When selecting a scope sight system as applied to a muzzleloader, there are definite considerations that need to be addressed.
First of all, not every muzzleloader is suitable for mounting a scope upon. Some muzzleloaders are traditional models the use cap and ball, or even a further throwback as in the flintlock gun. These are considered traditional muzzleloaders and as such the shooters tend to stay with the very old school methods and use of the guns.
There are shooters in various camps that actually shot the traditional guns and also the more modern state of the art muzzleloading rifles as well. I happen to be one of the later types as I shoot the traditional Hawkin 50 in a percussion cap lock gun, and also two different advanced in line muzzleloaders as well.
The first is a T/C Encore with iron sights ( required by law in South Dakota), and the second is a Remington “Ultimate Muzzle Loader” in a Model 700 Remington bolt action that shoots double the power charge of any other current guns offered for big game hunting. That gun is used during the regular high powered rifle deer season which is legal in South Dakota as applied to a scope, and as such has a Leupold Gold Ring 3-9X40 glass sight that carries the indicated high magnification, and also the big objective lens as well.
This muzzleloader has taken two deer at long range. One at 178 yards ranged, and a second at exactly 200 yards laser ranged.
When muzzleloaders start to shoot like that some folks tend to believe they need to be in a class all by themselves. These believers are the traditional muzzleloader crowd, and they may have a good point right there.
The fit set of glass sight I will review as applied to the muzzleloader rifle will be the scopes used for the super long range work becoming popular today where and when these systems can be used for hunting.
I will add the after shooting with the inventor of the Johnson in line bolt action rifle on targets to 300 yards, and then being informed by him that the gun can and is shot on steel targets to ranges greater than 300 yards. I became a believer in the element of precision muzzle loading as a very effective and accurate sport unto itself.
Best Muzzleloader Scopes – New Products Updated
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40 Sabot Ballistics Reticle
Drawing from my experience, this Leupold is designed for shotgun or muzzleloader and carries a special sub tension system that allows the shooter to look through the objective lens and used dots on the crosshairs to compensate for elevation drop to some extended range limits. ( Depending on the exact grain weight and velocity of the projectile being fired.)
This scope is using by name the Leupold “ Ultimate Slam” sighting system, carries a nice matte finish for not glint effect on a bright sunny day when in the field, it is very close to the older model I have on my in line bolt action Remington Model 700 50 cal.
Waterproof and fog insistent as well the main tube is Leupold designed one piece construction and the material used is aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminum. This scope carries a full lifetime warranty as well.
Our test indicated that light control is offered up by the brand “ Twilight Management System” that bleeds of negative light issues and keeps the image clear and sharp with no fringe fade, or color glints, etc.
The turret adjustments are in 1.4 MOA with finger click control. At 12.9 inches in length, the scope is a good fit on a full size muzzleloading rifle.
Elevation adjustment 60 MOA ( 17.5 MILS) and a windage adjustment of 17.7 MOA.
Eye relief on low power 17 inches. This is critical for heavy recoiling muzzleloaders shooting full house loads and big bullets.
2. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn, Circlex Reticle
Shooting several scopes in the Banner series and one of them on a T.C Encore 50 caliber muzzleloader I can attest to the fact that Bushnell builds a sold working level glass sight that can take a nasty pounding all day long for years on end and stay in the game.
I discovered after using the Bushnell Banner when hunting the timber country in the Back Hills during the regular deer season I have shot many winter meat deer with that gun and I have always be amazed by the simplicity of the Bushnell scope and how well it performance in sleet storms, heavy snow, deep cold, or hot weather. She is not a massively long range system, but my “ meat” deer for the table are never more than 75 yards or less downrange.
The scope uses Bushnell HD glass which is a good quality product for a hunting scope. The main tube, turrets and bell adjustments forward and back are well made from quality materials as well. This Bushnell in terms of a working level hunters scope is a real value for the money you put down on the gun counter.
The DDB brightness settings and engineering is real even at a modest price tag. The sub tensions are set up for muzzleloader ranges and sighting correction values when required. ( Circle-X.)
Scope length 11.5 inches. Great size for most rifle receivers and break open, models as well. Capped turrets and one inch tube size. Standard rings and bases apply here.
3. Vortex Crossfire II
In this scope, we have a BDC reticle that is called “ Dead Hold”. I used this exact system to 300 yards on steel targets with a Johnson rifle some years ago.
The sight makes use of small rings that are placed as points along the vertical line in the reticle sub tension display. Learn the drop factor of the rings, place the selected ring on the target that fits the exact range and drop a couple of pounds off the trigger. After putting it to the test I found “game over” almost every time if the shooter is doing his or her part.
Actually and I have stated this previously in other reviews being my old friend and editor now departed actually invented the system and was never given a dimes worth of respect or credit for his development of the sight. That’s life I guess? The lesson here is never draw a picture of an idea on a napkin when flying across country on an airplane. You never know who is sitting next to you.
Based on my firsthand experience, I found this scope is well built, carries a good fair market price that gets a hunter into a shooters scope designed for muzzleloader ranges regarding moderate bore guns and loads. This scope retains the long eye relief, hard surface coating on the one piece aluminum tube for tough fieldwork, and ample turret elevation for the long drop shot using heavy bullet weights ( 60 MOA elevation adjustment)
While I am not a big fan of the BDC reticle system on my center fire high power rifles, I do like the system as applied to a muzzle-loading rifle.
4. TRUGLO TRU-Brite 30 Series
Here we have a 1-6x power scope that is using a lighted reticle, dual color illuminated ( red or green) in a 24mm main tube using at a chopped bell housing design. Compact in terms of design, but full of add-on features that work in the field.
When I trialed the Tru-Brite I found this is an easy scope to talk about here as I shoot it on a Remington 870 slug. Buckshot special for both light deer and yukkutz hunting. The scope makes use of adjustable turret settings on a military style open MOA turret. Right up my alley to be sure.
At this very point in time, I am shooting this scope and will be in another two hours in terms of testing new barrels I design for quiet shooting ( suppressed ) situations. Also running turkey loads for spring shooting. What has this to do with muzzleloaders, everything because the scope is a good solid choice for timber hunting big game with a muzzleloader and I tend to shoot the daylights out of it on my test equipment here at BR&D. At my place if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t stay around the shooting bench for long.
This sight comes with its own full rail mount and all it needs is a base (Weaver-style rail) Tack it on in minutes and you are ready to zero and shoot the glass sighting system.
My investigation found that at its very reasonable price tag, this is a meat hunters tool of the first order at a budget working man price.
Large turret settings, large handle for power shifting on the fly, and a well designed sub tension lens system make this a good field application sight for a medium range muzzleloader rifle.
5. Hi-Lux CMR 1-4X24mm Close Range
In this Hi-Lux scope, we have an illuminated reticle in green light that I found is designed for close range shooting as in timbre hunting. The scope is compact so that it will make a good fit on a smaller muzzleloader frame as found on some break open action models.
This scope makes use of open ¼ MOA turret adjustments for on the fly elevation or windage changes, and it is built as a larger 30mm tube system with one piece main tube construction.
I have shot this scope and save for the fact that it and others like it are short on field peripheral vision capabilities the scopes are effective. The scope is built well, uses good glass and is weather proof to the last detail.
6. Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24 X 50
My research found that we have a different turn in a rifle glass sight. The scope is a major league big rifle type glass sight and is the best fit to a muzzleloader in the in line designs that is set up for very heavy loads and long range work.
The Remington Ultimate like mine is a good example of a solid working fit, as many of the new custom built in line rifles with some even using smokeless power versus the traditional back or substitute blends are becoming popular among front suffer rifle shooters.
This scope retains a 30mm main tube built of aircraft grade aluminum, carries an illuminated reticle, and mounts tactical turrets in MOA graduations. The scope will fit the need to the longest ranges the new high performance muzzleloaders can send a bullet accurately.
The scope is set up in a hunting style second focal plane ( SFF )
At this time I am shooting this very scope on a Mossberg Scout rifle in 308 Win during a test phase covering Sig ammunition development. If needed I would make a switch to my Remington Ultimate in a New York minute.
7. Burris Droptine
Burris offers a great general purpose scope that meets the needs of a muzzleloader deer hunter in that it is a 3-9X40mm objective and power which meets about 99% of a muzzleloader needs down range Reticle sub tensions are pre-set of centerfire rifles, but that is a simple fix by mapping out the DOPE on the scope to your given muzzle load charges and bullet grain weight being used.
The primary point is that the scope has MOA dots to allow hold over which at any major range extension is critical when shooting the rainbow trajectory associated with the 45 or 50 caliber muzzleloader rifle today.
The scope is a bit compact and as such lightweight. In terms of field effectiveness, the scope is a sold medium range ( current range options considered ) rifle sight which fits the need of the muzzle loading shooter well.
Burris offered a full lifetime warranty with this scope. After trying it out the Droptine I found it’s hard to go wrong at a very reasonable price. In this case, you do not have to sell the farm to hit a deer with a glass sight.
8. Traditions Performance Muzzleloader Hunter Series
Here is a scope offered by a muzzleloader rifle company. Traditions is a well establish outfit and I am sure after my field tests that even at a budget price the scope will do the deal just fine for average ranges and normal hunting conditions.
I have shot the muzzleloader and even taken some longe range whitetail with these guns on industry hunts set up to test powers, primers, and Traditions muzzleloaders.
The scope is multi-coated regarding lens glass which is designed to pull in available light even in low light conditions, uses a one piece gas-filled main tube on a one inch construction size, and retains a one inch eye relief so as to accommodate the recoil of heavy loads in a muzzleloader.
The scope also includes a complete set of rings in the Weaver-style that fit CVA, Winchester, Remington, Thompson Center, and Knight round barrel in line muzzleloading rifles.
This scope is a 3-9X40 magnification unit and I have shot the scope again on industry events with no issues whatsoever.
9. TRACT TORIC 3-15X50 – Good Long Range Hunting
Moving back to the big long range glass that will fit the requirements of the ultra high performance muzzleloaders coming into the picture today. TRACT offers this scope in a high magnification model with a massive 50mm objective lens.
This scope is a long range scope and like others we have several of them here at BR&D and use them in the field on a regular bases.
I shoot this very scope to 800 yards most of the summer months and hunt mountain marmot in the high country with this scope as applied to the .224 Valkyrie cartridge. As a muzzle loading glass sight it is best reserved for use on the new super high velocity long range self stuffers versus the tight shooting woodland model guns.
After testing, I found the glass quality in this scope is about standard, and target fade or long range target distortion is well controlled here. Turret settings are positive and repeatable as set up in the 1/4” MOA click design.
The sub tensions which carry elevation and windage corrections are made using the etch glass process. Never move or drop off the screen like the old days when crosshairs were handset to a lens surface.
Eye relief is at 4 inches, and reticle design is in the BDC system which is ideal for muzzleloading long range work. Zero stop settings will return to the correct zero when turret settings are moved, and the scope carries a full lifetime warranty.
This scope is perfect for the use of a Remington Ultimate, or the Johnson designed turn bolt big rifle designed muzzleloaders.
10. TruGlo 4x32mm Compact
The final scope on this list of glass based muzzleloader tools is another compact and budget rated scope that will do the deal when hunting timber, swamps, or other tighter shooting situations.
When considering these requirements remember this, most hunters never shoot a deer or small game critter much beyond 50 yards per my expertise. Sorry for all those advanced range estimating marvels out there but those are the facts.
This TruGlo scope when mounted on a standard type in line or other related types of muzzleloaders is quite workable to range that a centerfire shooter would consider with a 30-30 Winchester cartridge and a Model 94. (Read our best scopes for 30-30 Winchester here)
This scope at 4x32mm can handle slugs on shotguns and as such is right in line for most muzzleloading rifle requirements as well.
The little budget scope is fully coated in terms of lens surfaces, retains a rubber eye guard to fight off recoil eye ringing, and the Duplex model in this scope also offers the shooter a set of mounting rings as well. A move to the Dimond model upgrade and the mounting system increases in strength to include Weaver designed rings and lock system.
Even though design as a shotgun scope it is a good fit for the muzzleloader rifle as well.
Capped turrets at ¼ MOA click adjustments, and very reasonable pricing, the scope is a good bet all around in terms of a basic get the job done closer range shooting system.
Through a lot of trial and error I found for the most part but any glass tub will work as a muzzleloader sight. When reviewing scopes that were offered 40 years ago and were built in 3/4” small size tubes with bad glass and crosshairs that died a slow death we still brought down game and kept winter meat on the table.
The modern rifle scope today even in the budget brands can do far more than what we had to use back in the day.
For most muzzleloader working range is not a major factor. When that becomes a working standard using a lower priced glass sight can be your best option.
I have listed both ends of the spectrum here so as to fit the needs of advanced systems as well as back home grown meat hunting gear. The only thing for sure about a muzzleloader is you will have a very hard time not having fun with them being targets or as used on warm critters.
More Reading: Best Budget Scope for .300 Blackout
If you’re looking for more, check out our article on the best budget scope for .300 blackout. We cover everything you need to know to pick your perfect optic.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM. You can find more info on Barrett Rifles here.
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