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10 Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting in 2021 — Reviews & Top Picks

Last Updated on June 2, 2021

deer

There’s nothing more exciting than lining up a buck in your sight and preparing for the shot. You take a deep breath, you pull the trigger, and then you watch the buck run off into the sunset as your bullet sails wide.

What happened? You did everything right but you still missed the shot! The problem was your scope — you got the wrong one, and you’ve been paying for it ever since. We understand because we’ve been there, and that’s why we created this comprehensive rifle scope review.

We dive into the 10 best rifle scopes for deer hunting and give you a comprehensive buyer’s guide that breaks down everything you need to know. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll never miss that shot again.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescope
  • Three reticles
  • Generous eye relief
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Riflescope Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Riflescope
  • Good magnification range 3x to 9x
  • Sharp and high contrast image
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Leupold VX-3i Riflescope Leupold VX-3i Riflescope
  • Two reticle options
  • Good magnification range: 4.5x to 14x
  • CVLIFE Hunting Riflescope CVLIFE Hunting Riflescope
  • Two illumination colors for the reticle
  • Five brightness levels
  • Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope
  • Night vision mode
  • Recording capabilities
  • The 10 Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting — Reviews 2020

    1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescopes — Best Overall

    Vortex Optics Crossfire II

    If you’re looking for a top-notch rifle scope, look at what Vortex Optics has to offer. Vortex Optics makes some of the highest quality rifle scopes on the market. For starters, all its scopes come with a lifetime warranty, so you don’t have to spend more money replacing them down the road.

    However, it’s not just their durability that sets them apart, it’s also their performance. The Crossfire II offers three different reticle settings in conjunction with four different magnification options. Combined, there are plenty of choices to give you the exact rifle scope that you’re looking for.

    It also has a crisp image with tons of contrast, and the scope itself has plenty of eye relief. However, while there are tons of things that Vortex Optics does right with its scopes, it’s not perfect. 

    While it’s easy to make windage and elevation adjustments, there are no instant resets. Also, there are no extra brightness or light features, limiting this scope’s usefulness in low-light conditions.

    Pros
    • Good mix of performance and affordability
    • It comes with a lifetime warranty
    • Three reticles to choose from
    • Four magnification settings to choose from (2x to 12x)
    • Generous eye relief
    • Anti-reflective lens for clear image
    Cons
    • No instant elevation/windage resets
    • No extra brightness/light features

    2. Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope — Best Value

    Simmons 8-Point

    If you’re looking for the best rifle scope for deer hunting for the money, the Simmons 8-Point 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope is an outstanding choice. For starters, it’s incredibly affordable, but the company didn’t sacrifice performance to get there.

    With TrueZero technology, it excels at holding zero, even in extreme conditions. Furthermore, you get plenty of contrast and light, making it easy to track down your target. It also has a good magnification range for hunting, starting at 3x magnification and working its way up to 9x magnification.

    But anytime that you sacrifice on the price, there’s a tradeoff. For this scope, it’s the eye relief and the clarity. It’s a sharp eye relief, and the clarity isn’t perfect, especially at higher magnifications. But at this price point, you could do far worse.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Good magnification range 3x to 9x
    • Holds zero well with TrueZero technology
    • Sharp and high contrast image
    Cons
    • Harsh eye relief
    • Not crystal-clear clarity

    3. Leupold VX-3i Riflescope — Premium Choice

    Leupold VX-3i

    Leupold makes premium rifle scopes, and its VX-3i rifle scope is no different. Like Vortex Optics, it offers a lifetime warranty, so while you’ll be spending a little more up front, you’ll never need to replace it. Leupold designs and assembles all its scopes in the United States, so quality control is paramount, and you know that you’re getting a top-notch scope every time.

    Furthermore, the DiamondCoat 2 gives your scope plenty of light transmission and makes the entire scope far more durable. Not only does it have a DiamondCoat 2, but it also features a Twilight Max Light Management System that gives you more usable light every time you head out.

    Finally, you get an excellent magnification range and generous eye relief, making this sight a joy to bring out for a hunt. Of course, it is a premium scope, and Leupold priced it like one. Also, if you are shooting a close-range target, the minimum 4.5x magnification might be a bit much. But for most hunts, this is precisely what you want.

    Pros
    • Lifetime warranty
    • Two reticle options 
    • Good magnification range: 4.5x to 14x
    • DiamondCoat 2 for extra light transmission and durability
    • Designed and assembled in the U.S.A.
    • Twilight Max Light Management System for better light in low-light situations
    • Generous eye relief (up to 4.4″)
    Cons
    • Higher price tag
    • No lower magnification range — minimum is 4.5

    4. CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope

    CVLIFE Hunting Rifle

    While the CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope is incredibly affordable, it still offers top-notch performance. The tradeoff is that the minimum magnification is 6x, which is a bit much if your target gets close.

    Moreover, the eye relief is incredibly sharp, which can make it difficult and uncomfortable to look through your scope for an extended period. However, the maximum magnification of 24x gives you far better views than you’ll need for almost any situation.

    Additionally, it has an illuminated reticle with five different brightness levels and two different reticle colors. It’s never been easier to line up your shot than it is with the CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope.

    Pros
    • Affordable
    • Two illumination colors for the reticle
    • High maximum magnification and extensive range: 6x to 24x
    • Five brightness levels to choose from
    Cons
    • No lower magnification range — minimum is 6x
    • Very sharp eye relief

    5. Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope

    Sightmark Wraith HD

    The Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope is a premium option for those looking to hunt in low light and situations. Furthermore, it offers the unique ability to record your hunt through your scope, so no one will ever be able to question your ability again.

    But that’s not where the unique features end with this scope. It also has a night-vision mode, which gives you the ability to head out at any time and quickly line up your shot. Even better, there are 10 different reticle options to choose from, and you can cycle through nine different reticle color options.

    Finally, with up to 32x magnification, spotting your target has never been easier. However, not everything is perfect with this scope. For starters, it’s extremely expensive. Second, the optical magnification maxes out at 4x, and the rest is zoom powered.

    Also, while it offers tons of cool features, the battery life only lasts 4.5 hours, so you’re going to be swapping batteries out multiple times throughout your hunt.

    Pros
    • Great clarity
    • Night vision mode
    • Recording capabilities 
    • Up to 32x magnification
    • 10 reticle options
    • Nine color options
    Cons
    • Expensive 
    • Only a 4x optical magnification (the rest is zoom)
    • Short battery life: 4.5 hours

    6. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope

    Bushnell Banner

    This is a classic hunting rifle scope. The 3x to 9x magnification is the ideal range, and it offers dusk and dawn brightness lenses for extra light transmission when it’s most likely that you’ll come across a deer. Furthermore, you get an extremely clear image with limited distortion.

    But this is a lower-priced scope, and the tradeoff for that affordability is the eye relief and the ability to hold zero. If you’re taking multiple shots, you might find that it’s come out of zero, and that can be extremely frustrating.

    Moreover, since it’s a sharp eye relief, if you find yourself in a shooting position for an extended period of time, you’re bound to get a bit uncomfortable. Overall though, this is an excellent choice if you’re looking for an affordable rifle scope for hunting.

    Pros
    • Affordably priced
    • Good magnification range: 3x to 9x
    • Dusk and dawn brightness lenses for extra light transmission
    • Great clarity
    Cons
    • Harsh eye relief
    • Sometimes won’t hold zero

    7. BARSKA CO11538 Colorado Rifle Scope

    BARSKA

    The Barska C011538 is a barebones rifle scope that you can use for hunting. The magnification range is ideal at 3x to 9x, but while it’s easy to make windage and elevation adjustments, it’s not easy to track the changes and reset them.

    You do get a lifetime warranty, although you’ll probably want to upgrade at some point. That’s in large part due to the limited eye relief. At maximum magnification, you only have 2.3″ of eye relief, which simply isn’t enough. The basic design also makes it extremely difficult to hit distant targets. But if you’re shooting targets under 100 yards, this scope should do just fine.

    Pros
    • Good magnification range: 3x to 9x
    • Parallax free at 100 yards
    • Easy to make windage and elevation adjustments
    • Affordable option
    • It comes with a lifetime warranty
    Cons
    • Wide range of eye relief — as little as 2.3″
    • Basic design makes it hard to hit distant targets

    8. Nikon Prostaff P3 Predator Riflescope

    Nikon Prostaff

    The Nikon Prostaff P3Predator Riflescope is excellent if you’re hunting fast-moving targets. While it’s not the cheapest scope out there, it’s not the most expensive either. There are two magnification levels to choose from: the classic 3x to 9x levels and a slightly more powerful 4x to 12x.

    We like the instant reset turrets. If you’re taking multiple shots across varying conditions, it’s a critical component that’s going to enable you to make as many changes as you need without messing it up.

    Finally, the Nikon Prostaff can integrate with Nikon-specific munition apps, enabling you to take most of the guesswork out of each shot.

    But this scope has sharp eye relief and the inability to truly adjust for bullet drop over long distances. It’s a good choice, just not a great one.

    Pros
    • Good mix of affordability and performance
    • Two magnifications to choose from: 3x to 12x
    • Instant zero-reset turrets
    • Multi-coated optical system for additional brightness
    • Integrates with Nikon apps
    Cons
    • Sharper eye relief
    • Predator reticle is excellent for moving targets — not great for distant targets

    9. Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Mil-dot Rifle Scope

    Burris Fullfield

    While this isn’t the worst scope out there, for how much you’re spending, you might wish that the Burris FullfieldII Ballistic Mil-dot Rifle Scope offered a little more. There are two magnification settings to choose from: a 3x to 9x and a supercharged 6.5x to 20x.

    You get incredible clarity and contrast, which is what you would expect from a scope in this price range. However, the eye relief is a bit harsh, and there’s not an option with an illuminated reticle.

    So, if you’re looking through the scope for an extended period or trying to shoot in low-light conditions, you’re likely to come across a few problems. For how much you’re spending, we just expect better.

    Pros
    • Two magnification settings to choose from: 3x to 20x
    • Great clarity and contrast
    Cons
    • Expensive for what you get
    • No illuminated reticles
    • Harsh eye relief

    10. Edenberg Super-Target Reticle Rifle Scope

    Edenberg

    While Edenberg did many things right with its Super-Target Reticle Rifle Scope, the limited clarity and inability to obtain and hold zero consistently are significant drawbacks.

    However, the ideal 3x to 9x magnification range, the super low price, and the decent eye relief were enough to squeak this scope onto our list. 

    Just know that if you’re shooting at distant targets, you’re likely to miss, and if you need maximum power, you’re going to lose a significant amount of clarity. But if you’re looking for the lowest-priced scope that can get the job done, this is it.

    Pros
    • Good magnification range: 3x to 9x
    • Affordably priced
    • Decent eye relief
    Cons
    • Limited clarity, especially at higher magnifications
    • Not the best performance

    Buyer’s Guide

    When you’re looking at rifle scopes, there are tons of numbers and specifications that the manufacturers throw at you, but if you don’t know what you’re looking at, then it can be a little overwhelming. That’s why we developed this comprehensive buyer’s guide to walk you through everything you need to know and help you make your decision.

    How Much Magnification Do You Need?

    It all depends on how far away your target will be, but for most hunting applications, a 3x to 9x magnification is ideal. This range gives you the ability to hit targets up to 500 yards out at maximum power, but when you zoom back in, there’s no reason that you can’t hit a deer as close as 20 yards.

    This range gives you a ton of versatility for both close and long-distance shots. However, if you do plan on trying to tackle longer shots, you can opt to upgrade to 4x to 12x magnification. But for anything longer than that, you’re going to need significant experience and training to make your shot.

    How Much Eye Relief Do You Need?

    As a rule of thumb, the more magnification you have, the less eye relief you’re going to get. Still, we like our rifle scopes to have at least 4″ at 3x magnification.

    While you can certainly get by with less if you know what you’re doing, 4″ gives you plenty of versatility and enables you to spend a significant amount of time comfortably looking through your scope. Just keep in mind that as you add more power, your eye relief is going to decrease.

    Opt for Extra Brightness for the Lens

    Several scope options have features that increase the amount of light coming through the lens. If you can afford the options that have it, it’s a great perk, especially if you’re hunting animals that like to make appearances at dawn and dusk.

    Having a scope that gives you extra light can be the difference between having a successful hunt and heading home empty-handed. This is where an option like the Leupold Vx-3i Rifle Scope excels. While it’s more expensive, the extra brightness that it provides can make a huge difference.

    scope

    Image Credit: Burris Fullfield, Amazon

    Why Reticle Brightness Matters

    Just because you can see through your scope, that doesn’t mean you can make your shot — this is especially true at longer distances. With most scopes, you’ll notice dashes, and as long as you zero your scope out correctly, these notches will enable you to account for bullet drop at different distances.

    But if you can’t see these notches, you’re going to be left guessing at a few critical numbers. If you guess wrong, your bullet is going either go flying over the target’s head or land harmlessly in the ground well in front of them.

    Reticle brightness lets you see everything that you need to take the guesswork out of the equation. Not only do these reticles light up, but you can also adjust the brightness to the optimal level for each shot. This is a huge deal if you’re shooting in lower-light conditions.

    Zeroing Your Scope

    It doesn’t matter how expensive or cheap your scope is if you don’t zero it out correctly. Zeroing out your scope involves lining it up with the barrel of your rifle so you can hit your target. That way, when you go to hit that trophy buck, you don’t miss and then head home heartbroken and empty-handed.

    Adjusting for Elevation and Windage

    Rifle Scope Diagram

    Just because you zeroed out your scope for 100 yards doesn’t mean you get to ignore the windage and elevation turrets. These are two of the most critical components of your scope, and if you screw it up, you’re going to miss your shot.

    Keep in mind that you need to keep track of where you’re at when you’re making adjustments. Otherwise, when you go to make adjustments and take your next shot, you’re going to miss terribly.

    Some scopes make this easy, while others require you to do the mental math. Either way, make sure that you’re tracking the adjustments correctly so you don’t miss your shot.

    Finally, keep in mind that these adjustments become even more critical the farther away your target is. While you might be able to get away with shooting something 50 yards out without making adjustments, when you’re trying to hit something 500 yards away, those slight adjustments can lead to big misses.

    scope crosshairs divider 2

    Conclusion

    When you head out to hunt, you need to trust that your equipment will hold up and do exactly what you expect it to. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a $2,000 rifle if you throw a $20 scope on it. Your rig is only as good as its weakest link, so don’t let that be your scope.

    Our favorite rifle scope for deer hunting, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescopes, is a good mix of performance and affordability with a lifetime guarantee, while our best value riflescope for deer hunting is the Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope. If you’re looking for a more premium product, don’t forget our premium choice, the Leupold VX-3i Riflescope.

    We hope that this guide has helped you understand that you don’t need to break the bank to get a great rifle scope for hunting, and we hope that it gave you the confidence to purchase your next rifle scope. If you get one off this list, we’re sure that you won’t regret it.

    Now, head out to your next hunt confident that you have everything you need to hit your target and come home victorious!


    Featured Image Credit: Sightmark Wraith, amazon

    About the Author Robert Sparks

    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.