Although rifle scopes for a shotgun might seem a bit unorthodox – it is possible. Mounting a rifle scope on a shotgun might even help you with that extra accuracy, especially if you are shooting slugs and have extended-range capabilities. However, not all scopes will fit on a shotgun and be durable enough to withstand the recoil produced by the shotgun.
Therefore, we went out and tested a couple of scopes to try and determine which are compatible with shotguns. In this article, you will discover the best scopes for shotguns as well as a handy buying guide you can use on your next shotgun scope shopping expedition.
Best Shotgun Scopes For Deer Hunting
After putting each shotgun scope to the test, here is our list of the best shotgun scopes.
- Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24
- Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33
- TruGlo 4x32mm Shotgun Scope
- EOTECH EXPS2
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40
1) Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24
- Best Value For Your Money
- Most Durable Scope
- Quick Target Acquisition
- Some Shooters Want Higher Magnification Levels
The Strike Eagle is a Low Powered Variable Optic (LPVO). An LPVO is ideal for fast target acquisition and shooting at close to medium ranges.
The Strike Eagle is exceptionally durable – it is built from aircraft-quality aluminum and equipped with Vortex’s ArmorTec lens coatings. It had no problem coping with the shotgun’s recoil – remaining zeroed and providing multiple accurate shots.
The magnification range is 1-8x, enabling you to shoot accurately at deer hunting ranges. The objective lens diameter is 24mm, which might seem a bit low, but the ArmorTec coatings allow for enough light transmission to provide a crisp view.
I especially like the illuminated EBR-8 reticle, which makes it easier to gauge the distance to the target when hunting deer. The Strike Eagle is equipped with a first focal plane (FFP) reticle, meaning the reticle size is correlated to the magnification. This means the reticle is small at a low magnification level and big at a high magnification level. The variable reticle size allows for a faster target acquisition rate at low magnification levels.
My Experience With Vortex Strike Eagle
I’ve used the Strike Eagle on many hunting expeditions, especially for turkey hunting. What stands out the most for me about the Strike Eagle is how Vortex combined all the features of the Strike Eagle into an easily usable and highly versatile platform.
It had no problem with the recoil of my 12 Gauge – all I needed to do was to make the windage and elevation adjustments, and the Strike Eagle remained zeroed.
If you want to increase your range and accuracy over a simple bead sight or even red dot and iron sights, then the Strike Eagle is definitely the scope to go for.
2) Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33
- Exceptional Build Quality
- Durable Housing & Lens Coatings
- Great Low Light Visibility
- Not All Shooters Like Illuminated Reticles
Leupold is known for creating extremely high-quality scopes – the VX-Freedom is no different. The VX-Freedom has all kinds of features to make it a more enjoyable aiming platform.
The first noteworthy feature is the durability of this scope. It has been ruggedized from the lens to the turrets. Apart from the aluminum housing and innovative lens coatings, the Freedom also has a smart design that disperses recoil energy away from areas where it matters most – like the lenses. This allows you to rest assured that your Leupold is more than capable of handling that shoulder-bruising energy of your shotgun.
The objective lens is 33 mm in diameter and has a magnification of 2-7x. The custom dial system makes changing magnification hassle-free and lightning-fast. The Freedom 2-7 has a crisp view, thanks to the lens coatings allowing excellent light transmission. This is one of the reasons I rated Leupold as one of the Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes as well!
Another nice feature is the FireDot illuminated reticle – providing a visible aiming point in any lighting condition. The Freedom is also extremely lightweight – weighing only 11.1 ounces, it won’t compromise the maneuverability of your shotgun.
My Experience With Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33
My experience with most VX-Freedom scopes is mainly on the rifle platform. Hence it was interesting to see how it performs on a shotgun. However, knowing how good these scopes are, I wasn’t really surprised by their performance on the shotgun.
At the end of my hunting trip, I could say with pride that I successfully hunted with a Freedom scope x slug gun combination.
I like the 2-7 more than the 3-9 (discussed below) for use on slug guns because the smaller maximum magnification is more suited for a shotgun platform.
3) TruGlo 4x32mm Shotgun Scope
- Most Affordable Scope
- Very Lightweight Design
- 4x Magnification Range
- Less Adjustability & Durability Compared To Premium Scopes
The TruGlo shotgun scope is a great scope if you are just starting out with using scopes on your shotgun. It is extremely affordable and provides a high level of reliability for the price you pay.
The TruGlo only weighs 11.4 ounces, making it extremely lightweight and ideal for your shotgun. This one of the main reasons I also rated TruGlo as one of the Best Crossbow Hunting Scopes I’ve used as well. The scope is equipped with a magnification of 4x and an adequate eye relief of 4 inches with 24 ft of field of view at 100 yards.
The scope has a diamond ballistic reticle, which I don’t really like as I feel it compromises my sight view. The TruGlo shotgun scope also has lens coatings to allow for bright and clear images. Another drawback of this scope is its durability capabilities. I found its durability to be subpar, which is probably to be expected for the price you pay of the scope.
My Experience With TruGlo
The TruGlo Shotgun Scope is probably one of the first scopes I used on a shotgun because of how cheap it is. The scope provided a clear image, and at the end of the day, I was able to bag a doe.
Overall, it is a great introductory scope to shooting with rifle scopes on shotguns and I would definitely recommend this scope as a beginner shotgun scope.
4) EOTECH EXPS2
- Best For Close Range Shooting
- Very Rugged & Durable Design
- Great Battery Life
- Less Range Compared To Magnified Optics
No shotgun scope list can be completed without throwing in a red dot or holographic sight. Many of you know the EOTech XPS and EXPS2, and might I just say the EXPS2 fits perfectly on the shotgun platform.
This holographic sight has durability written all over it. It is built from high-quality materials that allow it to be waterproof up to 10 feet and withstand severe weather conditions. The EOTech has a green reticle making it much more visible during daytime use. It is also extremely versatile, boasting 20 brightness settings.
The battery life is rated for 600 hours, but I had to replace mine for around 500 hours, probably because I use it predominantly on the highest brightness settings. What I really like about the EOTech is its compact design – allowing me to place additional iron sights on the scope mount.
My Experience With EOTECH EXPS2
As I’ve mentioned, I used the EXPS2 for more than 500 hours. I’ve used it for everything from plinking to turkey hunting and deer. Its extreme durability makes it one of my go-to sights for hunting in conditions that I know are not forgiving.
If you want a close-range, extremely durable sight, then opt for the EXPS2.
5) Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40
- Decent Build & Scope Quality
- Large Objective Lens
- Crisp Sight Picture
- Some Cheaper Scopes Have More Features
The VX-Freedom 3-9×40 is very similar to the 2-7×33. The only main differences worth mentioning are the objective size. This VX-Freedom has a 7mm larger objective lens diameter. This allows for more light to be transmitted through the scope, creating a clearer sight picture. This is why I also rated the VX-Freedom as one of the Best 22 Long Range Scopes I’ve tested as well.
Additionally, the scope is also heavier, but only by around 1 inch. Finally, the most obvious reason why you would choose this Freedom over the other Freedom is because of the higher magnification – allowing you to shoot with higher accuracy at further distances. But this also comes at the expense of the field of view, which is smaller with this Freedom.
My Experience With Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40
My experience with the Freedom 3-9×40 is mostly with deer hunting and using cartridges like the 6.5 Creedmoor or .308. From those experiences, I can confidently say that I prefer this Freedom over the Freedom 2-7×33 because of its higher maximum magnification and better light transmission.
However, for the shotgun platform, the 2-7×33 is definitely better.
What Makes A Good Shotgun Scope?
In this section, we refer to all the classes of sights. This includes red dot sights, holographic sights, and rifle scopes because the criteria that determine whether a scope is good for a shotgun are applicable to all the classes of sights.
What makes a good shotgun scope is not color or shape. Yes, aesthetics are important in deciding whether to buy the scope or not – nobody wants to look at an ugly scope mounted to your beautiful shotgun. Also, make sure you know how to use a rifle scope or shotgun scope properly!
The most important criteria in determining whether a shotgun scope is good or not are:
- Durability: Can it survive the immense recoil force a shotgun produces without the need to zero reset turrets? It should at least be water resistant, shockproof, and in some cases fog proof.
- Features: What features does the scope have to make it a better-aiming platform than its competitors? Things we like to see are multiple reticles, brightness settings, motion sensor technology, and additional recoil dispersion mechanisms.
- Versatility: This is more a combination of the prior two criteria. It is important that the features and durability are good enough to allow the scope to be used in various scenarios. The scope should also accept various mounts using an adapter plate, from a weaver to a Picatinny mount.
- Value: Value is very important to us here at HuntersHalt. We are a firm believer that you should get your money’s worth regardless of price. If a scope costs $1,500, then its features should justify the high price tag. It is also important that the scope is competitively priced with the rest of the market. Not too cheap and too expensive.
Leupold vs Vortex Shotgun Scopes
I’ve done a detailed guide on Leupold vs. Vortex scopes. Both these companies excel in making quality scopes that last. This makes it extremely difficult to identify which company makes the better scope.
However, from my experience, I tend to lean more toward the Vortex shotgun scopes than the Leupold scopes. Even though the Leupold scopes are more durable, I just find it easier to shoot with the Vortex shotgun scopes.
It is important to note that both companies’ shotgun scopes are extremely good. And deciding which one is better will ultimately depend on personal preference.
Scopes vs Red Dot For A Shotgun
Scopes are only effective when used with a slug. This is because you can shoot much more accurately at a further distance with a slug than with a buckshot or birdshot. Hence you need a scope that can provide an accurate aiming platform for that distance.
Other than that, the red dot sight is better. It has a better target acquisition rate and unlimited eye relief. It also tends to be more durable than its rifle scope counterparts. Plus, the additional rail space enables you to mount additional sights and features on your shotgun.
Best Uses Cases For A Shotgun Scope
I can think of two ideal use cases for a shotgun scope, both of which I practice.
The first use case is, of course, hunting. With a slug as your ammo, you need an aiming platform that can aim more accurately at further distances. This is because a slug enables you to take shots at animals at further distances but still ensure an ethical kill.
The second use case is range shooting. Again, a scope allows you to aim with higher accuracy, which is crucial when range shooting.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it OK to put a rifle scope on a shotgun?
What is the best shotgun optic for deer?
How much does a shotgun scope cost?
What range should I sight my shotgun scope?
Is there a difference between a shotgun scope and a rifle scope?
The Bottom Line
There you have it, an unorthodox aiming platform for your shotgun that can be highly effective when using the right equipment. Any one of these scopes listed in this article is more than capable of enduring the most powerful of shotguns. Therefore, choosing the right one depends on personal preference. Remember to always double-check the scope’s durability rating and features before buying it. As always, stay safe and happy shooting!
- Best Value For Your Money
- Most Durable Scope
- Quick Target Acquisition
- Some Shooters Want Higher Magnification Levels