Last Updated on March 26, 2021
Crossbows offer a more powerful way to hunt with arrows compared to standard bows. But if you really want to take advantage of the additional power, you’ll need to be more accurate as well. While most bowhunters won’t take a shot at big game past 40 yards, crossbow hunters can often get away with shots at twice that distance.
Of course, shooting an animal at any distance is entirely unethical unless you are certain you can hit it in the vitals, offering a clean, quick, and humane kill. While a crossbow packs plenty of power to punch through and deliver a swift kill shot, you need a good scope to ensure your arrow hits the tiny target you’re aiming for.
In the search for the best scopes for our own crossbows, we put quite a few to the test. Along the way, we gathered a lot of information, which we’ve used to put together the following reviews. Hopefully, they’ll help you find the right scope for your crossbow, without going through all the expensive testing we had to perform.
|Best Overall||TRUGLO Crossbow 4X32 Compact Scope||
|Best Value||CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Crossbow Scope||
|Premium Choice||Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Crossbow Scope||
|UTG 4X32 1″ Crossbow Scope||
|Aim Sports 4X32 Compact Rangefinder Scope||
Available in black or Realtree camo with standard or illuminated reticles, the TRUGLO Compact Crossbow scope offers the best all-around performance and price, which is why it’s at the top of our list. It’s equipped with some great features, such as individual reticle holdovers marking distances up to 50 yards. This takes the guesswork out of your shots, ensuring you’re as accurate as possible.
With a large eye relief of four inches, you’ll always be able to find a comfortable shooting position and won’t have to worry about hitting yourself when you fire. Thanks to the nitrogen-purged weatherproofing, you can take this scope into any weather conditions without fear of it getting damaged.
No tools are necessary to adjust the windage and elevation on this scope; you can set them with your fingertips. The field of view is rather narrow, but the optics are very clear. One of the best features is the included limited lifetime warranty, which provides much peace of mind when you’re traipsing through the woods.
Unless hunting is one of your main priorities, you might have a hard time coughing up the cash it costs to purchase some of these scopes. In that case, you might be interested in the CVLIFE 4×32 Compact Crossbow Scope. It offers very solid performance at a dirt-cheap price, which is why we think it’s the best crossbow scope for the money.
Despite the low price, this is a rather durable scope. It’s fogproof, waterproof, and even shockproof so it can withstand minor bumps. Thanks to its durability, it holds zero well, saving you the headache of constantly re-zeroing your scope.
The built-in Weaver mounts make it easy to mount this scope on most crossbows without any adapters or additional parts. But the short eye relief can be uncomfortable; especially if your crossbow has some hefty kick. You might end up taking the scope to your eye. It’s also not a great scope for long-distance shooting since clarity becomes an issue beyond 50 yards. Still, for the price, it offers value that’s hard to beat.
The Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Crossbow Scope is more expensive than most of the other scopes on this list, but it also offers superior performance that warrants the higher price tag. For instance, nitrogen-purged weatherproofing protects this scope from rain, fog, and dust, so you can take it out in any weather without worry.
This scope features an etched glass reticle with aiming points every 10 yards out to 100 yards. Thanks to the 11-layer multicoated optics, you’ll get excellent optical clarity in any light conditions. You can even shoot with ease at dawn or dusk because this scope offers great low-light performance.
To make it easier to mount on a variety of different crossbows, this scope offers four or eight-inch bracketing. It’s pretty lightweight at just under 13 ounces and offers speed adjustments from 250-425 fps. Altogether, it’s one of the best-performing scopes we tested, though the high price means it’s not perfect for everyone.
Weighing in at 12 ounces, the UTG 4×32 crossbow scope won’t add too much weight to your setup. That said, it’s got a rather large profile, so it will increase the overall size of your crossbow, which might be a dealbreaker for some.
Calibrated for crossbows shooting at 300 feet per second, this scope features five aiming marks for distances up to 50 yards. Quick-detach ring mounts make it easy to attach to any crossbow with Picatinny or dovetail mounts. You can easily swap it between weapons, though you’ll have to zero it again with each one.
The reticle on this scope is illuminated. Powering it requires two CR2 batteries, which can be difficult to find. Unfortunately, even on the lowest setting, the illumination is too bright for shooting in low-light conditions. When it lights up, the background is washed out, making it suitable only for day shooting. We like this scope, but for the price, there are other options we’d pick first.
Lightweight and affordable, the Aim Sports compact rangefinder scope weighs less than 11 ounces and costs less than most of the other models on this list. Despite the low price, you’ll get pretty decent performance from this scope. It’s easy to zero and holds zero well. Once we had it adjusted, it didn’t require any further attention. Thankfully, mounting rings are included, so you should be ready to go without any additional accessories.
As with any affordable piece of technology, there are going to be some drawbacks. In this case, it’s the image clarity. The edges of the image are a bit blurry, even when the scope is perfectly in focus. Moreover, the reticles are very thick, making it difficult to achieve high accuracy at any distance beyond 50 yards.
We also weren’t pleased with the short eye relief of this scope. Your eye must be pretty close to get a clear view. The field of view is also quite narrow compared to other scopes. But we didn’t experience any issues with parallax, which is common on such affordable scopes.
This MA3TY crossbow scope costs several times what some of the more affordable models go for. That would be fine if it offered performance that was several times better, but that’s not what we experienced. When you see that this scope is 1.5-5×32, it seems like you’re getting zoom, but you’re not. It’s a fixed magnification scope. The magnification only changes based on the speed you have it set for. It’s adjustable for speeds ranging from 300-425 fps, but once you have it dialed in, you’re stuck with whatever magnification is at that speed.
Like most similar scopes, this one is nitrogen-purged to make it weatherproof. Furthermore, this model is impact-resistant, so it can hold up during many trips through the woods. Included is a 12-month warranty, which can provide some peace of mind, but doesn’t match the lifetime warranty that comes with other models we tested.
Looking through this scope you’ll see aiming points up to 100 yards. You get red and green illumination, but even the lowest illumination setting is too bright for shooting in low-light conditions. For the price, we’d need to see improvements in performance before we could recommend it over cheaper models that offer more.
If you’re looking for the smallest and lightest crossbow scope you can find, then you might be interested in the TRUGLO Red-dot crossbow scope. It has no magnification, so it’s perfect in states like Colorado or New Mexico, but it’s probably not going to be anyone’s first choice in states that allow you to crossbow hunt with magnification.
At 7.04 ounces, this crossbow scope is ultralight. It features a Weaver-style mounting system, making it easy to mount this to just about any crossbow. The optics are designed for all-weather use, and there’s even a limited lifetime warranty protecting your investment.
While there was a lot we liked about this scope, we also had plenty of complaints. At first, we liked the idea of the lens caps, but they don’t flip up easily. Instead, the whole lens cap would pop off when we tried to flip them up. The very short length of this scope also creates some serious parallax issues that make it difficult to shoot with.
This compact reticle crossbow scope from Hammers has some decent features but is lacking in durability. Don’t count on this scope to last for more than one season. It’s not built to withstand the abuse. Still, it does come with some desirable traits, such as the 3.5-inch eye relief that leaves plenty of space for safe use.
When looking through the scope, you’ll find six cross lines that provide additional aiming points. It’s also shockproof, waterproof, and fogproof so you don’t have to worry about damaging your equipment when you get stuck in poor weather conditions.
Windage and elevation adjustments can be made tool-free. There’s also a dial to adjust the illumination of the reticle. Unfortunately, you can’t shoot in low-light conditions using this scope because the lowest illumination setting is too bright and washes out the background.
Rings are supposed to come with this scope that allow for mounting to a Weaver rail. Ours didn’t include rings, and a replacement was missing the rings as well.
Adjustable for speeds from 270-450 feet per second, the Killer Instinct LUMIX SPEEDRING scope seems like a great scope when you first use it. The metal chassis appears to be durable upon first inspection, though that didn’t turn out to be the case. In fact, it only took a few shooting sessions for the lens to be knocked loose, rendering the scope useless.
This scope is fogproof and waterproof. It’s supposed to be shockproof as well, but that doesn’t seem true based on our experience. For the price, this was a major disappointment, considering that this scope is far pricier than some of the other options we tested.
We did like the flip-up lens covers that ensure they never get lost since they’re always attached. There are multiple aiming reticles for accurate shooting from various distances, but they don’t line up in any way that makes sense; such as in 10 or five-yard increments.
With 11 brightness settings for the illuminated reticle in the Sightmark Core SX 3×32 crossbow scope, you would expect it to offer great performance in low-light conditions. Disappointingly, too many reflections in the lenses cause poor visibility when there’s not much light, though it doesn’t appear to be much of an issue in daylight.
There are reticle holdover markings up to 60 yards. The reticle is red though, with no option to change it to another color. This scope is tuned for crossbows shooting at 320 feet per second from the factory, but you can adjust it for speeds between 350-400 feet per second. However, since the diopter in the rear is so loose, it will move with each shot, ruining the accuracy. We could never get more than a few accurate shots in a row due to this issue.
Weighing in at just over a pound, this scope adds some significant heft to your crossbow. It’s also got a very short eye relief, so it’s a poor choice for anyone with glasses. Despite all these drawbacks, this scope costs more than many options we tested, just adding to our list of complaints.
When comparing crossbow scopes, there are many features, numbers, and buzz words to sort through. If you’re new to crossbow scopes, this can fill you with doubt and worry as you prepare to pick a scope. Luckily, we’ve put together this buyer’s guide that’s filled with precisely the information you need to make an informed decision about which crossbow scope is right for your needs.
While there are many different features and traits to compare between crossbow scopes, the following features are the ones that we think are most important. These are the traits you should compare to see how different scopes stack up against each other.
When you look through the scope, you’ll see a reticle that you’re supposed to place on the target you plan to shoot. But a single reticle allows only for one aiming point. What about when you want to shoot at distances other than the distance your scope is zeroed in for?
Reticle holdover points offer an easy solution. These are additional marks that indicate aiming points for different distances. Using these aiming points, you can zero your scope for one distance, say 30 yards, but still have accurate aiming points at 10 yards, 60 yards, and each shot in between. This takes all the guesswork out of your shots, vastly improving your accuracy.
While most of your practice shooting is probably done during the day, that’s not always when the prey is most active. If you hunt, you’ll likely be doing most of your shooting at dawn or dusk, when light conditions are less than perfect. As such, you’ll need a scope that allows for low-light shooting.
If you only shoot at indoor ranges and never venture outside with your crossbow, then weatherproofing on your scope will be irrelevant. That’s not the case for most shooters though, who tend to venture out in any weather conditions. Luckily, you can get scopes that offer nitrogen-purged weatherproofing, making them fog proof, waterproof, and even shockproof.
Unless you want to replace your scope every season, durability is going to be a major factor. Some scopes we tested simply won’t hold up through multiple seasons of hunting or regular shooting. Others were built much tougher and will last for many seasons.
Along the same lines, the scopes that aren’t durable can suffer serious damage from a bump into a tree while hiking through the woods. But a more durable model will have built-in protection that can resist the shock of such an impact.
Eye relief measures the distance that your eye will be from the eyepiece when you aim. Aside from comfort, this can also affect your ability to shoot. If the eye relief is too short, you might even end up taking the scope to your eye if your crossbow has sufficient recoil.
Crossbows aren’t particularly light weapons, to begin with. Adding an extra pound or more can make it seem rather cumbersome; especially when you’re on a long trek tracking your prey. Lighter models weigh less than 10 ounces, having a far smaller impact on the overall weight of your weapon, which results in reduced fatigue through a hunt.
Along with weight, size can be a major factor when deciding between scopes. Scopes with a high profile will increase the size of your crossbow, making it more difficult to carry; particularly in tight spaces, such as when you’re weaving through trees in the woods.
Even if your scope is super durable, accidents occur. But if you have a good warranty protecting your scope, then you have nothing to worry about. A great warranty can provide peace of mind, helping you to feel comfortable taking your scope into hairy conditions such as inclement weather or heavily wooded areas.
Some of our favorite models came with limited lifetime warranties. Other models didn’t include a warranty at all. We suggest looking for a scope with some type of warranty. The longer the better.
Though all these tools perform the same basic task, they don’t all perform up to the same level. This leads to some major price discrepancies. Some of the more costly models we tested are several times the price of the lower-end devices.
While we don’t recommend shopping based solely on price, we do think it’s a major factor. Look for the scopes that meet all of your needs first. Then, you can compare them based on price last, ensuring that you get the performance you need at the most affordable price.
Hopefully, our reviews have helped you to narrow down the numerous choices and find the scope that fits your needs the best. While we found many great scopes that offered excellent performance, only three of them have earned our recommendations.
The TRUGLO compact crossbow scope was our favorite overall. Windage and elevation adjustments can be made tool-free. You get aiming points for multiple distances up to 50 yards, and nitrogen-purged weatherproofing protects you in any weather. Just in case something does happen, a lifetime warranty has you covered for life.
If you need the most affordable option that’s worth buying, we suggest the CVLIFE compact scope. Not only is it dirt-cheap, but it holds its zero well and offers fog proof, waterproof, and shockproof performance.
For those willing to spend a bit more for premium performance, we recommend the Hawke Sport Optics 12221 XB1 Vari-Speed Crossbow Scope. Thanks to 11-layer multicoated optics this scope offers superior low-light performance. You also get an etched glass reticle with 10-yard aiming points out to 100 yards. Plus, nitrogen-purged weatherproofing keeps you safe when inclement weather strikes.
Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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