Pentax Rifle Scopes – Are They Any Good?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

Although the Pentax brand is best known for producing cameras, many people are surprised to hear that they also had a sporting optics division that offered rifle scopes, spotting scopes, and binoculars. Since I receive a couple of emails every month asking me about various Pentax scope models, I thought it might be worthwhile to do a write-up about the entire line of Pentax rifle scopes.

Are The Pentax Brand of Scopes Any Good

Pentax History

The first interesting point about Pentax is the “Pentax” name is actually a brand name and not a specific company name.

The company that would eventually be referred to as Pentax was called Asahi Kogaku Goshi Kaisha and was founded outside of Toyko Japan in 1919. Their main business at that time was producing spectacle lenses.

Around 1938, the company changed its name to the Asahi Optical Co. Ltd. And entered the camera lens market. Before and during WWII, the company was a military contractor for the Japanese military, providing various optical instruments (predominately centered around lenses). When the war ended, the Asahi Optical Company LTD returned to producing camera lenses and began supplying camera lenses for Japanese camera companies, including two companies that would eventually be known as Konica and Minolta.

In the early 1950s, Asahi Optical began producing its own cameras and introduced the first Japanese-made SLR camera with 35mm film. In 1957, Asahi purchased the trademark rights to the “Pentax” name and began offering 35mm camera equipment under the name of “Asahi Pentax.”

Several of the products they offered utilized the Pentax brand name, which was sometimes co-branded with other companies. For example, Pentax manufactured optical equipment imported to the United States through the US-based Honeywell Corporation and was often branded as “Heiland-Pentax” or “Honeywell-Pentax.”

In 2002, to take better advantage of the Pentax brand, the Asahi Optical Company officially changed its name to the Pentax Corporation.  By the early 2000s, Pentax had become one of the leading optical production brands worldwide and had expanded its product offering to include:

  • Still Cameras
  • Binoculars
  • Spotting Scopes
  • Camera Lenses
  • Medical based optical equipment
  • Riflescopes

In 2008, the Pentax Corporation was acquired by Hoya Corporation, which was Japan’s largest supplier of medical-based optical products. As a result, the Hoya Corporation closed down the main Pentax production facility in Tokyo and moved it to Hoya-controlled manufacturing facilities in the Philippines and Vietnam.

In 2011, the Hoya Corporation sold the Pentax camera and sporting optics division to Ricoh, which was a large printer and copier manufacturer in Japan. However, the Hoya Corporation continued to own the right to use the “Pentax” brand name with their medical-based products. In contrast, Ricoh owned the rights to the “Pentax” associated with any camera or sporting optics equipment.

Ricoh, which eventually changed its name to the Ricoh Imaging Company, initially continued to produce and offer all the sports-based optics in the Pentax sporting optics division. This division included the Pentax scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes.

In 2014, Ricoh Imaging decided to cease production and sales of the Pentax line of riflescopes, although they continued to offer the Pentax line of binoculars and spotting scopes for sale. At the time of this post, Ricoh was still marketing those two sporting optic products on the Ricoh website.


Pentax Scopes

The Pentax brand of rifle scopes consisted of the following scope series:

  • Gameseeker scopes
  • Lightseeker scopes
  • Pioneer scopes
  • Whitetails Unlimited scopes

These scope series and the variants within each series meant Pentax had a scope offering for almost all the popular scope sub-markets. In addition, they had entry-level hunting models, mid-level hunting models, 30mm target or long distance scopes, higher-end models with good glass, and specialty models for deer hunting.

Pentax Gameseeker Scopes

The Gameseeker line of scopes was Pentax’s entry-level series designed for hunters and shooters who wanted a good quality scope at a reasonable price. These scopes are generally considered a decent scope for the money and have received good to excellent reviews from various outdoor sports publications.

Pentax Gameseeker Scopes
All the Pentax Gameseeker Scope Models were Made in China

The Gameseeker series consisted of five different generations or versions of rifle scopes:

  • Original Gameseeker Series
  • Gameseeker 5X Series
  • Gameseeker II Series
  • Gameseeker III Series
  • Gameseeker 30 Series

Let’s discuss each series in more detail.

Original Gameseeker Scopes

The original Pentax Gameseeker family of scopes was introduced in 2002 and consisted of the following models:

  • 1.75-5×20
  • 3-9×40
  • 3-9×50
  • 4-12×40

This series was manufactured in China and was built on a 1-inch tube. These scopes were meant to be an entry-level or budget-oriented series of scopes marketed to hunters who wanted a decent quality scope at a budget-oriented price point.

While this series was considered a commercial success for Pentax, this scope family also had the following issues:

  • A reported issue where the scope reticle broke or malfunctioned under repeated heavy recoil from a shotgun or centerfire rifle.
  • A frequently reported issue with the scope fogging up internally when exposed to extreme cold.

Pentax phased out the original Gameseeker scope series around 2007 and replaced them with the Gameseeker II family of scopes.

Gameseeker 5x Scopes

This series was introduced in 2008 and only featured one power magnification range and two reticle options.

The power range was a 3-15×50 with either the Pentax Penta-Plex reticle or a Pentax Precision Plex reticle.

Pentax took the sales data from the Pentax Whitetail Unlimited scopes and built this configuration to market towards the deer hunting community. While the Gameseeker 5X scopes were a decent seller for Pentax, the Gameseeker II and III scopes were better-selling models.

This scope series was built on a 1-inch tube and was manufactured in China.

Pentax phased this scope model out at the end of 2014.

Gameseeker II Scopes

Pentax introduced the Gameseeker II series of scopes in 2010. This family of riflescopes was intended to be an upgrade over the original Gameseeker scope models and correct some of the known issues with the first generation Gameseeker models.

In addition to correcting some of the reported issues, Pentax also introduced new power magnification models to the Gameseeker II family.

The Gameseeker II scopes were also produced in China and were built on a 1-inch tube. This series supposedly offered slightly better optics than the original Gameseeker series.

Pentax 4-12 Gameseeker II Riflescope

The Gameseeker II scopes consisted of the following scope models:

  • 2.5-10X56 (A new model)
  • 2-7×32 (A new model)
  • 3-9×40
  • 3-9×50
  • 4-12×40
  • 4-16×50 (A new model)

In 2012, Pentax phased out the 4-12X40 and 4-16×50 models from the Gameseeker II line.

Like the entire Pentax scope series, this scope family was phased out of production at the end of 2014.

Gameseeker III Scopes

Pentax introduced the Gameseeker III scopes in 2012. This riflescope series was marketed as having better glass than the Gameseeker II scopes and was available in different power magnification ranges.

With the Gameseeker III scopes, Pentax discontinued the lower power ranges (2-7 and 2.5×10) but maintained the most popular selling configuration from the II series.

The Gameseeker III series of scopes consisted of the following models:

  • 3-9×40
  • 3-9×50
  • 4-12×40
  • 4-16×40

Unfortunately, the 3rd generation of the Gameseeker scopes would not stay on the market long, as Pentax opted to exit the rifle scope industry at the end of 2014.

Gameseeker 30 Scopes

Introduced in 2011, the Gameseeker 30 scopes were marketed as a 30mm scope option within the Gameseeker line of riflescopes. These models were offered as a less expensive 30mm option for shooters or hunters who did not want to invest in the more costly Pentax Lightseeker 30 scope line listed below.

  • 3-10×40
  • 4-16×50
  • 6-24×50
  • 8.5-23×50

This family of scopes was built on a 30mm tube and was sourced from an optical factory in China.

This series proved to be a relatively good seller for Pentax until it phased out in 2014.

 Lightseeker Scopes

The Lightseeker family of riflescopes was Pentax’s top-of-the-line scope offering. This series consisted of several 1-inch models and one 30mm model that featured good quality glass and good performance at a decent price point.

Most all the different Lightseeker scope models were manufactured by Burris Optics for Pentax. Although, some Lightseeker models were produced at the Burris facility in the United States.

The Lightseeker scope family models included the following series of scopes:

  • Original Lightseeker Series
  • Lightseeker II Series
  • Lightseeker 30 Series
  • Lightseeker XL
  • Lightseeker SL

Let’s take a deeper look at each one of the specific Lightseeker models:

Original Lightseeker Series

Introduced in 2000, the original Pentax Lightseeker scopes were manufactured by Burris scopes at their US facility. When they were first introduced, the Lightseeker scopes were offered in the following configurations:

  • 1.75-6×35
  • 2.5×25 SG Plus Fixed power
  • 2-8×38
  • 2.5-10×50
  • 3-9×43
  • 3-9×50

If you looked at the 3-9×43 listing above ad thought that the 43mm objective was a typo, you would be incorrect. For some reason, the first generation of the Lightseeker 3-9 scope was built with a 43mm objective versus a more traditional 42mm or 44mm. Pentax would later change the objective on this scope over to a 42mm objective.

Reticle options for the original Lightseeker scopes included the following:

  • Penta-Plex
  • Fine Plex
  • Twilight Plex
  • Mil-Dot
  • Combo Plex

The 1st generation of the Pentax Lightseeker scopes has surprisingly good glass for a mid-priced scope.

Pentax discontinued the original Lightseeker lines of scopes in 2014.

Lightseeker II Series

The Lightseeker II series of riflescopes was introduced in 2000 (with the original Lightseeker scopes). So, for several years, Pentax offered the original Lightseeker series and the Lightseeker II series of scopes at the same time.

This family of scopes featured slightly better optics than the original Lightseeker scopes, and some of the II scope models also featured an adjustable objective.

The Lightseeker II family of scopes included the following models:

  • 3-9×50
  • 4-16×50 with Adjustable Objective
  • 6-24×50 with Adjustable Objective

This series of scopes were built on a 1-inch tube and was manufactured by Burris at their US facility. For comparison purposes, the Pentax Lightseeker II scopes were very similar to the Burris Signature line of scopes.

The Lightseeker II series was phased out in 2007 and replaced with the Lightseeker XL series of scopes.

Lightseeker 30 series

Introduced in 2002, the Lightseeker 30 series of riflescopes was part of Pentax’s top-of-the-line 30mm series of scopes.

When this scope series was first introduced, the following scopes were offered:

  • 4-16×50
  • 6-24×50
  • 8-32×50

In 2011, Pentax added a 3-10×50 version to the Lightseeker 30 series.

From 2002 to 2007, these scopes were only available with a mil-dot reticle. In 2008, Pentax started offering these scopes with a Ballistic Plex reticle option in addition to the mil-dot reticle.

These scopes were built in the USA at the Burris scope facility. From a comparison standpoint, these scope models are very similar to the Burris Euro Diamond scopes.

Pentax opted to discontinue the entire Lightseeker series of scopes in 2014.

Lightseeker XL Series

Introduced in 2007, the Lightseeker XL series of riflescopes were offered as a replacement for the Lightseeker II series of scopes.

This series of riflescopes was built on a 30mm tube and was offered in the following configurations:

  • 2-5-10×50
  • 3-9×40
  • 3-9×50
  • 4-16×50

In 2013, Pentax phased out the 3-9×50 model.

The XL scopes were built for Pentax by Burris at the Burris USA facility.

From a scope comparison standpoint, these models are similar to the Burris Signature Select series of scopes.

Lightseeker SL Series

The Pentax Lightseeker SL series of scopes was introduced in 2007 and was meant to be a more compact hunting scope option.

The SL series is only offered in a 3-9×32 version that was available in a Ballistic Plex reticle.

This model was built in a 1-inch tube and was produced by Burris at their US scope facility.

This model is very similar to the Burris Short Mag series of scopes from a scope comparison standpoint.

Pioneer Series

The Pentax Pioneer series of scopes consists of two versions:

  • Original Pioneer Series
  • Pioneer II Series

Both of these scope versions were offered as a mid-grade scope option that had better optics than the Gameseeker series but not as good as the Lightseeker series.

Both versions of the Pioneer scopes were only offered in two models:

  • 3-9×40
  • 4.5-14×42

Original Pioneer Series

The Pioneer series of scopes was introduced in 2005 and was built on a 1-inch tube. These scopes were constructed in the Philippines at the same optical facility that makes the Burris Fullfield II scopes.

The 1st generation of the Pioneer scopes was phased out of production at the end of 2007, and was replaced with the Pioneer II scope models.

Pioneer II Series

The Pioneer II scope models were introduced in 2008 and were also built on a 1-inch tube.

This series of the Pioneer scopes were manufactured at an optical facility in China.

In my opinion, the optical quality of the original Pioneer series is much better than the Chinese-made Pioneer II scopes.

The Pioneer II models were phased out in 2014 when Pentax migrated out of the riflescope market.

Whitetails Unlimited Series

Introduced in 2002, the Whitetails Unlimited series of scopes was a joint venture that Pentax did with the Whitetails Unlimited organization. A portion of every riflescope sold was donated to Whitetails Unlimited, and each purchase included a free one-year membership to the organization.

The Whitetails Unlimited scopes featured the following scope models:

  • 2-5×25
  • 3x9x40
  • 3.7-11×42
  • 4.5-14×42

This series of riflescopes was built in a 1-inch tube and was manufactured in the USA at the Burris scope facility.

From a scope comparison perspective, the Pentax Whitetails Unlimited scopes were similar to the original Burris Fullfield line of riflescopes.

Pentax elected to discontinue this scope family in 2007.

Pentax and Burris

While there’s no doubt that Pentax used Burris to produce a number of their scope models, most people believe that all the Pentax Lightseeker scopes were just Burris scopes that were re-badged under the Pentax name.

Gameseeker II Scope from Pentax

While there may be some truth to that, it’s not the case across the board. While there are definite similarities between specific Burris scopes and specific Pentax scopes, not all Pentax riflescopes have identical technical specifications found on a comparable Burris scope.

When comparing, I found that the technical specifications between the two brands were similar but not 100% exact. For example, the field of view (FOV) specifications were different, and the power ranges were slightly different as well.

I suspect that Pentax had to make a few subtle specifications changes to each scope for Burris to agree to the outsourcing.

That’s one of the reasons that I mention specific Burris scope models as being “similar” to certain Pentax Lightseeker models.

Shopping for a Pentax Riflescope?

Since Pentax no longer manufactures scopes, the pre-owned market is about the only place to find a Pentax scope these days. Here are a few models that I found for sale:


Here are some frequently asked questions that I see regarding the Pentax line of rifle scopes:

What’s the Pentax scope warranty, and is Pentax still honoring the warranty?

The answer to that question is somewhat convoluted for the following reasons:

  • Pentax withdrew from the riflescope business at the end of 2014, so they no longer offer any scopes for sale.
  • Pentax went through several changes as a company, including a reorganization and sale of the sporting optics portion of their business. Because of these changes in the business, Pentax had two different warranty programs while their riflescopes were being sold.
  • The warranty program seems to be tied to the location where the specific scope model was sourced (I’ll explain that a bit more below).

Two Different Warranty Programs

First, let’s talk about the two different warranty programs that Pentax offered while they were in the scope business.

When Pentax first entered the riflescope market in 2001, their warranty stated the following:

“Pentax USA, Inc. warrants binoculars and scopes originally distributed by Pentax USA, Inc., 35 Inverness Drive East, Englewood, Colorado, 80112 to be free from defects in material and workmanship for as long as the product is owned by the original owner.

If this product fails because of defects in material or workmanship, we will repair the product without charge to you within a reasonable period of time.

This warranty shall NOT apply if it is shown by Pentax that the defect or malfunction was caused by damage resulting from, but not limited to: impact, mishandling, operation of the product contrary to instructions contained in the owner’s manual, tampering, modification, or servicing by an unauthorized repair shop.

THIS LIMITED WARRANTY APPLIES ONLY TO BINOCULARS AND SCOPES ORIGINALLY DISTRIBUTED IN THE UNITED STATES BY PENTAX USA, INC., 35 INVERNESS DRIVE EAST, ENGLEWOOD, CO 80112. Make sure that the Pentax equipment you are purchasing has a Product Registration Card issued by Pentax USA, Inc.”

(This wording was copied directly off a Pentax warranty card from a Pentax Lightseeker II scope manufactured during the early 2000s.)

This warranty program was in place until around 2007 when Pentax went through a reorganization.

After the reorganization, the “new” Pentax warranty was called the “Pentax Worry-free Warranty” and stated the following:

“The PENTAX “Worry-Free” Warranty

PENTAX Sport Optic products are of the highest optical and mechanical quality. If your PENTAX Binocular, Spotting Scope or Rifle Scope purchased in the USA from an authorized PENTAX Sport Optics dealer requires repair, PENTAX will repair or replace it to the original purchaser (even if damaged by fault) for a charge of $19.95, to cover handling and return shipping.* This warranty does not cover cosmetic damage, theft or loss. (Replacement may be with comparable model at PENTAX’s discretion if the original model is no longer available.)

*Applies only to unmodified equipment or product with modifications performed by authorized PENTAX repair personnel.”

My experience with the Pentax warranty indicates that Pentax’s willingness to honor the warranty is dependent on the specific scope model and where that model was manufactured.

For example, most all the Pentax Gameseeker scope models were manufactured in China, and Pentax (or Rico Imaging) does not appear to have the capability to repair the models from China. Because of this, Ricoh Imaging does not seem to honor the warranty on these models.

However, the Pentax scopes manufactured by Burris may be covered under the original Pentax warranty as Burris is still in business. I’ve had customers at my day job who reported that Ricoh Imaging did honor the warranty and repaired a Burris-made Pentax scope.

At the end of the day, your mileage may vary when trying to engage either warranty on a Pentax scope.

Where are Pentax scopes made?

The answer will depend on the specific Pentax scope model. Burris produced the higher-end line of Lightseeker scopes at their USA facility. The mid-level Pentax scopes, such as the early Pioneer scopes, were made at the Burris facility or at Burris’s optical factory in the Philippines. Finally, the lower-end Pentax scopes like the Gameseeker series were manufactured in China.

What happened to Pentax rifle scopes?

When Pentax scopes first hit the market in the early 2000s, they were well priced and offered a better than average value for the money. Typically, a Pentax scope was priced around 20% to 25% less than many of the comparable riflescope models offered by their competitors, making their higher-end scope lines an outstanding deal.

However, sales of the Pentax scopes never really took off as hoped. In 2011, the Pentax Sporting Optics side of the business was sold to the Ricoh Imaging Company. Ricoh decided to exit the riflescope business in 2014 but opted to keep offering the better selling binoculars and spotting scopes portion of the Sporting Optics division.

Are Pentax scopes any good?

Some of the Pentax scope models are better than others. The Chinese-made Pentax scopes were built to be an entry-level or budget-oriented scope, so the optical quality isn’t great.

The mid-level Pentax scopes featured higher quality optics and were a better value than the lower-end Pentax scopes.

To me, the real value in the Pentax scopes was the higher-end Lightseeker scope models. All the Lightseeker scopes were built by Burris and were/are comparable to the higher-end Burris scopes from the same time period. In addition, these scopes were usually priced under the comparable Burris scopes, making them an excellent value.