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We have used dozens of scopes over the years from all of the top brands, from budget models to the highest-end products on the market. Choosing the best scope will depend on how you plan to use it and how much you are willing to spend. Then, of course, you will have to wade through all the marketing hype, flashy designs, and products that only seem like a good choice. That’s where we come in.
Our experiences testing scopes in the field and at the range give us insight into the brands that are making high-quality scopes worth their weight in gold when you are relying on precision optics and reliable performance. This list will break down the best brands that should be at the top of your shopping list when looking for a new scope.
Bushnell is one of the most recognizable optics brands in the world. Getting its start way back in 1948 as an importer of Japanese optics to the US, the company expanded, ultimately becoming one of the most reliable riflescope manufacturers in the world.
Bushnell offers scopes ranging from budget-minded designs intended for pellet guns to designs that once were issued to American service members in combat. Few companies have a legacy so compelling, or a product line that is so complete.
Legend has it that Marcus Stevens, son of one of the company’s earliest partners, became frustrated with available hunting scopes in the early 1940s after missing a shot due to fogged lenses and swore he could build a better product, and that is just what he did. The result was the first nitrogen-filled scope.
Today, Leupold & Stevens is synonymous with high-quality optics that can withstand the rigors of extreme weather. Hunters looking for the ultimate optics for hunting in freezing cold or blazing heat, drenching rain, or dripping mugginess will have a hard time finding better scopes than Leupold & Stevens optics. The company is still an American icon and continues to be operated by descendants of the founding family.
As one of the newer companies to introduce riflescopes to American hunters, Vortex builds and designs products around the philosophy that the customer is at the center of everything. While this seems like a cliche, we assure you that this American, veteran-owned family business is as serious about producing high-quality scopes as any company you will find.
Here is an example for those of you that doubt the Hamilton family’s pledge -every scope they sell carries an unlimited, lifetime warranty. Not many products you’ll ever buy will carry that level of confidence in quality, and it’s all because of the promise they made back in 1986 when Vortex first came onto the scene.
The U.S. Marine Corps is tasked with the most demanding, daring, and dangerous missions of any branch, and when you are the first one in and the last one out, you need an optic that can take a beating. Before you say that a mil-spec scope is overkill for your next hunt, consider that precision is just as essential for hunting elk as protecting the United States from enemies abroad.
All of the compay’s products are designed in the US, with significant riflescope manufacturing operations based in Japan.
In terms of optics quality, German-made riflescopes offer unparalleled precision. Zeiss has been developing world-class optics since the mid-1800s. Like almost every German company, Zeiss has an unpopular history as being a leading supplier of optics for the German military during World War II. It’s important to remember that despite being the enemy of America during that time period, the technology developed by German companies has led to many incredible breakthroughs in modern history.
Zeiss scopes combine incredible optics, revolutionary designs, and technology, offering today’s hunters some of the best-performing scopes ever built.
You would never guess that SIG Sauer -a leading firearms manufacturer today- started out building wagons in the Swiss Alps in the 1800s. The company gained a reputation for manufacturing precision during World War II, though, like Zeiss, its products were used against Allied forces.
Since 1992, SIGArms has been based in the US and continues to design and manufacture firearms stateside. In 2007, the company changed its name to SIG Sauer. The company’s optics are assembled in the US from globally-sourced components and are used by many law enforcement and military personnel.
There’s a pretty fantastic story -that happens to be true- about a U.S. service member who had his NightForce scope shot completely through while on a mission, and the scope continued to function for three days until it could be replaced.
That kind of legendary durability has established this optics company as one of the finest on the planet, even though the company has only existed since 1992. If price is no option, you aren’t going to find a better riflescope than the designs from NightForce.
Maven Optics just does things differently. You won’t find them in stores and you can’t get them from third-party sellers. The direct-to-customer process means you get high-end products at mid-range prices and even custom riflescopes made just for you.
The company was founded in 2013 and provides extremely high-quality scopes that use Japanese components which are assembled in San Diego, CA and tested in Wyoming. Maven scopes are truly special products that you can count on season after season. When a bespoke scope is the only thing your custom hunting rifle lacks, turn to Maven Optics for the finishing touch.
Riflescope manufacturers run the gamut from junk to treasure, and it can be challenging to differentiate one from the other until you hit the range or try to line up a shot in the field. We’ve tried most of the best and way too many of the worst ones out there. The brands that we highlighted here offer high-quality products, and many of the designs are quite affordable.
Like any tool you rely on, you should start with an idea of what you are willing to spend on a riflescope, then narrow down the offerings from the best brands on the market until you find the perfect design for your hunting needs.
For a blog about the Top Hunting E-Collar Brands, we have that too!