Best Rifle Scope for Hunting in 2021 (Including Best Deer Hunting Scope)

Before you purchase a rifle scope for hunting, do your research! Lucky for you, I have put together a guide to choosing the best rifle scope. Whether you plan on plinking, punching paper, or hunting big game, I have put a guide complete with reviews and expert advice on choosing the right rifle scope.


Considerations for Choosing Your Hunting Scope

Determine Rifle Size

In order to determine the appropriate rifle size, it goes hand in hand that you must be clear what your intended target is. Are you looking for a scope for varmint hunting with your .22 LR or .223 Remington, interested in hunting medium sized game such as deer with a .243 or .270, or large game such as elk or moose with a .308, 7 mm mag, 30-06, or .300 Win Mag? This is an important decision that is the foundation for determining what rifle scope is right for you.

The chart below helps hunters determine what size of rifle is appropriate based on the game depicted in the image. There are a handful of quality brands out there that make scopes that will work for a variety of different game on all sorts of different hunting rifles. My favorite are Leupold, Nikon, and Vortex. If you have the money and are serious about hunting, then Swarovski, Schmidt-Bender, and Nightforce & Hensoldt might be of interest.

Determine Your Budget

Another consideration is the price point. Ideally, you should spend at least as much on a quality rifle scope as your rifle is worth. With that being said, it is not practical for all of us to spend $1500 on a scope. You can definitely get a quality scope for under $500 these days because of how far technology has come.

The price of the scope is also related to the type of hunting that you will be doing. It would be a waste of money to buy a $1500 Leupold VX-6 for your .223 Remington if your purpose was solely to hunt those pesky squirrels or gophers in the back 40! On the other hand, it would be an embarrassment to buy a Simmons 22 Mag for your 7mm mag when looking to put some elk meat in the freezer.

Another important consideration when choosing the best rifle scope rifle scope for hunting and be honest with yourself with regards to the size of the rifle you will be shooting with and the size of game that you will be hunting. Obviously, for a larger calibre rifle, ideally you would like to put on a higher quality rifle scope that it can not only withstand the recoil, but that it will give you a crisp and clear view so you can increase your chances of success for hunting. Are you solely planning on varmint hunting with you 17/.17HMR or do you want a versatile rifle scope that can be used on multiple rifles including a .308 or a 30-06 in addition to a smaller rimfire rifle?

If you have saved up $300 for a scope and you are serious about hunting and providing for your family, do yourself a favor and wait until you can save up a few hundred more. You won’t regret it and after all, a higher priced scope from a quality manufacturer will last a hell of a lot longer! If you are looking for the best rifle scope for hunting, consider buying a spotting scope. It will not only allow you to see longer distances to spot wildlife, but it can be used on the range to see exactly where your bullet is hitting the target so you can fine tune you scope.

If you are on a tight budget and want to get a solid hunting rifle scope for the money, consider a fixed magnification scope. I know this may sound like poor advice, but your money will go a lot further on a product that doesn’t have as much technology or bells and whistles jammed into it.


Hunting Rifle Scopes Reviewed

 The Nikon P-223 with the BDC 600 reticle is specifically designed for the trajectory of the .223 Rem round with a 55-grain polymer tip bullet. If you need a refresher on Nikon’s different BDC Reticles, click here. Check the ballistic match technology provided on Nikon’s website!

This rifle scope is ideal for a .223 shooting larger varmint such as coyote, and is also capable of shooting deer. Make sure to check your state legislation for game hunting.

The eye relief on this scope is generous which makes it a perfect candidate for all ranges of calibres. I found it very bright and clear throughout the magnification ranges and was able to shoot within 8″ on paper targets at 600 yards with my .223 Remington. Typically a huge Leupold supporter, this Nikon definitely gets my vote for the money.

Specifications:

Magnification: 3-9x
Objective Lens: 40mm
Tube Diameter: 1″
Windage/Elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 12.5″

Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)

The Nikon Prostaff features a 4-12x magnification which helps put almost any shot in your comfort zone. Depending on which BDC reticle you choose, the scope allows you to hold dead on at ranges that you may never have thought possible.

The scope features 98% light transmission and is housed in a durable, water-proof and fog-proof construction which makes it perfect in low light, rainy, and dusty hunting conditions. We all love to hunt in the sun, however it never seems to happen.

If you have been frustrated with the eye relief on Simmons or Bushnell, this scope will come as a huge “relief” to you for the price. I bought this scope last year and mounted it on a new 300 Win Mag that my wife gave me for Christmas. It is clear, easily adjustable, and I can’t say enough about the BDC reticle and calculator provided on Nikon’s website. My first shot of the year was an elk at 400 yards!

Specifications:

Magnification: 4-12x
Objective Lens: 40mm
Tube Diameter: 1″
Windage/Elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 14.1″


Leupold VX-I Rifle Scope

In my mind, almost nothing beats the clarity and quality design that Leupold has been able to build in its line of VX scopes. The VX-1 is waterproof and has a fantastic eye relief which will allow you to adjust your head and line of sight without loosing the full viewing angle. This is one of the best features of all Leupold rifle scopes.

The scope is easy to sight in the first time using the techniques here and holds zero no matter how many large calibre bullets you put through it. Make sure you don’t cheap out on scope rings.

The first time I purchased the Leoupld VX-1 (I now have 4) it was clear to me that some of the other scopes in my collection including Tasco, Simmons, and Bushnell were now going to be downgraded to varmint hunting and plinking only. I was amazed at the difference when I upgraded to Leupold and I have never been disappointed since. Did I mention their lifetime warranty as well!

The VX-1 has an amazing ability to gather light in low light conditions. I currently have one mounted on my Tikka T-3 Lite .308 and have over 1000 rounds through it. Great for hunting deer and elk.

Specifications:

Magnification: 3-9x
Objective Lens: 50mm
Tube Diameter: 1″
Windage/Elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 12.3″


Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope, Matte Black, Duplex Reticle 110797

A lot of people ask me what the difference between the Leupold VX-1 and VX-2 is. In my opinion, by purchasing the VX-2 you will be receiving better glass in terms of quality and coating and the scope’s ability to gather light in low light conditions is superior. If you have the budget, spend the extra $100 and get Leupold’s VX-2.

With the purchase of a Leupold scope, you now you are buying quality. If you compare the VX-2 to Bushnell or UTG/Leaper, there will be a huge difference in quality, durability, and ability to shoot consistently at long distances. This scope compares others that cost upward of $1000.

Specifications:

Magnification: 3-9x
Objective Lens: 40mm
Tube Diameter: 1″
Windage/Elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 12.6″


Vortex Optics DBK-10019 Diamondback HP 4-16×42 Riflescope with Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA), Black

The Vortex Diamondback High Performance (HP) is a big upgrade from the standard Diamondback. The glass is comparable to Viper and Leupold and with an unconditional VIP warranty, this scope is comparable to scopes that are 2 or 3 times the price.

With a great eye relief and easily adjustable parallax control, this scopes comes with a fantastic magnification range of up to 16x which will give you confidence shooting or hunting at long distances. I own several Zeiss scopes and this Vortex is definitely comparable, and for a better price. It comes with a screw on sunshade and bikini cover.

If you are looking for a scope for your .308 or 7mm without breaking the bank, consider the quality optics of the Vortex HP.

Specifications:

Magnification: 4-16x
Objective Lens: 42mm
Tube Diameter: 1″
Windage/Elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 12.6″


Conclusion

Choosing the best rifle scope for your hunting rifle is extremely important. Remember, if you are looking for a quality scope for medium to big game, choose a quality name like Nikon, Leupold, or Vortex.

It’s always difficult to come to a final conclusion because I typically only review very good scopes, especially in this category. If you want a great varmint scope for you .223 and don’t want to break the bank but still want a solid optic, pick yourself up the Nikon P-223. For the price, this scope will be unbeatable if you ask me.

If you are looking for an optic for a larger calibre rifle and plan on hunting larger game but want to spend under $200, buy the Leupold VX-1. I guarantee you that you won’t be disappointed.

Finally, if you are serious about hunting and have the budget, buy the Vortex Diamondback High Performance scope. This is the ultimate rifle scope for hunting and will be comparable to a $1000 Zeiss.

Stay safe and happy shooting! Check out our newest post on choosing the best tactical pen here!

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