Benchrest shooting is a popular type of shooting competition that prizes patience and accuracy — and you will need a proper scope for .22LR Benchrest if you want to make every shot count.
In benchrest, the goal is to hit the targets while aiming a rifle rested on a bench (hence the name). Targets can be at variable distances, but the most common benchrest distances are 50, 600 and 1000 yards.
At these types of distances, it is very important to have a scope capable of providing a clear and accurate image, so you can hit every shot. Since benchrest shooting eliminates most variables, you want an accurate scope, which doesn’t really need to have fancy technologies.
In this article, I am going to show you some of the most popular benchrest scopes — and there are options for every budget range. I found that NightForce Precision Benchrest was the best option.
Ready to get into benchrest shooting? Let’s get started, then.
Table of Contents
Review of Best Scopes for .22LR Benchrest
The following scopes are the best optics for a .22LR Benchrest.
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II
- NightForce Precision Benchrest
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3
- Sightron SII 36x42mm Dot AO
- Classic Duplex Reticle
- Designed for Lighter Uses
#1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Not everyone wants to break the bank when choosing a scope for benchrest competitions. Some people just want a budget-friendly product that gets the job done — and that’s exactly what the Vortex Optics Crossfire II does.
While this highly cost-efficient rimfire rifle scope might have a few drawbacks, the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses. Even if it doesn’t look particularly rugged, this is a scope that can be thrown around without much thought and that can absolutely take a beating.
The build-quality isn’t exactly top-shelf, and you might notice some “harsher” areas in the construction, but this is still a scope made from aircraft-grade aluminum. It is sturdy and will last you a long time — even if you decide to shoot higher calibers than .22. But it is one of the best rimfire scopes that I’ve tested.
The multi-coated glass on the Vortex Crossfire II is adequate. While it is resistant to scratches and to glare, the optical quality leaves something to be desired — especially at higher magnifications.
Don’t get me wrong — the glass is clear enough. You will be able to see your targets relatively clearly, and the image is definitely crisp at the lower end of the magnification spectrum. However, as you increase the magnification, the image gets progressively blurrier — you might have some troubles clearly seeing your targets when fully zoomed-in.
Of course, you can always adjust the objective to try and get a clearer image — but there is no work around that will fix the blurry optics.
The Crossfire II is a second focal plane scope with a classic reticle. As you increase the magnification, the reticle will remain the same size and there is a chance it might obstruct your target. However, for benchrest target shooting competitions it works just fine.
At this price point, and as you would probably expect, the reticle is not illuminated. Vortex Optics does sell this same model with an illuminated reticle, but that will cost you a few extra dollars. If you are keen on following your budget, forget about the fancy lights — the reticle is easy to see even without any illumination.
While this scope has a fixed parallax, there are some scope adjustments you can make. You can account for elevation and windage through the turrets on the side.
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is far from being a perfect scope. For its price, however, it is easy to recommend, as it gets the job done without breaking the bank.
What distance is the parallax set to?
The Crossfire II has a rimfire parallax distance of 50 yards. The normal model has a 100-yard parallax distance.
Are lens caps included with the scope?
Yes. This scope comes with included lens caps. It also comes with a 4-inches long sunshade.
What size scope rings should you use with the Crossfire II?
The type of scope rings will depend on your rifle. Vortex Optics recommends you use medium-sized height rings — remember, you need to have enough height to clear the rifle. Also, make sure you know what DOPE scope is so that you can get your optic calibrated properly.
Does this scope have an illuminated reticle?
No. The reticle on the Crossfire II is not illuminated.
#2. NightForce Precision Benchrest
If you’re not really on a budget and don’t mind splurging on one of the best scopes for 22lr benchrest, then you might be interested on the Nightforce Precision Benchrest. This scope has some of the best materials available and excels in benchrest competitions.
And this is not a statement that should be taken lightly — this scope has won several world records in long-range benchrest competitions. It also holds the record for .50 BMG 1000-yards benchrest.
When you pick up the Nightforce Precision Benchrest you are immediately surprised by the quality of its construction — I mean, you probably can’t expect anything less due to its price, but still, it is an impressive piece of equipment.
The aircraft-grade aluminum on the Nightforce Precision Benchrest is almost four times thicker than the aluminum on the average scope. While this makes the Precision Benchrest an unbelievably sturdy scope, it also makes it a heavy one. The Nightforce Precision Benchrest weighs 36 ounces. That is one reason why I also rated it one of the best scope for 300 win mag.
It might not be the ideal scope to carry around on a day-to-day basis, but the weight is almost negligible when on a benchrest competition.
Besides the quality of the outside material, this scope also has top-shelf components on the inside. The titanium springs are three to four times more effective than the springs on the standard scopes.
The turrets are crisp and calibrated to .125 MOA. They have a true return to zero function as well. MOA on a scope is very important so this functionality is great to see.
The glass is also of very high quality. The image is clear and very bright at every magnification range. Nightforce is proud of its light management system, and it is understandable why. The resolution is also impeccable — you will always see your target with ease.
It is possible to acquire this scope with different reticles. Almost every single one of them is minimalistic and allows for a quick target acquisition. Even though the reticle is easy to see during the day, the Nightforce BR’s reticle also lights uphttps://www.nightforceoptics.com/.
Parallax on this scope can be adjusted all the way to infinity. This makes the Nightforce Precision BR ideal for benchrest competitions at every range — and with every caliber.
If you have the money to spend on rimfire scopes, you won’t be disappointed by this rifle scope. Although it is understandable if the price is too steep for you. There are more reasonably priced scopes out there, but don’t fool yourself — you won’t be able to beat the Nightcore Precision BR.
Is this scope SFP or FFP?
The Nightforce BR Benchrest is a second focal plane scope. When comparing FFP vs SFP, SFP scopes are generally preferred for target shooting.
Does this scope include a sunshade?
Yes. There is a sunshade included with the scope.
Is this scope made in the USA?
No. The Nightforce Benchrest is made in Japan.
#3. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle
The Bushnell 4-12×40 is yet another great scope for the budget-conscious benchrest shooter. It will probably not leave you awestruck, but, for the price, it is still a very competent scope.
You will hardly be disappointed by this scope — assuming you know what you are getting into. This is not a scope to be used with high-caliber weapons. It is a rimfire scope designed for lighter uses, such as rimfire shooting and small-caliber bulletshttps://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24188168/.
Its construction is okay-ish at best. It should survive a few falls, but it is not a sturdy scope at all. There interior lenses can and will break if you are not careful, rendering the scope useless. Yes, it is a cheap scope, but you still have to handle it with care.
However, and despite its cheap build, this rimfire scope is completely waterproof — even when fully submerged in water. This is why I also rated it one of the Best Scopes for 300 WSM that I’ve tested. The Argon gas on the inside makes it fog-proof as well.
Optically, there are no major defects with this scope. The glass is clear, and you will have an okay image at every magnification level. There is not much of an eye relief, so you will need to position yourself properly — which sometimes means you will not be comfortable.
Surprisingly, perhaps, this rimfire scope allows for a large amount of light to enter. The lenses have a special coating (DDB — or “Dusk & Dawn Brightness) that increases the amount of available light. Sure, it is not as good as a high-end Leupold scope, but it is still a welcome surprise in such an inexpensive scope.
Unlike other rimfire scopes I’ve tested, this scope features a classic duplex reticle. This classic reticle has been time-tested, and it works great — target acquisition is fast and it’s easy to judge distances. This is a second focus plane scope and it doesn’t have an illuminated reticle.
The adjustment ring is scratchy and will sometimes get stuck. However, when you get it to work, it works properly and as expected.
This is probably not the scope you want to take with you when hunting big game or when there’s a chance you will face a dangerous animal. However, for benchrest competitions or rimfire shooting, this Bushnell scope is a good choice — and one that will not empty out your pockets.
Can you adjust the parallax on this scope or is it set?
You can adjust the parallax on this Bushnell scope. Parallax is adjusted by rotating the indents near the objective. Just be sure you check out How to mount a scope on AR-15 with front sight to understand how to set your scope up right.
Does this scope come with lens covers?
Yes, a lens cover is included. However, it is not see-through.
How close can this scope focus?
The minimum focusing range is 15 yards.
Is there a reset to zero function on the turrets?
Even though the Bushnell holds zero very well, there isn’t any return to zero function. You will have to reset to zero manually.
Are the radials illuminated?
Sadly, this rimfire scope does not have illuminated radicals.
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#4. Leupold VX-Freedom 3
While not as cheap as some of the other options on this list, the VX-Freedom line is a popular budget line from Leupold. The entire VX range covers a wide gamut of rimfire scopes, and the VX-Freedom provides some of the best qualities of Leupold scopes at a fraction of the price.
First and foremost, for the price you are getting a rimfire scope as sturdy as the rest of Leupold’s lineup. Just like the more expensive scopes, the VX-Freedom is both waterproof and fog-proof. You can submerge it in water up to a 33-feet depth that it will still work.
Although great for rimfire cartridges, this scope is also impact tested for higher caliber ammunition. Leupold tests its scopes on a recoil simulation machine with a minimum of 5000 impacts — each impact simulates 3 times the recoil of a .308 shot. You know right from the get-go that you are getting a very resistant rimfire scope.
And if that wasn’t enough, Leupold scopes can perform from -40ºF to 160ºF.
Just in build quality alone you are already getting your money’s worth. This is one of the reasons I also reated the VX-Freedom as one of the best scope for 22lr squirrel hunting as well. This is probably the best rimfire scope for people with larger budgets. But how are the optics of the VX-Freedom?
Well, obviously Leupold didn’t use its best glass — that glass is saved for the higher-end scopes. But the glass on the VX-Freedom is still very good. It offers a clear and bright image, and it will not disappoint you.
As always, Leupold uses its patented “Twilight Light Management” technology on the glass. This technology increases visibility during dusk and dawn — allowing you to hit those crucial shots just before the sun sets for good.
The VX-Freedom has a SFP reticle, with no illumination. The duplex reticle needs no introductions — it is a standard reticle that will work with anything that you throw at it.
The worst part about this scope is the fact that it has a fixed parallax. You cannot adjust it at all. Parallax is set to 60 yards (which is great for rimfire, by the way) and you will have to learn to live with it. Some shooters also run into a few Leupold CDS Dial Problems.
Other things that are missing are wind adjustment turrets and a return to zero functionality. While that would be appreciated, it is understandable due to the price range of the Leupold VX-Freedom.
All of these drawbacks can be ignored if you are interested in benchrest competitions with rimfire cartridges. Sure, this scope might not be as good as the truly expensive ones, but it is still a nice compromise between price and quality.
If you want the best cheap scope for 22lr benchrest, then the Leupold VX-Freedom might be a scope to consider. In fact, I rated it one of the Best Low Light Scopes Under $500 that I’ve used as well!
#5. Sightron SII 36x42mm Dot AO
The Simmons 3-9×32 is aimed at the person who is still not sure whether they want to pursue benchrest shooting. It is an absolutely entry-level scope, and it behaves as such. However, it makes the list because I believe everyone should have an option that fits into their budget.
While this scope will surely disappoint the experienced shooter, it is an amazing gateway to the sport. This scope provides a low-cost entry to the world of benchrest and can be determinant in deciding whether that’s a sport you would like to pursue.
The quality of this scope is iffy at best. Again, remember that you get what you pay for. The included mount might not fit the scope — there seems to be a problem with Simmons’ quality control. However, once you manage to correctly install the scope you get an okay piece of equipment.
The glass on these Types of Scopes is not very good either. The image is slightly blurry, but for the price you can’t really complain. You will have no problem focusing on large targets, but small details will definitely be a nuisance. It is clear enough… but that’s about it.
On the plus side, the precision of this scope is good. It holds zero relatively well, even if you might have some problems adjusting the elevation and the windage — the turrets are very poor.
Of course, there is no such thing as reticle illumination on this Simmons scope. The dotted reticle is simple and pretty straightforward — but at least it works if you manage to clearly see your target.
Look, this is an accurate scope with a shoddy build and poor materials — you can’t expect any miracles. There are better budget options out there, but none of them are as cheap as this Simmons scope.
For the benchrest shooter on an extreme budget, or for someone thinking about getting into benchrest shooting, the Simmons 3-9×32 might be worth considering — but you should know that you are getting an extremely cheap lens.
If you are someone who takes this sport seriously, or who wants to take it seriously, then move along. This scope is not for you. For everyone else… Well, you should probably save a bit more for a better scope. However, if you really have to get a scope, the Simmons 3-9×32 is not that bad… I think.
Can you focus this scope at 10 yards?
No. This scope will only focus on a minimum distance of 15 yards.
Is there a turret lock function on the turrets of this Simmons scope?
No. Sadly, the turrets do not have turret lock functions.
Are screw off caps included? And lens covers?
Screw off caps are included. Lens covers are not.
Best Scopes for .22lr Benchrest Buyer’s Guide
How to choose a benchrest scope?
Benchrest shooting is different from other types of shooting as most variables are eliminated. The rimfire rifle rifle is rested on a bench and the only thing that truly matters is the precision of the shooter.
When choosing a benchrest scope, things such as the scope weight or windage adjustments don’t really matter. What matters is having a high-magnification scope that allows you to clearly see the targets at the regular benchrest shooting distances — 600 and 1000 yards.
Due to the distance from the targets, it is preferable to use a scope with a simple reticle. You don’t want visual clutter distracting you from your targets.
Professional benchrest shooters prefer scopes with 1/8 MOA — as you probably know, scopes with this feature aren’t exactly cheap.
So, when choosing a benchrest scope you will want to factor in every single one of these details. Of course, you will probably have to make a few compromises according to your budget.
What scope should you use for 50-yard benchrest shooting?
If you want a scope just for 50-yard benchrest shooting, then you will not need a variable scope — however it is advisable you get one, as a variable scope is more versatile.
For a 50-yard distance a 6-24x should do the trick, especially if you are an amateur. If you are or want to become a benchrest professional, then you should probably get a scope with a 36-power fixed — but these scopes can quickly become too expensive. Be sure to read up on fixed power scopes if you want to learn more!
What Is Benchrest Shooting?
Benchrest shooting is a type of precision shooting sport in which shooters fire at targets from a fixed position using a rifle placed on a stable bench or table. The goal is to achieve the smallest group size possible by placing multiple shots into a single small target area. The distance between the shooter and the target can vary, but typically ranges from 50 to 300 meters. Just make sure you know how to clean scope lens to shoot even more accurately.
Benchrest shooting is known for its emphasis on accuracy and precision, with small differences in ammunition and technique having a significant impact on the results. Shooters often use specially designed rifles, high-quality optics, and custom-made ammunition to achieve the best possible performance. The sport requires a great deal of skill, patience, and attention to detail, and is popular among competitive shooters, hobbyists, and hunters who seek to improve their marksmanship. The scopes we recommended in this article make it much easier to shoot precisely from long distances!
Frequently Asked Questions
What magnification for benchrest shooting?
What is best size scope for a .22 rifle?
When it comes to benchrest shooting, you want the best scope money can buy — which, unfortunately, might not always be possible. If that’s the case, you will want the next best thing — a scope which offers a great compromise between quality and price.
Most of the scopes on this list fit the bill. There are good, extremely cheap options, such as the Bushnell 4-12×40, which won’t break the bank and will give you a relatively good benchrest scope.
If you want something a bit more elaborate and durable (and also more expensive) then the Leupold VX-Freedom is a no-brainer. Leupold is known for the quality of its optics, and even the budget range is capable of competing with higher-priced scopes.
And, if money is not a problem and you can afford the best of the best, the Nightforce Precision Benchrest is the scope for you. This is a record-breaking scope and the choice of many professional benchrest shootershttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benchrest_shooting — but it will cost you a pretty penny.
Luckily, there are alternatives for every wallet out there that will allow you to get into the world of benchrest shooting. Which scope do you use?