Even the best of marksmen will falter when the accuracy of their riflescope doesn’t match up to their shooting skills. So if you take your shooting seriously and you want to do your skills justice, you need the best of the best.
This guide will tell you how to select the best scope for your .223 caliber rifle to ensure that your prey never again slips out of your crosshairs. We’ve also compiled a list of 5 scopes which we believe is more than up to the task.
The now-iconic .223 Remington was first brought to the market by Remington back in 1964.
It entered the mainstream through widespread use in the M16s by the Army and has since, solidified its position as one of the most popular cartridges out there, helped in large part by its availability and affordable pricing.
It is now one of the best choices of cartridge for varmint hunting. Because it’s not that powerful of a round, it’s mostly used for shooting coyotes, groundhogs, etc. Some patrons, however, swear by the .223 for all of their game hunting needs, including deer and moose.
If you want a quick list, check our top 5 below:
- Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X24mm
- Bushnell AR Optics 3-9x40mm
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×44
- Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9×40 Riflescope
- Nikon P-Tactical .223 1.5-4.5×20 Riflescope
What You Need to Know Before Buying the Best Scope for .223
We’re sure you have your favourite rifle close at hand. But how do you go about finding a scope for the .223 which will be the perfect tool to add to your arsenal.
Before you start window shopping, there are a few basic terminologies you need to be aware of.
You need to first decide upon your desired shooting range. If you want to do close-range shooting (up to 200 yards), a magnification of 4X will do just fine. However, if you’re intent on hunkering down and hitting those long-distance targets, you must get yourself a scope with a magnification of at least 9X. In long distances, the picture often gets fuzzy because of parallax. So it’s best to get a scope with adjustable parallax.
You need your scope to produce bright, clear, crisp images with perfect contrast from dawn to dusk. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to land your prey in the light of day, so best be prepared. Multicoated lenses which have high degrees of light transmission (90% and above) are the best. They’ll have you shooting on target even in extremely low-light conditions
This one’s a no-brainer. You would want a scope that would last you a long time, especially since you’re spending big bucks on them. If you put in a cheap one, you know it’s gonna get utterly demolished after just a few shots.
You need one made out of aircraft-grade aluminium or something just as sturdy. You also need lenses that will hold their own in all weather conditions. Nitrogen purged lenses are usually waterproof, dust and fog proof and also shock resistant to a high degree.
Of course, having a lifetime replacement warranty helps as well.
Eye relief is absolutely crucial with every scope. You do not want it to hit your eyes. If you’re going to keep your eyes free of injury when using heavy recoiling rounds or shooting from unconventional angles, you would want a good amount of buffer space between your eyes and the scope.
3 to 4 inches of eye relief should be a bare minimum when you’re looking to buy a scope.
You might also be interested in what is the best scope for .450 Bushmaster.
The 5 Best .223 Scopes
There are a ton of great scopes out there, but each one is still different. You need to choose the most suitable one for your needs. Here are our top picks!
1. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X24mm
Bushnell took the benchmarks of every scope – optical precision, rugged reliability, uncompromising performance and pushed them to the limit.
What Makes This Product A Great Buy?
When it comes to accuracy, it really can’t get any better than this scope. It features target turrets for pinpoint accuracy and has calibre-specific reticles which make sure you’re on point with every single shot.
The fast-focus eyepiece and multi-coated optics let you get your target in your sight from dawn to dusk, no matter how fast it tries to run away.
The optics themselves are Nitrogen purged to remove any remnants of internal moisture. And they are also O-ring sealed to prevent the entry of dust or moisture.
The outside, made of aircraft-grade aluminium alloy is just as sturdy with an anodized exterior to back it up. This makes the rifle rustproof, virtually scratchproof and the matte finish ensures it’s a sleek and sophisticated complement to your firearm.
Particularly suited for close-quarters shooting (about 100 yards) it also has a drop zone with aiming points up to 500 yards. The reticle is a little too thick in my opinion. But that shouldn’t be a problem in close quarters shooting.
The scope’s erector cap (located at the bottom) may limit the possibility of using low scope rings, should you be so inclined. Medium height rings, however, will work just fine and provide the necessary clearance between the cap and the scope base.
- High accuracy, even for fast-moving targets
- Sleek aesthetic design
- Rugged and sturdy; highly durable
- Inability to use low scope rings
The Bottom Line
Bushnell, as usual, has come up with a scope which looks like it’s straight out of the movies. Made out of the stuff airplanes are made of, it’s immensely sturdy too. Best suited for close-quarters shooting (about 100-200 yards), the target turrets do a great job in accounting for small, minute changes in the crosshairs while shooting.
2. Bushnell AR Optics 3-9x40mm
Much like the last one, this one has more magnification power and a larger objective lens, making it a much better choice for long-range shooting.
What Makes This Scope Great?
Just like the last one from Bushnell, this scope scores top marks in precision and accuracy. Target turrets at 1/4 MOA click value allow for pinpoint adjustments. Top that off with a fast-focus eyepiece, and you know that you’re the fastest gun out there.
Another great feature is the side focus parallax adjustment, which allows for adjustable long-range accuracy. Rest assured, you won’t face any problems with parallax when using this scope.
The reticle is located on the second focal plane which keeps the size of your targets consistent and more accessible to hit. The reticle, however, is not illuminated which might prove to be a difficulty at night.
The eye relief is a respectable 3.7 inches, which will keep your eyes safe regardless of how much recoil your gun is facing. And the field of view gives you quite a bit of space to get your target in your crosshairs (from 11 to 30 feet at 100 yards)
Needless to say, the eyepiece is fog proof, dustproof, water-resistant and shockproof as can be expected from such an elite model.
- Bright clear picture
- Sufficient eye relief
- Easy acquiring of targets
- The reticle is not illuminated
- A little on the heavier side
The Bottom Line
A surefire contender for the mantle of best Remington scopes, the fast-focus eyepiece, and target turrets are set to the tightest tolerances possible. Made with a focus on accuracy, this scope also has a parallax adjustment feature which ensures you never face any parallax during its whole 3X to 9X zoom range.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×44 – Dead-Hold BDC MOA
The Crossfire II line of scopes by Vortex has a tremendous amount of variety with something for everyone. If you take your shooting seriously, the Crossfire II series is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Vortex has left no stone unturned when it comes to performance and reliability.
Why You Should Definitely Give This Scope A Shot?
Its huge zoom range of 4 to 12X is perfect for both medium and long-range shooting. The large 44mm objective lens makes for a very large, clear image.
And the dead hold BDC reticle is perfect when estimating holdover is a concern. It takes all the guesswork out of the picture when it comes to holdover and windage corrections. The reticle, being in the second focal plane, always keeps your prey in the same ideally-sized appearance. With resettable MOA turrets, the dead-hold reticle makes no compromises whatsoever.
With an eye-relief of 3.9 inches, your eyes will never be in any danger, and you can concentrate your efforts solely on bettering your marksmanship.
The picture is clear and bright with perfect contrast. So no matter how grassy your environment is, you can scope out your target with absolute ease. The lens is multicoated and anti-reflective, allowing for maximum light transmission.
And the capped reset turrets are easily adjustable with MOA clicks that can be reset to zero after sighting in.
The single-piece construction with aircraft-grade aluminium ensures strength and shockproof performance. The lenses are O-ring sealed, and the nitrogen purge makes the eyepiece resistant to water, fog, and dust. Sturdy, rugged and robust, this scope is sure to serve you for a good number of years. On top of that, there’s a lifetime warranty.
Moreover, the fast-focus eyepiece and the field of view are going to make sighting your targets a lot easier, even highly mobile ones. The field of view stretches from 8.4 feet to 24.7 feet at a 100 yards.
Whether it’s dusk or dawn, rainy or foggy, the red dot will pierce through it all. For shooting and tactical hunting, it would be a crime to let this scope pass you by.
- Rugged craftsmanship
- Image quality and a large objective lens
- Long-range zoom
- Slight parallax
- Distortion with high zoom
The Bottom Line
The huge 12X zoom range and 44 mm objective lens is perfect for long-range shooting. No matter how small or big your prey is, whether it’s stationary or on the move, you’ll get a clear image of it on the anti-reflective, multicoated lens. Moreover, the dead hold reticle with all it’s estimated trajectories eliminates all guesswork.
4. Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9×40 Riflescope
You’ll easily be able to tackle any varmint hunting or target practice with your .223 rifle using this quality scope. Let’s dive into what it can offer, including an excellent body to construction, a fantastic reticle, and generous and consistent eye relief.
Why you should consider purchasing this scope?
Let’s start with the magnification settings, which range from between 3x and 9x and work with a 40 mm objective lens. All of these aspects combined mean that this optic will be a perfect combination scope with a .223 rifle used for hitting targets between 100 and 600 yards away. This is even a bit high for what you would normally use this type of rifle for; it’s more than accurate enough for most varmint hunting and target shooting.
The scope comes with a BDC 600 reticle. Not only does this allow you to calculate for bullet drop trajectory over long distances, but the hash marks are also open circles, so they don’t prevent you from seeing smaller targets. Thus, it’s far superior to more cluttered reticles that can make your aiming efforts less successful overall.
The rest of the scope is similarly high quality. It features spring-loaded instant zero-reset windage and elevation turrets that are well marked for easy reference. They offer tactile feedback and allow you to reset them back to zero after making quick adjustments. The scope is also made with a 1-inch body tube, so it doesn’t take up too much space on your rifle, and it only weighs 16.9 ounces.
The optics are fully multicoated for added light transmission and durability. You’ll also benefit from a quick focus eyepiece that allows you to snappily acquire your target. Eye relief is also great, ranging between three and 4 inches depending on your magnification setting. All in all, it’s an agile and effective scope for most .223 target shooting needs.
- Made with excellent materials
- Allows you to hit targets up to 600 yards away
- Turrets are well made and easy to adjust
- Eye relief is great
- Lenses provide excellent light transmission
- Reticle can be a bit hard to see among darker backgrounds
The Bottom Line
This scope is an excellent choice if you want a top-tier .223 rifle scope for both target shooting and hunting varmints at farther than average distances. You can also pair this optic with other rifles thanks to this versatility.
5. Nikon P-Tactical .223 1.5-4.5×20 Riflescope
Nikon enters the competition with this top-tier scope, featuring one of the best BDC reticles on the market, spring-loaded and resettable turrets, and excellent eye relief all around.
Why choose the Nikon?
This scope is a much closer range optic than the last one, featuring magnification settings between 1.5 and 4.5x. It also comes with a 20 mm objective lens, enabling it to effectively capture enough light up to about 5x magnification. In other words, it’s perfect for providing optimal light transmission for all of its zoom settings.
It also comes with a BDC 600 reticle, along with the same open circle aiming points hash marks. You can use this at the far end of a .223 rifle’s effective range and see great results. Like the last choice, it also comes with excellent eye relief, spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets, and fast magnification setting swapping. It’s responsive, easy to use and easy to mount onto your scope.
It’s also quite lightweight, weighing just 1.2 pounds in total and not taking up lots of space on your rifle. Thus, it’s a great small optic if you have a lightweight .223 build. It’s durable and made with aircraft-grade aluminum, and the lenses are specially coated to prevent scratch damage. Further, the scope can be used in any inclement weather and it’s made to resist heavy recoil.
- Very well-built through and through
- Has precise and ergonomic turrets
- Great for close range or medium-range shooting
- Features a great BDC reticle
- Optics allow for optimal light transmission
- Effectiveness isn’t really sustained at the claimed 600 yards
- Adjustment turrets can be bumped easily
The Bottom Line
All in all, this is a great choice if you want a closer range optic for your .223 varmint-hunting, especially since it lets you zoom out to 1.5x. Pick it up if most of your target shooting takes place between 25 and 50 yards.
Concluding our Best .223 Scope Guide
Well, that concludes our buyer’s guide. It’s important to remember that you need to buy a scope that is especially suited for your needs. Take a look at our guide above, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what you need to keep in mind before you set out to buy a scope.