More hunters have been switching from the more widely used Centre firing rifles to muzzleloaders because they are challenging and more fun.
These front-loading guns give a satisfying kickback when fired, and the powder-filled muzzleloaders also discharge a black smoke that is reminiscent of traditional hunting.
Other benefits of using this ‘old-school’ gun are the special hunting seasons open to muzzleloader hunters that occur before the official hunting season.
This means that there will be less traffic on the trails so less competition in bagging that prized prey. If you appreciate the challenge and thrill of hunting with a muzzleloader, then you are aware that part of the skill involved is getting accurate aim.
The top muzzleloader scope will offer greater accuracy in your shot. The thrill will still be there, and you will also have the satisfaction of better aim and greater payback.
What Should Look?
The magnification on a muzzleloader scope is important for ‘zeroing’ in on your target as accurately as possible. While most scopes ranger between 3x-9x magnification, some higher end units can reach up to 12x.
Since most hunters will leave an average maximum ranger of 100 yards from their target, any magnification past 9x can seem like overkill.
You need to be careful with magnification because the closer you bring an image in the less control over the detail of the features you will have in your scope, so 12x magnification can result in a blurry picture.
The kickback or recoil on a muzzleloader is very strong, so a good eye relief distance is very important. The eye relief protects your brow from the power of the bullet or powder coming out of the chamber while you shoot.
The relief should be a minimum of 3” while the optimal distance is 4” to 5”. The magnification and optical system should make up any additional distance you lose due to the eye relief.
A reflex optic allows for unlimited eye relief while eliminating the need for a scope. The reflex optic would attach to the sight on the barrel which increases safety.
The drawback to this optic system is the magnification which you would lose because there would be no scope.
The reticle of the scope is more commonly known as the crosshairs of the scope. This equipment is used for aiming your scope at your prey.
Reticles have been used as a hunting tool for the last century, but recent improvements have given hunters much greater options in the type of reticle they can use with their scopes.
Some manufacturers offer custom made reticles that can be built into your equipment for much greater accuracy in your shot.
The differences in the lens systems of a muzzleloader scope determine the image quality that makes or break your shot. Multi-coated lenses that are available for most scopes can eliminate errors in focus and can produce a clearer image in different light situations.
The coating on the lens will eliminate any reflective light that can affect the image, but also take that light and focus it on giving you a brighter picture.
- Weatherproofing- this is important for keeping any moisture from getting into the lens and affecting the image quality.
- Material- the material of scope can affect the quality of the lens and also the weight of the unit.
#1. Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Black Matte
The ProStaff comes with a 4-12x magnification which is a great feature that will allow you to get farther away from skittish prey and still be able to get a clear and accurate shot.
You will appreciate the long magnification if your target also decides to move a little farther away as this will give you a clear shot without having to adjust your position.
The ProStaff scope has an eye relief of 3.7” which protects you from any kickback your bullet or powder provide once you shoot.
This also allows you to adjust your aim quickly when you move from a rested position to one where your gun is against your shoulder. You will appreciate this feature if the muzzleloader has particularly strong recoil.
This scope has a fully multi-coated lens system which will gather up to 98% of available light and focus it on the image. You will love this feature in low-light or foggy situations because any light that might be there will be used efficiently in your shot.
- Bright picture technology allows for a crisper image in high resolution
- Magnification gives many options for distance while hunting
- 3.7” eye relief provides secure distance for your brow to prevent injury
- Weatherproofing prevents moisture from entering the lens and distorting the image
- Fog-proofing is not always reliable and can fog up the lens in extreme weather conditions
- There tend to be adjustment discrepancies when you are trying to focus
- The reticle is not always good for the highest magnification
#2. Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope
Leupold has always been a brand that hunters have trusted for decades.
The VX-2 offers a bright, accurate image and the reticle system ensures you will always have a great shot you can trust.
The Leupold magnification goes up to 9x which if you ask most hunters, is more than enough for most hunting situations.
You will like this feature because there is a tiny problem with picture distortion at that magnification, and you will have the closest shot possible with the best clarity from up to 100 yards.
One of the best features of the Leupold is the duplex reticle system. This system allows for the greatest accuracy when lining up your target and also gives you an accurate depiction of just how far away the prey is.
This gives you a good indication of what adjustments to make for magnification and distance. Duplex reticles are made up of a thin center wire that works with heavier sections of wire to determine the perfect aiming position when you shoot.
The Leupold is a very lightweight scope compared to others on the market at 12oz. This is a great feature as you don’t need to make any adjustments because the muzzleloader is too heavy to hold up to your eye.
It also makes it nicer to carry around with other equipment on long hunting trips.
- High-quality magnification system means more accurate shots from greater distances
- Duplex reticle system gives you better aim with fewer adjustments
- Lightweight design means that it is easier to maneuver when shooting and carry when moving locations
- Weatherproof and fog-proof so moisture doesn’t enter the lens
- The fog-proofing is sometimes not always effective so you can see images get blurry
#3. Nikon P-223 3-9×40 Matte BDC 600
Nikon is a company known for optical systems, and the quality of the Nikon brand shines through this highly rated muzzleloader scope.
The “BD-600” reticle on the P-223 is specifically designed for use with the trajectory on this scope. This offers a unique system for aiming that ranges from 100-600 yards.
You will appreciate this feature if you need to be farther away from your prey and want the most accurate shot possible.
The “zero-click” adjustments on the reticle also help with the speed of your aim if you need to make adjustments quickly for easily startled targets.
The 3.4” eye relief on the Nikon allows a safe distance for your brow, so it will not get injured during firing. You will appreciate this feature if your gun has strong recoil or you at shooting at an odd or severe angle.
- The high-quality optic system maximizes the amount of light used to enhance the image
- Unique reticle system specifically designed for the Nikon gives you a more accurate aim at ranges up to 600 yards
- Generous eye relief prevents injuries by keeping your brow safely away from the point of fire
- Has many great features for the low price you pay for it
- Very easy to adjust with the “zero-click” adjustment knobs
- The quality control is not always the best and defects can occur with very little use
- Requiring a lot of paperwork
- Some issue occur with focus
- The reticle can sometimes be out of alignment right out of the box
#4. Nikon 8496 P-223 3×32 Matte DC Carbine
This scope is a slightly smaller and less powerful version of its cousin but still does a great job for the price.
The “BDC carbine” reticle on the Nikon 8496 is specifically designed for this scope for maximum aim and accuracy. The reticle will improve the accuracy of your shot up to 600 yards away.
The optical system on this scope gives you 98% transmission of light and maximizes any light outside for long hunting trips.
You will love this feature if you find yourself in low light situations when the sun goes down or on overcast days. The multi-coated lens will greatly reduce the light that reflects on the lens, so your image is always crystal clear.
Reticle Adjustment Settings
The adjustment settings on the Nikon are specially designed to give the maximum control over your accuracy but also making it easier to adjust quickly.
You will love this feature when you are aiming at your target and you need to make the shot quickly before they get scared away. The clicks on the adjustment help you know when the changes are being made.
- Specially designed reticle system gives you the most accurate aim for your trajectory
- Reticle adjustment gives you the ability to change your settings very quickly as well as accurately
- Optical system with multi-coated lenses help transmit the light, so you get the best quality image for the most hours
- Optics can develop condensation in extreme weather conditions
- Eye relief is not as generous as some other scopes in this category
- The optics can be out of alignment out of the box
#5. Nikon Inline XR BDC 300 Riflescope
The Nikon Inline is one of the more modern types of Muzzleloaders in that it can be used in tandem with a cell phone app.
The app can help the user with getting perfect aim while out hunting.
Much like the previous Nikon scopes, the reticle that comes with the Nikon Inline is specially developed to work with this product.
All of the mentioned Nikon reticles come with an “open circle” design which allows for greater accuracy while aiming and makes it easier to make long-range shots.
This scope has a very generous 5” eye relief which provides a safe distance between your eye and the shot. You will appreciate this eye relief if you are using a muzzleloader that provides strong recoil.
The Nikon Inline comes with a multi-coated optics system that maximizes the amount of light that is transmitted through the lens. You will really appreciate this feature if you are hunting on an overcast day or your trip goes a little longer and you are approaching dusk.
- Generous eye relief distance of 5” guarantees you are safe from injury during heavy recoil
- Multi-coated optics system maximizes the amount of light coming through the lens for brighter images
- Open-circle design of reticle allows truer aim and the ability for quicker adjustments
- Computer app is available that works with your scope for greatest accuracy
- Modern design with clear glass for the best image quality
- The adjustment system is easy to use
- Narrow field of view which affects the accuracy of the shot
- Optics can get cloudy when you reach close to 9x magnification
The winner of the Best Muzzleloader Scope Review is the Nikon Inline XR BDC 300 Riflescope, Matte Black, 3-9×40 which provides the best combination of accuracy and ease-of-use for the price.
This scope will take your muzzleloader to the next level with its modern adjustments and high-tech apps that can be used to make your aim all the better.
Editor in The Dear Lab. Hunting, Camping, Fishing and Outdoor Expert.