Varmint hunting is a great way to keep you hunting skills sharp during the off-season. It is also a good way to keep populations of damaging pests under control. Varmint shooting usually requires a rifle designed for high-velocity cartridges. The best varmint scope will compliment your rifle and help you hit small target areas on animals that are often at extreme distances.
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for varmint scopes:
- 1Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Adjustable Objective Hog Hunter - Our Top Pick
- 2ZEISS Conquest V4 6-24x50 Riflescope - Best Long Range Varmint Scope
- 3Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7x33 Rimfire Riflescope -Best Rimfire Varmint Scope
- 4Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 - Best under $1000
- 5Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32 - Best under $500
- 6Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 6-18x50 - Best under $300
- 7Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24x42 - Best Budget Varmint Scope
- 8ATN X-Sight 4K Pro - Best Night Vision Scope for Varmint Hunting
- 9Monstrum G2 6-24x50 FFP Riflescope
- 10Nightforce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56
Table of Contents
- What is a Varmint?
- Choosing the Right Varmint Scope
- Best Varmint Scope on the Market Reviews
- 1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Adjustable Objective Hog Hunter - Our Top Pick
- 2 ZEISS Conquest V4 6-24x50 Riflescope - Best Long Range Varmint Scope
- 3 Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7x33 Rimfire Riflescope -Best Rimfire Varmint Scope
- 4 Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 - Best under $1000
- 5 Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32 - Best under $500
- 6 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 6-18x50 - Best under $300
- 7 Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24x42 - Best Budget Varmint Scope
- 8 ATN X-Sight 4K Pro - Best Night Vision Scope for Varmint Hunting
- 9 Monstrum G2 6-24x50 FFP Riflescope
- 10 Nightforce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56
- Final Thoughts
What is a Varmint?
“Varmint” is a colloquial term used in the United States that refers to several species of vermin or pests. Varmints come in all shapes and sizes and common species vary based on your location.
There are a wide variety of different varmint species out there that you can hunt. The most popular species include squirrels, raccoons, coyotes, prairie dogs, groundhogs, foxes, bobcats, wild hogs, crows, and pigeons.
Choosing the Right Varmint Scope
Varmint hunting is, at its heart, a form of pest control. In most areas, there are only minimal (if any) laws regulating the activity.
Since the types of pest vary by region, the types of firearms and optics used for pest control also vary. Basically, the type of scope you need depends on the type of firearm you’re using and the type of vermin you need to shoot. Obviously, it takes a very different set-up to pop prairie dogs across stretches of open farmland than it does to shoot feral pigeons within city limits. However, both pursuits fall under the canopy of “varmint hunting.”
Pairing a Scope with Your Firearm
The biggest consideration in choosing a varmint scope is the type of firearm it will be mounted on. Varmint hunters use everything from lightweight rimfire rifles to heavy-duty bolt actions. You can even use a shotgun to hunt vermin.
The most popular style of varmint hunting involves long-range rifles chambered for flat-shooting cartridges like .17 HMR, .22-250 Remington, .223 Remington, and .243 Winchester.
You will need an optic that compliments the range capabilities of your rifle. If your rifle is capable of popping pests at 300 yards or more, you’ll want a scope with a generous magnification range. This will help you make precision shots on the small vital areas of distant rodents. You could also benefit greatly from a shooting tripod to provide some extra stability on those tough distance shots.
If your varmint plan involves squirrels in thick woods, a scope with serious magnification will be more of a hindrance than an asset. Instead, a scope with lower magnification will serve you better.
Low Light Shooting
Most varmint species are more active at night or during the hours surrounding dawn and dusk. These low light conditions demand a lot from an optic. To make the best of twilight shooting, look for a scope with a large objective lens and fully multi-coated optics. This will help maximize light transmission to provide the brightest sight picture possible.
An illuminated reticle can also save you some serious eye strain when you’re making those tough low light shots.
Best Varmint Scope on the Market Reviews
Here are a few of our top scope models for varmint hunting.
1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 Adjustable Objective Hog Hunter - Our Top Pick
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Vortex Optics are some of the best in the world. We’ve fallen in love with the company’s Crossfire II for many reasons, but the Hog Hunter is mission specific for low light hunting.
Don’t let the name fool you. Yes, this thing is one of the best hog hunting scopes on the market, but it also excels for varmints of any type from “early evening to the first glimmer of dawn.” If you plan to hunt in the lowest light conditions, we promise this is the scope you want mounted on your rifle.
The Crossfire II Hog Hunter features an adjustable objective (AO) lens for easy focusing and parallax adjustment. It also features an SFP (second focal plane) V-Brite illuminated MOA reticle. This design uses the standard, easy-to-use V-Plex reticle with a battery-powered center dot for high visibility in extra-low light conditions.
The scope also has fully multi-coated optics with anti-reflective coatings, a generous 30mm tube, and an oversized 56mm objective lens so you can enjoy bright, clear images even as the sun starts to sink below the horizon.
2 ZEISS Conquest V4 6-24x50 Riflescope - Best Long Range Varmint Scope
Zeiss is famous for producing some of the best optical equipment in the world. The company’s Conquest V4 is ideal for pegging long range coyotes, groundhogs, and prairie dogs, especially in low light or rainy weather.
The Conquest V4 features high definition glass with Zeiss T coatings which deliver brilliant, high-contrast images even in subpar lighting. The lenses are also coated with Zeiss’s proprietary LutoTec covering. This hydrophobic coating guarantees unhindered views, even in the wettest shooting conditions.
You can choose from a variety of reticle styles, but for varmints, we love the #91 ZBR-1. This ballistic reticle has detailed MOA subtensions. This helps you place your bullet precisely, no matter the range of your target or the surrounding wind conditions.
3 Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7x33 Rimfire Riflescope -Best Rimfire Varmint Scope
If you’re looking for a scope for your .22 rimfire rifle, this one from Leupold is as near perfect as it gets. The VX-Freedom Rimfire features a special rimfire-MOA reticle and is parallax adjusted for 60 yards, making it ideal for rimfire cartridges including .22LR and .17HMR.
The scope’s turrets feature precision 1/4 MOA finger click adjustments for windage and elevation, so you can easily hit distant squirrels, rats, muskrats, and rabbits.
Weighing only 11 ounces, the Leupold VX-Freedom won’t weigh down your lightweight rifle. But best of all, this awesome little rifle scope comes with Leupold’s exclusive Twilight Light Management System. This unique system of lenses and coatings maximizes light transmission, reduces glare, and provides stunning image brightness and clarity. As a result, the optic extends available shooting light by up to 15 minutes at dawn and dusk when varmints are most active.
4 Nikon Black FX1000 4-16x50 - Best under $1000
This high-quality riflescope from Nikon is perfect for long-range varmints. It also has a nice tactical look that makes it well-suited for AR-15 coyote and hog hunting.
The Black FX1000 has a finely detailed match grade FFP (first focal plane) reticle. The reticle is designed to maximize the sight picture, making it easier to see small vital areas, especially at distance. It also incorporates everything you need for ranging, holdover, and windage corrections.
Shooters will appreciate the superb target turrets on this awesome riflescope. They provide crisp, precise 25 MOA adjustments with each revolution. There is also a convenient return-to-zero stop which allows you to quickly and easily return to your zero, no matter how many adjustments you’ve made.
5 Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32 - Best under $500
The Burris Ballistic Plex riflescope has miles of eye relief, making it perfect for a forward, scout-style mount. This design allows you to keep both eyes open when you line up crosshairs, which works particularly well when varmints are on the move.
Although this scope is priced well under $500, it is far from a budget scope. This heavy-duty optic provides plenty of performance and is built to last. Fully fogproof, waterproof, and shockproof, the Burris Ballistic Plex is built for rough use and harsh conditions.
6 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 6-18x50 - Best under $300
The Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn riflescope was designed specifically for low light shooting. It has features like DDB fully multi-coated lenses, a 50mm objective lens, and ED prime glass. These light enhancing features add precious minutes of shooting time to the start and end of every hunting day. The scope even has dielectric prism coatings that deliver up to 92 percent light transmission, providing some of the brightest low light images on the planet.
With a 6-18x magnification range, this version of the Banner is perfect long range rifle scope for under $300. You also get a fast focus eyepiece and high-quality target turrets that provide ¼-MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments.
Bushnell made the Banner for tough outdoor conditions. The housing on this optic is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed to ensure the inside of your scope stays nice and dry. You won’t need to worry about internal fogging with this scope. It can even survive being submerged in three feet of water for up to 30 whole minutes.
7 Tasco Target/Varmint 6-24x42 - Best Budget Varmint Scope
Tasco scopes aren’t anything fancy, but they offer tons of value for the money. This one is priced well under 200, but performs like a much more expensive model.
At home in the woods as well as on the range, the Tasco Varmint Scope has a generous 6-24x magnification range, a nice field of view (13 to 3.7 feet at 100 yards), and fully multi-coated lenses.
WIth a rugged design, the Tasco Varmint is sturdy enough to handle rough conditions and hard use. The scope is fully waterproof, fogproof, shockproof, and built to last.
The Tasco Varmint features a True Mil-Dot reticle and high-quality target turrets with 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments, so you can easily hit the small vital areas on distant varmints.
8 ATN X-Sight 4K Pro - Best Night Vision Scope for Varmint Hunting
If you need a rifle scope for both daytime and nighttime varmint hunting, the ATN X-Sight is the perfect option. Unlike many night vision devices, the ATN X-Sight digital scope transitions seamlessly from bright light to pitch dark.
Far more than a standard riflescope, the ATN is packed with tons of high-tech features. With an Obsidian 4 Dual Core Processor, this scope acts like a computer you can conveniently mount to your rifle.
The scope comes with a 4K video recorder with built-in HD screen, recoil activated recording, a ballistic calculator, barometer, and a rangefinder. It even has Wi-Fi streaming so you can share all the excitement of your hunts.
9 Monstrum G2 6-24x50 FFP Riflescope
When it comes to affordable optics, Monstrum is hard to beat. Their G2 model may technically be a budget-priced riflescope, but it definitely doesn’t perform like one.
The G2 is packed with serious high-end features, like an FFP etched glass reticle and touch button illumination. The reticle design allows for quick range estimations and faster holdover corrections because the reticle remains constant through the entire magnification range. The scope also offers both red and green illumination and multiple brightness settings for excellent reticle visibility.
The scope is built tough. It is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for reliable fogproof performance. It also has a roomy 4 to 4 ½ inches of eye relief, making it well-suited for rifles with harsh recoil.
10 Nightforce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56
Because most species are more active during low light hours, having a scope that excels in low light is crucial to success. NightForce Optics is known for delivering high-performance low light optics, and the NXS riflescope is one of their top models.
Built for extended ranges, the Nightforce NXS offers serious 5.5-22x magnification, impeccable glass quality, and fully multi-coated lenses. The NXS has amazing brightness and performs like a rock star in low light, even at the high end of the magnification range. .
The NXS also has serious high-end features like a full 100 MOA of elevation adjustment, an easy 50-yard parallax adjustment, and a helpful ZeroStop elevation feature.
Any of the scopes on our list will help you keep pest populations in check. However, even the best varmint scope won't make up for deficiencies in your shooting skills. It takes serious skill to peg the vitals of a prairie dog at 400 yards. No matter which optic you choose to top your varmint gun, you’ll need a steady hand, proper breathing, and good trigger control, so make sure you spend some time practicing your shooting fundamentals.