Fast-paced, action-packed, and loads of fun, 3-gun competition is one of the fastest growing shooting sports on the planet. As the name implies, the sport is designed to stretch your skills with three separate weapons – pistol, shotgun, and rifle.
While many shooters already have the basic weapons on hand, if you want to shine on the 3-gun course, you’ll need to make a few upgrades.
Not sure where to start? Your rifle optic is a good place. We’re here to help you find the best 3 gun scope for your competition rifle.
If you do not have time for the details, here are our top picks for 3 gun scope:
- Trijicon ACOG
- Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II-E
- Weaver Tactical 1-5x24mm 800364
- Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS 1.1-8x24mm
- Vortex Strike Eagle
What is a 3-Gun Competition?
Sometimes called Multigun, 3-gun is a great way to hone your shotgun, rifle, and handgun skills on a fast-paced obstacle course.
Competitors scramble through a timed course where they are presented with a variety of targets, including paper bullseyes, cardboard silhouettes, steel targets of varying sizes, and even clay pigeons.
Some courses even include “no shoot” targets to keep your tactical skills sharp. A hit on a “no shoot” target incurs a penalty for the shooter.
The targets are at varying distances, including targets that are within arms-reach and up to 500 yards (plus everything in between).
During a 3-gun match, shooters must move through a course which is usually divided into stages. A different weapon is used during each separate stage, requiring shooters to transition between three guns – a modern sporting rifle, a shotgun, and a pistol.
In addition to engaging a variety of targets at varying distances, shooters are also required to shoot from different positions. As competitors move through the course, they may need to shoot from standing, prone, behind cover, or even shoot while on the move.
The competitor who hits the most targets in the shortest time is declared the winner.
What Equipment Will I Need for 3-Gun?
Before you hit your first 3 gun shooting course, here is a quick checklist of what you will need.
Most competitors choose to run a modern sporting rifle like AR 15 scopes. However, some specialized 3-gun divisions (like Heavy Metal or HeMan) have a large minimum caliber requirement (usually .308 Winchester).
Choose a reliable semi-auto or pump action shotgun. It’s handy to run a shotgun with interchangeable chokes so you can swap them out for different shooting scenarios. Be prepared to use both shotshells and slugs on the course. Most stages call for #8 target loads.
A 9 mm semi-auto is the most popular choice on 3-gun courses. However, .38 Super and .40 S&W are popular in some divisions.
Extra Magazines and Ammo
When running a typical 3-gun stage, you’ll need at least 20 shotgun shells, an extra 30-round rifle magazine, and several spare handgun mags.
In addition to firearms, ammo, extra magazines, here are some other essential accessories you’ll need.
- A belt or pouch system to carry extra magazines and ammo
- A quality handgun holster.
- Protective eyewear.
- Ear protection (High-tech electronic earmuffs are popular, but basic low-tech foam earplugs work well, too.)
3-Gun offers different divisions to challenge your shooting skills. Although the specifics may vary from competition to competition, the basics usually remain the same across the board.
A popular division for beginners, this division requires light equipment. Shooters will typically be limited to open sights and there may be a cap on magazine capacity.
The most popular division in 3-gun, tactical is also the most competitive. Designed to mirror typical self-defense and competitive shooting, the tactical 3-gun has many of the same limitations as the limited division. The main difference in equipment requirements between the two divisions is that tactical shooters are allowed a magnifying optic on their rifle.
Heavy Metal or HeMan
Catering to the heavy hitters, HeMan and Heavy Metal divisions require a rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm or larger without a scope, a 12 gauge shotgun with iron sights, and a .45 ACP (or larger) handgun with no optic.
Almost anything goes in the open division. Modified shotguns with magazine extension tubes are allowed. Shooters can also use speed-loaders for the shotguns stages.
The true anything goes division, as long as it’s legal, you can run it in Outlaw Open.
What is a 3 Gun Scope?
In 3-gun competition, you’ll be shooting target distances ranging from just a few yards to several hundred. Also, keep in mind that you won’t know the distances beforehand. To shoot a course like this successfully, you need a very versatile optic.
A scope with a true 1x magnification will work best for speed on close-range targets. For rapid target acquisition, look for an optic that lets you easily shoot with both eyes open.
Shooters will appreciate a little magnification on long-range targets, so a scope with variable power is a major asset on the competition field. Look for a scope that maxes out somewhere around 6x to 8x. Because the longest targets will only be several hundred yards, anything more powerful will just get in your way.
Choose a scope with a reticle that naturally draws your eye to the center for close-range targets, yet still has multiple aiming points for long-range shots.
Eye relief is the amount of distance between the ocular lens and the eye when the shooter can see a full view through the scope. Because 3-gun requires rapid shooting on a timed course, many gunners choose an optic with generous eye relief. Longer eye relief usually means a larger field of view, which provides more sighting flexibility.
Things To Look Out For When Selecting a 3 Gun Scope
An illuminated center is almost the same thing as that seen on red dot sight, and this is known to provide an added edge. It can also attract the shooter’s eye to the reticle and enables the shooter to shoot with both eyes. At close range, you’ll discover that a red dot sight is also related to a 1x illuminated reticle. Once the shooter has utilized magnification, fast target acquisition is produced by the illuminated reticle.
In regards to 3 gun, there are no issues raised on the focal plane. The most considered option when it comes to the best 3 gun scope is the second focal plane. However, this doesn’t mean that some first focal plane scopes won’t make the cut. Although, you’ll find using a first focal plane scope challenging in a 3 gun competition. When using it at close range, you’ll discover that the reticle will not be large enough to enable your eye to focus on the target. However, as the size of the range grows, so will the size of the reticle. It gets to a point where it becomes very large that it conceals small plates, which can make precision shooting to be so challenging. A second focal plane with non-magnifying attributes will surely produce an exceptional performance for both close and long range.
When you engage in 3 gun competitions, you’ll discover that they are speed-like and action-packed. It is why it is essential for shooters engaging in 3 gun competitions to utilize a rifle scope that can easily work with every shooting scenario without encountering any difficulty when switching modes. Fast reaction and shooting precision should be essential characteristics of the scope you intend to utilize.
There are various numbers of scopes available for all kinds of shooting scenarios. That also goes with the different price categories they come with. You can get top-quality scopes at affordable prices. Though it is vital to know how much time you’ll be spending in a 3 gun competition and the number of shooting activities you’ll engage in to know the right price category that matches the ideal scope. However, it is vital to remember that the scope with the best quality doesn’t have to be the most expensive.
Shooters who are new to 3 gun competitions should have an idea of the maximum distance required for shooting in the 3 gun competition. The maximum distance in the 3 gun competition is between 500 to 600 yards. So it is vital to have a scope capable of shooting within those ranges to ensure you have an excellent competition.
3 Gun Scope Vs. Red Dots
Besides the open class of 3 gun scopes, a 3 gun shooter can only use a single optic. However, the challenge is not knowing the target range. Then there’s also the fact that the range will always be different from one stage to another. It is why you need to make sure your choice of the optic can be able to produce results in various range categories. It would also be great if your optic comes with easy adjustability. Every stage in this competition is timed, so it’ll be best to remember that you can’t waste too much time trying to adjust dials.
It would be great for a shooter to have a quality red dot. It is because of their flexibility and fast target acquisition attributes. However, it would help if you knew that they do not come with magnification. However, pairing with higher magnification can turn out to be very productive. When it comes to target shooting range, there are no pre-set rules involved. So that means any shooting match you engage in can have a maximum range of up to 50 yards today. Then tomorrow might change to a maximum range of up to 600 yards. At this range, you wouldn’t even come across the red dot.
Top 5 Best 3 Gun Scope – Comparison Table
|Trijicon ACOG||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II-E||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Weaver Tactical 800364||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS 1.1-8x24mm||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Vortex Strike Eagle||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
Top 5 Best 3 Gun Scope On The Market Reviews:
1. Trijicon ACOG
The lightweight Trijicon ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) is a popular choice in Open divisions. Since three-gun is designed to mimic practical combat shooting, it makes sense that one of the best military optics ever developed would reign the three-gun field as well as the battlefield.
While the 4x magnification can slow down target acquisition, especially at closer ranges, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its superb optical clarity and BAC reticle. Trijicon’s unique BAC (Bindon Aiming Concept) reticle allows you to aim with both eyes open for faster acquisition and improved peripheral vision.
The adjustable dual-illuminated reticle is powered by both tritium and fiber optics, allowing excellent visibility in almost every light condition. And it doesn’t need a battery to do it.
You can choose from reticle patterns for most popular calibers, including .223, .308, M193, 300 BLK, and 6.8 SPC. Opt for the .223 reticle, and you have the perfect 3-gun optic for your AR-15.
This scope is also built to last. Originally designed for combat use, the ACOG features a rugged metal housing made from forged 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. This optic is virtually indestructible.
The Trijicon ACOG is definitely not a budget scope. Expect to make a hefty investment. However, we think the performance and durability are definitely worth the money.
2. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II-E
Vortex scopes are well-known for being affordable, reliable optics. The Vortex Razor in particular has gained quite a following among serious three gunners. In fact, it may well be the best LPVO for 3-gun competition on the market today.
This optic is built like a tank. O-ring sealed and argon purged, the Razor is completely shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. Constructed from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard anodized exterior finish, the Vortex Razor can take whatever you or Mother Nature can dish out.
On top of the scope’s rugged durability, it performs like a serious rock star. With a bright-as-day illuminated center dot and a JM-1 second focal plane BDC reticle, this thing was born for 3-gunning. Inspired by world-renowned competitive shooter, Jerry Miculek, the JM-1 BDC reticle promotes rapid, accurate shooting at distances from close range to 600 yards.
The high density, extra-low dispersion glass delivers stunning image quality. All the lenses are fully multi-coated and treated with a special Armortek coating to protect against scratches, oil, sweat, and dirt, so you can enjoy those crystal clear images for the entire life of the scope.
3. Weaver Tactical 1-5x24mm 800364
A great entry level scope for the newest 3 gunners, this optic from Weaver Tactical is manufactured to strict tolerances, so you get consistent performance in even the harshest environments.
It features a durable one-piece construction, and the tube is argon purged to eliminate internal fogging, even when exposed to extreme temperature variations. The optic is also guaranteed waterproof and shockproof.
The optical quality is excellent for a riflescope in this price range. With fully multi-coated lenses with extra hard coatings on the exterior surfaces, there is nothing to complain about when it comes to image clarity.
The thing we love most about this high-performance optic (aside from its reasonable price tag) is the unique front focal plane Close-Intermediate Range Tactical (CIRT) reticle. Although some 3-gun shooters may be turned off by an FFP reticle, this one forms a bright red or green illuminated cross at the lowest magnification that quickly draws your eye for fast shooting.
The CIRT reticle also has multiple mil-based hash marks on each horizontal and vertical arm of the cross that are perfectly spaced for standard .223 Remington trajectories. These marks are an absolute godsend when shooting long-range targets.
4. Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS 1.1-8x24mm
When it comes to rifle scopes, Leupold is one of the best manufacturers in the industry. With several serious 3-gun competitors on staff, it’s no surprise that Leupold would design an optic with all the qualities serious 3-gunners need.
The Leupold Mark 8 CQBSS makes frequent appearances on the 3-gun circuit. CQBSS stands for Close Quarter Battle Sniper Scope, and this versatile rifle scope delivers precision accuracy at mid to long-range, yet doesn’t sacrifice speed on those close-range targets.
The Mark 8 CQBSS features an illuminated front focal plane reticle that delivers precise range estimations throughout the full magnification range.
The BDC reticle has eight different brightness settings for easy visibility in low light or bright sunshine. Another excellent feature is the off position between each brightness level, making it easy to switch off and extend the life of your battery.
Leupold’s optics are well-respected for their excellent image quality, and the Mark 8 definitely delivers excellent brightness, clarity, and contrast. The Mark 8 features Leupold’s patented Diamond Coat 2, a patented lens coating that promotes light transmission and protects lens surfaces from scratches and abrasions.
5. Vortex Strike Eagle
If you’re a serious 3-gun competitor, you understand your optic isn’t the place to pinch pennies. However, we also understand not everyone has a few thousand dollars to drop on a scope.
That’s why we’ve included the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle on our list. Although this one definitely falls in the “budget tactical optic” category, it performs like a much more expensive scope.
Perfect for engaging targets from point-blank to long-range, the Strike Eagle features a true one power on the low end for up close engagement. However, if you need to pop targets at range, you can dial it all the way up to 6x.
The high-quality, fully multi-coated lenses and extra-low dispersion glass provide a crisp, clear sight picture, even in low light. The Strike Eagle also features an illuminated glass-etched SFF (second focal plane) reticle.
The BDC reticle coincides with the popular 5.56 AR-15 cartridge for accurate shots at range. However, the reticle also features a centered halo that helps you get on target fast on those difficult close-range targets.
With eleven brightness settings and a fast focus dial, you can rest assured the reticle will always be sharp and clear no matter the shooting conditions.
Like all Vortex optics, the Strike Eagle is built for durability. Constructed from a solid block of aircraft-grade aluminum, the Strike Eagle is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged.
Summing It Up
The best 3 gun scope will be versatile enough to deliver speed and accuracy on a variety of targets at distances ranging from a few yards all the way out to 500 yards.
While we’re confident the optics on our list will help improve your 3-gun scores, no optic is a substitute for good old-fashioned practice. No matter which scope you choose to mount on your 3-gun rifle, be sure to spend some time practicing at the range. Practice is the best way to increase your 3-gun scores, no matter what equipment you decide to run on the course.
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Alice Jones Webb is a writer, life-long hunter, experienced shooter, and mother of 4 up-and-coming shooting and outdoor enthusiasts. She grew up flinging arrows and bullets at Virginia whitetails, turkey, and game birds, but her favorite hunting experience is chasing bull elk in the Colorado backcountry.
Never one to sit still and look pretty, Alice is also a self-defense instructor and competitive archer. She currently resides in rural North Carolina with her children, non-hunting husband, and a well-stocked chest freezer.