Do you really need a scope for your air rifles? Sure pellet guns are not as powerful as their bullet-spitting counterparts, but modern ones do pack quite a punch. And the addition of scope will greatly improve the accuracy of your air rifle. But is there such a thing as the best air rifle scope?
Well, the truth is different air rifle scopes have their strengths and weaknesses. In this article, I will be looking at what makes up a good air rifle scope. Also, I have selected six scopes that I believe deserve the title of the best air gun scope. But first, below is a comparison chart showing how different scopes compare.
Comparison of The Best Pellet Gun Scopes
Last update on 2023-05-16
What To Look For Getting A Quality Air Rifle Scope
Having used both air rifles and traditional rifles for hunting I can tell you that they do not use the same scopes. The last thing you want to do is attach your rifle scope to your air gun. Reason being that attaching a rifle scope to an air gun might result in the scope breaking. And since I do not want you breaking your precious rifle scope, here is what to look for in an air rifle scope.
What Magnification Size is Ideal For Air Rifle?
Magnification can range from 1x to 12x. The question is, how much magnification do you need. For long-range shooting, higher magnification will be useful. As such, when you want to hit targets from 80 plus yards out an 8 to 12x magnification will be ideal. However, if you are planning on hitting targets that are below 80 yards out, a 2-8x magnification will suffice. The right magnification will depend on the distance you want to shoot at.
For instance, air rifles under $200 do not have the kind of range of a Winchester hunting rifle or even an AR-15. The max range of most airguns is around 100 yards. Meaning the best scope for air rifle shooting is one with moderate magnification. A magnification of between 3X and 9X is enough for an air gun. Anything beyond this and you will struggle to keep the crosshairs steady.
Fixed Vs Variable Magnification: Which Type of Magnification Works Well With Air Rifle?
An air rifle scope can either have fixed or variable magnification. With fixed, you get a preset magnification level that cannot be changed. With a variable, you get a magnification range that you can adjust, for example, 3 to 9x. Fixed magnifications are beneficial because you have few adjustments to make. For competitive shooting, fixed magnification scopes tend to be better. For hunting purposes, variable magnification will be a better option.
Finding a Balance In Air Rifle Scope Magnifications
A higher magnification is always better, right? Well, not exactly there are some disadvantages. Top among them being difficult to acquire targets at close range. Also, a higher magnification offers poor eye relief. For people who are new to rifle scopes, higher magnification will be a bit too much. Thus it is essential to match the magnification with your experience and shooting range. If you plan on shooting at targets 50 yards out, a 12x magnification will be unnecessary.
Some of the best pellet gun scopes offer parallax adjustment. So what exactly is this, and is it important? Parallax is a phenomenon that occurs when your target and reticle are not on the same focal plane. It is detected by moving your eye around when peering down your scope. If the reticle appears to move then, you need to correct the parallax. And here is where parallax adjustment becomes essential.
Type of Reticle
Similar to standard rifle scopes, the best scope for pellet guns can either have a fine crosshair, duplex, or mil-dot reticle. Each type of reticle has its benefits. A fine crosshair reticle is ideal for ease of use and accuracy.
However, due to the fine thin lines, it is not ideal for use in a thick vegetation environment. Duplex reticles, on the other hand, are suitable for hunting. This type of reticle has thicker crosshairs that become thin towards the center of the scope.
This allows for fast target acquisitions. Mil-dot reticles are somewhat of a rarity but are still used primarily for hunting. They are similar to duplex reticles but have small dots that come in handy when you want to range the distance of a target. Mil-dot reticles are ideal for long-range shooting. On the other, duplex reticles are the best for all-round shooting. Fine crosshairs are suitable for varmint hunting in urban environments free of brush.
There are many different types of scope reticles to choose from and more often than not it boils down to preferences. Nevertheless, if you like shooting at stationary targets with high contrast, a reticle with fine lines will do fine. On the other hand, for outdoor shooting go for a duplex reticle. The latter reticle has thicker lines that ensure the crosshairs remain visible.
Scope Objective Lens Linkage With Brightness
How big the objective lens is, determines how bright a scope is. However, a big objective lens does not always translate to a good scope. For an air rifle, a moderately sized lens is recommended.
In fact, the average air rifle scope objective lens ranges between 30 and 40 mm. Anything bigger than this will increase the weight of your gun. An adjustable objective lens is a big plus. With an adjustable objective lens, you can keep the crosshairs centered on your target.
As I have already stated you can break your rifle scope by attaching it to an air rifle.
So why is this?
You see, unlike normal rifles, air rifles have double recoil. On a normal rifle, recoil is caused by the expansion of gases and the bullet exiting the barrel. On an air rifle recoil is caused by the force of the spring compression being released. Meaning two recoils are generated, the first recoil is generated when the spring is released. The second recoil is generated when the spring hits the chamber wall and stops. Due to this double recoil air rifle scopes need to be extra durable.
6 Best Air Rifle Scopes Reviews
The market is flooded with all kinds of air rifle scopes. With this in mind let us look at the Top air rifle scope reviews. I have selected the scopes on this list based on their performance and user feedback.
Best Air Rifle Scope Under 200: UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
- Magnification: 3-12X
- Objective lens: 44 mm
- Tube Diameter: 30 mm
One of the most advanced offerings from UTG is the UTG 3-12×44 compact scope. It comes with innovative and useful features. In fact, it is one of the most advanced scopes I have used on my air rifle. So what exactly does it offer?
Illumination enhancing reticle
A key feature of the scope that I love, the illumination-enhancing reticle is fantastic. It offers multi-color modes and personalized illumination. In total, there are 36 color spectrums. This makes it one of the best for low-light hunting.
The optics on this scope are of superior quality. There is an emerald coating on the lenses which makes sighting easier. The coating reduces glare and eye fatigue.
Zero resetting and locking turrets
Making adjustments while out in the field is a breeze. A side wheel adjustment turrets give you an adjustable parallax of 10 yards to infinity. This is a useful feature for quick aiming and shooting.
- With its features, it has an affordable price tag
- The parallax adjustment is limitless for accuracy
- Comes with illumination for low light shooting
- It is a versatile scope that works in different situations
- It is very well built
- It is rather heavy
- Due to it being heavy you might need a big bag for carrying it
When thinking of the airgun scope for the money, this UTG scope is the first that comes to mind. It is packed with a lot of useful features and is very well built. On top of that, it is compact and will not take up much space on your rifle.
Mantis 3-9×32 mm AO Mil-Dot Air Rifle Scope
Mantis is not the most well-known name in the air rifle scope market. However, the Mantis 3-9x32mm is a decent scope worth checking out. Also, it is offered at a relatively affordable price tag.
A 3 to 9x variable magnification is what you get from this air rifle scope. With this magnification, you can make shots from 20 to about 80 yards out. And paired with a 32mm objective lens, you get a decent field of view of 36.7 ft at 100 yards.
This air rifle scope is made from aluminum. This means it is both lightweight and tough. This air rifle scope is tough enough to withstand air rifle recoil. Impressively, it was able to withstand recoil from spring-powered break barrel rifles.
One of the things I loved the most about this riflescope is the parallax adjustment. The scope gives you the ability to adjust parallax from 5 yards to infinity.
The reticle on this scope is a standard mil-dot reticle. It is not too cluttered, and thick lines that become thin towards the center help with target acquisition.
- The scope can withstand recoil from spring-powered break barrel rifles
- Is sold at a relatively affordable price tag
- With its multi-coated optics, you get a crystal clear image quality
- For its price, this scope holds zero
- The scope adjustments take some time to fine-tune
- Does not come with lens covers
For those looking for something affordable without sacrificing quality, this is a scope worth considering. This is one of the best cheap air rifle scopes on the market.
Cabela’s Air Rifle Scope
- Magnification: 2-7X
- Objective lens: 32 mm
- Tube diameter: 1 inch
A relatively unknown rifle scope, the Cabela’s air rifle scope is one of the great air rifle scopes under 100. I recently bought this scope for my Gamo Varmint air rifle, and so far I cannot say I am disappointed. Because despite its price it is quite rugged and comes with an adjustable objective lens.
Adjustable objective lens
Speaking of adjustable objective lenses, the lens on this Cabela scope can focus down up to 15 yards. This 32 mm objective lens is surprisingly bright, thanks to it being multicoated.
This scope comes in two variations, a 4x fixed magnification, and a 2-7x variable magnification. I settled on the 2-7X variable magnification. Combined with the 32 mm objective lens you get a decent field of view.
The duplex reticle is an excellent fit for this scope. The thicker outer lines are always visible, which is something I love about duplex reticles.
The inside of the tube is filled with nitrogen. As such, the scope is fog proof and waterproof, which is awesome. In addition, it is also shockproof and seemed to handle the double recoil really well.
- It has an affordable price tag attached to it
- Comes with a multicoated lens for improved light transmission
- Comes with a one year warranty
- It is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof
- Comes with lens caps and a lens cloth
- Does not come with mounting rings
To be honest I was a little hesitant about buying this scope given there is very little information about it online. However, given its price point, I saw it as a low-risk venture. So far so good. The scope is well built and handles recoil well.
BARSKA Mil-Dot Airgun Scope
This is yet another cost-friendly airgun scope designed to withstand the recoil of most air guns. It is a versatile scope that you can use for hunting, recreational, and competitive shooting. So what does it offer?
To help deal with parallax errors, this scope features an adjustable objective. The latter gives you a multi-range parallax adjustment. This comes in handy, especially in competitive shooting. However, even hunters will find this parallax adjustment useful.
Constructed from aluminum, this airgun scope is designed to withstand pretty heavy airgun recoil. This scope was able to withstand recoil from break-barrel airguns. It can also withstand recoil from C02 pump airguns.
For the price, the fully-coated optics are standard. These deliver a crystal clear image quality. Also, they help reduce eyestrain when using this airgun scope.
- Features multi-range parallax adjustment for parallax errors
- Is designed to withstand recoil from break-barrel rifles
- The fully coated optics provide a clear and bright image quality
- The variable magnification is suitable for both short and long-range shooting
- Image clarity is not great at high 9x to 12x magnification
- Windage and elevation adjustment not as precise
Overall, this is a budget air rifle scope with the features to match. You can mount it onto several different air rifles. It is among the best budget pellet gun scopes.
Best Air Rifle Scope Under 100: UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
- Magnification: 3-9X
- Objective lens: 32 mm
- Tube diameter: 1 inch
The compact BugBuster scope from Leapers UTG is one of the most common scopes among air rifle users. I picked it up for testing and to find out why air rifle shooters love it so much. At first glance, it looks really well built. Also, the quick detach rings that accompany it was a huge plus for me.
The magnification on this compact scope ranges from 3x to 9x. At between 3x and 7x the optic looks crystal clear. However, at 8x and 9x I did notice some blurring. Nonetheless, the blurring was not enough to distort the target.
Multi-coated lenses help improve the light transmission of the scope. On top of this, the multi-coating leaves a unique emerald sheen on the glass. I found the greenish sheen to be another big plus as it helps to relax the eyes.
The ability to reset back to ‘zero’ is not something I was expecting from a budget air rifle scope. Thus, I was surprised that the BugBuster has this feature. Also, the fingertip adjustable turrets are a great addition. Rotating and moving the turrets was easy.
Adjustable objective lens
Something else I loved about this scope was the adjustable objective lens. The lens can focus down to 3 yards, which is pretty impressive.
- Comes with zero reset and lockable turrets
- Is offered at a really good price point
- Comes with mounting rings included
- Comes with a reticle illumination
- It is a compact scope
- Made from aluminum for improved durability
- Has limited eye relief probably due to its compactness
- The battery door tended to get unscrewed whenever I turned the reticle control knob
Its compact design makes it a suitable option for beginners as well as it is one of the best scopes for 177 air rifles. Nevertheless, given that it is one of the best budget air rifle scope it is not restricted to beginners. It can be a good option for target practice, especially for holdovers.
Best Air Rifle Scope Under 50 Dollars: CVLIFE Tactical 3-9×40
- Magnification: 3-9X
- Objective lens: 40 mm
- Length: 12.20 inches
It is very easy to mistake the CVLIFE Tactical 3-9X40 scope for a traditional Ak 47 rifle scope. However, do not let its good looks and long tube fool you. This is a scope designed for an air rifle and performs just as it is designed to.
CVLIFE uses aircraft-grade aluminum in the construction of this scope. Meaning, you get a scope that does not only look great but is also durable. Additionally, thanks to its aluminum housing it can be used on different air rifle models. It can be used on Crossman springer rifles as well as airsoft rifles.
As with the other scopes on this list, this one sports a variable magnification of 3-9X. With this magnification, you get a clear picture of your target even from a long distance. The zooming knob is easy to turn.
Fully multicoated lenses
One of the surprising things about this scope is that it has fully multi-coated lenses. This is not something you find in most similarly priced scopes. The layers of coating add to the scope’s impressive light transmission.
Speaking of light transmission, the 40 mm objective lens on this scope does a good job of transmitting light. And when combined with the variable magnification, you get a decent field of view.
Fogproof and shockproof
To top everything all off, this tactical air rifle scope is fog proof and shockproof. It, therefore, can handle the double recoil of most spring-powered rifles.
- Comes with a free rail mount included
- Can be used on a wide variety of rifles
- Has a stylish look and is lightweight
- It is offered at an affordable price point
- Is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof
- Can be difficult to reset to zero
This air rifle scope has very few cons to write about, which is a sign of its excellence. Due to its versatility, it is the best pellet gun scope. However, versatility is not its only selling point. This CVLIFE offering has a lot to offer airgun enthusiasts and shooters.
Hammers 3-9x32AO Air Rifle Scope
- Magnification: 3-9X
- Objective lens: 32 mm
- Tube Diameter: 1 inch
Not many scopes are designed to handle the double recoil of most air rifles. And one of the few is the Hammers 3-9×32 AO air rifle scope. Given the excellence that hammers airgun scopes are known for, this hammers scope is one of the best scopes for air rifles. It is recoil resistant, which makes it perfectly suited for air rifles.
Unlike the other scopes reviewed above, this one sports a mil-dot reticle. Now, this is not a bad thing as the mil-dot reticle has some useful benefits. For starters, you get a clear unobstructed field of view. Also, the mil-dot reticle allows for long-distance targeting.
One of the scope’s bestselling features is its recoil resistance. This makes it particularly ideal for magnum air rifles. The latter type of air rifles are known for their ferocious recoil. Thus, the fact that this scope is suited for them indicates how well it is built.
Finger tight adjustment turrets
The turrets on the scope are easy to adjust. Zooming in from 3x to 9x is a breeze using the knobs located on either side of the scope. This scope can focus on targets as close as 7.5 yards, which is pretty impressive.
To make it the optimal outdoors accessory it is shockproof, fog proof, and waterproof. Thus, whether you are target shooting or doing pest control, this scope can handle it.
- It is made from high-quality materials
- It is resistant to recoil
- Thanks to its fully coated optics it offers a bright field of view
- It is easy to zoom in and out
- Can be used in different lighting conditions
- Tends not to hold zero
- The mounting mechanism is not the best
Is the Hammers AO air rifle scope worth it? Definitely, it offers a lot especially to users of magnum air rifles. Additionally, the fact that it can be used in different light conditions makes it ideal for pest control. In a nutshell, it deserves to be on any list of the top air rifle scopes.
SonickingTactical 3-9×40 AO Riflescope
- Magnification: 3-9X
- Objective lens: 40 mm
- Tube diameter: 1 inch
Another stylish riflescope designed for air rifles is the Sonocking Tactical scope. Described as a high precision scope, it comes complete with a parallax setting. And that is not all, this scope has plenty to offer.
Fully coated lenses
The lenses on this scope feature a special coating that reduces glare and improves light transmission. Furthermore, the coating of the exterior lenses are abrasion resistant, which adds to the scope’s toughness.
40 mm objective lens
A 40 mm objective lens sucks in light to provide optimal brightness. But apart from gathering light, the lens is also adjustable. This allows for easy focusing on targets at different distances.
Nitrogen filled tube
To ensure it is suited for outdoor use, this scope is filled with nitrogen and an O-ring sealed. These two features make it extremely durable and capable of being used in different conditions. The tube is also waterproof and shockproof
Mounting this scope onto 20 mm rails is easy. This is because it comes with two complementary rings for installation purposes.
- It is a durable and tough piece of optical hardware
- Has no parallax issues
- Comes with a lens cover for protecting the lenses
- There is an Allen key included making mounting easy
- It is relatively longer than most air rifle scopes
- It is quite heavy
For a budget scope, it does not disappoint. Its great collection of features earn it a spot on my list. Thus, while it might be longer than most, it is a great optic for any air rifle. In conclusion, it is one of the best pellet rifle scope.
Can I Use A Rifle Scope on My Air Gun?
Why should I buy a brand new air rifle scope when I already have a rifle scope? This is a question that you have probably asked yourself. However, while it is tempting, you should not use your rifle scope on your air gun. To understand why this isn’t a good idea, we need first to understand how a conventional gun differs from an air gun. When you fire a AR 15 or 30/06 caliber rifle, an explosion within the bullet casing propels it out of the muzzle.
This causes the stock into the shoulder of the shooter in what is called felt recoil. When it comes to a spring-powered airgun, the mechanics can physic are very different. When a spring-powered air gun is cocked, the air is compressed that helps until the trigger is pulled. This compressed air is what propels the pellet out of the barrel. The recoil caused by this action is virtually non-existent to the shooter.
But to the mounted scope feels the recoil. The spring that is used to compress the air is released and slams forward violently in the opposite direction of traditional felt recoil. This reverse recoil has an adverse effect on the scope as it pulls it back forward. Therefore a normal rifle scope will break when installed on an air rifle. It is for this reason that scopes for pellet guns are designed to withstand the above-discussed reverse recoil.
The Top-notch air rifle scope is the one that meets your specific needs. Therefore, there is no one rifle scope that fits and satisfies the needs of all. When shopping for the airgun scope it is important to consider its use. The scope that will be ideal for casual target practice might not be ideal for pest control. With that being said it is my hope that the above air rifle scope reviews have been of great help to you.
About The Author:
Lake Streeter, A Gun enthusiast, and loves to hunt in the middle of the wood. Always check the latest hunting gears out in the market and try to share his honest opinion with the audience in OUTDOOR EVER.