Once upon a time, the idea among many hunting and shooting enthusiasts was that to get a high-end scope atop your rifle, you’d have to open the wallet up and shell out a lot of George Washingtons. Meaning, if you wanted top-shelf performance, you were almost certainly going to pay a top-shelf price.
On the other end of the spectrum were bargain-basement products, scopes that while pocketbook friendly, only had so many hunts or bench sessions in them due to lesser quality components and shortcuts in construction. Eventually doomed to fail from exposure to inclement weather, handling and travel within a harsh environment, or the simple punishment delivered by high-powered ammo loads, these scopes had to be cheap, since they were going to be replaced frequently.
Problem was — back then, at least — there were few scope options available to the average hunter or shooter that offered the best of both worlds. And that was quite simply great performance at a fair price, something that most consumers seek.
While that may have been true years ago, that was then and this is now, the golden age of great scopes at don’t-break-the-bank prices. If that’s what you’re in the market for — big-league features and easy-to-deal-with costs — look no farther than these seven models offered at Academy Sports + Outdoors stores or online at http://www.academy.com/.
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40 ($129.99)
A fixture for years on top of the rifles used by many American deer hunters, the Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40 scope just might be the "Swiss Army Knife" of this product category.
Why is that? For starters, the fully multicoated lens delivers superb light transmission, even in those waning moments of legal shooting light as the buck or bull of a lifetime steps into view.
When that happens, the Buckmaster II’s BDC reticle allows users to quickly and confidently settle the crosshairs on the target downrange, a chore easily accomplished as hunters peer through the scope’s 40mm objective lens and superb glass from Nikon.
Add in waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof features, and the bottom line is this matte-finished Buckmasters II scope delivers numerous functional uses afield, doing so with a price tag that is sure to bring a smile in the checkout line.
Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12x40 ($149.99)
Like the Buckmasters II scope mentioned above, the Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12x40 is a wonderful combination of value and function packed into an iconic model manufactured by one of the scope making industry’s best-known companies.
Brightness? Check. Clear, crisp images no matter what the time of day? Check. Ease of use? Check. Rugged durability and top-shelf performance features? Double-check.
If you’re looking for a bomb-proof scope that is high on performance, big on magnification, and fair on price, look no farther than the Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12x40 model. No matter what big game species you are hunting this fall or what your budget happens to be, you won’t be disappointed with this Nikon product.
Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x50 V-Plex ($149.99)
For deer hunters seeking an upgrade in the scope atop their rifle, the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x50 V-Plex is a great choice to consider.
The scope’s lens coatings and 50mm-objective lens work together to deliver superior light transmission even in the dim moments of last legal-shooting light. Plus, the hard-anodized matte finish produces a low-glare surface even on a bright sunny day, yet another plus for those who want to remain hidden as they wait patiently in a hunting stand.
Add in easy-to-use features like the Fast Focus Eyepiece, plus the V-Plex Reticle that helps shooters with holdovers and wind drift, and it’s easy to appreciate the good within this scope package. With 3.8 inches of eye relief, a weight of 18.4 ounces, a length of 12.7 inches, and the addition of a removable lens cover and a lens cloth, and the value of the Vortex Crossfire is easy to see.
Finally, thanks to its aircraft-grade aluminum tube, this scope also has a rugged, shockproof construction that can stand up to heavy recoil produced by magnum cartridges on the market. And with its sealed O-ring, the Crossfire also is fog proof and waterproof, making this another successful entry in the long line of great scope packages produced by Vortex.
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 ($199.99)
Not every rifle scope is designed for deer hunters and long-range shooters. Some like the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 rimfire scope are designed for small-game hunters and back-40 plinkers intent on spending an afternoon working through a brick of .22 long rifle ammo.
Perfect for a late fall or wintertime day, the waterproof and fog proof features contained by the VX-Freedom's Twilight Light Management System deliver clear, crisp sight pictures no matter how dark and damp the bottomland cover happens to be where a hunter is spending an afternoon chasing small game.
Thanks to the rimfire scope’s ¼-MOA adjustments for windage and elevation, a variable 33.7- to 13.6-foot field of view at 100 yards, a total length of 12.39 inches, and a weight of 12.2 ounces, and this Leupold rimfire scope brings premium scope features at an easy-to-tolerate of price.
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 CDS ($299.99)
Over the years, hunters and range enthusiasts have developed a deep love for Leupold and its VX scopes, including the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 CDS model.
Why is that? For starters, it's accurate and easy to use, qualities made possible by its CDS (Custom Dial System) feature that allows for custom adjustments according to the ballistics of the round being fired. Add in the scope's ¼-MOA windage and elevation adjustments, and accurate shooting in the field or on the range is a breeze with this scope product.
Then there's the VX-Freedom's top shelf quality, including construction from durable 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum, scratch-resistant outer lenses that meet military standards for extreme abrasion resistance, and waterproof and fog proof abilities.
Checking in with a weight of 12.2 ounces, an overall length of 12.39 inches, a mounting length of 5.38 inches, and containing a Duplex reticle inside the matte finish tube, and this scope is another made-in-the USA classic from Leupold.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 ($199.99)
Thanks to the long eye relief and fast focusing nature of the Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 scope, quick target acquisition in the field or on the range is a breeze for hunters and rifle shooters using this great scope.
With the Diamondback’s multicoated and antireflective coatings, the sight picture is crystal-clear at first light, last light, and all the hours in between. And with a low-glare matte finish, not to mention argon purging for the scope’s fog proof and waterproof features, it doesn’t matter what the fall or winter weather is like as you remain hidden in a hunting blind.
With additional features like the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, unique low-cap reset turrets — which allow for the toolless re-indexing of the turret housing back to 0 after sighting in — and 1-piece aircraft grade aluminum alloy construction, and it’s easy to believe in the superior performance of the Diamondback scope.
Take it to the bench at the shooting range or out into the field on a hunt you’ve anticipated all year long, and the performance from this Vortex scope product is tough to beat no matter how many big recoil loads are fired at targets downrange.
ATN X-Sight 4K Pro/Day Night 3-14x ($699.99)
It might be easier to tell you what the ATN X-Sight 4K Pro/Day Night 3-14x scope cannot do rather than list its numerous top-shelf features, so many that a stand-alone review almost seems necessary here.
First, let’s talk about the X-Sight’s night vision capabilities provided by this scope’s ultra HD optics and day/night sensor. Such technology delivers clear, crisp images after dark, making it a perfect companion to hog hunters or predator hunters hunting after the sun goes down (where legal).
Next, consider the X-Sight’s ability to record hunting action, either by way of still images or video that is recoil activated. For recording the end of a memorable hunt, the scope offers 1080p full HD video at 120 frames per second, along with live-stream capabilities — thanks to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology for IOS and Android mobile devices — that offers 720p video footage.
Finally, don’t forget the multicolored, multipattern reticle; a smart laser range finder and ballistics calculator; One Shot Zero technology; weather resistant aluminum housing; rings with a Picatinny rail; a sunshade and scope cover; 3.5 inches of eye relief; 460-foot field of view at 1,000 yards; and up to 18 hours of battery power on a single charge of the scope’s lithium-ion batteries.
Add it all up, and this fine product just might be the MVP of the great selection of scopes available at Academy Sports + Outdoors stores, your leader in premium optics at friendly, fair prices. Check it out today with an Academy Team Member and see if you don’t agree!