Best High End Rifle Scopes of 2018 & Buying Guide
Shooting a rifle is one thing that anyone can do, but shooting a rifle in style with a complete guarantee of safety is another thing. Rifles – even lower end ones – are no cheap commodity, but a low-end rifle is a low-end rifle and will come with some compromises.
High-end rifle scopes, which can include digital night vision scopes for extended, 24-hour targeting, put you in an entirely new world of firing. From comfort to safety to reliability, getting a high-end scope is the best way to go. A lot of companies just sell expensive scopes to make a few bucks though. How can you be sure that you’re getting the best rifle scope for your money?
What makes a rifle scope high end?
Quality. Quality means different things to different people but the general rules for quality in the purchase of rifle scopes includes the following.
Any rifle scope should pass vigorous safety testing; high-end rifle scopes will pass these tests with flying colors and also include additional safety features and emergency backups.
If you’re shelling out thousands of dollars for a high-end rifle and the precision of adjustments or accuracy is garbage, then you’re not going to be happy. High-end rifle makers put a lot of thought into the engineering of precise ease of use.
- For example, Nightforce uses a throw wheel which allows you to easily whip through almost two dozen different zoom settings really quickly while firmly settling on the one that you choose.
- Duplex reticles are the most common kind of reticles and if you buy a ‘high-end rifle scope’ and end up with nothing but a duplex scope, you know you got jipped. A duplex reticle is a simple crosshair; thin towards the center and thick towards the outside with the very center indicating where your bullets are going to go.
- Mil dot reticles are very useful and add a level of use on top of the duplex reticle. There are dots at various intervals through the center of the reticle which allow you to determine the distance of any target that you know the size of, which is great when making adjustments for elevation or wind.
- BDC reticles, also known as bullet drop compensators, have a set of lines on the bottom-center line of what would be a duplex reticle. These lines allow you to make adjustments for elevation without actually having to adjust these settings manually and are great for compensating elevation differences if your target’s not much further than 500 yards.
This is of huge importance because if you can’t see what you’re shooting at them there’s no way you’re going to hit.
Image clarity can definitely include the precision and resolution of magnification levels which we mentioned a moment ago. The size of the objective lens also plays a huge factor – not because a huge lens means more things to see, but because objective lenses that are wider allow more light to be taken in.
Having a bigger objective lens is great for people who are planning to do their shooting at dawn or dusk, when the light from the sun isn’t as powerful as it could be. Some scopes even compensate for the dimness that’s caused by clouds on an overcast day.
Another thing that some high-end scopes include is night vision. No matter how big your objective lens is, it’s not going to illuminate a forest at night time. Digital night vision scopes use technology that manipulates and amplifies the light provided by the stars or the moon and projects it into a perceivable image.
Durability and weight
Durability and weight often go hand in hand; stronger materials are naturally heavier.
However, high-end scopes should strike a balance between durability and weight. Many are made from military grade aluminum which is incredibly durable without being excessively heavy. Another problem that causes weight issues is the size of the objective lens; quality glass can be used that offers less of a heavy scope and just as much clarity.
Some scopes come in a one-piece model, which makes them simpler to mount and more durable because there’s less worry about having multiple parts fall apart or break down which would ruin the function of the entire thing. Another aspect that high-end rifle scope makers need to focus on is the durability of any levers or knobs that are attached to the unit – a slick magnification adjustment is not going to be of much use if it falls off the third time you use it.
So what are the best high end rifle scopes?
Now that you know what qualities to look for in a high-end rifle scope, you could begin shopping around for one. It’s not always easy to find high-end scopes though; Wal-Mart certainly won’t have the best cream of the crop and some high-end scopes are so prestigious you need to custom order them from online retailers.
We’ve done a lot of research and have determined what the best high-end rifle scopes are, separating the truly impressive from the “high-priced-just-because” line of products. This way, if you spend a lot of money, you know you’re getting a product that’s been well-received by its many customers.
Top 4 Best High End Rifle Scopes Reviews
1. US Optics ER-25 Mil GAP FFP Illuminated Reticle 5-25x58mm Rifle Scope Review
This is a great high-end rifle scope made by a reputable company that seeks only to provide quality experiences for its customers. This unit in particular is designed with long-range shooting in mind, and was actually engineered specially in order to provide an accurate medium for locating and hitting targets over 2000 yards away.
This unit has an illuminated reticle to compensate for darker days or the light at dawn and dusk, with twelve settings of brightness for you to choose on depending on the situation you’re in.
It’s a one-piece design made of military grade aluminum, which makes it simple to use, very durable, and reasonably weighty. The whole thing is designed to resist fog and be waterproof and shockproof, so the weather will be of minimal impact when searching for your target. There are 3 and a half inches of eye relief so you can shoot heavy rounds without worrying about the rebound.
2. LEICA MAGNUS 2.4-16×56 i L-4A. MPN 54130 Review
Leica has been making this rifle scope for some time and it’s been respected and well-reviewed, but it wasn’t available in the USA until recently. High end rifle lovers are rejoicing, and here’s why.
Big game hunters prefer this gun; the magnification range allows for crystal clear visuals on close-range targets as well as those over a thousand yards away. The magnification range isn’t as wide as it is in some scopes made for long-distance shooting, but for a scope that provides visuals as close as 2.4x, having a range up to 16x is quite impressive.
These gun scopes all have mil dot reticles that are illuminated to help you out in situations where the light may not be optimal. The illuminator is switched off if the scope is held vertical, which is fantastic for saving battery life; it’s returned to power once the scope is horizontal. There is a whopping sixty steps of brightness available.
They’re built in 30mm tubes which aren’t very heavy, and they’re all made with very durable materials. All in all it provides crisp targeting, a fair range of magnification and a great illuminated reticle, which make it ideal for a huge number of situations.
3. Leupold 172336 VX-3I LRP Side Focus Gun Scope Review
Leupold’s definitely carved a name for themselves in the rifle scope industry, and they’ve done so by providing quality scopes. As far as premium scopes go, this one’s a budget friendly option coming in at just over a thousand bucks.
LRP means long-range precision, so you know this scope’s good for snipers. You can configure it to work with a variety of magnification ranges which is a very impressive feature; this one scope can work 4.5×14, 6.5×20, and 8.5×25 instead of having to buy three separate scopes.
There’s a first or second plane reticle available for each, they’re all illuminated to compensate for low light. The range of magnification can be adjusted using a throw lever for quick, smooth adjustments, but this can also be removed and adjustments can be made more traditionally.
Overall it’s a good, effective, budget friendly premium scope.
4. NightForce ATACR F1 Review
This scope keeps popping up on our ‘best of’ lists, and it’s not without good reason.
This scope is designed for effective long-range shooting. It’s a first-focal plane scope and also uses a throw lever for easy adjustments to magnification. The magnification levels go from 5 to 25 making it ideal for fairly close-range hunting to long-distance targeting over 2000 meters.
The objective lens uses ED optics to improve the amount of light that can be received, making it ideal for any time of day when the sun’s at least somewhat visible. There are a ton of different reticles available, each having some combination of wind or elevation compensation, making this scope great for all sorts of different terrains and elements.
It also uses ZeroStop turrets which allow you to make adjustments in either MOA or mil, which is a serious convenience for those who hate to choose between the two.
Which is the best?
The Leica Magnus tops this list – it’s been in demand for so long, and now that it’s available, it’s lived up to the hype.
With an illuminated reticle with sixty levels of brightness to a crystal clear level of visualization on all of the magnification ranges, this scope is an impressive piece of equipment. While it may not have the widest range of zoom, the zoom that it does provide does not change in quality whatsoever.
It’s got battery-saving technology and the whole thing’s made from aluminum and isn’t too heavy, but it’s certainly very durable. You can’t go wrong with this high-end scope.