Best Deer Rifle Scope of 2018 & Buying Guide

Once upon a time, I thought that buying a rifle scope for hunting deer was going to be a simple task – it’s just deer hunting, right? Wrong.

Buying any rifle scope is a complicated procedure and there’s a lot of things you have to consider, even if you’re just hunting for deer. You have to consider your situation, your environment, the time of day you’ll be shooting, your budget, and even when you have all that figured out you still have to sort through thousands of different scopes that are available on the market.

Fortunately, that’s what we do so you don’t have to. We’ve put together a little guide for buying a deer rifle scope so you don’t have to do days of research, and then we’ve listed the best rifle scopes you can buy for hunting deer.

What makes a deer rifle scope good?

It depends on where you are and what you’re doing – night hunters will need a digital night vision rifle scope, for example; long distance shooters will need a long-range rifle scope. Assuming you know what you need to get out of your shooting experience, consider the following.

Your environment

Your environment plays a huge part in deciding which rifle scope you’re going to buy – the weather, the lighting, the distance, and many other factors.

Weather is a huge factor in buying a rifle scope for hunting. If you live in a rainy area, naturally, you’re going to want to buy a scope that, if not waterproof, is at least water resistant. These aren’t likely to add much to your budget since most rifle scopes are water resistant anyways.

GPO Passion 8x

GPO Passion 8x

If you live in an area where there are frequent storms, consider looking for a shockproof rifle scope to protect you from any lightning or atmospheric electrical charge that can damage the instruments on your scope and on your rifle

If you live in an area, like a mountain, where there’s fog a lot of the time, definitely look into a moisture or fog resistant scope. Fog can damage the structural integrity of your device.

The lighting in your environment plays a huge factor. A lot of people like to shoot at dusk and dawn – this is usually fine.

When shooting at dawn or dusk it’s a good thing to have a scope with a wide objective lens. An objective lens is what allows light into your view piece, so having a big one allows more light in which can enhance your vision at those early or late hours. They also help during the darkness of overcast days.

Note: Some lenses use special layers of multi coated glass. These scopes allow for more light to penetrate the glass which greatly improve the level of visibility.

The distance you’ll be shooting from is another important thing to consider. Some people like to shoot close range, some from long distance, depending on personal preference, the area they’re in, and the area they live in.

Short-distance shooters should be fine with just a single scope, even a fixed scope. Fixed scopes can’t adjust the level of magnification and are generally only chosen when people have a rough idea of how far their game or target will be from their vantage point.

Long-distance shooters should consider variable scopes. Variable scopes have adjustable magnifications and you can change the zoom with a flick of your finger. These aren’t just good for long range but for short range as well, and offer much more versatility than fixed scopes.

Consider buying a reticle with distance compensation – some reticles have dots that allow the user to adjust their angle based on the elevation, distance and the strength of the wind without actually adjusting settings.

Safety

Safety is something that everyone buying a rifle scope needs to consider, not just deer hunters. Shooting a rifle is serious business and there’s a lot that can go wrong – most of which we’d all prefer to avoid.

Consider the durability and stability of your scope. Buying a durable rifle, we wish, could be as simple as buying a scope made out of a solid and sturdy material, but this is definitely not the case. Sturdier materials are often heavier and usually cost more than the alternatives. On top of costing more, strapping a sturdy, heavy scope to your rifle impacts your ability to aim.

Stability can be indicated by a number of factors.

  • There are a lot of rifle scopes that come in a one-piece design. These are made this way because it avoids the safety compromise of having a whole bunch of different parts all attached to each other that can fall apart, break individually, or come loose.
  • Some rifle scopes compensate for safety by using a metal rod that goes through its entirety.

Shock resistance and rebound resistance are hugely important because they determine the strength of the bullets you can shoot, and the power of the rifle that you can use with the scope. If you’re going to be using heavy bullets, make sure you investigate this.

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    Check out the eye relief of your scope before buying it. Eye relief is the distance between your eye and the closest piece of the scope, and if the eye relief is too small you risk taking out an eye during a rebound after a powerful shot.

Top 4 Best Deer Rifle Scope Reviews

1.Leupold 172336 VX-3I LRP Side Focus Gun Scope Review

Leupold 172336

Leupold 172336

This is another rifle scope that keeps showing up not just on our top lists, but on those of many sites around the web. Leupold is a great innovator in the world of rifle scopes and they continue to impress us to this day.

This particular entry is supposed to be a kind of ‘one-size-fits-all’ for hunters and rifle shooters in general. The coolest thing about this rifle scope is that you can configure it to fit a variety of adjustable ranges – yes, different variable ranges in one scope. Those ranges are 4.5×15, 6.5×20 and 8.5×25, all with the 50mm objective lens which allows a lot of light to elucidate your field of vision.

Beyond that, it has either a first or second plane illuminated reticle for you to choose from, making this an ideal scope for people shooting at all times of day. There’s a throw lever that you can use to quickly and smoothly adjust the magnification range, but it’s removable if you prefer to do this the old school way.

All of this comes at a price tag of just over a grand, which is a heck of a lot less than most of the precision rifle scopes you’ll find on the market these days.

Pros

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    Great objective lens takes in a lot of light
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    Adjustable variable scope that has three different configurations of zoom range
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    Illuminated reticle further ensures that you can see with ease
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    Affordable compared to other precision scopes

Cons

  • Expensive for the everyday hunter

2. UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope, AO, RGB Mil-dot, QD Rings Review

UTG 3-9X32

UTG 3-9X32

This is a great budget scope, and is definitely a top contender for everyday hunters who just want to be able to bag some game without spending a month’s pay on a scope. It comes in at under a hundred bucks.

Despite the cheap price tag, this isn’t a shoddy piece of equipment. It comes with a lot of features that make it perfectly functional and a good opposition to the fact that people do shell out thousands on hunting scopes.

It has a mildot reticle for accuracy when shooting a distant target, and this reticle is illuminated with red and green for ease of visibility even in dim light. The two colours provide stark contrast and clarity.

The turret design provides a lockable setting and is easy to reset. The magnification is 3-9x – nothing fantastic, but more than enough for the average hunter. The objective lens is 32mm – again, nothing fantastic, but more than enough for someone who’s just going to be hunting during the day.

3. GPO Passion 8x Review

GPO Passion 8x

GPO Passion 8x

GPO is an entirely new company in the world of rifle scopes and they’re making some great products to kick off their product line. The passion 8x is one of these awesome products.

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The unit zooms up to 8x which isn’t anything spectacular, but for a fixed magnification scope it’s a solid distance for you to hunt at.

The lenses use a technology known as iControl illumination and adjustment turrets that are easy to adjust without causing you to lose focus on your target. The big thing here is the objective lens which provides you with a great field of vision and a whole bunch of optical excellence, as well as a lot of light absorption.

You can choose either a first or second plane reticle for this unit and you’re not going to have to pay a whole lot of money for it – the most expensive models are around $400 in the Passion line.

Pros

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    Good sized objective lens provides you with a wide field of vision
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    Great illumination allows you to focus even in dim light
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    Can choose either a first or second plane reticle
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    Great for close range hunting

Cons

  • Fixed magnification means it’s not super adjustable for zoom

4. Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Mil Dot Reticle Review

Vortex Optics

Vortex Optics

This isn’t a huge financial drain, coming in at under five hundred bucks, but it has a lot of features and adjustments that make it a great purchase for deer hunters.

The whole unit comes in a one piece design so you don’t have to worry about losing parts or screws, or worry about different parts coming undone during intense shootouts. It’s a sturdy unit made out of aircraft grade aluminum which is one of the most popular materials used for developing scopes that are high quality and affordable.

The adjustments come in the form of tall turrets, which are easy to see, quick to adjust and ensure that you can make changes on the fly without compromising your target or your accuracy. The turrets click into place nicely and ensure that your settings won’t be changed while you move or during kickbacks from shots.

There’s also a knob for parallax adjustment which is a great thing to have for distance shooting and not something seen often on cheaper scopes.

Pros

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    One piece design for added stability and durability
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    Made of aircraft grade aluminum
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    Uses easy-to-see adjustment knobs and turrets
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    Parallax adjustment ensures accuracy

Cons

  • More expensive than the average Joe shooter will need
  • Turret adjustments means no easy sliding knobs

So, which is the best?

The GPO Passion 8x is probably the best overall score on this list. It’s more expensive than two of the entries, but also a lot more powerful than some. It’s got an adjustable magnification that goes up to 8x, so it’s not going to be great for long distance shooting, but who needs long-distance scopes to shoot deer?

The lenses use special technology to ensure proper illumination of your field of vision, and the reticles are clearly marked. The objective lens is a great size for a hunting rifle and at no extra cost.

It’s worth shelling out the few hundred bucks for this scope if you plan to do some serious deer hunting.