The 4 Best .45-70 Scopes – Rifle Optic Reviews 2023

best 45-70 scope

Photo by Vlad Butsky / CC BY

The .45-70 has proven capable of taking all big game species on the planet, and is often used for protection against grizzly and polar bears in Alaska. While originally loaded as a black powder round in the late 19th century, today it can be had in everything from the original black powder loading or a smokeless equivalent, to fierce high pressure rounds that can only be fired in a handful of extremely stout rifles. You not only get a huge slug that slams into a target like a freight train but it’s also an iconic piece of Americana.

Many .45-70 rifles are currently built lever action or single shots, and these modern guns will take more potent loads than the original designers of the round could ever imagine. With that in mind, we went on a quest to find the right .45-70 scope and learned a couple things. First and foremost is there is no such thing as a bargain basement .45-70 scope; the second is that, yes you can get affordable .45-70 scopes. Check ’em out and see if you agree.

Here are our recommendations for the 4 best .45-70 scopes on the market:

Best .45-70 Scope #1: Simmons ProHunter Shotgun Scope

Yup, a shotgun scope. Clever riflemen looking for the best .45-70 scope have learned that shotgun scopes can take the vicious recoil the .45-70 round creates, and because it is not a long range round, a rugged, stout scope is more important than a scope for 500 yard shots.

The Simmons ProHunter is a budget-priced fixed four power scope with a 32mm objective lens, multicoated optics, fog proof construction, and of course designed to take stout recoil. While not a fancy scope, it is a scope that does one thing, and does it well. Some may balk at the fixed power magnification, but with the rainbow trajectory of the .45-70, few people choose to shoot it beyond a couple hundred yards, which is well within the capabilities of a fixed four power optic. One might even say it is an ideal configuration for such a harsh hitting, short range cartridge.

Either way, if you have a limited budget, and need a .45-70 scope, the Simmons ProHunter shotgun scope is a great place to start looking.

H & R 12 gauge with Simmons 4x32 scope review

Best .45-70 Scope #2: Primary Arms 1-8 Scope

OK, this might be a bit too tactical for some folks, but bear with us for a minute, and I think you’ll agree this is also one of the best .45-70 scopes available. It has all the things you need for a good scope for your favorite big bore boomer, but adds things like second focal plane magnification and an illuminated reticle. While these features are usually more in demand with the tactical crowd, they are invaluable on a hunting rifle.

After all, an illuminated reticle (see full specs) is invaluable in low light shooting conditions, and the superiority of second focal plane magnification is always to be appreciated. With 1-8 magnification, a 24mm objective lens, plus fog and shockproof construction, this Primary Arms scope should be right at home on top of your favorite .45-70.

Primary Arms 1-8x SFP ACSS - Unboxing and First Impressions

Best .45-70 Scope #3: Weaver V-3

One to 3X magnification and a 20mm objective lens may not sound like much, but you aren’t sniping with a .45-70 lever gun. Think of this scope more as an optical sight, and it starts making a lot more sense in the grand scheme of things. One nice thing about 1-3 power scopes is that it is far easier to make them capable of standing up to harsh recoil, and the Weaver V-3 is such a scope.

Real world reports of this scope (see full specs) being used on the Marlin Guide Gun indicate it is just the ticket for the kind of hunting the .45-70 excels at. And because this is a Weaver scope, it is water, fog and shockproof. What’s not to love?

Weaver 1-3X20 Classic V-Series Tactical Scope Review

Best .45-70 Scope #4: Nikon ProStaff

Here is a variable power 3-9 scope with a 40mm objective lens that will stand up to the .45-70. The Nikon ProStaff is an extremely popular and very well built scope. With an O-ring sealed, nitrogen purged tube, it is water and fog proof, and Nikon’s superior construction makes it shockproof as well.

The 3-9×40 scope is a classic configuration that offers the usefulness of a low magnification optic, with the ability to zoom in enough to make a longer distance shot, while the 40mm objective offers excellent light transmission, which delivers an excellent sight picture when combined with Nikon’s proprietary optics. Affordable, rugged, and flexible. Certainly a contender for the best .45-70 scope.

Nikon Prostaff Rifle Scope 3x9 40

Choosing the Best .45-70 Scope

The most commonly scoped .45-70’s are various lever action rifles, like those made by Marlin and Henry. However, there are also plenty of single shot .45-70’s like the Ruger Number 1 which are scoped. All have one thing in common- they shoot modern, high pressure .45-70 ammo, and require a modern scope capable of taking a beating.

With that in mind, cheap, unbranded scopes are simply out of the question. They can fall apart with one or two shots, and certainly won’t hold up to regular use. This is why we looked at well known famous makers who stand behind their products. While there are places where you can cheap out in the scope world, the .45-70 isn’t one of them.

With that in mind, you want to look for something simple and robust, which is why we chose the Simmons Shotgun Scope, and the Weaver V-3. Both are reliable, rugged and built to take heavy use. So too, is the Nikon ProStaff, and the Primary Arms. Both the Primary Arms and Nikon scopes have the benefit of adjustable power, although only the Nikon offers a 40mm objective lens, which may or may not make up for the lack of an illuminated reticle.

.45-70 shooters are often traditionalists. After all, this is a round that dates back to the 1870’s and is heavily entrenched in American mythology and culture. With that in mind, .45-70 guns are also usually traditional in appearance, and when shooters scope them, a scope that looks good, or at least traditional is an important consideration. After all, when was the last time you saw a lever gun fitted out with tactical gear?

These four scopes will all perform excellent service on common .45-70 rifles and will stand up to perhaps all but the most punishing max pressure loads. Go ahead and grab one and keep the .45-70 alive for another hundred plus years. Good luck!

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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One response

  1. Tactical isnow the norm on lever guns. Tactical forends and matte finishes were all the rage at SHOT Show 18.
    Strongly agree with the 4x option, this is a fast gun and a fast scope us the best bet for me. Good article

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