For us deer hunters, we 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 to take that trophy. For best results, add one of the best muzzleloader scopes and really improve your chances!
While it often though that scopes really belong in the world of high powered rifles, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are scopes for everything from air rifles to crossbows. Not all of these are created equal though, you need to get a scope suitable to your needs.
If you’re in a hurry and 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 2019
- Top 10 Best Muzzleloader Scopes on the Market Reviews
Choosing a Muzzleloader Scope
When it comes down to it, a scope for a muzzleloader is comparatively simple. All of the added features you find 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 does this leave us with?
Even though today’s most modern in-line black powder rifles are very accurate, they aren’t going to ever be as accurate as a production rifle. They also have less muzzle energy and often heavier bullets which decrease range. This means you probably shouldn’t worry with 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. These will do everything you need when range is a concern. When you are looking at getting the most accuracy you can, you still won’t need a lot. Muzzleloaders and black powder rifles are not made to be pinpoint optics.
There are several schools of thought on what power scope is the best scope for muzzleloaders. This 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 where you can see much farther.
For general guidelines, you can often get away with as little as a 4x muzzleloader scope if you tend to hunt more in dense woodlands. For open terrain, a max of 10-12x will usually be more than enough. Some specific shooters may go a little higher but often you are just wasting money.
Depending on your particular muzzleloader, some can have 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 and 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 but 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 the eyepiece of your scope straight 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, it can even be a little distracting but 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 what is needed.
Anything under 2.5 inches is probably on the short side. If you have really good control of your rifle, you will likely be able to manage it but each shot will be a risk. For best results stick to a scope that has somewhere between 3 and 4 inches of eye relief.
While choosing the right reticle for a normal rifle is a big decision, when it comes to muzzleloaders it’s 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 to think about involves bullet drop reticles. At least 90% of shooters have zero need for this feature and it can make your scope more complicated to use. If you plan on shooting out past 100 yards very often, you can make the argument for one. Most hunters and many shooters will never need that kind of range.
The most common and perhaps best scopes for muzzleloaders use either a standard crosshair or a duplex reticle. They may not be the fastest when it comes to target acquisition but they are quite quick. This is the standard for a reason. They are very accurate and very 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 very easy to use. They are a little less accurate but generally faster than a standard crosshair. Sighting in can be a little more problematic and may take a little more 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. They are not designed to be that accurate.
Some may say that there is no harm in it and 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 something more complicated than what you 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 far better for far longer.
Best Muzzleloader Scopes - Comparison Table 2019
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 and it should come as no surprise that they top the list of best muzzleloader scopes as well. Their over the top quality and attention to the finest detail really shows what a dedicated optics company is capable of. 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 use with a black powder firearm. Without a doubt this is a near perfect setup and maybe the best inline muzzleloader scope on the market today.
The glass in the VX-1 is near perfect and with their multi-coated lenses, the view is absolutely astounding. The interior is sealed and purged making the entire scope water, shock, and fog proof. This is without mentioning the warranty coverage you get which is far ahead of the industry.
They do offer the dedicated Leupold Freedom Muzzleloader scope however it is just a modified version of the Leupold VX-1 Shotgun scope as far as function is concerned. It offers nothing over the standard VX-1 which has become a best seller for Leupold. This particular model will do everything it will and is a little cheaper.
2 Nikon Prostaff P3 Muzzleloader
Nikon scopes are an industry standard and for good reason. Not only do they have decades of experience in the optics world but they continue to innovate and improve every year. This had led to this dedicated Nikon muzzleloader scope and it knocks it out of the park as far as quality is concerned.
With a generous range of powers from 3 to 9x this rugged scope is a perfect match to your inline rifle. The adjustments are quick and easy making sighting in a breeze. The reticle is an easy to read 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 making images sharp and bright. Nikon uses a proprietary multi-coat to make sure you see everything through their scopes and the effort shows! It is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof making 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 and the other big names are so popular. If you have a problem and you aren’t likely to, you know you are covered. That alone makes this perhaps the best muzzleloader scope under 200 bucks.
3 Vortex Optics Diamondback
Vortex scopes have taken the world by storm and the Vortex Diamondback always seems to win out in the end. Not bad for a scope offered at a budget price but considering their quality is anything but budget, it shouldn’t be surprising. This is a scope that has earned its place anytime quality scopes are mentioned.
There is no dedicated Vortex muzzleloader scope but this particular optic 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 but 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 opposite side, the glass is refined and nearly perfect with their amazing multicoat technology.
The reticle may not be perfect for black powder but that is 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 what so ever. 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 a list against so many great companies. They have always fallen more into the budget category rather than a top of the line product. That has been slowly changing with them beginning to corner their own little portion of the optics market and holding it against so many other brands.
At 2-7x this could be about the perfect magnification range for a black powder rifle. It has the short-range game covered and can 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 if a little less than those scopes above. The scope tube has also been redesigned to be stronger and more efficient.
This scope is actually a little costly but that is what you get when you want a combat scope for any weapon. The price is manageable but far from optimal. That is the price you pay for getting 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 and shook the optics world with high-quality products with high-end features but without the heavy price tag. While this is not an optic specifically geared toward a muzzleloader, you may be pleasantly surprised by what it has to offer.
At 1-6x it’s on the lower end of the power spectrum but that actually makes this a very fast optic. That is augmented by its illuminated reticle. It may seem a little strange to put something so high-tech on a somewhat primitive weapon but once you have tried it, you will never go back!
Multicoated lenses, fine quality glass, and a rugged exterior make this a solid scope with 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 and from all accounts, their customer service is phenomenal. Likely you will never need it as these scopes are tank-tough and nearly impossible to break. Lately, the price has been creeping up on these scopes. 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
Ah yes, muzzleloader season is in full swing and you want to take a crack at that deer one last time before deer season ends completely. Depending on where you are, you cannot use any other rifle. So you are limited to only your trusty muzzleloader of choice. 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 when you need to. The Simmons 8-point rifle scope might be one of the best scopes that will handle 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. So if you are hunting on a good day or when it’s raining or snowing, this is the scope that will not damage easily. And if you are looking for a scope that will fog up easily, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Not to be outdone, you have adjustment knobs that are easy to turn and won’t get stuck if you need to make a little bit of a change to ensure you are shooting straight and every shot is going where you want it to.
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 it’s going to suck in terms of quality and performance. If it was a whole lot lower in price, then you’ll need to scratch your head and wonder if it’s right to buy it. But in all seriousness, it’s a scope that means business when it comes to muzzleloader hunting. And if you want a scope that will bring out the best image quality and deliver accurate and reliable results, the Simmons 8-Point Rifle Scope will be an excellent addition to your muzzleloader.
7 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to see a second Vortex scope on this list considering their many models. In the case of the Crossfire series, these are a little more budget friendly than the Diamondback but are nearly at the same level of quality. The only real difference is in quality control.
You may notice a small difference in the quality of the lenses if you own both. Otherwise, you will never notice the small difference. 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 and 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 the higher end model did. Just without the price. You get a durable scope and you spend about half the money, what’s not to love?
It is possible you could have an issue with this scope considering the lighter quality control. It isn’t likely but it is possible. If you do, 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 is the same brand but a little lower on the quality tier to reach a more budget minded consumer. For 99% of people, there won’t be enough of a difference to even notice but if you are a pro hunter or spend a lot of time with your firearm, there is ample reason to spend a little more.
If you do go with the Buckmaster, you are getting a perfectly fine 3-9x scope with a solid 3.6 inches of eye relief. This combines to make a great budget-friendly scope for hunting the woodlands or open fields. For most shots you would be willing to take with a muzzleloader, this scope is perfectly capable of putting you on target.
The glass may not be 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 but 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 but 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 has put optics in the hands of tens of thousands of hunters.
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 as a slug gun but once you get it sighted in, 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 and the entire scope is 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 you put under it.
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 at least a reasonable chance that you have never heard of Konus and that typically leads people to think its some Chinese offshore company but that isn’t the case. Konus is an Italian company that has been making optics for just about everyone for decades. What they produce they do a wonderful job at.
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 and has a duplex reticle for easy, fast shots. The eye relief is right around 3 inches which is a little less than what you want with a stiff recoil.
Konus has simply stellar glass. It is as clear as that used in scopes costing hundreds more. If you are used to shooting with the best scopes on the market, you may be a little disappointed but 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 but Konus is a safe bet. They have transformed themselves into one of the largest manufacturers of hunting optics in Europe over the last 20 years. 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 high priority. They will make every shot so much easier when it's already a challenge to get a good shot with primitive technology. That is part of the fun but it's far more fun to actually tag a deer and maybe make a couple of pounds of venison jerky.