With today’s advanced engineering, like many things around us, optics have skyrocketed in performance, becoming almost like computers. There are many quality riflescopes classified as "general duty" optics, but there are also scopes produced to accomplish specific chores and to fill a specific niche among shooting enthusiasts.
Riflescopes come in all shapes and sizes, and what is right for one weapon is not necessarily good for another. Here, we primarily refer to a number of scopes manufactured specifically for handguns today.
Comparison of the Best Handgun Scopes
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Benefits of Investing in a Great Handgun Scope
We are witnessing the appearance of modern pistols and revolvers chambered in more and more powerful calibers large enough and fast enough to drop a bear or elk and capable of operating on extreme ranges.
To take advantage of these opportunities, the first and most natural solution is to equip these bullet-spitting monsters with scopes or reflex sights instead of iron sights.
In this chapter, we will mention a few advantages of quality handgun scopes, such as better accuracy at a greater shooting distances and simplicity of aiming, because instead lining up three different things, you only need to focus on aiming a crosshair at the target. Another benefit of a scope is its magnification since it enables you to utilize the handgun on longer ranges.
And last, but not least, one feature that you must consider is the eye relief. The quality models on our list will provide you with an excellent long eye relief that ranges from 9 to 20 inches.
One final thing to consider is a type of mount, especially if you are opting for a cheap scope model. Some low-priced pistol scopes come with slide mounts that are simple to install, but recoil action can disrupt the mount and dislocate the optics.
Aspects to Look For In a Handgun Scope
While the handgun scopes are similar to traditional riflescopes in their design, they belong to a specific optics niche differing from conventional scopes with the addition of much longer eye relief, type of mount, magnification, and small size/mass.
Unlike riflescope’s standard 2" to 4" of eye relief, handgun scopes feature 20-35 inches as the natural long eye relief for use at arm's length.
Type of Mount
Another notable feature of a handgun scope is the type of mount. The slide mount is easy and straightforward to install but it can change the balance of your gun and it is not very shockproof when used with powerful handgun calibers.
The small size and mass of handgun optics are mandatory, so these models are usually found with one-inch tubes and 20 to 32mm objective bells. Normally, a smaller diameter offers a narrower field of view and is not as convenient for use in low light conditions.
Magnification is another aspect you should consider, since the cheaper, lighter, and more simple choice is a handgun scope with fixed power, whereas optics with variable magnification power are much more versatile but sacrifice in the areas of weight, bulkiness, and complexity.
While the standard fixed power handgun scopes utilize 2X, 4X, or 6X magnifications, variable scopes for pistols and revolvers come in common zoom ranges such as 2-6X, 2.5-8X, or 2-7X.
The explosion of interest in handgun hunting, as well as the natural pace of industry innovation has flooded the market with various handgun scopes ranging from the most economical to the much more pricey models.
The scopes described here earned their place because they possess features you expect to find in a quality and reasonably-priced handgun optic sight.
Review of the Best Handgun Scopes
Here, lets have a look into the details of some of the best handgun scopes available in the market. We have reviewed them along with the pros & cons for you to be able to choose the right one.
Leupold FX-II Handgun 4x28mm Duplex
Leupold is a classic brand, which has been a favorite for many hunters over the years. The FX-II 4x28mm is essentially a fixed-magnification iteration of the variable VX-II scope, small enough to be mounted low and close to the core of medium-large pistols making them more precise.
This minimalist scope boasts fixed 4x magnification and a generous, 18-inch long eye box. While the 4x magnification may be optimal for handguns, this Leupold comes with a 28mm objective lens. The objective glass, as well as the other lenses, are treated with Multicoat 4 lens system and the Diamondcoat 2 exterior coating that makes the FX-II capable of gathering sufficient light for hunting in various lighting conditions.
While many newbies these days tend to buy higher magnification optics, the 4x is just enough magnification to maximize the potential of the short-barreled weapon and is a totally useful magnification that is not too frustrating to hold steady at arm's length.
Constructed from a one-inch tube, the Leupold FX-II 4x28mm is machined of 6061-T6 aircraft-quality aluminum that makes it weigh in at a mere 7oz.
The Leupold 58750 use the standard duplex reticle that combines the benefits of finer and thicker crosshairs making hitting targets easy without blocking the field of view.
This pistol scope sports Leupol's standard twin bias spring erector system and has 60 MOA of elevation adjustments with 1/4 MOA per click.
The Leupold Optics FX-II is protected with 2nd generation argon waterproofing, allowing it to be used in all weather conditions.
As an entry-level model in the growing handgun optics market, the Leupold FX-II Handgun scope is not a cheap optic. It was created to be an ideal selection for serious hunters and outdoor people who seek for compact and lightweight optics of a proven and reliable design.
Best Burris Handgun Scope:
Burris Handgun 2-7x32mm Plex Reticle Pistol Scope
Unlike previous models, the next pistol scope boasts variable zoom power and comes from Burris Optical, the first company to build the variable configuration.
The series of handgun scopes from Burris Optical comes with the same 1" main-tube and variable 2-7x magnification range but differs in reticle style and finish. The model with manufacturer number 200291 has a matte black finish and uses the thin crosshair with bold edges, called the Plex reticle, placed in a second focal plane.
Since the Burris handgun optics go through extreme recoil tests, they are capable of withstanding the crushing recoil of the Magnum revolvers and big-bore pistols of today.
Offering versatile magnification range, the 2-7x32 Burris handgun scope will provide accuracy at handgun-stretching distances, as well as features a very large field-of-view and quick target acquisition at 2x low-end magnification.
For precision shooting at a distance, Burris equipped their pistol scopes with index-matched Hi-Lume multi-coated lenses and a 32 mm objective to produce pictures that are bright and clear and maximize contrast in low light settings.
The one-piece main tube of the Burris handgun scope is made of lightweight and durable aluminum and is filled and purged with nitrogen and O-ring sealed for water and fog proof performance.
Burris provides handgun hunters with eye relief that ranges from 11-21 inches at low power to 10-14" at high magnification. This is the reason for a few negative comments, as shooters complain of a lack of eye relief when they use it above 4x magnifications on very powerful revolvers or single-shot pistols.
The 2-7x32mm Burris Handgun scope comes with finger-adjustable covered turrets and allows for adjustable windage and elevation. The scope can be adjusted in both ways up to 64 MOA utilizing a 1/4 MOA per click impact point correction.
This variable unit is not as lightweight as fixed magnification scopes, but at 13 ounces and 9.7 inches long, the low-profile body you’ll find on this scope is easily maneuverable. While the 3.5 zoom ratio provides handgun hunters with a wide, flexible range, the fast target acquisition allows them to aim with both eyes open.
Best Nikon Handgun Scope:
Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28mm BDC Handgun 1" Pistol Scope
Compared to other models on the list, the Nikon Force XR 2.5-8x28mm is quite pricey, but the renowned optics company offers several strong attributes with this design.
The Force XR extended eye relief handgun scope provides you with eye relief from nine to 30 inches and with 2.5-8x variable magnification that is just about the ideal setup for handgun target practicing and hunting.
However, whereas a high level of magnification allows precision shots at longer handgun ranges, the eye relief might be a bit too short for those with longer arms.
Anyway, the Force XR Pistol Scope comes equipped with Nikon’s patented ballistic BDC reticle with see-through ballistic circles. Nikon's unique design enables the shooter to easily engage targets at a handgun’s long-range distance, without blocking a sight picture for shorter-range shots. However, the reticle is not etched into the glass, but it is constructed of wire.
Once you remove the turret covers, you can adjust the optical system internally for the windage and elevation in 1/4 MOA graduation, up to a maximum of 40 MOA.
The entire lens system, including the 28 mm objective lens, has fully multi-coated glass, maximizing light transmission to 95 percent and providing a sharp and crisp sight picture in even low-light conditions.
With a one-inch main tube and 9.8-inch overall length, the scope only weighs a little over eleven ounces, so this compact, lightweight handgun optic won’t add too much weight to your firearm.
The scope’s construction is based on aircraft-grade aluminum central tube, while the optics chamber is nitrogen-filled and the lenses are O-ring sealed for both waterproof and fog proof capabilities.
Nikon's 8469 model comes in a silver finish which is a bit lighter than usual, but it still looks terrific on stainless steel short barreled firearms. Being one of the more expensive scopes, the Nikon Force XR is also one of the best choices for the single shot handguns or revolvers.
Best Handgun Scope for .44 Mag:
Weaver Classic Silver Handgun Scope (2x28 with Dual-X Reticle)
The Weaver Company is one of the oldest brands in the firearm industry in the United States. The Weaver Classic handgun scope series consists of three models, designed for use on heavy-recoil handguns such as .44 Mag. or a .454 Casull.
While two of them are variable magnification, the model we are highlighting has a fixed power scope, registered under manufacturer number 849424.
The Weaver Classic is 2x28mm scope purpose-built for handgun use, so it comes with long eye relief of 4-29 inches for efficient use of the gun at arm's length.
The Weaver Classic Silver Handgun series is produced in Japan entirely of single piece aluminum. The nitrogen-purged central tube has a diameter of one-inch that also provides a scope with added durability with the elimination of internal fogging.
This optic comes with fifty-yard parallax set up and has fully multi-coated lenses to maximize good light transmission for better picture quality and clarity from edge to edge of the scope.
The Weaver Classic handgun scope features windage and elevation adjustments in 1/4 MOA increments, but the clicks are very quiet.
It uses a simple Dual-X reticle with a thin center to avoid covering the target. However, this duplex-style reticle is also the subject of many complaints, since the crosshairs are a little thin causing target acquisition to be significantly slower.
This Weaver one-inch scope can withstand the harshest of conditions, though it only weighs 6.7 ounces, which is remarkably lightweight for unit intended to sit atop of some of the most powerful handguns.
The beautiful, classic silver finish of this stainless steel scope can easily match your stainless steel pistol or revolver, giving the whole combo a unique appearance. This is a very solidly built handgun scope capable of withstanding the brutal recoils from today's most potent single-shot pistols and revolvers.
For over thirty years in the optical industry, Simmons has established themselves as a manufacturer of reliable and affordable binoculars, riflescopes, and other sport optics products for hunters and plinkers. The Simmons Pro Hunter series is quite large as it encompasses a wide variety of different scopes intended for shotguns, scout-style rifles, and short-barreled firearms.
The Pro Hunter line of handgun scopes have a fixed 4x magnification and 32 mm objective lens and Simmons offers both in silver (model 807739) and black (model 807738) matte finishes.
Packed with a 32mm objective lens, the Simmons Pro Hunter weighs just eight ounces, making it a very lightweight scope for most pistols and revolvers.
Like all of the Simmons’ Pro Hunter scopes, model 807739 features one-piece construction made of sleek 1.0" military-grade aluminum tube. While the scope body is O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged for waterproof and fog proof use, it is decently recoil-proof for its price class.
Simmons’ Prohunter Handgun Scope comes with a simple, but very useful Truplex reticle, which has a medium-gate cross hair and post configuration. The scope locks-in zero with the internal feature of the TrueZero windage and elevation adjustment system. The maximum windage and elevation adjustment is 75 MOA with 1/4 MOA impact point correction.
The fully multi-coated lenses are anti-reflective and provide crystal clear, distortion-free images.
The Simmons Prohunter features a QTA (Quick Target Acquisition) eyepiece that, paired with an outstanding 20" of eye relief, provide rapid target acquisition and accurate shot placement.
The Simmons Pro Hunter is one of the best long eye relief scopes for budget-conscious buyers or casual plinkers. This 4x32 handgun scope is a lightweight and reliable option for all hunters and shooters who appreciate the inherent simplicity of fixed power optics.
Are Scopes Important While Using a Handgun?
The essential benefit of these handgun scopes is reflected by increasing your overall shooting performance. With the mounted scope on your handgun and proper training and target practice, you will improve your shot accuracy, your target acquisition time, and your ability to shoot at longer ranges more accurately.
In the above scope guide, all of the reviewed models have extended the distance between your eye and the scope, making the shooting extraordinarily comfortable and natural.
More and more hunters are mounting optics on their revolvers and pistols since the scopes offer the benefit of magnification, allowing them to better assess and estimate the animal’s location in the hunt.
However, handgun scopes with very powerful zooms set on a high magnification without sufficient support are almost impossible to use reliably, because without the whole-body support, the movement of a handgun increases, exaggerating the wobbles and shakes when looking through a scope. This makes it extremely hard to fire an accurate shot.
While the story behind handgun optics started in WW2 with the Mauser Zf.-Kar.98k rifle, equipped with a low-power, long-eye-relief 1.5xZf.41 optical sight, today they are most commonly found on hunting revolvers and single-shot pistols. However, they are also often on surplus rifles and are popular on scout rifles.
If we can say that William R. Weaver was the first manufacturer to put a scope on every rifle, then Leupold was one of the early pioneers of handgun scopes. Modern pistol scopes are small enough to fit on top of full-size semiautomatics or big-bore revolvers and light enough not to interfere with your handgun’s balance.
No matter which handgun optic you chose, one thing you need to keep in mind is to practice freehand with the mounted scope to clearly obtain the target until it becomes muscle memory. Utilizing a scope will help you to overcome the lack of trigger control and improve your accuracy by approximately 20 percent.