Best Air Rifle Scope – 2021 Complete Buyer’s Guide

Air rifle scopes are essential for improving your accuracy and preventing eye strain when shooting air guns. Admittedly, though, it can be challenging to know how and when to pick the right scope for your needs. See the guide below to learn more about buying an air rifle scope and how to find the best air rifle scope for your needs.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Best overall
  • Excellent magnification for close- and long-range shooting
  • XR fully multi-coated lenses help maximize light
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  • Best air rifle night vision scope
  • TMCQ MOA is essential for calculating drop-off
  • Provides eye relief at 4"
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  • Dead-hold BDC optimizes drop-off calculation
  • Detailed control over adjustment thanks to 0.25 MOA
  • Eye relief at 4"
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  • Best value for the money
  • 6-18x magnification, great for moderately close- and long-range shooting
  • Multi-X reticle is ideal for big game
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  • Best air rifle scope under 100
  • Mil-dot reticle is perfect for accounting for drop-off
  • Eye relief at 4.2"
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When is it Time to Replace My Air Rifle Scope?

If you don’t replace your scope at the right time, you risk further damage to the scope that may significantly interfere with your accuracy, costing you your trophy or harvest. 

The primary sign to look for when your air rifle scope is nearing the end of its life is sudden inaccuracy when shooting in situations where you’ve had success before. 

For example, imagine that you’ve shot your rifle at the range, practicing on targets at 50 yards. You get each shot just right, perfectly on the mark. Yet, when shooting in the field at the same distance, you find that your shots are too far left, right, up, down, and everywhere else. 

If the problem remains consistent despite all your adjustments and environmental conditions, it’s time for a replacement. 

When Would I Use an Air Rifle Scope?

People often wonder when it’s appropriate to use an air rifle scope instead of a firearm scope. 

Here are a few examples to help you out. 

Shooting Small Game at Close Range

Air rifle scopes are excellent for shooting targets at close range. High-quality models will enable you to shoot close groups and at small game between 10-50 yards. 

This is harder than it sounds, but with the pinpoint accuracy of an air rifle scope, you can rapidly perfect your shots before progressing to greater distances.

When Shooting an Air Rifle

Air rifles don’t produce the normal one-directional recoil of a standard firearm. Instead, they have a “double recoil.” First, the gun jolts backward when the gas piston releases. Then it jumps forward when the piston completes its full length. 

This can destroy firearm scopes’ internal components and lenses within just a few shots. On the other hand, an air rifle scope is designed to handle this volatility.

You Live in an Area with Strict Gun Laws

Air guns are not considered proper firearms, so you can slip past legal gun restrictions when you want to shoot at the range or in the field. 

It’s much safer and better for your gun to use a specialized air rifle scope in these cases. This will maintain the equipment’s integrity and ensure you enjoy yourself, even without a “real” rifle.

How Do I Choose an Air Rifle Scope?

Truthfully, the air gun market is quite small compared to real firearms. This means that you’ll need to be careful when shopping for your gear since there aren’t too many reputable manufacturers to choose from.

The key components to evaluate when selecting your air rifle scope are as follows:

  • Decide whether you want a fixed or variable scope: Fixed scopes stay at one magnification only, while you can zoom variable scopes in or out. It may seem like the fixed scope is at a disadvantage, but they’re easier to maintain since they don’t have to constantly be refined due to frequent adjustment. 
  • The extent of magnification you want: Many hunters prefer sticking with moderate magnification, somewhere around 3-12x or up to 4-16x. However, if you’re planning on shooting from a slightly farther distance, consider bumping it up to 6-24x or 10-40x.
  • Type of mounting hardware you have: Common types of mounting hardware include:
    • One-piece: These are considered the most stable. 
    • Medium mounts: Air rifle scopes with objective lenses 44 mm or smaller work best with these. 
    • High mounts: These sit high on the gun, making them suitable for 50 mm or larger objective lenses. 
  • Type of reticle you want: Your primary options are duplex or mil-dot reticles. Mil-dots are great for hunting, while duplex reticles are best for target shooting and plinking.

The Best Air Rifle Scopes

Finding the best air rifle scope can be tricky if you don’t know where to look, which is why we’ve already reviewed the top contenders on the market for you. 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Air gun shooters have held Vortex optics in high regard for years, and this model is no different. Most customers – especially hunters – love the side focus and the versatility of the available magnification levels. The side focus is a plus, and the monetary value can’t be beaten.

Why It Stands Out to Us

This air rifle scope stood out because of its incredible magnification range and durability. The aircraft-grade aluminum is highly resilient, and the combination with the O-ring is sure to keep your scope in good condition, no matter the weather. 

The XR fully multi-coated lens is perfect for optimizing visibility. At the same time, no parallax down to 30 yd will surely help you hit your target with the greatest possible accuracy each time.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Diamondback air rifle scope is a great option for shooters who want all the fixings: flexible magnification, easy W/E adjustments, optimal visibility, and durability, all at an incredible value. 

Best Air Rifle Night Vision Scope

Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 Rifle Scope

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Shooters are loving the Viper’s lightweight and clarity. Plus, the visibility is a huge plus, further supported by the optimal eye relief. The elevated turrets are easy to use, as well as the adjustments. Many prefer to use this scope for tactical shooting and rifle training. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

The Vortex Viper air rifle scope is ideal for close-range shooting, given the 1-4x magnification. The eye relief is incomparable (and perfect in this model since higher magnifications tend to take away from this feature). 

From lightweight design to the SFP reticle and aircraft-grade aluminum, every feature shows that this was built specifically with your comfort in mind and designed to last a lifetime.

Bottom Line

Shooters operating at close range will love the comfort and accuracy the Crossfire offers. It’s full of features that give you maximum control over your aim, while preventing eye strain all the while. 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Users found this scope easy to use and sight in. The image is always crystal clear and great for achieving pinpoint accuracy with every shot. Its performance remains consistent whether you’re in the field or on the range. Just note that eye relief begins to fade once you get to 12x or higher (this is normal for air rifle scopes). 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This scope is incredible for achieving and maintaining accuracy in your shots. It’s fit with a dead-hold BDC, which is relatively uncommon for air rifle scopes, compared to duplexes and mil-dots. 

This, along with the fast-focus eyepiece, long, 4″ eye relief, 0.25 MOA, and SFP reticle, guarantees high-level accuracy no matter where or what you’re shooting.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Crossfire is the ideal air rifle scope for those looking for optimal accuracy with the greatest level of comfort. It’s a hefty one, but its performance and durability make it worth every ounce. 

 

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Customers recognize this scope as very practical and a great value. Given the price tag, it outperforms many scopes in its caliber, particularly when accounting for its size and light availability. The parallax and turret adjustments are greatly appreciated as well. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

Bushnell is a highly trusted manufacturer, always working with their customers’ best interests (and wallets) in mind. This scope is an excellent illustration of that dedication, with its wide magnification range, 6-18×50, and Multi-X reticle, excellent for shooting big game near and far. 

The one-piece tube provides the utmost stability to the scope, despite its relatively heavy build. Plus, it’s durable, thanks to the waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof features. 

Bottom Line

Air gun shooters on a budget will deeply appreciate this scope’s strength and flexibility. The ¼ MOA and 6-18x magnification provide optimal accuracy without compromising comfort, thanks to the 3.5″ eye relief. 

Best Air Rifle Scope Under 100

Barska 3-12×40 AO Air Gun Riflescope

PROS

CONS

What Recent Buyers Report

Many shooters appreciate the mil-dot reticle, as it provides optimal accuracy with every shot. Most report that the Barska holds zero very well, and the eye relief keeps everyone comfortable during use. Of course, the price is ideal, too, and gave everyone the best bang for their buck. 

Why It Stands Out to Us

This air rifle scope is perfect for those who are just getting into these guns or only engage in casual shooting. The magnification range is excellent for close- and long-range shooting and the 4.2″ eye relief will keep your eyes comfortable during use. 

Plus, you can maintain the highest level of accuracy thanks to the mil-dot reticle and ¼ MOA adjustments.

This scope is also durable, resistant to damage from water, fog, and force from the double recoil, especially.  

Bottom Line

Casual or beginning air gun shooters will love this scope. It promises excellent accuracy without compromising comfort and holds its own against volatile environmental conditions. 

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Air Rifle Scope

When you take the time to research your purchase and invest in the best possible air rifle scope, you’ll reap the following advantages in the field and on the range:

  • Improving accuracy. High-quality air rifle scopes with mil-dots are excellent for accounting for ballistic drop-off. Air gun pellets tend to fall slightly when fired at a distance. Learning to use the air rifle scope’s crosshairs and dots correctly will help calculate that drop-off better than a firearm scope, as it’d get jostled by the double recoil.
  • Parallax-free. Most air rifle scopes can focus, parallax-free, down to 10 m. This aspect supports your accuracy when shooting, ultimately helping you become a better marksman in any shooting conditions. 
  • Saving money. Inappropriate or low-quality gear will cause substantial damage. Marksmen don’t always know whether the problem is the scope, barrel, or another component, and end up wasting money on replacements and repairs. A dependable air rifle scope will prevent all this and give you the most out of your purchase. 

Conclusion

Getting the right air rifle scope is crucial to improving your accuracy and hardware’ integrity when out on the range or in the field. Yet, you can only reap these benefits when you choose a high-quality model. 

With this review and buying guide, you’re now prepared to get the most bang for your buck when shopping for air rifle scopes and hit all your targets when it’s time to hunt or practice.

People Also Ask

You may still have a few questions about air rifle scopes. This is understandable, as they’re not as popular as standard firearm scopes, so there’s not as much information available for them as more commonly used models. Here are a couple of FAQs that may help fill any knowledge gaps. 

What magnification do you need for an air rifle scope?

For those shooting at close range (20-50 yd), 2-4x is perfect. Magnifications of 6-8x are best for moderate distances (50-80 yd, still considered to be “close range” by some), and 8-12x are suitable as you get farther away 80-150+ yd. 

What is the best Nitro Piston Air Rifle?

Determining the best Nitro Piston air rifle is highly subjective and depends on your shooting needs, budget, etc. One of the most widely acclaimed models is the Crosman Nitro Venom, which comes with a complimentary scope.

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox

Joseph Fox writes on a variety of topics ranging from reloading ammunition to gun cleaning. He has been featured on various publications like thetruthaboutguns, Sofrep & many more. Joseph is also the founder of Gunloading, where he reviews different types of reloading & firearm products available on the market.