We are still advancing in technology, and the aiming scopes are not left behind. That is why, apart from rifle scopes, you can get one too for your handgun. The problem comes in when sorting out the factors to land on the best one from the already flooded market.
There are more issues to consider when selecting the best handgun scope than in rifle counterparts. It’s therefore not easy to just pick out a company that is offering the latest scope specs. On the other hand, there is less competition when considering the topic in the discussion when compared to rifle types
The main reason why you will need a suitable handgun scope is that pistols have a tougher job to do when you need the bullet to go further. So, if you are looking for the best 22 pistol scope, for example, read on to see what we came up with after extensive research.
The Buyers Guide
- The Buyers Guide
- How to Choose a Handgun Scope
- How to Mount a Handgun Scope
- Top Handgun Scope Reviews
Now that you have seen the variety to choose from for your small gun, it is still not advisable to go picking any, especially if you yet don’t know much about scopes and shooting.
Handgun scopes differ from the rifle types when you look at the recoil withstanding ability, the eye relief (more extended in the prior) and how you mount not to mention the size and weight.
Before you point out the one to shop for, here are a few things you need to know about.
How to Choose a Handgun Scope
Weight and Size:Handgun scopes come with smaller objectives ranging from 20-32mm though we have some going all the way to 42mm. The tube is mostly 1-inch meaning they are also narrower. While that limits using them in low light conditions, it contributes to having less weight on the small gun, which is vital.
Eye Relief:In riflescopes, anything larger than 4 inches is excess. The same cannot be said for handgun scopes due to how you hold the gun. Since there is increased distance here from the eyepiece to the user’s eye, you are bound to get reliefs going all the way to 30 inches to fit the arm’s length.
Magnification: This is a tricky part when it comes to handgun-based optics. Generally, handguns do not require the extra power as seen in rifle substitutes. That is why most of the featured ones have fixed magnification ranging between 2x and 4x.
You are also bound to get some with varying magnification if you want something that suits the pistols and revolvers. They are, however, known to compromise other vital features that will affect the shooting ability.
The varying ones in the reviews are there because they attain the most basic shooting requirements despite having the ability to increase/decrease the magnification.
Caliber Type and Recoils:Handguns, in general, have different recoil actions from the rifles. Also, in the small gun’s category, the revolvers will behave differently from the shorter pistols. We cannot ignore how you mount since it’s based on what your gun permits. It is, therefore, a factor that can significantly affect the shooting results and how the scope works.
When it comes to the caliber, smaller guns such as the Magnum .22 will have less recoil than its heavier substitute. On the other hand, the vibration pattern will be the same, which means there are desired and undesired scopes for the action. The heavier the vibration, the stronger you need the scope to be especially at the mounted level.
How to Mount a Handgun Scope
How you attach the scope on your handgun will affect your shooting results. It may seem obvious to you until it’s time to do it. Wrong mounting will bring sighting issues, and that’s one thing you don’t want to deal if you just bought an expensive optic.
We have witnessed customers saying they can’t zero using the current scope and go ahead to take it to a gunsmith who will remove it using their hands. That implies something was not correctly mounted.
While most of what we have reviewed can use the 1-inch rings, there is a need for heavy duty mounts and use of Loctite on the screws before driving them in the barrel or on the rings.
Before you can tightly fit the screws, it’s advisable to sight first to make sure that the scope is mounted correctly. After that, you can now tighten them down.
Before you can tightly fit the screws, it’s advisable to sight first to make sure that the scope is mounted correctly. After that, you can now tighten them down.
For tightening tips, you should first tie them loosely with a few turns on each before going to the next one. After that, you can tighten each as desired. This gives you the ability to tighten them in the same manner and avoid tightening one of the screws more than the other.
Once you tighten, the scope should be seated on the gun in such a way that it does not wiggle or move in any way. You also need to make sure it’s level. As you tighten, you can use a button level to make sure the front and rear sides are perfectly inline.
Top Handgun Scope Reviews
Leupold FX-II 4x28mm Handgun Scope
Leupold Company has been manufacturing gun scopes for a long time, and their efforts have seen them stand out one of the best optics designers. Now, they have made something to use with the small guns, the Leupold FX-II 4×28 Handgun Scope.
The reason why we choose it as the best is its ability to withstand the recoil activity on pistols. Its super solid while on top and you will enjoy the view from the DiamondCoat 2 coated lenses. That is what assists in light transmission and excellent image clarity.
The FX-II comes with a fixed magnification, which is 4x. The benefit here is that you will get the same optical quality regardless of where you are aiming. The flaw is that you will not be able to shoot longer distances that require higher and maybe varying magnification.
Since the objective is only 28mm, that means you will have a smaller body with less weight on the handgun. With that, it’s okay to use the 1mm rings if your weapon does not have those thick barrels.
Using the duplex reticle is easy. The thicker lines on it minimize your aiming loss while the thinner ones allow you to concentrate on the point of impact. It is not one of the best though if you want to compensate for bullet drop at longer distances.
On the other hand, the turrets give you up to 60MOA for both windage and elevation. You have to take care though of how you dial them since the rotating caps are smaller, especially if you were using a rifle scope at first.
As for the body, it waterproofs and fog proof with the help of argon/krypton gas blend purging and a sturdy but lightweight outer covering with a matte finish.
Weaver Classic 2.5-8×28
If you want to adjust the magnification as you increase the shooting distance, the Weaver Classic 2.5-8×28 scope is one of the scopes to consider for that. This one comes in black with sturdy materials used in construction.
It’s fully multicoated to allow better light transmission, especially at higher magnification. It is, however, weaker in low light since it’s difficult to see the crosshairs. It is yet tested to make sure you don’t experience zeroing due to heavy recoils.
As we said, you can increase the magnification here, but the objective has 28mm diameter allowance. At higher magnification, you will experience what my friend calls a tube view. It’s like viewing via a tunnel.
To help you in aiming, you need the reticle. The Weaver Classic model uses the dual-x type. If they add some illumination on it, it will not be difficult to shooting before dusk or slightly after dawn. The good thing is that with proper light conditions, you can aim better using the ¼-click MOA turrets.
The parallax is set for 50 yards, and eye relief ranges from 16-22 inches depending on your mounting position. Like all scopes, forward mounting this model will give you better results.
When it comes to construction, the body is purged with nitrogen to make it fog proof while materials aid in withstanding shock and waterproofing. You will want this scope if you are hunting using the pistol.
Simmons Prohunter 4×32
Simmons is another company with a broad series of optics that range from rifles to handguns. They have been doing for the last thirty years, and one of the latest releases is the Simmons Prohunter 4×32 handgun scope.
To aid in you in seeing clear and non-distorted images, the lenses are fully multicoated and anti-reflective too. The magnification is however fixed here, so you don’t get variations here. The vision is clear, though, despite the distance through the 32mm objective. At just 8 ounces, we can say it’s not that heavy while on the small weapon.
The military aluminium tube is only one inch so you can any suiting rings to mount. It will withstand the recoils with the help of TrueZero feature that prevents the turrets from adjusting as you shoot. Speaking of turrets, you can adjust for both elevation and windage with ¼-click increments up to 75 MOA.
The triplex reticle is what helps you in getting the target. The eye relief maintains at 20 inches throughout your shooting to give you a quick target acquisition. It also has a raised power tab to provide a better grip as you adjust. For durability purposes, it comes waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
To testify on being anti-recoil, the Prohunter is tested with 1000 rounds using a .375 H&H magnum rifle before you get the delivery.
Simmons Prohunter 2-6×32
The difference between this model and the above one is the varying magnification. There is also a slight variation in the magnification knob. Otherwise, they both have the same silver color before leaving the Simmons’ factory.
Lighting in the scope is aided by the lens multi-coating feature and some high-quality glass. You don’t struggle after placing your handgun at arm’s length. Via the 32mm objective, you can adjust the magnification from 2-6x without having the through-tunnel look experience.
Just like the model above, the power knob is raised for a better hold. However, in this model, it’s slightly separated from the eyepiece with small numbers between.
You can mount using any compatible 1-inch rings though most of the users go for the Leupold low/medium mounting rings. Aiming for the bull’s eye needs you to use the Truplex reticle while adjusting for the windage and elevation makes use of the side and top turrets, respectively. You also get ¼-click MOA increments here as you dial.
To prevent zeroing the scope after recoils, the turrets possess the TrueZero feature that locks them in place after adjusting. Just like its predecessor, it also got 1000-round test before getting to final consumers. To conclude on this Prohunter, it’s also waterproof, fog proof and shockproof for those who will be hunting or training with it.
Hammers 2-7×32 Scope
Here is another scope that has varying magnification and includes some mounting rings. The Hammers 2-7×32 will assist in viewing further, and it appears smooth, dark, and shiny on the outside.
Some have gone ahead to try it on a rifle, and it works well too. The view from the lens is clear, and the 32mm objective is not mean as you increase the magnification. It, however, does not perform well in low light times. Working with it reveals having a better view if you are holding the handgun with two hands.
It does not match what you would want in a shooting competition, but since the handgun is better at shorter distances, it will work for practice sessions. For the mounting rings, that’s an excellent job from Hammers. They work on weaver rail, but we cannot blame you if you wanted better ones. Most customers have complained about mounting issues and steadiness.
The 4 plex reticle can be viewed via the 13-17 inches relief. The turrets are ¼ click types, and you can comfortably adjust the windage and elevation using your finger. The magnification knob is also stripped to increase the grip as you change. You will, however, witness sighting issues after shooting with it for a while. The reticle is affected by the recoils, and that’s something the designers should sort.
Burris Handgun Scope 2-7×32
Made in the US, this is another scope with varying magnification, and it’s also known to withstand heavy recoils, from handguns to rifles. The Burris Handgun scope 2-7×32 can be a versatile sighting tool if you would like to switch between pistols and bigger guns.
The tube is 1-inch, which is the same for most scopes while the magnification varies from 2-7x via the 32mm objective. The matte black model, however, has a different reticle, the ballistic Plex type but it’s in the second focal plane like most of the scope we have already reviewed.
The view is clear from the polished multicoated glass, and it passes through rigorous testing before getting to you. That is why it’s a suitable instrument on your Magnum revolver and other known big pistols. At only 2x magnification, the relief seems to be too much, but that does not prohibit you from quick target acquisition.
To make it lightweight, it has aluminium body while nitrogen purging and O-ring sealing make it fog proof and waterproof. Lower magnification gives you an eye relief of 11-21 inches while high power goes low to provide you with a range of 10-14 inches. That is why it’s barely enough at higher magnification, especially if you are going above 4x.
The turrets are finger adjustable to allow you to dial in the elevation and windage. The ¼ MOA clicks go all the way to 64 MOA.
Nikon Force XR 2×20 Handgun Scope
From Nikon scopes and optics, you expect better light transmission, a quality view through the lenses and ability to withstand the recoils. The Nikon Force XR 2×20 scope will give you all that but with lesser magnification.
The Nikoplex reticle gives you better target acquisition with thicker lines on the outer parts, which get thinner at the center to show you where to aim. The multi-coating on the glasses gives in 95% light transmission, making it a better performer in low light conditions.
The only thing deprived is the magnification, which is only 2x. On the other hand, expect it to perform better via the 20mm objective. You don’t need varying magnification from such a diameter. You get a 1-inch tube here, and mounting is better with the 1-inch rings.
Adjusting the elevation and windage turrets gives you ½ MOA increments, and the internal adjustment allows for up to 120 MOA. Due to clear viewing, the reticle can be used to aim even at smaller targets making it an ideal solution for those chasing varmints.
To make it withstand all the abuse you subject it to, it comes as a waterproof and fog proof instrument, tested using the S&W 500. Overall, if you want a handgun scope that will allow you to practice and hunt at the same time without a high magnification, this Force XR model is for you.
Bushnell Trophy 2-6×32 Handgun Scope
Still from the US, here is the Bushnell Trophy 2-6×32 scope that comes with a cover cap for the objective and eyepiece. While it’s an excellent addition, you can remove it if flipping it upwards is not enough. Bushnell has a reputation in scopes and range finders so this one is not going to fail you.
Clarity is an essential specification in any scope and Bushnell goes ahead to make your image is superior, and there is enough light transmission for your enhanced view. Something worth noting is that it comes in many variations since what we have here is silvery. There are black models too that don’t come with covers for the lenses.
Adjusting the magnification from 2x to 6x is comfortable via the 32mm objective and the 1-inch tube offers just the right view regardless of the power increase. You need to note that it requires the 1-inch rings as opposed to 30mm sizes. There is some confusion in the description.
You can adjust for the windage and elevation as the Multi-X reticle helps you in getting the target. The eyepiece allows for fast focusing. The eye relief is also adjustable from 9-26 inches to give room for those using higher power values.
Bushnell is known to test their scopes before selling, so be sure to get a quality instrument that can withstand the shock forces and what the weather throws on it. They also have a lifetime warranty on their products for those of us who want to test it beyond what it can do.
BARSKA 3-9×42 IR
If you are on a budget but want something that will give you more significant results from a small gun, then BARSKA 3-9×42 IR has some attributes worth looking into. It has underperformed in various uses, but that depends on the application.
First, it comes with multi-coated optics for better light transmission, and the objective is quite large, at 42mm. That means more weight on your handgun, but you can cope if weight is a non-issue. You get a 3-9x magnification from it which again works better with a bigger objective. The objective also has a built-in sunshade for those extra bright days.
Mounting is not an issue on handguns since it works with most rings. Where you are bound to face a problem is using the mil-dot reticle. It’s a nice addition for small guns, but the illumination on it is not proper when there is too much light. On the other hand, you get to choose three shades of red and three shades of green to cub the lighting effect.
The eyepiece allows for focusing on the reticle while the turrets give you ¼ MOA increments. The turrets are well calibrated with non-slip grip as you dial. You can also adjust for the parallax using the side knob near the rear view position, but tests have proved it not to be effective despite giving you the ¼ MOA increments too.
With higher magnification, it’s also possible to wish for a larger eye relief since this model only gives you 3.9 inches. There are also complaints about the scope fogging after a short period of use.
Apart from the few things that the company should address, buying this scope comes with accessories such as mounting rings, caps, a cleaning cloth, and battery. In case of any defects, it comes with a lifetime warranty.
Barska 1-4×28 IR
The last one on the list goes to an optic that you can switch between handguns and rifles. It’s still from Barska, but this one has 1-4x magnification via a 28mm objective, making it the smaller version of the one above. It quite rugged from appearance and there is more weight to it.
Once appropriately used, which includes applying Loctite on screws before mounting, you will not experience zeroing even after firing the too many rounds.
The lenses are multicoated for maximum light transmission. Actually, for the view, it’s much better while using the illuminated reticle and there are no light shading issues here.
The objective also possesses a shade, and there are included covers for both lenses. Adjusting the magnification to 4x is accessible via the non-slip dialer so you can adapt for your close to mid-range requirements.
It comes with mounting rings that fit well on rails. The mildot reticle has red and green adjustments, but if you like using it without the batteries, the reticle remains dark like other scopes. For illumination adjustment, there is a side knob for it. The rest are turrets for elevation and windage adjustment. You have room for up to 50 MOA with ¼ click increments.
The construction is rugged with waterproof and shockproof qualities. Therefore, don’t worry if you accidentally knock it over after it withstands all the recoils.
Now, you know that you can equip you small pistol with the best handgun scope. The question that remains is, what does your handgun need?
Since we now have something for the single-shot pistols and the revolvers, the only thing remaining is to look at your weapon specs and select the scope that best matches the needs.
All our selected scopes are suitable for a variety of handguns, which means it’s common to find one that can suit various guns. Some even go to the extent of enabling you to switch between the pistol and the rifle. They can all withstand the recoil activity on the small guns too.
No matter what you choose, always engage in the best gun practices to overcome the shooting inability. Once you memorize how your gun performs, adjusting appropriately will not be a problem.