It is strange to me to see such a resurgence of the 22-250 in recent years. Sure, it’s a great caliber and may very well be the best varmint rifle caliber on the market. It is smoking fast, shoots flat, and will get the job done on the downrange end. Of course, if you build a fine rifle around this caliber you are going to need the best scope for a 22-250 to make the most of it.
Hunting rifle setups tend to lend themselves well to a simpler scope and target rifles will often use the most technically advanced scopes. Unlike these, varmint hunting can really make use of any type of scope with a high range of magnification. Since the targets are often small, a more powerful optic tends to be preferred but varmint hunting can be a versatile hobby.
Likewise, the 22-250 is just a versatile with its comparatively flat trajectory. Should you choose a plain scope, your holdover will not be as high but should you match your rifle with a tactical scope, you can benefit from its windage and elevation adjustments to get you dead on target. Whatever you choose, choose wisely. There a lot of good scopes out there but make sure what you get is well suited to your needs.
A 22-250 Scope Buyers Guide
Accomplished at hunting anything from prairie dogs to deer, the 22-250 is a caliber that can be tailored to almost any setup you feel comfortable with. It's also a great place to experiment and see what you like and what you don’t while still being an effective weapon. The below points are a general guide based on my experiences, by all means, go with what you are comfortable with and what suits you.
The 22-250 really excels at long range so having a scope that really gets you out there. If you are looking for an excuse to get an optic with very high magnification, this is a great excuse! For varmint hunting, especially the smaller animals, I would recommend nothing less than 10x and could see anything as high as 30x being acceptable.
You really need to plan your scope around your hunting. If you are hunting deer or larger animals, a little less magnification can be a good idea but for small game, go as high as you want. It can be difficult to locate your target through very powerful optics but you will eventually get pretty good at lining things up.
Be aware that the more magnification a scope has, the worse the image will be unless the manufacturer has done something to counteract it. Scope power for 22-250 can be as much as you want if you get a quality product.
What the world looks like through your scope will mostly be determined by three factors. Some of these factors will make more of a difference than others but to get the best you want all of them to be favorable. As image quality goes up, the price usually goes up but sometimes spending a little more is worth it!
The overall quality of the glass is the paramount concern for having a good, clear picture. If the glass is bad there isn’t anything that can be done that will make the scope a good scope. You have to start with quality of you want to end with quality. Stick with companies that have a long-standing reputation for good glass and you should have no worries. This can be hard to gauge on your own as no company advertises they have sub-par glass quality.
The size of the Objective lens will be your next tell as to how good a scope picture you will have. The larger the magnification, the more light you will get in the scope and the brighter everything will be. Improperly sized objective lenses will make things dim and hard to see. It can be augmented with other technology but not so completely that you want to take a chance on a small objective.
The final piece of the puzzle is lens coatings. Some companies use a budget option of coating a single lens with a single chemical. Others will coat their lenses in a proprietary recipe of chemicals that will provide you with the best result. Either way, the intent is that the chemicals will reduce glare and filter light in a way that makes the scope image crisper and brighter. Go with the best you can afford.
Like anything on a 22-250 varmint rifle, this can be whatever you are comfortable with. Some people prefer to have a more complicated reticle with bullet drop compensation while others will do just fine with a simpler reticle. This is mostly a consideration of what your skills are and what you want them to be. If you want to learn to use a BDC scope, varmint hunting could be your chance.
I tend to like a plain reticle on a varmint rifle but if you choose a BDC reticle, you will do just as well with a little practice. As a matter of fact, you will have additional capabilities that those of us with simple reticles do not. However, you will have to deal with more complicated optics and a busier scope image.
If you choose a 22-250 ballistic scope, make sure it is a generic BDC reticle. Many companies make specific optics for very common calibers like .308 or .223. These are not a good idea for a 22-250. You can get custom reticles from some very high-end companies that will be paired with the ballistics of a 22-250 but they often aren’t worth the extra cost. Skill will serve you better than wasting hundreds on one of those optics.
Also, be aware of whether your reticle is on the first or second focal plane of the optic. A First Focal Plane or FFP scope will have a reticle that changes as you zoom in and out making it accurate at any range. Second Focal Plane optics will have a reticle that stays the same and will only be accurate at the magnification you used to sight it in. FFP scopes are regarded as better but usually cost far more.
Like the reticle, you can go with the very complicated turret adjustments for elevation and windage or you can go with a simple set and forget capped adjustments like on most hunting scopes. This is purely a personal preference but it's better to get what you want up from than waste money to replace something later.
Tactical turrets are more fun to shoot generally but I have always like a simple scope for a varmint rifle. Some of those animals are quick and getting a fast shot off using just your skill can land you a few more animals than fiddling with your scope before making the shot.
22-250 has a rather light recoil so scope mounts that ultra-heavy duty aren’t a necessity but they are a really good idea. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a scope costing a grand in a set of rings that cost 15 bucks. Don’t treat your investment that way, get good rings.
The better the rings, the less likely it is that your scope will move around when firing. This can be a huge benefit. No one wants to stop their day of hunting because their scope is no longer hitting where it should. Since this is a high-end optic intended for long range, I recommend that the rings you get are lapped so they align perfectly.
Ruggedness and Durability
How long your scope will last and what it can endure in the field is always a concern or at least it should be. If you are going to spend your money on something, spend it on something that lasts. Look for scopes that can handle the worst you plan to have it in.
Prairie dog hunters often run into issues with dust and anywhere else is like to have issues with humidity and rain. Get a scope that is at least rain resistant and sealed to prevent getting dust inside your glass. Fog proof scopes are a good investment while you are at it. It doesn’t matter how nice your scope is if you can’t see through it.
Also, opt for a scope that is a least somewhat shockproof. You are always better off to treat your scope well but bumps happen. Don’t let an accidental slip down a muddy bank send you home because your scope couldn’t take it.
|Image||Magnification||Objective Lens||Lens Coating||Turrets||BDC Reticle||Focal Plane||Weather Proofing|
|Nikon Black X1000||6-24x||50mm||Fully Multicoated||Tactical||Yes||Second||Waterproof/Fogproof|
|Bushnell Elite Tactical||6-24x||50mm||Fully Multicoated||Tactical||Yes||First||Waterproof/Fogproof|
|Leupold VX-2||4-12x||40mm||Fully Multicoated||Standard||Yes||Second||Waterproof/Fogproof|
|Vortex Optics Diamondback HP||4-16x||42mm||Fully Multicoated||Tactical||Yes||Second||Waterproof/Fogproof|
|Leupold VX-1||3-9x||40mm||Fully Multicoated||Standard||Yes||Second||Waterproof/Fogproof|
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II||6-18x||44mm||Fully Multicoated||Tactical||Yes||Second||Waterproof/Fogproof|
22-250 Scope Reviews
Nikon Black X1000
The entire lineup of Nikon scopes have had a long-running reputation as fine quality optics. The Nikon Black is an extension of that reputation taken to the extreme. In the past the Nikon Prostaff BDC riflescope was considered one of the best long range varmint scopes around, this is the upgrade.
The optical quality of a Nikon scope is superb with some of the best glass available. Add to that a full set of multicoated lenses terminating at a 50mm objective and you have one of the best and brightest scope pictures available. Couple that with magnification topping out at 24x and you can see as far as you would ever need to shoot and pick out the finest details.
Nikon scopes, including the Black series, are all purged and sealed to keep them dust free and prevent any fog or condensation. Fully waterproof and incredibly rugged, the Nikon Black was meant for hard use and does it well. From dusty plains to rainy woodlands, this scope is a performer.
If a Nikon BDC scope for 22-250 is what you are after, the option for MOA or MRAD reticles will provide you exactly what you need. Couple that with MOA adjustable turrets and an adjustable parallax to make even those tiny targets at long range will seem to pop out of the landscape. This is possibly the best Nikon scope ever made.
Bushnell Elite Tactical
The name of this scope tells you about everything you need to know about it. Bushnell has been making optics for decades and provided some of the best budget optics on the planet for hundreds of hunters. When they stepped up their game to the Elite Tactical, they produced an amazing scope that still doesn’t cost a fortune.
Though there are better glass producers than Bushnell, they are few. The Elite Tactical’s glass is extremely clear and very bright thanks to their own blend of multi-coat that filters light and all but gets rid of glare. Top this 6-24x scope off with a massive 50mm objective lens and you are set! No matter the distance, this scope will be on the mark.
Bushnell’s mil-hash reticle on a first focal plane has everything you need to set up your shot with a little calculation and their oversized tactical turrets dial you in with ease. As long as you can do your part, this scope will do everything you could ever want a varmint scope to do. Know your bullet drop and get the windage right and pushing out past 800 yards becomes a distinct possibility.
Not content to just provide quality, Bushnell has done everything to provide durability as well. Not only is this a sealed and purged scope but it is shock resistant and scratch resistant. Fog, rain, or dust are not going to be an issue. Wherever this scope goes, you can be confident that it will perform.
To many shooters, Leupold is synonymous with quality and for good reason. Very few companies have dedicated themselves to the level of construction and material selection that Leupold has. Every scope they produce is a true optical gem and deserves a place on any fine rifle, be that a 22-250 or any other caliber.
You can say nothing less than Leupold’s glass is extraordinary. Both military and police forces have used their optics with great success for decades. Hunters have done the same, relying on their multicoated glass to make sure their chosen target was clearly in view. In the case of the max 12x powered VX-II, this comes together with a perfectly sized 40mm objective to give you a low profile scope that will perform better than your expectation.
This scope is not what most people would consider a tactical scope with the capped windage and elevation adjustment but under those caps are a sort of hybrid between tactical and standard adjustments. Set for MOA, these short turrets are hand adjustable and can be used fairly quickly in the field, giving you the best of both worlds. Using a more standard duplex reticle, this is not the choice for a 22-250 ballistic scope but would serve very well on a 22-250 rifle for coyotes or other larger vermin.
Not that everything about Leupold’s isn’t outstanding but the most notable feature is their lifetime guarantee that you will probably never use. Few scopes are as downright tough and durable with their hard coat finish and full fog and waterproofing. Many of the gold ring Leupold’s that were produced in the 1980s are still serving on hunting rifles from around the country.
Vortex Optics Diamondback HP
For the last few years, it seems like you can’t talk about the best optics in any category without a Vortex somehow sneaking in there. This isn’t a bad thing. When it comes to performance for price, you won’t get much better if you can get any better at all. So, if you happen to be looking at a Vortex Scope for 22-250, the Diamondback is probably where you want to go.
Not to let other companies outdo them, Vortex has their own patented extra-low dispersion glass that makes everything bright and crisp from the get-go but they combine that with some of the best multicoat on the market to add contrast and completely remove glare. The Diamondback HP is a 16x scope but topped with a 42mm objective lens that ensures that even in low-light, you can spot your target.
This second to none mentality has also helped Vortex to produce some of the toughest optics on the planet. All of their scopes are nitrogen purged, completely water and fog proof and can take enough abuse to make any hunter happy. No matter what terrain you drag this scope though, it will perform at the end.
Most Vortex scopes come with more of a tactical flavor but this is truly a hunter’s scope with easy adjust windage and elevation knobs, adjustable parallax, and could be one of the better 22-250 scope BDC reticles made. It is simple enough to get a good hold on your target but has just enough of a marking to allow you to drop your bullet in at longer ranges. With its reasonable magnification and rock hard construction, this would be my chosen scope for a 22-250 coyote rifle.
If, as a hunter, you wanted the finest quality rifle scope but were on a budget, where would you go? Most people would never consider a Leupold that usually brings premium prices but the VX-1 is a whole different animal. It is superb quality backed by Leupold’s lifetime guarantee for a price that makes it almost unbeatable.
Much like the VX-II, this scope is unmatched in optical quality with the same multicoated glass. Being very reasonably powered at a 3-9x, even the seemingly small 40mm objective gives plenty of light for a very crisp, high contrast image even in low light. Don’t fear that this isn’t enough magnification for a varmint gun, thousands of shooters used a very similar Leupold optic for a generation and never had a problem.
The reticle is a simple duplex reticle which is clean and attractive while being about the best reticle for a 9x scope that you could ask for. The turrets are standard adjustment so set them and forget them. When matched with good rings, you will never have to worry about shifting over time.
Like all Leupold scopes the VX-1 is built tank-tough, fully nitrogen purged and will never let in a speck of dust or a drop of water. Even fog will never be an issue. Dents, scrapes, or dings are hardly a concern either. And if you ever have a problem, Leupold will sort it out. That’s their guarantee, not mine. If you have to have a Leupold scope for 22-250 on a budget, this is the scope to beat.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Now if you asked for a high quality on a budget but had to have a 22-250 turret scope with a BDC reticle, I would have to direct you to Vortex for that. They have everything you could want out of a scope for a price that makes it far too attractive. This scope is almost a no-brainer.
Optically, the Crossfire II has everything you could possibly want out of an optic. It is super clear and bright with multicoated low dispersion glass. What’s more, this scope caps out at 18x making it perfect for the 22-250 varmint rifle. Capped with a 44mm objective lens that is nearly perfect for a scope with this magnification, vision isn’t going to be an issue.
It’s also tough as nails and ready to serve in any climate. Take it to the woods or the desert, it doesn’t care. All Vortex optics are purged and sealed for added durability and water, dust or fog will never have a chance to enter your optic. There are few if any scopes that will stand up to what Vortex can with their shockproof one-piece tube construction.
With several options available in reticles from duplex, MOA, and even illuminated, pick what works best for you. Match that with low profile adjustment knobs and you have a scope that works like the best tactical models but looks like a simple hunting scope. Use if for deer, use it for coyote, or use it on the range, it will outperform anything else in this price range.
22-250 Scope Tips
What Reticle is Best for A Varmint Rifle?
What reticle works best for you is a very personal thing. It really depends on what you are used to. If you have experience with a particular reticle, I would consider that. If you want to get better with a specific reticle, this is a good way to practice. My personal preference is for a plain duplex reticle or something simple in MOA if I want the BDC capability.
If this is your first rifle optic, go with the MOA. It will provide you with the best of both worlds. Simple yet capable. You can learn on it and it will provide you with good service for a lifetime.
What can you hunt with a 22-250?
People hunt mostly small varmints like groundhog, rabbit, prairie dog, and similar animals but it has grown in popularity as a great caliber for coyote. Despite what many people will tell you, it is adequate for deer but maybe not the best. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it after deer or anything smaller. I have even shot squirrel with one.
What is the accurate range of a 22-250?
Anything within 500 yards is perfectly reasonable and the rifle could be taken as far as 700 yards with little issue. Since it is such a light bullet, going much farther really risks a lot of bullet drift. Besides at that range, you have so little power it would be almost pointless. If you are wanting a 1000 yard caliber, this isn’t it.
At what range should a 22-250 be sighted in?
Most high-powered rifles and optics are designed to be sighted in at 100 yards. There is little reason with a 22-250 to do otherwise. There are some people that will sight in at longer and shorter ranges but this is a more advanced shooting tactic for very specific situations and far beyond the range of this article. You can do more research on this if you like but there will be no need to ever sight in differently for a 22-250.
What scope rings work best for a 22-250?
No matter the rifle or the caliber, I like sturdy rings. There is very little recoil in a 22-250 and rifles chambered in that caliber are often used rather lightly. There is no need to go for big rings other than the sense of security they provide should something happen. Whatever rings you choose, get those that are designed for precision rifles and are lapped to make sure they fit correctly. Also, make sure you get the correct size rings for your scope, otherwise, you may have a very big issue.
Right now, I prefer Leupold rings or these more affordable Precision Rings by Vortex Optics.
Welcome to the world of varmint shooting. A word of caution is to take this hobby lightly at first, it can be very addictive and you may find yourself spending far more money that you would like. There are hundreds of rifles in dozens of calibers topped with optics costing thousands of dollars but the 22-250 is a solid choice and one proven to work for decades.
Get a good optic and a solid rifle from one of the better manufacturers and take a crack at some long-range shooting at small targets. Maybe rid the world of a few more coyotes while you are at it. Whatever you do, you will have a blast!