Compact Rifle Scope – Pros and Cons

As if there weren’t enough options out there between brands, bell and tube diameters, and magnification limits, now we’re wondering about compact scopes versus regular. Well, there is a good way to narrow the choices, by figuring out what your needs are.

There’s a good chance, that a compact rifle scope may suit you better than its larger counterpart. Again, depending on what you’d be using it on, and what you’d be using it for.

With the following information, you can be the judge over what’s a pro or a con, when comparing the information to your rifle scope requirements. You may just find out that in the world of rifle scopes, bigger isn’t always better.

Mounting your Scope

If you want to either eliminate or elect a compact rifle scope into your arsenal, the first thing you’ll need to figure out is if it can be mounted easily, without any special or extra hardware. Some rifles don’t have rails that bring the compact scope close enough to the eye, making it more difficult to use.

This is one drawback that isn’t suffered so much by regular-sized scopes. Mounting a larger (or regular) sized scope has more of a tube length, which makes them easier to fit on most rifles, and gives more play as it relates to getting the eyepiece right where you’re most comfortable. Compacts can be found at 11” long, but the average compact scope hovers around the 9” long mark.

Range of Weapons

Though there can be issues properly mounting a compact scope to a few rifle types, you can mount them to weapons that you’d never dream of trying to attach a large scope.

The compact style is the scope to use if you’re looking to fasten a scope on your handgun or short rifle, and many are designed to be taken on and off of a weapon without having to re-sight the scope when re-attached. This is particularly handy when being used on a handgun, as it would be awkward to try and store it with the scope attached, as well as a pain in the neck when it’s time to fasten it back into place. Compact scopes are also a popular choice for short action or mini-action rifles. Being able to fire more rapidly, the compact scopes tend to be easier to relocate reasonably distanced targets in a shorter space of time.

Long action rifles are meant to shoot slower, and more methodically (particularly due to the larger cartridges), which is prime territory for the larger sized scopes.pistol with scope


It’s a fairly simple principle. A smaller scope will take less material to make, meaning less weight resting on an already weighty object. The lenses are smaller, the bell is smaller, less tubing used between the lenses, etc…

Many people prefer a compact scope on their weapon for the simple reason that it is lighter and easier to manage. Particularly when you’re trekking out in the woods, and need to carry it around for long periods of time. Shedding any weight where you can, is a welcomed change in some of these types of situations.


As a rule, most compact rifle scopes are much cheaper than the larger scopes. Many brands of compacts are comparable in performance to their larger counterparts (though some may disagree), and bear many of the same wind and height adjustments.

Many proponents of the compact scopes are people who wanted a good quality scope that is more affordable. Unless you get your hands on a digital scope that does everything for you except pull the trigger, most compact scopes can be purchased for less than around $150.00.

Field of View

Compact rifle scopes have a broader field of view. This means that through the optic lens, you’ll see more of the landscape that surrounds your target. This is important when it comes to hunting game, rather than picking off stationary targets from long distances.

A tighter field of view that is customary with the larger scopes is perfect for long-range, stationary targets. Or, in situations where the surroundings just flat out don’t matter. But when you’re trying to get a bead on a moving object such as live game, it’s more beneficial to see where they’re going and have a better time anticipating when you’re going to need to pull the trigger. With a tighter field of view, you’d be more likely to lose bearing on a moving target, than with what a compact will provide.

“As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Compact Rifle Scope Limitations

A drawback (or con) to the compact style is that they don’t work very well at the break of dusk or dawn. This is where the larger scopes shine (literally) in comparison to the compacts. The larger bell and larger objective lens help to bring in the light better at dimly lit times of the day. The compacts tend to be very dim during these periods, which might be a drawback to some.

Talk to Experts

Everything laid out here is to give you an idea of the pro’s and con’s that come with a compact rifle scope. But nothing will serve you better than talking to your gun-owning friends about it, what they use, what they use it for, etc…

Also, it wouldn’t hurt to head down to the range or your local guns & ammo store and talk to the people there about it. Ask them what they prefer; tell them what you’d be doing, or what you’d be using it for.

You may find, that unless you’re in the market for a scope that will improve your competitive long-distance shooting game, that a compact scope will likely cover every need you’d have for a scope, along with some unanticipated benefits.

Thank You Image
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons