Rifle Scopes for Small Game

Rifle Scopes for Small Game

You can take a lot of game with a .22 rifle fitted with peep or open sights, but to get the full level of versatility from your .22 it’s a good idea to top it with a scope.

When shopping for a scope for your .22, stick to models that are designed for rimfire rifles. Specifically, this means scopes with a fixed parallax setting for 50 yards. Most scopes have either an adjustable parallax setting or a fixed 100-yard setting, which is less than ideal for the typically close-range shots taken by small game hunters. You don’t need a scope with high-power magnification for your .22.

Variable vs Fixed Magnification
Scopes with lower magnification provide a wider field of view, which makes it easier to find moving targets such as a squirrel hopping from limb to limb or a cottontail moving through the thick brush.  Vortex Optics makes a couple of fantastic variable power rimfire scopes with 2x-7x magnification. They’re affordable and virtually indestructible.

You can also go with a simple fixed-power 4x scope. The lack of frills on fixed-power scopes helps to keep them affordable, and you can often find a great fixed-power scope for the same money that you’d spend on a mediocre variable-power scope. If you decide to go with fixed power, check out the rimfire scopes made by Leopold.

Rifles for Turkey
A lot of well-informed turkey hunters disagree with this management policy, but multiple states allow the harvest of turkeys with rifles during spring and/or fall seasons.

Those who oppose rifle turkey seasons have a few arguments against them. It gives hunters an unsportsmanlike advantage, as the birds can be sniped from hundreds of yards away. The wound loss is too great, due to poor shot placement. Lastly, long-range rifles are dangerous to other turkey hunters, particularly in the spring when multiple camouflaged hunters might be pursuing the same gobbler. These stealthy hunters wearing camouflage and hunting on the ground rather than in the relative safety of elevated platforms.

If you have your heart set on a rifle turkey hunt, and you have a safe place to do it, keep in mind that some of the states that do allow rifles for turkeys DO NOT allow rimfire cartridges because of the even greater risk of wound-loss.

In these cases, consider small-caliber centerfire cartridges such as the .22 hornet, .22-250, and .223.

Get the latest in your inbox
Subscribe to our newsletters to receive regular emails with hand-picked content, gear recommendations, and special deals.
Our picks for the week's best content
For the whitetail obsessed, with Mark Kenyon
Redefining our connection to food, with Danielle Prewett
With Joe Cermele and Crew
Technical apparel for the avid hunter
Purpose-built accessories for hunting and fishing
Quality elk, turkey, waterfowl, and deer calls