Although once relegated to young shooters and backyard plinking, air rifles are carving out a strong niche among serious shooters.
A quality optic can go a long way in stretching your air rifle’s capabilities beyond 50 yards. However, you can’t just slap any ole scope on an air rifle and expect great results.
If you’re in the market for the best air rifle scope, but aren’t sure where to begin, we’re here to help. In this article, we outline what to look for in an airgun optic. We even share a few of our favorite options to get you started in your search.
If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for the details, here are our best picks for air rifle scopes:
- Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 4-16×44
- UTG Leapers 4-16×44
- Bushnell Banner 3-9×40
- Hawke Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×40
- Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24
- TRUGLO 4×32 Compact Rimfire and Air Rifle Scope
- BARSKA Mil-Dot Airgun Scope 4×32
- Gamo Air Gun Scope LC4x32
- Hammers 4-12×40 Air Gun Riflescope
- ATN X-Sight LTV 5-15x
Table of Contents
- How to Choose an Air Rifle Scope?
- Best Air Rifle Scope on the Market Reviews
- 1 Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 4-16×44
- 2 UTG Leapers 4-16×44
- 3 Bushnell Banner 3-9×40
- 4 Hawke Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×40
- 5 Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24
- 6 TRUGLO 4×32 Compact Rimfire and Air Rifle Scope
- 7 BARSKA Mil-Dot Airgun Scope 4×32
- 8 Gamo Air Gun Scope LC4x32
- 9 Hammers 4-12×40 Air Gun Riflescope
- 10 ATN X-Sight LTV 5-15x
- Final Thoughts
How to Choose an Air Rifle Scope?
There are literally thousands of scopes on the market today, which can make choosing one for your air rifle seem like an insurmountable task. Don’t worry! We’re here to help you navigate the options so you can find just the right optic for your shooting needs.
While most traditional riflescopes will work on a modern air rifle, there are scopes specifically marketed for these weapons. Although designating any scope as an “airgun rated” optic is mostly a clever marketing tool, scopes with this designation have one key feature that makes them particularly well-suited for your air rifle or pellet gun.
Airgun-rated optics are proven to withstand bidirectional recoil, a phenomenon exclusive to spring-piston airguns. When these airguns are fired, the spring releases, propelling the pellet down the barrel and toward the target. This action also forces the piston forward, causing it to slam the compression tube. This movement results in forward recoil.
The recoil from both directions can be violently destructive on a scope. It can shake the mounts and the optic right off the rifle. More than one airgun shooter has cried over the destruction of an expensive, high-end scope.
If you have a traditional scope you want to test on your air rifle, you should be sure it is built to withstand bidirectional recoil. Any optic that is airgun rated is up to the task. If you aren’t sure if a scope is airgun rated, contact the manufacturer BEFORE you test it out. It could save you some major headache and a catastrophic end to an otherwise good scope.
Bidirectional recoil is exclusive to spring-piston air rifles. If you’re shooting a multi-pump pneumatic, C02, or Pre-Charged pneumatic (PCP), you can easily use a quality traditional riflescope without concern.
There are tons of reticle options available for air gunners – from super simple Duplex crosshairs to more intricate BDC designs. Because air rifles are known for their rainbow-like trajectories, long-range shooters can seriously benefit from the reference points on a mil-dot or MOA reticle.
You should also look for a scope with an etched-glass reticle. Wire reticles can suffer damage from the harsh vibrations generated by spring-piston rifles. Because an etched-glass reticle is lasered directly onto the lens, there is no worry about snapping the reticle, even with repeated use.
Scopes come in two basic varieties – fixed magnification and variable magnification. Each variety has its advantages and disadvantages.
Fixed magnification scopes have only one magnification level. While this may limit range versatility, the beauty is in the design’s simplicity. Because you do not need to zoom in or out, focusing on your target is a much simpler affair. Fixed power scopes also tend to be lighter, which can be a major asset for air gunners.
Variable power scopes have a range of magnification that lets you zoom in or out based on your shooting needs. Because airgun targets tend to be smaller, shooters can sometimes benefit from generous magnification (think 10x or higher). However, when it comes to magnification, bigger isn’t always better. Quality surpasses quantity every time. Some budget scopes with massive magnification have blurred or distorted sight pictures. Since it’s difficult to hit what you can’t see, this often renders the higher end of the magnification range practically useless.
Best Air Rifle Scope on the Market Reviews
Here are a few of our top picks for your air rifle.
1 Hawke Sport Optics Airmax 4-16×44
The Hawke Airmax offers wide-angle optics that are perfect for hunting varmints with your air rifle. It has a compact, lightweight construction that also offers plenty of durability. Hawke coats all air-to-glass surfaces on the Airmax with 16 layers of their proprietary coating. This allows for excellent light transmission, knock-your-socks-off optical clarity, and excellent low light performance.
Beginners could struggle with the scope’s complicated AMX reticle. However, the reticle is glass-etched for both visibility and stability. This one will stay true despite vicious multi-directional recoil.
2 UTG Leapers 4-16×44
The UTG Leapers may be a budget option, but it is jam-packed with surprising features. With a price tag well under $200, this is an affordable option for beginners and seasoned airgun shooters alike.
This model sports zero-reset locking target turrets, side focus parallax adjustment, and an illuminated mil-dot reticle, all designed with long-range shooting in mind. It also features an ample 44mm objective and a wide FOV for effective low light target acquisition. With a sturdy 30mm main tube, the UTG Leapers is also built to handle rough use.
3 Bushnell Banner 3-9×40
Bushnell specializes in affordable optics for outdoor sportsmen, and this member of their Banner line-up is one of the best scopes you’ll find anywhere for under $100. Whether you’re hunting squirrels or punching paper targets, this optic offers the best value for the money of any optic on our list.
Although the Bushnell Banner is a simple, no-frills riflescope, part of its beauty is its simplicity. It has an easy-to-use Multi X reticle, a practical magnification range, and a fast focus eyepiece.
Perfect for low light shooting, the Banner utilizes Bushnell’s exclusive Dusk and Dawn Brightness (DDB) multi-coatings that provide excellent brightness and clarity.
The Banner is built tough for rugged outdoor use. It features a sturdy, one-piece construction. The main housing is filled with dry nitrogen and is o-ring sealed for reliable fogproof, waterproof performance in any weather condition.
4 Hawke Sport Optics Vantage 4-12×40
Although Hawke Sport Optics are definitely not top-tier options, we’re honestly surprised this company doesn’t get more love. The Hawke Vantage riflescope features low-profile, no-snag turrets, an adjustable objective lens for parallax correction, and a practical adjustable magnification range.
Insanely sturdy, the scope is made with a one-inch mono-tube chassis and has a reliable fogproof, waterproof, and shockproof design.
The Vantage also features eleven-layer fully multi-coated optics that provide excellent clarity and resolution.
5 Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24
Vortex optics are some of the best on the planet and their Strike Eagle definitely lives up to the company’s reputation for excellence. Although the Vortex line-up doesn’t include any airgun-specific models, the 1-6×24 Strike Eagle performs well in this capacity.
It features a glass-etched BDC reticle located on the second focal plane (SFP). The 1-6x magnification range allows shooters to easily engage close-range targets as well as targets at distance. Although the 24mm objective lens is on the small side, it lets in enough light for a bright sight picture without weighing down your air rifle.
Vortex’s HD glass is fully multi-coated with anti-scratch, hydrophobic, and anti-reflective coatings to ensure you have a crisp, clear sight picture for the life of the optic.
6 TRUGLO 4×32 Compact Rimfire and Air Rifle Scope
Designed from start to finish for air and rimfire rifles, this lightweight, compact, fixed magnification scope from TRUGLO works well for a variety of shooting applications. It has a rugged design and a scratch-resistant, non-reflective matte finish for extra durability in the field. The lenses are fully multi-coated to deliver maximum brightness, clarity, and color contrast, even in low light.
Other notable features include a durable rubber eye guard and a user-friendly duplex reticle. The reticle can be used in black without illumination. However, in low light conditions, the reticle can be illuminated in red or green for better visibility.
7 BARSKA Mil-Dot Airgun Scope 4×32
The Barska Airgun scope is specifically designed for rock-solid performance, even during repetitive bi-directional recoil associated with spring-piston rifles. The scope features a detailed mil-dot reticle and multi-range parallax setting adjustments, allowing you to accurately engage targets at a variety of distances.
Air gunners will also appreciate the crystal clear, fully coated optics. The premium optical quality allows you to easily acquire targets in any lighting condition. Perfect for casual recreation or serious competition, the Barska Airgun scope is fully waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
8 Gamo Air Gun Scope LC4x32
This Gamo air gun scope makes a perfect partner for your Gamo air rifle. Definitely a budget scope, this model has great customer reviews and does a fine job for casual air gunning. It features fully coated optics, fixed power 4x magnification, and a generous 32mm objective. It also comes ready to mount.
This scope is not suitable for use with a spring-piston air rifle. However, it works well with multi-pump pneumatic, C02, or pre-charged pneumatic (PCP) airguns.
9 Hammers 4-12×40 Air Gun Riflescope
Hammers made this variable power riflescope just for high power air rifles. It features a 40mm adjustable objective, finger adjustable turrets, a generous magnification range, and a wide field of view.
Priced well under $100, you shouldn’t expect this model to perform like a high end scope. While the sight picture is clear, image quality suffers in low light. Tipping the scales at one pound seven ounces, this scope is certainly a bit on the hefty side. However, it holds up well to recoil, bumps, and thumps during use. We’re including it here for shooters who don’t have a ton of cash in the optics budget.
10 ATN X-Sight LTV 5-15x
If you’re itching to do some night shooting with your air rifle, the ATN X-Sight LTV is the perfect tool for the job. This digital night vision optic is perfect for shooting varmints or destructive rodents that only come out after the sun goes down.
The X-Sight LTV uses a cutting-edge ATN Obsidian LT Core. Although designed for low power consumption, the ATN Obsidian Core provides amazing nighttime performance.
More than just a riflescope, the X-SIGHT LTV is also an HD video recorder. It provides multiple reticle options, allowing you to pick exactly what you need for your shooting needs.
Finding the best air rifle scope for your shooting needs should be easier with this guide. We’ve tried to include something for every budget and every shooting application – from hunting, to plinking, to competition.
While a quality optic will certainly help take your shooting to the next level, it will only take you so far. No matter what riflescope you have mounted on your airgun, the best way to improve your shooting accuracy is to spend time practicing solid shooting fundamentals.