So let’s dial back the clock maybe 25 years. I had just bought a .22 LR bolt action rifle and I needed/wanted a scope. When I went down to the local sporting good shop about all I could afford was a 3-9×25 “TV” view duplex scope. This was only a couple of steps above what you would get on a Crosman multi-pump these days. A lot has changed since then. Let’s take a look at what new airgunners need to look for when picking the right optic for their airgun.
There are things that you can cut corners with. The optic that you put on your airgun may not be one of them. It really will depend on how you intend to use it. For example, if I’m going to be just plinking in the back yard, then a solid, budget-conscious scope will do just fine. However, if Im going to be shooting competitively, then that changes everything. The good thing about optics these days is that they are all pretty good. Most of them are all coated and nitrogen filled. Some are multi-coated and have higher end glass, and features like etched glass reticles and that’s where you start seeing a real difference in clarity and quality.
Scopes under $150
There are a lot of budget-conscious scopes on the market these days. Leapers / UTG and CenterPoint are some of the de facto scopes that fill this space. They are really decent given their low cost. The CenterPoint 4-16x40AO Adventure Class Rifle Scope with illuminated mil-dot reticle is a great example. Not only is this a really good scope for the money, it packs a lot of features into a little package.
For just a little more, you can move up to the UTG 3-12×44 AO SWAT scope. This scope moves the parallax adjustment from the objective to a side focus wheel. And, it moves from a 1″ diameter tube to a 30mm diameter tube. This allows for more light transfer, which gives the shooter brighter sight picture in low light situations, or in high magnification situations. I’ve used this scope on many airguns and for the most part it’s been a solid performer.
Another good scope for under $150 is the Hawke Sport HD IR 3-9×40 AO mil-dot scope. While it seems like an optic with the least features, it’s what’s under the hood that really matters. This scope uses multi-coated optics and also an etched glass reticle. While other scopes in this price range use a wire reticle that’s more susceptible to breakage, especially on spring and gas ram airguns, the etched glass reticle in this scope can hold up to whatever a magnum springer can dish out.
What about Scopes over $150?
There are a lot of great scopes in the over $150 category, too many to try and write about here today. But, if I had to pick my favorite line, it would be the Hawke line of scopes. Most recently they’ve introduced some models that are more affordable than their top of the line Sidewinder line. The Endurance 30 SF is one example. This scope has a lot of great features all packed into a very nice chassis. I’ve used this scope on many of my PCP airguns and it’s a true performer. The optics are extremely clear at all ranges. That’s an important distinction as many budget scopes tend to lose clarity past 50 or 75 yards, the exception being the Sport HD IR series from Hawke.
New for 2015 is their AirMax 30 scope. This scope is built specifically for serious airgunners. It has all the features you’d expect in a purpose built airgun scope: 30mm tube, side focus parallax, illuminated etched glass reticle, multi-coated optics, etc. The new reticle is the key. Rather than just mil-dots or hash marks, it utilizes a tree configuration on the lower half of the reticle. This allows shooters to have a better gauge for adjusting for windage. Having used this scope in the field, I can say first hand that it really makes a difference.
There’s always something new
That’s a wrap for this article on some of the most popular options for airgun scopes regardless of your budget. What’s really exciting is that there are always new optics products hitting the market. Prices are going down and quality is going up, and that’s a good thing for consumers. So, keep your eyes open for new optics as they hit Airgun Depot and be sure to give them a call if you have any questions about which one may be right for you.