10 Best Scopes For Deer Hunting (2024)

What’s the best scope for deer hunting you should be using this fall?

I think we can probably agree that choosing the best scope for deer hunting can be a challenging task, especially for those who are new to hunting or just don’t know a lot about optics.

For one thing, there are so many different rifle scopes available for sale 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, I’ve tried out several different rifle scopes with varying results. Though I’ve never owned a truly bad scope, I have purchased a few models that I felt like I wasted my money on and would would not recommend to others. Luckily, there are several high quality hunting scopes on the market today that provide exceptional performance at the range and afield for deer hunters.

In this post, I’m going share my picks of the best scopes for deer hunting. Just buying one of these scopes won’t turn you into a long distance hunter or even improve your marksmanship, but the right scope 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. A scope with good low light performance can mean the difference between going home empty handed and punching your tag on the buck of your dreams in a situation like that.

Before we get started, here’s a disclaimer: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

This commission comes at no extra cost to you. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started.

Feel free to scroll straight through the article, or click one of the links below to jump straight to the best scope for deer hunting in the specific category you’re looking for.

Best Value Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Scope For Deer Hunting Under $200

Best Scope For Deer Hunting Under $300

Best Leupold Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Vortex Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Lightweight Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Scope For Deer Hunting With An AR

Best First Focal Plane Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Value Scope For Deer Hunting

Leupold VX-3HD 4.5-14x40mm

best scope for deer hunting leupold vx3

First up is the Leupold VX-3HD scope, which I think is the best value scope for deer hunting. Leupold makes fantastic quality hunting scopes and their VX-3HD model (which replaced the old VX-3i) provides a good mix of useful features and high end glass in a relatively compact package that’s also available at a moderate price tier.

This scope uses a 1″ main body tube, which helps keep it light and compact. Scopes like this one with a 1-inch tube are easier to mount low to the bore, which facilitates a good cheek weld and gives the rifle a more streamlined profile that’s less prone to snagging on obstructions.

A 4.5x magnification at the low end is good for closer range hunting situations while a 14x magnification at the high end works great for checking targets at the range or for shots at longer range afield.

Speaking of which, the Leupold VX-3HD also comes with a coupon you can redeem with Leupold to receive a custom elevation turret matched to your favorite hunting load. They call this their Custom Dial System Zero Lock (CDS-ZL). After installing the new custom dial, just range the target, turn the dial to that number, and aim dead on. Furthermore, the ZeroLock system on that turret eliminates accidental dial movement.

Add it all up, and you’ve got a great deer hunting scope with lots of useful features at a reasonable price point that should serve you well for many years of hunting use. Really, the Leupold VX-3 is the best rifle scope for most hunters and most hunting situations.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 13.3 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 4.5-14x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1-inch
  • Field of View: 19.9-7.4 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Fixed at 150 yards
  • Knob Style: Capped Windage & Custom Dial System-ZL Elevation (CDS-ZL)
  • Illuminated Reticle: No

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Good quality glass
  • Removable throw lever on magnification ring facilitates rapid adjustments
  • Lots of features with a reasonable price

Cons

  • No parallax adjustment dial
  • No illuminated reticle

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-3HD SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-3HD SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best Scope For Deer Hunting Under $200

Vortex Crossfire II

best scope for deer hunting vortex crossfire ii

The Vortex Crossfire II is a great entry level rifle scope and is exactly what you need if you want a no frills scope for deer hunting under $200 and don’t want to do a lot of shopping.

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 light transmission and clarity under a variety of circumstances. It’s also comes with Vortex’s lifetime warranty.

This scope is available with the Vortex Dead Hold BDC reticle. At the maximum magnification, the hashmarks on the reticle provide 1.5 MOA, 4.5 MOA, and 7.5 MOA holdover points as well as 2 MOA, 4 MOA, 6 MOA, and 8 MOA windage hold marks.

While the Vortex Optics Crossfire II does not provide light transmission or image quality on par with some of the more expensive optics on this list, it’s still a capable deer hunting scope for those who don’t need a high performance optic.

Make no mistake: it’s more than adequate for typical deer hunting situations, especially for hunters on a tight budget.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 14.3 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-9x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1-inch main tube
  • Field of View: 34.1-12.6 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Fixed at 100 yards
  • Knob Style: Capped
  • Illuminated Reticle: No

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Very reasonable price
  • Perfect for a budget conscious deer hunter

Cons

  • Lower image quality than the higher end scopes
  • Restrictive eye box
  • No parallax adjustment dial
  • No illuminated reticle

BUY A VORTEX CROSSFIRE II SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A VORTEX CROSSFIRE II SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best Scope For Deer Hunting Under $300

Leupold VX Freedom

best scope for deer hunting leupold vx freedom

The Leupold VX-Freedom is another outstanding deer hunting scope that’s a good choice for hunters on a budget. Leupold made a bunch of changes to their line of optics a few years ago 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 VX-Freedom uses excellent quality glass that’s coated to maximize light transmission and minimize glare and reflection. The glass on this scope is not quite as good as what you’ll find on the VX-3HD or VX-5HD, but it’s still really good (better than the Vortex Crossfire II).

Plus, the scope is even lighter and little smaller in profile than the VX-3HD.

The Leupold VX-Freedom also comes with a coupon you can redeem with Leupold to receive a CDS-ZL turret matched to your favorite hunting load. This facilitates shots at slightly longer range and a good rifleman should have no issues reaching out a bit on game if necessary.

Even so, this scope is better suited to short to medium range hunting scenarios and hunters who plan on doing lots of hunting in open country where encounters with game at longer distances are more likely should look to one of the higher end scopes on this list (like the V-3HD, VX-5HD, or the Vortex Razor) instead.

Even so, the VX-Freedom is a very capable deer hunting scope, especially since it’s available for less than $300.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 12.2 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-9x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1-inch
  • Field of View: 33.1-13.6 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Fixed at 150 yards
  • Knob Style: Capped Windage & Custom Dial System-ZL Elevation (CDS-ZL)
  • Illuminated Reticle: No

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Very reasonable price
  • Good quality glass
  • Lots of features with a reasonable price
  • Perfect for a budget conscious deer hunter

Cons

  • Lower image quality than the higher end scopes
  • No parallax adjustment dial
  • No illuminated reticle

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-FREEDOM SCOPE FROM AMAZON HERE

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-FREEDOM SCOPE FROM OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best Leupold Scope For Deer Hunting

Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm

best scope for deer hunting leupold vx 5

I’ll cut straight to the chase: I think the Leupold VX-5HD is the best deer hunting scope currently available on the market. Not only that, but this is my favorite hunting scope. Period. And yes, it’s also my favorite Leupold scope for deer hunting.

Why? Well, it has fantastic glass and provides outstanding light transmission. Plus, this particular model of the VX-5HD I’m recommending here also uses an illuminated FireDot Duplex reticle. Basically, it’s a standard duplex crosshair with an illuminated red dot in the center that you can turn on and off.

It works just like a typical scope during the day, but you can turn on that illuminated reticle to aid in aiming during low light conditions. I’ve been in several situations where I had game come out during legal shooting light, but it was dark enough that I had trouble seeing the animals with my naked eye.

Fortunately, the light gathering capabilities of the VX-5HD are so fantastic that I could see much better while looking through the scope.

For example, I successfully and cleanly took a big blue wildebeest with my VX-5 on a recent hunt in Africa at dusk when it was so dark that I could not see the black crosshairs on his dark body. However, I just turned on the illuminated reticle, put the dot where I wanted to hit, squeezed the trigger, and he dropped at the shot.

There’s no way I could have ethically or practically taken that shot with a scope without that fantastic light transmission and without the illuminated reticle.

The Leupold VX-5HD also comes with Leupold’s CDS-ZL system and a side focus parallax adjustment dial. Additionally, it has a wide zoom range from 3x all the way up to 15x on the high end that make it well suited for basically any hunting situation you can think of from whitetail in thick timber to open country mule deer hunts.

This scope is also really well built, tracks beautifully, and holds a zero exceptionally well.

To be fair, the Leupold VX-6HD line has a few additional features that some hunters really like, but I own and have hunted with both and, in my opinion, the VX-5HD provides the best balance of size, weight, price, and the features that are most important to me.

All in all, this is a fantastic deer hunting scope that provides high end performance at a surprisingly reasonable price. If that big buck of your dream steps out of the woods right at last light, you want a scope like the VX-5HD on your deer rifle so you can make that shot when it counts.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 19.7 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-15x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 44mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Field of View: 38.3-7.7 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Side adjusting parallax/focus knob
  • Knob Style: Capped Windage & Custom Dial System-ZL Elevation (CDS-ZL)
  • Illuminated Reticle: Yes

Pros

  • Wide magnification range
  • Excellent quality glass
  • Illuminated reticle is perfect for low light situations
  • Great balance of useful features without too many unnecessary “extras”

Cons

  • On the heavy side
  • Lacks throw level on magnification ring
  • Higher price point

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-5HD SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A LEUPOLD VX-5HD SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Riton 3 Primal 3-12x56mm

The Riton 3 Primal 3-12x56mm is a simple, but versatile, effective, and reasonably priced deer hunting scope well suited to both close quarters and more open country hunting situations. I really like the fact that this scope has a simple, clean illuminated reticle and a side focus parallax dial. Both features are uncommon with scopes at this price point.

The same is true for the removable throw lever on the magnification ring.

While the upper limits of the magnification range are well suited for more open country hunting situations for game like mule deer, coues deer, and pronghorn, I personally would like to see an exposed elevation turret to facilitate rapid adjustments for range on this scope.

Even so, the lack of that feature is not a dealbreaker and I used a 3 Primal scope on a pronghorn hunt in Colorado and it performed beautifully. The glass on this scope is great and provides nice optical performance across a wide range of situations. All things considered, this is a feature rich, but still reasonably priced deer hunting scope.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 17.6 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-12x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 56mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Field of View: 24.1-6.3 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Side adjusting parallax/focus knob
  • Knob Style: Capped
  • Illuminated Reticle: Yes

Pros

  • Removable throw lever on magnification ring facilitates rapid adjustments
  • Good magnification range for close quarters and open-country hunting
  • Clean and simple illuminated reticle
  • Good quality scope with lots of features for a reasonable price

Cons

  • Lacks exposed elevation turrets
  • Physically a little too large for my taste

BUY A RITON PRIMAL SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A RITON PRIMAL SCOPE FROM RITON HERE

Use promo code BIGGAME10 to receive 10% off orders directly from Riton.

BUY A RITON PRIMAL SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best Vortex Scope For Deer Hunting

Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15×42

best scope for deer hunting vortex razor

Look no further than the Vortex Razor HD LHT if you want the best Vortex scope for deer hunting. This scope uses high quality glass, has a reticle with a center illuminated dot, a side parallax knob, and an exposed elevation turret with Vortex’s RevStop Zero System (their version of a a zero stop).

There’s a reason why Vortex Optics markets the Razor HD LHT as “one scope to rule them all” and this scope is well suited for use in dark-timber on whitetails as well as for open country mule deer hunts where precision long range shots may be necessary.

The Razor HD LHT also comes with a coupon you can redeem with Kentron Industries to receive a custom elevation turret matched to your favorite hunting load to assist with making long shots on game and at the range.

Finally, the illuminated reticle is especially nice for use in low light conditions where there’s still legal shooting light, but it may be too dark to see the reticle. Just turn on the illuminated center dot, place that red dot where you want to hit, and squeeze the trigger. The reticle also works just fine during the daytime when illumination is turned off.

If you want the absolute best Vortex scope for deer hunting, then strongly consider getting a Vortex Razor HD LHT.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 19.1 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-15x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Field of View: 35.3-7.0 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Side adjusting parallax/focus knob
  • Knob Style: Exposed elevation turret (MOA)
  • Illuminated Reticle: Yes

Pros

  • Can order a custom elevation dial
  • Excellent glass quality
  • Illuminated center dot
  • Well suited for a variety of deer hunting situations

Cons

  • Busy reticle
  • On heavy side

BUY A VORTEX RAZOR SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A VORTEX RAZOR SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best Lightweight Scope For Deer Hunting

Best Fixed Power Scope For Deer Hunting

Leupold FX-II Ultralight 2.5×20

best scope for deer hunting leupold fxii

Sometimes you just need a simple and easy to use fixed power scope. That’s where Leupold’s FX-II comes in.

Hunting guides in Alaska like Phil Shoemaker that need a lightweight, darn near indestructible, and fast pointing scope with a wide field of view for close in work on big bears use scopes like the FX-II Ultralight.

It will also work great as a deer hunting scope under many conditions as well. A gigantic percentage of hunters are killing deer at ranges under 100 yards and don’t need a big scope with lots of magnification. As I think about it right now, I think I’ve shot about 75% of my whitetail inside 50 yards where I hunt in east Texas.

2.5x is a good balance that delivers plenty of magnification for close in work like that while still preserving an extremely wide field of view that greatly simplifies target acquisition.

This scope uses a 1″ main body tube, which helps keep it light and compact. Heck, tipping the scales at just 6.5 ounces, many of the other scopes on this list are literally 2-4x heavier! That smaller main body tube combined with the smaller objective lens size both also make it easier to mount this scope low to the bore.

With that in mind, this is also the perfect scope to mount on a lever-action hunting rifle like a Marlin 336, a Marlin 1895, or a Winchester 1894 to preserve the slim profile and fast handling characteristics of those lever guns. There’s not a darn thing wrong with using it on a bolt-action rifle either and I used this exact scope on my Winchester Model 70 for many years.

If you want the absolute best fixed power scope for deer hunting, then you should definitely consider getting a Leupold FX-II Ultralight.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 6.5 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 2.5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 20mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1 inch
  • Field of View: 39.5 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Fixed at 150 yards
  • Knob Style: Capped turrets
  • Illuminated Reticle: No

Pros

  • Super lightweight
  • Very wide field of view
  • Simple reticle
  • Easy to use
  • Durable
  • Well suited for shorter range deer hunting situations

Cons

  • No illuminated reticle

BUY A LEUPOLD FX-II SCOPE HERE

Best Scope For Deer Hunting With An AR Platform

Riton 3 TACTIX 1-8×24

best scope for deer hunting riton


The rise in popularity of the AR platform over the past few years has resulted in a dramatic increase in scope options specifically designed for hunting with those rifles. Don’t just slap any rifle scope on your AR-15 though.

Instead, you should use a scope like the Riton 3 TACTIX 1-8×24 LPVO (low powered variable optic) that will help you take advantage of the strengths of the AR platform while hunting.

Specificaly, the Riton 3 TACTIX 1-8×24 is a reasonably priced, but feature rich scope that’s perfect for those hunting situations.

With a 1-8x magnification range, the scope has a wide field of view that facilitates rapid target acquisition at lower power, but also provides plenty of magnification for longer ranged shots. It also comes from the factory with flip up lens covers and an illuminated reticle, which are uncommon features on scopes in this price range.

I especially like the illuminated reticle, which is great for both low light performance and can be turned up bright enough to be useful during the day as well. This scope also has a streamlined profile that allows it to be mounted close to the bore to facilitate a good cheek weld while shooting and minimize the chances of the scope getting hung up on vegetation or clothing.

This is the scope I hunt with on my AR-15 and it’s absolutely perfect for the job.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 19.3 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 1-8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 24mm
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Field of View: 105.8-13.1 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .5 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Fixed at 100 yards
  • Knob Style: Capped
  • Illuminated Reticle: Yes

Pros

  • Wide magnification range
  • Wide field of view
  • Removable throw lever on magnification ring facilitates rapid adjustments
  • Overall design is perfect for quick target acquisition
  • Lots of features for a reasonable price

Cons

  • On the heavy side
  • Non-traditional reticle

BUY A RITON TACTIX SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A RITON TACTIX SCOPE FROM RITON HERE

Use promo code BIGGAME10 to receive 10% off orders directly from Riton.

BUY A RITON TACTIX SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

Best First Focal Plane Scope For Deer Hunting

Trijicon Tenmile HX 3-18×44

best scope for deer hunting trijicon

Some hunters really prefer a first focal plane scope and I think the Trijicon Tenmile HX 3-18×44 is the best first focal plane scope for deer hunting. A scope that delivers pinpoint precision at long range can be really beneficial for hunting mulies out West and Trijicon’s Tenmile scope provides that in spades.

This scope’s FFP reticle is ideal for long-range work both afield and during competitions, which makes this a good crossover scope as well. Plus, it has a dual illumination reticle (red and green), a side focus parallax adjustment dial, and a the ability to get a custom elevation turret from Kenton Industries.

I personally don’t like an FFP scope for hunting because the reticle changes in size with magnification. For this reason, the reticle in a FFP scope is usually too small for my taste at low magnification. This is why I stick to second focal plane scopes afield.

That’s just my personal opinion and this is a great scope for those who do things a little differently.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 24.4 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 3-18x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 44 mm objective lens
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Field of View: 35.3-5.9 feet at 100 yards
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: First
  • Parallax/Focus: Side adjusting parallax/focus knob
  • Knob Style: Exposed elevation turret (MOA)
  • Illuminated Reticle: Yes

Pros

  • Wide magnification range
  • Optimized for long distance performance
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Exposed elevation turrets facilitate rapid adjustments
  • Side focus parallax

Cons

  • Large and heavy
  • Expensive

BUY A TRIJICON TENMILE HX SCOPE FROM AMAZON HERE

BUY A TRIJICON TENMILE HX SCOPE FROM OPTICS PLANET HERE

Alternate Inexpensive Scope For Deer Hunting

Burris Fullfield E1

best scope for deer hunting burris e1

While the Vortex Crossfire scope is a little less expensive, the Burris FullField E1 scope has a couple more useful features for hunters at a slightly higher price point.

First, this scope uses better quality glass than the Vortex Crossfire. 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.

Perhaps most importantly though, the FullField E1 has a side adjusting parallax/focus knob (while the Vortex has a fixed parallax). With those things in mind, the Burris provides a good step up in performance for just a little bit more money than the Vortex Crossfire II.

Key Features 

  • Weight: 15.3 ounces
  • Magnification Range: 4.5-14x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Tube Diameter: 1-inch
  • Turret Click Values: .25 MOA
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second
  • Parallax/Focus: Side adjusting parallax/focus knob
  • Knob Style: Capped
  • Illuminated Reticle: No

Pros

  • Light and compact
  • Least expensive scope with a side adjusting parallax

Cons

  • Lower image quality than higher end scopes

BUY A BURRIS FULLFIELD E1 SCOPE ON AMAZON HERE

BUY A BURRIS FULLFIELD E1 SCOPE AT OPTICS PLANET HERE

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