Muzzleloaders are the weapon that replaced the bow and arrow because of its range and lethality. However, we’ve come a long way since then. In recent years, it’s been strictly used for recreational activities such as battle reenactments, range shooting, and hunting.
I am assuming you are reading this article for the latter – range shooting and hunting. We tested a lot of scopes for this article and finally concluded that the Leupold VX-Freedom is the best muzzleloader scope. Read on to discover why it’s our #1 pick, and feel free to read the buying guide – it will definitely help you on your next scope-shopping expedition.
Table of Contents
Best Muzzleloader Scopes For Your Money
Here is a list of the best muzzleloader scopes available today.
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Scope
- Vortex Diamondback 1.75-5×32
- Bushnell Banner 3-9×50
- NightForce NX8
- Leupold VX-6HD
1) Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Scope
- Great For High-Recoil Firearms
- Premium Build & Lens Quality
- Very Durable For All Conditions
- Takes Time To Get Used To CDS
Leupold is one of the most venerable optic brands in the world. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that two Leupold scopes feature among the best muzzleloader scopes. I really enjoy the VX-Freedom rifle scope – it is affordable and still submits to the same quality parameters Leupold’s premium scopes have.
This scope has a lightweight design of only 12.2 ounces. It’s built from high-quality aluminum and reinforced in areas most susceptible to damage – making it extremely durable and tolerable to high recoil weapons.
The Leupold has a 40mm objective lens, combined with Leupold’s smart lens coatings allows for very good light transmission. It has a magnification range of 3 – 9x. You don’t really need a higher magnification, especially for muzzleloader hunters.
One thing I came to appreciate about the VX-Freedom is the custom dial system (CDS). The CDS is basically a custom laser-etched dial that matches your ballistic load, velocity, and conditions – boosting accuracy, especially with a long-range muzzleloader scope.
My Experience With Leupold VX-Freedom
I’ve tested the VX-Freedom on various cartridges and shooting platforms. Its durability, for instance, makes it ideal for use on a shotgun scope. I’ve used my VX-Freedom on more hunts than I can count, and it has never failed me, despite my careless nature.
The reason why this scope is my number one pick is because of the scope’s value for money. No scope can compare to this one for the price you pay and the features and quality construction you get.
2) Vortex Diamondback 1.75-5×32
- Great Value For Your Money
- Very Durable Scope Housing
- Perfect For Medium-Long Distance Shooting
- Some Shooters Want More Eye Relief
Unlike a centerfire rifle which allows for quick shooting, muzzleloader hunting relies predominantly on stealth because the weapon takes a considerable time to load. Therefore, you need a scope that delivers quick target acquisition to compensate for the time lost loading muzzleloader rifles – the Diamondback does just that!
The scope is equipped with a 32 mm objective lens and a 1.75 – 5 x magnification. In my opinion, it is among the very best Vortex scopes for deer hunting that I’ve used. The scope has an eye relief of 3.5 – 3.7 inches, which I would’ve preferred to be a bit larger to increase the target acquisition rate even further.
The Diamondback is incredibly durable. It is built from the same material as the VX-Freedom, but it is also Argon gas purged – making it fog proof and protecting it from corrosion.
Vortex included the Dead-Hold BDC reticle in this scope. I think this is a great move as it allows for a more accurate long-range aiming platform, even though with the muzzleloader, you will rarely need it.
My Experience With Vortex Diamondback
Like the Leupold VX-Freedom, the Diamondback features in a lot of my articles about rifle scopes because of its versatility and reliability. I use the Diamondback predominantly in close-range and heavily bushed areas because of its fast target acquisition rate and low magnification.
Overall, of the budget muzzleloader scopes featured on this list, the Diamondback is the best if you are strictly going to hunt in densely bushed areas. Otherwise, I would still stick with the VX-Freedom.
3) Bushnell Banner 3-9×50
The Bushnell Banner is a great introductory muzzleloader scope – it’s extremely affordable, reliable, and provides a great aiming platform.
This second focal plane scope has a very crisp view – thanks to the 50 mm objective lens diameter and the Dusk and Dawn Brightness (DDB) multi-coated lenses. The large objective lens also allows for a wider field of view, which is 14 -40 ft. This is one of the main reasons I rated the Bushnell Banner as one of the Best Scopes for Scout Rifles that I’ve used!
Simplicity is key when it comes to the Banner’s reticle, which is something I admire. No bells and whistles, just a reliable aiming platform that gets the job done. The Banner is also very durable. In addition to being waterproof and shockproof, it is also nitrogen purged to make it fog proof.
My Experience With Bushnell Banner
The Banner was one of my introductory scopes for use on the muzzleloader. As I’ve mentioned, this scope is plain, easy to use, and very reliable. It is, hands down, one of the best budget muzzleloader scopes as an introductory scope.
4) NightForce NX8
- Excellent Glass Quality
- Great Durability & Construction
- High Magnification Range
- Premium Price Range
No list is complete without adding a couple of premium scopes for some who aren’t concerned about the budget but still want value for money – the Nightforce NX8 is an excellent choice for these hunters.
Nightforce scopes are subject to some of the best quality parameters I’ve come across, and although it shows in the price, you can rest assured that these scopes will last a lifetime. This is exactly why it is the preferred long-range scope of the military. Although the NX8 is designed for long-range centerfire rifles, it’s still a great muzzleloader scope. This scope is extremely durable; the geniuses at Nightforce really thought of everything, from smart recoil dispersion to enhancing waterproof capabilities.
Additionally, the light transmission is some of the best I’ve seen. The 50mm objective lens and extra-low dispersion glass are to thank for the ultra-crisp view. The scope has a first focal plane reticle with a 2.5 – 20x magnification – making it ideal for long-range shooting.
The only drawback apart from the steep price is the weight. It weighs 28.3 ounces, which is not ideal for long hunts involving a lot of hiking and trotting through the bush in pursuit of a deer.
My Experience With NightForce NX8
My experience with the Nightforce is mainly on the range because of its weight disadvantage. However, in the few cases I used it for hunting, it was superb. With best-in-class optical clarity and its high magnification range, I was able to make quick and accurate shots.
If you are not concerned about the price tag or the weight, then the NX8 is the right muzzleloader scope for you. If you treat it with respect, it will last you a lifetime.
5) Leupold VX-6HD
- Will Last For Years
- Great With High Recoil Weapons
- Performs Well In Low Lighting
- Illuminated Reticle Is Not For Everyone
Another premium scope, the VX-6HD, is the most durable scope on this list and will outlast most muzzleloader scopes. Leupold really took their time with the VX-6HD, meticulously planning and designing every detail. This scope is purged with Argon and has a twin-bias spring erector system to enhance its resistance against the elements and recoil even further.
With the 6-HD, you can make quick adjustments thanks to the throw lever adjustment. It has an objective lens diameter of 42 mm with a magnification range of 2 -12 x. It also features the FireDot Duplex – an illuminated reticle with eight brightness settings. This is one of the main reasons I also rated this scope as one of the best 22 rifle scopes for squirrel hunting as well.
The Twilight Max Light Management System prioritizes usable, quality light to be transmitted through the light and rejects light that compromises the optical clarity. This makes the view observed by the eye very contrasting and crisp.
My Experience With Leupold VX-6HD
The VX-6HD is one of my favorite high-end scopes. The reason is simple, all the mechanics and features work together to provide the perfect muzzleloader scope in terms of target acquisition rate, optical clarity and durability.
If you want muzzleloader optics that have an illuminated reticle with immense optical clarity, then the VX-6HD is your best bet.
How We Rate Muzzleloader Scopes
As with all our product reviews, we rate muzzleloader scopes under strict guidelines. These guidelines include the following:
- Durability: Wind, snow, dust, and rain – a scope must be able to survive the elements. Additionally, it must be able to withstand the recoil produced by the weapon without losing its zero.
- Features: We love seeing features that elevate the user experience, like a fast focus eyepiece, throw lever, illuminated reticles, etc.
- Value: The price of a scope will always be the prime determinant of whether you buy the scope or not. The scope should be priced in line with its competitors. Its quality, durability, features, and versatility should be resembled in the price tag.
- Practicality: Will this scope actually work on a muzzleloader? If yes, can you use it for hunting, or is it too big and bulky? We typically want muzzleloader scopes to weigh less than 20 ounces and have a lower-end magnification range.
Consider all of these factors when trying to choose your new rifle scope. The best scope for each person depends on their specific needs & intended use case!
Benefits Of Using A Muzzleloader Scopes
Here is a list of the main benefits of equipping your rifle with muzzleloader scopes.
- Accuracy: A muzzleloader scope extends the range you can accurately aim and shoot with your muzzleloader.
- Target acquisition rate: With increased magnification, you can acquire distant targets faster and make quick shots.
- Versatility: With a scope, you can shoot both short-range and long-range. If you only use an iron sight or red dot sight, you are limited to close-range hunting.
Use Cases For Muzzleloader Scopes
Here is a list of the main two use cases for muzzleloader scopes.
- Hunting: Muzzleloader scopes are perfect if you want to make your hunting experience more enjoyable. This is because, with the more accurate aiming platform, you are able to shoot from further away and with higher accuracy – minimizing the risk of injuring an animal.
- Range Shooting: As I’ve mentioned, the NX8 is, for example, perfect for range shooting because of its magnification and BDC reticle. This means that you can shoot at further targets with your muzzleloader at the range.
Rings & Mounts For A Muzzleloader Scope
There are a few things to consider before choosing scope rings and mounts for your muzzleloader scopes:
- Type of mount: One-piece mounts are typically more rigid and stable. Meanwhile, the two-piece mounts are more flexible in terms of positioning the scope.
- Compatibility: Ensure the rings and mounts are compatible with both your scope and muzzleloader. You can check online or on your muzzleloader or scope for specifications on mounting and ring compatibility.
- Ring height: Choose a ring height that allows your scope to clear the barrel comfortably and any iron sights. Also, the correct ring height will depend on the objective lens diameter of your scope.
- Ring diameter: Make sure the ring diameter matches that of the scope tube. Common scope tube diameters are 1 inch, 30mm, and 34mm.
- Mounting system: The mounting system makes sure that the rings and scope are securely mounted to the muzzleloader. Popular mounting systems include Weaver, Picatinny, and Dovetail rails. Make sure of both your muzzleloader’s and scope’s compatibility before buying a mounting system.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best magnification for a muzzleloader scope?
What is the best muzzleloader scope under $150?
What is the best range for a muzzleloader?
Do you need a special scope for a muzzleloader?
The Bottom Line
Equipping your muzzleloader with a scope is a great way to extend the range of your weapon and have a more accurate shooting platform. The best scope for a muzzleloader is the VX-Freedom – it’s hands down the best value for money. Choosing the right scope for your muzzleloader is not as simple as just buying a scope. It is crucial that you make sure your scope is compatible with the muzzleloader, especially with durability, and that they can accommodate the same mounting system without the need for an adapter plate. Happy hunting!
- Great For High-Recoil Firearms
- Premium Build & Lens Quality
- Very Durable For All Conditions
- Takes Time To Get Used To CDS