Best New Riflescopes for Hunting and Shooting from the 2020 SHOT Show

The latest optical sights are more advanced than ever, with illuminated reticles, 8x zoom, built-in drop compensation, and more

With the exploding popularity of long-range and competition shooting, rifles have gone through a transformation in the last several years—and riflescopes have had to keep up. That they have done, and then some. With more power, precision reticles, illumination, and target-style turrets, today’s top optical sights are as transformed the rifles they sit one. Virtually every new scope for 2020 has exposed turrets for precise on-the-fly adjustment, and reticles seemingly so complicated that you can get lost in them if you’re not careful. There are still a couple nods to the past for us traditional-minded hunters, but by and large, the latest optics look toward the future.

Leupold VX-3i ZeroLock

Leupold VX-3i ZeroLock CDS scopes
Four new Leupold VX-3i scopes now come with the company’s ZeroLock CDS dial.Leupold

Leupold is introducing four new models in its VX-3i riflescope line, all of which boast the company’s ZeroLock CDS dial. The ZeroLock feature prevents unintended adjustments and ensures an accurate return to zero. Fast and easy to use, it’s a low-profile, one-revolution dial, and this is the first year that Leupold has made the technology available at a price point below that of the popular VX- 5HD. Two of the new riflescopes will feature a 30mm tube and a side-focus feature and two will have a 1-inch tube without side focus. Magnification ranges from 3.5-10x to 4.5-14x and each scope includes Leupold’s proprietary CDS (Custom Dial System) feature, which allows you to dial in yardages pre-set to match the drop of your rifle. Dial the turret to 300 yards, for example, and the bullet hits where you aim at that distance. Prices not yet available; leupold.com

Bushnell 3-9x40 Engage Illuminated

Bushnell’s newest 3-9x40 Engage
Bushnell’s newest 3-9x40 Engage has an illuminated dot with six brightness settings.Bushnell

Bushnell Engage riflescopes are one of the best values going, and for 2020 the company has added an illuminated-reticle model to the line. This compact 3-9x40mm cope has a 1-inch tube, weighs only 15.6 ounces, and is 12 inches long. The Multi-X has an illuminated dot, with six brightness settings, at the center of the crosswire intersection to help you get on target quickly in all sorts of lighting situations. It scope has a fast-focus eyepiece, fully multi-coated glass, and Bushnell’s excellent EXO barrier on external lens surfaces to repel water, oil, fog, dust, and debris. $200; bushnell.com

Meopta Optika5

Meopta’s new Optika5
Meopta’s new Optika5 line offers premium features at an affordable price.Meopta

For 2020, Meopta set out to offer a full-featured 1-inch-tube hunting scope similar to their popular Optika6 line but at a more-affordable price. The Optika5 series features a 5x zoom, zero-reset turrets, and advanced MeoBright lens coatings that deliver the image quality the company is known for. There are five models in the following configurations: 2-10x42mm, 3-15x44mm, 4-20x44mm, 4-20x50mm, 4-20x50mm RD, and maybe the most exciting, at least for the growing number of .22 nuts, the 2-10x42mm RF for rimfire rifles. All Optika5 riflescopes have second-focal-plane reticles and come with capped hunting turrets. The rear-facing magnification display allows for easy viewing of the power setting, and the zoom ring comes with a multi-position throw lever for quick adjustment. Starts at $350; meoptasportsoptics.com

Nightforce NX8 2.5-20 F1

Nightforce NX8 riflescope
The new Nightforce NX8 riflescope has a remarkable 8X zoom range.Nightforce

The newest family of riflescopes from Nightforce is the NX8 series, which have evolved from Nigthforce’s classic NXS series. These riflescopes have a remarkable 8X zoom range, and the resolution is razor-sharp at every magnification setting. If you’re looking for a scope with a never-changing zero and adjustments that are always spot on, the NX8 2.5-20, with its first-focal-plane reticle should be the ideal, do-anything-at-any-distance, riflescope. It includes an advanced Digillum reticle, Nightforce ZeroStop technology, and your choice of MOA or Mil-Radian adjustments. A 4-32X50mm version is also available, but for a one-scope option for everything, the 2.5-20X50 would be my choice. Price not yet available; nightforceoptics.com

Trijicon Huron

Trijicon’s new Huron
Trijicon’s new Huron line is made specifically for deer hunters.Trijicon

Trijicon is taking aim specifically at deer hunters this year with their new Huron line of scopes. These differ from the Trijicon scopes you might be familiar with in that they have no illumination. The four new models, including a 1-4x24, 2.5-20x40, 3-9x40, and a 3-12x40, all have 1/4 MOA adjustments and second-focal-plane reticles. The coolest thing about this new reticle is that it has integral bullet-drop-compensation aiming points that equate to .2 MOA, 5 MOA, 8.32 MOA, and 15 MOA—which very closely match the ballistics of a common .270 Winchester 130-grain load. The image quality is what you’d expect from Trijicon—in other words, very good—and yet the price is pretty reasonable. $650-$699; trijicon.com

Eotech VuDu 1-8x24 SFP

Eotech Vudua 1-8x24
The new Eotech Vudua 1-8x24 is perfect for 3-gun or for hunting coyotes.Eotech

One of the best ways to choose a great riflescope for predator calling is to look at models designed for 3-gun competition, because the same features that make them suitable for that sport make them ideal for whacking coyotes at spitting distance or longer ranges. The new Eotech Vudu 1-8x24 SFP is just such a scope. It has a removable power-throw lever that allows you to dial the magnification up or down in a snap, depending on your target. It also has a 0.5 MOA illuminated dot and a second-focal-plane reticle with bullet-drop compensation and MOA adjustments. The optical quality is very good, and the 30mm tube is made of a single piece of T6 aircraft aluminum. With its trim profile, this Vudu 1-8 will fit well and look good on an MSR or a compact bolt rifle. $1,399; eotechgear.com

Leupold VX-5HD with Mils

Leupold VX-5HD scope
Leupold now offers a VX-5HD scope with Mil-based adjustments. Credit: LeupoldLeupold

For 2020, Leupold is adding a model with Mil-based adjustments to the previously MOA-based VX-5HD riflescope line. The new model’s Tactical Milling Reticle (TMR) expands on existing Mil-Dot reticle designs by utilizing hash marks instead of dots for increased ranging and hold-over precision. Like the entire VX-5HD riflescope line, the new model features Leupold’s Twilight Max HD Light Management System, is waterproof and fog-proof, and comes standard with Guard-ion lens coatings to shed dirt and water. Prices not yet available; leupold.com

Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 P Mountain Hunter

Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 P Mountain Hunter
The Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 P Mountain Hunter weighs just 1 pound.Swarovski Optik

Swarovski is well-known for making some of the finest optical instruments in the world. The company is also known for being very proud of their products—which is another way of saying that they’re damned expensive. But the new 1-inch-tube Z5 3.5-18X44 P Mountain Hunter, while not exactly cheap, is quite reasonably price for what you get—namely, one of the best new riflescopes for 2020. This scope’s power range is ideal for big-game hunting just about anywhere, and its weight and size (just a shade over 14 inches long and only 1 pound) makes it a great choice for high-country adventures. The Mountain Hunter comes with your choice of three reticles in the second focal plane—the BRX-HEAVY, the Plex, and the BRX. But really, the best part may be that you get the fantastic optical quality of a Swarovski for well under $2K. There are four versions to choose from, each available with illumination and a ballistic turret. $1,600; swarovskioptik.com