Best Sniper Scope – The Top 4 Optics in 2023

Finding reliable, high-quality sniper scopes is often difficult and time-consuming. With so many different brands, models, and features on the market, it’s hard to know where to start. 

If you have yet to find the best sniper scope for your needs, I understand your plight. I’ve been there myself, which is why I decided to put together this comprehensive guide. 

Why You Should Trust Me

To narrow down the best scope for sniper rifle owners, I tested many models from many different brands. What you’ll find here are the fruits of my labor: the best of the best when it comes to sniper scopes.

When testing these scopes, I took into account a number of important factors, including glass clarity, reticle, parallax and magnification, elevation and windage knobs, eye relief and eye box, and durability. 

As you read through this guide, you’ll learn about each of these factors in detail, so you can make an informed decision about which scope is right for you. 

The 4 Best Sniper Scopes

  1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56
  2. NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope
  3. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25×56 FFP
  4. Burris Tactical XTR II 8-40x50mm 

1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 – Best Sniper Scope Overall

I’ll admit that I had a hard time narrowing down my number one pick for the best sniper scope overall—they’re all top-tier scopes, in my opinion. But at the end of the day, I had to give the nod to the Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II.

This scope is built like a tank, with a 34mm one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tube that’s nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed for waterproof and fogproof performance. The front lens is massive—56mm—and is protected by an extra-thick sunshade. In my field tests, this robust construction proved invaluable, particularly during a heavy downpour in a dense forest, where it remained unaffected by the harsh conditions.

During testing, I was also blown away by the clarity and sharpness of the image, even when zoomed in all the way. The reticle is clean and easy to see, even in low light conditions. However, at maximum magnification, I noticed a slight chromatic aberration at the edges of the lens, but this didn’t significantly impact the overall image quality.

The other downside of this scope is that it’s on the expensive side. But if you’re looking for the best of the best, this is it.Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Let’s begin with one of the most important aspects of a scope—the glass. The Vortex is equipped with high-definition optics that produce razor-sharp images. The color fidelity and contrast were remarkable, making target identification at long ranges easier.

The reticle is the EBR-7C MOA, which is a Christmas tree style with holdover dots out to 500 yards. It’s illuminated, has 11 brightness settings, and can be used with or without night vision devices. I found the illumination can be a bit overpowering on the highest setting in low-light conditions, which required some adjustment, but this can vary on your personal preferences.

Parallax & Magnification

One of my favorite features of the Vortex is the adjustable objective lens, which allows you to fine-tune the parallax for your specific distance to the target. This proved especially useful for precision shooting at varying ranges during a long-range shooting competition I participated in. The magnification range is 4.5-27×56, which is plenty for most long-range shooting scenarios. The Vortex is also the best long range scope for .338 Lapua.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage adjustments are made via exposed tactical turrets. They’re easy to adjust, with clear and precise markings. The tactile and audible clicks provided a sense of accuracy and control during adjustments. Each click is 1/4 MOA, and the turrets can be reset to zero after sighting in.Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 knobs

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is a generous 4.5 inches, so you won’t have to worry about getting whacked in the forehead with this scope. This generous eye relief was particularly appreciated when I used high-recoil rifles. The eye box is also quite forgiving, making it easy to acquire your target. Though, I did find that maintaining a consistent cheek weld was crucial for optimal use.

Durability

As I mentioned earlier, the Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II MAO is built like a tank. It’s constructed from high-quality materials and has a robust design. Its resilience was tested during an accidental drop on rocky terrain, and it showed no functional damage or loss of zero. The one-piece aluminum tube is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed for waterproof and fog-proof performance.

Is the Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II MAO worth it?

The Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II is on the expensive side, but it’s worth every penny. It’s an outstanding scope that’s packed with features, and it performs flawlessly. If you’re looking for the best of the best, this is it.

Pros

  • High-quality optics for razor-sharp images
  • Massive front lens
  • Adjustable objective lens for fine-tuning the parallax
  • Exposed tactical turrets with clear and precise markings
  • Generous 4.5-inch eye relief
  • One-piece aluminum tube construction for durability 

Cons

  • Price.
  • Chromatic aberration at maximum magnification
  • Illumination overpowering in low light on highest settings

2. NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope – Best Sniper Optics

If you’re looking for a high-quality sniper scope, the NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm is a great option. It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum and features a robust construction that can withstand even the most extreme conditions. This durability was evident when I used it in a variety of weather conditions, from heavy rain to scorching sun, without any impact on performance.

One of the things I really like about this scope is that it has a large 56mm objective lens. This allows for plenty of light transmission, even in low-light conditions. The image quality is also excellent, thanks to the multi-coated lenses. The lenses provided exceptional clarity and brightness, essential for those early dawn and late dusk hunting trips.

The NightForce NXS is also adjustable for parallax and features a Mil-Dot reticle. It’s available in both MOA and Mil-radian versions, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. I found the Mil-Dot reticle to be especially useful for calculating holdover at different distances.

Shooting with this scope is a breeze, thanks to the large elevation and windage knobs. And, with a generous eye relief of 3.7 inches, you won’t have to worry about getting eye fatigue. However, the scope’s substantial weight did require some adjustments to my shooting setup to maintain balance and stability.NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm

I took this scope out late in the evening to test out, and I was very impressed with the results. The image quality was excellent, even in low light, and the scope held up well to my recoil. Additionally, the scope’s zero held true throughout additional shooting sessions, a testament to its stability and precision.

The only downside of this scope is that it’s on the heavy side, weighing in at over 3 pounds. But, considering all of the features it offers, I think it’s worth the extra weight. It would be also one of the best scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

As always, I like to begin by going over the glass clarity and reticle of a scope before moving on to anything else. After all, if you can’t see your target, there’s not much point in having a scope in the first place.

The NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope did not disappoint in this department. The large 56mm objective lens allows for plenty of light transmission, even in low light conditions. The image quality is also excellent, thanks to the multi-coated lenses. I was particularly impressed by the lack of distortion across the entire field of view, which is crucial for precise long-range shooting.

The scope is adjustable for parallax and features a Mil-Dot reticle. It’s available in both MOA and Milliradian versions, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs. The illuminated reticle was a great help in low-light conditions.

Parallax & Magnification

One of the most important features of any sniper scope is the ability to adjust for parallax. This is especially important at long range, where even a small amount of error can mean the difference between hitting your target and missing completely.

The NightForce NXS has an adjustable objective lens that makes it easy to dial in your shot. It also has a generous magnification range of 5.5x to 22x, so you’ll have no problem hitting targets at long range. The zoom adjustment was smooth and it allowed me to make quick magnification changes when needed.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Another important feature to look for in a sniper scope is large, easy-to-use elevation and windage knobs. After all, you don’t want to be fumbling around with tiny knobs when you’re trying to make a shot. 

The scope has large elevation and windage knobs that are easy to adjust, even with gloves on. The clicks are also very tactile, so you’ll always know how much you’re turning the knob. These features were particularly useful during a long-range shooting competition, where quick and precise adjustments were essential.

I really enjoyed shooting with this scope and found the windage and elevation knobs to be very precise.NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm knobs

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Another important consideration when choosing a sniper scope is eye relief. This is the distance between your eye and the scope, and it’s important to have enough space so you don’t get eye fatigue. 

The NightForce has a generous eye relief of 3.7 inches, so you won’t have to worry about getting eye fatigue. The eye box is also quite large, making it easy to acquire your target. This was particularly helpful when switching between different shooting positions, as it allowed me to be flexible in head placement.

I’ve always preferred scopes with a large eye box, as it makes it much easier to get on target. And during my time with this scope, I never had any issues acquiring my target. 

Durability

When you’re out in the field, you need to be able to rely on your equipment. And that’s why durability is such an important consideration when choosing a sniper scope. 

The NightForce Scope is as solid as scopes get. It’s nitrogen-filled and fog proof, so you won’t have to worry about moisture getting inside the scope. I experienced no fogging or internal moisture, even during a particularly humid morning.

I put this scope through its paces during my time with it and it held up exceptionally well. I had no issues whatsoever, and it still looked brand new at the end of my testing. 

Is the NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope worth it?

In my opinion, the NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope is definitely worth a look. Yes, it’s expensive. But it’s an excellent scope that offers a clear image, large magnification range, easy-to-use elevation and windage knobs, and a large eye box. 

If you’re in the market for a new sniper scope, I would highly recommend the NightForce NXS 5.5-22x56mm Scope. It’s one of the best scopes on the market and is sure to help you hit your target, no matter what the conditions are.

Pros

  • Robust construction 
  • Excellent image quality 
  • Large objective lens 
  • Mil-Dot reticle 
  • Generous eye relief 

Cons

  • Heavyweight
  • Pricey

3. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25×56  FFP  – Best Budget Sniper Scope

Making my list as the best budget sniper scope is the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25×56. This is a great option for those of you who are looking for quality without breaking the bank.

I had a blast testing this scope out and was really impressed with the features it offers for the price. The Strike Eagle has a first focal plane reticle, which is a feature usually found on more expensive scopes. This means that the size of the reticle will increase or decrease as you zoom in or out, making it easier to hit your target at different distances. This was particularly useful during a long-range shooting session, where I needed to make adjustments for both close and distant targets.

The Strike Eagle also has a fast-focus eyepiece so you can quickly get a clear image when lining up your shot. This feature came in handy when I was tracking moving targets, as it allowed for rapid refocusing. Additionally, the scope is nitrogen purged and fog proof so you don’t have to worry about moisture ruining your scope during a hunt. I tested this in a humid environment, and the lenses remained clear throughout.

One thing to keep in mind with this scope is that it only comes with an unlimited Lifetime Warranty. For me, this is a great selling point as it shows that Vortex Optics stands behind their products.

If you are a fan of long range shooting,  you might be interested in my best scopes for .300 Win mag guide.Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25x56

Glass Clarity & Reticle

For a budget-friendly scope, I was impressed with the glass clarity and reticle of the Strike Eagle. The lenses are fully multi-coated, which helps to reduce glare and enhance image quality. The clarity remained consistent across different light conditions, which was impressive for a scope at this price point.

The reticle is etched onto the glass, so you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged or being obstructed by debris. The etched reticle also provided an added level of durability and reliability, which I found reassuring during rough outdoor use. It’s also a first focal plane, which I liked.

Parallax & Magnification

This scope has a parallax setting of 15 yards to infinity. The parallax adjustment was smooth and accurate, allowing me to make precise shoots even at the longer distances. The magnification maxes out at 25x which is perfect for sniper rifles.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage knobs on the Strike Eagle are easy to adjust and have a positive click feeling. I found the tactile feedback of the knobs to be very helpful in making precise adjustments without having to take my eye off the target. They’re also marked in 1/2 MOA increments, which is a nice touch.Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 5-25x56 mounted

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on this scope is 3.5 inches, which is average for a scope. The eye box is also average, but I did find that it was a little tight at high magnifications. This required some extra effort to get into the right position for a clear view, especially when shooting from unconventional positions.

Durability

This scope is made from high-quality materials and has a durable construction. Even at a “lower” price point, you’re still getting a lot of scope here. During my testing, it held up to everything I threw at it and I never had any issues, I accidentally bumped it against a tree during a hike, and it showed no signs of damage or misalignment.

Is the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle worth it?

If you’re looking for a high-quality scope on a budget, then I think the answer is yes. It has great glass clarity, durable construction, and is backed by a Lifetime Warranty. 

The only downside is that the eye box is a little tight at high magnifications. Other than that, I think this is an excellent scope for the money.

Pros

  • Great glass clarity
  • Durable construction
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Tight eye box at high magnifications

4. Burris Tactical XTR II 8-40x50mm Precision – Best Varmint Sniper Scope

Last but certainly not least is the Burris Tactical XTR II 8-40x50mm Precision. This is another top-of-the-line scope that is best suited for varmint hunting.

Some of the features that I like about this scope include the multi-coated lens, which provides superb clarity and light transmission. During a recent dusk-time varmint hunt, I found that these lenses significantly enhanced visibility in low light, making it easier to spot and target small, elusive animals. I also appreciate the fact that it comes with a sunshade to reduce glare in bright conditions.

Another great feature of this scope is the Zero Stop turrets. This means that you can make elevation and windage adjustments without worrying about losing your zero. I found this particularly useful during a long shooting session, as it allowed me to quickly return to my original zero after making multiple adjustments.

I really enjoyed my time testing out this scope and I think it would be a great option for anyone in the market for a high-quality varmint scope. Its ability to maintain a sharp focus on small, distant targets proved invaluable. I found it easy to track targets and make adjustments on the fly.

What’s more, the Burris scope is backed by a Lifetime (Forever) Warranty, so you can rest assured that it’s a durable and well-made scope.

The Burris would be one of the best 30-06 scopes. Let’s check out its various features to see how they stack up against the competition.Burris Tactical XTR II 8-40x50mm

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Burris scope boasts excellent glass clarity, ensuring clear target visibility even in low-light conditions. Its crisp and distinct reticle remains highly visible against various backgrounds, making it a breeze to achieve precision shots.

Parallax & Magnification

This scope has a parallax adjustment knob that is located on the left side of the scope. It was responsive and allowed for fine-tuning, which helped in reducing the parallax error at different distances. I found it to be very easy to use and I had no problem dialing in my shot. The magnification on this scope is also excellent. I was particularly impressed with the scope’s performance at higher magnifications, where it maintained image clarity and detail.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage knobs on the Burris are located on the top and right side of the scope, respectively. They provided a solid tactile and audible feedback, which was reassuring when making precise adjustments in the field. I found them to be very easy to use.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on this scope is excellent.  I was able to get a full field of view without having to worry about getting eye fatigue. The eye box is also very forgiving, which was beneficial when quickly repositioning the rifle or adjusting the shooting angle. This is great for those who wear glasses (like I do).

Durability

The Burris Tactical XTR II is a very durable scope, evident when it accidentally endured rough handling yet still performed flawlessly. Made of high-quality materials with a sturdy construction, it also comes with a sunshade that not only cuts down on glare but also protects the lens from potential scratches or damage

Is the Burris Tactical XTR II 8-40x50mm Worth It?

Given its reasonable price tag and Forever Warranty, you can trust that you’re investing in a quality sniper scope.

But more than that, the Burris scope is a great choice for varmint hunting. It has all the features that you need to make precision shots, including excellent glass clarity, a forgiving eye box, and adjustable turrets. 

Pros

  • Excellent glass clarity
  • Forgiving eye box
  • Adjustable turrets
  • Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Pricey

What Qualifies as Top Sniper Scopes?

There are a number of factors that I considered when testing and evaluating the different sniper scopes on the market. 

In my opinion, the best sniper scope is one that offers a combination of high-quality optics, precision, and durability. Here’s a more detailed look at each of these factors: 

Glass Clarity & Reticle: The glass clarity and reticle of a scope are perhaps the two most important factors to consider. After all, if you can’t see your target clearly, or if your reticle isn’t precise, what’s the point? 

When testing for glass clarity, I looked for scopes with bright, clear optics. I also paid attention to whether or not there was any distortion at the edges of the lenses. 

As for reticle, I tested for both precision and visibility. The best scope will have a reticle that is easy to see in all lighting conditions, and that is precisely calibrated. 

Parallax & Magnification: Another important factor to consider is parallax and magnification. Most scopes will have some form of adjustable magnification, which can be very helpful in certain situations. 

However, it’s also important to make sure that your scope is correctly calibrated for parallax. Otherwise, you might find yourself taking shots that are slightly off target. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs: Most scopes will also have elevation and windage knobs, which can be used to make small adjustments to your shot. 

When testing for elevation and windage, I paid attention to how easy it was to make adjustments, as well as how precise those adjustments were. 

Eye Relief & Eye Box: Another important factor (particularly if you wear glasses) is eye relief and eye box. This refers to the distance between your eye and the lens of the scope, as well as the size of the “sweet spot” where you can see through the scope clearly. 

The best scopes will have a large eye box and a generous amount of eye relief, so you can see clearly even if you’re wearing glasses. 

Durability: Finally, I also paid attention to durability. After all, you want your scope to be able to withstand the elements and stand up to years of use. 

Conclusion

Now that you’ve seen my top sniper scopes, it’s time to make a decision. I can honestly recommend any of these scopes to you, as they’re made to the highest standard and will serve you well.

But if I had to choose just one, it would be the Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II. This scope has everything that you need to make precision shots, including excellent glass clarity, a forgiving eye box, and adjustable turrets.

But pick one that meets your needs and enjoy your hunting efforts!

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