Since a designated marksman may find himself in a variety of tactical positions, he needs a versatile and reliable rifle scope. A good DMR must permit the shooter to easily maneuver during close quarters engagement, but also allow precision shooting out to several hundred yards.
Finding a scope that fits these parameters can be hard, especially when there are so many different optics to choose from.
Don’t worry, we’ve done the hard work for you. Use this guide to help you sort through the chaos and find the best DMR scopes for your rifle.
We even have a list of our top picks to get you started.
- What is a DMR?
- DMR Scope Guide
- Top 6 Best DMR Scopes – Comparison Table
- Top 6 Best DMR Scope On The Market Reviews
- Summing It Up
What is a DMR?
DMR stands for “designated marksman rifle.” In the military, the designated marksman (DM) fills the gap between a long range sniper and a regular infantryman.
A good DMR must be suitable for close combat maneuvers, as well as medium to long range precision engagement. By definition, a DM must be able to supply rapid accurate shots on targets at ranges up to 500 meters (550 yards).
DMRs are typically semi-automatic rifles with a 10 to 30-round magazine capacity.
The scope on a DMR must be lightweight, durable, and ready for battle. Because DMs engage both close quarters and long range targets, a DMR scope has to be versatile, allowing both fast target acquisition and precision distance shots.
DMR Scope Guide
Not sure what qualities make a scope well suited for a DMR? Here are some key features to consider.
Magnification is one of the first things consumers look at when considering a scope for any rifle. When looking at an optic label, magnification is represented by the number (or numbers) that precede the “x.”
A 3-9×40 scope has a magnification range of 3-9x. This means when the scope is zoomed in to the highest magnification, the image you see is 9 times larger than what you would see with the naked eye. At the lowest setting, your target would appear 3 times closer.
A DMR doesn’t require massive magnification. As a designated marksman, you won’t be popping targets beyond 1000 yards. That’s the sniper’s job.
However, a DM may need to make precision shots out to 500 yards (or more), and that requires some magnification. Since a DM also needs to be capable of pulling off rapid shots at close range, a variable power scope can be a godsend.
A fixed power scope with moderate magnification can also work well, because it is simple to use and almost no adjustment in the field/
The objective lens is the lens on the end of your scope farthest from the stock. It acts like a window, gathering light to create a bright clear image when you look through the optic.
Generally, the larger the objective lens, the brighter and clearer the image will be, especially in low light conditions.
If you expect to make tough twilight shots, a large objective lens will help you see your targets more clearly in dim light.
However, bigger doesn’t always mean better. A large objective lens makes a scope heavy and bulky, which can be a major hindrance when clearing a room or engaging close range targets.
The reticle on your DMR scope needs to be usable at both short and medium ranges. While a MIL-Dot or other ballistic-style crosshairs can help you make precision long-range shots, they can clutter up the sight picture when engaging closer targets.
FFP vs SFP Reticles
A first focal plane (FFP) reticle is slaved to your scope’s magnification. This means the reticle seems to get larger or smaller as you zoom in or out on a distant target.
The advantage of an FFP reticle is that the reticle maintains the same perspective with the target size no matter where you are in the scope’s magnification range. Therefore, the holdover points remain the same no matter how much zoom in on a target.
A second focal plane (SFP) reticle stays the same size when you adjust the scope’s magnification. As you zoom in or out, the spacing between the marks will change in relation to your target. This means the holdover points are only correct at a single magnification.
A DMR scope needs to be tough enough to endure rough handling and the hard elements of the battlefield.
Look for a scope that is shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof. These scopes can take some abuse, withstand severe temperatures, trudge through wet weather, and never sacrifice performance.
On top of being durable, DMR scopes also need to be lightweight to help keep the overall weight of the rifle reasonable. It’s hard to lug a heavy rifle for miles over rough terrain.
A hefty weapon with a bulky scope is also difficult to maneuver during close quarter combat. Plus, a lightweight scope will make it easier to stabilize your rifle if you need to make a precision shot without a proper rest.
Top 6 Best DMR Scopes – Comparison Table
|Primary Arms SLX||
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|Bushnell Elite Tactical Riflescope DMR II||
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|Trijicon ACOG 4x32mm||
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|Leupold VX-R Patrol||
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|Leupold Mark 4 ER/T||
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|Vortex Optics Strike Eagle||
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Top 6 Best DMR Scope On The Market Reviews
1. Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm
This high-quality scope from Primary Arms is built like a tank and comes with a 3-year warranty, making it perfect for the rough conditions a DM might encounter in the field.
The magnification (4-14x) sits right in the sweet spot for a DM. You can shoot fast at the low end of the range, while the 14x magnification lets you make accurate shots at longer distances.
No matter what range you’re shooting, the FFP reticle stays true through the whole magnification range.
This Primary Arms scope comes in several reticle styles, so you can choose whatever strikes your fancy. We love the patented ACSS Orion reticle. This patented reticle design allows you to quickly range deer and coyote-sized targets.
The Orion reticle also has wind holds calibrated for .308, .223, and .30-06 chambered rifles. No more flipping through the data book to figure out bullet drop. It’s all right there in the reticle, making this the perfect .308 DMR scope.
2. Bushnell Elite Tactical Riflescope DMR II
This might be the best ~ $1200 scope you’ll ever get your hands on. With DMR right in the name of this rifle scope, you know this is the right tool for the job. In fact, the Elite Tactical DMR II provides everything a DM needs, and then goes a little further.
It features ED prime glass for ultra-clear image resolution. This high-quality glass also eliminates chromatic aberrations, so you can lock on target faster and easier.
That high-quality glass is also treated with Rainguard and features an o-ring sealed waterproof construction. Tested to withstand immersion in three feet of water for up to 30 minutes, you know you can trust the Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II to perform in even the wettest shooting conditions.
The turrets are fingertip adjustable and impressively tactile for easy adjustments, even in the dark. And with a magnification range that exceeds every other optic on our list, this is without a doubt the best long range scope we’ve covered here.
DMs will also appreciate the included sunshade that prevents glare and helps conceal your location. Add this to the matte black-out finish, and you’ll have no trouble staying hidden.
3. Trijicon ACOG 4x32mm
Do you want a battle-ready optic for your DMR? Look no further than the Trijicon ACOG. This is the best of the best in military DMR scopes.
This is the scope the US Marine Corps chose to top their M27 rifles, forming the configuration dubbed the Squad-Designated Marksman Rifle. In fact, no other magnified optic has seen more combat than the ACOG.
Perhaps the best 5.56 DMR scope on the market today, the ACOG features a green fiber optic horseshoe reticle that ranges out to 800 meters. It also has built-in bullet drop compensation for standard 5.56/.223 ball ammunition.
One major advantage of the ACOG BAC (Bindon Aiming Concept) reticle is it allows the shooter to aim with both eyes open. With this scope, DMs can preserve precious situational awareness without sacrificing shooting accuracy.
The ACOG is super lightweight (just 10 ½ ounces) and has a durable housing constructed from forged 7075-T6 aircraft grade aluminum alloy. Although this optic is virtually indestructible, it’s still backed by a limited lifetime warranty, just in case.
4. Leupold VX-R Patrol
When it comes to rifle scopes, Leupold is a superstar. Leupold is well-known for making some of the finest optics on the planet, and their VX-R Patrol scope is no exception.
Reliable and rugged, the VX-R Patrol delivers serious precision, even in stressful shooting situations. The illuminated ballistic FireDot is an intuitive, easy-to-see crosshairs that helps you get on target fast in low light, harsh sunshine, and every lighting condition in between.
What is our favorite feature? Honestly, we love the VX-R Patrol’s motion sensor technology (MST).
Leupold’s proprietary MST automatically turns the dot off when the scope is still for more than five minutes, extending the life of your batteries. It also kicks back on when it detects movement, so it is always ready when you are.
Like all Leupold optics, the glass quality on the VX-R Patrol is superb. All exterior lens surfaces are coated with a special patented coating that resists surface scratches and aids light transmission. The result is a level of brightness, clarity, and contrast you’ll never see with the naked eye.
This riflescope is also lightweight (just over one pound) for easy maneuverability, and it feels right at home on an AR-15. In fact, this may well be the best AR-15 scope under $1000.
5. Leupold Mark 4 ER/T 4.5-14x50mm
No list of DMR scopes would be complete without the Leupold Mark 4. While most modern optics companies have a “tactical” scope line, the Mark 4 has actually proven itself on the battlefield.
As a DMR scope, the Mark 4 is hard to beat. With a 4.5-14x magnification range, a tactical glass etched FFP reticle, and a lightweight yet durable aluminum chassis, this thing performs like no other in the field.
The Mark 4 ER/T features a handy side focus parallax adjustment that allows you to quickly adjust for parallax from any shooting position. It also has a generous eyebox and a longer eye relief which combine to offer extra head position latitude and a full sight picture, even at the high end of the magnification range.
6. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm
Vortex has a well-earned reputation for making affordable, rugged, and reliable optics. Often considered “budget” optics, Vortex scopes are a great value for the money.
The affordably priced Strike Eagle has the best DMR features you would expect to see on a much more expensive scope. Notable features include high-quality, fully multi-coated lenses, a fast focus eyepiece, and extra battery storage in the windage cap.
What makes this scope perfect for a DMR is the illuminated, glass-etched BDC crosshairs. This awesome reticle has 11 illumination settings to easily accommodate any lighting condition.
While a 1-6x variable power scope may seem inadequate for a long range rifle scope, it is near perfect for a DMR. At the low end of the magnification range, the true one power provides quick close quarters target acquisition. If you need to engage mid-distance targets, simply adjust to the six power and you’re good to go.
Summing It Up
The designated marksman plays a critical role on a combat team. Filling the void between an infantryman and a sniper, the designated marksman needs a rifle that is effective for engaging targets in confined spaces, as well as eliminating threats at distance.
A DM has a large gap to fill, so the designated marksman rifle needs a scope with some key characteristics to do its job effectively. A good DMR scope is lightweight, tough, accurate, and easy to use at a variety of ranges.
However, even the best DMR scope is only as good as the designated marksman behind it. Be sure to spend some time practicing with your new optic to make sure you can use it accurately and proficiently.
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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.