When looking to purchase your own hunting gear, everyone knows how pivotal it is to invest in the best essential items, such as a great crossbow or the best protective camouflage clothing. However, it is equally as important to choose good quality smaller items that can make or break your time out – in this case, the best crossbow scope.
In the hunting world, investing into a good crossbow scope can mean the difference between landing the perfect shot and a having a VERY frustrating weekend. A good crossbow scope can improve your field of view, reduce glare from stray light, help improve vision in night or low-light situations, and help give eye relief. Alternatively, a bad scope will not perform well and ultimately will not improve your hunting.
Luckily, choosing a crossbow scope that is right for you is a pretty straightforward task – you just have to know what qualities you need in a scope, what type of hunting you will be doing, and lastly, your budget.
Choosing the Best Crossbow Scope
Crossbow hunting is different from other styles of hunting, namely in that you will be operating from shorter distances than you would with longer-range rifles. Most crossbows will come with a stock scope in a bundle package; however, most of these stock scopes are usually not well-crafted, will fog up very quickly, and will break down over time with use.
The next option would be to just leave the scope at home. Some people will argue that you don’t even need a scope for short range activity such as crossbow hunting.
However, the experienced hunters know that if you want to squeeze all the possible daylight you can out of your trip, bringing a good crossbow scope is pivotal. Choosing the best crossbow scope for you is a little more cut-and-dry than choosing, say, the perfect crossbow. Since there aren’t a large variety of crossbow scopes or different uses for them, the rule is simple – the quality of a scope goes up as price does. As crossbow hunting is more short-range in nature, the emphasis of these scopes will then be on 2 main traits – clarity and precision.
Here are a few key qualities to be familiar with when selecting a good crossbow:
- Magnification – This is the first number presented in a model’s classification: if a scope is 4×32, it magnifies the image in the scope 4x closer than it appears with the naked eye. A higher magnification will allow you to zoom in from further away, but may result in less clarity.
- Objective Lens Diameter – This is the second number presented in a model’s classification: if a scope is 4×32, its objective lens is 32mm in diameter. This will help in determining the exit pupil, or the aperture of the lens – which in turn determines how much light will reach your eye upon looking through the scope.
- Eye Relief – This is the distance between your shooting eye and your eyepiece lens. A scope with good eye relief will give you plenty of room between your eye and the lens. Buying a scope without good eye relief may result in hitting your eye from kickback when the arrow is released from your crossbow.
- Durability – Most decent scopes will be waterproof, dustproof, and fogproof. These qualities allow you to be out in inclement weather without fear of your scope breaking down. A fogproof lens is especially important to maximize clarity.
- Interior Coating – This is usually present in high-end scopes, and will reduce the amount of stray light coming in through the lens, maximizing clarity.
- Reticle – Most scopes will come with a reticle to pinpoint the trajectory of your arrow. To maximize accuracy, the best scopes will have notches to signal the trajectory at distances, such as 20 yards, 40 yards, and so on. A good scope will also be easy to “zero out”, or align the top reticle to hit targets at 20 yards.
- Illumination – An illuminated scope will allow you to shoot in low-light situations, as it will take in light through the scope to brighten the image.
Without further ado, here are our choices for the best crossbow scopes.
Best Crossbow Scope Reviews
1. Nikon Bolt XR 3×32 – Best Overall Buy
The Nikon Bolt 3×32 crossbow scope is one of the best scopes on the market at a very affordable price. It measures 8.1 inches long and has a 3x magnification with a 32mm objective lens.
The Bolt XR features arguably one of the best magnification ranges and an advanced reticle that allows you to focus anywhere within 60 yards with ease. The device itself is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, ensuring that your scope will stay functional and clear throughout your trip, even in poor weather conditions.
The Bolt XR is built to optimize brightness and contrast by being able to transmit 92% of available light. Nikon also coats this lens with anti-reflective properties for maximum clarity as well.
What makes this model preferable over others to us personally was the excellent 3.4 inches of eye relief it gave; we were able to use this scope consistently without hardly any fatigue at the end of the day.
Overall, the noticeable quality of each piece of this scope allows us to hunt without any worries of scope failure, and for its low price, it is our favorite choice without breaking the bank.
2. Parker Red Hot 3×32 Illuminated – Best Scope for Low-Light Hunting
The Parker Bows Red Hot Illuminated 3×32 is very comparable to the Nikon Bolt XR, but comes with the additional bonus of having red and green sights.
The luminosity of these can also be controlled, with 5 different brightness settings for each the red and green sight. This makes hunting in low-light situations and foggy weather much easier.
Like the Bolt XR, the Parker model has a 3x magnification and 32mm objective lens, and focuses at 60 yards. It is multi-reticle, and waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. Compared to Nikon’s model, the Red Hot does not have as good of an eye relief, but does come with a fast focus eyepiece.
Best of all, this comes with an outstanding lifetime warranty that covers any manufacturer error with the product.
Parker has been a great crossbow manufacturer since its beginnings in the 1980s, and this scope is one of the best additions to their lineup.
The Red Hot 3×32 is ultimately a good addition for those looking to hunt in low-light situations, with the same great functions that the Nikon option offered.
3. Excalibur Shadow Zone 2-4×32 – Best Scope for Clarity and Precision
The Excalibur Shadow Zone 2-4×32 is one of the more pricey options, but is well worth it in our opinion. This model was built upon their popular Vari-Zone scope, and features a couple add-ons from that model that make it better than its predecessor.
First, it features a multiplex reticle that allows you to precisely compensate for the trajectory of your crossbow. This means that it has a crosshair specifically designed for shooting 20 yards, 30 yards, 40 yards, and 50 yards out. That makes this an extremely simple scope to learn on, as you can make quick decisions on where to set the sight on your target.
The Shadow Zone has 2-4 magnification, and has a dual red and green color illuminated reticle, making low-light hunting much easier. The standard 1″ rings assure that it will fit to most crossbows as well.
If you enjoy Excalibur’s scope like we do, they offer crossbow packages designed to pair with this scope – we recommend the Eclipse XT Shadow Zone package.
4. TruGlo 4×32 Camo – Best Value Buy (On a Budget)
The TruGlo 4×32 Camo scope with Rings is a very popular model with those looking for a better option than their stock scope, but are not quite ready to dish out the money for a top of the line scope like the Excalibur option.
This scope has 4x magnification, as well as 4″ eye relief. The body is waterproof and crafted from aluminum, and the glass is scratch resistant and dustproof. Like the other models, it works well in low-light situations as well. This scope also gets extra points for the great camouflage finish.
While this model is by far the most affordable on our list, it comes with some drawbacks. While it claims to be fog-resistant, we had lots of problems with fogging pretty early on. It also takes a little bit to zero in, compared to other models.
Lastly, this model lacks the craftsmanship that other models had, as we’ve heard lots of feedback about this model falling apart after a couple seasons.
However, if you’re looking for a cheap but well-performing scope, the TruGlo may be the one for you.
5. Zeiss Terra 2-7×32 XB75 – Best High-End Scope
If you’re looking for the absolute best crossbow scope that money can buy, you should be looking no further than the Zeiss Terra 2-7×32 XB75.
This scope is for those looking to use it professionally, or want a major improvement in their hunting game. The model is extremely lightweight, yet is well-built, waterproof, scratch-resistant, dustproof, and fogproof. Should anything happen, it is also backed by a lifetime warranty.
The Zeiss Terra XB75 gives 3.5″ of eye relief, has a low profile 1″ tube, and gives 2-7x magnification. Where this model shines is in its astounding pinpoint accuracy: its reticle gives aiming points from 20-75 yards out – in 2.5 yard increments. This gives extremely accurate and precise measurements for targeting smaller game from farther away.
Ultimately, this scope has all the best features that come with the other options, but offers unbelievable precision and clarity – the two key features you’ll want in a scope.
Whether you’re looking to update your stock crossbow scope or simply interested in what the market has to offer, these 5 models are great options to consider. Depending on your needs, any one of these scopes is sure to improve your hunting and would be a great addition to any crossbow hunter’s inventory.