Are you interested in buying the best rifle scope? This guide will reveal you all the secrets to finding a great hunting scope that will make your hunts better. The guide begins with a brief on the background of sights followed by a guide on rifle scope terminology and concludes with a buyer’s guide. How this guide differs from other rifle scope guides online is that it provides you with an interactive table, rifle scope zeroing tools, individual rifle scope reviews, and uses the latest web technology to make your purchase of a rifle scope much easier. On top of that, you can imagine yourself buying a great rifle scope when you do the proper research that is required. This site will let you have all the information you need to obtain the best rifle scope for your usage. Go nowhere else for your rifle scope ratings than here!
How to Buy the Best Rifle Scope
Above is a table cover the top 10 best rifle scopes for 2014. You can use the tabs to sort them by features.
Types of Rifle Sights
Before we get into what types of rifle scopes you could buy, we will discuss what choices are available for sights. You might not even have to buy a sight for your use and, for some usages, buying a sight might actually hinder you.
Open sights, the most basic type of sight, offers users a very easy way to shoot their rifle. Open sights consists of a front sight post as well as a rear sight post. You use an open sight by matching the front sight post, rear sight post, and target together.
The benefits of an open sight is that it is included with most rifles, good for almost all weather conditions, hard to damage, and reliable. The disadvantage to an open sight is that it is slow to aim, blocks your vision, and not very accurate.
The front sight post on an open sight can also be a plastic bead. These are popular for low light shooting conditions for it gives the shooter a front sight that stands out from a dark background. Some open sights allow the shooter to adjust the elevation for distance. Most rifles come with open sights.
Popular for military and competitive shooting usage, aperture sights consist of a front sight post and a rear sight post similar to an open sight. The difference is that the rear sight post, and sometimes the front sight post, is a ring. The ring blocks certain levels of light and, because of that, increases the depth of field. Thicker rings provide more depth of field than thinner rings. You can learn more about how this works by reading on how pinhole cameras work.
For most aperture sights, the rear sight can be adjusted to move the line of sight left or right and the front sight can be adjusted to move the line of sight up or down. Most aperture sights also allow the user to adjust for bullet drop.
The benefits of an aperture sight is that it is quick, accurate, and durable. Unlike open sights, aperture sights do not block half of your vision. In addition to that, the price of an aperture sight ranges from $40 to $100. Some rifles come with aperture sights.
Telescopic sights cost more then aperture sights but offer something neither open sights nor aperture sights offer: magnification of the target. The ability to zoom allows for more accuracy as well as safety. In addition to that, most rifle scopes are very sturdy — as sturdy as iron sights in most cases.
Scopes can range from 2x magnification all the way to 40x magnification. 2x magnification is generally used for pistols. 3x and 4x magnification is good for close range deer hunting whereas 10x, 12x, 16x, and above magnification is good for long distance shooting in well lighted conditions.
It is recommended that hunters, especially white tail deer hunters, to obtain a fixed powered 3x scope. Higher powered scopes will be useless in the dim environments and variable powered scopes just add unnecessary weight and expenses.
Rifle scopes are easier to use than iron sights because the user only needs to line up the crosshair with the target instead of aligning the front sight and rear sight with the target. Scopes also allow users with poor vision to hunt and, in dim situations, the scope can actually brighten the target.
The disadvantages to a rifle scope is that they are more expensive than iron sights, can be heavy, and might be hard to use in poor weather. In addition to that, you can run the risk of getting “scope eye” if your eye relief distance is too small, causing the rifle’s recoil to propel the rifle scope into your eye.
Best Rifle Scope Terms
- Power – this is the scope’s magnification. Beware, fancy marketing and manliness have lead many hunters astray by believing that more power is better. Only get as much power in a scope as you’ll need for your use. Too much power can result in poor close range shots. Note that military snipers only use 10x fixed power scopes.
- Fixed power scope – fixed powered scopes offer only one level of magnification. A 4×32 scope offers 4 times magnification.
- Variable power scope – variable power scopes offer 2 or more magnification levels. A 3-10×32 scope offers 3 to 10 times magnification.
- Objective - tells you how wide in diameter, in millimeters, the front lens is. The bigger the lens, the more light it will let through which will give you better shots in dim environment. Also, higher power scopes need to have larger lenses as well. Similar to power, get as much as you need.
- Adjustable Objective - is usually found in scopes over 10x and removes the parallax effect from the scope. (What is the parallax effect? It is the apparent shift of an object in a line of sight. Want to learn something cool? Astronomers use the parallax effect to determine how far stars are away from earth.)
- Reticle - are the aiming point on a scope. Also called cross hairs.
- Eye Relief - is the distance from the end of the scope that still allows you to see the image. Having too small of an eye relief on a large rifle can give you scope eye!
- FOV at 100 Yards - Field of view at 100 years is how many feet wide your field of view is at 100 yards away. Higher powered scopes have lower fields of view.
- Minute of Angle - used to zero the scope, the scope’s MOA is used to move the bullet a certain amount of inches at 100 yards. So a scope with 1/2″ MOA would move a bullet 1/2″ at 100 yards for one click.
- Windage - left to right adjustment of a scope to compensate for wind. Kentucky windage is when you compensate for wind by just “eyeing” or “feeling” or “guessing” it.
- Elevation - up and down adjustment of a scope to take into account distance, bullet behavior, and bullet drop.
- Tube Diameter - thickness of the rifle scope. Most US models are one inch and most European models are 30mm.
- Optical Coating - a coating that reduces glare on scopes.
- Charged Scopes - scopes filled with nitrogen are charged and the purpose is to prevent moisture from coming in.
About the Best Rifle Scope Rings
If you are thinking about buying a scope, no matter what price range your rifle scope is, make sure you get high quality rings! Low quality rings can give you a very slight wiggle (so small, you might not even notice it) that will affect your grouping. Spend the extra $10 and get good rings, trust me. The price of ammo will make up for the added cost.
Price Range for the Best Rifle Scope
Rifle scopes range from $100 to $1,000+. What is a good price range for your rifle scope? A rule of thumb is that a rifle scope should cost no more than half of the cost of the rifle. Therefore, a $1,000 rifle deserves a rifle scope in the $500 range. This balances the rifle’s performance with the scope’s performance.
Top Rifle Scope Makers
Below is a profile of some of the top rifle scope makers in the world. Because the world is now a globalized place, these manufacturers come from all around the globe, the US, Germany, Japan, and elsewhere.
A part of the Beretta company, Burris Optics is based in Greeley, Colorado. Their optics are coated so that 99.5% of the light is transmitted. Their lenses are manufactured out of 6061T6 aluminum and injected with nitrogen. They can be contacted by telephone at 970-356-1670 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bushnell is a US company that manufacturers optics, NVGs, GPSes, and range finders. They are based Kansas. The company was founded in 1948 by David Bushnell during his stay in US-occupied Japan. The company is a household name in hunting communities.
Hawke produces rifle scopes, crossbow scopes, slug gun slopes, target systems, mounts, and binoculars. Based in Europe, the company is just entering the US market.
Leupold & Stevens have been producing sights and binoculars in Oregon since 1907. The company is privately and family owned. The company started producing rifle scopes when one of the founders became frustrated at how he missed a deer thanks to a rifle scope that fogged up.
Meopta is a Czech company that produces optics for consumer and military use. Since 1933, the company has been known for producing high quality tactical gear. So good were their optics that, in 1939, when the Germany army seized control of Czechoslovakia, they forced the company to only produce optics for the Germany military.
Nikon is known for optics, camera, and measuring instruments. Founded in Japan in 1917, the company is known for their quality. Their line of rifle scopes are: Monarch, Laser IRT, Encore, Coyote special, Slughunter, Buckmaster, ProStaff, and team REALTREE.
Pentax, another fine optics and camera producer from Japan, filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and is now a brand used by Ricoh for selling optics and cameras.
Redfield is now owned by Leupold & Stevens and all Redfield products are manufactured by them.
Sightron sells rifle scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and electronics. The company is based in Youngsville, NC and they can be reached at 919.562.3000 as well as email@example.com. The company has been in business for 21 years.
Steiner is a Germany optics company with over 60 years of experience. Their rifle scope line is the Nighthunter Xtreme.
Swarovski Optik sells binoculars, rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and other optics. Their current production models are the Z6, Z5, and Z3. The company is based in Austria and has been in operation since 1949.
Vortex produces rifle scopes, red dot sights, range finders, binoculars, spotting scopes, and tripods. The company has an unlimited lifetime warranty on all rifle scopes, red dots, range finders, binoculars, spotting scopes, and monoculars. The warranty is transferable and there is no need to register. The company is based in Wisconsin.
Zeiss, full name Carl Zeiss Sports Optics, has been in operation since 1846. The company was founded in Germany and offers very fine optics.
Conclusion on the Best Rifle Scope
If you are looking for the best rifle scope, first, determine what your usage will be. Hunting deer usually takes place in low light conditions, therefore a low powered fixed power scope would be best. Do not fall for marketing tricks and buy an overly powerful rifle scope. In addition to that, make sure you have the correct rings for your rifle scope as it will increase your rifle’s accuracy a lot. Low quality rings can greatly affect shots at long distances.