Scout rifles have been growing in popularity over the years, ever since Colonel Jeff Cooper introduced the idea in the 1980s. For Cooper, the idea of a versatile, lightweight utility rifle held great appeal, but this type of general purpose rifle would require a special type of scope.
To this purpose, Cooper came up with the idea of a low-powered, long eye relief scope designed to be mounted further forward on the rifle to provide faster target acquisition and enable rapid reloading. Based on this idea, the low-powered long-eye relief scopes often found on handguns eventually evolved into today's scout scope.
In the intervening years since Col. Cooper first came up with the idea of the scout scope, numerous manufacturers have come up with their own unique takes on this basic design with the result that there are now a wide range of different scout scopes to choose from. Of course, this makes finding the best scout scope all the more difficult. Therefore, it is important to know a bit more about these scopes and what factors are most important, as this will go a long way towards ensuring that you are satisfied with whichever one you end up buying.
The 5 Best Scout Scopes
Overall best scout scope, our #1 Pick
Great scout scope with variable magnification
Outstanding quality and fast target acquisition
Good choice - adjustable scout scope under $200
Budget. Best scout scope under $100
A Brief Introduction to Scout Rifles and Scopes
Colonel Cooper's idea for the scout rifle was to create a lightweight, easy-to-carry rifle that would be suitable for a wide range of combat and hunting applications. One of the main purposes of this rifle was that it would be able to provide the shooter with a wider field of view and increased situational awareness.
With this type of rifle, theoretically a shooter should be able to accurately take down large targets at any distance where they can precisely place the shot in a vital area.
In order to achieve this, Cooper decided that it required the use of a long eye relief, low powered scope. By mounting this scope further forward, the shooter gains greater situational awareness by being able to shoot with both eyes open.
However, the scope needed to feature a longer eye relief in order to be mounted so far forward, but the problem is that longer eye relief scopes tend to have a smaller field of view. Therefore, it is necessary to use a low power scope in order to counteract this problem and ensure that the field of view is large enough for fast, accurate target acquisition.
What are Scout Rifles and Scopes Used For?
The low weight and increased portability of scout rifles makes them super easy to carry and also ensures that you could jump out of a vehicle and have your rifle ready in seconds. In addition, the improved situational awareness means you can have your rifle up and your reticle on the target much quicker than with a traditional hunting rifle.
Another major benefit can be found when attempting to take down a running target, as being able to keep both eyes open makes it far easier to track moving targets and thus make a successful shot. In this sense, being able to quickly pull up the weapon and see with both eyes gives you a far better chance of successfully taking it down should it get spooked before you can get off a shot.
Unfortunately, the fact that scout scopes are lower powered does provide some drawbacks. At greater distances or in low light situations, it can be difficult to make out the target clear enough to accurately place your shot. As well, the lower power means you're much less likely to be able to see any brush, branches or other obstacles in between you and the target, which could interfere with your shot.
That being said, these factors aren't really an issue when shooting during the daytime in open countryside. For this reason, some people find they provide many advantages when hunting pronghorn and other animals that are prone to being spooked easily.
For the majority of hunters, the advantages of using a scout scope don't outweigh their drawbacks, which is why traditional hunting rifles and high-powered scopes are still much more common. Nonetheless, some hunters swear by their scout rifles, so to each his own.
What to Look for in the Best Scout Scope?
Although they may have many differences compared to traditional high-powered hunting scopes, choosing the best long eye relief scope really isn't that much different from choosing any other scope. This means that the same factors that are important for traditional scopes are generally equally as important for scout scopes.
Optics and Lenses
Like with any other scope, the quality of the optics is one of the most important factors in the overall accuracy and precision. This means that you're generally always better off choosing a model with multi-coated or fully multi-coated optics as these will provide a much sharper, more crystal-clear image. Multi-coated lenses also improve the light transmission abilities to provide superior performance in low-light situations.
As with any hunting scope, you'll obviously want to make sure that whatever model you end up choosing is strong and durable enough to last. Choosing a gas-filled model provides improved resistance to fogging, while most top models also feature internal rubber O-rings to keep out rain and moisture. Of course, the overall quality of the design and the materials also play a huge role in how well the scope is able to withstand the elements and the beating it can be subjected to out in the field.
Field of View
The whole point of using a scout scope is that it provides an increased field of view. That being said, some models still provide a much wider field of view than others, so this is still another important factor that you'll want to take into account. However, just because a specific model has a slightly smaller field of view than another model you're considering doesn't necessarily mean it's an inferior choice. This is why you'll need to take all of these factors into account.
The point of a scout rifle is that it's supposed to be lightweight, easy to carry and quick to draw. For this reason, it's obviously better to choose a lighter weight scope to gain the full extent of these benefits. However, this really all depends on how strong you are and the type of rifle that you're using. In many cases an extra pound or so isn't going to make all that big of a difference.
Price is obviously going to be an important factor for most people, but it's still important to do some research to try to find the best model within your price range. There is no doubt that the best scout scope for under $100 won't provide nearly the same level of performance or durability as the higher-priced, top-of-the-line scopes. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that all cheaper scopes are junk, but it does mean that you'll likely need to do a bit more research in order to determine that you choose the best scout scope for the money.
The Best Scout Scope: Ranking Five of the Best Long Eye Relief Scopes
For many experts, the Leupold FX-II scout scope is hands down the best currently on the market. As one of the world's top optics manufacturers, Leupold has gained a reputation for outstanding optical quality and unbeatable durability, both of which are two of the biggest selling points for this particular scout scope.
The solid, one-piece body tube eliminates many of the durability issues suffered by cheaper models. Furthermore, the scope is fully waterproof, fog-proof and shock-proof to ensure it can handle whatever you throw at it. Plus, like all Leupold scopes, this scout scope also comes with a full lifetime replacement guarantee.
The fully multi-coated optics also provide optimal light transmission to guarantee a bright, sharp image in all situations. With a 22-foot field of view at 100 yards, this scope makes it simple to lock on to the target from a ready position in an instant. As well, the fact that it has a fixed 2.5x magnification can also been seen as a major benefit since it eliminates any issues you might encounter with the focal plane.
Although it is definitely not the cheapest long eye relief scope on the market, the overall quality makes the Leupold VX-II scout scope worth every penny.
Unlike the fixed magnification on the Leupold scope, this Burris scout scope allows users to adjust from 2x to 7x magnification strengths. The higher magnification capability obviously provides improved accuracy on those longer distance shots, which can definitely be an advantage in some situations.
Like the Leupold, this Burris scope features fully multi-coated, index-matched lenses to ensure maximum clarity and light transmission.
However, there are a number of areas where it doesn't quite compare to the Leupold. The first is in terms of field of view, as the 32mm objective lens provides a slightly smaller field of view of only 21 feet at 100 yards.
Still, the biggest issue is in terms of weight, as at 13 ounces, the Burris weighs nearly twice as much as the Leupold. Nonetheless, if you prefer a scout scope with adjustable magnification, this is by far one of the best choices currently available.
This Nikon Prostaff scope features outstanding optical quality, as the fully multi-coated lenses provide up to 98 percent light transmission. It also provides an impressive field of view of just over 33 feet at 100 yards (at 2x magnification). This means that it provides for even faster target acquisition times than the Leupold or Burris, while costing about half the price.
In fact, there is virtually nothing to separate this scope from either of the two in terms of both overall quality and durability. The only issue is that it is a bit on the heavy side at just a shade under 2 pounds. Still, if weight isn't all that important of a factor in your decision, then this is without a doubt a fantastic choice.
If you're in the market for a scout scope with adjustable magnification and the Burris is out of your price range, then this UTG scope is a decent, much more affordable alternative. The emerald lens coatings provide decent clarity and light transmission, albeit not nearly as good as fully multi-coated models.
One unique feature of this scope is that it features an illuminated reticle with adjustable color features. Unfortunately, the buttons used to switch between these color modes aren't the easiest to access or use. As well, the scope comes in at a total weight of just over 3.2 pounds, which makes it quite heavy for a scout scope. These issues aside, it is still a decent scope for anyone on a tighter budget.
If you're looking for the best scout scope for under $100, the Mosin Nagant might just be it. In fact, for the price you don't just get the scope itself, but also the mount and rings. Like the UTG, this scope features an illuminated crosshair reticle, which provides improved performance in low light situations.
As you'd expect for the price, the optics are nothing to write home about. In addition, despite being shockproof, fog proof and waterproof, it is still not the most durable scope out there. Of course, you can't really complain considering the fact that it costs only a third of what the Leupold does.
As you can see, there are a huge range of different scout scopes available to suit every type of hunter and every budget. In most cases, the more money you pay the better quality scope you'll end up getting. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that you should just run out and buy the most expensive scout scope you can find, as the Nikon Prostaff is proof that the best scout scope isn't always one that costs the most.