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In this article, you are going to learn everything you need to know about crossbow scopes.
Scopes usually come with the purchase of a crossbow. For times one isn’t included, or when you need a replacement, you’ll need to find the ideal scope.
After extensive research, we have identified the pros and cons of each type of scope, according to each individual need. To find the best crossbow scope for you, and to put yourself in the best position to purchase one, stick with us!
This scope has multi-coated optics or broadband lens coating, and a 32mm light transmission which is great for low light. It also has a 5-step illuminated red and green reticle design.
Another feature I love about this product is the side-wheel control for light adjustments. The illumination features on this UTG scope makes it one of the best crossbow scopes for low light hunting.
Wide field of view, 27.2 ft at 100 yards
Camo design available
Offers high quality illumination
Easy to mount
Integrates sunshade to avoid glare
Does not have compensation adjustments
There has been reports of quality issues
This scope has a variable zoom of 2.5X to 6X magnification, with clarity in all levels of zoom. The eyepiece also contains fast focus.
This combination of features allows you to set your eyes on a target at low zoom, then focus in for a precision shot.
The optics are fully multi-coated, and the barrel is nitrogen-charged – providing the archer with complete clarity in all conditions.
Waterproof and fog-proof
Shockproof design and rings
Compatible with most crossbows (275 FPS to 410 FPS)
Sharpest image imaginable
Almost perfect illumination
Magnification in this product is 3X to 9X with an objective diameter of 40mm. It also has five levels of red and green illumination, making it a great scope for hunting at all times of the day.
Adjustments of windage and elevation are ¼ MOA at 100 yards for increased shooting accuracy.
Its field of view is 14′ – 25′ at 100 yards, and eye relief is at 2.7 to 3.3 inches. Both of these measurements are very respectable.
It’s easy to set up, and it fits any standard 20mm Weaver or Picatinny mounting rail.
Significantly more affordable than its equivalents
Waterproof and fog proof
Easy to mount
A little on the heavier side
No adjustable objective
Some reports of crosshairs falling out
What I really like about this scope is the speed selector feature. It’s used to calibrate the scope to match the speed of any crossbow that shoots between 300 FPS to 425 FPS.
It’s not particularly lightweight, but at exactly one pound, it isn’t considered too heavy either.
Like most of the scopes here, it has illuminated red and green reticles for low light conditions. It’s also set to show 10-yard intervals from 20 to 70 yards.
Interestingly, the reticles shrink with distance. The circles shrink into dots past anything further than the 50-yard mark.
Top notch clarity
Easy to mount, sight in, and adjust
It saves the last setting you set for light and color
The TenPoint 3x Pro-View 2 scope is set for crossbows that shoot 330 FPS. Illumination is configured to increments of 10 yards from 20 to 50 yards.
At the 40 yard mark, there is a non-illuminated dot that is free standing. The illuminated red or green dots are controlled by a five-position rheostat to match the brightness to your shooting conditions.
Lightweight aluminum tube
Easy to use, sight in, and adjust
Crystal clear optics
You may need to use the lowest setting at first light. The brightness can wash out the view of your target.
Red or green dots are available only in low light.
The zoom setting is determined by the speed setting.
Does not protect against sun glare
This precision crossbow scope is built for both hunting and competitive shooting. It contains five illuminated duplex reticles that are calibrated for 10-yard increments from 20 to 60 yards.
For recreational and competitive shooting, there are also two non-illuminated duplex reticles at the 70 and 80-yard marks.
Magnification is at 1.5X to 6X with a 30mm tube. Coupled with the multi-coated optics, this meets the requirements for a clear and wide field of view.
It’s also worth noting that 30mm scopes are often better with light transmission compared to its larger counterparts, like 1″ scopes.
Waterproof and fog-proof
Arrow drop compensation (for crossbows between 250 and 450 FPS)
Easy to mount and remove
Ideal design for low light conditions
This scope features fully multi-coated optics, and the reticle provides three lines for 20, 30, and 40 yards. Its illumination has five brightness settings (red or green) and consists of a 30mm objective lens, providing magnification from 1.5X to 5X.
It’s durable and easy to mount, but one thing that makes it stand out is the speed setting. The speed setting is adjustable to the crossbows velocity.
Variable zoom setting
Sharp image resolution, even at maximum magnification
Fantastic light transmission
Comfortable 3.5” eye relief
Great illumination brightness on reticle
Some fisheye distortion
Some units reported with bleed-through illumination
There are different types of scopes for all kinds of scenarios. When comparing them, here are some features to take into consideration.
The size and weight of the scope is one of the first things to look at. You want a scope that is lightweight and compact, preferably less than a pound.
Heavier scopes can throw off the balance of your crossbow, making it more challenging to handle and shoot accurately.
Lightweight scopes are easy to pack with the rest of your gear. Even though you’re looking for the lighter variety, the lens still needs to be wide.
You should determine what magnification you need based on your target. Most scopes are fixed to 4X magnification, which is okay for most hunting scenarios.
The fixed 4X or variable 3-9X scopes are a low level of magnification and work fine for targets that are under 100 yards.
A good scope should have lower magnification levels with a 4:1 zoom ratio, or 2.5 – 10X and larger. However, for long-distance shooting, you will need magnification of 12 – 20X.
Higher magnification levels will increase accuracy and make the target seem like it’s right in front of you. That’s only if you plan on doing long range shooting: if not, low magnification is just fine.
Importantly, your bow’s arrow speed is correlated with your scope magnification: the faster your crossbow can shoot, the higher the magnification needs to be.
Not all scopes come with a reticle, but they provide a significant advantage and as such, should be considered when purchasing a scope. Reticles are black point markers in your field of view and help you aim and achieve an accurate shot.
Unlike the red dot sight, reticles divide your field of vision instead of focusing on one point. This feature is useful in scenarios where the distance or elevation could affect your chances of hitting your target.
Multi-reticle scopes (also called a drop-compensating reticle scope) have multiple horizontal lines or marks that allow you to accurately shoot at different distances. All the horizontal lines intersect with one vertical line, which marks your aim.
A multi-reticle scope is useful because you don’t need to make wind or elevation adjustments on the spot. There a couple of things to know about multi-reticle scopes.
First, they usually have preset distances when zeroed at 20 yards. The presets are increments of 10 yards, starting at 20 to 40 yards and sometimes over.
Secondly, they are calibrated at a fixed speed, so the reticles will only cope with those distances if the crossbow speed matches the calibrated speed on the scope. It’s not the end of the world if the speed doesn’t match the calibration, it just means that the reticles will have different yardage.
You’ll need to contact your manufacturer to find out the reticle distance distribution. It should be easy to adjust to the different reticle distances.
Without illumination, you’ll only have the plain black reticle, and that’s only useful if there’s enough light out. Illumination features are a massive plus in low-light conditions.
Illumination means that the reticles can be turned to a green or red light, otherwise in low light, you won’t be able to see through the scope at the target.
There’s no point in having incredible magnification if the lens is poor quality. A good lens will produce bright, clear images enhancing the user’s ability to identify and accurately shoot at targets.
Make sure that the scope’s lens is multi-coated so that it allows light to flow through and give you a clear view at any distance.
Look for waterproof and fog proof scopes, so you don’t have to worry about the lens getting foggy. Nitrogen in scopes prevents fog, morning dew, or any other moisture from clouding the lens.
A wide lens will provide a larger field of vision, so you don’t miss any potential targets. For those that strictly hunt large game like deer, wide lens isn’t as much of a concern.
If you want to spot smaller game too, you’ll want a wider lens.
Also, a wider lens does not necessarily mean a heavier scope. There are plenty of scopes on the market that are capable of having both features.
You’ll want to invest in a scope that is built to last. Durable scopes are advertised as “shockproof.”
It means you won’t have to stress out as much when you accidentally drop it or bang it against something. To reinforce protection, some scopes come with their own mounting rings which protect your scope if it’s dropped and banged around with other gear.
Most crossbow scopes are easy to mount, especially if you follow instructions. Be aware, however, that scopes are not compatible with most crossbows!
You’ll need to do research based on your crossbow.
When it comes to mounting your scope, you want one that is easy to calibrate and adjust. Opting for a scope that doesn’t require a tool to calibrate wind speed or elevation is recommended.
You can easily calibrate most scopes with the small dials. The dials should make an audible clicking noise so that you can keep track of adjustments without looking.
Along with added protection, good mounting rings will provide you with a good zero. Having your scope set to a decent zero allows you to hit your target accurately.
The best scope for low light needs to have a couple of features: high-quality illumination and controls for quick adjustments of brightness. Scopes that have illumination have reticles that light up red or green for low light conditions.
Along with good illumination, check the controls and see if it contains quick adjustments, like a clicking dial. Easy access control allows you to switch gears without fumbling in the dark.
You don’t have to go home as soon as it gets dark. Scopes for night hunting are quite rare, but they give you an excellent advantage for those late night excursions.
For night hunting, you will need a scope that is either thermal imaging or night vision. Both scopes detect targets in the dark and have equal durability, but they have vastly different qualities.
Thermal scopes don’t require light to produce an image, only requiring a target that generates heat. They’re able to detect the slightest hint of a target, even from long distance.
Thermal imaging scopes can also function as a standard scope during the day.
When it comes to recognizing game, thermal imaging scopes cannot be inhibited by camouflage or fog. The downside is that identifying a target is difficult at long distances, and images are displayed as color only.
Plus, due to their thermal imaging properties, they will be useless in extreme cold. Thermal imaging is pricier but worth the investment if you want to up your game.
Night Vision scopes require some form of light to detect anything at greater distances. In cases like these, a nocturnal hunter would use natural moonlight, or IR illuminators if it’s pitch-black outside.
Infrared illuminators work as flashlights, but emit enough light for night vision and are not visible to the naked eye. The downside is that night vision scopes cannot be used in bright light; else they will get damaged.
The best night vision scope for crossbow should make your nocturnal shooting as easy as it is during the day.
After weighing up all the options, the scope that just edges out the rest of the competition for me is the Excalibur Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope. It’s the most versatile when it comes to meeting different needs, and while it’s a pricier choice, it does represent good value.
It meets the range requirement for everyday hunting experiences, and its illumination features make for a fantastic low light crossbow scope.
At the end of the day, only you decide what the best crossbow scope for you is. Not only does it have to be the right match for you and your bow, but you also have to check to make sure it adheres to your local hunting restrictions.
Remember, the best crossbow scope you can get is the one that fits your budget, represents excellent value for your money, and is best suited for your hunting style.
Do you own one or more of the crossbow scopes we mentioned? Do you have a trusted scope that hasn’t made the list? Let us know in the comments.
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