Three gun competitions are some of the most fun and exciting ways to get involved in the shooting sports. Requiring competitors to engage targets with a pistol, shotgun, and rifle, three gun competitions are fast-paced and challenging. Having equipment outfitted with proper accessories that help to maximize your accuracy and efficiency is very important and scopes are part of that equation. Check out the list below to help you pick out the best 3 gun scope for your needs and preferences!
Before we get into the actual list, let’s learn a little more about 3 gun competitions and what to look for in a 3 gun scope.
*Please note that this information is just an overview of 3 gun competition and is not exhaustive or complete. If you are interested in competing in 3 gun, it is recommended that you seek out an official source such as the USPSA, IPSC, or 3GN.*
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for 3 Gun Scopes:
- 1UTG 1-8x28mm 30mm MRC Scope
- 2Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24 Drop Zone Scope
- 3Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight
- 4Monstrum G3 1-6x24 FFP Riflescope
- 5SWAROVSKI 1-6x24 L Z6i 2nd Generation Riflescope
- 6Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4x24 SFP Riflescope
- 7Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Riflescope
- 8Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm Riflescope
- 9Kahles K16i 1-6x24 3GR Reticle Riflescope
- 10Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24
Table of Contents
- What is 3 Gun?
- Are All 3 Gun Competitions the Same?
- What to Consider in a 3 Gun Scope?
- Best 3 Gun Scope on the Market Review
- 1 UTG 1-8x28mm 30mm MRC Scope
- 2 Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24 Drop Zone Scope
- 3 Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight
- 4 Monstrum G3 1-6x24 FFP Riflescope
- 5 SWAROVSKI 1-6x24 L Z6i 2nd Generation Riflescope
- 6 Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4x24 SFP Riflescope
- 7 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Riflescope
- 8 Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm Riflescope
- 9 Kahles K16i 1-6x24 3GR Reticle Riflescope
- 10 Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24
- Final Thoughts
What is 3 Gun?
The sport of 3 gun is one of the fastest growing shooting sports in terms of popularity. They are an action-packed combination of shooting skill, fluid movement, and speed. Competitors armed with a pistol, shotgun, and a modern sporting rifle built on the AR-15 platform, move through a course and must engage targets at varying distances.
Each stop on the course where the competitor engages targets is called a stage. Each stage will typically require the competitor to transition between several of their guns in a specific order and fire at targets in a certain pattern and from varying shooting positions. Some stages even include targets that are not meant to be shot at. This can be a good test of discipline on the course.
In between each stage, competitors will need to maneuver around obstacles safely to reach the next stage. The competitor is timed throughout the entire course and the competitor with the lowest time at the end is declared the winner. Put simply, 3 gun is a competition that tests many different aspects of safe, accurate, and fast shooting.
Are All 3 Gun Competitions the Same?
No. One of the main differences between different competitions is the division of each one. There are several different divisions in the world of 3 gun. These divisions can vary in name between shooting organizations, but they are all pretty similar and mostly differ in name.
These are the four most common divisions in 3 gun:
The Open division used to be the most popular division, but has dropped off significantly. This division is pretty much anything goes. As long as it is legal, it is allowed in this division. There are no limits on ports, compensators, optics, or magazines. Competitors can even use shotgun speed loaders in this division.
Currently the most popular division by a large margin, the Modified division makes up about 70-80% of 3 gun competitions today. In this division, pistols and shotguns are only allowed to have iron sights. A competitor’s rifle can have one variable magnification optic along with iron sights. Rifle compensators are also allowed. Bipods are not permitted.
The Factory division aims to keep the guns used in it as close to factory specifications as possible. Shotguns and pistols can only have iron sights while rifles are allowed to have one unmagnified optic such as a red dot sight, holographic, or reflex sight. Rifle compensators are permitted. Bipods are not permitted.
This division has different requirements between different organizations, but has some main similarities. Shotguns must be 12-gauge pump action, rifles must be 7.62x51 or larger, and pistols must be .45 ACP or larger. The main differences come in the types of sights that are allowed.
What to Consider in a 3 Gun Scope?
Now that you are a little more familiar with 3 gun competitions, let’s talk about 3 gun scopes. If you plan to compete in a division that allows a scope, it is important to choose one that will function well in the competition arena. Here are some things to look for and keep in mind.
If you will be competing in a division that allows variable magnification optics, magnification is an important scope consideration. The maximum range of a target in 3 gun competition is 500 yards. However, targets at that range won’t be in every course. Having a scope capable of providing accuracy at that range is important, but the most important thing is versatility.
Unless you want to buy multiple scopes for different competitions, look for a scope that has a minimum magnification of 1x. A scope that can’t go lower than 3x for example could present some issues on certain courses. A maximum magnification somewhere in the 8x range is plenty for a 3 gun scope. Anything higher than that begins to become counterproductive.
The method of magnification adjustment is also important to consider. If the method is cumbersome or hard to use, it will negatively affect your performance on the course. A scope with a quick magnification throw lever is one option that allows for rapid changes in magnification. Whatever scope you do choose, make sure to practice changing the magnification as part of your 3 gun competition preparation.
When a reticle is located on the first focal plane (FFP) of a scope, it will grow in size as magnification is increased. This keeps the subtensions accurate at any magnification. This can be ideal for extreme long range shooting, but can be a hindrance in 3 gun competition where target acquisition speed is vital. Some competitors find that a FFP reticle can become too large and interfere with their ability to quickly get on target.
Many 3 gun competitors prefer their reticles to be on the second focal plane (SFP) because it will stay the same size at any magnification. However, reticle subtensions do change when the magnification is changed except for at the recommended zero distance which is usually 100 yards. This might seem like a bad thing, but with a little practice you will be able to shoot confidently at any magnification with a SFP scope. The benefit of the reticle not interfering with target acquisition outweighs the downside.
Many scopes offer an illuminated reticle that makes the reticle easier to see in different lighting conditions. Reticle illumination is not restricted at all in 3 gun competition. If a scope is allowed in a division then an illuminated reticle is also permitted. An illuminated reticle can be very beneficial on cloudy days, but they can be harder to use on bright days.
If you go with an illuminated reticle, make sure to choose one with adjustable brightness settings. This will allow you to customize the brightness to fit whatever the current lighting conditions are. It is also a good idea to choose an illuminated reticle that will still be visible with the scope turned off or in the event of a dead battery. Just keep in mind that an illuminated scope that relies on battery power is one extra thing to think about on competition day.
Without any further adieu, let’s dive into the list. Keep reading to help you choose the best 3 gun scope for your competition needs!
Best 3 Gun Scope on the Market Review
1 UTG 1-8x28mm 30mm MRC Scope
The UTG 1-8x28mm 30mm MRC Scope is an excellent option for 3 gun competitions. Built on UTG’s True Strength Platform, this scope has the durability to withstand bumps and jars that may occur while running a course. Completely waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, the 30mm MRC Scope features single piece aluminum construction and a 30mm main tube for ample light transmission.
The illuminated reticle is glass-etched and also visible in black when the scope is turned off. This scope allows you to choose from multiple brightness settings and up to 36 different color options. The MRC has a BG4 reticle that is calibrated for bullet drop compensation with 5.56/.223 loads which are most common in 3 gun competition.
1x - 8x
2 Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24 Drop Zone Scope
For an option with a little less max magnification, the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24 Drop Zone Scope is an excellent option. Built specifically for 5.56/.223 AR-15 rifles, this scope has all of the features needed to perform as a 3 gun competition optic. Featuring tactical turrets, fully multi-coated optics, and a side parallax focus knob, the Drop Zone provides shooters with easy adjustability and a clear sight picture.
The customizable magnification throw lever allows for rapid, on the fly magnification adjustments on the 3 gun course. The Drop Zone-223 reticle is calibrated for .223 cartridges and will help you make proper holdover second nature.
1x - 4x
3 Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight
If you plan to compete in the Factory division of 3 gun competitions and want to run a red dot sight, look no further than the Aimpoint PRO Red Dot Reflex Sight. This compact sight offers six brightness levels, 30,000 hours of battery life with the included battery, and can be co-witnessed to iron sights.
The 2 MOA red dot reticle is the ideal size for both precise shot placement and rapid target acquisition. The Aimpoint PRO ships with a mount and a pair of transparent flip-up lens covers. This scope is parallax free and is equipped with a threaded front lens opening to allow for anti-reflection devices to be installed. If you're looking for some other red dot sights, check this article.
Illuminated 2 MOA Red Dot
4 Monstrum G3 1-6x24 FFP Riflescope
If you are in the market for a FFP scope for use in 3 gun competitions, it is hard to beat the Monstrum G3. This 1-6x magnification scope helps shooters to make quick holdover adjustments and range estimations when precious seconds count. The G3 features a 30mm main tube for excellent light transmission resulting in a bright and clear sight picture.
The G3 is shipped with everything you need including a pair of high-profile Picatinny rings, a battery for the illuminated MOA reticle, a removable honeycomb style sunshade, and a set of flip-up lens covers. The reticle is etched so it is visible whether the illumination is turned on or not.
1x - 6x
Illuminated MOA Type-C
5 SWAROVSKI 1-6x24 L Z6i 2nd Generation Riflescope
If you are a serious 3 gun competitor and want to be at the top of your game, the 1-6x24 L Z6i 2nd Generation Riflescope from Swarovski is hard to beat. This top of the line scope is built to the finest standards and boasts 90% light transmission. The field of view is superb coming in at 127.5 feet at 100 yards at 1x magnification.
The L Z6i rifle scope has a 4-I reticle that features an illuminated center dot reticle. The reticle also has an auto on/off feature to preserve battery life.
1x - 6x
6 Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4x24 SFP Riflescope
The Primary Arms Classic Series 1-4x24 SFP Riflescope is the perfect option for the budget minded shooter. This is also a great option if you want to test the waters of 3 gun competitions, but you don’t want to invest a lot of money at first. The eye relief of this scope (4.9 inches at 1x magnification) is ideal for rapid target acquisition.
The duplex dot reticle is simple yet effective. The center dot can also be illuminated and set to one of 12 different brightness settings.
1x - 4x
Illuminated Duplex Dot
7 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Riflescope
If you built a scope specifically for 3 gun competitions, you might wind up with the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Riflescope. For under $500, it has everything you need to succeed in the competition setting.
The true 1x magnification at the low end allows for extremely fast target acquisition. The illuminated BDC3 reticle helps to quickly engage targets at various ranges and the thread-in magnification throw lever makes magnification changes as fluid as they get.
1x - 8x
8 Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm Riflescope
The VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20 Riflescope from Leupold is one of the best value 3 gun scopes on the market today. Built from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, this scope is 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof and is equipped with scratch resistant lenses.
Precise ¼ MOA finger click adjustments get you right on target and comfortable eye relief allows for rapid target acquisition. That can be all the difference in the timed setting of a 3 gun competition.
1.5x - 4x
9 Kahles K16i 1-6x24 3GR Reticle Riflescope
The Kahles K16i 1-6x24 Riflescope is another high-end option for the serious 3 gun competitor. Focused on rapid target acquisition and easy magnification adjustment, this scope features an ultra wide field of view and a robust and easy to grip adjustment ring.
The illuminated 3GR was designed specifically for 3 gun competitions. Built to withstand the toughest conditions, the K16i from Kahles would make for a reliable companion on the 3 gun course.
10 Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24
Enjoy some of the highest quality glass in the optics world with the Zeiss Conquest V4 1-4x24 Riflescope. The waterproof and fogproof design features a second focal plane illuminated reticle and a 30mm main tube to allow in plenty of light.
With a bright and clear sight picture and tactical turrets, this low power variable optic (LPVO) scope is right at home on the 3 gun course.
The popularity of 3 gun competitions is growing fast. If you want to get in on the fun, you will have to make sure you have permissible gear that maximizes your accuracy and speed. Make sure to research the rules of 3 gun competitions to make sure you choose the right gear. Once you decide on a 3 gun division to participate in, use the list above to choose the best 3 gun scope for your needs.