Tactical is a broad term that is thrown around quite a bit these days. In the gun world, gear and guns typically fall into two categories, sporting and tactical. For the sake of discussing tactical scopes, we will use the term tactical to describe home defense, police use, military use, security use, and even action shooting sports dedicated to tactical shooting.
What makes a good tactical scope?
A tactical scope needs to have a specific mission in mind when it’s chosen. Different tactical weapons have different needs. A tactical shotgun does not benefit much from a high powered variable scope, but a DMR rifle will. The first thing to consider is your mission.
Tactical scopes also need to be tough and dependable in different situations. They need to live through drops, falls, bangs and potentially thousands of rounds. Tactical scopes are rarely cheap and when real money is spent then there are certain expectations.
Lastly, tactical scopes need to be capable of increasing the potential of a shooter. They should compliment skill levels, and be a skill multiplier for shooters. That skill can be accuracy and precision, it can be fast and effective shooting, or transitioning target rapidly. All of these skills are handy in tactical situations.
Best Tactical Scope Comparison
|Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm Matte Duplex||1.4 pounds||9.8 / 10||Check Price|
|Trijicon MRO-C-2200005 2.0 MOA Adjustable Red Dot Sight||0.4 pounds||9.0 / 10||Check Price|
|EOTech 512.A65 Tactical HOLOgraphic||0.7 pounds||9.6 / 10||Check Price|
|Trijicon AccuPoint 1-6x24 Riflescope||1.2 pounds||8.3 / 10||Check Price|
|Primary Arms 3X Compact Prism Riflescope||1.6 pounds||9.2 / 10||Check Price|
Tactical Scope Product Reviews
** Recommend For Advanced Shooters ** Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14×50 Scope
One of the many types of tactical firearms that doesn’t gather a lot of air time is the Special Purpose Rifle or a Designated Marksman rifle. These rifles are designed for precision shooting at ranges 400 yards and beyond. A special purpose or DMR is designed for both long range engagements, and for shooting small targets at moderate ranges.
The Leupold VX-3i is one the high-end Leupold scopes and allows DMRs to hit targets in a precise way. The scope features high-quality glass for a clear picture and for easy target recognition. Leupold’s twilight max light management system makes it easy to see targets in low light situations. This can be critical in tactical shooting situations because you need to have proper identification before you pull that trigger.
The Leupold VX-3i’s 4.5 to 14 power magnification spectrum is great for long range shooting and for hitting those small targets at moderate ranges. The adjustment system is designed to be precise and uses dual spring precision adjustments. This means every click of the turrets is the same. There is no variation between adjustments.
Lesser scopes can often feature imprecise adjustments. This is often very minor, as an example, a 1 MOA adjustment may be 1.002 MOA. This isn’t a big deal in most shooting applications, but in tactical situations, you need to be precise as possible.
The Leupold VX-3i is not a beginners scope. It’s not difficult if you know how to zero scopes, but most new shooters won’t be able to use it to its full potential. A seasoned shooter will recognize the benefits and be capable of using the optic to its full potential.
If you are a skilled shooter, looking for a long range tactical scope I couldn’t suggest a better optic under a thousand dollars.
Trijicon MRO Scope
The Trijicon MRO is a newer option in the red dot realm. The Trijicon MRO is a full-sized red dot, something new for Trijicon. The MRO is a 1 x25mm optic that is designed for close quarters combat. This red dot is a good option for a carbine. a rifle, a short barreled rifle, a submachine gun, or even a shotgun. Trijicon is famous for making reliable and durable optics. The MRO will easily shrug off the recoil from the powerful 12 gauge.
Installation and What’s in the Box
The Trijicon MRO comes with everything you need to install the optic on a variety of weapons. The famed Trijicon box keeps the optic well protected while it’s in storage. The MRO comes with three different height mounts for a wider variety of weapons. With all of these different height mounts, you can find one to co-witness with almost any set of iron sights.
All the tools needed for installing and setting up the optic are included in the package. Installation is quite simple, and the different height mounts will also allow interaction with magnifiers or night vision clip-on devices.
The Trijicon is a built like a tank and is stupid simple to use. Mount it, zero it, and put the red dot on the target and take the shot. The Trijicon MRO has eight different brightness settings for different situations. Two of the settings are night compatible and listed n and N. These settings are incredibly dim, almost impossible to see in normal light conditions. However, throw a night vision device on the rifle with your optic and they light right up. The brighter settings are perfect for average to extremely sunny days. This optic was designed for military use, in places like Iraq where the sun rules the sky.
The illumination control is quite interesting. First, it is completely ambidextrous and mounted on top of the optic. The controls are divided in half with an offsetting. So the controls go n, N, 1, 2 off, and then 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. This allows the user to skip the dim settings when turning the optic on.
Shooting and hitting target under any light conditions is simple and easy to do. Out to a hundred yards, you can engage small targets, and out to two hundred, you can still hit man-sized targets. The MRO is incredibly durable. It can be submerged up to 100 feet in water and still function. A little rain and moisture are nothing to it. The MRO just keeps on keeping on round after round.
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Eotech 512 Scope
The Eotech 512 is one of the most well-known tactical scopes for rifles and shotguns. The Eotech 512 is a holographic optic that is quite unique in the red dot world. What’s unique is the Eotech reticle. Instead of a simple red dot, the Eotech 512 has a much different and more complicated reticle.
The reticle is a 68 MOA circle with 4 stadia on the top, bottom, and left and right sides of the reticle. In the center of this 68 MOA circle is a 1 MOA red dot. The reticle is necessarily complicated, but it is much easier to use and more versatile than a simple red dot. To take full advantage of an Eotech optic you have to understand how the reticle works.
To use this optic with a rifle in 223/5.56 in close quarters combat you simply fill the big dot with the target and pull the trigger. Beyond 7 yards you want to place the bottom portion of the circle where you want to hit. Between 50 and 200 yards, you use the 1 MOA reticle. The reticle itself can easily be used with different calibers and simple experimentation will allow you to set your marks for different ranges with different calibers.
The Eotech 512 is a full-sized Eotech holographic optic and the most popular in the Eotech line of optics. The 512 uses two double A batteries and lithium batteries are capable of working for 1,000 hours continuously. The mount is built into the system and designed to co-witness with AR height iron sights. The mount is built into the design and will mount to any Picatinny rail system.
Hitting targets with the Eotech 512 is very simple and the feedback is instant. Transitioning between targets can be done rapidly. Even transitioning between targets at various ranges is simple due to the versatile reticle. Getting used to the optic isn’t difficult to do, but will take a little time and ammo to do so. Once you do it is really worth it.
Trijicon Accupoint Scope
The Trijicon Accupoint 1-6×24 model is an excellent optic for both combat and sporting use. The 1 to 6 power magnification allows it to be used in a wide variety of tactical situations. In combat, this is one of the best optics for a designated marksman’s rifle or a special purpose rifle. It allows a shooter to transition between close quarters, room to room fighting, to open street warfare. The same could be said for shooting sports where targets can be anywhere from 7 yards to 300 yards and require instant changes in magnification.
The Trijicon Accupoint does come in a wide variety of different magnification levels. For quick action combat scenarios, the 1 to 6 power absolutely rules. The 6 power magnification can easily give you the ability to hit a man-sized target at over 600 yards. With both eyes open and the scope dialed down to 1x, it functions like a red dot for close quarters combat.
Using the Accupoint is very simple. You’ll zero it like any normal scope, at the ranges you expect to engage targets at. This scope needs to be paired with a rifle that can really hit targets at extended ranges. This scope is better suited for AR 15s, AR 10s, FN SCARs, Tavors, and more. Any rifle that has an effective range of 500 yards and beyond is the perfect platform for this optic.
The Accupoint has a few different options for reticles, with the standard Duplex with a green dot or MOA-dot crosshair with a green dot. Both of these reticles are better suited for longer range engagements, and the green dots are perfect for close quarters engagements. The illumination is battery free through Trijicons famed fiber optic systems.
Trijicon has never been one to slack in the quality department. Their famed Acog is easily one of the toughest optics on the market. The lenses are made of some of the best and high-quality glass out there. That gives you a nice and clear sight picture. The tube is made of aircraft grade aluminum and is a single piece tube. The electronics are waterproofed and protected against shock. The Accupoint 1-6×24 is perfect for shooters looking to engage at a multitude of ranges.
Primary Arms 3x ACSS 5.56 Compact Prism Riflescope
With the tactical market being so broad and so popular you can find quality options for optics that do not cost an arm and a leg. The Primary Arms 3x Compact Prism Riflescope, or CPR, is a budget-friendly option for shooters looking for a scope for home defense, or action shooting competitions. The CPR is perfect for a bug out rifle as well. The Primary Arms 3x ACSS is a fixed power scope that combines the qualities of both red dots and magnified optics. It’s a well-made optic and it can be had for under 300 dollars.
Features and Shooting
The Primary Arms 3x CPR is outfitted with a 5.56 and 308 bullet drop compensator. This allows the easy engagement of targets at a multitude of ranges. A bullet drop compensators takes
The guesswork out of bullet drop at different ranges. The hash marks of the BDC will align with a multitude of ranges. Simply place the hash mark on a target at that range and pull the trigger. This system is so efficient that it makes it possible to get bored of hitting that bull’s eye over and over.
The Primary Arms ACSS comes with 12 different brightness settings for the reticle and is powered by a CR 2032 battery. The battery isn’t necessary, though. The reticle is also glass etched into the lens of the scope. The Primary Arms ACSS is an all-around excellent scope, especially when you consider the price tag that is associated with it.
The lower 3 powered optic is pretty handy for most shooting applications done under 500 yards. Using the two-eyed open Bindon aiming concept the optic effectively works like a red dot. The Primary Arms ACSS is quite versatile and works surprisingly well once lead starts flying.
Just remember when it comes to tactical scopes they need to compliment your weapon and your objective. The five we’ve listed cover a wide variety of different situations and are designed for a variety of different weapons. A well made tactical scope should also last for years and years of hard use. The scopes we’ve listed above have been proven to be some of the best in the tactical world.