With the price of guns and ammunition getting higher seemingly every day, many people are looking to multipurpose solutions for their firearms. This is not a new concept, people have been looking for ways to use hunting shotguns for home defense or target rifles for plinking or hunting for years.
When it comes to a gun made for offensive purposes, as well as survival and hunting, you have an interesting set of challenges. Col. Jeff Cooper decided to tackle these challenges of finding a rifle that can perform most things well, and he came up with the scout rifle.
One of the integral parts of a scout rifle is using a full-size rifle cartridge along with a medium powered optic to take advantage of the power and range of a bolt action rifle. In any case, the optic of a rifle should be a specialized and highly usable piece of equipment, especially so on a scout rifle.
Here are our picks for the best scout scopes on the market as well as a few tips and tricks to making sure you make the most out of your M1A or Savage scout rifle project.
Table of Contents
- What is a Scout Rifle?
- Why a Scout Optic?
- Weight Balance & Feel
- Top 8 Best Scout Scopes on the Market Review
- 1. Leupold 119675 VX-R Scout
- 2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout
- 3. Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28 EER
- 4. Aim Sports 2-7x42 8.5-10.5" Long Eye Relief 30MM SCOUT
- 5. Burris Scopes 200269 Scout Riflescope
- 6. UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope
- 7. Bushnell Trophy Scout Rifle Scope with Multi-X Reticle
- 8. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
- Price Ranges for Scout Scopes
- Accessories You May Want
- Final Verdict
What is a Scout Rifle?
A scout rifle, as defined by Col. Jeff Cooper, is a very specific rifle.
Essentially, it’s a rifle that meets the above specifications and is designed for fast snap shooting and easy carrying. Designed to be an all-around good rifle for just about anything be it hunting, target shooting, combat, or survival and prepping.
Scout rifles, in particular, are very much improved by the addition of an optic. To qualify as a scout rifle though, it needs to have a forward mounted optic to allow for both eyes open shooting and greater situational awareness.
By moving the optic further away from your eye, the housing of your optic takes up less space in your field-of-view. That way you get more awareness of what is going on around you because your scope, even though it is still a full-sized optic, takes up less room.
If you are building a scout rifle for prepping or self-defence, moving your optic further out also allows for the easy addition of weapon mounted night vision. If you plan on adding a night vision module to your scope make sure that the illumination or reticle will be compatible.
Why a Scout Optic?
If you are building a scout rifle, you’re going to need a specialized scout optic. Mainly because the forward mounting of an optic requires both a longer eye relief and more generous eye box. Having critical eye relief, or a very precise eyepiece and eye box means squeezing off a fast shot is going to be near impossible.
Combine the fact that this scope needs excellent optics with supreme durability to be mounted on a scout rifle, you can see why so few optics meet the criteria. Most manufacturers have an excellent job of assembling scopes that meet the standard of specialized features and durability.
Scout rifle’s need scopes that are tougher than regular rifles. The very nature of a portable, hard use working rifle means that a scope will take a lot of abuse. Combined with the fact that scout rifle’s utilize a forward mounted scope on the forend or barrel of the rifle, means it is going to be swung around much more in the field.
To cope with this, try to stick with a proven design from a major manufacturer. That way you know if any problems arise with your scope, you will have a company that has your back with a warranty or repair service. Otherwise, make sure that you buy from a manufacturer that has good reviews on most of its products, and the product that you are buying in particular.
If you do end up using your scout rifle for defence, be it a four-legged or two leg and predator, you’ll want full confidence knowing that your optic will be up to the job.
Weight Balance & Feel
When you buy a scout rifle scope, pay close attention to the weight and balance of both the scope itself and the mount you use. Quick detach mounts are the norm and are an excellent idea, but you are going to want to mount your scope as low-profile as possible.
Scout rifles are meant to be carried in a sling for long periods of time, often on foot. This means that the balance of your rifle is going to be just as important as its weight. The last thing you want is a top-heavy rifle that constantly wants to turn and dig into your side while carrying it.
You can get away with using a lightweight, small objective bell, modest magnification scope and with modern aluminum quick detach mounts, you should have no problem coming in at less than a pound for your entire set up.
Remember, because you don’t have to clear a bolt knob for reloading, you can mount your scope as low to the bore axis as your cheek weld will allow. This will help with balance, and also go a long way to protecting your scope by making it as close to the bore as possible.
Top 8 Best Scout Scopes on the Market Review
1. Leupold 119675 VX-R Scout
Leupold manufactures the finest sporting optics on the planet. While they manufacture for military and law-enforcement units as well, by far the greatest products are their scopes and optics made for sportsmen.
Designed to be one of the finest scout rifle scopes on the market, Leupold has combined a long eye relief scope with moderate magnification, and their excellent fire dot reticle. This combines the fast easy to shoot nature of the red dot sight, with the excellent magnification and optical quality that Leupold is known for.
Made using some of the highest-quality materials manufactured in the United States, this is a fully waterproof, fog proof and shockproof rifle scope with adjustable 1.5-5x magnification. It combines a slim and trim 1-inch tube with a 30 mm objective bell, housing fully multicoated lenses.
While it does include a ballistic reticle, it also requires batteries to illuminate a fire dot. This is a brightly glowing red dot at the center of classic crosshairs that makes fast snap shots easy, even while shooting with both eyes open.
This optic combines everything that Jeff Cooper had in mind when he envisioned the scout rifle. It is one of the highest-quality and best fitting rifle scopes for long eye relief for a scout set up on the market.
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout
Vortex optics is known for a single thing; the legendary durability of their scopes. They are at the forefront of innovation and customer service for their products and the optics industry as a whole. This is one of the best and lowest cost scout scopes on the market.
Made from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum, the fully multicoated optics in this scope are O-ring sealed and dry nitrogen purged. This delivers fully waterproof, fog proof and shockproof performance in any condition. Especially important for a scout rifle, this scope provides a full 9.45 inches of eye relief and an extremely forgiving fast focus eyepiece.
This allows you to very quickly and accurately take advantage of the high-quality magnifications and optical clarity this scope affords you in the field. The V-PLEX reticle is a very popular all-purpose hunting reticle, designed to allow you to accurately predict your shots out to normal hunting ranges with full-sized cartridges.
This may be the most rugged and dependable scout scope on the market, as well as providing some of the best value for money. It is included in several packages offered by multiple manufacturers, the crossfire II optics line-up from Vortex is an outstanding piece of equipment and performs admirably in any condition.
3. Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28 EER
Nikon scopes are the best value in the outdoor industry. They provide excellent optics for the money that provide all the capability of much higher cost optics.
Extremely high-quality, value driven optics and construction make this one of the best scopes for people who want to make the most of their budget. Designed as an all-around long eye relief scope to be mounted on rifles, as well as hard recoiling pistols, it is an extremely versatile design that is as durable as it is lightweight.
Constructed mainly in polymer, this makes the scope lightweight and allows it to absorb the recoil better than other designs. Double O-ring sealed this scope is waterproof, fog proof and shockproof to withstand the harsh recoil of Magnum handguns and large bore scout rifle’s.
It includes a handgun specific BDC reticle, but happens to work with intermediate cartridges well enough that you can predict shots for hunting or general target shooting. The fully multicoated optics inside the scope include multiple layers of anti-reflective, compounds on every glass surface to provide 95% light transmission to your eye.
To dial in and confirm zero, this scope features hand adjustable turrets designed for half inch adjustments at 100 yards.
Designed to be one of the best rated scopes for the money, all in all, this is an excellent scout rifle scope for a lightweight and compact rifle like a Ruger Scout, Mini 14, or could even be used on an AK-47.
4. Aim Sports 2-7x42 8.5-10.5" Long Eye Relief 30MM SCOUT
Aim Sports contracts with firms that produce optics internationally for sportsmen. Many of their models are beloved online for providing a level of quality that is alone in its price segment. At less than $100 this scope is one of the largest on the market and is one of the only scopes offering a 30 mm tube.
It has 2-7x magnification that is perfect for shooting out to three or 400 yards with a common .308 scout rifle. The huge 42mm rifle scope is plenty big to gather enough light to the last second of shooting light for hunting or target shooting.
The thing about this rifle scope is that for the price, you get a totally usable riflescope that includes a 30 mm tube, modest magnification and plenty of eye relief. The mil dot reticle makes it easy to predict your shots out to long-range with a scout rifle.
This is the perfect scout rifle scope for someone who building a rifle specifically for the zombie apocalypse or survival. It hits a price point that nearly everyone can afford, that still allows you plenty of room in any budget for accessories and plenty of ammunition.
If you have an older Mosin Nagant rifle, that you are trying to assemble for cheap, this is the best scope for the job.
5. Burris Scopes 200269 Scout Riflescope
Burris is very much a sleeper when it comes to high-quality scopes. While not nearly as in vogue as other manufacturers, they occasionally have spectacular offerings on the market. This fixed magnification scout rifle scope is by far the most compact and lightweight scout scope on the market.
If your goal is to have a lightweight and fast shooting carbine as possible, this is for you. It offers modest 2.75x magnification and a tiny 20mm objective lens. Built around a 1-inch tube, you can mount this scope closer to the bore axis than any other scope on the market.
It has generous eye relief and is set at 100 yards for parallax and turret adjustment. Manufactured entirely in the United States, this is as simple and compact as you can possibly get for an optic. It has fully multicoated lenses and gathers light well enough despite having a tiny 20mm objective lens.
While this scope provides little more than modest magnification and crosshairs for aiming, it provides a level of portability that no other scout scope on the market can touch. It has outstanding build quality and ruggedness and is an excellent option for anyone looking for a scout optic akin to many red dots.
6. UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope
This is the most fully featured scout scope on the market. From UTG this scope features 30mm tube, 44mm objective lens and 2-7x magnification. This is one of the only scout scopes on the market, especially in this price range, to feature an illuminated reticle and target style turrets.
This scope uses proprietary Emerald lens coatings and ATS platform design that is shockproof, bombproof, and waterproof. It incorporates an angled sunshade and zero reset turrets for shooting out to extended ranges with ease.
This scope managed to pack in more features than any other scope on the market, but it comes a price. The large target turrets and computer program that manages the 36-color illuminated reticle make this one of the largest scout scopes on the market.
If you feel that you need all these features, have at it! This is a high-performance scope that has a lot to offer and size alone shouldn’t deter you from trying to take advantage of everything on the scope. However, this is going to be a bit large for most people to carry around all day.
7. Bushnell Trophy Scout Rifle Scope with Multi-X Reticle
Bushnell is one of the largest manufacturers of optics on the planet. You can find their optics fielded by elite military and law-enforcement units, as well as on the shelves of Walmart. They produce numerous scout rifle scopes but this one stands out as one of the best value and is one of their most affordable models.
With a scout scope, there is a certain threshold of performance that needs to be met to make it usable. Generous eye box, noncritical long eye relief, as well as a ruggedized design. This scope from Bushnell is from their trophy series and exceeds all the minimum requirements for an effective scout scope.
It has a Multi-X reticle that is one of the best on the market for predicting your shots out to the edge of a cartridges ballistic potential. It is fully multicoated, waterproof, fog proof and shockproof just like many other scopes in the market, but Bushnell has managed to cram all the features of the scope into a much smaller and lighter footprint than many others.
It has a 36 mm objective lens, which is on the small side of rifle scopes, but performs as well as larger scopes, while staying close to the bore axis for easy handling. This is the best one for lightweight rifles like a Mini 14 because of that light weight and small footprint.
8. Sig Sauer SOR52001 Romeo5
Sig Sauer, one of the most prolific pistol manufactures in the world, entered the optics market a few years ago. They now produce some of the highest-quality, most cost-effective electronic and magnified optics on the market. They use their name as leverage to introduce new extraordinarily useful technologies onto the market, one of which is their miniature red dot.
Manufactured entirely in the United States, this miniature red dot features a 2moa dot that is adjustable with 10 different illumination settings. It has a sensor built into the housing that senses whether the unit is in motion, if you move the rifle that this optic is mounted to the unit automatically turns on. After a bit of time when the sensor doesn’t detect movement, it turns off. This allows it to have an exceptional 40,000+ hour battery life.
It has an integrated picatinny rail and is IPX-7 waterproof, fog proof and shockproof. Many people want a magnified optic on a scout rifle set up. However, if you have an AK-47, Marlin 336, or even a Mosin Nagant that will be used primarily for plinking and fun, you may not want to endure the cost of mounting a magnified optic.
Highly effective, low-cost red dot optics for scout scopes are excellent options and manufacturers like CVA scout have been making them a long time but this one from Sig Sauer is one of the best on the market.
Price Ranges for Scout Scopes
Scout scopes are perfect for bug-out or SHTF situations. If you don’t normally shoot full-sized centerfire rifle cartridges you may be looking for ways to cut costs when assembling a scout rifle. This is completely understandable and often encouraged so that you have more money for ammunition.
Here are the general price range is that most budget or affordably priced scout scopes fall into and a few tips and tricks to getting the most for your money and these price ranges.
In this price range, look for scopes that offer combinations and packages. You can typically find scopes in this price range that offer rails and rings included, saving you money. Scopes in this class will typically offer larger objective bells and higher magnification to make up for low optical quality.
This is not necessarily a problem if it is going to be on a rifle that sees light use, or if it was to be an introductory scope to try out the scout style, or is going to be a piece of equipment that you only use in case of SHTF.
Under $100 you typically won’t find American made scopes or great warranties. However, this is certainly a buyers’ market when it comes to optics and there are plenty of options out there that will perform out to at least 300 yards with decent quality in this price range.
My pick for this range: Aim Sports 2-7x42 8.5-10.5" Long Eye Relief 30MM SCOUT.
The $200 range for scout scopes allows you to buy excellent optics but doesn’t have a lot of options. You may consider using a handgun scope in this area, especially if you are you using a factory-built scout set up rather than assembling one from pieces.
For $200 you can get a high quality scope from one of the budget or affordable line-ups offered by major manufacturers like Leupold, Bushnell and Vortex. Many of the scopes offer all the functionality of their more expensive cousins, just aren’t nearly as refined.
My pick for this range: Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout.
If you have at least $300 to spend, you have access to the majority of excellent scout scopes on the market. What you don’t have, is a lot of money to spend on a quick detach mount, rail or having professionally installed.
It is generally a good idea if you have only $300 to buy an excellent scope and either wait to be able to afford a good mount rail or look for a package deal. Many manufacturers, most notably Ruger, will include rings in their rifle’s package. This can save you money, especially on a specialized scope like a scout set up.
My pick for this range: Burris Scopes 200269 Scout Riflescope.
Accessories You May Want
When you’re assembling your scout rifle, there are a few accessories that you are going to want that make using your rifle much easier. This obviously includes the scope, but along with the optic you choose, there are a few other accessories that are going to make using your scout rifle a pleasure rather than a chore.
Most people don’t realize how specialized a scout scope is until they shoot through one. Make sure you leave room in your budget to make the learning curve for accurately using a long eye relief scope easier.
Having a quality mount is essential. Not only does it literally attach your scope to your base and prevents your scope from losing zero and helps mitigate recoil. For a scout rifle, you really ought to have a quick detach scope mount.
It may be tempting to use one that is similar to those found on AR 15’s or AK-47s. However, you’re going to want a specialized precision rifle mount so that you can take advantage of the increase in accuracy that you get from a precision bolt action rifle.
Make sure the rifle that you are using has the appropriate rail for mounting a scout optic. Some rifles like Marlin 336’s and 1894 chambered in .45-70 are easy and cheap to outfit with the proper rail and mount combination, but you need to factor the cost of these modifications into your budget.
If you have a rifle that uses a proprietary rail like a Ruger Mini 14, make sure you order one ahead of time, so your project isn’t stalled by not having the right part.
3.) Back Up Iron Sights
Jeff Cooper’s original philosophy calls for every scout rifle to have backup iron sights. This is a great idea if you will primarily be using your rifle in a self-defence role. However, outfitting rifles with backup iron sights that don’t come from the factory can sometimes be expensive.
Decide whether or not you really want backup iron sights or off for one of the Steyer, Springfield Armory, Savage, Marlin or Ruger rifles that include them from the factory.
A scout rifle is simply not a scout rifle without a sling. Depending on the type of environment you are going to be working in, you may opt for a leather three position sling like the Colonel would have wanted, or you can get one of the modern single point to point slings.
Avoid three-point slings, technology has moved on to bigger and better things. Hot on the market right now are bungee style single point slings that don’t get in the way when shooting but absorb shock if you must move quickly with your rifle. Any way you slice it, just get a good one and use it!
5.) Cheek Pad
Depending on the type of mounting you use for your scout rifle scope. You may want to consider a cheek pad. This will raise the comb of your stock up as far as you need to get a good cheek weld.
Companies are now producing cheek pads made from sorbothane material that allows you to virtually wrap your entire butt stock in vibration absorbent material to avoid recoil. These are excellent products and can go a long way to making sure you can shoot accurately.
6.) Recoil Absorbent But Pad
If you are one of the very many shooters who was introduced to the world firearms through a semiautomatic pistol or intermediate cartridge from an AR 15 or AK-47 you may not be accustomed to shooting a .308 scout rifle.
If that’s the case, recoil is going to be a new sensation for you especially in a scout rifle. Consider a recoil absorbent but pad so that you can focus on hitting your mark, rather than avoiding pain after your first magazine of ammunition.
Choosing the best scout scope for your particular set up is a very important step to assembling your scout rifle. Small differences in features can add up to a potent riflescope, and the absence of some features will severely limit the range that you can shoot your rifle.
Don’t forget to leave room for the cost of a mount, base and any accessories you may want. Above all else, remember that assembling a scout rifle is a very individual process and it is going to take time to get used to shooting and carrying it.
Long eye relief scopes are not for everyone but make sure you give your rifle several hundred rounds in a few months to get used to the new set up. Most people, once they get used to it, never go back to a standard set up.
For the full explanation about rifle scope, read here.