Top 10 Best Rifle Scopes for 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
It’s easy enough to understand the necessity of a having a scope for your rifle. But if you’re a newbie to optics, it can be a bit complicated if you have to find the best rifle scopes all by yourself.
If you’re still depending on iron sights to aim at targets with your rifle, you need to wise up...
The truth of the matter is that a scope offer greater accuracy. Your rifle can hit targets at distances that your eyes can’t deal with clearly.
With a scope, you can pinpoint the exact are where you can put your bullet. For precision shooters and hunters, that ability is absolutely crucial.
Consider that with a scope, you can put down a deer (or a bad guy) with one shot. That’s certainly more humane when you’re hunting and more efficient when you’re in the military or law enforcement.
If you’re shooting for consistent accuracy, a scope can make it possible for you to get tighter groups when you take your shots.
We will write a detail buyers guide to choose a scope for the rifle at the end of reviews.
Magnification & OL
Nikon Prostaff 5 - Best Scope for The Money
Nikon MONARCH 3 Review: 1-4x20 German 4 Riflescope
German #4 Reticle
Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 Review: 3-9x40mm
Leupold VX-2 Review: 4-12x40mm
Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16x42 Review
23.8-6.1 feet(100 yards)
Nikon ProStaff 7 Review: 3-12X42 BDC Riflescope
9.1 ft - 36.4 ft(@ 100 YARDS)
Athlon Argos BTR Review: 6-24 x 50 (FFP) Riflescope
6-24 x 50
APMR MIL Reticle
Bushnell BTR-1 Review
110/33@1x / 36/11@4x(ft @100yds/m@100m)
Nikon P-223 3-9x40 Mate BDC 600
BDC 600 reticle
33.8 – 11.3 ft(@100 yds)
Burris Veracity Riflescope
2-10x42 to 5-25x5
Trijicon VCOG Review: 1-6x24 Riflescope Ballistic Reticle
95-15.9(@ 100 yards ft)
Score: 4.6 Andrew Garfield
A quick glance at the PROSTAFF 5 Mildot Riflescope shows that Nikon designers didn’t ignore aesthetics when they made this scope. It looks sleek and serious, and it actually has that sexy vibe you don’t normally find in scopes.
But it’s highly regarded not just for its looks of course. Its value lies in its formidable technological features, beyond the 4.5x to 18 x variable zoom and the 40mm objective lens diameter.
The Nikon PROSTAFF 5 may not be cheap, but it sure does offer a lot of value for your money. If you’re used to cheaper scopes, then you’ll find the clarity of the view here as quite amazing. With the convenient reticle and the easy adjustments, you won’t have to worry about your scope as you hunt or take shots in the range.
Score: 4.6 Andrew Garfield
If you’re shooting at close range targets, you don’t need extremely powerful magnification, and even a large objective lens diameter isn’t necessary.
So here with the Monarch 3 from Nikon you get a compact scope that offers variable magnification up to 4x, along with a 20mm objective lens diameter.
The Nikon MONARCH 3 looks basic because its job is simple. It’s to help you to quickly zero in on a target that’s relatively close to you. You can do that quickly enough, as making adjustments is quite easy. It’s not for long range shooting, but that’s because it wasn’t built for that purpose. It’s only for close range shooting.
Score: 5 Andrew Garfield
This is one of the rare scopes in the market, as just about everyone raves about it. Each and every review on it offers gushing praise, despite the fact that it’s one of the more expensive scopes on this list.
This isn’t just for close range shots, as the 9x magnification can allow for intermediate range shooting. It’s made so well that the price actually feels like a bargain for many. Take a look at what you get:
Lots of people have fallen in love with this scope, and it seems likely that you’ll like it too. The Leupold simply gets the job done with minimum fuss, and you’ll appreciate how accurate you can really become with a terrific scope. It’s durable, the eye relief is comfy, and the green light sure makes a difference. It’s not cheap, but then it’s not an average scope to begin with.
Score: 5 Andrew Garfield
The VX-2 was designed for serious shooters, and that’s why it’s appreciated by so many shooters and hunters the world over. The Leupold designers took note of what the serious rifle shooters wanted, and then they put it all here.
The Leupold VX scope looks like what a pro would use, and its features confirm that initial assessment. It offers great clarity, and you can feel and hear your adjustments. It’s very durable as well. All in all, it has just about everything a serious hunter would want, and it’s worth every penny.
Score: 4.7 Andrew Garfield
Your purchase of the Diamondback HP 4-16x42 riflescope also comes with protective lens caps, a 4-inch sunshade, and even a lens cloth. But it’s not really the extras that make it a worthwhile buy. It’s the riflescope itself, as its features are those that real shooters would want to have.
The price isn’t cheap, but it sure the Vortex is reasonable. You simply get a scope that offers excellent optics and unbelievable toughness, while you can also adjust it easily enough to shoot accurately.
So what more do you need? With up to 16x magnification you can see a lot farther with this scope than the other scopes on this list. With the unconditional lifetime warranty, you’re all set for many years of use at the very least.
Score: 4.9 Andrew Garfield
Are you itching to hunt during the dawn and dusk hours? With the sun not quite up high, the low light conditions aren’t exactly optimal for most scopes. But then the ProStaff isn’t like most scopes either.
Athlon Argos BTR is one of the most highly regarded Nikon scopes, and for good reason. It really is an excellent scope that offers multiple adjustments so that you can get your accurate shots in a hurry. With the warrantees in place, you can be sure that it will be durable enough to last for a long while.
Score: 4.6 Andrew Garfield
As you can see from the name, the zoom ranges from 6x to 24x. That means it’s more for longer range shooting than it is for very closer range hunting.
It comes with an illuminated mil reticle, along with lots of other features that can help you pick out and shoot targets from much farther away.
What you need to understand is that this isn't supposed to compete with much more expensive scopes. But in this price range, its practical functionality is off the charts. This Athlon scope is great for shooting deer at longer distances, instead of just being limited to varmint shooting.
Score: 5 Andrew Garfield
This is also for target shooting for up to 600 yards, but this time it’s optimized for 5.56 rounds and the magnification is only up to 4X. It’s really made for the AR platform.
With this, you have excellent performance even in low light, and you can do quick power changes with the power change lever (PCL). There are also 11 settings for the illuminated bar reticle.
The Bushnell one durable scope, as it’s made from high-quality aluminum alloy. It’s fully sealed so it’s waterproof and fogproof, while the lenses are also fully multicoated.
Score: 4.8 Andrew Garfield
This is the previous version of the Nikon P-223, and this looks like it belongs on your AR15 right from the get-go. It’s build quality is solid, and with its adjustable power range it’s just as versatile as the AR15 rifle.
The 3 to 9X magnification range is certainly useful for this sort of rifle, as you can aim for targets at 600 yards while you don’t sacrifice your FIV up close.
This also comes with a BDC reticle that allows you to aim for different distances more quickly in the field. The reticle adjustments let you zero in more quickly, and it holds that zero through continuous recoil.
The Nikon P-223 waterproof and fogproof, and there’s a parallax setting for 100 yards. The eye relief is also consistently generous so you don’t get cut near the eyes even if you have cartridges with powerful recoil and your rifle is lightweight.
Score: 4.7 Andrew Garfield
This comes in several versions, ranging from 2-10x42 to 5-25x50. You can just pick one to match the usual distances you shoot from. Whichever version you pick, you can enjoy its state of the art technology.
The zoom system offers powerful ranging performance, and at the same time the FOV remains nice and wide. The reticles let you compute the distances at any magnification power, and you get windage and trajectory reference points to help.
The ¼ MOA adjustments let you fine tune the targeting, and you can get dependable accuracy every time. You also have adjustable parallax to the side, which you can adjust without changing your shooting position.
Score: 5 Andrew Garfield
VCOG stands for Variable Combat Optical Gunsight, and it’s a military-spec scope that combat veterans go for. Yes it’s expensive—the cheapest version costs more than 2 grand—but then technology is simply state of the art.
It’s also made of tough aircraft-grade aluminum alloy that’s virtually indestructible. The seal is so total that it’s water proof up to 20 meters.
This uses a horseshoe dot reticle with BDC markings, and the drops remain true regardless of the magnification. The multicoated lenses offer exceptional clarity, and they transmit light without distortion. The illuminated reticle is also powered by just one AA battery, and you can adjust the brightness setting.
The magnification can be dialed in easily simply by rotating the dial. Through the magnification range, the eye relief is constant so you don’t need to adjust your hear or rifle. Mounting this doesn’t even need rings, as it comes with an integrated mounting adapter that can fit in any rail system.
The Ultimate Buying Guide for the Best Rifle Scopes
How to choose a rifle scope? Don't worry, we will help you to explain step by step guideline to choose the best scope for rifle.
Before you can confidently pick the best scope for your rifle, you need to understand a few things about the scope. Don’t worry; this won’t be a technical treatise full of jargon. We’ll try to translate everything into plain English.
Magnification is the scopes ability to make it seem like your target is much closer than it really is. So if your magnification is 4x, a target 100 yards away will seem like it’s just 25 yards away. This is a crucial aspect of the scope, as it helps you identify your targets.
You’re also able to focus on a specific area of your target, such as the bull’s eye or a quick-kill spot on your prey. A scope can have a fixed or variable magnification. A fixed 4x zoom is always 4x. A variable magnification can offer different zoom levels such as 3x to 9x.
Fixed zoom is more reliable as there’s nothing to fiddle with concerning the zoom. However, unlike the variable zoom it’s much more limited, as you won’t be able to clearly see targets from much farther away.
The reticle is the markings you see through the scope. The most common type is the crosshair reticle, and it can be thick or fine. There’s the duplex version, which is thicker near the perimeter but thinner in the center so you can see the target more clearly.
You can go with the mil-dot, which is like the duplex as it has thicker lines on the outside. But the thinner lines on the inside have spaced dots to help you asses range and distance.
Etched glass reticles can add circles and dots to the markings which let you factor in range, drift, and bullet drop compensation. Some reticles are illuminated (usually with a battery) so the reticle is more visible in low light conditions.
What is Rifle Scope Parallax and How to Adjust it
Parallax is a concept that’s hard to explain until you experience it when you use a scope. So let’s imagine a situation when you’re shooting through a scope.
You move your head just a little, and even though the scope stayed in place it seems like your target bull’s-eye and the crosshairs aren’t in line anymore. This is an optical phenomenon that’s similar to how fish aren’t really where they are when you look at them through the water.
The best high powered scopes offer parallax adjustment to offset the parallax optical illusion. You know you have parallax problems when you adjust your gaze a little through a high powered scope. The shift in your gaze results in the reticle changing position on the target.
Parallax adjustment isn’t the same as focus. It just adjusts the planes of the reticle and the target so that the reticle seems painted onto the target even if your gaze shifts.
To adjust for this, many scopes have adjustable objectives (AO) or side focuses. You have a dial on the side of the scope that denotes different distances, and you can correct for this phenomenon.
Light Transmission and Eye Relief
The crux of the matter is this: when you’re using greater magnification, the less light comes in through the scope so the image can get dark. To compensate for this, you need an objective lens that’s large enough to let in more light—the larger the lens the more light you get through the eyepiece.
Let’s say you have a 3-9x32 scope. This means you can have magnification ranging from 3X to 9X and the size of the objective lens (the lens that’s farther from your eye) is 32mm. When you use the 3x magnification, you get a brighter image through scope than when you use 9X magnification.
While for most scopes the 32mm lens should offer a well-lit image, you’ll generally get a brighter image if you have 40mm objective lenses (3-9x40). The eye relief refers to how far your eyes must be to the ocular lens (the lens at the opposite end of the objective lens) so you can get a full clear picture.
Usually, this is about 3 to 3.5 inches for most rifle scopes. If you’re lucky, it’s 4 inches. What you need to understand is that the gun recoils when you fire, so you want a lot of clearance so that the scope doesn’t hit your eye when the rifle recoils.
Field of View
The field view refers to the distance from left to right that you can see from your scope, generally at a range of 100 meters. When you zoom in, then your target appears bigger—but your FOV becomes narrower.
It may become so narrow that you have a hard time finding your target again if it moves.
This is just how much of the target environment you see through the scope. When you use a low powered magnification, you may see smaller targets but you can see a wider field of view. With higher magnification, the field of view becomes much narrower.
The FOV is measured in feet, at 100 yards. So a low powered magnification like 3X may give you an FOV of 30 feet across from left to right at a distance of 100 yards. Power the magnification to 9X and the FOV can be reduced to just 14 feet across.
In many scopes, you can adjust the crosshairs to compensate for the bullet drop as your range to the target increases. The scope may also allow you to adjust the zoom, the color of the reticle, and the crosshair to adjust for wind or elevation. Obviously, you need adjustment controls that are easy to use.
Lens and Coating
Lenses are coated to improve its capabilities. The coating can reduce the glare, improve the light transmission, and make the contrast more noticeable. Coatings can also protect the lens from fog and water.
A lens can have a single coating on one lens surface or on all outer surfaces. It can be multi-coated, meaning more than coat on at least one surface. Or it can be full-multi-coated, which means the multiple coatings are on all glass surfaces on the outside.
Good scopes are generally waterproof and fogproof and you get these features with the coatings on the lenses. Lenses can be coated in 4 basic ways.
This is just a generic overview, as it’s certainly possible that coated lenses can be better than multicoated lenses. It depends on how good the glass and the coatings are.
Coatings can also be for any number of purposes. A coating can be for scratchproofing, greater brightness, more contrast, and glare reduction. It can keep water from staying on the glass, or cause the water to sheet from or bead on glass for clearer views during rainy conditions.
While the lens coating is crucial, don’t forget that the quality of the lens is more important. A great lens with just a single coating will still offer better advantages than cheap lens that’s fully multi-coated.
The objective lens diameter is indicated in the second number of 10x40. This indicator says that the scope offers 10x magnification, and the objective lens diameter is 40mm.
The size of the objective lens diameter helps determine how much light goes through, so the bigger the diameter the better it usually is. On the other hand, the bigger the diameter the heavier the scope becomes.
The standard is usually 40mm, and most people who tend to hunt during dusk and dawn won’t go for any smaller such as 32mm. However, some get up to 50mm or even 75mm, and this can make it difficult to align the eye with the center of the scope. That can result in slower and inconsistent shots.
Usually, you want to pair larger tubes with greater diameters along with heavier rifles or for shooting longer distances. The diameter of the tube is usually an inch, though scopes with 30mm diameters are tougher and more adjustable too.
Length & Weight
Again, you should match the length and weight of the scope with that of a rifle. It doesn’t really help if you get an overlong and heavy scope with a lightweight rifle. It can throw of your shot, and you may find the rifle much more difficult to handle.
On average, a scope should weigh in at about 340 to 397 grams. However, some scopes can weigh in at just 227 grams.
What are Bullet Drop Compensators (BDCs) Scope?
BDC scopes have a reticle (crosshairs) that have different aiming points at the bottom of the center crosshairs. They offer a quick and easy way to approximate your aiming point when you have to compensate for a greater target distance.
Let’s say that the center crosshair is zeroed in at 100 yards. The next circle at the bottom may represent 200 yards and the next is at 300 yards, and so forth. If the distance is between 200 and 300 yards, you just need to use an aiming point between the two.
Of course, you can have different drop rates for different types of cartridges and shooting conditions. The next lower aiming point won’t necessarily correspond to a range of 200 yards. Nowadays, more advanced scopes can assign proper distances for the other aiming points, after you enter the ballistic info of your cartridge.
Top Reasons to Get the Best Hunting Scopes
A scope is utterly crucial for good shooting. In fact, you may get better results with an average rifle but an excellent scope than with a poor scope with the greatest rifle of all time.
That’s why you shouldn’t really try to get just the cheapest rifle scope you can find. You may want to stretch your budget so that you can actually get the best scope for rifle you can use.
You need a terrific hunting rifle scope for several reasons, such as:
How We Wrote This Guideline & Review
You’re responsible for getting the right scope for your needs, but that’s not easy with the number of choices you have in the open market. That’s the point of this guideline: it’s meant to help you focus your search by concentrating on the best hunting scopes we can find.
To make our list, we scoured various user reviews and expert opinions. We read up on objective tests and studies. We considered the various features you would get for the price you have to pay. Some excellent scopes can be extremely expensive, but many great scopes are available for more reasonable prices.
How We Choose the Top 10 Rifle Scopes
We checked out user reviews and expert assessments, and noted how well the scopes worked in the field to make our own judgments on which scopes should make our list.
We didn’t really go out and pick the most expensive scopes, but then we avoided the cheap ones too because they’re often just not good enough for serious shooters. So we stuck with the $250 to $500 scopes for the most part.
What’s most important is that all these scopes deliver exceptional performance, and you can rely on to make sure your shots are accurate. They all have the following features:
Of course, the final choice is up to you. But you give yourself a good chance of getting the right scope by considering our best rifle scope reviews first.
Who Should Buy These Scopes?
We may think that these scopes aren’t always right for newbies, especially the younger shooters. These are more for the serious hunters who go out regularly to hunt, or to practice their shooting at a range. If you really care about accurate shots, then you can invest money in these truly terrific top 10 rifle scope models.
The best rifles aren’t worth much without a good scope, and as a shooter you should know this. It doesn’t mean that you should go out and get the thousand-dollar scopes.
But you have to overlook the cheap ones, because they may be good for beginners but they’re not just good enough for serious shooters. Pick of the scopes on this list, and you’ll do well in your hunting and range shooting performance.
As you can see, the list of excellent rifle scopes can go from less than $200 to more than $2,000 in price. It’s up to you to get the best rifle scopes that fills your needs and budget. Just make sure you get one for your rifle, so that you can become more accurate when you shoot. In shooting, accuracy is often one of the top priorities!
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