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{TOP 5} Best Scopes for the Marlin 45-70 (Nov. 2020 UPDATED)

I have owned, shot, and handled many guns since my childhood. Few have ever given me as much pleasure as my simple Marlin 1895G. The 45-70 caliber can be a little rough on the shoulder. It is worth it, though. It is one of the best brush gun calibers I have ever owned or fired. It shoots flat and hits hard. To make the most of this excellent caliber, consider matching it with one of the best scopes for the Marlin 45-70. 

In a hurry? Don't have time for the details? Here are our best picks for Marlin 45-70 Scopes:

Best Scopes fo the Marlin 45-70 2020

Deer hunters in the eastern U.S. need to try a 45-70. The thick limbs and brush on this side of the country have very little effect on a heavy, slow-moving bullet. At close range it is devastating. In the right hands with the right optic, you can get shots out as far as you need. 

The sights for the Marlin 45-70 from the factory are a little lacking, especially for a hunter. There are plenty of aftermarket sights available. Before changing to another iron sight, consider trying out a scope. If you make the right choice, you won’t be disappointed. You just need to pick the right scope. 

For a gun with such a large bullet, you need a few special traits in your scope. Don’t go and slap some cheap 20x scope on your rifle. It won't last or perform like other calibers. Below I've listed the traits you need in a scope for Marlin 45-70 guide gun. These features work well for both standard model or tactical model. 


Since it’s what we all look at first, let's start with magnification. There is no need for ultra-powerful magnification. You are just wasting money and making your life hard. The 45-70 caliber is renowned for accuracy. The accuracy comes from the windage, not the elevation. It may stay straight left to right, but it will drop alarmingly.  More powerful scopes will run out of adjustment before you get the shot off. 

Instead, opt for something in lower power. I feel that 7x is optimal. A scope between 5x and 10x is also appropriate. To shoot this caliber, you aren’t going to need more than that. In fact, many people have opted to use a lower powered shotgun scope on 45-70 rifles to great effect. 

Eye Relief 

cannot overstate how important it is to have sufficient eye-relief on a 45-70 scope. I have been kicked harder. The push fr my 1895G pushes hard enough to get me in the eye without enough eye relief on my scope. If you've never been hit in the eye by a scope, don't try it. It's a pain that you never want to experience. 

Stick with the longest eye relief you can find. I prefer something more than 4” if I can get it. I would be happiest around 6”. Of course, this is going to rule out any of the more powerful optics. They generally have low eye relief because of their high magnification. It’s a worthwhile trade-off in my opinion. Still, go with your own strength and size. If you can handle the recoil, you may be fine with less eye-relief. 


This is a two-fold requirement. Firstly, you want all of the standard durability options. These include water and fog proofing. It should also have the ability to stand up to any hunting environment. We drag our poor rifles through thick brush and lean them against trees. The 45-70 is at home in these conditions, but your scope may not be.  Get something that can stand up to anything. 

Secondly, any scope for 45-70 govt rounds needs to deal with recoil well. If you get a cheap scope, you may end up jarring the glass loose or even causing issues with the adjustments. I might be over-cautious. I would rather get the right scope now. Not have to replace one I've already sighted in. 

Scope Image 

There is a lot of specifics for this topics. Rather than go into too much detail there's only really a few things you need to understand. Most importantly, not all scopes are created equally. Finding one with clear and bright glass is essential for hunting and range activities. Shooting under clear skies is one thing. In the shade of a dense tree canopy, image quality is everything. 

Most low magnification scopes can get by with smaller objective lenses. The larger the objective, the brighter the image. Something in the 20mm to 30mm range will do just fine. Any smaller and you do risk a dim and low field of view. You can go larger if needed. You just won't gain much from it. 

Lens coating is important. Any coating at all helps. Choosing a scope with multi-coated lenses will drastically improve the image quality. The coating will filter light and lower glare. Multi-coating greatly increases scope optical quality. 

Glass quality is the most important feature. Therefore, you should stay with the big brands. There are a few budget companies that do a surprisingly good job with their glass. Vortex and Primary Arms both come to mind. For the most part, though, the big names will be better. 


Unless you are looking at a scope for Marlin 1895 SBL 45-70s, you will need both mounts and rings.  For the SBL with its integrated rail, you will only need rings. A one-piece mount is another option. It makes mounting simpler and more versatile. For any other Marlin make sure you get quality bases. They should be made of steel or very hard anodized aluminum. Cheap aluminum mounts or those crappy plastic ones make me shudder. 

Rings should be similarly thick and high-quality. They should be able to hold the scope tight. It should never move under the stress of the shot. Don’t overlook the rings. Too many people pick up a quality scope then get the cheapest bases and rings they can.  It’s a mistake. 

If you need help picking out bases for your Marlin, this website can help. 

Best Scopes for the Marlin 45-70 - Comparison Table 

scmtbl-table__image Nikon Prostaff
  • Magnification: 3-9x
  • Objective Lens: 32mm
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Weather-Proofing: Waterproof/ Fogproof
scmtbl-table__image Primary Arms Illuminated
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Objective Lens: 24mm
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Weather-Proofing: Waterproof/ Fogproof
VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →
scmtbl-table__image Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Objective Lens: 32mm
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Weather-Proofing: Waterproof/ Fogproof
VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →
scmtbl-table__image UTG Scout Scope
  • Magnification: 4-12x
  • Objective Lens: 30mm
  • Lens Coating: Coated
  • Weather-Proofing: Waterproof/ Fogproof
scmtbl-table__image Simmons ProDiamond
  • Magnification: 2-7x
  • Objective Lens: 32mm
  • Lens Coating: Multi-Coated
  • Weather-Proofing: Waterproof/ Fogproof

Top 5 Best Scopes for the Marlin 45-70 on the Market Reviews

 1  Nikon Prostaff   

Nikon ProStaff 2-7 x 32 Black Matte Riflescope (Nikoplex)

I see more Nikon optics on rifles than any other manufacturer. Nikon's popularity is mostly due to their very attractive price and quality manufacturing. The Prostaff series seems to be the most popular of all. 

Nikon has the best glass of anyone, period. They have been producing it for decades. Their production process is now down to a science. This is a 3x-9x scope. It is bright and clear with fully multicoated lenses. There is also a sizeable 32mm objective lens. 

If there is a shortfall, it is the roughly 4” eye relief. That is a little short for me. If you use a full-length rifle, you may be okay. For a Marlin 1895 GBL or one of the other lighter models, there is not enough eye relief. 

Nikon scopes have always been tough and rugged scopes. The Prostaff probably lead all of Nikon's products. This is a fully waterproof and fog proof sealed optic. It is made from high-quality aluminum. It will also handle any weather you throw at it. These are a common optics on shotguns. They will handle any recoil well. 

 2  Primary Arms Illuminated Scout Scope 

Primary Arms made waves in the optics world a few years back. They started producing scopes of great quality. But their prices were much less than the competition. They haven’t slowed down since then. They started a wave of new, affordable optics.  

This scope is no slouch. It does only max out a 4x magnification. It can be zoomed down to 1x, though, for those really close shots. The optics are fully multi-coated. There is a fairly small 24mm objective lens. With the small lens, you get a clean, bright image. The scope is also illuminated. 

I would prefer to see a scout scope that was fog proof. This one is advertised as fog resistant, whatever that means. I have never seen a fog issue on a Primary Arms scope. You certainly won’t have to deal with water either. The scope is fully waterproof. It is rugged and simple. You aren’t likely to damage this scope by any normal means. 

I would say the eye relief is a little short. It's not bad though, and gives you about 5-inches. I would be comfortable with shooting a rifle with one of these. Just pay attention to your face.  

 3  Vortex Optics Crossfire II 

Once I didn't recommend Vortex optic nearly as much as I do now. That has all changed. Their quality and price are very hard to beat. When it comes to a scope for Marlin 45-70 Guide Guns, this is my go-to. It's so hard to find a scope that does everything and is well-matched to the rifle. That is why every place, every time I choose the Crossfire II. 

It has a very generous 9.5-inches of eye relief. The eye relief will keep your eye safe. But, the sizeable 32mm objective and fully multi-coated glass keep the images clear. The glass is superb. It is far better than you would expect from a new brand. 

The magnification is perfect for the 45-70. It has a low end of 2x for those close shots. You could do what I do and leave it at its max of 7x. In dense woods, this is exactly where you want your magnification. It can see close targets without issue. It also still has plenty of magnification for 150 yards or more. The simple but effective V-Plex Reticle increases image quality. 

Vortex makes very durable scopes that are fully water and fog proof. They are also made from aircraft aluminum. The tough as nails material is so well fitted that they are shockproof. They are nitrogen purged and sealed for a long life. If you can swing the price, this is the scope you want. 

 4  UTG Scout Scope  

I would almost hesitate to recommend such a new scope. But I've put so many on my own rifles, that I feel I can recommend it. They are perfectly aligned. If anything, they are over-engineered for this simple gun. 

The astounding 11-inches of eye relief will keep you safe. The truly amazing glass makes the image clear and bright. The multi-coated glass and 30mm objective lens provide a lot of light. This scope is also illuminated if you need. The reticle even has a full bullet drop markings. 

While this scope isn’t waterproof, it is rainproof. You can, then, use it for most hunting expeditions. It is a tough scope with a completely sealed and nitrogen purged one-piece tube. The solid mounts and adjustments will not move under heavy recoil. 

The magnification is a perfect 2-7x. It has an adjustable parallax to keep your image clear. Unlike most scopes on a 45-70, you even get target turrets. You just probably won’t need them. The turrets are zero-lock and easy to manipulate just in case. 

This scope also comes with Picatinny rings. You won’t even need to buy a Marlin 1895 SBL scope mount. 

 5  Simmons ProDiamond 

If you are looking at budget option scope for lever action 45-70 rifles, this is it. It just won’t feel like a budget scope. Simmons is the longtime king of quality on a budget. The ProDiamond is a perfect example of that mentality. If you want a very plain and simple scope that does everything right, this is the scope for you. 

This scope was designed for shotguns. Handling the recoil of a 45-70 should be no big deal. Everything is solid and rugged. It is water and fog proof. The construction is made from a sealed 1-piece aluminum tube. You never have to worry about this scope in the field. 

Optically, the scope is clear and bright. The multi-coated glass and 32mm objective at a fixed 4x magnification help with that. You will have no issues with light transfer ever. I used a similar scope for years and never had a visibility problem. 

If you want a fancy scope with bells and whistles, this isn’t it. Sight it in, set it, and forget it. There are no fly adjustments. I really love scopes like this, especially on a guide or brush gun. Their in-between magnification is really hard to beat. 

Marlin 45-70 Scope Tips 

Keep your Face Back 

For your own safety don’t put your eye too close to the ocular lens.  It’s a mistake you will only want to make once. Your eye may just not survive the mistake intact. The Marlin is a light gun in a big caliber. The recoil is stiff.

It's fun to shoot until it hits you in the face.  Don’t be that guy. 

Sighting In 

You don't really want to sight in at 100 yards for the 45-70. The bullet drop at that range is too low. You may find yourself overshooting in closer ranges. 

Many people recommend sighting in about an inch high at 25 yards. I prefer to sight in about 3” low at 100 yards. The effect of either method is about the same. I just feel more comfortable using a longer zero. It's a harder shot, which translates to better shooting accuracy.

Learn to Sight in Your Own Scope 

While we are at it, learn to sight in your scope yourself. There is no better way to learn how to shoot your Marlin 45-70. You will better understand how your rifle shoots and how your scope works. The process is easy enough. It is truly a worthy investment of your time and ammunition. 

Learn to Shoot Without it 

This is very important. Many people like to purchase a rifle and scope combo. No matter which rifle you get, if it has iron sights, learn to shoot it with those first. Then slap an optic on it. You will have better fundamentals using the iron sights first. 

This is especially true for a 45-70. You want to know what to expect from the recoil before you get your eye on a scope. Understanding all that information will be useful later. Marlin 45-70s have a lot of bullet drop. Most likely your scope isn’t going to have a ranging reticle. You need to be able to gauge that drop manually.  I have always found that easier with open sights. 

Take Care of Your Scope 

I am sure we all take care of our rifles as best we can, especially one as pretty as the Marlin. Many people tend to neglect their scope. Consult your owner’s manual first. It will tell you what needs to be done. At a minimum, always clean and dry it before storage. Dust can damage the glass. Also keep oil away from the lenses. Oil can penetrate the scope and cause lots of damage.  


I have long loved my Marlin 1895G. It’s a gun with character.  It's tough and strong. All of those things we value as hunters. Why complicate it with the wrong optic? 

Stick with something simple and solid without a ton of magnification. There is nothing wrong with using a scope on a historically-based rifle. Just don't overdo it.  The right scope will turn your Marlin into one of the best brush guns on the planet. The wrong one may make it almost unusable. 

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