Every year, the market of airguns expands, and for good purpose. Air rifles can provide considerable benefits over traditional weapons, and for some shooters, they may even completely replace firearms.
If you’re new to airguns, you might have come across scopes referred to as “air gun scopes” or “airgun rated scopes” and wondered how they differed from standard scopes. Lets find out!
But, before then, here’s our top pick for this air rifle review.
- The Fundamentals Of An Air Rifle Scope
- How To Get A Good Air Rifle Scope
- Regular Scope vs. Air Rifle Scope
- Best Air Rifle Scope
- What to look for when choosing an air rifle scope
The Fundamentals Of An Air Rifle Scope
These optics are quite similar to standard rifle scopes. They enlarge the picture you’re trying to aim for, putting you on the same plane with your target. Air rifles are noted for their incredible accuracy, making them an excellent complement to any regular lineup.
But what distinguishes air rifle scopes?
These optics can survive an air rifle’s double vibration and recoil. That, along with your enhanced accuracy, makes the scope entirely worthwhile.
Before we get started, please keep in mind that you should never use a firearm optic on your air rifle. These two devices are not meant for the same purpose and should not be together, regardless of how amazing you think they would be.
We have two major types of air rifle optics:
Fixed Air Rifle Scope
The fixed scope has a single magnification setting. That implies that the magnification cannot be changed. What is the use of a rifle scope that cannot be zoomed in? There is practically no tweaking necessary once you’ve been sighted in. With this scope, you can proceed to target shooting faster, which is an advantage of this type of scope.
So, what kinds of shooting are best suited to fixed scopes?
This scope is for you if you enjoy hunting small animals like rodents or varmints at close range.
It is also useful for short-range plinking sessions!
Variable Air Rifle Scope
The variable sight has magnification settings that range from 3 to 15x. As a result, it has a lot of zoom for shooting at extended distances.
Is there a drawback to this scope? The variable scope needs an additional adjustment after sighting. This scope is all yours if you want to hunt big games at long distances.
Is objective size important?
It’s always important! Here are two factors to consider when selecting the right objective-size lens for you. For a start, bigger lenses mean higher magnification. Secondly, a bigger lens lets more light into the scope. As a result, your vision will be a lot clearer and brighter.
Choose a bigger objective lens if you want to use your air gun scope in low light circumstances, such as at dawn or dusk. Check the final number on your scope description to get the objective lens diameter size. The typical variable scope, for example, is 3-9×32. The scope magnification is indicated by the first numerals before the ‘x.’ The number following the ‘x’ indicates the objective lens size. This means the scope would have an objective lens size of 32mm.
How To Get A Good Air Rifle Scope
We all want value for our money, so getting a good scope is very important. But how can you get a high-quality air gun scope that is still reasonably priced?
Consider how much money you’re willing to spend, how frequently you will be using the scope, and the types of shooting you will undertake. After you’ve settled on what you believe to be a high-quality scope, consider purchasing a scope that is a step higher in quality.
Because, when it comes to scopes and air guns, you will get what you paid for.
Air rifle optics can range in price from $30 to $400 or more.
I’m not advising you to run out and spend all your money. Of course, there are less expensive solutions. However, if you want to use an air rifle sight frequently, I recommend investing in a scope that will last for some years. You want the scope to perform properly and last a long time, just like other pieces of equipment. As a result, you have to be ready to pay slightly more than you intended. But believe me when I say it would be worth it. Especially if you’re having so much fun with that air gun and sight combination.
Regular Scope vs. Air Rifle Scope
Despite their similar appearance, air rifle scopes and normal rifle scopes are made differently. They may be fitted on either style of rifle, although doing so carelessly can result in a damaged sight.
It is critical to understand the types of firearms that can be used on either sight in order to avoid wasting money by damaging the scopes. However, using a sight on the opposing gun is still viable and occasionally advantageous.
Let us look at this brief guide outlining the advantages and disadvantages of the two types of scope and when it is safe to mount the scopes on opposing guns.
Let’s get this party started!
One of the most significant distinctions between these two scopes is the way they handle the recoil. An air rifle recoil is different from a standard rifle recoil because it recoils forward after the first backward recoil. Because typical rifle scopes do not account for this forward recoil, it will rip most normal scopes apart.
Another significant distinction between them is parallax. The standard parallax for an air rifle scope is often approximately 10m, although many standard scopes have it set at around 100m. While air rifles may shoot beyond 10 meters, the sights are built for short-distance shooting.
Finally, the scopes are built for various types of firearms. Because of the different types of ammo, there will be some accuracy problems unless a scope is particularly made for both.
Despite the obvious differences between firing bullets and airgun pellets, the scopes share some features.
Airgun scopes are as rugged and durable as some high-end riflescopes. Although they might be thicker or heavier in some situations.
Air rifle sights still work effectively with standard rifles. There are a few cases where the reverse is true. Some manufacturers will actually construct their rifle sights to withstand the punishment of an air rifle’s reverse recoil.
If you attach an air rifle sight to a powerful rifle, the strong recoil will overpower and destroy the air gun scope. They are not intended to withstand great force on a single recoil but rather two moderate forward and backward recoil.
What does this mean?
While it may be tempting to save money by using the same optics on different types of rifles, I do not suggest it. There are several excellent rifle scopes available, and purchasing one for each weapon will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
Some firearms are listed and intended to operate with both, but buying a scope tailored to your specific rifle is usually preferable. Recoils vary greatly; therefore, purchasing a scope that is specifically designed for handling this is preferable to getting any scope that’s just okay at it.
Different ammo must also be considered, as a bullet travels significantly differently from an air gun pellet.
Regular scopes are often more accurate across longer distances, but air gun scopes are most accurate at a close range.
In the end, buying two scopes is considerably less expensive than repeatedly breaking your present scope while trying to make one scope work on other firearms!
Best Air Rifle Scope
This air rifle scope list was compiled after considering things like performance, shooting range, weight, price, and real-world experience with the scopes. Even the most experienced marksmen and hunters may find the process of getting a new riflescope to be overwhelming. The technology and techniques associated with an air rifle scope are constantly changing. A proper check was done on the majority of the scopes listed below to ensure they can meet your shooting need.
If you want to go night hunting, read our best night vision scope review to find the best night vision scopes in the market. A night vision scope is a great shooting accessory for nighttime shooting. Thermal rifle scopes may also be used for night vision. Thermal scopes, on the other hand, are not cheap. However, they can provide you with the ideal shooting experience. Some models can also broadcast or record since they have a camera and wifi that can be used for live streaming.
You can read more the differences between night vision scope and thermal scope here.
Please read the complete air rifle review for additional information.
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9×40, Black Scope
The Vortex Crossfire II scope is one of numerous Crossfire II combinations that can be used for air rifles. These scopes have Dead-Hold BDC reticles that are useful for shooting/hunting at various ranges when estimating holdover is important. With this scope, you will be able to have a sight image and acquire your target quickly, thanks to the extended eye relief and forgiving eye box. The scope also has anti-reflective capabilities, and the multi-coated lenses give the shooter a clear and bright view.
The scope is constructed as a single-piece main tube made of aircraft-quality aluminum that provides strength and stress resistance. The Vortex Crossfire II is fog proof and waterproof since it is nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed.
If you want a durable, trustworthy scope, then the Crossfire II is for you. This scope is engineered to survive the most rigorous hunts, and it has a second focal plane reticle and a 1-inch main tube. In addition, the Crossfire II’s multi-coated lens allows for maximum light transmission and speedy target acquisition. As a seasoned hunter, this scope will deliver the results you require accurately.
The scope’s construction is made of lightweight and sturdy aluminum. It weighs about 1.4 pounds and has several characteristics that make it perfect for long-distance shooting.
The scope’s fog-proof or nitrogen-purge is meant to prevent condensation in the internal parts of the lens. In addition, the Crossfire II incorporates a sunshade that reduces glare and increases contrast in bright circumstances.
The scope is a flexible and effective tool for a multitude of applications. Depending on your model, the magnification ranges from 2x – 9x, making it suitable for a wide range of applications. It is also outfitted with a variety of features that make it more flexible and helpful. For example, the sight has a reticle that may be adjusted for elevation or windage correction. This allows you to utilize the scope for both long-distance and close-range shooting.
When selecting a scope, one significant element to consider is the objective lens diameter. The objective lens size of the Crossfire II series of scope ranges from 32mm – 50mm. This scope has a diameter of 40mm, making it fall in the middle of the objective lens scale.
This Vortex Crossfire II scope has a high-quality reticle style that is suitable for a wide range of uses. The scope is an excellent choice for people looking for a dependable scope reticle because it allows for a more precise holdover estimate; the Dead-Hold BDC reticle is an excellent feature for shooting and hunting at various ranges. As a result, the Crossfire II reticle is an ideal choice for anyone looking for a flexible and dependable scope reticle.
The scope is an excellent optic for people who need to swiftly acquire a target. It has a lengthy eye relief and an extremely forgiving eye box, making it simple to acquire a sight image. The rapid focus eyepiece enables quick and simple reticle focusing, ensuring that you stay on target. The multi-coating also aids in the reduction of glare and the enhancement of image quality.
This scope comes with capped turrets that are adjustable with the finger. After sighting, these clicks may be reset to zero, making it an extremely adaptable scope.
2. Hawke Airmax Scope 2-7×32
The Hawke Airmax is another great airgun scope we want to look at. This scope is a dream come true for many target shooters. There is so much you can accomplish with this Hawke scope, thanks to its specialized reticle and operational range.
Picking a sight for an airgun is not the same as choosing for other firearms.
The Hawke Airmax has excellent glass clarity. The glass of the scope is fully multi-coated, and the multi-coating is in 16 layers, so you’re assured of a durable coating that can stay for years and remain as neat as the day you removed it from the box.
The glass-etched reticle also stood out to me. The Hawke Airmax Airgun scope features an AMX reticle that was created exclusively for an air rifle firearm. The mil dot reticle is comfortably centered in the image. It’s simple to see and keep the shooter’s eyes on the target.
This Airmax scope model is designed specifically for target shooting. It is a good optic for varmint hunting.
The eye relief on the scope is 3.5 inches, and I consider it to be generous enough. The scope also has a large eye box that makes it simple for a shooter to find the target quickly. The Hawke Airmax is lightweight, long-lasting, and nitrogen-purged. What difference does it make? Nitrogen purging keeps the scope completely fog proof.
The lens cover is the only flaw I noticed in the design. I think it is fragile and difficult to use with one hand. The Hawke Airmax boasts extra-large turrets that are easy to spin and have a nice click. The click value is .25 MOA, making it simple to get a precise zero. The scope holds zero with ease. The scope magnification range of 2-7x is good enough for the rifle.
I can confidently take this scope to a competition of up to 100 yards. The scope’s image is clear, and adjusting the parallax turret is simple. I enjoy this sight for mid-range targets, and the magnification works well anyplace beyond 10 yards with no tunneling. You should consider a rimfire scope if you are searching for a low-range or fixed scope.
A 1-inch pic rail or dovetail scope mount kit is required to mount a Hawke Airmax air gun scope. You’ll need to have a hex screw to mount the scope. The Hawke Airmax air gun scope is one of the greatest air rifle scopes available. It’s quite affordable for such a high-quality optic. Hawke backs up this optic with a lifetime warranty.
3. Hawke Sidewinder 6.5-20×42
Spend any amount of time around airgunners, and you’ll hear them talk about the Hawke scopes. This is because these scopes are well-made, and dependable, and they can do everything a scope should do. The selection of good Hawke scopes is vast – for this and any other kind of shooting requirement.
The Hawke Sidewinder scope continues where the AirMax series of scope left off. This scope has the highest quality and best features you can expect from an airgun rifle scope. The scope has a magnification range of 6.5x to 20x, which is ideal for hunting or target shooting. It also comes with a 42mm objective lens diameter that allows enough light transmission through the scope.
The Hawke Sidewinder scopes have sidewheel parallax adjustments, and they also have a large aluminum side wheel for mounting the SF turrets. The scope turrets may be locked and re-zeroed after sighting in. The Sidewinder scope is outfitted with Hawke’s 1/2 Mil Dot reticle, which is similar to a conventional mil dot but adds dashes between each dot to provide more aiming points.
It has an illuminated reticle, and the batteries and settings are built into the side turret; I prefer this to previous models, and it appears to accomplish the job better. The illuminated reticle has a 5 brightness levels. The scope is shockproof, making it ideal for use with a spring-piston rifle.
If you can bear the weight, this is one of the best air rifle scopes you can find.
4. UTG BugBuster 3-9X32 1″ Rifle Scope
The UTG BugBuster Scope is a high-grade scope suitable for a wide range of shooting applications. The Mil dot reticle of the scope is ideal for target acquisition and range finding. The scope also has a green/red illuminated reticle that is ideal for low-light situations. The scope has QD rings for easy attachment to a range of weapons.
The UTG BugBuster is a high-performance, long-lasting aluminum scope. The scope weighs about 0.87 pounds, and it has a diameter of 1 inch. It is intended for plinking, small game hunting, and target practice with airguns. It has a Mil-dot reticle for pinpoint accuracy, and it is nitrogen-filled, making it fog-proof for excellent vision in all situations. The scope is resistant to shock, making it perfect for usage in harsh settings.
The UTG Scope is a flexible and strong device with a wide range of applications. It has a magnification range of 3x – 9x with an objective lens of 32 millimeters. As a result, it is an excellent solution for airguns. The UTG Scope can assist you in taking down big game animals.
The UTG Sight is a flexible and dependable scope with a broad field of vision and enough eye relief for optimal close-quarters performance. The scope has dual lighting in green and red for different uses, and its vast field of vision makes it perfect for usage in a number of settings. Furthermore, the considerable eye relief makes it comfortable for sighting, and its durable construction guarantees that it can resist shock and recoil.
The UTG Scope offers a nitrogen-filled and sealed scope that is fog proof, rainproof, and shockproof. The Scope is a fantastic choice for shooters or hunters looking for a dependable and long-lasting optic that can survive even the most extreme situations.
5. Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×50
This Hawke Vantage scope is one of my favorites from this brand. If you are on a tight budget and want something that does the job without extra features that you’re unlikely to use, then this Hawke Vantage scope is highly recommended.
The Hawke Vantage has a variable magnification of 4x to 12x. It also comes with an objective lens diameter of 50mm that precisely suits the range of a good air rifle. These strong sights can withstand the recoil of air rifles, so there’s no need to be bothered.
The coating is abundant in this optics, with 11 distinct types that ensure glare reduction. The tube is only 1 inch and has a very recognizable and conventional appearance. Inside the tube is an etched reticle. The scope has smooth fingertip turrets with 1/4 MOA adjustments on the tube. The Adjustable Objective means the scope’s objective lens is parallax tunable.
These scopes are very affordable. However, they outperform their price tag. If you don’t like the 4x-12x magnification range on this model, you may look at the other Hawke Vantage scopes.
What to look for when choosing an air rifle scope
This buying guide is designed to assist you in selecting the best gun sight for your needs. You must examine several factors before selecting the finest air rifle sight for your shooting application. The following are the key features to look out for in an air rifle scope:
Most air gun scopes have an airgun rating, indicating that they are acceptable for use with an air gun. This score should not be overlooked. Basically, when an airgun is shot, it suffers recoil in both the forward and back directions.
The majority of scopes on the market can survive a backward recoil, but they do not take into account forward recoil.
A Scope with an airgun rating is evaluated for forward and reverse recoils, so it is less susceptible to damage. A Scope without an airgun rating will quickly shatter.
When it comes to air rifle sight magnification, there are two options: fixed or variable. The latter may be adjusted to your specifications, but the former only has one magnification setting. Each of these scopes has pros and cons. Calibration is impossible with a fixed scope. It also lacks any of the dials that are commonly found in the variable scope. A fixed scope is significantly easier than using a variable scope.
A variable scope, however, provides greater adaptability, meaning you can use your sight for short, medium, or long-range shooting.
You must consider how much magnification is needed for your shooting application. If you’re looking for squirrels, 4x-6x magnification is ideal because you would not be going beyond 500 – 600 yards with the air gun, so acquiring a 12x scope to achieve a distance of 100-150 yards is not a sensible decision.
One of the most significant causes of missing any targets is parallax. Even if your eyes are perfectly aligned, a tiny tilt of your neck will make the reticle shift.
A common rifle has a parallax adjustment range of 50 – 100 yards. Because an airgun is often capable of hitting targets within 50 yards, a parallax correction of 50 o t100 yards is insufficient.
As a result, an air rifle sight has an adjustable objective (AO) that allows for parallax correction from 10 yards upwards. This design differs from the standard side parallax knobs. The AO ring is placed close to the objective lens.
Mil-Dot or Duplex Reticle
Although there are other types of reticles on the market, the two most common are Mil-dot and duplex. The remainder is essentially variations on these two basic categories.
The duplex reticle is an excellent choice for target shooters. It has large outer crosshairs and tiny inside crosshairs that complement each other to bring the shooters’ attention to the scope’s center.
Although more sophisticated, a Mil-Dot reticle is ideal for hunting. It has many aiming locations, allowing you to correct for elevation and windage.
Getting used to a Mil-dot reticle may take some time, but once mastered, this reticle will help you strike distant objects more accurately.
The Mounting Hardware
Let’s attach the scope now that you’ve found the right air rifle sight!
Every optic must be mounted to a rifle. To fit on the scope, the one-piece or two-piece mount can be used. It is then fastened to a rail on the air gun.
The mounting technique is critical. Depending on the construction or recoil of the air gun, you’ll require specific mounts. A one-piece mount is ideal for a spring powered airgun with so much recoil.
Why? It’s because they are far more durable than the two-piece mounts. And they can also tolerate more powerful recoils.
Two-piece mounts are ideal for a spring powered airgun with little recoil.
Other Mounting Hardware Types
Check out the different mounts to get a better idea of what you’ll need:
Because they allow the sight to rest higher on the rifle, high mounts are ideal for bigger scopes. These mounts are only suitable for 50mm and larger objective lenses.
High scope mounts are somewhat larger than medium mounts. These medium mounts are ideal for 44mm or smaller objective lenses.
Some air guns require a particular mount to fit well; hence specialty mounts are necessary.
Also, keep in mind that your scope’s main tube comes in 30mm or 1-inch diameters. As a result, ensure the mount you want will fit the scope tube.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.