What are the best rifle scope brands in the world?
Buying a rifle scope – or any product, really – can be a bit of a problem. Sadly, a large part of this problem is because there are a lot of brands out there that simply want to fill the demand for cheap products. They can do this, but most of these brands are just concerned about making money – not the quality of their customers’ experiences.
That’s a lot of the reason that brand loyalty exists. People will have a good experience with a brand – even if it’s not top-notch – and tend to stick with that brand because they know that they’ll continue having good experiences. It’s always a dice roll, trying to find a new brand, and when you’re trying to find the best rifle scopes, things are no different.
Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Mil
Bushnell Trophy XLT Multi-X3-9x 40mm
Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm
Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS
So what makes a good rifle scope brand?
Well it depends on what you like. If you’re a nationalist and you only want American made rifle scopes, then getting products made in Germany simply isn’t an option. However, there are a few things that almost all rifle users can agree on – a good rifle scope needs to have function and features. They should also be safe, because playing with a rifle is serious business.
Function describes the basic performance of a scope. All rifle scopes will have certain functional qualities that they share. The degree of which they will function in different areas will change vastly from scope to scope, but all scopes have at least some degree of the following.
- All scopes will have power levels. This pretty much just describes the level of magnification that is found in the scope. A good rifle scope brand doesn’t necessarily have to have scopes of varying power – if you have a brand that’s known for making quality long-range scopes, then there’s no reason that they’d have to implement a range of short-sighted scopes.
- The magnification power of a scope can be determined by a set of numbers that you’ll see in the product description, for example, 3-9×50. The magnification power is described by the 3-9x, which implies that your basic zoom level will be 3x and you can adjust the scope to zoom into 9x.
- The 50 would describe the diameter of the objective lens. The objective lens determines the size of your field of vision, or how much you can see through the lens. A bigger objective lens also lets in more light, which is very important.
- The coating on the lenses also determines how much light your scope will let in. Uncoated scopes will reflect a ton of light, which will make it nigh impossible to see your target in the early morning dusk or in the late evening.
- Size and weight are two factors that are heavily influenced by the features and functions that you choose. For example, getting a scope with a huge objective lens is, of course, going to add to the weight of your scope. If you don’t need a wide field of view, don’t get a scope with a big lens, because unnecessary weight makes it more difficult to aim with accuracy.
- The optics play a huge part in the function of your scope. Every scope will have optics; a good brand will consistently make scopes with quality optics. Quality optics can mean a number of things.
- If you get multi-coated optics, they will reflect less light, instead absorbing it and allowing your field of vision to be well-lit. If you’re only going to be shooting during broad daylight, or at close range, then you might not need to worry about getting a scope with high-quality fully coated lenses.
- The optic lenses also determine the clarity of your visuals. If you’re doing long-range shooting then you’re probably going to want to get some lenses that provide ample clarity.
There are a lot of different safety features that should be included in a quality brand’s products. These can literally save your life, and buying a scope from a bad brand that makes shoddy products could put you in danger.
- Check the proofing on your scope. A good brand will have scopes that are nitrogen coated – this allows them to be fogproof and protects them from internal damage due to the moisture from fog. Scopes should also be shockproof and waterproof, which will ensure that they can be used even in harsh weather conditions, without compromising the quality of your scope.
- The eye relief is a crucial factor that you need to look into when buying a scope. The eye relief is the distance between your actual eye and the nearest piece of the scope that could come into contact with your eye during the rebound from a heavy shot. Eye relief shouldn’t be much less than 3 inches; it’s not uncommon to see it be more than 4 inches when the scope is meant to fit more powerful guns.
- Durability could be considered an aspect of safety, especially when you consider that if you don’t have a durable scope, it could fall apart after you make one too many heavy blasts. Some scopes use one-piece designs for their scopes because they run a lower risk of falling apart; there’s no screws or bolts that risk coming undone with repeated shooting.
So what are the best rifle brands?
Now that you know what to look for, you could undoubtedly find a good scope. Finding a good, reliable brand that has a big product line of quality scopes is another issue altogether.
We’ve looked at some of the most popular (and unheard of) rifle scope brands and have assessed them; the following brands are what we consider to be the best in terms of consistency, quality, and creativity.
NightForce is a brand that is determined to make scopes that continue to score in the top ten for durability and strength, and they’ve done a great job. NightForce scopes seem to always make their way into our ‘best of’ lists, and not without good reason
NightForce scopes are often a bit more on the expensive side, but it’s worth it. They tend to have a wide range of magnification, as well as a highly impressive level of quality to go with it. Many of their scopes allow you to traverse the full range of magnification without suffering a compromised quality of vision.
Another thing NightForce is known for is their ability to provide a variety of illuminated reticles. Illuminated reticles are great during periods where there’s low light, such as during dawn or dusk.
Nightforce’s Best Scope: Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS Riflescope
This is an impressive scope that’s incredibly durable and made to handle blasts from high end, powerful rifles. It’s got 3.9 inches of eye relief, so you won’t have to worry about taking any serious facial damage when using your scope.
There’s a zero stop feature – this allows you to push a lever that resets the turrets to their base settings. This means no more fiddling around in the field when you have to make adjustments to your preferences.
Overall, if you can afford the generally high price tag that comes with Nightforce scopes, this one will definitely not disappoint you.
Bushnell is another high-end rifle scope maker. Bushnell is known for making hardy, stylish scopes with a wide variety of features and a large amount of power. While Bushnell does make several lower-end scopes for people on budgets, their average scope is going to run you quite a bit of money. It’ll leave you with a smile on your face, though.
Bushnell’s been around for quite some time, first starting off making optics for binoculars and telescopes and eventually becoming the hardcore rifle scope manufacturer that you know nowadays. Bushnell dominated the market for a while, which certainly says something about the quality of their scopes.
Bushnell is dedicated to providing new technologies through innovation, while not being extremely overpriced. Their models are certainly on the expensive side, but they’re constantly gambling to produce new innovations, and they do it well.
Bushnell’s best scope: Bushnell Trophy XLT Multi-X Reticle Riflescope Bone Collector Edition, 3-9x 40mm
This scope really showcases Bushnell’s ability as a brand. The funny thing? It’s a budget scope, coming in at just over a hundred bucks. It doesn’t have all the quality of a typical high-end Bushnell scope, but it still kicks a lot of other budget scopes out of the water.
It zooms up to 9x, with a 40mm objective lens. This provides more than enough light for casual hunters, even if they’re up in the early morning or late evening hours. It’s rated to have 91% light transmission, which is impressive considering that even the highest quality scopes rarely reach 95%.
It’s waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, just like Bushnell’s other scopes. It’s got ample eye-relief and the whole unit is a one-piece aluminum tube that’s built for durability.
Another high-end scope maker, Leupold has dozens of scopes (if not hundreds) on the market. Leupold has been in the business for quite a while, working on other forms of optics, not just for scopes. They’ve made binoculars and camera lenses for decades, and their foray into the world of rifle scopes is fairly recent.
Leupold also has an option for you to send in a reticle that you don’t like. They’ll replace it with one that you prefer – it will cost you not much, but considering the price of Leupold scopes and the fact that you’re able to get a good healthy experience of whatever scope you decide to return, you’re getting a good value.
Leupold also has the best general warranty out of pretty much any rifle scope company. You can basically destroy a rifle scope and send it back to them and they’ll replace it with no questions asked.
Best Leupold Scope: Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope, Matte Black, Duplex Reticle 110797
This product uses a revolutionary ‘quantum optics’ system which may have a grandiloquent name, but still describes some of the clearest optics you’ll have in the rifle scope industry. It magnifies between 3 and 9x with a 40mm objective lens, providing enough light transmission for any short to mid-range hunting.
It’s a bit of a heavier product, coming in at almost 3 pounds, but it’s also very durable. Leupold prides themselves in building products that will last you a lifetime, and this is a good example.
Vortex is a personal favorite of mine. They do have some high-end scopes out there, but they also understand that not everybody is going to be able to afford expensive rifle scopes. That doesn’t mean that they should have to compromise their safety or the quality of their experience, though.
Vortex also has several scopes that use night-vision, which is generally a hugely expensive feature. Vortex’s budget night vision scopes provide premium quality at an affordable price. They also pride themselves in making products with simple adjustment devices and quality optics.
Best Vortex Scope: Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Mil Dot Reticle
This waterproof, fogproof scope uses a mil-dot reticle that helps you accurately pinpoint your target at different elevations in all sorts of weather conditions. It’s a one-piece unit with a 30mm tube, so it’s not too heavy.
The zoom lens uses special technology to ensure you’ll have a smooth zoom, as opposed to some of the choppier scopes that make it difficult or disorienting to adjust your magnification.
So which brand is the best?
For all extensive purposes, all of these brands are great. They provide quality products and most of them have some affordable budget options.
Vortex, however, takes it to the next level. They have a line of night vision scopes that don’t cost anything more than what a low-budget, non-night vision Nightforce scope would provide.
Their scopes provide long-lasting durability, technological innovation and a whole lot of convenience across their entire product line. The best thing is that, being a company concerned with people’s budgets, even if you buy a cheap Vortex scope, you know it’s going to be worth your money.