When it comes to crossbow scopes, there’s a lot of good brands out there. Selecting one can be confusing and frustrating, especially if you’re relatively new to this kind of hunting. My guess is that, right now you just want to do two things:
- Find the best crossbow scope for the money
- Mount your new scope and get on the trail again
Your time is limited and you don’t want to spend it wading through hundreds of reviews to find the right piece of equipment. Luckily, you don’t have to, because we’ve done the legwork for you. We’ve got the collective experience to know a good scope when we see one and we’ve used enough of them what’s good and what’s bad.
In the article below, we take a look at the different types and identify what you need to look for and what you need to avoid. As you probably know, not all cross bow scopes are equal, which is why you’ll only find the very best included in our top rated list below. Read on and find your perfect scope…
Top Rated Scopes
Confused by all of the options out there? Clarity is just a moment away.
The Various Types
All scopes fall into one of the above-mentioned categories: optic scopes and red dot scopes.
Red dot scopes are the most basic types of scopes, and often have no magnification features. The red (or sometimes green) dot is superimposed onto the sight image – if you are at the correct range and your scope is properly sighted, this is where your hit should land.
A good red dot scope will have multiple brightness settings in order to be able to adjust the visibility of the dot in lower brightness. Scopes without brightness settings are often subject to haloing/ghosting, meaning that the dot will appear too brightly and have a “halo” or “ghost” effect around itself.
Red dot scopes may come with multiple red dots, where each dot is used for a different range.
Optic scopes are quite similar to riflescopes, and most of them have magnification. Instead of a dot, they have a crosshair reticle. Some have a single reticle, while others feature multiple reticles that are used for different ranges. Other options of optic scopes include illumination and night vision.
What To Look For
There are several things you should keep in mind when purchasing a scope for your crossbow:
Optics & Coating – optics and coating quality play a major role in whether the scope will deliver good results or not. The quality of these two factors determines the clarity of the image. A high quality scope will bring the image into focus quickly and easily. The optics coating determines the behavior of the scope at lower temperatures – low quality coating often results in foggy optics, rendering the scope useless at low temperatures.
If you’re looking for a scope with magnification, make sure that the magnification power is equal to the power of your crossbow. The most common magnification is 3X, which is enough for shooting from 50-60 yards away. There are also models with up to 5X magnification, specifically designed for those crossbows that are able to deliver a reliable shot at longer ranges.
Light Gathering, Illumination & Night Vision
A scope should be able to gather light and create a good target, as most targets are difficult to spot, especially in low light conditions. A good contrast is also crucial, as most targets are well camouflaged and hard to differentiate from their surroundings. Those that offer illumination should have adjustable brightness settings. Those who prefer night hunts should invest in night vision (infrared), as they can work without any illumination.
Field of View
The higher the amount of terrain that is visible, the easier it is to find the target. A scope with a good balance of magnification and field of view will offer optimal conditions to find and lock onto your target quickly. For reference, a 3X magnification scope should have a 30mm barrel and at least 35 feet of view at a distance of 100 yards.
Ease of Use (Mounting + Sighting)
– the ease of mounting the scope to the crossbow depends on whether it comes with a set of rings or not. If rings are not included, you will have to purchase them separately. The rings have to be a proper fit for the scope and rail – the scope shouldn’t be able to move in any direction.
Sighting take a bit of time, but shouldn’t take more than 6 shots for a skilled archer. The formula you should stick to is that it takes 1/4” for every click (at 20 yard range) to adjust for windage and elevation. Only use scopes that follow this formula. Once you’re sighted in, it’s best to leave it like that for the remainder of the archery or hunting season.
Red Dot Pros and Cons
- + good price – can usually get a very good quality scope for a good price
- + single/multiple red dot(s) make aiming easier
- – usually without magnification
- – “halo” or “ghost” effect without proper brightness settings
Optic Pros and Cons
- + single/multiple crosshair reticle(s)
- + very good clarity
- + often has magnification and good light gathering
- – price – optic scopes often have higher prices
- – foggy optics at low temperatures without proper coating
Which Brands are Sought After?
Not all scopes are made equal, so let us ease you in by recommending several brands that deliver high quality performance, which makes them a favorite pick of many archers.
Hawke pride themselves with a slogan saying “We didn’t invent crossbow scopes, we perfected them.” And they really did. Hawke offers high quality equipment with and without illumination, where the illuminated scopes always have several illumination levels (up to 5). The optical systems work perfectly at low light settings and provide high levels of light transmission. All their range comes with magnification (1.5x – 5x), are waterproof, shockproof and rated for all calibers.
Excalibur goes back to 1983 and builds their archery equipment accessories on more than three decades of experience. Their range comes with a variety of options, such as dual red/green illuminated reticles, adjustable crosshair systems, multi dot sights, and more.
TruGlo is an established brand in the world of archery, crossbows, firearms, optics and more. They offer both red dot and optic options within their range, as well as accessories. Their scopes come with a wide variety of options, some of which include dual/tri color dot sights, as well as illuminated and infrared optic scopes.
Choosing the perfect scope for you greatly depends on your preferences – choosing between a red dot and optic depends on what you are looking for. Whether you will use it during day, during lower light conditions, or at night plays a major role on whether you will choose one with or without illumination, or opt for a infrared. Choose according to your preferences and habits, and you will not go wrong.