Successful hunting requires precision and accuracy. The first step to a good shot is pinpointing the target and this is where a scope comes in handy. Here’s a comprehensive guide on finding the best scope for muzzleloader.
How Does a Scope Work?
Before we get down to the nitty-gritty of how you can choose the best scope for a muzzleloader, let’s talk about how it operates and what its mechanics are. Knowing what the firearm is constructed of is one step closer to learning how to get the best one.
Objective and Ocular Lens
The objective lens on a scope gathers light in and the larger its diameter is, the more light it can pull through which will produce a brighter image. Generally, an objective lens diameter for a muzzleloader scope ranges between 32mm and 44mm.
The ocular lens is also known as the eyepiece and it works as a magnifier, zooming in on the image produced by the objective lens so the shooter can pin the target accurately. Typically, an ocular lens has a 25mm focal length, and most advanced scopes also come with a waterproof coating on the ocular lens for safety measures.
A power ring on a scope allows the shooter to adjust the magnification (zoom in or out on the target) when needed. The magnification permit is provided in the specs of the scope and they’ll generally be written as the first number.
For example, the Vortex Diamondback muzzleloader scope has a 1.75-5×32 magnification range where its minimum magnification is 1.75 and its maximum magnification is 5. The 32mm signifies the objective lens diameter which also plays a part in how large and bright the target image is projected.
Some scopes do not have variable zoom or magnification so they do not come with a power ring.
Firearms have quite the recoil which is why when a scope is mounted, the distance between the scope’s lens and the tip of the shooter’s eye is taken into special consideration and this is known as eye relief.
Besides protecting the hunter’s eyes, the eye relief also helps you view the target clearly. When the distance between the lens and the eye is correct, the field of view is bright and the image seen is clear. However, when it is incorrect, the field of view may be dark, have a black ring surrounding it or the image will be blurred and distorted.
Elevation and Windage Knobs
On a scope, an elevation knob is present on the top and allows vertical adjustment of the reticle, meaning the shooter can adjust the shot up or down. Similarly, a windage knob is fitted at the side and allows horizontal adjustment of the reticle, meaning the shooter can adjust the shot left or right.
Such fine-tuning is done in small increments, also known as ‘clicks’ which are measured in MOA or MRAD. Most scopes come with elevation and windage knobs that can be adjusted by hand but some may need a screwdriver to correct the settings.
Do I Need a Special Scope for a Muzzleloader?
In most cases, yes. Muzzleloaders do need a special scope because the heavy recoil can damage a rifle scope and its inner glass construction if the caliber of the optic is not strong enough to handle the muzzleloader’s recoil.
Generally, the larger the caliber, the better it can handle the recoil of a muzzleloader. So rifle scopes with a .308 or .270 recoil may work suitably when mounted on a muzzleloader.
Also, the construction of the scope adds an extra element of durability – the tougher the optic, the better it will be able to handle the recoil.
What Is the Best Range to Sight in a Muzzleloader?
Generally, 50 yards is the recommended range to sight in a muzzleloader. For the perfect shot placement, it is vital to determine the most effective hunting range first and then sighting in the muzzleloader by adjusting the shots up, down, or sideways using the elevation and windage knobs.
The smaller the area, the more precise the sight-in of the muzzleloader should be. At 50 yards, the scope’s projectile shoots up to 3 inches above the point of aim which allows the shooter average precision and foolproof accuracy.
What Is the Difference Between a Muzzleloader and a Rifle?
The biggest difference between a muzzleloader and a rifle is their velocity. A muzzleloader is slower much slower, resulting in a shorter hunting range. Where a rifle can effectively shoot at a range of 200 yards, a muzzleloader can only shoot precisely under 100 yards.
This is why shooters with a muzzleloader practice bringing down game at a closer range. The better the practice, the more successful the hunting will be. But knowing the effective hunting range is just the first step to shooting accurately. There’s tracking the kill, learning its vulnerabilities, and also maintaining the firearm so it performs well on the field.
How Do We Choose the Best Scope for a Muzzleloader?
Now that we’ve covered the mechanics and the basics know-how of all that a muzzleloader scope entails, here’s a brief guide on how you can choose the best scope for a muzzleloader and shoot game effectively, almost making the kill foolproof.
Since a scope’s job is to help you have a better field of view and pinpoint the target easily, it is imperative to have an optic constructed with high-quality glass.
Look for scopes labeled with fully-coated lenses, they will provide a brighter picture result as the coating on the exterior lenses is specially made to increase light transmission from the lens to the hunter’s eye.
You can also take it a step further and opt for a muzzleloader scope with multi-coated lenses in which every single lens will not only be coated to increase light transmission but it will also improve the clarity of the field of vision and cut down on glare resulting in a clear, bright and anti-reflective image.
Hunting is a field game. Having a successful kill requires protecting your firearm from nature by getting a scope that can withstand all types of weather and shock.
Search for an o-ring sealed muzzleloader scope, it is code for waterproof. Also, make sure the scope you purchase is either nitrogen or argon purged so the scope does not fog up and blur the image. For extra durability, look for a scope that has a greater recoil so the scope is not vulnerable to the muzzleloader’s heavy kicks.
One of the most important areas of consideration when zeroing in on a muzzleloader scope is its eye relief because the greater it is, the more accurate the resulting image will be. It also means your eye won’t be harmed by the muzzleloader’s recoil.
Generally, a 3 to 4-inch eye relief is recommended with an objective lens diameter of at least 35mm and an ocular lens of at least 25mm focal length. The bigger the eye box is and the greater in size the lenses are, the clearer and the brighter the field of vision will be.
Also known as elevation and windage knobs, turrets are used to sight-in or zero the scope in through horizontal and vertical adjustments.
To make sure your shots land where they were aimed, get a muzzleloader scope that makes some sound when ‘clicking’ the adjustment in place. To avoid accidental twists on the knobs, look for scopes with screw-on turret caps or elevation and windage knobs that lock into place when adjusted.
You’ll also want to make sure the scope’s turrets can be adjusted by hand. They may cost a little more but it is still better than getting out a screwdriver to adjust the setting in increments or ‘clicks’.
Scope Mount Hardware
Muzzleloader scopes can be quite expensive and considering they are a piece of vital equipment for getting a successful kill, they must be secured well to the firearm. So look for a mount that can handle the muzzleloader’s heavy recoil and rings that are able to withstand the scope’s weight.
No matter how durable the scope is, if the mounting hardware isn’t heavy-duty, the recoil itself is enough to make the glass of the optic vulnerable. Make sure to spend that extra buck, it will last a long while.
Since muzzleloaders have a smaller hunting range and a lower velocity when firing the bullet, it is better to have a smaller magnification range than a bigger one – a minimum zoom of 1x to 3x is enough to have a broad field of vision while simultaneously bringing the kill at an optimal distance to shoot accurately.
It is also important to know that a muzzleloader’s parallax is 75 yards. So if you mount a rifle scope on your firearm, make sure to adjust the parallax from 150 down to 75 or less.
Reviews of the Top 5 Best Scopes for a Muzzleloader
We’ve talked about the operations of a muzzleloader scope, its mechanics, the technicalities, and how you can choose the best one. So with all that in mind, let’s go through the top 5 expert-recommended scopes for a muzzleloader and help you zero in on the best one.
The Zeiss Conquest V4 scope comes with a high-definition glass that offers up to 90% light transmission, true to its claim. It is one of the best available in the market for traditional hunters that require a scope with a wide field of view.
The scope also performs well in low-light conditions, thanks to the company’s custom-made T coating on the lens. That isn’t all, Zeiss uses a specialized LotuTec coating on all the lenses which protects them from rain, water, and fog – allowing shooters to aim at the target precisely, keeping a clear view.
The lowest magnification of the Zeiss is 6x while the highest 24 with the objective lens diameter of 50mm. This allows hunters to fire at mid-to-long ranges with accuracy and shoot the game down in one go.
The muzzleloader scope is also lightweight so it is easy to carry around. You won’t have to worry about any strain on your shoulders or arms.
- 90% light transmission
- Zeiss T-coating for low-light performance
- LotuTec coated lenses
- Reticle #20 for long-range aim
- The magnification is excellent, view of the target is clear and unhindered
- The coating on the lens is rain and waterproof
- The turrets come with small-sized screws for adjustment
Constructed with a heavy-duty exterior, the TruGlo scope offers great aiming precision through the high-quality, fully-coated lenses. They provide extra definition in the field of view and allow hunters to shoot at a range of 50 yards and more.
Additionally, it comes with a durable rubber eye guard that is not only scratch-resistant but also does not catch glare, maximizing the security of the scope and the clarity of the view.
The elevation and windage knobs are tactile and come with caps for click adjustments, allowing shooters to sight in easily. It has a constant magnification of 4x which is more than enough when shooting at short hunting ranges with a muzzleloader.
Not to mention, the TruGlo offers a set of durable mounting rings in its Duplex model and a Weaver-style locking mechanism in its Diamond upgrade, all at a highly affordable price.
- Fully-coated lenses
- Scratch-resistant and anti-reflective rubber eye guard
- 6-8″ rimfire mount rings installed
- ¼ MOA capped turrets
- 3-5 inch eye relief
- The field of view is clear, does not fog up at twilight and the crosshair is crisp
- The eye relief is excellent and the rubber guard further protects the eye from the heavy recoil
- It may not work as a shotgun scope as advertised unless fitted with Weaver mount rings
One of the best expert-recommended muzzleloader scopes on the market, the Vortex Diamondback develops a standard of providing exceptional value at a cost-effective rate and then adding two more benefits.
It features a tough aluminum alloy exterior that protects the scope from impact scratches and breakage. On top of that, it is argon purged so no rainwater, fog, or even recoil can damage the field of view.
The aiming precision is maximized through the multi-coated lenses that project a clear and bright picture of the target, zoomed in up to 5x or zoomed out to 1.75. This is perfect for short-range shooting with a muzzleloader.
The optic zeroes in on-point and can be reset using the adjustable turrets on the side.
- Aircraft-grade, aluminum alloy exterior construction
- Argon purged scope
- Multi-coated lenses
- 1.75x minimum magnification and 5x maximum magnification
- Second focal plane dead-hold BDC reticle
- Ideal for muzzleloader shooting, the minimum magnification is 1.75 which allows hunters an optimal view of the target at short hunting range
- The scope is weatherproof – argon purging and o-ring sealing protect the lens from fog, water, and shocks
- The eye relief may be factory-set a little too forward for most shooters
A household name among hunting and firearm enthusiasts, Leupold has come out with yet another revolutionary piece of equipment and it is their VX-3i scope that offers high-performance and exceptional durability in a lightweight optic.
It is constructed of punisher-tested, aircraft-quality aluminum that lasts for ages, cleans well, and withstands any ground impact.
Additionally, the scope is coated with advanced solvents that protect the lenses and the turrets from fog, water, and the muzzleloader’s heavy recoil. It can function well in temperatures as low as -40°F and as high as 160°F.
The glass is clear, the field of view is wide and the DiamondCoat 2 improves the light transmission so the scope performs well in low-light conditions as well. The windage and elevation knobs can be adjusted easily and locked in when the optic is sighted-in to prevent accidental movement.
- 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum construction
- Water, shock, and fog proof scope
- 4.5x minimum magnification and 14x maximum magnification
- DiamondCoat 2 lens coating for increased light transmission
- ¼ MOA capped turret click adjustments
- The scope is lightweight, measuring only 13oz and allowing senior hunters to carry it around easily
- Has an excellent eye relief, and can be adjusted between 3.7 and 4.4 inches
- Does not have a parallax adjustment
Simmons Prohunter is a high-performing, best-quality muzzleloader scope that comes with multi-coated lenses that provide a bright and full image. This is especially maximized by the 3-9x magnification which allows hunters to shoot at mid-to-high level hunting ranges and lock in at zero point using the TrueZero mechanism.
The 3.75 eye relief allows hunters to place the scope in a flexible fit on the rifle or a forward-based position and have a clear-cut view of the front undisturbed by low-light and bushy foregrounds, thanks to its TruPlex coating.
All of this in less than $100 is a definite steal.
- Multi-coated lens
- TrueZero turret adjustment system
- Easy-grip raised power ring tab
- .375 magnum recoil proof
- TruPlex reticle
- Water, fog, and shockproof
- 3.75-inch eye relief
- It has exceptional recoil proofing, performing well up to a 1000 rounds without straining the hunter or damaging the scope
- The windage and elevation knobs can be locked in at zero point, preventing accidental adjustment
- Might need a few adjustments right out of the box
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Burris make a muzzleloader scope?
Yes, the Burris Scope Fullfield 3-9×40 E1 Ballistic Plex Muzzleloader is constructed with materials and mechanics that ideally fit every gun scope. The high-quality rifle scope offers exceptional glass clarity, great eye relief, and functions reliably on a real-world hunt. It is also priced at less than $250.
Can you put a red dot on a muzzleloader?
Sure, shooting with a red dot on a muzzleloader is as accurate as firing with a magnified optic. In fact, it’s better than pinpointing a target with open iron sights. It removes the added weight of having a scope mounted on the rifle, allows quick shots, and provides unlimited eye relief.
What is an inline scope?
An inline scope allows hunters to shoot at greater ranges than a magnified optic allows. One of the most recommended inline scopes is the Nikon Inline XR 3-9×40 which is a quick focus eyepiece offering accurate 300-yard shots, generous eye relief, optimum light transmission, and a wide field of view.
What is a good scope for a 50cal muzzleloader?
The best expert-recommended scope for a muzzleloader is the Vortex Diamondback 1.75-5×32 for its multi-coated lenses and bullet drop compensator reticle that allows shots as far as 500 yards. The features, mechanics, and durability it provides are better than muzzleloader scopes that are available for twice the price.
Finding the best scope for a muzzleloader is key to bringing down a game in seconds and having a feast ready at the dinner table. Know a muzzleloader’s mechanics, its best range, and the differences with a rifle scope, and your hunting skill will go from 0 to 100 in no time.