Updated Jun 23, 2022 10:46 AM
You can have the latest, greatest crossbow on the market and it won’t do you a bit of good if you can’t put the arrow where you want. And the best crossbow scope is one that does exactly that—help you be more accurate. You point, you shoot, you drill your target. Hitting where you aim is important when you’re simply shooting at targets. But when you’re crossbow hunting, then it becomes absolutely critical. Ethics dictates that you know your hunting equipment is fine-tuned and ready to rock. That’s where a top-notch scope makes things easier and a lot more accurate. Because once you have your scope mounted correctly, well, hitting exactly where you’re aiming with a crossbow is actually pretty easy. At least, it is until “buck fever” sets in.
How to Choose the Best Crossbow Scopes
Determining the best crossbow scope is a bit subjective in terms of features (like illumination type, reticles, and such), but there is no wavering when it comes to performance. The best crossbow scopes are those that make sighting in a crossbow a pleasurable, efficient, and accurate experience. If there is any lack of consistency in accuracy, that scope is one you shouldn’t carry to the woods. So, keep accuracy in mind at all times when evaluating a scope.
Best Value: Vortex Crossfire II
The Vortex Crossfire II. Vortex
Call me a fanboy but there’s not yet been a Vortex optic offering that I didn’t like. I suppose that’s because the Wisconsin-based company knows how to do things right. They build great stuff at different price points—but all are backed by the same no-questions-asked lifetime warranty.
The Vortex Crossfire II crossbow scope is no exception and it’s the best crossbow scope for your hard-earned dollars. The 2-7×32 scope measures 9.5 inches in length and features a standard 30mm tube size. It has 2.7 inches of eye relief and weighs 14 ounces.
The optic is bright, clear, and offers dual red/green illumination. The reticle has aiming points out to 100 yards. Zero the Crossfire II at 40 yards, and the holdovers will be spot-on out to 100 yards. As with all Vortex offerings, this scope is well-built and the tolerances are tight. You can feel the quality in your hand, and the price tag makes it a true value-laden option for your crossbow.
Best TruGlo: 4×32 Compact
The TruGlo Crossbow 4X32 Compact Scope TruGlo
If you’re looking for the best crossbow scope on a tight budget, the 4×32 Compact from TruGlo is a serviceable scope that won’t break the bank. It lacks the overall build quality of others on this list but it’s mega-popular because of its bargain price tag. The scope offers pretty solid performance. This is the scope I’ve used on an older TenPoint crossbow before upgrading and had few complaints. I would not call this a true long-range option but at distances of, say, 50 yards and under it’s proven to be reliably accurate.
The illuminated model offers red or green options and the BDC reticle makes the task of shooting longer distances a bit easier with well-marked holdovers.
It is fully coated and is workably bright (though the optics are not in the class as others on this list). The scope uses the easy-to-find CR2032 battery—a welcome feature given that many “bargain” scopes in this price range tend to use odd-size batteries that can be tough to locate locally.
Best Ravin: Ravin 450
So maybe you want one of the top-end Ravin crossbows but your budget is a bit tamer…that doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of some seriously good Ravin equipment.
The 450 scope is excellent albeit a bit pricey. If you’re shooting a crossbow you’ve had for a couple of seasons and looking to upgrade, adding this to the top could be a difference-maker. The scope features a reticle with clear aiming points from 20 to 100 yards. It’s bright and clear and the overall build quality is just what you’d expect from Ravin.
You can choose from red or green illumination and you can select your level of illumination during low-light conditions. The crossbow scope can compensate for speeds up to 450 fps so this is a scope that will grow with you as you upgrade your crossbow.
Best High-Tech: Garmin Xero X1i
The Garmin Xero X1i Amazon
The Xero X1i is easily the most expensive crossbow scope I’ve handled. I’ve spent just a short amount of time with it during a demo session at a local dealer, but that was enough time to know this crossbow scope is outstanding. It’s also unlike any other available.
If you need a reason to justify the price, this is one: This is a dual-purpose tool. It’s a scope and a laser rangefinder. Yep, the rangefinder is built right into the scope and it works to perfection. The rangefinder is activated by pressing a button that is separate from the scope itself allowing you to mount the button anywhere you’d like on your crossbow. This makes it quick and easy to get the range to your target without taking your hands off the crossbow.
When you range the target, the scope automatically places the aiming point where it needs to be for the distance. You see just a single aiming point that’s calibrated precisely to your crossbow’s speed and specifications. It’s as simple as range, lock on target, and squeeze the trigger. The illumination automatically compensates for the amount of light available—so no more messing with levels of illumination in the heat of the moment.
Best TenPoint: EVO-X Marksman Elite
The EVO-X Marksman Elite Amazon
I was able to spend some time shooting and learning about the EVO-X line of scopes at the Archery Trade Association Show and was impressed by the thought and crossbow-specific designs. That makes sense given that TenPoint has been a leader in the crossbow space for a long, long time.
The EVO-X Marksman Elite is the best of the best in the lineup. The scope offers variable speed as well as arrow-drop compensation meaning you can use the scope regardless of your crossbow’s speed or your preferred style and weight of hunting arrow. This is a critical combination for reliable, repeatable accuracy at longer distances.
I’m also a fan of the reticle setup. You get crosshairs for the common 20-, 40- and 60-yard distances; illuminated dots at 30 and 50 yards; and non-illuminated chevrons at the less-common 70-, 80-, 90- and 100-yard ranges. I found this setup to be easy to use and less confusing than other reticle setups. The micro-adjustable turrets are also external, making it easy to adjust on the fly if need be.
Q: Can You Use a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow?
The short answer is…yes. The better answer is a question: Why would you want to? Perhaps in previous years, it might have made more sense. Not anymore. Now, there are a number of outstanding scopes specifically made for crossbows and crossbow hunting. The list here gives you a great start. Trying to make do with a scope intended for a rifle doesn’t make much sense these days.
Q: Are Crossbow and Rifle Scopes the Same?
Nope. They’re similar in the same way that a Ford F-150 is like a Tesla. Both have four wheels. Both are meant for carrying passengers. But they are two tools made for different jobs. A crossbow scope features reticles customized for crossbow use. Rifle scopes are meant for aiming bullets that travel much faster, and typically much longer distances, than crossbow scopes.
Q: Can I Put Any Scope on my Crossbow?
Of course you can—as long as the scope will fit the rings, mounts, and setup you have. Of course, you can also put ketchup on pizza. But why the hell would you do such a thing? Again, crossbow scopes are meant specifically for crossbows and there’s no shortage of excellent options. Get a crossbow scope for your crossbow and thank us later.
Final Thoughts on Choosing a Crossbow Scopes
Your crossbow scope is an accessory to help aid you in placing the arrow exactly where you want it to go. Determining the best crossbow scope is a personal decision based on what the shooter feels most comfortable with. There are scopes with various magnification strengths, illumination types, and reticles—but these features don’t guarantee consistent shooting. Find a scope that you can shoot accurately with and don’t look back. Accuracy is the most important aspect when choosing a scope. At the end of the day, you just need the arrow to go where you intended to.