The .223 is widely considered to be the gold standard of varmint hunting calibers for many reasons. It packs plenty of punch and also has the ability to reach out and deliver killshots from long distances. The key to having a .223 that’s as effective as possible rests on the quality of the scope that’s mounted on it.
The world of varmint hunting has exploded in recent years with many big game hunters taking to the woods and the fields in search of coyotes and other critters to sling bullets at in order to hone their shooting skills and have fun doing it.
Here are the 5 Best Varmint Scopes for .223
- Leupold Mark Mod 1 1.5-4x20mm
- Nikon M-223 4-16x42mm BDC 600
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12x44mm Dead-Hold BDC (MOA) Reticle
- BARSKA 10-40x50AO Varmint Target Dot
- Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope – ACSS-Orion
Best Varmint Scopes for .223
Most of the major firearm optical companies have caught on to the fact that there is a large market for hunters seeking a varmint scope for a .223. We’ve taken the time to look through and pick out the five best varmint scopes for a .223 that we can find in 2020.
Leupold Mark Mod 1 1.5-4x20mm
If you’ve been hunting for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard about Leupold scopes. The brand is widely considered to be one of the top scope producers on the market and the Leupold Mark Mod pairs nicely with the .223 when it comes to varmint hunting needs.
Like most Leupold scopes, the sight picture is unbeatable. The Mark Mod is sealed with krypton and argon, which are said to offer much better shock resistance and protection than standard nitrogen. Featuring an illuminated reticle and great overall clarity for long range, this is a great scope for anyone looking to use with their .223 on a coyote hunt that might require a few longer distance shots.
- Great sight picture clarity
- Solid craftsmanship and sealing
- Illuminated reticle
- Praised for long range ability
- Slightly different feel than most .223 scopes
- This scope is virtually made for coyote hunting, but can function well with a .223 for any other use, including just plinking at some targets on the range.
Nikon M-223 4-16x42mm BDC 600
Nikon is among the best of the best when it comes to making rifle scopes and varmint hunters will be pleased to learn that they’ve created a scope specifically for the .223. This scope is highly popular among AR-15 shooters as well and is one of the best long range scopes on our list.
With a magnification range between 4 and 16, the Nikon M-223 is great for target shooting or picking off varmints from a sizeable distance, but one of the best features is the scope’s brightness. The M-223 features a fully multi-coated lens that produces great clarity and brightness in low light conditions.
- Good sight picture
- Great brightness
- Wide field of view for quick target acquisition
- Shockproof and waterproof
- Slightly distorted view at max magnification
- This is a scope that you will commonly see on .223 or AR-15 rifles because it is both affordable and offers great overall functionality in the field.
Related: Top 5 Scopes For .308 (2020)
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12x44mm Dead-Hold BDC (MOA) Reticle
Vortex is probably the best optics company outside the United States, but don’t let that stop you from looking into purchasing their products. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12x44mm Dead-Hold BDC (MOA) is a great scope for the .223 when it comes to varmint hunting or just plinking around at the range.
The Crossfire II is compatible with a wide variety of different calibers and rifles, but it might just pair best with the .223. This scope is well-made with all the great qualities you might find in other premium brands for slightly less than the top two on our list.
- Highly durable
- Great eye relief and wide picture for quick target acquisition
- Good overall sight picture clarity and brightness in low light
- Some reported issues with adjustments and mounting
- Not American made
- The Vortex Crossfire II is one of the top scopes for a .223 varmint rifle for some serious hunters and we have little reason to argue with anyone who considers this a favorite for hunting.
BARSKA 10-40x50AO Varmint Target Dot
Most lists of the best varmint hunting scope for a .223 might exclude the BARSKA 10-40x50AO Varmint scope, but it is likely the best one on our list based on the value. With a price of just over a hundred dollars at most online retailers, this scope is great if you’re looking for a low-budget option for your .223.
Most serious varmint hunters like to pick off their targets at long range from time to time and the BARSKA is virtually made for long range capabilities. BARSKA does catch some flack for being manufactured in China, but there is a lot to like about this scope. It is well-made and offers great clarity and brightness, even at the maximum magnification.
- Fully multi-coated lens
- Versatile for both hunting and target shooting
- Rugged and durable
- Some distortion at long ranges
- Not made in America
- The BARSKA stacks up quite well with the other, premium brands of .223 varmint scopes on our list, but this one packs in more value than anything else you’ll find.
Related: Best AR-15 Scopes For Under $200
Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope – ACSS-Orion
Primary Arms is quite well-known in the tactical community and their SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope – ACSS-Orion offers plenty of reasons to be our number one pick for the best varmint hunting scope for a .223. The SLX is compatible with a .308, .30-06, or .223 and delivers plenty to like when paired with a varmint rifle.
It is both waterproof and shockproof thanks to a well-made aluminum body that’s nitrogen-sealed and protected. The ACSS Orion reticle is praised within the predator hunting community for being one of the best coyote hunting scopes on the market. The scope provides great clarity at both short and long ranges, and is also easy to adjust in the field.
- Durable craftsmanship
- Great sight clarity
- Waterproof and shockproof
- ACSS Orion reticle
- Not ideal for smaller game at long distances
- There are plenty of reasons why hunters love the Primary Arms SLX and this one is about as close to perfect as you’ll find for varmint hunting with a .223.
Related Article: The 5 Best Scopes For A .300 Win Mag
Those are the Best Varmint Scopes for a .223
Thanks for reading! Best of luck fellow varmint hunters!