Last Updated on December 27, 2022
I’d bet the farm that the smoke poles Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett used never had a muzzleloader scope attached to them. Not to say the legendary outdoorsmen and hunters didn’t make the best use of what tools they had at the time. On the contrary, their traditional woodsmanship set the stage for future armies of plaid-shirt-wearing critter chasers.
Fast-forward a few generations; modern black powder rifles are high-tech gadgets our hunting predecessors of yesteryear would barely recognize. Even so, this style of hunting preserves a long-standing hunting tradition, which is why tens of thousands of hunters hit the woods each Fall and Winter to hunt big game with one-shot inline rifles.
I made this buyer’s guide just for you in the hopes of pairing you with the perfect piece of glass for your budget. The options for your muzzleloader rifle can run the gamut from high-end Burris and Nightforce scopes to more affordable options from Vortex, SIG SAUR, and Konus.
I’d like to think ol’ Boone and Crockett would crack a little smile to learn that people are still using smoke sticks to chase after big games after all these years. It would also be an excellent wager to assert that, if given a chance, they wouldn’t hesitate to take a shot using one of 2023’s best muzzleloader scopes.
Of course, neither would you. So, let’s check them out!
Table of Contents: Best Muzzleloader Scopes of 2023 [Show/Hide]
- How Do I Choose a Muzzleloader Scope?
- Best High-End Muzzleloader Scopes
- Best Mid-Range Black Powder Scopes
- The Best Budget Muzzleloader Scopes
- Extra Accessories for Your Glass
- Factors We Analyzed When Rating & Reviewing Muzzleloader Scopes
- Final Thoughts: Best Muzzleloader Scope of 2023
- More Hunting Gear & Resources
Different scopes for different folks!
Before you buy the first shiny new muzzleloader scope you see on this list, let’s lay the groundwork for making a wise purchase that’s the best fit for you. It’s important to ask yourself these questions before choosing a new scope:
- Where do you intend to use your scope?
- How are you going to use your scope?
- How long of a shot is your rifle capable of making?
- How much money can you budget to spend?
Furthermore, here are some essential concepts you’ll need to understand:
Undoubtedly, having a scope on their muzzleloader gives black powder hunters a significant advantage. Adding glass to your muzzy to get the upper hand may seem like a no-brainer, but not everyone agrees with their use in the field. Hunting purists feel scopes take from the traditional nature of muzzleloader hunting and are more akin to a centerline rifle.
Several states also hold this stance. A few have banned scopes while muzzleloader hunting altogether, meaning open sights only. In contrast, some states allow non-magnified scopes, and others have no restrictions on their use whatsoever. Check the regulations for the specific state you plan to hunt to ensure compliance.
Take a peek at the Vortex Crossfire II if you are in a no-magnification area.
Parallax is the relationship between your eye and your reticle and the target. If the lens isn’t adjusted to the distance you are shooting, there can be significant variation in where your bullet ends up.
Unlike centerfire rifles, parallax is fixed on most muzzleloader scopes at a preset distance, usually 50-75 yards. Shot displacement is negligible at these distances, so parallax isn’t as big of a factor. Most muzzleloaders don’t have the range to justify the added cost of being able to adjust your reticle position for long-range shots.
For the most part, an adjustable parallax is a superfluous luxury for hunting with an inline rifle. However, some still prefer scopes with a variable setting for more accurate shots at a distance. The record shot on a big game animal with a muzzy is about 900 yards. You’ll need to consider the added expense if you’re a long-range shooter that wants to take shots like this.
Still having trouble understanding what parallax is? Here is a simple video explanation from HuntStand:
Magnification has its advantages, considering it gives the shooter a bigger target to shoot at and allows you to increase the distance at which you’re comfortable making a shot. A little magnification goes a long way when hunting with black powder rifles. Considering the range of your shot is much shorter than a centerline rifle, anything over 9x is a bit overkill. For the vast majority of black powder hunters, 1-6x is plenty capable.
You can get a quality entry-level inline rifle for a couple of hundred bucks. Adding a scope to your rig can easily be 2-3x this cost. So, the question is: is it worth it? Is putting such expensive glass on a relatively inexpensive rifle a good idea? Well, I say so, but then again, I’m the type of hunter that’s not out here taking any chances.
A successful harvest doesn’t happen by accident. Achievement is the sum of time, preparation, and investment. You get what you pay for when it comes to glass, and that’s true for your rifle scope as much as it is for your binos and spotting scope. The more you spend, the more features you can expect.
But, from the most expensive to the most affordable, each scope on this list is an incredible addition to any black powder setup, so you shouldn’t get too hung up on the price. Get what you can afford.
Best-in-Class – Editor’s Choice
Objective Lens: 24 mm
Eye Relief: 3.75″
Any criticisms of scopes in this price range are me just being nitpicky. Scopes at this price point will have similar superb performance and techy features. However, the ability to acquire targets at lightning speed is what sets the NX8 apart from the pack.
It’s agility is no mistake, it’s a result of Nightforce’s:
- Revolutionary center dot that illuminates in the daylight and allows for fast target acquisition
- Seamless magnification, thanks to its internal powered throw lever, is a huge benefit for scanning a landscape or herd
- Large and clear first focal plane reticle means less visual noise in your eyepiece, allowing the shooter to focus on their target
Nightforce has outdone itself with this scope and its ability to increase the range and effectiveness of a muzzleloader rifle. The NX8 is strictly for the no-nonsense gear head that expects the best from their gear and wants every advantage they can get. Dollar for dollar, it’s our top pick on this list.
- Pros: Fast target acquisition, great for low light or bright conditions, crystal clear sight picture
- Cons: Besides its high price tag, I’m having trouble finding any downsides
- Best for: Expensive and high-quality inline rifles, experienced black powder hunters, long-range shooters
Best Long-Range Muzzleloader Scope
Burris Eliminator V
Objective Lens: 65 mm
Eye Relief: 3.5 – 4″
For the average Joe like me, using the Burris Eliminator on my muzzleloader is like installing a Triton V10 inside a Ford Focus. It sure sounds cool, but it’s overkill. However, not everyone is an average Joe. Some people like to shoot the wings off a gnat at 50 yards and are willing to make the investment to do so. Burris makes all that possible with the Eliminator V and its:
- Onboard electronics and advanced ballistics software that can be specifically programmed to your rifle and load
- Ability to determine projectile drop data up to 750 yards, which benefits long-range black powder shooters
- High-tech reticle & screen with laser rangefinding capabilities accurate up to 2,000 yards
- 1/4″ MOA elevation and windage turret dials that take the guesswork out of adjustments on the fly
Modern inline rifles are capable of long-distance shots, and hunters are constantly pushing the limits of what their muzzleloaders can do. If you’re one of these trailblazers and want today’s best tech to stretch your range, you’ve got to have the Burris Eliminator V.
- Pros: Advanced ballistics, increased muzzleloader range, Burris’ Forever Warranty
- Cons: A little bit overkill, pricey
- Best for: Long-range shooters and perfectionists who demand precision
Best Muzzy Scope For Hunting Under $1,500
Objective Lens: 24 mm
Eye Relief: 3.7-3.82″
The Leupold VX-6HD is a no-brainer choice for a deadly set-up on your next big game hunt. The Leupold name speaks for itself in terms of reliability, but its easy-to-use Custom Dial System makes this scope the top option for hunters who want to be able to make quick and accurate shots.
- A laser engraved turret dial is custom-made according to your specific load, caliber, and shot
- No guesswork involved; simply range your target and adjust the dial to that range
- Crystal clear Leupold glass is ideal for low-light conditions that’re common when hunting big game
I’ve personally had my eyes on this scope for a planned 2023 muzzleloader hunt in Colorado. It may be time that I finally pull the trigger and grab one. I’ve been saving preference points for a while now and want a scope that’ll get the job done as reliably as a Chevy small block should I draw my tag.
If you, too, got a hankerin’ for excellence and have an important hunt on the horizon, the Leupold VX-6HD is the one you want.
- Pros: Easy no-guess ballistics, durable, extreme accuracy, best-rated Muzzleloader scope on opticsplanet.com
- Cons: Not the best option for shots over 200 yards, a little on the expensive end
- Best for: Hunters, experienced black powder shooters
Best Vortex Muzzleloader Scope
Vortex Viper PST Gen II
Magnification: 1-6x , 5-25x
Objective Lens: 24mm
Eye Relief: 3.8″
What? You didn’t think I was going to sleep on my favorite optics brand, did you? Vortex is at it again with the PST Gen II scope, which pairs with muzzleloader rifles like a frosty Busch pairs with a campfire hotdog. Here are some reasons to snatch this scope up for your muzzy:
- Vortex offers a lifetime VIP warranty on all their products, which gives you peace of mind
- Its etched glass reticle has several holdover points allowing for versatility in a variety of situations
- Multi-coated glass-to-air lenses allow for optimum light transmission in any setting
- Vivid pictures and colors are standard thanks to Vortex XD lens elements
The PSE Gen II is tailor-made for tactical rifles like an AR-15. And, for the reasons that make this deadly on the AR platform, it’s equally as effective on muzzleloaders. Quick target acquisition and an illuminated reticle make the Vortex Viper PSE one of the best muzzleloader scopes for hunting.
- Pros: Durable aircraft aluminum, bright reticle, accurate
- Cons: Harder to fine-tune windage and elevation adjustments like the higher-end scopes on this list
- Best for: Tactical shooters, muzzleloader hunters
Best Muzzleloader Scope for the Money
SIG SAUER Sierra 3BDX
Magnification: 2.5 – 8x
Objective Lens: 32 mm
Eye Relief: 3.46 + 4.41″
Being a hunter is an expensive lifestyle. When it’s all said and done, your coveted muzzleloader tag will cost you a pretty penny to fill. You don’t want to go too cheap on your scope and risk your hunt, but you don’t want to break the bank either. Lucky for you, the SIG SAUR Sierra 3BDX is an affordable and competent scope. Like some of its higher-priced counterparts, it features:
- A high-strength waterproof and fog-proof aluminum housing that can take a beating in the woods
- A digital reticle that puts this electro-optics scope on par with much higher-end products
- Ability to connect via Bluetooth to a SIG SAUR rangefinder to make accurate and real-time reticle adjustments
- State-of-the-art software that alerts shooters when their energy threshold is too low for the target, a feature that matches perfectly for muzzleloader hunters
Serious black powder shooters don’t have to skimp on quality just because they’re on a budget. With the SIG SAUR Sierra 3BDX, they get all the classical features they need to make an ethical harvest, along with all the high-tech doodads to take their shot to the next level.
- Pros: Ballistic tech, digital reticle, energy loss calculations, affordability
- Cons: Nothing to note
- Best for: Beginners, seasoned hunters, those who want to combine their BDX rangefinder with their muzzleloader scope
Best for No Magnification Requirement
Vortex Crossfire II
Objective Lens: 24 mm
Eye Relief: 3.8″
If you live in a state requiring a scope with no magnification, then you’ve very limited options. I’ve seen a few knockoff 1x scopes here and there, but nothing comes close to the Vortex Crossfire II. It’s a barebones 1x muzzleloader scope that:
- Satisfies the no magnification requirement for hunting
- Has 1/2″ MOA windage and elevation turrets for versatility in a variety of conditions
- Sports a stunning 95-foot field of view at 100 yards, even while having no magnification
- Comes equipped with an etched reticle for holdover points, allowing you to extend your range
If you live in a no-magnification state, it sounds like the perfect scope, right? Well, there’s a catch. This scope is only manufactured in small batches and limited releases. If you can’t find one right now, come back in a month and check again, rinse/repeat. Every few months, they’ll be in stock online.
- Pros: Satisfies 1x muzzleloader scope requirements, large field of view, an etched reticle with holdover marks, windage and elevation adjustments
- Cons: No magnification
- Best for: Those hunting in a state with a no magnification requirement, tournament shooters
Best Muzzleloader Glass Under $150
Konus PRO M30
Magnification: 3 – 10x
Objective Lens: 44 mm
Eye Relief: 3″
Alright, I know you’re scratching your head at this point. After all, it’s muzzleloader hunting; why the heck do I need all these fancy contraptions? Well, if you’re a practical sort of hunter and need a no-frills solution for muzzleloader hunting and nothing else, give this scope from Konus a shot.
- It has an illuminated red/blue dot reticle that works well in various lighting conditions
- Engraved holdover marks to help you make the most difficult of black powder shots
- The PRO M30 is durable and designed for heavy caliber recoil protection. It is fog proof, waterproof, and shockproof
Okay, I saved the best part for last: you can have ALL OF THIS for only $119. No gimmicks here. The Konus PRO scope is a capable and reliable option for muzzleloaders and it won’t punch you in the pocketbook nearly as bad as other scopes on the list. Give this baby a spin and see for yourself!
- Pros: Affordable, durable, second focal plane adjustable, the large objective lens brings in a lot of light
- Cons: No advanced features, very plane Jane
- Best for: Anyone who needs a simple scope for their muzzleloader and isn’t concerned with making advanced shots
Can’t-Beat Scope Under $200
Burris Fullfield E1
Objective Lens: 30 mm
Eye Relief: 3.5 ”
Just because it’s inexpensive doesn’t mean this scope from Burris has anything to be modest about. For the price, you can’t lose when you pop one of these suckers on your inline. Burris’ Fullfield is tailor-made for muzzleloaders and includes some eye-catching features such as:
- Lightweight and easy-to-see-through design for quick target acquisition
- A customizable EZ-tune function to customize the performance to your specific load
- Laboratory nitrogen-filled tube paired with multi-coated lenses for the most crystal clear image possible
- Posi-lock attachment that doesn’t rattle loose from high caliber recoil
The Fullfield doesn’t have the onboard ballistics, illuminated reticle, or high-end tech like the Burris Eliminator above, but it is quality glass that costs a fraction of the price. If all you want is a no-nonsense solution for your muzzleloader, it’s hard to beat this scope.
- Pros: Lightweight, easy target acquisition, decent glass quality, magnification to stretch shot range
- Cons: Not very feature rich
- Best for: Beginner shooters, hunters, competition shooters
Best Cheap Blackpowder Scope
Traditions Hunter Series
Objective Lens: 40 mm
Eye Relief: 3″
If you’re new to the sport or are looking to outfit a youngin’ to get them started muzzy hunting, you don’t want to go out and drop a bunch of money into fancy gear that may or may not ever get used again. Likewise, you don’t want to compromise a shot opportunity with a faulty piece of junk just to save a few bucks.
Check out the Traditions scope if you’re on a bare-bones budget but still want reliable performance. It has:
- Easily adjusted magnification that allows shooters to be confident to stretch the distance of their shots
- A compact and nitrogen-filled aluminum housing that works well with small-profile black powder rifles
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof attributes, which means that it’ll stand up to the elements and the high caliber recoil of a muzzy
- A unique circle x reticle that helps with target acquisition
Traditions scopes have been dropping bucks and bulls in their tracks for decades, so don’t let the small price tag deter you from snagging it up. While this Traditions scope won’t be able to go head-to-head with a Nightforce, it’ll definitely get the job done. Not bad, considering you can swoop one up for under $100.
- Pros: Inexpensive, compact, lightweight, unique circle x reticle
- Cons: Fairly featureless and doesn’t ship with mounting rings
- Best for: Newer shooters, those on a budget
Picatinny Rail for Muzzleloader Scope
EABCO Peeprib Picatinny Mount
EABCO makes a dual threat scope mount for muzzleloaders by combining a precision aperture sight with a Picatinny rail that allows you to mount and dismount your scope quickly. If you like open sights but want to mount a scope occasionally, this is what you want.
Williams Western Precision Open
In some states, you can only hunt with open sights. The open sights on your black powder rifle may not cut the mustard. If you want to spring for a high-quality upgrade, give Williams Western a long look. They’re a reliable replacement for the factory sights.
Our List of 2023’s Best Shooting Sticks
You put in a lot of prep work to get into position to harvest a game animal with your inline rifle. Don’t let your shaky, nervous mitts undermine your shot. Check out our list of shooting sticks for you to rest your muzzleloader on when the time is right.
We don’t make suggestions for our readers all willy-nilly. We put in the time to conduct thoughtful research, ensuring the gear we recommend doesn’t leave you hanging when making that shot of a lifetime. When it comes to black powder scopes and their unique needs, we considered the following factors:
The truth is, 95% of most muzzleloader shots will be less than 150 yards. So, why do you need a higher magnification scope? The answer is: you don’t. Yet, it’s still helpful to have some magnification to get a more precise sight picture when scoping your animal. 3x is plenty for most shooters, but many scopes on this list will have much higher zoom capabilities. You know, just in case.
Eye Relief and Parallax Adjustment
Eye relief is a commonly overlooked factor that some shooters don’t consider. The distance between your eyeball and the scope matters because you are shooting a rifle with a ton of recoil. You’ll want to ensure you don’t get a black eye from being too close. I’ve been punched by a scope before, and trust me, it hurts.
More importantly, most of these scopes are designed with a specific parallax. Having the correct distance from your eye to the scope ensures minimal focal plane adjustment and maximum accuracy.
The larger your objective lens is, the more light that can enter the scope. The more light that enters the scope, the clearer the picture will be and the more detail the shooter will see in the eyepiece. Also, having a larger objective lens can come in handy if you plan on using it in low-light situations that are common during the twilight hours of big game hunting.
Elevation and Windage Adjustments
The elements can affect a muzzleloader round much more than a centerfire rifle while in flight. Many of the scopes on this list will feature some level of adjustment in elevation and windage knobs or turrets. These are critical when you anticipate taking shots longer than 75 yards.
A few scopes in this buyer’s guide have simple up and down and left and right adjustments, and some have high-tech electronic reticles that adjust with a simple turn of a knob and will adjust automatically according to your pre-programmed ammo load.
Western big game hunting can take a toll on your gear. All the climbing through the forest, up and over deadfall, around giant logs, through creeks, etc., is nothing but a liability to your new inline scope. For these reasons, we were diligent in choosing only the best in terms of being waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof.
While you can’t avoid all crummy situations, your scope is one piece of equipment that you need to protect to a higher degree than the rest of your gear. Even though many selections on this list are made from top-notch durable materials, you’ll want to be extra aware of how you treat your muzzleloader scope. You don’t want to waste that shot opportunity (should it arise) with a dinged-up and unaligned scope.
Having a clear sight picture is the cornerstone of any good shot with a muzzleloader. Features like multi-coated lenses and nitrogen-filled tubes ensure that the image you see in your eye-piece is crystal clear even in the toughest glare or dimmest twilight. All the glass on this list meets these criteria, regardless of their price point.
Illuminated reticles help you quickly lock on your target but are typically only featured on higher-end scopes. Not every scope on this list will have illuminated reticles, but they will feature reticles that have holdover points or similar marks. This way, you can make a variety of shots at different distances.
Blame it on Covid, or blame it on supply chain issues, or you can even blame it on one of them bums in Washington DC.
Regardless of who’s fault it is, it’s not as easy to get your hands on certain gear as it used to be. For this reason, I left off several scopes from this list that I’d normally have recommended.
There are some quality muzzleloader scopes from Nikon as well as Bushnell. Their inline rifle scopes are top-notch and if you can get your hands on them, make sure to snag them up. This is easier said than done. For this list, I recommended what was available.
Gone are the days of needing to hunt for survival like in the time of Boone and Crockett. Instead, hunting is now for sport and has increased exponentially in popularity. The competition to land coveted tags is at its peak. If you want to hunt in a trophy unit, you may have to settle for muzzleloader hunting to get a decent chance at drawing a license.
Having the right muzzleloader scope can be the difference between a successful harvest of a trophy animal and going home empty-handed. If you have the desire to extend the length of your shot and want every advantage you can get on your hunt, then having a scope on your rifle can make a world of difference.
If you do land one of these tags, grabbing one of the scopes on this list will give you the advantage you need to make that shot of a lifetime. Whether that be an expensive Nightforce or Burris, or a more affordable Konus or Vortex, hopefully, you found something that works for you.
EatElkMeat.com strives to be the bridge between our readers and their next gear purchase by providing them with the most up-to-date advice on all the best tech and gear to make them more successful in the field. Whether that be 2023’s best muzzleloader scopes or the best hunting boots, we’ve got you covered.
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