Deer hunters only get that one week of rifle season, but it doesn’t have to end there! With the ease of use of modern inline black powder rifles, you can easily get several more weeks of the hunt.For best results, add one of the best muzzleloader scopes. It will really improve your chances!
While it often though that scopes belong in the world of high-powered rifles, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are scopes for everything. Whether air rifles or crossbows, you could use a scope. Not all scopes are created equal though, you need to find one suitable to your needs.
In a hurry? Don't have time for the details? Here are our best picks for muzzleloader scopes:
- Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope
- Nikon Prostaff P3 Muzzleloade Riflescope
- Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
- Burris 200261 Ballistic Plex 2-7x32mm
- Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6x24 SFP Rifle Scope
- Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope with Truplex Reticle
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescopes
- Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC 1in Waterproof Matte Riflescope
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Circle-X Reticle Riflescope
- KONUS 7249 Shotgun Black Powder Riflescope 1.5x-5x32mm
- Choosing a Muzzleloader Scope
- Best Muzzleloader Scopes - Comparison Table 2020
- Top 10 Best Muzzleloader Scopes on the Market Reviews
Choosing a Muzzleloader Scope
Finding a scope for a muzzleloader is comparatively simple. All of the added features found on some of today's most advanced scopes are wasted on a muzzleloader. They lack the range to make use of powerful optics. So, what features do you need?
Most modern in-line black powder rifles are very accurate, but they aren’t ever going to be as accurate as a production rifle. They also have less muzzle energy and often heavier bullets. These features decrease range. You probably shouldn’t worry about having high magnification on your scope.
For shots out to 100 yards and even farther, you have very little need of a scope more than 10x. It will do everything you need for this range. Even if you want a lot of accuracy, you still won’t need a lot. Muzzleloaders and black powder rifles are not made to be pinpoint optics.
There are different opinions about what power creates the best scope for muzzleloaders. The answer really depends on where you live. In the dense woodlands of the east coast, you will likely need far less magnification than you would on the open planes out west.
In general, you can often get away with as little as a 4x muzzleloader scope for dense woodlands. For open terrain, a max of 10-12x will usually be more than enough. Some specific shooters may go a little higher. Often, though, you are just wasting money.
Depending on the muzzleloader, there may be substantial recoil. It generally isn’t the snap of a normal rifle but more of a shove. For some people, this actually equates to more recoil. It increases the chances of you taking a scope to the face.
If you are an experienced black powder shooter, this likely won’t be much of an issue. If you are new to the sport, having a scope with just a little more eye relief is a great idea. They will prevent the searing pain of taking an eyepiece to your eye socket. If you have never experienced this, it is exactly as bad as it sounds.
The single downfall of having extended eye relief is that it can affect your field of view. With extremely long eye relief the obstruction can be a little distracting. It isn’t a huge concern unless you get the wrong scope. There is no reason to get anything over 4 inches of eye relief. That would be far more than you need.
Anything under 2.5 inches is probably on the short side. A firm grip on your rifle will help you manage it, but each shot is a risk. For best results stick to a scope that has somewhere between 3 and 4 inches of eye relief.
Choosing the right reticle for a normal rifle is a big decision. For muzzleloaders the decision is a little more forgiving. This is a big difference between muzzleloader scopes vs. rifle scopes. With your black powder equipment, you can make most reticles work.
Probably the most important thing is bullet drop reticles. At least 90% of shooters have zero need for this feature. It can even make your scope more complicated to use. If you plan on shooting past 100 yards often, you can make the argument for one. But, most hunters and shooters will never need that kind of range.
The most common scopes for muzzleloaders use either a standard crosshair or a duplex reticle. They may not be the fastest for target acquisition but they are quick enough. These reticles are standard for a reason. They are very accurate and easy to use. Sighting in is no problem. All around, a good option!
Some modern scopes use a shaped reticle such as a dot, circle, or chevron. These are a good option for muzzleloaders. They are very quick and easy to use. They are a little less accurate. Generally, though, they are faster than a standard crosshair. Sighting in can be a little more problematic and may add time.
You can make most any reticle work as long as you practice with it, know its limitations, and get it sighted in properly.
I want to include this section for one reason and one reason only: far too many people buy way more scope than they need! You don’t need turret adjustments on a muzzleloader or any other black powder rifle. These rifles are not designed to be that accurate.
Some may say that there is no harm in adjustments. That is mostly true. There are a few downfalls to be aware of though. The primary reason not to get one of these scopes is cost. It’s simply wasted money for complicated features you don't need.
They are also trickier to use, more sensitive to getting out of zero, and less durable as a general rule. Stick to something more basic. It will do everything you need and serve you better for far longer.
Best Muzzleloader Scopes - Comparison Table 2020
Top 10 Best Muzzleloader Scopes on the Market Reviews
1 Leupold VX-1
There is no doubt that Leupold is a pack leader in the world of rifle scopes. It should come as no surprise then that they top the list of best muzzleloader scopes as well. Their amazing quality and attention to the finest detail really shows in their products. In the case of Leupold muzzleloader scopes, you will be getting the optic of a lifetime.
In the world of Leupold scopes, the VX-1 is nowhere near the top of the line. However, at 3-9x with a duplex reticle, it is about perfect when it comes to compatibility with a black powder firearm. Without a doubt this is a near perfect setup. It might be the best inline muzzleloader scope on the market today.
The glass in the VX-1 is near perfect. With Leupold's multi-coated lenses, the view is absolutely astounding. The interior is sealed and purged making the entire scope water, shock, and fog proof. This doesn't even consider the far above industry-standard warranty.
They do offer the dedicated Leupold Freedom Muzzleloader scope. However, it is just a modified version of the Leupold VX-1 Shotgun scope. It offers nothing over the standard VX-1. There is a reason this scope is a best seller for Leupold. It will do everything you need. It is also more affordable than the Freedom Muzzleloader.
2 Nikon Prostaff P3 Muzzleloader
Nikon scopes are an industry standard for a reason. They have decades of experience in the optics world. Plus, they continue to innovate and improve every year. This has led to a dedicated Nikon muzzleloader scope. It leads the competition in terms of quality.
With a generous range of powers from 3 to 9x, this rugged scope is a perfect match for your inline rifle. The adjustments are quick and easy. They make sighting in a breeze. The reticle is easy to read. It is a duplex with thicker lines that help you get on target fast. Eye relief is a solid 3.6 inches to keep your face safe.
Past that, the P3 Muzzleloader uses some of the best quality lenses on the market. The images are always sharp and bright. Nikon uses a proprietary multi-coat to make sure you see everything through their scopes. The effort shows! It is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof. It is a great choice as a modern 50 cal muzzleloader scope.
When you get something high-quality, you know the company is going to stand behind it. That is one of the reasons why Nikon is so popular. If you have a problem, and you aren’t likely to, you know you are covered. The warranty alone makes this perhaps the best muzzleloader scope under 200 bucks.
3 Vortex Optics Diamondback
Vortex scopes have taken the world by storm. The Vortex Diamondback always seems to win any competition. Not bad for a scope offered at a budget price. Considering the quality, it should be anything but budget. This scope has earned its place in the history of the best muzzleloader scopes.
There is no dedicated Vortex muzzleloader scope. This particular optic does serves the purpose well. With options on reticles and power ranges, we selected the one with a modest 1-5x magnification. It does have a BDC reticle. Yet, considering the scope is so affordable, you might as well go with it!
All Vortex optics are great. It’s just that this happens to be the best Vortex scope for muzzleloader hunting. Quality aside, this is one of the most durable options for a scope on the market. With sealed and purged internals, a thicker tube wall, you won’t break it. On the other hand, the glass is refined and nearly perfect because of the amazing multicoat technology.
The reticle may not be perfect for black powder. That is really the only drawback of this particular optic. Everything else is top of the line from the quality to the durability. Simply put, this is an outstanding scope with no compromises. For the price it’s going to be hard to beat!
4 Burris Ballistic Plex
It may be a little shocking to see Burris so high on our list. They have always fallen more into the budget category. They are not known for top of the line products. That distinction has been slowly changing. In fact, they have begun to corner their own little portion of the optics market.
At 2-7x this could be about the perfect magnification range for a black powder rifle. It has the short-range game covered. It can also easily step it up for longer range shots. With a very generous 11 inches of eye relief, you know you can get your head in a safe position.
The two things that plagued Burris was their inferior glass and poor overall quality. That has all changed! With their own multi-coat, the glass is extremely good. Not as good as the scopes above, but still quite good. The scope tube has also been redesigned to be stronger and more efficient.
This scope is actually a little pricey. That is what you get when you want a combat scope. The price is manageable but far from optimal. The price will get you a compact, durable, and accurate optic for just about any situation.
5 Primary Arms Gen III
Primary Arms is one of those companies that came out of nowhere. They have shaken the optics world with high-quality products and high-end features but without the high-end price tag. While this is not an optic specifically geared toward a muzzleloader, you will likely be pleasantly surprised.
At 1-6x it’s on the lower end of the power spectrum. That actually makes this a very fast optic. Its speed is augmented by its illuminated reticle. It may seem a little strange to put something so high-tech on a somewhat primitive weapon. Once you have tried it, you will never go back!
Multicoated lenses, fine quality glass, and a rugged exterior make this a solid scope. It has the hard-wearing quality of a piece of hunting gear. It uses a chevron aiming point rather than a reticle and has an average 3.3 inches of eye relief. Nothing stellar but enough to make this scope a noteworthy choice.
Every Primary Arms scope is sold with a limited lifetime warranty. From all accounts, their customer service is phenomenal. You will likely never need it. These scopes are tank-tough and nearly impossible to break. Lately, the price has been creeping up. Therefore, if you are in the market for one, you may want to bite the bullet soon.
6 Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope with Truplex Reticle
Muzzleloader season is in full swing and you want to take a crack at that deer one last time. Depending on where you are, you cannot use any other rifle. You are limited to your trusty muzzleloader. So now, you need a scope that will offer excellent image quality, sharp and accurate shooting, and the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments.
The Simmons 8-point rifle scope might be one of the best scopes for your muzzleloader. This sucker is strong from the inside and out. It’s shockproof, recoil proof, and can stand up against nature’s worse weather conditions. If you want to hunt in any weather, this scope will not damage easily. This scope won't even fog up easily. The adjustment knobs are easy to turn and won’t get stuck.
You get excellent quality and superior performance at a pretty affordable price too. Is it possible to find a great scope for your muzzleloader for under $100? Survey says, yes you can. Just because it’s reasonable in price doesn’t mean the quality and performance will suffer. If it was a whole lot lower in price, then you may not be interested. In all seriousness, it’s a scope that means business when it comes to muzzleloader hunting. And if you want the best image quality and accuracy, the Simmons 8-Point Rifle Scope will be an excellent addition.
7 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see another second Vortex scope on this list. The Crossfire series is a little more budget friendly than the Diamondback. The quality level, however, stays the same. The only real difference is in quality control.
You may notice a small difference in the quality of the lenses between the two lines. In any case, this 2-7x scope is a solid performer. With an amazing 9 inches of eye relief, you are safe from any recoil. You can place your head at the perfect, comfortable distance for you.
All of the quality and durability that made the Diamondback great is still here and unchanged. From the nitrogen purging to the coated lenses, this scope has everything you need. It just doesn't have the price of the higher-end model. You get a durable scope and you spend about half the money, what’s not to love?
Less quality control could cause you to have an issue with this scope. It isn’t likely, but it is possible. If you do have a problem, know that you are covered. Vortex has one of the best customer service crews in the industry. Their warranty service is top notch. You will be taken care of!
8 Nikon Buckmaster II
We briefly talked about Nikon above. Well, this product is by the same brand. It just has a little lower quality for a more budget-minded consumer. For 99% of people, there won’t be enough of a quality difference to even notice. If you are a pro hunter or spend a lot of time with your firearm, you should consider spending more.
If you do go with the Buckmaster, you will receive a perfectly fine 3-9x scope with a solid 3.6 inches of eye relief. it is an overall great budget-friendly scope for hunting the woodlands or open fields. This scope is perfectly capable of putting you on target with a muzzleloader.
The glass is not quite as clear as with higher priced Nikon’s. But you aren’t likely to notice. The Buckmaster may also fall a little short on durability. It is still shock, water, and fog proof. It can take a hard day in the field in rough weather without a problem.
Don’t dismiss this scope. If you have the money to spend, go with the better option. If you are a little tight this season, going with the Buckmaster will leave you satisfied. It is lightweight, accurate, and easy to use. Perfectly suited to what a black powder hunter needs!
9 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn
It shouldn’t be surprising to see Bushnell among the best hunting scopes. What should be surprising is to see them this low on the list. That is just proof of the growing competition in the optics market. Never fear, they are still the same high-quality company that specializes in hunting optics.
In the case of the Banner, you get an amazing 3-9x scope with adequate eye relief of 3.3 inches. What makes this great for the black powder shooter is the circle reticle. It was designed for use on a slug gun. Once you get it sighted in, though, targets at less than 50 yards don’t stand a chance. This scope is fast!
The glass is top notch, far better than you would expect for the price. It is fully multicoated and ultra-bright for all your low light hunting needs. Construction is solid. The entire scope is as rugged as you can possibly make it. That means water and fog proof while still being able to stand up to the recoil of any muzzleloader.
If money is a little tight or you don’t want to invest a ton in a scope, this is an astounding option! I would never hesitate to put one on any shorter range rifle, shotgun, or inline black powder rifle. It is simply amazing for the price.
10 Konus Black Powder
There is a reasonable chance that you have never heard of Konus. Their lack of recognition leads people to think they are some Chinese offshore company. That just isn’t the case. Konus is an Italian company that has been making optics for decades. They do a wonderful job at their specialties.
In the case of this scope, it was designed for shorter range. That means black powder and slug guns mostly. Variable from 1-5x, it works great for hunting short range. It also has a duplex reticle for easy, fast shots. The eye relief is right around 3 inches, which is a little short.
Konus has simply stellar glass. It is as clear as scopes costing hundreds more. If you are used to shooting with the best scopes on the market, you may be a little disappointed. Still, there are no optics under $500.00 that are better in the glass department.
Any time you get a scope from a company you are not familiar with, you take a little risk. Konus is a safe bet, though. In twenty years, they have transformed themselves into one of the largest manufacturers of hunting optics in Europe. They must be doing something right.
If you plan on hunting black powder this year, getting one of the best muzzleloader scopes should be a priority. They will make every shot so much easier. It's already a challenge to get a good shot with primitive technology. The challenge is part of the fun. But it's far more fun to actually tag a deer with a scope and maybe make a couple of pounds of venison jerky.