The search for the right lightweight scope is half black magic and half practical study. Make a scope too light, and you risk it being too weak for regular use. But don’t make it light enough, then there isn’t enough of a weight saving to matter. But if you go out during a full moon and draw a crosshair in the ground and listen hard enough, you might just hear the name of the ideal lightweight scopes carried on the wind . . .
Here are our recommendations for the 4 best lightweight rifle scopes on the market:
Leupold VX-Freedom Lightweight Rifle Scope
Leupold has been building scopes for military, law enforcement and hunters for generations. Their Oregon factory has put out more famous scopes than you can shake a stick at, so it is only natural that they would build one of the top lightweight rifle scopes on the market today.
The VX-Freedom weighs 11 ounces, and is everything a hunter wants out of a weight saving optic. Featuring 2-7 power magnification, a 33mm objective lens, proprietary multicoated optics, and a water and fogproof aluminum tube, the Leupold VX-Freedom may just be the gold standard of lightweight scopes. The 33mm objective lens saves weight and reduces the profile of your scope, making this ideal for hunters who have to take long hikes in dense or steep terrain.
Burris Fullfield II Rifle Scope
- Burris 3-9 x 40mm Fullfield II Ballistic Plex Rifle Scope
- Price: $198.77
- Price as of 10/22/2020 08:02 PDT(more info about ad)
Weighing in at just 13 ounces, the Burris Fullfield II is one of the best lightweight scopes in its price range. While a bit heavier than the VX-Freedom, the Burris Fullfield II weighs only 13 ounces, making it quite suitable for your next lightweight rifle build.
Featuring 3-9x magnification, a 40mm objective lens, water, shock and fogproof construction and an industry leading lifetime warranty, this is a lot of scope for its price range. If you are shooting heavier than normal rifle loads, this might be the ideal lightweight scope for you.
UTG BugBuster Rifle Scope
- UTG 3-9X32 1" BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings
- Price: $93.95
- Price as of 10/22/2020 12:20 PDT(more info about ad)
The best lightweight rifle scope for dirt-cheap prices? Well, add a funny name to it, and you’ve got the UTG BugBuster. Weighing in at just under 13 ounces, this compact scope is ideal for tactical rifle shooters, and folks who prefer a compact scope without much eye relief.
The fixed four power magnification is ideal for most short and medium range shooting, and more than sufficient for many common hunting or tactical tasks. Featuring multicoated optics, a 32mm objective lens, illuminated reticle, nitrogen purged 1” tube, water, fog and shockproof construction, flip up lens caps, and more, you’d be hard pressed to find a better 4x lightweight scope for the money.
Swavorski Z5 Lightweight Rifle Scope
- Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44 Ballistic Turret Plex Reticle Riflescope
- Price: $1,329.00
- Price as of 10/22/2020 12:20 PDT(more info about ad)
While not cheap, this is probably the single best lightweight rifles cope money can buy. Swavorski is world famous for some of the finest optics made anywhere in the world, and the just under 16 ounces Z5 (see full specs) may be the pinnacle of the scope maker’s art.
Featuring 3.5 to 18 power magnification, a 44mm objective lens, waterproof to 4 meters, amazingly clear optics, precision windage and elevation adjustment, and a unique ballistic turret that allows you set zero for up to four predetermined distances, and much more. The Z5 is designed to be the ultimate lightweight rifle scope, and is suitable for all types of hunting, sport shooting or even precision sniping.
Don’t forget Lightweight Rifle Scope Rings
Now that we’ve looked at some of the best lightweight scopes, shouldn’t we consider some rings? Weighing less than 2 ounces, this Talley scope mount set (see the rings here) of special CNC machined alloy rings will take the punishing recoil of magnum rifle calibers and keep working for thousands and thousands of rounds. When working on your lightweight rifle build, shaving weight off your scope rings gives you more flexibility in the size and weight of your scope, or simply allows you to improve the balance of your rifle by removing a couple ounces of dead weight. Either way, you’ll want these incredible rings!
Choosing a Lightweight Rifle Scope
The first question, of course, is what makes a scope lightweight? There is no real definition for that, so we decided to keep it under one pound, although some may disagree. And if you do, that’s what the comment section of an article is for! That aside, we looked at a few scopes running from just over half a pound to pushing the edge of one pound, with a couple more in the middle.
The problem with building a lightweight scope is that the heaviest parts are also the most important. Thinner tubes and lenses means reduced physical strength, which means some guns might literally beat the scope to death if it is made too light. There are compromises of course. A shorter scope is lighter, as is a fixed power optic with fewer internal parts. Smaller objective lenses help too. In the end, the best lightweight rifle scope is about compromise in price, materials, and strength.
So what makes the ideal lightweight scope? It has to be from a reputable manufacturer. Nobody wants a scope that doesn’t have manufacturer support. Even many entry level imported optics come with outstanding warranties these days, so there is no reason to cheap out on a scope.
In addition, the scope must be able to handle common rifle calibers, be rugged enough for hunting, and hold up well to regular and repeated use. If a scope cannot do these things, saving a few ounces is meaningless. All the scopes we looked at in this article will meet these criteria and then some. If you are shooting heavy magnum calibers, avoid ultralight scopes and focus on those around the 12-16 ounce range.
There is no hard and fast rule for determining what the best lightweight rifle scope is, but it is easier to identify some of the best ones on the market right now, and we hope you agree with our assessments. Good luck!
Owner of Reloaderaddict.com, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.