With the advances in muzzleloader technology, gone are the days where muzzleloaders were inferior compared to modern centerfire rifles regarding power and accuracy. With some of today’s models, muzzleloaders in the hands of an experienced marksman can rival your traditional centerfire rifles for accuracy up to 300yards.
To fully maximize the accuracy and distance of your muzzleloader, you need a quality scope to go along with it. In this article, we will discuss the qualities you need for a scope for muzzleloaders. We will also review four scope models that we are confident will complement your muzzleloader and give you the capacity to increase your effective shooting range in the upcoming season.
|Nikon INLINE XR BDC 300|| ||$194 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|CenterPoint BDC 2-7x32mm Muzzleloader Shotgun Scope|| ||$112 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Leupold UltimateSlam SA.B.R Reticle|| ||$299 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn|| ||$85 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Vortex Optics Diamondback|| ||$199 Shop NowClick to read my review|
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Qualities of the Best Muzzleloader Scopes
With the options for powder loads and better-designed bullets, inline muzzleloaders have no problem dropping large game cleanly up to 200 and even 300 yards. Because of this, a higher-powered fixed scope or variable scope might be a better option for some shooters. When we say high magnification, we’re not talking about anything higher than 9X.
Even with the improvement of modern muzzleloaders, you’re not going to be taking shots at a range that would warrant anything over a 9X powered scope. There is also the option of a fixed magnification scope. A fixed scope is much less versatile than a variable scope. But it is often more durable and rugged, which is a plus when using heavy loads.
If you are planning to shoot at longer distances, a traditional duplex reticle is a good choice. It is enough for compensating the heavy drop that comes from heavy bullets often used in muzzleloaders. Luckily, you can use certain scopes that have reticles used with muzzleloaders. Heavier bullets that are often used have very pronounced bullet trajectories with heavy drop rates.
If you are looking to increase the range of your muzzleloader, being able to easily correct your point of aim for this drop is a huge advantage. Of course, you can always use another BDC reticle, and with some time on the range, you can calibrate them for specific grained bullets and powder amounts.
Using a muzzleloader gives you many options when it comes to your loads with both powder and bullet choice. Most users use enough powder for a sizeable kick that can create a lot of shock to low-quality scopes. As a result, it may damage the internal components of the scope, rendering it useless. In addition, it is also possible to knock the scope off of your desired settings without you being aware and missing a shot at a critical moment.
A well-designed scope with a body crafted from a single piece of high-quality aluminum does help improve the scope’s shock resistance and ability to hold zero. It is also important you utilize quality scope rings when mounting. Fixed scopes are more resistant, with fewer moving parts, but most variable scopes worth purchasing are more than capable of handling these heavy recoil rounds.
For optics, you will use for hunting, look into the quality of lenses. For example, the coating and treating of the lenses help shed water, reduce glare, and increase light transmission aids in low light shooting scenarios. Additionally, it provides a clear image to the shooter. It is also beneficial to have lenses that have a coating finish to resist scratching.
There are several states or monitored hunting areas that do not allow magnification scopes on muzzleloaders. Be sure to check those regulations in your home hunting grounds. Also, make sure not to drop some money on a muzzleloader scope before being sure that you can use one.
The 4 Best Muzzleloader Scopes
Following the criteria outlined above, the following section will provide a selection of muzzleloader scopes that are certainly worth your money.
If you want a true muzzleloader scope, then the Nikon INLINE is one of a couple of options you have available. This muzzleloader scope is variable powered with a 3-9X magnification range. It is also made from quality aluminum, purged, and sealed for both water and fog-proof qualities. The quality glass boasts a multicoating for superior picture quality. It also has a 3 to 9X magnification setting.
This scope sights in easily and will hold that setting for hundreds of high grain powder rounds. Additionally, this scope is accurate. For instance, when paired with the bullet drop reticle, it helps increase the range and accuracy of your muzzleloader. It also helps place groupings at 100-150 yards or even further.
Nikon also equips this muzzleloader scope with a generous 5″ eye relief for comfortable and manageable shooting positions. The biggest flaw with this particular scope is the poor eye box. It’s not a big issue for on the range or in taking most shots while hunting. However, there may be shots where it is challenging to get a full field of view from certain positions.
This scope’s BDC reticle features several bullet drops compensating circles rated for a .50cal muzzleloader with 150-grain charges and 250grain bullets. If you’re not using these particular standards, it’s not going to be an issue. With the Nikon Ballistics Calculator, you can zero it in with the specific grain and bullet size that you like to use.
The reticle is extremely clear throughout the magnification range, and the multicoated lenses provide you with a clear and crisp image at all times. Additionally, it has a phenomenal low-light functionality, which is very efficient for hunting applications.
It is a larger and heavier scope coming in at a little over 11 inches and 14.7 ounces. It’s heavy and rugged enough to resist heavy recoil often used in today’s inline muzzleloaders. The downside is it’s going to weigh down the weapon and might be fatiguing with long days in the field. Though it also depends on your muzzleloader, it might also throw the swing balance and might take some getting used to aiming and holding it steady.
- Has generous eye relief
- Solid and rugged construction
- Will hold zero
- Easy to mount and sight in
- Clear picture throughout magnification range
- BDC 300 reticle
- Efficient low light visibility
- Poor eye box
The CenterPoint Muzzleloader boasts a rugged and strong aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. It has a red/green dual illuminated TAG reticle with adjustable brightness for changing light conditions. Hence, you can conveniently use it regardless of any light conditions. This scope is completely waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof, with Picatinny Rings and lens covers included. With the CenterPoint 2-7x32mm, you’ll get a limited lifetime warranty. Furthermore, it has sharp, clear optical systems, specially formulated multi-coated lenses, and tough 1-inch tubes.
With it comes equipped with a comfortable eye-relief of up to 5.4 inches, this scope will satisfy even the most perceptive hunters and shooters. The new TAG bullet drop compensating reticle comes standard on the CenterPoint scope, which can be easily calibrated to any bullet/load combination. Also, it can accommodate distances up to 600 yards. This scope has a magnification range of 2X to 7X, allowing you to have a better shooting experience because of its highly visible sight.
Overall, the CenterPoint Muzzleloader is a well-known brand that offers good value for the money. It will provide you with outstanding features while affordable.
- With comfortable eye-relief up 5.4 inches
- Multi-coated solution lenses
- Durable and solid build
- Comes with complete Picatinny Rings and lens covers
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Leupold is known for producing some of the finest quality scopes. The UltimateSlam SA.B.R Reticle scope also brings Leupold to the forefront of scopes designed with muzzleloaders in mind. In addition, the UltimateSlam is a 3-9X variable-powered scope that can substantially increase your range of accurate shot placement with your muzzleloader.
This scope is lightweight at only 12 ounces. It is also durable and rugged. Additionally, it boasts an aircraft-grade aluminum build, sealed, purged, and anodized to give you a scope that is water, fog, and shockproof. The scope comes equipped with a coated lens to help resist scratching and give you a much longer lens life. It is also made from high-quality aluminum, rigid and rugged enough to take a beating from the high recoil of powerful muzzleloader rounds.
We love the SA.B.R (Sabot Ballistic Reticle) that you can use on the Leupold UltimateSlam scope. It features smooth tapering and a crisp reticle to draw your line of sight to the center and enables you to get on target quickly. Bullet drop markings are visible for 50 to 300 yards with several intermediate positions.
Beyond the reticle, the lens technology that comes from Leupold is hard to beat. Throughout the entirety of the magnification range, you get a great crisp and clear visualization of the field of view, including low light conditions. You can do this through the large 40mm objective lens.
This scope uses low-profile turrets that are easy to adjust on the fly in the field. They will also hold their settings through heavy movement and travel in brushy areas. This scope mounts easily and is extremely easy to zero in on the range. You also will not have to worry about the zero getting knocked off from only a handful of shots.
With this scope paired with the right muzzleloader and sighted in correctly, you’re looking at a setup that has the potential for bringing down game at 300-350 yards consistently.
- Lightweight and rugged
- Provides a clear picture
- Excellent low light performance
- Has adjustable turrets
- The length might not be favorable for some
First, a head’s up. The Bushnell scope is not specifically designed for use with muzzleloaders. However, it has all the qualities you need for a functioning muzzleloader scope. In addition, it is a 3-9X variable-powered scope that can add some range to your inline muzzleloader.
It does not feature a reticle designed to compensate for bullet drop. But with some days on the range, you can have it sighted in to get an idea of its range and crosshair placement. Its reticle is easy to use and draws in your line of sight to the center of the picture.
The eye relief comes at 3 inches. However, it has a poor eye box, making it difficult to use in some shooting situations. But with some practice, and once you get it right, the picture quality is excellent. There are also some issues with focusing the picture clearly when you are up in the highest magnification settings. Again, with a muzzleloader, you are probably never going to utilize the 8X or 9X magnification.
Bushnell built this scope out of a single piece of high-grade aluminum. It is also purged and sealed to give it excellent fog and water-resistant qualities needed in a hunting scope.
This scope is more than durable enough to be used in heavy brush, and it is more than able to hold up to repeated shots with a high-powered muzzleloader round and hold its zero. When sighted in, it’s easy to create grouping shots with this scope at 100 and 150 yards. It’s accurate past that range, but a lot more environmental conditions come into play when using heavier bullets.
- Generous eye relief
- Incredible low-light efficiency
- Not rated for muzzleloader bullet drop
- Poor eyebox
- High magnification focus can get blurry
The Diamondback 3-9X variable-powered scope is built from a single piece of high-quality aluminum that you can use with Magnum rounds, making it an excellent choice for those of you who like to use high grain powder rounds in your muzzleloader. It is anodized, purged, and sealed to provide you a scope that can function and perform in adverse weather conditions.
This reticle on the Diamondback is not rated for bullet drop compensation with muzzleloaders. This factor might be a drawback for those looking to increase your accuracy and ability to drop targets at distances of 150+ yards. While the reticle is clear throughout the magnification range, it is a little cluttered at times.
If you can deal with the reticle and pattern your shots, you will find that this scope is accurate and consistent. It can be a pain to sight in on the range, but once you have it set, you’re not going to have to worry about losing that setting unless the scope undergoes some heavy abuse.
This scope is a bit heavy at a little over 14 ounces. But for its ability to stand up to some heavy-hitting rounds, it is a fair tradeoff.
With the multicoated optics, you get a clear picture throughout the scopes magnification range, and the transition between magnifications is incredible with minimal focusing needed. The eye relief is generous, and the field of view you get from 3-9X is one of the best of the scopes on our list.
With the coated lenses and 40mm objective lens you get very generous light transmission with this scope, but you might find a darker image in low light conditions compared to other scopes on this list. That paired with the cluttered reticle might pose some problems.
The Vortex Diamondback is an extremely rugged and durable scope that can take the beating of hundreds of muzzleloader rounds without sustaining damage to the body and lenses and have its settings knocked off. For the price and the performance, this is a fantastic option for a muzzleloader scope.
- Rugged design
- Great eye box, eye relief, and FOV
- Hold zero
- Comes at an affordable price
- Provides a clear image
- Has great magnification transitions
- Can take some time to pattern
- Not the best low light image
As we always like to do, we want to take a moment to announce and summarize our top choice for a muzzleloader scope. We give the edge to the Leupold UltimateSlam SA.B.R Reticle. This is because it is, well, Leupold and it is known for producing premium products. It’s lightweight, rugged, and durable. The technology of the lens is also outstanding, and its performance is unparalleled.
However, a high-quality scope comes at a high price. So, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, I recommend our budget-friendly pick, CenterPoint BDC 2-7x32mm Muzzleloader Shotgun Scope. It’s less expensive than the Leupold but it offers the features of a high-end scope.
There are several scopes designed specifically for use with muzzleloaders as well as numerous rifle scopes that have the qualities needed to mount on your muzzleloader. With today’s technology, the muzzleloader can reach out and drop animals cleanly at ranges fifty years ago was impossible. A muzzleloader scope is a big part of this renaissance, and we hope that this article has outlined what is important for this type of scope as well as provide you with four fantastic options to increase your muzzleloaders effective range.