Are you thinking of buying a 3-9x40mm rifle scope? You’re in the right spot. I’m a big fan of 3-9x40mm scopes, and the 3-9x magnification range in general, and we’re going to go over the eight best 3-9x40mm scopes that we have been able to find.
Before we jump into our recommendations, let’s talk about 3-9x4 scopes a bit to brush up on the technical details.
Understanding a 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope
Most of us know what the numbers mean, but just in case you haven’t seen these before, the 3-9 range means that the rifle scope can be adjusted between a 3x magnification and a higher magnification of 9x. 9x is high enough that these scopes would not be considered low power variable optics (LPVOs).
The 40mm refers to the diameter of the objective lens, which is the lens that is facing towards the target. It’s the lens you look out of, not into. The larger the objective lens, generally the more light is able to enter the rifle scope and the brighter the image visible in the scope will be.
Light Transmission -The Holy Grail
The nice thing about comparing 3-9x40mm scopes is that since they all do basically the same thing, you can look at other specifications and factors that can make all the difference in your shooting experience.
The #1 thing to look for here is light transmission. In other words, how much of the available light actually makes it through the objective lens and to your eye.
As a general rule of thumb, I think most shooters would agree that more light transmission is better. For most scopes, especially on the more affordable end of the spectrum, getting as much light in as possible will make your image clearer, sharper, and easier for acquiring your target.
That said, in actuality more light is not always better. Too much light, especially light just outside of the visible spectrum, can add haze, wavy-ness, and other obfuscations to your sight picture. With a 40mm objective lens at midday these types of visual issues can occur due to too much light.
Light transmission and management is going to be one of the most common differences between a budget rifle scope and a more expensive rifle scope.
Size, Length, Weight, and Other Factors
The more affordable price the rifle scope, the cheaper the materials need to be to make it cost-effective. Since the riflescope has to be highly durable, this can sometimes mean that more materials are used and it becomes heavier.
It is not always true that a very affordable price of rifle scope will be heavier and longer, though, and you’ll see on this list examples to the contrary. Curious to know about 'How much is a rifle?' Check out the article for more details.
All of the scopes we are recommending have great reviews, but we would still recommend researching the different brands and models that we present here because you may find that a certain brand doesn’t hold up as well to high recoil as another brand, or that one of these brands may not actually fit on the hunting rifle you want to put it on.
Experienced shooters may put the label of “holy grail” on reticle design instead of light transmission, since light transmission is almost guaranteed to be “good enough” even if it’s not fantastic, but a poorly-designed reticle or one that is not great for the type of shooting you’re doing can ruin an otherwise best rifle scope.
These scopes will all have some form of crosshairs ranging from a standard duplex to mil-dot, to duplex with a BDC ladder, etc.
If you plan on shooting at longer distances, you’ll want a reticle that allows quick target acquisition and to shoot accurately at those distances. If you’re just plinking with your .22 then you may want a reticle that’s simple enough to match.
For reticles on the second focal plane, all of these scopes will have parallax set to 100 yards, but you can use the parallax adjustment on some of them to shift focus to a different distance. Parallax comes into play more at longer distances.
Quick Note on Magnification
These scopes all have the same magnification range, but that does not mean that the magnification will give the exact same results on the field. Generally, the more premium the scope, the more accurate the magnification will be. More budget scope options may have real-life magnification that is as much as .5x magnification off from their listed specs.
For the most part, a difference in magnification of that size shouldn’t make a big difference.
Alrighty, let’s get into our recommendations!
Best 3-9x40mm Scopes [Quick List]
Burris Fullfield II Riflescope
Burris Fullfield II Riflescope
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Simmons Truplex 8-Point
Simmons Truplex 8-Point
UTG 36-Color Mil-dot
UTG 36-Color Mil-dot
Nikon 3-9x40mm BDC
Nikon 3-9x40mm BDC
I have not ranked these, and the reason for that is a great hunting scope is likely a terrible shotgun scope; they could each be considered the best for some situations and the worst in others.
1. Burris Fullfield II Riflescope
The Burris Fullfield II is a mid-range rifle scope that tries to maximize available light using HiLume multi-coating on all outward-facing lenses. The tube width here is only 1-inch, but the differences between a 1-inch tube and a 30mm tube shouldn’t be significant if they both have 40mm objective lens diameters.
The Burris is a fairly light 13 ounces, and is just over a foot long (12.4 inches). This should make it fairly easy to fit and balance on most rifles. Scope Eye relief is between 3.1 and 3.8 inches, which gives you a little bit of wiggle room but not as much as some other scopes. The Burris is made out of aluminum, which accounts for its low weight.
Burris’ reputation is pretty solid, and all of their scopes are backed by their “no questions asked Forever Warranty”. There may be some concerns about this standing up to severe recoil, which may make it a bad fit for a muzzleloader or a .50BMG, but most of the standard calibers should be just fine.
The FullField II has a ballistic plex reticle that combines a basic duplex with three markings moving down from the center that indicate different distances and help you compensate for bullet drop. The Burris may not be the best 3-9x40 scope overall, but it may be best for what you need. It should be great for shooting on the range or hunting.
Burris Fullfield II
The price of The Burris Fullfield II varies, so check the latest price at
Want to know more about that scope? Check out our detailed burris fulfield II review.
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope
The Crossfire II is another great mid-range rifle scope for the 3-9x range. The lenses are multi-coated and anti-reflective but there isn’t anything beyond the 40mm objective lens that is contributing to the light transmission here, so that’s something to consider.
The light transmission is fine for the price point but there is a noticeable difference between the 40mm Vortex scope and the 50mm.
The Crossfire II is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and has a one-inch tube. It’s a bit heavier than the Burris at 15 ounces but almost half an inch shorter.
The eye relief starts a bit farther out, going from 3.8 to 4.4 inches, which is a bit tighter than the Burris but still workable. The Crossfire II should balance on most rifles.
The exception being scout rifles. Scout rifles require forward-mounted optics, and none of the scopes on this list have an extended eye relief to work well with scout rifles. Vortex has a great warranty on all their scopes and a great reputation in the industry.
You get three choices of reticle on the Crossfire II: the V-plex, the Dead-Hold BDC, and the Illuminated V-brite. The v-plex is a fairly standard and minimalist duplex reticle. The dead-hold BDC reticle has (as you might have guessed) bullet drop compensators and also windage and movement calculators to the left and right of center.
The V-brite puts an illuminated red dot in the middle of your duplex, which can make it great for certain shooting scenarios. All reticle options are on the second focal plane.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
The price of Vortex Optics Crossfire II varies, so check the latest price at
Want to know more about best Vortex Scopes? Check out our guide.
3. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Riflescope
The Bushnell Banner riflescope is one of the most affordable optics on this list, and along with the 40mm objective lens diameter, they also have their “Dusk & Dawn Brightness” multi-coat on their lenses.
Honestly, I’m not really sure that means anything. All the best brands have multi-coated lenses, and most of them have their own proprietary version.
The Banner combines the lighter weight of the Burris with the shorter length of the Vortex, coming in at 13 ounces and 12 inches long.
The tube is all one piece and your elevation adjustment and windage adjustment clicks are .25 MOA, which makes this a good fit for long range shooting. Eye relief is 3.3 inches, which is a fairly standard eye relief.
Bushnell is a recognized brand in the riflescope industry and they make good optics. The Banner is well-reviewed, especially considering the low price. If you’re shooting most common calibers, the Bushnell should work well, especially with rimfire cartridges.
The Banner only comes with one reticle design, called the Multi-X, which is a duplex design but with thicker lines that quickly taper at a certain distance from the center. If you’re looking for a fancy reticle, you won’t find it on the Bushnell Banner.
The price of Bushnell Banner varies, so check the latest price at
4. Bushnell Trophy Riflescope
A step-up in price from the Banner, the Bushnell Trophy boasts 91% light transmission through their 40mm lens diameter and multi coated lenses, and is a strong contender for the best 3-9x40 scope.
Also made of aluminum, the weight is in the same range as we’ve seen so far, coming in at 13.8 ounces and 11.9 inches, which makes it (by a tenth of an inch) the shortest riflescope on this list so far.
The Trophy is plenty durable and Bushnell claims it is nearly indestructible. Bushnell has a solid warranty and reputation in the industry as a high-quality optic manufacturer.
The Trophy comes with Bushnell’s DOA (Dead On Accurate) 600 reticle which is purported to “dramatically expand your effective range.
The design is a BDC reticle with additional markings to the left and right to mark windage and movement compensation. With eye relief of 4 inches, it’s .7 inches longer than the Banner, plus it comes with a fast focus eyepiece.
The price of Bushnell Trophy varies, so check the latest price at
5. Leupold VX-Freedom Riflecsope
Leupold’s VX-Freedom scope is the most premium option on our list here, and there’s a reason it can command the top spot.
Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System is well known in the industry for keeping your image bright enough for shooting even longer into dusk. Twilight comes in three flavors, and the VX-Freedom comes equipped with the lowest.
The Leupold is the heaviest and longest riflescope on this list at 14 inches long and 1.2 pounds, but the performance comes with it.
It’s constructed with 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum and tested on Leupold’s “Punisher”, which simulates recoil that is 5 times that of a typical .308 rifle. In order to be approved for mass production, a new Leupold model has to survive at least 5,000 shots on the Punisher.
Leupold has earned their place on the riflescope totem pole and the fantastic reputation that their scopes have is proof positive of their quality control and dedication to perfection.
Even their lenses are not only scratch-resistant, they are scratch resistant to “military standard extreme abrasion” specifications.
You have two different reticle options with the VX-Freedom; a standard duplex reticle and the Tri-MOA, which has markings to the left and right of center as well as bullet-drop markings down from center.
The lines are 1 MOA lines, and when paired with the .24 MOA adjustment clicks on the windage and elevation turrets, assist in maximizing accuracy.
With low eye relief of 4.17 inches and high eye relief of 3.66 inches, if any of these deserve the title of best 3-9x40 scope overall, it would be the Leupold.
The price of Leupold VX-Freedom varies, so check the latest price at
6. Simmons Truplex 8-Point Riflescope
The Simmons Truplex has fully coated lenses but other than that has no special scope features to maximize light transmission.
The 40mm objective lens diameter combined with the coating should provide good transmission in daylight, but likely won’t perform as well as some of the other options on the list in dusk and dawn shooting.
What really sets the Truplex apart is how light it is. At only 10.08 ounces, it is by far the lightest riflescope on this list. It’s waterproof, fog proof, and Simmons says that it is “recoilproof”, and able to withstand heavy amounts of recoil.
With how affordable this lens is, it should be a great fit for a .22lr or something else for casual or occasional shooting. Eye relief is 3.75 inches.
Simmons makes riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, and rangefinders. Their reputation is not as solidified as household names like Leupold and Bushnell, but the Truplex 8-point is well reviewed and seems like a good match for most rifles.
Their website is bare-bones, as are their product descriptions, and it’s difficult to learn more about their company.
The “Truplex” reticle is just a duplex reticle with thicker lines that taper towards the center, but is serviceable at most of the distances you’ll be shooting with a 3-9x riflescope and should work just fine.
For a basic riflescope that does what it’s supposed to and holds zero, this Simmons optic is a great fit. If you are looking for top-of-the-line customer service or a lot of features, I would look at some of the other options on this list.
Simmons Truplex 8-Point
The price of Simmons Truplex 8-Point varies, so check the latest price at
7. UTG 36-Color Mil-dot Riflescope
This UTG riflescope has “emerald coated lenses”. I have no idea what that means, but they say that it maximizes light transmission and results in clearer picture.
A thorough reading of the reviews on Amazon shows that it does gather the light pretty well and seems to have decent transmission. What really sets the UTG apart, though, is the reticle.
Remember at the beginning how I said that the reticle can make or break a quality scope? Well UTG’s 36-color Mil-dot reticle makes this one.
Most scopes don’t have illuminated reticles at all. If they do, they have either red or green and only sometimes both. The UTG, though, gives you an illuminated reticle with 36 different color options, which can be a huge help in low light.
Most situations will be covered by your standard red, green, or black, but there will be times when a different color would show up much better and help you get a clearer sense of what you’re actually aiming at. Eye relief is 3.2 to 3.9 inches.
The UTG is pretty heavy at 1.3 pounds, which is probably to accommodate the electronics for the illuminated reticle, but is durable, shockproof, fogproof, and rainproof.
UTG 36-Color Mil-dot Scope
The price of UTG 36-Color Mil-dot varies, so check the latest price at
8. Nikon 3-9x40mm BDC Riflescope
Nikon unfortunately no longer makes riflescopes (RIP), but if you are wanting to try to find a used one in nice condition, it really does belong on this list.
Nikon makes everything from camera lenses to telescopes to riflescopes and beyond, and the strength of Nikon is in their image quality. Their 3-9x40mm has fantastic light transmission and multi-coated lenses.
Their BDC reticle in the Nikon is unique in that their dots are hollow; where most BDC ladders will have either a horizontal line or a solid dot, Nikon opted to put hollow circles as the markings for different distances.
This design does take some getting used to but can be highly effective once you’ve shot with it a bit. Turrets are .25 MOA, size and weight are about what you’d expect, and the scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. Again, what really sets Nikon apart is the image quality.
Since Nikon is no longer making scopes, I would recommend you look at the other options on this list unless you have a good lead on a used Nikon scope in great condition and are willing to risk it.
Nikon 3-9x40mm BDC Riflescope
The price of Nikon 3-9x40mm BDC varies, so check the latest price at
Check out our article on 'best scope for henry 44 mag rifle'.
The best way to choose the right 3-9x40mm is by deciding what matters to you the most and seeing which scopes provide you what you need within your budget.
Despite my own love of Leupold scopes, it doesn’t always make sense to drop so much on a single scope, especially for a rifle that isn’t doing anything mission-critical or only gets taken out occasionally.
Have you used any 3-9x40mm scopes that aren’t on this list? Are you wishing Nikon still made rifle scopes?