Sniper Rifle Optics

‘Sniper’ or tactical scopes are made to help you to make fantastic shots that count at a long distance range. These kinds of scope will help you to get extra range, give a lot of extra clarity and they’re incredibly precise pieces of equipment that help compensate for windage, parallax and elevation. 

These types of sniper scopes tend  to be available in a bunch of different magnifications and specifications, and they all have their own types of special reticles and adjustment turrets. With so much variety, you can bet that there’s a sniper scope that will suit almost any rifle. Nevertheless, it can still be a little tricky for your average hunter to be able to know what kind of sniper scope which will work well for your rifle. 

Sniper scopes can be a little expensive too, so it’s pretty vital that you make the right choice for your shooting style and rifle, to the letter. 

Thankfully, we’re here to help you make it easier to make a decision. We’ve done all the research to show you the best sniper optics that are available out on the web today. As there are a lot of options out there, it can be a little tricky to narrow down a couple that are likely to suit everyone. With that being said, we’ve managed to bring you a few options that will be able to fit a couple of different shooter types.

Read on to find out our full reviews of some of the best sniper scope models. We’ve also covered all the important specifications, and we’ve also explained what every one of them means as far as actual shooting results are concerned. In addition, we’ve added a useful list of a few tips that will help you to scope out all of the options. 

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​Sniper Rifle Optics - Comparison Table

​Sniper Rifle Optics - Reviews

Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope, Matte Black Finish with Illuminated MOAR Reticle, Side Parallax Focus, Zero Stop Turrets, .250 MOA, 30mm Tube

Our Top Pick

Our rating

​This scope is completely catered to military specifications and it has an immense power range, and it even has a MOAR adjustment reticle system.The scope comes with a bunch of different features, such as extended eye relief, zero stop and it also has a very narrow tube that really makes you understand the higher pierce. A lot of previous buyers have this high on their list of favorite scopes! As a top range option, it’s only natural we’d recommend it. It’s perfect if you don’t have any constraints in your budget.

Pros

  • ​The Nightforce NXS is a very high powered scope, with a maximum zoom of 25x. Even if you need to make shots at 1000 yards this scope will be more than efficient to help you to achieve that and beyond, with perfect precision. The high power also goes really well with a premium rifle and it’s not underpowered even for the largest rifles. 
  • ​The large objective lens that this scope features will give you a rather large field of vision, even extending past 1000 yards. The 52mm also adds ¼ onto standard lens diameters. This makes a world of distance for long range shooters. This will allow you to be able to see both your target and the surrounding area. It’s pretty handy being able to see your background as it can help you to assess windage and parallax much more easily.
  • ​It also features a technical MOA reticle which will help you to make simple adjustments with the knobs. They have fine MOA reticle markings, but they also have wider crosshairs on the scope edges so it can help make the reticle more visible in lower light conditions. As it’s on the second focal plane it helps to maintain a stable size regardless of the zoom settings you choose.
  • ​The knobs work on a turn system for ¼ MOA, and they will work with the reticle for easy calculations.
  • There are a lot of adjustment options for the reticle on this scope. For example, it’s possible to adjust the windage knob for 60 MOA, and with the elevation knob it’s possible to turn all the way up to 100 MOA. Both of these knobs are completely exposed, and they have tactical markings and grips.
  • The scope features a refined, thin tube with 30mm diameter. This narrow design is a lot stronger than 1 inch tubes, and it’s also a lot less obtrusive.
  • There are accommodations made for bigger guns with the NXS scope too. It features 3.9 inch eye relief and this accounts for even the largest kickbacks. The adjustment turrets also have zero stop so you don’t need to worry about them getting moved out of position.
  • All of these features really make it stand out from the crowd. The high price is more than justified for us because of all of these features, except the expensive glass.
  • It’s surprisingly light for a scope this powerful, weighing at little as 2 pounds total. You may not be carrying your rifle around in the woods with you all day but this lighter weight can make a huge difference, making everything so much less cumbersome.

Cons

  • ​It’s pretty expensive! It can be a tough scope to obtain for some people on a more narrow budget. It costs almost as much as some guns on the market.

This is a pretty decent choice for a sniper scope as it’s made out of fantastic quality materials, and has a sleek matte finish that makes it look as good as it performs. It’s very durable too. It comes from one of the most respected names in the scope industry, so you can bet that it’s a great choice. 

The scope comes with knobs which you can fully adjust so it’s easy to operate, and it also comes with a locking ring that will help to hold it in place. It’s got quite impressive zoom, providing a crystal clear image that doesn’t give any distortion

Pros

  • ​The scope will give a proper approximate distance to the target as it uses a magnification ring. This will help you to be able to properly bracket the target onto the reticle lines and you can simply alter your settings to the proper distance.
  • ​Furthermore, the scope has very generous eye relief. This ranges from 3.7 to 4.2 inches, all depending on the level of magnification. It’s even possible to use it on higher powered rifles that have more kickback.
  • ​It gives a fantastic, clear image even when you’re zooming in. There is also an adjustable lock ring with it that can be twisted until it ends up touching the eyepiece, and it’ll lock it in place once you’ve adjusted the diopter.
  • ​Speaking of the zoom, the scope comes with a magnification of 3.3-8.5x.
  • The scope is very easy to use, coming with little, compact knobs that can simply be used to your liking in mere seconds. It has an elevation knob that’s located externally, though it’s a little shorter than a lot of scopes so it keeps in with the compact build of the scope. The scope has 15 MOA adjustments per resolution. It can be adjusted for the elevation and for the wind.
  • The scope features a very solid construction and a beautiful finish - it feels and looks strong and sleek.
  • The scope is fairly lightweight so it’s easy to carry it along with you.
  • The light transmission is good enough for even dark and low lighting conditions.

Cons

  • ​The scope doesn’t come with a lens protector. This feature is pretty common in most other quality scopes so it’s a little disappointing that this one doesn’t feature one.

As far as budget options are concerned, the Vortex Viper is definitely a strong choice. It’s a lot cheaper than a lot of the more high end tactical scopes but it still maintains many of the features of high end scopes. It comes with MOA adjustments, a SFP reticle and a brilliant built quality that’s very durable. It gives a lot of other scopes a run for their money.

The scope has some incredible ratings online, and a lot of hunting rifle gun magazines have given it shout outs. It also champions a lifetime warranty!

Pros

  • ​This 6-24x scope power range is much more powerful than just your average rifle scope. It’s a perfect way to be able to achieve a similar level of power to the high end scopes with a top end of 24x without needing to spend nearly as much money. This incredibly powerful lens also comes with expose, technical turrets and a technical hash mark reticle too. The lenses are something we’re sure you’ll love, as they’ve been specifically engineered to have better light dispersion and much better full optical holdover.
  • ​These lenses are optically indexed so they give better color and resolution even when you use full zoom. This may be a little bit too technical for some people’s knowledge, but in essence it means that all millimeters of glass have been made to be crystal clear at a distance in a way that you can’t see with the human eye at that distance.  The scope also features locking rings on either end of the scope and these help to keep the lenses where they are regardless of how much kicking you get from the rifle. These are made of aluminum and have been padded with O-rings to cushion and seal.
  • ​To adjust the scope you have knobs that can adjust things like the elevation and the windage. There is also a side parallax knob and a quick focus eyepiece. They also have sub tension markings in addition to a zero stop feature. These are then cushioned by a spring system, so you don’t need to worry about them being knocked off by any bumps. The scope is also completely resistant to fog, water and shock as a result of argo purging. This is a little bit of a step above nitrogen purging which tends to have much poorer dispersion. The tube is measured at 30mm and it’s fairly low profile. It’s a little more durable than 1 inch models. The scope features scratch resistant outer coatings on the scope tube and scope lenses.
  • You also don’t need to worry about any damage from oils or corrosive salts with this scope due to the scope’s matte finish. As a whole the quality of the build for this scope puts it up there with some of the best scopes you can get for hunting, and is one of the only inexpensive options that you should really be considering for hunting. While a lot of scopes have similar levels of power, their builds aren’t quite as rugged and durable. Another thing we love about this scope is that the reticle is actually embedded into the lens so it’s not possible for it to break. This reticle exists on the second focal plane so the lines of the reticle also alter to your current amount of zoom, so they’re suited to all levels of zoom. If you’re hunting from a distance this is important for maintaining your field of vision. These reticles are marked with mil-hashes.
  • You can also make the reticle work alongside the scope’s adjustment turrets. This will help you to get a clean target point for reference directly on the lens of the scope, allowing you to adjust your aim in relation to this. This scope also has a handy magnification indicator on the lens that will show you how much more range you have. As we previously said, the scope also sports an unconditional lifetime warranty. It also gives you VIP coverage if you own the scope, even if you’re not the person that originally purchased it. A lot of reviewers have mentioned that their experiences with the Vortex service is overall quite positive.

Cons

  • ​This scope is rather heavy. It’s pretty much as big as you may expect from a scope that has so much power as far as magnification is concerned. If you want something smaller and lighter, this may not be the best choice for you. There is a little stiffness on the scope’s adjustment knobs, which does mean they won’t be knocked off their settings as easily but it can be a bit irritating when you’re trying to shoot. It may be worth trying to loosen them up before you try to shoot.
  • One thing to note is that though the scope has fantastic magnification almost as good as some of the more higher priced picks on the market, the glass quality isn’t quite as good. It can be hard to objectively measure this but it all comes down to clarity and light transmission. This scope isn’t a match for the NightForce we’ve discussed above, but as far as its price range is concerned it’s a very decent option. 

​Sniper Rifle Optics - Buyers Guide

Conclusion

By this point you may have a decent understanding of what all of these scopes can offer you. It simply comes down to one question - what’s the best option for you? 

It’s worth getting the NightForce NXS if you’re much more serious about being a long range shooter, even if it means a little bit of extra expense. It’s significantly better than a lot of other choices as far as build quality, durability and its accuracy are concerned and it also has a very large range. With that being said, we understand that the price may get in the way for some buyers as this certainly is not a cheap option.

Meanwhile the Vortex Viper is a good choice for those snipers who have a little less money to play with, and also for maybe a beginner who’s just starting out but isn’t serious about hunting long range at the moment. It’s very functional and boasts a lot of power that will cover most of your needs. It’s also a very high quality scope too, featuring a lot of the quality you would likely find in some of the more high end scopes. 

The Redfield model is also a fairly solid option if you’re on a budget, as it’s lightweight, has decent magnification and a fantastic build quality and construction. It also looks pretty awesome, and has a bunch of adjustability options. There is a lot of clarity in this scope, and it’s all for an affordable cost so it’s a great option, even if it doesn’t come with lens covers.

How can I shop for a sniper scope?

Quality Glass

This is probably one of the most important considerations for when you’re shooting at longer ranges.  A good quality of glass will help to give you more clear vision at closer ranges and it helps you to be able to judge the mirage effects from things like parallax and windage even at long distances. It’s important to ensure that the scope is made by a company that has a decent reputation for providing scopes with very clear glass that isn’t marked. It’s even better if you can get a scope that has lenses that are optically indexed or engineered digitally. Some of the least expensive options on this list still have decent optics. There’s still not much of a reason to buy something incredibly cheap if it means your shooting ability is going to be hindered.

Accuracy

You should ensure that you’re finding scopes that are precise, and include things like tactical and lockable adjustment turrets. These should also be exposed be properly matched to the reticle with MOA markings or mil dot markings.

Technical Reticles

These are vital. Ideally you should be looking for a mil dot reticle. You’ll find that BDC reticles usually aren’t technical enough to be used for sniping. The only reticles that will help you to be able to properly compensate for windage, elevation and bullet drop at long ranges are technical reticles.

SFP (Second Focal Plane) Reticles

These are pretty great reticles as they tend to stay around the same size regardless of zoom level. Reticles positioned on the first focal plane will tend to change size depending on what settings you have, and it can be a lot harder to get your eyes to adjust in that moment, causing accuracy issues.

Etched In Reticles

Usually reticle issues tend to come from a crosshair coming loose from the glass. It’s rather common if you’re using a scope on a particularly large gun. It’s not possible to loosen crosshairs on an etched lens, so it’s no longer an issue. 

Spring Loaded Turrets

Scopes with padded or spring loaded turrets are very helpful as they help you to be able to deal with any kickback you may get from a particularly powerful long range rifle. Durability can be concerning with scopes, so you need to make sure that you prioritise good build quality, in addition to the magnification power.

High Power Ranges

Power is important! You should be looking out for scopes that have higher power ranges. It’s good to start with 5-6x rather than 3-4x for example, and then going upwards of 16-18x. The more higher end lenses aid you in making more accurate shots past 1000 yards. At this level of magnification, 12x isn’t all that useful in the slightest. 

Larger Objectives

Make sure you’re considering scopes with larger objectives so that you can keep your field of vision at those higher zoom levels. A lens between 40-50mm is more than sufficient. 

With the majority of rifle scopes, you’ll find that upper tier is considered anything that’s valued above $1000. Usually, scopes in the range of $500 - $1000 are considered to be budget range. You should be spending a lot more money on a sniper scope. It’s also worth mentioning though that your average shooter can cope quite well with a scope valued around $750 - $1000. If you’re a serious shooter, then it’s worth looking into the more pricier options listed in the £2000 to $3000 range.

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