The 6 Best Scopes for Deer Hunting – Rifle Scope Reviews 2018

best scope for deer hunting for the money

Photo by Kevin Chang / CC BY

Deer hunting is about as American as apple pie, baseball, and two-year long presidential election campaigns. Deer hunting goes back to the first time a primitive caveman rammed a somewhat pointy stick into a saber-toothed deer, and his wife yelled at him for spending too much time in the woods hunting and drinking beer with his buddies instead of cleaning up the cave. Since then, deer hunting has gotten a lot more technologically advanced and requires fewer sharp sticks.

Nowadays, when dodging domestic responsibility for a weekend in the woods, most of us use rifles fitted with some sort of scope. After all, we didn’t drag ourselves kicking and screaming into the Industrial Revolution and beyond just to disregard technology in our constant pursuit of tasty venison steaks. As such, every fall, millions of Americans take to the forest carrying a myriad of rifles, and nearly all are fitted with optics. It is an orange clad army of sharpshooters that rivals any military on the planet, and at some point, nearly all of them have asked the same question. “What is the best scope for deer hunting?” Well, we’ve got you covered, folks:

Leupold, Because Quality Counts for Everything


Leupold scopes are as American as deer hunting and more importantly are arguably the finest rifle scope for deer hunting money can buy. The Leupold VX-2 is a ruggedly basic 3-9 power scope with a 40mm objective lens, fully coated optics, duplex reticle and uncompromising Leupold quality. For the best deer hunting scope, go big. Go Leuopold. (Yes, that sounds like a lame commercial, but we mean what we say. Truly.)

Leupold VX-2 Scope Video Review

Nikon is Pretty Darn Good Stuff Too

  • Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)
  • Price: $176.95
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  • Price as of 12/09/2018 08:56 PST
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One of the most popular higher end scope brands is a name we often think of when considering quality cameras. Nikon is famous for cameras, and if you can make cameras, you can make rifle scopes, and if you are looking for the best rifle scope for deer hunting, Nikon is certainly a contender. The ProStaff 3-9 is a high end scope featuring spring loaded turrets for fast and accurate adjustment, three to nine magnification, 40mm objective lens, fully coated optics that transmit up to 98 percent of all available light back to the shooter, and is designed to be fog, water and shock proof. Suitable for mounting on any deer rifle, the Nikon ProStaff can be easily a contender for the best rifle scope for deer hunting.

My thoughts on the Nikon Prostaff BDC scope!

Sightron S III

If you are after some serious reach out and touch power, or just a high powered scope that is as hardcore as your favorite hunts, look no further than the Sightron S III. Built from the ground up to be a serious long range, high powered scope, the S III features 10-50 power magnification, and oversized 60mm objective lens, this precisely built scope will give you a superior chance at previously impossible shots. High powered scopes are a must for long distant shooting, and with the S III you can hunt further than ever before!

New Sightron SV 10 – 50 x 60mm Rifle Scope with NEW 34mm main tube – Shot Show 2015

A Light in the Darkness

It’s 2015. We don’t have to use scopes that aren’t illuminated if we don’t want to. Technology has given us high end rifle scopes for deer hunting that have features that were formerly only found on military scopes. The LEDSniper Riflescope has a whopping six to twenty four magnification, is water and shock proof, includes mounting rings and sunshade, and has two different color settings for its illuminated mil dot reticle. Thirty years ago, this scope would have been unheard of, but now you can put this high powered illuminated scope on your deer rifle. Pretty cool, huh?

LedSniper Presma Eagle Series 6-24×50 Precision Riflescope AO with red, green, and blue reticle.

Vortex Viper

The Vortex Viper is the sort of scope you could take anywhere in North America for use on any sort of game and never have to worry about the quality of your optics. Perfect for deer hunting, it features 4-16 power magnification, a 44mm objective lens, a 30mm aircraft grade aluminum O-ring sealed tube, and state of the art lens coatings for optimal light transmission. This isn’t some cheap big box store scope you slap on your beater rifle and go hunting with; this is a scope for a serious deer hunter who spends serious time in the woods going after serious game. Affordable, high quality, high performing and built for the ages, the only thing wrong with this scope is that you probably don’t have it yet.

vortex viper 4-16X44 on model 700. 7mm shooting out to 1000yards

Simmons Quality, Simmons Pricing

As much as we’d like it, sometimes we just can’t afford a big money scope. Or even a medium money scope. But we still want the best rifle scope for deer hunting possible. Fortunately, Simmons has a reputation for making quality scopes, at very budget friendly prices. The Simmons 8 Point Truplex scope is just such a scope. Right now, I even have one of these mounted on an ancient Krag Jorgeson rifle that has been heavily modified, and love it. Featuring three to nine power magnification, an enormous 50mm objective lens, and the usual water and shock proofing that any decent modern scope has, this budget friendly scope will not let you down in performance or price. After all, trying to find the best scope for deer hunting often means keeping an eye on your wallet too.

Rifle scope 3×9 option!!

Stupid Question of the Day: Why Hunt with a Scope?

I’ve hunted deer with everything from a single-action .41 magnum revolver to a bone stock AK 47 with an underfolding stock and several more traditional rifles and shotguns. In some cases, I was hunting in thick brush, or in areas where use of a rifle was prohibited by law. In other cases, I was hunting where a rifle with a scope was an asset and would ensure a clean, easy kill. Very rarely will deer simply wander up in close range. Often they have to be stalked, and engaged at whatever range they appear at. Sometimes you are shooting at them from across a meadow or mountain valley, or sometimes on the edge of a farmer’s field. Regardless, unless you have eyes like Superman, or have almost literally walked up on top of them, you can benefit from putting the best deer-hunting scope on your rifle.

The best scopes have a few things in common, regardless of brand or other features. They all will have at least a 1” diameter body. In fact, this is pretty much the standard for rifle scopes, and there are a myriad of high quality 1” rings on the market to choose from. The best rifle scopes will have their tube purged with inert gas to prevent fogging during temperature change, and will be waterproof and hold their zero even under the heavy recoil of high powered rifles.

Scopes for deer hunting come into their own when you hunt at about 100 yards or further. Sometimes you can get lucky and walk up onto a deer, but for the most part, deer hunting involves distance, patience and time. When everything comes together, and you finally find your deer, there is a pretty good chance, you will need quality optics to get a good sight picture, and ensure a fast, clean and humane kill. You’ll need the variable magnification of a good rifle scope so that you can adjust your sight picture to be clear, stable and rock solid before pulling the trigger, and you may even need an illuminated reticle to see the crosshairs under low light or poor weather conditions. Regardless, there are a lot of scopes on the market, but we hope you’ve gotten a better idea of just what makes the best deer rifle scope.

10 responses

  1. My husband has been shooting Simmons scopes at deer since we married in 01 he has many deertheirsno reason to think anything bad about their optics & very affordable to

  2. These are great entry level scopes but when the going gets tough I choose a March 2.5 – 25 x 52. Superb optics and light gathering. Great for snap shooting at low power and zoom in to where you are comfortable for the deliberate shot.

  3. Simmons 3-9-50 pro sport is a great scope on a tight budget that will get the job done on many deer & pigs

  4. Redfield Revolution. American made, super clear and filters light incredibly well. Redfield is now owned by Leupold, and the Revolution series is made in Oregon. A nice 3x9x40 can be had for less than $200, and will last a lifetime. I believe they are the best bang for your buck scopes on the market today.

  5. Bushnell 3-9-50 is best meat & potatoes rifle scope for my deer hunting needs the legend is better than my prostaff5 by Nikon easy to sight in and stays true wer u put it bushnell legend 3-9-50 is solid as they come

  6. Simmons aetec2.8-10-44 is good as u will ever need for deer hunting & simple pig shooting made in phillipines is the one u want to get

  7. Deer hunt wit a bushnell legend 3-9-50 u will never regret doing so it’s a great very accurate rifle scope I got one and absolutely love it better than my Nikon 2.5-10-50 prostaff 5 bushnell legend wow what a scope

  8. China made aetecs are not near the quality of the phillipines made aetecs ther right ther with other big name scope manufacturers Simmons aetec made in china is garbage seems good but want last

  9. Left Simmons upper end rifle scopes went to nikon with one of ther New prostaff5s a season and a half and 3 scopes later I’ve bought a 3-9-5o leupold hope I can stop all the trouble I’m having with these rifle scope customer service at nikon is Great but these prostaff5s are maybe not what Nikon gives them credit for hope switching to a leupold my seasons will go back to what they used to be keeping the freezer full

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