Best Muzzleloader Scope | Finding The Top Rated Muzzleloader Scopes of 2019
What is the best muzzleloader scope? Do you need a specific scope for your muzzleloader? In this article, we are going to take a look at the current muzzleloading scope market and figure out which one is the best.
Muzzleloaders have come a long way from the old smokepoles our grandfathers carried around. New technology and designs have allowed hunters to push muzzleloaders far beyond what use to be considered an average shot, 50 or so yards. Today’s hunters are taking game with muzzleloaders out to 250 yards and doing it with surprising accuracy.
As our guns have gotten better and better, we are now in a situation where throwing some low powered, inexpensive scope on there doesn’t allow us to use a gun’s full potential. The glassmakers have noticed too, and there now many more high-quality and high-tech scopes on the market that are geared towards the muzzleloaders of today.
Best Muzzleloader Scope (Full Muzzleloader Scope Reviews Below)
|1.||Nikon Buckmasters II||Check Price|
|2.||Leupold VX-Freedom||Check Price|
|3.||Bushnell Banner||Check Price|
|3.||Vortex Optics Diamondback||Check Price|
|3.||Nikon INLINE XR||Check Price|
|3.||Bushnell Engage||Check Price|
Challenges for a Muzzleloader Scope
Even the best muzzleloader scope can present some challenges. A scope that is destined for a muzzleloader can face some unique and difficult challenges. This is why some companies will make scopes that are designed specifically for muzzleloaders. However, that doesn’t mean other scopes can’t handle the job. Let’s look at some of those challenges.
Muzzleloaders produce a lot of recoil. The high grain loads and large diameter, heavy bullets combine to create a tremendous amount of force. As this force travels through the stock of the gun, some transfers to the scope mount and the scope itself. You need a scope that is built to withstand that amount of force.
Recoil from different types of guns can affect scopes differently. A scope that is intended to withstand the recoil of a large centerfire rifle would be destroyed if used on a high-powered air rifle. While it is a complicated issue, a lot of it has to do with the vibrations and their frequencies.
If you are all about using the best muzzleloader scope, then are likely aware of the adverse weather that usually corresponds with the muzzleloader season. Typically held towards the end of the season, and most often following modern gun, muzzleloader season is generally a cold, wet, and snowy adventure. Now while this is not the case for all, it is by far for the majority.
With this in mind, a muzzleloader scope needs to be waterproof and able to handle the damp conditions. It also needs to be 100% sealed, and completely fog proof. It should have multi-coated lenses and a consistent bright sight picture.
Another aspect is longer eye relief. When firing a gun with a lot of recoil like modern muzzleloaders, you will often have a lot of rearward travel. With your eye up next to the eyepiece of a scope, too much rearward travel and you will end up taking a scope to the eye.
To help alleviate this most muzzleloader scopes have longer eye reliefs, allowing you to mount the scope farther forward on the gun. This will increase the distance between your brow and the eyepiece, and still allow you to get a good clear sight picture.
The ballistic nature of muzzleloaders means that you are far more likely to have to adjust for windage and elevation on a particular shot than you would with a modern centerfire rifle. That being the case, after the shot you want to be able to take your scope back to your original zero. Trained sharpshooters count their clicks back to “home”, but if you are not used to doing it, it can be more difficult than it sounds.
To alleviate this issue, a lot of scopes come equipped with spring loaded elevation and windage turrets. With these, you screw down a small set screw when you zero your rifle. Once you have made your adjustments and taken your shot, you simply twist the turret back towards the zero and the spring will release and instantly reset the turret.
The Importance of Mounting
When it comes to attaching the scope to your gun, your choice of equipment and method can have a large impact on your success with the scope. Mounting is one of the primary reasons people have difficulty sighting in their rifles. People will bring their guns into a gunsmith saying that they can’t get their scope zeroed, and often the gunsmith can pull the scope off with their hands.
You need to make sure that you are using a good quality, heavy-duty set of scope rings. It is important to check and make sure that the rings have a good bite onto the scope rail, and that the teeth fit snugly in the groves. Additionally, you want to make sure that the rings fit the gun and scope properly, and that everything lines up without having to be forced into place.
When you are tightening the screw down, you need to run both until finger tight, and they turn each no more than three to four turns, before moving over to the other side. This allows both rings to tighten at approximately the same time, and ensures the scope is not being torqued in one direction or the other.
It is widely recommended by gunsmiths to use a locking compound on the screws of the scope rings. This compound fills the spaces that remain in the threads and helps ensure a secure hold. Plus, it prevents the screws from loosening due to the vibrations that occur during recoil.
Once completed, the scope should be firmly attached to the gun, and you should not be able to wiggle or move it in any way with your hands. Making sure your scope is properly mounted will allow you to zero the scope and know what it is going to be accurate when you need it to be.
What to look for in a good scope
So, what exactly is it that we should be looking for in the best muzzleloader scope? A lot of hunters have started using a standard rifle scope instead of a dedicated muzzleloader scope. Do you need a specialized muzzleloader scope? What can a specialized scope offer that a rifle scope can’t?
The magnification of a particular scope can be a primary determining factor when choosing your next purchase. To get the most out of your muzzleloader, you must be able to see a little farther. Increasing the magnification up to about 9X will help you extend your range. Anything beyond 9X is most likely going to be overkill, as 9X is enough magnification to handle shots out to 300 yards.
There are two options when choosing magnification of a scope, either fixed or variable. Both have their advantages. With a variable magnification, you can adjust it to fit whatever circumstances you are currently dealing with. The fixed power scopes are generally considered to be “tougher” and can handle more abuse since there are fewer moving parts.
There are hundreds of reticle styles on the market today, and everyone seems to have a favorite one. In any scope, you want a reticle that is clear and easy for you to use and maintain a good picture. Additionally, with muzzleloaders, some reticles offer extra help.
Several manufacturers have designed reticles that are intended to help the shooter with bullet drop compensation. Nikon calls theirs the BDC (Bullet Drop Compensator) Reticle, Leupold offers what they call BAS (Ballistics Aiming System), and Bushnell has coined theirs as DOA (Dead On Accurate). Regardless of which you choose, make sure you are comfortable with the system.
The construction of a scope may impact the durability of the scope, as well as its ability to maintain an accurate zero. Most hunters prefer a scope that is built from a single piece of aluminum. The single piece adds strength to the tube that can help it stave off damage from the vibrations of heavy recoil.
Another popular feature that is good to look for is a rubberized coating. The rubberized coating provides some shock protection to the scope tube, which can help minimize the impact of the scope getting bumped or dinged.
The lens quality is one of the most critical factors when shopping for a new scope. The quality of the glass is what determines how clear your view is, especially under magnification. Low-quality lenses will produce a cloudy or blurry image, which will become more apparent as you increase magnification.
Some lenses have a coating applied to them. These coatings help prevent different things such as fog, glare, or damage. Some can be very beneficial to hunters and should be considered.
Another critical factor to finding the best muzzleloader scope is accuracy. While the gun has to do its job, the scope needs to be able to adjust to zero, and then maintain that zero through the season. If you zero your muzzleloader and fire a few rounds before packing up, you must be able to depend on that zero being true when you pull it out to hunt.
Weather Proofing & Durability
Muzzleloader season is usually very late in the season, and often has some of the worst weather of the season. A scope destined for muzzleloaders needs to be completely waterproof and preferably sealed with nitrogen. It also helps to have a good anti-fog coating and some quality scope lens covers.
Durability is required to make sure that the scope doesn’t get knocked around and lose its zero. Part of this is actually in the scope rings and mounts. Using a good quality mount and heavy-duty rings can go a long way with the durability of a scope/rifle combo.
We have all heard “you get what you pay for,” but at the same time, most of us don’t have an unlimited hunting budget. We need to find the most value for the money, and optics is one area that it becomes even more critical due to the high costs.
A warranty can be a major deciding factor when buying a new scope, especially one that is destined to outlive its use in the late season deer woods. You want to find a company that is willing to stand behind their product, which means they trust it to come out of the other side intact.
Best Muzzleloader Scope: Top 6 on the Market Today
The Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC rifle scope has become the industry standard for a premium muzzleloader scope.
The Buckmasters II comes loaded with practical features that help this scope provide an excellent sight picture, even in low light conditions. Also, it is waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof so that you know it will be ready when you need it.
The scope features Nikon’s patented BDC reticle design, which stands for “bullet drop compensation”. This reticle has hold-over dots that are pre-set to compensate for the bullet drop of a muzzleloader shooting a standard weight projectile with a 3-pellet powder load.
This design makes calculating the bullet drop on a long-range shot as easy as selecting the appropriate mark for that range. It has been around a long time, and while not everyone loves it, it has proven itself time and time again.
Another feature that is a crowd favorite is the generous eye relief. In the deer woods, you may have to shoot from different positions, or to the right or the left. Having a scope that will accommodate small changes in your positioning is a big help in these situations.
The Buckmasters II scope includes fully multicoated lenses. This not only helps keep the fog off the lenses but helps it to gather and distribute light better. This helps ensure an extremely bright sight picture, even in less than favorable conditions.
If you are looking for a scope for your new muzzleloader or just looking to upgrade before deer season, the Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC rifle scope is the best muzzleloader scope currently on the market.
2. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Muzzleloader Scope
When it comes to names in the optics world, few are as well regarded as Leupold. Of course, Leupold continues to prove why they are one of the best. How? By continuing to release rock solid and high-quality optics year and year.
The Leupold VX-Freedom is one of these fantastic optics. Traditional styling combined with new technology and use features rockets this scope to number two on our list.
The VX-Freedom has a variable 3X-9X zoom and is housed on a one-inch main tube with a 40mm objective. It has 1/4 MOA finger click windage and elevation dials for easy adjustment. The scope is made with Leupold’s Proprietary nitrogen sealing process and is 100% fogproof and waterproof. The VX-Freedom is also backed by Leupold’s lifetime warranty so you can purchase (and hunt) with confidence.
With a bright sight picture and extreme clarity, the view is distortion-free and easy to see through. This, combined with the generous eye relief and open eyebox, will help you get on target fast.
The VX-Freedom is a fierce competitor in the scope market and would be an excellent choice for any hunting gun, including muzzleloaders.
The Bushnell Banner 3-9x 40 Circle-X rifle scope is an optic that was manufactured specifically to excel in low light conditions, which is often when many shots are taken in the deer woods.
Bushnell uses what they call “Dusk & Dawn Brightness (DDB) multicoated lenses,” which helps the optic to gather any available light. It also features their Circle-X reticle.
The scope is sealed and 100% waterproof as well as fog proof. It also has 1/4 MOA finger turn windage and elevation turrets. It offers a variable magnification power of 3-9x and a 40mm objective. It has a standard one-inch tube and measures 11.5 inches long.
The Bushnell Banner 3-9x 40 Circle-X is an excellent choice for hunters who will be shooting in low light environments. Its rugged construction and versatility make it an excellent scope for any hunting rifle, especially muzzleloaders.
The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 rifle scope is another option that is designed specifically for hunting. It is most certainly the workhorse that we require our scopes to be.
Feature heavy, this variable 4-12X magnification scope is built on a one-inch single piece of solid aluminum alloy with a hard-anodized finish. This makes for an extremely durable and shockproof scope.
The lenses are multi-coated and provide a crystal clear and bright sight picture from dusk to dawn. Vortex Optics’ Dead-Hold Reticle is a bullet drop compensation reticle to help you gauge long distance shots and find the correct hold fast and accurately.
The Diamondback uses metal on metal windage and elevation turrets to help ensure you get repeatable accuracy and can quickly return back to your exact zero.
The Diamondback is a great scope for someone who wants quality glass with the ruggedness to survive late season deer hunts and the rugged life of a muzzleloader scope. It also comes in a variety of configurations to help you customize your scope to fit your exact needs.
At number five we have another Nikon scope, the Nikon INLINE XR BDC 300 Riflescope. This scope is designed specifically for muzzleloaders and comes with a lot of promising features. It has a good following with muzzleloading hunters and has earned its place in our list with successful kills and praise alike.
The INLINE XR, like the Bushmasters II, features Nikon’s patented BDC reticle design, which stands for “bullet drop compensation”. This style of reticle has hold-over dots that are pre-set to compensate for the bullet drop of a muzzleloader shooting a standard weight projectile with a 3 pellet (150g) powder load.
The scope also features Nikon’s Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets, which allow you to instantly return to your zero after adjusting for a shot. The scope’s lenses are fully multi-coated, providing a bright and clear sight picture each and every time.
One of the main features that make this scope especially good for muzzleloaders is the fact that it offers a consistent 5 inches of eye relief. This means you can set the scope forward a little farther, which will help keep the scope from hitting you during hard recoil. While some people do not have an issue with this, it is something that is widely reported.
The INLINE XR is available in the original black as shown above, but is also available in Xtra Green camouflage.
The Bushnell Engage Riflescope in 3-12x42mm rounds out our list of the best muzzleloader scopes. The Engage is a versatile scope that is designed to be one of the most robust scopes on the market. It has the strength and features to handle the rough nature and adverse weather of late season hunts, and still be on target when you need it.
The scope has 3-12X magnification with a 42mm objective lens. It is built on 30mm tube and has integrated flip open covers on the eyepiece and objective. The lenses are fully multi-coated and feature Bushnell’s Exo-Barrier, which helps to repel water, oil, fog, dust, debris, rain, snow, and even fingerprints.
The Engage has an adjustable parallax which can be adjusted with a dial on the side of the scope. Both windage and elevation turrets can be locked in and released, no tools required.
This scope is perfect for a hunter that wants a reliable and robust scope that will get the job done when it’s time to shoot.