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.
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.
What makes this an even better feature is that there is a ballistic calculator on the Nikon Spot On web site where hunters can get the correct hold over points when using their exact hunting load. This is an incredible tool that has no real competitor right now.
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.
Buy your Nikon ProStaff P3 scope here.
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.
Buy your Muzzle-Loaders Genesis scope here.
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 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.
Buy your Konus Pro scope here.
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. Oh, and it’s also available in a 4-12x40mm version as well for hunters who want all the magnification they can get.
Buy your Nikon Buckmasters 3-9x40mm scope here.
Some of you may be wondering why anyone would want to use a 1x muzzleloader scope. Well, certain states (like North Dakota) allow hunters to use scopes, but only if the scope doesn’t provide any magnification. If you happen to hunt in an area where that’s the case, then the Traditions 1×32 is a really great choice for a muzzleloader scope. It’s very reasonably priced, lightweight, fogproof, waterproof, holds a zero well, and has really good glass. With a 32mm objective lens, this scope gathers light really well and, compared to iron sights, can give you a couple extra minutes of shooting light at the beginning and end of each day.
Buy your Traditions 1x32mm scope here.
Designed specifically for use on Thompson Center rifles, the Thompson Center Predator 3-12x40mm is a quality scope as well. Since both the scope and rings have a RealTree camouflage pattern, this is a great scope to complement a camo muzzleloader for hunters who don’t want a scope in matte black. It also uses a pretty standard “center-plex reticle” (similar to a duplex reticle) that hunters who don’t like a “busy” reticle will appreciate. Aside from that, there isn’t much else to say about the T/C Predator: it uses nice glass for great light transmission, it’s easy to use, it’s durable, and the scope is very reasonably priced.
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. However, if you want an updated muzzleloader scope that still has all the great features hunters loved about the Inline XR, buy a ProStaff P3 instead.
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 four other articles: