20 Mar

>Red Dot or Scope for Browning Buckmark

Steven K. Ledin,


A customer asked for advice in the forum the other day, and I thought it might help a few folks with the same quandry:


I am seeking advice as to what type of scope to mount on my .22 Browning Buckmark Contour. I will primarily be using it for both indoor and outdoor target shooting. The Buckmark has a 5” barrel and overall is 9.5” long. My budget is approx $200. I’ve read and have been advised that a 2X optical scope is good for my application. I’ve also read that a red-dot is good for .22s. My question lies mainly in that I’ve not found a pistol or rimfire optical scope that is around 7” long that will not be too long for my pistol. Most red-dots, if not all, seem like they will fit without any difficulty. Can someone please steer me in the right direction? Right now I’m leaning towards a Nikon VSD, a Sightron 1×33 and an UltraDot 4 dot or MatchDot.

Thanks in advance for your help.”

I responded:

Most people, using the most popular definition of target shooting, have more fun with a red dot. These folks are not going to get the smallest groups possible from their accurate guns. This is not from lack of magnification, but from the fact that red dots cover more target area than a crosshair. The area that is covered by whatever kind of reticle (red dot or crosshair) is called subtension. Reticles in a magnified scope will almost always have significantly less subtension than a red dot, and the higher the magnification the lower the subtension. The lower the subtension the more precisely you may place your shot. Pistols like your excellent Buckmark may be capable of shooting groups of a half inch or so at 25 yards with ammo that the gun likes. This group size is almost impossible to realize with a red dot that may cover an area two or more times that size, with a fuzzy, non-discernable aiming point. So you will never realize the potential accuracy from your gun.

That being said, magnified pistol scopes are not quick nor necessarily easy to use, with the more magnification you have and smaller field of view making it decidedly harder to find your target and hold steady on it. If you choose to go this way, size doesn’t have a lot to do with it except for how you think it looks asthetically. Red dots are like looking through a piece of glass with a bright red spot on it. Easy. Quick. Fun. Small. Wide field of view. For plinking at the range when group size is not paramount, teaching new shooters, putting holes in cans, and all around enjoyment, a red dot is hard to beat.

The red dot examples you provided are fine for plinking, and almost any quality or price over the very cheapest will suffice for a rimfire. Don’t overlook the Tasco ProPoints which have been favorites of mine for years. For a short 2x scope this Swift pistol scope is fine, but a larger scope with variable magnification like this Bushnell Trophy makes the gun a lot more versatile, and at higher power will certainly let you see how small of a group you and your gun can shoot.

Decide how your optic will help enhance your favorite type of shooting, and have fun with your fine firearm.

Aim Hard!

Leave a Reply

Back to Entries