Hunting squirrels is one of the most enjoyed and popular forms of hunting. It is low-cost (using a .22 LR) and provides heaps of fun. Mounting a scope to your .22 LR can only add to this fun. However, the scope should complement the .22 LR’s performance, not compromising maneuverability and user-friendliness. Thus, we compiled a list of the top 5 scopes for squirrel hunting.
Top 5 Best Scope For 22LR Squirrel Hunting
Below is a list of the best 22LR squirrel hunting scopes.
- Vortex Crossfire II – Best Overall
- Leupold VX-Freedom – Best Premium Scope
- Primary Arms SLx – Best For Hunters
- Vortex Diamondback – Most Durable
- Leapers UTG – Best Budget Option
1) Vortex Crossfire II 3-12x56mm Rifle Scope
If you are a dedicated reader of our website, you would know that almost all of our top 5 scope lists will feature a Vortex scope. This is no different with the best scope for 22lr squirrel hunting article, featuring at our number one spot we have, the Crossfire II.
The scope’s design is really impressive, featuring an objective lens with an impressive 56 mm in diameter, so you know light transmission won’t be a problem with this scope. The Crossfire measures 14.3″ in length, 4.75″ in width, and 2.71″ in height. With such a large scope, you can expect it to be heavy, 21.1 ounces to be exact.
The scope features a V-Brite reticle which I found easy to shoot with. Now you won’t have to worry about shooting in low light conditions. With the 11 brightness settings, there will surely be a setting that will match your ambient lighting conditions. The Crossfire II is equipped with a CR2032 battery that has a battery life of 150 hours.
The scope has an impressive magnification range of 3-12x. To be honest, this magnification range is overpowered for the limited range of the 22 LR (50 yards). Nonetheless, 22 LR ammo is so cheap you can take the rifle to the range to do some long-range shooting for fun.
As you know, the higher the magnification, the lower the field of view (FOV). On magnification 3x you will have 36.7 ft FOV at 100 yards; on a magnification of 12x, the FOV drops to 9.2 ft at 100 yards.
The scope is as tough as nails, with its aircraft-grade aluminum construction and providing a nitrogen-purged platform to enhance its shockproof, waterproof, and fog-proof capabilities.
You can expect to pay a substantial amount of money for all these bells and whistles. The Crossfire II will set you back $369.99.
Pros & Cons
- Excellent light transmission
- Illuminated scope – Allows for hunting at dawn and dusk
- High magnification range
- Highly Durable
- Bulky and Heavy
Our Experience With Crossfire II
Even though the Crossfire is primarily a hog-hunting scope, it works great for squirrels, as I learned when I mounted the Crossfire II on my 22 LR. The superior light transmission really allows for fast target shooting. However, I found the scope a bit bulky and heavy to move around quickly; instead, I achieved optimal results when lying completely still, as can be predicted.
The bright images produced by the scope allow for shooting at times during the day when it would not be otherwise possible to make an ethical kill with most rifle scopes.
2) Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20mm Rifle Scope
Leupold, the scope of choice for many hunters and rifle shooters. This venerable brand has provided some of the best scopes of recent years, and the VX-Freedom is no different.
As with all Leupold scopes, the VX-Freedom is constructed from quality and high-grade materials. The scope is only 9.35″ in length and weighs 9.6 ounces, much lighter than the Crossfire II. The scope has an objective lens diameter of 20 mm.
Leupold constructed the VX-Freedom from 6061-T6 Aluminum to ensure optimal durability. The VX-Freedom has multi-coated lenses for scratch resistance as well as to minimize glare and increase light transmission. This is one of the reasons I rated the VX-Freedom as the Best Scout Rifle Scopes as well.
The scope magnification range is 1.5-4x and has a FOV at 100 yards of 74.2 ft (1.5x) and 29.4 ft (4x). The Twilight Light Management System allows for easy target shooting at close range in obscure conditions, ideal for squirrel hunting.
With the 1/4 MOA finger click, you can easily make adjustments to the windage and elevation turrets. The scope has a fixed parallax adjustment, and you can expect an eye relief of 4.2 – 3.7 inches.
This Leupold scope will set you back $299.99.
Pros & Cons
- Lightweight and Compact with minimal effect on the 22 LR’s maneuverability
- Sufficient magnification
- Easy elevation and windage adjustments
- Bulky Reticle – Takes a bit away from the sight picture
Our Experience With VX-Freedom
When I first saw the VX-Freedom, I thought, wow, this is a beautiful scope. Yet, beauty doesn’t give results, performance does, and this scope knows how to perform. The VX-Freedom is my dedicated rimfire scope, and as a rule, is mounted on my .22 LR rifle.
The magnification range is excellent, just what you need for squirrel hunting. The reticle bothered me as it has a bulky design which might compromise your sight picture.
Nonetheless, if you want something a smaller 22LR scope than the Crossfire II, then go for the VX-Freedom.
3) Primary Arms SLx Series 1-6 x 24mm Rifle Scope
Another illuminated scope, this Primary Arms scope takes squirrel hunting to the next level with its smart BDC reticle system.
Primary Arms used their best talents when they designed and built this quality scope. The scope measures only 10 inches and weighs 16.9 ounces. It is also fog-resistant, waterproof, and shockproof thanks to its 6063 aluminum body and fully multi-coated lenses. The scope is fitted with an objective lens 24 mm in diameter.
As you’ve already read, the SLx Series also has illumination capabilities. There are 11 brightness settings with a red illumination. The brightness settings are good, but the Crossfire’s performance is better.
A feature to mention is the Advanced Combined Sighting System (ACSS) reticle which is designed for the .22 LR. The reticle provides bullet drop compensation, wind holds, range estimation, and moving target leads. I found the reticle especially useful for fast target shooting.
The scope is equipped with a fast-focus eyepiece and has an eye relief of 3.3 -3.5 inches. I found the magnification especially good for hunting squirrels, the 1-6x allows for both close range and longer range shooting. The SLx provides you with a FOV of 110 ft (1x) and 19.3 ft (6x) at 100 yards.
Considering the scope’s features, the $282.99 is not a bad price at all.
Pros & Cons
- Illumination with 11 brightness settings
- ACSS reticle specifically designed for .22 LR
- Excellent value
- Optical clarity – The light transmission and sight picture quality could be better.
Our Experience With Primary Arms
When I think of Primary Arms, I think red dot sight. I love their SLx Compact as a budget-friendly AR 15 sight. The SLx Series is just as good, especially with the ACSS reticle. I used this scope a couple of times for hunting small game, but I enjoyed it the most on the range. The objective lens cover irritated me a bit as it was a bit in my way when aiming.
With the BDC .22 LR reticle, your precision shooting capabilities at long range are increased considerably. Thus I would recommend this scope for the range shooters!
4) Vortex Diamondback 2-7x35mm Rifle Scope
So I love Vortex, who can blame me? They are really good and deserve all the credit they are awarded. The Vortex Optics Diamondback is a simpler alternative to the Crossfire II and is ideal for a rimfire rifle.
It is also much smaller, with a length of 11.6″, a width of 3.25″, and a height of 1.72″. It is also considerably lighter, weighing 14.2 ounces. The adjustable objective lens is 35 mm and provides a high-quality visual picture thanks to the lens’ coatings.
This rimfire scope has a magnification of 2-7x, perfect for the 22 LR’s hunting range. The scope offers a linear FOV of 19.3 – 64.3 ft at 100 yards with an eye relief of 3.1 – 3.5 in and a 50-yard parallax. The Diamondback is equipped with the V-Plex reticle, a reticle with thin crosshairs that allows the squirrel hunter to easily locate, aim and shoot.
The Diamondback lives up to Vortex’s quality standard, and I can assure you that this scope is well-equipped to handle the harshest of elements. For enhancing the fog-proof performance, the scope is purged with Argon gas instead of the traditional Nitrogen purging method used in most scopes.
Surprisingly, the Diamondback only costs $40 cheaper than the Crossfire II. With a lower scope magnification and lack of brightness and illumination features, I would have thought it would cost at least $75 cheaper. Nonetheless, the Diamondback is priced very competitively at $329.99.
Pros & Cons
- Extremely durable
- Easy turret adjustment
- Fast target shooting with the fast focus eyepiece and magnification range
- Overpriced – Considering the Crossfire II only costs $40 more
Our Experience With Vortex Diamondback
When I think back to my Diamondback scope hunting days, I immediately think of precision – which is what this scope provided. The Diamondback is probably one of the best rimfire scopes I have ever had the privilege of testing, and I know many squirrel hunters would testify the same.
I would recommend the Diamondback to anyone who wants a simple yet effective scope for small-game hunting.
5) Leapers UTG 4-16x44mm Compact Rifle Scope
Leapers went all out with this scope, it has so many features, yet surprisingly the UTG is very affordable.
Let’s start with the basics, the scope is 11.14 inches in length and weighs 21.8 ounces. The objective lens is 44 mm in diameter and features the TactEdge Angled Integral Sunshade, which reduces sun glare yet allows optimal light transmission.
The scope has a magnification of 4-16x, which is a bit excessive for rimfire rifles. The FOV ranges between 7.85 ft (16x) and 26.2 ft (4x) at 100 yards. The eye relief is between 3 – 3.4 inches, and the parallax focus distance is 10 yards to infinity. There is an optional SWAT big wheel attachment that allows finer parallax adjustment.
The UTG has a very interesting reticle system, you can expect a simple mil dot reticle, but it is available in 36 illuminated interchangeable colors. The 36-color mode reticle is especially handy in harsh weather conditions or dense forests where lighting might not always be the best.
The scope also features the EZ-Tap IE illumination system. These two ergonomic control buttons allow easy transition between red, green light, a black reticle with no light, and the 36-color mode reticle.
The durability is also proficient, but as we know, the more features a scope has, the more things can break. The zero-locking system is featured on this scope, which reduces the chances of losing your zero from a collision.
The UTG only costs $204.97, which is quite cheap considering all this scope’s handy features.
Pros & Cons
- Complex reticle system – Allowing for optimal performance in various lighting conditions
- Could have better durability
Our Experience With Leapers
Leapers did a great job with this scope, yet I feel this is just another range-shooting scope. When I went hunting with this scope, I found the FOV too restricted for squirrel hunting and the reticle system too complex for my liking. Nobody has time to switch between reticles when aiming at a squirrel, especially with a .22 LR that requires you to be predominantly within 50 yards.
Still, I enjoyed the scope on my squirrel hunt as it made me feel like a sniper, something I thought I would never feel with a .22 LR squirrel rifle. If you are looking for a good range scope or a cheaper option than some of the other scopes on this list, then opt for this scope.
Benefits Of A Scope For Squirrel Hunting
With the help of a scope, you can considerably extend your rifle’s range. Allowing you to take shots at further distances, yet still taking into account the maximum effective range of the cartridge to ensure an ethical kill. You can also check out our list of longer range scopes if you need more range.
As we all know, repeated accuracy results in precision. You might have one or two good shots with your traditional iron sight, but with a scope mounted, you can achieve repeated optimal results.
3) Success Rate
Taking into consideration the previously mentioned two points, you will be able to kill more squirrels, for varminting, this is ideal.
Magnification Range For Squirrel Hunting
The calibers generally used for squirrel hunting are small, low-powered, and have a low effective range. Squirrels are also fast-moving targets, which means a scope with a lower rifle scope magnification range and high field of view is wanted.
It is thus advised to have a scope with a magnification of 2-7x.
How We Rate Squirrel Hunting Rifle Scopes
The best rimfire scope should compliment your rifle, not compromise its performance. Based on this ideology, we rate our rifle scopes on the following guidelines:
Numerous factors contribute to a scope’s accuracy, such as lens clarity, light transmission and anti-reflection capabilities, field of view, magnification, reticle system, etc. We consider all these factors and test the scope in practice – we go hunting!
The scope should allow for fast target shooting and remain accurate in the process – which is crucial to squirrel hunting.
What additional features does the scope have that will enhance its and the rifle’s performance? Features we like to see are a BDC reticle, zero locking, illumination capabilities, and a fast-focus eyepiece.
All these features should be considered, and then it is decided whether the scope’s features justify its price. Also, is the scope priced market competitively, too cheap, and people will think it is a knockoff or will break easily, too expensive, and no one will buy it. Check out our list of the Best Cheap LPVO Scopes if you need a budget friendly option.
Frequently Asked Questions
What range should I sight in my 22 for squirrel hunting?
Can you hunt squirrels with a 22LR?
Do you need a scope for squirrel hunting?
What is a 3 9x40 scope Good For?
The Bottom Line
A .22 LR does not need a complex rifle scope for squirrel hunting. Don’t get me wrong, the additional features help improve the scope’s hunting performance, but it is not needed. Taking this into consideration, the Vortex Crossfire II is the best scope for 22lr squirrel hunting. The scope’s versatility makes it the winner, it is also our top-rated vortex scope for deer hunting.