Best Crossbow Scopes For The Money – 2017 Top 5 Ranking
When you’ve hit the point where it is time to upgrade your crossbow scope, you want to evaluate your choices very carefully. There are a ton of scopes out there for crossbows, and some are hot while some are…not. In our reviews, we dig deep into each crossbow scope and point out the plusses and minuses each one has, but what if you’re in a hurry? In this article, I’ll go over just what we look for when determining what the best crossbow scope for the money is, but first: the top 5 models we’ve reviewed so far. Also make sure to check out our best rangefinders rankings and spotting scopes comparisons if you’re interested.
Our Top 5 Crossbow Scope Picks:
|Model||Magnification||Ideal Min - Max Crossbow FPS||Tube Diameter||Water/Fog Proof?|
|Excalibur Tact Zone|
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|2.5x - 6x||275 FPS - 410 FPS||30mm|
|Excalibur Twilight DLX|
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|3x to 6x||300 FPS - 400 FPS||30mm|
|Nikon Bolt XR|
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|3x - 32x||275 FPS - 350 FPS||25mm|
|Arrow Precision Illuminated Scope|
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|4x||285 FPS - 360 FPS||25mm|
|Parker Red Hot Scope|
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|3x||280 FPS - 380 FPS||25mm|
Best Budget Crossbow Scope
If you’re on a budget, the Best Budget Model is the Arrow Precision Multi Reticle Illuminated crossbow scope. This scope features perfect illumination settings, is easy to sight in, and will present you with a clear target image even out to 60 yards. The only drawback to the Arrow Precision Multi Reticle Illuminated crossbow scope is a complicated sighting in process required to determine the actual range of the various range compensation marker dots, but this is a one-time calibration that you’ll experience with most third-party crossbow scopes.
Best Crossbow Scope Overall
If money is no issue, the Best High End Model is the Excalibur Tact Zone Crossbow Scope. If you know crossbows, you probably know or have heard of Excalibur’s strong ethic towards putting out the best possible crossbow, and this ethic is something they’ve repeated when it comes to their crossbow scopes. The Tact Zone is adjustable for a wide variety of crossbows, and has a superb target image with perfect illumination settings. The Excalibur Tact Zone is a 2.5X to 6X zoomable crossbow scope, and oozes quality from the inside out. The Tact Zone has fully multi-coated optics and a nitrogen-charged barrel, so it’s weatherproof in all respects.
When you’re looking to add a crossbow scope to your kit, or upgrade your existing crossbow scope, size matters. You don’t want to add so much size and weight to your crossbow that it’s uncomfortable to hold on target, and you also want to make sure you can keep your investment secure when you’re not using it by putting it in a crossbow case. Some of the scopes out there are so massive that they just won’t fit in a crossbow case when they’re mounted. In our reviews, we will look at the dimensions of the scope, and let you know how well the scope fits in our crossbow cases while mounted on the crossbow. If you’re a hunter, you want the best balance between a large objective lens and a lightweight scope, preferably under a pound in weight.
What is often most important to crossbow hunters, though, is magnification. Just how powerful is that shiny new scope? More than that, though, how good is the magnified image? For a hunter, you want to walk the fine line between powerful magnification and a crisp, clear image with lots of resolution. This crispness and detail is what allows you to pick your killshot out with pinpoint accuracy, so you will want to zoom in (pardon the pun) on what we have to say about magnification.
Quality of the Optics
Next, you will want to take a look at how good the optics are. Light transmission is crucial in a scope, since the best hunting often happens during the early hours of the morning or the late hours of the evening, when lighting is poor. The better treated the optics are, the better the light transmission. For hunting purposes, you will almost always want to purchase a scope that offers fully multi-coated optics, because those will provide the best possible light transmission.
Another important facet of the scope to look at is how fogproof it is. You can tell this by whether or not the scope is nitrogen-filled; nitrogen is fairly inert, so it doesn’t change when the weather turns cold or damp. Since hunting happens mostly during the winter or early spring months, having the barrel filled with a gas that won’t fog up your lenses in cold weather is a definite gamechanger. Nothing will stop your hunt faster than not being able to see through your scope because it’s fogged up, so make sure you pick out a scope that is fogproof.
You will also want to know how good and what kind of reticle the scope has. Some scopes fail to provide range compensation markers, which makes it much more difficult to hunt from a variety of ranges. Too, some scopes don’t calibrate well to crossbows of different velocities, so we will always let you know what tips and tricks you should know about the reticle. Pay attention here, and make sure you pick a scope that will provide you with range compensation markers for all of the ranges you might take a shot from.
Light Gathering Capability
Now, we touched on light transmission, but our reviews will dig even deeper into how well the scope transmits light. If you are an early-morning hunter, you will want to focus on a scope that provides at least 92% light transmission. Good light transmission provides you with details in the sight image that other scopes won’t allow you to discern. Our reviews will provide this information when possible, or at least provide you with our opinion of how well the scope performs in the dawn or dusk hours.
You should also pay attention to whether or not the scope provides an illuminated reticle, and how good the illumination settings are on the reticle. For hunting in low-light conditions, the ability to switch to illuminated reticles is vital, and it’s even better if you can choose between red and green illumination.
Field of View
Next up, you’ll want to evaluate how good the field of view is through the scope. A generous field of view means you can see more of the terrain in the scope’s image from a hundred yards or less, which provides you with more room to scout for movement or signs of your prey in the bushes or trees. If your primary hunt with the crossbow is deer, this might not be as important as if you are hunting varmints, but field of view is still important for leading an animal.
Mounting the Scope
Now, call me silly, but I don’t want to have to take my crossbow to the shop or a bowpress every time I want to mount an accessory. If a scope requires any special modifications to your crossbow, it might not be worth the trouble. Ease of mounting is something we look at very seriously, and we pass that information on to you.
One thing that can make it tricky to mount a scope is if the scope either doesn’t come with rings or provides rings that are poor quality. Our reviews always look for this, and point out to you whether or not you’ll want to order a set of rings to go with your scope.
Ease of Sighting In
Once mounted, you will want to know how easy or difficult the scope is to sight in. Most of the time, you’ll sight in by aiming at the bull’s eye from 20 yards and adjusting the windage and elevation until you hit that spot. After that, you’ll calibrate the scope for your crossbow’s velocity, so the range compensation markers line up right.
The best scopes will allow for toolless calibration, meaning fingertip adjustments to windage and elevation. The windage and elevation adjustment knobs will turn with solid clicks, so you can know precisely how far you’ve turned it and fine-tune your aim with ease.
It’s important that the scope sight in easily, but also that it hold zero throughout hunting trips and times in between hunting. Our reviews will always tell you about our experiences with the scope holding zero, so read that information and determine how confident you’ll be that the scope is sighted in when you really need it.
After you have sighted in your scope, you will want to make sure it withstands the stress you put on it. Our reviews examine the durability of the scopes very strenuously, mainly because I’m clumsy and drop my crossbow a lot 😉
Seriously, though, sometimes the biggest joy of hunting is going to exotic (or not so exotic) locations to hunt, so you want a durable scope that will withstand the abuse baggage handlers tend to put on baggage and the items within. Our reviews will help you confidently choose a scope that is durable and functional, so you will be able to rest assured that your scope can handle anything you throw at it.
At the end of every review, we will tell you whether or not we recommend that particular scope. We don’t make recommendations lightly, so this section will let you know how good a scope is. Of course, we want you to read the whole review, but the summary of each review will provide a good round-up of the information along with our recommendation about buying or not buying the scope.