The 5 Best Scout Scopes for the Money — Rifle Optic Reviews 2022

best scout scope for the money, best scout rifle scope

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Jeff Cooper, gun expert extraordinaire, had the concept for the “scout rifle” back in the 1980’s. Cooper envisioned a lightweight, handy rifle that would be suitable for hunting and combat roles. Among the many particular features he ascribed to this concept, one was a forward mounted low power scope. He considered the low power scope ideal when mounted forward of the action over the barrel as it made for fast sight acquisition and better stability in mounting, plus left the action free for rapid reloading.  To that end, the low power long eye relief scope, long a handgun only proposition, soon evolved into the concept we now know as the “scout scope.”

Following Colonel Cooper’s principals, the best scout scope is a low power, long eye relief scope which we can mount in a forward position on a suitable rifle. Given the daunting number of suitable scopes on the market, we scoured the internet for you and found some of the best ones here:

Leupold VX Scout Scope

This is probably the closest thing to what Jeff Cooper had in mind when he devised the scout rifle concept, making this the best scout scope period. Oh, and it is made by Leupold, which doubly makes it the best. With its 1.5 to 5 power magnification, it is more like an optical sight than a true scope, and is ideal for scout rifle applications. If you are building a custom rifle, you owe it to yourself to stick the best quality scope you can find on it, and you’ll be hard pressed to outdo a Leupold.

Ruger Scout rifle-308--Leupold scout scope,with good iron muzzle brake.

Burris Scout Scope

Honestly, if I had to pick between a Burris or a Leupold, I’d probably just sigh, flip a coin, and buy whichever came up. That is how good this scope is. A little more powerful at two to seven power magnification, this is the best scout scope if you are looking for a little more magnification than Colonel Cooper might have originally had in mind. Either way, this is an incredible scope, and one you can design an entire rifle concept around. Rugged enough to fill the tactical or sporting role envisioned for the scout rifle, Burris builds a scope you will be proud to own.

Aim Sports Scout Scope

The scout rifle concept has been around long enough and is popular enough that there are a number of low cost and affordable scout scopes on the market. If you are looking to keep a scope for a low price, Aim Sports is a strong contender for best scout scope for the money. A handy two to seven magnification is well within the parameters for the scout rifle concept, and I have seen many nice budget scout rifle builds, including some on old surplus rifles. If a low cost scout rifle is in your plans, take a good long look at this scope.

Unboxing of Aim Sports 2-7x42 scout scope

Leapers Scout Scope

In between the top of the line and the budget scopes lies the Leapers. For a rock solid middle of the road scope, this is the best scout rifle scope you can get. Another two to seven power scope, Leapers offers a top notch offering in every way. We can’t all afford to buy the absolute top shelf scope but if you are looking to get a nice scout rifle together, you can buy the Leapers, spend more on an action, and still rest easy knowing you got a top quality scope for your project.

Leapers/UTG Operators Manual - Zeroing Your Scope

Vortex Optics Crossfire 2

Vortex is a company that made a big splash in the optics industry, They hit the ground running and dominating the optic’s market. Just ask anyone who is at SHOT show and saw their booth. The Crossfire 2 is their venture into scout scopes. Designed to be easy to use, lightweight and crystal clear, it’s hard to beat. The price is killer, and the Crossfire has Vortex’s amazing warranty. The 2 to 7 magnification is perfect for a scout scope and the design is simple and intuitive. It’s perfect for hunting, target shooting, or building your version of Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle.

AR-15 Scope Mounting

Some Thoughts on Scout Rifles

Jeff Cooper wrote a lot about the rifle.  His book, The Art of the Rifle (get it here), is a fantastic read and one any serious gun owner should take a look at, as it gives an in depth look at the philosophy and ideals behind rifle shooting and ownership. The scout rifle concept was born of many years of Cooper’s philosophy coming together to create an ultimate rifle concept suitable for private citizens and even military application. Cooper envisioned a short, lightweight carbine with a forward mounted low powered scope in either 7.62 NATO or 7mm-08 where legal or personal preferences dictated a non military caliber. Along with the low power scope, back up iron sights were provided that could be quickly used in case of scope failure. However, the classic, defining feature of a scout rifle is the small, long eye relief scope mounted far forward, where one would normally find standard iron sights.

To that end, the best scope for scout rifles is one that is most compatible with Jeff Cooper’s vision. We’ve already looked at several scopes that are within the ideals set forth for the scout rifle, but it is important to remember a few things. Any old long eye relief scope won’t do when assembling the best scout rifle. I would never go more than 8 times magnification, and really four power is about right if you are strictly following the vision of Cooper. A scout rifle is not a sniper rifle. Rather, the scope on it is more of an optical sight, something that provides some small magnification that is an improvement over iron sights, is simple, rugged, and will magnify a target enough to take a good shot, and no more. Pretty much every nation that fielded sniper rifles in WWII did it with four power scopes, so there is no arguing the effectiveness of a low power scopes in the right hands.

The best scout rifle scopes then will be no more than about eight power. The lower the better, obviously be long eye relief, as a standard scope will not work in this role. It also must be lightweight, compact, and rugged. After all, this is a rifle that is meant to essentially be the ultimate personal arm. Powerful, hard hitting, lightweight, and accurate. A heavy or bulky scope simply will not do. And of course the scope must be up to handling the recoil that comes from a 7.62mm NATO cartridge. Look for a good shock and waterproof scope along with the other qualifications already described and you’ll have the best scout scope period.

  • Owner of, 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.

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One response

  1. I think the best scope is the Buris 2.75, no variable. Variable is not necessary for a scout and weight and package size limits should always be front of mind if you want to get together a real scout.

    Variable has some real uses for sure, though mostly it is about people not being able to choose a power, over the idea of not having to choose. But with a scout the rifle is designed to work in such a way that you don’t really need the power. I mean, we are already nearly at 3 which is still great for breaking skeet, and ok for long range shots, look at what snipers used in the great wars. For a general purpose rifle it makes sense. A general purpose rifle is one where no mater what comes up, you are the rifleman for the job. You just aren’t that guy if when a 25 foot shot is needed your scope is set to 7. But a guy with a 2 power scope can still ring a gong at 500 yards. They do it all day long with iron sights.

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