Scopes have come a long way. Not too many years ago, you basically had a choice of four or five go-to optics manufacturers. Now there are many more, with a wide array of features and price points. This brings with it the best rifle scope debate. Is there a “best rifle scope”? Well, we can certainly make a list.
Best Rifle Scope Options on the Market
Reticles have come a long way, too, with several manufacturers making their own versions of Christmas-tree-like reticles in hopes of providing precision shooters with optimal solutions for their needs. There are many brands, options and price points out there, but I got my hands on a few here for a quick overview. I think you’ll be pleased. Here are some of the best rifle scope options currently on the market.
Athlon Optics Ares ETR
Regardless of price point, a serious precision optic should feature a first-focal-plane (FFP) reticle and multicoated, extra-dispersion (ED) lenses, and Athlon’s 4.5-30x56mm Ares ETR does just that. It boasts 110 minutes (32 mils) of total elevation travel, with a precision erector system and stainless steel turret design. The turrets are impressive because they offer solid clicks and lock down to prevent accidental changes. The healthy magnification range will let you make good use of Athlon’s APRS1 reticle. (athlonoptics.com)
Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II Pro
The Elite Tactical line of optics from Bushnell seems to know no bounds, and the new 3.5-21x50mm DMR II Pro builds on that legacy at just over 13 inches long with some of the best turrets to boot. The new G3 reticle features 0.5-mil markings, with finer markings near the outer edges. You can also opt for an illuminated version as well as the Horus H59.The glass and coatings are top quality, with all the abbreviations and designations that others have, but the DMR II Pro comes with an excellent Throwhammer lever installed for quick magnification changes. (bushnell.com)
The EOTech 5-25x50mm Vudu scope offers sharp, clear glass while being extremely compact. It’s 11.2 inches long and packs 25X magnification, which is easy to tap into using the included throw lever and smooth-actuating magnification ring. In terms of reticles, you can choose between the Horus H59 or EOTech’s own mil-style MD3 reticle, both of which are mounted in the first focal plane. The elevation turret has a push/pull locking system that is extremely short in movement. And the scope tracked well in testing, as it easily helped me shoot out to a mile. (eotechinc.com)
One of the oldest optics manufacturers in the world, Kahles has come on strong more recently. With the 5-25x56mm K525i scope, you’ll find excellent glass—as you might expect from a company under the Swarovski umbrella—but there’s more. For instance, the windage knob can be had on either the left or right side of the optic, and it comes with Kahles’ Twist Guard, a free-spinning wheel on the outside of the windage turret that prevents accidental adjustments. That way you don’t have to lock and then unlock turrets. Finally, five different reticles are available for this scope. (kahles.at)
Leupold Mark 5HD
Featuring the Twilight Max HD system, the 5-25x56mm Mark 5HD brings in a lot of light. Leupold claims this gives you 30 extra minutes of shooting light and eliminates 90-percent more glare-producing stray light than competitive optics. The Zero Lock Dial System makes setting a zero-stop simple with a single turn, and the scope also has an ergonomic throw lever. It’s lightweight at 26 ounces and strong. Leupold scopes must survive 5,000 impacts on the company’s “Punisher” recoil simulator, where each impact is three times stronger than a .308’s recoil. Finally, a variety of FFP reticles are available. (leupold.com)
Nightforce makes some of the best optics in the business, and the new 4-32x50mm NX8 seems like a scope only Nightforce could pull off. It’s only 13.4 inches long yet boasts a 30mm main tube, a wide magnification range, ED glass and locking diopter. Think of it as a smaller, lighter and more affordable ATACR. Along with an integrated Power Throw Lever (PTL) and illuminated FFP reticle, you can adjust the parallax down to 11 yards. On top of that, the scope only weighs 28.6 ounces. It’ll make you wonder if big 34mm tubes are necessary at all. And make sure you check out our gun giveaway on page 22 for a chance to win one of these bad boys! (nightforceoptics.com)
Revic PMR 428
The Revic PMR 428 smart riflescope has tons of onboard technology, including built-in ambient condition sensors, resulting in an optic that creates its own ballistic solutions for changing conditions. It measures and accounts for everything, including density altitude and aerodynamic jump due to wind direction and speed. When you peer through the PMR 428, you’ll see a digital readout with all the info you need. Once you’ve synced all your data with an app on your phone and completed a quick setup process, all you need to do is dial the elevation turret to your desired line-of-sight distance. While you’re doing that, the optic makes the necessary changes, and you simply align your crosshairs and press the trigger. It’s super slick and works extremely well. Mil and MOA versions are available. (revicoptics.com)
Riton RT-S MOD 7
The RT-S MOD 7 4-32X56IR from Riton Optics offers an FFP reticle as well as HD/ED glass to deliver 99.5-percent light transmission, according to the company. This means the scope should do pretty well in low-light situations. More features include a one-piece, 34mm, 6061-T6 aluminum tube that is purged and sealed using dry argon gas, and fully multicoated lenses with anti-scratch and anti-reflective coatings. The adjustable turrets have distinctive clicks, and the illuminated, mil-type Precision Shooting Reticle (PSR) offers 0.2-mil subtends and a floating 0.04-mil center dot. All in all, there’s a lot inside this Riton package. (ritonoptics.com)
Steiner’s Tactical line features several models, but the 5-25x56mm T5Xi is worth a closer look. German engineering is front and center with crisp, clean glass, a 34mm main tube, an illuminated Special Competition Reticle (SCR) and Steiner’s Second Rotation Indicator to help keep you on track when you’re dialing. The Never-Lost turrets are also important. The elevation turret’s markings are surrounded by what’s best described as little windows. Just before you complete a full rotation of 12 mils, the succeeding numbers switch to reflect the full 22 mils of turret travel. The numbers never repeat. For instance, 18 mils of elevation shows the number 18, so shooters always know exactly where they are without counting revolutions. It’s actually quite slick. (steiner-optics.com)
Tract Toric UHD 30MM
Tract Optics may be a newcomer, but it’s already turning heads. I’ve had the company’s 4-20x50mm Toric UHD 30mm FFP MRAD PRS scope on hand for about a year now and still can’t get over how nice it is. The ultra-high-definition glass allowed me to shoot .22 LR rounds out to extreme distances well after the sun dipped below the horizon, and I could see critters in water by moonlight. For this I credit the fully multicoated, high-light-transmission ED lenses. The glass-etched, illuminated reticle works well when you need it and has 11 power settings. The Toric also has a large eye box, and you get a nice, edge-to-edge view inside the scope. (tractoptics.com)
Trijicon AccuPower FFP
If you’ve ever looked through a Trijicon ACOG, you’ve seen what truly clear glass looks like, and the company’s riflescopes provide that same clarity and toughness. In fact, the 4.5-30x56mm AccuPower FFP is a beast of an optic. Its generous 29.1 mils of elevation travel should help get you to your desired distance, and the MRAD crosshair reticle is easy to use, with five red and five green brightness settings. The nice throw lever works smoothly, too. The glass is excellent, as you’d expect. We can also assume the scope is durable, given Trijicon’s history of making military-centric products. Overall, it’s a nice package worthy of a closer look. (trijicon.com)
U.S. Optics B-25
The U.S. Optics brand typically attracts discerning shooters, and the 5-25x52mm B-25 is a good example of why. The view through the B-25 is extremely bright and clear. The scope is also efficient in its layout; there is tool-less elevation zeroing and an illumination control that is integrated into the parallax knob. The elevation turret is simply wonderful. While the scope is longer than most brands, the turret housing is smaller than many. On top of that, U.S. Optics offers the B-25 with more reticle choices than you can shake a stick at. I counted 11 total. And the B-25 is made from top-notch materials. (usoptics.com)
Vortex Razor HD Gen II
Few optics hold the gaze of precision shooters as well as the 4.5-27x56mm Vortex Razor HD Gen II. Is it the good looks, the beautiful glass inside or Vortex’s excellent no-questions-asked VIP warranty that accompanies this hefty scope? Whatever the reason, there is yet another reason to like it: Vortex is now offering it with a mil or MOA EBR-7C reticle; it offers more markers and is less confusing than the EBR-2C. Unlocking the pleasantly fat L-Tec turrets gives access to clicks that feel amazing and instill confidence, and the turrets can be finely adjusted to a zero setting, even between clicks. The scope offers 27.5 mils of elevation adjustment as well. (vortexoptics.com)
This story is from the 2019 Precision edition of Ballistic Magazine. Grab a digital or physical copy over at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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