I’ll tell you a secret, most shooters only need a fixed power riflescope for hunting and tactical use. I know, I know, almost everyone wants to buy the latest variable power riflescope, for maximum flexibility. However, they rarely use anything other than the lowest or highest magnification setting. In this article I will review some awesome fixed power riflescopes, and talk about setting your rifle up correctly for your chosen application. Keep reading for more.
Fixed power scopes are great options for a variety of reasons. They are lighter than variable power scopes. This is due to their less complicated mechanisms, and fewer lenses. This also allows for better light transmission, and low light performance.
It doesn’t matter what quality glass you’re using. If you put more lenses between the object you’re looking at, and your eye, you will limit the amount of light that you can use to see. This is one reason why variable magnification scopes cost more. Check out the overview below, for some key benefits to the fixed power scope.
Best Fixed Power Riflescopes Overview
- Fixed power optics are often more durable
- Combining a fixed power scope with another optic allows for maximum flexibility
- Fixed power optics are best for rifles with specific purposes in mind
- Quality optic mounts are just as important as the glass
I also find that most folks associate fixed power optics with old hunting rifles. This makes sense, as you might see a 6 x magnification scope on your dad’s old Remington 700 hunting rifle. That doesn’t mean that’s the only thing they’re good for. In fact, one of the most successful optics that the US Marine Corps issues is the ACOG, which is a fixed power optic.
I deployed to Afghanistan with that optic, and it performed quite well. It also happens to be very lightweight and extremely durable. However, we’re jumping ahead of ourselves. In the next section we need to cover some of the key features to look for in any quality fixed power rifle optic.
Fixed Power Riflescopes: Key Features
As I alluded to earlier, there are some key advantages to having a fixed power optic. They’re simple to operate, and offer rugged dependability, in a lighter package. Moreover, you can often achieve better performance at a lower price range. I’ve found a few key features that I like to see on my optics, whether that be for hunting or tactical use.
The first is durability. I don’t care how awesome your glass is, or what kind of whizz bang reticle you have. If it breaks the first time it’s knocked against something, then it’s of no use.
Along with physical durability, I like a reliable reticle system that can be used even if the illumination source isn’t available. If you absolutely have to have power to use the system, I think that’s a serious drawback. The good news is that all the options on this list meet this requirement.
Lastly, I care about eye relief. There is nothing more annoying than having to crane your neck to obtain a full view through the scope. Often times this is a simple adjustment to the mounting position, but I have run across scopes, and magnifiers that would not let you mount them in a comfortable shooting position.
Having generous eye relief can provide a tactical advantage as well. Often times you are forced to shoot from less than ideal positions. Something as simple as wearing a heavy winter coat can force you to alter your shooting position, making it difficult to obtain proper eye relief.
As we get to each fixed-power scope, you should keep an eye on some of these features. They will help you find your best choice. Don’t forget to join the email list below.
5 Best Fixed Power Riflescopes (Tactical / Hunting)
In this section we will feature the 5 best fixed power riflescopes for various purposes. Some will be better for shorter range uses, where as others are ideal for shooting at several hundred yards. It’s also important to point out that there are many variations of these scopes.
The most common options are various reticle patterns that are matched to different bullet weights. There are also some that feature illuminated reticles, and various types of back up sighting systems. I recommend following the links to see more about the scopes that interest you the most.
Primary Arms SLx Series
The Primary Arms SLx series of rifle scopes is the most compact, best value scope on this list. It comes in various options including a 1x, 3x, and 5 x scope magnification. Similarly you can spec different reticles that are matched to your specific round and rifle.
For the vast majority of shooters, I think this 5x option with a 5.56 / .308 reticle makes the most sense. The vast majority of rifles fall within these two calibers, which makes using the reticle system a breeze. Here are some specs below.
Primary Arms SLx 5X 5.56/.308 Optic
- Battery Life: 25,000 – 50,000 hours
- Weight: 8.5 oz
- Eye Relief: 2.7 inches
- Size: 3.3 inches overall length
This SLx series of optics are prism based scopes which allows Primary Arms to package a lot of features in such a compact package. This optic design also allows for a clearer reticle for those with vision problems like astigmatism. Check out the image below to see the relative size on full length AR15 rifle.
In my mind this compact scope is a good choice when you have a shorter, lightweight rifle, without much rail space. If you have to spend a lot of time carrying the rifle around then this is your optic. As of this writing you can buy the 5x version for $399, which makes it a great deal. Next on the list of the best fixed power riflescopes, we’ll move on to a more traditional optic, in the lower power end of the scale.
Burris Scout Riflescope
The Burris 2.75x Scout Riflescope is a super lightweight option, in a more traditional form factor. It has a simple duplex reticle, and a 1 inch tube. Amazingly, it tips the scales at only 7 ounces, which is even lighter than the SLx. Because this is a scout scope, it’s meant to be mounted well forward on the rifle. Check out this video for more details.
It can be mounted in this position because it has amazing eye relief. Burris lists the eye relief at 8-14 inches. This gives you a lot of flexibility. You could use it on something like this M1A battle rifle, or an AK platform rifle, which requires a forward position as well. You could still use it on an AR15 or bolt gun, but you would have to have a lot of forward mounting area. Here are some specs.
Burris 2.75x Scout Riflescope
- Duplex Reticle non-Illuminated
- Second focal plane reticle
- 7 ounces without mount
- 9.2 inches in overall length
- 20mm Objective lens diameter
- Perfect for scout rifles
This is one of the best fixed power scopes for folks that want a simple lightweight scope. It requires no batteries, and has the simplest reticle you could ask for. The 2.75 x magnification level would allow you to engage targets out to around 300 yards relatively easily, provided you do the work on the gun correctly.
As of this writing you can pick this scope up for $289 without rings. With rings, you’re looking at around $400 for a complete package. Next we’ll move on to another interesting prism style optic.
Sig Sauer Bravo 3
The Sig Sauer Bravo 3 is a combat style optic with a great bullet drop reticle. It’s clearly meant for tactical use, and had some built in features that make it ideal for that use case. Like other options on this list, the Bravo series optics come in various magnification levels, from 3-5x. All use a similar reticle system.
I like this 3x magnification option, as it allows you to shoot relatively close range targets, even with both eyes open. It also allows you to engage targets 300-400 yards away without much difficulty. Here are some specs for this optic.
Sig Sauer Bravo 3
- 3x Magnification
- Built in Picatinny Mounts for accessories
- 2.36 inch eye relief
- 22 ounce weight
- 40,000 hour battery life
- Best scope for wide field of view
I think it’s important to point out that this is a heavy optic. It’s about triple the weight of the Burris Scout Scope. To be fair, this optic does include a built in mount, which would increase the weight slightly. However, this isn’t your go to for a lightweight rifle build.
You can pick different variants of this optic for 5.56 / 7.62 / or my favorite, 300 Blackout. Currently, this optic will cost you around $330, which makes it one of the best rifle scopes, considering you don’t have to buy a mount. Next we’re going to talk about my favorite optic on this list.
It should be no surprise that I’ve included the Trijicon ACOG on this list. It’s one of the most rugged and dependable optics on the market. I also happen to have several years of experience using one of these, and I really like it for it’s intended purpose.
It’s designed as a combat optic, for close to medium range applications. At this point, there are literally dozens of version of this awesome fixed power prismatic optic. Here’s a great video that reviews some different variants.
I think the 4×32 variant with built in Trijicon RMR micro red dot is the best package for tactical use. Both the red dot and the scope use ambient light, via tritium and fiber optics, to provide power. This means that you never need to change a battery……ever. They also feature great multi-coated lenses for low light performance. Here are some key features for this combo optic
- Field of view: 36.8 ft at 100 yards
- Weight: 17 ounces
- Battery Life: near infinite
- Shock and Fog proof
- 4x magnification
This combo has a few advantages over other optics and red dots. First, I like mounting the red dot above the ACOG because it doesn’t require a 45 degree offset mount. In my experience those mounts get knocked around the more you carry the gun. Keeping it above the main optic can prevent this.
Secondly, it allows you to shoot with a more heads up position, if you you like that kind of shooting position. I can tell you that the Marine Corps began fielding a version of this combo on their lightweight machine guns, so it can take a lot of abuse.
Now for the bad news. This optic combo will cost you around $1680 dollars, as of this writing. If you like the optic, and don’t need the red dot, you can pick that up for a little over a grand. Next let’s talk about our highest magnification option.
US Optics FDNFX-10
Last, but certainly not least on this list is the US Optics FDNFX-10 fixed power scope. This scope is a quality option from a well known manufacturer. As the name implies, it’s a first focal plane 10x magnification optic. This highlights one of the best features about a fixed-power riflescope. The reticles can always be used in the same way.
One of the big differences between scopes is first vs second focal plane. Said simply, a first focal plane scope always has the same relationship in size of objects viewed through the scope to the reticle. A second focal plane scope has a changing relationship. That means if you dial different magnification on a second focal plane scope there are different holds on the reticle. This can become very complicated.
This fixed power scope will always have the same exact reticle no matter what you look at. There is no magnification to change, and as such, you can use the reticle for ranging and holding for wind quite easily. Here are some of the key specs.
US Optics FDFNX-10
- Objective lens: 40mm
- Weight: 25.7 ounces
- Length: 12.98 inches
- Various illuminated reticles including Horus
- Field of View: 11.3 feet at 100 yards
This optic would be best for shooting at 500-1000 yards. It would be a good option for long range hunters and marksman who find they that don’t need a variable magnification optic.
All of this magnification doesn’t come cheaply. As of this writing, you’ll be paying around $1900, not including the optic mount. In the next section we’ll finish this article with my final thoughts on the best fixed power riflescopes.
Most shooters don’t really consider fixed power optics these days. There are a lot of variable scopes on the market, and you can’t argue that this provides a lot of flexibility. Heck, I’ve written about my Vortex Viper 1-4x scope and I’ve had it for years.
If I’m honest, I really only ever use that optic on 1x or 4x magnification. It’s either long shots or close quarters shooting for me! I can’t remember the last time I used any intermediate setting. I think the cheaper optics on this list are the best options for most shooters.
If you’re a professional user, then I think you can justify the expense of the ACOG. Otherwise, I think you can shoot just as well with the SLx or the Sig Sauer, as you could with an optic costing several times that price. If you have any comments or questions about any fixed scope put them below. Now get out there and get training. Don’t forget to join the email list!
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