About Varmint Rifles and Calibers
There are few experiences that equal that of varmint hunting. It combines precision shooting with the faster pace of the hunt. There are many animals that qualify as varmints and most states allows for longs seasons with generous bag limits.
If you are ready to try your hand at ridding the neighborhood of varmints the first thing you will need is the proper firearm. There are many different platforms that are well suited for taking varmints including custom precision rifles, ARs, shotguns, or even your favorite deer rifle. It often comes down to what you have on hand and which specific varmints you will be targeting.
Even though almost any rifle can be used to successfully take varmints, there are some preferred calibers. Let us take some of the most popular.
.22 Long Rifle – not only is this one of the cheapest choices, but it is also one of the most popular. The same .22 rifle you learned to shoot on is more than capable of taking smaller species at short to medium ranges.
.17 HMR – although not as popular as the .22 long rifle it is none the less gaining a solid foothold in the varmint hunting circles. With a round that shatters on impact and off the chart ballistics, the .17 HMR will allow you to chase larger species at farther ranges.
.22-250 – For those looking to target larger species, or shooting from long distances, this round is hard to bet. With velocities reaching 4000 feet per second, it will let you take coyotes or bobcats with ease or knock down smaller targets undetected.
What We Will Cover
- About Varmint Rifles and Calibers
- Best Varmint Scopes
- 1 Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24×50
- 2 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12×56 Hog Hunter Riflescope
- 3 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle AO Rifle Scope
- 4 Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×40
- 5 Burris Scout Rifle Scope 2-7x32mm
- 6 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x
- 7 Steiner T5XI 5-25×56 SCR Reticle Rifle Scope
- 8 BARSKA Varmint Mil-Dot Riflescope
- 9 Bushnell Trophy XLT Shotgun Scope
- 10 ATN X-Sight-4K Pro Edition Smart Hunting Rifle Scope
Best Varmint Scopes
1 Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24×50
The Conquest V4 combines top-of-the-line optics with a rugged, field tested design. The compact design makes it perfect for those who want a scope that is balanced and easy to transport. With a perfect balance of magnification and field of view, this scope is well suited for taking varmints at a variety of ranges.
The 24x magnification is well suited for long-range varmint hunting and the parallax compensation allows for precision shots on even the smallest targets. Since you never know where the next target will appear, the wide reticle adjustment range and optional ballistic reticle makes adjusting your shot on the go a fast, simple process.
Zeiss scopes are best paired with Zeiss Precision Rings, which can then be attached to a variety of standard mounts or Picatinny rails. These rings are constructed from 7075-T6 Mil-Spec aluminum with an anodized matte finish. Each set includes anti-cant bubble level, required Torx driver bits and Type 303 stainless steel top cap screws.
The Conquest V4 is designed for the hardcore hunter who demands the best equipment. It is well suited for shooting at a wide variety of ranges but excels at long range. It can also be mounted to a wide variety of favorite varmint platforms including both hunting rifles and ARs.
2 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12×56 Hog Hunter Riflescope
Hog hunting has become one of the hottest trends in varmint hunting. But hogs are known to occupy some of the toughest, most rugged terrain to be found. This requires equipment that can withstand those same conditions. Enter the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-1×56 Hog Hunter Riflescope.
The single-piece, anodized aircraft aluminum tube is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for fog proof and waterproof performance. Capped turrets prevent accidental changes when moving through cover and multi-coated optics are scratch-resistant and anti-glare. Because hogs are more often in low light the Hog Hunter also includes a 30 mm tube and 56mm objective lens, and 3×12 magnification. These features allow for continued accuracy in low light conditions and heavy cover.
The Crossfire II Hog Hunter utilizes many standard 30mm rings and mounts include those by Sun Optics, Zeiss, Hawke Sports, Sig Sauer, Weaver, and Tasco. With the large number of rings and mounts to choose from you should have no difficulty in finding a set that meets your specific needs.
Although the Hog Hunter is capable of being mounted on almost any varmint platform it is best matched with a medium-range rifle. This will allow you to take advantage of its range of magnification and provide a platform large enough to accommodate its size.
3 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle AO Rifle Scope
Bushnell is an industry leader known for producing high quality, affordable optic so it should come as no surprise they offer one of the top varmint scopes. The Banner Dusk & Dawn is designed to withstand the abuse and rough conditions encounters when you are off the beaten path, making it ideal for pursuing a wide range of varmint species.
A fast focus eye piece allows you to quickly adjust the reticle, focusing on your target with superior clarity before it has time to get away. The featured Multi-X reticle is based on a classic sight picture and is easy to see even in low light. The large, thick line of the reticle allow it to be easily picked up even in low light. The windage and elevation turrets are capped to protect against accidental changes. Finally, the fully multi-coated optics and IPX waterproof rating prevents fogging and further enhances performance during low light.
This Bushnell scope is compatible with many standard 1” rings and mounts. Two of the favorite pairings among current owners are the Modkin 1” scope rings & 2-piece high profile mounts or the Modkin 1” medium profile rings with a Ruger 10/22 Picatinny Rail Mount.
4 Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×40
Leupold’s VX-3HD 3.5-10×40 offers high end performance and superior clarity in a tough, affordable package. It is versatile enough for targeting a wide range of varmints in even the most extreme conditions.
With Leupold’s Elite Optical System, this scope is a perfect choice for low light conditions such as dawn and dusk when varmints are most active. With superior light transmission, your image will be bright up until the last minute. Top of the line anti-glare coating also allow for equally impressive clarity during harsh mid-day conditions too.
The CDS ZeroLock dial, with the push button lock, prevents the turret from moving until you need it to. The low-profile, ergonomic design is also easy to read and use, even when wearing gloves. This scope was designed, machined, and assembled in America and guaranteed for life.
Leupold offers a wide range of rings and mounts for the VX-3HD. There are mounts and rings available for Browning, Winchester, Tikka, Remington, Weatherby, Encore and even many popular AR platforms.
The VX-3HD is suitable for use with an assortment of varmint platforms of all calibers but is best suited for mid-range targets of all sizes.
5 Burris Scout Rifle Scope 2-7x32mm
Scout Rifles are small, compact platforms designed to be hardworking field guns – perfect for varmints. To truly experience all the advantages of these fast shooting, compact rifles you need an equally hard-working scope. Burris’ Scout Rifle Scope is what you are looking for.
The slim, compact design allows for mounting forward of the ejection port. Not only does this prevent scope induced malfunctions, it also provides generous eye relief, and allows for shooting with both eye open.
Each scope includes the latest in advancements for the best in field performance. Large, high-grade optical glass allow for increased brightness, clarity, and light transmission. Hi-lume multicoating increases low-light performance and decreased glare. Double internal springs allow it to return to zero following recoil while precision, hand-fitted internal assemblies maintain tight tolerances regardless of shock. A solid 1-piece, nitrogen filled tube provides for waterproof, fog proof performance. Of course, it is also covered by the Burris Forever Warranty.
Burris offers several rings and mounts to choose from including CZ style, Signature, Tikka T3, and XTR Signature. Each will match your Scout Rifle Scope and provide many years of service. However, if mounted to a high power, heavy recoil platform the Extreme Tactical Rings are recommended.
The Burris Scout Rifle Scope is the match for your favorite working gun, one you keep in your truck for quick response to varmint you spot while going about your daily routine.
6 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x
Sometime varmint hunting occurs up close and person. Higher power scopes will make close at hand engagements difficult. Even a 3-9x will be difficult to use close in. One of the best close-range scopes is the Strike Eagle by Vortex Optics. Despite being a 1x scope, the Strike Eagle offers many of the features shooters look for in more expensive, long-range scopes.
The illuminated BDC reticle is specifically designed for close and moderate ranges. The outer circle marks the “circle of death”, perfect for close contact point and shoot use. At the same time, the inner circle allows you to quickly transition to the more precision shoots needed as distance increases.
The glass provides a clear, nearly distortion-free view at lower powers. As you increase the power this distortion does increase but is limited to the very outer edges. If you plan on shooting out to 500 yards or more this will be an issue, however, inside 300 yards there are almost no negative effects.
The capped turrets offer ½ MOA per click with a maximum range of 140 MOA for both elevation and windage. Having caps on the turrets does interfere with your ability to make adjustments on the fly, however, that is not what this scope is designed for. Once zeroed the combination of dual reticle rings should allow you to engage both near and far with nothing more than a change in magnification.
The magnification ring does include a small fin for easier adjustment on the move or when wearing gloves. Although this is a nice feature the fin is a bit small to be truly handy. A larger fin, or added texture, would allow this feature to be more than show.
Most notable is the Strike Eagle’s indestructibility. Vortex is known for heavy-duty scopes that will take a beating and this one is no exception. They are fine-tuned machines that can be treated like daily use tools and will keep going.
Vortex scopes use standard 30mm rings which can be paired with both standard or Picatinny mounts. For traditional bolt action rifles, it is recommended you use a two-piece ring set. For those shooting flat top carbines a single piece cantilever is the best option.
The Strike Eagle is best used for short to mid-range targets, the closer the better.
7 Steiner T5XI 5-25×56 SCR Reticle Rifle Scope
This scope is designed with the shooting professional in mind. Every aspect of its construction is meant to provide precision at even when pushing your rifle to its long-range limits. Precision German engineering, US construction, low-profile Never-Lost turrets, and the new Special Competition Reticle (SCR) are all intended to you the edge at long distances.
The 5-25 magnification provides superior clarity even when engaging targets are great distance. The illuminated etched glass with SCR allows for quick, accurate elevation changes on the move. A tapered magnification ring allows the shooter to see settings while in a shooting position. Finally, the heavy-duty construction is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof.
This scope requires 34mm rings. Due to the 56mm objective, High or Extra High-profile rings are required. Depending on the specific rifle, you may use a variety of mounts including canted rail, picatinny rail, and 1-piece T Mount.
8 BARSKA Varmint Mil-Dot Riflescope
Barska Varmint scopes are built for the long-range hunter who depends on precision. The same features that make it a tack drive at distance also lend well to precision shots on smaller targets at closer ranges as well.
The adjustable objective and high, easy grip turrets allow for increased precision. A large, multi-coated objective increased light transmission while maintaining superior clarity, even at high magnification. The rugged construction not only protects against the abuse encountered in the field but also provide for waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof performance as well.
Barska offers a wide selection of rings and mounts so there is sure to be a set that will match your specific platform. Due to its large objective, it is recommended that you select either a High or Extra High style ring. If mounting to an AR or similar flat top carbine riser mounts, or replacement handrails with riser, are recommended.
The Barska Varmint is and excellent choice when precision counts. Whether you are targeting at great distance, or small objective closer at hand, this scope will let you hit the bull’s eye.
9 Bushnell Trophy XLT Shotgun Scope
This is an excellent introductory shotgun scope, and one that you may very well find is a favorite for many years to come. Although marketed as a bargain scope it offers a wide range of features that will appeal to even veteran shotgun shooters.
The controls are basic, which also makes it good for beginners. Capped dials adjust both windage and elevation and screw in place to prevent accidental changes. Magnification is adjusted via standard just ahead of the sight lens. The glass offers a duplex reticle in a red/orange color for increased contrast.
This scope is easily mount to Remington, Savage, Winchester, or Marlin firearm utilizing Tasco 2-piece mount and rings. Tasco Picatinny bases are also available for a select number of firearms.
Although the Trophy XLT is specially designed to withstand the abuse of large gauge shotguns, that does not mean it cannot be mounted to a wide variety of varmint rifles. Its bargain price makes it the perfect companion for your favorite truck or tractor varmint 30-30.
10 ATN X-Sight-4K Pro Edition Smart Hunting Rifle Scope
Thermal scopes have come a long way and the X-Sight series by ATN is an example of just how far. This is as much computer as it is scope. With standard features, you would expect on any scope coupled with Ultra HD sensor, ballistic calculator, and dual stream video recording this scope can do so much more than previous models.
Higher resolution, multiple color display, the ability to stream to your smart device, and recoil activated recording make this the perfect thermal scope for those interested in documenting their hunts. Plus, you get all this in a package that resembles a traditional scope that can also be mounted with standard rings.
This scope is specifically designed with those interested in documenting their hunts in mind. It also allows you to hunt at night when many varmints are most active. It can be mounted to almost any platform including a rifle, shotgun, or AR.
One of the best features of this scope it the ability to use standard mounts and rings. This is especially rare with many of scopes being developed by lesser-known manufacturers and will save the user both time and money when setting up their outfit.
Regardless of the varmints, you are targeting or the platform you will be using a quality scope is vital. Your targets may be at long distances, move quickly, or extremely small. Sometime you will be engaging a target, such as the prairie dog, which combines all three challenges. Having the best scope you can afford will give you the advantage over your target and other hunters.