Hunting enthusiasts and competitive shooters understand the importance of a quality scope. How your rifle scope performs can make a subtle difference in your escapades, which is why you shouldn’t make a skimp when searching for the best. However, when shopping, you can easily come across foreign-made scopes that don’t provide the necessary quality compared to American made scopes. To help you make the right choices, the guide below outlines some of the best American made rifle scopes.
Best American Made Rifle Scope 2020: Our Picks
|Size (LxWxH in mm)||255.27 x 63.75 x 69.34|
The Trijicon VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight) Riflescope is at the top of our list for many reasons. To begin with, not all scopes can handle both long-distance and close-range shooting. However, with the VCOG, regardless of the magnification you set, you will always get a clear sight.
The versatile magnification of 1 to 6 times comes with the first focal plane reticle that can be illuminated. Battery life for the Red LED reticle averages 700 hours, which is more than plenty. Adjustments to the elevation and windage are done in 1/4 MOA Per click, allowing for high precision tuning.
Apart from the great design, the scope comes with six brightness settings that enable users to adjust to prevailing conditions. Despite the risk of complexity associated with high-powered scopes, the Trijicon VCOG is impressively easy to use. It’s straightforward to mount and retains zero perfectly. Made out of forged aluminum, Trijicon VCOG is ideal for long-lasting use.
VCOG is without a doubt one of the best American made scopes, though the price can be budget breaking. That, and the relatively small field of view (18° – 3°) are the only drawbacks of this magnificent scope.
The Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56mm Riflescope is an excellent long-range rifle scope with a wide range of applications. To begin with, the 5-25X magnification is an excellent setting for long-range shooting enthusiasts, especially those that value high accuracy and precision. It comes with several reticle options, allowing you to customize it and pick the most suitable one.
Leupold Mark 5HD is completely waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, and can operate at the temperature range between -40 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Its build quality is guaranteed by the manufacturer, as they’ve tested this design through the Punisher, their stress-testing machine. After simulating 5000 shots three times the strength of a .308, the Mark 5HD has continued to run flawlessly.
This scope provides more than what you need for ordinary hunting or range shooting, but it’s still widely popular as it allows you to reach its full potential over time. Competition shooters, for instance, will get the best from the scopes’ specifications. It provides both hyper-specific adjustment levels and the ability to see clearly in low light conditions.
However, note that these high-end specifications come with a comparably high price tag.
|Waterproof Depth||Not submersible|
The NXS is so good, it has made two of our lists. Not only is it one of the best American made rifle scopes, but it is also one of the best 1000 yards scopes in the world. Naturally, it’s very popular, and Nightforce Optics’ bestseller.
With its 56mm objective, NXS guarantees a clear picture and brightness at any magnification. Highly versatile, it’s capable of shots well over 1000 yards, but also close range target tracking at the lowest magnification setting.
While it doesn’t have the same level of reticle customization as the Leupold Mark 5HD, the three available are more than sufficient:
- MIL-R – 5 Mils Reticle, which is excellent for range estimation
- MOAR-T Reticle, a more refined option that allows for multiple zeroes, holdover, hold-under, and windage adjustments
- MOAR – 20 MOA Reticle with 1 MOA elevation and windage adjustments, and improved range finding for smaller targets at longer range
At 32 oz, this scope has a lot of mass, which can make longer walks tiring, and affect the from-the-shoulder accuracy in the less experienced shooters. Still, these are the compromises one has to make when they want a very precise sight picture.
Leupold VX-Freedom is a very nice budget option on our list. It retains the legendary Leupold reliability and quality, for a fraction of the price. With this scope, you will get 3-9x magnification, which is optimal for close to mid-range targeting.
Submersible down to 10 meters, VX-Freedom is waterproof and fog proof, thanks to the gas purging and sealing of the scope. Just like the much more expensive Mark 5HD, this scope has also gone through the Punisher test, and after 5000 impacts remained as good as when it went in. Additionally, it has been tested and performed flawlessly in the temperature range from -40 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
UltimateSlam reticle is very crisp and with the 1/4 MOA click adjustments, you can take some exceptional shots with this optic. However, you shouldn’t expect wonders from it. It’s a well-built scope but lacks many of the features present on the more expensive options. Still, for the price, it’s hard not to recommend it.
|Size (LxWxH in mm)||150 x 50.8 x 63.5|
If you’ve had any prior interest in rifle scopes prior to reading this review, you already know what I’m going to say. Trijicon ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight) is probably the most iconic optic ever made, used heavily by the Marine Corps and the U.S. Special Operation Forces as their official medium-distance engagement optic.
Designed to be fired with both eyes open, ACOG delivers exceptional magnification without sacrificing any of the peripheral vision. Tritium-fiber optic illuminated reticle requires no battery and automatically turns on as the conditions change. Thanks to the fixed-power, there’s very little movement inside the optic, making it nearly indestructible.
I could speak at lengths about the ACOG, but I doubt there’s any need for it. If the fixed-power does not come as an issue for you, and you can afford it, the ACOG will be a perfect scope for up to 600 yards.
The U.S. Optics delivered a highly versatile short-range rifle scope with the TS-6X. Variable magnification between 1 and 6 power makes it an ideal choice for hunting or competition shooting. The first focal plane reticle is illuminated red and comes in two variants: JNG MIL and MIL Scale 2, and is crisp and clear in all weather conditions.
Over the years, U.S. Optics has worked to improve the durability, reliability, and optical clarity of their scopes, with the best coming with the TS-6X. Waterproof, fog proof, and shock-resistant, this scope is built to last you a long time.
Our only issue is with the weight of this scope. At 17.9 oz, it’s significantly heavier than the competition, while not offering more in terms of durability or features. It’s still a very good scope, but it will be a compromise you need to consider.
|Length||273 mm long|
An extremely affordable option comes from Bushnell with the Banner model. It’s about all you’d expect from an entry-level scope, but built to the high standards of Bushnell factory. The magnification range is perfect for recreational shooting and hunting and a classic sight picture with the Multi-X reticle.
Bushnell Banner is a fully-fledged scope, with argon purging and O-ring seal that prevents fogging and makes the scope completely waterproof. The lens is coated several times to provide as much brightness and high-contrast to the image.
While this is a great choice on the budget, it is far outclassed by some of the other options on our list. Still, as an entry-level, backup gun, or just recreational shooting, Bushnell Banner will be a solid choice.
How to Choose the Best American Made Rifle Scope
The idea of buying an American scope is entirely rational. Quality control, excellent customer service, and of course a great product are just some of the aspects which make this purchase more enticing. We’ve gone over the best options, now we can take a look into the factors that make for a good scope.
Deciding what magnification options you’ll need depends primarily on the type of shooting you perform. Variable magnification offers more versatility, but a fixed one has been proven time and time again to work just as well. Weight shifts considerably depending on the purpose, and that’s something to really look out for. Reticle options are important especially if you’re hunting on the move and there’s no way to know at which range the animal might appear. I will go into great detail about these features below.
Without proper construction and materials, it doesn’t matter how good a scope is on paper when it’s inevitably going to fail, sometimes at the worst possible moment. There’s no need to worry about that with the American-made scopes. Built to last a lifetime, these scopes are carefully crafted and feature several layers of protection.
Waterproofing is an absolute must, as any moisture inside the components would ruin the scope in a short span of time. The ideal way to deal with this issue is to create the scope casing out of a single piece, typically aluminum, and O-ring seal the lenses. This technique is highly effective, and several manufacturers have perfected it to the point of having submersible scopes that can as far as 66 feet beneath the surface.
Purging of the internal space with gas will ensure that the lens remains fog-free. Multiple layers of special coating are applied to the lens surface to make them highly scratch resistant. Furthermore, any good optic goes to extensive stress testing to guarantee durability. This involves drops, bangs, and overpowered recoil simulations. With the American-made scopes, you can almost certainly expect some sort of a warranty, and with the high-end models, it’s not uncommon for it to be for a lifetime.
Between you and your target, there’s going to be a lot of factors that will affect how the shot will go, but the first one is placing the reticle on the target. This might seem like a trivial point, but those who have been in different environments and climates know how important a good reticle is.
The basic cross-shaped reticle will do the job just fine for stationary targets all set up at the same distance, but things start to get tricky once you add in varying distances and lead if you’re shooting a moving target. A good marksman will perform just fine, but for most of us, a little bit of help is much needed.
You will find scopes with a large variety of reticle designs, but the most important are the height and lead markings which help you adjust to the target without the need to operate the turrets. Range-finder can also be useful, though it’s more applicable for combat use than for recreational use.
Lastly, having an illuminated reticle will allow you to shoot in situations where a normal sight will simply not be usable. It doesn’t have to do with night hunting, as both dusk and dawn tend to affect reticle visibility in all but high-grade scopes.
Long-Range Rifle Scopes
For long-range precision shooting, I don’t recommend scopes that don’t have a magnification power of at least 16x, preferably up to 25x power. Luckily most of the scopes set out to reach that far, have a variable magnification of 5-25x power or similar, providing plenty of versatility for more than just long-range shooting.
However, keep in mind that while they’re not universal. These scopes are on the heavier end of the spectrum, due to complex internal components and larger ocular, usually around 50mm. Because of that, they’re better suited for static shooting from support, rather than shoulder fire. If you’re planning on tracking game through miles of forests and open fields, this is not the ideal choice either.
If you’re a long-range shooter, then you’ll be extremely satisfied with an American made scopes. They are the very top when it comes to technology and build quality. This does come with a high price, but luckily there are some very affordable options that we’ve reviewed in our article on the best rifle scope for 1000 yards.
Mid-Range Rifle Scopes
If you’re buying your first scope and you’re not entirely sure about what you need, or you’d like the most versatility and value out of the purchase, I highly recommend a mid-range scope. A general rule for what a scope for mid-range shooting is that it’s magnified at the lowest settings, typically 3x or 4x power, and reaches up to 12x to 16x power.
You might be wondering, why not just go with a long-range scope? They’re priced similarly, and on paper long-range scope has better specs. As touched upon in its own section, long-range scopes are heavier. They need a larger ocular to capture more light – mid-range rifle scopes can get away with smaller ocular, tube, and overall weight. The field of view plays an important factor as well, so it’s important to check every option.
As general-purpose scopes, they are made in a lot of variants and by nearly every scope manufacturer. You will find the best bargains in this category, and even a couple of hundred dollars will go a long way for an intermediate scope.
Close-Range Rifle Scopes
Despite the classification I’ve put them in, close-range scopes are perfectly capable of shooting at several hundred yards. Honestly, some of them feel like cheating, especially the ACOG. What little weight it adds is nothing compared to accuracy improvement by adding magnification and bypassing iron sights. You will sacrifice very little in terms of peripheral vision, so it really comes without any drawbacks.
But to look at the more broad picture, most of the close-range scopes have 1x to 6x power magnification. Unless your needs are very specific, there’s little reason to go with a close-range option over some of the mid-range scopes. The non-magnified option is convenient, but the 3x to 4x power of the mid-range scopes doesn’t hinder your ability to shoot at all.
If you’re looking for something to use at close range, holographic sight or red dot would be a far better option. They’re very effective up to 200 yards and could be pushed further than that. Lack of magnification can be compensated by putting a magnifier behind the holographic sight, although that combination can be expensive.
What about additional equipment?
That is a really good question, as you’re almost certainly going to need a few things. The first thing on your list is to check mounting compatibility. Once you’re certain your rifle’s mounting rail is suitable for the scope, it’s time to get the mounting components, typically a set of mounting rings.
Make sure to go with a high-quality option, as poor mounting can result in loss of zero after a few shots. A more serious issue can arise from the vibrations, which could damage your scope. Remember, these options are very durable but under the proper conditions.
Once you’ve got your scope mounted and ready for use, get a pair of lens covers if they’re not included with the purchase. They’ll protect your lenses from dust accumulation, or accidental damage during transport, and generally outside of use. A solid hard-case is much better suited to storing and transporting a scoped rifle than the soft-bag. Not only does it provide proper impact resistance, there’s no chance of accidental turret turning and loss of zero.
There’s plenty to pick from when considering the best American made rifle scope. Trijicon has the amazing VCOG and ACOG, Leupold offers top-of-the-line long-range scopes but also some budget options, alongside Bushnell.
As there’s quite a lot to look at, narrowing the search down to your needs will make the picture clearer, but you can’t really go wrong with any of our picks. Even if you’re working with a smaller budget, you’ll find a nice American-made rifle scope, but for those with deeper pockets, American-made is a must. The best of our list can easily compete with the worldwide market, proving time and time again just how dominant is the technology and production of American-made scopes.