Top 5 Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting in 2022
Deer hunting is arguably the most popular hunting sport in America, with over 30 million Americans maintaining hunting licenses for whitetail and other deer. But if you want to hit your targets consistently, you’ll need a great rifle scope for deer hunting to pair with your firearm.
What if it’s your first trip deer hunting or you need a replacement optic for the upcoming season? In either of those cases and more, you’ll want to know which rifle scopes are best for deer hunts. Don’t worry about doing hours of research; check out our detailed guide below for some stellar examples of top-tier deer hunting optics.
In this Guide
- Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting Reviewed
- Vortex Optics Razor HD LHT SFP Riflescope
- Leupold VX-31 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
- Nightforce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
- Athlon Optics 4.5-30x56mm FFP Riflescope
- Vortex Optics Viper HS LR SFP Riflescope
- What to Look for in a Deer Hunting Scope
- Multicoated Lenses
- Weatherproofing and Durability
- Eye Relief
- Easy Mounting
- Magnification Choices
Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting Reviewed
Ready to look at some specific examples? Let’s break down five of the best rifle scopes for deer hunting.
Vortex Optics Razor HD LHT SFP Riflescope
Vortex Optics is known for making some of the best hunting optics overall, and this model in particular is great for hunting deer due to its magnification range of 3x to 15x. That’s plenty of variability for hunting deer up close or far away.
More than that, this lightweight optic offers crystal-clear sight pictures thanks to its anti-reflective coatings and air-to-glass surfaces. It also offers some of the best windage and elevation adjustment turrets, which can easily return to zero with the tap of a button.
But you’ll also appreciate the illuminated center dot reticle, which can help you hit your target in low-light conditions. This durable, versatile rifle scope will be a perfect pick for hunters who don’t mind paying a little extra for top quality.
- Zero-resetting and lockable windage and elevation turrets
- Lockable eyepiece for adjusting reticle focus
- Illuminated center dot reticle
- Anti-reflective coatings on both sets of lenses
- Fully waterproof and weatherproof
- Three reticle designs to choose from
- Only 20.5 ounces
Leupold VX-31 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
Leupold is also very well known in the rifle scope optics sphere, largely for the brand’s proprietary Twilight Max Light Management System. In a nutshell, this unique system allows the scope to collect a few extra minutes of shooting light at the beginning and end of each day. As many hunters prefer to take their shots during dusk and dawn, this feature is very worthwhile for hunters of any game, especially deer.
But it’s also an excellent optic all around, offering ion-assisted lens coatings for boosted light transmission and fantastic abrasion resistance, even if the scope goes through a lot of wear and tear.
The scope’s body is 100% weatherproof and made with aircraft-grade quality aluminum. Each optic is punisher tested to ensure that it will continue to perform admirably even if you pair it with a high recoil cartridge. The windage and elevation turrets, while unmarked, are nonetheless very responsive to minute adjustments.
- Lens system can collect extra shooting light during dusk and dawn
- Very good lens quality for boosted light transmission
- Matte finish to prevent the scope from flashing in the sunlight
- Good durability and is made with lightweight aluminum
- Simple and easy to see through the duplex reticle
Nightforce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
Nightforce’s SHV rifle scope comes in a few different types. You can choose a rifle scope with a center illuminated dot reticle or a non-illuminated reticle depending on your preferences. Regardless, with a magnification range of 5x to 20x, this optic will allow you to take down deer both up close and from very far distances away.
It offers a full 80 MOA of elevation adjustment, as well as a separate parallax adjustment turret on the side. The scope’s turrets overall can be zero-reset with a single button press, making this a snappy and fluid optic to use despite its length.
Make no mistake, this is an expensive rifle optic through and through. But it comes with a rubber lens cover set, a cleaning cloth, and a few tools so you can adjust the scope’s fit and mounting position on your rifle quickly and easily. It’s a high-quality, pricey choice for hunters who want to spare no expense.
- Very detailed, precision adjustment windage, elevation, and parallax turrets
- Both illuminated and non-illuminated reticles are available
- Comes with several accessories for scope adjustment and maintenance
- Great lens quality and protective coatings
Athlon Optics 4.5-30x56mm FFP Riflescope
Athlon Optics offers a versatile 4.5x to 27x rifle scope, with enough magnification variability that you’ll be able to hit deer at practically any distance. It’s a little heavy at 2 pounds, but it makes up for this minor downside thanks to its high-definition glass lenses, which provide phenomenal light transmission and excellent color contrast to help you pick your target out of a cluttered background.
Additionally, the windage and elevation adjustment turrets benefit from a precision zero-stop system. This system lets you lock down your zero position and quickly dial it back with a button press, even if you have to tune the optic in pitch blackness.
The optics are multicoated and the scope’s magnification settings can be swapped through with a precision erector system, processed using high-precision CNC machining. It’s ultimately a very well-designed and high-quality scope with a detailed and illuminated MIL reticle, to boot. The lifetime warranty is a nice added bonus, especially given its relatively high price tag.
- Precision glide erector system for fast magnification swapping
- Precision zero-stop functionality for windage and elevation adjustments
- HD, durable glass lenses
- FFP reticle with a wide variety of settings
- Comes with a battery and Allen wrench for mounting and adjustments
Vortex Optics Viper HS LR SFP Riflescope
Vortex Optics returns once again with this relatively affordable yet still high-quality rifle scope, with magnification settings between 4x and 16x. This makes it a great choice for most standard deer hunt engagement ranges. More importantly, it comes with a dead hold BDC or bullet drop compensating reticle, which can help you estimate holdover when taking a shot at a distant target.
On top of this, the scope benefits from an advanced optical system with XR multicoated glass lenses, boosting light transmission even during dusk and dawn. Also nice are the exposed elevation and windage turrets, which include a zero-stop function to help you get back to your zero point even after lots of revolutions or adjustments.
The scope’s body benefits from a scratch-resistant and hard anodized matte black finish, which is both durable and prevents glares in the sun from giving away your position. Ultimately, it’s a great scope for the deer hunter who wants something high-quality and worthwhile without spending over $1000.
- Zero-stop windage and elevation adjustment turrets
- Dead hold BDC reticle
- High-quality, scratch-resistant, and multicoated lenses
- Hard anodized matte black finish for stealth and durability
- Only weighs one pound
What to Look for in a Deer Hunting Scope
No two deer hunting scopes are alike, so every hunter has to decide for him or herself what makes the best deer hunting scope for their expeditions. If you don’t know where to start, there are a couple of things we recommend you check for specifically when trying to buy a top-tier buck-hunting optic.
First up are multicoated lenses. These should be easy to find as multicoated lenses are standard on high-quality optics these days. In a nutshell, special coatings are added to scope lenses that protect them from wear and tear and, in some cases, improve light transmission for a cleaner, more colorful sight picture.
Durability is especially important. Under normal use, scope lenses are exposed to all kinds of grit and dust, especially if you use the optic frequently. Multiple coatings can protect the lenses and prevent them from fogging up or accruing scratches over time.
We recommend getting a scope with high-quality multicoated lenses so you can see your target more easily and hit more of your shots.
Weatherproofing and Durability
Next, you’ll want to prioritize a scope with excellent durability and weatherproofing. Weatherproofing often includes argon purging and O-ring sealing, both of which prevent water, fog, and other weather-based hazards from affecting the performance of your scope.
The most durable scopes are often made with aircraft-grade aluminum, which is fairly tough without being overly heavy (and thus offsetting the balance of your rifle). A weatherproof, durable scope will last a long time and be much better in terms of value for money.
Don’t forget to look at the eye relief value for any given optic before proverbially pulling the trigger and purchasing that scope. Eye relief measures how much distance is between your eye and the ocular lens; the more eye relief, the more protected your eyes are from recoil when you fire your weapon.
Generally speaking, we recommend not purchasing a scope with an eye relief of fewer than 3.5 inches. That should be enough space to protect your eyes even if you use relatively powerful cartridges like 6.5 Creedmoors or similar projectiles.
This is a little less necessary if you use low-caliber cartridges, but that’s not recommended for hunting deer under most circumstances anyway.
Some of the best scopes for deer hunting will include easy mounting systems that will allow you to quickly and easily mount them on your hunting rifle. Note which types of rail systems a given scope is suitable for, Weaver or Picatinny, before purchasing.
If you purchase a scope with a mounting system that matches the rails already installed on your rifle, setting it up and heading out into the field will be much quicker and easier. Alternatively, you can choose a scope that doesn’t need a rail mounting system, but this requires a little more hands-on effort on your part.
Lastly, we recommend trying to find a deer hunting scope that includes a good warranty. Manufacturer warranties usually cover any defects or design flaws that may have arisen during the manufacturing process. They’ll protect your purchase for between one or two years on average.
Some warranties go above and beyond and will even offer a lifetime replacement guarantee if your scope fails at any point during regular use. These warranties are usually worthwhile even if they drive up the price tag of the scope initially.
Alongside the other factors above, it’s usually a good idea to consider what magnification ranges are available in a given rifle scope before purchasing it. Generally, each level of magnification is appropriate for another 100 yards of distance between you and your target.
For example, if you have a 3-9x rifle scope, a 3x setting at 300 yards will make your target look like it’s 100 feet away. The same holds true if you set your scope to 6x magnification and you are 600 yards away.
When it comes to deer hunting, most hunters won’t take shots at deer greater than 500 yards away or so. Even if you hunt in the Midwest and hunt over large cornfields, odds are you’ll only take shots at deer within around 600 yards of your position.
With that in mind, you don’t typically need a rifle scope that can magnify beyond 9x or so. Indeed, you’ll find the vast majority of deer hunting scopes don’t go above 12x or so magnification. In fact, many popular deer hunting scopes have magnification settings between 3x and 9x.
That said, if you prefer longer distance hunting (i.e. you take shots at deer well over 500 yards away, even up to 1000 yards away), you’ll want a scope that can magnify beyond 12x if possible.
To ensure that there’s a great choice for your specific hunting needs, we’ve collected several rifle scopes for deer hunting with a variety of magnification ranges.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to determine which rifle scope from the above five – or from the broader market – is best for your needs or preferences. We recommend considering your current optics setup when making your choice, as it’s the best way to ensure you pick a rifle scope that fits your current rifle and experience level.