why it makes sense to get one. Now let’s take a look at them.

How We Choose the Best Rifle Scope for Target Shooting

These ten targeting scopes were chosen among many others using a strict criteria. The most important points we considered were:

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    Accuracy: we selected only the scopes that have proven accurate and allows you to fine tune the settings.
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    Durability: can the scope be used in damp weather? How well does it handle condensation? We took those into account and made sure the ones we included here are fog and waterproof.
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    Quality: multicoated optics, easy adjusting controls and built are among the things we considered.
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    Weight: carrying a rifle to do target shooting is no joke, and a heavy scope can be a burden. During our reviews we also made sure that its weight is manageable.

While a lot of factors need to be considered when buying a target scope, the criteria above helped us narrow the choices to these.

Who Should Buy These Scopes?

These scopes were chosen for the reasons cited above. If you’re not certain if these scopes are what you need, check if you belong to any of the following categories.

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    You are having trouble hitting targets because of poor optics.
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    You want to upgrade your scope for all-weather use.
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    You want a scope for target shooting.

Conclusion

By this time it should be clear how important it is to have a good scope for target shooting.  At this point you’re probably asking which of these is most suited for target shooting. 

The truth is they’re all effective. While we reviewed each one and can attest to the unique qualities of each one, only you can decide which is the right one. 

When it comes to choosing a rifle scope you don’t want to settle for anything than second best. That is why we decided to review these and provide the information here.  

If you are new to target shooting, then you’ll want to invest in a good scope to get the best possible results. A lot of problems with targeting can be resolved by investing in a good product. The same is true with the best rifle scope for target shooting, so it’s time you get one.

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Stanley Jones
 

Stanley is a professional hunter with years of experience in hunting, rifle, scopes and other tools that used for hunting. Chief Editor of The Shooters Optics.

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