Which muzzleloader scope should you use this hunting season?
I think we can probably agree that choosing the best muzzleloader scope can be a difficult task, especially for those who are new to hunting with a muzzleloader.
For one thing, there are so many different muzzleloader scopes on the market that selecting the right one can be overwhelming. Additionally, it can be really tough to cut through some of the marketing speak a lot of companies use to sell their products.
I’ve experienced a lot of that same frustration myself.
Since I first started hunting with a muzzleloader, I’ve tried out several different muzzleloader scopes with varying results. Though I’ve been fortunate enough to have never owned a truly bad scope, I have absolutely owned a few that I would not recommend to other hunters. Luckily, there are several high quality muzzleloader scopes on the market today that are reasonably priced, but still have excellent optics, hold a zero, and track exceptionally well.
In this post, I’m going share my picks of the best muzzleloader scopes for hunters. Now, these muzzleloader scopes won’t make you a better shooter, but they can provide a critical edge when you need it most. This is especially true during low light conditions when many species of big game are most active.
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Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started.
The Muzzle-Loaders Genesis 3-9x40mm scope is one of the best value muzzleloader scopes currently on the market. Just like you’d expect from a good muzzleloader scope, the Muzzle-Loaders Genesis is fog proof, waterproof, and has multi-coated lenses for excellent light transmission.
This scope also has a duplex reticle and comes standard with flip up caps to protect the lenses from the elements when not in use. Finally, the Muzzle-Loaders Genesis scope is also priced very competitively and comes with a lifetime warranty from Muzzle-Loaders.com. Add it all up and you’ve got a great muzzleloader scope that should serve you well for many years of hunting use.
The Leupold VX-Freedom UltimateSlam is another outstanding muzzleloader scope. Leupold recently made a bunch of changes to their line of optics and the VX-Freedom replaced the old VX-2 line of scopes. However, this update is a good thing and the VX-Freedom still incorporates the features people loved about the Leupold VX-2 with a few added improvements.
Like all Leupold scopes, the UltimateSlam uses excellent quality glass that’s coated to maximize light transmission and minimize glare and reflection. In fact, it probably has the best quality glass out of all the muzzleloader scopes on this list. The UltimateSlam is also one of the toughest and most durable muzzleloader scopes out there and will still deliver dead on accuracy after many years of hard use. Leupold also makes a version of this scope with an illuminated reticle.
At the same time, the Ultimate Slam is equipped with Leupold’s Sabot Ballistic Reticle (SABR) that provides the right hold over points for a typical muzzleloader load. However, the system isn’t quite as good as the BDC 300 reticle on the Nikon ProStaff P3 because users don’t have access to a ballistic computer like the Nikon Spot On.
All things considered, the Leupold VX-Freedom UltimateSlam is one of the best muzzleloader scopes currently available on the market and you can’t go wrong by using one on your muzzleloader.
The Vortex Crossfire II is an excellent entry level muzzleloader scope. If you want a reasonably priced, no frills muzzleloader scope and don’t want to do a lot of shopping, then the Crossfire II is exactly what you need.
Just like you’d expect from a scope made by Vortex, the Crossfire II is nitrogen filled so it’s is fog proof and waterproof. It also has multi-coated lenses that facilitate great light transmission and clarity under a variety of circumstances . It’s also really tough and comes with Vortex’s lifetime warranty.
This scope is available with the Vortex Dead Hold BDC reticle. With a 100 yard zero, the hashmarks on the reticle assist the hunter in determining the proper amount of holdover at 125 yards, 200 yards, and 225 yards.
It’s currently manufactured in 2-7x32mm, 3-9x40mm, 3-9x50mm, 4-12x40mm, 4-12x44mm, 4-12x50mm, or 6-18x44mm configurations. Of those, the 2-7x32mm or the 3-9x40mm options with the Vortex Dead Hold BDC will fit the bill perfectly for the vast majority of muzzleloader hunters.
While the Vortex Crossfire II is a great entry level muzzleloader scope, the Vortex Viper is a perfect muzzleloader scope for someone who wants something a little nicer.
The Viper has a 30mm tube (instead of a 1″ tube like most other muzzleloader scopes) and uses lenses with XR coating for the best possible clarity and light transmission. The Viper comes with Vortex’s lifetime warranty. This muzzleloader scope is also available with a Vortex Dead Hold BDC reticle.
All in all, this is a much more capable muzzleloader scope than the Vortex Crossfire or the Muzzle-Loaders Genesis scope. Even so, it’s still very reasonably priced, proving that you can get great performance out of a muzzleloader without breaking the bank.
The Burris FullField E1 muzzleloader scope fills the gap in capability and price between the lower tier Muzzleloaders Genesis and Vortex Crossfire scopes and the nicer (and more expensive) Leupold UltimateSlam and Vortex Viper scopes.
This scope comes at a very attractive price point, but also includes a lot of useful features. First, this scope uses high-grade optical glass with multicoating for low-light performance and glare elimination. It also uses the Burris Ballistic Plex Reticle that includes holdover points for various yardages. This is also a durable and well built scope, but comes with the Burris Forever Warranty in case something breaks.
Especially when you consider the price of this scope, the Burris FullField E1 is an excellent muzzleloader scope for beginners as well as experienced hunters.
While there’s not a darn thing wrong with any of the other muzzleloader scopes we’ve covered so far, some hunters want the absolute best equipment they can use afield. Hunters these days have access to some really high performing muzzleloaders and using a really high end scope can help you take full advantage of the incredible capabilities of modern muzzleloaders like the CVA Paramount HTR.
Well, the Nightforce NX8 is one of the best muzzleloader scopes money can buy, especially if you’re looking for a first focal plane muzzleloader scope (everything else on this list is a second focal plane muzzleloader scope) or a muzzleloader scope with an illuminated reticle. Nightforce scopes are very popular in precision shooting and military special operations communities for good reason: they’re outstanding scopes with exceptional light transmission, superior glass quality, precise tracking, and unbelievable durability.
In fact, a Nightforce scope in use by a US Army sniper back in 2011 was hit by a 7.62x39mm round fired from an AK-47. The bullet broke the magnification ring of the scope, but the scope was fully functional in every other way. It even held zero afterwards and the Soldier (who was unhurt) used it for another few days with success.
It doesn’t get much more durable than that and I think it’s safe to say that if a Nightforce scope will hold zero after literally being shot by an AK, then it will probably be fine if you drop your muzzleloader on a hunt.
If you want the absolute best muzzleloader scope that money can buy, then strongly consider getting a Nightforce NX8. The Burris Eliminator (which is next on this list) is also really worth considering.
Hunters who want to wring every last bit of long range capability out of their muzzleloader should really consider the Burris Eliminator III. Easily the most technologically advanced muzzleloader scope available, the Burris Eliminator III includes a built in laser rangefinder and ballistic calculator.
Just enter the ballistic data for your chosen load, sight in your muzzleloader, and hit the button on the side of your scope when aiming at your target. After you do that, the scope will automatically calculate exactly where you need to hold to hit and display an illuminated dot for your aiming point.
Yes, you read that right: this scope will calculate the perfect holdover point for you with just the push of a button.
It also has an inclinometer to adjust for the angle on uphill or downhill shots and will also display windage hold-offs to compensate for a crosswind. Plus, it has all the other bells and whistles that come with a high end muzzleloader scope: high grade optical glass, multicoated lenses for good low-light performance and glare eliminator, parallax adjustment, integrated scope mounts that will work with a Weaver or Picatinny base, and the Burris Forever Warranty.
Like I said, this is an incredibly technologically advanced muzzleloader scope (and will also work for centerfire rifles). Note that this scope is not legal to use in every state, so check your hunting regulations first.
Additionally, this scope is so advanced that some hunters may feel like using it is almost “cheating.” I respect that and recognize that this scope is not for everyone.
That said, as long as it’s legal to use where you hunt, this scope can be an incredible tool to use afield for hunters who want to do everything possible to cleanly and quickly harvest the game they’re after. If all that sounds like your cup of tea, then the Burris Eliminator III might be the best muzzleloader scope for you to hunt with.
The Konus Pro 3-9x40mm and its little brother the Konus 3-9x32mm are both great for hunters who want a reasonably priced, but still dependable scope without a lot of bells and whistles. These scopes are commonly sold with CVA Wolf and Optima muzzleloaders as part of a package and they’ve got a reputation as a good value muzzleloader scope.
If you want a high end rifle scope, then these Konus scopes probably aren’t for you. However, these are great choices for hunters who want a nice muzzleloader scope for less than $100 that will still get the job done.
Note: Nikon has stopped production of all their rifle scopes and other hunting optics. The models below are all very good muzzleloader scopes and you can still find them on the secondary market at times, but they’re no longer making any new scopes.
First introduced in mid-2018, the Nikon ProStaff P3 has made a big splash and many hunters and shooters consider it to be one of the best muzzleloader scopes currently available on the market. Constructed out of aircraft grade aluminum, this scope is durable, but still lightweight (just 15.2 ounces). In addition to being fogproof and waterproof that make the scope suitable for use under a variety of weather conditions, the Nikon ProStaff has multi-coated lenses for superior light transmission. Especially considering very reasonable price of the scope, it has excellent glass that will assist hunters in making accurate shots under low light conditions.
Unlike many other so called “muzzleloader scopes”, the ProStaff P3 is also specifically designed for use on an inline muzzleloader, so it has a generous amount (3.6″) of eye relief, a quick focus eyepiece, a wide field of view, and is durable enough to stand up to the heavy recoil of magnum loads.
Finally, the Nikon ProStaff P3 also incorporates Nikon’s BDC 300 Reticle. In short, this reticle was designed to match the trajectory of inline muzzleloaders and account for bullet drop all the way out to 300 yards. Specifically, the reticle contains the appropriate aiming circles (instead of hash marks) to hit targets at 150, 200, 250, and 300 yards with a 100 yard zero when firing a 250 grain polymer tipped bullet pushed by a 150 grain charge of black powder.
So, not only is Nikon ProStaff P3 an outstanding all around muzzleloader scope, but it also comes with the BDC 300 reticle and Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match technology that will help hunters get the best performance out of their scope when shooting at at short, moderate, and long range.
Nikon manufactured another winner with the Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm scope. Similar to the ProStaff P3 in many respects, the Buckmaster II also has fully multicoated optics, excellent light transmission (even at 9x magnification), 3.6 inch eye relief, and an O-ring sealed body that makes the scope fog proof, water proof, and shock proof. It also has a BDC reticle that will work with the Nikon Spot On ballistic calculator.
For a long time the Nikon Inline XR BDC 300 was considered one of the best muzzleloader scopes available. While it’s still a great scope, Nikon has discontinued production of the Inline XR and replaced it with the ProStaff P3, which is essentially just an updated version of the Inline XR that’s a little more durable and has a couple of extra features. Like the ProStaff P3, the Inline XR has the BDC 300 Reticle with its unique open circle design that allows shooters to aim at a small, distant target without having the reticle obscure it.
It’s still possible to find a Nikon Inline XR BDC 300 riflescope for sale, and it will serve you well if you buy one.
While this post covers choosing the right muzzleloader scope, that’s only part of the equation when hunting with a muzzleoader. For more detailed information on choosing the right primer, propellant, and bullets, check out these other articles: