Introduction To Shotgun Scopes
The 12 gauge shotgun might be the most versatile firearm in existence today. Many of us have a 12 gauge shotgun that we use for home defense, hunting, sporting, or other applications, but we're still using the factory open sights.
Maybe you've thought about getting an optic for your firearm, but aren’t sure what the first step should be?
The world of shotgun optics can be confusing, but don't fear! We're here to help you decide which optic is rightly suited to your needs.
Below you will find reviews of shotgun different optics, one of them is sure to be perfect for you.
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a cheat sheet:
The Nikon Slughunter BDC 200 is the ideal scope for using on a 12 gauge shotgun shooting slugs.
Our Top Shotgun Optic Choices
How to Choose the Perfect One for Your Needs
The first step in deciding what optic to buy for your firearm is answering a simple question - what primary purpose does my 12 gauge shotgun serve?
Whatever role your 12 gauge is filling is going to be a huge factor in deciding what optic to purchase. A fast targeting red dot for home defense is not going to be idle for deer hunting or shooting slugs at long distances.
Similarly, if you're using a 12 gauge model with an 18" barrel for home defense, you probably aren't using that same firearm to turkey hunt with. Maybe you've got a lightweight semi-automatic model for shooting sporting clays, or a high end tactical model for three gun competitions.
Unlike some other weapons platforms, a 12 gauge isn't going to fill more than one role typically. This makes optic selection a bit easier since the primary purpose of the shotgun is quite clear.
So now you know the shotguns purpose and you can start to look at your budget. Scope prices can range from very cheap to very expensive. It's always a good idea to decide how much money you want to spend before starting your search.
When deciding what to invest in a new optic several factors come into play.
Do you want to save money and buy something inexpensive to start with? Many people choose to do this before deciding to buy a higher quality scope. Have you used optics in the past or is this a new experience for you?
Cheaper scopes won't provide the clarity of more expensive models, and typically they may not be as accurate and may lose zero after time. Buying an inexpensive scope may cost more in the long run. Cheap scopes can break or need repair, or they may not have warranties to back them up.
Unless you are in a hurry it is a better idea to save up and purchase a high quality optic from a reputable brand. Cheap optics can hold you over and provide some use, but eventually you'll want to replace it with a better sight. Spending more up front goes a long way in terms of durability & accuracy.
When purchasing a new optic you'll want to be sure to choose one from well known, established brand. There's a reason some brands are household names and some you've never heard of. If you a find a deal on a new scope that seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are many import copies and counterfeit scopes out there these days that simply don't belong on anybody's firearm.
Lots of companies are manufacturing cheap quality optics, and this prioritization of mass production leads to a substantial lack of quality. Purchasing one of these cheap optics may give you the look of a high quality scope, but it will never give you the performance.
Choosing a brand you know like Nikon, Bushnell, or Simmons, is always a smart move. The quality, clarity, and dependability of their products will always be a cut above the no-name companies. Most companies will also provide a warranty to protect the consumer against defects and damage as well.
Save yourself some trouble and stay clear of the off-brand optics. Choosing a model from a well known brand will be the smarter choice every time.
5 Best Shotgun Scopes on the Market
The Bushnell Trophy optic is a fantastic option for deer hunting.
Bushnell is a top manufacturer in the world of optics, and they make high quality models that won't break the bank. The Trophy was designed specifically for the hunter.
The Trophy features a 3-9x40mm zoom lens and Bushnell's 200 DOA reticle designed for use with shotguns. Tube diameter is 1" for use with any standard set of optic rings.
The unit has been constructed to be waterproof and fogproof to keep the elements at bay. This is indispensable while out in the field, and you won't have to be concerned with a foggy scope before getting ready to take your shot.
The Trophy is also shockproof to withstand the recoil of a 12 gauge and not lose zero. A generous 4" eye relief always for comfort while aiming without having to be too close to the eyepiece. The lenses have been fully multi-coated for increased light transmission and clarity.
For a great scope designed specifically for hunting with a 12 gauge shotgun, the Bushnell Trophy is a top choice.
Designed specifically for turkey hunting, the Truglo 30mm Gobble Dot red dot sight is a great choice for your turkey firearm. Truglo's unique Gobble Dot reticle represents a 24" circle at a distance of 30 yards and can be illuminated in either red or green and is powered by a standard CR2032 battery.
This red dot is compact and lightweight and the built in mount attaches to any standard rail, eliminating the need for extra scope rings and hardware. The body is waterproof to protect against the rain, and the internals are fogproof to prevent distortion of the inside lens.
Detachable anti-glare caps are also provided for an optional extra layer of protection against the outdoors. It has standard windage and elevation adjustments that shooters will find familiar and easy to use. Unlimited eye relief allows for mounting anywhere on your gun without issue.
The optic is available in either matte black or a camouflage finish depending on your preference. Whether you are an avid turkey hunter or just beginning, the Truglo Gobble Dot is sure to give you an edge in the field.
The Nikon Slughunter BDC 200 is the ideal scope for using on a 12 gauge firearm shooting slugs. Nikon's BDC 200 reticle has been designed for use with slugs and features an open circle design to make shooting at longer distances easier.
The Nikon has 5" of eye relief to protect the shooter against even the strongest of recoil. The unit lenses have been fully multicoated. This gives the shooter a clear and bright sight picture while reducing glare, aiding in targeting and accuracy.
The combination of 3-9x variable zoom and 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustments allow for excellent accuracy and even the longest of ranges. The BDC 200 crosshair has aiming points, allowing for quick adjustments to compensate for distance and slug-drop.
The Slughunter is backed by Nikon's No-Fault return/replacement policy in the event you experience any sort of issue with the scope. This is a fantastic slug-gun scope and one you should definitely consider.
For close range, tactical, and home defense shotgun applications you don't need something with variable zoom, you need something to get you on target quick. One of the most popular red dots on the market today is the Bushnell Trophy Red Dot.
The Bushnell Trophy is a 1x power (no zoom) compact red dot sight with a 25mm objective lens. The red LED is 3 MOA, big enough to see and aim quickly without being too overpowering. A built in mount attaches directly to any top-rail, eliminating the need for other mounts or scope rings.
The Trophy red dot can be used in any lighting condition thanks to its 11 brightness settings. It is powered by a single CR 2032 battery. The body of the red dot is waterproof to protect against the elements, and shockproof to withstand all types of recoil. The internals of the sight have been nitrogen filled to stop internal fogging.
The unlimited eye relief lets the user mount it anywhere on their shotgun that they find comfortable. The red dot weighs only 3.7 ounces, adding performance to your firearm without adding a ton of bulk.
For any sort of situation where speed is key, the Trophy Red Dot will be a great companion.
The Simmons Prohunter ProDiamond Shotgun optic is a great multi-purpose model that can serve on any number of 12 gauge firearms. For the shooter that needs a scope to fill more than one roll, this is a great choice.
The Simmons Prodiamond has a 1.5x-5x variable zoom. This allows the shooter to aim at close targets with the 1.5 power, and crank it up with a turn of a dial to shoot at longer ranges. The 32mm lens is large enough for a clear sight picture without being too big or bulky.
The multi-coated lenses provide clarity and brightness. The Simmons has been manufactured with waterproof and shockproof construction to protect the scope from any type of weather or recoil. The windage and elevation controls are lockable to help secure zero even further.
The ProDiamond reticle is designed for use with any 12 gauge firearm and is easy to use for any level of shooter and provides 4" of eye relief. It is relatively lightweight, weighing in at 8.6 ounces.
The Simmons ProDiamond is a great choice for a quality optic that can fulfill almost any use you may have.
The Bushnell Trophy Model 751432 is a great offering from Bushnell for any number of shotgun applications. It has a 1.75-4x32mm variable zoom lens, perfect for close to medium range targets.
The fully coated lenses provide up to 91% light transmission. This gives the shooter a bright sight picture that will remain clear and crisp no matter the time of day. A clearer view will always improve targeting and accuracy.
The anti-glare matte black finish looks good and performs well in the field. Rain, wind, and fog are kept at bay thanks to the all weatherproof construction of the unit. You can rest easy knowing the scope will work in any sort of environmental condition.
Bushnell's Circle X reticle and the 1/4 MOA adjustments make for an extremely accurate shotgun optic.
While the 3.5" eye relief isn't the longest available, the compact design of the Bushnell Trophy aids in protecting the shooter from recoil.
Weighing in at 12.7 ounces, the Bushnell Trophy is a great multipurpose shotgun optic that can fulfill a lot of roles without a huge budget.
Leupold is a renowned maker of high-end and high quality optics. The Leupold VX-1 shotgun is a unique, compact shotgun optic for use at close to medium distances.
The VX-1 is a 1-4x power variable zoom with a 20mm lens - smaller than most of the optics listed here but it performs in a big way. The patented Multicoat 4 lenses give the shooter the highest clarity available, providing a sight picture that is unparalleled.
1/4 MOA click adjustments let the shooter dial in exceptional accuracy. Leupold was one of the first companies to seal the internals of their scopes nitrogen, and the VX-1 has this technology to protect against all sorts of wind, rain, and other weather hazards.
The scope tube is 1" in diameter for use with a multitude of rings. Thanks to the compact design, only 9.5" long, and 8 ounce weight it can be mounted comfortably without adding a ton of bulk or weight to your favorite firearm.
If you are in the market for an extremely high quality shotgun optic, check out the Leupold VX-1.
While known for their inexpensive red dot sights, Truglo does offer some models. The Truglo Compact 4x32 Strut-N-Rut is a compact, fixed power scope designed for use on shotguns.
The Compact 4x32 features a waterproof design with nitrogen filled internals to protect against fogging. While this sounds like the same technology used in high end optics, I would not count on the same performance from this budget model.
They also state they have fully coated lenses, but again the clarity will not be nearly as good as some higher end models. Lens clarity is hard to achieve for a low price, and while this is a decent optic for the money there will be a noticeable difference.
The reticle is a diamond design that would be a great option for hunting turkey or deer. The unit is available in either flat black or APG camo, allowing you to blend in with your surroundings.
While it may not be topnotch quality, for an inexpensive shotgun scope it still performs fairly well. If you are unsure about shotgun optics and don't want to spend a ton to try one out, the Truglo is a good option.
For the budget shotgun optic under $100 it is hard to beat the Bushnell Trophy series. Their combination of multi-coated optics for extreme clarity and overall performance make the Trophy series feel like a much more expensive optic.
The weatherproof design means you can take the Bushnell anywhere without issue, and the reputation they have built as a high quality maker of all things optical is certainly evident in this series of shotgun scopes.
The Bushnell Trophy is simply the ultimate scope available for under $100.
Final Verdict: Top Choice for your Money
As you can see there is a wide variety of scope makes, models, and price ranges available when shopping for a new one for your shotgun. Trying to narrow one choice down as "the perfect" is nearly impossible.
For the money, the Nikon firearm optics are the greatest bang for your buck. They are not the cheapest models available, but typically cost under $200.
For that price you are getting an optic with exceptional clarity, extremely durable construction, and a warranty that backs the optic up in the event of damage or defects. Nikon optics perform like they should be more expensive than they are, and for that reason they are the ultimate shotgun scope available for your money today.