The SKS rifle served the Soviet Union military for many years. When the AK47 superseded the SKS in the 1980s, a horde of surplus SKS rifles came onto the market.
At the time, these rifles were plentiful, cheap, and quickly became popular. Many shooters adopted a homeless SKS rifle and continue to shoot these workhorse firearms. If you have an SKS and are wondering about the best SKS scopes, I think we can help you with this article.
Most SKS rifles are relatively accurate to about 400 yards. At this point, the bullet tends to go sub-sonic. This causes instability in the bullet’s flight, and accuracy begins to suffer. There is no need to put a 1,000-yard scope on a surplus SKS rifle.
With that in mind, let me talk a bit about the criteria I use when choosing a scope for any rifle, not just an SKS. There are some common characteristics and features that you should look for in any scope you purchase.
I will also talk about some of the particulars that I feel are important when choosing a scope for an SKS rifle.
What I Look For In A Scope
I have certain minimums that I want to have in terms of scope features on any scope I buy, not just for an SKS. Your list may differ, and the priority order may change depending on your needs and expectations.
However, you should be aware of these characteristics and scope features when you are looking for your SKS scope.
Cost is always a factor to consider and must figure into the equation as you make your selections.
Typically people associate quality and accuracy in a scope with the price. The question becomes, at what point do you experience diminishing returns based on the capabilities of the rifle and the shooter?
The SKS was never meant to be a precision firearm. Finding the balance between the cost of the rifle scope and the rifle can be tricky.
Mounting a scope on a hunting rifle demands a scope and mounts that can withstand more than casual use and abuse.
Hunting rifles often see extremes in temperature and weather that can harm a rifle scope. Hunting rifles are also prone to physical damage while being transported and carried to, from, and around a hunting site. Whatever scope you choose for a hunting rifle must be tough, reliable, and durable.
Most SKS rifles are used for hunting. The main quarry of hunters who carry an SKS rifle is the native deer population in the U.S.
On average, hunters take deer in the U.S. at ranges between 150 and 250 yards. This is well within the range of SKS rifles.
The ballistics of the SKS and the typical hunting performed with the SKS clearly define the magnification range needed. I rarely see a need for a scope with maximum magnification that goes beyond 12X for these rifles.
SKS Scope Mounts
The SKS rifle was never meant to have optics mounted on the rifle. That makes finding ways to mount a scope for SKS rifles a challenge.
There are several ways this can be accomplished, but you should understand up front that all of them have limitations and downsides.
Rear Sight Base SKS Scope Mount
My recommendation for an SKS scope mount is a rear sight replacement style of mount.
Using the leaf sight base of the SKS receiver to mount a scope is the most reliable and secure mounting system I have found. There may still be issues with holding zero because of the limited contact area between the scope mount and the rifle receiver. These guns were not known for the quality of the manufacturing nor the strict tolerances on the machining.
Receiver Cover Optics Mounts
Several companies produce SKS receiver covers with Picatinny rails or other mounting systems built onto the covers.
These receiver cover mounts, at first glance, seem a perfect and economical method of mounting optics to these rifles. However, the receiver cover is held onto the rifle by spring tension.
Invariably, the recoil of the rifle or simply moving the rifle around during handling will cause the receiver cover to change position. Most of the scopes mounted on this type of system require constant re-zeroing, sometimes after two or three shots.
This is not a reliable or secure method of mounting optics to an SKS rifle.
Side Receiver Mounts
Perhaps the most reliable mounting method for SKS scopes is to attach the mounting system to the side of the receiver. Several manufacturers make these types of mounts.
If installed properly, these types of mounts offer a good deal of structural support and reliability for your SKS scope mount.
The major drawback to this style of scope mount for SKS rifles is often the need to drill and tap the rifle receiver. I suggest always finding a competent gunsmith to install this type of mount on your SKS if the receiver doesn’t already have the mounting holes drilled and tapped.
My Choices of Scopes for SKS Rifles
I have chosen several different optics systems that I recommend as SKS scopes. These can be fitted to any of the different types of SKS scope mount options.
I have tried to provide several different options in the style of scope, type of scopes, and costs of these scopes to help you find the scope that best fits your situation and needs.
Best Overall Hunting Scope for an SKS Rifle – Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective SFP Riflescope
If you have read many of my articles, you should know by now that I am a huge fan of Vortex Optics products. I think Vortex sells some of the best rifle scopes available for the price.
My choice for the Best Overall Hunting Scope for your SKS rifle is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II riflescope with an adjustable objective.
The Crossfire two features a 4-12X magnification range. This may seem a little underpowered to many shooters. Most hunting in the U.S. happens at ranges of less than 200 yards. A 4X magnification is more than adequate at these ranges. Considering the other features you get with Vortex Optics riflescopes, this is a gem.
What Features Make This a Great SKS Scope?
- The 4-12X magnification is perfect for ranges between 0 and 250 yards.
- An illuminated reticle makes acquiring your target easy, even in low-light conditions.
- A long eye relief makes mounting the Vortex Crossfire relatively easy on an SKS rifle. You can use a forward mount to avoid problems with the receiver cover and ejection port.
- Vortex Optics multi-coats its lenses to provide optimum light transmission and the best in optical glass protection.
- The turrets are capped, large, and easy to manipulate in the field, even if you are wearing gloves.
- A single-piece one-inch aluminum tube ensures rugged and durable operation.
- O-ring sealed and nitrogen-purged construction provides waterproof, shockproof and fog-proof operation despite the most extreme conditions.
- Magnification – 4-12X
- Objective lens diameter – 50mm
- Parallax Adjustment – Side Adjustment
- Focal Plane – Second Focal Plane Rifle Scope
- Reticle – Vortex Optics Dead-Hold BDC reticle
- Illuminated Reticle – Yes
- Adjustments per click – 1/4 MOA
- Travel Per Rotation – 15 MOA
- Maximum Elevation Adjustment – 50 MOA
- Maximum Windage Adjustment – 50 MOA
- Eye Relief – 3.9 inches
- Length – 14.3 inches
- Weight – 21.6 ounces
- Field of View – 25.7 – 8.4 feet @ 100 yards
Fortunately, you won’t need to break open your piggy bank to afford the Vortex Optics Crossfire II riflescope. Typically, you can find these riflescopes at a street price under $200.
When you figure in Vortex Optics’ no-questions-asked warranty, this is a great value for an excellent scope for SKS rifles.
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Last update on 2023-05-31 at 14:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Runner-up Best Overall Hunting Scope for an SKS Rifle – Riton Optics X1 Primal 3-9X40 Riflescope
Riton Optics is a relative newcomer to the sporting optics market. However, their product line has garnered a lot of attention from shooters. The quality of their optics and their customer service has grown the popularity of these scopes by leaps and bounds.
The Riton Optics X1 Primal 3-9X40 riflescope gets them a spot as the runner-up best overall hunting scope for an SKS on my list.
The Riton X1 Primal gets you a bigger objective lens than the Vortex Scope. Theoretically, the larger objective lens will transmit more light and give you a sharper image. I know for a fact that the larger objective lens will give you a wider field of view at higher magnification. Riton doesn’t short you in the features department.
What Features Put the Riton Scope in my SKS Scope List?
- The capped, zero-resettable turrets make field adjustments quick and easy even in extreme conditions and when wearing gloves.
- The large and easy-to-manipulate throw lever on the magnification ring means you don’t have to change position on the rifle when changing magnification making this scope easy to adjust.
- The construction of these scopes ensures 100 percent waterproof, fog proof and shockproof operation in the field or on the range.
- Second Focal Plane reticle with side focus parallax adjustment from 15 yards to infinity.
- The one-inch aircraft-grade aluminum tube is rugged, rigid and durable.
- Riton assembles its scopes in an EP-level clean room for dust-free optical operation.
- Each Riton scope comes with an unlimited lifetime warranty.
- Fully multi-coated lenses for the best in light transmission, clarity, and brightness.
- Magnification – 3-9X
- Parallax Adjustment – Side Focus 15 yards to infinity
- Tube DIameter – one inch
- Objective Lens Diameter – 40mm
- Focal Plane – Second Focal Plane Reticle
- Reticle – Riton RHR reticle design
- Ocular Lens – Fast Focus Eyepiece
- Eye Relief – 3.9 inches
- Adjustment per Click – 1/4 MOA per click
- Length – 12 inches
- Weight – 22.4 Ounces
Riton holds the line on price and provides a good quality scope. I am impressed with the quality of the optical glass that Riton sources.
I understand that the Riton glass is sourced from China, but they evidently have acquired a reputable source of optical glass that keeps their quality at the top of the pile.
- Dry Nitrogen Purged and Sealed-Utilizing Nitrogen gas, the optic is purged and sealed to ensure...
- Precision Quality Assurance-Every Riton product goes through a rigorous quality control process by a...
Last update on 2023-05-31 at 15:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
3. Author’s Pick for Your SKS Rifle – Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40 Hunt-Plex
Leupold is, without a doubt, a top-tier professional grade scope company. I must admit that I would never recommend a $2,000 scope for SKS rifles on average.
However, Leupold also builds some of the best mid-range cost rifle scopes you can purchase. The VX-Freedom line of hunting scopes is a perfect example of this type of scope.
Leupold delivers unparalleled optical quality. The image clarity makes for fast target acquisition and low-light performance. These are some of the best scopes you can buy and would definitely benefit your SKS rifle.
As you would expect, Leupold delivers in the features department.
What Features Make the Leupold VX-Freedom My Choice?
- The 3:1 Zoom ratio provides 3 times more magnification at high power than at low power. 3X magnification lets you engage close-range targets. A twist of the magnification ring puts you at 9X and takes you out to the maximum effective range of an SKS.
- Leupold’s Advanced Optical System is shoulders above other scopes for light transmission, optical clarity, true color delivery, and glare reduction.
- Staying on the cutting edge of technology and manufacturing techniques has given Leupold an edge in building waterproof and fog-proof scopes that use advanced internal gases and sealing systems.
- The Hunt-Plex reticle is designed specifically for field use with tapered pickets and a fine line center to enable precision aiming even in low lighting conditions.
- Magnification – 3-9X
- Focal Plane – Second Focal Plane
- Reticle – Leupold Hunt-Plex
- Adjustment per click – 1/4 MOA
- Adjustments Per Revolution – 15 MOA
- Maximum Elevation Adjustment – 60 MOA
- Maximum Windage Adjustment – 60 MOA
- Objective Lens Diameter – 40 mm
- Eye Relief – 4.2 inches
- Fixed Parallax Free Distance – 150 yards
You won’t find scopes with better light-gathering capability than Leupold.
Even without an illuminated reticle, you can expect image quality and clarity low light performance that is almost amazing. Simply put, the Leupold VX-Freedom line makes a great scope for an SKS.
Best First Focal Plane Scope for Your SKS Rifle – Monstrum G3 1-6X24 FFP Riflescope
If you want to step up your SKS rifle scope to a first focal plane scope, I suggest looking at the Monstrum G3 1-6X24 riflescope.
Monstrum is a good mid-range riflescope with features that you often don’t find on scopes costing much more. Monstrum scopes won’t compare with Leupold or Trijicon. Monstrum uses Chinese optical glass, but their quality control is above average, and these scopes perform much better than you might expect. I think these scopes make a good fit for the average shooter for your SKS rifle.
While Monstrum is not at the top tier of rifle scopes, no one expects to put a $2,000 riflescope on a $500 rifle. Most first focal plane scopes with these features go for 4 or 5 times the cost of the Monstrum G3.
Even at a modest price, Monstrum delivers good performance and a list of features that cannot be dismissed.
What features Put the Monstrum G3 1-6×24 Scope on my List?
- Finding a first focal plane scope with features normally found only on rifle scopes that cost 4 or 5 times as much makes this a natural candidate for an SKS rifle.
- These scopes are fully sealed and nitrogen filled to eliminate problems with moisture ensuring that the Monstrum G3 can survive even the most extreme conditions and situations.
- Zero reset turrets assure you that you can make on-the-fly adjustments to windage and elevation and return your scope to its original aim point with just a few movements.
- Each Monstrum scope features fully layered and multi-coated optics for the best light transmission and optical clarity.
- The 6X magnification range allows you to take an SKS rifle out to its maximum effective range.
- Magnification – 1-6X
- Objective lens diameter – 24mm
- Tube Material – 6061 Aircraft-grade aluminum
- Tube diameter – 30mm
- Eye Relief – 4.5 inches
- Field of View – 103.2 – 16.1 feet @ 100 yards
- Length – 10.7 inches
- Weight – 20 ounces
- Adjustment per click – 1/2 MOA
- Turrets – Locking turrets
- Internal construction – all brass internal components
- Reticle Type – Type C illuminated Reticle dot in a circle
- Illumination – 11 intensity levels controlled by a separate knob
There is no doubt that the Monstrum G3 is a budget-first focal plane scope. However, since most first focal plane scopes with these features and offering glass clarity in this class cost 4 or 5 times as much, the Monstrum is a great choice for a first focal plane scope for your SKS.
If you want a more expensive scope, you can certainly find them, but why when this scope will perform above and beyond on an SKS?
- High performance tactical rifle scope with 1-6x magnification for close to mid distance shooting out...
- Functionally designed first focal plane MOA reticle, with easy-to-read ranging information that...
Last update on 2023-05-31 at 16:43 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
5. Best Red Dot Sight for Your SKS Rifle – Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight
Some hunters prefer a red dot sight at the distances most used with the SKS rifle.
Red dot optics do offer some advantages over traditional reticle optical sights. Many hunters find red dot sights quicker to bring on target.
Red dot sights are usually smaller and lighter than traditional optical sights, making them a favorite with hunters who want to keep things as light as possible.
The Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot sight fits the bill for hunters who prefer a red dot sight.
The Strikefire II offers the features for which Vortex Optics has become noted. In addition, you get the benefit of the Vortex Optics no question asked warranty. A red dot sight may make sense for your needs if your hunting is from short to midrange, typically under 150 yards.
What Features Make the Vortex Optics Strike Fire Red Dot an SKS Rifle Pick?
- The Vortex Optics Strikefire II offers both red and green dots for your choice of the aim point, giving you flexibility depending on the light conditions.
- Ten brightness settings allow the dot to be adjusted for the ambient light conditions, from low light conditions to bright sunlight, making the Vortex Strike Fire useful at night or in the daytime.
- Like all Vortex Optics scopes, the glass surfaces are fully multi-coated to give clean, bright images.
- Red dot sights offer unlimited eye relief, making this a perfect choice for mounting on an SKS rifle.
- The Vortex Strike Fire scope has a compact and lightweight single-piece chassis making it a rugged and dependable choice.
- There is no need to shop for additional mounts since the Vortex Strikefire includes an offset cantilever mount.
- All illumination controls are rear-mounted for easy access and functionality.
- Magnification – 1X
- Reticle – Single dot red/green selectable
- Weight – 7.2 ounces
- Length – 5.6 inches
- Eye Relief – Unlimited
- Dot Size – 4 MOA
- Battery – 1 CR2 battery
- The lowest two illumination settings are night vision compatible
- Adjustment per click – 1.2 MOA per click
- Turret Type – Covered Dial
One great advantage of a red dot sight is acquiring your target and placing the dot with both eyes open.
This style of shooting and aiming has advantages in allowing a wider field of view and maintaining peripheral vision.
At the end of the day, the “best” SKS scope depends on what you are looking for, as well as your price point.
I hope that my selections have helped you begin your search so you can find the right fit.