What’s The Best Scope for 22LR Squirrel Hunting? Review & Buying Guide

best scope for 22lr squirrel hunting
Hunting squirrels can be quite challenging because you’re up against hypervigilant and erratic small game. Thus, you need to have scopes that are specifically designed for this purpose. Read our review of the best scope for 22LR squirrel hunting to help you find the scope that will outmatch those creatures.

OUR #1 RATED

Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope

Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope

OUR #2 RATED

Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7×35 Rimfire

Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire

OUR #3 RATED

Simmons 3-9x32mm .22 Waterproof Fogproof Matte Black Riflescope

Simmons 3-9x32mm .22 Waterproof Fogproof Matte Black Riflescope

1. Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope

This 1-inch scope is constructed of aircraft-grade aluminum. Hence, it’s durable, shockproof, and resistant to scratches. It weighs 11.1 oz and measures 14’’x3’’x2.75’’.

The multi-coated lens augments the scope’s exterior protection and optimizes image quality. It includes a Twilight Light Management System that increases light transmission in low light conditions and reduces glare for crisper and clearer sight pictures.

This rifle scope offers a generous eye relief at 3.17’’-4.17’’. Its field of view (FOV) is estimated to be 43.8-17.8ft at 100 yards. It features wide magnification levels and reticle options to fit your shooting environment.

It’s windage and elevation turrets are easily adjustable at ¼ MOA click. It’s applicable for muzzleloaders, rimfires, and centerfire guns. With these impressive features, it’s no wonder it came on top of our list of the best scopes for 22lr.

Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope

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2. Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire

This is a solid one-piece tube with a hard anodized finish making it rugged and durable. Its V-Plex reticle is straightforward and works similarly to a Duplex or BDC reticle. V-Plex reticle is ideal for a variety of close-range hunting and shooting applications.

Its fast focus eyepiece facilitates rapid and easy reticle focusing so you can acquire small games at a faster rate. The lenses are multi-coated for crystal clear and bright images. They are also Argon-purged, and O-ring sealed for waterproof and fog-proof performance.

It offers an eye relief of 3.1’’ and [email protected] yards that range from 64.3’’-19.3’’. The parallax setting is at a 50-yard distance, which is good for sighting squirrels. Its zero-reset turrets are easy to navigate and use.

This scope can be mounted on rifles, shotguns, and muzzleloaders.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 2-7x35 Rimfire

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3. Simmons 3-9x32mm .22 Waterproof Fogproof Matte Black Riflescope

Simmons 22 mag scope is touted as the most popular rimfire scope in America. It’s applicable for both big and small game hunting applications. It’s quite rugged and capable of withstanding abuses.

It features a Truplex reticle, which means that the dots at the intersection of the crosshairs are tiny. This makes aiming easier. It weighs 9.06 oz and comes in an attractive matte finish.

The lenses are made of high-quality optics. Its HydroShield lens coating helps generate vivid sight pictures regardless of weather conditions. It also features a SureGrip rubber surface for easy and smooth adjustment even when you’re wearing gloves.

You may also adjust the windage and elevation turrets with a fingertip at ¼MOA level. The parallax setting is at 50 yards. It’s [email protected] yards is 31.4-10.5ft.

Simmons 3-9x32mm .22 Waterproof Fogproof Matte Black Riflescope

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4. Simmons Truplex Riflescope

This 22 Mag scope is a one-piece tube construction that features QTA (Quick Target Acquisition) eyepiece to help sight and acquire targets very easily. It’s Truplex reticle aids in sighting targets at a fast rate.

It has a fully multi-coated lens for clearer and high-contrast images. It’s nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed to ensure a fog-proof and water-resistant performance. Its sure-grip rubber surface is very handy. It weighs around 0.63 pounds and has a dimension of 1’x1’x1’.

It’s recoil-proof and can hold zero amazingly well. Its textured knobs move with an audible click so you can track the changes easily.

Simmons Truplex Riflescope

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5. BARSKA 4x32 Plinker-22 Riflescope

BARSKA is made of high-grade aluminum alloy. Hence, it’s durable and tough. It comes with 30/30 crosshair reticle for easy aiming in a variety of shooting situations. It has a 1-inch tube diameter.

It has fully multi-coated optics that aids in producing clear and bright images. It features ¼ MOA click adjustments for precision targeting. The parallax setting is at 50 yards. This makes targeting at close distances quite easy.

This scope offers an eye relief of 3’’ and [email protected] yards of 29ft using 4x magnification. It comes with ⅜’’’ mounting rings, lens cover, and lens cloth.

BARSKA 4x32 Plinker-22 Riflescope

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6. BARSKA 3-9x32 Plinker-22 Riflescope

This scope is durable enough to withstand impact and other rough conditions. It weighs 11.46 oz and measures 12’’ in length. Its objective lens is 32mm.

It has fully multi-coated lenses to optimize light transmission and produce bright and clear sight pictures even in poorly lit environments.

It’s parallax-free at 50 yards to ensure that you are tracking your erratic game accurately.

It offers an eye relief of 3.5’’ and [email protected] yards of 36-13ft using 3x magnification. This scope comes with ⅜’’’ mounting rings, lens cover, and lens cloth.

BARSKA 3-9x32 Plinker-22 Riflescope

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7. TASCO MAG39X32D Rimfire Series

TASCO rimfire scope for squirrel hunting features a full-sized monotube construction that’s rugged and sturdy. It was specifically designed for 22 rimfire rifles. It has a 32mm objective lens that allows sufficient light transmittance.

The optics are fully-coated to provide bright and clear images of your small targets. It weighs 0.71 pounds and measures 14.1’’x3.5’’.

It offers dependable eye relief of 3’’ and [email protected] yards of 17.75’’-6’. It’s parallax-free at 50 yards, which is good enough for close-range hunting.

TASCO MAG39X32D Rimfire Series

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8. Simmons 560520 Truplex Riflescope

The QTA eyepiece is one of the remarkable features of this scope. With its fully-coated optics, you can be sure that the images are impeccably clear and of high contrast. Its housing is nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed, making it waterproof and fog-proof.

This scope comes with a specialized rubberized grip that ensures a secure hold of the scope. It’s equipped with a triplex reticle for fast and easy targeting. The 50mm objective lens can transmit more light for clearer sighting.

Simmons 560520 Truplex Riflescope

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9. BSA Optics Sweet 223

BSA is an entry-level scope for 22LR squirrel hunting. It features a BDC reticle that you can use for long-range shooting. It comes with three ballistically calibrated turrets for 40gr, 55gr, and 62gr ammunition.

Its lenses are well-coated for optimal light transmission and clearer sight pictures. It offers 4-12x magnification levels.

Its objective lens diameter is 40mm. It has an eye relief of 3’’ and [email protected] yards of 40-10ft. Furthermore, it’s parallax-free at 7.5 yards to infinity.

BSA Optics Sweet 223

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10. CVLIFE 3-9x40 Compact Rifle Scope

This 22LR scope is made of high-quality aluminum alloy, which makes it durable and lightweight. It’s only 7.8’’ in length and weighs 0.320 grams. Hence, it’s quite easy to carry and operate. The optics are coated to make it resistant to water, fog, scratch, oil, and dirt.

It gives you 3-9x magnification power that is ideal for .22LR squirrel hunting. It can produce brilliant images with exceptional color contrast. It has an eye relief of 2.3’’-2.8’’.

Upon purchase, it comes with a lens cover, Allen key, cleansing cloth, and scope mounts.

CVLIFE 3-9x40 Compact Rifle Scope

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What Makes A Good Scope For Squirrel Hunting?

A good scope for hunting squirrel can be defined by several criteria:

  • It’s made of high-quality material like aluminum as this is rugged, durable, lightweight, and long-lasting. It can withstand abuses, extreme weather conditions, and recoil.
  • The lenses have anti-reflective coatings to increase light transmittance and reduce glare. Thus, it can generate bright and clear images.
  • The reticle type works effectively for either close-range or long-range.
  • It offers sufficient magnification that is suitable for your hunting field and desired yardage. 7x-9x magnification would suffice most hunting situations. 
  • The parallax setting is at 45-60 yards or much lower for easier sighting and improved accuracy. 
  • It has adjustable mounting rings to aid in fine-tuning the position of your scope on your firearm. It has a textured or rubber surface for a more secure grip.  
  • It’s easy to mount, adjust, use, and carry.

What’s The Best Scope Magnification?

The best scope magnification is the one that perfectly fits the type of squirrel hunting that you do.Based on our review, the power range that is highly suggested for sighting squirrels is 3x-9x magnification. This power range is quite popular among hunters and currently endorsed by the market.

Your choice of a certain power range should depend on your hunting needs, geographical features of your hunting field, visual acuity, and budget.

7 Steps to zeroing in a scope for 22lr squirrel hunting

1-4x rifle scope

Here are the basic steps in sighting through a scope for 22lr squirrel hunting.

  1. Make sure the scope is properly installed on your rifle. The mounting system should fit your rifle and the rings are the right diameter. 
  2. Adjust the eye distance. Situate your eyepiece in a way that you see clear images. The distance between your eye and the scope is far enough so that recoil won’t injure your shooting eye or face.[1]
  3. Get level. You may need a stable shooting position to properly sight your scope. You can use a shooting bench with a mount or bipod.
  4. Align the reticle. The crosshairs of your scope should perfectly align with the directions of the elevation and windage adjustments. This will help you aim accurately and hit targets successfully.
  5. Set your MOA. Setting your rifle to zero involves a multi-step process. Most rifles will adjust at the reticle in ¼ MOA increments.
  6. Try out some shots. Take note of where the rounds landed. You may shoot at 25 yards, 35 yards, 50 yards, or whatever distance you prefer.
  7. Try out different distances. Most suggest sighting and shooting at 40 yards. If you think that you’ll be gunning down squirrels at 25 yards on average, it makes sense to sight your 22LR rifle for 35 yards rather than 40 yards.

Side Focus or Parallax?

Side Focus or Parallax

Scope parallax happens when your target and the reticle are on different planes within the scope. You can detect it when you move your head or eye around while sighting through the scope. You’ll see that the reticle is moving around the target. Most rifle scopes have either of these parallax configurations:

  • An adjustable parallax scope that can be adjusted using the objective or a side focus configuration. The parallax settings have minimum and maximum parallax distances to infinity. For instance, when a scope has an adjustable objective that goes 45 yards to infinity, it means the parallax will only focus down to a maximum of 45 yards and can focus up to infinity.
  •  A fixed parallax cannot be adjusted and is factory-set for a certain distance. In most cases, the factory-set distance is 100 yards.

The average distance for hunting squirrel ranges between 25 to 45 yards. If your rifle scope can focus down at 50 yards, and you’re shooting a squirrel at 25 yards, the image of the squirrel will be a bit blurry, unclear, out of focus, or less identifiable.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t buy a scope that has a higher fixed-parallax distance than the current distance of your squirrel? 

Not necessarily. Because the parallax focus distance will only be problematic at higher magnification. Remember that at higher magnification, the target is prone to appear blurry.

If you have a 3-9 power scope with a fixed 50-yard parallax, there would only be slight distortion and very minimal deviation of your 25-yard squirrel in the crosshairs. However, if you have a power scope with a 6-14x and a fixed 50-yard powered up to 16x, then you’ll likely have a distorted and out of focus image located at 25 yards away. 

A highly powerful scope is not the best scope for squirrel hunting using a 22LR rifle. A fixed 4x or lower variable magnification is desirable.

Factors To Consider

key factors

Accuracy

Several factors can affect the accuracy of your scopes. These include the reliability and visibility of the reticles, ability to hold zero, protective coatings of the optics, mounting position, and shooting skills.

Clarity

Choose scopes with the clearest eyepiece and well-coated optics. The best scopes for squirrel hunting should give you clearer images and a better view of your target, even in poorly lit environments.

Price

The price of the scope can be determined by how powerful the scope is, material composition, focal length, and the brand. It’s practical to buy scopes that fit your budget and satisfy your hunting needs.

Extra Features

There are some features that you may take into consideration when scouting for scopes. One is material composition. Aircraft-grade aluminum is durable, lightweight, long-lasting, and weatherproof but a little bit expensive.

Another is the grip feature. Some have rubber handles for a secure and more comfortable grip. Lastly are stability and how well they mount on the rifle. Your scopes should fit well with the type of mounting rail on your weapon.

field of view

Usability

A dependable squirrel hunting scope is easy to use, adjust, and maneuver. It’s also portable, so it won’t weigh you down on the field.

Magnification

Generally, it’s always good to have a scope with higher magnification. However, the power range you choose should depend on the surroundings and the distance that you are going to cover. [2,3]

Many expert shooters recommend having scopes that can cover long-range targets like 150 yards. But the higher the magnification, the lesser the FOV. In some cases, sufficient FOV is more important than high magnification levels. 

Scopes with high magnification are good but aren’t the best choice for a 22 hunting rifle. A fixed 4x or lower power is more desirable.

Maintenance

It’s always wise to invest in a scope that is guaranteed durable, sturdy, and resistant to abuse so it won’t get damaged easily. Thus, you don’t need to repair it often and shed extra money for that. Furthermore, perform a maintenance regimen such as regular cleaning using proper tools and wrap it in a plastic cover when not in use. Even when it’s tough, it’s best not to overexert your scope to avoid breakage or malfunctioning

FAQs

An illuminated scope can be quite helpful in low light hunting situations. If you hunt during daytime or at a field with enough lighting, this isn’t needed.

But in case you want to hunt at near dusk or nighttime when squirrels are most active, an illuminated rifle scope can make your hunting sessions much more convenient, faster, and efficient.

Yes, you can. Fixed scopes have no adjustment in the amount of magnification they offer. However, they’re generally lighter, more durable, more compact, less complex, and cheaper. They’re easy to carry and intuitive to use.

If your target is moving, prancing in far distances, or there’s only a sparse amount of light transmitted in the lens, you would need a higher or a variable magnification for clearer images. A fixed scope can’t give you that.

Yes, you can. But check first your state’s hunting laws and regulations. Not all states allow the use of a red dot sight for hunting purposes.

Red dot sight isn’t really advisable for squirrel hunting. It’s a fixed sight. Hence, it doesn’t offer variable magnification, which is needed for covering certain distances.

And Our Top Pick For The Best Scope for 22LR Squirrel Hunting is...

We pick Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope as our best scope for 22LR squirrel hunting. It’s versatile and can get the job done just as much as other high-end scopes.

It can deliver edge to edge clarity. One of the best features of this scope is its Twilight Light Management System. It reduces glare to produce incredibly crisp and clear images with high contrast.

Leupold is easy to zero. It offers sufficient eye relief and FOV for clear sighting and aiming precision. Most importantly, it’s budget-friendly and can deliver high-quality performance.

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen I 1-4x24

Our #1 Recommendation

Leupold VX-Freedom Rimfire Riflescope

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