Best Air Rifle Scope Review

Many people love the thrill of using an air rifle, as evidenced by the rising popularity of their use in numerous shooting competitions around the world, as well as their increasing usage in plinking and small games.

There are many reasons why people prefer to use them – they are affordable, very accurate in their shots, and very fast. The only drawback they generally seem to have is their kickback, which makes them as much of a hazard to others; even if the rifle scope is nice.

That also means they can fall apart very easily if you are not careful – you can spend thousands of dollars on an air rifle scope, only to have it breaking after a few shots.

This eventually leads to an important requirement – you will need to equip the air rifle with a proper scope. However, it can be a confusing process figuring out the calibers that air rifles use, in addition to their great varieties in the market.

If you are a first-time buyer, it gets even more confusing, because all air rifle manufacturers will tell you that their products are durable. How would you know the best ones and those to avoid?

Thankfully, we have done much of the hard work for you and gone ahead to compile the 10 best air scope rifles, and what makes them great. Among them, we also broke down our top 3, and the reasons why we select them as the best of the bunch, so read on. 

best Air Rifle Scope 2020 - top 3 choice 

Best Overall
$

UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster Scope

Best Value
$

Hammers 3-9x32AO air rifle scope

Top 10 air rifle scope reviews – comparison table

Top air rifle scopes (detailed review)

Preview

Model

Objective lens

Magnification

Buy now

UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster air rifle scope

37.7 mm

3-9X32

Hammers 3-9X32AO rifle scope

32 mm

3-9X32

BSA 3-9X40 Sweet 22 scope

40 mm

3-9x40

CVLIFE 3-9x40 R4 Optics scope

40 mm

3-9X40

Hawke Sidewinder SF IR riflescope

30 mm

6.5-20X42

UTG 4-16X44 AO Scope

30 mm

4-16X44

Hawke Airmax SF riflescope

30 mm

4-16X50

Bushnell 614124 banner riflescope

40 mm

4-12X

Nikon Prostaff P3 EFR Target scope

40 mm

3-9X40

Vortex Optic strike eagle scope

40 mm

1-6X24

1. UTG 3-9X32 BugBuster air rifle scope

This comes as an eyepiece that uses fixed magnification, along with a lens set of 3-9x-32. The range it can work with is not as large as some of those on this list, but it carries some of the highest ratings in terms of its reliability because its parts are less prone to breakage, and its simple construction.

Its simplicity also makes it one of the more affordable air rifle scopes, yet its quality remains high – you never get the sense of its adjustments being in a poor state. For instance, it has very impressive parallax compensation, as well as a recticle that operates on a mil-dot tactical mechanism. The set ranges also have very accurate adjustments, and bright imaging systems.

Pros

  • Its lenses are enough to cover most close-range shooting
  • The fixed lenses reduce the number of fragile parts
  • Lightweight and comfortable to handle
  • Has a compact, thin design that allows for unobstructed shooting
  • Very affordable
  • Has an impressive construction, including for the recticle and turrets
  • It has an adjustable parallax setting

Cons

  • Its eye box is rather small
  • Lacks plenty of eye relief accommodations
  • Unsuitable for very long-range shots

2.Hammers 3-9X32AO rifle scope 

If you are looking for a rifle scope that provides you with plenty of adjustable focusing, mil-dot reticle, as well as high quality of images, then this will be right up your alley. The build is of high quality, and is strong enough to withstand double recoil shock even on the field. It is also versatile enough to use on the high-power air rifles, which makes it a valuable pick for various scenarios.

The workmanship involved in making this tool is of high quality, even though its appearance will not show many differences from more affordable models. The one-piece mount will allow easy installation through the securing of four screws, and make it strong enough to withstand multiple shocks. The one-inch ring will also enable you to mount it on other weapons.

Its adjustment dials are easy to use as well, and they can set windage and elevation easily. Additionally, it is easy to operate the scope, and you can use the AO adjustments on its sides. It has a zoom availability between 3 and 9, while its AO is from 7.5 yards to infinity. You can adjust the focus using the focus ring on its eyepiece, and it will also see any targets and crosshairs even from a distance.

Aside from these, the mil-dots will come in handy when you are doing long-distance shooting, while the scopes are all waterproof and fog proof. It will only require you to make some fine-tuning adjustments after shooting more than 20 rounds.

Pros

  • The scope’s build is high quality
  • Can hold recoil and withstand shocks
  • Very affordable price with great features
  • It is easy to use and adjust the measurements
  • Gives a bright field of view, even for longer distances
  • You can adjust the focus easily
  • Great for a variety of lighting conditions

Cons

  • It needs a little more height when mounting for certain situations

3. BSA 3-9X40 Sweet 22 scope

This also comes with an adjustable magnification for its lenses, and can handle shots of up to 300 yards, which is what you would find in most air rifles. While it does lack a technical recticle, you can still use the target-style turrets, as they have precise adjustments.

In the case of its durability, it has its turrets in rubber cases, which will cushion against kickback issues – and to make the purchase even more secure, it comes with a lifetime warranty. Overall, this is a great pick if you want a mid-range option, especially for target shooters and most hunters, since its build will allow for all-purpose use.

Pros

  • Both its lenses reduce glare, as they are fully multi-coated.
  • It is robust enough to withstand the stress of air rifle shooting
  • Very secure build and components
  • The rubber casing provides a safe environment for the adjustment turrets
  • Its pin maintains absolute zero, which helps when you want additional backup
  • Easy to adjust the parallax
  • Lifetime warranty


Cons

  • Lacks a technical reticle
  • Unsuitable for long-distance shooting
  • Its lens caps do not use a clip-on design

4. Hawke Sidewinder IR Riflescope 

Among the many air shooting riflescopes you can get, this happens to be one of the most demanding ones – especially when looking at its range.  It is mainly used as a side scope for long range shots. It also has two color settings that allow you to choose what works best for each hunt (green and red), while you have 5 brightness levels to select from within each color.

The lenses have an impressively wide range coming at 6.5-20X magnification, while the MOA adjustment turrets/mil-dot technical reticle provide you with accuracy that most air rifle scopes do not have.

There are also plenty of features that will easily impress you, such as its brightness adjustments, illuminated reticle, lens caps, and zero-reset/lockable turrets. The design of the riflescope will help to defend against heavy recoil issues, as well as helping you keep your target in sight.

To help in parallax focus, the side focus system, elevation turrets and a fast focus eyepiece will help. At the end of the day, it remains shock proof, waterproof, and fog proof.

Pros

  • Has a wide field of vision thanks to the 42 mm lens.
  • Its lenses are multi-coated, helping in clarity of sight regardless of external conditions
  • It is easy to adjust the illuminated reticle
  • Reticle is impressive, as it is fully floating and operates on a mil-dot design
  • Does not have kickback
  • Can work well with any firearms

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Lacks the low end range magnification range, making it unsuitable for close-up shots

5. CVLIFE 3-9x40 Optics R4 crosshair scope

You are probably aware of the fact that your ability does not just depend on achieving your targets of accurate first shots, but rather using an air rifle that is suitable for your case. In this light, choosing a premium riflescope is great, but choosing a more affordable one is just a good option as any – since you can perform the same task.

This is a case of a budget-friendly scope with features that will satisfy the user, especially when it comes to its technical specifications. The viewer has a magnification power of 3-9, while the lens is 40mm, which is good enough to handle most hunting expeditions.

The scope is lightweight and comfortable to handle, as it weighs only 345 grams, while its diameter is 25.4mm. One interesting aspect is the unique external and internal structure that assists to control the tension, which will help this tool stay reliable in a variety of situations. It also prevents the grid from turning sideways and keeps it firmly in place.

The intelligent design will allow the range to make accurate adjustments to the elevation, as well as allowing the range to be shock proof. The tube is made from aluminum, which is quite strong compared to most of the tubes you will find in the market. It is also entirely sealed, which makes it fog-proof and waterproof, and the multi-layered glass makes it have light transmission rates of about 90%.

Pros

  • Affordable.
  • Strong construction, yet has aesthetic coating that you can appreciate
  • Easy to adjust on the go
  • Lightweight and comfortable to use
  • It is easy to adjust its turrets

Cons

  • Its night vision does not always work for some hunting environments.
  • The clarity reduces in low light conditions.
  • Its frames are not always adjustable

6. UTG 4-16X44 30mm AO scope

There are numerous considerations to make when purchasing a riflescope, and this is among the most popular models to purchase in the market. It comes with a variety of innovative features that give you the best shot when going on your hunting adventures.

In order to get the highest light transmission rate, the riflescope sees a coating of Emerald lenses in order to provide the best quality. It is also fog proof, thanks to the complete sealing, while the True Strength Scope platform to allow the use of SSS (smart spherical structure) for a stronger in/out interaction.

The recoil resistance ability is also high because it uses precise and responsive W/E changes. The scope also has lenses that have a magnification of 4 to 16 times due to the quick-power rings. The objective lens, measuring 30mm, will also allow maximum sunlight levels, while the 1-click quick-access technology will ensure quick access to the reticle brightness.

The lenses include red and green illumination, while you can access 36 different color choices. This will enable you to maximize your chances regardless of the light and weather conditions.

Pros

  • It has excellent levels of light transfers and clarity.
  • Clear reticle for additional use in low light conditions.
  • Easy to adjust the ocular and objective focus.
  • Very accurate shots and viewing fields

Cons

  • The rings are not as useful when mounting the scope in some instances

7. Hawke Airmax SF riflescope

If the idea of buying a cheap riflescope is not your cup of tea, then you can consider this more expensive offering from the manufacturer Hawke Sport Optics. This model is about double the price of a Vantage riflescope from the same manufacturer, although it has better magnification level ranges.

Rather than having a maximum magnification power of 12X, its maximum power is 16X. Its approach has changed the traditional MOA reticle you will find in most riflescopes with an AMX reticle. This offers greater versatility and flexibility, and is quite easy to use for your hunting sessions. Its spacing is 10x Mil-Dot, while it also has a glass etching feature to ensure it stays stable from the problematic air gun recoils.

There are 16 protective coatings for the performance and protection aspect, which also means you can achieve great levels of light transmission from a low-cost set up. The drawbacks here though are the turrets – they are ugly, although still useful since they are lockable, and it has a red illumination through a step-less rheostat.

Pros

  • Very good clarity and brightness, despite the external lighting conditions.
  • Great design and very durabl
  • Great for using with an air gun (especially as the main focus)
  • Easy to use and set up
  • Offers good versatility and flexibility

Cons

  • It struggles to hold zero
  • The turrets are small in size

8. Bushnell 614124 banner adjustable riflescope – best for beginner users

This is among our favorites, especially under the budget-friendly categories. The beauty about it though is its simplicity, because you will not find the extra frills such as extra moving parts of the target turrets or the illuminated reticle devices. Since it lacks these aspects, the manufacturer can put additional resources into the glass, making it optically clearer than most other budget scopes.

If you are considering a riflescope to use for a spring air rifle, this is the best one to pick. Its magnification range is highly versatile, thanks to the power of 4-12X, while the objective lens of 40 mm will give a good standard for use in air rifles.

Pros

  • Very good optics and adjustments
  • It has very good parallax adjustments
  • Holds zero in a perfect way regardless of the ammunition load.
  • Works well even in lower light settings

Cons

  • Tends to lose cross-hairs in lower light settings

9. Nikon Prostaff P3 EFR target scope – best for shorter distances

If there is one thing that can scare you off, it is purchasing from a brand that you know is premium business. Nikon happens to be among these brands, and you might only think of buying their products when you have the money for it.

However, this riflescope is quite the surprise considering it comes from them – it is actually cheaper than you may expect, yet maintains great quality. The magnification power is a very friendly 3-9x, while its objective lens is 40mm.

The latter is adjustable, using increments of 0.25 MOA, while sitting on a strong aircraft-grade aluminum body. The build quality is much higher than what the price tag would suggest, and this is among the best choices in terms of value.

Its eye relief is also large, due to the aluminum quick focus eyepiece. On the other hand, the reticle is not the fanciest thing, but this will be more than enough for someone who is using an air gun for the first time. The most important thing is that it gets the job done.

Pros

  • The eye relief makes it comfortable to use
  • Lightweight
  • Fog proof, waterproof and shock proof
  • Excellent clarity and image quality

Cons

  • Does not include rings
  • Has very large objective outside its diameter

10. Vortex Optics strike eagle – best mid-tier scope

This is  a low-powered variable optic (LVPO) for entry level users, coming at a mid-tier cost compared to other riflescopes in the same class. However, it is also important to keep in mind that it is a lower bound scope, and the glass quality will not necessarily compare to that of the higher-ended optics. 

It uses a magnification power of 1-6x or 1-8x, which makes it good for a standard air rifle. The objective lens of 24mm will do a great job of using any ambient light available in order to create great images, but it will not weigh down your rifle either.

What makes it a good option for use with an air rifle is its durable and compact design,, which is also the reason behind them being shock proof and waterproof/. In fact, it is among the best pairings that you can use, as it is tough, lightweight, comes at a fair price, high quality, and has a great dose of magnification.

Pros

  • You can use it with both eyes open
  • Affordable option among LPVO options
  • Reticle is non-clutter
  • It can see black reticle even if the battery is out
  • 11 brightness settings to handle all kinds of light surroundings
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • The sight fisheye effect at 1x
  • Reticle tends to wash out in very bright daylight
  • Not very durable
  • The small eye box is at high magnification

 Buying guide on air rifle scopes

If you are just getting into the world that is air guns, you might be confused on what is the difference between an air rifle scope and any traditional scope. The actual truth is that it is mostly a marketing ploy, as there is not much that comes in terms of distinguishing them. 

However, there are some unique features that an air rifle scope will have, which makes them more suitable for pellet gun and air rifle use. This makes it important to know the features you should use when looking for them, which we will discuss in this section.

 What are air rifle scopes?

When it comes to going on hunting adventures or playing games that require aiming and shooting targets, a break-barrel rifle tends to be rather inaccurate, especially when you use it with a scope. This is not your fault though; it is due to the design.

This is because breaking barrels causes droop, and this makes the barrel loosen with time. Moreover, you cannot replace the barrel in the exact original position it was in, and yet small differences like that make very big differences,

The only way to correct this is using open sights, since they are on the section of the barrel that is movable. As you adjust, you achieve greater accuracy with the sights.

This also applies to when you are mounting a scope, as you will need to sight it in relation to the barrel position, in order to achieve maximum accuracy.

This is also where air rifle scopes come in as they will not easily interfere with your accuracy. Selecting the best one can be a difficult task though, since numerous ones will have so many features to give you, so it is important to look at the basics of all air gun scopes.

 Types of air gun scopes

Air gun riflescopes are unique because they can withstand the double recoil and vibration that happens when you use an air rifle, which can easily break any other rifle type.

However, you need to still exercise care when using them – the cardinal rule is never to combine the use of an air rifle with a firearm scope. There are different types of air scopes, which are:

 Fixed Air Scopes

These are usually pre-set to one magnification, and you cannot adjust them afterwards. You can spot them because they only have one figure that shows the magnification of the lenses, such as 4X15 or 4X32. The first number (in this case, number 4) denotes that the target object is magnified 4 times more than what you would see with the naked eye. 

They have an advantage, because they will need very little to no adjustment of the magnification power. The drawback is that you cannot magnify an image more than what the magnification sets. These factors make them more suitable for hunting smaller animals, such as mice, rats, or any rodent that you can hunt at a closer range.

 Variable air rifle scopes

When using this type of scope, you can magnify an image along a range, such as between 4-15X. Manufacturers will usually denote them as something like 4-9X35. In this case, for instance, you can magnify the image 4 to 9 times, and the 35 denotes an objective lens of 35mm.

Because of their wider range, they are useful when hunting animals across longer distances. The only drawback to them is that they may need more adjustments, since the scope has many more intricate parts inside it.

 Terms to understand

 Bi-directional recoil and air gun rating

Even though you will note many advantages to the picking features on air gun scopes, the term ‘air gun rated’ means that the scope is strong enough to resist bi-directional recoil. This recoil is only in air guns that use spring piston mechanisms, so it will not be an issue if your gun uses CO2, PCPs (Pre-Charged Pneumatics), or multi-pump pneumatics.

When you fire a spring-piston gun, its spring will cause recoil through its energy release. This will force the piston in a forward motion and hit the compression tube, and this hits the transfer port. The seal of the piston also squeezes air out of the tube and the pellet launches, with the forward recoil being the result of the motion.

The explanation seems winded, but the process is quite violent and can destroy any poor quality scopes or equipment. Because of this, you need to ensure the air scope can handle the force – and the easiest way to know is looking through the larger end of the scope (the objective lens part) and note if there is a coil spring of large diameter inside the tube. This spring will act as a shock absorber.

 Parallax adjustments

All good air guns must allow the ability to adjust for parallax, an optic error where the reticle and the scope’s focal plane are not in alignment. In other words, you are not marking where you assume you are marking. 

On a usual firearm, the range of parallax is at 100 yards, with greater distortion happening at closer ranges. This can lead to problems with the shot placement, since the target may be smaller and the ranges are usually less than 50 yards, which requires smaller margins of error.

Scopes that are parallax adjustable will correct the error and make your shots more accurate. More commonly, you will note scopes that have ‘adjustable bells’ on the objective end, and this bell will include a number range that indicate parallax-free distances.

Criteria to use

Which air rifle scopes to select: make sure the scope suits the gun caliber

All air rifles will short pellet-style bullets that are small in size, rather than a long-rifle bullet. The ammunition will come in different calibers of sizes, and different ones will shoot at varying distances – therefore, it is important to get the correct scope.

Before spending money on a riflescope, make sure you know the caliber of pellets your rifle uses. This will also guide you to selecting the right scope with the corresponding magnification power.

The most common ammo you will find for most firearms is .177, which is the standard for target shots in both American and international law. They can achieve the highest speeds, as well as a flatter trajectory compared to other calibers.

However, they have a drawback – you cannot use them for hunting animals bigger from small pests or birds, and they do not cause lethal damage either. If you have a larger weapon, you can go for a .20 caliber (though this is expensive and rare) or the .22 caliber (the bigger option that you can use in many hunting purposes, though you cannot use it in target shooting).

Which air rifle scopes to select: always have the recoil in mind

Air guns will produce double recoils, as we have mentioned before: when the piston releases pressure, and then the forward surge when the piston hits the chamber. This can lead to serious damage if you are using a normal scope. 

Always get scopes that have lockable adjustment turrets, as well as rubber shock-proofing inside the tube and spring-loaded mechanisms. Whenever possible, also choose those with lifetime or extended warranties as well.

Which air rifle scopes to select: AO end pieces

This means ‘Adjustable Objective’. The scope should ideally allow you to compensate for parallax, unless you want to use a fixed scope lens. 

FAQs

1. Are there any easy tips I can use to improve the accuracy?

Here are some useful tips you can use to improve the accuracy and odds of your shots:

If you are using a variable scope, set it to the lowest power in order to get targets faster, and reserve the high power for a controlled, long-range shot.

Sometimes you might have to do your shots in bad weather, in this case, remove the lens caps to allow you to save some time when you are taking snapshots. To further prevent distortion of the image, remove any tinted or transparent covers.

Storage of the scope is also important. Keeping it outdoors during the night will help to prevent the formation of foggy optics. If the conditions are very cold, you can loosen the action by cycling it a few times before your shooting activities.

2. What is the best procedure to mount a scope?he accuracy?

It is best to leave the task to an experienced hunter or a professional gunsmith, especially if you have never done it before. 

3. Is it a good idea to store the scope in my car, even if I mount it?

 Even though storing a mounted riflescope in your car seems convenient, it can damage the scope in the long term. When you close a vehicle, it can maintain high temperatures inside it, which ultimately damages the sealants and lubricants inside the scope and its parts.

In addition, there is the danger of frequent vibration of a car as it moves – this can affect the zero point of the rifle because of loosening the mounts.

4. How can I maintain the cleanliness of the scope?

As long as you maintain the scope, it can last for many years to come. That involves taking all reasonable precautions whenever you can, even when cleaning the lenses.

Always use a soft brush to clean out dust and dry dirt, or use air blast to do so. If there are lubricants and fingerprints, use a cotton swab or eyeglass tissue to wipe them off, as well as a mild solution of some soap. Whenever possible, use the lens covers you get with the scope as well.

5. Is there any additional maintenance I need to do for the riflescope?

Not really, as long as you do proper mounting and aftercare. Because the internal and external parts have special lubricants and special sealing, the inner part of the scope can maintain dry gas conditions for as long as possible. In turn, this prevents the lenses from fogging, regardless of external conditions. You will not need solvents or additional lubricants to maintain functionality..

Final Conclusion

There are many great air riflescopes in the market, and it is difficult to narrow it down to just one. The choice you make will also depend on your personal preferences, air rifle model, and the price range you want to work with. regardless of the specific choice you make, we hope that this list and the buying guide goes a long way to helping you make the best decision and choose the scope that works for you.

  • Updated a few months ago
Anthony Maldonado
 

Smith Brown is a 23-year-old Blogger from the USA. He works for the hunting and self-defense related fields. Now he keeps on doing it through teaching others about how to prepare and DIY.

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