In today’s modern world of hunting, having a scope has proven to be one of the leading determining factors when it comes to how accurately you want your shot to land. Not only does it allow extreme precision but also an option to zoom in on your target and closely inspect it from a safe distance. In addition to this, they even allow you to compensate for bullet drop, elevation, and some environmental factors such as windage. It’s almost impossible to make an accurate long-range shot without using a scope, which is why it’s important to purchase one. There’s a scope for almost every style of shooting and every type of a gun/rifle out there.
However, with a sheer variety of scopes currently on the market, it remains a difficult task to choose the best one that suits your hunting needs. They can range in price anywhere from $20 to $5,000.
In this text, we explore some of the basics as to what makes a good scope and hope to appropriate the whole topic of selecting the right scope for you. We’ll also list several scopes that are suitable for some of the more popular rifles in America.
Various Scope Types
Despite numerous variations of rifle scopes out there, experienced hunters still opt for the ones that belong to the two main categories. They are usually divided into variable scopes and fixed scopes. We emphasize the importance of understanding how these types differ and how they function.
- Variable Scopes – Variable Scopes are currently the most common type of scopes. The thing that makes them extremely suitable for dynamic environments is the fact that their magnification system is highly adjustable. You can effortlessly zoom in and out on the target. This is very useful during hunting as it enables you to maintain your precision despite the shooting distance. Many people often use them with sniper rifles and some other less known long-range guns/rifles.
- Fixed Scopes – Unlike variable scopes, fixed scopes have non-modular magnification system (as their name suggests). Since their design is fairly simple in comparison to variable scopes, their usage is present in simpler hunting conditions. This might be perfect for hunters who constantly hunt at the same distance and in the same environment. Regardless of their design, their durability seems to be far better than that of their counterparts.
A Brief Guide to Reading Scopes
Magnification and objective lens diameter are the basic aspects of a riflescope. They usually come in a standardized format, with magnification being more important of the two. An ‘’x’’ symbol separates these two aspects and makes them fairly easy to read.
The magnification piece of information and its number show you how many times an image enlarges when you take a look through the scope.
There are two numbers which are separated by a dash which indicates the available level of magnification. The level is adjustable in a way that it goes from a lower number to the higher one. Even though that this seems rather complicated, we attest to the fact that it isn’t. Here’s an example: you have a 3-9x32mm scope and what this means is that you can adjust the magnification anywhere in-between 3x and 9x.
The second number refers to the forward lens diameter and it is measured in millimeters.
This is surely the most important factor when you’re buying your scope. Magnification level is a determiner of the rifle’s usefulness especially in terms of the environment in which people use it. Imagine a hunter with a 32x scope hunting in a very dense forest. It’s evident at this point that the hunter would have to deal with a decent number of obstacles. Furthermore, having a 4x scope on a 1,000-yard shooter would cause the rifle to severely underperform.
Optimal magnification integration differentiates from rifle to rifle. Take into consideration that 4x or 6x magnifications (lower) are used for faster shooting while 16x and higher would be more difficult to use in that regard. Lower magnifications are also good for target tracking while higher ones allow for a decent target resolution. Considering what we’ve said, we conclude that scopes which are lower than 10x perform better during offhand shooting (in distances less than 500 yards). Another conclusion is that those that are higher than 10x have been made with an intent to be used from supported positions. Variable scopes act as a solution that fuses these two ranges into a scope with a highly modular range.
These scopes do have their downsides which come in the form of low durability and their price. Variable scopes have acquired the status of a flexible and utilized unit, despite the aforementioned drawbacks. But you can even avoid these issues if you purchase scopes from well known and tested manufacturers.
How to use a rifle scope? Check here.
Objective Lens Size
As soon as you deal with the aspect of magnification you can start paying attention to a decent objective lens size.
The objective lens serves as a transmitter through which ambient light refracts in order for it to be focused into an image. How much light gets transmitted depends solely on the size of the objective lens. As more light transmits itself the image gets brighter, it’s simple as that. Higher magnification ranges tend to have large objective lenses as follow-ups. However, you won’t notice any significant differences until you try out 12x magnification (and higher). The difference is evident between a 40mm objective lens and a 50mm one.
Larger objective closely ties to how bright and clear everything is going be. Good brightness and clearness come with their own set of downsides though. Due to its size, it will be bulkier than the smaller variants and it can affect the overall balance of the rifle, your shooting ability, and the zero levels. In addition, objective lenses that are larger will require higher mounting over the action and the barrel which negatively affects the cheek weld. This can be rectified by purchasing a cheek riser.
Since we covered the basic aspects of a scope, it’s time to move to some of the secondary ones which are almost as equally important. Reticles nowadays come in different sizes, patterns, and dot variations. Moreover, they can be used with different intentions whether that be varmint hunting, low light shooting, general hunting, hog/pig hunting, etc. The most common group division is based on the following three types. Here’s a brief breakdown.
Duplex Reticle: Probably the simplest and most common of the three is the duplex reticle. Its simplistic design consists of a single crosshair which gets thinner as it reaches towards the center and thicker towards the outer area. It is designed in a way that easily directs your eye towards the center. The thickness of the outer bars comes extremely useful when shooting in low-lit conditions. As mentioned, these scopes are the most common types mainly because they perform well in most hunting conditions. Many consider duplex reticles to be the perfect reticles for hunting as their performance has been tested during big game hunting and hunting in thicker brush.
Mil-Dot Reticle: Mil-dot reticle uses the existing duplex design but expands on it and improves some of its characteristics. Instead of crosshair lines now you have carefully spaced out and aligned dots. These dots represent certain angles which are measured in milliradians. Each dot stands for 1 Mrad which equals to 3.6 inches. Provided that you know your target’s size, mil-dot reticle can be used to determine the target’s range. Next to this, you can use the dots as bullet drop compensators which sort of mimic what BDC reticles do. Mil-dot reticles are highly popular in military and law enforcement due to their intricate design. It’s an ideal reticle for snipers because they allow for determining the approximate bullet drop. Mil-dot reticles make it into our list of recommendations for rifles that fall under the category of 300 yard-range and more.
BDC Reticle: Bullet drop compensator (or BDC – as is its abbreviation) saw a rise in popularity with its integration into BDC reticles. With these reticles, you don’t have to adjust the elevation settings since this is solved by a successful integration of different patterns and aiming points. The patterns match various target distances which comes as an extremely useful feature. Their design, however, differentiates from a manufacturer to manufacturer. For example, Bushnell’s BDC reticle has dashes instead of circles and Weaver’s has an EBX reticle etched in glass. So, there might be some variations but its functionality stays essentially the same. When purchasing BDC reticle, you have to make sure that the drop markings match the caliber of your gun. Otherwise, you’ll end up with something that will just obscure your vision.
The downsides of BDC reticles is that they are only available for certain types of cartridges and that they are not as accurate as you might expect. They underperform for ranges above 500 yards. All in all, BDC reticle is an excellent choice for people who just want a rifle for general purposes. It functions perfectly alongside rifles such as M4A1 and AR-15.
Some of the other less popular reticle types include illuminated reticles, Christmas tree reticles, original reticles, dot reticles, german numbered reticles, etc.
Our intent behind this part of the text was to introduce newcomers to the topic of scopes for rifles, and we hope that we delivered in that regard. The following part of the text is oriented towards people in the USA. We’ll explore which scopes are the best for calibers and rifles specifically in the USA. If you are from the USA (and even if you’re not) this part of the text should be of some value to you.
Best Scope for 6.5 Creedmoor
Since its introduction in 2007, the 6.5 Creedmoor has become a favorite of target shooters and hunters. Although it is a young cartridge compared to others, it gained the love of shooters really fast. Especially the ones looking to hit targets at long range.
Choosing the best 6.5 Creedmoor scope is certainly not an easy task as the round can shoot on a variety of distances. That is where variable scopes come real handy. A large variable will be perfect for you if you like to shoot at different ranges. If you like to use your 6.5 Creedmoor for long range shooting, you should definitely be looking at magnifications of 10x and above.
Check which is the best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor according to us.
Best Scope for Ruger 10/22 Rifle
Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular rifles in America mainly owing a lot to its affordability. The fact that it’s still being manufactured (it started in 1964) attests to its quality and popularity among many hunters. This multi-purpose rifle packs a punch when it comes to ranges below 200 yards. If you opt for a rifle that can shoot something beyond that range, it’s better to look elsewhere for a different rifle.
The precision of Ruger 10/22 can be amplified further by installing a scope. Pay attention to these aspects when purchasing one for your Ruger. These are only 5 aspects (of many) which we deemed more important over the others and they are Cost, Durability, Weight, Warranty, and Reliability.
A good advice would be not to purchase a scope with a magnification that’s more than 10x or 12x. You would be throwing your money for nothing and it wouldn’t do you any good. This is because Ruger 10/22 is a 100 – 200-yard rifle, and a scope like that would just cripple its usefulness.
Check which is the best scope for Ruger 10/22
Best Scope for AR-10 Rifle
The AR-10 is incredibly popular. Not as much as the AR-15, but the AR-10 is actually better according to us. This hard-hitting rifle shoots farther than most of the others on the market. It has some recoil too.
In order to find the best ar10 scopes, you will need to pay attention to some factors. For example, what is the usual shooting distance? If you do not shoot farther than 300-400 yards, there is no point to spend big on a scope with high magnification.
Given the recoil the AR-10 can produce, the best optic for ar-10 would also need to be quite durable. So a $50 will hardly suffice in order to find a decent scope for the AR-10.
See which are the best scopes for AR-10 according to us.
Best Scope for Mini 14 Ranch Rifle
The Ruger mini 14 rifle shares several similarities with its counterpart, M-14. It’s been a favorite rifle of many since it’s an affordable rifle. Take into consideration though that this is not a long range rifle at all. It’s not as accurate as some other rifles currently on the market but it can be improved with the addition of the appropriate scope.
The best option for Mini 14 Ranch is a scope with 10x magnification. Everything beyond that is completely unnecessary as it wouldn’t be compatible with the design of the rifle.
Find which is the best scope for mini 14 here
Best Scope for M1A Rifle
This multi-purpose rifle is suitable for both long-range shooting and short-range. It’s a semi-automatic and by reading some of the feedback we concluded that a lot of people seem to enjoy it. It’s best used with a shooting range that reaches 1000 yards. When it comes to scopes for it, we think that it depends on the shooting distance. Another determining factor is your budget, of course. Anyway, a thing worthy of note is that this rifle has a good kick to it which means that buying cheaper scope alternatives is ill-advised as they would easily break. What you can do is to buy a scope with a higher magnification and a larger objective lens. There are multiple scopes under 200 dollars which can do the job without any apparent problems. You can look up the price ranges for this rifle and see what suits you the best.
See what are the best scopes for M1A
Our final thoughts
We’ve scoured the internet and researched numerous rifles as well as their scope options. By reading the customer and user reviews and their feedback we formed our opinions based on that. We’ve even reached out and bought a lot of rifles and scopes and tested them ourselves.
By doing all of this, we hope that we’ve helped you choose the best scope for your rifle, at least to some extent. We’re quite aware of the fact that these are not the only options out there. What you end up buying depends solely on what your preferences are. Whether you’re focused on short-range or long-range shooting, or even hunt for sports or professionally we think that there’s definitely something for you to buy.