The 9 Best SKS Scopes | Top Optics in 2021
The Soviet-era SKS rifle is one of my favorite weapons to shoot because it feels like a historical artifact.
It’s hugely popular with gun collectors and, if you do get an opportunity to handle one, I strongly recommend you take it. Most Soviet-era weapons are a riot to shoot and the SKS is no exception.
If you try it out and find you develop a serious fondness for it, you can add a scope to further increase the weapon’s accuracy and efficiency.
Depending on the scope you buy, this will expand your SKS rifle’s usage and make it suitable for hunting, plinking, target practice or whatever else you want to aim and fire at.
The SKS rifle has a lot to offer hunters from user-friendly controls to pinpoint precision, substantial power and affordability. Add a high-quality scope and you’ve got yourself an amazing all-purpose weapon.
Let’s take a closer look at the best SKS scopes and find out how far we can take this rugged old weapon.
On the off chance that the eye relief isn't sufficiently long and you're utilizing a high-gauge cartridge, similar to a magnum, the highest point of the riflescope is going to hit your eyebrow when the rifle withdraws after you make the effort. This is the means by which inadequate eye relief converts into significantly better than the eye.
Underneath we have accumulated a rundown of the best long eye relief scopes accessible in the market today. In any case, before we get into that, here's a little guide on what to search for in a riflescope.
Things to Consider When Choosing Your SKS Scope
If you’re serious about finding the best possible SKS scope for your shooting style and environment, there are some key factors to consider. The first is that an expensive high-performance scope isn’t going to break records on every weapon.
To put it another way, the priciest accessory with the most features won’t automatically be a good fit for you.
It’s worth taking some time to think about your needs and not what the ads in your gun magazine tell you to need.
1. Magnification Power
If buying for the SKS rifle, specifically, you probably don’t need a high powered scope. They’re great for other rifles but only half useful for older weapons such as this.
The SKS performs best at close to medium-range which makes a long-range scope inefficient for this weapon unless you’re switching between it and another gun.
Go for a fixed magnification of 3x or 6x if using the scope primarily for close-range target shooting and rarely switching between weapons. It will help you zero in on targets faster.
2. Lens Size
As you know, the trade-off for better light transmission is additional weight. The larger the objective lens, the heavier the scope overall. It’s not just a matter of opting for the biggest scope and assuming you can tolerate the extra weight.
If an objective lens is too big for a weapon, the scope will make it top-heavy and unsteady when aiming. How large you go is really up to you.
It’s worth taking a look at the rifle scopes you already own and doing some testing to find out where the balance between size and weight lies for your shooting style and preferences.
3. The Reticle
Reticle design is decided on personal preference as well. There are no ‘bad’ or ‘good’ reticle shapes, only some shapes you like better than others. You like them because they help you target and aim faster or better.
So, do pick an SKS rifle scope with a reticle you feel comfortable with and understand. If you’re unsure, the classic red dot reticle is a great option for short range combat shooting and the simple Duplex crosshair suits medium-range hunting.
Red dot reticles are well-matched with the SKS rifle because there’s no need for quick adjustments when shooting close-range. You can just align the dot with the target and squeeze off your shot.
The Duplex reticle is a little different as it needs to account for holdover, windage, elevation and things like bullet drop.
4. Strength and Longevity
Regardless of where and what you plan to be shooting, your rifle scope needs to tolerate every blow it experiences. This is anything from strong winds to a clumsy drop from a ridge, rain coating the objective lens or heavy recoil from specialist cartridges.
If an SKS scope cannot tolerate environmental pressures, it’s not a viable shooting accessory. Hunting can be a wet and dirty business.
You need a scope to remain steady long after your own legs have started aching. At the very least, it should have some degree of rain and fog protection.
Nitrogen purged scopes are popular because, when the gas is injected into the casing, it prevents lens fog.
5. Lens Protection
You definitely need a rifle scope with reflection resisting coatings but they’re so ubiquitous now any product you buy will likely have them. You won’t need to shop around; it’s a fairly standard feature of modern scopes.
Anti-reflection and anti-glare coatings are important because they make sure sunlight doesn’t parallax the image and produce a distorted target that you’re not seeing correctly.
Multicoated objective lenses are protected by a substance that absorbs light instead of bouncing it back off surfaces. The optimal amount of light for max light transmission and superior views enters the tube but no more.
6. Eye Relief
Eye relief is primarily a safety feature. Yet, as rifle scopes aren’t allowed to be designed unsafely – safe eye relief is assumed – it’s more of a comfort issue for many. Spectacle wearers need to think carefully about eye relief.
You need more relief to better accommodate your glasses and ensure the rifle’s recoil doesn’t reach your face.
The problem I run into frequently is that many rifles (even some of the best) include the minimum amount of safe eye relief. Safe doesn’t always mean comfortable either.
7. SKS Tarkov
The SKS Tarkov is chambered to receive 7.62x39 cartridges. This ammo is most similar to 30-30s and most powerful when fired from around 150 yards.
It means the ammunition is designed for close to medium-range shooting and won’t get any more speed or force from a high powered scope with intense magnification.
High powered scopes are great fun to shoot but they don’t bring anything to the table if ammunition doesn’t match. The best scopes for the SKS Tarkov are made for medium distance shooting with a magnification of 3-9x or 2-12x.
Although, if you prefer to hit a target rapidly from within 150 yards, a non-variable 6x scope also fits the bill.
9 Best SKS and Optic Scopes
UTG 3-9x32 1” BugBuster Scope for SKS
Pinty 3-9x40 Red Green Rangefinder Sniper Rifle Scope
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 SFP Scout Scope
Primary Arms 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope (Gen III)
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 SFP Rifle Scope
Aim Sports 4x32 Compact Rangefinder Scope
Barska 3-9x42 IR 2nd Gen Sniper Rifle Scope
Sightmark SM260005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight
Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight
Now let’s get down to business with the
TOP 9 Best Scopes for SKS Rifles
1. UTG 3-9x32 1” BugBuster Scope for SKS
The UTG 3-9x32 1” BugBuster Scope initially caught my eye because it’s so much cheaper than other SKS scopes. It’s also got great reviews so, despite being skeptical, I decided to test it out.
Firstly, the magnification power on offer here is very impressive considering its affordable price tag. It’s not the most powerful glass on the shelves but it can compete with
Despite being on the smaller side – the BugBuster is described as a ‘compact scope’ – the objective lens does allow for good light transmission. Again, it’s not the brightest lens in the world but it isn’t designed to be.
It’s purposely lightweight, petite and sleek enough to be compatible with short carbines and limited platforms.
It comes with the required weatherproofing for a tough, all-purpose rifle. The UTG 3-9x32 1” BugBuster Scope is built to tolerate recoil, fog, rain and a host of other environmental pressures.
I tested it in the persistent drizzle, heavy fog and low light. While light transmission varied somewhat, it performed surprisingly well, particularly in the dense early morning fog.
My favorite feature was the multicoated proprietary lenses. They further support light transmission and produce brighter, clearer images. The magnification ring is satisfyingly responsive so making targeting adjustments on the fly is never a stressful experience.
One downside is the limited eye relief on this scope. It’s not a huge surprise because it’s a ‘compact’ accessory. That’s how it’s designed. It doesn’t do anything to help shooters who wear spectacles though.
They might find the scope awkward and not fully optimized for their needs. It’s an issue that does matter but it’s not exclusive to this scope. Lack of eye relief is something lots of modern rifle scopes have a problem with.
The Final Verdict
At less than $100, the UTG 3-9x32 1” BugBuster Scope is absolutely one of the best rifle scopes in its price bracket. There are plenty of bigger boys it can’t compete with but, you’ll have a hard time finding a more consistently performing glass than this with that price tag.
If you’re on a budget, I recommend it. It’s a great starter scope for the SKS rifle.
2. Pinty 3-9x40 Red Green Rangefinder Sniper Rifle Scope
This is another SKS rifle scope that felt solidly reliable during my tests. It left a strong impression on me because the achromatic eyepiece is such a well-designed component.
Its purpose is to eliminate or minimize deviations in the scope’s view and it does this very well. The Pinty 3-9x40 Red Green Rangefinder Scope is powerful, steady and remarkably honest; the images you see are really what’s out there.
It sounds like a small detail but for those who are new to the SKS rifle or rifle shooting in general, it can mean a faster learning curve as you account for variables like windage and elevation.
With 3-9x40 magnification power, you’re getting a substantial amount of zoom for your money as well. There are five brightness settings to choose from for those who like to adjust and readjust their reticle.
Whether you need all five illumination settings is debatable. Most of us end up switching between red and green reticles and never touching anything else.
That being said, you’ll have fun experimenting with the settings for a few weeks before settling back into old habits. You can’t really complain about having too many features.
I like the integrated flip cover for protecting the scope’s lens. It’s these little details that help the Pinty 3-9x40 Rangefinder Scope stand out in a crowd. For instance, the lenses are nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed for extra resilience. They stand up well in heavy fog and collect minimal rainwater.
I should mention the one problem I discovered when shooting in very clement conditions. Over 250 yards, the field of view becomes ever so slightly blurred under intense sunlight.
You’ll know what I mean when I say it’s not enough to make the Pinty rifle scope unusable but it’s going to mess up the shot if you’re not an experienced long-range shooter.
The Final Verdict
Despite its tendency to lose a little clarity in some conditions, the Pinty 3-9x40 Red Green Rangefinder Sniper Rifle Scope offers plenty of cool features.
When the image is sharp, it’s crystal clear due to that high-quality achromatic lens.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 SFP Scout Scope
Vortex Optics scopes tend to be a cut above the rest. This manufacturer is always highly regarded and, if you’ve used its hunting accessories before, you’ll know why.
One of the greatest things about this glass is its compatibility with a wide range of scout rifles including the SKS rifle. The V-Plex reticle is well suited to many weapons and shooting styles which is not something every scope can claim.
The maker is also known for creating very strong and durable scopes. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 SFP Scout Scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum.
The one-piece construction minimizes weak points and helps the scope tolerate heavy recoil cartridges. Combine this with the standard nitrogen purged, O-ring sealed lens and you’ve got an accessory that stands up to rough use.
Vortex Optics rarely disappoints when it comes to image clarity. Here, the multicoated, reflection resisting lens produces extremely sharp views. It’s hard to beat this scope for precision particularly in bright conditions.
That’s not to say it doesn’t perform in low light. As overall light transmission is high, you get a bright, clear view even when the clouds roll in.
I usually complain about eye relief but I was pleasantly surprised with this scope. It offers around 9.45” for a comfortable, intuitive targeting experience. The fast focus mechanism enables the user to zero in quickly whether the target is moving or stationary.
No rifle scope is perfect – even if it’s made by Vortex Optics – and this one has delicate adjustment turrets. When the wind is howling and the rain driving, it can be a little tough to hear those turret clicks.
The Final Verdict
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II Scope’s eye relief is probably the least interesting of all its features but it shows the maker designs with practicality in mind.
When combined, the product’s multi-coated lens, enhanced adjustable MOA turret and fast focus eyepiece add up to create a very satisfying, clearly high-quality rifle scope. While it’s pricier than some others on our list, it’s worth your attention.
4. Primary Arms 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope (Gen III)
The Primary Arms 1-6x24 (Gen III) scope is ideal for both the SKS rifle and medium-range hunting. Some users say it’s equally impressive in close-quarter tactical battles. I’ll have to take their word for it.
I tested this scope on a fairly casual hunting trip in the woods in fair to mild weather conditions.
Out in the woods, it’s second focal plane design proved its value quickly. I was able to lock targets in fast and the ACSS illuminated reticle made it easy to account for windage and holdover.
The magnification on offer is impressive and boosted by no fewer than eleven illumination settings. Will you use all of them? Probably not. Is it cool to have so many brightness options? Of course it is.
It means there are no conditions you cannot shoot in. Regardless of what the light is doing, there’s a way to compensate and keep accuracy levels high. As you’d expect the Primary Arms 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope is built to withstand heavy use.
The scope’s frame is constructed from super strong 6063 aluminum finished in black and, yes, it looks fantastic.
With nitrogen purged seals, multi-coating on the lens and extensive weatherproofing, it’ll endure knocks and scrapes like a champ.
The downside of all these features is the added weight. This Primary Arms rifle scope is heavier than a lot of the others on our list. When combined with the Soviet-era SKS rifle (another hefty item), it’s going to take practice to get a feel for its weight balance.
The Final Verdict
I’m pretty fond of the Primary Arms 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope because it seems to suit the specialist SKS rifle remarkably well. They make a good pair but, when considering the combined weight, I’d probably recommend it to experienced hunters only.
5. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 SFP Rifle Scope
With a name like Strike Eagle, you have to deliver big things and Vortex Optics doesn’t disappoint. Its Strike Eagle 1-8x24 SFP Rifle Scope excels when it comes to long-range precision and fast targeting.
The 1-8x magnification range enables users to hit new levels of accuracy and adjustment.
After extensive testing, I’d say this scope is suitable for hunters of all abilities. If you’re experienced though, you may get more out of it. Depending on your skill, you have the potential to squeeze off competition quality shots at over eight hundred yards.
The sky is the limit with this rifle glass if you’re willing to push your own.
Like the Primary Arms 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope (Gen III), it offers eleven brightness options for its illuminated reticle. It seems like overkill but it’s reassuring to know you can go out shooting in any kind of weather. Want to try a little midnight targeting? Vortex Optics’ Strike
Eagle rifle scope has a setting for that. The reticle is powered by a CR2032 battery with an operating capacity of 10,000 hours. That’s a lot of shooting.
The scope comes with robust weatherproofing to ensure it really can stand up in any environment. It’s no use having a glass that lights up at night but falls apart in fog. The multi- coated lens is protected from knocks and scratches.
The end result of all this weatherproofing is a scope that’s capable of extraordinary accuracy anywhere, anytime.
Unusually for Vortex Optics scopes, there’s quite a large downside. At least, I’d deem it a substantial weakness. The Strike Eagle 1-8x24 SFP Rifle Scope comes with no mounting components. You need to buy these separately.
The Final Verdict
Vortex Optics scopes aren’t the cheapest of rifle accessories at the best of times. The performance of this scope makes its price tag worthwhile for many reasons.
However, it may not make a difference to hunters on a budget. When you add the cost of a mounting rail, it’s an expensive piece of kit.
6. Aim Sports 4x32 Compact Rangefinder Scope
Often, hunting scopes described as ‘compact’ turn out to be more flimsy than anything diminutive. This Aim Sports 4x32 Compact Rangefinder Scope seems to have struck a balance between sleekness and strength.
It is smaller than average but without being awkwardly slim. The scope’s eyepiece could be more generous but, I will say, it’s no more limited here than on larger rivals.
Its compactness delivers most clearly when it comes to weight. The product is robustly built with an aircraft-grade aluminum frame for lightweight durability. The synthesized finish adds extra ruggedness and helps to protect against scratches.
When the expected fog and rain proofing is added to the equation, users are left with an understated scope that hides a surprising resilience.
The Aim Sports 4x32 Compact Rangefinder Scope has a notably attractive reticle. By attractive, I mean it’s very well designed. Its thickness is perfectly suited to its magnification range and ensures long-range shots are precise and unobstructed.
It also allows for light to flood in and really open up the field of view particularly in cloudy conditions. This scope is known for its superior optics – check out the online reviews – so it’s a marvelous option if you’re upgrading from a more basic glass.
The Aim Sports scope does include mounting components, unlike the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Scope. Although, I found these rings to be loose after two or three hours of heavy shooting. It doesn’t take much to tighten them up again but it’s something to be aware of.
The Final Verdict
The loose mounting rings frustrated me a little because I do like to shoot for long periods.
However, I wouldn’t say this small gripe took away from the Aim Sports 4x32 Compact Rangefinder Scope’s performance as a medium to long-range hunting accessory.
If it cost more, I’d say it was a problem. You can’t argue with this level of quality at this price.
7. Barska 3-9x42 IR 2nd Gen Sniper Rifle Scope
The Barska 3-9x42 IR 2nd Gen Sniper Rifle Scope is often called the company’s best. It is certainly one of the most popular with hunters.
I think it’s a particularly strong contender for best red dot sight scope with an SKS rifle. The MIL dot reticle is sleekly designed, high performing and contributes to its impressive targeting capabilities.
The scope’s reticle can be used in either red or green (both traditional colors), but red is the superior choice for bright conditions in which glare is a factor. The addition of a sniper edged sunshade is a nice touch.
It aligns the sun’s glare in such a way as to angle it off and away from the reticle. Again, it’s a small detail but it makes a difference when you’re out in full daylight trying to tell the difference between the wind and a deer skipping by.
The Barska 3-9x42 IR 2nd Gen Sniper Rifle Scope comes with shock-proofing so it is compatible with heavier recoil cartridges. It also won’t fall to pieces if you drop it even from a decent height.
I know because I was shooting out on a ridge, got spooked by a noisy wood thrush and dropped my rifle over the side.
No harm was done, fortunately. This is why I only test scopes with a bit of steel in their bones. Hunting is a rough game. Your weapons need to be completely shock, water and scratch proof like this durable scope.
Also, don’t forget, the steadier the rifle scope after intense recoil, the quicker you can return it to zero and squeeze off another shot.
Part of the reason this scope is so rugged is its rubberized frame. It literally bounces off the ground (well, not so you can see it) when dropped. If you’re quite a lively, energetic hunter or tactical shooter, it’s a valuable feature.
The one thing I didn’t like about this Barska scope is you can’t easily reset the windage and elevation drums to zero after zeroing in the weapon.
The Final Verdict
The Barska 3-9x42 IR 2nd Gen Sniper Scope ended up being a surprise favorite for me. I always knew Barska made high-quality shooting accessories.
I still wasn’t expecting to like this one as much as I did. It can be beaten by pricier rivals on magnification and precision, however, its balance of accuracy, built integrity, style and ruggedness make it a superb
selection for your SKS rifle.
8. Sightmark SM260005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight
The Sightmark SM260005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight Scope is considered to be a high performing tactical scope. It has been used by the military and law enforcement in some regions.
It’s not a surprise then that this glass is very beefy. It is built to be all-purpose and suitable for hunting, tactical battles and competition shooting as well.
The magnesium alloy frame is understated and stylish though it conceals an exceptionally tough outer casing. According to the manufacturer, you can submerge this scope in up to forty feet of water before there’s any strain on its materials.
There’s also a thick multi-coating over each of the lenses. It’s difficult to imagine the Sightmark SM260005 Ultra Shot scope developing cracks or stress fractures no matter how clumsily you handle it.
The illuminated reticle functions well and offers a range of brightness settings for use in dimmer environments. I think the automatic on/off motion sensor will split people one of two ways.
You’ll either love it or think it’s an unnecessary distraction. I liked it but it’s not something I would miss on a scope without one.
The Final Verdict
It should come as no surprise but this tactical scope is on the heavy side. All of that extra protection and security comes at the cost of weight. For this reason, it’s best for veteran shooters who can get accustomed to its size and balance quickly.
It does perform admirably when hunting but Sightmark’s SM260005 Ultra Shot M-Spec Reflex Sight Scope feels more like a tactical or competition accessory to me.
9. Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight
The final scope on my list of the best SKS rifle scopes is another Vortex Optics product. They’re running the game with some of their long-range rifle scopes right now.
The Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight is great for hunting and target shooting. It’s satisfyingly lightweight and looks both neat and compact. Similar to the Sightmark SM260005 Ultra Shot, it’s a hardwearing, heavy duty glass but it doesn’t look like one.
That’s a big difference here. This rifle scope is also made from tough aircraft-grade aluminum with all the proper weatherproofing (fog, rain, wind, recoil, etc). Yet, the casing is slimmer and the objective lens feels lighter.
One terrific feature is the scope’s multi-height mounting mechanism. This makes it compatible with a broader range of weapons including older guns like the SKS rifle.
Any rifle that requires a lower or absolute height should be fine to use with the Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight Scope. The mounting system can be somewhat fiddly when you’re starting out with the scope.
It comes in three pieces, so I suggest having a quick practice at home before going on a hunt.
It’ll just save you some time. The eye relief is very generous and helps to reduce parallax and maintain a high level of performance and precision.
The multi-coated lens performs extremely well in fog and rain. Combined all of this with a hearty dose of shock absorption and you’ve got a super reliable scope. It’s almost humdrum at times because it performs so consistently well.
The Final Verdict
The Vortex Optics Sparc II Red Dot Sight Scope is easily one of the highest quality rifle accessories on our list. There aren’t many weak points to uncover here though some would argue it doesn’t have enough reticle illumination settings.
Curiously, my biggest complaint (if you can call it that) is the scope is so smooth it feels clinical. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I’m just saying maybe a little unpredictability is what creates great marksmen.
The final Word on Choosing SKS Rifle scopes
The Soviet-era SKS rifle is one of the most enjoyable rifles to shoot in my opinion. It’s not perfect and certainly has its eccentricities, but that’s all part of the experience.
Plus, these guns remain affordable and easy to learn how to shoot. Ammunition is inexpensive too so there’s no better gun for practice and casual shooting.