In my opinion, choosing the best muzzleloader scope is one of the hardest parts of preparing for the hunting season. Even seasoned hunters can have a hard time choosing the best ones on the market. But I will make it easier for you. In this post, I will share my top muzzleloader scope choices and talk about what I believe makes each of them special.
Now, it’s important to understand that muzzleloader scopes won’t necessarily make you a better shooter; but rather, will help you improve your accuracy. So don’t just go for the most expensive one – choose one that fits your needs, and this buyers guide can help you.
Top 9 Best Muzzleloader Scopes Reviews
1. Nikon INLINE XR BDC 300 Muzzleloader Scope – Best Overall
Spotting the game in respectable yardage is now easier thanks to Nikon INLINE XR BDC 300 Muzzleloader Scope. The BDC (or Bullet Drop Compensation) ballistic reticle is particularly helpful in locking in the target. It’s definitely hard to miss when you are using this scope in one of your hunting trips.
What I love most about this Nikon scope is the 5-inch eye relief which helps me see the target better. The optics are very clear and easy to adjust. Other scopes need a good time to adjust, and while you’re doing this, you could lose the target. This Nikon INLINE is entirely different. The magnification selector wheel adjusts smoothly to give you the magnification you need. The selector wheel has enough resistance to prevent you from accidentally moving it.
This muzzleloader scope also helps you locate your target even in low light settings. I was able to shoot a deer from a distance of 175 yards in the woods. It is lightweight, easy to mount, and it doesn’t fog the lens especially if you are sweaty. The optics chamber is nitrogen-purged and O-ring sealed therefore it won’t easily accumulate moisture inside.
2. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC 1in Waterproof Matte Riflescope – Budget-friendly Scope for Muzzleloader
What I like about this particular scope is how I can clearly see the target. The exit pupil is wide enough, allowing plenty of light to penetrate the objective lens. The optics are multi-coated which maximizes the light transmission inside the scope chamber. This results in crisp and colorful image with lots of color reproduction and contrast. The lens may not be as powerful as other products in the market, but it certainly does the job.
Another plus factor for me is how the scope is entirely waterproof. I won’t have to worry about moisture getting inside the scope chamber anymore.
3. Nikon Prostaff P3 Muzzleloader 3-9X40 BDC 300 Riflescope – Newer Model of Nikon INLINE XR
Some of the best features of the Nikon Prostaff P3 Muzzleloader 3-9×40 BDC 300 Riflescope that I enjoyed the most are the multi-coated optical system, the design of the eye relief, and the lifetime warranty.
The multi-coated optical system transmits light properly, allowing me to see the targets even during critical moments of sunrise or sunset. The lenses minimize glare, which is another nice feature of this product. The eye relief, on the other hand, has a wide field of view that allows me to view the adjustable BDC reticle properly. Accuracy becomes natural whenever I’m using this particular scope in the field. And the lifetime warranty puts my mind at ease because I don’t have to worry about breaking this scope.
This scope is a great pair with Remington 700 in .308, AR15, and even Tikka T3.
4. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 – Dead-Hold BDC MOA – Best Vortex Scope for Muzzleloader
What I love about this particular brand of muzzleloader scope is the multi-coated optics. This allows as much light as possible inside the chamber, therefore letting me see the target in a crisper and more detailed image. The adjustment controls are very easy to use and the reticles are clear enough that would allow you to zero in on your target smoothly.
I also love the construction and materials used in making this scope. The aircraft-grade aluminum protects the optics inside the chamber well enough, especially during recoil. The waterproofing and fog-proofing features are also remarkable; it didn’t allow my sweat to blur my vision while aiming at my target. Actually, it rained a little when I tested this scope out in the field, and I can attest to its superb waterproofing quality.
I am confident that I am not going to be replacing my Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7×32 because of its durability. If ever it breaks, the company provides a VIP warranty for repairs and replacement. Even a complete beginner will feel confident using this scope on the field or target shooting practice.
The VIP warranty is what compelled me to try out this scope. Though I have not damaged it, I’m confident that I would be entertained should I encounter some issues in the future.
5. Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Riflescope – Excellent Leupold Scope for Muzzleloader
In terms of clarity, magnification, brightness, and durability, the Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Riflescope is another masterpiece from the long line of Leupold muzzleloader scopes that you should seriously consider adding to your shopping list.
What I like about the Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Compact Riflescope is the DiamondCoat system that protects the lenses from scratches. I have to admit that I’m a little reckless out there in the field, and there are moments where I go from bush to bush in pursuit of my target. One of the things that get damaged because of my behavior is the scope. The scratch-proof lenses are a positive thing for me because today, I won’t have to worry about nasty little scratches in my scopes anymore.
6. Thompson Center Predator Max 1 Camo 3-12x40mm – Best Muzzleloader Scope Under 200
If you are looking for a budget-friendly muzzleloader scope that works well in a target shooting range or in the field, the Thompson Center Predator Max CAmo 3-12x40mm may provide you the performance that you are looking for.
Aside from the clear image inside the scope, what I like about the Thompson Center Predator Max 1 Camo 3-12x40mm is the camouflage finish. This certainly matches my other rifles that have camouflage finish as well. Meanwhile, the scope’s centerplex reticle can be clearly seen during the daytime. It holds zero well and can be adjusted easily. The glass is clear and provides a good image of the target.
In terms of durability, I can tell that it can hold its candle when compared to other products in the market. It may not be weatherproof but it doesn’t build up moisture inside the lens chamber easily.
7. Blackpowder Products Inc. CVA Muzzleloader Scope
Affordability and quality don’t always go together in one sentence. In the case of Blackpowder Products Inc. CVA Muzzleloader Scope, however, these two highly important things pleasantly coincide in one product.
What I like about Blackpowder Products Inc. CVA Muzzleloader Scope is the way it easily mounts with almost any inline muzzleloader. I have a CVA Wolf .50 caliber and this works great with it. The scope may feel generic but it performs quite well in specific locations such as target shooting range. It may seem to be a little weird to use at first but after 10 shots, I finally got the hang of it. The KONUS scope that came with it has an etched reticle, which is nice. The image is crystal clear if used on a bright light setting.
8. Traditions Performance Firearms Muzzleloader Hunter Series Scope
Another muzzleloader scope that is absolutely affordable and high quality is the Traditions Performance Firearms Muzzleloader Hunter Series Scope. If you are searching for good hunting or target shooting practice companion, this scope will provide you a terrific service.
What I love about this scope is the clarity of the image of the target. I can easily spot my target without having to adjust the magnification ranging too much. The control knob is stable enough; it maintains the adjustments that you made even after recoil. Moreover, the scope doesn’t easily fog up on the lens even if you are sweaty or the environment is foggy.
Another thing that I love about this scope is how it easily fits with other rifles. This is an attractive feature to those who have a limited number of hunting rifles in their collection. I can confidently say that even a beginner won’t have any trouble mounting this scope in their rifles.
Meanwhile, I consider the 3-inch eye relief a positive feature of this particular scope. It has a rubber end which can be pretty useful if you are carefully aiming for a target in the field or in the shooting range.
9. Konus Pro 275 Muzzleloader Rifle Scope 3-9x40mm
There are many features that I enjoyed about this muzzleloader scope. One of them is the multicoated lens that allows me to see the target sharply. This scope uses an engraved ballistic reticle. At first, I thought that it won’t make much difference but I was surprised to see it guide me to my target accurately.
The fog-proof and waterproof lens is also phenomenal. After using it for nearly four hours in the field, I haven’t seen any sweat build up in the eye relief. Meanwhile, the adjustment knob is very easy to operate. I used only one finger to adjust the magnification and my settings did not change even after recoil.
What Makes a Great Muzzleloader Scope
Every hunter or rifle owner should have a reliable scope. Whether it’s for hunting, target shooting practice, or for competitive shooting, a great muzzleloader scope will guide the shooter to victory.
In my opinion, a great muzzleloader scope should be able to provide a not only crisp and colorful image of the target, but also withstand the stress of recoil no matter what kind of rifle a hunter is using. The overall construction of the scope is very important, as it would take care of the optics inside the scope chamber. Also, the magnification should always be considered when shopping for a scope. Do you want to use a fixed or variable scope?
Waterproof scopes are also a must because a hunter operates in all kinds of weather conditions. Aside from the rain and fog, your sweat and other kinds of moisture must not be able to affect the performance of the lenses inside the scope. Your scopes must also be shockproof so that you’d be able to enjoy the services of the special optics inside the chamber for a long time. Finally, the scope must be able to receive enough light so that you can easily locate your target at any given time.
The brand and price should not be a top priority when shopping for a muzzleloader scope. A scope might be cheap, but if it presents performance issues in the middle of your hunting, target shooting practice, or even during competitions, it is definitely not worth it. On the other hand, you don’t need to get an expensive brand-name muzzleloader scope if you are not comfortable using it in the field.
Factors to Consider when Buying a Scope for Muzzleloader
This was what I experienced when I was shopping for my very first scope. I thought that brand-name scopes would provide me the best specs that I needed in the field. I did not know then that I have to personally find out what matches my needs out there in the field or target shooting range.
If you are a new rifle owner and would want to buy your very own muzzleloader scope, here are the things that you need to look for:
In simple terms, magnification is the scope’s ability to enhance the quality of the image of the target from a certain distance. This is where seasoned hunters and rifle enthusiasts are usually picky. The normal magnification is 3-9x while some scopes offer even higher. Before buying a muzzleloader scope, make sure that you read reviews attesting to the product’s magnification.
2. Lens quality
The quality of the lens is another factor that you need to consider when shopping for a muzzleloader scope. You have to remember that the scope you will be using will always be exposed to harsh conditions and locations.
There are multi-coated lenses on the market today that allows light to enter the scope chamber, therefore giving you crisp and crystal clear image of your target. This may come at a price but this feature will allow you to improve your accuracy.
You can also look for muzzleloader scopes that have a scratchproof lens. This will prevent you the hassle of replacing your scopes should you scratch it accidentally during your target shooting practice or hunting trips.
The reticle is another consideration that you should carefully consider when you are shopping for a muzzleloader scope. This will determine your accuracy out there in the field or in the target shooting range.
There are different kinds of reticles out there:
- Crosshairs reticle:
This is the traditional + sign with a red dot in the middle that you see at the end of any scope. Some hunters don’t particularly enjoy using it because they tend to miss hitting their target especially if the light is not optimal.
Did you know that human hair was once used in making the crosshairs reticle? When innovation intervened, manufacturers used spider’s silk instead of a human hair. This is because silk does not obstruct light as it enters the scope chamber. However, as time went by and technology became more complicated, wires have become a popular material used in making crosshairs reticle.
- Engraved reticle:
High-end lenses that are being sold around the globe are now using laser-engraved reticles.
There is a wide misunderstanding that an engrave reticle is weaker compared to traditional crosshairs reticle. The truth of the matter is that engraved reticles are long-lasting compared to traditional crosshairs reticle. You have to damage the whole lens itself before you will be able to damage the reticle.
Engraved reticles tend to be more expensive compared to crosshair reticles because it takes a long time to actually carve the reticle and the other calibrations on the lens such as internal lubrication, coating, weatherproofing, and most of all, the overall integrity of the chamber that will house the lens.
It is pointless if your scope gets damaged easily. This is the reason why every hunter or rifle enthusiast should have a durable muzzleloader scope at their disposal. High-quality scopes are expensive and it would take a toll on your budget if you keep replacing them. If you are a complete beginner, the statistical chances of you breaking your scope are very high.
When shopping for muzzleloader scopes, it is always imperative to look into the materials used in manufacturing them. There are other scopes that use aircraft-grade materials to ensure durability.
While it is expected that you will take care of your scopes at all times, it is also very important that you have a backup in case of unfortunate incidents that could damage them.
The warranty will serve as some sort of insurance in case you have broken your muzzleloader scope. Some manufacturers offer a lifetime warranty while some offer only limited ones. If you want to have peace of mind, it is highly advisable to choose a scope that provides a lifetime warranty. One specific muzzleloader scope product even offers a VIP warranty for repairs and replacement. Ignoring the warranty will give you trouble in the future, especially if you break your scope while using it.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is the difference between muzzleloader scopes and rifle scopes?
There are many things that set muzzleloader scopes and rifle scopes apart.
First is the distance limitation. Muzzleloader scopes get less than 100 yards while rifle scopes pick up farther than that.
The magnification ranges are the next thing that differentiates muzzleloader scopes and rifle scopes. You can see small objects better from a great distance through a rifle scope while muzzleloader scopes can only magnify your target within 100 yards.
The use of power is another crucial difference between muzzleloader scope and rifle scope. The power of muzzleloader scopes is usually lower because of the short distance shooting capability of the muzzleloader used. Magnification of 2x or 3x is enough for muzzleloader range means that the scope shows the target two or three times bigger than the actual size.
This is quite different in the case of a rifle scope. Its power is higher because of the long distance shooting. You can even have 10x up to 20x, depending on the power of the rifle.
The reticle can also spell the difference between the two. The muzzleloader scopes are simpler compared to rifle scopes. Because of the great distance involved, the rifle scopes show you many other things such as wind velocity and the actual distance between the shooter and the target. On the other hand, the muzzleloader scopes show you only the round part at the center as it only needs the target and nothing else.
What is the difference between muzzleloader iron sights and muzzleloader scopes?
Muzzleloader iron sights mean you shoot without the help of a scope. You only peep on the extended iron at the top of the barrel as your guide to your target. If the shooters are confident that they can take the target within the bounds of 100 yards, they can get an accurate shot without having the need to use a scope.
Muzzleloader scopes, as discussed above, are tools that aid the hunter to improve his accuracy by magnifying the image of the target through a scope. The scope is mounted at the top of the muzzle loader. This is where the hunter or the shooter places his eye to see the target.
Does a muzzleloader need a special scope?
Frankly speaking, muzzleloader rifles can work without a scope at all. This is usually referred to as sight-in. Using a scope won’t even increase the firing power of your muzzleloader at all. But technological advancements and hunting rules have become complicated over the years.
However, you need a special scope in order to improve your accuracy. Improved accuracy means you can take a clean shot at your target, therefore saving the game from unnecessary suffering.
For those shooters and hunters who want a consistent clean shot on their targets during big-game hunting, you can download Nikon Spot On app. This ballistic calculator is very handy and easy to use.
How to mount a scope on a muzzleloader?
Most modern muzzleloaders have been pre-drilled and customized for scopes. The first thing that you need to do is to ensure that the mounting accessories that you have chosen are a perfect fit for your muzzleloader.
Next, mount the bases. Make sure that it doesn’t touch the surface of the barrel. Allow clearance at the eyepiece so that the operation of the bolt is not hindered. Make sure that you have to proper tools when attaching scopes to your muzzleloader.
Once you have set the right distance between the barrel and the scope, it is time to tighten the screws. To secure the scope more properly, use a small portion of a thread-freezing compound like Loctite. Make sure that the screws are properly holding the scope and the barrel by alternately tightening them.
How to zero a muzzleloader scope?
An archer or any other marksman knows precisely where their arrows or bullets will hit. You as a hunter should know your muzzleloader’s trajectory as well. At close range, however, we should consider a zero that allows us to hit on a target without thinking about holdover. This is what we call the point blank range. Determining the point-blank range will guide us to establish the right zero distance.
Using a six-inch target, for example, we need to know at what range we can zero our muzzleloader where the bullet’s trajectory won’t travel outside the six-inch range. Usually, it is no more than three inches below or above the middle of the reticle. So at 100 yards, the point of impact will be 1.75 inches above the center of the reticle. This is the 100 yard zero distance. Any further and the bullet will hit outside the range.
Nikon P-223 3-9×40 vs. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9×40
If you are looking for a highly-reliable scope Nikon P-223 3-9×40 and Nikon Buckmaster II 3-9×40 are the right ones for you.
Most hunters will say that these two Nikon muzzleloader scopes are practically the same, except for yardage.
The Nikon P-223 was specifically designed for the trajectory of .223 Remington /5.56 NATO round with 55-grain polymer tip bullet. The BDC 600 reticle has small open circles situated at the bottom of the center point to help you hit the targets within 100 to 600 yards. The optics are multicoated for better light transmission. It also has a zero-reset feature that keeps the settings that you made after strong recoil.
Meanwhile, Nikon Buckmasters II has a generous eye relief, 100-yard parallax setting, and multi-coated optics system to provide you with a crisp and colorful image of your target. One thing that sets this scope apart from P-223 is the Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match technology. This allows you to see all the exact aiming points on the scope’s reticle at different yardages for your chosen load and ammunition.
So all in all, the two scopes are practically the same in terms of performance. It’s just that in terms of price, Nikon P-223 is more expensive compared to Nikon Buckmasters II. The P-223 is priced around $300 while the Buckmasters II is only about $150. However, even though the P-223 is expensive, it performs better compared to Buckmasters II.
Simmons Truplex Riflescope 3-9×40 vs. Nikon Prostaff P3
In terms of magnification, objective lens diameter, tube size, waterproofing and shock-proofing, Nikon Prostaff and Simmons Truplex Riflescope are pretty much the same. Their eye relief, size, and weight are also in the same area. Both scopes have coated lenses.
However, when it comes to price, Simmons Truplex Riflescope is obviously the leading choice. This scope sells for about $100 while the Nikon Prostaff P3 will cost about $180. However, don’t let the price issue turn you off; Nikon might seem more expensive between the two but it really delivers excellent performance in the field or in target shooting range.
In conclusion, these muzzleloader scopes buying guide that I mentioned here are considered as top-of-the-line scopes that are being sold in the market these days. These scopes have been thoroughly tested and rated by both professional hunters and rifle enthusiasts alike, and I can certainly attest to their performance credibility in the field. While some scopes were rated better than the rest, it is still advisable to see their performance first before deciding to buy one. All things considered, if you are looking for the best muzzleloader scope either for practice or for hunting, these are the ones that you should consider first. Not only they are budget friendly, but also durable and can withstand the test of time. That is, until something better comes along.