Scoping A Varmint Rifle

The Leupold 6.5-20X has all the bells and whistles: sunshade, turret-mounted parallax adjustment and target knobs.

You can build or buy the perfect varmint rifle, but you're wasting your money if you don't scope it intelligently.

Variable scopes excel for varmints. Shooting to the far edge of a prairie dog town, you can use 20X to advantage. But when dogs pop up closer or mirage runs heavy, or when you're hunched over a coyote call, 10X might work best.

High power shrinks field and exit pupil, impairing your ability to find targets quickly and in poor light. If you shoot from field positions with your varminter, you'll want no more than 16X. Ditto if the wind is bending the barbed wire.

On days when I pretend yon 'chuck is a bighorn ram, I dial down to 6X. In sum, you'll enjoy a 6-20X scope. No need for more power, and you won't want much less.

Big objective glass has little to recommend it. I prefer 40mm because it accommodates low rings and keeps scope weight reasonable. Yes, most varmint rifle stocks permit comfortable aim through medium or even high rings, which you'll need for 50mm objectives. Whatever the size, get a sunshade to assist vision when glancing sun tries to veil your view.

As for tube diameter, I prefer an inch. Until you shoot beyond 600 yards, you won't need a greater range of adjustment than is available in one-inch pipe. On the other hand, a 30mm tube can complement the balance and aesthetics of a varmint rifle.

You'll appreciate target knobs with positive clicks and resettable zeros. You'll adjust a varmint scope frequently. And because you won't carry it through thickets, tall knobs are no liability.

An adjustable objective eliminates parallax at selected ranges; it refines focus too. Choose a turret-mounted dial rather than a front sleeve that forces you out of shooting position when you adjust it.

Some varmint reticles are so fine they're hard to see, especially against variegated backgrounds. I prefer a standard crosswire or a crosswire and dot. If you'll be hunting coyotes in the sage, pick a heavier wire than you think you need.

For the most part, rangefinding reticles leave me cold. A scope's field should be open. Darrell Holland's ART (Advanced Reticle Technology) crosswire, with both m.oa. and mil-dot tics, has minimal clutter. The laser rangefinding scope by Zeiss is an excellent alternative.

Cinch your mount screws firmly; tighten ring screws evenly and with less enthusiasm. Make sure that the reticle is oriented properly and that there's enough eye relief for shooting prone. Even a .22 can bloody your brow.

Recommended for You


Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo

Brad Fitzpatrick - April 30, 2019

The Federal Berger Hybrid Hunter Ammo combines high BCs with a forgiving bullet profile and...


Review: Mossberg MVP Precision Rifle

J. Scott Rupp - March 21, 2019

Want to get into the long-range game and not go broke? Check out the Mossberg MVP Precision...


Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

RS Sako Finnlight II

The new Sako Finnlight II sports an innovative stock and Cerakote metal paired with the terrific 85 action.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories


Three Rangefinder Products from Leica

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

If you're a serious shooter with deep pockets, these Leica products are worthy of...


3 Great Takedown Survival Guns

David Fortier - March 19, 2015

When I decided to review three different rifles chambered in .22 LR and geared toward survival...

Shooting Tips

How to Shoot Your Best from a Benchrest

Keith Wood - August 05, 2014

You're only as good as your weakest link; heed these to tips to make sure your shooting skills...

See More Stories

More How-To


VIDEO: Can You Spot The Sniper?

RifleShooter Online Staff - February 28, 2012

A key component to being an effective sniper is stealth; being able to move in and out of hide


Spit Shine: 4 Steps To A Clean Rifle

Brad Fitzpatrick - May 29, 2012

Aftermarket barrels, good triggers, premium ammo and top-shelf optics will all help your rifle


Varmint Rifle Battery

Layne Simpson - April 21, 2012

  A varmint rifle battery capable of serving the needs of everyone does not exist. This...

See More How-To

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.