Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has star read more
Last updated: December 31, 2022
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Did you know that getting a handgun scope could dramatically increase the accuracy of your shot? The problem you may find is that there aren’t many great options out there as handgun scopes have to deal with a lot more than rifle scopes. Fortunately, this article aims to give you all the info you need to make your life easier. To help you with the right decision, we’ve found the best handgun scopes available on the market and have completed our extensive handgun scope reviews.
What makes the best pistol scope? We focused on the objective lens diameter, magnification, field of view, eye relief, length, and weight among other factors. With so much to think about, it can be difficult to know what you should be looking for but that’s exactly where this guide is going to help you. Once you finish reading, you’ll know what makes the best handgun scopes. Let’s get started!
"An amazing model with waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof design which features fully multicoated optics and lifetime limited warranty.32 mm objective diameter.4x magnification.Fine tapered reticle."
More features: waterproof, fog-resistant, nitrogen filled, second focal plane, Ballistic Plex reticle
We think this Burris handgun scope is the best model available on the market today. The 2x-7x 32mm handgun scope is able to fit on a wide range of different pistols and can cope with a high level of power from many high-caliber handguns.
Those qualities help to make it the best handgun scope for 460 S&W as well as many other pistols. It’s simple to use, and it will allow you to take more accurate shots time and time again while staying zeroed constantly.
The field of view is decent here compared to many other models, but the eye relief will be a little short for some at 11 inches. However far away you are from the lens, you’re going to be impressed by the sharpness of the image. With the variable power of up to 7x magnification, this scope is going to dramatically increase the versatility of the weapon.
There are plenty of other reasons that this is the best scope for S&W 460 pistol such as durability. It has immense build quality, and you do not need to worry about any recoil. It’s also waterproof and fog-resistant so it can be used in any environment. The end result is everything that you want to see in a high-quality scope. As long as it’s compatible with your weapon, you can’t go wrong with this model.
More features: multi-coated optics, comes with aluminum weaver styles rings and lens caps
While it may not have the high-end spec of some of its rivals, this is the best budget pistol scope as it’s able to give you an amazing level of quality for the price point. Build quality is a little lower, but it still impresses in plenty of areas.
A striking aspect of this scope is the long warranty it features. It allows you to buy it with confidence, knowing you’re getting a great product. For all but the most powerful of handguns, it’s going to hold up very well and give excellent results.
The optics are great, and you’ll have no trouble zeroing on your target. The eye relief isn’t the longest which is worth bearing in mind for those who like to hold their gun well away from their body. As for the magnification, it is fantastic at up to 7x, and the product also has the 32mm objective lens diameter.
One problem that people commonly have with handguns scopes is that they add too much weight to your weapon. At less than 10oz, you’re not going to get that issue here. You’ll very quickly get used to the feel of the weight, and it’s not going to affect your shots. For those who don’t have hundreds of dollars to spend on a handgun scope, it’s a perfect option.
More features: scratch-resistant lenses, rear focal plane, Twilight Max light management system, waterproof and fog-proof
If you’re looking for the best handgun scope for 44 Mag, then this is going to be a leading contender. It has many qualities that ensure it will be able to handle the recoil from even the most powerful of handgun scopes and is widely compatible. It’s able to give you those qualities while still only being a little over 10oz, so it won’t feel too heavy.
With this being a premium level scope, it offers a lot more than just shock resistance. It can also handle any rainstorm that you may be caught in, and it will do so without fogging up. The overall build quality is excellent, and the product boasts scratch-resistant lenses. It all adds up to a scope that will last for many years.
One exceptional quality of this scope is the field of view. At 100 yards, you’ll be able to see 37.5ft, and that is over twice what some of its rivals can offer. The eye relief is also 15 inches, which will be more than enough for most users.
Other features that help to make this the best pistol scope for 44 Mag is the fact it’ll stay zeroed even through the most violent of recoils. You may be wondering if it’s worth the higher price. but if you want the highest level of quality, it definitely is. It looks great, and it will never let you down.
More features: rear focal plane, Twilight light management system, ultra-lightweight design, waterproof and fog-proof
As we’ve already seen, Leupold handgun scopes have the quality you can trust, and this model is no different. This one, however, is going to be ideal for those looking for an ultra-light scope and one that is very easy to carry and use.
The Leupold FX II 4×28 handgun scope isn’t going to wow you with a wide field of view as it’s actually quite narrow. On the other hand, it does have a long eye relief at 18 inches, which makes it ideal for those looking to take quick shots with the gun well away from their body.
Even though it can handle the recoil of a larger gun, this handgun is probably best for lighter pistols. As for the weight, the product is just 7oz, but it’s not as long as many other models at just 8.4 inches.
Aside from the dimensions, you can also rely on the optics here that are brilliant and able to give you a clear image every time. It allows you to set up and take your shots very quickly. Overall, this is the perfect scope for anyone looking for something a little smaller.
More features: fine tapered reticle, shockproof, fog-proof, weatherproof, fully multi-coated optics, lifetime limited warranty
Here, we see another scope that is on the lower end of the budget scale but one that still has an immense list of qualities. It doesn’t quite have the ability to cope with the highest caliber pistols, but it will be perfect for most handguns.
You’ll be impressed by the optics which are multi-coated and give you a precise image every time. Durability is also great here with a good level of weatherproofing. This is all backed up by a limited lifetime warranty.
The objective diameter is 32mm so it will let plenty of light in for a clear view in lower light conditions. The magnification is also 4x, and that should be enough for almost all situations, and with an eye relief of 14 inches, you’re going to clearly see what you’re doing.
The scope will be easy to attach to your handgun and will stay securely in place while you’re using it. It’s simple to adjust and holds a zero well. It’s a brilliant option for most handguns with a range of specifications that compete well with some of its more expensive rivals.
This BSA handgun scope has a wide range of amazing features. It’s possibly the best pistol scope for those looking at value for money. As soon as you get it in your hand, you’ll feel the level of quality it has. That’s backed by a 1-year warranty, and the scope is both weatherproof and fog-proof.
The relief we see here is between 16-20 inches depending on the magnification, which is fantastic, and you’ll have no issues with being able to take your shot.
The simplistic design doesn’t overly complicate matters as you see some scopes that seemingly have extra features that add very little value while overcomplicating things. It makes this model very easy to use and allows you set-up to be very quick.
There are a few marvelous features to talk about here, such as the low weight at 7.5oz. This means it has minimal impact on the feel of the gun. It can be a little harder to zero than some of its rivals, but overall, it’s an ideal scope with impressive capability.
More features: fully multi-coated optics, aircraft-grade aluminum housing, lifetime warranty, waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, self-centering Quadraplex reticle
One glance of this pistol scope, and you’ll see how it looks different from many other scopes. Some will love the bright aluminum housing, whereas others will instantly think that it wouldn’t look right on their handgun. Behind that casing is another great scope and one that many people are going to love.
If you are looking for a scope for a smaller handgun, then this could be the ideal solution for you as its only 7.3 inches long and will, therefore, fit on a short-barreled gun a lot better than the larger models we’ve seen. It also only weighs 8.5oz so it will make a minimal impact on the feel of the handgun.
The specification is a little lower in some areas, which makes sense considering it’s a particularly light and shorter model. The objective lens diameter is 20mm, and the magnification on the scope is 2x, which may be fine for some users or not powerful enough for others.
What you can rely on this scope for is durability. That aluminum housing is very solid, and it will be able to absorb any shocks from the recoil. The waterproofing is also excellent with fog proofing on top of that. It’s another excellent option for smaller handguns.
More features: screw lockable turrets, adjustable eyepiece with locking ring, completely sealed and nitrogen filled
Some scopes can struggle when it starts to get darker as not enough light will get into the lens. This scope works perfectly in lower light as it has an objective lens diameter of 32mm along with an illuminated reticle. It means that you can use the scope in all conditions.
The only real downside to this model is that zeroing can be a little difficult due to the number of adjustments. It has screw lockable turrets, which can take a bit of getting used to when compared with other types of scope.
The eye relief is exceptional here as you can get up to 25 inches on the lower magnification setting. That magnification is up to 7x, and it has a good field of view. These types of specifications make it a brilliant model, even if it is a little harder to use compared to some of its rivals.
That also does come at a slight cost of weight. At 14oz, it’s almost twice as heavy as some other scopes, but it’s still light enough to be easy to use. The optics are clear and bright for easy viewing, and you’ll have no complaints about the performance of this scope.
This is the shortest scope that we’ve looked at on this list. At 6.9 inches, it’s going to be ideal for those who have a smaller barrel and who still want a secure fit. Added to that length, it’s only 8oz in weight and therefore is easy to use.
That shorter construction will lead to a reduction of some parameters, such as its objective diameter, being 20mm across. The magnification is a little lower too at 2x, but it’s still going to be enough for most users.
A great aspect of this scope is the long eye relief. At 20 inches, you can be a long way from the eyepiece and still look through it easily. The field of view isn’t going to be the greatest, but it still works very well for focusing on making those shots more accurate than ever.
The build quality of the scope is very high, and it’ll be able to take a lot of punishment. Added to that, the overall weatherproofing on the scope is high, and it’ll be able to cope with heavy rainfall. On top of that, you’re going to have no complaints about the optics with them being clear and bright. It adds up to another scope that is ideal for those looking for something a little shorter.
More features: fog-proof, shock-resistant, nitrogen filled, multi-coated lens, windage and elevation adjustment, includes weaver/picatinny rings
This may be the last handgun scope on our list, but it’s certainly not last in terms of build quality. One of those impressive features is the objective lens diameter, which lets plenty of light in at 32mm and the magnification of up to 7x.
The adjustments on this scope are very simple, and you’re going to zero it easily. Once you set it up, you’ll enjoy the crystal clear optics that will allow you to view your target with no problems at all. Those lenses are multi-coated for even higher quality.
It has all of the specifications of a model that is ideal for long barrel and high-velocity guns. It can have that quality while still having a weight of just 9oz. It gives it a dynamic level of performance that won’t let you down on any type of gun or in any situation.
There is very little you can say negatively about this handgun scope, but the lens covers do seem a little useless. The variable power will allow you to hit your targets easily, and the durability is excellent throughout. Once you have it clamped onto your handgun, you’ll love the performance you get from it.
What are its best features?
Easy to adjust
What could be improved?
Poor lens cover
Things to Consider
All the scopes that we have looked at here have a high level of quality, but not all of them are going to be suitable for your handgun. The first thing you need to know is what type of scope you need which will be determined by the handgun you have but also what you want to get out of it. It can be hard to know the answers to these questions, which is why we’ve developed a buying guide that will give you all the info you need. We’ll also finish with some FAQs that should clear up any lasting doubts.
Advantages of handgun scopes
There are numerous advantages to using a handgun scope, and here we’ll look at the main ones.
Improved accuracy – The obvious upside to using a handgun scope is going to be an increase in accuracy. You’ll be able to line up your shot a lot better as your target will appear bigger in the lens. This can be increased with a higher level of magnification.
Better scores – If you’re shooting targets, then the difference between success and failure may well be your scope. Getting a high-quality option will allow you to have a better grouping and gain higher scores with greater success.
Longer distance – When shooting with a handgun, your distance is going to be limited. The handgun itself will be able to shoot very far, but with limited help, it can be hard to be accurate with the naked eye. A good scope will allow you to improve shooting distance.
Eye compensation – It’s always a great idea to give a little help to your eyes. Eyeglasses will naturally help, but that can be improved further with a scope. A scope will be able to avoid any eye problems with that.
How to find the best handgun scope?
Everyone’s needs are going to be different, and the specifications on these scopes can vary quite a lot. You may need long eye relief, have a lightweight scope or one that can handle the most powerful handguns. As we go through this guide, it’s important to make a note of how each feature relates to your needs. After that, you’ll start getting a picture of what you should be looking for.
Objective lens diameter
The objective lens is the name for the outermost lens. This is responsible for letting in as much light as possible and can have a knock-on effect for the rest of the specifications.
Having a large objective lens can make the scope heavier and unbalanced. Thus, it is recommended to check if your handgun model is suitable for that.
For a high-powered scope, a good balance is to have a lens around 32mm in size. This is the type of lens that can be found on the Leapers UTG 2-7×32 Handgun Scope. This lets in a lot of light and gives you brilliant clarity without it being too heavy.
The magnification is seen as one of the key measurements, but it’s important not to become too obsessed with it. For example, a scope this size with a 20x magnification would have such a small field of view that it would be almost useless.
A magnification of 7x, as seen with the BSA Optics Edge PS27X32 Pistol Scope, is a great maximum figure to have. This will allow you to have an accurate long shot while still having a good field of view. This may be too long for some people and even a magnification of 2x would be fine for many users.
Field of view
As mentioned, the field of view has a direct correlation with the magnification. With a field of view of 37.5 feet at 100 yards, the Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x32mm Handgun Scope can show you a very wide picture, but that’s only at its lowest level of magnification.
If the field of view is too small, it can be hard to know exactly what you’re aiming at as you can’t see the full picture. Most will have a field of view between 10 – 20 feet, which will be enough for many people to take an accurate shot.
The eye relief is the term for the visible distance between the ocular lens and your eye. For rifles, the eye relief doesn’t need to be high as you’ll be closer to the barrel of the weapon. Without a shoulder to absorb the recoil, the eye relief on a handgun needs to be quite high.
If you’re not sure about what type of eye relief you need, take a rough guide by measuring the distance from your eye to the gun barrel when you’re holding the weapon as if you were ready to fire.
The reticle is the series of lines that you see in an eyepiece that allows you to focus on a target. This allows you a reference point where you can center your target in the middle of the lens and get a much more accurate shot.
There are numerous types of reticules such as the fine crosshair which is just two think lines crossing each other in the middle of the lens. The best reticule for you will often come down to personal preference, but it’s worth finding out which type you’re comfortable with.
All guns are different, and you need to find a scope that matches the gun that you have. You don’t want the scope to interrupt your gun’s action, and you also don’t want to get a scope that can’t cope with the caliber of your gun. Ensure you’re using a mount compatible with your gun.
The demands of a .22 Magnum are going to be a lot different from a .44 Magnum, for example. A weaker scope isn’t going to be able to cope with extreme recoil and vibrations. If you have a high-powered weapon, get a scope model accordingly.
Length and weight
Another crucial consideration is the length and weight of your scope. Putting a long scope on a shorter barrel isn’t going to work. For a smaller gun, the likes of the CenterPoint 2x20mm Pistol Scope will be perfect as it is a little under 7 inches long.
You also have to consider the weight of the scope. If it’s too heavy, you’re going to find it a lot more difficult to get the right feel of your weapon. If you have a heavier scope on a heavy gun, then the difference isn’t going to be as important.
Durability and weather resistance
As mentioned before, on the highest caliber weapons the scopes are going to have to deal with a lot of vibration and recoil. On these guns, you need to have a scope with the exceptional build quality. Along with recoil, there are other factors to think about, such as the weather.
All the scopes that we’ve looked at here have a good level of water resistance. The Burris 2-7x32mm Handgun Scope is particularly good here as it will also offer fog proofing. This will prevent any condensation from building up.
It’s always good to look for some additional features that can play an important role in your choice. One such feature is the mounting rings which have to be high-quality as otherwise it won’t be able to cope with the recoil and won’t be able to hold a zero.
Lens caps are also important to keep dust and water away from the lens. These types of features don’t always come as standard, and therefore, it’s important to look out for them and check the product description carefully.
Mounting a handgun scope isn’t difficult, but it’s imperative that you do it correctly. Heavy-duty scope rings are going to be required, and they need to be placed onto the barrel grooves. You shouldn’t have to force the product into place as it should be a good fit for your gun.
As you screw down the scope, it’s a good idea to do it evenly on both sides. This will prevent it from being overly torqued on one side and leave it with even pressure distribution. For extra security, you can use a thread locker that will give it a permanent secure hold. Once it is in place, it should be completely level with no wiggle room at all.
As we’ve mentioned, you need to choose a scope that suits what you’re trying to achieve. First, we are going to talk about the field of view. For target shooting, higher magnification and a smaller field of view would be preferable as you’ll know where you’re aiming at. If you’re hunting, then you’d need that wider field of view, so you will have to go for a different scope. There are models that find good middle ground and have a decent field of view. If you’re only going to need your scope for one specific reason, then make sure it’s perfect for that task.
The answer to this question will depend on the type of scope you have. In order to work in darker conditions, a scope needs to have a large objective diameter to let as much light in as possible. As we’ve seen with these models, 32mm should be large enough without being too heavy. This depends on the model, so you can check the customer reviews beforehand to see if it works for you.
Every handgun scope here offers great value for money. The best one for us is the Burris 2-7x32mm Handgun Scope as it has great parameters, bright optics, a solid build quality, and fits the most powerful of handguns.
As long as it matches your needs, you can’t go wrong with any handgun scope from this list. It’s important to follow our buying guide to ensure you get the best handgun scope that will last for years. When you pick the perfect one, you’ll enjoy shooting more accurately than ever before.