Best Air Rifle Scope Under $300 – 2023

Best-Air-Rifle-Scope

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Air rifles come in a wide variety of flavors, but the most relevant variable when it comes to choosing a good scope is how the projectile in the air rifle is fired. If you’re shooting a spring or piston-piston-powered air rifle, you need to make sure to select a scope that has been designed to withstand the reverse recoil.

Even smaller calibers and less powerful air rifles can wreak havoc on a traditional firearm scope if they are springers. To keep things simple, all of the scopes we include here have been reported to work with spring and nitro air rifles, except for the very last scope, which we are including because it’s good for a specific use case.  

We’ll dive a little deeper into the recoil issues in the Buying Guide, so if you feel like you need a little more understanding on that before looking at scopes, feel free to scroll down. Otherwise, here are my recommendations for the best air rifle scope under $300.  

Related: The Ultimate List of the Best Air Rifle Scopes

Product Reviews 

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Workhorse magnification range of 3-9x
  • Versatile reticle illumination
  • Comes with mounting hardware
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  • Built like a tank
  • Incredible warranty
  • Versatile magnification range
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  • 24x magnification
  • Parallax adjustment via adjustable objective
  • FFP reticle with BDC and illumination
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  • Vortex warranty
  • Does all the basics very well
  • Illuminated reticle
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  • Very affordable
  • ‘Workhorse’ magnification range
  • Crosshair reticle is good for practice & teaching
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  • High maximum magnification
  • Good image quality
  • Burris’ Forever Warranty
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  • Designed for air rifles
  • AMX reticle
  • Does well with all the basics
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  • Opens up to 1x for close-range shots
  • Zooms in to 6x for shooting further out
  • Reticle design is unique and could be exactly what you want
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  • Simple fixed-power design
  • Good for short range
  • Comparatively low price
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  • Gets a new shooter excited about it
  • Core functionality is solid
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1. UTG 3-9x40mm Hunter

The UTG is designed specifically for air rifles and has a price and performance to match. The 3-9x magnification makes it great for the full range where airguns are most likely to be used, and the build quality will handle the reverse recoil from spring-powered air rifles. 

It also has a feature set that makes it an excellent fit for air rifles. The reticle is a mil-dot, so it will work well with any caliber and configuration you want to put it on, and it has 36 different colors to choose from in the illumination. That means that regardless of whether you’re shooting in daylight or at night, at small or large targets, you can choose an illumination color that works best for you.

You also get adjustable parallax at an incredibly low price point. Adjustable parallax is a great feature to have on an airgun scope because, unlike regular rifles, shooting at very close distances is fairly common. Additionally, the deviation of the reticle due to parallax will increase exponentially, the closer your aimpoint is to you.

Overall, the UTG is a fantastic scope for air rifles.

Pros:

  • Designed for strong reverse recoil
  • Workhorse magnification range of 3-9x
  • Versatile reticle illumination
  • Mil-dot reticle usable for any caliber/load
  • Comes with mounting hardware

Cons:

  • Can’t open up further than 3x
  • Light transmission in low light is not as good as in other scopes

UTG 3-9x40mm Hunter

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2. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm

Leupold’s general philosophy as a company is to over-engineer their products to withstand far more punishment than they should ever get in real-world use. The VX-Freedom line is no exception to this. The VX-Freedom line has been thoroughly tested and will work well on virtually any rifle.

The Leupold warranty is unmatched, and they have a fantastic reputation when it comes to honoring that warranty.

Leupold is also well-known for its optical quality, clarity, and light transmission. Going from a cheap no-brand scope to a Leupold can feel a lot like going from standard def to HD or HD to 4k. The image is brighter, sharper, and more true to life.

If you prioritize build quality and image clarity over anything else, go with the Leupold. The main drawback of the VX-Freedom is that every dollar of the price goes towards those basics. You’ll have to pay extra if you want more than a duplex reticle, and this model has neither reticle illumination nor adjustable parallax.

If you’re shooting at closer than about 20 yards or so, the parallax starts to become very noticeable and difficult to cope with, so this may not be the scope if you’re hunting varmints around your property.

Pros:

  • Unmatched image quality
  • Built like a tank
  • Incredible warranty
  • Versatile magnification range

Cons:

  • No reticle illumination
  • No adjustable parallax
  • Simple duplex reticle

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm

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3. Monstrum G3 6-24x50mm

For the vast majority of air rifle shooters, the idea of a scope designed to shoot out 1000 yards and farther may seem silly, but the world record for an air rifle is around 2000 yards. With the right gun, it’s not uncommon for air rifle shooters to be out as far as 600 or 700 yards.

Does it take a lot of math and calculation to predict a projectile’s trajectory that far out? Yes, it does. But is it possible? Absolutely. If you’ve got something big like an Air Force Texan .457, you may very well be interested in taking it out at long ranges; if that’s you, then the Monstrum G3 6-24x50mm could be a good choice.

The G3 reportedly performs well against the reverse recoil, and the image quality at lower magnifications is close to brands like Vortex. That said, the light transmission falls off quickly as you get further down the magnification range, and some of the color fidelity falls off along with it. Don’t expect to make long-range shots in low-light shooting conditions, and you’ll be fine.

The reticle is the first focal plane, which means it will stay true to zero at all magnifications. The innermost portion of the reticle is illuminated, making it a lot easier to see in dusk and dawn shooting scenarios. The reticle has a BDC ladder and MOA markings for windage, so it’s a great scope for practicing long-range shooting.

Pros:

  • 24x magnification can make a 1000-yard target look like a 42-yard target
  • Parallax adjustment via adjustable objective
  • FFP reticle with BDC and illumination

Cons:

  • Low light performance at maximum magnification is not great
  • Reticle is a bit thick and can cover too much of the target

Monstrum G3 6-24x50mm

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4. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm

Important note: not every Vortex scope is designed to go on an air rifle. The Crossfire II, for example, is a lot more hit-and-miss as to whether it will be able to handle the reverse recoil.

If you’re not shooting a springer, you can likely get away with any Vortex scope, but the Strike Eagle has been tested and shown to work well for air rifles. Keep in mind that the Strike Eagle magnification range is much lower than you would want for the more powerful spring or nitro-powered rifles anyway.

An LPVO like the Strike Eagle is an excellent choice when you need a good performance from your airgun at close ranges, like hunting varmints or doing pest control around the ranch. If all you’re doing is plinking, then the Strike Eagle might be overkill, and the same is true if you’re shooting a pump-action airgun or co2 air pistol.

In terms of features, Vortex offers good visual clarity, a BDC reticle, and plenty of adjustment to get to zero, even with lighter air rifle calibers. Parallax is set to 100 yards, which can make very short-range shots more difficult, but consistent shooting form and cheek weld should help mitigate that.

At this price range, features like adjustable parallax often come at the expense of the basics like image quality, strength, and durability. Every shooter needs to come up with their own list of priorities when they’re choosing a scope.

Pros:

  • Opens up to 1x for ultra-close range shots
  • Zooms in to 6x for comfortably shooting out to 200 yards
  • Vortex warranty
  • Does all the basics very well
  • Illuminated reticle

Cons:

  • No adjustable parallax
  • Only red illumination

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm

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5. CVLife 3-9x40mm R4

Right out of the gate, let’s make it clear that this is not the scope to put on the Air Force Texan mentioned above. This is a sub-$50 scope that will do a great job for a low-powered air rifle. The magnification range is right where it should be, the reticle is a simple duplex, and the scope is dirt cheap.

The reticle is the second focal plane (which doesn’t actually matter because it’s a basic crosshair), and the objective lens is nice and big at 40mm. The low-light performance is not as good as it seems like it should be on paper, but again, as an entry-level scope that is probably going on a plinking rifle, possibly even for a child, it’s perfectly adequate.

In fact, the CVLife is much better than it has any right to be, given the price. The image is fairly clear and sharp, and the adjustment turrets give you ¼ MOA clicks. The turrets do require a coin or something to turn, which can be annoying. However, since you’re probably not using this scope for any shots that require on-the-fly adjustment, you really only have to deal with the turrets once.

The CVLife gets the best budget option because it does all the basics very well at a ridiculously low price point. Considering that you could get a fleet of these scopes for the price of just one Leupold, it’s hard to argue about the value-for-dollar.

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • ‘Workhorse’ magnification range
  • Crosshair reticle is good for practice & teaching

Cons:

  • No warranty
  • No reticle illumination or BDC
  • No adjustable parallax

CVLife 3-9x40mm R4

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6. Burris Fullfield II 6.5-20x

The Fullfield II wasn’t specifically designed for air guns, but all of Burris’ scopes are made to withstand reverse recoil, and the Fullfield is no exception. The magnification range makes it a good fit for more powerful air rifles, especially thanks to the Burris warranty. 

If choosing a less well-known brand like Monstrum makes you nervous, then going with a reputable company with a forever guarantee might be a better move for you. You won’t get quite as much magnification but considering the distances you’ll likely be shooting, 20x should be plenty anyway.

Remember that this Fullfield II model won’t be good for close-range since 6.5x is enough magnification to make it awkward to aim at targets closer than 50 yards or so. The large objective of 50mm helps with light transmission, and Burris has always offered good image quality in their scopes.

Like most scopes in this price range, the excellent warranty and high quality come at the expense of features. In terms of features, the only ‘feature’ the Fullfield II has is a ballistic mil-dot reticle, which I personally like, but many people do not. You must ensure that you check the image of the reticle on OpticsPlanet to see if it suits your fancy.

Pros:

  • High maximum magnification
  • Good image quality
  • Burris’ Forever Warranty

Cons:

  • High minimum magnification (6.5x)
  • No reticle illumination, adjustable parallax, etc.

Burris Fullfield II 6.5-20x

The price of “Burris Fullfield II 6.5-20x” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 2-7×32 AO

The Hawke was designed specifically for air rifles, and if I had to pick a scope that was runner-up to the UTG for best overall, it would be the Airmax. I think it loses out to the UTG because of the higher price and lower magnification. Only going to 7x instead of 9 reduces the effective range of the scope.

For me, 7x will comfortably get me out to 200 yards, but with 9x, I can stretch out to about 300. More experienced shooters can probably get a lot more out of that 7x, but for me, it really does make a big difference.

On the flip side, for close-range shooting, shooting at 2x and 3x feel pretty similar, so being able to open a bit wider doesn’t seem as helpful for up-close shots, so all in all, I feel the 2-7x isn’t as useful as 3-9x would be.

So, you may ask, why do I include this scope at all? I include it because where most of these scopes are designed first and foremost for firearms and are made to withstand air rifles as an afterthought, the Hawke is primarily for air rifles. If we’re making bets on which scope would last the longest on an air rifle, the Hawke should be up there with the best of them. 

The AMX reticle that comes on the Hawke is pretty slick, and the combination of dots and lines gives you a lot of customizability on how you want to use the reticle for your rifle and load.

Pros:

  • Designed for air rifles
  • AMX reticle
  • Does well with all the basics
  • Adjustable objective (parallax)

Cons:

  • Magnification is not as versatile as other choices
  • Less value-for-dollar

Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 2-7×32 AO

The price of “Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 2-7×32 AO” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Monstrum G3 1-6×24 FFP

Yes, you are seeing double. The Monstrum G3 has already made it on this list once, but I wanted to include the 1-6×24 version separately since it fills a very different role for air rifle shooters.

LPVOs, in general, are my favorite type of optic, especially in the 1-6x range. 6x magnification is nothing to be scoffed at and can get you out as far as 200 yards without much trouble. If you don’t need MOA accuracy, then you can potentially get out as far as 300 yards with 6x.

At the same time, magnification is not always your friend, especially when you’re shooting at something very close, like within 10 yards, any magnification at all can needlessly delay your target acquisition and real-time awareness of your surroundings. For that reason, I find LPVOs to be a great way to get most of the functionality you need out of a rifle scope.

Of course, if you want to shoot long-range, then an LPVO won’t help much.

This version of the Monstrum G3 also has a first focal plane reticle. This is fine, but I don’t find it all that much more helpful than just a duplex would be. The reticle is illuminated, and you have enough brightness settings for most situations. There is no parallax adjustment, but on an LPVO, you don’t need one nearly as much.

Pros:

  • Opens up to 1x for close-range shots
  • Zooms in to 6x for shooting further out
  • Reticle design is unique and could be exactly what you want

Cons:

  • No parallax adjustment
  • On the more expensive side

Monstrum G3 1-6×24 FFP

The price of “Monstrum G3 1-6×24 FFP” varies, so check the latest price at

9. Hawke Vantage 4×32 AO

I wanted to include the Vantage from Hawke specifically in the 4x fixed-power flavor because it could be a good solution for many folks. It can be hard to find an LPVO specifically designed for air rifles, let alone able to withstand the higher-caliber spring/piston-powered air rifles.

4x is a good magnification level that still gives you the ability to make close-range shots while also helping you when you need to shoot out a little further. You might have a bit of trouble shooting inside of 10 yards, but considering that you can comfortably get out to 100 and possibly further, it’s a lot to value for just a single setting.

Since Hawke specializes in scopes for air rifles, you can have confidence that it’s going to do just fine on yours. The Vantage also comes with an adjustable objective for when you need to go out further or come in closer than your last shot, which can be quite handy.

It’s waterproof, shockproof, and has a mono-tube chassis for durability and strength. Overall, it’s a good scope at a reasonable price.

Pros:

  • Simple fixed-power design
  • Good for short range (100 yards or less)
  • Comparatively low price

Cons:

  • Not as versatile as a variable-power scope
  • No reticle illumination

Hawke Vantage 4×32 AO

The price of “Hawke Vantage 4×32 AO” varies, so check the latest price at

10. UUQ 4-16×50 AO

Nope, I’m not joking, and please hear me out. This UUQ scope would be a terrible choice for a spring or nitro-powered rifle, and it would probably fall apart within just a few shots from one of the more powerful air rifles.

That said, this is the scope to get if you’re trying to get one of your kids more excited about shooting. This is easily the most tactical scope on the list, and nothing will make your kid feel cooler than having one of these bad boys mounted on his air rifle.

Novelty aside, it actually does have functional value. The flashlight is handy, and the main scope is not nearly as bad as you might expect. Believe it or not, it has adjustable parallax and reticle illumination in both red and green. The laser sight is highly gimmicky and is unlikely to give you more of a general idea of what region your projectile might eventually end up in, but the rest works fine.

Once the excitement has worn off about how incredible the scope is, it’s probable that both the laser sight and the red dot will be removed. However, you’ll still be left with a better-than-it-should-be scope with 4-16x magnification (and a 50mm objective!) along with a decent flashlight.

The build quality isn’t too bad either; it’s nitrogen-purged for fog proofing and sealed to be waterproof.

Pros:

  • Gets a new shooter excited about it
  • Gives them exposure to three different optics at a fraction of the normal cost
  • Core functionality is solid

Cons:

  • If you don’t use all four of the main elements, the price isn’t as great by comparison
  • It’s pretty heavy and bulky, especially for a small rifle

UUQ 4-16×50 AO

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Buying Guide

Best-Air-Rifle-Scope

In this section, we’ll talk about all the factors that should go into your decision-making process when considering what scope under $300 to purchase for your air rifle.

One of the difficulties with air rifles is that there are different types of air rifles that use different methods of propulsion for the projectile. Each of these different methods has unique considerations, but when you’re purchasing a scope for the air rifle, the only real question is whether there is reverse recoil.

Air Rifle Recoil

For many air rifles, the recoil is so minimal that you can barely feel it. This can even be true of powerful PCP (pre-compressed pneumatic) air guns.

Then there are air guns that not only have recoil but also have reverse recoil. This is precisely what it sounds like: the gun jumps forward after initially moving back like a traditional firearm. This happens particularly with spring and piston-powered air rifles.

So if you’re on the forums and seeing some people say that a scope works great on their air rifle and others say that the same scope fell apart on theirs, chances are that they’re using different types of air rifles, which is why it can get so tricky to find a scope that will hold up to the reverse recoil.

If you’re not shopping for a spring or piston-powered air rifle scope, you don’t have to worry about this; virtually any halfway-decent scope will serve you just fine.

Magnification

Magnification

Air rifles are not typically taken out to anywhere close to the distances that regular rifles are. For this reason, low-power variable optics (LPVOs) are a great option for air rifles. It’s hard to find LPVOs that can withstand reverse recoil from a powerful springer, but at the same time, those more powerful rifles are more likely to need more magnification anyway.

Often with air rifles, the minimum magnification can matter a lot more than the maximum magnification. I mentioned this in the product review section, but having too much magnification can make shooting at close distances harder. Since most air rifles are going to be shooting between 20 and 70 yards, it makes sense to avoid scopes with a lowest setting that’s too high.

There’s a good argument here for a fixed-power scope at something like 3x or 4x. That magnification is high enough to extend the useful range of your air rifle, but low enough that you can still make close-range shots without too much awkwardness.

The key is to find the right magnification for your use case.

Reticle Design

Despite what most scope manufacturers might tell you, reticle design is largely a matter of preference. It’s important to remember that there isn’t one master reticle out there that will magically turn you into a more accurate shooter.

When you’re looking at reticles, you will see options ranging from basic crosshairs (usually called a duplex) to complicated bullet drop compensator (BDC) ladders with arrays of aim points at different windage and elevation combinations. 

If you’re buying a scope for the first time, my advice would be to choose either a duplex or a very simple BDC like a mil-dot reticle. The reason for that is that you probably won’t be able to get the value out of something more complicated yet anyway, and it will just clutter up your sight picture.

If you give yourself the opportunity to master the basics with a simple reticle, then it will become more obvious to you what additions to your reticle would be useful based on how you shoot.

Focal Plane

The reticle on your scope will either be the second focal plane or the first focal plane, and there is a significant difference between the two. Explaining all the technical differences between the two planes is out of scope (no pun intended) for this article, but here’s what matters.

When you zoom out (turn down the magnification) on a scope, the image in the scope gets smaller. When you zoom in, it gets bigger. If your reticle is on the second focal plane, the reticle itself will stay the same size no matter what magnification you’re at. If the reticle is on the first focal plane, it will get smaller when you zoom out and bigger when you zoom in, just like the image.

The advantage to a first focal plane scope is that, once you have zeroed in the scope, all the relative markings (MOA, MIL, etc.) on the reticle will remain true to scale throughout the magnification range.

The focal plane only matters if you have more than a simple duplex since two lines intersecting in the center of the scope won’t change, no matter how much you zoom.

Parallax Adjustment

Some scopes offer the ability to adjust for parallax based on what distance you’re shooting at. This can either be done via a side knob or on the objective lens. 

Here’s a quick way to understand parallax: think of a graph with an x, y, and z axis. X goes left and right, y goes up and down, and z goes backward and forward.

When you’re looking through a scope and zoom in, you could say that the image is moving closer to your eye along the z-axis, right? And a reticle on the first focal plane moves along the Z axis with the image?

Well, if you want the reticle to move with the image along the x and y axes, too, that’s what you use parallax adjustment for. 

Many scopes don’t offer parallax adjustment and instead have the parallax set to a specific distance of between 60 and 100 yards. This is often fine because parallax doesn’t start to play a significant role in throwing off your shot (unless your shooting position is inconsistent) until you get out a lot further than that.

With air rifles, though, you’re often shooting so close range that the parallax can become an issue more frequently than would normally be expected. For that reason, you may want to consider looking for a scope that has parallax adjustment.

Also Read: How To Adjust A Rifle Scope In Easy Way

Illumination

When we talk about illumination, we’re talking specifically about the reticle being lit up in a certain color (besides black, obviously). The most common color is red, followed by green, and occasionally you’ll find scopes that offer different colors besides those two.

The point of illuminating a scope reticle is to make it easier to see by contrasting it more clearly with the background. This is especially useful when you’re shooting into a dark or shadowed area that blends well against the standard black of a non-illuminated reticle.

Choosing illumination or not depends on your use case for the scope and your budget.

Glass and Image Quality

Glass and Image Quality

You’ll only have to worry about this one if you choose a scope that’s not on our list. All the scopes I’ve recommended here are going to have at least decent image quality, and the best will have fantastic images.

It’s difficult to explain the difference between a scope with good imagery and one with bad imagery to someone who hasn’t personally experienced the difference. The nice thing is that if you’re buying your first scope, you probably won’t notice much of a difference in image quality between a good scope and a great scope because you just aren’t that experienced yet.

Newer shooters tend to care more about features, while it takes a little bit more time looking through a scope for image quality to become a higher priority. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it can be a really good thing to buy a cheap scope loaded with features first and save your larger scope purchases for after you’ve wisened up a bit.

The point is, while image quality is important, it’s not necessarily more important than a specific feature relevant to how you want to use the scope you’re buying. 

Also Read: BEST SPR SCOPE

Durability

Ok, so everything I just said about glass and image quality? Throw it out the window when it comes to durability. Unless you’re putting the scope on a recoil-free air rifle, then strength and durability are paramount. All the features and image quality in the world won’t matter if your scope breaks.

That is why throughout this article, I’ve tried to be very careful about saying what kinds of air rifles each scope is good for. This is because unless you want to end up with an expensive paperweight, you need to make sure you buy a scope that is designed to handle the reverse recoil you’ll be throwing at it.

It’s tempting just to assume that any scope that costs a few hundred dollars is going to be able to handle your cheap spring-powered air rifle, but that’s not always the case. Rifle scopes are designed to withstand recoil going in one direction: backward. The moment that recoil changes direction, all bets are off.

Do yourself a favor and make sure to buy a scope that is verified to be able to handle the type of air rifle you have.

Budget and Price

Buying a scope for an air rifle is one of those cases where more expensive is not necessarily better. In fact, intentionally looking for a more expensive scope may net you less benefit than one that is more affordable.

The reason for this? More expensive scopes are pricier because they focus on aspects that are more important to standard rifles than they are to air rifles. Will a several-thousand-dollar Leupold stand up to reverse recoil just fine? Of course, but so will a different scope, a fraction of the price that offers precisely the same value.

I usually recommend buying as high as you feel comfortable because the quality of scope really does go up as you spend more money, but it’s a lot harder to justify for most air rifles. If you’re a competition shooter or need a specific high-end feature because of your situation, then it might make sense to drop a lot of money, but otherwise, go with the cheap stuff.

Frequently-Asked Questions

What Size Scope Should I Get for an Air Rifle?

This depends completely on what you’re using the air rifle for. If you’re doing short-range things like plinking or hunting varmints on your property, then a low-power variable optic that goes from 1-6x might be the best choice, or perhaps a 2-7x.

If you want to shoot out further and want to hit targets out as far as 500 or 600 yards, then something like 6.5-20x or 6-24x would be a better fit. The size of scope you get will depend mostly on how you’re using the air rifle, just like with a firearm.

What Range Is a 4-16×50 Scope Good for?

At the minimum magnification of 4x, it’s probably going to be disorienting if you try to shoot at a target closer than about 10 yards. The image will appear so large in your scope that it will likely be difficult to acquire your target and shoot accurately in a reasonable time frame. For that reason, I would start the effective range of a 4-16x scope at either 10 or 20 yards.

At the maximum magnification of 16x, a target at a distance of 1600 yards should appear about the same size as a target at a distance of 100 yards appears with zero magnification. That’s fairly small, and if you’re aiming at something smaller than about 5 MOA across, you’ll have a hard time seeing the target well enough to hit it. 

Therefore, I would say in practice, a 4-16x scope is only good out to about 1000 yards, and only that far after a fair amount of practice.

What’s the Difference Between the First and Second Focal Planes?

A reticle on the first focal plane will shrink and grow in the same proportions as the image you see through the scope as you zoom in and out along the magnification range. A reticle on the second focal plane will stay the same size no matter how zoomed in you are.

Because of this, a reticle on the second focal plane can only be accurate relative to the image in the scope at a single point along the magnification. Most of the time, scope manufacturers will set this point to be the maximum magnification. 

So if you have a 3-9x scope with a reticle on the second focal plane, in order for any MOA or MIL markings on the reticle to be correct, you would need to go up to 9x magnification.

A first focal plane reticle is true to size relative to the image in the scope at all points throughout the magnification.

Conclusion

I hope this article was helpful. Have you used any of these scopes on your air rifle? What was your experience? Are there any scopes that belong on this list that I didn’t include? Feel free to let me know in the comments. Also, if you’re ready to purchase our #1 pick – the UTG Hunter, you can do so here.

Thanks!

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