Stalking is a hunting method, where a hunter has to sneak up to the animal. In this way, we made some tests of high-end hunting rifle scopes for stalking. Because of physical challenge in stalking hunting, small and light equipment helps a lot. I mean it’s not necessary, you can use bulky and heavy rifle scopes, but with them, you will have problems getting through the woods and you will be more tired than with smaller and lighter rifle scopes. Stalking is also done many times in the mountains.
A must in this category are capped turrets. When crawling in the woods through the branches and bushes, caps are protecting the turrets and also preventing from accidental turns.
Also, the objective lens diameter of these rifle scopes is smaller than usual, from 32 to 44 mm and 1 inch or 30 mm tube or rail mounting. For stalking purpose those parameters are helpful, they make rifle scopes smaller and lighter. All rifle scopes on this list have an objective lens diameter of 42 mm and most of them can be ordered with different mounting rails.
For any hunting purposes, parallax is fixed at 100m, due to you don’t need an ultimate precision. In stalking hunting targets are taking down from a distance 25 to 150m, rarely at distance more than 150 m.
Comparing all the rifle scopes in this test, all have variable magnification. Although, for stalking purpose are the best choice rifle scopes with a minimal magnification from 1.5x to 2.5x and Maximal magnification from 6x to 12x. There is one that stands out from the “crowd”. Swarovski Z8i 1.7-13.3x42 P, that has a maximum magnification of 13.3x. In the minimum magnification parameter, Leica Visus 2.5-10x42 i LW has a 2.5 x zoom option, while the rest have the lowest magnification power bellow 2x. With lower magnification, it’s easier to shoot in the standing position and on moving game.
All rifle scopes on this top 10 list have an illuminated reticle because stalking can be done in twilight or darker daytime conditions.
Again, like in the previous top 10 test, European rifle scopes rule over made in Japan or US scopes. All 10 rifle scopes in this top 10 stalking category are made in Europe.
Also, a wide view angle is important, because a wild game can move while you are stalking.
Here are the rifle scopes we tested, starting from the best rifle scopes in stalking category.
1. Swarovski Z8i 1.7-13.3x42 P
2. Leica Magnus 1.5-10x42 i
3. Swarovski Z6i gen.2 1.7-10x42 BT SR
4. Schmidt & Bender Stratos 1.5-8x42
5. Steiner Nighthunter 1.6-8x42 (70 Years Edition)
6. Leica Visus 2.5-10x42 i LW
7. Meopta MeoStar R2 1.7-10x42 RD
8. Docter Unipoint 1.5-6x42
9. Kaps TLB 1.5-6x42
10. Meopta R1 1.5-6x42 RD
Starting with the best of the best for stalking, in our opinion, this is the Swarovski Z8i. You will have to dig deep into your pocket, but for this, you will get probably the best rifle scope for stalking purpose in the world at this time.
In this comparison, it has one of the widest field of view, with 25.2 m on 100 meters, 3 different reticle options and it can be ordered with 1 or 2 ballistic turrets. The 4A-IF reticle has an illuminated red dot and a circle around, which you can turn on separately for faster aiming and better concentration on the center of the target.
The illumination of the reticle on the Swarovski Z8i - 1.7-13.3x42 P has a very bright option, which brightness can be precisely adjusted for different light conditions. The red dot is very fine and nicely rounded and it has a thin reticle, which is great for better accuracy. Another great feature is the swarolight technology. Tilting the weapon sideways over 30 degrees or upwards / downwards over 70 degrees, makes the illumination turn off automatically. In shooting position, the illumination turns automatically back on. That is also a great function for saving the battery.
This rifle scope has low weight- only 620g, and it is small in dimensions. When you look through, you will notice an extremely good resolution – from edge to edge.
Swarovski Z8i stands out from others with the highest magnification power, which is 13.3 x and it’s the only one in this top 10 list with adjustable parallax. This parallax adjustment has also a nice feature, it makes a “click” sound on 100m, which is great in darker conditions when you hardly see the numbers on the rifle scope.
Unfortunately, all rifle scopes have downsides. On this one is the illumination control which is not so well ergonomically designed. When using gloves or with cold hands, the lever for illumination is difficult to turn.
A downside is also the price, starting with around 2449 euros. When adding ballistic turrets, Swarovski SR rail for mounting and the 4A-IF reticle, the price hops even over 3200 euros.
And here we come to our second place of best hunting rifle scopes for stalking. This is Leica Magnus 1.5-10x42 i. In comparison to Swarovski Z8i, it has wider Field of view of 26 m, which is the widest in this top 10 comparison. Leica Magnus i has a better eyebox, what means that when you look through the rifle scope, you don’t have to be in the center to get a perfect image. Also, the image quality in comparison to Z8i is superb.
The illumination ergonomics on Leica Magnus i is the best in our opinion. It can be used simply with bare hands and easy with gloves. The illumination knob is located on the eyepiece. You can turn it on for day-light or night-time and click on the same knob to adjust brightness. The red dot is sharply defined and even in the brightest setting, it doesn’t come to the star effect.
Like Z8i this Leica Magnus i has also an automatic shut off function. When the weapon is in a non-firing position, it automatically turns off. Well, there is a downside on the illumination – the automatic shut off function cannot be turned off by the user, but only the company can make it for you.
Leica Magnus 1.5-10x42 i can be ordered with 5 different reticles, with a Zeiss ZM / VM rail and also ballistic turrets, which are extremely robust.
A downside could be the price, but when you see all the great features, easily said, it’s worth to it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be on the top of 3 podiums in this test.
We had a really big problem in this test to decide which rifle scope put on 1. place. Although, Leica Magnus 1.5-10x42 i has the best eyebox, illuminated red dot and illumination ergonomics in this top 10 comparison, Z8i wins this battle just because of the best optical image and sharpness from edge to edge and the adjustable parallax.
The third place of our top ten hunting rifle scopes for stalking goes to Swarovski Z6i gen.2 1.7-10x42 BT SR. It has the same big field of view like Swarovski Z8i, but it’s a little bit smaller and lighter (Z8i has 620 g and Z6i has 520 g). Also, the eye box is great.
This smaller model also features the swarolight technology which shuts the illumination automatically off, when the weapon is tilted sideways 30 degrees or 70 degrees for example when you stop using the rifle. The reticle is very thin, which is good for better precision. The red dot is very sharp and it has great brightness illumination option.
It can be ordered with a Swarovski SR rail and you can choose optionally between 4 reticles for different hunting situations and also with ballistic turrets, but then you have only 1 reticle choice. And here we get also to a downside. Ballistic turrets are made out of plastic, so they are not as robust and hands down, on such a rifle scope it doesn’t look very quality.
The illumination ergonomics are similar like on Z8i, but the control is even smaller, what makes the use harder with cold hands and gloves.
Another downside is the price, which is around 2050 euros for the version with Ballistic turrets and Swarovski rails. Without ballistic turrets and rails, the price is around 1900 euros, but for those prices, you get a high-quality rifle scope optics with 4 different reticle options and fantastic optical sharpness from edge to edge.
First on the non-medal position is the scientific rifle scope Schmidt & Bender Stratos 1.5-8x42. Why scientific? It has unique features like posicon turrets, which helps you to determine where the internal tube is. It tells you also, how much the internal tube is out of alignment after zeroing the rifle.
Schmidt & Bender Stratos is made of one piece metal and is the most robust amongst all in this comparison. It even has the award for the most appealing design awarded by well known red dot award in Germany. In our opinion, this rifle scope convinces you, it will last longer.
Another nice feature is the flash dot, which works like on red dot sights. When you turn off the illumination, the red dot disappears, but then you see a very thin and fine made reticle, which is good for better precision, without any marks where the illuminated dot was. This is also the last rifle scope in premium class, you can buy it with FFP reticle position.
And now we come to choice options. Schmidt & Bender Stratos has the choicest options in this test like 2 reticles options, adjustment per click in MRAD or MOA, ballistic or capped turrets. Turret rotation direction in CW or CCW and S&B Convex or Zeiss ZM / VM rail. When choosing a rifle scope with ballistic turrets, they are steel made, so very robust and compact, with the possibility of locking.
A downside is a high price, which is for an almost 6 x magnification rifle scope around 2050 euros. With ballistic turrets and mount rails, the price jumps up for around 300 euros. The field of view is 23.9 m, and it is lower comparing to top 3 rifle scopes, but still, the unique features make the S & B Stratos 1.5-8x42 a very interesting choice.
The heaviest in hunting rifle scopes for stalking is the Steiner Nighthunter 1.6-8x42 (70 Years Edition). It's well-made and very robust. The illuminated red dot in the reticle is made out of optical fiber, which is great, because the illumination is very crisp and sharp on any brightnes setting. This makes the dot also very small and on the strongest light setting, the reticle is still sharp and it doesn’t shine like a star.
This rifle scope also has one of the best light transmission rates in this top 10 list. The optical quality is very good, and the image has a great sharpness from edge to edge.
Steiner Nighthunter 1.6-8x42 (70 Years Edition) can also be ordered with a Zeiss ZM / VM mount rail for tension free and precise mounting.
A Downside is definitely the price which is around 2000 euros, with the Zeiss mounting rail, a little bit higher. Spending that much for only 5 x magnification and no automatic illumination turn off technology, which is also a downside, could be askable. Anyway, you will get one of the brightest rifle scopes in this class and a very good optical quality.
The Leica Visus 2.5-10x42 i LW rifle scope falls with just 520 g in this category into the box of lightest rifle scopes. Like no others, it can be ordered in a shiny or glossy black color, that fits perfectly on a premium classic rifle or a rifle with special markings. This option makes this rifle scope special in design.
It can be ordered with 4 different reticles and a Zeiss ZM / VM mounting rail for easier and precise mounting. Optional you can also choose ballistic turrets, which are nicely made and are very robust.
This rifle scope also has an automatic illumination shut off function, which is almost a must in the stalking hunting method. Illumination simply turns off when the rifle is not in use. The red dot is extremely small and the brightness option is very fine adjustable either for using in day-time either in darker light conditions.
What is astonishing on most Leica rifle scopes is the image quality, that can easily compete with higher price ranked rifle scopes.
The downside for stalking in normal hunting areas is that the magnification starts with 2.5 x zoom, which makes Leica Visus 2.5-10x42 i LW rifle scope more suitable for hunting in mountains, where you almost anytime have to shoot on longer distances. Because of so high starting magnification, also the field of view is just 14.5 m, which is the smallest on this top 10 list of hunting rifle scopes for stalking.
In our opinion, the downside of this rifle scope is the 4-time magnification, what is the smallest magnification in our top 10 list, and the smallest field of view. But let’s say, when you look through this rifle scope, you could easily forget some hundreds of euros. Like mentioned before, also a gloss version is possible if you want that your set up with rifle looks nicer and shinier, but for this, you will need to dig more deeply in your pocket and search for another 300 euros.
The longest, which is not an advantage, in this top 10 hunting rifle scopes for stalking is the Meopta MeoStar R2 1.7-10x42 R. Even if it is the longest, it’s not the heaviest – 580 g.
Meopta MeoStar R2 1.7-10x42 RD is the cheapest 6 x magnification rifle scope in our comparison. The optical quality is very good for this price range and this rifle scope is also very robust.
The red dot is a little bit bigger in comparison to the other rifle scopes and it also has an automatic illumination shut off feature. You can choose between 2 different reticles, and there is also an option with a Zeiss ZM / VM mounting rail and even ballistic turrets.
The field of view is 21.9 m, which is much wider than the Leica model on our 6. place, but a little bit smaller than on the rifle scopes from the 5th position and up. The big advantage of this rifle scope is definitely the warranty because it’s the one of the rarest that has 30 years of it, which is very nice, according to the lower price, around 1300 euros for this rifle scope.
The downside could be the overall build quality, but still, it’s the highest quality you can get for this money value.
8th place in top 10 hunting rifle scopes for stalking goes to the Docter Unipoint 1.5-6x42. It’s the second cheapest in our comparison and it also has 30 years warranty, which is really great.
This rifle scope has an interesting reticle, that has the lines in the front focal plane (FFP) and the dot in the middle, which is illuminated, is set in the second focal plane (SFP). The reticle is very thin and because it is in FFP, it gets thicker when changing the magnification. This might be useful when you use it in darker areas because the reticle is more visible. The illuminated dot is in the SFP and always stays the same size. This means that even at the highest magnification, the illuminated dot stays small, which is a very nice feature. The illumination power of the dot is also very fine adjustable and the adjusting is easy even using it with gloves. The brightness of the illumination is set by pushing on illumination buttons.
The Docter Unipoint 1.5-6x42 is very robust made. The price around 1200 euros isn’t so high, but a downside is the maximal field of view, which is 19.1m on 100m and the second lowest in this top 10 comparison. And even, for the second lowest price in this test, it has an automatic illumination shut-off feature and you can order it with 2 reticle options.
Another downside is the maximal magnification, which is only 6 x.
The German Kaps TLB 1.5-6x42 is the shortest in our top 10 comparison of hunting rifle scopes for stalking. But even with the 292 cm in length, his weight is 610 g.
Kaps TLB in generally are the highest quality rifle scopes from the Kaps Optic Company. It offers a 25 years warranty, which is worth mentioning and due to the guarantee of the manufacturer, this rifle scope will not collapse when using bigger calibers, so it’s very robust.
This rifle scope is, besides the Schmidt & Bender, on this top 10 list, the only equipped with a flash dot, what makes the dot small and fine. A cool feature is, that the reticle illumination has a memory function, that means when you turn the illumination back on, it remembers the illumination brightness adjustment before shut off. The light transmission is also very good compared to the price.
Also, the Kaps TLB has the illumination auto turn off function. The field of view of 22 m is bigger than on previous but smaller than on the top 5 rifle scopes. The magnification range is only 4 times, which is a downside on this rifle scope.
And finally, the final place goes to the well-known company Meopta from the Czech Republic. The model R1 1.5-6x42 RD is the cheapest in our top 10 comparison of hunting rifle scope for stalking.
But even for the price around 1100 euros, you get a good quality and robust rifle scope. The field of view is 22.4 m, which is ok for this price and is very near to the top 5 rifle scopes.
It has daytime bright illumination, like most of higher ranking scopes, but it doesn’t have an illumination auto shut off function, which is a downside for a hunting stalking rifle scope. There are also options to order it with mounting rails. A downside is also the magnification, which is only 4 times.
We want to thank the Optics-Trade online shop for providing and enabling us to test these 10 great rifle scopes. Whatsoever, this review is not sponsored and it's completely unbiased. This comparison was made simply because of our own interest in the optics and provides an objective opinion of tested rifle scopes.