The Best Rifle Scopes in 2021
If you’re looking for the best rifle scope on the market, you want something that will stand the test of time. Good rifle scope brands make their scopes with durable, long-lasting materials, and the best of the best pay particular attention to the lens.
I once discovered a nasty surprise waiting for me while I was on a hunting trip a couple of years ago: my lens was covered in scratches.
It was like trying to see through murky water, which is tolerable during a dip in a lake. But this was a $150 rifle scope designed to help me see clearer, and it failed miserably.
That was when I knew buying a scope without doing my research ahead of time was a bad idea. Here are the best rifle scopes in 2020, and they’ve all been thoroughly researched.
If you’re pressed for time and don’t feel like reading the entire article, the best rifle scope on our list is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II, which offers everything you want for accurate shooting at a budget-friendly price.
Rifle Scope Reviews
Fun fact: every scope on this list has a 4-star rating or above.
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable 30mm Tube Riflescope
Versatile and powerful, this scope from Vortex Optics features a battery-powered V-Brite BDC reticle that uses the V-Plex format to provide illumination in low-light conditions, helping you hit your targets accurately no matter the distance.
The second focal plane reticle will never change sizes when you adjust your magnification settings, and it’s coated to provide light transmission and crisp visuals regardless of light conditions.
The scope offers a magnification range of 6-24x, an adjustable objective, and anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses to provide bright, true-to-color optics. There’s also a parallax of 10 yards to infinity, something many experienced hunters consider essential.
The eye box provides an impressive four inches of eye relief, so this is a great option for heavier rifles with a lot of recoil. It also includes a fast-focus eyepiece for rapid target acquisition and easy reticle focusing.
The body is made from durable, aircraft-grade aluminum that’s been nitrogen-purged and sealed with O-rings to provide maximum waterproofing. The capped turrets are finger-adjustable with easy-to-read MOA clicks you can reset to zero after sighting.
- Offers a great magnification range
- Provides locking reset turrets
- Has a durable, waterproof body
- Uses a BDC reticle
- Affordable considering its impressive features
- Reticle isn’t as accurate at high magnification
Effective at any magnification setting, this scope from Vortex Optics is a great choice if you want to get the most bang for your buck. The BDC reticle is of excellent quality, and the multi-coated lenses provide a crystal-clear field of vision and great eye relief.
2. Atibal Striiker 1-4×24 5.56/.309 TCR Reticle Rifle Scope
This scope from Atibal Striiker provides multi-coated lenses to provide clarity with a minimum of 80% light transmission. It’s also waterproof, shockproof, andfogproof, so it can withstand a great deal of rigorous use and recoil.
It features battery-powered red LED illumination, which can be off-putting to some shooters. That being said, the battery life is roughly 300 hours, so it’s not really a deterrent in my book.
The body is made from durable 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, built to withstand heavy use. Atibal’s scope also offers 11 brightness settings, so you can tune the reticle to suit any environment.
The scope is designed with precious in mind, providing .05 MOA clicks on a 60 MOA adjustment range with a 100-yard parallax and a focus range of 100 yards to infinity. There’s also a respectable 1-4 magnification range to enhance your shooting experience.
It’s also capable of withstanding extreme temperatures; you can use this scope in temperatures ranging from -22 all the way to a sweltering 122 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof design
- Made from 6061-TG aircraft-grade aluminum
- Offers a solid magnification range
- Affordable compared to similar options
- Has a 300-hour battery life
- Requires a CR2032 battery
With its TCR BDC reticular and sturdy frame, Atibal’s scope offers precision and durability. The battery-powered LED illumination might be a deterrent to some shooters, but thanks to the battery’s massive 300-hour lifespan, it’s still a top-notch, dependable choice.
3. Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10×44 Waterproof Rifle Scope
Made from durable, aerospace-grade aluminum, the Vortex Viper HS scope is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. It features machine locking rings to keep the lenses securely aligned through recoil.
This scope provides a 4x zoom range and 2.5-10x magnification, allowing for flexibility while shooting. There’s a 100-yard parallax, while the focus range is 100 yards to infinity.
The eye box gives you four inches of eye relief, which is especially helpful if your rifle produces a significant amount of recoil.
Another great feature the Vortex has to offer is the MagView Bar, a fiber optics magnification indicator with rear-facing magnification to provide a reference guide in low light conditions.
It offers a second focal plane, Dead-Hold Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) reticle, an all-around solid option for removing some of the guesswork if you’re concerned with hold-over and windage.
Vortex’s tough XD glass and XR lens coatings offer maximum color fidelity and light transmission while providing crystal-clear resolution.
- Provides a BDC reticle
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof design
- Made from aerospace-grade materials
- Offers high-quality optics
- Great magnification range
- Doesn’t have illumination
Vortex’s rifle has a lot going for it in terms of the reticle, magnification range, and durable construction. It’s lightweight, weather-resistant, and offers great value for money. The only downside with this one is that it doesn’t offer illumination.
4. Konus Pro 3-10x44mm 275 Muzzleloading Riflescope
Specifically designed for muzzleloaders, Konus Pro’s scope offers 3-10x magnification, which eliminates the guesswork from taking your shots. The ballistic reticle can be used with your favorite black powder loads, and it provides precise aiming points from 75 to 275 yards.
If you’re looking for extreme durability, Konus Pro offers a shatterproof, glass-engraved reticle with a 44mm objective lens. The dual illuminated red and blue center dot makes shooting during dark hours—or shooting dark targets—effortless.
This scope uses lateral hash marks to compensate for strong crosswinds and provide accurate leads on moving targets. The multi-coated optics and five brightness settings offer a clear, crisp view of your targets and prevent shaking through recoil.
This model is also weather-resistant and offers windage and elevation adjustments, so it’s suitable for use in all conditions.
- Airgun approved design
- Weather-resistant construction
- Made from durable materials
- Windage and elevation are adjustable
- Provides 3-10x magnification
- Only provides three inches of eye relief
Konus Pro’s rifle scope provides maximum precision and excellent magnification at an affordable price. The sturdy, unbreakable reticle and lightweight construction make this a great option for fans of muzzleloading.
5. Bushnell AR Optics 1-6x24mm Riflescope
Bushnell offers one of the greatest hunting scopes for an AR. It features two Throw Down Power Change levers of different lengths, allowing you to adjust your magnification quickly when every second counts.
The multi-coated optics improve light transmission and boost image brightness, giving you crisp, clear visuals in the field. It uses an SFP reticle and offers 1-6 magnification, so you can make those vital, last-minute power changes when you’re locked onto a moving target.
This scope offers 3.7 inches of eye relief and comes with MOA adjustments for increased precision, and the matte black finish removes any unwanted glare from your AR.
It’s heavier than some comparable scopes, but it’s lightweight enough that there’s not much of a learning curve once you mount the scope.
Bushnell’s scope uses capped turrets to provide an extra boost of protection against rigorous use. Its IPX7 waterproof design and O-ring sealed optics stay dry for up to 30 minutes in three feet of water, so it can withstand any weather conditions.
- Waterproof construction protects your scope
- Good amount of eye relief
- Two Throw Down Power Change levers
- Fully multi-coated optics for maximum light transmission and image clarity
- Second focal plane reticle
- It’s a little heavy
If you want a waterproof scope that can hold up to the elements, this one from Bushnell might be a good choice. It also offers Throw Down Power Change levers for lightning-fast action when you need it most, and it’s pretty affordable considering the number of features you get.
6. Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 FPP Riflescope
If you’re looking for a first focal plane rifle scope that won’t break the bank, this model from Athlon Optics might be a good option. It offers magnification from 6-24x that remains precise at all settings without sacrificing reticle stability.
The multi-coated lenses provide maximum light transmission and bright, true-to-life color across the spectrum, so it’s easier for you to spot your target no matter how dense the underbrush.
Made from waterproof, aircraft-grade aluminum, this scope is also incredibly durable, which is what you want if you’re going to put your scope through rigorous use. Argon purging boosts thermal stability, so you can use this one in any weather conditions.
The etched glass reticle is reinforced for increased durability and stability for maximum shock absorption during recoil without losing any crispness in the optics.
- Fantastic reticle visibility
- High-quality light transmission
- Durable, aircraft-grade construction
- Affordable compared to some scopes
- Argon purging increases waterproofing
- Slight decrease in clarity at higher magnification levels
With its sturdy reticle, waterproof design, and durable build, this is a high-quality rifle scope for use in any conditions. It maintains precision at all light levels, and it’s extremely affordable given its quality.
7. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
This durable scope from Leupold is an affordable option built to stand up to harsh elements and heavy use. It’s waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, making it a great choice to bring along if you’re navigating rugged terrain.
It features a duplex reticle with a matte finish and a magnification range of 3.5-10x, making it a good choice for distance shots. And if eye relief is one of your top concerns, Leupold has you covered. You’ll get between 3.6 and 4.4 inches of eye relief.
The lens provides increased clarity from the DiamondCoat 2 ion-assist coating, which boosts light transmission and protects the lens against debris and scratches. The scope’s body is durable, too. It’s made with 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum to withstand heavy recoil.
One of the most impressive features is Leupold’s Twilight Max Light Management System, which combines edge-to-edge lens clarity with full-spectrum lens coatings to provide you with an additional 20 minutes of light on low light conditions.
- Twilight Max Light Management System gives you 20 minutes of extra light
- Made from durable, aircraft-grade materials
- Offers fantastic eye relief
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof
- Provides great light transmission
- No locking turrets
This durable, affordable scope from Leuphold is a fantastic option for low light conditions. Its eye relief is one of the best on the market, and it provides amazing light transmission. The only downside to this model is that you can’t lock your turrets.
8. Nikon PROSTAFF P3 2-7×32 Matte Riflescope
Most famous for their top-of-the-line cameras, Nikon’s dedication to optical clarity is a boon with this scope. It features multi-coated optics with multiple layers of anti-reflective material to boost light transmission while increasing brightness and contrast.
This scope offers waterproofed O-rings to prevent moisture from damaging the internal components. Generous eye relief and a rubberized eye guard protect your eye from recoil.
The BDC reticle enables you to calculate bullet drop off in a snap, and the quick focus eyepiece allows for rapid target acquisition, an essential feature when you’re dealing with moving targets.
Even better, this scope comes with spring-loaded instant zero reset turrets on the windage and elevation knobs. You can quickly reset them to zero after sighting your target, giving you a frame of reference when you’re making adjustments in the field.
- BDC reticle excels
- Provides the clear, crisp optics you’d expect from Nikon
- Incredibly durable body
- Quick-focus eyepiece allows rapid target acquisition
- Turrets are a bit girthy
Nikon’s PROSTAFF P3 is a great option for hunters who need to make rapid adjustments without sacrificing precision. The rubberized eyepiece is comfortable and provides the quick target acquisition you want, and the BDC reticle gives you the light transmission you need.
9. Bushnell Engage 4-16x44mm Riflescope
Bushnell’s rifle scope offers a 44mm lens for clear optics and an impressive field of vision. The magnification adjusts from 4-16x, which allows for sharp sighting of distant targets.
The scope is waterproof and fogproof with an anti-reflective coating to reduce glare and improve visual acuity. Best of all, the lens is coated for maximum protection against water, dirt, and oil, reducing the risk of fingerprint smudges that could hamper your vision.
You can easily lock the turrets to prevent your windage and elevation knobs from moving during recoil or rigorous use, which boosts your efficiency and accuracy. This scope also features a side-mounted parallax to improve your targeting.
The Engage features 1-MOA windage and elevation hashmarks, perfect for reaching your targets, and it’s easy to dial in your scope with this model from Bushnell thanks to the Toolless Zero Reset Locking Turret.
You’ll also get a flip-up objective to reduce glare and keep your lens clean and protected when your scope isn’t in use.
- Toolless Zero Reset Locking Turrets provide stability
- Offers a flip-up objective to protect your lens
- Matte finish eliminates unwanted glare
- Has an impressive magnification range
- Waterproof design
- The crosshairs are pretty small
With its locking turrets and durable construction, this is a great rifle scope for rigorous use. You won’t have to worry about your turrets getting bumped out of alignment, and because it’s waterproof, you can use this scope in any conditions without fear.
10. Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16x44mm SFP Rifle Scope
If getting great value for money is your number one goal, this scope from Primary Arms provides incredible features at an entry-level price point. It offers a mil-dot reticle on the second focal plane, keeping your eye on the target where it belongs.
This scope features a side focus and 44mm aperture, and the impressive magnification makes this a great option for mid to long-range shots. Additionally, the tube offers wide adjustment in elevation and windage to help you make those shots.
Primary Arms’ scope provides illumination and 12 brightness settings located atop the eyepiece, boosting your visibility in any light condition. It’s also fogproof and waterproof, so it can withstand the elements.
Best of all, the turrets are finger-adjustable, and you can reset them to zero by pressing them all the way in. You’ll get precise ¼ MOA adjustments with the turrets, too. The downside here is the scope’s weight, which tips the scale at 23.5 ounces.
- Affordable price point given its features
- Mil-dot reticle for precise targeting
- Durable construction
- Offers 12-brightness settings
- Turrets can be reset to zero
- Weighs a whopping 23.5 ounces
Offering high-end features at a budget-friendly price, this is a great scope if you want to pinch your pennies without skimping on quality. The multitude of brightness settings and mil-dot reticle are especially appealing on this model, as is its waterproof design.
Whether you’re shooting at a range or in the field, a scope serves as your eyes during a shoot, so a high-quality scope is a must-have for accuracy and efficiency.
Your budget is always a factor when you’re making a large purchase, and we have some great guides on finding $200 and $500 scopes if that is an issue for you. But there are a few other basics you should keep in mind before you drop your hard-earned coin on a scope.
You’ll want to consider the reticle’s focal plane when you’re shopping for a new scope. To sum it up quickly, a first focal plane (FFP) reticle appears to change size as you adjust your magnification settings in order to maintain perspective with your target.
The downside to using FFP reticles is that it can be annoying at long distances. As the reticle becomes smaller, it can become more difficult for you to hit your target on high magnification.
Second focal plane (SFP) reticles don’t change in size as you adjust your magnification settings, which is especially helpful for beginners. The downside here is that you’ll need to gauge the distance when you increase or decrease magnification from the default setting.
No reticle type is better than the other, and it all depends on personal preference which one will work best for you. You’ll find both FFP and SFP reticles on our list, so you’ll be able to find a great scope no matter your reticle preference.
The ability to adjust your scope to compensate for distance and elevation is a great feature to have on any scope. The best rifle scopes also have a windage adjustment knob, so you can make adjustments to account for high winds before you take your shot.
The most important aspect of windage and elevation knobs is the ability to adjust them without losing sight of your target. Many of the scopes on our list have finger-adjustable knobs, and some of them have a fantastic locking feature so recoil won’t dislodge them.
More experienced shooters might want to opt for a scope that allows you to adjust the parallax. (Hint: our top choice has this feature.)
If you’ve ever had a $150 investment go down the drain because there was no manufacturer warranty, you’ll know they’re a valuable asset to any purchase, including a rifle scope.
I could have sent my scratched-up scope back to the manufacturer if it had been under warranty instead of just eating the cost and questioning my life decisions.
Every product we’ve reviewed offers a warranty, so you won’t have to worry about manufacturing defects or damage suffered during regular use.
For example, if a scope is supposed to be weather-resistant in sub-zero temperatures, and the lens shatters, the manufacturer will repair your scope or send you a new one free of charge.
A manufacturer warranty might not be the most important feature, but it still offers peace of mind when you’re spending your hard-earned cash.
One of the most important factors of any rifle scope is durability. A high-quality scope is built to last. Most of the scopes on our list are made from aircraft-grade aluminum, which is surprisingly rugged considering it’s also very lightweight.
You’ll also want to look for a scope that’s waterproof and fogproof so you can use it in all weather conditions. If recoil knocks your reticle out of alignment, that’s a good sign the scope is made with cheap, low-grade materials, so opting for a shockproof model is a smart move.
Unlike many rifle scope reviews, you can find the answers to the most commonly asked questions right here without hunting them down yourself.
What kind of scope do snipers use?
According to Army Times, the Leupold Mark V rifle scope is the latest version of the Mark IV, which has been a favorite of military snipers for the past few decades.
The Mark V offers a 5-power zoom, but it’s more lightweight and offers better light transmission than previous models, which had a 4-power zoom.
What magnification do you need to make a 1000-yard shot?
The short answer is: that depends on the size of your target. If you want to shoot a large target like an elk, then you won’t need as much magnification. However, if you have a hare in your sights, you’ll need higher magnification.
The long answer is that 1x magnification is roughly equivalent to 100 yards. If you want to hit a target that’s 1000 yards away, you’ll want around 10x magnification.
What kind of scope did Chris Kyle use?
He reportedly used several scopes during the course of his service. He was pictured carrying a rifle with what appears to be a Leupold Mark IV 8.5-25x50mm LR/T in several photos.
In later photos, he was mostly seen with a Nightforce scope, as that’s what was used by SEALs at the time.
How far can I shoot with a 3-9x scope?
Because every power of magnification increases your range by around 100 yards, you can expect to shoot roughly 900 yards with a 3-9x scope.
However, the size of your target, whether it’s stationary or moving, and lens size can all affect usable range. If you’re shooting at a tiny, rapidly moving target, your range will decrease accordingly.
And that brings us to the finish line. If you’re looking for the best rifle scope in 2020, go for the Vortex Optics Crossfire II.
It offers an impressive 6-24x magnification range, adjustable locking reset windage, elevation, and parallax knobs, crisp visuals, and a durable, waterproof body. The illuminated SFP reticle is fantastic in low-light conditions and won’t change sizes as you zoom in.
The eye box gives you a comfortable four inches of eye relief, which is essential if you’re using a heavy rifle that produces significant recoil. Lastly, the fast-focus eyepiece is incredible for rapid target acquisition, so you can hit your target when every second counts.