Home » Scopes » Best Scopes for Deer Hunting In 2020 – Ultimate Reviews

I may earn a small part of the sale from links to any products or services on this site. You do not pay anything extra.

Best Scopes for Deer Hunting In 2020 – Ultimate Reviews

Let’s face it. Your goal is to go deer hunting. You don’t really want to spend hours online researching scopes for your rifle. What you do want is to spend the weekend out in the wilderness, enjoying yourself.

But unfortunately, when you’re looking for the best scopes for deer hunting, there are so many options that it can be overwhelming  Technology changes quickly, and there are a number of features to consider. That’s why we have done all the research for you and put together this list of our best rifle scopes for hunting deer as well as an informative buying guide.

So, let’s go scope out the competition!

Best Scopes for Deer Hunting

Top 7 Best Scopes for Deer Hunting in 2020 Reviews

  1. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope – Best Scope for Deer Hunting for the Money
  2. Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44mm Ballistic Turret Riflescope – Best Low Light Scope for Deer Hunting
  3. NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope – Best Long Range Scope for Deer Hunting
  4. Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes – Best Deer Hunting Scope for Entry Level Shooters
  5. Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50mm Second Focal Plane Riflescope – Best Second Focal Plane Scope for Deer Hunting
  6. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC – Best Deer Hunting Scope for Lens Clarity
  7. Athlon Optics 4.5-27x50mm Ares BTR Riflescope – Best Wide Range Scope for Deer Hunting

1 Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope – Best Scope for Deer Hunting for the Money

It doesn’t matter if this is going to be your first scope, or if you’re an experienced hunter. If you’ve done any research at all, you’ve likely heard of Leopold scopes. This manufacturer produces some of the best rifle scopes available, and they have earned a reputation for quality and durability.

Is this the best Leopold scope for deer hunting?

The model #170680 VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm is what we would consider a mid-priced option, though that’s really only because the options come in such a wide price range. In all fairness, this is a fantastic scope for the price.

The lenses are coated with DiamonCoat 2 – Ion-assist. This provides a higher transmission of light and the greatest levels of abrasion resistance available. Like any good hunting scope, this model is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof.

What about the adjustments?

There are windage and elevation adjustments provided by the precision ¼ MOA finger dials. These provide a nice click to help you with precise adjustments. They are also dependable and should last a lifetime, even with extreme use.

We also rather like the standard Duplex reticle, as well as the low light performance. This is thanks to the Twilight Max Light Management System.

This scope is designed, machined, and assembled in America. It’s made from 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum, which helps to keep the weight down. In fact, it can handle a recoil up to 1000J. All of this makes it one of the best value rifle scopes for the money.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 3.5x-10x
  • Lens: 44 mm.
  • Weight: 12.6 oz.
  • Length: 12.6 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 1 in.
  • Eye Relief – Low: 4.4 in.
  • Eye Relief – High: 3.6 in.
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope
Our rating:4.9 out of 5 stars (4.9 / 5)


Pros

  • Lightweight.
  • Water, fog, and shockproof.
  • DiamondCoat 2 – Ion-assist lens coating.
  • 1/4 MOA finger click adjustments.
  • Twilight Max Light Management System.
  • Performs well under harsh recoil.
  • Backed by a Lifetime Warranty.

Cons

  • Twilight Max Light Management System has limited run time.

2 Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44mm Ballistic Turret Riflescope – Best Low Light Scope for Deer Hunting

We knew we wouldn’t be able to afford this next entry on our list the minute we saw the manufacturer. We also started trying to think of ways to explain to our boss how it went missing. It’s made by Swarovski, but it’s for hunters, not the jewelry drawer.

Did you know Swarovski made deer hunting scopes?

We didn’t, but then that may just be due to our budget. And if you want one of these Ballistic Turret Riflescopes from Swarovski, you’d best have a bit more than pocket change to spend. This is likely not even close to being the most expensive rifle scope on the market. However, it is the top on our list. And that leaves just one question…

Is it worth it? 

And we would say, yes. If you have this kind of money to spend, then yes, you’ll likely love this scope. It’s one of the best low light rifle scopes for deer hunting, in our opinion.

Ok, so what makes it worth it?

It has 3.5-18 time zoom, and an adjustable parallax and elevation knob. No matter the weather you’ll have complete precision at all times. The scope also features a classical 4W reticle with vertical hash marks in 2 MOA increments.

Plus, you also get the Swarovski quality and reliability. This scope is completely waterproof up to 4 meters deep. So, no matter how hard it’s raining, you won’t have any excuse to quit before your prey.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 3.5x-18x
  • Lens: 44 mm.
  • Weight: 15.9 oz.
  • Length: 14.3 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 1 in.
  • Eye Relief – 95 mm.
Swarovski Z5 3.5-18x44mm Ballistic Turret Riflescope
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Pros

  • Ideal in twilight or low light conditions.
  • Waterproof to 4m.
  • Classical 4W reticle with vertical hash marks.
  • Backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Cons

  • Considerably more expensive than most options.
  • Reticle lacks Bullet Drop Compensation.

3 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope – Best Long Range Scope for Deer Hunting

Another of the best long-range rifle scopes on our list is this option from NightForce. They make their model # SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope for those that like to have some distance between themselves and their target. This makes a rather good hunting scope for deer or anything else.

Why is it so expensive?

Well, look at the numbers. This baby offers magnification from 5 all the way up to 20 times. Plus, it has a larger 56mm optical lens. Combined and you get exceptional precision, incredible low light performance, and longer ranges.

This might be the best low light rifle scope for deer hunting. But, not only that, NightForce provides superb clarity. The color contrast and crip images continue throughout the range with no noticeable loss, all thanks to the larger 56mm lens.

Choice of options…

The best part of this hunting scope is there are four options to choose from. These are related to the reticle, and you have the option of MOAR or Forceplex reticle. And then the choice of illuminated or not. We should also mention that we really like the ZeroSet feature, which allows you to quickly return to your chosen zero no matter how many elevation adjustments you’ve made.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 5-20x
  • Lens: 56 mm.
  • Weight: 30.5 oz.
  • Length: 15.2 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 30 mm.
  • Eye Relief – 3.5 in.

Pros

  • Great for long-range hunting.
  • Water, fog, and shockproof.
  • ZeroSet Technology.
  • Optional illuminated reticle.
  • 80 MOA of elevation adjustment.

Cons

  • On the heavy side – big lenses are heavy.
  • Rather expensive compared with others.

4 Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes – Best Deer Hunting Scope for Entry Level Shooters

Now, if you’re on a budget, don’t let the above listings scare you away. You can also get a good hunting scope at a reasonable price point. One such option is produced by Vortex optics.

Is this the best rifle scope under $500?

When you consider the price and the options it’s hard not to call this the best rifle scope for entry-level shooters. The Diamondback Riflescope range includes a few different magnifications and lens options, but we focused on the 1.75-5x32mm model.

If you’re looking for a short-range deer hunting scope, then you might love this option. It doesn’t offer the same zoom capabilities as others in our review. However, it’s one of the best budget scopes for deer hunting.

What about features and durability?

We like the Dead-Hold BDC reticle. It’s great for hunting and equally efficient for the range. We also appreciate the metal on metal precision turrets. You can zero reset after sighting in, and it’s much more precise than expected for the price point.

Well, this scope does have a solid one-piece tube, which has a hard-anodized finish. It’s shockproof, and the Argon purged chamber is waterproof and fog proof. We also like the fully multi-coated lenses. They provide bright and clear images all day long. It can be hard to compare with the above options, but we would consider this the best cheap rifle scope for deer hunting.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 1.75-5x
  • Lens: 32 mm.
  • Weight: 12.08 oz.
  • Length: 10.2 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 1 in.
  • Eye Relief – 3.5 in.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
Our rating:4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)


Pros

  • Great entry-level hunting scope.
  • Water, fog, and shockproof.
  • ZeroSet Technology.
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle.
  • Metal on metal precision turrets.
  • Backed by a Lifetime Warranty.

Cons

  • Only offers minimal magnification.
  • Not as good in low light as other scopes.

5 Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50mm Second Focal Plane Riflescope – Best Second Focal Plane Scope for Deer Hunting

Another option from Vortex Optics is their Viper series. This line will run you a fair bit more money, but it’s well worth it if you’re a seasoned hunter. We looked at the HS LR 4-16x50mm Riflescope, and this is what we thought…

Are you looking for exposed turrets?

One of the best features of the Viper HS LR is the exposed target-style elevation turrets. These help you dial in elevation at extended ranges. Plus, the CRS Zero Stop helps you to return to zero, no matter how many revolutions you’ve notched up on the turret.

The Viper HS LR is Vortex’s Hunting and Shooting Long Range rifle scope. That makes it a good deer hunting scope, but does it make the best rifle scope for the money?

When wind and rip are crucial, you’ll be happy you went with Viper…

The second focal plane and long magnification range allow you to extend your shooting range and account for bullet drop and the wind. We also like that they’ve included the same Dead-Hold BDC reticle that we loved on the other Vortex Optics scope we reviewed.

But what makes this model cost so much more? Well, there are a few upgrades. These include an advanced optical system known as XD Glass. This gives a sharp image that remains clear from edge to edge. There are also XR multi-coated lenses to capture the most light as possible.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 4-16x
  • Lens: 50 mm.
  • Weight: 21.4 oz.
  • Length: 13.7 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 30 mm.
  • Eye Relief – 4 in.
Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50mm Second Focal Plane Riflescope
Our rating:5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


Pros

  • XD lens elements.
  • Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS).
  • XR fully multi-coated lenses.
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle.
  • ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating.
  • Backed by a Lifetime Warranty.

Cons

  • Doesn’t provide the clearest image at longer ranges.

6 Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC – Best Deer Hunting Scope for Lens Clarity

We all know that Nikon are well known for crafting top quality lenses and electronic systems. Luckily for us, they have thrown all of their expertise into the Buckmaster II Riflescope. This is one of the best affordable rifle scopes for deer hunting on the market.

What do you need in a scope?

Well, we would like to clearly be able to see and track our prey. Luckily, the Buckmaster II provides just that. This scope will give you the brightness and clarity of Nikon’s fully multi-coated lenses. There is also a 100-yard parallax setting, and you get Nikon’s popular BDC reticle. This brings you an extremely bright image that you can easily track.

The Buckmaster has long been a favorite, and the new version features precise hand-turn adjustments for 1/4 inch at 100 yards. Plus, you’ll love the Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. You can easily determine the exact aiming point on your scope’s reticle for specific yardages. Not only that, but it can also be consistently precise when taking your ammunition and load into account.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 3-9x
  • Lens: 40 mm.
  • Weight: 13.1 oz.
  • Length: 12.3 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 1 in.
  • Eye Relief – 3.6 in.
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC
Our rating:4.7 out of 5 stars (4.7 / 5)


Pros

  • XD lens elements.
  • Nikon’s fully multi-coated lenses.
  • 100-yard parallax setting
  • Nikon’s BDC reticle.
  • Spot On Ballistic Match Technology.
  • Backed by a Lifetime Warranty.

Cons

  • Not as tough as other options.

7 Athlon Optics 4.5-27x50mm Ares BTR Riflescope – Best Wide Range Scope for Deer Hunting

The final option on our list of the best scopes for deer hunting is made by Athlon Optics. Here we have their Ares BTR Riflescope. This is a good hunting scope with a couple of key differences.

The ultimate in tolerances…

When it comes to quality manufacturing, there is good, and then there is precise. This scope has been constructed using CNC machinery with a tolerance level of +/- 0.0001mm. This provides the most accurate power settings and some of the smoothest magnification changes of any scope available.

We are also big fans of the First Focal Plane reticle. This stays the same throughout the power settings, shrinking and enlarging as you zoom in and out. We much prefer this for deer hunting to a second focal plane design, but it is a matter of personal preference.

What about the lenses?

Yes, the lenses are also top-notch. The HD glass provides the highest contrast, light transmission, and some of the sharpest images we’ve seen. There is also a Precision Zero Stop System that allows you to set your zero and easily return to it. This is a very nice feature and not one you usually find on scopes at this price point.

Besides all of that, we also like the wide range of zoom that is offered. It’s rare that you can find a quality scope that zooms from 4.5 times all the way to 27 times magnification. This truly is one of the top scopes for deer hunting.

Specs

  • Magnification Range: 4.5-27x
  • Lens: 50 mm.
  • Weight: 27.3 oz.
  • Length: 13.8 in.
  • Maintube Diameter: 30 mm.
  • Eye Relief – 3.9 in.
Athlon Optics 4.5-27x50mm Ares BTR Riflescope
Our rating:4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)


Pros

  • APLR3 FFP IR MOA glass etched reticle.
  • Precision Zero Stop System.
  • Exposed Direct Dial Turrets.
  • Wideband fully multi-coated lenses.
  • XPL lens coating.
  • Wide range of zoom provided.

Cons

  • Considerably heavier than some other options.

Best Scopes for Deer Hunting Buying Guide

There are a lot of options out there in the running to be labeled as the best deer hunting scope. Some of the scopes reviewed could be classed as the best all-around hunting scope, while others are the best low light deer hunting scopes.

Best Scopes for Deer Hunting Buying Guide

To decide the best scope for you, first, you need to determine a few priorities…

We normally do not put the price at the top of our list, but this time we felt we had to. After all, there is a very big difference in price between some of these products. Before you can really start shopping for a new deer hunting scope, you’ll need to set a budget. If you don’t, things can quickly and easily get out of hand when shopping for the best deer hunting scopes.

Price

You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good scope, but you will if you want an amazing one. The difference in lens clarity, low light visibility, precision, durability, etc. must be considered when comparing a $150 and a $1500 scope.

We don’t advise you to spend too much on your first scope. At the same time, if you’re passionate about hunting, it can be worth spending a bit more on a product you can grow into.

Scope Formula

If you can look at the formula for a scope (example: 3.5-10x40mm) and know what it all means, then you truly are an experienced hunter. For those that are new to this, let us help you break it all down.

As you likely noted in the first scope we reviewed (and the rest actually), there is a number sequence for each scope. This is the power of the scope and tells you how much magnification the scope provides, and the size of the lens.

Lens Magnification

So, the example from the first product on our list above is 3.5-10x40mm. Here, the scope provides a magnification of anywhere from 3.5 times up to 10 times from the original size of the target. The 40mm refers to the size of the objective lens through which you are viewing.

Now, take a second look at each of the products we reviewed. You’ll note there is a huge amount of variation in how much magnification a scope provides. Thus, your hunting style will greatly affect the scope you choose.

Short-range hunters will not need a rifle scope with a low magnification. And it is not worth spending more to get a higher magnification that you will rarely use. However, if you like to shoot prey from a greater distance than you will need a higher amount of magnification.

Size of Lens

Best Scopes for Deer Hunting Reviews

The #mm gives you the size of the lens. Larger diameter objective lenses will offer greater light transmission. However, you should check a few other aspects of the lens before making your decision. The clarity of the lens and the coatings given will also greatly affect the scope.

You’ll want to ensure that you can clearly see your target, no matter the light conditions. It’s especially important you ensure you have a clear image in low light if you intend to hunt with the scope during dawn and dusk. After all, most animals are most active when the light is poor.

The size of the lens is also vital to the function of the scope…

While larger input lenses have the advantage of aperture ratio, they aren’t always ideal. While larger lenses will afford wider fields of view, they also much heavier.

Eye Relief

This term refers to the maximum distance between the scope and your eye, which allows you to still see clearly. Due to the recoil issue, you need to leave space between your eye and the scope. If you don’t, you’ll end up with one nasty headache or far worse.

Weight of Scope

After all, you will be carrying the rifle and scope around with you for an extended period. You don’t want to miss a shot because your arms are already tired when Bambi finally makes an appearance.

Reticle Style

Top Scopes for Deer Hunting Review

The reticle is the lines on the lens that allow you to sight your target. Most scopes reviewed tend to have either a standard or a tactical-style reticle, also known as cross-hairs. Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) reticles are another favorite for deer hunting.

Standard cross-hairs are generally preferred for shooting targets at shorter distances. Tactical cross-hairs have marks along the lines for using the scope as a range finder. These are often preferred by hunters.

Red Dot Scopes

This is great for quick target acquisition. Often with red dot scopes, there is no need for high power magnification. You’ll be able to clearly see the impact point.

Weatherproofing

Yes, this one is obvious. You never know what conditions will be like when you’re out hunting or at an outdoor long range. Make sure you don’t regret your purchase, get something with adequate water, fog, and shock protection.

Warranty

The better the warranty, the less likely you are to have an issue with your scope. The less likely you are to have an issue, the more likely you are to make that kill. We would always recommend choosing a scope with a solid and long-term warranty.

Not just Hunting for Deer?

No problem, we have scopes for all your needs.

So, take a look at our reviews of the Best Long Range Rifle Scopes, the Best Scopes for 17HMR, the Best Scopes .30-30 Lever Action Rifle, the Best 1000 Yard Scopes, and the Best Scope for Savage 220 currently available.

Or, you may also be interested in the Best Scope for .22-250, the Best Scout Scope, the Best 1-6x Scope, the Best Scopes for .30-06 Springfield, and the Best Scope for Marlin 336 on the market 2020.

However, if you also have an air rifle, check out our reviews of the Best Air Rifle Scopes.

So, what are the Best Scopes for Deer Hunting?

There may be a lot of options to choose from, but at least you now know quite a bit more about your perfect scope for hunting deer. And we hope that the above buying guide and product reviews have helped you to narrow down your options.

However, if you still can’t make up your mind, we would recommend the…

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 4-16x50mm

It’s far from being the most expensive scope on our list, but it’s one of the clearest and most precise options that should perfectly suit most deer hunters’ needs.

Happy and safe shooting!

Leave a Comment