Pistol scopes are a type of magnified optic that fits into the trigger guard on a pistol. They’re often used for shooting at paper targets or through glass windows, but they can also be useful for hunting small animals or birds. The best pistol scope will depend on your intended use and preferences. The size and magnification power both matter in regard to how it suits your needs. A larger lens allows you to see what others can’t
A good gunsmith can help you choose the right scope for your firearm. If you’re looking for the best pistol scope, there are several options available. You could opt for an open-ended model with a quick-release mechanism so you can easily attach it to your gun, or you could invest in a more complex scope mount that allows you to change the position of the scope without dropping it.
What To Consider When Choosing The Best Pistol Scopes
When shopping for a new pistol scope, there are several factors worth considering. The following section looks at these in detail.
Before deciding on which model is right for you, think about how and where you intend to use it. If you’re looking for a versatile option that can meet both hunting and shooting needs, then look at models with multiple reticles or adjustable sights.
- Big game hunters need powerful optics that can magnify the size of animals so they can better see potential blood trails and other clues left behind by predators.
- Tactical shooters may want an optic that allows them to quickly zero in on a target without having to move their head while also being able to clearly see small details like wires and buttons on their weapon.
One feature many users appreciate about some scopes is adjustability. Whether it’s adjusting the focus or switching between the optical system and the electrical system, this allows the user to tailor the view to exactly what they’re doing. This is particularly useful when transitioning from shooting practice to a real hunt. Instead of getting caught up in the moment and blowing off steam by taking down a few targets with your favorite gun, you can pause the simulation and regain control over your emotions before heading out into the woods.
It’s important to remember that even though these devices aren’t heavy, weight still matters. A lot. Especially if you’re already carrying a gun, knife, ammo, and food not to mention the extra gear required for big game hunting. The last thing you want is to have to put down your firearm because it feels too heavy. It shouldn’t be neglected but neither should it be overly burdensome. Finding the perfect balance between the two will depend on your own strength and endurance as well as the quality of the rifle itself.
There are three main types of mounts for attaching a scope to a handgun: threaded barrel, handguard, and muzzle loop.
- Threaded-barrel mount consists of four or five threads that attach directly to the end of the barrel. This type of mount tends to be stronger than the others and more durable as well, especially since the threads don’t pass through any metal parts inside the barrel.
- Handguards are typically attached to the top of the handle using a guard clamp. These guards help prevent dirt, moisture, and other elements from entering the trigger mechanism during operation.
- Muzzle loops consist of a ring of fabric or leather that wraps around the muzzle of the gun. They’re very popular among pros and serious hobbyists alike because they allow the shooter to keep a tight grip on the gun despite the recoil caused by firing it.
A scope that’s sized correctly will fit snugly on your gun without blocking the sight window or affecting the aim. Most manufacturers will describe the scope sizes available for each product, along with the maximum diameter of the barrels they’ll work with. For example, a particular brand might say that only guns with a 1/2 inch barrel can accommodate their scopes. In general, however, most brands won’t restrict themselves to one size of barrel; instead, they’ll work with various sizes of barrels depending on the scope.
In addition to the size of the barrel, the configuration of the barrel holes has a major impact on the performance of the gun. For instance, a six-shooter with a large hole in the middle and smaller holes toward the ends will fire much faster than a six-shooter with larger holes near the middle and smaller ones at the ends. Also, consider whether the pattern of the holes is symmetrical or asymmetrical. With a symmetrical barrel, the same set of holes is located on either side of the bore. An asymmetric barrel has differences in the number and size of the holes on either side.
Pistol scopes tend to come in plastic, glass, or metal (usually aluminum). Each material has its benefits and downsides.
- Plastic is lightweight, inexpensive, and resistant to corrosion. However, it doesn’t hold up well in direct sunlight or under water. Also, the materials used to make plastic pistons can leach chemicals into the air that can irritate the skin.
- Glass is heavier than plastic and usually more durable. However, glass is fragile and can easily breakage if dropped on hard surfaces. Additionally, the material used to make certain types of glass can release toxic fumes if exposed to heat.
- Aluminum is strong and light, making it easy to carry and less likely to damage. However, this metal isn’t as tough as steel and can bend if dropped on harder surfaces.
Most scopes have coatings designed to reduce glare and improve visibility. Some lenses have special coatings intended to increase brightness and contrast, allowing the user to see tiny details in low-light conditions. However, no matter what lens coating a scope has, if the sun is directly overhead, its brightness will overwhelm whatever enhancement the lens provides. So unless you plan on sticking close to campfires, dawns and dusks at special times of day when shadows are long and spending lots of time outdoors, you probably won’t benefit from a high-contrast scope.
You’ve done your research, read reviews, and compared features. Now comes the fun part: determining just how much you want to spend on a new pistol scope. If you’re someone who does a lot of shooting at home or in training, then buying a premium scope might not be necessary. But if you love the idea of a pistol scope but don’t want to drop a fortune, then here are some options that fall within reason.
If you’d rather save money, then stick with lower-end products. While they won’t match the performance of pricier models, they do offer plenty of value for those who enjoy tinkering in their spare time or who simply want something reliable that works every time.
Types Of Pistol Scopes
Pistol scopes come in a variety of different types, and it’s important to know what you’re getting into before making a purchase. There are four main categories for pistol scopes.
First focal plane (1FP)
The first or front focal plane is the portion of your lens that’s closest to the eyepiece; everything else gets “zoomed out” as magnification increases. 1FP scopes tend to be more compact and lighter weight than other kinds of scopes because they don’t require an internal reticle or crosshair. They also have fewer lenses, typically one or two, which means their construction is much simpler and less expensive. The downside of this style of scope is that when using low power magnifiers, objects far away will appear blurry due to the small window of focus. This kind of scope isn’t very good with night vision devices either, since even though you can zoom in, you won’t see anything until it gets closer.
Second focal plane (2FP)
Your second focal plane is the middle range at which things start looking fuzzy. You’ll want something like a 4-8X power to make distant targets look clear again. Second focal plane scopes cost more because they use larger glass and heavier mounting hardware. However, they do offer better performance across the board.
Third focal plane (3FP)
Finally, we get to the part where things really start to go wrong. At 10x magnification and beyond, most people find themselves having trouble distinguishing between similar items, such as handguns. To combat this, many shooters prefer buying a high-quality pair of binoculars along with their firearm. These optics are usually higher quality and more durable than rifle scopes and can provide excellent views from great distances. If you plan on shooting at greater distances, then maybe a third focal plane would be ideal for you.
Some infrared optics exist that might work well with pistols. Infrared technology relies on light outside the visible spectrum range to illuminate an image. Different wavelengths are used for color images (red, green, blue), while longer waves are needed for thermal imaging. Thermal imaging works by detecting differences in temperature within an object rather than reflecting light. It’s useful for observing heat signatures, seeing through fog, smoke, and dust, and identifying living beings via their body temperatures.
How We Chose Our Top Picks
We started by searching for the best value in each category. Value is determined by price point, scope size, magnification range, and any special features that make a product unique.
To find our top picks, we looked at products from reputable retailers like Amazon or Cabela’s, as well as online marketplaces like OpticsPlanet or Brownells. These are companies you know and trust to provide good quality optics, so you can rest assured your purchase comes from a reliable source.
Frequently Asked Questions About Pistol Scopes
What magnification is needed for 1000 yards?
Magnification is perhaps the most important thing a scope does. At 1000 yards, you will need at least an 8x or higher to reliably hit targets as small as 1 inch wide at 100 yards away.
How much do gunsmithing tools cost?
Gunsmithing tools can range from less than $100 to more than $500 depending on what you buy. Most basic setups will include things like files, punches, and lugs of various sizes that run between $150 and $250; more elaborate kits with everything necessary to build a rifle can easily reach $800 to $1,200. For those looking to turn their hand to customizing existing firearms, there are plenty of aftermarket add-ons available that’ll run anywhere from $30 to $600.
Can I use my pistol scope with an AR15 lower receiver?
Yes, but make sure you get a proper adapter plate/screw pattern match (usually either 10- or 15-degree) so your optics don’t wind up in the wrong place.
Is it legal to be without a firearm sight?
In general, local regulations vary widely, but generally speaking, if you’re within your state’s borders, then yes. However, there are also no laws regulating the lack of any kind of firearm sight, so check your state statutes to ensure compliance.