Best scopes for rimfire rifles 2020

Mike Powell presents his best scopes for rimfire rifles this year.

1 – Hawke Airmax 3-12×50 30SF

Hawke Airmax 3-12×50 30SF

Without a doubt the maker of scopes that have always been very much to the fore when it comes to small calibre rifles and air weapons is Hawke. I have used their products for many years and have always found them to be excellent. And they are first on our list of best scopes for rimfire rifles

On my Anschutz 17/10 22LR – a rifle that I’ve owned for a very long time – I have a Hawke Airmax 3-12×50 30SF, and that is our first pick for best scopes for rimfire rifles. I like this particular scope because of the excellent (like all Hawke scopes) optics and also the fact when switching to rat shooting with night vision I can wind the magnification down to 3x.

2 – Leupold VX 111 4.5-14×50

Leupold VX 111 4.5-14×50

On my Anschutz 17/17 I have been making use of a Leupold VX 111 4.5-14×50 Long Range scope. I’m not sure if these are still available; but for night shooting and its ability to hold zero – despite the traumas it suffers when driving a pickup across fields after rabbits – it deserves to be among the best scopes I’ve had. And it makes it to our best scopes for rimfire rifles list.

The optics are excellent and the controls are positive. These are certainly very good, sensibly priced scopes and I am always a little surprised that they are not used more in this country.

3 – Hawke Frontier 2.5-15×50

Hawke Frontier 2.5-15×50

For use around the barns where I do vermin control when not out after foxes and for use in the garden I have a rather nice, quite ancient FX Cyclone in.177 calibre.

With its variable power it needs a versatile variable scope to cope with varying light conditions in farm buildings and the ability to mount a night vision device when after difficult feral pigeons and rats after dark. Again I turned to Hawke, this time the Frontier 2.5-15×50 with a 30mm tube.

This particular scope with the availability of very low magnification is ideal for the use I put it to. Again, it holds zero perfectly and for 12 ft/lb use it’s hard to beat.

4 – Bushnell Elite LRTS 3-12×44 FFP

Bushnell Elite LRTS 3-12×44 FFP

I bring this scope into the equation not only because it’s a very good scope but it’s the first FFP (First Focal Plane) scope I’ve used! Again a scope that is not necessarily designed for rimfires, but with its low starting mag it did work very well on my 17HMR and I also tried it on my Daystate FAC Huntsman Regal. I found the FFP system slightly confusing to start with but after a while I could see it had several advantages.

This particular scope is Argon purged, waterproof (optics are sealed with O-rings) and the lens are protected with Rainguard HD which not only works well in the wet but also protects the lens.

At over £1,200 this not a cheap option but the optics are clear and the tactical type reticle worked well for my 17HMR. I thought this scope had huge potential for shooting of all persuasions.

5 – MTC Viper X Connect

MTC Viper X Connect (above)

Another maker of very good quality scopes aimed at the air rifle/rimfire market is MTC. I have a little BSA Ultra .22 air rifle on which is mounted a MTC Viper X series Connect scope. Magnification is again ideal for close to medium work being 3-12×32.

This is quite an unusually designed scope and has one or two features that set it apart from some others. The illuminated reticle has a handy on/off button which can be extremely useful at times. Turret adjustment is very positive with audible clicks, which is an advantage on any scope whatever rifle it’s on.

At just under £300 offers very good value for money, for what is a very nice light little scope which suits smaller air rifles such as my own BSA Ultra extremely well.

6 – Minox ZXR 3-15×56

Minox ZXR 3-15×56 (below)

Understandably, there is a tendency for rimfire and air rifles to be equipped with mid to low priced scopes whereas with centrefire rifles the sky seems to be the limit where prices are concerned.

A make of scope I really rate as being in the upper echelon of crossover optics that will operate on high power rifles as well as on the higher power rimfires is Minox.

These scopes have very good optics and I have one that I swap over from time to time from a .243 to generally a review rimfire rifle such as a WMR. The scope in question is a ZX5 3-15×56 with a No. 4 illuminated reticle.

Minox optics has a deserved reputation for excellent optics and there are situations where this scope works really well particularly with a scope mounted torch and the red dot.

7 – Meopta Meostar R2 1.7-10×42 RD

Meopta Meostar R2 1.7-10×42 RD

For anyone looking for a really top quality scope that will work equally well in both centrefire and non-centrefire rifles a scope that springs to mind is the Meopta Meostar R2 1.7-10×42 RD.

Costing a little over £1,000 this is a very good scope indeed. With a red dot No.4 reticle and a very good illuminated reticle system where there is an switch off setting between each level of illumination.

Another excellent feature is the ability to return the turret settings to zero by pressing down on the sprung loaded turret centre, ideal if shooting to longer ranges, more suited I agree to centrefires but with an extremely low mag setting of 1.7 this makes it extremely suitable for close range rimfire and air rifle shooting.

8 – Hawke Sidewinder 6-24×56

Hawke Sidewinder 6-24×56

With no apologies I return once more to another Hawke product, this time the Sidewinder. This particular scope is well established as a top quality air rifle scope but in the past I’ve used it across the range of rifles I’ve either owned or reviewed right up to .308.

The optics are very good with a wide range of magnification options available. The one I used was in the second focal plane but there is also first focal plane models available. There are locking turrets and various extras like a large side-wheel focussing adjuster which I found to be ideal.

The one I used was a 6-24×56 model and I found it to be a really good quality scope at a sensible price (around £420). At present this scope is mounted on a 17Hornet.

9 – Bushnell Nitro 4-16×44

Bushnell Nitro 4-16×44

One particular scope that I used for very many years, generally on my FAC air rifles was the Bushnell Banner, I had a Banner mounted on my FAC Air Arms S410, during the many years I used it and I only had to reset the zero once.

The American firm make a wide range of scopes and one of the latest that I particularly like alongside the Banner is the Bushnell Nitro 4-16×44. This is a very good, well made optic in the second focal plane.

It has the latest waterproof and scratch-proof lens coatings and a reasonable pricetag. At around the £440 mark it really is a first rate small calibre scope.

10 – GPO 6-24×50

GPO 6-24×50

Some while ago I was sent a Remington rifle to review and it came equipped with a scope that was totally new to me, it was a GPO 6-24×50.

Clearly this was a top of the range optic costing around the £1,000 pound mark, which struck me as being a little over the top for a rimfire/air rifle scope. However, as today there are high quality air rifles on the market costing twice as much as this scope, perhaps I am a little behind the times?

This GPO (German Premium Optics) scope was extremely well engineered and as you would expect from a German optical firm the glass was of the highest quality. Once again like so many modern scopes this scope would produce excellent results no matter what calibre of rifle you used it on.

More on scopes and kit from Sporting Rifle

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