Night vision binoculars are becoming increasingly popular for hunting. They’ve been around for several years as the military has relied on them for one mission after another. With hunting, it gives the hunter a real advantage with allowing them to see their target through the blackened forest. Sometimes, the moonlight just isn’t enough to supply the hunter with needed light. Since many hog and varmint hunts are performed at night, the technology of night vision binoculars is a helpful accessory. Continue Reading
When you’re hunting with a shotgun, common sense clearly tells you not to expect any sniper-style shooting feats. For many hunters, the need for a shotgun scope seems laughable. “I’m just shooting a turkey, and not that far away. Why would I need a scope?”
Believe it or not, the addition of a scope to your shotgun can dramatically improve your chances of bagging that trophy Tom. And that isn’t to mention those who hunt larger game with slugs, which requires even greater accuracy with your favorite shotgun. While it’s true that you can get a bead on your target using iron sights, the assistance of a scope is like the difference between reading in fine print and reading in large print. With a quality scope, your time is much better spent and frustration is reduced to a minimum.
In this guide, you’ll find the reasons that you should consider purchasing a shotgun scope, what to look for when making a decision, and finally the four scopes we most highly recommend.
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- Reasons why Shotgun Scopes make a Difference:
- What to Look for in your Scope
- Reviews of the Four Best Shotgun Scopes on the Market
Reasons why Shotgun Scopes make a Difference:
Crosshairs allow you to pinpoint your target without playing guessing games.
With a scope, you aren’t tempted to raise up to check the movement of the bird or other game animal. As many hunters have learned, this is a major reason for losing that bird that seemed a sure thing.
It never hurts to have a clearer view of your target.
Whether you’re hunting turkeys or whitetail, a scope can improve your game to the point that you’ll wonder how you ever got along without one. Although the addition of a scope to your gun may add a small amount of weight, it more than makes up for it by making your trek into the woods so much more profitable.
What to Look for in your Scope
When you decide it’s time to begin shopping for a shotgun scope, there are a few things to keep in mind. Here are some important tips to help you make your decision when a world of choices make settling on the right scope a victory in itself:
Durability conquers all.
When you’re choosing a shotgun scope, the most important thing to keep in mind is that in order get your money’s worth, your scope will need to be tough. When you’re crashing through the thick brush or your gun slides down from the tree stand and lands against the trunk with a crack, once you’ve given thanks for the fact that it didn’t go off and kill anyone, you’ll be thankful you chose a scope that could stand up to anything your shotgun can handle.
Clarity is a must.
Another top priority for choosing a shotgun scope is clarity. Although it isn’t necessary to buy the priciest scope to achieve maximum resolution – more about that later – there’s no point buying a scope that makes discerning the difference between your target and the background a mystery. Make sure the scope you choose provides a sharp view of whatever you point it at so your eyes get the break they’ll need when you’ve been peering so hard for so long.
Keep it simple.
As you begin shopping around, you’ll find that different scopes offer different features. While many of these may seem tempting and like downright must-haves, keep in mind that anything that adds complication to your scope is one more thing that can break and render your scope useless. Unless you know that your scope would still work if a certain feature became inoperable, keep it simple and forego the fancy features.
Pricier doesn’t mean better.
Although it’s true that you get what you pay for, when it comes to shotgun scopes, there’s really no need to spend an arm and a leg. As long as a scope fulfills these other requirements, don’t be afraid to settle for a scope that just gets the job done without an exorbitant price tag. Unless you plan to make your living hunting, a cheap yet adequate scope should be all you need.
Slight magnification is plenty.
Obviously, with a shotgun, you don’t have much need for long-distance reconnaissance. As long as the scope provides slight magnification, you should be pleased with the results.
Shiny scopes are easily spotted.
It would be a shame to head out with your Mossy Oak gun stock and RealTree head-to-toe camo, just to have the deer turn tail and run at the flash of morning sun glinting off your gun scope. When looking for your shotgun scope, keep in mind that camouflage is just as important for scopes as it is for gunstocks. If you can’t find a suitable camo-colored scope, a matte-finished scope will prevent sunlight from giving away your presence to any vigilant wildlife you’re trying to evade.
Brighter isn’t always necessary.
Sure, it’s true that the brightness feature can be helpful for hunters out in the wee hours of the morning. Still, there’s no need to worry about making your scope too bright since you’ll be hunting when it’s somewhat light anyway. Why tempt yourself with ultra-bright technology when bagging that deer at night while it’s not legal to do so can get you in serious hot water. Although laws differ from state to state, good sportsmanship alone would dictate that too much technology can take the sporting chance out of the equation and cheapen the experience for everybody.
Reviews of the Four Best Shotgun Scopes on the Market
With each of these things in mind, here are four top examples of shotgun scopes that should provide what you need to make your hunting experience that much more profitable.
Color: Matte Black
Weight: 12.7 ounces
Magnification: 1.75x to 4x
The Bushnell shotgun scope is an all-around winner. The matte black, lightweight scope isn’t crazy expensive, but its durability makes it a favorite and one that many hunters will buy again – after their first one finally gives out after fifteen years.
Top features of the Bushnell Circle-X Reticle Shotgun Scope:
- Wide view field allows minimal movement
- 100% waterproof, shockproof and fogproof
- Rain guard HD lens coating
- Fast-focus eyepiece
- 91% light transmission
- 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
- Multi-coated optics allow for excellent contrast and clarity
- Perfect for multiple hunting applications
- Backed by Bushnell “no questions asked” lifetime warranty
- 1.75-4X magnification
- 3.5 ” eye relief
True to its name, the Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter Riflescope integrates professional Nikon technology into this cutting-edge tool to make hunting precise and smooth.
Top features of the Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter Riflescope:
- 3.8 inches of eye relief keeps you safe from recoil
- 100 yard field of view
- Nitrogen-filled housing to keep out fog and moisture
- Bright, crisp images
- Works great with muzzle-loaders
- Zero-reset turrets with spring-loaded adjustment knob
- Quick-focus eyepiece
- Great even with severe shooting angles
The affordable Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond shotgun scope offers advanced technology at an easy-to-swallow price. The sharp focus is made possible by the use of high-quality optical glass so that you can see your target clearly, regardless of the weather.
Top features of the Simmons ProHunter ProDiamond Reticle Shotgun Scope:
- TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment keeps your focus fixed
- Durable construction can resist 1,000 rounds from a 12-gauge slug gun firing 3.5-inch shells
- O-ring sealed, 100% waterproof housing
- 4-inch eye relief protects vision
- 25 years of customer satisfaction
- Multi-coated optics offer clearly contrasting images
- Pro-Diamond reticle
- Easy grip and adjustment
Weight: 16 ounces
The Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope is an excellent choice for hunters targeting turkey and deer. It’s made of aircraft quality aluminum to provide a durable, scratch-resistant, and non-reflective matte finish that is optimal for use while hunting.
Top features of the Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope:
- Lifetime warranty
- Fully-coated lenses providing maximum brightness, clarity, and contrast
- Fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
- Diamond reticle
- 100% waterproof and fogproof
- Nitrogen gas filled
- Finish is durable and scratch resistant
Regardless whether you choose one of these fine scopes or another one not listed here, be assured that the addition of clarified sighting will improve your hunting results dramatically. Happy hunting!
Hunters have specific needs when it comes to optics, so finding the right pair of binoculars takes more than just finding a trusted brand. Binoculars are one of the most important pieces of equipment for hunters. But with so many choices on the market, how do you know which pair is right for you?
We have reviewed five of the top options for hunters, so you can narrow your search to find the best pair for your outdoor adventures. These pairs range in price and features, so there’s something for everyone.
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Upland Optics Perception HD: #1 Recommendation
Every product from Upland Optics is designed by and for hunters. This means that the Perception HD offers exceptional glass, great durability, and weather-resistance.
Some of the key features and specs of the Perception HD binoculars include:
- Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Glass
- Waterproof & fogproof
- 113m FOV at 1000m
- 17.2mm eye relief
- Dimensions: 5.5″ x 5″ x 2″
- Weight: 1.44 lbs
- Lifetime Warranty
Nikon Monarch binoculars come in three sizes: 8X42, 10X42, and 12X42, so you have many choices at your disposal. Nikon’s high-quality glass and prisms ensure a solid viewing experience in most lighting conditions.
The build is designed for comfortability and durability, making it an all-around excellent pair of binoculars for most uses, including hunting.
Some notable features of the Monarch 5 10×42 include:
- Premium ED (Extra-Low Dispersion) Glass
- Fully Multicoated Eco-Glass Lenses
- Apparent FOV: 51.3°
- 288′ field of view at 1000 yards
- 18.4mm eye relief
- Weight: 21 ounces
- Dimensions 7.6 x 3.1 x 5.9 inches
Like others we have discussed so far, these are built for durability and all weather conditions. These are often found for slightly less than the Nikon and Upland pairs that take the top spots.
Notable features of the 10×42 include:
- Exceptional optics with ED Prime Glass, Ultra Wide Band Coatings, and RainGuard HD water-repellent lens coating
- Waterproof & fog proof
- Ultra wide field-of-view with long eye-relief; locking diopter
- Weight: 22.5 Oz
- Dimensions 5.28 x 4.02 x 6.89 in
This is the upgraded version of our top choice. For the discerning hunter, the Venator 10×42 are the pair to get for the best possible glass. Excellent light transmission and premium lens coatings help deliver top grade optical performance while also being durable enough to survive tough hunting excursions.
Though these are priced higher than any of the binos we’ve discussed so far, they are still very well priced for their quality and the amazing glass. You can read our full review of the Venator here. Our most significant findings are that the build quality is outstanding and the premium glass makes it worth the splurge.
Here are some key features and specs:
- 10x optical zoom, 42mm objective lens
- 114m field of view at 1000m
- 15mm eye relief
- Waterproof & fogproof
- Includes carrying case, lens cloth, neck strap, and lens caps
- Dimensions: 5.5″ x 5″ x 2″
- Weight: 1.5 lbs
Vortex Diamondback binoculars are of very high quality, and although the company is not as big as its competitors, it can deliver a great product. Diamondbacks come in 4 sizes: 8X28, 8X42, 10X42, and 12X50.
One of the most appealing things about the Diamondback in this list is that it is the most affordable pair we recommend for hunting. It’s currently priced well under $200 and isn’t usually much more than that.
Some of the notable features of the Vortex Diamondback 10×42:
- Dielectric, fully multi-coated lenses transmit more light and clearer, brighter images
- FOV 330′
- Eye relief 15mm
- Multi-position eyecups twist up for adjustable eye relief
- Waterproof and fogproof
- Weight 21.4 oz
- Dimensions: 5.8″ x 5.1″
Crossbow hunting and target shooting are becoming popular activities among hobbyists and professionals in this modern age. If you’re practicing archery, crossbow scopes are an essential tool to have whether you’re on a range or hunting game.
We’ve compiled a list of the very best crossbow scopes available. We’ll also discuss the fundamentals of crossbow scopes, including types, designs, and mounts. First, though, let’s dive right into the scopes.
Why Use a Scope?
Scopes are typically used to magnify one’s target to get a more precise shot and makes it easier to visualize the goal. Scopes can additionally lend aid to one’s accuracy and can make for clean and quick kills so game from hunting won’t suffer. There are various kinds of scopes — or sights as some refer to them as — all with different features and functions. It’s very important that the archer chooses a scope that best suits their specific needs and fits their crossbow nicely.
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Recommended Crossbow Scopes
While there is a vast variety of scope brands to choose from, only a few make it to the top and are worth mentioning.
The Nikon Bolt XR Crossbow Scope (BDC 60) (pictured above) is designed to outdo what other scopes are capable of. It’s equipped with 3x Nikon optics that transmit up to 92% of available light for brightness and contrast, and Nikon also included a multi-coated lens with multiple layers of anti-reflective compounds. What’s even greater about this scope is that its advanced BDC 60 reticle provides precise aiming points up to 60 yards based on a velocity of around 305 fps. Some additional features include a large ocular that utilizes its full field of view, 3.4 inches of eye relief, and a quick-focus eyepiece.
The Bolt XR furthermore has zero-reset turrets allowing you to sight in at 20 yards, lift the spring-loaded adjustment knob, then rotate to your “zero” allowing you to re-engage. You can simply dial in your subsequent ranges to make your field adjustments, and with the Bolt XR being waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, this scope virtually matches with any crossbow velocity and bolt weight.
Many archers have deemed the Bolt XR as an excellent scope. It was mentioned that it works very well in low light with crystal clear glass. The multiple aim points were said to make it easier to accurately shoot from 20-60 yards with little to no effort. It’s highly recommended for archers looking for quality optics for their crossbow, for it has received a high rating amongst many that have bought and used this scope.
The Nikon Prostaff P3 is a newer version of the brand’s crossbow scope, and it is very similar in specs to the Bolt XR, including the BDC 60 reticle and reticle adjustments via 1-MOA click-stop moves. With this one, you’ll find a smoother experience and heartier build, so it’s definitely worth investigating the Prostaff P3.
The Excalibur Twilight Dlx Scope Multirange Reticle is one of a few worthy scopes from Excalibur. This one is particularly good in low light situations, and it’s at its best on crossbows at 300-400 fps. This is especially true when it comes to sighting in the scope. This 1962 Scope 6X44mm 30mm tube boasts excellent durability, so it’s a good option for hunters who encounter harsh conditions. Though the magnification is 6x, it offers 50-foot range at 100 yards.
Excalibur offers two other excellent options that come highly recommended.
- Excalibur Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope, 2.5-6x32mm: 30mm tube, works for 275 to 415 fps, and offers excellent light transmission and red/green rheostat illumination. FOV estimated to be 45 feet at 2.5x power.
- Excalibur Shadow Zone 2-4X32mm Scope: Dual color illuminated multiplex reticle 2-4X32mm, adjustable crosshair spacing at 10-yard increments for crossbow at velocities between 250 and 350 FPS.
Each of the Excalibur scopes we reviewed are shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. It’s one of the most versatile crossbow scope brands on the market.
Other Crossbow Scopes
Another worthy crossbow scope is UTG’s 4×32 1″ Crossbow Scope with Pro 5-Step RGB Reticle and QD Rings. It’s built on a TS platform with a 1″ tube, wide angle lens, and parallax at 50 yards. It also includes broadband lens coating, RGB side-wheel illumination, zero-reset/locking W/E knobs, and comes with complete flip-open lens caps and UTG RQ2W1104 QD rings. The side wheel with green/red illumination has flexible adjustment for most versatile weather and lighting conditions and the scope has ergonomic and precise windage and elevation adjustment turrets for a more precise shot.
Plenty favor this scope for its crystal clear glass view and effective green/red colored sight reticle, great for day or night shooting. It’s pretty solid and well-built with a comfortable
eye relief and houses overall wonderful optics, fantastic for archers looking for an effective yet affordable scope.
One last scope in the list of top scopes is Hawke’s 1.5-5×32 Matte IR SR Scope with Illuminated Circles. This scope matches up to the Bolt XR’s high performance and is specifically designed for crossbows. It features a crossbow speed selector which allows the scope to be compatible with any crossbow, and the precision reticle is engineered to provide aim points at exact 10-yard intervals from 20 to 100 yards. Its 1″ optics are fully coated for high levels of light transmission, and the red/green illumination (only on the SR model) allows for excellent reticle clarity.
It’s around the same value as the Nikon Bolt XR, and its users like its simple set up and quick sighting in. It seems to be highly recommended for those that do target shooting or hunting for archers can truly reach out to 100 yards, which is a best for many that couldn’t reach that before with other scopes.
Scope Design Basics
The scope is to be placed on the body of the crossbow above the trigger. An obvious component to a scope’s design is the long black tube with an ocular lens eyepiece on one end and the sight on the opposite end past the eyepiece. If the archer decided to add zooming features, there should be a power ring to be able to adjust the magnification of the sight. The elevation adjustment and windage adjustment tool can be found in the middle of the scope tube, and at the end of the scope is the objective bell where the scope’s body seems to get wider and almost bell-shaped. The objective bell is where the objective lens is contained. There are three main types of scopes an archer can choose from; a laser sight scope, red dot sight, and reticle scope.
Types of Scopes
A laser sight scope is an alternative, mostly practical for when you’re aiming at a moving target. The laser is meant to help the archer anticipate when the arrow will strike the objective. Laser sights can either be mounted underneath an archer’s crossbow or to the upper portion of the scope. If the laser sight is used with a quality scope, it can be utilized to accurately determine midrange targets. An iron sight is another alternative and is the most basic yet durable. There can be two sights on the crossbow, with one as a post, bead, or ring in the crossbow’s front and on the back of the bow perpendicular to the crossbow’s line of sight.
A red dot sight scope makes a red (or sometimes green) dot that the archer can see and use to pinpoint his aim at the target. You can either get red dot sights with single style distance settings or more advanced multi-dot scopes with several distance settings, it depends on what your preferences are. A lot of times, the red dot sight can be adjusted so it will be brighter or darker according to your liking too.
A reticle scope has crosshairs that section the lens view into four parts. This type of lens scope is the most common and more traditional. The crosshairs might be etched, wired in, or lit up in the scope depending on the model.
Scope Mount Types
When selecting a type of mount for your scope, there are the Picatinny, Dovetail and Weaver rails to choose from. Picatinny mounts can elevate the scope by about ½ an inch above the crossbow body and is most practical if you are using a red dot sight scope. “Picatinny” comes from the place of origin where the system was designed at the New Jersey-based Picatinny arsenal.
The Dovetail mount looks similar to the Picatinny mount in that it has a set of grooves running parallel that grasp onto a tiny set of ribs raised in the middle part of the scope’s base. Dovetail mounts are actually the oldest used mounts, and because of a 1931 patent on the mount’s design, Dovetail mounts are also known as Redfield style or Leupold style.
The Weaver rail grips onto scopes’ beveled outer edge and is considered to be sturdier than other alternate mounts such as the Picatinny and Dovetail rails.
Crossbow scope rings are usually made out of steel or aluminum. Be sure to pay attention to the scope’s accuracy, size, and range when picking the best scope for your target shooting or hunting needs for these will be important in how your scope performs.
Most of the time, archers look for scopes that can increase their range so that they can hit targets easier. If you’re using your crossbow for hunting small game, then your scope should feature a short to mid-range distance and it needs to fight nicely onto the scope mount while being lightweight and sturdy. If you have something like a variable scope, which can be a bit on the heavy side, it can affect your ability to hunt and be anything but an improvement.
Terms You Should Know Before Buying a Scope
There’s nothing like knowing exactly what you need to improve your crossbow’s accuracy. So before deciding on the perfect scope, here are some terms you need to know and keep in mind as you’re exploring the scope market.
Magnification is a basic function of a scope’s features which allows the archer to zoom in on objects from afar since the naked eye doesn’t have the ability to do so. There is a wide range of magnifications on scopes, with most of them having up to 32x maximum.
A scope’s field of view is essentially the sight picture with a particular width. For example, if your target’s distance is at 150 yards, the scope will give you a sight that is 15 feet wide. Thus, it’s not only magnified, but it also provides the focal lengths of the lenses. Usually, if the magnification is high, then the field of view will be narrow. While this feature isn’t necessarily for new crossbow users who still need practice, it’s very important for hunters that need to hone in on their prey, especially smaller game.
Stray light is an internal coating which disperses light that enters in the scope and prevents it from reflecting off the scope’s metal. Overall, this helps you achieve the clearest sight of the goal.
The eye relief is simply the space between your eye and the eyepiece lens. It prevents any accidents that may happen your eye while shooting, such as the lens bumping into your eye if your crossbow has a bit of kickback.
Length refers to the distance from the edge of the objective lens up to the back edge of the eyepiece. As a rule of thumb to remember, the longer that the scopes measure to be, the greater the magnification will be, but it will also be heavier. Depending on your preference, the magnification will vary if you like lightweight scopes versus heavier scopes.
The center tube diameter lets you know the size of the scope’s rings as well as the base of the scope.
Questions to Ask Before You Buy
When browsing for the perfect scope, here are some questions you may want to ask yourself in order to make sure the scope fits your needs.
Does the scope fit your budget? Typically, the pricier a scope, the more features it has and the better it performs. Cheaper scopes come with more standard and basic features and don’t have as many advanced settings such as higher magnification or illuminated sights.
What is your purpose for buying a scope? Believe it or not, this matters very much for it can affect how you perform whether you’re just a hobbyist archer or a serious hunter. If you spend most of your time at a shooting range, then perhaps a red dot sight scope or reticle scope would be most ideal. If you like to hunt game, then a red dot or a laser scope could serve you well. Laser scopes are especially great for moving targets as mentioned before.
Is it easy to sight in with the scope? If you’re familiar with sighting in, you’d know how irritating it is if you have a scope that takes dozens of tries to adequately sight in on your target. You won’t have this issue if you get a quality scope.
Is the scope waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof? These qualities are important if you’re shooting in different weather situations, as they will aid you in getting a more accurate shot and prevent any inconveniences.
Is the scope made of durable material? Depending on what the scope you choose is made of, it could last from a couple months to up to 10 years. Most scopes are made of aluminum alloy while others are made of a less durable material.
Those who own crossbows all have different priorities as to how they use it and what they use it for. Some like red dot sight scopes, others may prefer the traditional cross sight or laser sight, and some like more lightweight scopes compared to heavier scopes. If the scope you ultimately pick can provide you with easy visualization of your target, magnify for a better view of your prey, give you quick and humane kills when hunting, and offer features that serve all of your specific needs.
Click here to see the full selection of crossbow scopes.
Reflex sights are a type of gun sights that can go on a variety of firearms, depending on the mounting system available. Reflex, red dot, and holographic sights are commonly associated with each other because of their similar construction and electronic reticles. They are also common on many of the firing systems on vehicles, aircraft, and ships.
While they may look the similar or the same on the outside, each of these sights uses a different method of optical imagery. The goal of a reflex sight is to provide the user with the best reticle while eliminating or lessening a lot of the optical problems that come with other sights like parallax, zeroing, or MOA.
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How Does it Work?
You’ll see a lot of similarities aesthetically between all three sights. All three commonly use a red dot as a reticle. A reflex sight projects an image (reticle) onto a lens that reflects towards your eye. There are a few different ways a reflex sight can project an image that eventually you see, but in the end, the words “reflex” and “reflection” are the most basic terms.
The most common way reflex sights solve sighting problems is by using collimating lenses and light. Collimating light is light that is parallel to whatever surface it is facing. When light goes through a collimating lens, it straightens and then bounces off another lens into your eye. As a result, the dot or reticle that you see is virtually parallel to the gun barrel. Right off the bat, parallax is eliminated.
Reflex sights offer near unlimited eye relief, so you can mount it on different positions on your firearm and still have excellent target acquisition.
Why Buy A Reflex Sight?
Red dot sights are very popular for their on target pointing with the dot itself. Reflex sights build on top of the illuminating nature of pure red dot sights in order to factor out sighting and zeroing problems. You will have to zero in the reflex sight, this is standard for just about every scope you fit on a firearm.
Reflex sights typically give the user more chance of on target hit at longer range (excluding gun recoil). Whichever way your head moves, the reticle will remain in the center of the panel.
Let’s say for example you’re looking at a target down range. Because the reticle stays in place at the center of the sight, you can acquire targets faster without having to swing the gun about. If you look around or avert your eyes from the center of the sight, it will still point straight ahead. A reflex sight isn’t a massive, groundbreaking upgrade from a normal red dot sight, but it does provide the user with a simpler method of
Best Under $100
The Dagger Defense sight is a fully encased sight with four different types of reticles in red or green fashion. It comes with four different locking screws so you can adjust and zero in the sight. Most users have mounted this sight on a semi-automatic rifle and have been able to zero it in between 100-350 rounds.
It also features a dial on the right-hand side for choosing the reticle and power level.
- Aperture: 33mm
- Length: 82mm
- Weight: 10 oz
- Field of view at 100m: 15.8m
- Rail: Picatinny
Browning, a popular sporting company, has crafted the equally popular Buckmark sight. This sight is designed specifically for Buckmark pistols, which fire .22 ammunition but also works on other rimfire weapons. It comes with four different reticles for your convenience and a dial for brightness.
You should only consider this sight if you are looking into .22 caliber rimfire guns or a Buckmark pistol specifically.
- Length: 3.25in
- Height: 2in
- Width: 1.25in
- Field-of-view at 100m: 15.7m
- Weight: 6.6 oz
- Rail: Weaver base
The Sure Shot sight is a lot like the Buckmark sight in design but isn’t limited to .22 weapons. It comes with a built-in Weaver mount, which saves you the hassle of figuring out what railing its compatible with.
This sight comes in either black or camo pattern, with the latter being a little more expensive than the former.
- Aperature: 33mm
- Field of view at 100m: 35m
- Length: 3.23in
- Width: 2.52in
- Height: 2.20in
- Weight: 4.76oz
The reflex sight by Survival land is the cheapest sight on our list, coming in at just under $15. Normally the first impression would be horrible reviews and overall dissatisfaction, but this sight maintains a small fanbase. It has a similar construction to most wide-angle sights and mounts on a picatinny rail.
It comes with four different reticles and two different colors or said reticles.
Best Under $200
The Ultra Shot M-Spec is a big step up from the Sure Shot. This sight is encased in cast magnesium alloy, a very strong and sturdy metal that is unlikely to suffer any damaging dings or scratches. This casing also better protects the interior panel.
The M-Spec is Sightmark’s most rugged and durable sight, built to handle the elements and water submersion up to 40ft. It’s brightness settings also come with a night vision mode, enabling you to find a comfortable setting without the reticle being overly bright.
- Field of View at 100m: 35m
- Dimensions: 103x58x61 mm
- Window Dimension: 33x24mm
- Weight: 8 oz.
Best Under $300
In a similar fashion to the M-Spec, the Holosun reflex sight sports a titantium casing with an aluminum finish, making it one of the strongest and most durable sights on our list. Those features are always nice, but what’s even better is its wide 32mm×24mm open lens.
Even with a solid casing, a wide lens expands the field of view so you can a clear shot at your target without having to squint through the metal.There is no automatic shutoff on this sight, so you have to make sure you turn it off manually.
Best Under $400
What to Consider When Buying A Reflex Sight
A lot of reflex and red dot sights refer to one another as each other, and it can get sort of confusing. A reflex sight is inherently different from a pure red dot sight, but use many similar housings. Housing refers to the type of construction around the glass panels. Tube, open, or fully encased.
Different sights with different housings will allow for more or less field of view, so choose according to how much you want to see through the sight.
All sights run on either CR2, AA, or AAA batteries. The amount of life you get out of these batteries depends on the illumination setting you have for the sight. Some sights will give you thousands of hours worth of life on the lowest intensity setting.
Some sights have their batteries in the rear or underside of the sight, which could affect the overall housing. Be sure that you are combing the right housing with battery location.
Using different reticles is going to result in a different user experience. Most of these sights come with different selections of reticles that might be better suited for your range and weapon handling.
Just because a reticle looks cool in the sight doesn’t mean it will give you the best target acquisition.
There are certainly some very popular but expensive sights on this list. You shouldn’t feel pressured to purchase the biggest one just because the price indicates quality. Some might come with a couple of small perks.
The higher priced sights are usually more rugged and designed for extreme conditions, so take this into account when considering the higher end sights.
Some of these sights will come with built-in picatinny or weaver mounts. Usually, these sights will say which one they come or what type of railing they are compatible with. Nevertheless, you should double-check your weapon and the mount to see if they are compatible with the sight you are considering.
What are the Real Differences?
Between the big three reticle sights (red dot, reflex, and holographic), reflexes are sort of the midpoint between user experience and accuracy. You’ll see a lot more of red dot sights for close range shooting, but reflexes and holographic sights give you the edge in accuracy and focusing abilities.
That’s not to say that red dot sights are wholly unreliable, but reflexes will be more versatile across different firearms, especially with each of them having near unlimited eye relief.
Click here to see our picks for the top red dot sights of 2018.
Click here to see our picks for the top holographic sights of 2018.
Thermal imaging rifle scopes have been used with great effectiveness in military and tactical situations, and these scopes have also proven to be an advantageous asset for hunters, especially when hunting boar. The following guide will go over everything you need to know to purchase a thermal scope on the civilian market.
Thermal imaging is a lucrative tool for hunters because it allows the observer to not just see their target in the dark of night, but to actually witness the ambient heat that targets give off at any moment in time. This ambient heat can be fluorescently colored or simply display as a brighter animal-shaped figure on a dark background. In any situation, this technology makes hunting live prey exceptionally easier.
Table of Contents
- Top Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope Recommendations
- Best Overall Thermal Rifle Scope:
- Best Thermal Rifle Scope for the Money
- Best Thermal Rifle Scope for under $5,000
- Best Thermal Rifle Scope for Hunting
- Best Thermal Rifle Scope for an AR-15
- Top Brands of Thermal Rifle Scopes
- Pre-Purchase Considerations
- How Does Thermal Imaging Work?
- Types of Thermal Imaging Systems
Top Thermal Imaging Rifle Scope Recommendations
Detailed below is a variety of our top thermal imaging scope recommendations. Each of these quality scopes provide a diverse set of features to fit a variety of needs, depending on what is most important when making your purchase.
Best Overall Thermal Rifle Scope:
ATN’s ThOR series of thermal hunting rifle scopes has made a firm reputation for its reliability, strong features, and overall versatility. The ATN ThOR HD 640 lives up to the great reputation that the ThOR line brings to bear. As this is a thermal scope that is rated for combat, ATN utilizes mil-spec germanium ballistic lenses for the eyepieces on this unit. This model is also very lightweight and fits well within the palm while weighing only two pounds.
This scope also has a plethora of menu options available by simply operating the directional pad positioned directly on the body of the scope itself. Some of the options that are included are the ability to change the color of the reticle, adjust the display’s brightness level, a full-color overlay mode that features rich tones that vary depending on the environment, and in the menus you can also adjust the reticle type. This device also starts up very fast; it takes less than three seconds from power up to sighting. Also, you can expect twenty-two hours of continuous use from the 20000mAh battery pack.
This scope also has great range; its full 5X optical zoom is essential when you need to visually get closer to a target. Since the ThOR 640 has no springs or screws and utilizes a fully digital system to hold zero, the ThOR will never let the reticle move off of base. ATN has also included video-out connectivity so that you can capture your thermal imaging excursions on video.
With a thick set of features, great levels of image quality, resolution, and additional functions, the ATN ThOR HD 640 is one of the most versatile thermal rifle scopes on the market, and the winner of our best overall pick. Click here to check the current price.
Best Thermal Rifle Scope for the Money
You don’t always need to break the bank to get a quality thermal scope. The Armasight Predator 336 2-8×25 (30 Hz) Thermal Imaging Weapon Sight provides some great, rich features that all come in at a very low price tag.
Very light and portable, this thermal scope measures in at 3 x 7.6 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and weighs only 1.4 pounds. The Predator utilizes solid state, un-cooled, long-wave infrared magnification technology to provide a reliable experience not just to the sportsman, but to law enforcement and military users as well. The targeting display is of a LED type and can display a resolution of 640 x 480. This is a great resolution, so the images are crisp and detailed.
This FLIR detector utilizing thermal scope has several features that make it one of the most competitive on the market. The Predator makes use of a drop down menu system to help users navigate through the thermal scope’s features. This ensures that the user experience is both intuitive and simple. This software is upgradeable and allows you to pick from six digitally controlled reticle patterns, access the thermal scope’s recording feature, access the digital E-zoom (up to 4x magnification), and adjust the contrast of the image. Overlay color modes include, white hot, black hot, and rainbow.
In addition to the digital E-zoom, this scope also has a optical 1.6x zoom for resolution loss-free sighted magnification. For the recording feature, there is a SD card slot where you can save your hunting videos for later viewing through the TV-out functionality. This sight is a great option with a rich feature-set and costs less than $3,000. It provides well-rounded design and customizability without breaking the bank. Click here to check the current price.
Best Thermal Rifle Scope for under $5,000
Our best thermal scope for under the $5,000 is another in the Armasight line of products, which is their Zeus 336 3-12×42. This scope employs a mid-sized 42mm lens to provide great resolution and vivid thermally enhanced images to the user. Its most noteworthy features include build quality, great drop down menu, and the inclusion of the exceptional FLIR TAU 2 un-cooled micro-bolometer thermal imaging system.
This is one durable scope. The Armasight Zeus is comprised of aircraft quality aluminum that can take several tumbles without compromising the chassis of this quality scope. Despite this sturdy construction, this scope is still almost feather light and compact. Measuring in at 10 x 3.2 x 2.8 inches and 1.5 pounds this scope will add minimal weight to your weapon, and will fit comfortably in your hands. As mentioned previously, Armasight created this scope to be 42mm; this is quite larger than the industry standard 35mm. This extra size ensures that the thermal imaging that this scope creates has larger pixels and is thus more detailed. The screen is a color organic LED screen that has a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels.
From a features perspective, this scope has more than enough. The keypad for the menu is durable and blends in very well with the body of the scope. The drop-down itself has features that allow you to access the six different reticle types, reticle patterns, color, polarity, and overlay colorization. The E-zoom feature allows you to utilize the digital zooming system without losing as much of the details as typical digital magnification systems. A really neat feature available in the drop-down is the ‘scenarios’ selection. This lets you cycle through high-value target, hog hunting, coyote hunting, deer hunting, bear hunting, mountain lion hunting, and elk hunting scenarios. Click here to see the current price.
Best Thermal Rifle Scope for Hunting
When utilizing a thermal scope for clearing varmints or hunting for game, you’ll find no better scope than the Flir ThermoSight RS64 2-16X.
Hunting takes patience and a scope primarily used for hunting needs to have measured versatility for all of the types of hunting usage that it will encounter and the RS64 doesn’t disappoint in this regard. This scope is around two pounds, and while that adds a little heft to your weapon, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This unit comes packaged with an active matrix LCD display that displays a resolution of 640 x 480 and is capable of providing 16x magnification. The focal length of the lens is 60mm.
While the included internal lithium-ion battery pack guarantees more than four hours of life, it’s the fact that this pack is rechargeable through a USB connection that makes this scope great for hunting. You don’t have to replace your pack at all if you keep the cable wired into a local power source, so there’s no need to necessarily enter standby mode.
Insofar as internal features, the RS64 has a simplified scope interface that utilizes a four-button control system. You can access batter charge info from the display, adjust the reticle colors from white, black, red, or green, choose between three distinct reticle types, adjust the color palettes, or establish the included E-zoom magnification. When using the digitally-based E-zoom the targeted object’s resolution is automatically corrected for the extended zoom which helps for high magnification shots. Finally, like many of the scopes present on our list, this thermal imaging scope has video out capability, so that you can keep a record of your hunts. Click here to see current price.
Best Thermal Rifle Scope for an AR-15
As the AR-15 is a great precision rifle, utilizing a thermal scope that is designed to give as much precision at the potential higher moving speeds that you might need to hunt active, larger game is just what the doctor ordered. With its 640 x 480 high-resolution sensor, the ATN ThOR 640 5-50x is exactly what you need.
Simply put, this ATN ThOR scope has built-in technology called the Smart Shooting Solution that allows you to forgo hassling with charts, reticles, and calculators to acquire your perfect shot. After you range in on your target and enter wind readings, your scope will adjust your point of impact as necessary for you. Furthermore, the scope’s Recoil Activated Video feature records a video that starts right before you take a shot, the moment itself, and whatever amount of footage you would like to have after the shot is taken; you don’t have to worry about forgetting to record the perfect kill shot or losing your target when trying to mess with video recording. Overall, the HD imaging provides a crisp and beautiful video recording experience to perfectly capture the best moments of your excursions.
This compact instrument weighs just a little more than typical ThOR scopes at about 2.75 pounds, and it is 10.67″ x 3.97″ x 3.47″ in dimension. On board are a bevy of features that make this scope perfect for utilization with an AR-15, including a built-in smooth zoom feature with the ability to reach 50x magnification. The scope’s built-in E-Compass and weather resistance make this the ideal tool to have on long hunting trips in a variety of conditions and locations, and you can record where your excursions lead you using the geotagging capabilities. If you plan to use this scope for more than one rifle due to its vast number of technologically advanced capabilities, you can make use of the scope’s profile manager to customize a series of settings specific to each of your rifles. Only 4 AA lithium batteries are required to operate the scope, and it comes with a 3-year warranty. Click here to see the current price.
Top Brands of Thermal Rifle Scopes
When looking for a great thermal imaging rifle scope there are a few strong brands that always release products that are functional, last for years, and are feature-rich. The recommended scopes listed above are all manufactured by one of the following top global thermal imaging rifle scope brands:
In operation for two decades, ATN has made its specialty the creation of quality night vision and thermal imaging scopes. According to their site, “Our R&D Department has consistently allowed us to launch cutting edge and innovative products and technologies. The new Thermal Line ThOR Series Weapon Scopes, launched in 2011, have been universally recognized as the best line of Thermal Scopes on the market today.” Check out all the ATN products here.
Armasight creates quality thermal imaging scopes for a myriad of sectors. Their mission statement encompasses their desire to provide functional, versatile thermal imaging: “The primary goal of Armasight is to create a meaningful presence in the night vision and electro-optical arena by supporting elite military units, law enforcement professionals, first responder agencies and commercial consumers worldwide with the highest value price-to-performance goods and services that are delivered on time combined with the best after-sales support in the industry.” Check out all the Armasight products here.
FLIR took its name from the detector system that is most vital to thermal imaging and is responsible for many of the thermal technology that is used today. FLIR is also one of the oldest producers of scopes and thermal imaging technologies. From their site, “An industry pioneer for over 60 years, FLIR is the most vertically-integrated thermal imaging company in the world. We control the technology that’s key to our products’ thermal performance. In producing the R-Series, we leveraged our vast experience designing military-grade thermal imagers that have to be durable, precise, and reliable. The top shots around the world depend on FLIR. So should you.” Check out all the FLIR products here.
In addition to considering the brand of scope that you’re interested in, there are multiple factors to consider before making your purchase, especially when trying to identify the features that are most important to you. If you are still unsure about which scope to purchase solely based on the information above, here are some other points to consider:
Even the un-cooled types of thermal imaging scopes can get expensive. Models go from around $1,500 to more than $8,000. As a rule, the more costly thermal imaging scopes have a richer feature set and greater magnification. When searching for a great scope, try to keep your budget in mind, but also remember that you might not want to sacrifice functionality for a cheaper scope. This is a device that you’ll use for years to come and hopefully it’ll bring you success in use, so be sure to balance your need with your wallet judiciously. Also, thermal imaging technology is becoming more mainstream, so while today’s scopes might seem to be more on the expensive side, prices are sure to come down a bit in the near future. Even today, prices for these types of devices are a fraction of what they were even a few years ago.
Like many modern devices, thermal rifle scopes require power to function. Typically, you can use lithium batteries to power your scope and charge will vary greatly based on model. If you can find a thermal imaging scope that lasts around eight hours on a charge, then you’ve found one that lasts fairly well.
Just like in today’s graphical processor and television systems, refresh rate has great value in thermal imaging. Most scopes on the market today come in 30 or 60 hertz varieties. Hertz, when it comes to digital images represents cycles per second or how often a presented image is refreshed. The more refreshes the more lifelike the displayed image will appear. As a rule, when it comes to refresh rate, shoot for a thermal imaging rifle scope that has a rate over 30 hertz, this will ensure that if whatever you’re tracking starts to move it won’t appear like a slideshow. Some find that a larger 60 hertz display isn’t really that important as that level of cycles per second won’t make a noticeable difference unless the target is moving at a fairly rapid pace. Others have noted that if trying to target something from a moving platform, such as the bed of a truck, 30 hertz tends to lag too much, so this is a situation where 60 hertz shines.
Thermal imaging scopes aren’t like standard mechanical scopes; their image is relayed using technology not unlike what is found in many of our current crop of digital devices. Just like in any other digital display, resolution is the primary means to providing a crisp, reliable image while using a thermal imaging scope. The reasoning for this is simple; too much pixilation distorts the edges of the target which can then cause misses. When it comes to resolution, your best bet is to purchase the highest resolution that fits within your scope budget. Thermal imaging doesn’t always provide as high detail as standard night vision imaging as its power is in detection, so having extra resolution for clearer image finding can really help you out on a hunt.
Zoom typically goes hand-in-hand with resolution. There are two types of zoom, optical and digital. As a rule, optical zoom will allow you to magnify in on a target without losing quite as much of its resolution. Digital on the other hand, utilizes software to get closer to the target and zooming too far with this, at least without the help of other tech, will result in a lower resolution image. Thermal scopes with a combination of these types are a great way to get the extended zoom of the digital, with the image quality of the optical. When you’re thinking about making a purchase of a scope, definitely take a look at what the scope has to offer for zoom.
The reticle, also known as a crosshair or reticule, helps provide accurate target sighting on a thermal scope. Some scopes feature a fine reticle while others feature one with thicker lines. Some scopes have a wide selection of reticles which you can select and can range from a standard crosshair to a simple central dot. Some manufacturers don’t provide a reticle in their thermal scopes, so be sure to do some research on the scope you intend to buy so that you know what to expect when you use it to target.
Glass is a great insulator; and as a result, it isn’t a material that can be used very well in thermal optics. The reason why glass is transparent is because visible short wavelengths pass freely through the material, but since infrared is heat energy and the glass blocks these wavelengths as an insulator, it’s impossible for the infrared detector elements to pick up the thermal information as the glass is blocking its reception. Germanium, a chemical rare element, can be made transparent and allow for the transmission of light on the infrared spectrum so the lenses on thermal imaging scopes tend to be made of this material. One caveat though, germanium is very expensive, especially compared to standard glass. As a matter of fact, a sizeable reason that these scopes costs so much compared to standard scopes is because of this lens material. You can safely assume that the larger the lens, the more you can expect to pay for the rifle scope.
Color or Monochrome
When many think of thermal imaging, they think of the bright oranges, reds, and yellows portrayed in the 1987 film Predator. While with the current crop of thermal scopes, you can get a great approximation of this effect, it’s not the only option for thermal imagery. For a little less you can get a monochromatic option that provides a great gradation level when observing an option. For monochrome thermal scopes, warm targets are simply brighter on the grayscale and still stand out very well from their cooler environments.
Clip-on versus Standard
For rifle sights, there are two types of scope systems that can help you utilize thermal imaging on your next hunt. These types are:
- Clip-on – Clip-on sights employ a thermal imager that you attach via rails to your current scope. These work very well, and many of the scopes in this category can be used independently but typically have slightly reduced zoom capability, so they are better when used in conjunction with another scope. Since your standard scope is view finding through the screen of your thermal imaging scope, at high magnifications some loss in resolution can occur.
- Standard – This is the type that utilizes standard scope technology and works in conjunction with an internal thermal imaging sensor. The images that this type produces provide great heat detail by using a myriad of colors, or it can present the thermogram display in a more monochrome readout. This typically depends on the manufacturer and the imaging system’s components.
Some scopes have extra bells and whistles on them like a DVR to record everything that the scope sees. This allows you to take a look at the days hunting after it’s done. Some models even feature an RCA out setup that will allow you to hook a monitor directly to the scope. Another extra feature on some scopes is the addition of a standby mode. Since most scopes incorporate a battery as a power source, this type of feature allows you to save the battery during times when you are relaxing or when the scope is not in active use. Many thermal scopes utilize a menu system that allows you to select your reticle, adjust brightness, or wind and elevation settings. Having extra features can make your thermal scope seem more versatile, which adds value to your purchase.
Selecting a great thermal imaging scope is a process that requires a lot of due diligence but is ultimately a very rewarding experience. Take the time to establish a budget, get to know the technology intimately, and learn the feature sets of some of the best units on the market. This guide, hopefully, will help you through the process and help to educate you on some of the features of the tech, the brands available on the market today, and some of the best units for sport shooting and beyond.
How Does Thermal Imaging Work?
How does this technology work? Initially developed in the military sector, thermal imaging allows those who utilize it to see the seemingly invisible. As a rule, all animals emit infrared energy as heat during the natural processes of life; it is that thermal energy that is visible to an observer using an thermal imaging scope. Since the majority of objects in the natural world emit heat in one form or another, the majority of scopes capture the differences in heat between the target and its immediate environment.
Forward looking infrared (FLIR) systems are the types of infrared detectors that many rifle scopes utilize to pick up infrared light. The lens in the scope focuses all of the incoming infrared light; this light is then scanned by infrared detector elements in the array, and these elements create a thermogram. It only takes about one-thirteenth of a second to create a thermogram, so to the observer it appears to happen in real-time. The thermogram is then processed and projected to the display for the observer to use. The images that are delivered can tell you when a target is under a bush or even hunkered down to avoid a strong rain shower. The majority of external elements such as weather or poor lighting do not decrease the reliability of this type of imaging.
Types of Thermal Imaging Systems
When it comes to thermal imaging, there are typically two systems that are used on the market: cryogenically cooled and un-cooled. Here is how these two unique systems work to provide sharp thermal imaging:
- Un-cooled thermal imaging – This type of thermal imaging is what the majority of thermal imaging devices utilize. The elements that detect infrared energy operate at standard temperatures; and as a result, they don’t need additional materials to keep the key thermal elements below 32 degrees fahrenheit. Since extra machinery isn’t needed, this system is very quiet, which can be beneficial for hunters. These types of sights provide great temperature differential information but aren’t quite as sensitive as the other type.
- Cryogenically cooled thermal imaging – This is typically the more expensive option. The system employs internals that are sealed and mechanically cooled to freezing temperatures or below. These types of devices can have a slight hum to them though that is typically only noticeable in close proximity to the assembly. Despite the additional cost, this system provides a great advantage as they have heightened sensitivity compared to un-cooled systems of thermal imaging. These types of scopes can observe very minute temperature differentials from more than 1,000 feet away from the target. The only negative aspect of this type of thermal imager outside of the cost is the fact that with all of the extra components for cooling, this type of device is not quite as rugged as the un-cooled variety.
For the most part, the majority of weapon targeting thermal imaging scopes are un-cooled and the weapons scopes that we’ll be covering in this guide are of this type as well. As mentioned before, cryogenically cooled devices offer more temperature detail and this type is perfect for many civilian applications, but as these can get to be very expensive they are mostly limited to thermal imaging cameras.
Action cameras are some of the most popular on-the-go video and photo taking devices on the market. Their video and photo taking capabilities are matched by some of the higher-end DSLR and SLR cameras. We use them to document our lives (no matter how crazy they are) at the moment. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see them mounted on shoulders, helmets, vehicles, aircraft, and even pets.
GoPro is definitely the first name that comes to mind when it comes to action cameras. Sure, GoPro certainly makes some high-quality cameras that are raved about. However, some of their cameras have limitations as to where you should take them and what conditions you should put them under. If you’re on a budget, a couple hundred dollar GoPro may not be in your best interest. That is why we’ve compiled a list of action cameras according to budget and occupation.
Furthermore, we’ll discuss how to compare one action camera vs. another and what you should look out for.
Table of Contents
Our #1 Recommendation
The HERO 6 is the newest toy in GoPro’s expanding product base. Soon to follow is the GoPro Fusion, but for now, the HERO 6 tops the market as the best action camera in the world. Customers might be a little hesitant based on price and how new it is, but trust us, you’d think you were a filmmaker with this little camera.
Aesthetically, it’s not all too dissimilar from the HERO 5. The one button on top of the camera and touchscreen on the back both make a reappearance. The actual lens placement on the front of the camera is a little different to allow for a new type of camera.
This camera is by far the most advanced in the world. Regardless of the fact that the HERO 6 hasn’t been out for so long, 4k at 60FPS quality is about as close as you can get to something like Blu-Ray quality. As soon as you’ve recorded your videos, they are also uploaded to the GoPro app for improved editing.
You won’t have to worry about jarring or shakiness because the HERO 6 features even better stabilization technology than the HERO 5 (which already made a statement on its own). It’s also waterproof without a casing up to 10m (best not to try and test that limit).
It’s hard to make a case for why the HERO 6 shouldn’t be the best action camera in the world.
Best Action Cameras under $100
The Fitfort is a simple looking action camera that is loaded with impressive specs. It’s natural for people to be wary of brands that don’t say “GoPro” on the front but the Fitfort really handles the competition with a wide range of capabilities. The biggest spec is its 4k/25FPS setting—the highest setting for the video component. This is basically saying HD without specifically saying HD.
For less than a hundred dollars, the FitFort is waterproof above ten meters (thirty-three feet), and users have taken it with them biking, bungee jumping, and snowboarding among other activities. If you’re attaching the Fitfort to an area that you can’t easily reach, not to worry. The camera comes with a wireless controller that will fit around your wrist for easy access.
The Crosstour is a bulkier camera but still offers many of the same specs that the Fitfort does all for an insanely low price. We know what you’re thinking—cheap doesn’t always mean good quality but the Crosstour is here to dispel that rumor. 12MP and 1080P quality video (not 4k but still awesome) will still get you prime shots no matter the conditions you put it in. That being said, don’t treat the Crosstour like it’s indestructible. Like the Fitfort, it operates best underwater above
The Crosstour has nearly triple the operating floor of the Fitfort underwater at thirty meters (ninety-eight feet). This will definitely appeal to swimmers or divers looking to take a camera to deeper spots than just beyond the shore.
We might as well call this camera the “McCool” because that’s what it is. With 4k at 30fps and 16mp, the Explorer-Pro is one of the fastest shooting action cameras at the highest quality for an affordable price. Using both rechargeable batteries will give you at maximum, a little over three hours of recording time—perfect for outdoor excursions.
The Explorer Pro comes with two additional shooting features—slow-motion and time-lapse. These features basically give you control over normal and slow to extremely slow speeds. If you consider yourself at the crossroads between hobbies and artistry, then the Explorer Pro is the right balance for you.
You may recognize the name DBPOWER by the drones they manufacture. They manufacture the N6 action camera with the same precision and quality that they do their drones. A simplistic camera with 4k video and 170-degree camera angle (almost completely horizontal) makes sure that your shots are of the utmost quality.
Some designs you might find handy is the inclusion of a touchscreen on the back of the camera. Like many cameras, the N6 can be controlled via a smartphone app. The CamKing app also gives you the ability to do some slight photo and video editing with the camera’s onboard software. This is perfect for getting repeated shots in a particular area without having to go home to a laptop or desktop to do dedicated editing.
The Akaso EK7000 could also fit under the best waterproof cameras section, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to put it in our budget section. The EK7000 is a more dedicated camera for the extreme athlete or hobbyist. It combines a lot of the specs that make previous cameras great—4k video, 25FPS, and 12mp, all of which point to high-quality shots. A remote control attachable to your wrist will enable you to control the camera without much difficulty.
The operating floor of the EK7000 is around 100 feet below the surface of the water. It’s hard to find a better camera better equipped for nature than the EK7000 and for a low price.
Best Action Cameras under $200
The SJ5000X may look like your average GoPro, but the reality is it’s anything but. It’s’ built to handle most grueling of journeys but still return some of the best images and videos possible. On the inside, it’s equipped with a number of programs and components to keep its shutter steady. In extreme environments, you can expect your camera to be tossed around almost as much as you are. The SJ5000X makes sure to compensate for these conditions while still maintaining a high standard in light filtering and coloration.
This camera also comes equipped with a slow motion feature (240FPS), enabling you to capture precise movements and details as they occur.
Best Waterproof Action Cameras
The HLS action camera is a masterpiece of durable, waterproof technology. The highest possible setting on the HLS is a 4k/30 FPS, one of if not the best in the action camera market. Like the rest of the cameras in the waterproof section, it’s perfectly capable operating above and below the water line.
In regards to operating underwater, the HLS has an operating floor of a hundred feet, which is about the lowest floor of any camera on this list. To take full advantage of this feature, diving will probably be preferable to snorkeling.
Best Action Cameras for Hunting
During a hunt, it’s key to have a reliable action camera that can capture sights and sounds of game with precision. The Spypoint Xcel has a 4k quality option and every spec below that with the corresponding megapixel setting. You’ll also enjoy the fact that it’s camouflaged for forest terrain. It’s possible game might be scared away or confused by any other color of action camera.
The Xcel also has a burst mode feature—able to take three photos in only one and a half seconds. If you’re looking to track the position of game over time, this feature will definitely come in handy.
The TG-Tracker is a more dedicated action camera for hunting as opposed to ones that are applicable for hunting. It shoots at 4k quality which is what most people are going to be looking for. Its design is a little wonky in that its front facing with the LCD screen located on the side. This means you probably won’t be holding it when its recording. Instead it would probably work best strapped to some part of your body or tree.
This camera, besides its video and camera capabilities, has five senors—GPS, compass, accelerometer, thermometer, and a barometer. It would appear that camera is more of a multi-tool than just a camera, which is extremely beneficial to the dedicated hunter.
Best Action Cameras for Sports
Not to be mistaken with the HERO5 Session. The simply put “HERO5” is the crown jewel of current GoPro technology. This camera truly has the most astounding specs about it. The price is still looming but if you’re looking to capture important moments on vacation or holiday, the HERO5 is the best camera for the job.
Like the Session, the HERO5 is a simple, one button camera. This button turns on the camera and you can basically control the recording from there with your voice. The back screen is also touch sensitive, giving you the ability to alter the quality and do some slight editing.
The HERO5 Session is another odd looking action camera. Don’t mistake this feature for the inability to do its job well. The camera itself is relatively easy to operate compared to the more rectangular action cameras. Aside from being waterproof, the Session fits snug onto everything from surfboards to helmets.
The Session is one of GoPro’s most advanced cameras. It can be voice controlled, enabling you to record without having to reach around to press a button. Its 4k video at 30FPS is the fastest and highest quality on the market. The price is going to be a concern for most people, but GoPro really knocks it out of the park with the Session. This camera is built to handle the elements and give you some of the recordings of images and videos.
The YI is definitely an advanced piece of equipment, employing a number of technologies to produce high-quality shots. The YI’s lens covers 160 degrees, slightly lower than the average degree angle but the difference isn’t too noticeable. Basically, the YI’s specs are designed to compensate for the worst of conditions.
Some cameras (and even phones) will get blazing hot when you set them on the highest quality. The YI compensates for this factor with an advanced cooler that will keep the camera and its valuable electronics from overheating, even on a hot day. The touchscreen will also give you editing capabilities
Best Action Cameras for Helmets
The VIRB tops our list in this category for a number of reasons, not the least of which because of its all-around specs and capabilities. While not a dedicated helmet camera, it’s the best kind for the job of off-roading or helmeted sports. It shoots at 30FPS, the highest setting for 4k quality. You’ll be getting more than just above average quality.
The VIRB is almost on point with the hunting camera, the TG-Tracker, in that it has a number of sensors built into supplement your journey. If you plan on staying away from home or taking an extended trip, the VIRB can help you adjust to your surroundings and even keep track of your heart rate.
The Helmet Hero is an older model of GoPro but don’t let that fool you as to its capabilities. It doesn’t have the 4k quality option that a general action camera does by 1080p setting is still up there in terms of quality. The advantage with this is at 1080p, you get a whopping four hours of recording time!
This camera comes with a couple of mounts so you can mount it on everything from motorbike helmets to sports helmets. A multitude of shooting modes will give you an equally diverse way of looking at your footage.
With technology being updated almost every day, you can expect to see prices drop as higher quality optics becomes more affordable. Still, there is a multitude of action cameras out there, and it’s pretty overwhelming. As you’re looking through this guide, you’re probably wondering, how do I choose between two really good cameras?
If the categories didn’t already narrow down your decision, we’ve provided some pointers and tips to help guide your search.
Sports, Environments, and Conditions
One of the biggest factors you’ll have to consider when purchasing an action camera is where are you going to take it and how are you going to use it. Some examples of activities outdoorsmen and women have taken action cameras on are the following—
- Bungee Jumping
- Helmeted Sports
While these are just some examples of activities, you’ll also have to factor in the weather should it come into play. Rain, wind, and snow are all threats to sensitive optics. Most manufacturers realize that their customers will be going on adventures with their action cameras, so they prepare them as best they can for rugged terrain and harsh weather.
- This doesn’t mean you should treat your action camera as invincible. Treat it how you would treat a sensitive telescope or camera—with caution and handling.
Most of the action cameras on our list have the ability to shoot in 4k, 1080p, and 12mp quality. There are some cameras with specs above and below those mentioned, but for the most part, you should be able to get an excellent camera for under $400. However, maybe your budget and desire for camera quality are interlinked, how do you reconcile the two?
If you consider yourself a hobbyist and adventure above all, maybe you’re not too keen on purchasing the camera with the highest possible specs on the action camera market. If you’re contempt with the shots you get the first time, then you can probably push your search towards the $100 range and below. If specs are your primary ambition, then the higher priced cameras are going to be your best bet. You may even get a few more shooting methods and editing styles for paying a little more.
- Keep in mind which action cameras say they are waterproof. They may be common, but you don’t want to purchase one that isn’t just because it has fancy specs!
What does it mean when a camera says it has “built-in WiFi”?
- Most, if not all cameras require a WiFi connection to operate. Out in the wilderness or under the water, the internet doesn’t exist, so what does this mean? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. The camera will have a WiFi adapter compared to your smartphone’s emitter. The two will search for each other even outside civilization. Once they’re connected, you’re good to go! Just don’t expect to run much beyond the camera’s specific app.
We guarantee that you’re going to be satisfied with whatever action camera you end up purchasing from this list. While GoPro is still the hottest name on the market, don’t count out the various other manufacturers. Some of them, like the Ppap and the MGcool have some unique qualities about them that will make you do a double take.
It’s important to take care of these optics despite how battle-tested they may be according to other users. The warranty can only cover so much for so long. Carefully and soundly attaching a camera to your body or helmet will extend its lifetime dramatically.
The .22lr rifle is a fairly affordable and accurate shot, making it a favorite for many budget-minded small game hunters and target shooters. Its lightweight and minimum recoil also make this rifle a great beginner’s tool for youngsters, and overall; most people learn to shoot with a .22lr. It is a preferred option for target practice, plinking, and pest control because it is cheaper than shooting centerfire ammo.
Many shooters operate under the misconception that this rifle’s versatility allows it to be paired with any scope out there. Therefore, very few of them invest in a fitting scope which in turn limits their experience with this rifle. To make the best decision, you need to understand the rimfire rifle’s capabilities and limitations.
The need for a light cartridge and a thin base limits the .22lr’s accurate shooting distance to about 200 yards. Longer shooting distances are possible under the right conditions, but it’s not very effective because your bullet will drop about a foot or more at 100 yards. Since this is the case, you will find that you may not require a very high magnification optic. A powerful magnification at closer ranges causes both blurriness eye fatigue.
Outlined below are our top riflescope choices for a .22lr rifle after taking all of its specs into consideration, and then we further summarize key factors to look for when trying to select the right scope for your rifle.
Top Scopes for the .22lr Rifle
There are several viable options of scopes to select from, varying from optics for plinkers to those for competitive championships. Prices range from as little as $30 for standard makes to over $1000 for top-notch products, and our recommendations are not biased toward popular brand-name products; instead, they are inspired by the functional highlights that count most in rimfire scopes.
Here are our 7 favorite rimfire scopes at different price points:
Athlon is a company that has been impressing many people in the optics world of late. Their quality products and affordability have been hard to beat, even for the larger optics companies. And in no area is that truer than in riflescopes set up perfectly for a rimfire rifle. The Neos is a simple, quality rifle scope set up for most shooters to use easily and accurately. And the BDC22 version of the scope couldn’t be better for your new .22lr rifle build.
This scope has fully multicoated glass, which is shocking and amazing in a scope at this price point. That means your vision will be exceptionally clear for your shooting. It also uses a single aircraft grade aluminum tube construction, so it can handle some bumps and bruises without any serious damage. Anyone who’s dropped a rifle and had its zero go way off knows how important that is.
There are a lot of good options for scopes these days, but I would seriously consider giving the Athlon scope a try. It’s tough to beat right now. You can see it’s current price on Amazon here, or find it on OpticsPlanet.com here.
The simple and “no-frills” Nikon ProStaff Rimfire 3-9 x 40 is perhaps one of the best, if not the best, optics for the .22lr caliber. Although it is specifically designed for rimfire rifles, it is still widely used on all sorts of rounds.
The Prostaff rimfire is equipped with a comprehensive combination of features that will greatly enhance the use of your rifle. The scope’s fully multicoated optics facilitate up to 98% light transmission to aid the shooter in dark conditions, and it is nitrogen-filled, oxygen-purged and O-ringed, so this scope is rugged enough to handle almost anything that nature may throw your way.
The Prostaff Rimfire offers sufficient eye relief despite the .22lr’s lack of recoil, and its 40mm objective lens ensures a large field of view but is not hefty to the point of weighing the rifle down. This scope makes sighting easier, and the BDC reticle works superbly at distances up to 150 yards. This BDC reticle is unique not only because it is designed specifically for a .22lr rifle, but it also has see-through ballistic circles to give the shooter an additional advantage when shooting from long distances. Finally, this scope comes with a lifetime warranty. Click here to check the current price.
The Leupold VX-Freedom offers quality optics with multi-coated lenses and 3:1 zoom ratio. Price, versatility, and material quality are favorable aspects of this scope when it is compared to many of the other rimfire scopes on the market.
This rimfire scope notably offers Twilight Light Management System, scratch resistant lenses, and 1/4 MOA click turrets. In addition to the zoom ration, the Leupold has ranges for windage and elevation which allows you to compensate for both wind and bullet drop.
In addition, the classic duplex reticle is highly versatile and minimalist. Overall, this scope comes with a solid set of features for the reasonable cost. Click here to check the current price on Amazon, or here to see it on OpticsPlanet.
Simmons focuses on developing products that are dependable and extremely affordable, so their rifle scopes will only contain those features needed most by the shooter. Unlike most brands, Simmons specializes in simplicity and do not produces scopes with excess features.
The Simmons .22 Mag Riflescope does not offer the clarity of the Nikon or the ruggedness of the Leupold; what it offers is an affordable alternative with all the basic features that will suit the low budget shooter.
This rifle scope gives you ultimate control, featuring elevation and wind adjustment knobs that can be easily turned even while wearing gloves. It is also fitted with an adjustment knob for the objective lens to ensure that you see a clear, focused view at every magnification.
With an under $50 price tag, it is one of Amazon’s best-selling and best-reviewed scopes. For that price, you acquire a scope that performs impressively at distances below 150 yards. Its 32mm objective lens offers a crisp and clear field of view under the entire magnification range. Targets may appear a bit blurry at 9x magnification power, but that should be expected of a scope at that price range. Click here to see the current price on Amazon, or here to see it on OpticsPlanet.
Vortex is the company to watch in the world of optics; it is continually giving the bigger guns a run for their money with the production of better and more advanced scopes. Vortex Crossfire 2 rimfire edition is built to the same specs as its bigger centerfire sibling, but it is toned down for rimfire calibers.
The Crossfire 2 rimfire is a 2 to 7 power optic with a 32 mm objective lens. The Fully multi-coated lens offers bright light transition, and a clear, high-definition picture. The parallax is set for fifty yards and is adequate for most plinking and hunting operations. The 2x magnification is excellent for close range shooting and picking your shot on a small target.
The Crossfire 2 is made from aircraft grade aluminum and built from a single piece of aluminum to make the finish field-ready, waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. This scope assures a sustainable performance and great value for the price. Click here to see current price on Amazon. You can also buy it from OpticsPlanet.
I know that the inclusion of this scope in this list goes against our recommendation for low magnification power scopes for the .22lr, which is included in our list of recommendations when selecting a scope at the end of this article. However, as many of you shall find out, 4x magnification is perfect for the rimfire caliber, so this scope fits in just fine.
The other reason we included this scope is its price. It is an affordable scope that would be able to double as your “go to” rifle scope larger caliber hunting rifles without much damage to your wallet. This is the right scope for shooters who are after an above-average performance at a decent price range.
The fixed magnification keeps the Bushnell Rimfire 4×32 light and compact; it only weighs 15 ounces. Its constant 3.3″ of eye relief protects your eyes but still offers a clear view. The Bushnell 4-12x40mm offers a crisp and clear picture and much better magnification than most other scopes its class.
It is 100% waterproof and fog proof and offers proven durability. The manufacturer also offers an attractive warranty and world-class customer care. Click here to see the current price.
The BSA Sweet .22 Duplex Reticle Rifle Scope is a tool designed simply for reliably getting the job done. BSA has been in the scope industry for a very long time and is well known for high quality, low priced optics that can run with the big boys regarding features and quality. The Sweet 22 is no exception to that rule.
Designed for the .22 long rifle cartridge, and intended to be a top quality .22 scope, the Sweet 22 features interchangeable target turrets calibrated for all popular .22 loads. The magnification and turrets are optimized for a .22 with low profile movable turrets for adjustments.
Its waterproof and fog proof construction make it ideal for most weather conditions. Its large 40mm objective lens helps to maximize light gathering. This may very well be the best scope for .22 rifles for a budget-conscious shooter who wants to run a precision target scope. Click here to see the current price.
Selecting the Right Scope for Your .22lr Rifle
We have provided a number of scope options above at a wide range of prices, so if you are still trying to figure out what features are most meaningful to you when making a selection, here is a summary of all of the important features to review when selecting a rifle scope for your .22lr:
- Weight – light, kid-friendly, and quite handy, most .22lr rifles weigh about 5 pounds in their stock configuration. So attaching a heavy optic throws it off balance and consequentially affects its ease of handling and speed of movement. This can act against you while hunting fast-moving varmints or small game.
- Magnification – I cannot stress enough that a 16 power magnification scope is both impractical and wasteful on your 22lr. 3-9x or 2-7x power scopes are sufficient for rimfire rifles.
- Reticle – it is not relevant to acquire a scope with adjustments for elevation and windage at over 100 yards because bullet drop is typically significant at these distances. Also, note that illuminated reticles can be too bright and the resulting wash out might make small targets difficult to see.
- Adjustable Objective – this allows users to essentially adjust the scope’s parallax to facilitate hitting of excessively small targets. An adjustable parallax enhances accuracy at various ranges, as well as provides a clearer sight picture.
- Lens size – although anything below 32mm will reduce the quality of the sight picture, lenses larger than 40 or 42 mm are too bulky for your rimfire .22lr rifle.
- Dedication – any suitable, well-built scope can do the job but .22-dedicated scopes perform better at most times because they are correctly ranged and calibrated for the most common .22 rounds.
Anyone who uses a gun for target practice or hunting will agree that having a sight is essential for being able to accurately hit a target. Traditional iron sights can be used to achieve this desired accuracy; however, red dot sights provide a faster way to aim and shoot without missing. While these sights were typically used by the military, they are now often employed for recreational means, including hunting and paintball. Red dot sights are popular to use for aiming at moving targets, especially since this type of sight allows you to line up the target and take a shot at a quick rate of speed. Let’s take a look at some of the best red dot sights on the market, and then we will cover key features to look for and evaluate when purchasing a red dot sight.
Table of Contents
What is a Red Dot Sight?
If you are unsure of what a red dot sight is or how it differs from other types of sights, here are some additional details to go over before exploring the following options: Any non-magnified, illuminated sight that can be equipped to a shotgun, a rifle, or a handgun is considered a red dot sight. The reticle or “red dot” is created by an LED or a laser diode light that is reflected or projected into the field of view. This “red dot” is aimed directly in your line of sight to become the aiming mechanism that lines up the gun with the targets to make the perfect shot.
The Best Red Dot Sights on the Market
1. Athlon Optics Midas TSR2 Red Dot (Our top pick)
Athlon may not be the biggest name on the market, but they are one of the most impressive of late. Their latest generation of products have all been high performance at an affordable price, and their Midas Red Dot series is a great option for anyone in need of a quality red dot. One of its most impressive features is its battery life. At medium brightness, it claims to have an incredible 50,000 hours of juice! To make this battery life even better, it has a built in motion sensor that automatically turns the unit on and off. And its fully multicoated glass lives up to the quality that I’ve seen in the rest of Athlon’s line. Athlon has several other versions of this sight as well depending on how much power you want. I highly recommend giving this unit a try, you can check its price here.
The Vortex SPARC 2 is a well built, extremely sturdy sight that provides great features at a really reasonable price. An upgrade to Vortex’s original SPARC, the light weight sight is built to impress, and many reviewers have not had problems with it standing up to the tests of time at all. The battery life of this sight at minimum brightness can last up to an incredible 5,000 hours. A six hour auto shut down feature is also present to help preserve battery life. A simple button press makes it easy to adapt the color, shape, and illumination of the reticle. This sight also features a fully multi-coated lens as well as waterproof optics to keep moisture, dust, and debris away from the lens. It is also parallax free, which allows for more rapid shooting while you have both eyes open. Click here to see the current price.
The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 is a great, durable, lightweight sight that does not lack in quality. The multi-coated lens has an amber bright, high contrast coating that is designed to help you quickly distinguish where your target is in any lighting. The parallax free design adjusts to your eyes, which allow rapid shooting with both eyes open. The sight has the ability to adjust the size and the illumination of the reticle to three different levels and preserve the battery life. An additional feature that is useful for shooting excursions in the great outdoors is the waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof construction. Click here to check the current price.
The Aimpoint PRO is a great sight that has new, never-before-seen features incorporated into its’ design that maximizes the performance and battery life of the device. The sight can be turned on and left on for at least three years before a new battery will be required. The service date and battery change reminders are perfect for tracking and making sure that you never let your batteries die while you are out on a hunt. The front lens of this sight also features a band-pass coating, which enables compatibility with most types of night vision devices. Both the front and the rear lens are set back from the edge to cushion the sight from impact devastation and safeguard it from scratches and fingerprints. The Aimpoint PRO also has a mount with a removable spacer as well as a torque limiting twist knob that optimizes the pressure places on the rail. Click here to see the current price.
The Sightmark Ultra Shot Pro Spec Sight NV QD is ideal for someone looking to purchase a high quality, cost-effective sight. The double pane lens helps to eliminate parallax, which is a very helpful and common feature among red dot scopes, and the sight has four different reticle patterns to allow for maximal customization. You will also have the unique ability to mount the sight in front of a night vision monocular to create a co-witnessed sight setup. Furthermore, if you are in pursuit of a fast target, this sight is equipped with a quick detachable rail mounting system and an internal interlocking system that holds zero extremely well; therefore, you won’t have to worry about frequently readjusting this sight in the field. Finally, you can be sure that this scope will hold up in multiple types of environments and situations due to its durable aluminum frame and metal shield. Click to see the current price.
The Burris FastFire III is a very versatile sight that was built to stand up to rugged outdoor life for long periods of time. Windage and elevation adjustment upgrades are available with this sight. This Picatinny mounted sight has a 3 MOA dot reticle that can be adjusted to three brightness settings, and it also sports an automatic brightness setting that adjusts to the current lighting conditions. Battery access is conveniently located on the top so the sight so that it does not need to be removed when the battery needs replacing, and the low battery indicator will help you best prepare to have a fully powered sight for your next adventure. This Burris FastFire III also comes with waterproof and shockproof features.
Choosing the right sight is imperative for any hunter or marksman. Whether you are shooting for the fun of the sport or for the competition of it, it is best to find a sight that you are comfortable using. The key is to be able to make an accurate shot without spending a long time lining up the shot, especially if you are aiming at a moving target. Red dot sights are a great option for accomplishing that, but make sure you are aware of the important features to consider when purchasing one. Remember, expense does not always equal quality. The five sights listed are all excellent choices, but continue reading the content below before deciding which red dot sight is best for you. Click here to see the current price.
Benefits of a Red Dot Sight
• Faster Targeting Capabilities
Once a target is acquired, it is easy to quickly center the reticle on the target and fire the gun. There is no need to align the sights and take time to aim. This type of sight gives a much greater accuracy rate when taking aim at a moving target.
• Greater Field of View
Red dot sights have a wider field of view than most tube style sights. Having a wider field of view allows for a shot from a greater distance, but the sight is still not magnified so being reasonably close is still recommended.
• Unrestricted Eye Relief
For most sights, it matters how far away the shooter’s eye is from the sight, but with a red sight, the eye relief is unlimited. This feature allows for faster targeting, because it takes away part of the restraint placed upon someone who is aiming with another type of sight.
• Works Well with Low Light
Red dot sights are easy to aim in the dark of night. The cross hairs of most sights become invisible in the dark, but the red dot is even visible in the darkest environments.
Features to Consider when Purchasing a Red Dot Sight
• Housing Configuration
A red dot sight can come in either a tube style or an open style. The tube style is closer to a traditional sight in appearance. This type of housing allows the shooter to apply filters and protective covers to the lens, which could make the “red dot” easier to see in bright sunlight. Open sights do not have the classic tube style. These types of sights consist of only the bare basics, and objective window to see through and a source of illumination. Since an open housing configuration has less room for flair, filters cannot be used to enhance the viewing experience.
• Type of Projection
Red dot sights include both holographic and reflex sights. With a holographic projection, the sight is illuminated from the front of the lens and a laser diode light is projected onto the viewing window to create a holographic red dot to assist with aiming at a target. Reflex sight projections are much more common in red dot sights that are used for recreation. A reflex sight reflects an LED light that is positioned behind the lens into your line of sight.
• Style of the Reticle
The reticle is effectively the “red dot” that is used to bring the gun in line with the target. All Reticles are designed to be illuminated to make it easier to shoot in low lighting conditions, but they are not required to be red or to be a simple dot. The color and patterns of red dot sights vary, so it is best to find one that allows comfortable shooting. Styles range from a single dot, to cross hairs, or even bullseye patterns that can be displayed in a red or green color. A good sight will be able to utilize multiple patterns and adjust to the desired color. The size of the reticle can also often be adjusted. A bigger dot typically means that targeting is faster. Make sure to avoid fancy styles; it is important to naturally align your eye to the center of the reticle for faster target finding.
• Battery Life of the Sight
The battery life of any red dot sight is extremely important. You need to know that the reticle will be there when it is needed, and a sight that has a short battery life presents the chance of the light going out when you are getting ready to aim for a target. Without the reticle, targeting becomes more complicated and accuracy can suffer. Reflex sights that use LED’s to create the “red dot” consume much less energy than holographic options. A good sight should be able to get roughly a thousand hours of usage before the battery life diminishes. Make sure to preserve battery life whenever possible by turning the sight off when it is not being used. Shooing in cold weather can also be a factor of how long the battery life will last, so make sure to always carry a backup just in case.
Tips for Choosing a Red Dot Sight
• Higher Price does not mean Better Quality
Spending a lot on a sight is not always going to guarantee that the quality is better than the cheaper models. Sometimes advertising will suck you into a more expensive red dot sight that is missing key features, like being able to change the shape or color of the reticle to something that allows your eyes to focus at a faster rate.
• Compatible with Gun
Not all sights are able to be mounted to just any gun. Sights are designed to go with certain types of guns, and they will only fit properly on those styles. Make sure the sight that you are looking to purchase is compatible with the gun you own or are looking to own.
• A Comfortable Size and Weight
Make sure the sight is an appropriate size for your gun and the area where it will be stored. The weight of the red dot sight will affect the overall weight of the gun. Make sure that the gun can still be handled effectively with the sight attached to make assure that the accuracy of your aim is not diminished.
• Mounting the Sight
Mounting the sight to the gun is an extremely important step. If the sight is slightly off, then your whole aim will be off as well. Take your time when mounting and adjusting the sight to assure that it is straight. Your precision when mounting the sight will help you nail the target every time.
Overall, there are multiple features to take into consideration when making your red dot sight purchase. A sight equipped with all of the right features fit for you will take your recreational hunting or target shooting to the next level.
If you’re a hunter, bird watcher, target shooter, or engaged in any activity where enhanced vision is an asset, a spotting scope is a fantastic investment. Spotting scopes are designed to be used with a tripod, and are less portable than a pair of binoculars. However, they offer the best magnification and clarity of any type of sporting optic, making them ideal for spotting animals from long distances. This article will review what to look for when making an investment in a spotting scope to help you choose the best scope for your needs.
Table of Contents
- The #1 Spotting Scope On the Market Today
- Typical Spotting Scope Uses
- Features to Consider When Buying a Scope
- Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting
- Best Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting
- Best Spotting Scopes for Birding
- Best Compact Spotting Scopes
- Best Spotting Scope for the Money
- Best Spotting Scopes under $200
- Best Spotting Scopes under $500
- Best Spotting Scopes under $1000
The #1 Spotting Scope On the Market Today
It is incredibly difficult to name a single spotting scope as the best available. But if you’re looking for a general use scope that can be used for a variety of activities, has good features, and is priced within the realm of reason for most outdoorsmen, you should really consider the Upland Optics Perception HD.
A 20-60x60mm scope, it has the ideal amount of magnification for spotting, and the large objective lens lets in plenty of light without being excessively heavy. Its extra low dispersion glass gives it unbeatable image quality that you won’t get with very many other scopes, especially in that price range. Our partner company Upland Optics does a great job, and we feel like they are the company to beat in the optics world right now.
Typical Spotting Scope Uses
Spotting scopes can be used in a variety of contexts, but they are generally used to provide greater magnification than a pair of binoculars. These scopes are often used for hunting, archery, birding, and spotting wildlife. They can also be used to magnify a beautiful scenic mountain range. A spotting scope can be attached to a camera to take a long ranged pictures of a majestic animal without disturbing them or putting yourself in danger. Some people who use spotting scopes use them in conjunction with guns. This allows the person that is hunting to get a better view of the actual target before taking a shot. Spotting scopes are also used during target shooting to view the target hit at greater distances.
Features to Consider When Buying a Scope
There are two types of spotting scopes: an angled body spotting scope, and a straight body spotting scope. Both work well in most situations, but one may be preferred over the other in certain viewing circumstances. An angled body scope is great for looking either up at your target or across flat ground. This type of scope is also perfect for viewing from the window of a vehicle. A straight body scope is best for viewing from a higher position, like from an elevated point on a mountain to catch a glimpse into the valley below.
The absolute best option for a spotting scope is a high quality objective lens that is comprised of high performance glass. Always go for lens quality over size if you have to choose, as a larger lens of poor quality will result in a mediocre view when compared to a smaller lens of optimal quality. A larger lens will always produce a superior image at higher magnifications than a smaller lens of the same quality. Objective lens size can make a massive difference in price; expect to pay more for a larger scope.
The magnification of a spotting scope is designed for viewing at ad distance where conventional binoculars no longer function. Most observation done with a spotting scope requires a magnification of 30x – 40x, which assures that most scopes are capable of producing reasonable images. As the lens quality goes up, the quality of the image increases as well. A bit of quality will always be lost at higher magnifications, but a higher quality scope will reduce the image drop-off quality.
The atmosphere also plays a big factor in the quality of the image being viewed. Humidity, glare, wind, and dust can all lower the quality of the image. High altitudes with dry climates are bound to produce higher quality images at high magnifications. Low altitude areas that are wet and humid may require a low magnification for a clear image. Many spotting scopes do not go higher than 60x due to the limitations set by the atmosphere for magnified viewing in the daylight.
Lens coating is an important feature of a spotting scope, especially for viewing images at high magnifications. The lens can be fully coated, multi-coated, or fully multi-coated. Each lens coating improves the light transmitting into the lens, but the quality depends on the coating chosen for the specific scope. Premium spotting scopes all tend to be fully multi-coated to produce the optimal viewing experience.
Eye relief is the distance the viewer’s eye can be from the eyepiece without losing any of field of view. This feature is especially necessary for people who wear glasses. With a big enough eye relief, even people who wear glasses with thick lenses will be able to see the full image without an issue. For those who require glasses to see, it is recommended to have at least 14mm of eye relief on a spotting scope.
Most spotting scopes are refractors that use prisms inside the scope to flip the image right side up and left to right. There are two different types of prisms used in spotting scopes: a roof prism and a porro prism. The roof prism spotting scope is slim and compact, but it tends to lack some key features like interchangeable eyepieces. It is an extremely portable scope that is perfect for someone who is always on the go. The porro prism spotting scope is the most efficient and the least expensive prism to produce, which makes it the most common.
When purchasing a spotting scope, be aware that sometimes the eyepiece is not included in the price of the scope. If the eyepiece is included in the price, the eyepiece may not be removable. Higher end spotting scopes have removable eyepieces that often do not come included with the price of the scope, to give the buyer a chance to choose from the different options available. A single powered eyepiece has some optical advantages, but most people who use spotting scopes prefer the convenience of a zoom eyepiece. With this type of eyepiece, the magnification can be changed easily in a situation where the atmospheric conditions are not stable. A zoom eyepiece that is high quality will have a great eye relief as well as produce exceptional image quality.
A close focus is the nearest distance a spotting scope can view. Most spotting scopes do not have a close focus of less than 20 feet, so make sure the image being viewed is an adequate distance away. This feature is perfect for viewing birds and seeing intricate details on their feathers.
Waterproofing and Fogproofing
Waterproofing and fogproofing are not absolute necessities, but they are features that protect the spotting scope from atmospheric conditions. The seals that are produced to keep moisture out will also keep dust and debris from the scope, which will keep the spotting scope in good condition for a longer period of time.
Due to the magnification levels of a spotting scope, a tripod or some support is needed to keep it steady during the viewing process. A car mount works well if viewing from a vehicle, but in most situations a tripod is required. All spotting scopes are threaded like a traditional camera, so there is no need for a specialized tripod. The tripod needs to support the scope, so if the spotting scope is heavy, the tripod needs to be heavy as well. For anyone using a spotting scope while hiking or traveling, make sure to consider the weight of the scope and the tripod before you commit to a long haul.
You can read our guide to the best tripods for spotting scopes to get some ideas for great tripods to use with your new optic.
Most spotting scopes can adapt to a camera to take long distance pictures. This process is often referred to as “digiscoping.” Make sure the scope and camera are compatible to assure a great picture from the mountain top. To properly “digiscope,” specific adaptors may be required for the camera to produce vibrant, razor sharp images that are of exceptional quality.
To learn more about the basics of spotting scopes, check out this awesome video:
Best Spotting Scopes for Hunting
For an avid hunter, the scope used to identify a target can mean the difference between a prized catch and the one that got away. A spotting scope will allow a hunter to get a better look at an elusive deer before taking a shot. It can offer a chance to pick an animal from a herd with enough magnification. Hunting spotting scopes all differ slightly, but they can be a tremendous help when using a rifle or a bow and arrow. Here are some of the most reliable spotting scopes for hunting:
This 80 mm scope is a straight scope design that is perfect for hunting in the great outdoors. The scope features high density glass and a fully multi-coated lens to produce a razor sharp image. A rotating tripod ring gives the hunter some much appreciated positioning flexibility. With a close focus of 16 feet, wildlife near or far can be viewed with great results. The aluminum alloy body is a lightweight, sturdy solution for trekking through the woods, and the scope is coated with a Swaroclean Coating for extra protection from the elements. This water and fogproof scope also features a sunshade to help reduce the glare and shield the objective lens. With this model, the eyepiece is sold separately.
This angled spotting scope comes at 85 mm. It has a close focus of 16 feet and produces crisp enhanced images through its sophisticated triplet apochromatic lens system. The compact, lightweight magnesium alloy body is equipped with an adjustable eyecup as well as a duel focus feature that allows for fine adjustments to image clarity. The Vortex Razor spotting scope is coated with an ArmorTek Lens Coating to repel oil from the lens. The scope is a model that has been weatherproofed against rain, snow, and fog suitable for any hunting expedition. A 20x – 60x magnification eyepiece is included with the purchase of this spotting scope as well as a rotating tripod ring to allow for more flexibility when positioning the scope.
Mentioned above as our overall favorite spotting scope, hunting is where the Perception HD really shines. Upland is a company that focuses exclusively on hunters, and this scope is a fine example of that. Weighing just 2.5 pounds, you can actually carry this scope with you into the field if you wanted to instead of just leaving it in the truck at the base of the hill. Should anything happen to it on your adventures, it is covered by a lifetime warranty. And perhaps most appealing to many hunters is its price, which rings in literally thousands of dollars cheaper than options from other top brands.
Best Spotting Scopes for Target Shooting
In regards to target shooting, the distance for magnification may vary. Rain may not be an issue in this scenario, but it is important to remember that other atmospheric conditions such as humidity, air turbulence, and dust can affect the performance of the spotting scope. A few of the more dependable spotting scopes for target shooting are listed below.
The SX-1 Ventana 2 features a sleek design and excellent optical quality. It delivers high contrast, bright visual, and has a good (and expansive) field of view. The angled eyepiece is comfortable and twist up eyecups and smooth focusing enhance the experience. It has fully multi-coated lens coating, is fog- and waterproof, and is less expensive than many of the other premium scopes it competes with.
The Swarovski ATX is a high-powered, angled scope that uses cutting edge lens technology to take the viewer to their spotting destination. The 30x – 70x magnification range will define a razor sharp image anywhere within the range that is free of distortion. The focus wheel and the zoom wheel are within easy reach to allow for a quick zoom with little to no adjustment. The high density, fully multi-coated lens produces a brilliant optical image, even in low-light situations. This scope is a bit on the heavy side, but the rotating tripod ring minimizes the need to move the scope once it is positioned.
Best Spotting Scopes for Birding
Birding has been revolutionized by spotting scopes, especially angled body scopes that are perfect for viewing an area where birds might be observed. A good quality spotting scope can be used to enhance images of a bird’s plumage in both short and far distances. A high magnification lens will bring to light the finest detail on a bird’s feathers, which will allow for species identification from greater distances. You can also combine your scope with a camera using digiscoping techniques to capture amazing pictures. Here are a few of the more popular spotting scopes available for bird watching:
The Kowa TSN is a spotting scope that is perfect for birding because the lens and optical features are included. The dual focus, fluorite crystal lens provides superb images with enhanced features, such as color, contrast, and resolution. The fully multi-coated lens and the porro prism allow for a viewing experience that has exquisite light intake, even in low-light settings. Viewing birds at long distances results in a sharp, undistorted image, and higher magnification levels maintain an impeccable image quality. A lens of this quality is a bit heavy, so the body of the scope is made of a corrosion resistant, magnesium alloy material to help offset the weight. Eyepieces for this model are sold separately, but the design includes a locking mechanism to lock the removable eyepiece in place.
The Leica Televid APO is an excellent angled spotting scope for bird watching. Compared to previous models, this scope has a six percent light yield increase that makes the image resolution even more distinct in any lighting. The fluoride glass brings vibrant color and detailed contrast to the table without sacrificing any range of view. This scope comes with a fog and water proof seal as well as a AquaDura Lens Coating that will repel water and moisture. These protective layers assure quality images are not obscured by dirt or fingerprints. The 12 feet close focus on this spotting scope is designed for bird watching. An avid bird watcher can use this scope to identify a bird from across the lawn to across the lake.
Best Compact Spotting Scopes
A compact spotting scope is a great tool for hunters and wildlife observers who are always on the move. Having a lightweight scope that can easily be managed on trails or in dense foliage will make a wildlife expedition easier and more exciting. Some of the best compact spotting scopes available on the market are listed below.
Another great compact scope for those on the go is the Bushnell Legend in 12-36x50mm. This scope is a lightweight instrument perfect for hiking and other modes of travel. The fully multi-coated lens and the extra low dispersion glass give the scope a high-quality image with excellent light transmission. Make sure the image is pristine with the dual focus feature. Unfavorable weather is not a threat for the weatherproof protection.
Best Spotting Scope for the Money
When deciding which spotting scope to purchase, one should consider the features of the scopes as well as its performance. A great scope will be one that has most of the optimal features, but is offered at a lower price than competing scopes. After careful consideration, a few of the best buys for spotting scopes are:
The Vortex Razor HD exceeds the quality level of many spotting scopes with heftier price tags. The top of the line lens features high density glass that is implemented to produce impeccable images free of imperfections. The high resolution and astounding sharpness can be seen throughout the entire field of view; it is even evident at full magnification. The angled body scope has a close focus of 11 feet, so wildlife that is nearby can be viewed without difficulty. In addition, a 16x – 48x magnification eyepiece is included with the purchase of the Vortex Razor. This specific spotting scope is protected from most atmospheric conditions, including rain, fog, snow, wind, and humidity. The protective layers also safeguard against dust, debris, and unwanted fingerprints.
The Celestron Regal M2 is another great buy. This spotting scope produces exceptional images without distortion. The extra low dispersion glass enhances the image with a crisp resolution as well as vibrant colors. The edges of the viewing area are never out of focus, even at increased magnifications. Fine adjustments can be made with the dual focus feature. This light weight scope has a magnesium alloy body to prevent corrosion, and the optics are fully protected from the elements. A 16x – 48x magnification removable eyepiece is included with the purchase of the Celestron Regal M2 as well as a photo adapter that helps get the scope ready for “digiscoping” in the great outdoors. The scope is also equipped with a rotating tripod ring for greater flexibility while viewing and a sunshade to reduce the glare on the pictures taken.
Best Spotting Scopes under $200
Some situations call for products that don’t break the bank. Here are a few suggestions for quality spotting scopes under $200:
The Redfield Rampage is a great selection for anyone looking for a spotting scope in a low price range. In addition to a 20x – 60x magnification range, this spotting scope offers many features that are commonly seen in more expensive models. This lightweight scope will give you a clear image, especially at the mid range magnification levels. The fully multi-coated lens increases light transmission, giving the viewer a sharper image. The Redfield Rampage is designed to be rugged; the scope features weatherproof qualities to protect from the rain and fog.
Another great spotting scope under $200 is the Barska. This spotting scope features a straight body model that has a high magnification range of 30x – 90x, which is exceptional for this class of spotting scope. A fully coated porro prism helps increase the optics, giving the viewer a bright, high quality image. The Barka maintains noteworthy image quality and clarity in low light situations and at higher magnification levels.
Best Spotting Scopes under $500
Mid-ranged spotting scopes can still exhibit exceptional features. After some careful consideration, here are some great selections below the $500 price point:
The Vortex Diamondback is an excellent mid-rang spotting scope. The great value is matched by a great performance that has a reputation for being on par with spotting scopes that cost twice as much. The fully multi-coated lens is coupled with a dielectric prism coating that optimizes light transmission, which gives the viewer an image that stays true to the bright colors seen in nature. The classic straight body design also features fog and water resistant seals that will protect the scope from moisture or debris. The Vortex Diamondback is a very sturdy scope that is great for “digiscoping.” A sunshade is included to help reduce the glare in the field of view.
A spotting scope with a top of the line reputation at a reasonable price is the Vanguard Endeavor. Vivid colors and sharp details are the result of an extra low dispersion glass and a fully multi-coated lens. This scope features a close focus of 14 feet and a magnification range of 15x – 45x to produce picture perfect, distortion-free images. Small adjustments can be made with the dual focus feature. This scope design also features weatherproofing as well as rubber armoring that are meant to protect the scope from damage. The Vanguard Endeavor is a scope that has an extended eye relief for more comfortable observation in the impressive field of view.
Best Spotting Scopes under $1000
Most people are willing to pay a little extra money to get the spotting scope features and the magnification levels they desire. A few of the choice spotting scopes under $1000 are listed below.
The Vortex Viper is an angled body HD spotting scope that sports all of the top of the line features that are often seen in high end scopes. The optics on the Vortex Viper produce exceptional high resolution images that remain vivid in color and contrast. The lightweight design also features a rotating tripod ring and an adjustable eyecup for more comfortable viewing. It also has a dual focus feature that allows for coarse, fine adjustments to the image. The design is waterproof and fogproof with some added protection to keep any oil and debris from the lens. This model does include a 20x – 60x magnification eyepiece, which makes the overall value even better.
The Pentax PF ED is a popular straight body spotting scope that offers extremely high performance at an affordable price. The lightweight scope has a magnesium alloy body that is easily portable for the spotter on the go. The extra low dispersion glass and the fully multi-coated lens give the scope an optical excellence characteristic of high end scopes. This model includes a 20x – 60x magnification lens that is combined with a sunshade to reduce glare. Images that are fully magnified maintain the clarity and vibrant detail seen at low magnifications. This scope can also be fit to a variety of astronomical eyepieces that create possibilities for the spotter to have a view into the galaxy.
There are a lot of different spotting scopes available on the market today, but not all scopes are created equally. This article was designed to introduce someone who is new to birding or other recreational activities where a spotting scope is useful to the different features that are available. Once a spotter is sure of the magnification they need, it comes down to knowing the price restraints for purchasing the scope and determining which extra features should be included in the price. If “digiscoping” is an ambition, make sure the spotting scope selected can accommodate. Hopefully, this article will help a new spotter determine which scope is best suited for them. Make sure to consider the suggestions made above, but also do additional research so your spotting scope lasts generations to come.