LAST UPDATED: November 27, 2019
Best Crossbow Scopes: The Difference Between a Hit and Miss
A good crossbow scope will improve your shooting at long ranges and in low light conditions
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON November 27, 2019
The correct crossbow scope takes the guesswork out of shooting. Not only will it improve accuracy, but it will also help you find the correct elevation and range. We take a look at the best crossbow scopes available for use by hunters and competitive archers who want to get the best shot.
This scope has a fixed 4x magnification, and the scope body has a shroud for less glare. It also comes with mounting rings for Picatinny and Weaver rails.
It is fogproof and dustproof and offers fantastic illumination. The reticle colors can also be changed between green or red.
This scope can be difficult to zero. Also, the fixed magnification might not be ideal if you’re shooting at closer distances.
This scope is unique, as it’s made of aircraft-quality aluminum and features a durable leaf spring. The limited lifetime warranty is a plus.
It has crosshairs for accuracy when shooting. The rubber eye guard protects your eyes against slight impact and improves comfort. Its design makes it less visible.
It lacks any form of light and can’t be used at nighttime or in areas with little light. The mount and rings may not fit.
This scope has a magnification of 4x and has a five-point programmed multi-reticle crosshair system. It is easy to install and comes with mounting rings.
The scope is water-resistant and shockproof and comes with a limited lifetime manufacturer’s warranty. It is also known for holding its zero after the extensive shooting.
It may easily break without much use. Also, the mounting rings may need to be changed so it can fit certain crossbows.
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Benefits of a Crossbow Scope
- Pinpoint accuracy. Archery and hunting are skills that require a high level of accuracy. A crossbow scope allows you to aim at your target before taking the shot.
- Quick sighting of target. Shooting distant objects is difficult as you cannot spot them as quickly as possible. A crossbow scope offers more viewing power and a wide field of view, allowing you to see your targets faster and better.
- Night visibility. Some crossbow scopes have illumination. This feature is very useful during nighttime hunting when visibility is low. Lighting also allows you to spot targets when they are most active.
Types of Crossbow Scopes
Red Dot Scopes
Red dot scopes are a minimalist’s dream. They are simple scopes with no magnification or calibrated reticles. Instead, they have a dot or a series of dots that give the shooter an accurate estimate of the target. These scopes work best in conditions where targets are easy to spot.
Magnified scopes enlarge the target and offer the shooter better visibility. They are a good option for zeroing in on key areas when aiming. They also come in handy if you have eye trouble and targeting is a problem. However, magnification does not always guarantee better accuracy.
Night Vision Scopes
Night vision scopes make night hunts a lot more interesting. They operate using infrared technology to help you track and identify targets in darkness. Their main advantage is they let you remain unseen by the target. You can be as stealthy as possible when hunting.
It is not surprising to see that Nikon, a company known for its camera and optic accessories, is a top producer of crossbow scopes. The Japanese company has been in the business of developing optic devices since 1907. Although it is more popular for its cameras and lenses, it has an impressive line of scopes. The Nikon P-Tactical Matte BDC Carbine is a made-for-precision scope.
Many crossbow hunting enthusiasts are familiar with the UTG brand. Leapers Inc., the manufacturer of UTG scopes, is headquartered in Livonia, Michigan. The UTG brand is known for its affordable scopes and outdoor gear that’s mostly designed for hunting. In 1991, the company started manufacturing its products in the U.S. To date, it has produced hundreds of scopes, including the best-selling UTG Crossbow Scope.
Excalibur Crossbow is a Canadian company that dates back to 1983. It has a rich history and is very popular with archers and hunting enthusiasts. Its extensive product line includes crossbows that are tough, reliable, and accurate, like the Excalibur Twilight DLX Scope Multirange Reticle.
Crossbow Scope Pricing
- Below $50: Some crossbow scopes sell for as little as $20. They have features such as weatherproofing, aluminum construction, and 32mm lens. The more expensive ones have windage adjustment knobs that adjust the arrow point-of-impact.
- $50-$100: Most archery enthusiasts buy crossbow scopes in this price range. The scopes found here are quite detailed. They have features such as eye guards and elevation adjusters.
- $100-$200: Crossbow scopes here have premium features that can greatly improve your precision. These include ballistic calibration, powerful lenses, and enhanced magnification.
- Above $200: When you want a crossbow scope that will impress your fellow hunters or archers, look here. It will probably have features like an etched glass reticle and powerful optics that reduce the loss of light transmission.
Size and Weight
Your aim depends on how steady your hand is when you’re targeting. The size and weight of a scope can affect your aim if the scope is too heavy to hold for a long period. A lightweight crossbow scope is easier to carry. Choose a scope that matches the size of your crossbow. We recommend getting a smaller scope that weighs less than a pound, as it will allow you to make accurate shots and won’t throw your crossbow off balance.
Unless you’re planning to target and shoot game at close range, this is another important feature to look at. Magnification allows you to zero in on targets that are far away. You can identify the exact spot where you should direct your shot. A good crossbow scope has magnification between 3x and 32x and can locate targets that are up to 60 yards away. However, even with good magnification, you still have to be a good marksman to target well.
The reticle refers to the design you see when you look through the scope. Most scopes have different aiming points. The reticle helps with accuracy. You can also get a crossbow scope with many reticles. They allow you to shoot from different distances accurately and you don’t have to make elevation or windage adjustments. The best crossbow scopes have range markers that show the trajectory of the arrow at various distances, like 30 yards and 60 yards. However, not all scopes have reticles. A reticle is very useful if you practice archery or shooting in areas where targeting is a problem.
- Illumination. Illumination is an important feature in a crossbow scope as it helps you to see targets in low visibility. An illuminated scope contains batteries that light up the reticle to either red or green. The red or green light is not usually visible to the target. However, there are lots of scopes that do not have this feature.
- Mounting. Crossbow and scope compatibility is one of the first things you should check before you buy a scope. There are three mount options for crossbow scopes: Dovetail, Weaver, and Picatinny. The option you choose will depend on your crossbow. The scope should be easy to mount and adjust. As you mount it, make sure it has a zero value. This value plays a big part in the aiming accuracy of your crossbow.
Best Crossbow Scope Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This is a great crossbow scope that allows you to aim from short distances. It features mounting rings for Picatinny and Weaver rails and has a fixed 4x magnification. The shroud on the exterior is an excellent addition as it makes for less glare.
This scope comes with target turrets that improve precision by compensating for windage and elevation adjustment. The 4x magnification makes it an efficient scope for short-distance targeting. It is dustproof and does not fog up. The red and green illumination make it a great scope for varying light conditions.
Crossbow scopes are usually exposed to accidental knocks, falls, and harsh weather conditions. The UTG Crossbow Scope is solidly constructed to withstand different conditions.
However, despite its wide field of view, the scope doesn't zero in on targets. Additionally, seasoned hunters might not like its mounts.
The first thing you’ll notice about this crossbow scope is its great camouflage finish. It also looks a bit more rugged than other scopes, something that makes it ideal for pro-level archery and hunting. Its every feature, from the lens to the eye guard, is designed to help you take accurate shots every time.
The scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum and is color-coded for precise targeting. It features a range-finding and trajectory-compensating reticle, which is amazing for its price point. It is filled with nitrogen, and is fog-proof, water-resistant, and shock-resistant. The fingertip windage makes it easy to control even as you target.
TRUGLO offers a limited lifetime warranty to make you confident about your purchase. However, the scope lacks one important feature: illumination. This means you can’t use it at night or in areas with poor lighting. Other users have also reported that the mount and rings don’t fit.
Barnett is a big name in the hunting industry and this crossbow scope tells us why the company is so popular. It is a perfect fit for all full-size crossbows and has a simple design that takes nothing away from its effectiveness. Waterproof and shockproof, it retains its zero even after knocks and falls.
Target spotting is made easy with the 4x magnification and programmed 5-point multi-reticle system. It also makes for rapid target acquisition. The scope gives you a large field of view and does not compromise the target’s image. It also performs well at a long range. It only weighs 12.8 ounces and does not interfere with your aim.
While it performs well in normal weather conditions, it is not fog-proof and can’t be used on foggy days or in cold weather. You also need to avoid keeping it in storage for too long as it is susceptible to breakage.
- You get what you pay for. Stay away from the cheapest scopes because they are more apt to break and also collect moisture and dirt inside.
- For beginners, simpler can be easier. Start with a light, easy-to-read scope with ample magnification. You can always progress to more complicated scopes with electronics after you have the basics down.
- If you already have a good quality rifle scope, it’s likely that it can also fit on your crossbow. Always check the manufacturer’s guidelines before mounting the rifle scope on a crossbow.
Q: Why do I need a scope on a crossbow?
A: Despite having a relatively short range, a crossbow can still benefit from having a scope. The magnification can help you see things that are far away, and it can also help in low-light conditions.
Q: What types of crossbow scopes are available?
A: Red dot scopes are simple and have no magnification. Simply point the red laser towards the target. Magnified scopes help the shooter get a clearer image, especially at longer distances. Ballistically calibrated scopes have reticles that predict the flight and drop over certain distances.
Q: What is the maximum range of a crossbow?
A: Depending on the crossbow and the type of bolt, a crossbow can shoot over 500 yards (but not accurately). Depending on the shooter, the effective range for a crossbow is between 20 to 40 yards away. Advanced shooters may get up to 50 to 60 yards.
Whether in bright or low-light conditions, a good scope will assist you with getting the perfect shot. Our pick for the best crossbow scope goes to the Vortex Crossfire.
For a more budget-friendly option, try the TRUGLO Crossbow Compact Scope.