Best Sniper Scope – The Top 5 Sniper Optics in 2020

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Finding the right sniper scope for your next competition or hunting engagement doesn’t need to be tricky. Below, you’ll find the top sniper scopes on the market from a variety of manufacturers. We’ll also help you identify what you should look for in an ideal scope for your needs. Let’s get started.

Table of Contents:
Understanding Range: Magnification Settings to Look For
What Makes a Sniper Scope Worthwhile?
The 5 Best Sniper Scopes
Concluding our guide


Understanding Range: Magnification Settings to Look For


There are scopes, and then there are scopes specifically designed for use with a sniper or long-range rifles. But how do you distinguish “sniper” scopes from other ones? To answer that question you have to consider the magnification settings of a given model.

So how does magnification affect your effective range? In general, most typical hunting takes place between 200 yards and 500 yards and incorporates scopes that can magnify between 2x and 8x or so. In a very general sense, a scope that can magnify 10x can help you land shots up to 1000 yards depending on the rifle used and the caliber of bullet or cartridge.

Longer-range scopes can significantly magnify their sight picture, granting you the ability to zoom in and clearly see a target many thousands of yards away. While there isn’t a singular definition for what constitutes a sniper scope, most scopes over 20x magnification are capable of being used with a long-range rifle.

These kinds of scopes are mostly used for long-distance accuracy competitions or for hunting targets that won’t move much, like slower and larger animals. This is because magnification settings over 20x significantly limit your peripheral vision, making it almost impossible to track a moving target.

Still, these kinds of scopes can provide exceptional clarity and accuracy across vast distances. If you’re looking for a dedicated sniper scope that can help you land shots thousands of yards away, you always want one that can provide you with magnification settings of at least 20x.

All the scopes we selected for consideration have upper magnification settings of 20x or greater. Our scopes also have much lower magnification settings, allowing them to be used for more general-purpose hunting situations. All in all, sniper scopes can be incredibly versatile or a specialty tool for particular needs; it all depends on which scope you pick.


What Makes a Sniper Scope Worthwhile?

There are tons of sniper scopes on the market, so identifying which scope will be perfect for your needs or rifle requires you to consider all their major attributes. Let’s go over the main things to consider when you are choosing the sniper scope to buy.

Durability

You no doubt want to select a sniper scope that’s built to last. This is incredibly important if you are a hunter, as many sniper or long-range hunting situations will require you to go prone and get the scope dirty. You may also need to spend some time in inclement weather. All of the scopes we selected below are made with durability in mind, which will save you money in the long run, as well.

Lens Coatings

At a distance, optics must gather all of the light possible to present you with a bright and clear sight picture at their higher magnification powers. Always look for multicoated lenses or lenses of a similar quality to ensure that your scope works effectively at a distance. Naturally, all the scopes we selected have multicoated or advanced lenses to make them worth your time.

Windage and Elevation Turret Quality

You’ll also want to select scopes that have good windage and elevation adjustment turrets. Having turrets that are easy to adjust or that offer precise adjustment increments are critical if you need to compensate for either of the above two variables when landing a long-distance shot.

You may also want to find scopes that have parallax turrets or adjustable objectives to mitigate the effects of parallax on distant shots. The scopes we selected for your browsing have some or all of these features, of course.

First or Second Focal Plane

Finally, consider whether a given sniper scope has a reticle on the first or second focal plane. First focal plane reticles become larger as you increase magnification and become smaller as you decrease magnification. This allows the reticle’s holdover points to remain accurate throughout all zoom levels.

Second focal plane reticles can also be helpful since they don’t change size no matter how far you’re zoomed in or out, although they do require some estimation on your part since the holdover points won’t be perfectly accurate on most settings.

There’s no right or wrong answer for all hunters. We selected scopes with both first and second focal plane reticles so you can choose based on your preferences or experience.


The 5 Best Sniper Scopes


1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 FFP Riflescope Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 FFP Riflescope EBR-2C MOA

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Vortex Optics is well known among the marksman community for creating excellent scopes, as they prove with this model. It offers magnification settings between 4.5x and 27x, making it an ideal scope for both close quarters and long-distance sniping action. It also features a reticle on the first focal plane, so it’s holdover points will remain accurate no matter how far you zoom in or out.

But that’s not all. This scope features a distinct APO optical system that can provide quality sight pictures with extra-low dispersion glass for its lenses. The lenses are multicoated to reduce reflection and improve sight picture quality. The reticle can be illuminated between 11 different intensities, meaning you can use this scope even in low light conditions.

L-TEC Turret System

Of particular note are this scope’s windage and elevation adjustment turrets. Not only are these tactile and sensitive, but they can also be locked into place to prevent you from accidentally shifting those values as you move. It’s a great feature, especially with the parallax adjuster turret on the side of the scope.

Pros:

  • Features multi-coated lenses
  • Turrets can lock and adjust with precision
  • Built to be used in any weather
  • Features side-mounted parallax turret

Cons:

  • Turrets don’t click

The Final Verdict

This scope is a phenomenal choice for any sniper or long-distance hunter. Its lockable adjustment turrets are extremely user-friendly and offer precise control, something that every sniper will appreciate. The lenses and the rest of the scope are similarly high quality, making it extraordinary in terms of value for money.


2. Burris Optics XTR II Riflescope 8-40x50mmBurris Optics XTR II Rifle Scope 201080, 201081 - 8-40x50mm Riflescope - Tactical Shooting, Night Vision, Hunting

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This long-distance rifle scope offers magnification settings between 8x and 40x. That’s an extraordinary range, even for experienced marksmen. Thankfully, the glass available for this scope is particularly high quality and provides a bright sight picture even in low light conditions. To make things even better, the reticle can be illuminated to improve your accuracy during dusk or dawn. It’s an FFP reticle, too.

This scope is made from a durable frame that will last for a long time to come. It’s waterproof and fog proof, so feel free to take it in any weather. The scope’s magnification settings can be adjusted via a control ring that responds quickly and smoothly to any user input. 

Adjustable Turrets

As the last pick, this sniper scope features excellent click-stop adjustment knobs for windage, elevation, and parallax modification. Each increment moved results in a satisfying click, which makes it easy to adjust these turrets while your eye is in the scope. All of these turrets are great for long-distance sniping, ensuring that your next shot will be a perfect hit.

Pros:

  • Features some of the best lenses
  • The reticle can be illuminated
  • The body is very durable
  • Adjustment turrets click satisfyingly

Cons:

  • Turrets are a bit bulky/extended

The Final Verdict

All in all, this effective long-range scope has one of the best reticles for dusk or dawn sniping as well as a durable body, which protects the excellent lenses that provide a fantastic sight picture. The zero-click stop adjustment knobs are also phenomenal and offer superb user control for long-distance shots.

It would also fit the 338 Lapua Magnum.


3. Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS Riflescope Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope, Matte Black Finish with Illuminated MOAR Reticle, Zero Stop Turrets, .250 MOA, 30mm Tube

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Nightforce Optics’ offering is another great choice for long-distance snipers or hunters who prefer to take down their targets at great ranges. It offers magnification levels between 5.5x and 22x, making it a versatile scope that can be used at both close and long ranges equally effectively. It’s built with several zero stop turrets, including one that can eliminate parallax from your longer shots.

The scope is built into a durable body made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and which has been sealed to offer waterproof performance. It’s also constructed with a matte black finish, which makes the scope stealthier. This way, your equipment won’t accidentally glare from the sun, giving your location away to your target.

Glowing Reticle

This scope’s reticle can be illuminated brightly, affording you better accuracy in low light conditions. While its brightness isn’t the best during daytime shooting hours, it’s of particular use to hunters that need to track their prey during the beginning or end of the day.

Pros:

  • Has a matte black finish
  • Lenses offer a fantastic sight picture
  • The reticle can be illuminated
  • Has a parallax turret
  • Is waterproof and fog proof

Cons:

  • The reticle isn’t bright enough to be used during the day

The Final Verdict

Overall, this scope is a fine choice for hunters thanks to its durability and protection against inclement weather. The glowing reticle is another excellent addition which makes it easy to shoot during dusk or dawn. Finally, the matte finish is of great importance for any hunter that wants to stay hidden from their target until the right moment.


4. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24×50 SFP RiflescopeVortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24x50 SFP Riflescope VMR-1 MOA

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Vortex returns to our list once again with this phenomenal rifle scope. It can magnify between 6x and 24x and has a reticle on the second focal plane, making it a versatile scope that’s just as good for up-close shots as it is for long-distance ones. It features a fast-focus eyepiece that can let you quickly adjust the reticle to your eye.

Like all the best sniper scopes, this one is incredibly durable and has been sealed to ensure waterproof and fog proof performance. It also includes target style turrets that offer precise and repeatable finger adjustable clicks for all of your major variables. Each turret can also be set to zero once you’ve sighted into the scope.

Protected Lenses

This scope’s lenses are incredible. They’re bolstered by an XR coating, which improves their light-gathering capabilities, and Armortek coatings, which protect the lenses from accruing scratch or dirt damage. As a result, this scope has lenses that can withstand significant wear and tear and still deliver outstanding performance.

Pros:

  • Lenses have amazing coatings to improve performance
  • Features great windage and elevation turrets
  • Can work in any weather
  • Eyepiece allows for fast focusing
  • Has a parallax turret

Cons:

  • Eye relief can be a bit narrow on some zoom settings

The Final Verdict

This scope is among the most durable on the market. It’s an excellent choice for hunters that spend lots of time in the dirt or in inclement weather. It’s also a great choice for hunters that are worried about dropping their scopes and damaging the lenses; with the Armortek coatings, it’s not something you have to think about.


5. Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20×50 Riflescope Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50 Riflescope MIL-Dot Crosshair with Amber Dot Reticle, 30mm Tube

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This Trijicon scope is another excellent example of quality combined with innovation. It offers magnification ranges between 5x and 20x, so it’s right on the lower end of zoom settings for most sniper scopes. It also features a second focal plane reticle, which will remain a consistent size across all zoom settings.

This scope further features superior lenses that have been multicoated to improve their durability, reduced distortion, and increase their light transmission. The scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, allowing you to depend on it in any environmental conditions.

Special Reticle

This scope features an amazing reticle that is illuminated without the use of batteries. Instead, a tritium phosphor lamp to provide the illumination to the reticle, which also has the added benefit of preventing any illumination from polluting the final image that reaches the ocular lens. Essentially, this reticle grants you additional accuracy bonuses without running the risk of blinding you with its own reticle glow.

Pros:

  • Has a specially illuminated reticle
  • Lenses are multicoated to reduce distortion
  • Can work in any weather
  • Has a parallax turret

Cons:

  • Turrets do not lock

The Final Verdict

This phenomenal scope features one of the best-illuminated reticles we’ve ever seen. As a result, it’s a particularly excellent choice for hunters that spend time in low light conditions. It’s also exceptionally durable and features great windage and elevation turrets.


Concluding our Sniper Scopes Guide

The right sniper scope will be the correct range, have the right features, and be durable enough for your purposes. One of the above choices should be perfect since there’s an option for just about every sniping scenario you can imagine. Good hunting out there!

If you are interested to read more of our articles you can check our review on rifle scopes under $1000 or our guide on the best crossbow scopes.