You’ve just bought yourself a new rifle, or perhaps you've been handed down a classic hunting rifle from your father and now you realize that you need a new scope.
The choice of a rifle scope is just as important (if not more important) as the choice of your rifle – but you’ve come to the right place!
But now that you know you need a great rifle scope...what is the best rifle scope brand in 2018?
I have created this guide to help you navigate through all the available options and choose the best rifle scope for your gun.
Whether you plan on plinking, punching paper, varmint hunting, or hunting big game, I hope this guide provides you with expert insight and allows you to get the most out of your money.
You can use this menu below to skip ahead to the complete list of the best rifle scope brands, including the most affordable rifle scope brands on the market today. Otherwise, you can keep reading some basic info about rifle scopes until we get there! Thanks for reading!
Determine the Optic Brand(s) You’d Consider
There are dozens of brands from all over the world producing riflescopes. Most of them create a product that is solid and “you get what you pay for” while some you may want to flat out avoid.
Based on personal preference, there may be brands that you’ll naturally lean towards or immediately rule out. And of course, your application (hunting, plinking, target shooting etc. ) & budget are going to cross a lot of the options off of the list.
A Complete List of the Best Rifle Scope Brands (Including Most Affordable Rifle Scope Brands)
There are dozens of brands, from all over the world producing quality riflescopes. Most of them create a solid product however the ol’ saying holds true with scopes, “You get what you pay for”.
Based on personal preference there may be brands that you’ll naturally lean towards or immediately rule out. And of course, your application & budget is going to cross a lot of the options off of the list.
This company is based out of California and offers a range of sporting optics including riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and telescopes. Barska offers budget rifle scopes and would be suitable for low calibre rifles such as a 17 HMR or a .22LR rifle used for plinking or a day at the range.
The finish and clarity are surprisingly good for a high value scope and they are easy to dial in for accuracy. There is a lot of skepticism for buying a cheap scope however I found this scope held true for small game and target shooting under 100 yards. I tend to agree with Barska rifle scope reviews – they come with poor mounting rings however it’s easy to pick up some aftermarket ones.
The American Optics Authority – an iconic family business founded by 2 brothers in 1907 making surveying equipment by hand starting making high quality rifle scopes in 1947 after lessons learned from World War II. Today the company makes top quality riflescopes, binoculars, waterproof spotting scopes, and even range finders for golf.
I love Leupold because of the wide range of riflescopes that they produce – everything from mid range high quality scopes to superior competition sniper scopes. Their products are excellent on the AR-15, 30-06, 300 Win Mag, and .308. The target comes up quick with the lenient eye relief and crystal clear glass.
Leupold scopes typically start in the mid $200s and the price range goes all the way up the $5000. With riflescopes, you generally get what you pay for – price equates to quality. As a side note, I love their recommended mounting system finder on their website which will tell the user whether or not the scope will fit on their rifle and with what mounting system.
For over 25 years, Simmons (parent company Vista Outdoors) has established itself as high quality and high value producer of riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, rangefinders, and trail cameras. Their scopes come in a variety of models with innovative features that are built to last.
I would say that Simmons produces very good entry level scopes for under $200. Their TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment does a great job of holding zero and their QTA (Quick Target Acquisition) eyepiece provides 3.5” of eye relief throughout the entire magnification range. Great value for a scope under $200!
Yet another company under the Vista Outdoors umbrella, Tasco has been an American favorite in sporting optics for over 50 years. Their mission is to design and manufacture quality optics including riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, telescopes, and trail cameras that fit every family’s budget.
Very similar to Simmons, Tasco’s riflescopes are of excellent value and perfect for target shooting and varmint hunting on your rimfire or .22 rifle. They even have some “higher-end” scopes that are very suitable for larger game on more powerful rifles.
An industry leader, Bushnell (parent company Vista Outdoors) has been producing high quality and high performance sport optics for the past 65 years. The produce a range of optics including binoculars, riflescopes, spotting scopes, laser rangefinders, and trail cameras. They are unique because they produce riflescopes for all users – from beginner to top notch competition shooters. You can find a Bushnell scope at every price point!
Not only do they produce a high quality riflescope, I have found that they offer great tactical riflescopes at a decent price. Scopes come with all sorts of features such as variable magnification, illuminated reticle, and adjustable objective. Price ranges from $50 to $700.
Another American company, Leapers Inc. has been supplying riflescopes and hunting gear since 1992. One distinction, Leaper has been manufacturing its UTG brand in the U.S. since 2009. The company offers low end products suitable for the average hunter with anything under a 30-06.
They have extremely compact models that are great on an AR-15. .22LR or a .17 HMR. Although it has held zero for the applications we tested, it has been known to lose accuracy with some of the high calibre rifles. I would recommend UTG/Leaper for plinking and target shooting but would avoid it for long distance shooting with the big boys.
Manufactured out of Japan, Nikon has been manufacturing optical instruments since 1917. Best known for digital/film cameras, the company now produces a full range of sporting optics including binoculars, telescopes, and rangefinders.
In my opinion Nikon leads the way for manufacturing reliable, entry level scopes. They’re not particularly fancy but the price is right and they generally hold up well compared to similarly priced scopes. For the price, Nikon optics offers a fantastic product that you can’t go wrong with.
Weaver is owned by Vista Outdoors (same parent company as Bushnell) and provides optics for shooters who’re looking for an entry-level or mid-range riflescope. In addition to optics including riflescopes, binoculars, tactical scopes, dot sights, and handgun scopes, Weaver offers a range of other products such as mounting rings and bases.
Weaver specializes in providing entry level or mid range scopes below $200. The low to medium powered scopes offer a crisp view (not like Leupold), however tend to be heavier than its competition. This is not necessarily a bad thing if the scope is intended to be mounted on a bench/range gun however I would avoid this for avid hunters or those of you that expect to be carrying your rifle in the bush or purchasing it for your little gaffer.
You can trace BSA’s roots back to the early 1900s however BSA Optics was created in 1996 and builds riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, lasers, red dots, and other shooting accessories. BSA is a British company and is known for entry level scopes at very affordable prices.
What I like about BSA is their flagship riflescope introduced in 2004 that was the first riflescope specifically designed for the .17 HMR, the “sweet 17” series. Their scopes range in price from $50 - $250 and they make affordable and durable red dot scopes as well!
Located in the heartland of America, Vortex is an American family business built by veterans. Vortex hasn’t been in the optics industry for a long period of time, however, they are quickly making a name for themselves.
Avid marksmen will often tell you that hands down, Vortex offers the best VALUE in the industry. Vortex offers a full range of scopes, so regardless of what you’re shooting at, where you’re shooting or your budget you can get setup.
Schmidt & Bender
One of the leading suppliers of precision scopes in the world, Schmidt & Weston is a family business that has been designing and building high end sporting and hunting scopes for over 50 years. If you are looking for the best of the best, this company has it!
These quality riflescopes come in all variations with all sorts of features. The price ranges (hold your breath) anywhere from $1500 - $10,000 – not for the average hunter or sport shooter.
These guys build the toughest scopes going. Their entire product line stands up to harsh conditions, including being submersed in water, thrown around in dirt, dropped on rocks, and it’s even been said that some models are bullet proof. Nighforce definitely knows how to build scopes for the military however I’ve even started to see them on the range. If you have the budget and you know you’re going to be brutal on your scope, Nighforce could be for you.
Another company under the Vista Outdoors umbrella, Millet began in the 1970’s originally making aerospace equipment and soon became a leader in the metal injection molding process. They began building scopes in the late 1970’s and now use a computerized system to test scopes which simulates actual shooting conditions with a 30-06. They know build high end scopes and long range scopes in addition to tactical equipment used by military and police forces globally.
Started in 1974 by a small group of Swedish entrepreneurs, Aimpoint was built on the premise that shooters should be able to acquire their target fast and to hit moving targets in all weather conditions. Their breakthrough technology (Red Dot Sights) allows you to acquire your target with both eyes open.
Final Thoughts - Best Rifle Scope Brands
These aren't all of the optics brands and I'm sure I've listed some more throughout the site in various rifle optic reviews, but you can't go wrong with the ones above. They are quality manufacturers and make amazing scopes.