If you’re in a hurry and want to know what the best option is RIGHT NOW, here it is:
Mantis 3-9x32 AO Mil-Dot
Many people consider air rifles to be too weak to warrant a scope. However, modern pellet guns are quite powerful and sport enough range that you need a good optic to get the most accuracy out of your airgun at maximum range.
But having a scope on your air rifle goes further than bare accuracy. There are two big reasons why having a precise optic for your pellet gun is critical:
- Airguns aren’t as powerful as guns. If you hunt with your air rifle, shot placement is critical for hunting humanely. Not only will you lose your game if you’re off the mark, but it can cause the animal a lot of unnecessary suffering.
- Air rifle competitions can be even more demanding than shooting competitions. Air rifle competitions generally involve shorter ranges than rifle competitions. So the targets are usually much smaller than long range rifle competition targets look at great distances. It can actually be more challenging to hit a competition airgun target at short range than it is to hit a rifle target at long range.
With these things in mind, it’s clear that having a quality air rifle scope is almost mandatory.
Here’s what you need to know about pellet gun scopes:
Can I Use A Rifle Scope on My Air Gun?
One of the biggest mistakes shooters make is putting their rifle scope on their air rifle. You shouldn’t do this. Here’s why:
Now that you know you need a scope built for an air rifle, here are the key things to look for in an airgun scope:
Key Characteristics To Look For
Since air rifles are used for different purposes and in different contexts than standard rifles, it makes sense that airgun optics might be a bit different than rifle optics, right?
Many scope characteristics are equally important between the two types of scopes. But there are two key things to consider when you’re choosing a pellet gun scope:
Magnification does the same thing for you in an airgun scope as it does in a rifle scope. However, air rifles usually max out at around 100 yards. So, it’s best to get a scope with only moderate magnification.
If you’ve got too much magnification, it can be nearly impossible to keep your crosshairs steady. Typically, 3-9x magnification or lower is best.
Parallax often gets overlooked because many quality rifle scopes have adjustable parallax or the parallax is set at 100 yards. 100 yard parallax is fine for rifles.
But a shorter parallax distance is better for air rifles. A typical airgun competition distance is 10 yards. So, a scope with an adjustable parallax that can be set to 10 yards is ideal. A scope with a fixed 10 yard parallax will also work well.
Most scopes that are durable enough for airguns will have an acceptable parallax range, but it’s an important spec to check before you buy.
Now that you know what to look for, here are the top choices:
Our Top Scope Choices For Your Pellet Gun
Before you get started, here’s some good news: air rifle scopes are super affordable. Technically, any of these could be the top choices under $100 or $200.
So we’ll focus on rating these by application.
Here they are, from most expensive to most affordable:
Top High End Choice
UTG 3-9x40 Hunter
UTG is a fairly dominant name in the pellet gun optics game. The UTG 3-9x40 Hunter Scope represents the high end of their air rifle optics. UTG built the Hunter Scope to be the go-to optic for those who want a Leupold, Bushnell, or Tasco air rifle scope, but struggle to find a model from those manufacturers that meets the durability demands of airgun shooting.
The Hunter Scope uses 3-9x magnification to give you outstanding precision at competition ranges, while at the same time providing enough power to dial in tight shots at maximum distance.
For the best reticle alignment and steadiness at all distances, the Hunter Scope sports adjustable parallax that goes from 5 yards to infinity. No matter what sort of shooting you do, the Hunter Scope can be adjusted for it.
The reticle is a mil dot configuration, so you can make accurate range estimates and wind calls. But what really makes the reticle stand out is the illumination. The Hunter Scope offers 36 different illumination color options, so you get maximum reticle contrast in any lighting or environment.
This couples with UTG’s Emerald Coated lenses to give you the clearest picture and the sharpest reticle, and makes the Hunter Scope the top scope for night shooting.
The Hunter Scope is built with the durability you expect: waterproofing, fog-proofing, and shock-proofing.
The performance and price point make the Hunter Scope a great option for those with high performance air rifles that want a high performance optic to match.
Top Choice for 100 Yards
UTG 3-9x32 Bugbuster
The UTG 3-9x32 Bugbuster Scope is one of the scopes on this list that’s both an air rifle scope and a rifle scope. UTG optics are known for their durability, and UTG designed the Bugbuster to withstand even the most violent recoil impulses.
First, the magnification:
The Bugbuster is equipped with a 3-9x magnification range, which is a great all-purpose power. 3x delivers steady and precise accuracy at typical air rifle distances. If you want to push the capabilities of your airgun, 9x will enable you to get hits at maximum pellet gun ranges.
Then, the parallax is adjustable from 3 yards to infinity. This gives you parallax free aiming at all but the shortest air rifle distances. You’ll get true crosshair steadiness at competition distances and at the furthest reaches of recreational shooting, so you can put pellets on target at any distance, using any magnification.
For clarity, the Bugbuster is fitted with a 32mm objective lens. This collects more than enough light for shooting from dawn to dusk and will gives your a sharp image for zeroing in on small targets.
The reticle is an illuminated mil dot reticle with hash marks for accurate range and windage estimation for exceptional accuracy without complicated calculations.
UTG built the Bugbuster with industry standard fog-proofing, waterproofing, and shock-proofing so your scope will last as long as your rifle.
Overall, the Bugbuster is the perfect scope for 100 yards, and is great for those who want one scope for multiple rifles.
Top Value Choice
Mantis 3-9x32 AO
Mantis designed the Mantis 3-9x32 AO Mil-Dot specifically for air rifles. This means that they paid special attention to the characteristics that make a scope work well on an air rifle.
The Mantis employs a 3-9x magnification range for precision at the most common air rifle distances. Hitting competition targets at 10 yards is easy at 3x, and 9x is perfect for pushing the limits of airgun performance.
To ensure that your reticle is true at all distances, the parallax is adjustable from 5 yards to infinity. This is ideal for short range plinking, air rifle competitions, and provides true reticle alignment out to 100 yards and beyond.
The Mantis is a purpose built air rifle scope, so it’s constructed with the durability a scope needs to withstand the double impulse of a spring air rifle without losing its zero or damaging the internals. This scope will hold up through thousands of pellet gun shots.
The reticle is a mil dot reticle with hash marks for range and windage estimation so you can get hits at long range without adjusting your scope.
All this comes with industry standard durability features like waterproofing, shock-proofing, and fully multi-coated lenses. The Mantis is a great option for those that need years of hard use at an affordable price.
2-7x32 AO Winchester
Daisy is one of the oldest names in the air rifle industry. That’s why Winchester contracted them to build their line of air rifle scopes. The Winchester is built with all of Daisy’s airgun expertise and delivers the optimal combination of specs for air rifle shooting.
Daisy built the Winchester Scope with 2-7x magnification to make it optimal for the things you do most with your air rifle. 2x magnification is perfect for nailing competition targets at 10 yards. 7x will give you the precision for 100 yard hits without being jittery at intermediate ranges.
The parallax is adjustable from 15 to 200 yards, which gives you plenty of focus range for any sort of airgun shooting. Although 15 yards isn’t right on the money for 10 yard shooting, the effect will be slight, and won’t put your shots off the mark for competitive shooting.
The Winchester is equipped with a crosshair reticle, which is simple and effective. The crosshair reticle minimizes clutter in the field of view, and provides exceptional precision for calculated shots.
Daisy constructed the Winchester to be waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof so you get the durability and performance you’d expect from any product with the Winchester name on it. Additionally, the fully multi-coated lenses color correct the image so you always get the clearest picture for zeroing in on small targets.
Overall, the Winchester may not be ideal for competitive air rifle shooters. However, recreational shooters and even hunters will find that the price point and performance of the Winchester are ideal for a hardworking air rifle.
UTG 4x32 Hunter
The UTG 4x32 Hunter Scope is just a step down from the 3-9x40 Hunter Scope. It offers respectable performance at a much more friendly price. It even sports a couple features that the 3-9x40 Hunter Scope doesn’t have.
One strength of the 4x32 Hunter Scope is the simplicity. A fixed 4x magnification gives you more than enough power for hitting competition targets or small game at 10 yards. On the other hand, 4x is good enough for hitting medium targets at 100 yards, and won’t be jittery at intermediate ranges.
The parallax is also fixed at 35 yards. This is a great all-purpose parallax distance that works for shooting at both short and long ranges.
Fixed magnification and parallax trade a bit of performance for simplicity. But simplicity rewards good fundamentals, so the 4x32 Hunter Scope great for new shooters and children just learning to shoot.
To ensure that you’ve got a clear enough picture to make the most of the simplicity, UTG fitted the 4x32 Hunter Scope with their proprietary Sapphire Coating that improves color fidelity and image clarity in all light conditions.
Additionally, the 4x32 Hunter Scope has a built-in sunshade to reduce glare during daylight shooting, so the image never gets washed out when you’re shooting in the sun.
The 4x32 Hunter Scope may be a bit too simple for competition shooters. However, it is excellent for recreational shooting, new shooters, or as an optic for training shooting fundamentals.
Mantis 3-9x32 AO
The Mantis 3-9x32 AO Mil-Dot is the top choice for any air rifle shooter. The combination of price and quality is hard to beat, and the specs are perfect for any airgun shooting context.
Although the options for pellet gun scopes are a bit more limited than for standard rifles, buying an air rifle scope for your air rifle could be more economical and will give you better performance than trying to put your rifle scope on your air rifle.
So grab an air rifle scope, and get out to pop some pellets off!