Best Tactical Scopes of 2019 – Complete Round-up

Whether you are new to shooting entirely, or you have been shooting for a long time and you are ready to take your long range game up to the next level, every serious gun aficionado needs a good tactical scope. Read on to learn more about these amazing products and how they can step up your shooting game.

Comparison Chart of the Best Tactical Scopes

Product

Rating

Price

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle

Best Overall

SWFA SS 3-15x42 FFP Mil Quad Reticle

Runner-up

Bushnell Trophy TRS-25, 1x25mm

Best for the Money

Leupold VX-R Patrol Riflescope

Best for AR-15

Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Riflescope

Best for AR-10 308 SHTF

Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

Best Tactical Rifle Scope

Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope

Best 1-6x Scope

Vortex Optics Diamondback

Best Tactical Scope Under $300

Burris® AR Tactical Prism Scope with FastFire™ 3 Red-Dot Sight Combo

Best Tactical Scope Under $500

Leupold® Mark AR Mod 1 Riflescope

Best Tactical Scope Under $1000

What is a Tactical Scope?  

A tactical scope is a tube like device that you can attach to a rifle that will help you to more precisely aim and hit a target at a great distance. The human eye has biological limitations on how far it can see in order to aim precisely, and a tactical scope can help shooters to overcome those limitations.

How to Choose a Tactical Scope

There are such a wide number of different products out there, it can be extremely difficult to narrow down which one would be best for you. Here is what to look out for:

Glass Quality

This is possibly the most important quality of any scope: how nice is its glass? Obviously, you want glass that is clear and gives you an accurate picture of where you are sighting, and avoids any sort of fisheye effect that may distort your image when you are zooming in.

Weight

Anyone who has ever shot a rifle knows how freaking heavy they are. And a scope is something you attach to the top of your gun, so it definitely has the potential to make it even heavier. Invest in a scope that will not add too much additional weight.

Durability

The last thing you want in any kind of intense situation is a scope that is not tough enough and will break on you. Make sure you get a scope that can go the distance and will last you a long, long time and many rounds on your gun.

Quick Take | Best Tactical Scopes

Before diving into our review of the best tactical scopes, here is a quick take of our top 3 picks:

Review of the Best Tactical Scopes

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, let’s go check out some actual products:

Pros

  • Return to zero works great.
  • Vortex provides great customer service.
  • Durable, thanks to its thick and solid body.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty, no questions asked.
  • Clear glass on scope is excellent and only provides a fisheye effect at very close range.

Cons

  • Not recommended for use by competitive shooters.
  • Eye box is tight and will require some practice to be able to use correctly.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers really appreciate how easy this scope is to adjust. Its focus knob is knurled, and its zoom knob has a low profile bump which helps in adjustment. Both the windage and elevation adjustments can be measured in nice, clean clicks. And the magnification adjustment is firm, but not too stiff.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked the reticle on this model. It has a horseshoe option for quick target acquisition, and a crosshair option for more precise shots at longer distances. Plus, it is etched, so it is always nice and visible no matter what.

Who Will Use This Most

Users specifically recommended this scope for beginners and those new to shooting. If you are interested in something that is easily adjusted from twenty yards out to infinity yards out, you will greatly appreciate this product.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The illumination on this product could be better. Users report that its maximum setting still does not make the reticle very eye catching on a sunny day, although the etching means the reticle is still visible no matter what.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle is an amazing model and our number one choice for best overall product option. Its illumination leaves something to be desired, but it more than makes up for that with its numerous other awesome qualities.

Pros

  • Eyepiece has a fast focus design.
  • SWFA provides good customer service.
  • Great for medium and long range shooting.
  • Durable, will last for many years and still perform just like new.
  • Reticle works well to range and engage targets in a variety of light conditions.

Cons

  • Does not have a zero stop option.
  • Parallax knob markers are not the most accurate.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the turret design on this scope. The turrets themselves are quite stiff, so you will not have to worry about losing your zero every time you put your rifle back in its bag. They are affixed with three set screws, which means you can always center them back at zero when you are sighted in. And, you can easily adjust the turrets both with bare hands and when wearing gloves, thanks to both the tactile and audible clicks that turning the turrets produces.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We appreciated that this product comes with an included quick throw lever. Many competitor brands require purchasing the quick throw level separately, which often involves paying quite a bit more.  

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone who appreciates a rugged scope with excellent tracking and usable glass will enjoy using this product. It is specifically designed mostly for those users engaging in medium and long range shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The parallax knob works well, but users report that its markers are not the most accurate.

Bottom Line

The SWFA SS 3 15x42 FFP Mil Quad Reticle is a great product option and the clear choice for runner-up for best product overall. Just be aware that its parallax knob markers are not as accurate as you could find on other models.   

Best for the Money:
Bushnell Trophy TRS 25, 1x25mm

Pros

  • Is able to zero in quickly.
  • Battery life will last a long time.
  • Coating is thick and will not rust.
  • Every knob has water proof gaskets.
  • Lens has a mirror finish that provides excellent light and reduces glare.

Cons

  • Red dot can sporadically turn off here and there.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that this is one of the toughest scopes they have seen on the market today. It is ideal for use on larger guns, since it is durable enough to stand up to the recoil of even a large gun like an AK47. Users say that the scope still performs well even after thousands of rounds have been fired on their AKs.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were most impressed by the incredible bang for your buck you are able to get when you purchase this product. It is pretty unbelievable how high quality this scope is for such a low, low price. You may be tempted to think you are compromising on some aspect of this product when you pay the list price, but you could not be more wrong.

Who Will Use This Most

Anyone looking for a scope that can stand up to the strength and power of a larger gun would appreciate this scope. And of course, anyone looking for a really great deal will be pleased with this product.

What Could Be Improved and Why

This scope is not the easiest to get to zero. When you are first trying to zero it out, the process of adjusting it is quite confusing.

Bottom Line

The Bushnell Trophy TRS 25 is a top notch scope that will save you a ton of money and provide you with a good quality sight in the process. Its only issue is that it can be a little complicated to zero out.

Pros

  • Glass is high quality.
  • Has audible turret clicks.
  • Reticle is thick and easily visible.
  • Durable, will hold up for a long time.
  • Leupold is a reliable firearm brand you can trust to make products that last a lifetime.

Cons

  • Does not have great long-range precision.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love how well this scope works for a red dot model. It can zoom out to four times magnification, which is a significantly higher magnification level than most other red dot sights. It also has really bright illumination – users report it is as bright as day.

Why it Stands Out to Us

This product option is nice and rugged, with high quality construction. But at the time time, it is quite lightweight and easy to carry, so you will not have to worry about compromising quality for weight with this scope.

Who Will Use This Most

Any shooter who is looking for a well designed red dot sight will find the scope of their dreams and more with this model. Plus, anyone who appreciates the use of the metric system will love that this scope’s measurements are in millimeters.

What Could Be Improved and Why

With this scope, you have to be careful how much you tighten the end cap. If it is screwed on too tightly, the red dot has a tendency to randomly turn on and off without any warning.

Bottom Line

The Leupold VX-R Patrol Riflescope is an amazing product option and one that you will enjoy, particularly if you like red dot sights. You have to make sure to be mindful of how tight you set the end cap to be, though.

Best for AR-10 308 SHTF:
Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Riflescope

Pros

  • Performs reliably.
  • Incredibly rugged.
  • Crystal clear glass.
  • Great for quick target acquisition.
  • Trijicon provides good customer service.
  • BAC technology allows for you to shoot with both of your eyes open.
  • Comes with an instruction manual, a sticker, a cleaning brush, and a cover.

Cons

  • Shooting with the BAC technology can take some getting used to.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are quite impressed with the amount of eye relief this scope provides. This quality means this product will work extremely well when shooting at weird angles, and it also allows the user to place the sight farther away from them on the gun, in case that is your preference.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We appreciated this scope’s glass being treated with tritium gas. This process ensures that the red chevron on the sight is always easy to see, whether it is broad daylight out or you find yourself in complete darkness. Perfect for a SHTF situation!

Who Will Use This Most

If you are interested in learning to shoot your gun with both eyes open, this is a great scope option for you. Its BAC technology allows for both eyes to remain open while shooting, a rarity among scopes.

What Could Be Improved and Why

For all this scope has got going on, it should be noted that it is both significantly larger and significantly heavier than many of the other products we have reviewed on this list.

Bottom Line

The Trijicon ACOG 3.5x35 Riflescope is a star of a scope and the best option for you if you are looking for a product you can always rely on when SHTF. The one thing to keep in mind is that it is both large and heavy.

Best Tactical Rifle Scope:
Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic

Pros

  • High quality.
  • Arrives already zeroed.
  • Easy to install on your rifle.
  • Optic is reliable and precise.
  • Endorsed by former members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Cons

  • On the heavier side.
  • Housing is pretty bulky.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are saying that they love this scope so much, they ended up buying two so that they could always have a backup one on hand just in case! Not that you will need to worry about this product breaking on you. Thanks to its rugged design, it will surely last you a long, long time.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We were impressed at how long the battery life lasts for this model. Some users say that their battery lasted for over two years with the scope being on continuously. So if you are shying away from a battery model because you do not want the hassle of switching out batteries, you will not need to worry about that with this bad boy.

Who Will Use This Most

This scope is an excellent choice for an entry level red dot sight for someone who is new to shooting. It is also a great option for those who want to practice sudden quick shots, because it has a clear rear flip cover so you will not necessarily need to take the time to flip the cover up when shooting.

What Could Be Improved and Why

The coating on this scope’s glass gives all of the optics a slight blue tint. Not a huge issue, but something that could annoy some users.

Bottom Line

The Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic is a phenomenal product option that is particularly great for a beginner or someone new to red dot sights. Its optics are tinted blue, though, so keep that in mind.

Pros

  • Battery is included.
  • Tough and durable.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Lightweight, weighs just under a pound.
  • Comes with lens covers, a cleaning cloth, and an instructional manual.

Cons

  • Illumination is not particularly stable.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers are saying that this scope has one of the best reticle options out of all the other scopes out there on the market today. It is laser etched, so you are able to see it even in bright daylight, and the scope has eleven different illumination settings so you will be able to see it well when shooting in the dark as well.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We love all of the magnification settings on this scope. It is designed to keep its reticle the same size, no matter what the magnification. And it can zero in quickly and be able to hold its zero for a really long time.

Who Will Use This Most

If you are looking for a sight that is easy to use, with a reticle that will hold its magnification and make the process of zeroing out simple and straightforward, you will not be able to find a better option than this product.

What Could Be Improved and Why

Although it can zoom out to 6x magnification, at that level, there is a limited amount of eye relief. You will need to be almost perfectly positioned behind the scope in order to use it well at that magnification level.

Bottom Line

The Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope is a great scope that provides the widest range of magnification options out of all its competitor brands. Just know that at the highest levels of magnification, there is a bit of a compromise on eye relief.

Best Tactical Scope Under $300:
Vortex Optics Diamondback

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Adjustments are precise.
  • Can be dialed in quickly.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Can be shot at up to five hundred yards.

Cons

  • Not recommended for use in extreme situations.
  • Turret hash marks do not line up perfectly at zero.
  • Set zero functions on the turrets can feel a little stiff.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers really appreciate the turrets on this model. Rotating them produces a strong, audible click that you can also easily feel, so it has both a tactile and an auditory response. They will also stay tight and not move around easily unless you are in the process of adjusting them.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We really liked the durability of this scope. It is perfect for a “real life” situation, since it has amazing build strength that means it will not easily break or scratch.

Who Will Use This Most

This scope is specifically designed for everyday use, so if you are an avid shooter, this is a great option for you. It is also an awesome scope for use in basic training.

What Could Be Improved and Why

At the highest levels of magnification (8x), clarity in the view becomes compromised. This is particularly likely to happen around dusk and other low light times.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Optics Diamondback is an amazing product option that is tough enough to go the distance in terms of everyday use. Plus, its turrets work fantastically well. Keep in mind that it is not the most reliable at its highest levels of magnification, though.

Pros

  • Easy to mount.
  • Battery life will last a long time.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Well made of high quality material.
  • Batteries are inexpensive and easy to replace.
  • Windage compensation extends out to six hundred yards.

Cons

  • Does not come with any sort of anti reflective device.
  • On the heavier side, weighs almost a pound and a half.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love that for the price of a scope, they not only get an awesome scope with this product, they also get the additional FastFire 3 Red Dot Sight. The FastFire has some of the best eye relief you will ever be able to find. You can attach it to the prism scope, or you can use it entirely separately on its own.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We appreciate the multiple different options available to you with this model. When it comes to your illuminated reticle cover, you can choose between going with the classic red or going with green instead. And, all the illumination options have five different brightness settings, so you are really able to choose your own adventure.

Who Will Use This Most

If you prefer to shoot with your head up and with both eyes open, this is definitely the product option for you. You will not be able to find a sight that works better for you than the FastFire 3 Red Dot.

What Could Be Improved and Why

This is definitely one of the heavier scopes on this list. That is not entirely unexpected, with its two for one deal in including the FastFire 3 Red Dot Sight, but it is still something you should keep in mind.

Bottom Line

The Burris® AR Tactical Prism Scope with FastFire™ 3 Red Dot Sight Combo is a top notch product that will give you two for the price of one! Keep in mind both of these combined are quite heavy, though.

Best Tactical Scope Under $1000:
 Leupold® Mark AR Mod 1 Riflescope

Pros

  • Exceptional quality.
  • Able to be zeroed in quickly.
  • Leupold provides good customer service.
  • Has a green dot as opposed to a red dot.
  • Dependable, no matter the circumstances.
  • Endorsed for use by former law enforcement professionals.

Cons

  • Does not come with a zero stop.

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers report that they love this scope so much they buy one for every single rifle they own! There are a number of awesome qualities about this product that inspire such behavior, but most buyers say they really appreciate how lightweight this model is. It will not add any additional weight to your rifle.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We liked how easy this scope was to use. Its adjustment dials are easy to understand, even for novices and those not used to shooting at long ranges. And, the process of mounting it on your rifle itself is also fairly simple and straightforward.

Who Will Use This Most

This scope is particularly great for beginners and those new to shooting. It is also a top notch choice for anyone looking for something lightweight and easy to carry.

What Could Be Improved and Why

For some odd reason, this scope does not come with included lens caps, so you will have to be quite careful when handling and transporting.

Bottom Line

The Leupold® Mark AR Mod 1 Riflescope is a fantastic scope model choice, particularly if you are new to shooting or feel overwhelmed at the thought of operating a scope at all. Just keep in mind that you will have to be extremely careful when moving this scope around because of its lack of lens caps.

Are All Tactical Scopes The Same?

All tactical scopes are similar in that they all help you to accomplish the same goal of more precise shooting, but not all scopes are the same.

The biggest differences in tactical scopes are between front focal plane models, also known as FFP scopes, and second focal plane models, called SFP scopes. We used some of this terminology in our reviews above, but to clarify: front focal plane scopes have the ballistic aperture placed in front of their magnification (hence the name), meaning the reticle will scale up or down with whatever magnification you set it on.

These models are ideal for those with bad vision or those shooters who may be older. In contrast, with second focal plane scopes, you will need to zero your scope when it is on the maximum magnification setting to make sure your reticle does not shift.

What Size of Tactical Scope Do I Need?

Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy single answer to this question. The best scope size for you will really depend on a number of factors. What kind of rifle are you intending to mount the scope to? Are you looking for a model with greater eye relief, which often requires a larger eye box, or are you looking for the most compact scope possible?

And do not forget about weight – rifles are already quite heavy, and there are some scopes on the larger side that can really add some heft to your gun. In order to determine what size you need, you need to think critically about what you want out of your scope and go from there.

Conclusion

Any long range shooter will find their accuracy and precision will go up tenfold when they invest in a good quality scope. Make sure you choose a product that will work well for your gun and your needs. We guarantee you will not be able to go wrong with any of the options from our list.

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