So, you’re in the market for a new rifle scope for your .45-70 caliber rifle?
This is a buyer’s guide with features to look out for in various scopes along with reviews of four exceptional .45-70 scopes you can buy today.
The .45-70 cartridge is also known as the .45-70 Government. It was developed by the US Army for use in the Springfield Model 1873, right after the end of the American Civil War.
The .45-70 was and still is, a big hit among sports hunters in America because of it’s sheer stopping power. It can be used to put down the biggest of the big game animals, even great bears. It has been used extensively to hunt the ‘African Big Six’ as well over its 150-year history. It doesn’t mean it is good for long range shooting though, it excels at closer ranges.
It has been used to hunt everything from birds to elephants. Another impressive feature is that it does not destroy edible meat on smaller animals like deer, because of its low velocity.
Since you are in the market for a new rifle scope, we’ve compiled this best scope for 45-70 guide to make your job easier.
So, let’s begin!
Factors to Consider Before Buying a 45-70 Scope
The .45-70 has a naturally steep trajectory. This means that you’ll need to make precise distance, windage and altitude adjustments on all long-range shots.
Before you start shopping for a scope for this rifle, there are a few basic things you need to keep in mind.
The .45-70 is made for mostly close-range shooting of big game animals. So, the scope doesn’t need to have high magnification levels, but it does have to have perfect accuracy, a high range of elevation and windage adjustments with fine, small, incremental divisions per click.
You also really need to get a scope with a parallax adjuster so that you hit your mark on the first shot. You don’t want to miss and then have a buffalo or bear charge at you!
Your scope should be able to produce crisp and clear images with perfect contrast from dawn to dusk. Since there’s no telling how long it will take for you to hunt your targets down, you need a lens which will produce quality images in low-light conditions.
Multicoated, anti-reflective lenses are a must because they permit maximum light transmission. A good scope will have your back if it’s dark, foggy or rainy.
Scopes don’t come cheap, and you would want an investment that serves you well for many years. Also, bushes and trees in the forest are sure to give your scope a good battering. Your .45-70 deserves a scope just as sturdy as the bullet.
Scopes made out of aluminum alloy and anodized exteriors are the best when it comes to durability. You also need lenses that will not give way to inclement weather conditions. Lenses with Nitrogen housing and O-ring seals are usually waterproof, dust and fog proof and also, shock resistant.
With the amount of recoil from a .45-70, eye relief is of paramount importance. You definitely need an eye relief of at least 3.5 inches and preferably, more.
If you’re shooting from an unusual position or from a weird angle, you definitely stand a chance of the scope hitting your eyes if you don’t have sufficient buffer (eye relief.)
Although you won’t be shooting long range, you won’t go right up to a large and dangerous animal either. The .45-70 has quite a steep trajectory, and you need your scope to compensate for bullet drop and windage over long distances. Having holdover positions and bullet trajectory prediction systems help a lot.
The crosshairs should be clean and uncluttered, along with providing enough information. It’s also best if the crosshair is illuminated.
The 4 Best .45-70 Scopes
Now that you know what to look for in 45-70 optics, you’re all set to go out, buy one and use it the great wilderness. Here are reviews for four scopes for the .45-70 we particularly like and endorse.
1. Leupold VX-1 3-9X40mm
First up on our list comes this offering from Leupold, a name we’ve come to love and appreciate over the years. If you want to buy American made, it can’t get any more American than Leupold.
What Makes This Product A Great Choice?
The 3:1 zoom ratio models are insanely popular, and it’s easy to figure out why. The scope is multi-purpose and gives you the versatility you need to tackle diverse, unpredictable hunting scenarios.
The zoom ratio erector system allows you to switch between a bigger, wider field of view and a more detailed, intricate view with one flick of the power selector. Perfect for when you want to hit your mark with one shot.
Because of the steep parabolic trajectory of the bullet, you can compensate for wind and bullet drop with one-quarter MOA finger click adjustments.
The reticle holds zero perfectly up to 200/300 yards, and it has additional aiming points up to 500 and 600 yards. The centralized circle is ideal for getting moving targets in your crosshairs.
The multicoated optical surfaces allow for vivid light transmission, even in extremely dimly lit conditions. The glare is minimal, and the contrast is maximum, giving you a near HD, crystal clear picture. Leupold makes no compromises when it comes to optical performance.
Then, of course, there’s the durability. Aircraft-grade aluminum alloy ensures the scope can handle whatever you throw at it. O-ring seals and nitrogen purged lenses ensure that it is highly resistant to water, fog, dust, and thermal shock.
- Versatile 3:1 zoom ratio erector system
- Firedot Ballistic reticle for greater accuracy
- 1/4 MOA precision finger click adjustments
- High-quality craftsmanship
- No adjustable objective lens
- Not ideal for long range shooting
The Bottom Line
This model entirely lives up to the high-quality craftsmanship we’ve come to expect from Leupold. The mounting is simple and quick; the accuracy is spot on and all in all, this rifle is well worth the price tag. It’s a good rifle scope for beginners to learn and grow into, and an even better platform for experienced hunters to hunt with.
2. Nikon ProStaff 3-9X40 Black Matte Riflescope
5 inches high and 9 inches wide, it is a compact riflescope which packs quite a punch. The reticle and picture quality is beautiful, as we would expect from a top brand like Nikon and the reticle design is perfect for the .45-70.
What Makes This Scope So Awesome?
What we like best among many things in this riflescope is the Nikoplex Reticle. It’s the perfect fit for shooters who prefer traditional reticles with one aiming point and without too much clutter. Add to that, Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology which makes calculating of holdover positions an absolute breeze.
Picture quality is Nikon’s forte and they leave no stone unturned in any of their scopes. Multiple layers of anti-reflective layers on the optics ensure vivid light transmission and perfect contrast no matter how dimly lit the surroundings are.
The adjustment turrets have a quick reset facility, which lets you return to zero without having to reverse count clicks. 1/4 inch clicks offer small, accurate adjustments which hold their own even in strong recoil.
The usual nitrogen-purged lenses and O-ring seals ensure complete protection from fog, water, and dust. On top of that, there’s Nikon’s Lifetime warranty in case anything goes wrong.
- Spot On Ballistic Match Technology
- Vivid picture quality
- Eye relief is a bit low (3.6 inches)
The Bottom Line
This one from Nikon is a winner in our book, with top marks in accuracy, reliability, and durability. It is a stellar scope which is a lot of fun and will last you for many years to come.
See our full Nikon ProStaff 3-9×40 review.
3. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot
Loaded with features and customizable options, the UTG 3-12X is a scope which keeps on giving. All the usual features complemented with additional accessories makes this scope one for the ages.
Why Is This Scope Is A Must Have?
Trajectory estimation is not a problem anymore with the TRE (Tactical Range Estimating) MilDot Reticle. With a little patience, you can improve your accuracy and precision, in ways you couldn’t have imagined before. The number of target points on the reticle far outnumber the industry standard, making for a very accurate reticle.
The patented Illumination Enhancing technology provides the usual red/green dual color scheme along with 36 other choices of color, which you can get to choose. That’s right!
You get to choose the color combination of the reticle from 36 different colors. It’s ideal for varying light settings and is an absolute godsend for people who are color blind.
The turrets offer consistent and crisp adjustments at 1/4 MOA per click. They are lockable and have zero resetting as well. There is also a side wheel adjustable turret for parallax adjustment which offers an unparalleled parallax-free view from 10 yards up to infinity – a vast range. All this, combined with the trajectory estimating reticle is going to take your marksmanship to new heights.
As expected, the lenses are multicoated for maximum light transmission. They are also nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed to make them fog-proof, dust and waterproof. There is also an angled sunshade and flip-open lens caps which comes integrated with the scope.
- Multi-color, customizable reticle
- Parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity
- Sunshade and lens caps
- Lockable and resetting turrets
- Not lightweight
- Gets blurry above 10X
The Bottom Line
Because of its customization features, it’s immensely fun to use. Then there’s the accuracy. UTG has cut no corners with the resettable, lockable turrets, trajectory estimating reticles and parallax adjustment knobs. It’s a professional’s scope at an amateurs price tag.
4. BARSKA 6.5-20×50 AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope
If you’re intent on shooting long range but don’t want to dole out too much cash, then this is the model for you. Exceptionally budget-friendly, this one from Barska is a great beginner’s long-range scope.
What Makes This Scope Great?
With a maximum zoom of 20X and a large 50mm adjustable objective lens, you can zoom into your prey as much as you want and have a large, bright picture on your lens.
The best feature about this scope is the exceptionally high wind and elevation adjustment turrets with 1/8 MOA adjustments. This makes for highly accurate adjustments which is very important in a long-range shooting scope.
The multicoated optics allow for great light transmission, and the Mil-dot reticle makes for added accuracy. There is also a parallax adjuster in the side, so you can make those long distance shots without facing parallax errors.
Waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof, the nitrogen purged lenses hold their own in all sorts of inclement weather conditions.
- large objective lens
- 1/8 MOA turrets
- Mil-dot reticle
- Highly Affordable
- The picture gets blurry at long ranges
- Not too durable
The Bottom Line
Although it lacks the craftsmanship of a Leupold, it is a great budget scope for long range shooting. The wind and elevation turrets with their 1/8 MOA gradation is excellent for making small adjustments on those long-range shots.
Well, that ends our review of the best scopes for 45-70 Government. There is no one scope which will suit all requirements, and they all have their pros and cons. So it’s best to read the buyers guide and then decide what’s most important to you.
The four scopes reviewed here do a great job of covering the basics and are guaranteed to be a worthy addition to your hunting arsenal.
So go ahead, let’s get shooting.