The 10/22 is the most prolific and versatile rifle ever made. From targets to hunting, it does nearly everything well. Want it to do more, combine it with the best scopes for Ruger 10/22s.
- A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Guide
- Top 5 Ruger 10/22 Scope 2018 - Comparison Table
- A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Tips
- A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Tips
A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Guide
Before you can possibly decide what scope will be best for your particular rifle, you have to decide what you want your particular rifle to do. Most of us won’t have a specific purpose but a variety of purposes which may call for different optics or a single optic that attempts to be a middle ground. Consider carefully what uses you feel you would apply your rifle to as you read through the following section.
This is where it all starts. How powerful does a scope need to be? That depends on you. Many people prefer very powerful optics in the range of 20x or higher on a .22 for shooting really small targets. This is a perfectly acceptable scope for match rifles or those used exclusively for hunting small varmints. It is very limiting on targets that move around as its hard to keep them in your sights.
Other people like scout style scopes in the very low magnification range of less than 8x. These are great for hunting small game and just heading to the range for a little plinking. A .22 caliber rifle really benefits from these styles of scopes where range is lower. Using something like this for hunting squirrel is a real test of marksmanship and far more fun than a shotgun.
Red dot sights are really beyond the intent of this article but they are very popular options on the 10/22. A variety of advice exists on which red-dots are out best but I will offer this advice: The Vortex Optics red dot is one of the best for the price and perfectly suited to the 10/22.
For an all around gun, I recommend something that maxes out between 10x and 15x for most shooters. This will perform at the range on in the field. I have used a variety of scopes in this power range on a variety of rifles for many different activities and done very well, even winning several sandbag shoots with a modified 10/22.
What I mean by this is the clarity, contrast, brightness, and anything else that affects the view of the world through your optic. A number of things can affect this but there are three primary considerations that you should make before making a purchase. Lower power scopes are generally easier to get a good image through than high powered scopes so keep your planned magnification in mind.
The first and foremost thing that will affect the scope image is glass quality. If you have bad glass, nothing is really going to make the scope any better. If you go with a scope from a budget manufacturer, opt for something with lower power that is more forgiving of these issues. Or you could just get a scope from a reputable maker and know it’s good.
The next most important factor is having an objective lens, the one at the far end from your eye, that is sized appropriately for your magnification. Most manufacturers have this pretty well worked out but if you buy from a lower end manufacturer, make sure the objective lens is about the size you see on most scoped of the same power. Of course, a larger objective can make mounting a scope a little more difficult.
The final consideration is lens coatings which is either a single chemical coating or a variety of chemicals that are added to the lenses to improve the transfer of light. This can be done by reducing glare and filtering certain wavelengths to make things much clearer. Getting a scope that is multi-coated is a huge benefit to the scope image and will provide the best and cleanest picture.
Ruggedness and Durability
Being a light use rifle, you can generally get by with a scope that is a little less tough than you would need on the harder recoiling rifles or those you drag through the thick woods. This may change if you have something like a 10/22 takedown that will be banged around a bit. Still, opting for the most rugged scope you can get makes sense. Why get a product that has a good chance of failing?
When we talk about ruggedness, usually its shock resistance and maybe scratch resistance that comes to mind and these are valid concerns. Having a scope that can take a little abuse is a good idea. Accidents happen and sometimes we end up using our rifles harder than we planned. When possible get a scope that can take a light beating and still be on target.
This topic also applies to how weather resistant a scope is. Most quality scopes will be waterproof and the best ones will be purged of oxygen and sealed. This helps keep out dust, water and will even prevent the lenses from fogging in the worst weather. All of these are very important considerations for any rifle that may be used in the field and should probably be considered even for a range rifle.
Because a .22 is such a low recoil caliber and will generally not take the abuse of dedicated hunting rifles, you can generally get by with lighter weight rings and mounts. This ensures that a rifle intended to be light and maneuverable stays that way. There is very little reason to get high-end mounts for a 10/22 but getting them will never hurt. It’s a case of being safe rather than sorry.
The first exception to this is for very long range rifles that will be used in competitions. In that case, you want precision mounts that are finely machined and probably lapped for a completely smooth surface that is sure not to throw off your accuracy. This does add cost but is worth it if you want the highest performance.
The second exception is for a 10/22 takedown or other model that will be used as a canoe gun or backpack gun. These rifles will be banged around more and will benefit from very good rings that are solid and hold the scope firmly. There is nothing worse than getting a perfectly sighted in rifle in the field to find out its shooting 10 inches off.
How much goes into getting a shot off with your rifle versus how quick do you need to get a shot off will determine how complex a scope you would be willing to work with. This would be things like a bullet drop reticle or tactical turrets. This is a 10/22 so keep in mind that you have a very limited effective range and beyond that range, you may as well be throwing a pebble.
In my opinion, there is zero reason other than style to have target turrets on a .22 rifle. They do very little to add to the capabilities of the caliber. That said, there are some scope options that have target turrets that are great optics for a 10/22 and should be considered. The 10/22 is also a great platform to get used to using a scope with turrets.
For a reticle, the sniper-style reticles are way too complicated but a bullet drop reticle can be very useful. Generally, I would only concern myself with elevation markings on the reticle with very little need for windage compensation. Usually, you won’t be shooting far enough for wind to matter and if it does, the .22 is very easily affected by wind and very hard to compensate for.
It's also worth noting here the option for zoom on an optic. This can be a great feature allowing you to use lower magnification for scouting and higher magnification for shooting. Just be aware that scopes can either be first or second focal plane. A second focal plane optic will only be accurate at the magnification it was sighted in at where a first focal plane optic will be accurate at any magnification. FFP scopes are more expensive and rarer that Second Focal Plane scopes.
Top 5 Ruger 10/22 Scope 2018 - Comparison Table
Our Top 5 Ruger 10/22 Scope recommendations:
1 Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical
Vortex has been killing just about every other scope brand on the market lately so it should be no surprise to find them here. If you are looking for a Vortex scope for Ruger 10/22, the Diamondback Tactical is a very good fit. It has the power and accuracy to make it king of the of rimfire optics, using this scope for a Ruger 10/22 Target Tactical could build the ultimate squirrel rifle.
Vortex has their own patented low dispersion glass that absolutely blows away any other optic in this range. Combine this with their own blend of multicoat and a solid 42mm objective lens and you have some of the best glass you could ever put on a 10/22. When it comes to clarity, contrast, and sheer brightness of a scope, the Diamondback series is impossible to beat for the price.
It doesn’t stop there! This 4-16x scope has the power to take your .22 to the next level. If you want a scope for a 10/22 at 100 yards or more, this is an amazing choice that will get you out as far as a .22 can shoot. You could also consider this scope in a 6-24x model if you really wanted to max out your possibilities. Use it for target practice or get a great scope for squirrel hunting with a 22 rifle.
Complete with target turrets and a BDC reticle, this scope has it all and more toughness than you will ever need. Its waterproof, fog proof, shock resistant and completely sealed. Breaking this thing under normal conditions would be a near impossible task. This also lends the Diamondback well as a scope for Ruger 10/22 takedown models.
2 Leupold VX-2
The Leupold VX-2 is one of my favorite optics of all time. It may not be specifically designed for a .22 but it will feel like it was built as a Ruger 10/22 scope from the start. The magnification range is near perfect and the size of this scope makes it feel like a part of the gun. Perfect for a light varmint rifle or use it as a scope for 10/22 carbine models to keep them lightweight for great hunting capabilities.
The optical quality of any Leupold scope is miles beyond what any other scope companies can offer. Their basic glass is just astounding. Add that to a set of fully multicoated lenses and a super bright 40mm objective lens and you have a recipe for amazing optical quality. You will never understand how good a Leupold optic looks until you look through one.
This scope blends a BDC reticle with standard turrets so learning to shoot it at varying ranges will take a little practice but that will pay off in spades later. If you want a scope for 10/22 target shooting, this one will knock them dead. At 4-12x it isn’t the most powerful scope but it it’s among the best.
What’s better is that Leupold protects your investment in their optics with a lifetime guarantee that no other company will ever beat. You may be surprised if you ever need it though as this fully sealed and purged scope is dust, fog, and waterproof as well as coated with a scratch resistant finish. Even a few bags will do nothing with its shockproof construction. If you want my personal best Ruger 10/22 scope recommendation it would be the VX-2.
3 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Our second offering by Vortex combines many of the same features as the first with quality glass and more than adequate reliability in a compact size making it a great if you want a scoped Ruger 10/22 takedown. If you want more magnification you can even scale it up to the 26x version.
Why repeat what we said about the glass of the last Vortex here. It's still the same multicoated, extra-low dispersion glass that stomps most of its competition. The only thing that is really different is the extra large 50mm objective on this 4-14x its brightness is nearly unparalleled on the scope market. Even in lower light, you can hunt effectively with the Crossfire II thanks to its vibrant, high contrast images.
Featuring the Vortex only Dead-Hold BDC reticle, this is a set it and forget it style scope that you dial in and use the mil scale on your scope to get the bullet drop right. Rather than target turrets, this Crossfire II has a compromise. The adjustments are capped but can be adjusted by hand. It may not be the best for on the fly adjustment but that is a possibility!
Tough as a tank like every Vortex scope, the Crossfire II is purged and sealed making it impossible for water or dust to get in and preventing even a smidge of fog far marring your perfect view. Small bangs won’t cause a problem and even scratches are unlikely. This is one rugged scope making it my number one Ruger 10/22 takedown scope recommendation.
4 Nikon Prostaff Rimfire II
Let’s get down to a scope designed for the rimfire rifle. There are a lot of benefits to this including a BCD reticle designed specifically for the drop of a .22 and the perfect amount of power for most hunting and shooting done with a .22. If you want the perfect budget rimfire scope under 200 bucks, this Nikon is the one you want.
For ages, Nikon has been known as a quality manufacturer of optical glass and the Prostaff series are definitely fine examples of that! Fully multi-coated with a perfectly proportioned 40mm objective you will have no problems picking out a target. The image will be as clean as can be and vibrant beyond what you would think.
Looking for a .22 rifle scope for squirrel hunting? The Prostaff’s BDC 150 reticle combined with set and forget adjustments will get you on target every time! The somewhat lower power 3x9x is really what works best for small game at reasonable ranges but with a good sight in and a little practice, hundred yard shots or better are easily possible. Never doubt the accuracy of the .22 in the right hands and with the right scope.
Don’t go off believing that Nikon is just a glass company. They are a scope company and that means that what they produce has to stand up to the elements. Luckily the Prostaff series are all dust, water and fog proof making the great in any condition. They can handle the little dings and bumps a rifle scope takes in the field and will serve you for a lifetime.
5 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
Need a great 3-9x40 scope under 100 bucks? Well, it can be had and by a company that has been producing optics for decades! It's hard to find a company with as much of a following as Bushnell and with a solid reputation amongst hunters and target shooters alike. For what you need, this may be a little more scope than necessary but that doesn’t mean it can’t serve you better than any other budget rifle scope.
You can get a specifically designed rimfire scope under 100 bucks but it really doesn’t do much for you and is just a limitation should you ever want to transfer the scope to another rifle. Really, when looking at a scope with the quality glass of Bushnell that is waterproof, fog proof, and tough as can be you probably shouldn’t be picky about designs. Besides, Bushnell’s Multi-X reticle seems to work great for any caliber, no matter how small.
One of the most amazing features of this 3-9x scope is the multi-coated glass that is specifically designed to take advantage of every little bit of light to make shooting in early mornings or late evenings just as plausible as shooting at noon. When it comes to a scope for a hunter, this is a great feature to have for a light varmint rifle.
With amazing glass, outstanding durability, and a form factor that is perfect for the 10/22, its hard to beat the Bushnell Banner for any rifle but specifically if you are looking for a great scope for Ruger 10/22 under $100.00. What you get for that price will boggle the mind!
6 Simons 8 Point
If you are looking for a compact scope with clean lines and plenty of power on a budget, you can’t beat this great little rifle scope under 50 bucks. There will be some sacrifices at that price but not enough to ever make you miss a target or be able to hunt effectively. No tradeoff for cost is worth that.
Simons does good glass. It isn’t great but it has always been some of the best for the price and that hasn’t changed. What has changed is that this Simons scope has fully coated glass. Combine that with a decent sized 40mm objective and get some outstanding images out of a scope that would fit anyone’s budget. Believe me, in this price range this scope is number 1.
With features usually seen on more expensive optics, this scope has a BDC reticle that works well with a .22 rifle or any other caliber you may want to try it on. Windage and elevation can be adjusted in the field with only your fingertips should anything go wrong but this scope is quite rugged and should hold up to most any of your shooting needs.
Waterproof, rainproof, and shockproof enough to stand up to high-powered rifles, your.22 should never have to worry about throwing anything off. If you are looking for the ultimate budget scope for Ruger 10/22 rifles of any model, this scope gets the job done and will do it better than any of its competitors. At least in this price range.
A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Tips
What range to sight in a Ruger 10/22?
Most people will recommend sighting in any .22 rifle at 50 yards and there is nothing at all wrong with this. Many manufacturers will suggest the same. You will do well at longer ranges but you may be off a little at closer range.
Some people will recommend sighting in at 25 yards and this will take care of any issues you have with shorter ranges but will make those shots at 100 yards or more a little bit more difficult to deal with.
I sight in my .22s at 75 yards and have found this does very well at most any range. Of course, your ammunition will make a small difference but give it a shot. Try sighting in at a variety of different yardage and then shooting targets from 10 to 150 yards. See what works best for you and your ammunition.
What is the effective range of a 10/22?
This will depend on your ammunition more than anything but with CCI Mini-Mags I have taken squirrel and other small game as far away as 150 yards. Much beyond that and the .22 will lose the power to make a clean kill.
On larger animals like racoons and skunks, I like to stay below 100 yards to make sure I have the power for a single shot kill through the heart or lungs. It is unethical to do otherwise.
For target shooting, I regularly shoot out to 200 yards with a .22 at targets the size of a 2-liter soda bottle and have great success and a lot of fun. Sometimes a .22 won’t even make a hole in the plastic at that range if you use thicker bottles.
If you are hunting, practice at ranges you will shoot until you are sure you can make a clean hit and kill.
What scope magnification for squirrel hunting?
This is a very common question and it really depends on the woods you hunt If they are wide open, a more powerful scope will work but for dense woods, most people will use a 4x scope for squirrel hunting. There is nothing wrong with this and it works well but it isn’t what I prefer.
I like a 3-9x scope for any hunting with a .22 rifle. I will usually leave it on 9x and use that for any hunting I will do out to 100 yards or more. If I go any farther than that I bump way up to a scope that is 20x or more. I use the same scopes for target shooting.
Shooting a squirrel at more than about 50 yards is a really difficult shot but its very rewarding even if you only hit one out of every 50 you shoot at.
Should I get a rimfire specific scope?
Most rimfire specific scopes use a reticle that is geared toward a .22 rifle and the specific ballistics of that round. I have never found this to be useful or even that accurate. There is too much variety in .22 ammunition to make much of a difference. Besides, many companies use that rimfire designation to produce scopes that are weaker to save money. The Nikon above is an exception.
I want a scope that is as rugged as I can get for whatever I choose to do with it and will stay clear of most rimfire specific optics. With some practice and know-how, you can get the same results out of any BDC reticle so the tradeoff is rarely ever worth it.
What scope mount should I use on a 10/22?
With a .22, get any rings you want for most purposes. I use cheaper rings on most of my .22 rifles and have never had much of an issue. There are two notable exceptions though:
If you have a takedown model, either standard or the LITE model, you may want to get a quick release so your scope can be removed when you are packing the gun up for travel. In which case, there are several quality Ruger 10/22 Takedown scope mount options that will work well. Just make sure they are Picatinny.
If you use your 10/22 for long range competitions, you will need rings that are made for precision shooting. Both Leupold and Vortex make great rings for this. The Vortex are cheaper and I actually prefer them to the Leupold rings. Whatever rings you get make sure they are precision machined and lapped.
Will a 10/22 takedown hold its zero after taking it down?
I use mostly red dots on my takedown and have never had an issue with it holding a zero. Even with the Nikon optic above, it seemed to work out just fine when taken down and reassembled. If you are using a more powerful optic and shooting longer ranges, I would think there is some chance it could deviate some.
A lot of this will depend on how used and worn your file is. The sloppier the fit, the worse your zero will hold over time. It's good to reassemble and take a test shot before hunting to make sure.
A Ruger 10/22 Scope Buyers Tips
I really can’t think of a firearm that is more fun to shoot than a 10/22. Its almost pure joy with the smell of gunpowder added in. Once you add an optic to your 10/22 it will only get better. With the price of some of the optics today that are of really amazing quality it's well worth the investment!
Or do what I do and get several 10/22s and set them all up differently. That’s the most fun you can have, at least until you add a suppressor to one.