Although handgun scopes have been in existence for close to a century now, it is not as popular as it’s counterpart – rifle scope. This may be connected to the fact that handguns are usually associated with short-distance shooting and many shooters may not see the reason for using scopes.
As you’ll soon see there’s more to handgun scopes than just magnification. Scopes have recently started getting the attention it deserves. A couple of years ago gun owners just slap any scope they can lay their hands on unto their gun and start shooting.
While just any scope may help your shooting a little, if you want to get the full experience, you’ll need to focus on the type of scope you’re getting. You need a quality matching scope that fits the type of gun you have.
But that’s not all you need, you need a scope with just the right features. Don’t worry, you’ll see what features to look out for in this guide.
Luckily, unlike rifle scope, the marketing pool for handgun scope is smaller, so we can cover a wider range of the market showing you which scope is the best for your pistol.
This guide will focus on the features of the top handgun scope picks, their buyers guide for people to know which is best for them, and a lot more.
Before we go in-depth to look at these scopes, let us see how rifle scope differs from handgun scopes.
Difference Between Rifle Scope and Handgun Scope
You may be wondering how these two scope types are different and whether you should just use the riflescope of your pistol.
Stick around let’s go through the rudiments. Riflescope and pistol scope may look almost the same but they have varying features and you wouldn’t want to interchange them.
One difference you’ll immediately notice when you hold the two scopes is their difference in weight. Riflescopes are considerably heavier than pistol scopes. This is because the pistol itself is smaller so a heavy scope will make it almost impossible to handle.
Another difference you’ll notice when you look through their lens is their magnification. Handgun scope magnification is usually smaller than that of rifle scopes because pistols cannot shoot the same distance.
Some other differences the two scopes have are in their sizes, build, and handling.
As you can see, they are different and should not be interchanged.
Benefits of a Handgun Scope
There are so many benefits you’ll derive from using a handgun scope. Some of them are so obvious, while you may be surprised to hear the others. Here are benefits you’ll enjoy if you use a handgun scope:
Speed is important, especially when shooting doesn’t matter if it is compact or hunting. There is typically a small window to release your shot.
It is for this reason, anything that can make you faster is welcomed. Using a handgun scope will improve the speed at which you can aim and shoot. Some scopes have the red dot or some other mechanism that draws your eyes immediately to the target.
This makes it easier for you to aim and shoot without wasting a lot of time.
Magnifying Vision Across Longer Distances
A Handgun scope will allow you to see across a longer distance. Distances that you would not be able to see with just your eyes.
The scope acts as a magnifier to bring the far distances to you. This way, you can target objects farther than where your eyes can see as long as your handgun has the range, of course.
While the magnification of handguns is typically lower than that of rifles, you can still get magnifications of up to 7x on some scopes.
Arguably the number one reason many people use handgun scopes. These scopes will magically improve your accuracy and help you release clean shots.
When hunting, you may not get second chances if your accuracy is poor. You most times have only one chance to hit your hunt before it runs away.
This is also the same with combat shooting. This is why accuracy is so important. Handgun scopes give you the necessary accuracy to make every shot count and also save ammunition.
Best Handgun Scope
We’ve figured out how handgun scopes are different from rifle scopes and the benefits you’ll get from using them. Now, we can go into the best Handgun scopes you can purchase for your pistol.
Here are my top picks:
- Weaver Classic 2×288 Pistol Scope – Our top pick
- Hammers Elite Compact Lightweight Handgun Scope 2×20
- Ncstar 2.5×30 Pistol Scope
- Leupold VX-3 2.5-8×32 Scope
- UTG 2-7×32 1” Handgun Scope
- Burris 2×20mm Handgun Scope
- Aim Sport 4×32 Scope
- BSA 2×20 Edge Series Pistol Scope
Below is a comparison table that singles out a few features that set the scopes apart.
|Vortex Crossfire II||• Magnification of 2x|
• Attractive build
• Hard coated exterior lens
|NTrijicon Tri24||• Magnification of 2x|
• Lightweight and good weight distribution
• Quick focus rings
|Vortex Optics||• Magnification of 2.5x|
• Lifetime warranty
• Good eye relief
|Burris MTAC||• Magnification of up to 8x|
• Extremely durable
• Nitrogen-purged tubes
|Monstrum||• Magnification of up to 7x|
• Detachable AccuShot rings
• O-ring sealed surface
|Bushnell AR||• Magnification of 2x|
• Plex reticle
• Second focal plane
|Bushnell AR||• Magnification of 4x|
• Picatinny 1923 mounting rings attached
|Bushnell AR||• Magnification of 2x|
• Portable and lightweight
• Wide eye relief
But if you want to get into the details about each of the scopes before making a purchase, this section below is just what you need.
1. Weaver Classic Scope
If you’re looking for a handgun scope in the high-end spectrum, you can hardly do better than this sleek-looking weaver Classic Scope. Its silver-colored design is a thing of beauty, and it also comes in a brilliant matte black design.
Not only does it look extremely attractive, but its coated lens will also deliver clear images hardly blurred by any outside force.
Seeing that this scope is fog-resistant, shockproof, and water-resistant, you’ll enjoy a long-lasting scope and get to use it comfortably in the most adverse weather conditions.
This is because it is made with the most resilient materials to handle the recoil on any pistol without problems. Its tubes are also nitrogen-filled to resist any fog build-up in it, which can blur your vision.
Its 28mm design gives it a decent size that will fit nicely on your pistol. Its magnification is decent for a pistol scope at 2x, giving you a clear enough distance anywhere within 50 yards. Coupled with its magnificent lenses, you’ll be getting a clear vision in your scope.
Its windage and elevation graduation is set at ¼ inch MOA for every click. This means for every click at 100 yards; you get a corresponding ¼ inch change in direction.
- Exterior lenses are hard coated
- Build solid materials to make it shockproof, and its tubes nitrogen-purged to make it fog and moisture resistant.
- Its lenses are fully coated, allowing for clearer vision.
- Large field of view
- Attractive build
- Its size at 28mm is not the smallest
- Its magnification at 2x is decent at best
- Surface easily scratches
- Hardly affordable at $150
2. Hammers Elite Compact Lightweight Handgun Scope
This 2×20 scope is as precise as it gets. And weighing in at just 1.8 ounces, it fits the bill perfectly as a handgun scope. You can use it on a range of pistols and not get an imbalance in weight.
Its weight also means your backpack is lighter when you’re moving across the bush in search of a game.
But there’s more to the hammers elite compact, lightweight handgun scope than just its weight. It has a finger adjustable windage and elevation turret attached to its sides.
The MOA on the turret is ¼ inch per click, allowing you to zero your gun and release almost perfect shots properly. It also has a quick focus ring attached to the other end that will enable you to aim faster and removes blurs that typically show when you’re moving.
Its optics are multi-coated. This gives it a clear view that is further enhanced by its engaging crosshair designed to take your accuracy a notch further. The combination of its clear lenses and crosshairs makes this scope an attractive option.
It is made with resilient materials that make it shockproof and allow you to use it across multiple pistols with medium to low recoil rates without damage.
Its nitrogen-purged tubes prevent fog from forming inside and make it moisture-proof. This way, you can use it when the weather is wet or foggy without issues.
With its eye relief of 12.5 inches, you can see as wide as 15.72 ft when looking at its 100-yard view. It comes in a matte black finish which is typical of most scopes.
Its outstanding weight distribution makes it feel lighter than it is, so don’t be surprised when it feels like 1.4 ounces instead of 1.8 ounces.
- Quite affordable at $40
- Lightweight and brilliant weight distribution
- Good eye relief
- Fog and moisture resistance through the help of its nitrogen purged tube
- It has finger adjustable elevation and windage turrets
- Multi-colored lenses
- Quick focus rings
- Poor in low light conditions
- Struggles when used on pistols with high recoils
3. Ncstar Pistol Scope
The Ncstar handgun scope spots a unique design and build. It has a 30mm objective lens, which allows a good amount of light to enter the scope coupled with its magnification of 2.5x; you get a good scope view.
Its elevation and windage turrets are graduated at ½ inch per click. So for every click of the turret at 100 yards, you get a corresponding ½ inch change in direction.
The scope tube is also nitrogen-filled, preventing fog from forming inside the turn and blocking water from entering. With this feature, you no longer have to worry when using this scope in wet surroundings.
It has blue multi-coated lenses and an excellent long eye relief making it easier to mount with any available mount you may have.
- Long eye relief
- Fog and water-resistant through the help of its nitrogen-filled tubes
- Lifetime warranty
- Blue multi-coated lens for clearer vision
- ½ MOA windage and elevation turrets
- Adjustable parallax
- May struggle on weapons with stronger recoil power
- Too big considering its magnification power
4. Leupold VX-3 Scope
This is another excellent handgun scope you should consider. The Leupold VX-3 is a high-end scope with so much durability to last a long time.
But that’s not all; its magnification of 2.5x to 8x is one of the best you’ll find for pistol scopes. This way, you can target objects far away from your position without stress as long as your handgun can reach that distance.
With a tube size of 32mm and a weight of just 10.8 ounces, you can easily handle its weight. The graduation system of its windage and elevation is set at ¼ MOA per click. This makes zeroing easier to achieve, especially when shooting long distances.
Its nitrogen-filled tubes prevent any form of moisture from entering or forming fog inside the tube. It is also made with durable materials that make it possible to withstand the shock from recoils.
- Extremely durable
- Moisture and fog-resistant through the help of its nitrogen-purged tubes
- Unbelievable magnification for handgun scope at 8x
- Easily adjustable ¼ inch MOA elevation and windage clicks
- Not easily affordable
- Not the best reticle
5. UTG 2-7×32 Handgun Scope
While the last handgun scope mentioned is durability-focused, the UTG scope is extremely convenient to use.
It has a long eye relief that allows users to mount and use this scope without fear of being scope-kissed. However, the scope is sensitive when used at its highest magnification and may struggle with higher recoils.
Its windage and elevation locking system gives it an edge among many other handgun scopes. This allows for easy graduation. Its AccuShot rings will enable you to mount and detach the scope when not in use easily.
UTG scope is O-ring sealed, making it fog and water-resistant. Its single body design makes this seal even tighter.
One obvious thing you’ll notice is its size. At 32mm and an objective tube diameter of 1 inch and weighing just 14 punches, you get a decent size and weight for a handgun scope.
Even though this is mid-range scope, it does offer a wide range of magnification, from 2x to 7x, which will cover all your mid to high distances.
- Long eye relief
- O-ring sealed to prevent fog and moisture, which is helped by its one body design
- Wide magnification range
- Windage and elevation locking system
- AccuShot rings that are detachable
- Will struggle with the recoil of powerful pistols
- Bulky design and weight
6. Burris 2×20mm Handgun Scope
You’ll hardly find a better handgun scope at 2x magnification and an objective lens of 20mm. This scope has a 1-inch tube diameter, allowing it to take in as much light as needed for clear and crisp vision.
Its 10mm exit pupil is also a significant pull for people looking to purchase this scope. It allows you to see brighter objects even from a low light position.
Its tube is nitrogen-filled to prevent fog from forming inside and keep moisture from entering.
Burris 2×20mm has an eye relief of 10 inches, making it easier for people to mount and use the gun without being injured by recoil.
To make up for the non-illuminated reticle, it is fitted with a Hi-lume coating that will produce better images. And at just 7 ounces, this scope is just the right weight for a handgun scope.
- Good eye relief
- Decent weight
- 10mm exit pupil to enhance the quality of the image
- Fog and moisture-proof through the help of its nitrogen-purged tubes
- ½ MOA graduation clicks for setting elevation and windage
- It comes with a Plex reticle that makes it easy and fast to target objects far away
- 2nd focal plane
- Absence of illuminated reticle
- The small field of view makes it difficult to see around your target surrounding
7. Aim Sport Scope
One of the most affordable scopes you’ll find in this list at just $20. Aim sport scope features a 32mm objective lens and tube diameter of 1 inch, allowing the right amount of light to enter the tube for clearer images.
It has a highly compact design weighing just 10.9 ounces and 7.75 inches long. Its eye is not so much at 3 inches, but it has a wide 36.6 inches range of view at 100 yards. This distance also commands a ¼ MOA graduation per click.
Its small size doesn’t make it any less durable as it is made with aircraft-grade aluminum that makes it shockproof and able to withstand many recoils. Its tubes are also nitrogen-purged, which seals it and makes it both fog and water-resistant.
It comes with Picatinny 1923 rings for mounting and has a 4x magnification which gives you a decent shooting range.
- Small size
- ¼ MOA graduation per click for adjusting your elevation and windage
- Water and fog-resistant as its tubes have been sealed by purging it with nitrogen
- Comes with Picatinny rings for mounting
- Made from aircraft-grade aluminum with makes it shockproof
- Very affordable
- Thick reticle causing a reduction in possible vision range
- Poor eye relief
- Blurry lens
8. BSA 2×20 Edge Series Pistol Scope
Wouldn’t it be befitting to finish this list with an affordable handgun scope with good features?
The BSA 2×20 edge series is a short-distance scope. It only has a 2x magnification and a 20mm objective lens. It is small and portable at only 9 inches long and weighing just 12 ounces. The objective lens lets you have a 25 feet field of view at 100 yards.
It has a lightview lens coating that allows light to enter and produce clearer images. The lens coating also helps to protect the lens from scratches which can obscure vision.
Its minimum and maximum eye relief of 8 and 14 inches respectively allows you to shoot in whatever position you like.
You may have to keep it away from moisture and use it on guns with low to medium recoil power.
Although you may not get the most prominent features from this scope, it offers a good value for money and its unique advantages
- The small size makes it easier to carry around
- Wide eye relief
- Lens coating that allows light and serves as protection against scratches
- Very affordable
- A good field of view for its magnification
- Will struggle on guns with high recoil power
- May become foggy in moist conditions
- Adjusting the turrets properly is tricky
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Handgun Scope
Now that you have seen some of the best Handgun scopes you can purchase, you must know how to select the scope that will fit your needs.
This is why these factors are important. They will guide you to making the right decision.
Before selecting any scope for your pistol, you want to check out its magnification or range. You should already know what you intend to use the gun to judge the distance you’ll typically be shooting from.
Knowing this will help you match the magnification you need.
If you are shooting long distances, you may need to get a scope with a magnification of at least 7x. A scope with a magnification of 4x can do medium distances, while 1x or 2x will only do shorter distances.
Everybody loves durability. No one wants to keep changing their scope yearly due to its poor quality. This is why getting a durable scope is vital.
This is even more important if you’ll be using your scope in poor weather conditions like wet areas. To prevent moisture from entering your scope, forming fog and damaging parts of it, you have to look for an appropriately sealed scope. Some may be nitrogen-purged, or O-ring sealed to keep water out.
The type of reticle your scope has will determine how well your shooting goes. There are several types of reticles to choose from, depending on the distance and what you’ll be shooting.
Some common reticle types include a cross reticle with a cross and a red dot in the middle to guide your aim, the market reticle with additional distance marketings to help for long-distance shooting, and fully marked crosshair with additional features like light, windage among other things.
The size of the scope does matter even more when it comes to handguns. Here, the smaller, the better. Typically objective lens sizes fall in the range of 20mm to 32mm, while the tube diameter is usually 1 inch.
The weight of the scope needs to be considered. Lightweight scopes are recommended as they are easier to handle and move around.
I’m refraining from selecting the best among the listed handgun scopes as it is relative. It depends on your particular needs at that time to select the best scope you need.
Luckily, you now have everything you need to choose which scope to purchase and use for your pistol.
Use the factors to weigh each handgun scope and choose the one that ticks most boxes for you.