Riflescopes are the new normal on tactical rifles. From semi-auto rifles designed for ranges, 5 to 500 yards to precision sniper rifles designed to take a man out at over a mile away scopes are for every gun. Scopes have quickly become a necessity of a modern tactical weapon.
What makes a tactical scope different than a regular scope? Tactical scopes are built to last and be beat up and keep working. They also offer enhanced precision and are made to accommodate specific mission sets.
A good tactical scope makes a world of difference, and we've found the very best.
Leupold Mark 6 3-18x44mm
5.5 - 22
Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X BTR-1 Reticle
Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 E 1-6x24
Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 2-10x 32 FFP
The Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42
Trijicon AccuPower 1-8
Burris MTAC 1-4X
SWFA Super Sniper
Primary Arms SLX 1-6x24mm
Best Tactical Scopes
1. Leupold Mark 6 3-18x44mm
Leupold knows tactical scopes in a very intimate way. For decades the world's best snipers, the USMC's Scout Snipers, used Leupold optics. That wasn't all; Marines issued designated marksman rifles that also fielded Leupold scopes.
They understand the need for a high-performance rifle optic that feeds the right information needed for a tactical shooter to take the shot.
The Mark 6 is a long-range optic designed for sniper rifles in calibers .308 and up. While it works on smaller calibers, you wouldn't need this rifle optic style for an AR-15 in 5.56. On a precision rifle, the magnification range and clarity allow you to hit your target with confidence.
The Leupold Mark 6 is an FFP optic, which is a must for tactical scopes. It also offers a Twilight Max HD light management system that adds up to 30 minutes of shooting light and glare reduction.
The lightweight waterproof design is durable and withstands field conditions without a hitch.
The Mark 6 comes with M5C2 turrets for precise adjustments and the ability to automatically lock your zero. The Mark 6 offers you options for a multitude of different reticles that range from complicated and precise to simple and fast. The Mark 6 does it all with gusto.
2. Nightforce NXS
When the Navy SEALs use your scopes, you know you've made it. Navy SEAL snipers are currently equipped with Nightforce Optics on their sniper rifles. The Nightforce brand is legendary for its clarity, innovative designs, and use by the world's best shooters.
The NXS series provides the best scopes for long-distance shots from full-powered rifles of all kinds.
The worst part of using a Nightforce scope is the fact you can't keep the picture you get through one for the rest of your life. It's so vivid, clear, and wonderful. The clarity allows a shooter to see past camouflaged soldiers and watch, observe and eliminate targets.
The NXS is the same way. It's brilliantly clear. It comes in several magnification ratings. The wide 50mm objective lenses maximize exit pupil light at high magnifications without becoming obnoxious in size.
The NXS is made from a single piece of 6061-T6 aluminum. Nightforce tests their optics to ensure perfection. This high-quality scope is shockproof and waterproof.
The NXS comes with the MOAR reticle, which provides sufficient elevation and windage compensation for most shooters. This rifle scope provides quick, simple target acquisition. Speed is fine, but accuracy is final.
3. Bushnell AR Optics 1-4X BTR-1 Reticle
The AR15 is America's most popular rifle and is a solid tactical rifle used by the militaries around the world. The AR optics from Bushnell provide an affordable tactical scope option for your AR 15.
The Bushnell AR optics comes in 1-4x, which gives you both close range quickness and precision distance shooting out to 500 yards.
The BTR-1 reticle is paired to the 5.56 NATO round and delivers tuned holdovers out to 500 yards. A shooter places the right holdover on the right target at the right range and delivers rounds on target.
The BTR-1 version of the AR Optics scope is an FFP optic, which means the holdovers are accurate at every magnification level.
The Bushnell AR Optics scope and its 1-4X gives you unmatched versatility. The AR 15 can be used efficiently at ranges anywhere from 5 to 500 yards. With the right optic, you'll be able to engage at any range.
The lower-powered designs are made for shooting in close quarters especially using the 1X.
When the range extends or when you must shoot a small target at close range, you up the magnification and let it fly. This gives you different capabilities with your rifle. The AR optics scope from Bushnell is well made and carries an affordable price tag for its versatility.
4. Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 E 1-6x24
Vortex makes a ton of optics. It's easy to get lost in their library of spotting scopes, rifle scopes, and binoculars. On top of that, their riflescope line is divided into red dot sights, holographic sights, and of course, tactical scopes. The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 E is one such scope.
From now on, I'm going to call it the Razor. The Razor, with its 1-6 power setting, is perfect for modern semi-auto tactical rifles. The 1-6 magnification range makes it possible for you to zoom out to targets as far as 700 yards out. The 1x allows for close quarter's gunfights.
The Vortex Razor comes with an illuminated reticle useful for close quarter's shooting and low light conditions. The optic has 11 different brightness settings with off positions between each setting.
The reticle is etched into the glass, so battery life is not a concern. You can always use the Razor.
The Vortex Razor has streamlined zero resettable turrets that make it easy to make adjustments in the field and to reset them back to normal. The Vortex Razor utilizes a variety of different reticles. The one I prefer is VMR-2 MOA.
This setup offers the most versatility for my uses. The other reticles have their place in different missions and tasks. The Razor is a well-made and well-built optic designed to stand the test of time.
5. Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 2-10x 32 FFP
If you have a semi-auto precision tactical rifle, you need a rifle scope with a little more magnification than a 1-6x. The Viper PST Gen 2 provides a 2-10 power option that's better suited for those powerful 308 or 6.5 Creedmoor AR 10 style rifles.
The Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 is an FFP scope. The reticle measurements for holdover and windage are accurate at any magnification level. The Viper PST comes in both MRAD and MOA reticles. The Viper has an illuminated reticle too.
The Viper gives you precision grade target turrets that are easy to adjust in the field and very easy to return to the zero stop. The Viper PST gives you amazing clarity for shooting in low light conditions and makes it easy to precisely zero in on a target and take it out.
The Vortex Viper's 2-10X range gives you all the power you need for most tactical situations involving a semi-auto rifle. It keeps things small and light for easy shooting and moving. The lower end magnification allows for improvised close quarter's shooting on top of engagements out to 1,000 yards with the 10X setting.
The Viper serves the same purpose as 1-6X scopes does, but on more powerful rifles.
6. The Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42
The Nikon brand is known for providing high-end products in an affordable price range. The Nikon M-Tactical is an example of this dedication to affordable performance. The M-Tactical in its 3-12 power magnification is perfect for long-range shooting on precision bolt guns.
It's an optic designed to be used within that sweet 800- to 1000-yard range on man-sized targets. It's made for powerful loads and offers you plenty of eye relief to prevent you from catching a scope to the eye.
The M-Tactical scopes are super strong and designed to take a beating.
The shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof scope shrugs off recoil, resists water, and endures being dropped from a low height and still functions. You don't have to baby this bad boy. The zero-reset turrets are perfect for fieldwork and precision work.
The MK-1 MRAD reticle gives you plenty of points for elevation and windage holdovers. They are all easy to see and stand out in your sight picture. The optics are multicoated with Nikon's proprietary multi-coating technology.
This coating reduces glare and helps the sight picture by making your field of view clearer and more precise. The quick focus eyepiece allows you to jump behind the optic and get it up and on target quickly.
This makes it an excellent tactical option. You don't have time to slow down in fast-moving situations that are common in the tactical world. The Nikon M-Tactical optic is an excellent optic for these situations.
7. Trijicon AccuPower 1-8
Many scope companies try to cover it all--hunting scopes, plinking scopes, competition scopes, and more. Trijicon is purely a tactical company. It provides the military with tactical scope options. If you want one of the best modern tactical scopes, I suggest the AccuPower 1-8.
The AccuPower is Trijicon's variable optic line. The AccuPower 1-8 power scope is designed for both close quarter's shooting and extended engagements. The AccuPower is an interesting design that gives a very dynamic range of magnification.
The ability to go from red dot ranges to designated marksman ranges makes this an awesome tactical scope.
The red illuminated portion functions as a close-range reticle for red dot ranges. As you extend the magnification it is easier to pop the head on a bad guy at 300 yards.
Trijicon is also famed for building waterproof, shockproof scopes that last. They function under extreme stress and can be beaten, tossed around, and soaked with water. They just keep on keeping on. The AccuPower is a go-to war, get the shirt and go again style scope.
It presents a crystal-clear image of your target. The outstanding glass quality of the fully multicoated lenses reduces glare while enhancing image quality. The AccuPower gives you a lot of capability and versatility.
8. Burris MTAC 1-4X
Budget and quality don't have to be exclusive to each other. The Burris M-TAC is an excellent example of one of the best tactical scopes with an awesome price tag. While it's not the cheapest scope out there, it offers the best bang for your buck.
The M-TAC is a 1 to 4 power scope with a compact design. It's focused on being both a capable close quarter's optic and precise mid-range optic. Out to 500 yards, it's hard to find such a versatile and well-made option.
The Burris M-TAC is designed for modern sporting rifles like the AR 15, the AK 47, and other semi-automatic moderate range weapons. In this wheelhouse, the gun rocks.
It is small and compact enough for easy mounting to any modern semi-auto rifle. It's capable of some amazing precision on those guns.
You'll have no problems seeing and making those 500-yard shots on man-sized targets. Admittedly, it takes some skill and practice, but with this optic, the right caliber, and that skill, you'll have no problems. The close quarter's reticle keeps things simple and unobstructed.
It shines brightly due to the illumination. The reticle is easy to see in all light conditions. The Burris M-TAC is made to last from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. It's waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof and delivers a sight picture that's crystal clear and quite bright.
9. SWFA Super Sniper
Old school isn't always outdated. The SWFA Super Sniper proves that. This legendary optic has served generations of snipers and is still incredibly well known. It is a fixed power 10X scope, but it's designed for snipers by snipers.
The fixed power design simplifies things. It shrinks the optic's size and weight as well as making it more affordable and more reliable. You get more for less with the Super Sniper.
The Super Sniper has a complicated, but well thought out reticle that allows for precise holdovers and wind estimations at any range.
Because it is a Mil Quad based reticle, it doesn't take much time to learn to use and even less time to master. This optic is appropriate for almost any kind of tactical rifle outside of a short-barreled carbine.
Toss it on a bolt action rifle, a precision semi-auto or even a standard semi-auto rifle. It gives you outstanding precision.
The scope is bombproof and extremely durable. It gives you a clear, focused sight picture in all light conditions. The SWFA SS is a damn fine scope with an affordable price tag.
10. Primary Arms SLX 1-6x24mm
Primary Arms has carved out a niche for themselves. They make high-quality optics at rock bottom prices. I used to be quite skeptical of Primary Arms, but I learned to embrace them quickly. The SLX -6 represents one of their best value tactical scopes.
This optic features the ACSS Raptor reticle, which gives holdovers for both 5.56 and 308 caliber rounds. It's also one of the cheapest first focal plane scopes. This high-quality scope delivers you a scary accurate reticle for holdovers.
The ACSS Raptor optic is fully multicoated and gives you a clear, bright sight picture in full HD.
The reticle is illuminated and has 11 different brightness settings for use in both low light situations and bright daylight scenarios. The Primary Arms SLX optic is a short, compact, low powered variable optic that gets you from point A to point freakin' M in short order.
The optic is suitable for both AR 15s and AR 10s and delivers ballistic compatibility with both 5.56 and 7.62 rifles. As a 1-6X optic, you'll be well served to fight from building to building, from street to street or from field to field.
The world of tactical rifle scopes is huge and can often be confusing. If you stick to well-known and well-respected companies, you can't go wrong. The above listed are well respected, easy to use, and offer you an outstanding degree of precision.
When it comes to tactical scopes, you need to be picky and don't be cheap. Bargains can be found, but a proper tactical scope won't be found for 20 bucks at a pawnshop. Take your time when selecting your new scope.