The Best Air Rifle Scope — Reviews and Buying Guide

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

Air rifles are generally different from traditional rifles in that they are lower powered and more silent than normal rifles. They also produce a double kind of recoil that would damage a regular scope.

So if you own an air rifle, it is essential to get a scope that is engineered for use on the air rifle. In this article, we give you top reviews and tips that get you equipped to pick out the best air rifle scope in the market.

The Hawke 3-9x40mm Mil-Dot AO Riflescope is a value-priced scope that will give you the optical performance and accuracy needed to use it on an air rifle.

Our Top 9 Air Rifle Scopes Are:

ProductDetails
1. Hawke 3-9x40mm Mil-Dot AO Riflescope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 3.5" eye relief
  • Mil-dot IR sfp reticle
  • Weight 17.0 oz
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2. UTG 3-9x40mm AO Hunter Scope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 3.9-3.2" eye relief
  • 36 color ie Mil-dot reticle
  • Weight 21.1 oz
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3. Nikon Black Force 1000 1-4x24mm Riflescope

  • 1-4x magnification
  • 24mm objective lens
  • 30mm tube diameter
  • 3.8-4.1" eye relief
  • Illuminated SpeedForce SFP Reticle
  • 16.4 oz weight
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4. Barska 3-12x40mm AO Airgun Rifle Scope

  • 3-12x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 4.2" constant eye relief
  • Mil-dot reticle
  • 16.8 oz weight
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5. SWFA SS 10x42mm Tactical Riflescope

  • 10x magnification
  • 42mm objective lens
  • 30mm tube diameter
  • 3.9"eye relief
  • Mil-quad reticle
  • 20.3 oz weight
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6. Mantis 3-9x32mm Air Rifle Scope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 32mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • Mil-dot reticle
  • 16.0 oz weight
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7. Hammers 3-9x40mm AO Air Gun Rifle Scope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 3.3-3.1" eye relief
  • mil-dot reticle
  • 20.2 oz
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8. Bushnell Banner 3-9x40mm Dusk & Dawn Rifle Scope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 6" eye relief
  • Multi-X SFP Reticle
  • 13.0 oz weight
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9. BSA Sweet .22 3-9x40mm RifleScope

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1" tube diameter
  • 4" eye relief
  • Duplex reticle
  • 16.8 oz weight
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1. Hawke 3-9x40mm Mil-Dot AO Riflescope — Best Airgun Scope

Hawke Vantage Riflescope 1" (3-9x40 AO 1")

The Hawke 3-9x40mm Mil-Dot AO Riflescope is a value-priced riflescope by the British brand Hawke. It features design engineering that will deliver the optics quality and accuracy needed for hunting with your air rifle.

We’ve chosen the classic 3-9x hunting variable magnification with a 40mm objective lens for this best air rifle scope review. The lenses have 11 layers of coating to deliver optimum clarity and brightness. The objective is adjustable for parallax correction when using the air rifle at distances below 100yards.

This scope features an Illuminated Mil-Dot reticle that features multiple aiming points for holdover and hold-under for accurate shots in both close and long-range. The reticle is glass etched and has 5 illumination brightness levels with off positions in between.

The scope is built with aircraft-grade aluminum that allows for durability and keeps the scope lightweight. It is also a single piece 1″ tube that incorporates a specialist erector system to provide internal stability to the scope.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 5″ eye relief
  • Mil-dot IR sfp reticle
  • Weight 17.0 oz

Pros

  • Adjustable objective for parallax correction
  • Low profile 1/4MOA no-snag fingertip turrets
  • Fast focus eyepiece and high torque zoom-ring
  • Glass etched reticle with 5 red/ green brightness illumination levels
  • 11-layer fully multi-coated lenses for clear and bright images

Cons

  • Has thin crosshairs that reduce the visibility of the reticle

The scope has excellent optics and handles the air rifle recoil very well. The manufacturer also offers excellent customer service.

Rating – 4.4/5

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2. UTG 3-9x40mm AO Hunter Scope — Best Air Rifle Scope Under $100

UTG 3-9X40 1" Hunter Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, w/ Rings

The UTG 3-9x40mm AO Hunter Scope has some of the best features integrated into a budget scope for predator and varmint hunting.

This scope features the traditional 3-9x magnification that allows for both close range and long-range use. It comes with emerald coated lenses that allow for maximum light transmission and improved clarity at long range.

Its 40mm objective lens improves image quality by adding brightness and contrast, especially at high magnification. It is adjustable for parallax correction at 5-yards to infinity which allows for perfect close-range shots. The scope is also equipped with lockable and resettable turrets that allow for quick adjustments on the fly.

The scope utilizes a Mil-Dot range estimating reticle that features an illumination enhancing system which allows 36 color and brightness options in the reticle. The system allows you to set and save your custom color and brightness to the scope memory with just one click. This is a cool feature if you happen to be color blind for the usual red/ green reticle illumination.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 9-3.2″ eye relief
  • 36 color ie Mil-dot reticle
  • Weight 21.1 oz

Pros

  • Emerald lens coatings for lens clarity and reduced glare
  • Adjustable Objective for parallax corrections
  • Illuminated reticle allows for low light and night shooting
  • Exceptional lens clarity and resolution
  • Built on True Strength Platform to be stable and durable

Cons

  • It’s quite heavy for an air rifle scope

The Hunter Scope meets the stability and strength demands of an air rifle making it a favorite low priced scope for air rifle users.

Rating – 4.2/5

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3. Nikon Black Force 1000 1-4x24mm Riflescope — Best Air Gun Scope for the Money

Nikon 16380 Black Force1000 Matte Illuminated Speedforce, 1-4x24

If you’re looking for tactical precision, the Nikon Black Force 1000 1-4x24mm Riflescope will deliver just that. Nikon is a strong brand in the optics industry with long experience in lens technology. This scope is a product of Nikon’s superiority in producing high-performance riflescopes that are affordable for all.

The scope features Nikon’s renowned lightweight lead and arsenic-free glass on the lenses which have full multi-layer coatings to maximize light retention, brightness. The 1-4x true magnification is designed for engagement with both eyes and matched for extended range aiming precision.

For added precision, the scope comes with a glass etched SPEEDFORCE illuminated reticle in the second focal plane that is matched to precise MOA adjustments. The side-mounted illumination features 10 brightness settings that automatically power down when not in operation which allows you to conserve your battery.

Specs

  • 1-4x magnification
  • 24mm objective lens
  • 30mm tube diameter
  • 8-4.1″ eye relief
  • Illuminated SpeedForce SFP Reticle
  • 4 oz weight

Pros

  • True 1-4x magnification for engagement with both eyes
  • Crystal clear lead and arsenic-free glass
  • 30mm tube for maximum strength to weight ratio and ruggedness
  • Capped and engraved turrets that offer smooth and precise adjustments

Cons

  • No adjustments for parallax corrections

The Black Force would be considered a Nikon budget scope though it offers the same excellent features as you’d find in their more high-end scopes.

Rating – 4.4/5

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4. Barska 3-12x40mm AO Airgun Rifle Scope

BARSKA 3-12x40 AO Airgun, Black Matte, Mil-Dot

The Barska 3-9x40mm AO Airgun Rifle Scope is one of the best air-rifle scopes on our list. Barska is a well-known optics brand known for producing quality, reliable and value-priced scopes for all shooting activities.

This airgun rifle scope is constructed to withstand the unique reverse recoil of an airgun. The variable magnification scope comes with a 40mm objective lens that allows for use in variable range distances such as close to mid-range.

The adjustable parallax feature allows for parallax correction when aiming. Usually, you’ll find that the distance markings on the parallax are not exact, especially in a budget scope. That is when a fast-focus eyepiece becomes necessary to provide accuracy in your aiming.

Other industry standard features include fully multi-coated lenses for the best image quality, a Mil-Dot reticle in the second focal plane that features a click adjustment value of 1/4MOA.

Specs

  • 3-12x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 2″ constant eye relief
  • Mil-dot reticle
  • 8 oz weight

Pros

  • Capped finger adjustable turrets
  • Adjustable parallax setting of 7.5 yards to infinity
  • Reverse recoil technology
  • Sturdy build and resistant to airgun recoil to provide accurate shots
  • Mil-Dot reticle for accurate extended-range shots

Cons

  • Some image distortion at high magnification

The scope is flexible to use on rimfire and centerfire rifles effectively. Barska scopes are very reliable in providing accurate shots and clear optics and this scope is no exception.

Rating – 3.9/5

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5. SWFA SS 10x42mm Tactical Riflescope

SWFA SS 16x42 Tactical Riflescope Mil-Quad Reticle 1/10 Mil Adjustments Rear Focus SS16X42MQ

The SWFA SS 10x42mm Tactical Riflescope is a high-quality airgun rifle scope from the SWFA Sniper Series of rifle scopes. SWFA has 40 years of experience in manufacturing high-performance optics for the outdoors sporting industry.

The SS series fixed magnification scopes are designed for mid to long-range use. The 10x allows for hunting and tactical above 100 yards range. Fixed magnification scopes rarely have image distortions because they have fewer parts and this scope offers excellent image quality.

Parallax adjustments in airguns are critical if you’re shooting below 100-yards. With this scope, you’ll be in the mid-range with a fixed magnification so it may not be such a problem.

The 42mm objective lens increases brightness and contrast to the image and fully multi-coated lenses improve image resolution and reduce glare. This scope features a Mil-Quad style reticle, a reticle style that was introduced into the market by SWFA in 2011.

It differs from the Mil-Dot by use of see-through diamond-shaped boxes instead of dots. Other than that, the Mil-Quad utilizes the same principle of providing you with approximate size, range and bullet drop of your target as the Mil-Dot. The thin crosshairs of the reticle provide reduced subtension and allow for precise target shooting.

Specs

  • 10x magnification
  • 42mm objective lens
  • 30mm tube diameter
  • 9″eye relief
  • Mil-quad reticle
  • 3 oz weight

Pros

  • Completely shockproof to withstand the unique recoil of an air rifle
  • 10x fixed magnification provides high-resolution images
  • Mil-Quad reticle with rear parallax adjustment for precise tactical shooting
  • Fully multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission

Cons

  • Click adjustments are not very audible

The optical clarity and durability of this scope are at par with other high-end scopes. This scope is very sturdy and can be used on an air rifle and still keep its precision.

Rating – 4.8/5

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6. Mantis 3-9x32mm Air Rifle Scope

Mantis 3-9x32 mm AO Mil-Dot Air Rifle Scope, Super Precise Parallax Adjustable Optics for Hunting and Target Shooting

The Mantis 3-9x32mm Air Rifle Scope is specifically designed to fit air rifles which makes it a great candidate for our air rifle scope reviews. The Mantis scopes are not common in the market but the ones available are all built for spring powered break barrel air rifles.

The scope features the versatile 3-9x magnification favored by hunters because it gives a wider choice for the range. 32mm objective lens keeps the weight of the scope low while at the same time provides sufficient brightness for your images at high magnification. It is also adjustable which helps to provide focus in the short-range.

The scope utilizes a Mil-Dot reticle that allows for accurate range calculations. Mil-Dot reticles have become a common feature on hunting scopes because hunters have found them to be accurate in the field.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 32mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • Mil-dot reticle
  • 0 oz weight

Pros

  • Accurate right out of the box
  • Snag-Free turrets for smooth adjustments
  • Multi-coated lenses for sharp and bright images
  • Adjustable Objective for parallax correction
  • Heavy-duty scope to withstand air rifle double recoils
  • Industry-standard durability features

Cons

  • Some image distortion at 9x on short distances

The Mantis scope design and construction is built for the particular dynamics of air rifles. It is inexpensive but also accurate with quality features.

Rating – 3.9/5

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7. Hammers 3-9x40mm AO Air Gun Rifle Scope

Hammers 3-9x40AO .177 .22 Magnum Spring Air Gun Rifle Scope with Mount

The Hammers 3-9x40mm AO Air Gun Rifle Scope is a budget-priced rifle scope developed for airgun users. Hammers Optics Plus are distributors of affordable optics for professional and recreational use.

This 1″ single piece scope has excellent holding power to withstand the shock from a spring-piston air rifle. It comes with an integral mount with 4 clamping screws and a built-in stop pin to keep the scope securely mounted. It’s worth noting that a single piece mount such as the one included with this scope has more stability and accuracy than a two-piece mount.

The Hammers scope features a 3-9x variable magnification and a 40mm adjustable objective lens. Parallax correction helps to keep the scope in focus when adjusting the magnification settings. The lenses are fully multi-coated to provide clear and bright images and it also has the standard durability features you’d expect on a scope.

The reticle is a Mil-Dot, which is typical for a hunting scope, and comes with finger adjustable turrets. The variable eye relief of this is poor considering it’s an air gun scope and it is also a bit heavy.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 3-3.1″ eye relief
  • mil-dot reticle
  • 2 oz

Pros

  • Value priced scope
  • Engineered specifically for air rifles
  • Includes a sturdy one-piece mount
  • Adjustable Objective for parallax correction
  • Provides clear and bright images

Cons

  • Poor eye relief

The Hammers scope is internally reinforced for high power air rifles and also includes a reinforced mount to secure the scope on the air rifle.

Rating – 4/5

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8. Bushnell Banner 3-9x40mm Dusk & Dawn Rifle Scope

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope with 3.3-Inch Eye Relief, 3-9X 40mm

The Bushnell Banner 3-9x40mm Dusk & Dawn Rifle Scope is designed for long-range air rifle shooting. It has an added value of being equipped for low light shooting at dusk and dawn. The Banner lenses are coated with a proprietary Dusk and Dawn Brightness system that includes coating the lenses with 16 layers of coating to deliver the brightness and clarity needed for low light.

The 3-9x scope in the Banner series offers the best magnification for airguns because it allows for short to mid-range shooting common with airgun users. The 40mm objective lens adds brightness to the images but sadly the parallax adjustment is fixed which may lower the accuracy and reliability of the scope below 100 yards.

It features a simple duplex reticle which they’ve named Multi-X, in the second focal plane.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 6″ eye relief
  • Multi-X SFP Reticle
  • 0 oz weight

Pros

  • Lightweight scope
  • DDB coated lenses for low light performance
  • Fingertip turret adjustments
  • Glass etched duplex reticle
  • Generous 6″ eye relief

Cons

  • Fixed parallax

The Banner scope has few but high performance features such as clear glass and a simple but highly functional reticle. It may have some quality control issues which are  well covered in the Bushnell Ironclad Warranty.

Rating – 4.6/5

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9. BSA Sweet .22 3-9x40mm RifleScope

BSA Optics 22-39X40AOWRTB Sweet 22 AO 3X-9X 40mm Rifle Scope

The BSA Sweet .22 3-9x40mm RifleScope is the last one in our air rifle scope reviews. The BSA Sweet is also engineered specifically for .22LR round used by air rifles. BSA Scopes is a British optics company that has in recent times gained prominence in the US for manufacturing high quality and value-priced rifle scopes.

This scope offers a 3-9x variable magnification that is ideal for both big game and small game hunting. It features an adjustable 40mm objective for increased image brightness and contrast.

The scope construction features a 1″ tube that has a quick-change turret system calibrated for multiple cartridges and a side parallax adjustment. The scope is built to industry standards for durability and strength and has excellent glass clarity.

It has a simple duplex reticle that is useful for bush hunting and big game hunting where precision is necessary to get the perfect shot. The duplex is considered the best hunting reticle for its simplicity and accuracy in the field.

Specs

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 1″ tube diameter
  • 4″ eye relief
  • Duplex reticle
  • 8 oz weight

Pros

  • A versatile scope that fits several rifle types
  • Quick Change Turrets System for various calibers
  • Fast focus and generous eye relief
  • Camera quality glass

Cons

  • Some quality control issues

The scope is high quality and affordable which is a great selling point for BSA. Also if you are new at using airguns, this scope is a great starting scope.

Rating – 4.3/5

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How To Pick Out The Best Air Rifle Scope — Buying Guide

The air gun has been in use since the 1500s when they were first developed. They’ve been used for sporting, hunting, military, pest control, and also for recreational shooting.

Air guns come in different classifications such as BB guns, pellet air rifles, and air pistols. They commonly use the .177 caliber and the .22 caliber.

The modern airguns come in three types depending on the design of their powerplant. These are Spring Piston, Pneumatic, and Compressed Gas air guns.

Best Air Rifle Scopes Overview

Generally, the air gun recoil is less than that of some cartridge firearms. However, high powered spring-piston guns have a double recoil that can affect the accuracy of your shot and also damage scopes that are not designed for air rifles.

Also, break barrel air rifles can be inaccurate when using a scope because of constantly dropping the barrel. A fixed barrel is much easier to zero and keep the scope zeroed in overtime.

The above considerations narrow down the best air rifle scope list but let’s look at a few other features that will help you make a perfect choice.

Magnification

Fixed magnification scopes tend to be less costly but are more precise than variable magnification scopes. They have fewer glass parts so they require almost no adjusting once sighted in.

These scopes are good for short-range use and for hunting small rodents. For an air rifle, we can recommend a 4x — 10x scope which will be suitable in the 50 — 150 yards range.

Variable magnification scopes can be adjusted to various magnifications which requires a lot of extra adjusting. These scopes come with features such as a fast-focus eyepiece and adjustable parallax features to help focus the images. The advantage is that you’ll not be limited to a certain range for shooting.

Air rifles are commonly used in short to mid-range distances. We can recommend a 3-9x which allows a decent field of view or 4-12x if you want an extended range to about 150-yards.

Objective Lens

Objective lenses improve the image being viewed through the scope by adding brightness and resolution which adds scopes accuracy. They come in different sizes and the bigger the lens, the more light it transmits for image brightness and clarity especially in low light. Also, note that the size of the lens greatly contributes to the overall weight of the scope.

Lens coatings add quality to the overall image resolution because they help in image contrast by reducing the effects of glare. We recommend getting a 32mm — 40mm objective lens which will provide enough light and image resolution for your air rifle.

Reticle

The Duplex reticle is considered to be the simplest reticle to use because of its simple design. Its crosshairs thin out to the center which makes it easy for most people to make precise shots. The Mil-Dot is also a favorite because it provides accurate aiming points that would be extremely useful when you consider the stability and velocity of air rifles.

On the same note of stability, an etched glass reticle offers more durability and accuracy than wired reticles because of the double recoil effect produced by air rifles.

 

Parallax Adjustments

Parallax errors come as a result of changing the magnification from one zoom to the next. Parallax adjustments correct these errors and also allow you to set the distance at which the scope will be parallax free.

Parallax adjustments are more in short distances and just a little as the range increases over 100 yards. Therefore, adjustable objective scopes are necessary for air rifles because of shooting under 100- yards distances.

Conclusion

Although there are many scopes in the market, choosing your air rifle scope should now be easier since we’ve provided professional guidance that will help in your search.

That said, we found that the Hawke 3-9x40mm Mil-Dot AO Riflescope fits the criteria to be the best air rifle scope. The scope is designed specifically for air rifles so you can be certain it will provide stability and clear optics when used on the air rifle.

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