Best Scope For 204 Ruger – Top 9 Scopes [Reviewed 2021]

The .204 Ruger came out in 2004 and at the time was the second-fastest commercially made round made. It was the only commercial cartridge using a .204 or 5mm diameter bullet produced at the time.

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The 204 is still a screamer with 24-grain pills in factory loads capable of 4400 feet per second.
The .220 Swift and .22-250, both much older, can exceed the 4,000 FPS mark. Of the three, the .22-250 is the fastest in general. This begs the question, once you break the 4,000 FPS barrier, is another 100, 200 or even 500-feet per second really going to matter?

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

BEST FOR BRIGHT IMAGE

Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm

Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm

  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 6-24x
  • Length: 14.96 in
BEST FOR DURABILITY

Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 PA

Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 PA

  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 6.5-20x
  • Length: 14.4 in
BEST FOR CLEAR IMAGE

Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50

Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50

  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 6-24x
  • Length: 14.5 in
BEST FOR BRIGHT IMAGE

Leupold VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50

Leupold VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50

  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 8.5-25x
  • Length: 14.38 in
BEST FOR STRENGTH

UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope

UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope

  • Diameter: 30mm
  • Magnification: 4-16x
  • Length: 11.14 in
BEST FOR BRIGHT IMAGE

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Circle-X Reticle

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Circle-X Reticle

  • Diameter: 40mm
  • Magnification: 3-9x40
  • Length: 11.5 in
BEST FOR RELIABILITY

Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56

Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56

  • Diameter: 56mm
  • Magnification: 8-32x
  • Length: 15.35 in
BEST FOR EXTEND RANGE

ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm

ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm

  • Diameter: 50mm
  • Resolution: 1280x960 px
  • Length: 7.7 in
BEST FOR THERMAL

AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3

AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3 

  • Diameter: 80mm
  • Magnification: 1 x
  • Length: 6.40 in

Comparing .204

The .204 is longer and has a smaller bullet than the .223/5.56 NATO round. More space for powder and a smaller bullet directly translates into more speed.

The .22-250 has both a larger case diameter and is taller than the .223 and the .204. It can pack in more powder and throws the same bullet, .224 diameter, as the .223.

The .220 Swift is longer the others and fatter. It also throws a .224 bullet. Loaded right, it is the fastest commercially made round for the centerfire rifle community. Those who say the other rounds are faster are not comparing the 220 Swift loaded to its original full potential.

Ballistics

The actual projectile has a lot to do with ballistics. A sharply pointed nose on a bullet is generally more accurate and faster with less drop over distance than a rounded or flat-nose bullet. Lighter bullets also move faster and will go a greater distance than a heavier bullet.

Barrels have almost as much to do with the reach of the bullet. Longer barrels, to a point, generate higher velocities and greater distances.

Where the .204 makes a difference compared to the .223 is in bullet drop. Simply put, it is a flat-shooter, exceeded only by the 220 Swift. "One of flattest commercially available factory loads from Hornady at 500 yards from a centerfire rifle is the .204 Ruger 40-grain V-Max. At 500 yards it drops just 28.1 inches,"

The .22-250 throws a 50-grain pill very well, but at 500 yards, it drops about 32 inches.

The .223 with a 55-grain projectile is going to drop more than 45 inches.

The .220 Swift with a 50-grain pill drops between 37 and 41 inches at 500 yards.

Four inches may not sound like much. Centering on a grown grizzly bear's chest, it is not much. Centering on a small prairie dog at 500 yards, two inches to either side of the dead center is a miss.

The ballistic coefficient (BC) of the .204 is good compared to the others. BC is how well a bullet flies through the air. That includes resisting the wind.

The BC is going to vary widely with the .204. The Norma V-Max promises a .275 BC (bigger numbers are better). The .204 regularly outperforms the .223 in BC data.

Gun Data puts the .204 Ruger up against some other varmint rounds

Varmints

The .204 is popular among the varmint hunting crowd and people who target furbearers. Hornady shows the near immediate energy dump of the .204 in ballistic gel. Now imagine that same bullet trying to break through bones or a board shield.

For small critters like the prairie dog, the high-velocity bullet provides literally explosive results. On furbearers like yotes and foxes, the bullet expends all its energy inside the body cavity. The lack of an exit wound and the very tiny entry wound mean hides will bring a reasonable price at the fur auction.

The light round is not suitable for anything larger than a coyote, unless the shooter is capable of precision work. Head shots on medium to large hogs are mandatory. The .204 simply will not penetrate through a boar shield of a trophy hog. It will disintegrate within the shield. It does not create hydrostatic shock inside the chest cavity.

Head and up neck shots on deer are also critical. That said, the .204 Ruger is not recommended for medium to big game - if you want to hunt ethically, treat this round strictly like a varminter.

I shot a smallish doe years ago at 50 yards with a .204 Ruger. The bullet hit low and front in the chest. Because of the size, the bullet's energy transfer was enough to reach the heart, but just barely. There was no exit wound. The entry wound was about the size of my fist.

9 Best Scopes For 204 Ruger

Given the performance of the .204 Ruger and the size of the quarry it hunts, a higher power scope designed for long range shooting is a good idea. Finding a standing prairie dog at 100 yards is not the same as trying to see a dog's head on the other side of a mound at 500 yards.

Scopes come with minute of angle (MOA) or milliradian (MIL, MRAD) measurements. In performance terms, there is no difference. American Shooting Journal explains the difference in this article.

Shockproof or heave duty scopes are not needed. The .204 Ruger has less than three pounds of recoil. In some rifles, your trigger finger delivers more force to send a round than what your shoulder will feel. That doesn't mean you should skimp out though - a quality scope is still crucial, even if punishing recoil isn't a concern.

1. Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm

204 ruger scope

The Sightron is our top pick for those with a .204 Ruger. This is tactical turret scope. With 100 MOA (or similar MRAD), this scope offers the best-in-class adjustment range. In the hands of an expert, this scope should put a bullet on target at 700 yards or more.

This scope comes in 7 different reticle versions:

• Mil-hash. MRADs are marked on the reticle with hash marks. Illuminated red.
• MOA-2. Plain reticle with a 1/4 MOA dot in the center. Illuminated red.
• Non-illuminated MOA-2. As above, without illumination.
• Mil-Dot. Instead of hash marks, you have dots. Illuminated red.
• Wide duplex. A duplex reticle with a good amount of space between the center and the wider lines.
• Narrow duplex. A duplex reticle with less space in the center between the wide lines.
• Target Dot .25 MOA. A plain reticle with a 1/4 MOA dot in the center.

The mil-dot reticle comes with either a MOA or MRAD adjustments. It has a 50mm front bell. The 24x zoom pulls your target in close.

Sightron offers a lifetime warranty on its scopes, but only for those sold within the USA. Any scope sold in another country is considered a "grey market product" and not eligible for warranty repair work. The US has restrictions on what kinds of technology can be shipped to other countries. Rifle scopes like this are a great area in the law.

On the technical side, this scope is a second focal plane in a 30 mm tube. The Field of View at 100 yards (FOV) is 3.9-16.1 feet. Parallax begins at 40 yards and goes to infinity.

Click values are 1/4 MOA or .1 MRAD depending on which scope you choose. The scope offers 100 MOA of elevation and windage adjustments.

It is waterproof. If needed, it uses a CR2032 battery.

Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm

The price of Sightron SIII 6-24x50mm varies, so check the latest price at

2. Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 PA

best scope for 204 ruger

Vortex appears in a lot of top scope reviews because it is a good scope. A .240 Ruger fan club forum lists the Viper series as a top pick, edging out several more expensive scopes like Leupold and Nightforce.

This version of the Viper is an inexpensive tactical scope for a shooter who wants simplicity and reliability. It comes with a plain or mil-dot reticle. The big 50mm front lens gathers plenty of light. You can find your target easily in the twilight hours.

The tactical turrets have spring-loaded caps that gently snap back down after you make in-field adjustments to match shooting conditions. You can return to zero any time.

If you get the mil-dot scope, spend some time on the range to learn where you chosen bullet hits based on the reticle dots. The combination of turret adjustments and the mil-dot should put you on target every time once you learn your rifle.

Vortex has an unlimited lifetime warranty. If they cannot repair the scope or no longer make it, you'll get a replacement as close to the original as possible.

Looking at the technical details, this is a second focal plane scope with a 30 mm tube. The FOV is 6.2-17.4 feet.

The click value us 1.4 MOA. It offers 65 MOA adjustments for elevation and windage. Parallax correction is 50 yards to infinity.

Another unique feature of that scope is that it is waterproof.

Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 PA

The price of Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 PA varies, so check the latest price at

3. Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50

ZEISS-Conquest-V4

The Conquest comes with two reticle choices:

• Hash marks illuminated or not
• Christmas tree illuminated. The tree has the same set of BDC hash marks on the windage and elevation arms.

Zeiss are a household name in the world of target shooting, and this scope is capable of making shots with the .204 Ruger that only a true marksman can make.

Proprietary lens coatings deliver 90 percent light transmission, superior to many cheap optics on the market today.

The tactical turrets have a return to zero feature.

Zeiss scopes have a lifetime transferable warranty. This is a second floral plane scope in a 30 mm tube. The FOV is 5-19 feet.

The scope offers 1/4 MOA click values and 65 MOA windage and 80 MOA elevation adjustments.

Parallax begins at 50 yards and goes to infinity. It is waterproof and uses a CR2032 battery,

Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50

Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50

The price of Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 varies, so check the latest price at

4. Leupold VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50

204 ruger scopes

Given the torture tests Leupold puts its scopes through, the durability of the VX-3i is overkill for the .204. This scope will last longer than several barrels on a .204 Ruger.

The Christmas tree reticle in this scope gives you a huge amount of information. Normally I am not a first focal plane fan, but the detail in this MRAD reticle makes this a different matter. If you need to reach out and touch something a long way off, this reticle will let you get on target with a precision found in few other scopes. This is possible because the Christmas tree enlarges as you zoom in, making it easy for varmint hunters to adjust holdovers on the fly, even when tracking moving game.

Leupold correctly states this scope can put you on target at 1,000 yards, if you and your ammo are up to the task. A 1,000 yard shot with the .204 Ruger is possible, but not recommended. At that distance, any amount of wind is a huge factor.

It comes with a throw lever on the focus ring to make getting a clear picture easy.

Leupold comes with a lifetime transferrable warranty. Just be sure you have a genuine Leupold. The knockoff market is booming. The warranty does not cover counterfeit scopes.

Depending on the scope you choose, this one is either a FFP or SFP. Both are in a 30 mm tube. The field of view is 4.6-11.5 feet, and thanks to the 50mm objective lens, light transmission is excellent, giving you a little extra leeway in low light conditions.

Adjustments are in .1 MRADs. You get 80 total MOA or 23 MRADs of adjustment. Parallax correction is 75 yards to infinity. It is waterproof.

Leupold VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50

The price of Leupold VX-3I LRP 8.5-25X50 varies, so check the latest price at

5. UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope

204 ruger scope selection

The UTG is a mid-range magnification scope with a 16x ozone and an adjustable objective lens design. The 44 mm front bell also splits the difference between the 40 and the 50+ mm bells found in other scopes in this review.

Leapers, which makes the UTG, is a well-known scope maker in the air rifle world. It is making headway into the centerfire rifle world now. This scope has 900 ratings on Amazon and a 4.5 overall score.

What sets this scope apart is the palette of 36 colors you can choose from.

Leapers warranty is good "for the duration of the product's life span." The company does not say what the lifespan of the UTG is supposed to be.

This scope comes with a second focal plane in a 30 mm tube. The FOV is 7.85-26.2 feet and it has a 1/4 MOA click value. Windage and elevation amounts are not available.

Parallax correction is 10 yards to infinity. It is waterproof. It uses the standard CR2032 battery.

UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope

UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope

The price of UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope varies, so check the latest price at

6. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Circle-X Reticle

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn

If you plan to do most of your shooting at 200 yards or less, the Bushnell Banner is a good choice. Because the parallax is fixed at 100 yards, reaching past the 200-yard mark requires serious practice and getting that cheek weld precise every time.

The 9x zoom is good enough for shorter distances. Reaching 500 yards on a small target is certainly a challenge. Some people make that kind of shot regularly with iron sights, so even a low magnification scope is capable of those ranges.

This scope does come with the Bushnell Dusk & Dawn coating that transmits more usable light down the tube than uncoated optics.

Bushnell has a lifetime transferrable warranty.

This second focal plane scope is in a 1-inch tube. The FOV is 11-32 feet. It is waterproof.

While the click values are 1/4 MOA, the windage and elevation only offer 60 MOA or 16.5 MRADs for each. Parallax is fixed at 100 yards.

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn X Reticle

The price of Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn X Reticle varies, so check the latest price at

7. Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56

Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56

This is the bigger brother of the other Sightron listed here.
This version comes in the following reticles:

• Target Dot reticle with .125 MOA click value adjustment
• Fine crosshair reticle 1/4 MOA adjustment
• MOA22 reticle with 1.4 MOA adjustment
• Target dot reticle with 1/4 MOA adjustment
• Mil-dot reticle with .1 MRAD adjustment
• Mil-dot reticle with 1/4 MOA adjustment

Other differences are the bigger zoom, going out to 32x and the 56mm front bell. The problem with getting into the high magnification levels, like the 32x, is the glass really has to be superior to maintain a quality view. The view at 32x is good enough for groundhog-sized critters and definitely coyotes, but questionable on smaller targets.

This second focal plane scope in a 30mm tube offers a very tight 3.1-12.2 foot FOV. Adjustments are .1 MRAD and it has 70 MOA or 30.4 MRADs of adjustment on windage and elevation. Your measurements depend on the scope model you pick.

Parallax is 40 yards to infinity. It is waterproof.

Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56

The price of Sightron SIII SS 8-32x56 varies, so check the latest price at

Night Vision

Many states allow coyote hunting at night. You can do this with low-volt spotlights or night-hunting scopes. Night scopes are the traditional green screen night vision or thermal scopes. Some scopes, like the Leupold, are compatible with add-on night hunting scopes.

True night vision requires some light. On moonless or cloudy nights, these scopes need an infrared illuminator light. Some scopes come with these lights and sometimes you have to buy one as an extra.

Thermal vision is much more expensive but works in complete darkness. It uses the heat from the target. Thermal scopes also have a much longer range.

Everything considered, going with a clip-on attachment for the .204 Ruger is a better idea than getting a dedicated night hunting scope. You can hunt during the day, then put the attachment on and keep hunting when the sun goes down. A good afternoon of potting varmints in a field can turn into a good night of taking out some predators.

When looking for a clip-on, pick one that attaches to the front of the scope. This way, you keep your original eye relief.

You may need an adapter kit to attach the night device to your regular scope. Carefully match the rear of the night sight device to the bell of your daytime scope.

Given the nature of these scopes, none come with a lifetime warranty. The electronics and sensing panels inside them have a finite life span. You should be able to get more than 5,000 hours of use from a good night hunting scope.

8. ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm

ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm

While thermal scopes have been around a while, the clip-on version is new. ATN produces some excellent thermal scopes. This version of their thermal line attaches to the front of a rifle scope.

It is available with a 25mm, 35mm or 50mm front lens. The internal battery charges with. USB type C cable. ATN reports you can get 9 hours of use from the battery, but reality says to expect less.

This clip-on does not attach to a pic rail.

It is waterproof.

ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm

The price of ATN TICO LT 320 50 mm varies, so check the latest price at

9. AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3 

AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3

A long pic rail is recommended for this. The clip-on attaches to your rifle scope and the pic rail holds it in place. Depending on the scope and how high it is off the rail, you may need a rail riser to make it fit.

This scope is powered by a AA battery or three CR123A Lithium batteries. Being able to use a standard AA battery is a distinct advantage. Also, It is waterproof.

You can extend the distance you can see with an additional IR light

AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3

The price of AGM Global Vision Comanche-22 NL3 varies, so check the latest price at

Final Thoughts

A cool thing about the .204 Ruger is it fits an AR15. Just change the upper and you've got a world-class varmint rifle on your hands. The bolt carrier group is the same. If you reload, keep the cartridge overall length to 2.30 inches. That will feed in the magazines and through the upper. Finding a .204 upper may be a challenge.

The AR platform, with a rail extending to the muzzle, is ideal for the AGM clip-on.

A big advantage with an AR platform is barrel life. At more than 4,000 FPS, even the best barrel is going to wear out. When that happens on an AR platform, you can change the barrel if you have access to a vise and a long-handled pipe wrench to remove and reinstall the barrel nut.

Barrel life is affected by how hot the rounds you shoot, how well you clean the barrel and letting it cool between shots. Prairie dog guns that see up to a hundred shots a day may reach 3,000 rounds before the throat is eroded badly enough to affect accuracy. Lower velocity rounds and cooling time can extend barrel life to double that.

References:

Featured Image Brandon and Stacy Hunt

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