Best Scope Magnification for Air Rifle Hunting

Recommended Scope Magnification for Air Rifle Hunting


Mathew R Reed
October 30, 2022

Air rifle hunting continues to gain popularity year in year out. When you buy an air rifle scope, you might not be satisfied with the optics that come with it. Such scopes might not be able to match the potential and precision of your air rifle. To get the best views of the target you are hunting, you will need to equip yourself with a scope compatible with your air rifle.

Air rifle scopes are way different from regular rifle scopes. This difference is brought about by the harsh recoil generated. This recoil is different from regular rifle recoil because it produces two forces: one which pushes the air rifle into your shoulder and the other which pulls the rifle forward. As a result, the ideal scope should be able to withstand different types of recoil.

Types of Scopes

Riflescopes can be generally placed into 2 categories: variable and fixed scopes. It is important to understand the two types in order to determine which scope works best for your needs.

Variable Scopes

This is the most common type of scopes. Variable scopes are perfect for diverse applications where accurate shots are needed. This scope allows its magnification to be adjusted according to different hunter’s needs. You can basically zoom in and out of the target easily. This important factor is what all hunters need. Variable scopes are also widely used by snipers for long-range shooting.

Fixed Scopes

With fixed scopes, you cannot adjust the magnification setting as it is the case with variable scopes. However, this makes it easy to use them compared with their variable counterparts. On the other hand, having a scope whose magnification settings are fixed limits you from using it in different scenarios. A fixed scope would actually be a perfect choice for you if you shoot in the same environment or at a fixed distance. The other advantage found in these scopes is that they are more durable.

Best Scope Magnification for Air Rifle Hunting

Compared with regular rifles, air rifles don’t operate at distances near that of regular rifles. Remember that your ideal magnification setting might be different from that of someone else, so your ideal scope will differ from that of someone else. For the best results, the magnification power of the scope you chose to buy should perfectly match your needs.

As a rule, the name of any scope uses a specific index that denotes both magnification and diameter of the lens. For instance, 3×40 means that the optic has 3 times magnification and an objective diameter of 40mm. furthermore, you will find a scope featuring two digits with a dash. In a case such as 3-9×40 means that you can change the magnification from three times to nine times.

With air rifles, the image of your target might suffer at higher magnification. Air rifles also tend to max out at around 100 yards. So, it’s best if you go for a scope with moderate magnification. Typically a 3-9x magnification or lower is best.

Here are some of the best magnification ranges work well to suit the different needs of hunters.

2-4x Scopes

Scopes featuring a magnification range of 2-4x are suitable for close-range shooting. With such a scope, you can accurately shoot a target within a distance of around 150 yards. You will also find that most fixed scopes are used for such short-range shooting. In addition, small powered scopes are ideal for hunting small animals such as squirrels.

2-7x and 3-9x Scopes

A variable scope with a power range between 2-7x and 3-9x is powerful enough to accurately shoot targets up to 300 yards. Actually, a scope with such a magnification power can be referred to as a multi-purpose scope because it allows you to shoot at both short and medium distances. In most cases, a hunting scope will often require such magnification. 3-9x magnification is sufficient for effectively taking down deer and other medium-sized game. On the other hand, if your plan is to get a scope to hunt wild board and other varmints, you will need to get a scope with a higher magnification of about 4.5-14x.

12-25x Scopes

The highest-powered scopes will work best for long-range shooting. If you are a hunting fanatic who adores hunting across the wide plains, then this is the right magnification power for you. However, it is important to note that high powered rifle scopes are only suitable if your target is furthest away. It is therefore important to note that the low end starts from 9x or something similar. That, therefore, limits the use of such scopes to medium to long range shooting.

There are other drawbacks of using a high powered scope. They include:

  1. Scopes with high magnification power narrows down the field of view and leads to less transmission of light.
  2. High powered scopes are also bigger and weigh more. This makes them unsuitable for field works especially hunting. This is because of their heavyweight which can be difficult to move around with and hard to also take down a fast-moving target.
  3. A high level of magnification makes even small movements such as your heartbeat throw the reticle off the target drastically.
  4. Higher magnification also minimizes the optical clarity of any target, especially when using an air rifle.
  5. Taking a long-range shot on a blurry image can be dangerous.
  6. Higher magnification drives up the cost. For higher magnification, especially for a variable scope to be effective, you will have to pay more.

If you’re looking for different riflescope brands, we recommend the Leupold and Vortex scopes. If you’re looking for budget scopes, the CVLife or Simmons would be your best bet.


For any hunter, it is important to consider the right magnification depending on what you plan on hunting. Go for a scope whose magnification will give you the best possible image of your intended. Always remember that image quality can suffer at higher magnification. So, it’s best if you go for a scope with moderate magnification. Typically a 3-9x magnification or lower is best

Mathew R Reed

Mathew R Reed is a professional gun seller who runs a dedicated gun store in the suburbs of Oakland, CA. A hardcore hunting enthusiast since childhood, Reed has ample experience with guns and accessories. He is the founder of and creates some of the most helpful gun-buying guides and explainers. If not in the gun shop, you can find him on the nearest hiking trail or nearby hunting spot.