Air Rifle Scopes: A Guide
The world of air rifle scopes can be a confusing place for those who are ill prepared. Choosing the right scope for your air rifle can be as important as deciding which pellet or calibre you are shooting with, when it comes to success. Sub 12ft/lb air rifles will kill at ranges up to 50 yards, and trying to judge your impact point at these ranges with iron sights can be almost impossible. Luckily, there are many manufacturers on hand to help you.
Deciding on your brand is simple enough when you know what each has to offer. Brands like BSA, SMK and AGS look like the real deal but don’t offer much in terms of magnification or lens quality, and are not really suitable for anything more than informal target shooting. One thing I would say is there is more to picking a scope than just what magnification you want. For example, not all 4×32 scopes are the same and when it comes to picking optics, most of the time you really do get what you pay for.
At just 18 pounds more expensive than the BSA scopes are the Hawke range of air rifle scopes and the difference in quality is immediate and obvious. The mono tube construction of the scope is made from anodised aluminium which not only makes the scope incredibly strong, but also makes the Hawke range of scopes the exceptionally light and unlikely to affect the balance of your rifle when attached. These scopes are so well made that they are even suitable for centerfire and rimfire rifles thanks to their inherent ability to withstand recoil.
The lenses of the Hawke scopes are multi coated to transfer as much light into the eye as possible, producing a crystal clear image of the target in all light conditions and are available with a range of reticles and magnification options. Available from around £50 all the way up to the mid £800s, there is an air rifle scope for everyone in the Hawke range.
Slightly more expensive than the cheapest of the Hawke range, MTC produce a range of scopes that are not too dissimilar to their lower priced alternatives. Their glassware is not noticeably different from most Hawke scopes but a lot of the MTC scopes come with illuminated reticle as standard, something you have to pay extra for with the Hawke models.
Starting at around the 260 pound mark, Bushnell air rifle scopes are similar in price to the most expensive of the MTC range but their Ultra High Definition range delivers some of the most accurate target selection in any range of scopes. Their glassware is of the very highest quality and the fast focus eyepiece is located at the rear of the scope and is easily adjusted for target acquisition in seconds.
The matte black body of the scope is made from a specially formulated alloy that is water, shock and fog proof and is rugged enough to provide a long lasting scope that is perfect for outdoor hunting. The Bushnell scopes are ideal for hunters and go all the way up in price to the £1000 mark, and are serious bits of kit for serious shooters.
A step up in quality again, the Meopta range, consisting of MeoPro, MeoStar and Artemis models, is ideal for the most serious of shooters looking for a long lasting scope that really can do it all. One thing that stands apart for the Meopta range is not just its image quality at long distance, but also up close and gives you a real indication of the quality of the lenses. MeoStar scopes can be used for target shooting and hunting and are the only serious choice for shooters looking for the very best.
Sig Sauer Scopes
The Sig Sauer range of scopes are another premium air rifle scope brand with prices starting at around 200 pounds and increasing past the 2 grand mark. The Tango 6 range are world renowned for being amongst the finest scopes that money can buy and their illuminated reticle actually varies its intensity based upon the external light conditions to ensure you always have a clear picture of your target no matter what time of day you are shooting.
They also use extra low dispersion glass in their scopes to ensure class leading light transmission into the eye and produces incredibly clear imagery at all times. If you have £2,000 to blow on a scope, first of all well done, and secondly, there is no better choice out there than a scope from Sig Sauer.
There are a few different choices when it comes to choosing a reticle but most choices come between either a Mil Dot (see image) or a (See image). The Duplex reticle is essentially a centre cross with a thicker outside to help focus your eye towards the centre. Its simple design prevents it from obscuring the target but it doesn’t offer any other measurements to help judge distance or help with your shooting.
A variation of the The Duplex reticle is the Modern Ballistic. This features lines on the bottom of the reticle to help judge elevation for when you shoot above the target at particularly long ranges although this kind of reticle is more common in centerfire and rimfire rifles as they can shoot many times further than a 12ft/lb air rifle. Snipers at the extreme end of the spectrum even have to compensate for the curvature of the earth! Your air rifle is unlikely to be able to cover these distances so in my mind the Modern Ballistic reticle is unnecessary unless you are shooting a FAC air rifle.
The Mil Dot reticle features, as the name suggests, dots across its centre lines that can be used to judge both elevation and windage when shooting. These dots are available at various increments but the idea remains the same. The Mil Dot reticle does obscure more of your vision when shooting but this is compensated for by its increased accuracy.
Hundreds of different reticles are also available but they are either variations of the Mil Dot or the Duplex or wildly unnecessary on an airgun like the German or the SVD, so bear that in mind while selecting.
When selecting scope mounts there is one important thing to consider, the size of the scopes body. The majority of scopes will either be 1 inch or 30mm and this will largely determine what mounts you require. If your top rail is shorter, you may require a reach forward mount and higher mounts are available if your rifle features iron sights that are obscuring your vision.
Retaining pins are included on most mounts and are important on everything but airsoft guns, as the recoil from your rifle can cause something known as “scope creep” which is where the scope moves continually backwards and will require constant re-adjusting to remain accurate.
Most mounts fit onto a weaver base and come with Allen Keys for easy installation and don’t forget, here at Pellpax we offer FREE sport mounts whenever a scope is ordered with a rifle.
To Sum Up
In conclusion, there are many scope available to buy but my personal favourite is the always reliable Hawke Vantage. Relatively cheap, but a truly incredible scope for the money, there is a reason why this little scope has made it onto so many of our air rifle kits is because we know it does the business. Unless you are looking for something costing the best part of a grand, there are very few scopes that are better for the money.
Check out our huge selection of air rifle scopes here.