HUNTING

Best Rifle Scope: The Hunting Games Improved

rifle-scope
Shawn Harrison
Written by Shawn Harrison

Every passionate hunter and shooting expert loves choosing the number one pieces of equipment to meet their expectations. That also means choosing the best rifle scope to improve their shooting performance.

Even though you are a good shooter and you don’t miss your target very often, you should still know that the scope used on the rifle increases your accuracy. That’s because a riflescope is used for zooming in so that you can see your target more precisely and thus make your shot without fail.

Once you have decided to buy a riflescope and start doing your research on the matter, you find that there are a lot of brands and different types of scopes you can choose from. That makes the whole process seem very tedious and even exasperating if you don’t know how to choose the scope.

That’s why this article aims to give you the best insight on how to buy your scope, apart from taking into account your likes, preferences, and needs.

Product NameSpecsSizeRangeEye-reliefEase of UsePrice
Vortex Diamondback4 - 12 x 401.89 x 1.69 x 12.0 inchesLong rangeLowLowCheck price on Amazon
Utg Bugbuster4 - 12 x 401.89 x 1.69 x 12.0 inchesLong rangeAverageAverageCheck price on Amazon
Nikon Bdc 6003 - 9 x 404 x 15.5 x 3.5 inchesLong rangeVery highVery highCheck price on Amazon
Nikon Prostaff 5 Bdc3.5 - 14 x 403.3 x 4.7 x 15.8 inchesLong rangeAverageAverageCheck price on Amazon
Vortex Optics Viper6.5 - 20 x 503.3 x 4.7 x 15.8 inchesClose rangeAverageAverageCheck price on Amazon
Nikon Monarch 3 Bdc4 - 16 x 504.7 x 5.4 x 20.1 inchesMedium rangeHighHighCheck price on Amazon
Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest Hd55 - 25 x 502 x 2 x 14.2 inchesLong rangeAverageAverageCheck price on Amazon
Nightforce Nxs5 - 22 x 566.6 x 2.86 x 15.2 inchesAll - including night shootingAverageAverageCheck price on Amazon

Things To Consider Before Buying

Discerning from the plethora of scopes on the market is no easy job, but here are the main factors which will make your decision easier.

Destination

When it comes to deciding what you need the scope for, it’s good to have a clear picture of when and where you’re planning to use it more. You may find that there are a number of different situations when having a scope will come in pretty handy, so if you’re in this position you may want to consider purchasing more than one.

Ease of Use

Both hunters and shooters need scopes for their rifles to improve their shooting and to actually help them hit their targets faster, not to inconvenience them. In the good old days, rifles had installed some sort of sights made from metal which wasn’t particularly useful; at least, not as useful as today’s scopes which make aiming easier.

So ask yourself this: does the scope you’re buying bear the mark of simplicity? If the answer is no, you’d best stay away from that piece of gear. But how do you know if a scope is easy to use or not? Basically, using it should imply just lining up its reticles to hold the target in your aim.

Rifle-scope-aim

That’s all you have to do for aiming. As such, you should first acquire the knowledge on how to shoot when using a riflescope, because lining up the gun will permit you to magnify your target so that it makes it clearer and therefore easier to hit.

Magnification

In general, bigger scopes are more expensive than the smaller ones because they provide bigger magnification, so you should think long and hard what you’re planning to point your rifle at. For example, hunting rifles require scopes that have inscribed the number 3-9x on them, or 4-12x.

These numbers indicate the size your scope has. Let’s take for instance the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope, one of the best scopes on the market in our opinion. The 4-12 shows how many times the scope magnifies the target, which is between 4 to 12 times, while the number 40 shows the length in millimeters that the objective of its lens has.

Most riflescopes have diameters between 40 to 44mm, but the bigger the diameter, the harder it is to hold the scope in your hands, since it’s on the heavy side.

riflescope magnification

The above sizes are perfect for hunting, so it’s not necessary to pick a bigger size. If you’re planning to shoot at a longer distance, a bigger size is indeed indicated for your riflescope, but otherwise it might just mess with your game.

In fact, that’s another issue to consider. Shooting far is not the same as shooting something near you, obviously. But the distance doesn’t rely solely on the size of your scope, but on the magnification as well. If you’re planning to shoot a target that’s further, choose a scope with bigger magnification.

Therefore, another term you need to know is the field of view, which is the distance that can be seen through the scope, from left to right. Setting the magnification means increasing or decreasing the field of view.

setting up magnification on riflescope

Variable scopes of 4-12×40 that have the magnification adjusted at a 4 will allow you to have 100 yards for the field of view. If you adjust the magnification at a 12, you’ll be able to see closer, at about 12 yards.

Relief

Younger people have more dilated pupils, so you should take your age into account when buying a scope. You can see the exit pupil as a small luminous circle on the eyepiece of the scope when you’re looking through it. If the exit pupil is large, then you don’t need to worry too much about how you keep your head.

Therefore, the exit pupil is directly connected to the eye relief. This eye relief tells you how far your eyes can be from the lens in order to get a clear view, but still be protected from recoil.

The Scope

Variable Scope

This type of scope is the most typical one you’ll find, and many of our suggestions below can be put into this category. As its name implies, it’s basically an adjustable scope, whose magnification can vary according to your setting preferences.

using variable scope

So if you need to adjust your scope’s magnification, choose a variable scope because that’s how you’ll be able to shoot different animals or targets which are at different distances from your standing point.

But take into account which rifle is most suited for this scope. As such, one of the most common instances of rifles that are excellent for variable scopes is the sniper rifle. That’s because when you use this type of rifle, you aim to shoot at big distances as opposed to the hunting rifle.

Fixed Scope

Once you’ve understood the purpose of a variable scope, deducing what a fixed scope is for becomes much easier. Even if reiterating may seem pedantic for some of you, we’ll still say it: the fixed scope doesn’t have an adjustable magnification like its variable scope sibling.

fixed scope

That makes them much simpler to use, but you should only use them if you know the specifics of shooting your gun. Otherwise, a fixed scope can’t help you a whole lot. Basically, don’t choose a fixed scope unless you have the right type of gun.

Night Vision Scope

This scope is a whole new category upon itself and it’s considered to be a specialty one, because you can use it both with a fixed or a variable scope. Its name tells the whole story: it’s called night vision since it can be used very well during the nighttime.

You can also use it quite nicely during the day, for instance when it’s foggy or at dusk and your visibility is somewhat impaired.

using night vision scope at night time

This scope is useful if you’re out hunting night animals or when you’re practicing during the wee hours, so make sure you actually need it. Otherwise, you might just end up with a huge scope that has cost you a lot of money.

The Perfect Scopes For You

As you are going through these reviews, keep in your purpose in mind. You want to find the perfect scope for you, not your hunting buddy. Our list will lay out the important information in plain view that you can be sure you are getting exactly what you want.

Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope

Price: Approximately $200

Weight: 0.91 pounds

Dimensions: 1.89 x 1.69 x 12.0 inches

Specific features: Dead-Hold BDC Reticle, Aircraft-Grade Aluminum

Best use: Hunting

The Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope is certainly the best rifle scope for the money. If you’re on a tight budget, choosing the Vortex brand is the best decision you can make. Vortex always makes qualitative products, which aren’t particularly expensive but aren’t cheap either – quality does come at a price. This particular model enables you to zoom in pretty far, even as far as 400 yards, but also allows some closer shots if you zoom out.

The characteristics of this scope are strength, durability, and waterproof. Being made out of a premium grade aluminum, it’s recognized for its fatigue resistance, and the BDC reticle will allow for amazing images.

Besides, the glass is very clear, the variable power ring can be twisted easily, while the windage and elevation knobs can be rotated without any problems.

PROS:

  • Crystal clear glass
  • Tough finish
  • Light weight
  • Being insured with the Vortex warrant

CONS:

  • Bad eye relief even at lower point usage
  • Issues with sun glare, no matter what your angle is

Related: While you are purchasing this scope, take a look at the Vortex Optics Flip Cap Optic Cover to keep your optics protected when not in use.

Check the price on Amazon

Utg 3-9X32 1″ Bugbuster Scope Utg 3-9X32 1″ Bugbuster Scope

Price: Approximately $83

Weight: 0.86 pounds

Dimensions: 9.8 x 3.4 x 3.9 inches

Specific features: Emerald Coating, Lockable & Resettable Turrets, Mil-dot Reticle, Dual Illumination, True Strength Platform

Best use: Long Range Shooting

The Utg 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope is made from top-notch materials, being filled completely with nitrogen, which makes it shockproof, fogproof and rainproof. It has a dual red and green illumination for eye relief so you can use it in various environmental conditions.

Its True Strength Platform is this scope’s signature mark, and the Smart Spherical Structure mediates how the inner tubes interact with the outer tubes. This design’s particularities make the scope very reliable and precise, accounting for great windage and elevation adjustment.

In fact, this scope has undergone various testing to ensure it works properly, and the True Strength Platform which is the Leaper signature works both with airguns and elephant rifles.

Its great design is also visible in the construction of its target turrets that also contribute to this scope’s exact windage and elevation. The zeroing in is made possible by the locking and re-setting features that make the optics work great with this scope.

Therefore the free view ranges from 3 yards to as far as you can see, through the front objective which has an adjustable wide angle.

The Tactical Range Estimating mil-dot reticle offered by UTG enables all shooters to achieve an increased accuracy and performance since it has 19 aiming points as opposed to common mil-dot reticles which only have 9 aiming points.

PROS:

  • Shock-proof
  • Fog-proof
  • Smart Spherical Structure
  • True Strengths Platform

CONS:

  • Little to no eye relief
  • You can’t use it in a relaxed stance
  • Very difficult to adjust because of thick crosshairs

Related: Along with this scope, the Cvlife 6- 9 Inches Tactical Rifle Bipod offers the best in long-range shooting with stability that is truly unmatched.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Bdc 600 Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Bdc 600

Price: Approximately $155

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Dimensions: 4 x 15.5 x 3.5 inches

Specific features: BDC 600 Reticle, 1/4-MOA Hand-turn Tactical-Style, Zero-Reset Turrets, 100-yard Parallax Setting

Best use: Long Range Shooting; Extreme Sighting Speed

The Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Bdc 600 has a number of impressive design features which make it one of the best long range rifle scopes. Firstly, it has a generous and consistent eye relief which protects your eyes, even if you use it with the heaviest recoiling cartridges there are, or with very light rifles and at severe shooting angles.

Besides, the BDC 600 Reticle was developed purposefully for the trajectory of the .223 Rem /5.56 NATO round with 55-grain polymer tip bullet. This means that the BDC 600 reticle offers shooters unique open circle aiming points and hash marks from 100 to 600 yards, accounting for fantastic optics and clarity.

Since the Nikon P-223 aims to offer an extreme sighting speed, this is courtesy to its precise, 1/4-MOA turrets, that are hand-turn and tactical style, requiring zero resets. These make for positive click reticle adjustments, that help shooters zoom in faster and keeping their setting as is, although they might experience repeated recoils.

The precise shooting promised by the manufacturing company is also due to a diminished parallax, thanks to the 100 yard Parallax Setting this Scope has.

Being filled with nitrogen and O-ring sealed makes the Nikon P-223 both waterproof and fogproof, so you can shoot even in the most unpleasant weather, without being afraid that you won’t be able to see properly.

PROS:

  • Fast Zoom for faster shooting
  • Great Clarity
  • Consistent high eye relief

CONS:

  • Big crosshair circles

Related: Go on and get the Nikon P-Series Riflescope Picatinny Mount for easy mounting that is sturdy enough to handle your scope.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon Prostaff 5 Bdc Riflescope Nikon Prostaff 5 Bdc Riflescope

Price: Approximately $270

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.7 x 15.8 inches

Specific features: Nikon’s Patented BDC Reticle, Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets, Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology

Best use: Long Range Shooting

The Nikon Prostaff 5 Bdc Riflescope is one of the best hunting scopes in this price range, bringing you amazing quality at a mid-range cost.

It’s very clear and bright, and you can rely on its accuracy even on the off-roads or at nightfall, because it’s manufactured with Nikon’s fully multicoated optics for maximum brightness and light transmission.

The Patented BDC reticle is one of the best design features since it has transparent ballistic circles which make it perfect for long range shooting. Moreover, you can easily make any sort of adjustments with its spring-loaded instant zero-reset Turrets, while the quick focus eyepiece allows the shooter to instantly bring the reticle into focus.

As such, the pros are that the lenses are pretty bright, and the turrets can be reset to zero, enabling positive clicks. Even the BDC reticule which is very clear is a bit larger than usual, making the target easier to spot.

Besides, its adjustable objective can be set from 50 yards to 1000 yards and beyond, which is again amazing for long range shooters. Being lightweight means it’s easy to carry, and the quality of the materials is again topnotch, like with any Nikon product.

Last but not least, Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology makes any shot very precise, keeping you on target. All in all, this scope gives you all the necessary power, clearness and wide field so you can shoot in almost all conditions.

PROS:

  • Clear and bright
  • Great accuracy
  • Light weight

CONS:

  • Thick Reticule
  • Very hard to level

Related: Since this doesn’t come with the scope rings think about investing in Vortex Optics to enhance your product.

Check the price on Amazon

Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 Reticle Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 Reticle

Price: Approximately $469

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 2.27 x 1.72 x 14.4 inches

Specific features: MIL DOT RETICLE, Capped Reset Turrets, Waterproof and Fogproof, Single-Piece 30mm Tube, Precision-Glide Erector System

Best use: Close Range Shooting; Fixed Range Shooting

The Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 Reticle is one of the best scopes on the market, as long as you’re not interested in long range shooting. You can use it as a hunting scope very nicely if you’re not aiming to change its zero; otherwise you would have to dial in the drop and windage at every shot.

This fact is also ascertained by the turrets which have caps on, meaning that the set is already fixed and you can’t do anything about it.

Besides, since it’s a second focal plane, the mil dot reticle will not change in size when you zoom in, working accurately only at power 14. However, with O-ring seals and Argon gas purging, the Vortex Viper works great in difficult meteorological conditions like rainy or foggy weather.

The water resistance feature is improved by this scope’s tube (single-piece, 30mm). This contributes to increased accuracy, strength, and visibility.

That means you can use the Vortex Viper in any weather, a fact proven likewise by its Precision Glide Erector System that uses premium components in the zoom lens mechanism so that magnification changes can be made smoothly in different weather conditions.

The capped reset turrets will enable you to re-index the turrets quickly without using any additional tools, in order to zero in after you have sighted through the riflescope. The turrets are furthermore endowed with caps, which provide external protection.

As such, the best characteristics of the Viper Riflescope is that it withstands recoil, humidity and darkness, making it ideal for tactical and target shooting, but less so for long range shooting.

PROS:

  • Great for close range
  • Smooth magnification changes
  • Perfect for tactical and target shooting

CONS:

  • Not for long range shooting
  • Hard to zoom in

Related: For better site direction try adding the Sightmark Ultra Shot M-Spec.

Check the price on Amazon

Nikon Monarch 3 Bdc Riflescope Nikon Monarch 3 Bdc Riflescope

Price: Approximately $450

Weight: 1.2 pounds

Dimensions: 4.7 x 5.4 x 20.1 inches

Specific features: MONARCH 3 Eye Box Technology, Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets, Ultra ClearCoat Optical System, Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology

Best use: Medium Range Shooting (200-300 yards)

The Nikon Monarch 3 Bdc Riflescope has incredible features which account for this scope’s great clarity and visibility. One of these features is the Eye Box Technology, with 4-time zoom range and up to 4 inches of eye relief. That means you can zoom in to targets which are pretty far apart and see them perfectly well, but you can also shoot without being afraid that the recoil will hurt your eyes.

Besides, you can easily make any adjustments in the range of this scope thanks to the spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets, that can obviously be set back to zero whenever you need to shoot at a different range. The BDC reticle can also be brought back into focus rather fast, since the MONARCH 3 has a quick focus eyepiece.

Since this is a Nikon product, it evidently has the Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology that enables very precise shots, always keeping you on target. That, along with the Ultra ClearCoat Optical System that allows for up to 95% light transmission makes this scope useful in different lighting sets as well as environmental settings.

Not to mention that this large riflescope is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof, meeting the demands of every shooter who wants to hunt no matter the meteorological impediments.

PROS:

  • Easy adjustments
  • Great eye relief
  • Eye Box technology

CONS:

  • Thick crosshairs

Related: The 2 point rifle sling wide adjustable length by Hawkeye Tactical Supplies is the perfect partner to go with this rifle.

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Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest Hd5 Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest Hd5

Price: Approximately $1150

Weight: 1.7 pounds

Dimensions: 2 x 2 x 14.2 inches

Specific features: HD Lens System, T Coatings, Rapid-Z 1000 Ballistic Reticle, Compact Tube Design

Best use: Long Range 308

The Carl Zeiss Optical Conquest Hd5 riflescope is one of the priciest items in its category, but it does make its money’s worth being extremely sturdy, precise and lasting.

The scope helps you sight in proficiently and quickly, staying on the target no matter the exterior weather conditions. Having such an amazing focus and parallax control placement makes it easily adjustable when you’re aiming at something.

Besides, seeing its dimensions, it doesn’t take much space as opposed to other scopes in its category that have the same power. In fact, its compactness is what makes it so amazing for different hunting trips. But what really makes it perfect is that the Rapid-Z 1000 Ballistic reticle comes with a calculator that enables a more efficient sighting.

This will allow you to have a reference chart for all your marks out to 1000 yards. All hunters and shooters alike understand how this is a great feature for long range shooting.

Other great features for long range shooters are the HD lens system and T-coating which enhance the image quality, allowing you to get a very clear image even in nasty weather conditions.

That being said, this German engineered riflescope corroborates its high-quality performance and flawless craftsmanship with a new 5 year No Fault Policy and a lifetime warranty for people who still have doubts whether to purchase it or not.

PROS:

  • Includes calculator for long range shooting
  • Hd Lens system
  • T-Coating to enhance image quality

CONS:

  • Not for close range shooting.

Related: You will want Carl Zeiss Optical Ringto go along with this.

Check the price on Amazon

Nightforce Nxs5.5-22X56mm Nightforce Nxs5.5-22X56mm

Price: Approximately $2050

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 6.6 x 2.86 x 15.2 inches

Specific features: 100MOA/27.3 MIL Elevation, 60MOA/ 16.4MIL Windage, 300mm Tube Diameter, 3.9 Inches Eye Relief, 6.6 inches Mounting Length

Best use: Unknown Distances; Night Shooting

The Nightforce Nxs5.5-22X56mm is first of all pretty lightweight, making it an incredible addition to the gear of hunting and shooting aficionados all over the world.

But what really makes it shine is its amazing optics system, with a rather sturdy 30mm Tube that shames other scopes in its category. The turrets are also very easy to handle, and the illumination switch that is built-in is one of its most efficient and smart features.

That’s because it accounts for proficient shots even in low light conditions since its 56mm objective complements perfectly the illuminated reticle. Actually, the night quality is what makes the NightForce riflescope worth every penny of its high retail price.

There are many hunters who are targeting night animals, which is difficult to do if you’re hunting them during the day.

But the scope itself is very qualitative and is manufactured from high-end materials, making your view very clear even if you’re shooting at long range. Besides, its zero stop is another amazing feature, which will increase your performance.

The reticle will also help with your shooting game since it can easily be read in every light setting, even when there’s absolutely no light whatsoever. As such, if you’re looking for a pricier scope that will help you hunt during the night, improving your rifle’s worth, this very durable, strong riflescope from NightForce is exactly what you’re looking for.

PROS:

  • Great for night hunting
  • Easy to handle
  • Great if you are unsure of the distance

CONS:

  • Can’t get it internationally
  • Not the best eye relief

Related: The Wheeler Firearms Accurizing Torque Wrench is perfect for making adjustments.

Check the price on Amazon

Have You Chosen Your Scope Yet?

After reviewing all these products, it’s easy to notice that they are made for different shooting ranges, light settings as well as retail prices. Even their weight and dimensions vary – some hunters don’t feel quite comfortable unless they can feel the weight of a sturdy rifle and scope.

Best-rifle-scope_review

Each and every one of the above items is an exponent of quality in its category, since they’re all manufactured by trustworthy brands. In point of fact, whatever model you’re looking for, your best bet is to go with a reputable company, which is known for making high-class products and confirming their merits with long warranties.

However, the question remains: after reading this article, have you made up your mind regarding the scope your heart desires? Or is there some other item you’re more set on buying that hasn’t been mentioned here? We’re happy to hear your input, so let us know in the comments.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shawn Harrison
Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.

  • timothy smith

    The best option for a hunting rifle is a 3-9 x 40 scope. For most situations will be enough 3 x scope and it will have a pretty good light-emitting ability, and a good field of vision. For shots at long range, 9 x is enough, although the vast majority of people, to hunt wild boar tend to buy the scope with the highest possible multiplicity, which in this case is misleading. The higher the magnification, the less light transmission optical sight, and landing, especially in low-quality scopes, is too high to be fired from a very close distance. For hunting on wild boar should have a scope with as small as possible expansion, as even in five or six times the sight, wild boar, located a few meters, will be visible as a hairy spot, and the field of view may be so narrow that finding a target would be very difficult.

    • Shawn Harrison

      This is such a detailed comment, Timothy! The 3-9 x 40 scope is indeed one of my best recommendations to individuals looking for an all-around rifle scope because it can address the visual needs in the field in most weather conditions. Overall, a worthy investment.

  • brian richardson

    All scopes of Monarch series from Nikon are marked with amazing quality, high precision, and beautiful picture. All scopes are made from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum alloy and achieve long-life durability, reliability, and the highest stability in all conditions. They also have the transmittance of not less than 95%, perfect image quality across the field of view, amazing clarity and contrast. All these qualities distinguish this model among the presented in the article.

    • Shawn Harrison

      The Monarch line will always be one of the most dependable scopes you can find in the market. Made with best-quality materials, great ergonomics, and not to mention how cool they look, this is a purchase where you can definitely not go wrong.

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