• GTW Author


Riflescopes form a key part of hunting and shooting. As a firearms retailer, you simply cannot go without. From a humble airgun scope to sophisticated, high end products running well in to the thousands, there are scopes for every application and budget.


Whatever kind of rifle shooting you face, from airgun to rimfire plinking, stalking to hunting from a high seat, long range target shooting to military and law enforcement applications, a riflescope is a key part of any setup.You are almost always better off with some kind of sighting device than with iron sights. While still necessary as back-up, iron sights force shooters’ eyes to shift focus between rear sight, front sight and target. Three points need to be aligned to shoot accurately. With a riflescope, or a red dot sight for that matter, only two points need to be aligned to be on target. This clearly implies riflescopes and red dot sights make you be quicker on the mark. Furthermore, riflescopes allow you to reach out further, see every detail and make you shoot deep in to the twilight when our own eyes have all but given up.


With the optics world in full innovative swing, riflescope sales are buoyant to say the least. When we look at the number of riflescopes sold by the retailers taking part in our survey, we found that the number of shops selling more than 200 scopes per annum amounts to over a quarter of the retailers in our survey. The biggest share of retailers however, 46 per cent, have sold up to 50 riflescopes since our last survey.


When considering best-selling riflescope types, the market has remained on par compared to last survey. Centerfire types with hunting scopes in the lead, 65 per cent of all scope sales, are still reigning supreme. Centerfire tactical scope make up for a quarter of the market. The appetite for hunting rimfire and airgun scopes meanwhile has tied. Dedicated scopes for target shooting, be it centerfire or rimfire, gobble up a relatively small portion of the market.

Splitting the sales up by type of scope, we found the sales of airgun scopes was up for more than 25% of retailers, while for most this segment remained stable. The market for rimfire scopes remained largely stable, notwithstanding the fact nearly half of retailers claim sales have climbed since our last survey. Sales of both tactical and hunting riflescopes behaved similarly well, according to the retailers in our survey, with 40 per cent claiming sales increased for both segments.


According to the survey results, there is a definite shift in buying sentiment. Whereas price used to be the most important reason to purchase a riflescope, this has changed drastically with price now only taking the fifth spot. Build quality, optical performance, brand/make and reticle selection all have finished before price. Punters are obviously getting more and more conscious about their purchases. As one might imagine, build quality, optical performance and reticle selection are decisive factors when investing in a riflescope.


Next to the reasons to buy a riflescope, several popular features keep popping up year after year. Illuminated reticles, larger objective/body diameters and bigger zoom ranges are the most prevalent.

Although some users, whose principal activity consists of daylight shooting, still consider illuminated reticles to be unnecessary and even whimsical, this feature has become an industry standard in several parts of the world. In Europe for example, a large majority of riflescopes is sold with an illuminated reticle, especially in the mid-to-high end segments.

According to the retailers in our survey, larger is definitely better. Shooters and hunters do like their scopes getting larger objective lenses and equally larger main tubes. Whereas 56mm has been a classic objective lens diameter offering great light gathering capabilities, scopes with a 60mm and even larger objective lenses are present on the market. These scopes are fit to make clearly defined long range shots at even the most challenging low light conditions. Larger main tubes of 34 and 36mm, also allow for more adjustment clicks than standard 25mm or 30mm tubes to let you take those extra long shots with more ease and confidence.

Bigger zoom ranges are increasingly popular as well. No less than 40 per cent of retailers claim a larger zoom range than the classic 3:1 or 4:1 zoom ratio is a significant feature gaining in popularity. As 5:1 and 6:1 zoom ratios are getting relatively common, several manufacturers are upping their game by introducing super zoom riflescopes with 8:1, 9:1 and even higher zoom ratios.

Ballistic reticles also increasingly find their way to the market. These bullet drop compensation reticles look similar to common reticles, but feature extra marks along the bottom post that can be used to line up your shot at different ranges. Military style MIL-DOT reticles can be used to the same effect.

Also catering to long range shooters are bullet drop compensators. Many brands now offer some form of bullet drop compensation by use of standard scaled elevation turrets. Others offer the possibility for shooters to optimize their long range performance by ordering custom marked cams for their specific load, range, the elevation they will use the load on.


In a world where digital is the new norm, optics manufacturers are starting to incorporate digital technology into their analog riflescopes. For example electro-optical riflescopes that can be connected to other devices to exchange data, taking the guesswork out of long range shots. For example Sig Sauer’s BDX product range includes range finders that connect to both your smartphone and their BDX riflescopes by means of a Bluetooth connection, calculating and applying ballistic data on the spot. Or riflescopes that measure distance and automatically calculate the correct holdover and adjust the point of aim accordingly. The next step are fully digital riflescopes that can be used both at day- and nighttime.

With technology adding more and more user-friendly benefits, the outlook for the future of riflescopes, and riflescope sales, remains very promising.

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