Do you want to protect your crops or livestock from vermin? A varmint rifle is just the weapon you need, but considering how quick and small these can be, it isn’t comfortable for everyone to shoot with naked eyes. And that’s where a Varmint Rifle Scope can come in handy.
But choosing the best varmint rifle scope for your budget and needs is tough. That’s because not every scope is durable or easy to use as proclaimed.
So after spending more hours in the wild under camouflage than even a nomad would like and trying and testing hundreds of different scopes, I reviewed 5 varmint rifle scopes that are worth every penny in 2023 so you get the best value for your money.
If reading detailed reviews isn’t something you like and are in a hurry, below is a summary of my top picks.
- NightForce SHV 5-20x 56mm Riflescope – Our Top Pick
- Nikon Black FX1000
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II
- Bushnell Banner 616185 Riflescope
- ATN X-Sight II
You can also check out the table below for a brief comparison of these picks.
Table of Contents
Best Varmint Rifle Scope for 2023 Reviewed
|NightForce SHV||• Crystal clear optics at any magnification|
• SFP reticle is perfect for long-range hunting
• Solid metallic build and numbered turrets
|Nikon Black||• The illuminated reticle is perfect for low light|
• Parallax, windage, etc. adjustments are easy and smooth
• Excellent optics and can be used at full magnification
|Vortex Optics Crossfire||• Costs less than $300, ideal for budget buyers|
• Strong aluminum build and waterproof
• Nitrogen purge prevents fog build up on the lens
|Bushnell Banner||• Decent durability and water-resistance for the price|
• Argon Purge ensures the lens doesn’t fog up
• Conveniently placed, smooth turrets for quick adjustments
|ATN X-Sight||• Comes with night vision|
• Ballistic calculator and range finder make aiming a breeze
• HD quality optics at 20x magnification as well
But if you are a hunting nerd and love to know the details of every scope, read below.
#1: NightForce SHV 5-20x 56mm Riflescope
If you are serious about hunting or protecting your fields and are willing to pay the big bucks or it, the NightForce SHV 5-20x is an absolute beast, and here’s why.
Firstly, it is a rock-solid scope Whether you drop it or have a few bumps as you move around, the scope stands tall and won’t even have a scratch on it.
You can even drop it in water or use it in rain, and yet it will continue to perform just as new. This is not only due to the 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum build but also the sealed o-rings.
And in case you still have any doubts, note that every NightForce riflescope is first tested in a pressure tank with 100 feet of water for 24-hrs. Not just that, they are also further frozen -80ºF, and then quickly heated 160ºF ensuring the bad boy will last in weather condition.
Durability isn’t the only plus of this build. It also ensures better shock-resistance and zero that does not budge for more accurate aims.
But that’s not all. And you don’t have to take my word alone. Hear it from the horse’s mouth about their rigorous testing here.
And this strong build comes without making the scope too heavy as it weighs a mere 29 oz.
Talking about the optics, the scope is tailor-made to perform in any lighting conditions (dusk, dawn, cloudy, it gives you crystal clear vision at all times). To ensure this, all lenses are multi-coated with anti-reflective material that disperses light better.
Plus, the entire assembly and alignment are done with hands by experienced professionals.
Then there is also nitrogen purging to prevent fog build up on the lens, further guaranteeing you a clear view irrespective of the weather or light.
An illuminated reticle would have been the icing on the cake but nonetheless, I love the SFP reticle, which is great for long-distance shots as it gives you clear markings even at full magnification.
Yes, with the scope, you can zoom in to a good 20x and thanks to the premium optics there’s no distortion on the sides.
I love the fact that the turrets come with clear markings so you adjust the windage, elevation, or magnification precisely in a matter of seconds. Plus, you don’t need to apply a lot of pressure either as they are smooth.
Mounting and detaching the scope is easy and even if you haven’t used scopes before, you’d get the hang of it in a day.
The only small drawback apart from a non-illuminated reticle is the price as it costs around $1500, but considering the durability and optics clarity, it is still a bargain.
- Rigorously tested by NightForce
- Excellent durability
- It can be submerged in water or used in the snow
- Nitrogen purging prevents fog buildup on the lens
- Comes with a 20x magnification
- Optics are crystal clear in low light and full magnification
- Turrets are smooth and numbered
- SFP reticle is ideal for long-range shooting
- Lightweight and easy to mount
- Costs on the higher side but worth it
- Illuminated reticle would have further improved clarity
#2: Nikon Black FX1000
Camera or scopes, when it comes to lenses and clear optics, not talking about Nikon is almost criminal and their Black FX1000 scope shows you exactly why.
While the Nikon provides lesser magnification than the NightForce Scope at 16x, I love the fact that you can use it to the fullest range. Yes, whether you want to use it at 1x or 16, expect some great image quality even when hunting at dawn.
This is because Nikon also uses premium quality lenses with multiple coats of anti-reflective material for better light transmission.
But that’s not all.
One big advantage this Nikon scope has over the NightForce scope is that you can choose between an illuminated reticle or a non-illuminated one. I prefer the illumination as the bright red reticle is easier to use in low light further adding to the clarity and accuracy.
And if needed, you can always tone down the brightness as there are 10 intensity levels.
With illuminated reticles comes the hassle of battery life. Thankfully though the Nikon’s battery is long-lasting (will easily give you 3000-4000 hrs).
Oh, and your battery doesn’t get drained out if you leave the illumination on either as it is equipped with an automatic shut-off feature that activates after 1 hour of non-usage (it is a use it, forget it kind of scope).
But even if you were to go with a non-illuminated reticle, it remains pretty clear in low light as it is etched onto the glass, which ensures it remains bright and clear.
Furthermore, it is an FFP reticle which means it zooms in and out with the magnification, and thus it is better suited for close-range combat giving you the best of both worlds.
But the icing on the cake is the markings on the reticle as they provide much better accuracy for long-distance shots by giving you details about ranging, holdover, and windage corrections.
Also playing a helping hand in that are the quick focus eyepiece that allows you to latch on to targets in seconds and the side parallax adjustment knob that allows you to make adjustments without modifying shooting stance.
Just like the NightForce, the Nikon is waterproof and weatherproof. That is because it also has a solid aluminum construction, which is well supported by the tightly sealed o-rings. There is also the nitrogen purge that prevents the lens from fogging up.
And with the aluminum construction comes the ability of the scope to handle some abuse without scratching or cracking.
Once again, the turrets are marked with numbers and are grippy and smooth without being too large, so you should have no trouble adjusting them.
Lastly, it also tracks and returns to zero quickly which is a must for long-range shots.
The only downside here is that that eye relief could have been slightly more forgiving but considering it costs less, that’s not a dealbreaker.
- The illuminated reticle is ideal for dusk or dawn
- Good battery life
- Automatic shut-off after 1 hour of non-usage
- Reticle gives holdover, ranging, and windage corrections
- Excellent durability
- It is waterproof and weatherproof
- Parallax can be adjusted without changing positions
- Quick focus eye-piece improves aim
- Optics remain clear even at full magnification
- Eye relief could have been more forgiving
- Magnification is lower than the NightForce
- Cannot be used in extreme cold
#3: Vortex Optics Crossfire II (Best Varmint Rifle Scope on a Budget)
Don’t have the big bucks to spend? No problem. Did you know you could get a quality scope for less than $300?
Say hello to the Vortex Optics Crossfire II.
What I like most about this scope is that even though cheaper, the optics and reticle are pretty good.
Yes, the lens is multi-coated and the reticle is illuminated, so you can expect decent images in low light. Not at par with the Nikon or NightForce scopes but better than most others in the price range like the Burris FullField E1 Riflescope.
But use the illumination wisely as the battery life is pretty low. Expect it to last no more than about 1000 hours. Though you can always carry additional battery packs if needed.
If you, like me, prefer that the reticle does not change size with the magnification, then you will be glad to know this is an SFP reticle and thus remains large and clear at any magnification.
As for magnification, the Vortex claims to have a 12x magnification though you will start to see some blurring at that range. However, to about 6x to 9x, the image quality was impressive.
What it lacks in performance, it sure does coverup in strength. With an aluminum build, the scope’s durability is at par with any of the top picks, which means you can trust the scope to last through the bumps and falls.
It is also waterproof while the nitrogen purging and sealed o-rings ensure the weather does not hinder your view by fogging up the lens. Even its shock-resistance is pretty good.
Though cheaper, even its turrets are impressive. They are perfectly sized and turn with minimal force though I do wish they had numbered markings as it makes the adjustment easier.
The turrets are capped so they do remain at the set position quite well and have an added layer of protection but keep in mind, adjusting while on the go can be tough.
- A pocket-friendly scope that costs less than $300
- The illuminated reticle is ideal for dusk and dawn
- Good optics for the price
- Turrets are smooth and placed perfectly for quick adjustments
- Aluminum build for excellent durability
- It is waterproof
- Nitrogen purging prevents the lens from fogging up
- SFP remains clear even at 1x magnification
- Visuals blur at full magnification
- Capped turrets can be adjusted on the move
- No numbered markings on the turrets
- Low battery life
#4: Bushnell Banner 616185 Riflescope
I wouldn’t recommend you purchase something at a price below the Vortex, but if you are really tight on funds, this Bushnell scope is a good alternative. Here’s all about it.
Firstly, the scope is available for less than $200 making it the cheapest scope on the list, and while it isn’t as advanced as the above-mentioned scopes, there are few impressive features.
For example, it is water-resistant. The sealed o-rings ensure no water seeps in even when submerged in water for a bit for maximum durability. Though make sure you don’t leave it there too long.
The metallic build also makes it pretty strong. While it can handle a few bumps, you don’t want to drop it from a height.
Another thing I love about the scope is the magnification. It comes with 18x zoom which is much higher than the Vortex. Yes, there’s blurring at higher levels, but you still get more magnification than the Vortex.
The Bushnell also features a decent 3.5” eye relief compared to the 2.5” many others come with at this price range. It also has a quick focus eyepiece for quick aiming.
It is also very light at 1lbs and mounting and detaching doesn’t take too much time.
As for the turrets that have the right amount of crispness and are located perfectly for quick adjustments. Plus, being capped they do not change with slight movement while being well-protected.
I also like the fact that it is equipped with an argon purge that keeps the lens fog-free.
But it is in low light that the scope struggles a bit as the lens quality isn’t that good and neither is the reticle illuminated so I wouldn’t suggest you go hunting at dawn with this.
Neither does the reticle give you details for ranging, holdover, and elevation correction, so if you are someone that relies on it for accurate shots, this isn’t the scope for you.
Read more: Best Holographic Sight for the Money
- Costs less than $200
- Comes with better magnification than the Vortex
- Good eye relief of 3.5”
- Sealed o-rings keep out water and dust
- Argon-purge prevents fog on the lens
- Good durability for the price
- SFP reticle gives a better view at lower magnification
- Turrets are smooth to adjust
- The lens isn’t ideal for low light conditions
- Reticle doesn’t give details about elevation correction, etc.
- Capped turrets are harder to adjust while moving
- There is blurring at higher magnification
#5: ATN X-Sight II
Last but not least comes a scope that is tailor-made for hunters with an eye for the fancy. Here’s all you need to know about the ATN X-Sight II.
One of the standout features of the scope is that it is armed with night vision, which means you can hunt even at 2 am and turn it off in the day with just the press of a button.
And ensuring your view is clear whether in the day or night are the HD optics. And that remains true even at the full 20x magnification.
Aiming and shooting with this ATN scope is also a breeze and super accurate. In fact, even easier than the NightForce.
That is because it has a smart rangefinder and ballistic calculator that gives you details like wind speed, direction, etc. in an instant while the range finder automatically adjusts the point of impact.
It also eliminates the need for you to carry any additional equipment for finding the range.
Since you might be hunting at night, adding to the safety of using the scope is the removable ATN Pro IR illuminator that is brighter than a standard IR illuminator.
Oh, and with this scope, you can even record your kills in HD and show it off next time your friends gather around for a beer. And you do not have to move a muscle to turn on the recording as the RAV technology (Recoil Activated Video) means it starts on its own.
Another thing I like is the build. Being a digital scope it isn’t waterproof but will not break or crack easily even with rough usage.
And making adjustments whether the zoom, windage, etc. can all be done via buttons that are easier to use as compared to turrets and provide better accuracy.
Apart from the price, one other drawback with this scope is that it is very dependent on the battery and cannot be used if the battery fails. The battery life is decent, but I’d suggest you carry an additional battery pack as a backup.
Also, the scope isn’t ideal for distances beyond 150-200 yards. So if you plan to shoot beyond it, get the NightForce or the Nikon scope.
Lastly, it is also on the heavier side as it weighs about 4 lbs.
- Equipped with night vision
- All adjustments can be made in seconds via buttons
- Excellent optics even at full magnification for 20x
- It also records your kills in 720p
- Recording starts automatically
- Comes with an IR illuminator for dark areas
- Rangefinder and ballistic calculator make aiming a breeze
- Weighs about 4 lbs
- Not ideal for distances beyond 150-200 yards
- Not usable without battery
- It isn’t waterproof
- Costs above $1000
If you are using a varmint rifle having the right scope will give you an edge as it improves long-range accuracy and makes scoping targets a breeze.
In this detailed guide, I have reviewed scopes for every budget and need based on important aspects such as affordability, optics clarity, and durability thus finding your new scope should be a breeze.
To sum it up, the NightForce and Nikon scopes are ideal for pretty much anyone and everyone but if you need something on a budget Vortex Crossfire II is a decent buy. And if you are a newbie and want something super convenient to use, go with the ATN.
In case you still have any questions about these or other scopes, feel free to drop a comment below. Or in case you need to explain in detail hit me up via email available on the contact page.