Let me start off by saying that for the most part, this article is intended for people who don’t really use scopes on handguns, or don’t understand their purpose. Those who do might still find some useful information, and should benefit the most from the review section of this article. With that said, lets jump into it.
Benefits of a handgun scope
I bet that I can give at least 80% of shooters out there a valid reason to use a pistol scope. A lot of you have bad eyesight (heck even whitetail deer need glasses), and could benefit greatly from having a scope. Most modern handguns can operate on extreme ranges, and a scope lets you utilize that.
But the thing I want to emphasize here is trigger control. The first problem people have with scoped handguns is how much the crosshairs bob around. They can’t hold the gun steady. It doesn’t seem that they have this problem on open sights or other guns, but they do, they just don’t know it. Most people use guns as a part of a hobby. They use rifles or shotguns, so they never notice the lack of trigger control. Even people using open sights on handguns don’t notice it to the full extent. But the problem is there. Good news is it can be fixed relatively easily, just with a lot of practice. Like in martial arts training, you repeat a certain movement until it becomes a reflex. In this case, it would be isolating and concentrating on trigger control. If you want to make the most out of it, I would recommend using a handgun with a scope; it will emphasize your mistakes, so getting rid of them will be easier. Mastering proper trigger control will improve your accuracy on every weapon, and you’ll feel a lot better when your accuracy jumps from 70 to 90%.
What to look for in handgun scopes?
Before we get into scopes, let’s talk about handgun mounts. Choosing the right type of mount makes all the difference.
- Slide mount. This one is usually easy and simple to install. Most universal mounts come in this form, but there are several downsides to it. The recoil action can disrupt the mount and dislocate the scope. Also, slide mounts can often put too much weight on the tip of the gun and make it uncomfortable to hold. That’s why slide mounts are perfect for red dot sights, which are lightweight.
- Frame mounts. The majority of optic mounting solutions attach to the frame. It makes the scope more sturdy and recoil resistant. It takes longer to install a frame mount compared to a slide mount. It can also interfere with grip comfort. So much of our accuracy depends on the right feel of a gun, and making the grip bulkier is a pain in the ass. Some mounts replace the grips though, so there’s that. If you want to use a scope however, this is the way to go about it.
As far as pistol scopes go, I would either go with a fixed 2x or 4x scope, or a red dot sight. I guess one can use a variable scope, but on a weapon with limited range capabilities, combined with repeating and strong recoil, fixed remains a much more optimal choice. Red dot is perfect on a handgun for obvious reasons, and combined with a reflex sight, makes aiming a lot faster and easier.
You will find some useful reviews down below, but keep the following in mind:
- Scopes and sights come in all shapes and sizes, and what is good for one weapon, or person or situation, is not necessarily good for another.
- Semi-automatics differ from pistols.
- Scopes need to withstand a strong, repeating recoil.
- Scopes need long eye relief.
- Handgun scopes need to be sturdy.
- Take the weight of a scope into consideration.
Best handgun scopes (with reviews)
Maximize your effective range with the Bushnell Trophy Handgun Scope. Handgun cartridges and technology have come a long way, and you can see exactly how far by topping yours with one of the best optics in the business. With multi-coated optics, plus the all-weather assurance of a waterproof scope, it’s ready to stretch the limits when you are. The rugged one-piece tube construction and extreme recoil testing makes this handgun scope ideal for the meanest cartridges, including the .454 Casull. And getting on target is intuitive thanks to it’s special, extra-long 20″ constant eye relief.
- HD Optic Clarity
- Industry leading Bushnell Quality Craftsmanship
- 100% waterproof
- Matte Black Finish
- Fast-Focus Eyepiece
The Leupold Optics FX-II is one of the best and brightest (literally) scopes on the market today. Leupold engineered its own lens coating technology to control light filtering through the scope, allowing optimal light allowance while controlling the glare as well. Now I must warn you it does come at a HIGHER price than most scopes, but it has the features to back it up. Also including its Diamondcoat 2™ exterior coating that provides durability standards that exceed that of a military grade product. This should come in handy with regular use of a handgun with heavy recoil. It also has a highly waterproof exterior that is ready to use during all weather conditions. At a length of just over 8″ and weighing in at a mere 7oz, you’ll find this scope to be easily maneuverable.
- Military Grade Durability
- Compact design for optimal handling
- Proprietary waterproofing design
- Matte Black, Silver, or Gloss Finish
- 4 X magnification