The thrills and bliss derived from hitting a long-range shot, aiming with precision, and obtaining perfection on striking your aim with great bullet trajectory makes sniper scope an integral tool for sniper shooters.
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Probably, there is a thousand yards or more mark you have to hit, either as military personnel or a game hunter, without being seen. The ability to hit such a target is a fantastic achievement which every shooter would love to have.
From the war situations to the miniature training ground for marksmen, a shooter needs a reliable sniper scope.
What is a Sniper scope?
A sniper scope is a telescopic optical device mounted on a sniper to offer the shooter long-range surveillance, visual concealment, and reduction in parallax errors. Thereby granting impressive hits even in low light conditions. Sniper Scopes used in the dark are designed with an optoelectronic structure, fitted with highly engineered photonics and electronic devices that can detect, draw and control light to a better target launch.
There are different kinds of sniper scopes, constructed to offer solutions to diverse shooting needs. These differences bring about different types of sniper scope. And a shooter must take out time to study on these scopes before purchasing one.
What to look out for in a sniper scope?
Scope Magnification and Zoom
You have to confirm the magnification range of your scope before purchasing. Magnification and Zoom play an important role in ascertaining long distance accuracy and range. A good magnification scope should help you magnify a target to diverse zoom ranges and still view it clearly. The higher the magnification, the more effective it is for long range shots.
There are two zoom scopes for snipers and these zoom scopes play a great role in your art of marksmanship. A large population of sniper shooters seems to prefer the fixed scope. With preferences on scopes ranging on the magnification of 10x-15x. This practically does not imply that variable scopes are entirely bad but there are conditions that could make a shooter choose one over the other.
Fixed scopes are simple to handle and also offers a wide view that lets you hit multiple moving targets without having to zero your scope. Irrespective of the fact that fixed scope offers precision and speed, coupled with longer eye relief, it is important you know that they are built for shorter target distances.
Using a sniper with a fixed scope of 10x might limit your shots to 200 yards. And if you must hit a target farther than that you will need to adjust your knobs.
For variable scopes, the rules are different. You can scan through a long area easily, zoom out comfortably. If you will be playing hard on a large terrain, or possibly scouting or an overwatch, you will need a variable scope. So you need to decide how long your point of impact is going to be. And this should be your area of consideration in choosing either a fixed or variable zoom.
Objective diameter is the dice of the sniper scope lens in relation to its ability to gather light from the external environment and object that it is pointed at, and its capacity to focus light rays properly on the lens to produce a real image.
The size of the sniper’s lens goes a long way in determining the possibility of experiencing a fussy vision and error due to parallax. It is also important you note that too much of an objective diameter will work contrary to providing clean images. High magnification can be a fatal blow considering the amount of light available.
Setting your sniper scope to a magnification higher than 7mm during less light transmission will produce unsharp image quality of less colour and clarity. This is because low light Performance requires an exit pupil setting of 5-7mm. For optimum sniper scope performance, you need an objective diameter within the ranges of 50-56mm. You are free to adjust your objective diameter to enable you to focus accurately on the target.
Zero Stops Turrets
Zero stops are turret fittings on your scope that prevents the elevation adjustment from slipping off its set point. Every good scope ‘must’ have this function. A slack on the zero stops sets your adjustments dangling to the wind.
No matter how much you may want to ignore this, how you mount your scope seriously decides the effectiveness of your shot. It is necessary you mount your scope to achieve a correct eye relief setting. And you can get this done correctly with the use of scope rings. The choice of scope rings depends on the balance of your chin on the rifle.
There are high, medium and extra high scope rings. A shooter with less cheeks could go for a medium scope ring to enable him get great balance on the sniper, without having it set above his head. One of the major reasons of setting your scope well and choosing the right scope rings, is to ensure that you are in a natural position while taking a shot.
Type of Reticle/Optics/Telescopic Sight
Choose a reticle according to your point of impact. Whether you are going for a crosshair or a mil-dot reticle, always pick one that fits your purpose.
There are usually two types of planes; Second Focal Plane SFP and First Focal Plane FFP. None of this plane is of less quality to the others; they serve different needs. FFPs are suitable for long ranges while SFPs are good for short ranges.
Side Parallax helps you adjust your objective lens by aligning your reticle, especially if the target is veering off range without necessarily lifting your sniper.
10 Best Sniper Scopes (Ranked And Reviewed)
1. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
- The Viper PST Gen II takes incredible performance and rock solid tactical features to new heights. The 5-25×50 first focal plane riflescope is incredibly versatile and ideal for close to long range shooting scenarios. 30 mm diameter tube.
- Shooters who dial their turrets for bullet drop and wind compensation will appreciate the laser etched turrets, adjustable parallax and the RZR zero stop. A fiber optic rotation indicator ensures you can keep track of your turret position with ease.
- Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 22 inches
- Weight: 1 pound
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II sniper scope is a first focal plane sniper scope designed to meet short and long-range shooting needs for as long as 1000 yards and also allowing the shooter to range in on targets at any magnification of his choice.
Vortex Optics is structured with a superb light transmission ability that involves an extra-low dispersion glass which perfects colour contrast and visual resolution. With its XR Armored multi-coated lens, you are sure to achieve excellent image quality and at the same time maximum protection on your lens against scratches and dirt.
This sniper scope is built with an MOA elevation adjustment of 70, giving you a higher edge for accurate long-range shots. However, you can adjust this elevation range at your own will. As a Gen two scope, its glasses are more transparent, brighter, and more robust, enhanced with better turrets and R2R Zero stop that reduces errors due to parallax.
Its Fiber Optic rotation indicator helps you easily gauge your turret.
The Vortex Optics Viper Scope lens has anti-glare glasses which protects your eyes by removing adverse light reflections and its effect from focusing on your eye line. With a vortex optic Viper Scope, you are assured of protection against blue light exposure, keeping you in a safer edge against eye strain. Its Reticle has ten intensity levels which help you achieve an exact point of impact.
2. Nikon Black FX1000
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- Dimensions: 19.8 x 4.6 x 4.2 inches
- Weight: 1.53 pounds
Nikon’s Black FX1000 scope is a technically designed sniper scope with an FX-MOA reticle and a first plane optical structure that optimizes ranging, targeting, wind barriers for precise shots. It has a Parallax side adjustment knob that makes it easy to zero your focus and adjust ranges without changing your shooting position. This ensures you make angular adjustments right where you are aiming from.
Nikon Black Scope is fitted with a sunshade and an eye relief fitting that relieves your eye of stress, sun intensity, and ensures good eyesight. If you require a lens with an antireflective and multilayered coating glass, then the Nikon Black FX1000 scope is a great choice.
The great hype all over the web about this scope seems to be increasing as each day goes by, and this probably might be based on the fact that it has a fantastic high-speed turret and an uncluttered reticle with an illumination control that lets you light up the reticle as well as adjusting the intensity for extra brightness. The illumination can go well with a CR2032 battery for great usage.
With an MOA elevation adjustment, an optimum focus of at least 50 yards, optics designed for long-range shots, Nikon Black is an excellent pick at its price.
3. Nightforce ATACR
- EXTENSIVE MAGNIFICATION – With its extensive magnification range and legendary ATACR optical performance, via an ED glass package, the ATACR 7-35 x 56 F1 will push the boundaries of even the most capable of today’s long range cartridges
- PRECISE SCOPE – With parallax adjustment down to 10 meters and 100 MOA of elevation travel, precision is attainable from short range distances to as far as any modern extreme long range gun and cartridge can reach
- Dimensions: 22.83 x 5.98 x 5.67 inches
- Weight: 1.81 kg
Nightforce ATACR scope is a unique sniper scope that comes with a Tremor3 Reticle. One of the newest reticle innovations that account for perfect precision and accuracy. Its Horus Tremor3 Reticle makes it easier to achieve quick adjustment and ranges beyond 2000 meters.
This black first focal plane scope comes with a 0.1 mil-Rad, 34mm Tube, Tactical Turrets, and a 56mm Objective lens. Nightforce ATACR Horus Tremor3 Reticle is enhanced with illumination that makes it easier to take shots in dark conditions.
4. Monstrum G3 6-24×50
- High performance tactical rifle scope with 6-24x magnification for mid to long distance shooting out to 1000+ yards
- Functionally designed first focal plane MOA reticle, with easy-to-read ranging information that remains constant regardless of magnification, for faster range estimation and holdover correction
- Dimensions: 15.75 x 4 x 5 inches
- Weight: 1 lb 14 oz
Monstrum sniper scope has an adjustable 6-24x magnification ability that makes it possible to zoom into long distances for as far as 1500 yards. This scope is enhanced with a ¼ MOA click windage, turret lock to avoid adjustment slips and an elevation adjustment that supports zero resets. For Durability, the Monstrum sniper scope possesses a MIL-STD 8625 Type III hard-anodized finish which makes it resistant to scratches.
It also has an illumination reticle that comes with a light adjustment knob, coupled with an MOA elevation and windage adjustment. Monstrum scope has a first front plane with a G3 scope and an entirely multi-coated lens that reduces eye strain and eliminates the possibility of unnecessary light reflections. This makes it easier to achieve bright image quality on the Terrain, better light transmission, and sharp colour contrast.
Its multilayered coating ensures glass durability, strengthening the lens against scratches. Monstrum’s MOA reticle comes with gradations and markings that help you calculate the angular distance of your point of impact, coupled with the fact that its first focal plane supports easy and faster long-range estimations.
You can easily take shots at night as the reticle is engineered with a red light illumination that makes you see in low light conditions. Monstrum sniper scope has a tube diameter of 30mm, an adjustable Objective lens, and a minimum Parallax adjustment of 10yards to infinity. It comes with an accessory package that contains lens covers, scope rings, a CR2032 battery for reticle illumination, flip-up dust caps, and a honeycomb detachable sunshade filter. You have so much value for one purchase.
5. Burris Optics XTR II Riflescope
- Designed for serious, technical, long-range precision rifle shooters, both tactical and competitive; Excellent resolution optics and tactical-appropriate reticles and adjustment knobs make it easier to identify targets and adjust for windage and elevation
- Versatile 5x zoom system allows for a larger field of view at close ranges and better target acquisition at long ranges; Ergonomic side focus and easy-to-reach parallax adjustment from 50 yards to infinity for improved accuracy at long distances
- Dimensions: 19.25 x 4.25 x 4 inches
- Weight: 1.96 pound
Burris Optics XTRII Riflescope is an XTR II 8-40 x 50mm second-generation rifle scope designed with a 34mm tube and a front focal plane. The scope is structured with a 1/10 mil click which ensures maximum accuracy. With its MOA adjustment and MOA Reticle illumination, you are sure of hitting direct shots even in low light conditions.
BURRIS Optics Riflescope comes with a versatile zoom capacity of 5x and an XTR-80 adjustment knob which supports 80 clicks per rotation. It also has a side parallax that grants 50 yards to infinity range. Burris Optics Riflescope is fitted with a zero-click stop adjustment knob which helps you zero the turrets after you might have zeroed the sniper.
It also comes with an accessory kit that contains an Allen wrench, sunshine shade, flips up lens caps, and a lens cloth to wipe off the dirt.
6. Nightforce Optics 5.5 -22×56 NXS Riflescope
- BROAD MAGNIFICATION – 5.5-22 Nightforce NXS models provide a broad magnification range, excellent eye relief, and 100 MOA of elevation travel
- IDEAL FOR LARGE CALIBERS – The Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×56 attributes is superbly suited to the heavy .50 BMG and can achieve outstanding performance and accuracy in ranges beyond a mile in distance
- Dimensions: 22.9 x 5.7 x 4.9 inches
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
All through my reviews so far on sniper scopes, I think Nightforce Optics 5.5 -22×56 NXS Riflescope has the clearest glass I have ever seen. Its clear scope makes it so easy to picture an aim and hit the bullseye, at most on the second shot. Designed with a side parallax focus, a 56mm objective lens, and Tactical MOA turrets make it a fantastic choice for long-range scouting.
The scope comes with an enhanced MOAR Reticle that handles two colours; Red or green. Constructed with a 30mm tube, second focal plane, and an MOA per turret revolution of 20 inches per 360-degree revolution which equates to a 20 MOA per turn. This sniper scope is structured to a max zoom of 22x.
- Dimensions: 16.38 x 1.69 x 2.44 inches
- Weight: 4 pounds
This Riflescope is a 34mm tube scope generally popular amongst military and police forces and a renowned brand amongst marksmen. Its popularity and global acceptance seem to be from the fact that it comes with a large magnification adjustment range. This P3 double turn turret is one of the most-sought after innovative turrets designs.
Schmidt & Bender 5- 25×26 Sniper scope has a rotational indicator that shows you signals with a black to yellow colour transition when you are switching between the dual rotational settings. It has a side parallax compensation that allows an 11-yard meter index to infinity. Fitted with a large reticle, light transmission of 90%, Eye relief distance of 90mm, FFP illuminated, an exit pupil of 10.95-2.28mm, you are sure to have an extensive view of what you are aiming for.
- Dimensions: 16.75 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
- Weight: 1.43 kg
Zeiss Conquest V6 Sniper Scope is a high magnification sniper scope fitted with a MOA reticle, an exit pupil of 1.7-9.5, and a fluoride glass lens making it a great choice for long-range shooting and field games. It has a 6x zoom range, 30mm ring height, 92% light transmission, with an optical lens Zeiss Premium T6 coating layer that makes it possible to achieve precise hits of more than 1200 yards.
It comes with a linear field View of 22.2-3.6, ¼ MOA Click adjustment, and an objective lens of 50mm. It also has a second focal plane, 20 MOA per revolution, and a ZMOA-1 reticle which offers the shooter an edge over wind resistance, great elevation adjustment.
9. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T
- The Viper HS-T 6-24×50 is one of multiple configurations in the Viper HS-T (Hunting & Shooting Tactical) line. VMR-1 Reticle (MRAD) is perfect for accurate holds at extended ranges.
- Incorporating our premium, fully multi-coated, extra-low dispersion lenses brings excellent resolution and color fidelity. The XR coatings provide enhanced light gathering capability while Armortek coating protects the lenses.
- Dimensions: 13.33 x 2.03 x 1.65 inches
- Weight: 20.8 oz
Viper HST is an advanced sniper scope designed for a wide range of sniper shooting needs. It is designed with a VMR-1 MRAD reticle that proves effective against wind barriers, and moving targets which grants the shooter an accurate holding point. It comes with a multi-coated dispersion lens that offers clear images and an excellent resolution. A forgiving eye box with an increased eye Relief of 4.0 inches, a 44mm Objective lens, and a ¼ click adjustment, trust me you will love to own this sniper scope.
Its XR coating around the lens helps to perfectly gather light rays, while the armoured coating protects the lens from scratches and dirt. Vortex optics viper HS-T scope is fitted with a tactical turret that ensures adjustable clicks and a CRS Zero stop for easy zeroing. It supports a field View of 27.4-7.4 ft/100 yard, magnification of 4-16x, and a setting of 50 yards to infinity; quite a nice scale for long range shots.
Its second focal plane has a max elevation and windage adjustment of 75 MOA, an objective lens of 44mm, and a Travel P8 Rotation of 12 MOA. As a side bonus, the Viper HS-T scope comes with an accessory kit that contains a 4-inch sunshade protective lens cap, CRS shims, and a lens cloth.
10. ATN X-SIGHT II HD
- Use Day & Night in HD resolution – our HD technology gives you crystal clear vision whenever required
- Zero range: 100 yard. Day & Night Vision in Millions of Colors – best hunting optic that fits the situation at hand.Field of View at 1000 yards- 240 feet.Initial Velocity:2850 fps
- Dimensions: 11.36 x 3.45 x 3.5 inches
- Weight: 4.4 pounds
Its HD optics work as a photonic tool allowing you to see clearly and get bright images during day and night sessions. This scope has a built-in rangefinder that makes it easier for you to calculate your target distance without having to push your sniper around. Its built-in rangefinder is supported with an ATN ballistic calculator that calculates charts, offering necessary environmental data at your fingertips.
This tech build makes it easy to nail a target even as a beginner and eradicating the need to carry extra equipments for measuring land mass proximity and target. Unlike any other sniper scope you have come across, its ATN X-sight II HD has a recoil activated video feature that lets you record all your glories in 1080p HD format and an option to share them.
Enhanced with an ATN IR 850 PRO illuminator and a super battery of 20000 mah, you are sure of illumination for an average of 20 hours of continuous activity. ATN X-Sight II HD supports magnification of 5-24x, 100 yards zero range, field View of 1000 yard-240 feet, and a day and night colour vision for clear images even at poor light conditions.
How do I Zero a Scope?
The essence of zeroing sniper scopes is to hit targets even at a long-range with optimal accuracy. Zeroing your sniper scope is the general process that involves mounting, positioning, levelling, and tightening of the base as well as setting your scope.
Heading out to set your scope without ensuring a firm mounting base is as good as wasting time in futility, your scope will shift out of position. You must ensure that your scope is not lying directly on the rifle. Close impacts between this two produces great flaws in shots.
The easiest and best way to zero your sniper involves taking a shot. I will not support the idea of zeroing your scope without shooting it. How will you be able to test its accuracy if you didn’t shoot at a target?
8 Easy Steps to Zero your scope
- Place your sniper at a flat Base; This is to reduce the error of parallax due to elevations.
- Load your sniper to take 3-5 shots. The essence of taking multiple shots is be sure of your aiming ability. A shot is not all enough to confirm the accuracy of your scope.
- Aim at a target preferably using a shooter board.
- Practice Breathe Control: Breathing while firing a sniper will cause the bullet to misdirect.
- Learn when to hold your breath and how to breathe in intervals. An unguarded breathing pattern can produce a misdirected shot. Slight force impacts mounted on your rifle while exhaling and inhaling can lead your bullet to the wrong direction
- Do not pull the trigger, Squeeze it.
- Take 3-5 shots
- Confirm your shots. Check your misses.
- Recalibrate your scope till you get closer and accurate shots.
Your sniper shot target should determine the kind of scope you’ll get. Fixed scopes are usually known to go well on a second focal plane, but they are also limited when it comes to long distance ranges. Fixed scopes contain fewer lenses as their magnification does not extend to farther distances. However, it all boils down to your purpose of shooting.
Oftentimes, the larger the objective diameter, the clearer the imagery. Large objective diameter with the help of magnification provides a larger exit pupil/virtual aperture that gathers and transmits higher levels of luminous flux, focusing light rays properly to give a brighter image.
The kind of elevation adjustment you choose for a sniper scope greatly determines its MOA. The higher the elevation adjustment, the better the shot. The best kind of adjustment for a sniper scope is one that easily compensates wind excesses and bullet drop that enables precision on-target shots.
However, it is easier to achieve elevation adjustment by using the zero feature in your scope. This helps you to easily bounce back to the default sniper scope setting after so many rearrangements and handling.
Long-range shooting is always affected by factors like; Wind Variations, Earth Rotation, Elevation, Bullet Shape, Air Pressure, Altitude, and Humidity, and Relative Temperature. These factors significantly affect the horizontal trajectory of your bullet, determining the accuracy of your shot.
For long-range shots and professional field shooting, I will advise you to use a mil-dot reticle. Mil-dot reticles are designed with calibrations that make it easier for a shooter to calculate wind Variations and choose an elevation adjustment suitable for each condition.
There are different classifications of sniper scopes. Every shooter sticks to a particular brand or scope because he suits his very intent. The scopes enlisted here are of great quality and build; So, you can pick one that fits your specification. If you are a beginner in this field, don’t be fooled by the visuals you see in mobile games about snipers. A sniper scope is not a magical tool for killing wonders. It only aids your aiming ability.
Most times, you will hear speculations that encourage you to get a costly scope. Enforcing the belief that cheap scopes are of ‘cheap quality’ is a fallacy. The fact that a scope does not guarantee it to be good. Designs and product features are what determines the quality and efficacy of a product. You should try as much as possible to stick to your budget; you must not break a bank to purchase a sniper scope.
Whether you are picking a sniper scope for personal use, hunting, or military purposes, the strength of a sniper scope lies in the scope as well as on the user. Handling a master scope without knowing how to work miracles with it, will make the scope look like one of poor value. After extensively exhausting this review, broaden your knowledge on sniper scopes, maximize your skills, you’ll be glad to boast at your massive improvement with hitting the bullseye.