Riflescopes are a commonality at this point. The same should be said for your muzzleloader rifle. A high-quality scope improves your ability to see long-range distances while providing eye relief simultaneously. Without it, you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage in the field or at the shooting range.
But just what exactly makes the best muzzleloader scopes the best? That’s what we’re here to tell you.
In this article, we’re going to go over everything regarding muzzleloader scopes. Included: the benefits of muzzleloading scopes, what the differences are between these scopes and traditional riflescopes, what the different crosshair styles are, things to consider when buying your own scope, and frequently asked questions regarding putting scopes on muzzleloaders.
At the end, we’ll dive deep into our list of the top muzzleloader scopes you can get off Amazon or your favorite online retailer.
With that, let’s aim down the sights and see what we can learn!
What Are Muzzleloader Scopes?
As you can probably tell from the name, these are riflescopes designed specifically for muzzleloader guns. We’ll get into how they differ exactly from regular riflescopes in a few sections below, but just know that these are ideal for any type of muzzleloader, whether it be inline black powder, flintlock, or caplock.
For hunting season, a muzzleloader hunter needs to have a scope that can improve his or her hunt. Grabbing a scope that works for your actual rifle is the best way to enhance accuracy and precision.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to advantages…
What Are the Benefits of Muzzleloader Scopes?
Fogproof, waterproof, and shockproof: Nature and weather conditions can really mess with your hunting experience. With a high-quality riflescope, though, you can cut through all of that. Coated lenses help you see despite the rain or fog, and an airtight O-ring will keep moisture out of the scope. As for absorbing accidental drops, riflescopes are made out of durable material — like aircraft-grade aluminum — that keeps your scope safe from any structural damage. Your muzzleloader scope will last a long time, that’s almost a guarantee.
Improves sight in low light conditions: These scopes use light transmission to bring in as much light as possible from the surrounding area. The eyepieces provide the best conditions for sight, all while compensating for everything from windage to eye relief. This extends the amount of time you have in the day for a safe, accurate shot.
Reticles boost overall shooting accuracy: You want an accurate shot, always. With scope reticles, you get multiple aiming points based on distance and a field of view like none other. It accounts for bullet drop, no matter if you use a duplex reticle or BDC reticle. When you’re hunting big game, you usually get one shot. Ballistic reticles make that one shot count.
Magnification range gives you better vision: Most scopes have 9x magnification, which means you can see things up to nine times as close. That, matched with ease-of-use adjustment knobs only found in premiere riflescopes. You can go from barely making out your target to unparalleled target acquisition in mere seconds. And it does it with fast focus and generous eye relief, getting your eyes on the prize quicker and keeping them there longer.
Lifetime warranty makes a muzzleloader scope worth it: We said earlier that high-quality scopes will almost last you a lifetime. Thing is, stuff happens every once in a while. When your scope gets damages, most brands offer a lifetime warranty to ensure you’re satisfied and stocked with a scope that gets the job done.
Phew! That’s a ton of benefits. And while you’re probably excited to get to the reviews, there are a few more things to look at regarding muzzleloading scopes.
What Crosshair Types Are Available for Muzzleloader Rifles?
There are tons of crosshair types you can use for a muzzleloader. These crosshairs are also known as reticles. Reticles are a series of lines or fibers in the eyepiece of an optical device, scopes included.
There are plenty of different versions of reticles, such as:
BDC reticle: By far the most popular reticle, the Bullet Drop Compensation, or BDC, is a ballistic reticle that gives you true aim without having to change your dials. This reticle is perfect for long-range hunters because it incorporates MOA (Minute on Angle) technology; there are distance markers — hashes, dots, circles, etc. — beneath the middle dot that changes the angle and therefore the range of the rifle. For instance, if you change to the second dot, you might be compensating for about 50 yards’ worth.
Duplex reticle: Another popular crosshair, Duplex reticles are simple and straightforward. Two thick lines, intersecting at the exact middle where it thins out. For this reticle, you have to adjust your turrets to get the precise distance. A lot of brands have their own names for this type, including the Simmons Truplex and the Nikon Nikoplex.
Illuminated reticle: This isn’t a type more than it is a feature. Mil-Dot, Duplex, and BDC can all be illuminated or non-illuminated. If it’s illuminated, that means the lines and dots glow, most likely red. Some of them can even be center-dot illuminated only, which could be a nice feature for low visibility situations.
Mil-Dot reticle: This one is not very common for muzzleloader rifles. Mil-Dots are ballistic reticles that have hash marks measures out in Miliradians, where each reticle (hash mark) represents 3.6 inches at every 100 yards. It’s very technical and somewhat unnecessary for a muzzleloader.
We recommend either BDC or Duplex reticles for your riflescope. They do exactly what you need when you’re out on the hunt.
Can You Put Any Scope on a Muzzleloader?
Truthfully, you don’t need a specialized muzzleloader scope. You can use a riflescope.
However, you should get a muzzleloader scope because they usually have BDC reticles that work well with pellets and 250-grain bullets. Plus, these particular scopes have a parallax that’s adjusted to shorter distances than a traditional riflescope.
Does Vortex Make a Muzzleloader Scope?
Yes, they do. You can see an in-depth review of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II below in our list of the top muzzleloading scopes.
How Far Can You Accurately Shoot a Muzzleloader with a Scope?
Without a scope, you can shoot a muzzleloader only a handful of yards. On the other hand, using a scope brings your range shots up to 100-200 yards. Shooting at this distance would be virtually impossible without a riflescope, even if you’re a terrific hunter.
Which Reticle Is Best for a Muzzleloader?
There is no universal right answer here because it’s a matter of preference. One person might say a BDC 300 reticle is the best, while others claim a duplex reticle or Chevron is ideal.
There are even Truplex reticles — made by Simmons — for those who are into that. (Truplex reticles involve heavy lines that intersect in the middle, with super-fine aiming lines in the exact middle.)
Considerations for Buying a Muzzleloader Scope
You want to keep these things in mind for purchasing your ideal scope for your muzzleloading rifle.
Optical system and lens type: This is a biggie. How the scope’s lenses work alters things like inch eye relief, or how far away your eye has to be from the rear lens in order to see a full picture within the scope sight. There is an objective lens, or front lens, that captures the light and produces the image seen on the ocular lens, or rear lens. Some of these are also iron sights, which are two component sights; one that is perpendicular to the line of sight, and the other — the front — as a post, bead, ring, or ramp. All of this determines how fast you can find your focus eyepiece and get a bead on the game.
Brand: You want to make sure you get a scope from a trusted name and source. Companies and specific scopes like Leupold scopes, a lot of Nikon scopes, Bushnell scopes, Thompson/Center Arms, and Vortex Optics are some of the scopes to be looking out for.
Muzzleloader type: This is whether you have an inline muzzleloader, flintlock muzzleloader, or caplock muzzleloader. Know which gun you have, then pair it with a riflescope that improves your range, accuracy, and sight the most.
Materials and warranty: You want your scope to be durable, waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof. That means materials that can withstand the outdoor elements and any kind of hunt. And when the scope inevitably gets dirt on it or rusts or gets busted, you’ll want a lifetime warranty that ensures you can get the same scope again for no extra cost.
With all of that in mind, let’s take a look at some scopes!
The 7 Best Muzzleloader Scopes Reviewed
Leupold VX-Freedom Muzzleloader 3-9×40
First up we have Leupold, one of the most trusted scope brands out there. Similar to the Leupold VX-2, the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 provides unparalleled sight while boasting a Sabot Ballistics reticle for the best range experience.
It has a low eye relief of 4.17 inches and a high eye relief of 3.66 inches. The elevation adjustment range and windage adjustment range are both 60 MOA. The scope comes with an easy-to-grip power selector, rear focal plane reticles, a versatile 3:1 zoom ratio, and scratch-resistant lenses.
Both waterproof and fog-proof, the scope has been tested on the Punisher, which is Leupold’s heavy recoil simulation machine that provides three times the recoil of a .308 rifle.
Add to that an ultra-lightweight design and a twilight light management system that eliminates 80 percent more glare-producing stray light than the competitors, you get additional minutes of shooting light and an overall premium hunting experience.
You can’t go wrong with the Leupold VX-Freedom Muzzleloader 3-9×40.
This is the first of three Nikon rifle scopes. The reason being is they’re all fantastic choices, starting with the Buckmasters II 3-9×40 BDC.
As you can tell from the product name, this scope has a BDC reticle, which is a common feature for most of the best muzzleloader scopes. Their BDC has unique see-through ballistic circles to give you the advantage of dead-on long-range shooting.
The fully multicoated optical system includes many layers of anti-reflective compounds on the glass, giving you all-day optimal light transmission. Plus, the precise hand-turn turrets give you 100 yards at a quarter-inch with click adjustments. This helps you maintain your settings, even through heavy recoil.
But the biggest claim to fame for the Buckmasters II is the Nikon Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. All of Nikon’s scopes have this. This technology “allows you to discover all of the exact aiming points on your scope’s reticle at various yardages for your specific ammunition and load.”
And this is why we have three separate Nikon rifle scopes on this list!
Add to that generous eye relief, an O-ring seal that makes it waterproof and fog-proof, and outstanding shockproof performance, and you’ve got one hell of a muzzleloader scope. For those who like BDC reticles and super high quality, go with the Nikon Buckmasters II.
The next Nikon scope is designed with inline muzzleloaders in mind. The matte BDC 300 riflescope provides all of the features you saw in the Buckmasters II review, and then some.
It has hand-turn reticle adjustments with Spring-Loaded Zero-Reset turrets. It has a fantastic quick-focus eyepiece so you can make adjustments while in the shooting position without losing sight of your animal.
It has a BDC 300 reticle with easy-to-see ballistic circles and their patented Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. The adjustments you can make to the scope are 1/4 MOA click-stops, which means you can hear and feel the change in range.
Plus, you can sight-in as usual, then lift the spring-loaded adjustment knob and rotate to your “zero.” At this point, you can reengage your target. This special feature was added specifically to this riflescope. So if you want to bring speed, power, and precision to your muzzleloader shots, you’ll pick the Nikon Inline XR.
Another muzzleloader-centric scope, the Nikon Prostaff P3 has a BDC 300 reticle that gives you the right tool for long-range muzzleloading.
This scope makes 300-yard shots a reality with your inline muzzleloader rifle. It has the same optical system, hand-turn 1/4 MOA adjustments, zero-reset turrets, and ballistic match technology as the previous Nikon scope.
The scope is made out of rugged one-inch aircraft-grade aluminum for the main tube, an overall lightweight-yet-durable construction.
On top of that, the Prostaff P3 has an aluminum quick-focus eyepiece and a whopping five inches of consistent eye relief, which means you won’t get scope eye, even with heavy recoil. Built with your muzzleloader rifle in mind, the Nikon Prostaff P3 could very well be your new best friend (or best scope).
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1X24 Muzzleloader Scope
Vortex Optics creates one of the best scopes out there for muzzleloading rifles. The Crossfire II is a muzzleloader scope that allows you to see everything and get the job done.
First off, it has a lifetime warranty; they promise to take care of you, no matter the scope damage or issue. It has an eye relief of 3.8 inches, a capped turret, 1/2 MOA adjustment graduation, and a parallax setting (distance displacement) of 100 yards. Removable lens covers and a lens cloth come included to keep your lenses safe and clean.
The reticle is a V-plex reticle (Vortex Optics’ branded name for a duplex reticle); it’s all-purpose and intended for a wide variety of hunting applications. And it doesn’t magnify, meaning you get a crystal-clear, ultra-bright, undistorted view. For a no-nonsense, straightforward, duplex reticle riflescope, the best one has to be the Vortex Optics Crossfire II.
Simmons has a sleek matte scope that is both extremely affordable (less than $100) and extremely durable and efficient.
The Truplex Riflescope is an eight-point scope with fully-coated optics, as well as 1/4 sure-grip audible-click windage and elevation adjustments. It has the triple threat, being water, shock, and fog-proof. And their Truplex reticle — a.k.a. duplex reticle — gives you a ton of clear space to see through, giving you an unencumbered clean shot.
The Simmons Truplex Riflescope is simplicity at its finest, and you’d be hard-pressed to find another riflescope that’s this price-friendly AND high-quality.
Lastly, we have the KonusPro 275. Another cost-effective muzzleloader scope, this one has a 3-9×40 Ballistic Blackpowder Reticle, which is actually a Christmas tree reticle. It has semi-thick lines at the outer edges, and they intersect in the middle at a red dot. Below this dot are lines that grow the farther down you go. These lateral hash marks give you “precise leads of moving targets as well as compensating for strong crosswinds.”
This scope was designed specifically for muzzleloaders, helping you take out the guesswork of hold-over angles for your shot. It works with most black powder loads and gives you an accurate shot between 75 and 275 yards. The middle dot is actually a dual illuminated red and blue center dot, making it ideal for shooting into dark targets.
If you want a rifle scope made for muzzleloaders and gives you the reticle necessary for moving targets, heavy winds, or dark objects, then the KonusPro 275 Muzzleloading Scope is your top choice.
Muzzleloader scopes are ideal for improving your accuracy and overall eyesight when you’re hunting or shooting at the range. Make sure you give yourself the best available scope by checking all the boxes in our consideration section.
Luckily, most of the scopes in our list do just that; opting for one of those will have you in terrific shooting shape.
Pick out your muzzleloading scope and try it out for yourself. It’s the only way to figure out which reticle and style you like best. Once you have that dialed in, there’s no stopping you from being a deadeye with your muzzleloader.