Most crossbow packages come with a sight.
No matter what the quality is, the first thing most people upgrade is the optic. Optics are great for crossbows because you can tailor the weapon to the job at hand even better than with iron sights.
The 9 Top Crossbow Scopes of 2020: Outdoor Empire Reviews
These are our top recommendations for crossbows scopes of 2020:
- Best on the market #1: TenPoint RangeMaster Pro
- Best on the market #2: Barnett 1.5-5×32
- Best on the market #1: Vortex Viper XBR 2.5-10×44
- Best for the money #1: Nikon Bolt XR
- Best for the money #2: UTG 4×32 Crossbow Scope
- Best cheap: Truglo Crossbow Scope
- Best “rangefinder”: Trijicon ACOG
- Best “illuminated”: Vortex Optics Crossfire
*Looking for a specific feature? Check out our quick-reference chart below:
|Best overall||Best for the money||Best cheap|
|Product|| || ||
|Objective Lens Diameter||44 mm||32 mm||32 mm|
|Eye Relief||4 in||3.4 in||4"|
|Field of View||47-10.9 ft/100 yards||35.6 ft/100 yards||24 ft/100 yards|
|Length||12 in||8 in|
|Weight||18.8 oz||11 oz|
|Cost||$$$||Check Price||Check Price|
1. Best Crossbow Scope on the Market #1 – TenPoint Range Master Pro
The RangeMaster Pro crossbow scope is an outstanding and well thought out design. It makes sense because TenPoint also makes crossbows! That’s why the Rangemaster crossbow scope has several features that make it invaluable to hunters.
First, the RangeMaster Pro packs a variable 1.5 to 5x magnification rating. Remember, variable optics are extremely versatile at both close and long ranges. They allow you to shoot with the utmost confidence, accuracy, and safety.
This optic has an arrow drop compensating reticle. The markers are from 20 to 60 yards, and it is calibrated for bolts flying between 275 and 425 feet per second. Snap shots have never been easier, even at longer ranges! The reticle is also illuminated and features 5 different intensity settings. You also have the choice between red and green.
This TenPoint optical is designed for the hardcore crossbow enthusiast. Since the crossbow is always ready, TenPoint’s RangeMaster Pro scope ensures you have the speed necessary to make use of that always-ready advantage.
2. Best Crossbow Scope on the Market #2 – Barnett 1.5-5×32
Barnett is known for making crossbows, so it makes sense they’d dive into the world of crossbow optics. We’re glad they did, because the Barnett 1.5-5×32 is one of the best on the market!
The manufacturer makes one of the few crossbow scopes with variable magnification. This means you can change the magnification anywhere between 1.5x and 5x. Keep in mind variable optics are always a bit more expensive, bigger, and heavier. Nevertheless, they are much more versatile.
To make your shot more accurate, Barnett built aiming points into the reticle. These aiming points are designed for crossbows with a rating between 300 and 425 feet per second. In total, they go from 20 to 70 yards. You’ll feel like you can literally reach out and touch the target!
The Barnett 1.5-5×32 also sports an illuminated reticle with both red and green options. This allows you to hunt in low light conditions and make the reticle quicker to pick up. Finally, we think this crossbow scope is one of the best because archers designed it for archers!
3. Best Crossbow Scope on the Market #3: Hawke 1.5-5×32 IR SR
While you can use any ol’ scope on a crossbow, that doesn’t make them good crossbow scopes.
The Hawke 1.5-5×32 IR SR is a dedicated crossbow scope you can tune to your exact crossbow.
It has 1″ lenses, all fully multi-coated so they transmit as much light as possible. This keeps you hunting from dawn to dusk.
Then, when you start to lose your light, there is both red and green illumination available for your reticle. It’s not the brightest illumination, but it’s better than nothing.
You might be more interested in the speed selector, though. The Hawke IR SR can be set to match your crossbow’s speed from 275 fps to 425 fps.
Once set, you sight in your crossbow at 10 yards. This works with the reticle to give you 10-yard aiming points from 10 yards out to 100 yards!
This featured does come with one peculiarity, though:
The speed selector dial is also the magnification dial.
So, if you want to use the Hawke IR SR as a variable-magnification crossbow scope, you have to ignore the speed selection feature. I’d recommend using the speed selector, personally. It’ll help keep you more accurate!
4. Best Crossbow Scope for the Money #1: Nikon Bolt XR
Nikon is known for some of the highest quality optical equipment in the world. They offer dozens of specialized models for a wide range of budget. Nikon Bolt XR Crossbow Scope is one of their specialized crossbow scopes in the medium price range models.
Designed for shooting out to 60 yards, it has a fixed 3x power and 32mm objective bell. It is compact at only 8 inches long but is a little heavy weighing 11 ounces. This is a great scope that can be mounted on just about any crossbow for hunting.
Another great thing is the level of quality that you get with the usable reticle and design.
I recommend this scope to anyone who is getting started in crossbow hunting or anyone who needs a crossbow scope for general hunting.
It is legal everywhere crossbows are. It does a great job of providing a usable tool at an affordable price. You could easily spend double on other brands but not see any real up-tick in usability.
5. Best Crossbow Scope for the Money #2 – UTG 4×32 Crossbow Scope
If you want a solid optic at a good price, the UTG 4×32 Crossbow Scope is hard to beat. Recently, UTG stepped up their game and become dedicated to producing affordable and usable optics.
The 4x magnification is perfect for a crossbow, and the 32mm objective lens creates a bright and clear picture. The fixed nature of the optic’s power makes it simple. More importantly, it makes this UTG compact.
The reticle is versatile and made up of 5 horizontal lines calibrated for 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50-yards when paired with a 300 FPS crossbow. As you can probably guess, the UTG’s reticle design makes range estimation and compensation an absolute breeze!
This optic also rocks an illuminated reticle in both green and red, making it easy to use in all light conditions. Not to mention the reticle is glass etched. That means even if the battery dies you still have a usable black reticle!
The UTG 4×32 comes with some quality detachable scope rings that we really appreciate. They make mounting a breeze, and you know the optic is secure. Overall, the UTG 4×32 Crossbow Scope is a great choice for anyone that wants a great scope at a low price.
6. Best Cheap Crossbow Scope – Truglo Crossbow Scope
Truglo makes a variety of low-cost optics, and their entry into the crossbow industry was a good day for hunters on a budget! The Truglo Crossbow optic is a lower fixed power magnification scope at 4x32mm. This makes it perfect for standard crossbow ranges because you can zoom in to see what is what!
The Truglo optic is made from durable aircraft grade aluminum. Plus, it comes with a setup of rings and 4-inch eye relief. This makes the scope easier to mount on your crossbow. There is a ton of adjustment potential, so you can really dial it to your personal accuracy. Over time you will find this optic is tough, dependable, and precise.
The Truglo Crossbow Scope also comes with a cool reticle. It’s a range finding reticle, and it’s dialed into the common FPS reading for most crossbow bolts. Therefore, the reticle compensates for distance and bolt drop. Taking those longer shots just got easier!
This is not an illuminated reticle, so it’s not great for low light shooting. It is cheaper, so you must be willing to accept some compromises. That being said, the Truglo Crossbow Scope is very well made for its price. It even sports fully multi-coated lenses for a bright and clear picture!
Truglo crossbow scope is also available on:
7. Best “Rangefinder” Scope: Trijicon ACOG
Though not a rangefinder in the common laser sense, the Trijicon ACOG Crossbow Scope has lots of features that make it one of the best in the market and by far the best range finding scope.
For starters, it is one of the lightest scopes weighing 5.89 ounces. For a young shooter saving on weight, that is incredible. The unit doesn’t need a battery but runs off a fiber optic cable design that has served the military for over a decade.
How it Works
The rangefinder works by using a simple cross hatch pattern that allows you to line up the animal and then measure the distance much like using a ruler. Then use the ballistically calibrated reticle to make sure the shot is true and clean, and let your arrow fly.
- It works for both elk and deer out to 80 yards, pretty much further than anyone should be shooting a crossbow anyway.
- The illuminated reticle can accommodate arrow speeds from 300 FPS to 340 FPS, encompassing most high-end crossbows with a decent arrow weight.
If there is a downside, it is the permanently affixed M16 carry handle mount. I’m not sure why they chose to design it like this, but there are adapter mounts to put it on a Picatinny rail or standard scope bases.
8. Best Illuminated Crossbow Scope for Low Light – Vortex Optics Crossfire
There are lots of scopes out there with illuminated reticles made for low light shooting. However, there are two other factors that are just as important: low light situations and the range involved. In low light situations, you are likely shooting at closer range at a high speed. This is what lead us to choose the Vortex Optics Crossfire as the best illuminated scope.
The Optics Crossfire is a small, lightweight red dot scope. It sports a 2 MOA dot that’s ultra-small, but very precise and easy to pick up with your eye. This makes it simple and quick to get on target. Furthermore, this Vortex is shock and waterproof. Two key factors that make up a great hunting optic.
The Crossfire features multi-coated lenses for a clear, bright picture. Since it’s not magnified, you also get a very bright sight picture! In fact, this Vortex has 11 different brightness settings! Each setting allows you to see the consistently bright and refined red dot reticle.
9. Best Illuminated Crossbow Scope for Low Light – Excalibur Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope
Your standard crossbow scope reticle is good for most of the day.
When the sun starts to go down, though, you may not have enough light to tell what’s the reticle and what’s your target.
If you’re engaged in any form of night hunting, then you need a scope with an illuminated reticle!
Now, illumination can be cheaply added to some scopes to boost value without increasing the cost. But you want the best illuminated crossbow scope, not a cheap scope with illumination.
You want the Excalibur Tact-Zone.
This is a great crossbow scope, even disregarding the red or green rheostat illumination. You can zoom the magnification from 2.5x to 6x so it’s good at all ranges. Multi-coated lenses keep the visual quality high.
The scope is waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, so it stands up to rigorous hunting.
What makes it great, though, are its two key features:
The first is the Tac-Zone reticle, which has aiming aids akin to a BDC reticle.
Even better is the velocity adjustment! The Tact-Zone scope can be adjusted to match crossbow bolt speeds from 275 fps up to 410 fps to keep you on target at all ranges.
Excalibur Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope is also available on:
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing
If you’re in the market for a new crossbow optic, keep these few things in mind.
When you are shopping for an optic to top your new crossbow, start with your local regulations manual.
Carefully read the rules for archery hunters and the regulations for crossbow hunters. There’s a lot of overlapping rules in states that allow crossbows during archery season.
If electronic sights on vertical bows are banned during archery season, then an illuminated reticle or red dot sight on your crossbow will get you a nice fat ticket.
The rules are usually clear. But if they aren’t, shoot out an email to someone who can clarify. It can save you money and headache in the long run.
Point of Aim vs. Point of Impact
It’s important to remember right off the bat that crossbows aren’t rifles. The arrows they launch have the trajectory of a thrown rock, and most scopes can only predict where the arrow will go at one specific distance and closer.
Think of an optic on a crossbow like a single pin archery sight. Out to a certain distance, they work great. After that, you have a world of problems.
Weight, Bulk & Balance
The bigger the scope, the heavier it’ll be.
A big scope gathers light better. It is clearer to look through it but it has to be mounted higher. It can be difficult to get a cheek weld on the stock for proper shooting with a high mounted optic. Stick to a 1-inch tube no bigger than a 30 mm objective bell for optimal sizing.
The extra weight can be an asset though; crossbows are naturally front heavy because of the limbs. If you mount a scope low and to the rear, you can balance out the bow nicely and make it more comfortable to shoot off hand.
Types of Scopes
Red Dot Scope
There’s a certain kind of beauty in simplicity. That’s the ruling thought for red dot scopes. No magnification, no expensive ballistically calibrated reticles. Nothing but a clean, clear red dot ready to point the way to where your arrow will hit.
The nice final point of red dot sights and why they’re so popular in the military is because no matter how you look through them, wherever the dot is the round will go. This is called parallax error.
It comes out when you see the crosshair of a traditional scope bend or a black circle around the rim when you look through an optic. Red dots don’t get that and for shooting out of a treestand or while stalking it can be a life saver on an awkward shot.
Red dot sights, where legal, are often the ideal sight for crossbows because they offer a darn tough and simple aiming system that makes it hard to miss.
Of course just like glass, you get what you pay for. So if you’re looking to upgrade the sight that your package came with, this might be an area to spend a little cash.
Having a magnified optic on a crossbow seems like a great idea at first glance. Who couldn’t use a bigger looking target? It’s important to remember the rule of optics: magnification helps you see better, not shoot better.
You have to determine where you’re going to use the magnification and how much you really need it.
Crossbows just don’t shoot very far but having a little magnification can help with things like trophy identification, threading the needle through a brush or picking out the edges of game in thick brush.
Importance of Magnification
If you’re older and still want to hunt, a magnified optic may be a requirement. The appropriateness of a scope with magnification is very much a case by case bases. But you have to keep in mind that more is often not better here.
The absolute maximum range of a crossbow is about 75 yards. If you can’t hit an 8-inch circle, about the size of a deer’s vitals, at 75 yards I kindly recommend you spend more time at the range.
Ballistically Calibrated Scope
Ballistically calibrated scopes are the ones with reticle designs that predict the flight path of an arrow. Believe it or not, multi-pin sights on a vertical bow are ballistically calibrated. You have a pin for certain distances and each pin is for a different distance.
BDC reticles are exactly the same, except you can’t adjust them so you can’t go outside the parameters that the scope was designed for or it’ll be off. If you get a BDC scope then make sure you memorize which crosshair goes with which range and practice, practice, practice!
The market for crossbow sights is much larger than it was even five years ago. The major optics houses are making scopes for crossbows that are purpose driven and have special feature sets that make them go well with crossbows.
If you can’t find a scope you like and you can’t have a red dot, consider a rimfire or muzzle loading scope. Get one without a BDC and mount it up on your bow and run it.
Try to stay away from the cheap .22lr scopes because they break easy and collect water inside. But a premium muzzle loading or rimfire scope can be a last resort.
Finding the Right Scope for You
Sizing up a scope is much like sizing up a crossbow. The factors that have to be taken into consideration are the intended game, the shooter, and what ranges will the shooter encounter.
Of course, the bigger the game the more powerful the bow should be. This also means more weight and usually a greater challenge for the hunt. A scope that is lightweight and can be easily carried is suited here.
A younger or new shooter will also benefit from having a lighter scope but a bare bones approach at first is ideal. Select a scope that will allow the shooter ample magnification without hard-to-read reticles or difficult electronics sights that they’ll get hung up in the moment.
Think about who is hunting and what is being hunted before committing to a scope. Try to get hands-on with as many scopes as possible before you buy. That brand you’ve never heard of might be your favorite after actually seeing it.
More Helpful Tips
- If you have rifles, mimic the scopes you have on your guns to make it simpler.
- Have the features in mind — those you want and certainly don’t want. It’ll save you time in the long run.
- Look for scopes that offer warranties, support and rebates to help you in the future.
- Don’t be afraid to take advantage of the return policy if the scope isn’t the right fit.
- Shop around to get as many demonstrations and hands-on trials possible with different scopes.
- Learn to recognize the finer point and signs of quality on a scope. Things like finishes, detents and glass quality.
Try Before You Buy
Many outfitters and gear companies have display models that you can look at and test out before you buy. Some even have mock crossbows that you can shoulder and point at targets around the store. This is immensely helpful for several reasons.
Ordering online can give you a good idea of how big the scope is or how the adjustments work, but you can’t feel or test it first-hand. The scope is the only interface you have with the crossbow and having a hands-on demonstration in a physical store is useful.
Seek out brands that you might not have considered during your online search. More than once, I’ve seen people buy exactly what they never would’ve considered after seeing an actual model.
Know What You Need
The good thing about having a crossbow is being able to archery hunt with an optic. If you’re looking to upgrade the one that came with your package or you’re assembling your own setup, take some time and think over which optic is best for what you’re doing.
The optic is the only part of the weapon you get to interact with and it gives you all the information you get about where your arrow is going. This is one of the factors that will win you a trophy at the end of the day.