5 Best Scopes For Deer Hunting

As a deer hunter on a hunting expedition, a quality scope can help you to do so much more when it’s attached to your rifle. The best scope for deer hunting will make your deer hunting trips more efficient. It can make your targeting to be more accurate and precise from long distances, which will make your trips turn out successful.

NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Zeroset .250 MOA, Matte Black
111 Reviews
NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Zeroset .250 MOA, Matte Black
  • NIGHTFORCE SHV 5-20×56 – The most powerful of our SHV series performs beautifully at both close and extended ranges on varmints, big game, and for making tight groups on paper

Apart from the need to have a scope that gives a clear image of the target, the scope you use for deer hunting should also be strong enough to handle the rough nature of hunting. It should be solid enough to hold its own under pressure. Succinctly put, your scope should also stay put even when your gun undergoes a heavy recoil.

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If you do away with the significant aspect of deer hunting which is equipping your rifle with the right accessories, you’re indirectly setting yourself up for a fruitless adventure. These little things are what differentiates a successful hunter from one that wastes efforts.

If you are in a hurry to purchase best scopes for deer hunting, and you want to make the best decision, here are our top 3 picks:

If you do not know what to look out for while purchasing a scope, or you’re doubtful about getting the best scope for your deer hunting, this article is a good place to start.

We’ve pointed out the best qualities of the best scopes for deer hunting, and included some tips on what to check when you want to buy one. We also brought you a list of the five best scopes for deer hunting, just to help in your decision-making. This article is structured in a way that will help you approach the market and locate the best scope for deer hunting swiftly.

Importance of Good Scopes

Normally, some hunters do not use scopes – scopes are used to get a better view of targets in hunting i.e. for optical purposes.

If you are a hunter that is among the category mentioned above, as you read through, you will find good reasons why you need to spend a few notes on a better scope for your hunting gun.

Few among these reasons are as follows:

It gives your confidence a boost

Sometimes, people do believe that hunting in the woods with just a gun that has no scope gives your ego a boost when you target animals and shoot them.

But it is also worthy of note that having a good scope on your machine can also boost your ego because it increases your chances of hitting your target more often.

Having said this, which will you prefer? Shooting your targets with more than one bullet, or using a scope and magnifying their image to get a clearer picture and then shooting them with just a bullet?

I believe your choice will be the latter.

It helps you to save some resources

As stated above, a good scope will make you shoot at your target once and hit it. To bring that reality, you need to invest efficiently in a good scope.

Aside from the fact that when you shoot at your targets, they have every tendency to run due to the sound of your gun when the bullet did not hit them, it’s also important for you to know that shooting at your targets multiple times will make you waste bullets without a positive outcome.

So, instead of you shooting at your target multiple times to hit them, why not spare some money and use it to buy a scope for your machine. Doing that will save you a lot of money that you would have spent on bullets which might still not yield good fruits.

It gives you a better precision at your target’s location

Have you ever been to a table tennis court and watched the players play their game? While watching, you notice that one of the players consistently hit a particular spot on his opponent’s side which he uses to win games.

What comes to your mind after seeing that? A good player who never misses his shots right? Someone who has a better shot at his target.

Now, relate the above scenario with your skills as a deer hunter. How will you feel when you go for your deer hunting games, and you always hit your target with just a shot? Elated, happy, and fulfilled right?

Good! This and many more are what good scopes can help you achieve. Nothing beats hitting your targets once as much as possible while hunting in the woods, it can boost your confidence to a large extent, and you will always be eager to hit the bush as many times as chance permits you.

With your scope fixed on top of your rifle, consider your hunting games much easier and precise.

Scopes can also boost your security

Safety is a very significant aspect of hunting and scopes can help you to achieve a good level of safety, as well as the safety of other hunters in the woods as well.

Scopes will help you to notice the difference between a human and an animal while hunting. It shields you from the mistakes you might make when you use just your eyes for viewing as your eyes will not be able to magnify images and make them look closer for a better view.

It helps you to shoot from a long-range

As a hunter, for your hunting games to be successful, you need a good accessory that will help you shoot your targets from a distance, and scopes can help you to do that.

The objective lens that it comes with has good optics that you will surely need while hunting deer in the woods. The problem isn’t in firing from a long range, it is in hitting the target even from that long range.

So, equip your machine with a scope that will bring your target’s view more closely so that you can get a good shot even from a far distance. It’s worthy of note that how closer your target appears on the lens depends on how you set it.

Factors To Consider While Buying A Scope

The benefits of good scopes fixed on to your rifle cannot be overemphasized. As soon as you get a scope that is good for your rifle, you will begin to enjoy the economic advantages that will suffice due to the good usage.

Suggesting that you purchase a scope does not indirectly pass the message of buying just anyone you find in the accessories store.

Here are things to check when purchasing a scope for deer hunting:

  • Magnification

When an image is being enlarged in such a way that it looks closer is magnification. Normally, your targets are not close to you and they’re far away than they appear in the objective lens when you look at them with a scope.

But when you magnify the image of your target, it will increase the size so that your view becomes narrow, and then you can shoot at your target easily with your rifle.

Magnification varies with scopes, so if you are a hunter that likes to hunt in varying locations in different ranges, then you need a scope that the magnification power varies so that you can use it to aim at your targets from all ranges.

If you are a hunter that loves to shoot from a long-range while hunting, choose a scope that has at least 9x magnification power. And if you love to shoot from a short range, choose a scope that has between 1 and 4x magnification.

But if you are neither of these two hunters mentioned above, i.e. you shoot within an average range, you can select scopes that have between 5 and 8x magnification.

These magnification power digits are always written on the body of the scopes, check them out the next time you decide to purchase a new scope for use and go for the one that will suit your hunting needs.

  • Durability

As a hunter, you would not want to waste your resources on scopes that will not last, so factors like the protective coatings, the structure of the material, etc. should be looked into while buying a scope.

  • Windage and Elevation Turrets

Turrets are the knobs that you see under the middle of the scope and by the sides. Before you buy a scope, test the scope with a rifle and make sure that you buy the one that makes a click-like noise when they fit into the right position on your rifle.

These turrets are mostly used to correct the horizontal and vertical errors of the scope.

  • Objective Lens

Magnified images are being made clearer by the objective lens, and it also helps to focus the light on your target. If you love to play your hunting games from a short range, an objective lens of 28mm will be good for you. If you love to play from a long range, an objective lens of 50mm and above will also be suitable for you.

But if you play within ranges that are average, i.e. in between long and short, then scopes with objective lenses of 30mm and 45mm will be perfect for you.

Buying a scope with a bigger objective lens will lead to more light reflection on your target, and you will not like your target to run while you are aiming at it. Always purchase a scope that will suit your hunting style and needs.

  • Weight

It won’t feel good if you keep running around with some heavy equipment in your hands i.e. a rifle plus a scope. So consider the weight of the scope you are buying when next you enter that accessories store.

  • Eye Relief

Gun scope’s eye reliefs are usually meant for cushioning the effects of rifle recoils and protecting the eyes from getting injured. It is the distance from your eye to the back lens through which you can see the magnified image.

A 4″ eye relief is safe for your eye, so whenever you want to buy a scope, consider this significant feature because it will indirectly affect your eye’s health. Choose one with a minimum of 3.5″ and a maximum of 4″.

  • Reticles

Reticles are also known as “crosshairs,” and they basically of three types which are:

  1. BDC
  2. Duplex
  3. Mil-Dot

They are like lines (vertical and horizontal) that will help you to aim at targets while making use of a scope. They can either be dots or lines and in whichever form they appear, they are still usable in hunting games.

The BDC type of reticle will be more useful if you are shooting from a long-distance range.

The Duplex type is best used in hunting games and target shooting, and they come with both horizontal and vertical lines.

The Mil-Dot type is normally used to make the estimations of the distance of the target, and they combine both the lines and dots for aiming. The lines are meant for getting the target.

5 Best Scopes for Deer Hunting (Ranked And Reviewed)

1. NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope

NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Zeroset .250 MOA, Matte Black
111 Reviews
NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Zeroset .250 MOA, Matte Black
  • NIGHTFORCE SHV 5-20×56 – The most powerful of our SHV series performs beautifully at both close and extended ranges on varmints, big game, and for making tight groups on paper
  • SPECS – It features a full 80 MOA of elevation adjustment, side parallax adjustment and ZeroSet technology which allows a quick return to your initial zero setting, regardless of how many elevation adjustments you’ve made


  • Dimensions: 17.83 x 4.84 x 4.45inches
  • Weight: 30.5 ounce
  • Material: Aluminum

The NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope has a bulky lens of 56mm which makes it suitable for absorption of light.

Its magnification range is between 5-20x which makes it suitable for long-distance shooting, and at the same time, making short distance also possible.

NightForce SHV

The MOAR reticle helps in locating small targets at long ranges, and it is also fog, shock, and waterproof.

The zero feature of the windage turrets enables you to reset the elevation adjustments, and quicken measurements alterations.

The scope is made with a durable aircraft-grade aluminum which makes it sturdy.


2. Athlon Optics Ares BTR GEN2 HD 4.5-27×50 First Focal Plane Riflescope

Athlon Optics Ares BTR GEN2 4.5-27x50 Riflescope - APLR3 FFP IR MOA, Black
22 Reviews
Athlon Optics Ares BTR GEN2 4.5-27×50 Riflescope – APLR3 FFP IR MOA, Black
  • 0. 25 MOA Click Value, 100 MOA Total Elevation Adjustment, 25 Yard to Infinity Parallax Adjustment, 6 Illumination Settings.
  • HD Glass gives you better light transmission, brighter, and sharper image. The illuminated reticle provides greater visibility during dusk and dawn and other low ambient light environment.


  • Dimensions: 13.8″
  • Weight: 27.3oz
  • Material: Matte

The Athlon Optics Ares BTR GEN2 HD 4.5-27×50 First Focal Plane Riflescope has a 100 MOA total elevation adjustment, and a 0.25 MOA click value. It also comes with 6 illumination settings and a 25yards to infinity parallax adjustment.

It has HD glass which gives a sharp light transmission, with a clear and bright image. It also comes with a zero stop system that is aided by the Exposed Tactical Direct Dial System which allows you to lock the position down with a sharp and concise stop at the zero marks.

Athlon Optics Ares BTR

This Athlon Optics Riflescope also has fully multi-coated optics with an additional XPL coating that protects the exterior lens from damage, reduces reflected light effectively and gives you a brighter image than normal single coated lenses by increasing the light transmission.

It also comes with an objective lens of 50mm, and a magnification range of 4.5 – 27x. This magnification range is very rare and is efficient for both short as well as long-range shots.

The illuminated reticle makes the scope to be usable even in low light conditions, and allows the magnification to be changing in accordance with the image.

Additionally, the High Precision Erector System takes care of the precision and makes the magnification adjustment smoother. This scope is also weather and shockproof.


3.Vortex Optics Viper HS LR Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16×50 Second Focal Plane Riflescope – Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) (VHS-4307-LR), Black
  • A subset of the Viper HS line, the Viper HS LR (Hunting & Shooting Long Range) 4-16×50 Second Focal Plane scope is perfect for when you need to extend your shooting range and bullet drop and wind drift compensation are crucial.
  • The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over would be a concern.


  • Dimensions: 17.75 x 4.38 x 6.63 inches
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Material: Aluminum

The Vortex Optics Viper HS LR Second Focal Plane Riflescope has a magnification range of 4-16x that enables the scope to be extendable to any range for shooting purposes.

The objective lens is 50mm in diameter which helps to ensure that there’s good light transmission. The dead-hold BDC reticle with hashmark designs makes it easier to track targets accurately. It has good eye relief and a fast-focus eyepiece which helps you not to miss any deer in sight. 

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

The elevation and windage turrets have a fitted Customisable Rotation Stop which makes long-range shots more precise. These turrets have an easy reset to zero option which enables you to shoot from varying ranges within short time intervals.

This scope has a low-dispersion glass feature which not only ensures a good light transmission, but also helps in color retention and clarity of images.

It is also shock, fog, and waterproof, and has a favorable eye relief and eye box. It is made of quality aluminum material which makes it durable.


4. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope – Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) with Vortex Hat
  • The Diamondback 4-12×40 riflescope is one of multiple configurations in the Diamondback lineup and is ideal for big game, predator/varmint, muzzleloader, slug shotgun, and long range applications. Vortex Optics hat included, hat color may vary.
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over would be a concern


  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 9.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Weight:  1.4pounds
  • Material: Aluminum

The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12×40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope has good optics that you can always rely on. It comes with a 40mm objective lens that allows more light to enter into the scope.

It has a fully multi-coated lens that enhances this optics quality. It also has a magnification range of 4-12x which is very reliable for long and medium-range shots.

The reticles which allows for a good magnification is further aided by a fast-focus eyepiece. This scope also comes with a Precision Glider Erector System which aids the adjustment of the windage and elevation turrets.

Vortex Optics Diamondback

It is fog, shock, and waterproof, and the material used in its production is an aircraft-grade aluminum which has an anodized matte finish.


5. Nikon M-Tactical 3-12×42 SF Matte MK-1MRAD

Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42SF Matte MK1-MRAD
47 Reviews
Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42SF Matte MK1-MRAD
  • The new m-tactical mk1-mrad reticle can be used to estimate range, target size, elevation holdover and wind-drift at designated magnification
  • 30mm main body tube


  • Dimensions: 15 x 3.7 x 3.1 inches
  • Weight: 1 Ounce
  • Material: Aluminum

The Nikon M-Tactical 3-12×42 SF Matte MK-1MRAD has a good reticle that can be used to make an estimation of ranges and target size at designated magnification.

It comes with a click adjustment system for magnification and a spring-loaded zero-reset turret, with a 30mm main body tube. It is also shock, fog, and waterproof.

Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42 SF Matte MK-1MRAD

The scope comes with a 50mm objective lens that is fully multi-coated, which ensures good light transmission which makes the image that is being captured through the eyepiece to be clear.

Its magnification is on a scale of 3-9x, which makes it viable for highly clarified shots and long-range shootings.

The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is placed on the Second Focal Plane which gives an accurate magnification for long-range shootings, while the crosshairs are efficient for short-range shootings.



Some scopes are good for long ranges, but a NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope will be good for a distance of 1000yards because of its magnification range that makes it possible to locate small targets from a long-range.

The best scope for a low light condition will be the Athlon Optics Ares First Focal Plane Riflescope because the HD glass of the lens gives a very sharp and bright image even under low light.

There are many scopes meant for different purposes. For deer hunting, an Athlon Optics Ares First Focal Plane Riflescope will be a perfect option because of its numerous outstanding features.


Since each scope has its pros and cons, you’re now left with the option of choosing one which will serve your hunting needs. You can create time to read more recommendations and check prices to equip yourself with good information before you proceed to buy a scope for your hunting games.

What are you still waiting for? Purchase a scope now and mount it, then hit the woods and up your game in hunting down those deer. Deer hunting indeed requires some skills, but if you have a good scope added to this skill, then count yourself lucky because your games will always give you maximum positive results.

And even if you’re still new in the deer hunting game, a good scope can as well help you to find your feet and master the game.

Author Profile

Gabriel Tackett
Double major in Engineering and Geology at the University of Minnesota. Experienced shooter & hunter for over 15 years. Certified NRA officer for over 10 years working as a writer at Ballachy.com .

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