Scopes are an essential part of any gun, and on an air rifle choosing the best scope can mean the different between hitting your target and hitting air. There are many different types of scopes and many to choose, all with their own strengths and weaknesses. The important part about choosing the best scope for an air rifle is that just like the air rifle itself, the machinery is only as useful as the owner. Finding the correct scope, attaching it to the air rifle, adjusting it, and learning what conditions to best use it in are only the beginning of what is sure to be a long term relationship.
Below is a good starting spot for those that want to purchase or upgrade their scopes for just about any air rifle on the market, be it for hunting or practice shooting with a .22. The list is short but comprehensive and covers a lot of ground for those interested in air rifle scopes and what they offer. The universal rule for all is still that most air rifles come with below average scopes, so be prepared to upgrade out of the box.
This a list of the best air rifle scopes on the market, with some notable and some lesser known.
- UTG Full Size AO
- Brand: UTG
- Length: 13.6 x 3.5 x 2.9 inches
- Scope and Mount: 4x32
- Made In: USA
- Hammers Air Rifle Scope
- Brand: Hammers
- Length: 12 3/4"
- Scope and Mount: 3-9x32
- Made In: USA
- Hammers Magnum
- Brand: Hammers
- Length: 13 1/2"
- Scope and Mount: 3-9x40
- Made In: USA
- CVLIFE Tactical
- Brand: CVLIFE
- Length: 12.20
- Scope and Mount: 3-9x40
- Made In: Not specified
- CVLIFE Tactical Red&Green
- Brand: CVLIFE
- Length: 12.59"(32cm)
- Scope and Mount: 3-9X56
- Made In: Not specified
UTG 4×32 Full Size AO Mil-Dot Scope
This shockproof, fog proof, and rainproof air rifle scope from UTG goes a long way to impress with features. It is a standard 4×32 full size with Mil-dots making it perfect for hunting and other high performance tasks. Along with the mentioned features it is Parallax adjustable and has flip-up lens caps for long term durability.
Does a good job of handling recoil on all air rifles, and is very compact and does not get in the way of the overall design of the air rifle. It has wind elevation rings that function accordingly, but is still limited by not being a fixed scope at 4x rather than a variable air rifle scope, which with its current features, would have put it over the top.
The included rings to help with mounting are a nice touch, and are of high quality. Although not a bigger and heavy use scope it does a good job of not over compensating in other areas, and just being an all-around well-built air rifle scope with some really nice features. It’s properly priced, and a good buy for a starter scope.
The second variable air rifle scope on the list, the Hammers 3-9×32 does a great job of not only being a specialist for magnum air rifles, but a great all around scope for many others on the market. It’s very durable with none of the funny business, and has an easy one piece mount with a built-in stop pin for seamless use out on the open field.
The Hammers has some of the best clarity out of all the scopes on the list, and shock proof to boot. This prevents the scope from going blurry after a few heavy recoils. The windage and elevation knobs are great and are completely unobtrusive, while the mil dot makes for great long range shooting.
Because of the high quality and shock absorption of the Hammers 3-9×32, many have also resorted to using it on actual rifles. This is quite the praise for a scope that is meant for air rifles, and it still remains to be within a great price range of the others on the list. Not only a great buy, but a great foundation for future air rifle scopes from the same company.
The Hammers 3-9×40 is the big brother of the Hammers 3-9×32, with all the great features of the original while sporting a larger 40mm lens. Looking at the AO through the large 40mm scope makes for some great viewing, even while on the move.
It still sports the no hassle one piece mounting and champion shock absorption when used with even the most powerful of air rifles. The strength of that lies partially on the one piece mount, and is a big help for users that don’t want the trouble of a more complex setup.
Just like the 32mm version, the 40mm version is not chump and still at the great price range of its little brother. If there was a choice between the two, it would come down to whether the gun would be stationary or in the field. When all is said the done, precision, clarity, and features go heavily to the Hammers 40mm and 30mm respectively.
CVLIFE Tactical 3-9×40
The CVLIFE Tactical 3-9×40 won’t blow you away with features, but what it does right is on the money. This variable scope without a doubt has one of the best zooming mechanics on the list, and is as easy to sight to zero and hold as any on the list. This rifle scope is very solidly built, and looks good to boot.
There is very little documentation that comes with this scope, which won’t bother the seasoned user but will make for a daunting experiment for a beginner. It is also one of the more bulky scopes on the list, but none of that bulk is extra fluff.
Works great as just a straight up standard scope without all of the extra add-ons. Missing those add-ons doesn’t hinder the experience at all, and the CVLIFE Tactical 3-9×40 is actually a pretty cool scope if the user already knows how to mount and adjust. Nice buy for anyone that needs a high quality air rifle scope for the long haul.
Cvlife Tactical 3-9X56
Saving the possible best for last, the most advanced air rifle scope on the list goes to the Cvlife Tactical 3-9X56. It has red and green mil-dot illuminated optics up to 5 intensity, still manages to be pretty light at 20 oz. and has the crispest lens on the list.
It is also a very large scope, the largest on the list, and may require extra care for fitting, depending on the air rifle being used. This also affects the focus adjustment, as can be difficult to reach while keeping the target in view. Is very well made and can take a beating, and the included battery for the illumination is cheap and easy to find.
For the price this air rifle just can’t be beat. The size obviously doesn’t make it idea for all users, but it is without a doubt the most feature rich air rifle scope on this list. With proper guidance in addition to the purchase, the Cvlife Tactical 3-9X56 could very well be on multiple air rifles in any household.
BESTEK® 3-9X40mm Hunting Optics Rifle Scope Sight
When bringing out the big boys Bestek spared no expense with their 3-9X40mm Hunting Optics Rifle Scope Sight, the first variable air rifle scope on the list. Sporting an incredible 3-9x magnification rate and a 40mm scope to allow for better light intake, this Bestek is easily at the top of the class.
The air rifle tube is made of aluminum, and is as anti-scratch as it gets. The included set has a lens cover for maximum durability and heavy use. The only minimal downside is no range adjustment on this particular model and riser plates may be needed depending on what air rifle it is used on. The scope handles groups very well, and is not prone to losing its zero.
Variable air rifle scopes are all usually of the highest quality, and this Bestek continues to hold that tradition proud. Whether for hunting or general use, there is no reason not to put this air rifle scope at the top of the list-especially since it retails even lesser than the UTG.
Types of Air Rifle Scopes
There are two types of air rifle scopes, each with their own benefits. The first, and the one that is always shipped OEM with all air rifles, is the fixed air rifle scope, usually in the 4×32 category. What this means is that it is stuck on one magnification 100% of the time, in this case 4x magnification and cannot be adjusted beyond that. Having an object magnified 4x at all times limits the user, and as to be expected with that limitation, anything beyond pest control, plinking, or even target practice becomes harder than it should. Not impossible, just harder than it should be. Close range shooting within certain yardage is expected, because of the limits of the 4x magnification.
The type that most people switch the fixed air rifle scope out with is usually the variable air rifle scope, which gets rid of the aforementioned problem of non-adjustable magnification. A 3-9×32 means that the scope is capable of magnification between 3×9, and usually it is easy to work on the fly after the first run. The downside is that now the user has to make several smaller adjustments, and the upkeep is marginally higher to keep it zeroed in due to the many extra features that are provided when using it out in the field. It is acceptable for all types of shooting, but once again not keeping up with it or making sure it is zeroed in can be more a major headache if the user gets lazy.
When choosing between 32mm or 50mm, what are the benefits in scope size? A larger lens means better magnification and a wider field of view. Light also comes into play as a larger lens allows more light to enter the scope, thus giving the shooter a much better overall view of their target, even when adjusting. Since most OEM ships with 32mm, scope size is more of a benefit to the serious air rifle user rather than for pest control or general plinking.
Cheap vs Expensive
The same mantra applies to air rifles that applies to air rifle scopes, in that you get what you pay for. Quality air rifle scopes are already low priced, less than 20% of an air rifle cost at time of writing. Spending money on any air rifle scope is obviously not the thing to do, but if a quality air rifle scope can be bought for less than 20% of the air rifle purchase, then it is very well worth the money. Air rifle scopes affect your accuracy, and comfort level with the air rifle as a whole.
Dos and Don’ts
Never buy an air rifle scope without first checking whether it comes with mounts, and whether those mounts are compatible with the air rifle they are being mounted on. Also depending on the size of the scope and the air rifle itself, a higher mount or even adapter may be necessary to the overall unit. Air rife scopes are specially made for the recoil and movements of an air rifle, and in some cases can the air rifle scopes can be used on actual firearms-but the reverse is not true, and regular scopes should never be used on air rifles or their equivalents.
Scopes are Easy
Even if it seems like a big task in the beginning, generally air rifle scopes are one of the easiest parts of the air rifle experience. If treated with respect and approached with professionalism, it can become the most enjoyable and safest part of the purchase. The price of a great air rifle scope compared to the price of a loaded with features air rifle scope is a huge jump, but the features of a great air rifle scope often challenge the higher tiers. Without having to worry about losing too much on the features, the safe purchase becomes that much easier for any user.
As with air rifles, proper care is expected for lasting use, and they should often last as long as the rifles they are mounted on. Any extra accessories needed for the mount, as well as batteries for illuminated kits are easily available and not hard to find at all. The best air rifle scope will guarantee increased accuracy, and maximum enjoyment for any aspiring individual.