There is nothing quite like a day spent varmint hunting. It is a sport that combines the fast paced action of target shooting at the gun range with the excitement the pursuit of game provides to hunters of all ages. The seasons and bag limits are usually pretty generous and the shot opportunities can come quickly and frequently.
Varmint hunting isn’t only fun, it is also necessary and important. Varmint hunting helps to control populations of unwanted pests and protect both crops and property.
A variety of different rifles and calibers are suitable for varmint hunting, but one thing remains consistent between all of them. No matter what rifle or caliber you choose, adding the best varmint scope can make all the difference between success and failure.
If you don't have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated varmint scopes:
- 1Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 Rifle Scope
- 2Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Hog Hunter Riflescope
- 3Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
- 4SWFA SS 2.5-10x32 Ultralight Rifle Scope
- 5Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle 6-18X 50mm Riflescope
- 6Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 M Illuminated Reticle FX-MOA
- 8Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm
- 9BSA 6-18X40 Sweet 17 Rifle Scope
- 10ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope
Table of Contents
- Variety of Calibers for Variety of Varmints
- The Art of Choosing a Varmint Scope
- Best Varmint Scope on the Market Reviews
- 1 Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 Rifle Scope
- 2 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Hog Hunter Riflescope
- 3 Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
- 4 SWFA SS 2.5-10x32 Ultralight Rifle Scope
- 5 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle 6-18X 50mm Riflescope
- 6 Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 M Illuminated Reticle FX-MOA
- 7 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
- 8 Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm
- 9 BSA 6-18X40 Sweet 17 Rifle Scope
- 10 ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope
- Final Thoughts
Variety of Calibers for Variety of Varmints
There are a lot of different calibers that are ideal options for varmint hunting. Appropriate calibers are typically smaller than their big game counterparts, flat shooting, and have minimal recoil. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most popular varmint hunting calibers.
The .22 Long Rifle
Perhaps the most ubiquitous varmint hunting caliber of them all (and the cheapest!), the .22 long rifle is a perfect caliber for hunting all sorts of varmints. Countless squirrels, chipmunks, and ground squirrels have fallen victim to a well-placed .22 bullet on farms and in forests around the world.
The .22 long rifle cartridge is dirt cheap, a pleasure to shoot, and more than capable of handling its fair share of varmints.
The .17 HMR
This rimfire round is not quite as popular as the .22 long rifle, but it is still a more than capable varmint hunting round. In fact, its ballistic performance is a major step above the .22LR in the realm of the rimfire rifle. The .17 HMR cartridge has eye-popping velocity and bullets that explode on impact which does not bode well for the critter in your crosshairs.
Some hunters use the .17 HMR on varmints as large as coyotes, but it's real forte is prairie dogs, jackrabbits, and pesky groundhogs.
The .22-250 Remington
When utilizing 40 to 45 grain bullets, a .22-250 Remington round can scream its way down range with speeds in excess of 4,000 feet per second. That is a huge amount of speed and it is that speed that helps the .22-250 to stand out amongst other varmint hunting calibers.
This cartridge can easily dispatch larger varmints such as coyotes and bobcats and reach out to the long ranges some types of varmint hunting requires. Set up a few hundred yards away from a prairie dog colony with a .22-250 and they won’t know what hit them.
A round that requires no introduction for the vast majority of shooters, the .223 is extremely popular amongst all kinds of shooters. It is also one of the most common calibers used in AR-15 rifles. It just so happens that the AR-15 platform makes for a nearly perfect varmint hunting loadout.
The .223 can reach out to 500 yards with varmint killing power before running out of steam. It is also one of the easiest to find calibers and the price tag won’t break the bank. While it may not be the best varmint hunting caliber on paper, it will always be one of the most popular rounds due to its versatility and affordability.
The .243 Winchester
For the varmint hunter who is after larger sized game or for the varmint hunter who also enjoys big game hunting, the .243 Winchester is an ideal choice of rifle caliber. With the ability to easily down even the largest wild hog, this cartridge can take a 55 grain bullet down range at over 4,000 feet per second.
In addition to being death incarnate for varmints of all shapes and sizes, the .243 can also be loaded with bullets large enough to also take on big game such as deer or elk. For the hunter looking for a high degree of versatility in a rifle caliber, the .243 Winchester is hard to beat.
The Art of Choosing a Varmint Scope
There is no one size fits all option for a varmint hunting scope. The scope you choose will depend heavily on what your varmint hunting goals are. Does your hunting spot require long distance accuracy or is your typical shot going to be under 100 yards? Are you targeting coyotes or wild hogs at dusk? Planning to eliminate some pesky groundhogs in the afternoon?
You can see where I’m going with this. It is important to really consider your personal needs before choosing a scope. Take a few minutes to really think of what you are trying to accomplish and that will help you to settle on a scope.
This list of the best rated varmint scopes will highlight some of the best options for a variety of different hunting conditions, calibers, and purposes.
Best Varmint Scope on the Market Reviews
1 Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 Rifle Scope
Coming in at just under $1000, the Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50 Rifle Scope is one of the best scopes for varmint hunting that there is on the market. Zeiss is renowned around the world for producing some of the highest quality glass and optics a hunter can buy. With 90% light transmission and several speciality coatings, this scope performs well in any conditions including low light and wet weather.
With up to 24x magnification and side parallax adjustment, the Zeiss Conquest can help pull every bit of accuracy out of your rifle and spell doom for varmints at any range.
Long range varmint hunting in low light or wet weather
Coyote, groundhog, or prairie dogs
2 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Hog Hunter Riflescope
Whether your target is wild hogs or not, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Hog Hunter scope is a great choice for varmint hunting. That is especially true for varmint hunting in low light conditions when is the time many varmints, including hogs, are most active. The oversized objective and V-Brite reticle allow hunters to quickly acquire targets when there isn’t much light available.
This scope, available for under $300, also carries the high level of quality that Vortex Optics has come to be known for by hunters and target shooters alike. Waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof thanks to single piece construction and nitrogen purging, this scope can perform in any conditions that might present themselves in the field.
Low light or wet conditions in thick brush or heavy cover
Wild hogs, coyotes, or bobcats
3 Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope
If a perfect squirrel hunting scope exists, it might just be the Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope. The fact that this scope can be purchased for under $200 is remarkable. The parallax on this scope is adjusted for 60 yards which is ideal for almost every squirrel hunting situation. The ¼ MOA finger click turrets make fine tuning accuracy in the field both quick and easy.
This 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof rimfire varmint scope also features a Rimfire-MOA reticle for taking accurate shots at a variety of ranges. Mount this rimfire scope from Leupold on your favorite .22 rifle for an affordable, high-quality, and aesthetically-pleasing shooting experience.
.22 Long Rifle
Squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks
4 SWFA SS 2.5-10x32 Ultralight Rifle Scope
Although it isn’t the best known brand in the shooting optics market, SWFA makes a very high-quality rifle scope. The glass is of a surprisingly high-quality and the overall construction of SWFA scopes is extremely solid.
The SWFA SS 2.5-10x32 Ultralight Rifle Scope won’t win any beauty contests, but it will do exactly what you need it to do in the field. The lightweight and slim profile means that it looks good on any rifle and won’t tire out your arms after a long day of varmint hunting.
.22LR or .17 HMR
Long days of close range varmint hunting
Squirrels, ground squirrels, chipmunks, crows, and rats
5 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle 6-18X 50mm Riflescope
For the budget-conscious hunter, the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 6-18X50mm Riflescope is a great option. Coming in around the $120 mark, this scope offers hunters excellent value.
It can perform well in low light conditions and has an impressive amount of magnification for the money. The 50mm objective lens allows a large amount of light transmission that is also improved by Bushnell’s Dusk & Dawn Brightness optics coating.
Any hunter who has been coyote hunting knows how cautious they can be. When they refuse to come within range until the light is low enough, you will be happy to have the Bushnell Dusk & Dawn mounted on top of your rifle.
With 3.5 inches of eye relief and a fast-focus eyepiece, this scope allows hunters to quickly acquire their target. We all know just how quick and elusive varmints can be! This scope also features ¼ MOA fingertip adjustments for both windage and elevation and is 100% waterproof and fogproof.
Any varmint caliber
Hunting a variety of varmints in different environments
Groundhogs, coyotes, and jackrabbits
6 Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 M Illuminated Reticle FX-MOA
Building a tactical varmint hunting rifle is a worthwhile endeavor for many hunters. They are versatile, fun to build, and most importantly, they are fun to hunt varmints with. Any tactical varmint firearm needs an equally tactical looking scope to complete the package and the Nikon Black FX1000 fits the bill perfectly.
The first focal plane (FFP) glass etched illuminated reticle features Nikon’s FX-MOA design that is optimized to allow for ranging, windage corrections, and holdover. Make no mistake. This is a match-grade reticle that has 10 brightness settings and that will maintain clarity and sharpness in any light conditions. The Nikon Black FX1000 series of scopes is great for AR-15 rifles and any other tactical minded gun.
.22-250 Remington or .223
Long distance varmint hunting where ranging and holdover are important
Prairie dogs, coyotes, bobcats, groundhogs, and jackrabbits
7 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
If long range varmint hunting is your forte, look no further than the NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope. This powerhouse from NightForce has everything a long range hunter could desire in a scope. With some of the best glass in the industry, NightForce scopes can hold their own against any other scope out there.
The 56mm objective lens on the NightForce SHV allows in a tremendous amount of light and the NightForce’s Zeroset technology allows you to quickly return to your original zero no matter how many windage or elevation changes you make while hunting. This scope makes an excellent option for .22-250 caliber rifles.
This scope also features NightForce’s MOAR reticle. This reticle is ideal for hunting varmints of all sizes thanks to the .125 MOA lines which allow for ranging and holdover adjustments on even small targets. While it is a little pricey, this scope is well worth the money if you want a scope that will likely outperform any scope you’ve ever used before.
.22-250 Remington, .223, or .243 Winchester
Varmint hunting at extreme distances
Prairie dogs, coyotes, and wild hogs
8 Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm
The Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm scope is an incredible value for the money that offers hunters top end performance without breaking the bank. The Posi-lock posts ensure that your point of impact won’t change in the field.
This value scope is also ideal for quick heads-up shooting on fast moving varmints because it offers fast target acquisition even with both eyes open.
Any varmint caliber
Short to mid range varmint hunting
Any varmint species
9 BSA 6-18X40 Sweet 17 Rifle Scope
Specifically calibrated for the cartridge, it is easy to understand why the BSA Sweet 17 Rifle Scope is the best varmint scope for .17 HMR. In fact, this scope is calibrated for both 17 grain and 20 grain .17 HMR cartridges.
This scope has solid turrets with audible click adjustments as well as adjustable parallax.
Small game varmint hunting out to 100 yards
Squirrels, groundhogs, chipmunks, and other small varmint species
10 ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope
Once the sun goes down, all sorts of varmints venture out from their daytime hiding places and become more active. Any varmint hunter worth their salt knows that hunting after dark can be extremely effective. There is one little problem...human night vision is atrocious. Luckily for us, we became smart enough to create night vision scopes to see in the dark for us.
The ATN X-Sight 4K Pro Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope provides hunters with an incredible level of technology. This scope will allow you to remain an effective hunter both during the day and at night. It is packed with a variety of impressive features including a ballistic calculator, HD streaming and video recording, and 18+ hours of battery life during continuous use.
It is hard to believe that a night vision varmint hunting scope with this many features comes in at under $600. Mount this scope on your favorite varmint hunting rifle and those varmints won’t be able to hide under the cover of darkness anymore.
Any varmint caliber
Varmint hunting at night
Wild hogs, coyotes, bobcats, and raccoons
There are a ton of great calibers for varmint hunting which means that there are also a lot of scope options to fit all those calibers. Make sure to take a few minutes to really consider your varmint hunting goals and what you need out of a varmint scope. That information, and this list, will help you make the right decision on the best varmint scope for your specific firearm.