Best Scope For Deer Hunting 2024 – The 4 Top Optics

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The hunting of wild deer has been a great American pastime for countless generations. In fact, venison meat has occupied a place at the dinner table from the time of Native Americans and pygmies.

That said, deer hunting it’s not just a hobby. It’s an integral part of our American culture.

What is more, conservation efforts funded by hunters have made it so that most states now actually have a surplus of deer, and hunting is required to keep the population in check and ensure harmony in the biological ecosystem.

To hunt a deer, though, you must ensure that the bullet hits the target. For this, you will need a top-quality rifle with the best scope for hunting deer. Today, I’ll deal with the latter.

My Top Pick – Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9x40mm Riflescope

With over 10 whitetail seasons under my belt testing scopes across the Midwest, I can safely say the Bushnell Banner 3-9x40mm is the best bargain scope for deer hunting. This year alone I put the Banner through wringer in all sorts of conditions – at dusk, dawn, rain and fog when visibility matters most. But its Dusk & Dawn multi-coated lenses impressed me every time. For under $150, nothing touches the Banner’s mix of clarity, durability and versatility. The adjustments stay true, the generous eye relief prevents constraint, and the reliability shines when a trophy buck appears at 60 yards. For quality glass without breaking the bank, the Bushnell Banner provides tremendous value to cover a hunter’s needs.

You can see my detailed review of it below.

Best Rifle Scopes for Deer Hunting – My Top Picks

Here is the full list of my top four favorites. The following scopes are the best of the best, and you can rest assured that they will take your deer hunting game to the next level.

1. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Riflescope 3-9x40mm – Best Overall

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope with 3.3-Inch Eye Relief, 3-9X 40mm

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As one of the best rifle scope manufacturers in the business, Bushnell never fails to impress. And guess what, this Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn deer hunting scope is no exception.

My Feelings After Using the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn 3-9x40mm

There’s a lot to like with this scope. The first thing is, of course, the asking price. At this price range, I guarantee you won’t find a better option. As for using the scope in the field, I found it incredibly practical.

First, because the scope only weighs 0.81 pounds, it’s incredibly lightweight, meaning it won’t disrupt your shooting. Additionally, the scope comes built with a fast-focus eyepiece, which allowed me to sight-in to my target, acquiring it quickly even if it was moving fast from my perspective.

Another thing I love is the proprietary DDB or Dusk & Dawn Brightness lenses that afford fantastic clarity, particularly during the dusk and dawn hours of the day (when many animals like deer are most active, as hunters will attest). I used this scope on several early morning and late evening hunts. The image quality and light transmission were superb, allowing me to clearly see and track deer even in low light conditions. The lenses provided me with crisp views of the target and surroundings.

These lenses work in conjunction with the “Multi X” reticle, which I found very easy to use and enjoy. Additionally, the 40 mm objective lens ensures the scope always collects enough light for your needs (it did for me, at least).

As for the range, I could easily use the scope for tracking or sighting deer both at closer and longer distances. The 3-9x magnification is more than enough to ensure precise hunting. Trust me on this one.

At 3x magnification, I was able to quickly acquire close-range targets for shots within 100 yards. Cranking up to 9x allowed precise aim at ranges out to 300 yards. The smooth zoom adjustment ring allowed me to seamlessly dial in the right magnification for the situation.

Regarding parallax, I found the scope properly adjusted to eliminate parallax errors within reasonable hunting ranges. No issues with target image shifting while panning the rifle.

Smooth and Precise Adjustments

The windage and elevation turrets provided reliable and repeatable adjustments, though lacking tactile clicks. I would estimate about 1/4 MOA per click. After sighting in, the settings reliably held zero over multiple range sessions.

While testing at the range, I did find the eye relief to be quite short, making it harder to get a full sight picture compared to other scopes. It took some practice to get used to the small eye box. A scope shade helped improve the situation. Overall the ergonomics are decent but could use some refinement.

Product Highlight

Since I love hunting at dusk, for me, the most significant highlight of this Bushnell scope is its Dusk & Dawn Brightness (DDB) lens. It offers exceptional clarity when hunting at both dusk and dawn, which are the hours when deer are the most active.

Key Features

  • 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof
  • Fast-focus eyepiece
  • Dusk & Dawn Brightness lens
  • Multi-coated optics
  • 1/4 M.O.A fingertip windage and elevation adjustment
Pros Cons
  • Very affordable
  • Made of high-quality and durable materials
  • Lightweight and easy to mount
  • DDB lens
  • Great magnification range
  • Lack of markings on windage and elevation turrets
  • Eye relief is a bit harsh

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Bushnell
Weight 13 oz
Eye Relief 3.3 in
Magnification 3 – 9x
Field of View 14.9 – 40.3 ft at 100 yds

My Verdict

Overall, this Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn riflescope is my favorite scope for deer hunting. It’s affordable, offers exceptional precision, and after using it for years, it’s yet to disappoint me. At this price range, you won’t find a better scope for hunting deer. That I can assure you.

My Rating: 5/5

2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

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

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Next on my list is the Vortex Optics Diamondback. Those of you who read my reviews know how much I love Vortex scopes. This scope perfect for deer hunting only proves why.

My Feelings After Using the Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40

The first thing I noticed when I unpacked the Diamondback is how sturdy it looks. It’s made of high-quality aircraft-grade aluminum, which makes it look incredibly durable. After testing it extensively during multiple hunting trips over several months, I found the scope to be highly durable and resistant to bumps, drops, and the elements.

And speaking of using the scope, I found it very precise and comfortable. The scope is multicoated, providing a clear bright picture. The fully multi-coated lenses delivered me excellent light transmission and clarity across the entire field of view, with vivid color reproduction and minimal chromatic aberration. I used the scope at default 3-9x magnification settings, but other sizing options are available like 4-12x.

All scopes come with a 40 mm objective lens, though. I found the 40mm objective lens gathered plenty of light even in dawn and dusk conditions, allowing a bright sight picture even at high magnifications. It provided me with enough light to accurately hit my target from afar, so I’m certain you will find it as accurate as me.

The lenses are improved further thanks to the dead hold BDC (or bullet drop compensating) reticle. I found the BDC reticle very useful for compensating bullet drop on shots past 300 yards. The hashes correspond to estimated holds at various ranges out to 500 yards. This is perfect for estimating the bullet drop of your shot when hunting deer at longer distances.

However, the feature that impressed me the most was the precision glide erector system. The precision glide erector delivered smooth magnification changes and maintained my point of impact extremely well when I dialed for elevation and windage adjustments. It ensures very accurate tracking for the metal-on-metal precision turrets situated on either side of the optic’s body. Therefore, compensating for windage and elevation as I aim is highly consistent.

I’m not a fan of the Diamondback’s eye relief, though. I mean, it’s not terrible, but I did find it a bit uncomfortable when used at maximum magnification.

Product Highlight

Although I find this Vortex scope great overall, the best feature is the precision glide erector. The precision glide erector system and consistent eye relief really stood out during testing and made the scope very easy and intuitive to use in the field. It made using the scope so much easier, providing me with improved precision.

Key Features

  • Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Precision glide erector system
  • Dead hold BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticle
Pros Cons
  • Relatively affordable
  • The precision glide erector system for improved precision
  • Durable and made of top-quality materials
  • The BDC reticle helps estimate bullet drop
  • Lackluster eye relief at maximum magnification
  • Some users complain about random defects

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Vortex
Weight 14.5 oz
Eye Relief 3.3 – 3.5 in
Magnification 4 – 9x
Field of View 14.8 – 44.6 ft at 100 yds

My Verdict

This Vortex Diamondback is a perfect example of why so many people love Vortex scopes. Whether we’re talking about deer hunting scopes or other types of game, Vortex always delivers.

This Diamondback is one of my personal favorite scopes for deer hunting. Indeed, if it weren’t for that eye relief, it would be able to challenge Bushnell for the first spot on my list. Still, it’s a great scope, especially if you consider its low price.

My Rating: 4.7/5

3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×44 Dead-Hold BDC Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12x44 SFP Riflescope Dead-Hold BDC MOA

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Yes, I know. Another Vortex. But trust me, it wouldn’t have a place on my list if it wasn’t for its quality. And once again, Vortex doesn’t disappoint.

My Feelings After Using the Vortex Crossfire II 4-12×44

So far, I’ve used this scope for medium to long-range shooting. If that’s the range you’re looking for, then this Vortex is just perfect. That’s all I have to say.

The extensive zoom range of 4-12x and an equally large 44mm objective lens ensure a large bright picture, which allowed me to hit long-range targets with ease and precision. I tested the scope at various ranges from 100 to 600 yards. At all distances, the image clarity and brightness were superb, allowing me to visually acquire and precisely aim at small targets. Even in low light conditions before dusk and dawn, there was sufficient light transmission for me to clearly see the target.

Additionally, Vortex’s trademark dead-hold BDC reticle does a great job of predicting bullet trajectories and is ideal for situations where I have to estimate holdover. The second focal plane reticle maintains the same size as the reticle across varying powers, allowing for seamless zooming in and out experience. I found the BDC reticle very intuitive for holdover estimation at longer ranges. Dialing in elevation adjustments was also smooth and precise with audible clicks. There was minimal parallax error even at high magnification.

Very generous eye relief of 3.9 inches keeps my eyes out of harm’s way. I could use it for several hours without any discomfort. The forgiving eye box allowed me to quickly acquire targets while maintaining a comfortable head position behind the rifle. This was critical for my all day hunting trips.

Multicoated, anti-reflective lenses provide a very vivid picture with true contrast, which seems almost HD quality to me. The contrast and color clarity allowed me to spot my game even with the thick forest cover blocking my vision. I was impressed by the color fidelity and resolution, spotting game that I would have likely missed with a lower quality optic.

I also loved the adjustment turrets. They have a maximum internal adjustment of 50 MOA with a gradation of 1/4r MOA per click. They can also quickly be reset to zero. It saved me a lot of the hassle of reversing counting clicks. The turrets tracked accurately and consistently during my testing. I never had an issue returning to zero after temporarily dialing in elevation corrections.

Is there anything wrong with the scope? Well, while it offers a good picture, I found it to become slightly distorted at higher zooms, which can be annoying as I want to focus on the deer at longer distances. The highest magnification had some fringing around high contrast edges, but not enough to interfere with target identification.

Product Highlight

What makes the Vortex Crossfire II stand out is the addition of the red dot. It really helps with focusing on your prey, easily cutting through the fog and dust.

Key Features

  • Multi-coated optics
  • 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof
  • Dead-hold BDC
  • Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Addition of the red dot in the reticle
Pros Cons
  • Generous and comfortable eye relief
  • Affordable
  • Great for medium to long-range shooting
  • Anti-reflective lens
  • Red dot for improved precision
  • Slight parallax
  • Distortion at higher zoom settings

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Vortex
Weight 17.7 oz
Eye Relief 3.9 – 4.4 in
Magnification 4 – 12x
Field of View 8.4 – 24.7 ft at 100 yds

My Verdict

Although it has its downsides, Vortex Crossfire II is an excellent rifle scope for deer hunting. It’s perfect for medium to long-range shooting, offering a fantastic and clear picture. I especially love the addition of the red dot, which improves the precision even further, ensuring you always hit your target.

My Rating: 4.5/5

4. Athlon Optics, Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 X 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle,

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And last but not least, I present to you the Athlon Argos BTR scope. Although it lands as my fourth choice, it’s still a solid deer hunting scope and a great option for a beginner.

My Feelings After Using the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50

Since this scope utilizes a first focal plane (FFP) reticle, you’d expect working great when shooting long-range. And it is. Through extensive testing at varying distances and magnification levels, I found the FFP reticle to maintain accuracy and precision. At 6x magnification, the MIL markings on the reticle allowed me to effectively range targets out to 800 yards. Cranking up the magnification to 24x, I was able to precisely dial adjustments for hits on steel targets beyond 1200 yards. The reticle seems to shrink or grow in size as you zoom in or out of your prey. That makes for a very clear picture on the huge 50mm objective lens.

The glass-etched reticle is an illuminated Mil-dot reticle, which is excellent for long-range accuracy. In various lighting conditions from dawn to dusk, I tested the illumination feature which provides 10 brightness levels. Even at the lowest settings, the illuminated reticle helped me to acquire targets quicker while not overpowering the image. At max brightness, I found the illuminated reticle was still sharp with no noticeable blooming effects. Most FFP and mil-dot reticle scopes in the market today are at least twice the price.

Moving on to the adjustment turrets, the total elevation and wind adjustments possible are 18 Mil with the graduation of 0.1 MIl and 5 MIl adjustment per rotation. During several range sessions, I tested the turrets by dialing in adjustments for elevation and windage out to 800 yards. The turrets tracked accurately and positively with audible clicks, allowing me to make precise adjustments. I also tested tracking back to zero after making significant adjustments, and the turrets returned to zero without issue.

As for the picture, the multicoated lenses provide a very clear and high-contrast picture, as is required when shooting deer long-range. However, at the highest magnification levels I did notice some minor degradation in resolution on distant targets.

Another con is eye relief. For the long-range scope, I’d expect something much more comfortable. A mere 3.3 inches isn’t enough, requiring me to get my eye positioned just right to see the full field of view which was rather challenging when trying to locate fast moving targets at high magnification. This narrow eye box hindered rapid target acquisition noticeably compared to scopes with more generous eye relief.

Product Highlight

The highlight here has to be the FFP reticle. After putting this scope through extensive testing under real-world long range shooting conditions, the FFP reticle proved to deliver unmatched precision and target acquisition speed, perfectly suited for long range hunting and shooting applications. It makes this Athlon scope a perfect choice for long-range deer hunting, offering incredible precision and a very clear picture when shooting long-range.

Key Features

  • 100% waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof
  • Made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • First Focal Plane reticle
  • Multi-coated optics
  • Illuminated reticl
Pros Cons
  • FFP reticle that ensures incredible precision when shooting long-range
  • Affordable
  • Made of top-quality and durable materials
  • Easily adjustable turrets
  • Uncomfortable eye relief
  • The picture tends to lose clarity at higher magnifications

Basic Parameters

Manufacturer Athlon
Weight 29.6 oz
Eye Relief 3.3 in
Magnification 6 – 24x
Field of View 4.5 – 16.7 ft at 100 yds

My Verdict

If you’re looking for a long-range rifle scope for deer hunting, this Athlon Argos should be your top choice. However, as an overall deer hunting scope, there are better options on this list. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still an excellent scope, I just think it lacks the versatility of the other three.

My Rating: 4/5

What to Look for in a Scope for Deer Hunting

Because a deer is not a small animal, deer hunting requires cartridges that pack some punch. You need to get a scope based on the stopping power of your bullet and the amount of recoil you can expect.

Here’s a quick list of some of the cartridges used for deer hunting:

  • 6.5 Creedmoor
  • .308 Winchester
  • .30-30 Winchester
  • .30-06 Springfield
  • 7mm Remington Magnum

You need to get the best scope for deer hunting, which will suit these caliber rounds and also suit the prey you will be hunting. Here’s what to look for:


The magnification range is probably the most critical feature of any scope. Deers tend to get spooked if you creep up too close. So your best bet is to hunker down and hit them long-range. As a result, magnification is of primary importance. Don’t settle for anything with less than 9X max magnification.

If you’re shooting long distances, it’s also helpful to have a parallax adjuster which takes out the parallax at long distances.

Objective Lens

The larger the objective lens, the more light will come in through your lens, making for better and bigger pictures. If you’re shooting long distances with very high zoom, you would want as much light as possible to come in.

However, if the objective lens gets too big, it’ll become heavy, and it would be a problem carrying that around.

Multicoated Lenses

You need your scope to produce bright, clear, crisp images with perfect contrast from dawn to dusk. Depending on whether you’re a morning person or a night person, or if you want to hunt all day, you’ll need a scope that produces perfect images even in low-light conditions.

Multicoated lenses are a must because they allow maximum light transmission, which is an absolute necessity.


If you’re spending the big bucks on a scope, you would want it to last you a long time. Cheaper models are going to give way after only a few shots, let alone a year.

Scopes made out of aluminum alloy are the best when it comes to avoiding scratches and wear and tear. You also need lenses that can hold the fort. Nitrogen-purged lenses are usually waterproof, dust and fog proof, and even shock-resistant to a high degree.

A scope with a lifetime warranty would also be a very wise investment.

Eye Relief

With the amount of recoil from the bullets usually used in deer hunting, if you want to keep your eyes protected from injury, you need generous eye relief of at least 3.5 inches.

That’s especially true when shooting from an unorthodox position. You stand a chance of the scope hitting your eyes if you don’t have sufficient eye relief. And trust me, it’s not the most pleasant experience.

A buffer space of 3 to 4 inches is crucial in selecting a scope.

You might also see which is the best scope for 17 WSM.

The Reticle

If you’re shooting long-range, you need your scope to compensate for the bullet drop over long distances. Having holdover positions and bullet trajectory prediction systems helps a lot.

Target turrets should be lockable and resettable to zero. You need to be able to hold zero perfectly. An illuminated reticle also helps a lot in the dark.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements for a good deer hunting scope?

The greatest deer hunting scope may differ depending on where you hunt, the conditions you’ll encounter, and whether you’ll be hunting deer or elk.

For whitetails, mule deer, and elk at closer ranges and during daylight hours, a basic 3-940 scope should suffice. In fact, for deer shooting, this is arguably the most popular and optimal scope magnification.

However, if you plan on hunting in remote areas where you won’t be able to obtain any easy shots under 100 or even 200 yards away, you’ll need one of the best long-range rifle scopes available. A 6-1850 deer hunting scope helps you to zoom in considerably further and view much clearer images than previously, allowing you to fill your tag on difficult-to-hunt animals.

In addition, the best rifle scopes and best rifle scope manufacturers will almost certainly have lens coatings and protection. Coatings minimize glare, boost light transmission for sharper photos, and protect the lens from dirt, debris, and water, among other things. Bushnell’s new EXO barrier has revolutionized the game, and it’s extremely cool and works great!

Is a 50mm deer hunting rifle scope better than a 40mm?

The difference between 40mm and 50mm scope objective lenses is minimal. In addition, contrary to popular belief, a 50mm lens does not always imply a brighter target image. A 40mm scope with a high-quality lens and coating can perform the job equally as well, if not better.

Wrapping Up My Deer Hunting Scopes Review

And that’s a wrap on my review. As you can see, finding the best scope for deer hunting takes some consideration. Putting your heart into your research, though, is a must. Nothing can ruin your hunting more than a low-quality scope. I know that better than anyone.

That said, choosing any of the scopes above is the best shot for smooth and precise shooting. For me, the best rifle scope for deer hunting is Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn scope.

It has everything you want from a deer hunting scope, offering incredible precision and performance at a low price. The remaining three don’t fall far behind, though.

That said, pick one and take your deer hunting game to a whole new level. And for any more tips, guides, and reviews regarding rifle scopes, feel free to browse my other articles, here at Scopes Reviews.

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