Best airgun scopes – our top picks for airgun-friendly optics
The best airgun scopes on the market, whether you're hitting the targets or your pest control quotas
When it comes to selecting the best airgun scopes, there are many fantastic options on the market from some of the biggest names in the gun trade. But it can be tricky to find the right one for your specific needs. Thankfully, many of the very best scopes on the market today have been equipped to serve very well as a companion to an air rifle, with many zeroing right down to 10 yards.
Whatever your budget is, there are some excellent scopes to consider, so we’ve compiled a list of the best airgun scopes on the market right now. (Take a look at our list of the best airgun pellets here.) You might also like to take a look at our advice on fitting an air rifle scope mount.
Best airgun scopes
- 3-9x magnification
- Weighs 519g
- 306mm long
+ Compact and lightweight
+ Designed specifically for airgun use
– No illumination feature
Hawke is the preferred choice of more airgunners than any other brand thanks to a combination of quality, performance, price and breadth of specification. The Airmax line-up has been designed specifically for airgun use and comprises no fewer than 14 different products.
The ocular lens adjustment moves smoothly and has a rubber end cap. The magnification ring too has a rubber coating that is ridged to aid grip as you work through the 3-9x range. As you might expect on a scope at this price, the low-profile windage and elevation adjustments are revealed by unscrewing caps. The ¼ MOA adjustments are nice and clicky, and the white on black markings are small but clear to see.
Also befitting a scope as affordable as this, the parallax adjustment is via a collar on the objective lens. Once again, it is smooth to operate from 10 yards out to infinity. There are a few features that the Airmax doesn’t have that an airgunner would like, but for this price point, you can’t really complain. This would make an ideal entry-level scope for airgunners, which is why it makes our list of best airgun scopes. (If you’re out garden airgunning, take a look at our list of best air rifle targets.)
- 4-16x magnification
- 350mm long
- Weighs 670g
+ Excellent image quality
+ More suited to airguns than previous models
+ Can parallax down to 10 yards
+ Very bright sight picture
+ High quality build
+ Anti-fog and waterproofed
– Isn’t marked for distance, which could be a pain
Shooters with serious money to spend aren’t afraid to go the extra mile when it comes to splashing out on high-performance equipment. You can hardly blame them because, as with most things in life, you often get what you pay for when it comes to shooting gear, and that applies to optics. And if you have the money, there probably isn’t a better scope on the market right now than the Conquest V4.
One problem faced by hunters and target shooters who want to invest in top-quality optics is that this equipment has been made for use with powder-burning rifles. The result is that the best telescopic sights tend to be parallaxed for ranges beyond the distances that most airgunners are likely to be shooting over, so they aren’t really fit for purpose. That’s no longer a problem for airgun shooters who want to treat themselves to a Zeiss scope though, as the acclaimed optics manufacturer’s Conquest V4 scope range now parallaxes right down to an airgun-friendly 10 yards.
There’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a significant investment, but when you take their quality and performance into account, those who can afford it will be buying something special that will certainly deliver the goods in the field or on the range.
Best value for money
- 339mm long
- Weighs 725g
- 4-16x magnification
+ Good value for money
+ Uses tactical turrets
+ Crisp image quality
– Shared controls could be confusing
Hawke recently refreshed its line-up of Sidewinder scopes, offering a series of brand new models. Any of these would appeal not just to air rifle shooters, but rimfire and centrefire shooters too as they are capable of taking on both short and long-range assignments – and anything in between.
The sidewinder is a type of snake that moves sideways, which is the fastest and most efficient way for it to travel. In terms of scopes, the Sidewinder has a side focus control, which is the fastest and most efficient way to adjust parallax.
The Sidewinder also comes with an optional sidewheel, which adds extra fidelity, especially if you’re using the scope for rangefinding. Other great features are a fast-focus ring that’s quick to adjust, but can also be fixed in place with a lock ring, plus an optional zoom lever which gives you extra purchase when adjusting magnification.
Where price is concerned, there will be more affordable models on the market, but the Hawke Sidewinder hits that sweet spot in terms of maximum quality for a reasonable price.
While this is a functional optic, it’s aesthetically pleasing. It has a matt black finish that’s smooth rather than the gritty feel that sometimes accompanies a dull finish, and the objective bell is set off by a handsome silver band. If scopes can ever be described as being pretty, this is the most beautiful scope we’ve ever seen from Hawke.
- 365mm long
- Weighs 750g
- 6-24x magnification
+ Good for long-range shooting
+ Multi-aimpoint reticle
+ Illuminated central element
– Some may find it a bit too big and heavy, especially for field use
The MTC King Cobra F1 is at the top end of mid-priced scopes. Although we wouldn’t describe it as an affordable scope, we still think it amounts to very good value for money when its overall performance and features are taken into account.
It’s an optic that should appeal to plenty of airgun shooters who are looking for just that little bit extra when tackling longer targets. This scope can certainly cut it if you want a decent optic for long-range hunting and target work but don’t want to blow a whole month’s earnings.
But don’t think that the King Cobra will only be of use if you’re stretching the distance, as it also has the versatility to tackle close- and mid-range pest control assignments with ease, even in low-light conditions at dawn and dusk. Whereas some scopes do one or two things brilliantly, this scope does everything very, very well.
Best for field use
- 4-16x magnification
- 334mm long
- Weighs 580g
+ Lighter and more compact alternative to King Cobra
+ Flip-up caps ideal for field use
+ Practical matte black finish
– Not as ‘Lite’ as shooters might imagine
On the other end of the size range for MTC is the Mamba Lite, which comes in at nearly a full 200g lighter than its bigger brother listed above. That said, for such a label, it’s not quite as light and compact as you might imagine – the Hawke Airmax is quite a lot lighter than this MTC model. However, the kind of weight and length differences are fairly negligible, and almost certainly wouldn’t be enough to unbalance a combination.
But whereas the Hawke Airmax, though the most affordable scope on the list of best airgun scopes and probably the best entry-level model, lacks some key features in striving for a light and compact frame, the features of the Mamba Lite have not been compromised, still boasting an illuminated SCB2 reticle, 10 metres to infinity side parallax and magnetic flip covers which incorporate the patented 2x magnifier pane in the rear cover.
It’s more expensive than the Airmax, but still very affordable when put up against its stablemates in the mid-price range scope market.
Ideal for exclusive airgun use
- 337mm long
- Weighs 490g
- 3-12x magnification
+ Great value for money
+ Very reliable
+ Perfect magnification for airgun use
The Vantage scope range from Hawke Optics has a reputation for delivering impressive performance without excessive cost, and may be the better choice for an airgunner looking to pick a scope up from Hawke and wouldn’t mind spending a bit extra for some more features.
It’s an extremely versatile optic that punches way above its weight, and its price-tag, in the performance stakes. The range offers a huge choice of configurations with objective lenses from 32mm to 56mm, tube sizes of 25mm and 30mm, fixed, front or side-focus parallax, numerous practical reticle designs and even with illuminated reticles. If you’re after a fuss-free and affordable scope that can cut it in the field, the Vantage range takes some beating. So it deserves its place on this list of best airgun scopes.