So, you want to up your airsoft accuracy? Spot targets from far away? Stalk the enemy and pick them off one by one?
Then you need a scope.
But not just any scope–you need a great scope that will work well with your airsoft rifle and won’t break the bank. After all, you’re not putting real bullets a thousand yards downrange or for hunting or self-defense, so you don’t need to spend a few thousand on a Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 H2CMR scope.
I mean, you can if you want to, but in case you aren’t made of money, we’ll give you some other options.
But first, we’ll talk about what you need to know about scopes, what to look for in a scope, and, of course, which scopes we personally recommend.
Ready? Let’s hit it!
What You Need to Know About Scopes
Let’s get started with the basics–here’s a quick crash course in what you need to know about scopes to get started.
There’s an old adage when it comes to buying a scope: spend as much on your scope as you did on your rifle.
Well, we’re going to ignore that rule, because we’re not hunting lions, and to be honest, airsoft guns aren’t that inherently accurate. So if you see that wisdom cropping up in another article on the subject, know that it’s really meant more for real steel shooters.
Anyways, our rule of thumb goes something like, “Buy a scope you can afford, and practice lots.”
Choosing a scope for airsoft is, fortunately, a much simpler process than choosing a scope for hunting, sniping, or self-defense. After all, the range of an airsoft gun isn’t nearly as long, so that will cut down a lot on your choices, as well as your cost!
Let’s take a closer look at some of the details that will help you shop for a scope that’s just right for you.
Obviously, the point of a scope is to magnify the target, and many scopes will have a range of magnifications possible, which are denoted by a number like 6X, which means the image is magnified by 6 times, or 6-24X, which means the low end of the scope is 6 times magnification, but it can magnify up to 24 times.
24X is a little overkill, especially for airsofters, but there are plenty of scopes that offer a range of magnifications at more reasonable levels for our needs.
Really, if you’re shooting at ranges less than 400 yards, you only need a 1-4x scope. For man-sized targets at longer ranges, you may want a 3-9X or a 2-10X scope.
Decoding scope numbers can tell you a lot about a scope, if you know how to read them. We just talked about magnification, which is the first part of a scope number, but what do the others mean?
After the X that denotes magnification power, you’ll see another number, which indicates the objective lens diameter in millimeters. The objective lens is the lens at the muzzle end of your scope.
For instance, you might see 3-9X40, which means that the scope has 3x to 9x magnification and a 40mm objective lens, which is described as “three to nine by forty.”
But what if there’s another number in there? That means that there’s a scope ring size that is also being expressed. Most scopes use a 1-inch scope ring, but some use a 30mm ring. When you see a 30 added on after the objective lens size, it’s noting the scope needs a 30mm ring to mount it.
Reticles are the little crosshairs that you see superimposed over your target when you look down the scope. They come in an array of styles, and some scope manufacturers even let you choose what kind of reticle you want in your scope.
Thinner reticles are harder to see, but are better for small targets or greater distances. Thicker reticles allow you to pick up your aim much faster, but can obscure small or distant targets.
Some scopes offer LED-illuminated reticles, which means that your reticle will glow green or red–which is great right up until the battery runs out. Make sure you always have spare batteries, or that can still use the reticle even when it isn’t illuminated.
You might also notice many reticles on the market have tiny dots, hash marks, or other markings on the vertical line of the reticle. These markings are designed to show you where to hold for different distances. If your crosshairs are sighted dead on at say, 100 yards, the marks will indicate where to hold for targets that are 200 yards, 300 yards, 400 yards away, and so on.
Every scope should have several adjustments, including windage (side to side) and elevation (up and down). You should also see an adjustment for parallax and focus.
Windage and elevation adjustments use dials or knobs to make adjustments to your reticle itself, shifting it ever so slightly from side to side or up and down until your shots are landing where the reticle says they should be. This is also known as zeroing a rifle.
Focus is the sharpness of the reticle, similar to turning the focus on a microscope. With a black background, look through the scope and adjust until the reticle appears nice and crisp.
Parallax adjustments aren’t as critical for airsofters, since we usually aren’t shooting over extremely long distances or shooting at tiny targets, but it’s still important to know what this adjustment does.
First, let’s briefly go over parallax–the effect that causes the position or direction of an object to appear to differ when viewed from different positions.
For example, consider a camera with a viewfinder (we know, we’re dating ourselves here). The image taken through the camera lens can differ ever so slightly from what is seen through the viewfinder, thanks to parallax.
An adjustment for parallax helps correct the difference between what you see down the scope and what your muzzle is actually pointing at so that they are the same.
While airsoft guns may not recoil as hard as real steel guns, you still want to make sure that your eyeball isn’t all mashed up against the scope. Why? Ever been punched in the face? That’s why.
As your rifle recoils, it carries the scope backward–and right into your eye. Scope bite, as it’s called, can hurt a whole hell of a lot, not to mention it can mess up your scope and your face.
Eye relief is the term for the space between your face and the scope, often determined by the scope itself and what is comfortable. Make sure you have at least an inch of eye relief, but a bit more is better.
All the eye relief in the world can’t help you if you don’t shoulder your gun correctly, though, so make sure you have a chance to learn how to shoot with a scope before you hit the field.
How to Choose a Scope
Now that you’re not a scope noob, let’s talk a little about what to look for when shopping for your scope.
There will never, ever be a time when we don’t harp on reliability as a key feature. Cool gear may look awesome for a match or two, but reliable gear can last you a lifetime.
Equipment failure sucks. It can ruin your game, result in you getting shot, cost you money, and be an all-around bummer.
When looking at scopes, you’ll want to look for scopes that are durable, but also will hold zero–meaning they won’t change their adjustments, even if they get jarred a bit.
Scopes have come a long, long way since their inception, and modern scopes offer an overwhelming amount of options and functions.
Ultimately, you want a durable, matte finish. You want a reticle that you like, and in a color that you find easy to see. You probably will a fog-proof scope if you play anywhere with humidity. A waterproof scope can be nice if you’re playing in all weather conditions.
There are plenty of scopes out there that will suit your needs and scale as you grow your skills.
As we mentioned above, magnification plays a big role in the effectiveness of a scope. If you play on smaller fields, you’ll want less magnification than if you play on larger fields. A scope with adjustable magnification will be fine to go with you into either situation.
Ultimately, it’s about what makes you feel effective.
Best Airsoft Scopes
Best Overall Scope: UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope
Our favorite scope is one that is very rugged and designed for real firearms. The UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope.
It’s shock-proof, fog-proof, rain-proof, and nitrogen-sealed so it’s great for all-weather games. The multi emerald coated lenses offer some phenomenal optical clarity, and they flip-up lens covers and angled sun visor will help keep your view clear.
This scope features a reticle that can be illuminated in 36 different colors with a specially designed circuit for uninterrupted illumination, even in bad conditions. With 1-click illumination memory, your settings will pop back right to where they were the last time you used the scope, so there’s less fiddling to do–which we love.
You can adjust the windage and elevation, as well as the parallax with precise and consistent adjustment turrets, making it easy to tune your scope perfectly.
We also love that this scope comes with a pair of medium profile Max Strength mounting rings. The saddle height is 15mm, and the ring diameter is 30mm. They fit on Picatinny and Weaver rails with quick-detach twist locks.
Best Budget Scope: Swiss Arms Soft Air 4×40 Scope
Dropping nearly $100 on a scope might not be in your budget, but don’t think that we forgot about you! The Swiss Arms Soft Air 4×40 Scope is a great budget buy. It isn’t designed to the same standards at the UTG scope, which is meant for real rifles, but this scope is still a fantastic airsoft scope.
Swiss Arms is a part of the CyberGun group, which is one of the companies on our best airsoft brands list, and they create some great airsoft gear. This scope is a 4x magnification, which will give you a good balance of zoom and field of view.
The reticle is nice and crisp, intuitive to use and easy to get on target. Whether you’re just getting into airsoft sniping or you’re an old pro, this scope is for you.
Best Tactical Scope: IRON JIA’s 3-10×42 Tactical Rifle Scope
Okay, so we know it looks a little Mall Ninja, but if you’re looking for flexibility, this is it. You get a laser sight, a 3-10x scope, and a red dot sight, all in one with IRON JIA’S 3-10X42 Tactical Rifle Scope.
Both the laser sight and the red dot offer red and green lasers, so you can customize your sights based on what you need. The green reticle and laser are great for daytime use, while the red setting is perfect for nighttime use.
It has 5 different levels of brightness and a laser range of 100m. The integrated mount is reversible and compatible with Picatinny, Weaver, and dovetail tails.
You can use the laser for hip-fire sighting, the red dot for close quarters, and the scope for when things get a little further away, all without switching guns.
It’s a bit more expensive than we’d normally recommend from a brand we don’t know much about, but at the same time–it’s too cool to not mention!
Best Scope Cam: RunCam Scope Cam Airsoft Version Gun Camera
Ever watch sniping videos on YouTube and wonder how they manage to get all that cool footage? Well, for one, they use a scope cam. We like the RunCam Scope Cam since it is designed for use with airsoft guns and records in an awesome 1080P, 60FPS for all that high-speed action.
It can be mounted a variety of ways, so it’s not hard to figure out which method works best for your setup. You can connect to the camera with its built-in WiFi connectivity, which lets you view your footage and live camera views on a mobile app (for Android and iOS).
The aluminum alloy case is tough enough for long days on the field, and the Corning Gorilla Glass lens cover will make sure that nothing happens to your lens, no matter how hot the firefight gets.
It also comes with a rail adaptor, which takes a ton of guesswork out of mounting this thing to just about any gun!
Sniping is fun, but it isn’t the only thing you’ll use an airsoft scope for. Up your accuracy and make target acquisition a breeze at any range with one of these awesome scopes.
You might also find you enjoy practicing with a scope to let you track your hits and increase your own skill with some range time.
Whatever you want to use an airsoft scope for, it’s hard to go wrong with any on the list.
Do you use an airsoft scope? If so, which one? What do you like or dislike about it? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think! Don’t forget to check out the best eye protection, too!