Best Rifle Scope For Deer Hunting

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How To Choose The Best Rifle Scope For Deer Hunting

Today we are going to adjust the magnification and zoom on in, on the best rifle scope for deer hunting.

There is a heap to choose from and much like us deer hunters, rifle scopes come in all shapes and sizes, magnifications and most importantly for ultralight hunters, weight.

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Then to wrap up I’ll share with you my favorite scopes for deer hunting up to 300 yards along with my top pick for long range shooting for the mountain hunter.

Are Expensive Scopes Worth The Money

99% of the time the answer to this is, yes.

There’s a familiar saying that hunters and long-range shooters often use when discussing optics and from experience, this does ring true. When purchasing rifle scopes, binoculars and spotting scopes “you get what you pay for”.

Simply put, the optical experience on higher-end products are worth every cent. Not only do you see things with greater clarity. There is less eye strain and most importantly you’re able to pick up animals easier and more frequently than you otherwise would.

For this reason, if you’re in a buying mindset I strongly urge you to stretch your budget as far as you can and buy the best rifle scope you’re able to afford. In terms of quality here are the brands I rate for quality in order. Each of these will have a scope in your buying bracket.

Best Hunting Rifle Scope Brands :

  • Swarovski
  • Leica
  • Burris
  • Zeiss
  • Leupold

To reinforce this point just last week I was mountain hunting with my best bud. He asked to look through my rifle scope (Burris) to glass into the next catchment. As soon as it was up to his eye he was flooding me with questions.

“How much did you pay for this?” “Wow, the clarity and eye relief is amazing”. He’s right it is amazing, but do you know what? $1900 is also a lot of money for a lot of hunters.

For more than 10 years I rolled around the hills with a crusty Leupold Rifleman 3-9x40 and I shot plenty of deer. Knowing what I know now, do I wish I had invested in a better quality scope? Heck yeah!

But when I dropped $300 on my scope it was early on in my hunting journey and this was significantly better than what I had. At the time it was also the best I could afford and hey, it's served me well and I still love it.

Best rifle scope for deer hunting pin

So if you're just beginning hunting and you're in the process of understanding the pros and cons of the calibres and your considering a packaged deals that the various outfitters offer.  

A better option in my mind is to pick up a good second-hand rifle like a Tikka T3 or Remington 700 and invest as much as you can on the best quality scope you can afford.

Stop and consider this. The rifle brand and calibre you select should be secondary to the quality of scope you choose.

Best Scope Magnification For Deer Hunting

For deer hunting, the best size rifle scope is going to be in a variable 3-9X40.

This is also referred to as three to nine power scope and allows the hunter to adjust the magnification to the conditions and terrain they are hunting. On three power the deer you see through the scope will appear three times (3x) nearer than it will with your naked eye.

Set to nine power (9x),will mean the deer you are viewing through the scope is going to appear to be nine time closer than it will to your naked eye. The fourty (X40) is just the size of the objective lense diameter in millimeters.

Try to avoid the temptation to buy a scope with a 32mm objective lens as in low light conditions you will find it limits your hunting time in the first and last hours of light.

The bigger the objective lens is, the more light it captures, however, I have found the step up to a 50mm objective doesn't offer much in the way of benefits and in my view the (x40) will suit most hunters needs.

With a variable powered scope, you have the ability to adjust the magnification power to the conditions you ar hunting. For example you will find that 3-4 power is perfect for hunting in the woods where any encounters with deer are likely to be at close range or your shots are on a moving target.

Shots at longer ranges like 400 - 600 yards 8 - 9 power allows you to zoom right in and aim small on the kill zone.

What Kind Of Scope Do You Use For Deer Hunting

There are three main categories of scopes for deer rifles:

  • Open sight
  • Fixed magnification scope
  • Variable magnification Scope

In my view the variable magnification scope is hands down the best best option. But we will touch on all three so you can decide for yourself what’s going to best suit your hunting needs.

Open sights / Iron sights

Open sights are an older style of scope and these are found most commonly on older, heavier rifles. A modern day example can be found on lever actions like the Remington and the Marlin.

They have their uses but are best suited to close quarter hunting like hog hunting over dogs. They are especially good for picking off bigger boars that are bailed in tight scrub or if the hog is too big for the dogs to hold. The V sight typically has an adjustment for ranges of 100-300 yards with anything past this requiring a bit of guesswork.

Fixed power scopes

Offer single magnification and interestingly have a long history of use in long range and sniper applications. Fixed power riflescopes have a wider field of view than the more popular variable powered scopes and are much lighter, smaller in size.

The other benefits too for example, because they have less moving parts they are more robust making them more reliable. When you are looking for a fixed magnification scope try and find one that is 10x as this will be a great middle of the road magnification.

10x will allow for good target acquisition at shorter ranges whilst having sufficient magnification to still be effective at longer reaches of your calibers range.

The only other thing I want to add to this is, fixed power scopes because they have less moving parts they tend to offer a higher optical quality and with the simpler mechanism provide greater light transmission.

Variable Magnification Scopes

Variable magnification scopes are what 90% of all hunters will have attached to their rifles. The reason for this is they allow the hunter to tailor the level of magnification to the conditions they are hunting in.

A lot of my hunting is done in areas where the terrain is varied.

On any given hunt I could be stalking through a forests where encounters with deer are likely to be at close quarters or moving shots. This is where It makes sense to have my scope set to a low power say 3 (3x) or 4 (4x).

This gives me a wide field of view, so i'm not struggling to find the deer in my scope as i bring it up to take a shot and the magnification isn't so strong that it feels unsteady.

As i move through the hunting area there are small openings where i am able to look across the valley to the adjacent mountain face and there are good opportunities to stretch the legs of my caliber and take a shot out to 400 - 500 yards.

Because the deer is much farther away, with my scope adjusted to 9 power (9x) my scope field of view is plenty wide enough to locate my target. It also means that with the right amount of hold over or height adjustment on my scope the deer is big enough to accurately place my crosshairs exactly where i want the bullet to go.

What is the best rifle scope for 300 yards

If you're looking for the best rifle scope for 300 yards you going to be spoilt for choice and perhaps a little overcome with the selection you have available to you.

Most of the top brands I have listed above will have options in the $200 - $500 bracket and the optical experience across these will be similar.

A variable powered scope that is 3-9x40 is going to best suit this range and also give you plenty of scope should you find yourself wanting to shoot out past 300 yards.

Leupold would be our top pick and they have good options available with two that spring to mind. These are the :

VX•R Patrol 3-9x40mm

Leupold VX•R Patrol 3-9x40mm rifle scope for meadium range shooting
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The VX•R Patrol 3-9x40mm comes in a 30mm tube is a great middle of the road scope that has all the features you would expect on higher priced scopes.

The ballistic turrets have a 1/10th MIL click adjustments for windage and elevation so you can make quick adjustments in the field.

And for the hunter that has taken the time to develop an accurate round for their rifle, this scope won't disappoint. Not only is the VX•R Patrol Accurate it also gives you the confedence to shoot out to your calibres limits.

If you're looking for something a little simpler (without the MIL adjustment) then it's hard to look past another of Leupolds Center fire scopes.

Rifleman 3-9x40mm

Leupold Rifleman 3-9x40mm rifle scope for centerfire rifles
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Not only is the Leupold Rifleman is tough and reliable, but it also adds up to 10 extra minutes of shooting light in low light conditions and eliminates 80% more glare-producing stray light than its nearest competitor.

I broke 2 rifle scopes before I bought this one when I was 26. I am now 38 years old and this scope still sits atop my 30-06. I have put my rifle through a lot of abuse and, I doubt many variable power scopes on the market could take what I have put this thing through.

My Dad still shakes his head when I talk about rolling down the mountain with my rifle strapped to me. I stopped worrying about it a long time ago and just hunt.

If your looking for a scope that is affordable and has great optics and can take a bit of rough treatment then look no further than the Rifleman. You won't be disappointed.

What is the best rifle scope for long-range shooting?

Leupold has some great options for long-range deer shooting, however, we have fallen in love with the Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 BT (ballistic Turrets).

Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 BT

Swarovski Z5 3.5-18X44 BT Long range rifle scope with ballistic Turrets
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This is a phenomenal optical instrument, precision, refined yet rugged. This is the scope we have been looking for, for decades and our minds have really been stretched by this Swarovski offering.

What we also love about this scope is the ability to order a load specific PBC turret from Swarovski, that is specific to your scope, rifle and round. When a shot is on, this makes elevation adjustments super fast without the need to look at drop charts and calculating clicks.

This isn't a cheap, but with this stunning scope "You get what you pay for" .

Thanks for making it to the end of this article!! At HUL we are all about sharing the knowledge we collectively have so others can learn from our experiences.

For Gun Saftey, you can also check out our review of the Best Long Gun Safe

We'd really love it if you would leave a comment below, telling us, the scope you currently shoot with. The calibre rifle it's fitted to and of course why you love it.

Hot Barrels !!