Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or just learning the ropes, choosing the right scope can significantly elevate your hunting success rate and experience. A high-quality scope offers the perfect blend of optical quality, magnification range, durability, and versatility. After testing a considerable amount of hunting scopes, we determined that the Vortex Razor HD LHT is the best hunting scope. In this article, we review the best hunting scopes as well as provide you with some helpful tips when buying your next hunting scope.
Best Overall Scope
Best Medium Game Scope
Best Long Range Hunting Scope
Best Rifle Scopes for Hunting
Here is a list of the best rifle scopes for hunting.
- Vortex Razor HD LHT – Best Overall Scope
- Leupold VX-3HD – Best Medium Game Scope
- Trijicon Tenmile – Best Long Range Hunting Scope
- EOTech Vudu – Best Small Game Scope
- SIG TANGO-MSR – Best For AR Hunting
- Hawke Vantage – Best For Beginner Hunters
1) Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15×42
Vortex is always a prime contender for the number one spot in my review articles. This is because the master crafters at Vortex always add a bit of ingenuity to their scope design and building process. The Razor HD LHT is an excellent scope, combining versatility, quality, and durability. Hence, it is crowned as the best hunting scope.
The LHT features a ruggedized construction with its aircraft-grade aluminum body and ArmorTek lens coatings. The scope has an objective lens diameter of 42mm with a weight of 19.1 ounces.
It is perfect for both short and long-range shooting with its magnification range of 3-15x. The scope also has a favorable eye relief of 4.1 – 3.8 inches. It also features an illuminated reticle for better low-light performance, and it is a second focal plane (SFP) scope. The scope is available in an MRAD and MOA option, providing excellent holdovers for both windage and elevation correction. This is one of the main reasons why I also rated the Razor as one of the Best Henry Big Boy 44 Mag Scopes that I’ve tested.
One thing that really stood out for me when I first tested the scope is its crisp view – here is where that little bit of ingenuity comes in. Vortex coated the LHT’s lenses with XR Plus lens coatings to maximize light transmission while keeping glare at a minimum.
My Experience With Vortex Razor
Overall, the Razor is the best rifle scope I have used in a long time. It is not that it excels in one specific category, but its ability to adapt to almost all types of shooting environments, whether it is dense brush, woods, mountains, or open plains, makes it the best hunting scope.
2) Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×40
Leupold is another company that makes quality hunting scopes. The VX-3HD is built from 6061-T6 aluminum, which is very durable yet extremely light – it only weighs 12.6 ounces! Additionally, the scope is purged with Argon/Krypton gas blend to further enhance its fog proof and waterproofing capabilities.
The scope has an objective lens of 4omm and has the DiamondCoat 2 lens coatings to improve durability as well as light transmission. The VX is extremely good during low-light conditions due to the Xtented Twilight Lens System that optimizes the transmission of low-light wavelengths.
The scope is perfect for shooting up to 300-350 yards with its magnification ranges of 3.5-10x. Like the Vortex, the VX is also a second focal plane scope. This is one of the main reasons why I rated the VX-3HD as one of the Best Budget Low Light Scopes that I’ve used.
My Experience With Leupold VX-3HD
I’ve used the VX-3HD on more hunting trips than I can count. The scope is almost always my preferred scope for hunting in dense brush or the woods because of the light transmission optimization features and the lightweight design.
Overall, the VX-3HD is the perfect scope if you want something for closer-range hunting that won’t break the bank.
3) Trijicon Tenmile 4.5-30×56
Trijicon is renowned for its quality red dot sights, but they also make some great rifle scopes, like the Trijicon Tenmile. This long-range hunting scope pushes the limits of hunting distances with its 4.5-30x magnification range and extra large 56mm objective lens – you can see a tick on a deer from 200 yards!
The scope comes in a second focal plane and the first focal plane (FFP) option. After testing both, I prefer the first focal plane option more because the FFPs reticle x target combination works better at a 30x magnification.
The Trijicon is also a pretty durable scope with its 6061-T6 aluminum housing that is enhanced to withstand recoil and vibration stresses even from some of the biggest calibers. This is why I also rated Trijicon as one of the Best AR15 Scopes that I’ve used.
The scope has holdovers to help you correct for bullet drop and wind drift, allowing you to have higher accuracy at 500+ yards.
My Experience With Trijicon Tenmile
As the name suggests, the TENMILE is a long-range scope. However, to adhere to ethical hunting practices, I seldom use it for hunting at ranges beyond 500 yards. Its 36-ounce weight is also a major disadvantage. Nonetheless, I love using this scope for varminting as well as hunting in open areas where I just sit and wait for animals.
4) EOTech Vudu 1-10×28
The EOTech is a low-power variable optic (LPVO), which means it’s designed for fast target acquisition at short ranges. The scope has a 28mm objective lens with a 1-10x magnification range. It also has holdovers to help you compensate for bullet drop and wind drift at longer ranges, although I feel it is a bit unnecessary for a 1-10x scope. I also use EOTech as one of the Best Scopes for Shotguns that I’ve used.
The scope also has a throw lever that allows you to quickly adjust between different magnifications. The EOTech Vudu has an illuminated reticle with a first focal plane design – allowing for a versatile hunting scope at different lighting conditions and hunting distances.
The Vudu has a moderate eye relief of 3.27 – 3.9 inches and a field of view of 116.6 ft at 100 yards. One thing that stands out for me about the Vudu is its durability. The glass quality and exceptional scope design make for a really robust scope and just give you that extra confidence when hunting with the scope.
My Experience With Vudu
The Vudu is my go-to scope for hunting hogs in the woods, as it is compact and easy to handle. I’ve used it on the occasional deer hunt as well, but I rather prefer it for my wood-hog hunting expeditions.
5) SIG TANGO-MSR 1-10×28
Like the Vudu, the Tango is also an LPVO scope. It features the same durability standards as the Vudu. However, Vudu’s light transmission is a bit better for me, especially in low-light conditions. Luckily, the Tango’s reticle’s 11 brightness settings help compensate for the lens’s lack of optimal light transmission. This high level of adjustabilty is one of the reasons I also rated the MSR as one of the best LPVO scopes under $1000 that I’ve used.
The Tango weighs 20.4 ounces, has an eye relief of 3.22 – 3.54 inches, and a field of view of 10 – 110 ft at 100 yards. It has a second focal plane scope with an illuminated bullet drop compensator (BDC) reticle.
My Experience With SIG TANGO
My experience with Sig Tango is mainly limited to hunting with it on my AR15. However, I can say with confidence that this scope does not disappoint, especially at the 50-100 yard distance. It has extremely precise aiming with fast target acquisition.
6) Hawke Vantage 30 WA IR 2.5-10×50
The Vantage is our budget pick for this review, but don’t let this discourage you – it’s pretty impressive for it to be featured on this list!
The Hawke Vantage is a great mid-range scope with its 2.5-10x magnification range. It offers some of the best images during daytime use, thanks to the 50mm objective lens and 11-layer fully multi-coated lenses. The Vantage also has a five-position rheostat to control the intensity of the lens coatings. They even made our list of the best muzzleloader scopes as well!
The scope has an eye relief of 3.5 inches and a field of view of 12.6 -50.4 ft at 100 yards. I also came to appreciate its simple duplex reticle design that doesn’t compromise your visual on the target – as it should be!
My Experience With Hawke
My experience with the Hawke was overall highly pleasant. Its sight picture is very impressive, and its overall durability is above average.
Which Should You Choose?
I categorized each scope based on how I use them and the situation for what they are best fit to serve:
- Novice hunter or budget concerned (short to medium range): Hawke Vantage 30 WA IR 2.5-10×50
- AR Hunter: SIG TANGO-MSR 1-10×28
- Close to medium range fast target acquisition scope: EOTech Vudu 1-10×28
- Extremely long-range shooting: Trijicon Tenmile 4.5-30×56
- Medium range scope x budget concerned: Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×40
- Highly versatile hunting scope fit for any hunting condition and range: Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15×42
Hunting Scope Buyers Guide
Investing in a quality rifle scope means you are investing in your overall hunting experience – a high-quality scope just makes for a much more enjoyable hunting experience. Therefore, here is a good buyer’s guide you can follow on your next scope buying trip.
Important Qualities Of A Hunting Scope
Here is a list of the most important rating factors for any hunting scope. We use these same characteristics to analyze and test each scope independently. Use this list to learn how to choose a rifle scope correctly!
- Durability: A scope needs to be able to withstand different hunting environments and weather. It should also be tough enough to withstand recoil. The scope should be waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof.
- Optical Clarity: This is a very important quality for me – if you can’t see the target through the scope, then you can’t hunt it. The best rifle scopes have high-quality lenses and lens coatings to ensure optimal light transmission.
- Magnification: A variable-powered optic contributes to the versatility of a scope. The magnification range also determines the use case of the scope.
- User-friendly: The best rifle scopes are easy to mount, adjust using the windage and elevation turrets, and use in the field. It should have clear reticle markings and good eye relief.
How We Test Rifle Scopes
Avid readers of our articles know that we take much pride in testing rifle scopes. We first test scopes on the range, as where all newly mounted scopes start out first. Then we take it for a real-life test – hunting! We base our final decisions on the following criteria:
- Mounting and Adjustment: We first check how easy it is to mount the scope. How easy is it to mount? Does it hold zero? How accurately do the windage and elevation adjustments work?
- Optical clarity: Next, we test the most important part of the scope – its optical lenses and quality. We test the scope in different light conditions and magnifications. We specifically look at image sharpness, brightness, and if there is optical distortion.
- Durability: Durability is an important factor in measuring the scope’s overall quality. We specifically look at the quality of the materials and whether its water, fog and shockproof. Also, we evaluate how well they can withstand recoil without losing zero.
- Field Testing: Here is where the fun starts! We take the scope to the range and test it at different distances. After we are happy with the results, we take it for some real testing – hunting! Here, we determine how well the scope performs in practice.
Tips For Picking The Best Magnification Range
We created a detailed guide on the best magnification range for hunting. However, here are a few tips for picking the best magnification range.
- Hunting Type: Pick the magnification range that best suits your hunting environment – dense forest and brush: 1-4x or 2-7x and open plains and mountains: 6-10x or 5-15x magnification.
- Weight: A scope with a higher upper magnification range weighs heavier than a scope with a lower magnification range – something to consider if you are doing most of your hunts on foot.
- Simplicity vs Versatility: A fixed magnification is easier to use, but a variable magnification scope offers the versatility of hunting at different ranges.
Frequently Asked Questions
What scope magnification is best for deer hunting?
What scope magnification is best for elk hunting?
What size scope is best for all around hunting?
What range is a 3 9x40 scope good for?
The Bottom Line
Choosing the best hunting scope involves balancing your hunting style with other key factors, such as shooting distance and environmental conditions. However, the most versatile hunting scope that best adheres to the above parameters is the Vortex Razor HD LHT. Remember to always look for optical quality, durability, magnification range, and other key factors when buying your next scope. As always, happy hunting, and remember to stay safe and practice ethical hunting!