Hunting vs Tactical Scopes

Aug 14, 2023

Hunting and tactical, are 2 major applications of riflescopes. Although all riflescopes are designed to enhance your vision, there are some subtle differences for different applications. In this blog, we will provide some insight into these subtle differences and help you choose the best riflescope for your purpose.

What are tactical scopes

Tactical scopes (tac scopes), are characterized by a low magnification range and serve the purpose of extending the shooter’s range beyond his regular vision. Riflescopes with low magnification range, especially LPVO scopes starting from 1x (which means the image is almost the same as the naked eye), are advantageous to assist in rapid target engagement. This explains why their use is always associated with the military and law enforcement agencies.

Most of the “tactical” marked riflescopes usually have an illuminated reticle, which also feature special range function and Mildot marks, so the shooter can hold over for wind/drop or can easily estimate the range on their target. However, the tactical style reticle, such as the Christmas tree reticle, is much more complex than a hunting style reticle, so a tactical shooter must be well trained.

Victoptics S6 Etched glass VI-CTSIX Reticle

The green and red illuminated horseshoe reticle is a variation of the standard crosshair reticle that provides faster target acquisition.

S6 reticle green
S6 reticle red
OPSL23 VictOptics S6 1-6x24 LPVO Coyote FDE Reticle
VICTOPTICS S6 1-6X24 SFP LPVO SCOPE image quality

A tactical shooter also cares about whether or not the scope can make quick adjustments for a follow-up shot. This is incredibly necessary in a military mission. So a quality tactical turret will usually be exposed (uncapped) for on-the-fly adjustments, have distinct click adjustments, resettable and lockable features, and zero stop for higher budgets.

VICTOPTICS S6 1-6X24 SFP Air Gun Scope Windage and Elevation Adjustment

The most common features of tactical scope are:

  • Lower magnification range
  • Uncapped turrets
  • Bigger click values (usually 1cm/100m)
  • More specialized reticle (Mil-Dot, etc.)
  • An illuminated reticle

What are hunting scopes?

Hunting riflescopes are the most common type of riflescopes. Since hunting takes place outdoors and usually in bushes and forests, hunters prefer scopes that are extremely durable to withstand harsh weather conditions and terrible environments. The riflescope with higher levels of waterproof grade, capped turret and lens caps will be their favorites.

Victoptics OPSL04 windage and elevation adjustment

Since legal deer hunting hours are daylight hours in most countries, an illuminated reticle is not a must (by the way, the illuminated reticle adds weight to the scope). So for some hunters, if the scope has illumination settings, all the better. If it doesn’t, never mind.

As for magnification, 3-9x is the most popular choice. It is great for hunting whitetails, deer, elk or other similar sized animals at distances of 50 to 300 yards.


Victoptics most popular 3-9x hunting riflescopes: PAC 3-9X40

Unlike tactical scopes, hunting scopes doesn’t require complex reticle patterns, simple reticle like duplex reticle is enough since it won’t block your vision.

Jav Victoptics OPSL19

Duplex reticle of Victoptics JAV 4X32


Since sometimes it is hard to distinguish preys from dense jungle, especially at dawn or dusk, it is also important to pick up a scope with high level of light transmission, larger field of view and better glass quality to ensure a sharp and clear overview.

Hunting riflescopes usually feature:

  • Extremely durable to deal with harsh weather conditions and tough environments
  • Capped turret
  • High level of light transmission
  • Larger field of view
  • Better glass quality

Both tactical, as well as hunting scopes, are available with the reticle on the first or second focal plane.

Nowadays riflescopes are so versatile. Having a tactical riflescope doesn’t mean you can’t use it for hunting purpose. Take Victoptics S4 6-24X50 FIRST FOCAL PLANE RIFLESCOPE as an example, it is a FFP riflescope with Christmas tree Mildot reticle, ideal for ranging. The entire S4 line is designed for air rifle and .22 LR rimfire etc. benchrest shooting and hunting, boasting great adaptability for recreation, competition and hunting. Therefore, if you want your scope to combine the highlights of both tactical and hunting scopes, Victoptics S4 is your best option.


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