If you want to put your shooting skills to the test, one of the greatest ways to prove your marksmanship skills is in 3-Gun competitions.
While many types of competitive shooting require expertise in a particular shooting discipline, 3-Gun competitions require proficiency with multiple guns. These fast-paced competitions provide unique target presentations designed to push a shooter’s skills to the limit.
In a game where fractions of a second matter and a single missed shot could mean the difference between victory and defeat, it’s foolish to ignore the advantages the best 3 gun scope will give you.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for the details, here are our best rated 3 Gun Scopes:
- Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) – Best Red Dot for 3-Gun
- Holosun HS503CU – Best Micro Red Dot for 3-Gun
- Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 Drop Zone – Best Budget 3-Gun Scope
- Vortex Strike Eagle – Best 1-6x 3-Gun Scope
- Swarovski Z8i – Best 1-8x 3-Gun Scope
- Vortex Venom – Best Backup Red Dot Sight for 3-Gun
- Burris Fastfire 3 – Best Shotgun 3-Gun Optic
- Trijicon RMR – Best Pistol Optic for 3-Gun
Table of Contents
- What is 3-Gun?
- Divisions and Limitations
- 3 Gun Scope Considerations
- Red Dot VS Scope for 3 Gun
- Best 3 Gun Scope on the Market Review
- 1 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) – Best Red Dot for 3-Gun
- 2 Holosun HS503CU – Best Micro Red Dot for 3-Gun
- 3 Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 Drop Zone – Best Budget 3-Gun Scope
- 4 Vortex Strike Eagle – Best 1-6x 3-Gun Scope
- 5 Swarovski Z8i – Best 1-8x 3-Gun Scope
- 6 Vortex Venom – Best Backup Red Dot Sight for 3-Gun
- 7 Burris Fastfire 3 – Best Shotgun 3-Gun Optic
- 8 Trijicon RMR – Best Pistol Optic for 3-Gun
- Final Thoughts
What is 3-Gun?
3-Gun competitions are shooting matches that require competitors to engage targets with three different guns – pistol, rifle, and shotgun.
Since there is no standardized course, every 3-Gun competition challenges shooters in new ways.
Courses are often arranged to put shooters in positions that mimic defensive situations. However, each course is unique with various targets at varying distances.
Shooters can expect to make difficult shots from behind barriers and around obstacles. Targets range from steel plates, to paper targets, to clay pigeons. Part of the fun of 3-Gun is the variety of engagements that can be found in each match.
Divisions and Limitations
There are several categories in each 3-Gun competition. Usually referred to as “classes”, each has its own limiting factors on what types of guns, calibers, and accessories are allowed. Here are the three basic categories found in almost every 3-Gun competition.
- The Factory Division – is designed to keep equipment advantages to a minimum. Pistols and shotguns can only have traditional iron sights. Rifles can have a non-magnified optic like a red dot or holographic sight. Internal upgrades to the firearms are allowed.
- The Practical Division – is 3-Gun’s most popular division, likely because it allows competitors to set up their guns for practical, real-world scenarios. Shooters cannot use optics on their pistols or shotguns. Rifles are allowed to have a magnified optic with iron sights as a secondary option. Internal modifications are, once again, allowed.
- The Unlimited Division – is pretty much anything goes. There are very few restrictions on magazines, and any combination of optics on any of the firearms is authorized. This is where some extreme set-ups come in to play. You can expect to see rifles with more than one mounted optic.
3 Gun Scope Considerations
Choosing an optic for 3-Gun competition has its own set of considerations in regard to optics. Rifles in 3-Gun competition will definitely get bumped and banged around. They need to be able to hold zero through some serious abuse.
Rifle optics should be lightweight to help the shooter maneuver around obstacles and barriers. Rifle engagements can range from a few meters up to a couple hundred meters. When magnification is allowed, it is advisable to have variable zoom with minimum magnification as close to 1x as possible.
The shooter will also want an optic with a slim profile to help improve awareness down range. This will help the shooter to quickly transition between targets.
Red Dot VS Scope for 3 Gun
Red dots, holographic sights, and 1x prism scopes are the only optics allowed in the factory division. If this is where you want to compete, you will need to use one of these.
There are a lot of fantastic options to help you improve your speed and accuracy. If you are moving into the practical or open categories, you may find yourself at a disadvantage without a magnified optic.
Quality magnified optics will help you hit farther targets, but a substandard scope can be a hindrance. If a scope has poor eye relief, too much magnification, a limited field of view, or a power ring that is difficult to operate, the scope could slow down your course speeds.
The cheap lenses found in some budget scopes can distort the shooter’s view, creating a fish-eye effect that can be challenging to overcome.
In the open division, shooters have the option of having both a red dot and a magnified scope. It is not uncommon to see a scope used as the primary optic, and an offset red dot mounted as a secondary optic for close range targets.
This set-up gives shooters the benefits of magnification for long-range targets while allowing for an easy transition to point-blank ranges.
Best 3 Gun Scope on the Market Review
There are hundreds of great optics that can help you to improve your 3-Gun scores. However, the sheer volume of options can make it difficult to figure out where to start.
Below are some of our favorites to help you get started.
1 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) – Best Red Dot for 3-Gun
If you want to compete in the factory division, this is the red dot to use. Aimpoint is a brand with a military-grade pedigree, and most shooters agree that they produce some of the best red dot sights available.
This sight provides an excellent field of view with very little obstruction from the body of the sight. The lenses give no noticeable distortion, which makes shooting with both eyes open easy and natural.
The dot on the sight is perfectly crisp and presents as a two MOA aiming point.
This sight comes with a riser, so the iron sights on your AR will co-witness. However, it is unlikely you’ll ever need to use them due to the sight’s extreme durability and obscenely long battery life.
Aimpoint advertises a battery life of over three years, even with continuous use. This is a handy feature because having your optic’s batteries die during a match can be incredibly discouraging.
2 Holosun HS503CU – Best Micro Red Dot for 3-Gun
If you want to save some money on your optic, but aren’t willing to compromise on quality, Holosun could be the company for you.
This micro red dot will allow you to compete in the factory division. Although this sight provides simple 1x magnification, it has some features that make it competitive with more expensive optics.
As a prism sight, the reticle is etched into the glass rather than projected. This makes it possible to create more complicated reticles. While it could be easy to go overboard, this reticle provides the shooter with more options than a simple red dot without being over-complicated.
This Holosun red dot has a 65 MOA circle reticle with a 2 MOA red dot center dot. This design helps the shooter acquire and engage close targets quickly without compromising precision at further ranges.
The Holosun red dot has a battery life measured in years, rather than hours. It has a slim profile and comes with a riser appropriate to co-witness with iron sights.
Because Holosun is a relatively new brand, its durability has yet to be fully proven. However, many users report excellent performance from the company’s products.
3 Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 Drop Zone – Best Budget 3-Gun Scope
For 3-Gunners on a budget, this Bushnell AR scope will help get you into the game.
Bushnell is well-known for making quality optics at reasonable prices. They have lens quality far better than their prices suggest.
This version of the Bushnell Drop Zone is a great 1-4x magnification scope that will help you compete in the practical division without breaking the bank.
It features Bushnell’s exclusive Drop Zone .223 reticle, which provides illuminated BDC marks calibrated for .223 Remington/5.56 NATO loads. This SFP (second focal plane) reticle will help you make accurate shots on targets out to 600 yards, which is sufficient for most competitions.
The Drop Zone is shockproof, waterproof, fogproof, and easily handles the rigors of competition. This is easily the best 3-Gun scope you’ll find for under $300.
4 Vortex Strike Eagle – Best 1-6x 3-Gun Scope
Vortex is a popular brand in competition circles as they make some of the best consumer grade products available. The Strike Eagle is one of the most popular tactical/practical scopes in 3-Gun due to its balance of performance and price.
This scope seems to be purpose built for 3-Gun competition. Vortex opted not to use exposed turrets on the Strike Eagle. Although some manufacturers include exposed target turrets as a premium feature, they are fairly impractical on a 3-Gun course.
The Strike Eagle has a true 1x magnification on its lowest setting. The power ring easily rotates to assist in quick adjustments. There is even a convenient throw lever for even faster magnification adjustment.
The reticle on this 1-6x scope is relatively simple. However, it does provide bullet drop compensation information for 5.56/.223 caliber loads. The reticle is also illuminated for better visibility in less-than-perfect lighting conditions.
Waterproof and shockproof, this scope will serve competitors well. The Strike Eagle is easily the best 3-Gun scope available for under $500.
5 Swarovski Z8i – Best 1-8x 3-Gun Scope
The price tag on the Swarovski Z8i is not for the faint of heart. However, if you truly want to take your rifle optic to the next level, this is the scope you want.
The lenses on this 1-8x scope are absolutely perfect. They provide a super clear image with zero distortion, even at the edges, which is where even great scopes tend to have a fish-eye effect.
The power ring moves like silk, giving you maximum control when transitioning between ranged targets.
The Z8i’s reticle is designed with the competitor in mind. It features an illuminated circle around the intersection of a duplex reticle. This design provides a simple, easy-to-use aiming point with a larger reference for close-quarters targets.
As you would expect at this price point, the Z8i is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
6 Vortex Venom – Best Backup Red Dot Sight for 3-Gun
If you want to compete in open class, you should consider a back-up red dot sight offset from your LPVO.
These types of sights work well with an offset mount, allowing you to switch to your red dot sight for close range targets by simply tilting the rifle.
The Vortex Venom is small and lightweight. It also has a very thin yet sturdy outside frame that won’t take up much space in your field of view.
The sight features a precise 3 MOA red dot, which will allow you to accurately place rounds on target at close range without touching your scope.
An auto brightness feature helps keep the dot at an appropriate intensity as you move from bright to dark areas traversing the course.
7 Burris Fastfire 3 – Best Shotgun 3-Gun Optic
There are many competitors, even in open division, that consider a traditional front sight or a fiber optic front sight to be plenty adequate for a shotgun.
However, there are those of us that prefer every advantage available to us. Any time we can use one aiming point on a target instead of a front and rear aiming reference, it will help use get on target quicker.
The Fastfire 3 is a great shotgun optic for 3-Gun. It is available at a reasonable price and will fit most shotguns. The optic comes with an integral Picatinny mount. However, it also has an optional mount that can be used for shotguns with weaver rails.
The sight comes with either a 3 or 8 MOA dot. It is shockproof, so you won’t have to worry about the heavier recoil of a 12 gauge destroying the sight.
8 Trijicon RMR – Best Pistol Optic for 3-Gun
The Trijicon RMR was one of the first pistol optics to hit the market. It is so widely recognized that many shooters refer to all pistol red dots as RMRs.
Learning to shoot a pistol at a competitive level is a challenging task. Using an optic like the RMR is similar to using a cheat code. Once you use a red dot on your pistol, you’ll wonder how you ever shot without one.
Pulling off precision shots with traditional iron sights is a much slower process than using a red dot. If you’re looking for accuracy combined with speed, a red dot is the way to go.
What makes this sight one of the best that money can buy is its track record and warranty. Trijicon backs this product with a lifetime warranty that covers any kind of abuse you can hurl at it. This means you can be confident your light will be on every time you draw down on a target.
The RMR features a crisp 3.25 MOA dot that is fast and easy to acquire and is plenty precise for man-sized targets. It also has optional auto-brightness to help manage the intensity of your reticle in changing light conditions.
There are literally hundreds of capable rifle, shotgun, and pistol optics available to help elevate your 3-Gun competition skills. The models listed here are some of our favorites. Use our list as a starting point to get into 3-Gun. It’s also a useful reference if you’re considering an upgrade to your current system.
Regardless of your preferred division, the best 3 gun scope can help you improve your speed and accuracy. However, always keep in mind that not even the fanciest or most expensive equipment can replace training and practice.
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