Today rifle scopes come in all types and sizes. For the most part, shooters are buying rifle scopes that fit the needs of the individual hunter, target shooter, or professional operator.
In the area of the varmint hunter, the glass sight selection has always been extensive with the turn to specialized scopes during the early 1960’s. Even so, the actual advancement by even the average shooter into using these sights at longer ranges didn’t actually take hold until much later during the 1970 and early 1980 most of us were very pleased to hit a prairie dog, badger, or coyote inside 400 yards on a good day.
In many cases, the early varmint scopes were fixed 10X magnification units that made use of larger forward bell housings and lens glass, then in times offered up turret windage and elevation advancement function. Even in military terms, many sniper optic systems were fixed 10X well before the engineering went to work on the rifle scope turret and developed the wide range of power settings, elevation advancement travel, and even for better grade lens glass.
Today the modern varmint scope retains several elements that set them apart from other glass sights. The first difference is scope length which is often on the long side. The second is the power setting range which is very flexible and carries an extensive number of settings. The third is the use of advanced through the lens sub tensions as in MOA or MRAD hash marks for fast elevation adjustment on the fly. And last on the list is the adaptation of the newer lighted reticle on some models that move the scope almost to the night shooting level, or at least a late evening and very early morning sighting tool.
The following is a selection of 9 scopes that tend to fit the pattern of those glass sights desired by varmint hunters.
Keep in mind however that under varied conditions a much wider array of sights are used depending on the exact situation the hunter is undertaking.
- Read more: Top 7 Varmint Rifle Reviews 2021
- Best Varmint Scope Reviews
Best Varmint Scope Reviews
1. Zeiss Conquest V6 3-18X50
Zeiss optical system is in my book a gold standard in high-grade glass sights and as such is often selected by the varmint hunter because seeing a target at long range is a very important requirement.
The Zeiss varmint scope uses the BDC reticle that was actually developed by my old and now passed friend John Anderson, editor of the fine and old publication The Varmint Hunter Magazine.
John thought the idea up, pass it round and got it ripped off because he did not protect the rights to the little vertical ring system in the sub tensions.
Mounting open turret settings for fast long range sight adjustment and the sub tensions using the BDC rings the scope is easy to redirect regarding range quickly.
The scope is offered in the second focal plane SFF and mounts a massive 50mm objective lens.
This scope has ample cranking elevation adjustments for 1000 yard shots or more, and when using 20-40 MOA rails the scope can be pushed to a mile downrange with proper rifles and selected ammunition applied to the glass sight system.
Conquest is a class act all the way downrange. The glass in this scope is German high quality and it shows when target fade, rainbow rings, and fuzzy outlines are just not present on target even well out to 1000 yards.
I shoot this scope in terms of varmints on a 22-250 Model 70 Winchester and also the 6.5 Creedmoor. I flat out own the ground out to one half mile down range.
The scope uses a 30mm main tube, coated lens surfaces and is completely water and fog-proof. The turret heads are large and carry ample adjustment range for the long shot but the scope is also offered in a capped version as well for the general hunters use.
2. Steiner T5Xi
In terms of a varmint scope, the Steiner T5Xi is a classic tactical sniper scope. This glass however is an outstanding varmint scope as it is set up for stretch shooting at targets in the next zip code.
This scope is used in no less than three different rifles and variants at BR&D as they are often used in conjunction with the 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 glass on these scopes is outstanding and without question quality German generated in that it is delivering a sharp image even well out to 1500 yards.
Offered in the first focal plane FFP, the scope will grow the crosshairs and the image at the same time within the same space.
The scope retains MOA sub tensions that allow through the lens elevation adjustments as well as the ability to use those accurate turret adjustments as well.
The 56 mm objective lens is a large sight screen that pulls light and controls many nasty issues that can confront the shooter when the need is there to allow a clear sight picture.
This scope carries a lifetime warranty, is available in a total of three variants: 3-15 x 50mm, 1-5 X 24 mm, 3-15 X 34mm. Be sure and understand exactly what model you’re buying as the Steiner military. Snipe grade scopes are many. With the tools provided by Steiner, the glass sights offered by them meld into the varmint hunters world of sighting system quite well.
3. Track Toric UHD 4-20 X
Again another scope I use often in terms of brand and exact model. This scope is built for range and accuracy. Designed for the long range target and varmint shooter, the scope lacks nothing but a massively high price tag.
The glass used on this scope is quality and returns low dispersion regarding light, keeps a clean image over the sub tensions offered and will display little if any target fade.
The large 30 mm one piece main tube is built of high grade aluminum, and as designed will accommodate larger turret internals for long operational life even when elevation adjustments are twisted up and down all day long year by year.
Built in the first focal plane FFP this is military grade design and set up. Also in MRAD sub tensions again the glass is long range ready for that sitting prairie dog target at 900 yards downrange.
This scope can also be obtained using the more standard MOA turret and sub–tension settings as well. This makes the introduction and therefore two scopes possible choice.
Zero stop on the turret adjustments, and left side illuminated reticle controls.
In truth is scope can pass the requirements of a first rate sniper tool due to the design applications installed in this glass sighting system.
4. Monstrum G2 6-24 X 50 FFP
I selected this scope due to the fact that it carries extensive features just like the high priced units do, but as noted at a far lower cost. Not everyone can afford to put thousands of dollars in glass sights on a rifle.
At a very modest price tag this scope retains an illuminated reticle, a good range of power for long shots, a 50 mm objective for gains in light transmission, and a ranging system within the sub tensions.
While you can’t expect the very top of the line glass in this price range scope, you are getting good starter system and in some case the real surprise is that they will perform quite well beyond their price point and general design standard.
5. Leupold VX 5HD 3-15 X 44mm Side Focus
This Leupold is a bit smaller than some, and would work out well in a carbine or mini type rifle for varmints. As an example the new .224 Valkyrie as a short high velocity cartridge works out very well to 1400 yards even in light shorter barrel rifles ( I own one ). This scope is a nice fit on the smaller receiver and also will produce good balance as well.
This scope has the MOA reticle, special lens coatings for protecting the optics in the field, and push button zero lock with two full rotations regarding elevation adjustments as applied to the scopes high open turret system.
All American designed and built with Leupold’s outstanding service and the use of their high end glass as well.
6. Leupold VX- Freedom 4-12 X 50 Mm.
This is a budget minded scope built for the varmint hunter that wants some range extension, light gathering control, but not so many bells and whistles that it breaks the bank account when buying one.
This scope retains open adjustment turrets, the Leopold Duplex reticle. The CDS system allows on free extra dial built to your cartridge and bullet type and weight. Extra turrets are available upon request. This cool little scope will allow the shooter to dial bullets accurately without using computer data or DOPE cards when adjusting for the longer shots.
Built of a one piece one inch tube in aircraft grade aluminum the scope is a sold product at a real solid working price.
NOTE: Remember there are seven different scopes in the Leupold Freedom line All of them can work out well as varmint glass, but some fit special needs just a bit better.
7. Vortex Optics Diamondback SFP
Here we have again a budget priced, but well made scope that is lower powered at 1.5-7 X 32. The scope is built for medium range shooting.
For the coyote hunter working eastern woodlands, or even brush covered draws in the west this is enough scope to do the deed.
Ground squirrel shooters with light cartridges again can make good use of this budget priced name brand glass sight.
Water proof, fog and protected agains other contaminants, this scope is an easy sell to my friend on the Mississippi delta bayou taking down all manor of critters.
Turret accuracy using metal to metal adjustments, and zero stop for fast returns to the correct zero make this an easy system to operate. The turret caps can be removed for easy access to knob controls, and the sub tensions carry MOA hash marks (dots) for windage and elevation corrections on the fly.
8. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II FFP
As another option in the Vortex line we see a scope designed for serious long range work, again dedicated coyote hunting at a distance, or an assorted static position fur taker. This scope is offered in MOA, MRAD and can be obtained in either EBR 4 or 7, in both sub tension types.
This scope is a large 32mm tube using etched turret figures for easy use by the shooter, materials are aircraft grade aluminum, special light control glass and target fade free as well as good edge to edge color control.
Sub tensions are set to match the turrets and using elevation through the lens a good shooter can factor lead or elevation quickly.
9. Vortex Optics Viper HS LR FFP
This Vortex scope is a move up to range extension well beyond even 1000 yards down range.
This scope carries a power grade of 6-24 X 50mm, high tactical turrets in MOA graduation marks that match the sub tension MOA marks through the lens. This scope will pull elevation to one mile or more. With a 40 MOA rail platform two miles, and the scope glass is rated for well over 1000 yard, returning a clear crisp target acquisition. The CRS zero stop gets you back on zero quickly even after turning those turret settings twice or more around the clock.
My Vortex glass sights numbering two different scopes have returned great dependable performance as applied to 338 Lapua, 300 PRC, and 300 Win Mag. In some cases, range extension has been close to or at one mile on my private range in western South Dakota.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM.