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Picking out a crossbow scope can be a daunting task, and it's something I struggled with before purchasing my TenPoint crossbow. The good part is the fact that there are so many options out there. The bad part is the fact that it's hard to sort through everything.
This blog isn't about choosing the Best Crossbow Scope on the market; however, it is going to show you how to choose a crossbow scope and what to look out for.
I'm going to lay out a few simple questions and topics I heavily considered before purchasing a crossbow scope, as well as a key thing to avoid in the process.
You're probably feeling a little overwhelmed as crossbow scopes are not a cheap piece of hunting gear. But keep in mind, by the time you're done reading this blog you're going to be well-equipped to go out there and find something that suites your hunting needs.
When it comes to reticles, it's really going to come down to personal preference and what the scope or crossbow brand's options are. You're going to find out that each manufacturer has their own preferences - something I find personally annoying. However, there are a lot of great options out there and since it's probably the most important aspect of choosing a scope, I would spend a good amount of time evaluating your choices.
For a more in-depth summary of the different types of reticles check out the blog from Target Tamers. In the meantime, here are a few highlights about the most popular crossbow reticles:
1. Original Reticle: Best for someone trying to keep it simple, with a central aiming point.
2. BDC Reticle: A great option for hunters that need to be accurate at multiple distances while maintains some simplicity.
3. Mil Dot / Christmas Tree Reticle: The next step up from a BDC reticle that provides more in-depth marker points.
4. Illuminated Reticle: Great for those that hunt in low-light conditions that need a little extra help.
The optimal crossbow scope magnification is somewhere around 4x, which is plenty to successfully harvest a deer up to and around 60 yards or so.
Now, keep in mind, magnification is only available on variable powered scopes. If you've just purchased or are looking to purchase a fixed powered scope, this option will not be available.
For additional reference, Bushnell recommends that any individual shooting under 100 yards should stay within 1-5x magnification. Going above this, for those trying to use a rifle-specific scope for your crossbow, will not actually add any value to your particular style of hunting.
Explaining parallax is both simple and complicating at the same time. If you want to better understand the full definition of parallax, I'd recommend you watch the video below by Lucky Gunner.
Parallax is mentioned because I think it's important to note that parallax is not an issue when it comes to choosing a crossbow scope. Most crossbow-specific scopes do not have a parallax adjustment available as you're shooting from relatively short distances. However, if you decide to pair your crossbow with a rifle scope you'll see this adjustment - But remember it's really not going to make a difference for you as a hunter.
Also, it's important to note that if you use a red dot scope you're not going to experience parallax.
If you look at any traditional crossbow scope, you'll notice two standard adjustments - Elevation and Windage. The problem with relying on these two simple adjustments is the fact they don't take into account a crossbow's speed.
Sighting your crossbow in at the standard 20 yard marker ensures a solid foundation for the rest of the reticles if your crossbow speed matches the calibration of the scope. Unfortunately, these pre-calibrations do not apply to every crossbow out there. If your crossbow scope is pre-calibrated to a different speed than the crossbow, you might have issues.
By purchasing a scope with an additional speed adjustment, the reticles are now more accurately automatically adjusted to match your crossbow's speed capabilities. Of course, these speed adjustments do not always line up 1:1, so you might have to find your perfect match even it doesn't necessarily line up with your crossbow's potential FPS. For example, your crossbow may shoot 400 FPS, but you might have to choose 380 FPS or 420 FPS depending on actual shot placement.
Keep In Mind: You cannot use the Speed Rating adjustment as a zoom - once it's set it's set. Adjusting this might improve magnification, but it will adjust the reticles, resulting in a poor shot.
New technology such as rangefinding scopes, might not be the best option for beginner crossbow hunters. But if you're avid hunter that relies on long distance shots with your crossbow (and you want the best technology available), you might want to incorporate one of these bad boys with your setup.
The two most popular rangefinding scopes can be found on the best TenPoint crossbows on the market. I would recommend researching a little bit more about these scopes before you make a purchase. Of course, they're going to be expensive - costing upwards of $1,000.
1. Garmin Xero: This rangefinder scope can identify and range targets up to 250 yards away by just pressing one button.
2. Burris Oracle X: This rangefinder scope can identify and range targets up to 200 yards away by just pressing one button.
The most important thing to avoid when purchasing a crossbow is overpaying for something that you just don't need.
I hate to be honest here, but hunting with a crossbow isn't that difficult, and when you take into account the relatively short distances most crossbow hunters are taking their prey at, you really don't need anything that crazy.
As mentioned above, rangefinding crossbow scopes cost more than a $1,000, and other high-quality options still range from $400-$600. From my perspective, these just aren't really necessary for most shots. Picking a reliable and durable crossbow scope that feels good is my recommendation, and one that doesn't take a lot of money to find.
To learn more about the Best Crossbow Cases we have that too!