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TOP 9 Best Varmint Scopes Reviews from Expert (2021)

When answering the question as to what are the nine best varmint scope made today the subject can become a bit complicated. The simple fact is that there are a number of great scopes out there among shooters and at times different elements associated with these scopes tend to cross over one and others. Lens glass can only be so good, and internals are outstanding or they are not.

best varmint scope reviews
Author original photos: Fox hunting

The best scopes carry the outstanding side of manufacturing and performance and as such that group is a tight family of optical systems. With all that in mind, I will take a look at some of the top scopes being offered to the long range varmint hunter today, as well as the hunter dealing with close in called critters.

1. Bushnell Elite Tactical  LRYS 4-5-18×44 G3 FDE.

When your searching for the best scope available you’re going to have to throw out all thinking about price point. Good glass cost money and great glass cost more. In this case, I will start with a high priced scope that is right in the middle of the pack and is affordable but still returns outstanding results down range.

The Bushnell Elite Tactical is just such a scope and I shoot one of these on my 338 Lapua over the one mile course on our little range in western South Dakota.

This scope is built to return a large number of elevation clicks, and it is offered in MRADS. The reticle is not illuminated, but Bushnell offer’s others in the basic high end line that are. The sub tensions involved here carry the etched Christmas tree design, and this means the scope is built for adjusting elevation (hold over) on the fly when that coyote walks into rifle range, but is still out on the next county line.

The optics used on these scopes are outstanding and believe me the price worth twice that amount. Clear image results even at very long range, no edge distortion or rainbow color flashes, and little if any target fade. Bushnell is known to offer good glass for q very fair price right out to the big guys and back to the smaller standard deer hunters rifle scopes.

It almost goes without saying but three scopes have a dead on return to zero after make even two or three turn rotations on the elevation turret knob. The large objective lens allows light for late and early hunting. Many predators move at these time the best and getting sights on them is critical for success. The scope is lens coated for protection, carries a god exterior protection package, and is gas purges for water and fog resistance. I have been shooting a variant of mine four years on my 338 Lapua and also mounted on my 300 PRC, the new Hornady fast mover. No issues what soever regarding zero return. Loose parts, or basic zero loss. The scope is a winner hands down.

2. Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Side Focus.

Still another scope I use for predator and also long range grass rat shooting (prairie dogs) out in the wide open American west. This scope is like several others being used here at Ballistics Research & Development, in that bullet testing and new rifle designs are in the works year round.

This scope is mission sensitive in that it is designed with the use of multiple reticles that can be custom installed by Leupold. The reticle in a varmint scope is everything when shooting long, and also everything when shooting heavy cover in tight shooting situations.

Woodland areas demand crosshairs that won’t blend into the background cover, Open country crosshairs need to pickup very small target with fine cross hairs at long range. In this case the Leupold sub-tension system will allow changes from the stock and standard sighting systems employed my any other brands today.

This scope powered at 3-15 and using the 44, objective lens is flexible when gunning a deep draw that is brush covered, or an open prairie shot on an incoming coyote without a tree in place for miles. The turrets retain zero lock so as to enable the shooter to make a return to zero after adjusting for elevation or windage.

Using the illuminated reticle, the scope is not only set up with early morning and late evening glass, but the lighted crosshairs will give the shooter an additional edge in this area of varmint hunting tools. The lighting system on this scope makes use of motion sensor technology. You move the scope lights up, set the scope aside and it goes to sleep on its own in five minutes. Battery saver of the first order in this case.

This scope can be obtained using a custom ballistics turret idle that matches the loads you’re going to use in the field.

This scope is not small as it carries a whole lot of core product that makes it a true professional grade optical system. The length of the scope is 13.53 inches, with a weight less mounts of 19.5 ounces.  With an eye relief of 3.7 inches the scope take take the recoil of heavy magnums and not “ring” the shooter in the eye.

Build of aircraft grade aluminum, water tight and fog proof using a gas filled tube, this well made scope is a life time investment and  is always back by the American company Leupold Optics.  Ask me I shot five of these scopes on varied centerfire long range rifles.

3. Swarovski Z8i 3.5-28-50 P 4A-1

This scope was pone of the very first I ever shot targets at 1000 yard with. After that experience I was hooked on long range shooting because the scope as a system make the shots almost easy, and even though this glass is a bit above my pay grade I have never considered any other optical system it equal.

Lens quality is nothing but off the charts outstanding. Clean crystal is the word here and target stand out big and bring even at ultra long distances. Hunting coyote in wide open country where you see them coming for over a mile away at times makes this glass sight a master of down range conrol and owning the valley as such.

The scope makes use of an aluminum 30mm main tube, built in the SFF so everything stays consistent across the sub-tensions, and uses capped turrets that work with sub tension that are through the glass installed.

This scope makes us of an illuminated crosshair for very low light shooting and for the most part is a tack off of standard German style scopes used across the pond for stag, bore, and other related big game.

If you’re searching for the very best in a scope that will not require shifting settings for elevation or windage, (no open turret caps) this is the best of the best in that class of rifle scope.

I have shot three major events in mountain country in my years as a writer and all of the used Swarovski scopes with spotters using matching sub tension systems in their scopes.

This scope is stripped of any hash marks etc, but models can be obtained that will use these systems and fit additional needs of the predator, or varmint hunter.  As to exactly what you’re paying for here. The answer is glass and some of the very best in the world. Can’t see it you can’t hit it is my motto when it comes to this level of rifle glass sighting system.

4. Vortex Golden Eagle HD 15-60×52

Built in the second focal plane SFP, this scope is big country wide open shooting. Gunning prairie dogs at long range, badger in the next zip code, or 1000 yard coyote are jobs this glass can handle. The scope is set up in MOA hash marks through the objective ( sub-tensions,) and the turret style is high and open for quick elevation correction or wind allowances.

The scope is a target scope, but as any varmint hunter have gone hi tech over the past few years the scope has advantages for the pro grade hunter that wants a quality product and the ability to pick a fly off a paper target at 600 yards.

Set up in very fine 1/6 MOA clicks the target grade in this scope starts to show itself. Also as offered in the second focal plane the scope is more representative of a hunting model versus a military designed optical system.

Lens quality in this scope is very good and as such it controls light an image quality well. Side focus parallax issues with ease and the larger 30mm tube allows for over built internals that keep the system working when turret settings are almost constantly in motion. Repeatability to zero is spot on, and the scope meet target standard in terms of competition and also makes for an outstanding varmint rifle setup for open country shooting. 

Vortex builds a number of good scopes for varmint hunting and I shoot two of them on heavy long range rifles and have found everything they say about the product is correct to an accurate point.  In terms of buying this brand of rifle glass it has been 98% positive in terms of customer satisfaction over the past year.

5. Zeiss Con quest, V4 6-24×50.

This  German Zeiss rifle scope is the model I shoot as per several different rifles during testing and hunting predators. The scopes are world class in terms of quality, and the glass is nothing less than ultra high standard German quality.

Using an aircraft grade 30mm main tube the scope houses open turrets, and illuminated reticle and is set up in tactical style MOA graduations off the turrets.

In terms of sub tension the scope makes use of the Zeiss ZMOA-1 #93 reticle, and the shooter sees through the lens what the ballistics turrets turn up top. You can shoot using the sub tension through the sighting objective, or say with your zero and shoot of the turret settings only.

DOPE this scope and go to work with about any cartridge or rifle design,

I have notice that my Zeiss Conquest makes very positive use of available light. As a more senior shooter this is critical as these eyes that have looked through rifle glass for the past 50 or more years are getting a bit tired at times. My Zeiss glass is among my best in these terms regarding light control, target image, and lack of target fade at long range.

6. Zeiss Conquest V6 3-18×50 ZBR Ballistic Reticle w/BDC Turret, Black, 522241-9992-070

ZBR Ballistic reticle 2.BDC,

Not to beat a good horse to death but here we have a second Zeiss that also is a standard in high quality long range varmint rifle scope shooting standards.  This scope uses the BDC ranging reticle, and retains fully adjustable open turret settings.

The scope is offered in the second focal plane SFF, and mounts a massive 50mm objective lens. The sub-tensions on the scope allow for MOA elevation and windage adjustment through the glass, and also the ability to dial range and windage up top on the turret settings.

This scope has ample cranking elevation adjustments for 1000 yard shorts or more, and with MOA graduated 10-40 rails, can be pushed to a mile down range with the correct rifle and ammunition applied to the glass sight system.

Gas filled, water proof with prospective lens coats this aluminum tube Conquest is a class act all the way down range.

7. Steiner T5Xi

In terms of as varmint scope the Steiner T5Xi is a classic tactical sniper scope turned fur getting system of the first order. This scope is run here at BR&D as a set and are often used a 300 Win Mag, 22/250’s and 6.5 Creedmoor turn bolt rifles. This scope retains massive turrets that carry a lot of elevation and windage clicks. The turrets being a key to this glass sight have second rotation indicators as the shooter may being working for maximum elevation on a long shot across open country.

The 56mm objective lens is a large working sight screen that pulls light and controls nasty issue that can confront the shooter when the need is there to allow clear sight picture even well out to 1000 yards and more.

This scope carries a life time warranty as Steiner will stand behind every one of them.

The illuminated reticle is an aid in low light and the sub tension carry 1/10 MOA graduations for elevation and windage adjustments. Some shooters say sub tensions like this are to much junk in the lens, Shooters that use the system, myself included. know that training takes care of all that, and I have shot running deer at over 500 yards with just such a system, and also taken down running coyotes at 400 yards without even thinking about the number of hash marks in my sight picture.

These are big scopes that are designed around the military sniper models that Steiner builds for the German army today. The only issue I have with these scopes is that I only own two of them and I could sure use another.

8. Eotech Vudu 1-6X24.

Moving away from the big guys and into the brush country AR style variant in rifle glass we cross tracks with the Eotech Vudu. This scope is a short chopped bell housing system that is set up for short action receivers and is best used east of the Mississippi in timber, or low land brush country.

Much of the coyote hunting in the eastern and southern states are at or under 100 yards in terms of picking up a sight picture on a called dog. This style scope is fast and rest assured the model presented here is all military in terms of total design.

Author Photo: first focal plane system testing
Author Photo: first focal plane system

This scope is set up in MRADS not MOA graduations, the scopes is also a first focal plane system again by military type standards, The reticle is lighted and designed for fast but accurate bullet placement. In most cases the scope would be applied to the .223 Rem (5.56 NATO,) or other cartridges that fit the AR-15 platform.

This scope type is so good that the US Army has gone to its use as offered by Sig Arms. These are squad level weapons in the new army as such, and will replace the ACOG sight system as it has been found that these sights put more accurate hits on target at longer ranges. (600) yards. In most cases varmint shots are inside 300 yards, and shooting prairie dogs is often about 400 yards maximum range.

This sight is totally protected with special lens coatings, outer surface treatment, heavy turret springs, and water as well as fog proof.

9. TORIC UHD 4-20×50 30mm MOA/MOA Long Range Riflescope with Illuminated Reticle

This final scope being reviewed here is a scope that I use two of currently and a third is on the side lines waiting for the new Savage straight pull bolt system chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. This will be a coyote / deer rifle during its test phase and using the TRACT TORIC UHD says I trust the optical system to return the lid of results that will show off the best of the rifles performance level.

This scope is a massive glass sight in that it retains a 30mm main tube. Open adjustable on the fly turret settings, has an illuminated reticle as if fully coated in terms of lens protection.

The accuracy level of the turret adjusts provide .25 inch per click as set up in MOA’s, The sub tensions are hash marked in MOA graduations both ay for elevation and windage, and the generous turret. Main tub size offers ample turns for a great deal f elevation correction even without using MOA base rails.

The turrets have zero stop so the shooter won’t go past his or her correct zero point, and the glass quality on the 50mm objective optic is very good, giving way to sharp image control well out the some extended range limits. I shoot this scope on my .224 Valkyrie mountain rock chuck rifle, and also a 6.5 Creedmoor set up for long range open country deer. Both rifles can also fit any level of varmint application due to the cartridge selection and the use of the TRACT sighting systems.

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