Best Rifle Scopes Reviews of 2018 & Buying Guide

Buying a rifle scope can be a bit of a tentative process – there’s a lot of decisions to make and there are a lot of different parts that you’re going to need to choose from. Unfortunately not every manufacturer has your best interest at heart and there’s a lot of bad products out there.

There’s a lot of research involved in making a proper decision and not getting ripped off, and that’s what we’re here for. We have a little guide for buying a rifle scope and we’re here to help you assess your needs, your wants, and for all practical purposes, what kind of rifle scope is best for your personal shooting style.

What makes a good rifle scope?

There’s a lot of factors to consider when buying a rifle scope, and each factor affects the overall size, weight, durability and quality of your scope. This means that you have to balance different features and product benefits before making your decision, otherwise you’ll end up with something that’s counter-effective.

First off, the material used to make your scope plays a huge factor. Older scopes were made of steel; this material proved to be too heavy and bulky to be much practical use. Newer scopes are made of aircraft grade aluminum, a much lighter, more versatile, and more durable material. Some cheaper scopes are made of titanium; antique ones could be made of brass.

There’s a lot of other things you have to consider when buying a scope, and all of these can be impacted by the material used to get it.

Burris 3-15×50 Veracity

Burris 3-15×50 Veracity

How big is the scope?

If you’re going to want a high-powered optic that can be used for long-range shooting, then you should assume you’re going to end up with a scope that’s a bit bigger than what you’d get otherwise. However, with the exception of people who need extremely long-range scopes, it can be easy to go overboard.

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    Check out the size of the mounting equipment needed. Mounting equipment can affect your ability to aim.
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    The length and the diameter of the objective lens (explained in detail in a moment) will also impact the height and weight.
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    The best scope will strike a fine balance of length, height and weight, and not negatively impact your accuracy or movement range much.
BARSKA 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro

BARSKA 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro

The size of the objective lens is also of huge importance because the objective lens determines both the size of your field of vision and the amount of light that can be let in through the optic’s glass.

  • Don’t get an objective lens that’s very large (bigger than 45mm) unless you plan to be using a huge field of vision for wide ranges.
  • The kind of glass and the size of the objective lens determines the quality of light to be let in. This is useful for people who don’t plan to be shooting just in broad daylight, but also in overcast weather, or at dawn and dusk when the level of light is compromised.

How powerful is your scope?

Choosing the level of zoom or magnification determines how far you can shoot with accuracy. Of course, you can shoot farther than your level of zoom, but if you try and do so with a scope that’s not meant for that level of magnification, you’re going to have a bad time.

Long-range scopes typically advertise their level of magnification. The level of magnification on is displayed by the numbers you see in the scope’s name. For example, a scope that’s labeled 3×9-50 will have a level of magnification between 3 and 9 (which isn’t great for long-distance scope) and an objective lens that’s 50mm wide.

More powerful scopes are larger and heavier than weaker scopes, but the larger level of magnification is worth it for people who need long-distance shooting. There are two types of scopes in regards to power.

  • Variable scopes allow you to adjust the level of magnification. This is typically done by an adjustment knob, which will either be in the form of a knob or a turret. Turrets are more durable and allow you to click your selection into place, ensuring that you won’t have to worry about your adjustment changing in between shots. They’re also bigger and can get in the way.
  • Fixed magnification scopes are generally a lot cheaper than variable scopes. They also don’t allow you to change the level of magnification. This is great for basic hunters and people who know the average distance of the shots they’re going to make, but not for people who intend to shoot at different distances.

Weatherproofing and durability

A lot of scopes are made to withstand different types of weather.

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    Some scopes (most of them, in fact) are made to be waterproof, or at least water resistant. These scopes ensure that rain won’t obscure the vision that you get through your optics, and are good for use in rainy weather. Some scopes are even submersible and can withstand being completely underwater, though these are typically military grade or law-enforcement scopes.
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    Some scopes come with fog proofing which is great for people who live at higher elevations, such as in the mountains. Other scopes are made to be shockproof, which helps in areas that are prone to lightning.

The level of durability is also important for your scope. Besides the material used, scopes should have a level of protection for people using stronger guns.

  • Check if your scope has rebound protection. These scopes can handle blasts from bigger guns without you having to worry about parts of your guns becoming loose.
  • Also ensure you check the eye relief rating on your gun. Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the closest part of your view piece, and determines whether or not you’re going to lose an eye when you take a powerful shot.

So what are the best rifle scopes?

Once you’ve ensured that you know what you’re looking for in your rifle scope, it’s time to start looking through the thousands of products available to determine which one is best for you. Even when you know what you’re looking for, this can take some serious time and effort.

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Fortunately, we’ve weeded out the bad products, and have come up with this list of rifle scopes. The following rifle scopes are the best overall products that we’ve found for general usage, be it hunting, long-range shooting, or military usage. These products combine a balance of function, feature, and are all reasonably affordablefor the amount of bonuses that they provide.

Top 4 Best Rifle Scopes Reviews

1. BARSKA 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro 30/30 IR Cross Rifle Scope Review

BARSKA 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro

BARSKA 3-12×50 IR Huntmaster Pro

This is one of the best bang-for-your buck rifle scopes for people who are mainly concerned with getting a clear image when they’re looking through the scope. The entire unit was developed specifically with the intention of providing a great source of light for people shooting in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. The reticle is made to be visible in dim light.

One of the best things about this scope? It’s under a hundred bucks, and provides some of the best function for people who are on a budget. It magnifies from 3-12x, which makes it good for some long-distance shooters, and more than enough for people who are just doing hunting.

It’s got a big objective lens of 50mm, which explains the more than average light admission. There’s only 2.7 inches of eye relief, which isn’t much, but is reasonable considering the price of the unit.

Pros

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    Extremely affordable scope for people on a budget
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    Magnifies between 3 and 12x
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    Good for long or short distance hunters
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    Allows an impressive amount of light for a budget scope

Cons

  • Not the best eye relief
  • Not great clarity for long distance shooters

2. Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Mil Dot Reticle Review

Vortex Optics Viper

Vortex Optics Viper

This is a great option not only for beginners who aren’t really experienced in the rifle game, but for intermediate or experienced users who just want a scope that they can rely on. It’s under five hundred bucks, which ensures that you won’t have to make a huge purchase if you end up not liking the scope.

The optics use XR reflective coating to ensure that there’s minimal glare. This means that your targets won’t see you hiding out in the bush. This also allows a lot of light to be admitted into your field of view so you have a clear look at whatever you’re shooting.

The scope uses their own patented spring system to allow you to be consistent in aiming, while minimizing the impact of the rebound from heavier shots. Adjustments can be made via turrets, so they’re stable, and it uses

Pros

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    Good for beginners and intermediates alike
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    Uses reflective coating on the optics
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    Allows a huge amount of light into your field of vision
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    Uses a patented spring system for added comfort

Cons

  • Can be difficult to stay in position

3. Nightforce SHV-4-14x56mm Review

Nightforce SHV

Nightforce SHV

If you’re looking for a scope with a great field of vision, this is one of the best options for you. It’s cheap, it’s durable, and the objective lens is a whopping 56mm. This means you’ll have one of the biggest field of visions that you can find on most modern rifle scopes as well as a great level of light admission.

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It’s made of optimum aircraft grade aluminum, one of the best options for modern rifle scopes. Aircraft aluminum is both durable and fairly light, which means it won’t compromise your ability to aim and it won’t make it difficult to move your scope.

It’s both weather and shock proof so you don’t have to worry about this thing being compromised by bad weather. The adjustment controls are sturdy and reliable and ensure that you can change the magnification or other features without risking an interruption to your shooting.

Pros

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    Made of aircraft grade aluminum
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    Impressive amount of magnification for a budget scope
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    Weatherproof and shockproof
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    Easily adjustable magnification

Cons

  • Might be too wide for the necessary magnification range

4. Burris 3-15×50 Veracity Riflescope Review

Burris 3-15×50 Veracity

Burris 3-15×50 Veracity

This rifle scope is one that hesitant shooters have described as almost perfect.  It brings an impressive level of balance of function and feature to a scope that’s made of quality materials and won’t let you down anytime.
The most impressive thing about this scope is its MOA based aiming system. It’s made using a ballistic, first-plane reticle that Burris has patented. It’s known as the Ballistic Plex E1 and uses holdover points that are capable of aiming accurately over 600 yards. The magnification quality doesn’t change whether you’re aiming from 100 yards or 1000, so it’s great for people doing long or short range shooting.

The scope also uses quality glass to ensure that you have a large amount of light admitted into your field of vision. Your field of vision, by the way, is great – the objective lens is 50mm, and when paired with a great magnification range between 3-15x, you know you’re getting a good range.

Pros

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    Impressive range of vision with the 50mm reticle
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    The reticle and the objective lens are both made with quality glass so you get a crystal clear FOA
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    Uses a custom MOA aiming system to ensure that you get great accuracy
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    Has been called perfect by some resilient rifle scope reviewers

Cons

  • Can be considered expensive by people using low budget scopes

So, which one’s the best?

The last contender on this list, the Burris 3-15x, is probably the best scope here. It doesn’t really have any cons, even after being reviewed by hundreds of purchasers, but what it does have is reliable quality.

It’s got a great range of vision with its huge objective scope and the amount of light admitted into the reticle is great. It uses a custom MOA system to ensure that the users get a lot of accuracies, and people have even called it perfect, which is unheard of in the rifle scope industry.

If you want the best rifle scope, Burris takes the cake.