2020’s Best Sniper Scopes: 7 Ultimate Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Models With Next Level Parallax, Eye Relief & Weather Sealing Features— Full Reviews With Buying Guide
- Erik Himmel
A sniper scope is no ordinary scope. A sniper has been much portrayed as the good guy taking out an offender from a long distance. Hollywood movies seem to think so too- American Sniper, Enemy at the Gates, and more. But, let’s come down to Earth, you want that elk you have been eyeing over the past few days.
It is a long-shot, your assessment and adjustment of elevation and windage have to be spot on and the window you are looking at is an inch, this way or that. The factors that are considered for a sniper scope are demanding. That much is obvious; the zooming should be uncompromising, the turret height, the lighting should be perfect-nightscopes bring in that extra uncertainty.
Choosing the right sniper scope is no less than choosing the right bride. We have compiled this brief in helping you in narrowing down your choice of the best sniper scope
What You Will Get Here
- Best Sniper Scope Comparison Chart (Updated 2020)
- Top 7 Best Scopes for Sniping
- Best overall: Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane
- Also Great: Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
- The Budget King: Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20x50 Parallax Adjustment Riflescopes
- Best for Sharpshooters: Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
- A list of 6 other products we reviewed
- A List of Others Product We Reviewed
- Sniper Scopes- A Comprehensive Buying Guide
- What’s So Special about Sniper Scopes?
- Care & Maintenance Tips
- Final Words
Best Sniper Scope Comparison Chart (Updated 2020)
Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal PlaneRead Full Review
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane RiflescopesRead Full Review
Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20x50 Parallax Adjustment RiflescopesRead Full Review
Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II First Focal Plane RiflescopesRead Full Review
Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50 RiflescopeRead Full Review
Burris Optics XTR II RiflescopeRead Full Review
Steiner Model 5122 T5Xi 5-25x 56mm RiflescopeRead Full Review
Top 7 Best Scopes for Sniping
Whether you are carting an AR or a side-bolt firearm, it needs the companionship of sniper scope. First of all, it has a magnification of 6x to 24x, enough to take a flea off a rabbit at 1000 yards. It outruns other high-end brands for its MOA adjustments, an SFP reticule, and a muscular build that ousts the competition.
The icing is a reticle in the second focal plane That transforms the scope good enough for normal range and long-range too. A fast-focus eyepiece is provided that allows rapid adjustment of the reticule to the eye. Like all premium rifle scopes, this too is completely sealed off from moisture incursion.
The turrets are target-style which allow you precise and finger clicks that can be repeatedly adjusted that will address all variables. Once you are well sighted into the scope, each turret can be zeroed. This scope’s lenses are god-given. Boosted by an XR coating, the light gathering capability is inflated. The Armortek coating is the shield that conserves the lens from scratches or damage of any kind.
We have been reviewing scopes for some time. The Vortex Viper is a superior product, that is clear. When we tried this scope on the field, the parallax imposes an issue and calls for cheek adjustments in the sense that orientation of the head is called for. In all other respects, this scope surpasses excellence. The crown is deservedly it’s.
The Vortex Optics Viper comes to a reasonable price tag based on the overall price in the range of $600 to $800 considering the dedication that has gone into this product. The ample reviews are a testimony.
|Objective dia.||50 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||5.1-17.8 feet|
|Parallax||50 yards to infinity|
|Eye relief||4 inch|
This scope is the most prevalent in the market. It is a very versatile scope especially so for hunters oo the ground or best by inclement weather. The scope has what it takes to handle such situations. Shooters treat their firearm gingerly avoiding any unwanted blow but be assured, you have the best. Relax.
PST is short for Practical Shooting Tactical. That is self-explanatory.
You need to reach far out there, far, far out. Of course, performance and reliability have to be a part of the picture. Lucky for you; the Viper PST Gen II is standing at your doorstep. Now as a sniper scope, what sets it apart? Vortex has upgraded to an integrated knob which is illuminated and has a parallax adjustment by side focus.
The entire profile is streamlined making it simpler to use when hunting in the field. We did not mention that the turrets are a robust tactical style which means they can be manipulated in cold weather when you have gloves on probably.
A fast-focus eyepiece a part of it all but importantly, instant magnification is a piece of the cake here when you sight through the glass. The front focal cross-hair is multi-coated with XD, a special formulation of Vortex’s research wing. The reticle is glass edged and great for close-range shots and if you miss, time to visit your opthalmologist. Bullet drop and wind drift are superbly compensated. Now for that long shot- up the magnification and the superb optic will do the rest.
Reviewing riflescopes that too sniper scopes are no frivolous matter.
The optical quality of the PST is a notch better than the HST. The extra dispersion XD glass is propriety especially designed for large objectives and is brilliant in it’s light-harvesting that long-range or tactical shooting calls for. This is the first optic focal plane scope and is it sufficient to bring down a target at long range? With its high objective and lightweight, it is a definite possibility.
|Objective dia.||50 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||4.8-24.1 feet|
|Material||Aircraft Grade Aluminium|
|Parallax||25 yards to infinity|
|Eye relief||3.4 inch|
The Viper PST is undoubtedly a superior sniper scope, classy at that, which comes for a reasonable street price. If you are into competition shooting or long-range hunting, it would be a pity you did not opt for this scope especially hunters as the weight is in your favor.
The Vortex Optics Viper SFP is a phenomenal riflescope. Several features are fantastic and give you a versatile experience. Of principal indirect if a BDC set in the second focal plane that contributes to a seamless experience irrespective of the magnification level.
The lens coatings provided are superb and of fantastic durability. The light transmission is terrific. The turret system is spring-based which gives superior turret performance. It has a precision glide magnification system and switching between zoom levels is a breeze.
The Vortex Viper scope we are reviewing has an excellent hunting reticle with many benefits. It’s a dead-hold BDC reticle. Some of the best multi-coated lenses have been incorporated in the reticle. Special XR coatings are a feature that makes the target pop out distinctly by reducing light dispersion and promoting color fidelity. An Amortek coating ensures the lens stays scratch-free.
A fast-focus eyepiece makes your life easier to adjust to your target easily and to focus the reticle appropriately. Furthermore, it features a precision-glide erector system which allows zoom levels to be changed smoothly.
We indeed find the Vipers magnification and lens system top tier providing a lot of value for any marksman or hunter. As it offers such a variable distance engagement it can be used anywhere between 300 to over 1000 yards.
The Viper’s biggest downside as we see it is that it is heavier than usual and the turrets cannot be locked. A locking arrangement sees to it that the turrets do not shift as a result of accidental bumps. It is hard to fathom how Vortex failed to see this. Even so, it is a terrific piece of optical equipment we recommend to everyone.
This scope retains at around $500 and has been very well-reviewed as value for money.
|Objective dia.||50 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||17.4-6.2 feet|
|Material||Aircraft Grade Aluminium|
|Parallax||50 yards to infinity|
|Eye relief||3.1 inch|
The Viper is a piece of optical equipment that tops the charts. Team it with a reliable firearm and any target shooting competition is a song. Bagging game is equally easy. The customer service has received much praise. We too second this high customer rating and fully endorse the Viper as an outstanding optic.
The Vortex Razor HD Gen II is a part of the PRS (Precision Rifle Series) shooters in the USA. No small wonder that its popularity is on cloud nine as a sniper scope. First focal planes are much in favor, especially among that elite group of long-distance shooters. The Vortex Gen II comes with a bunch of features that PRS shooters value a lot.
It has a massive 56mm objective and is not a lightweight scope at 48.5 oz. But this is a long-range firearm and you won’t be doing any shooting on your feet. Vortex Optics have assimilated the Razor scope with prime glass. An abundance of light enters the scope. This premium glass is further enhanced with:
- An APO Lens system with Index matching
- XR Plus anti-reflecting coatings
- Coating of Plasma Tech
- Extra-low dispersion glass that is premium with HD lens elements.
You can count the points of your quarry with ease, even against dark timber; thanks to the glass etched FPP reticle. There are 7 reticle options to choose from. The magnification of this scope is 4.5x27. At 27, a mile or a target 2000 meters away poses little problem.
This scope is awesome. It has unparalleled features and advanced scope is an understatement. The parallax knob, elevation, windage controls, and zeroing, are of true pedigree. If one has to fault find, it’s that because of the size of the objective, the mounting is a bit on the higher side. But nothing you can’t compensate.
Its retails at $1700-$2500 which calls for deep pockets. But what Vortex throws into the deal is the real stuff. This is an out and out professional scope. The reviewing does not indicate a single negative and has been quite fair.
|Objective dia.||56 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||25.3-4.4 feet|
|Parallax||32 yards to infinity|
|Eye relief||3.7 inch|
|Tube dia.||34 mm|
For a long-distance hunter or a sniper, the Vortex Razor is a phenomenal choice. The turrets feature lockable adjustments which contribute to precise adjustment besides being extremely user-friendly. No wonder it is endearing to all snipers. The rest of the scope especially it’s premium lenses are extraordinary in terms of value for money.
A list of 6 other products we reviewed
The Trijicon Accupoint is a fine example of the meeting of superior quality with innovation. With a magnification range of 5x to 20x, it belongs to the lower spectrum of the zoom settings of sniper scopes. It has a second focal plane reticle that maintains size at all zoom settings.
The lenses are also of quality construction, are multicoated enhancing durability, reducing distortion, and increasing light transmission. The scope is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum which is capable of weathering any environmental conditions.
The reticle special. It is illuminated without the use of batteries. In lieu, a tritium phosphor lamp provides the illumination for the reticle. This comes with a great benefit. Any illumination pollution is prevented from distorting the image reaching the ocular lens. What you gain is the bonus of additional accuracy eliminating the risk of blinding you with its reticle glow.
We have always been great fans of the Trijicon rifle scope. The Trijicon is the creator of the ACOG fixed power battle scope adopted by the US Army but the produce a large number of different optics. We found the clarity of the AccuPoint unbelievable. The long eye-relief is a much-needed feature as it allows the scope to be mounted further down keeping you insured against recoil harm. The always-on illumination without batteries is a huge asset.
We were disappointed that the scope is not of one piece. For a scope as expensive as this, we would have expected it to be crafted from a single block of aluminum.
A Trijicon is never cheap but what it offers in return in terms of quality and performance is peerless. The Trijicon AccuPoint will set you back $1000 and has been well received based on the reviews it has drawn.
|Objective dia.||50 mm|
|Material||6016-6T Aircraft-grade Aluminum|
|Parallax||10 yards to infinity|
|Eye relief||3.8-4.1 inch|
|Finish||Anodized hard coat|
|Tube dia.||30 mm|
The Trijicon AccuPoint is a matchless scope. It has an array of mind-boggling features. The scope is designed for hunters and easily allows a 1000 yard range. It is also much in favor of law enforcement agencies especially police snipers. The brilliant illumination system and anti-glare feature ensure their position is not revealed. We award full marks to the AccuPoint.
The Burris is a long-distance riflescope having a magnification of 8x and 40x. Even an experienced marksman would find that overwhelming. The glass for this scope is extraordinary and of an unsurpassed quality that results in a bright sight picture even in depressed light conditions. To it even better, the reticle is self-illuminating increasing accuracy at dusk or dawn.
The reticle is a first focal plane.
The frame is of a durable material and will hold you in good stead for many years. It is fog proof and waterproof so weather conditions are not an impediment. A user ring is provided to adjust the scope’s magnification making it a smooth affair to adjust to your individual preferences.
This sniper scope features great click stop adjustment knobs for the settings related to wind, elevation, and parallax.modifications. The click is quite resonant so the shooter needs not to take his eyes off his target. These turrets are splendid for long-distance sniping making sure every shot counts.
As is to be expected, the clarity at 40x is foggy as we found. This scope fits the 338 Lapua Magnum
It comes in the range @1150 to $1200 and has been well received by other users.
|Objective dia.||50 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||13.2-2.8 feet|
|Eye relief||3.5 -4.4 inches|
|Tube dia.||34 mm|
All considered this long-range scope has proven its effectivity. Its reticle is one of the best for dusk to dawn sniping. The excellent lenses are well protected and furnish a fantastic night sight picture. The adjustment knobs that are zero-click are also staggering and long-distance shots offer superb user control.
A product of precise German engineering and rugged US manufacture, the new Steiner comes totally refurbished. They have redesigned the turrets, length, and weight restrictions. The optic uses one of the most generally used reticles called SCR (Special Competition Reticle). The turrets have a one mil increment and are quite effective for use with mil-based crosshairs based on SCR.
A zero function stop is provided on the elevation turret and presents a lower profile as well. A viewing window is incorporated in the elevation turret to avoid any guesswork as to when to take the shot. 5 ½ inch increments are possible once the windage turrets are zeroed in. The SCR reticles are uncluttered and your target is not obscured when shooting.
The Throwlever enables rapid magnification changes and the lens cover is of a special material Tenabreux which completely insulates it from dust and moisture.
The Steiner has some nifty features. We liked the Second Rotation Indicator that after 120 clicks, the numbers on the mil scale change automatically so as to avoid the shooter getting lost on the dial. The eye box is generous and the eye relief abundant. There is no hint of tunnel vision at lower magnifications commonly observed in cheaper versions.
As professional riflemen have testified, it offers matchless reliability and repeatability in field conditions.
It is an expensive scope and will set you you back $2K. Also, the reviewing is somewhat sparse.
|Objective dia.||56 mm|
|Field of view at 100 yards||21.5-4.3 feet|
|Eye relief||3.5-4.3 inch|
|Tube dia.||34 mm|
This is a feature-rich product for its price. Innovative features like the window in the elevation adjustment turret are the hallmark of a manufacturer who wants to present a more efficient and better-performing scope. Do remember, the Steiner is a collaboration between Geman engineering well known for its superior optics and the US which is a giant in its manufacturing skills. The Steiner is a buy that will make you proud.
A List of Others Product We Reviewed
Sniper Scopes- A Comprehensive Buying Guide
You surely need to go in for a sniper scope that is built to last. As a hunter, this is of paramount importance because, in situations that demand sniping or long-range shooting, you will be required to go prone on the ground and your scope will take a knock or two. In inclement weather, you may be called on to spend more time. The scopes we have put together above have all passed stringent tests for durability and will save you money in the long term.
When contemplating the purchase of a scope, the magnification gets high priority and requires in-depth contemplation. It is of significant importance to understand that if you indulge in long-range shooting or hunting activities, it is advised to opt for an upper-hand scope for your firearm. This ensures unerring aim.
Ask yourself two questions first: What will you be using your scope for and what do you need it for? Basically you need to answer whether it is short-range or long-range shooting you plan on. This will tell you what your magnification needs are.
3. Fixed or variable zoom
Invariably most marksmen opt for a variable zoom scope. It should come as a surprise to you that most military snipers prefer a fixed 10x zoom. The reasons are manifold; simplicity, heightened reliability, and enhanced light transmission as compared to variable scopes.
However variable scopes have many advantages.
They can take on a wider range of distances with ease. This is of particular advantage for competition shooters and hunters who expect to aim at various yardages. The field of view might be limited needlessly with a fixed 10x scope causing the loss of the target due to a millisecond’s delay.
4. Objective diameter
What is the right choice of the objective diameter that is appropriate for you? A sniper scope should have a large objective diameter, 50mm is the recommended size. Beyond a certain limit which is normally 56mm the gains begin to taper off.
For good light transmission purposes, 56mm is a decent size. Going any higher will have an insignificant effect on light transmission. Furthermore, a large diameter objective makes it difficult to align your eye with the crosshair because of its size.
5. Type of reticle
There is no dearth of the different kinds of reticles out there. The Vanilla Crosshairs, the Duplex, the BDC, and the Mildot. Each has its distinctive advantages for ranged participation. When you are talking about sniping engagements, you need a reticle that can hold for wind, that has horizontal markings.
This is because at long distances, owing to the wing and the rotation of the earth, the horizontal trajectory of a shot is affected. The other option is holding for elevation but many shooters prefer dialing for elevation instead.
The mil-dot (shown above) is one reticule that helps you in holding for both wind and elevation and is, therefore, the choice of professional snipers.
It is therefore important that you mull over your personal preference in the choice of reticle. The main objective is to narrow in on a reticle that allows you to compensate for both wind and elevation.
6. Quality glass
If one has to place a finger on the most critical part of any sniper scope, it would have to be the quality of the glass. This permits the shooter to sight clearly at short ranges. At long distances, windage and parallax cause mirages. A quality glass helps in judging this effect. This is the main reason that you ensure your scope is equipped with the best quality glass.
Source your glass from trusted companies that have created a niche in this area. They may be expensive. There is no merit in getting a cheap glass and botching up your shooting.
7. Elevation adjustment
This basically boils down to bullet drop compensation. Obviously, at long ranges, this will be greater. 70 MOA or more should be your preference. There will arise situations where your setting may have to be 65 MOA. In such situations, if your scope hits bottom at 50 MOA you may have to manually reposition the reticle.
8. Lens Coatings
Your target is at a fair distance, so the optic should amass all possible light to extend to you a clear and bright sight picture with an increased magnification power. Always hunt for lenses tat are multicoated or a lens of similar high quality to make sure your scope functions to its maximum potential at far distances. Needless to say, the scopes in our selection have advanced or multicoated lenses so that it’s worth your time. These scopes come with propriety coatings to keep the lens scratchproof.
9. Zoom power range
For long-range shooting and an impeccable shot, you would need about 18x magnification. A sniper scope in the range of 18 and 25 is the best. If however, hunting is what you propose to use it for, consider lower levels of zoom. The best ones in this scenario would be those between 5 and 25. If an animal pops up at 50 yards, this way you’ll be able to spot it.
10. Turret Quality
You do want to narrow in on scopes having good elevation and windage turrets. It is a pre-qualification that they are simple to adjust. They should be able to offer precise increments in adjustment as this is critical when compensation of these two variables becomes a dire need when aiming for a long shot.
Look for turrets having parallax turrets otherwise objectives that are adjustable to eliminate the parallax effects when taking distant shots.
11. First and Second Focal Planes
Importantly, consider whether the sniper scope is an FFP or an SFP on it. An FFP reticle becomes larger when magnification is increased and vice-versa. This permits the holdover points of the reticle to remain faultless irrespective of the zoom levels.
SFP reticles are equally helpful. Their size remains unchanged no matter your magnification level. However, they require on your side some estimation as, in most settings, holdover points will not be perfectly accurate. Choosing which kind you want to go in is a matter of personal choice.
12. Reliability, Accuracy, and Functionality
These factors form the backbone which is of vital importance when choosing the right scope for your sniper. These parameters need to checked scrupulously. If it meets your expectations, you really need not worry. If they come guaranteed, all the better to choose. Do your research well. There quite a number of purchasing guides on the Interest. Make an informed choice.
13. Warranty & Budget
Knowing that the scope you intend purchasing is covered by a warranty, whether limited or lifetime is a source of peace of mind. It is indispensable to be covered in the event that defects arise in the product that you have purchased, or that may arise later. But do remember, it is a contract between you and the maker, not the retailer.
Your final purchase choice is dictated by your budget. Budget-friendly scopes will, of course, do the job but to derive greater satisfaction from your purchase consider going in for branded scopes.
What’s So Special about Sniper Scopes?
The design of tactical or “sniper” scopes help you in getting that long-distance shot just right, that count. They impart extra range, greater clarity, and super-precise instrumentation to make offset windage, elevation, and parallax. Sniper scopes are to be found in a whole range of specs each having its own special reticle and turret adjustment. This means that there is a tactical scope to suit any rifle. There is a flip side to this though. It can be difficult for the average hunter to figure out which sniper scope is the best fit.
Taking down a quarry from a 1000 yards or simply hitting a bullseye from that far not only exhilaration but gives a sense of great thrill. Close to mid-range competition shooting comes nowhere near. Long-range sniping to create such a bullet trajectory requires not only a rifle/ caliber but also a scope that you are able to aim precisely and hit your target.
A sniper scope is more special than most other scopes. No small wonder that these are the preferred scopes of the military and law enforcement agencies.
Care & Maintenance Tips
Every shooter would much prefer to see a clear vision through his riflescope and not some grubby, grimy shadow of what he is looking at. Just as you do with your rifle, you should take extra care of your scope. When well maintained, a sniper riflescope works like a charm. Correct care expands the life of your scope and arrests damage to the expensive coated lenses.
- Clean Regularly
A sniper scope needs attention and cleaning just as you would your rifle. On a hunting trip, your scope is bound to trap dirt, dust, grime, water, and more. If it is not cleaned properly and promptly, you are asking for lens damage. You can use an anti-fog cleaner to get rid of the water spot.
- Clean The Scope with Smooth Objects
Various types of scope brushes and cleaning kits are available from various companies. Invest in one that extends extra care to your sniper scope. When wiping the scope’s exterior make sure it is oil and grease-free.
- Microfiber Cloth
Employ a microfiber cloth in doing away with fingerprints or smudges from the surface of the lens. Being a cloth that is free of chemicals, it is safe for use in cleaning plastic, multicoated lenses, or glass. This cloth is pretty thick and easily removes tiny particles. Never use an ordinary rag, paper towels, or napkins. They leave lint behind and also fine scratches.
- When Storing it, Wrap it in Plastic
It is essential to keep the scope dry when not in use to prevent it from being affected by moisture or humidity.
- Keep Your Kit Safe
It certainly does not help if your kit traps dust which will tarnish the scope. Wash the microfiber cloth thoroughly after every use.
- Cleaning Turrets
Turrets are essential parts of your scope. Keep the caps on when not using. From time to time, remove the caps and dust inside to eliminate any stacked dirt.
Riflescopes, especially sniper riflescopes are intricate equipment. If you are in the market for one, there is some hard work for you. Owning a rifle and knowing about it are two separate things. The scope takes up a lot time getting to know the intricacies of the scope itself but the physics that affects the trajectory of a bullet from the moment it exits the barrel.
No bones about it but settling down for the right choice of sniper scope is extremely confusing. We have tried to diffuse a bit of that with some pointers and tips that will help point you in the right direction. The choice is very personal because it has to do with your shooting style, how you wish to deploy it and of course your budget. We strongly suggest you give it a serious thought, collect as much dope on the subject and then jump in.
1. What Magnification Do You Need?
Ans: The lower the level of magnification, the faster you can lock onto a target. A magnification level of 4x or 6x is ideal. For long ranges 10x is recommended and if it is a moving object you need to go a bit higher.
2. What scope does a Marine sniper use?
Ans: The Marine Corps uses the Nightforce ATACR rifle scope.
3. Why do snipers use bolt action?
Ans: Bolt action rifle means that only one round can be fired and you reload again. They are preferred because unlike semi-automatic weapons, they have fewer moving parts, are easily maintainable in rugged conditions and very unlikely to malfunction.
4. Why do Snipers have long barrels?
Ans: In general, the longer the length of the barrel, the faster a bullet can travel. There is however a practical limit depending on the cartridge. A faster bullet means a more effective range.