Best Scope For Deer Hunting: Reviews Of 2020 Top Picks

There is no doubting the usefulness of the best scope for deer hunting. The deer hunting process becomes more productive with a scope. So which is the best scope for deer hunting? This is the question we will be seeking to answer in this article.

There are several factors that we use to determine whether a scope is the best or not. These include magnification, type of reticle, size, and weight, as well as eye relief. These factors are discussed more in detail below.

But before we get into what makes a scope the best scope for hunting deer, let’s take at our top 7 picks. These are the scopes we felt best met the criterion. The Swarovski z5 occupies the top spot. If money is not an option, this is the best scope for deer hunting on our list.

However, if spending $1000 is not possible for you, the Nikon Buckmaster comes in at number two. Additionally, all the other scopes on our list are great budget alternatives to pricier models.


Reviews Of The Best Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Scope For Deer Hunting

SWAROVSKI Z5 3.5-18x44 Ballistic Turret Riflescope

The Swarovski brand is commonly associated with groundbreaking innovations and hefty prices. And the Swarovski Z5 does not deviate from this norm. It is undoubtedly a pricey rifle scope, which begs the question, is it worth its $1000 price tag?

Swarovski’s brand power aside, the Z5 is a dependable scope with all the features you would expect from a high-end scope. A 3.5x-18x magnification is rare in rifle scopes. This magnification guarantees precision in both medium and long-range shots.

You also get adjustable parallax for correcting parallax. This is especially handy when making long-range shots. The reticle on this scope is a unique 4W reticle with hash marks of 2 MOA increments.

This reticle helps in rangefinding and does not look cluttered. On the other hand, the ballistic turret flex can be adjusted independently. This allows you to stay on target at all times.

Pros

Cons

  • The scope has a long eye relief
  • Comes with a great field of view
  • Has a versatile magnification range ideal for both close and long-range shots
  • The lenses are coated with anti-reflective coatings that improve image quality
  • Offers fantastic and bright image quality
  • It is a pricey scope
  • The top zero rings was a bit difficult to align
  • Features

  • 3.5x-18x magnification
  • 44mm objective lens
  • 4W reticle
  • Waterproof up to 4 meters deep
  • HD fluoride-containing lenses
  • Verdict

    This is undoubtedly the priciest scope on our list. However, when you consider its price, it is well worth it. Not many scopes on the market can match the Swarovski brand. And this model, in particular, delivers excellent image quality.


    Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40 BDC

    The Nikon Buckmasters II is a scope that has been around for a while now; it is simple, reliable, and, most importantly, affordable. With its low price tag, you may be forgiven for thinking its a piece of junk.

    On the contrary, though, this Nikon optic ticked all the right boxes. Measuring 12.3 inches long and weighing 13 ounces, it will not add any considerable heft to your rifle. Its 40mm objective lens allows in plenty of light.

    As its name suggests, this scope has a BDC reticle, which is excellent for long-range shooting. But probably the best thing about the reticle is the see-through ballistic circles.

    Despite its price tag, the Nikon Buckmasters II has fully multi-coated optics. In terms of its construction, the scope is waterproof and shockproof. This means it is capable of withstanding harsh weather.

    Pros

    Cons

  • It is offered at an affordable price tag
  • At its price tag, it has fully multi-coated optics
  • The scope is waterproof and shockproof
  • Has a BDC reticle with see-through ballistics circles for long-range shooting
  • It has a generous field of view
  • The image quality could be better
  • Has a rather short eye relief
  • Features

  • BDC reticle
  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • 3.7 inches eye relief
  • 12.3 inches tube length
  • Verdict

    For anyone looking for a simple and straightforward scope for deer hunting, this is a dependable scope from Nikon. The company has a knack for producing high-quality scopes, and the Buckmaster II is no exception.


    Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32

    The Vortex Crossfire II series of scopes are known for being affordable and of high quality. So we would never turn down a chance to test any scope in this series. The Vortex Crossfire 2-7×32 is the one we settled on.

    With a 2-7x magnification, this is a decent enough scope for both beginners and pro hunters. Its effective range is below 1000 yards. This is, however, understandable given its cost and purpose.

    As for the lenses, they are fully multi-coated, which is not what you would expect from a scope in its price range. And as with most Vortex optics, it has a BDC reticle. The latter features hash marks at the bottom of the crosshair.

    These allow you to estimate the impact of bullet drop on the target you are aiming for. Of worth noting is that this is a second focal plane reticle. So the size remains consistent across all zoom levels.

    Pros

    Cons

  • It has a low asking price making it ideal for beginners
  • The windage and elevation turrets are great
  • The scope is weatherproof and can work in foggy or rainy weather
  • Weighing 14.3 ounces, it is lightweight 
  • Comes with a long eye relief of more than 3 inches
  • Lacks parallax adjustment
  • Is not great for long-range shooting
  • Features

  • 2-7x magnification
  • 32 mm objective lens
  • BDC reticle
  • Zero reset elevation and windage turrets
  • Fully-multicoated optics
  • Single tube piece construction
  • Verdict

    This is an excellent scope offered at an affordable price tag. Both beginners and pros can use this deer hunting scope. It provides an excellent sight picture for a scope in its price range, which is great to see.


    Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40mm Riflescope

    Another budget option that we are sure will excite you is the Leupold VX-Freedom. It is not as fancy or sophisticated as other Leupold, but for its price, it holds up pretty well.

    The scope has a matte black finish, which is common with most Leupold products. In terms of construction, it is a 1-inch scope body. As such, you can mount it using any of the commonly available mounting rings.

    When it comes to the reticle, it has a rather basic duplex reticle. But while it isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, it works well. We found it to be perfectly adequate for hunting deer.

    The magnification dial is thick and easy to turn with gloved hands. Its 3-9x magnification range is suitable for medium-range hunting. You will not have trouble a 10-inch target from 200 yards with this scope.

    Pros

    Cons

  • It is easy and quick to zoom even with gloved hands
  • The scope can be mounted with most common mounting rings
  • It is a second focal plane scope meaning the size of the reticle does not change when zoomed in
  • The scope is durable and can be used in harsh weather
  • Is offered at a low price tag
  • The reticle is rather too basic
  • No parallax adjustmentsv
  • Features

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 12.2-ounce weight
  • 12.39 inches in length
  • 3.66-inch eye relief
  • 40 mm objective lens
  • Verdict

    This is not the most advanced scope out there, but what Leupold has done with it is create something for the average joe. Its low price tag means that just about anyone can pick this scope.


    Sightmark Wraith HD 4-32x50 Digital Riflescope

    Digital rifle scopes have become somewhat of a revelation, with their hi-tech features. The Sightmark Wraith HD is one of the scopes that are at the forefront of the revolution.

    While it may seem costly, this model is actually affordable. Perhaps its best selling feature is the CMOS 1920×1080 HD color image sensor. The latter picks up your target and displays it on a 1280 x 720 FCLOS display.

    Simply put, the image quality of this digital rifle scope is superb. You get a full-color image of your target during the day. And when the sun sets or before it rises, you get two-night vision display mode.

    You get ten different reticle options and nine different color options. This means you can customize your optic to fit the surroundings and shooting time.

    Pros

    Cons

  • The Wraith has an easy to navigate the settings menu
  • This scope can withstand a recoil of a .308 Winchester
  • The mounting hardware is of good quality and locks the scope firmly in place
  • Can be used in low light situations thanks to its night vision
  • It is possible to customize the rifle scope
  • The sight sits further forward on a rail for most people's liking
  • It tends to dilate the viewing at night
  • Features

  • 1920x1080 sensor resolution
  • JPEG photo format
  • 4-32x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • 1-8x digital zoom
  • 10.5 inches in length
  • Verdict

    Digital rifle scopes are quickly growing in popularity, and this Sightmark model is among the most popular. With its hi-tech features, it is rather affordable. It is perhaps the best deer scope at its price. In addition this scope is best for hunting prey at night


    Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-16x50

    This is not a $1000 rifle scope, but it is not a cheap knock off either. What it is, is an affordable but quality scope. Priced at below $500, it is similar to all the other scopes on this list in that it offers decent features at an affordable price tag.

    Something that we particularly loved about this scope was the adjustable objective lens. The latter means that you can adjust for parallax. Not many scopes in its price range have this feature.

    As for the lenses, they are fully multi-coated, which again is rare to see in this price range. The result is a crisp and clear image quality.

    The capped adjustable turrets are finger adjustable, meaning you can reset to zero very easily after sighting in. Overall, the scope is made from a single piece of tube.

    Pros

    Cons

  • Comes with fully multi-coated lenses
  • The scope of an adjustable objective lens for parallax adjustment
  • Comes with a decently long eye relief
  • The BDC reticle works well for hunting at different ranges
  • The scope is water and fog proof
  • The long eye relief makes it unideal for scout style rifles
  • The scope tends to lose zero after a few shots
  • Features

  • 4-16x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • BDC reticle
  • O-ring sealed
  • Capped reset turrets
  • Verdict

    This is a budget scope that can be used for long-range shooting. Not many scopes have such a description, and this is one of the few scopes for deer hunting. Its parallax adjustment feature was a welcome addition.


    Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope

    The Nikon Prostaff is a standard rifle scope that has all the excellent features we have come to expect from Nikon. From the BDC reticle to the spring-loaded windage and elevation turrets.

    Speaking of the spring-loaded windage and elevation turrets, they are not the norm in most other scopes. They can be reset to zero once you sight in and have an audible click every time they are moved.

    As already mentioned, this scope has a BDC reticle. It has special holdover marks at the bottom of the crosshairs. This helps provide impact estimation points based on bullet drop. It is something that we have come to expect from Nikon scopes.

    With a 3-9x magnification range, this scope is suited to the medium and long-range shooting by AR or 308. You can easily hit targets from between 200 and 900 yards. However, targets closer than 200 yards may be challenging to hit.

    Pros

    Cons

  • The windage and elevation turrets offer excellent tactile feedback
  • Weighing 13.5 ounces, it is lightweight for most rifles
  • This scope is waterproof and fog proof
  • It is offered at an affordable price that will appeal to most
  • Overall it is easy to use
  • The objective lens is not adjustable for correcting parallax
  • The scope does not come with any mounting rings
  • Features

  • Fully multi-coated optics
  • Zero-reset turrets
  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40 mm objective lens
  • O-ring sealed
  • Nitrogen purged interior
  • Verdict

    This is one of the best deer hunting scopes from Nikon; it ticks all the right boxes. And while it is missing in some areas, it is well worth it.


    What To Consider Before Getting a Right Deer Hunting Scope


    So what makes the best scope deer hunting? There are several things you should consider when shopping for the best deer scope. These are:

    Best Scope Magnification For Deer Hunting

     

    Deer get spooked easily, so getting close to your prey is not the way to go when deer hunting. Your best bet will be to hit your prey from a long-range. That being said, you will need a scope with a magnification power of 9x maximum. 

    With a 9x or more max magnification, you will be able to hit your prey from 300 yards out, So now you know the best scope magnification for deer hunting. Anything less than a 9x max magnification will not be ideal for deer hunting.

     

    Lens Coating Plays a Vital Role Hunting in Dawn and Dusk Time

     

    Dawn and dusk can be the perfect time of day for deer hunting. The problem is during this time; there is usually very little light. As such, you need a scope that works well in low light. One feature that helps with this is lens coating.

    Multi-coated lenses improve a scope’s light transmission. They are thus delivering a clear and bright image quality. Therefore for deer hunting, consider a scope with multi-coated lenses. Better yet, invest in one with fully multi-coated lenses.

    The fully multi-coated lenses help prevent glare and thus give you crisp and clear image quality.

     

    Short Eye Relief Or Long Eye Relief Is Preferable?

     

    Deer hunting requires a pretty powerful rifle. The problem with powerful rifles is that they pack quite a punch in the form of recoil. When peering through a scope, the recoil produced by a gun can cause your eye injury.

    And this is why a long eye relief is recommended for muzzleloader scopes for deer hunting. Eye relief of more than 3.5 inches is recommended.

     

    What Type Of Reticle Must Be There On The Deer Hunting Scope?

     

    We have already mentioned that you may have to take down your prey from a long-range. And one phenomenon you have to be aware of is bullet drop. This becomes a factor when shooting from long range.

    A bullet drop compensator reticle or BDC reticle will come in handy in helping you know the impact of bullet drop on where the bullet will land.

     

    What Size Of Objective lens To Consider On Deer Hunting Scope?

     

    The size of the objective lens matters when hunting deer. An objective lens with a wide diameter lets in more light. Thus you can get bright image quality even in low light. This is especially important if you hunt at dawn or dusk.


    Frequently Asked Questions


    1

    What is the right magnification range for deer hunting?

    For deer hunting, you need a scope with 3-9x magnification. You can use one with a higher max magnification, but the 3-9x is the standard range. This gives you the ability to hit targets from medium to long distances.

    2

    Which is better: a long-range or medium-range scope?

    A long-range scope for deer hunting will be a better choice. However, long-range scopes also require a parallax adjustment. Thus for scopes that do not have a parallax adjustment, a medium-range is best.

    3

    Is it necessary to have a scope for deer hunting?

    A scope will improve your chances of hitting your prey from long distances. As such, a scope is a crucial component to have when deer hunting.

    4

    Which is the best scope for the 6.5 Creedmoor?

    The 6.5 Creedmoor is a long-range round and is best paired with a long-range scope. From our list, the Swarovski Z5 is the best scope to match with a 6.5 Creedmoor.


    Conclusion


    There is no one size fits all when it comes to the best scope for deer hunting. Some excel more than others. However, it all comes down to your needs and hunting technique. For deer hunting, though, you may want something that you can use from long distances.

    All-in-all, all the seven options on our list can help you hit your target from varying distances.

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