One major reason why you would even put a scope on your rifle is that it is a big help in making the process of aiming at your target a lot easier. With that in mind, you should avoid using just a regular scope.
If you want target acquisition to be a breeze, use an illuminated reticle scope. With this in your arsenal, your prey will not stand a chance against you. However, remember that there are so many different scopes currently available and you can’t expect all of them to fit your needs the way you think they would.
You need to find the best illuminated reticle scope that does not only fit your needs but also your budget. It helps to start your search with our top 7 illuminated riflescope options.
Quick Answer: The 7 Best Illuminated Reticle Scopes for 2020
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9×50 V-Brite Illuminated MOA Reticle Riflescope
- Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 Illuminated ATMR MOA Reticle Riflescope
- Primary Arms 4-16×44 Illuminated MIL-DOT Reticle Riflescope
- Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Riflescope
- Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope
- Leupold VX-R 4-12x50mm Riflescope
- Nikon Black X1000
First, let’s take a look at the top-rated illuminated scopes, then we’ll talk about how to choose the right one for you in our buying guide below.
Best Illuminated Reticle Scope Reviews of 2020
#1 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9×50 V-Brite Illuminated MOA Reticle Riflescope
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-9×50 V-Brite Illuminated MOA Reticle Riflescope is one of the best illuminated scopes available because it has a bright reticle that can help you aim even at extremely low light conditions. I think that this capability is also because of its forgiving eye box.
I like the fact that this scope uses a second focal point reticle. This means that the reticle will remain the same size even when you zoom in on your target. This allows for faster target acquisition and locking onto the target. This illuminated scope for crossbow or rifles is great in case you engage in deer hunting or coyote hunting.
It is because those scenarios require you to make quick decisions on the fly or else you will be in big trouble. Crossfire II also uses V-Brite illumination technology. This makes the reticle not only bright but also makes its contrast better from the dark background.
This makes it much easier to aim at your target. I think this is especially useful when you are night hunting or hunting for predators who might charge at you without a moment’s notice.
#2 Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 Illuminated ATMR MOA Reticle Riflescope
Finding a good scope with a great first focal point reticle is hard enough but note that searching for FFP rifle scopes with illuminated reticle that is under $500 is even harder. However, your search might just be over with the Athlon Optics Argos BTR, which is one of the best options for an illuminated reticle rifle scope currently available.
As mentioned, the Argos BTR has a reticle etched on the first focal plane of the scope. What this means for those who are beginners when it comes to optics is that the reticle will enlarge and shrink along with the magnification settings of the scope.
FFP scopes allow the shooter to quickly estimate elevation and windage because the markings on the reticle scale up or down depending on the magnification. This is best for high-stress shooting situations.
I only have a small gripe, though, and that is the image gets a bit cloudy at maximum magnification. On the other hand, the image is still quite clear and serviceable, making it the best illuminated reticle scope for the money. You can still use the foggy image to make an accurate shot on your target but it could have been better.
#3 Primary Arms 4-16×44 Illuminated MIL-DOT Reticle Riflescope
A lighted reticle rifle scope that is great for short-range and long-range shooting is hard to come by but there are times when you are lucky enough to stumble upon such a scope. Now is just one of those times. The Primary Arms 4-16×44 is probably the one scope that you will ever need or want.
I think it is a perfect scope whether you will be using it for 30-06 rifles, or for 30-30 rifles, or even for 270 rifles. First of all, this best value illuminated scope has a mil-dot reticle. This means that you can easily use it for both short and long-range shooting, regardless of the weather condition.
Moreover, the reticle is illuminated, which, I noticed, is the main reason why it can supply you with a high contrast reticle. With this, expect to have an easier time picking out your target even when it is trying to hide. The reticle is positioned at the second focal point.
In other words, the reticle will stay the same size regardless of the magnification of the scope. This is ideal for long-range shooting as it allows easier calculation of elevation and windage. The thing that I did not like about it, though, is that the mil-dot is too small.
#4 Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Illuminated BTR-1 BDC Riflescope
The Bushnell AR Optics BTR-1 is yet another quality product to ever come from Bushnell. This time it is a 1-4x illuminated scope that is compatible with most hunting rifles and certain assault rifles.
This illuminated AR scope has numerous valuable and fully functional features. However, most of them have their uses, unlike others where the extra features are all but meaningless.
This scope for AR 15 and other ARs has the exclusive Bushnell Throw Down PCL (Power Change Lever), which allows the user to quickly change the scopes magnification whenever needed. You do not have to fiddle with the settings to get the magnification you needed.
The reticles of the BTR-1 rimfire illuminated scope are brightly illuminated so you can make accurate shots up to 500 yards. There are also 11 levels of illumination so you can tone down the illumination if you want or crank it up to the brightest.
#5 Trijicon ACOG 3.5×35 Illuminated Reticle Riflescope
The problem with most illuminated reticle scopes is that they run out of batteries quite fast but this is not a problem when you use the Trijicon ACOG. I think it is mainly because it does not have any batteries to speak of. The reticle is illuminated using a fiber-optic cable that makes use of any available ambient light.
Even in low-light conditions, I noticed that the fiber optic cable is so efficient at gathering light that you can still see the reticle clearly. If you want the best illuminated rifle scope, you should get the one that has been used in many armed conflicts and this is exactly the case with ACOG.
No other variable magnification scope has seen as much combat like this one, mainly because you do not have the option of time to replace the batteries of your scope when you are in the middle of a warzone. I liked that the ACOG can be used for CQB with the Bindon Aiming Concept, otherwise known as aiming with both your eyes open.
This is what this scope is designed for, making it great for competitions, as well as for hunting big game. The only complaint that I have about the ACOG is that the reticles get too bright when the scope is used in broad daylight.
#6 Leupold VX-R 4-12x50mm Riflescope
The Leupold VX-R is one of the best rifle scopes currently available and quite evident. However, what sets it apart from other scopes is its unique illuminated reticle system. One such feature is that the illumination system will turn off automatically when there is no activity after five minutes.
It also has something called Twilight Light Management System that provides the scope with ten extra minutes of glassing light even after the batteries have run out. The main tube of the scope’s body is made out of a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. It is also purged with nitrogen to ensure that the scope is fully waterproof and fog-proof.
I also like how solidly built it is. It is so solid that it can take quite a lot of punishment and it still will not lose its zero. Another thing that I liked about the Leupold VX-R is that it is 100% American-made. Although some say and believe that the tag “made in America” no longer has as much weight as it used to, that is not the case with Leopold’s.
#7 Nikon Black X1000
The Black X1000 is one of the top-of-the-line scopes that are made by Nikon and by far, it is also the most sought after. Nikon has always been one of the top optics makers in the world and their bestseller, as of the moment, is the Nikon Black X1000 tactical scope.
The thing I liked about this particular scope is that there are many different reticles you can choose from and all of them are glass etched onto the lens for maximum accuracy. The reticles are also brightly illuminated so that the scope can still be used effectively even in low lighting conditions.
I like the consistent eye relief of this Nikon illuminated scope, too, because it plays a major role in keeping your brow safe. Furthermore, expect this scope’s exposed turrets to maximize readability as they are engraved. This also promotes smooth adjustments that you can easily and conveniently repeat.
The turrets are also beneficial because they allow crisp and precise adjustments. Moreover, they easily reset back to zero. The scope also has a side-mounted parallax adjustment for fine-tuning your shots.
- What is an Illuminated Reticle Scope?
- Illuminated Reticle Scope vs Non-Illuminated Reticle Scope
- What Makes a Great Illuminated Reticle Scope?
- Factors to Consider when Buying an Illuminated Reticle Scope
What is an Illuminated Reticle Scope?
Regular rifle scopes have reticles that are etched onto the lens of the scope, which is nice enough if you were only going to use the rifle for plinking or just shooting in an indoor range. However, hunting would require you to get out of your comfort zone and maybe even shoot with less than ideal lighting.
An illuminated scope might not make the surroundings bright (this is not the same as a night-vision scope) but it does the next best thing, it makes your reticle glow. If you have tried to aim at a dark background using a black reticle then you know just how hard it is.
Now, if you were to do the same, but with an illuminated scope, the backlit reticle will stand out against the dark, making it easy to aim.
Illuminated Reticle Scope vs Non-Illuminated Reticle Scope
Which do you think is better between illuminated and non-illuminated scopes? Well, it is all a matter of preference. Both types of scopes have their advantages and disadvantages over each other, it will be up to you whether to choose one over the other. The advantages of illuminated scopes over non-illuminated scopes include:
- Provide better visibility in low-light conditions
- When illumination is turned off for well-lit conditions, the reticle is much thinner.
- Draw your eye to the center of the reticle faster
The disadvantages of illuminated scopes, on the other hand, are the following:
- The scope needs to use batteries
- The scope is much heavier than regular scopes
If you can manage to overlook the minor inconveniences that they have, you should get an illuminated reticle. Yes, they are more expensive and are a bit heavier than conventional scopes but their benefits trump their disadvantages.
What Makes a Great Illuminated Reticle Scope?
There are many different illuminated scopes in the market these days but not all of them provide the kind of benefits that you might be expecting. You need to know what makes a great illuminated scope so that you will get an idea of what to look for when you are out shopping for one.
First, the best kind of scope is the one that is fit for your rifle. Before looking for a scope, you need to know what magnification power you need for your rifle. Although technically you can mount any scope on your rifle, even an overpowered one if you like, you can’t still fully utilize the full potential of the scope if it is not suitable for your rifle’s required magnification. In times, they might even handicap your shooting.
Now that you have the right magnification, you then need to choose your preferred reticle design. If you are a beginner at shooting rifles, you should choose the simple designs like the Duplex, or the German No.2 reticles. They are the generic crosshairs.
Factors to Consider when Buying an Illuminated Reticle Scope
When you are out shopping for an illuminated scope, you need to take into consideration several things to ensure that you are getting the right one. Here are just some of them:
The objective lens is the one that you can find at the front of the scope. This is responsible for letting in as much light as possible. The bigger the objective lens, the more light gets into the scope and the clearer the sight image becomes.
This is the anti-reflective film that is applied to both the objective and focal lens. This film acts as a one-way mirror. Light can go in but it will not be reflected outwards.
The more layers of film are used, the better the light transmission will be. You should look for a scope that is labeled as fully multi-coated. This means that both the objective and focal lenses have multiple coatings of anti-reflective film.
The reticle is the design of the crosshair or the design that you see when you peek into the scope. For beginner shooters and short-range shooting, the best choice is the simple Duplex reticle.
This is the typical crosshair that comes to mind when you think about crosshairs. This type of crosshair is the easiest to understand and use, as there are already markings for windage and bullet drop.
This is the bread and butter of the scope that you are building. The illumination makes the reticle even more visible. You can choose from different colors of illumination, including red, orange, green, and other bright colors.
You need to choose the reticle illumination that you are comfortable using. Also, if you can afford to get a scope that has adjustable illumination, go get one.
The eye relief is the maximum distance between your eye and the focal lens of the scope that can still provide you with a clear sight picture. You need a long eye relief, like 6-inches or so, if your rifle has a lot of recoil because if not, the scope might kick back and it might hit you in the eye.
It is also important to have a long eye relief, especially if you will be mounting the scope up in front of the rifle. This will prevent it from interfering with the action, like on a scout rifle.
If you will be using the scope for hunting, which is the reason why many people choose illuminated scopes, then you need to make sure that it can handle the great outdoors.
You can never tell when the weather can turn for the worse when you are out hunting. It might be clear one minute and then drenching rain the next. The scope that you need to buy should be one that is not just waterproof. It is also important for it to be dustproof and fog-proof as this shows its sturdiness.
With all the factors mentioned above taken into great consideration, finding the best illuminated reticle scope will not be that hard at all. Do keep in mind that your personal shooting preferences will trump any of the tips that are mentioned above. Find out what you specifically need as this can help you find one that is compatible with it.
An illuminated reticle scope might be heavier and more expensive than regular, non-illuminated scopes but it is still worth more than the compromise. Illuminated reticles make it a whole lot easier for you to aim using the scope. It is mainly because it is much easier to see the crosshairs when they are lit up.
If this is your first time to buy an illuminated scope or any scope for that matter, you need to make sure that you are making the right choice because illuminated scopes are quite expensive. You need to make sure that you invest in the best illuminated scope that fits all of your needs.