Not all firearm optics are made equal, and if you’ve purchased a sub-$100 scope from Wal-Mart and tried going on a 2 week hunting trip with it you probably know that already.
From cheap optics that get fogged up to cheap adjustment screws that force you to constantly re-zero in your rifle the hassles of “budget scopes” just aren’t worth the price.
When it comes to a scopes that you can throw over your shoulder and not worry about again for weeks at a time, through adverse weather conditions and tough terrain, you truly do get what you pay for.
One area in particular where it REALLY pays to invest in as an outdoorsman is waterproofing.
The casual target shooter doesn’t need to worry about this so much as they’re usually shooting from a comfortable seated position, usually with a roof of some type over their head, in a controlled environment.
Hunters, bush guides and trackers on the other hand rarely have such comfy surroundings and thus require a scope that can handle everything mother nature can throw at it.
Top 3 Waterproof Rifle Scopes of 2018
Below are some of the top performing and best selling all-weather scopes from some of the oldest and most reputable optics makers around the world.
These are serious optics for serious hunters. If you only go out in fair weather on weekends these may be a bit over-kill for your needs. However if all-weather dependability is something high up on your list then have we got a a few treats for you!
1. Minox ZL3 3.5-10×50 PLEX Waterproof Compact Tactical Riflescope
It is no surprise we are big fans of Minox. These German engineered scopes have a long history of quality and reliability. Minox has an industry-leading full total-coverage lifetime warranty. This warranty can even be passed on to second owners, making the re-sale value of Minox rilfescopes about as dependable as they come.
- Waterproof and Nitrogen purged to prevent fogging
- Lightweight 1 anodized aluminium tube
- Large field of view with 3+ eye relief
- PLEX Reticle in the 2nd focal plane
- Fully multi-coated lenses
The ZL3 is part of the tactical line (denoted by the “Z” prefix) and come with crystal clear anti-fogging, multi-coated lenses with a 2nd focal plane and full waterproofed housing. The ZL3 comes in various magnification and exit pupil diameters.
Fogging is prevented by nitrogen purging the units. The body is ultra-lightweight anodized aluminum, which is as about as water and corrosion resistant as they come.
* If money is not an issue, or if you are looking to invest in something you want to pass down to your children and grandchildren, then you may also want to consider the Minox ZP5 5-25×56 MR4 Compact Tactical Scope. This is Minox’s top model, featuring a massive 5x magnification and their first focal plane with finely dimmable illumination for quick target acquisition in all lightning scenarios.
2. Leupold LP110797-BRK VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope
Leupold has become a household name amongst outdoorsman and hunting enthusiasts alike for their reliability and perfect combination of quality-for-price positioning within the all-performance optics segment.
- 1/4 MOA precision finger click adjustments for windage and elevation offer absolute repeatability and dependability over a lifetime of extreme use.
- Absolute waterproof and fog proof integrity - each is ready for a lifetime in the field, in all conditions.
- A versatile 3:1 zoom ratio erector system that is ideal for virtually any situation.
- DiamondCoat lens coatings on exterior lens surfaces provides the ultimate in abrasion resistance. The result is a flawless sight picture over a lifetime of hard use.
- A Leupold exclusive, our Index Matched Lens System provides exceptional brightness and extremely sharp resolution across the entire visual field.
True to their reputation, Leupold makes all of their models fully waterproof, fogproof and built for a life of rough and tumble outdoor performance. This iron-clad reputation has made Leupold optics popular with both serious bushman as well as active military professionals.
The VX-2 3-9x40mm is a lightweight and compact instrument featuring DiamondCoat lens coatings on exterior lens surfaces to provide unparalleled abrasion resistance without impeding clarity.
With a battlefield pedigree and a company mantra that includes waterproofing, you can’t go wrong with any of Leupolds stellar rifle scopes.
*If the VX2 isn’t your cup of tea then you can look at upgrading to the VX3 for top-in-class performance. Conversely, if you are on a budget and the VX series are just out of grasp you can consider the Leupold Rifleman 4 12x40mm scope. This little all-arounder has earned a solid reputation as a bullet-proof option for hunters of all experience levels.
3. Nikon ProStaff Rimfire with BDC Reticle 3-9x40mm
Nikon may be perhaps the largest high-quality optics manufacturer in the world. From professional grade photography lenses to riflescopes Nikon has established itself as one of the best lens makers in the industry.
- BDC 150 reticle - developed specifically for the trajectory of hyper velocity .22 long rifle rimfire round.
- Precise 1/4" @ 50 yards adjustment.
- Spring loaded instant zero reset turrets.
- 3-9x40 parallax free @ 50 yards.
- Fully multi-coated optics.
The ProStaff Rimfire is a perennial favorite because of its extremely attractive starting price point, which is hundreds of dollars less than some other similar units, yet doesn’t skimp on quality or features.
Sporting a BDC reticle the ProStaff has multi-coated optics for full light transmission (98%), which is what we expect out of such a renowned lens maker, the Rimfire also sports hand-turn quarter inch adjustments at 50 yards and quick reset turrets.
The ProStaff Rimfire also features a nitrogen filled body and is fully O-ring sealed to be fully waterproof and fogproof. Again, you just don’t see these types of features on sub-$200 riflescopes.
To top it all off, Nikon also offers a full lifetime warranty on their scopes which, starting at just over the $100 mark makes the this scope the perfect option for the budget-conscious.
*If budget isn’t an issue, we suggest you also consider looking at the Nikon Black line, specifically the Nikon Black X1000, which is Nikon’s range topping scope with glass-etched mrad and MOA tactical variants, illumination, multilayer coatings on lenses and body, and Nikon’s finest optics. This is the Cadillac of Nikon scopes..
*Bonus 4. Primary Arms 2.5x Compact Hunting Scope w/ACSS .223 BDC Reticle PAC2.5X
Yes, this is a red dot scope and yes, it is designed primarily for use on compact rifles such as the AR-15/M16. The magnification can’t compete with the above hunting-focused models, but we thought we’d include this for all the bushman and guides out there who may not be specifically looking to take down long-range game but instead want a quality waterproof scope for their personal firearm.
- 2.5X MAGNIFICATION: The PAC 2.5X was designed from the ground up to be the ideal CQB and mid-range optic.
- ACSS CQB RETICLE: Features an etched version of the patented CQB-M ACSS bullet drop ranging reticle that requires no illumination.
- ILLUMINATION: Powered by a single CR2032 battery with 12 brightness settings.
- RUGGED AND DURABLE: Constructed of 6061 aluminum in black matte finish, this scope is water resistant, fog resistant, and nitrogen purged.
Featuring built-in lens covers, full waterproof and fog resistance and a dependable Acog mounting system the Primary Arms Compact Hunting Scope is the perfect companion for the trekker who is looking for ultimate lightweight reliability and over-the-shoulder portability.
Magnification is up to 5x, making it great for close-medium range sighting and the red dot design means you can pull off more rounds faster with immediate zeroing in on your target.
This little nugget is great for small game, self-protection or medium-range hunting. Many guides don’t want to lug around long-bore big-game hunting rifles so strapping one of these to a modified AR-15 is a great option for expeditions into dangerous wilderness.
This affordable little bugger comes with a 1-year warranty and we’re happy with that given it’s simple functionality and very budget-friendly starting price point.
The Dangers of Water & Precision Optics
When it rains, and we’re talking more than just a sprinkle here, water can leak into poorly sealed housings, fog poorly sealed lenses, corrode un-protected metal and rot rubber seals. Scopes not specifically engineered for use in inclimate weather generally never live past a few hunting seasons.
Sure, for the “weekend warrior” hunter simply keeping your rifle cased and out of direct rain is usually good enough. Furthermore, many affordable scopes today come with some sort of hydrophilic coating like Rainguard to help keep them operating in “damp” weather.
However, if you are on an expedition where weight matters, as in you are on foot, on light-terrain vehicle, or on horseback, you can’t always lug about all the creature comforts enjoyed by hobbyists.
Failure to anticipate the weather and its impact on your rifles functioning can mean the difference between a successful 14-day trip and one that ends in failure.
Imagine you’ve been tracking some big game for multiple days, and you finally get in a position to take a clean shot, but you can’t see for shit because your scopes all fogged up or blurred with water that won’t bead off the lens. Needless to say you wouldn’t be too happy of a camper, and neither would we!
*To keep your new scope, as well as your hunting or security firearms safe we have written up a review of the best selling biometrically-controlled gun safes that use your fingerprint to control the locking and unlocking functions, making it quick access, safe, reliable and almost impossible to break into.
Last update on 2018-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API