Last Updated on

Most archers can agree that it’s difficult to make accurate shots at seemingly short ranges. With open sights, shots at 60 yards seem superhuman, and shots at even 20 to 30 yards can be tricky.

A straightforward upgrade makes it easier to get hits at any range: a scope. At the end of the day, if you’re using standard sights, or the scope that came with your crossbow, you’re not getting the optimum performance from your bow.

The right crossbow scope improves accuracy at all ranges, arrow placement, and takes the guesswork out of range and elevation estimation.

What does this mean for hunters and competitive archers?

More successful hunts and more humane kills.

Better placement in competitions.

Simple as that.

To help you out, we’ve put together a comprehensive crossbow scope overview so that you can get the absolute performance from your crossbow.


1. Nikon 8461 Bolt XR - Best Overall

Nikon probably has more experience in optical technology than any other company in this lineup, and they’ve got an excellent reputation for producing high-quality cameras and lenses.

The Nikon Bolt XR is hands down the ultimate combination of performance and price on the market.

The Bolt XR offers 3x magnification, which is ideal for hunting medium to massive game, or competition shooters who will be engaging up to 60 yards.

32mm lens diameter has become somewhat of the standard for scopes, and Nikon meets this benchmark.

It means that this will perform very well for archers who shoot at dusk or dawn.

The accessory is built with all of Nikon’s lens technology and durability. 

All Nikon lenses are coated with multiple layers of anti-reflective and anti-fog coating, so the Bolt XR will hold up for many years in cold and wet climates.

The reticle offers a lot of precision with aiming points in 10-yard increments from 20 to 60 yards. 10-yard increases are excellent for competition shooters who need to shoot at multiple known ranges, and hunters who need perfect arrow placement for smaller game.

The Bolt XR doesn’t have any reticle illumination. So it may be less than ideal for archers who live in the high northern latitudes or often shoot in very dark conditions. On the flipside, the Nikon offers 3.4-inch eye relief, which minimizes eye strain during long hours of consistent use or use in less than optimal light conditions.

2, Excalibur Tact-Zone Illuminated Scope, 2.5-6x32mm - Best Variable Zoom

Excalibur has an excellent range of scopes in the realm of value pricing. Here’s what makes this one so capable:

5x to 6x. Variable magnification is ideal for locating a target, then zooming in for the most precise shot.

The objective lens diameter is 32mm.

Full multi-coating on the lenses prevents fogging and repels water for excellent performance in rainy conditions.

The reticle is etched into the glass and can be illuminated in red or green.The

increments.The

However, all these great features have a minor drawback. Once the zeroing is complete, though, the range markers are finely tuned to your crossbow and can be adjusted for any arrow speed.

3. Hawke 3X32 IR Crossbow Scope - Best Illuminated Crossbow Scope

The Hawke 3×32 IR runs just a bit less expensive than the Excalibur Tact-Zone. The Hawke 3×32 doesn’t offer any variable magnification, but here’s a quick Hawke to show you where the 3×32 IR holds its own.

The Hawke has fixed 3x magnification, which is an excellent all-around magnification that gives a solid performance at all ranges, and a wide field of view for scanning.

This level of magnification is perfect for medium to large game hunting, but might be a bit low for hitting small game at long ranges.

Hawke employs an industry-standard 32mm objective lens, which collects plenty of light for dawn and dusk shooting.

The lenses are fully multi-coated, and the magnified image is clear.

Where the Hawke really shines, though, is the reticle.

Additionally, each range marker has a dot that represents a 2-inch diameter at the specified yardage. The reticle also illuminates with 5 brightness settings, and even the lowest setting is visible in daylight.

Overall, the Hawke is easily the top option for hunters who hunt medium or large game in low light conditions and demand perfect arrow placement.

4. UTG 4X32 1" Crossbow Scope, Pro 5-Step RGB Reticle, QD Rings - Best under $100

The UTG 4×32  comes in at just around $75, with mounting rings for Picatinny and Weaver rails.

If you’re familiar with optics, you know that good glass isn’t cheap. So what will this get you into a crossbow scope?

As it turns out, the UTG 4×32 is a quality model at this price point. First, the magnification.

A fixed 4x magnification is reliable and provides excellent clarity for longer range shots, so this could be a slam dunk upgrade for archers looking to shoot smaller targets at the 50-60 yard marks.

The UTG is equipped with a 32mm objective lens, which hits the industry benchmark.The scope body also has a shroud for less glare in daytime shooting situations, which is excellent for hunting in areas of low brush and limited shading.

UTG used something they call, “broadband lens coating” to add fogproof and dustproofing to the scope.

UTG may not have Nikon’s reputation to back their coating process, but fogging hasn’t been an issue.

The reticle is one area that seems less than optimal.

The five range lines cross the entire diameter of the eyepiece. So the reticle can get in the way of what you’re looking at sometimes. However, there is good news about the reticle.

The illumination on the reticle is outstanding and provides excellent nighttime and low-light operation. Additionally, the illumination can be changed to red or green, depending on your needs or preference.

So, what’s the verdict?

At less than $80, the UTG is hard to pass up if you need an affordable unit with solid low light performance at medium and long ranges.The 4x magnification may be a touch too much for archers looking to shoot only at short ranges, and there have been some reports of quality control issues.

However, the problem optics make up only about 2% of the shipped scopes, so if you’re looking for a quality bargain, the UTG is a good buy.

5. Excalibur Twilight DLX Scope Multirange Reticle - Best for Long Range

Calling something the “best” is a pretty serious claim. However, there are good reasons that the Excalibur Twilight DLX crossbow scope gets this honor.

This one weighs in over $220, so the price isn’t the main selling point. Let’s have a look at what you pay for.

First, the Excalibur DLX offers adjustable magnification from 3x to 6x, which a solid range.

The range of magnification means this one will be just as capable at 20 yards as it is at 60 yards.

It is excellent for competition shooters and hunters that need precise arrow placement at all ranges.


The 44mm objective lens is enormous.

The image clarity is also partially due to full multi-coating on the lenses.

The reticle is a very clear stack of chevrons with range markers from 20 to 60 yards.

The reticle pattern is easy to pick up, and excellent for archers who need to make quick shots from the ready.

If the Excalibur DLX has any limitation, it’s that it’s designed for bows that shoot at 300-400 FPS. Anything faster or slower than that is very difficult to zero correctly. This one is suited to high-end crossbows that operate at reasonably high speeds, or for archers with the ability to match their crossbow speed to their scope.

If your crossbow fits the bill, the combination of high magnification, excellent light gathering, and bright illuminated reticle make the Excalibur DLX the ultimate option for long-range shooting in dark conditions.

6. TRUGLO Red-Dot Crossbow 30mm 3-Dot Sight - Best Red Dot

Truglo has a solid reputation for making quality pistol and rifle sights, especially night sights; so it makes sense that the Truglo Red-Dot is the top option for a short-range illuminated optic.

While a red dot is more of a sight than a scope, if you’re looking for quick target acquisition and snapshots at short ranges, the Truglo Red-Dot is easily the greatest red dot “scope” for a crossbow.

This is how the TruGlo Red-Dot stacks up in terms of optics.

There’s no magnification. The Red-Dot is most optimal for short range shooting in situations that require quick reaction shots.

At 30mm, the objective lens on the Truglo Red-Dot is slightly smaller than the competition. 

However, since the Red-Dot is shorter, it doesn’t need quite as much light to function well, and the Red-Dot will work well for low-light shooting.

Truglo has a strong reputation for durability and weatherproofing and has applied their standard multi-coating to the Red-Dot so that the Red-Dot won’t fog up even in humid climates.

The Red-Dot utilizes a 5 MOA dot for sighting, which is ok for short range engagement.However, the dot is a little larger than ideal for longer range shots.Since it’s a red dot sight, the reticle is always illuminated and is never difficult to see in the dark.

TheTruglo Red-Dot also comes with an added bonus: mounting hardware for Picatinny or Weaver rails, which means you won’t need to buy any rings.

Overall, the Red-Dot is a sight designed for a specific purpose: fast shooting at short ranges, and it’s perfect for that context.

7. Trophy Ridge SpeedComp XV530IR Crossbow Scope - Best Outlier 

Trophy Ridge isn’t such a well-known brand, but the current verdict on their lineup is that they’re just as high quality as the more popular manufacturers. So far, the Trophy Ridge SpeedComp XV530IR has a perfect rating.

Trophy Ridge uses a variable magnification of 1-5x for the SpeedComp.The clarity at the highest magnification isn’t quite as good as a model with a wider objective lens, but it’s still very sharp.
This makes this accessory excellent for hunters or competition shooters that need both magnified and unmagnified performance.

Even though the objective lens is only 30mm, the glass is incredibly high quality and multi-coated. 

Additionally, the multi-coating features fog and water-resistant properties. It’s reported that Trophy Ridge contracts Hawke to manufacture their scopes, so the lens coatings are likely just as durable as Hawke coatings.

The reticle on the SpeedComp is excellent, with 9 range lines that go from 20 to 100 yards. This is a great reticle for competition shooters who need accuracy at multiple ranges.

The reticle illumination is red and very bright.

Another strength of this model is that it’s compatible with a lot of crossbows.


The narrow objective lens and bright reticle of the SpeedComp may make it a bit less than ideal for hunters who require excellent low light image clarity.


  •   
  •   
  •  
  •  
  •   

Nikon 8461 Bolt XR