The first time I went coyote hunting, I had no idea how rainy and muddy it would be. While I struggled to find my target in the early morning darkness, I was worried that the moisture in the air would ruin my cheap rifle scope.
Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot about the best varmint rifle scopes since then. Whether you’re a beginner or in the market for an upgrade, we’ve rounded up the rifle scopes that get you the best bang (and most kills) for your buck.
If you want to skip the reading and get to our top pick, it’s hands down the Vortex Optics Diamondback. We like the Diamondback because it combines an elegant design with incredibly powerful features.
10 Best Rifle Scopes for Varmint Hunting
Each of these scopes is fog-proof, waterproof, and comes with a warranty!
Vortex offers consistently excellent rifle scopes, and I can’t recommend the Diamondback enough. It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum design with fully multi-coated lenses, making it extremely durable for years of use.
The Diamondback packs plenty of high-quality patented features, including a Precision-Glide Erector System and Dead-Hold BDC reticle. These will keep your aim sharp and consistent, which is essential for tracking fast-moving varmints.
Because the Vortex Optics Diamondback uses a Second Focal Plane reticle, it can be tedious when used on a target that requires frequent adjustment. However, the Diamondback’s 4 to 12 magnification range and 12mm objective bell ensure deadly accuracy at all ranges.
What the Vortex Optics Diamondback lacks in optimal weight and target turrets, it makes up for in durability. The multi-coated lens is amazing for bright vision at nighttime. Its resistance to fog and water is excellent for shooting in rainy weather when you won’t have to worry about damaging your scope.
- Great quality for the price
- Multi-coated, fog-proof, and waterproof lens
- Dead-hold DBC and smart Glide erector system
- Large and heavyweight
- Second Focal Plane reticle
Hunting varmints is rarely a daytime activity. Lots of critters come out to lurk in the darkness, and it’s much easier to spot them with a scope like the ATN X-Sight II. We honestly can’t believe how much cutting-edge technology this rifle scope packs.
The ATN X-Sight II is essentially a tiny computer that mounts to your rifle. Its wi-fi and Bluetooth compatibility allow you to sync the scope with your mobile device. From there, you can use your phone to adjust the reticle color and pattern options and even save locations on the GPS.
We’re especially impressed by this scope’s Smart Range Finder, which automatically adjusts the point of impact on your reticle after you range in. The ATN X-Sight II also has a built-in HD camera so that you can shoot photos and videos out in the field.
Like any digital device, this scope is only as useful as its battery life. It lasts up to six hours between charges, which some varmint hunters say is too short. We would argue, though, that the smart ballistic calculator saves some time by automatically calibrating the scope to weather conditions.
- Intelligent rangefinder
- HD camera
- Ballistic calculator
- Short battery life
Tasco is notorious for offering super accurate rifle scopes at an affordable price point. Our favorite for varmint hunting is the Tasco 6-24×42, which can hit small, fast-running varmints at long distances.
Tasco designed this scope to be super durable and rugged so you can shoot through various weather conditions. Its multilayered and fully coated lenses are weather-resistant, and it’s shock-proof, waterproof, and very sleek in its matte black finish.
This scope offers plenty of accuracy with a True Mil-Dot reticle and a 42mm objective lens diameter. Its target turrets feature 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments.
The Tasco 6-24×42 may not offer other high-end scopes’ high-end features, but we think its simple design gets the job done for a very affordable price.
- Long-distance target aiming
- Durable and weatherproof
- Low cost
- Blurry at high magnifications
4. Barska Varmint 6-24×42 AO Riflescope – Best Varmint Scope for 223
We had to include the Barska Varmint because it’s an excellent 223 varmint scope that can shoot over extreme lengths. It’s another affordable option that mimics the accuracy and quality you expect from high-dollar rifle scopes.
The Barska 6-24×42 features a large, 42mm objective lens for maximum light transmission, which buys you precious extra minutes of clear vision while the sun is setting.
This scope is fog-proof, waterproof, and shock-proof. Its Mil-Dot reticle is protected with multi-coating to ensure clarity with each shot, no matter what the weather conditions. It’s quick and easy to adjust with 1/8 MOA click values and high turrets.
Many hunters who shoot with lower-cost varmint rifle scopes remark that the lens can become slightly blurry at maximum magnification. However, we love the Barska’s smooth adjustment options and its knack for staying zeroed in. We would recommend this scope to varmint hunters of all skill levels.
- High magnification
- Adjustable objective
- Low cost
- Blurry at high magnifications
For varmint hunters who want great precision in low-light conditions without breaking the bank, we suggest the Bushnell Banner. Its multi-coated lenses are great for shooting small active targets in the early morning or late evening.
Bushnell’s Dusk & Dawn Brightness (DDB) lenses allow up to 92% light transmission through dielectric prism coating. That extra-bright vision allows you to target sneaky prey in low light. The scope is waterproof and fog-proof thanks to a nitrogen purge and O-seal.
The Bushnell Banner has a 4 to 12x magnification through its adjustable 40mm objective bell. Its fast-focus eyepiece helps you make the crucial quick shots that takedown varmint prey, while its 1/4 MOA fingertip adjustments make it convenient to customize windage and elevation.
While the Bushnell Banner’s low light vision rivals high-end scopes at a fraction of the price, some hunters complain that its large objective bell and overall bulky size are clunky for shooting varmints.
- Low light vision
- Fast eye focus
- Low price
- Large size
Vortex may market its Optics Crossfire II as a rifle scope for wild hogs, but it’s also a hidden gem for varmint hunters. It combines the top-notch qualities of high-end scopes with surprisingly low cost.
Vortex’s line of fixed power varmint rifles is a consistent top pick for us. They deliver sharp and clear vision with multi-coated lenses and anti-reflective treatments. The Vortex Crossfire II features an oversized lens at 56mm, making it an excellent option to take down small game quickly.
We like the scope’s anodized aluminum tubing material, and its nitrogen purge and O-ring sealing keep the reticle dry and protected.
The second focal plane can make it difficult to pinpoint a moving target if you have to make frequent adjustments. However, you can use this scope’s V-Brite illuminated MOA reticle to shoot in the dark. It even has a battery-powered center dot that stays bright and clear at nighttime.
- Multi-coated, anti-reflection lens
- Large objective lens
- Nitrogen and O-ring seal
- Battery-powered low light features
- Second Focal Plane reticle
The low-light, all-weather Zeiss Conquest V4 has patented glass coatings for a super-precise shooting experience. We like its crystal clear, adjustable aim for quick and deadly shots.
The high definition glass in the Conquest V4 uses specialized Zeiss T coating, which allows 90% of light through for bright night vision. Zeiss’s glass also features a LutoTec covering, which resists rain and fog.
Fine-tuning a Conquest V4 is relatively easy with the adjustable .25 or .50 MOA click values, and it comes with a range of elevation and windage options. It shoots using a second focal plane reticle with a 4x zoom ratio.
The external elevation turret accurately zeroes out thanks to one more patented feature: the Zeiss Ballistic Stop. This scope delivers quick shots that are easy to adjust for maximum accuracy.
- Patented glass technology
- ZEISS Ballistic Stop
- Second focal plane reticle
Retailing at $50, the Simmons 8 Point is one of the lowest-priced varmint rifle scopes available. However, we included it because experienced and entry-level varmint hunters alike are big fans of this particular scope.
The Simmons 8 Point’s secret is that it packs many patented features for that small price. The HydroShield lens coating creates a clear vision in all kinds of weather conditions. Its TrueZero adjustment system, along with a quick-to-aim eyepiece and TruePlex reticle, promises a zero out with deadly accuracy.
If you’re a beginner considering this scope, the SureGrip rubber surface makes it one of the most accessible options for adjusting elevation and windage.
The Simmons 8 Point has a reputation for being sturdy and recoil-proof. It’s an excellent attachment for large guns with heavy backlash, but you can pair its patented features with lightweight firearms as well.
The clear vision on this scope works best at short to medium distances. Long-distance varmint shooters sometimes notice a decrease in the vision on targets more than 100 yards away.
- Truplex Reticle and true zero adjustment
- SureGrip rubber adjustment for elevation and windage
- Poor long-distance shooting
If you’re looking for a scope to shoot prairie dogs, wild hogs, or rodents from a distance, we like the long-range capabilities of the Mueller Optics Eraticator. This scope’s design features an illuminated micro-dot and a micro-fine crosshair that won’t obscure tiny, far-off targets.
The Mueller Optics Eraticator features fully multi-coated lenses made out of camera-quality crystal. While some hunters collect it for its short-range and rimfire capabilities, the large ocular lens and fast focus eye bell make this scope powerfully accurate for varmint hunting.
Whether you’re a daytime or nighttime hunter, you can illuminate its micro-dot to eleven different light settings depending on the sun’s brightness.
The Mueller Optics Eraticator has a black matte finish that reduces shine. Its nitrogen-filled reticle is waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof for all-weather hunting.
Because the illuminated micro-dot is battery-operated, you’ll have to remember to shut it off yourself after your hunting trip, or it will drain battery life.
- Easy adjustment
- Illuminated micro-dot
- Micro-fine crosshairs
- Micro-dot stays on
The Leupold VX-3i may be the only scope in this roundup that features a diamond-coated lens. Hunters of coyote, prairie dogs, rodents, and foxes pick up this scope because it’s so versatile between rifles of different weights.
The Leupold’s Twilight Max system helps with low-light vision, and its scope comes with a DiamondCoat2 treatment to allow maximum light to enter the lens.
The versatility of this scope comes from its twin bias erector spring. Its reduced recoil makes it ideal for both lightweight and heavy rifles. It’s tough, too: the Argon/Krypton coating on the lens guarantees waterproofing.
While the Leupold’s duplex reticle and fast-focus eyepiece will make your aim extremely accurate, it’s not the most precise scope for hitting long-range targets. However, the comfortable adjustment and quick aim spell definite trouble for close and medium-range prey.
- Duplex reticle
- Waterproof, shock-proof, and fog-proof
- Twilight Max Light Management System
- Easy adjustment
- Low magnification range
What to Look for in a Top Varmint Scope
Before you get overwhelmed by the specifics of all the different rifle scope options, look out for these basic features that make a great varmint scope.
Every varmint hunter has a preference between first and second focal planes. We reviewed rifle scopes with both options, so make sure you know the ups and downs of each one before you buy.
A first focal plane (FFP) reticle will appear to change in size as you magnify the scope. This can make shooting at long distances tricky because the reticle is very small when it’s on high magnification.
Second focal plane (SFP) reticles don’t change in size as you magnify, which makes them easier to use for entry-level varmint hunters. However, you’ll have to repeatedly gauge the distance when you adjust, which can be inconvenient when tracking a moving target.
An excellent rifle scope will allow you to adjust for distance and elevation before taking your shot. Many of our top scopes also account for windage. You can make elevation and windage adjustments manually or invest in a product that does this automatically.
In the heat of the moment, the last thing you want is to lose sight of a varmint because you’re adjusting your rifle scope. Our top picks have finger knobs on the side of the scope, and some even include rubber coating to give you the best possible grip.
Many of the rifle scopes we rounded up are relatively low-cost options. Whether you’re interested in the budget option of the Simmons 8-Point or the bells and whistles of the ATN X-Sight, make sure you’re getting a warranty on your new rifle scope.
Before you cry over moisture damage or a shattered lens, see if you can get it replaced free of charge. Reputable rifle scope manufacturers will send you a new product if your scope doesn’t perform the way it’s advertised.
It’s essential to consider a scope’s durability before buying. Many of the scopes we recommend are crafted of aircraft-grade aluminum for maximum sturdiness. An excellent rifle scope has to resist damage from recoil, which is why we highlight shock-proof options.
We reviewed scopes that are waterproof and fog-proof because varmint hunting is an all-weather activity. Nitrogen purged and O-sealed scopes with coated lenses will hold up best against the heaviest rain and mist.
What is a good varmint rifle scope for a .22?
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II, Vortex Optics Diamondback, and Leupold VX-3i are excellent attachments for a .22. For a rifle that can shoot over 50 yards with less than 1″ bullet drop, these scopes are a perfect add-on.
When is the best time to go varmint hunting?
Most varmints, including coyotes, foxes and bobcats, are nocturnal creatures. The prime times for shooting them are at dusk and dawn. For this reason, many of the top rifle scopes we picked out have excellent low light vision.
How do I maintain my varmint rifle scope?
You can keep your scope in good shape with proper cleaning, lens covering, and storage. Use a lens cap when you’re not looking through the scope, and wipe it with a microfiber cloth (never your shirt or hand.) When storing your rifle, wrap a scope cover over the equipment and avoid keeping it in humid conditions.
Whether you’re hunting crows on a foggy evening or tracking a fast-moving rabbit through the brush, an excellent varmint scope is going to be your best friend. I learned the hard way to always do my research before heading to the woods, and I hope my advice helps you select the best varmint rifle scope.
While all ten of the rifle scopes in our roundup are excellent choices, the Vortex Optics Diamondback is our favorite. We love its combination of user-friendliness, high-quality features, and durable construction.
Whatever kind of varmint you’re hunting, we hope our roundup of the best varmint scopes will make your next hunting trip more accurate, more deadly, and (especially) more fun.