Last Updated on
Each hunting trip presents only a few opportunities for good shots on good deer. If you’re going to have a gear malfunction, it’s usually at a critical moment when you’re trying to take a shot. That’s just Murphy’s Law.
It’s best to remove your scope from the gear malfunction equation by getting a dependable optic.
Our Best Choice
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC
SPOILER: If you’d like to save yourself the time and energy of holding scopes up side-by-side for examination, just get the Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC. It’s a professional-grade deer hunting scope that’s really affordably priced.If you’re the type who’d rather hold up a few scopes side-by-side, we’ll lay out all the best options for you.
Top Deer Hunting Scope
The Best Deer Hunting Scope Reviews: Seeing Your Game Clearly
We’ll look over the winning scope first. All the rest will be laid out in order of price, from the most affordable to most wallet wringing.
Let the comparison begin.
1. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC - Best Overall Deer Hunting Scope
The Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC scope brings all the Nikon optical technology to hunters. It’s specifically designed for the demands and rigors of deer hunting (hence the “Buckmasters” name).
The stat line is fairly standard for a deer hunting scope:
3-9x magnification is ideal for scanning the field and making short and mid-range shots. And, the glass is clear enough, and the multi-coatings provide enough light transmission that you could make some fairly long-range shots with good shooting fundamentals.
Also, the 40mm objective lens and near perfect light transmission produce a bright image even in dawn and dusk lighting. The image offers enough contrast to spot deer at the very edges of daylight hours.
However, the reticle is non-illuminated. It’s etched for superb crispness. But, in very dark environments and in really low contrast light, you may lose track of your reticle.
But, the reticle is Nikon’s BDC reticle that has aiming points for every 100 yards out to 600 yards. So, you can get precise shots fast using holdovers. And, Nikon offers ballistic match software to accurately calibrate the reticle to the round you use.
The parallax is set at 100 yards. It’s good for most shooting situations. But, adjustable parallax would be better.
2. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope - Budget Deer Hunting Scope
The Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope might be the most affordable, yet still dependable scope available right now.
This scope is built with a 3-9x magnification range for optimal performance at typical hunting distances.
Then, the 40mm objective lens is augmented with Bushnell’s proprietary Dawn & Dusk Brightness (DDB) lens multi-coatings. The wide objective lens and multi-coatings maximize image brightness and contrast, particularly in the low-contrast light of early morning and late evening.
The Multi-X reticle is essentially a standard duplex reticle. It’s simple and non-illuminated. But, it keeps your field of view clear for maximum target focus.
Unfortunately, the parallax is not adjustable. So, you may need a more stable shooting position at longer ranges (which you’d probably need anyway).
Also, there are reports of quality control issues. Bushnell’s return policy is good. But, there are occasional lemons.
3. Nikon P-Tactical 3-9x40 Matte MK1 - Deer Hunting Scope for .308
The Nikon P-Tactical 3-9x40 Matte MK1 is a tactical .308 riflescope that’s been adapted for deer hunting.
The primary change from the tactical models is the 3-9x magnification range. It’s a typical deer hunting power range that’s enough for most deer hunting distances. It’s good for scanning wide open spaces, with enough zoom to dial in for precise shots.
Nikon also offers the Nikon P-Tactical .308 4-12x40 Matte BDC800 for those who need a bit more range.
All the lenses are coated with Nikon’s photography-grade lens multi-coating to maximize light transmission. And the 40mm objective lens collects plenty of light for dawn and dusk shooting. So, you’ll be able to take shots during all available hunting hours.
However, the reticle is etched, but not illuminated. It may take some effort to pick up your reticle in very dark conditions.
The reticle is Nikon’s MK1 reticle, which is asymmetrical so you get far more hash marks for elevation holdovers. This extends the usable range of the hold over marks by a few hundred yards.
Unfortunately, the parallax is fixed at 100 yards. But, it’s not really a limiting factor. Just something to be aware of.
4. Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC) - Value Deer Hunting Scope
The Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC) is one of the most popular hunting scopes on the market. This scope offers an optimal combination of price and performance.
First, the 3-9x magnification range is ideal for most hunting situations. It makes your optic useful for searching treelines and fields, while still being powerful enough to get the hits you need.
The 40mm objective lens collects enough light for dawn and dusk shooting. And, Nikon’s full multi-coatings raise the light transmission to 98%. This scope produces a bright enough image to spot deer even in that gray, low-contrast light of early morning and late evening.
The reticle is Nikon’s BDC reticle that offers aiming points for every 100 yards out to 600 yards.
It’s perfect for using holdovers to get hits at varying distances without having to make elevation adjustments.
Unfortunately, the parallax is not adjustable. It’s set at 100 yards.
5. Vortex Optics Viper HS Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Deer Hunting Scope Under $500
The Vortex Optics Viper HS Second Focal Plane Riflescope is one of the best high-end deer hunting scopes. It’s easily the best Vortex scope for hunting. Unfortunately, it’s not quite perfect.
First, the magnification range is 2.5-10x. It’s a bit broader than most deer hunting scopes. So, you get a tad more open field scanning capability, and more long range precision.
Additionally, the objective lens is 44mm wide. Again, it’s a bit more than a typical deer hunting scope. The objective lens collects more light, produces a brighter image, and gives you more hours in each day of your hunt.
The reticle is etched for sharpness and durability.
The reticle is Vortex’s Dead Hold BDC reticle, which gives you hash marks for overholds and windage estimation. However, it’s still minimal and keeps your field of view uncluttered.
Unfortunately, the parallax is set at 100 yards. No adjustment.
Also, this is a second focal plane scope. So, the reticle doesn’t retain it’s proportions through all magnifications. That’s standard for most deer hunting scopes. But, it’s a tad disappointing at this price point.
However, this scope definitely has a performance edge over almost every other deer hunting scope. It’s an excellent option for hunters who often take longer shots or mounting on a particularly high-end hunting rifle.
6. Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm Riflescope - Compact Hunting Scope
The Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x40mm Riflescope is the next evolution of Leupold’s VX-2 line. It’s a powerful Leupold deer scope that’s designed for those who hunt in rugged, open terrain where more long range precision is necessary.
The 4.5-14x magnification range trades some short range capability and open field scanning for long range precision. If you use a larger round that’s capable of really long range hits, the magnification range will be ideal for you.
Even though the magnification range is higher, this scope retains compact dimensions and a typical deer hunting scope objective lens diameter of 40mm.
The objective lens collects plenty of light. But, Leupold equipped this scope with the Twilight Max Light Management System. The lenses have blackened edges and the full lens multi-coatings maximize light transmission. All this adds up to produce an incredibly clear image in even the most minimal light.
Additionally, the reticle is a Leupold Wind Plex reticle that offers hash marks for holdovers and windage estimation. And, there are additional vertical hash marks to help you make accurate wind calls.
Unfortunately, the parallax is not adjustable, which is a bit surprising for a scope at this price point.
However, this is still easily the top scope for deer hunting. It might be pricey, but the performance is hard to beat.
There’s no reason to come back empty handed because your optic wasn’t up to the task. With all the affordable deer hunting scopes out there, you can easily find one that’s perfect for you.
Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC
If you want to shorten you search for the perfect scope, get the Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC. It’s equipped with excellent glass, a capable reticle, and the price is really good, considering what you get.
Now that you’ve got a visual on all the best scopes, get one for your hunting rifle and make your next hunting trip a success.