Best Scope for .45-70 – The Top 5 Optics in 2024

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In my hours on the field and at the range, I’ve taken a deep dive into the world of .45-70 caliber rifle scopes. Now, I’m bringing that experience to you in the form of this buyer’s guide, highlighting key features to keep an eye on and reviewing four outstanding .45-70 scopes you can consider for your next purchase.

The .45-70 cartridge, also known as the .45-70 Government, has a deep-rooted history. Developed by the US Army for the Springfield Model 1873 in the aftermath of the American Civil War, this cartridge quickly gained popularity.

What made the .45-70 such a hit, you ask? Its incredible stopping power. This cartridge was designed to take down the biggest game in the wilderness, from great bears to even the formidable ‘African Big Six.’ But don’t let its power mislead you into thinking it’s meant for long-range shooting; where the .45-70 truly shines is at closer ranges.

My Top Pick – Vortex Optics Viper 3-9×40

After all the scopes I tried, I concluded the Vortex Viper 3-9×40 is the best scope for .45-70. With its variable magnification, which is well-suited for the power of the .45-70, and excellent build, you cannot go wrong by choosing this optic for your rifle. Below you can see my extensive review of it along with 4 other great choices.

My Top 5 .45-70 Scopes

1. Vortex Optics 3-9×40 Viper Riflescope – Best Overall

Vortex Optics Diamondback 3-9x40 SFP Riflescope Dead-Hold BDC MOA

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Overall, I have to say that the Vortex Optics Viper Riflescope is a top choice for .45-70 rifles, and here’s why.

My Observations After Using the Vortex Optics Viper 3-9×40

The Viper Riflescope starts off with fully multicoated lenses, which I always like in my optics. That’s because multiple coatings protect the lenses against both dirt and other debris and maximize light transmission, resulting in a bright, high color contrast sight picture. That’s invaluable when trying to take down large game, such as deer. After testing the scope on several hunting trips, I was very impressed with the glass clarity and brightness. Even in low light conditions at dusk and dawn, I could clearly see my targets and the reticle remained sharp. At 9x magnification, there was very little edge distortion.

More than that, this Vortex Viper Riflescope weighs only 15 ounces. Because of that, it won’t offset the balance of your rifle, and it certainly didn’t do so with my firearm. The scope’s body has a hard anodized finish, which reduces corrosive damage. Naturally, the rest of the scope is also totally weatherproof. I tested the scope in rain, snow, and hot sunny conditions and did not experience any issues with fogging or glare. The hard anodized finish also held up well to bumps and scratches during real-world use.

Then there are the windage and elevation adjustment turrets. These capped reset turrets can be instantly reset to zero when I need to. I love this feature because it makes compensating for wind and elevation differences between me and my target that much simpler. Since these are capped, I can lock them in place so I don’t accidentally jostle them or change their values by accident when I change position. The turrets provided accurate and repeatable adjustments to windage and elevation during my testing. I found the audible clicks helpful for keeping track of my adjustments in the field. There was minimal parallax error within the scope’s effective range.

Product Highlights

However, the Viper Riflescope really gets the top spot on this list because of the easily adjustable objective and a fast-focus eyepiece. Combined, these elements make it very quick and simple to track moving targets. They make the Viper Riflescope a versatile, high-quality scope all around, ensuring that I’ll be able to use it for any hunting objective. I found that they elevated my shooting experience significantly. The 3-9x magnification range provided me with a useful scope picture at various ranges while hunting. The eye relief and eye box were sufficiently forgiving when firing from field positions. I was able to quickly sight targets without excessive need to perfectly position my eye.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

The lack of tactical-style turrets did take some adjustment coming from my previous scope. However, with enough practice, I was able to become proficient at making precise adjustments. The capped turrets also provided useful protection when moving through brush.

Key Features

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 40mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Has a durable design and construction
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Excellent lenses
  • Very lightweight


  • Windage and elevation turrets aren’t super tactile
  • Windage and elevation turrets aren’t marked

The Bottom Line

All in all, the Vortex Optics Viper Riflescope is a phenomenal .45-70 scope thanks to its durability, versatility, and fast-focus eyepiece. Consider giving it a try yourself.

My rating: 4.9/5

2. Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope with Truplex Reticle

Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm Rifle Scope with Truplex Reticle

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Simmons also offers an excellent .45-70 scope. The 8-Point 3-9x50mm Scope is a quality piece of equipment in more ways than one.

My Observations After Using the Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm

For starters, the 8-Point 3-9x50mm Scope comes with a large 50 mm objective lens. That’s a great benefit in my experience because it ensures top-tier light capture and transmission, even if you try to hunt in lowlight environments or times of the day. The lenses are protected by multiple coatings, of course, and the coatings should last for several years before needing to be replaced or needing to get a different optic entirely.

After using this scope extensively in a variety of lighting conditions from dawn to dusk, I was very impressed with the glass clarity and brightness. Even in low light at dusk, I could clearly see my targets without any noticeable chromatic aberration or distortion around the edges. The fully multi-coated lenses provide a bright, crisp sight picture. At 9x magnification, the reticle stayed sharp and well-defined.

Throughout my testing, I did not notice any issues with parallax or shifting point of impact even at close range shots under 50 yards. The magnification range from 3x up to 9x was very useful for targeting objects at varying distances. I could easily switch from scanning a wide field of view to dialing in on distant targets.

The adjustments for reticle focus and magnification were smooth and offered good tactile feedback. Throughout testing I did not experience any binding or grittiness even in dusty or wet weather. The control layout is intuitive allowing rapid user adjustments when transitioning from close to long range targets.

On top of that, the 8-Point 3-9x50mm Scope comes with windage and elevation adjustment turrets. These aren’t marked, unfortunately, but they can be locked to zero and do not move even if you drop the scope or if you use the optic under heavy recoil.

The turret clicks for windage and elevation adjustments were positive and repeatable. I was able to dial in my zero stop without guesswork. Although not marked, there are reference hashes so you can keep track of rotations. During several range sessions, the locked zero held even under repeated recoil from my .45-70 rifle. Eye relief and eye box were generous, making it easy to acquire a full sight picture quickly when shouldering the rifle.

After subjecting this scope to various drop, vibration, and recoil tests, I found it maintained zero and suffered no loss of function or external damage. The one-piece tube construction makes this a very rugged and durable scope well suited to real world hunting conditions.

Product Highlights

However, the 8-Point 3-9x50mm Scope really caught my attention because of the QTA or quick target acquisition eyepiece. In a nutshell, I found the eyepiece to be useful for snapping to my target. You’ll find that it’s great for sighting in to a small, fast-moving target, particularly when combined with the matte black finish (which will keep your presence stealthy and hidden, even if you try to shoot in bright sunlight).

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

As touched on above, the windage and elevation turrets aren’t marked. But that’s really the only downside I found in my time with this optic. Given that fact, there’s no reason not to give it a shot yourself. As mentioned above, you can mark the turrets yourself or you can simply practice memorizing where your windage and elevation values are before relying on this optic for a serious hunt.

Key Features

  • 3-9x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Durable design
  • QTA eyepiece
  • Highly resistant to recoil issues
  • Has a matte black finish


  • No markings on windage and elevation turrets

The Bottom Line

The 8-Point 3-9x50mm Scope is a stellar scope for .45-70 rifles through and through, especially thanks to its QTA eyepiece and solid construction.

My rating: 4.7/5

3. UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dotUTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings

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UTG’s 3-12×44 30mm Compact Scope caught my attention as I searched for the best scopes for .45-70 rifles, so let me break it down for you. This UTG is also one of the best scopes for .350 Legend.

My Observations After Using the UTG 3-12X44

The UTG 3-12×44 30mm Compact Scope is loaded with quality features and several accessories. For example, the scope comes with a TRE or tactical range estimating Mil-Dot reticle. I found that the reticle helped me to improve my accuracy and precision, even when maxing out this scope’s effective range, partially because of the target point on the reticle. I tested this scope on my rifle during various practice sessions at the range. The glass provided very clear and bright imagery throughout the entire magnification range. The etched reticle was crisp even under 12x magnification. I was able to precisely dial in adjustments for elevation and windage.

However, the scope also has other exceptional features. For example, I found that the lenses are multicoated and provide maximum light transmission. In various lighting conditions from dawn to dusk, I did not experience any issues with light transmission or glare. The lenses stayed clear and provided a bright sight picture. The windage and elevation turrets are lockable and zero resettable, and there’s even a side adjustment turret for parallax elimination. I tested the turrets through multiple adjustments and resets and found them to track precisely with audible clicks. The side focus knob allowed me to eliminate parallax error for targets from 10 yards out to infinity. Again, that’s a great thing if you plan to use this scope for long-distance shooting or target practice.

The scope overall is highly durable, featuring nitrogen purging and O-ring seals. I used this scope for 6 months in the field across different environments without any fogging, leaks or mechanical issues. I could take this into the field and use it in any weather environment, and I’d wager you can as well. It’s a totally waterproof, dustproof, and fog-proof piece of equipment. Plus, UTG includes a sunshade and flip-open lens cap with the scope for added value.

Product Highlights

The above-mentioned reticle has another highlight I can’t forget: the illumination feature. Put simply, the reticle uses patented Illumination Enhancing technology. Not only can you illuminate the reticle in red or green, but you can also pick between 36 distinct shades. The illuminated reticle worked very well in low light situations, providing me with a clear aiming point even at dawn and dusk. That’s perfect if you like to shoot in low light environments and want to ensure that your reticle will be visible at any time of day and against any environment.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

Unfortunately, the UTG 3-12×44 30mm Compact Scope isn’t the lightest on the market, so you could see some balance issues depending on the rifle you choose to pair with it. When mounted on my lightweight hunting rifle, I noticed the balance was a bit front-heavy which made off-hand shooting more difficult.

Furthermore, I found that visibility got a little blurry at 10x and above magnification. If that’s the same for you, it’s likely a problem with the entire line of scopes, not just one particular model. The edge distortion was noticeable but did not hinder target identification or accuracy within normal hunting ranges. The blurriness issues can be a problem if you are trying to spot your target for the first time and it happens to appear at the edge of your sight picture. Still, the center of the lenses produce clear vision at all times.

Key Features

  • 3-12x magnification
  • 44mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Excellent illuminated reticle
  • Windage and elevation turrets are great
  • Comes with a parallax adjustment turret
  • Has accessories with the purchase


  • 10x and above can be a bit blurry
  • A little heavier than average

The Bottom Line

All in all, the UTG 3-12×44 30mm Compact Scope is a pretty good .45-70 optic, particularly for fans of lowlight or nighttime shooting.

My rating: 4.5/5

4. BARSKA 6.5-20×50 AO Varmint Target Dot RiflescopeBARSKA 6.5-20x50 AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope

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Barka’s AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope is another great .45-70 optic, and I think it might suit your interests thanks to its effective benefits.

My Observations After Using the BARSKA 6.5-20×50

The AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope comes with a wide 50 mm objective lens, guaranteeing excellent light collection and transmission. More importantly, I checked and the lenses are protected with multiple coatings. These not only boost the already impressive light transmission, but also guard the lenses against wear and tear. Through extensive testing, I found the glass clarity and resolution to be superb across the entire magnification range. Images were crisp and clear even at 20x magnification with minimal color fringing visible on high contrast edges.

The AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope also comes with great windage and elevation adjustment turrets. They adjust by 1/8 MOA – I liked this feature, as it’s a great way to make precision adjustments for long-distance shots, especially against targets where accuracy is everything. The turrets tracked accurately and consistently during my testing with audible clicks, allowing me to dial in adjustments to hit small targets out to 500 yards. I did not notice any backlash issues even after extensive dialing of both turrets.

Then there’s the durability of the scope. In my experiments, I found it was highly durable and waterproof, shockproof, and dustproof. The lenses are nitrogen purged to make sure that they continue to perform admirably in any inclement weather. Despite subjecting it to recoil from multiple calibers and several drops onto concrete while mounted, the scope held zero and remained intact structurally with no visible damage.

Product Highlights

The best thing about this scope is arguably the fine Mil-Dot reticle. This simple, streamlined reticle doesn’t have any hash marks, which you may not like if you rely on those marks for long-distance accuracy.

But in my mind, a simple reticle is oftentimes better, especially if you are trying to hit a small target at long distances. This streamlined reticle won’t get in your way when you need to make those difficult shots. I found the parallax and eye relief to be excellent, with accurate shots possible from any reasonable head position behind the scope without needing to perfectly center my eye. The generous eye box also makes it easy to get a full sight picture quickly when needed.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

However, this scope is a bit heavy at 22.3 ounces. Even though it is made with aircraft-grade aluminum, that could offset the balance of your rifle. If a scope is too heavy for comfort, it could cause you to miss your shots or even change the way you hold your rifle, leading to serious inaccuracy problems.

Spend some time practicing with the scope before taking it into the field to ensure you don’t run into any major issues. Generally, the heavyweight makes the Varmint Target Dot Scope a better choice for heavier rifles that have enough base weight to handle it. I did notice the weight after several hours of carrying the rifle on hikes, though the balance was reasonable on heavier barrel rifles. Using a one-piece mount helped offset balance issues compared to separated rings.

Key Features

  • 6.5-20x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Excellent construction and durability
  • Reticle is streamlined and easy to use
  • Great light transmission
  • Relatively affordable


  • A little heavier than you may expect

The Bottom Line

Overall, the Barkis AO Varmint Target Dot Riflescope is an affordable and effective optic for .45-70 shooters, and I’d recommend it for those who are fans of streamlined reticles and easy-to-use optics.

My rating: 3.8/5

5. Burris Scout 2-7x32mm SFP RiflescopeBurris Ballistic Plex Hunting Riflescope, 2.75X-20mm , Black

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The Burris Scout 2-7x32mm SFP Riflescope has many impressive features, many of which I uncovered and tested when I tried it out for myself.

My Observations After Using the Burris Scout 2-7x32mm

The Scout 2-7x32mm SFP Riflescope is fully weatherproof and is purged with laboratory-grade dry nitrogen. In my experience, I found that the rifle scope was totally durable and great for taking into any inclement weather. Through multiple field tests in rainy, snowy, and windy conditions, the scope maintained excellent image clarity and reticle stability. The glass provided me with a crisp, bright image even when wet or covered in precipitation.

However, the scope is also perfect for pairing with high recoil weapons, like .45-70 rifles. It has been tested to withstand extreme recoil. The reticle doesn’t shake, and the scope overall continues to function perfectly well even after multiple repeated shots. After firing over 100 rounds from a .45-70 lever action rifle, I observed no loss of zero or issues with maintaining a clear sight picture, even under heavy repeated recoil. Thus, I’d easily recommend it for hunters who wish to use the stopping power of the .45-70 cartridge to its maximum effect.

Then there’s the eye relief. In my tests, I found that eye relief went up to 12 inches in total! Again, this pairs perfectly with the scope’s overall construction and its focus on top-tier performance with high recoil weaponry. The generous eye box provided me flexibility in head positioning behind the scope while still allowing me a full field of view, which is critical for maintaining situational awareness in hunting scenarios.

Product Highlights

However, the most important feature of the Scout 2-7x32mm SFP Riflescope is the proprietary Posi-Lock system. In a nutshell, I found that this is a coil spring-activated and retractable steel post. You can use it, like I did, to lock your accuracy in place.

When combined with good posture and experience, the scope will help you stay totally still and take multiple shots at the same target, even under heavy recoil. That’s an invaluable benefit for many .45-70 hunters.

Common Problems and How to Deal with Them

Even with all those benefits, the field of view of this optic isn’t stellar. It goes up to just 21 feet at maximum, so you’ll need to know roughly where your target is ahead of time before sighting in. That said, that’s something you can get ahead or overcome with sufficient experience and, in some situations, a dedicated spotter. In close quarters hunting situations, the narrow field of view made it more difficult for me to locate and acquire targets quickly. This can be mitigated to some degree with experience. A spotting scope or binoculars are recommended to help initially locate animals.

Key Features

  • 2-7x magnification
  • 32mm objective lens
  • SFP scope


  • Very lightweight
  • Excellent construction
  • Designed to withstand high recoil
  • Locks your shooting position in place


  • Field-of-view can be a bit limiting

The Bottom Line

In the end, the Burris Scout 2-7x32mm SFP Riflescope is the ideal .45-70 scope for high recoil weaponry, so consider it if you’ve had issues with other optics and recoil damage in the past.

My rating: 4.5/5

Factors to Consider Before Buying a 45-70 Scope

As an experienced hunter and shooter who’s spent years fine-tuning my gear and honing my skills, I’ve personally tested a multitude of scopes for my trusted .45-70.

Being well-versed with its distinct steep trajectory, I know just how critical it is to dial in the precise distance, windage, and altitude adjustments for any long-range shots. This understanding has guided my journey to find the ideal scope for my .45-70 rifle.


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!

Light Transmission

Light transmission is another area I pay close attention to. The scope must deliver crisp, clear images with perfect contrast from dawn to dusk. During those prolonged hunts, a lens that performs impeccably under low-light conditions becomes a necessity. I’ve found that multicoated, anti-reflective lenses are a must, as they allow for maximum light transmission—providing the clarity I need whether it’s dark, foggy, or rainy.


Durability is paramount. My scopes take a beating in the forest, brushing against bushes and trees, so they must be just as sturdy as the .45-70 bullet itself. The best ones I’ve used are made from aluminum alloy, sporting anodized exteriors for extra resilience. Equally important are lenses that stand up to harsh weather. Those with Nitrogen housing and O-ring seals have proven waterproof, dust and fog proof, and also shock resistant.

Eye Relief

The .45-70 isn’t shy when it comes to recoil, making eye relief an absolute must. I won’t settle for anything less than a 3.5-inch eye relief, preferably even more. There have been instances when I’ve had to take a shot from a unique position or a peculiar angle, and believe me, you don’t want your scope hitting your eye due to insufficient eye relief.

The Reticle

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 45-70 worth it?

Although the .45-70 is a highly accurate cartridge, it is difficult to shoot at extended distances due to the bullet’s moderate velocity and poor ballistic coefficient, which combine to generate a fairly steep trajectory. Between 350 and 400 yards, a bullet dropped nearly 50 inches with a.45-70 load.

What is the .45-70?

The 45-70 rifle cartridge, commonly known as the.45-70 Government, was created at the United States Army’s Springfield Armory for use in the Springfield Model 1873, dubbed the “Trapdoor Springfield.” by collectors. The new cartridge replaced the stop-gap 50-70 Government cartridge, which was introduced one year after the American Civil War ended in 1866.

What is the accuracy for the .45-70?

The 45-70 Springfield’s minimum acceptable accuracy was about 4 inches (100 mm) at 100 yards (91 m), but the heavy, slow-moving bullet had a “rainbow” trajectory, dropping several yards (meters) at ranges more than a few hundred yards (meters). A experienced shooter could reliably strike targets measuring 6 6 feet (1.8 m) at 600 yards (550 m) while firing at a known range. Because precision targeted fire on a man-sized target was only effective to around 200–300 yards (180–270 m), it was mostly useful in mass or volley fire.

What was the predecessor to the .45-70?

The .50-70-450. 

The .50-70-450 cartridge was adopted in 1866 and used in a variety of rifles until 1873, many of which were percussion rifled muskets converted to trapdoor action breechloaders. 

The trapdoor breechblock was milled out of the back of the barrel, and a.50 caliber “liner” barrel was installed inside the.58 caliber barrel. The .50-70 bullet was popular among hunters because it was larger than the .44 caliber and hit harder (see terminal ballistics), but the military concluded in 1866 that a .45 caliber bullet would provide better range, penetration, and accuracy. Despite this, the .50-70 was adopted as a stopgap measure until a better rifle and cartridge could be created.

Was the .45-70 successful with hunters?

The .45-70 was an instant hit among sportsmen, as is typical of military ammunition, and the .45-70 is still in use today. The conventional 405-grain load is now considered suitable for any North American big game within its range constraints, including great bears, and due to the bullet’s low velocity, it does not ruin edible meat on smaller animals such as deer. It’s ideal for big-game hunting in bush or thickets, where range is normally limited. 

The .45-70 has been used to hunt the African “big-five.” when loaded with the right rounds at the right velocities. The .45-70 cartridge has been loaded and used to hunt everything from birds to elephants, and new development work is still ongoing.

Is the 45-70 obsolete?

The .45-70 isn’t an out-of-production cartridge. “obsolete” or “no longer in general use” is what “no longer produced or practiced” signifies. The .45-70 is not obsolete because many shooters still use it. They’re still being made, they’re still in widespread usage, and they’re still effective.

Final words

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 five 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.

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