Fixed or variable shotgun scope mounts? Maybe a red dot scope? Hunting for deer, turkey… What kind of magnification is right for me? Should I even use a scope, or rely on my iron sights? All valid questions which every hunter or gun enthusiast should ask themselves. Unfortunately there are no definitive answers to these questions. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just a rookie, the contents of this article will undoubtedly prove to be useful.
List of the Best Shotgun Slug Scopes
7 reasons why do I need a shotgun scope?
A shotgun scope is like a rifle scope – a visual enhancement tool that you mount onto your shotgun. While a lot of people still prefer their iron sights, scopes have proven time and time again to be the superior option. Here are some advantages that a scoped shotgun will provide:
1. Reduced eye strain. Maybe you’re getting older and your sight isn’t what it used to be, or maybe you just have bad eye sight in general. And even if you do have a 20/20 vision, a scope will remove a lot of strain from your eyes; especially in big games, where you need a long-distance, precise shot.
2. Magnification benefits. Like mentioned above, a precise shot also means a more clean and humane kill. Not to mention the satisfaction a hunter feels when hitting the target exactly where he wants to. If you’re serious about hunting, consider getting a quality pair of binoculars to help spot deer and turkey from greater distances. Also a quality range finder will absolutely let you know if you can make a shot from where you are. These are items, that over time, you will realize are vital to a long day in a stand!
3. No sight alignment. With a mounted scope, there is no need to align your shot. Where the crosshairs point is where the bullet will strike (provided you compensate for the bullet drop and wind speed and direction). Combined with the magnification of the scope, this advantage is probably the most important aspect of having a scope. In short, it just means a hell of a lot easier and more precise shot placement.
4. Canting problem. A lot of people, especially rookies, have trouble maintaining their aiming point (usually in some form of bird hunting). They cant the shotgun, oftentimes without realizing it. When using a scope, you only need to align your crosshairs and keep them level. With a little practice, canting will be the thing of the past.
5. Better lighting. One of the biggest problems regarding aiming while hunting is the low light condition. You never know when the clouds might gather, or a sudden mist might drop. Short and sweet, modern scopes solve that problem for good. Also
6. Durability. It might seem obvious but durability is important. Once you have your scope set, you want to be able to keep it in use season after season. So when looking at any scope, features like scratch resistant lenses, weather proof exterior, and simple operation are crucial.
7. Camouflage. Camouflage is a minor benefit, as most scopes are adequately built to prevent noticing. But there tends to be little reflection off of a camouflage scope as opposed to other scopes. So all other things considered equal, camouflage is better than no camouflage.
Types of shotgun scopes
- Red dot/reflex vs holographic sight. Technically speaking, these are not scopes. Because they provide no magnification (1x), they fall into the category of sights. For the purposes of this article however, they are more than relevant. Perfect for those not accustomed to the scope, they provide excellent field of vision and remove eye relief out of the equation. Mostly used on turkey shooters and similar weapons. Great for any kind of weather/lighting situations. Reflex sight is better in terms of price and durability. The holographic sight may have more functionalities (infrared, night vision), but requires more battery power. You won’t see many of them however, since there’s usually no need for high-tech equipment like that on a hunting trip. It is important to note that there are also red dot shotgun scopes for purchase, not just sights (but they also fall into the category of high tech equipment).
- Fixed vs variable scope. Variable scopes tend to be the better choice these days. As the most common choice, you will often find these kinds of shotgun scopes for sale. They can be used for different kinds of hunting on different kinds of distances, as well as on dual purpose shotguns. The most suitable variable scope for shotgun usage would be the 1x-4x magnification scope. On the other hand, fixed scopes are not always an inferior product. Actually they are visually superior, more compact, more durable and cheaper. But alas, you cannot adjust it so you have to make it work on that one setting. The natural choice in this regard would be the 2,5x magnification scope.
What to consider when buying?
The first thing to keep in mind would be the legal requirements for certain scopes. Gun laws differ from country to country, even from state to state in the US. So make sure you know what you’re allowed to order/buy when browsing for scopes. Everything else depends on the type of hunting you’re doing, the type of shotgun you’re using and the amount of experience and eye prowess you possess. That is why there is no one best shotgun scope. Since there are too many variables, one has to decide for themselves what the best option is. I can only point out the key elements to look for in a scope:
- Magnifying power
- Adequate mounts
- Price – We haven’t really touched on this yet, but the scopes we have mentioned are usually pretty good regardless of price. In general you get what you pay for, but value = price+durability and reliability
- Light capabilities
- Size of the objective lens
As a side note, we have a post about dummy shotgun shells that might prove useful for some readers who ultimately end up practicing with their scope.
If you still find it difficult to pick the right scope for you, maybe these reviews will ease your decision:
Top 3 shotgun scopes reviewed
Best Nikon Shotgun Scope
Boasting Nikon’s fully multicoated optical system and powerful adjustment technologies, the Nikon ProStaff Shotgun Hunter 2-7×32 riflescope delivers a superior slug gun performance at a budget price. The Shotgun Hunter is equipped with Nikon’s BDC 200 reticle. Designed for use with aerodynamic polymer-tipped slugs and muzzle velocities of 1,900 to 2,000 feet per second, this trajectory-compensating reticle integrates unique, easy-to-see ballistic circles into the sight window, giving you instant aiming points while taking the guesswork out of holdover at long ranges. To simplify field adjustments, Nikon added zero-reset turrets into the scope design. Just sight-in as usual, lift the spring-loaded adjustment knob, rotate to your zero, and re-engage. With the turrets, field adjustments are as simple as dialing in your subsequent ranges.
The Shotgun Hunter delivers bright, crisp images thanks to the fully multicoated lenses, which provide optimum light transmission and brightness from dawn to dusk. And the scope’s generous 3.8 inches of eye relief will keep your brow safe–even with the heaviest recoiling cartridges, lightweight rifles, and severe shooting angles. Other features include easy-to-use, positive-click, hand-turn reticle adjustments that get you zeroed in quicker while maintaining your setting; a quick-focus eyepiece; a 75-yard parallax setting; and a nitrogen-filled, O-ring-sealed waterproof and fogproof housing.
- Reticle: BDC 200
- Finish: Matte black
- Actual magnification: 2x to 7x
- Objective lens diameter: 32mm
- Exit pupil: 16 to 4.6mm
- Eye relief: 3.8 inches
- Field of view: 33.4 to 9.5 feet @ 100 yards
- Tube diameter: 1 inch
- Objective OD: 1.67 inches
- Eyepiece OD: 1.73 inches
- Adjustment graduation (1 click): 1/4 MOA
- Maximum internal adjustment: 80 MOA
- Parallax setting: 100 yards
- Length: 11.5 inches
- Weight: 13.9 ounces
Best Simmons Shotgun Scope
Rounding out the top three is this budget friendly, high optics powerhouse. Simply put, this will get you great bang for your buck. Although it is best for use on a shotgun, you can also use it with a handgun or rifle as well. Solid mag of 4x and we want to stress how clear the optics really are. This is a highly capable and flexible option to add to your collection.
- TrueZero fingertip windage and elevation adjustment system
- Waterproof, fogproof and shockproof
- Fully coated, high-quality optics for bright, high-contrast target image
- Raised tab on power change ring provides an easier grip and surer adjustment
- Magnification & Objective (mm): 1.5-5/32
- Special Features: Shotgun
- Field of View (ft@100yds): 67/20
- Field of View (M@100M): 22.3/6.7
- Eye Relief (in/mm): 3.75/95
- Exit Pupil (mm): 18/6.4
- Weight (oz/g): 9.3/264
- Click Value (in@100yds/M@100M): .5/14
- Adjustment Range (in@100yds): 100/2.8
Best Bushnell Shotgun Scope
A short-range “heavy hitter” for your shotgun, the perfect slug Scope for deer! Possibly the best shotgun scope for turkey hunting while out in the field. Bushnell’s made it brighter, stronger, and better equipped to fill more tags and trophy rooms than ever before. A new breed of dominance, with class-best 91% light transmission and a virtually indestructible one-piece tube. Unbelievably bright. All-weather reliable. And spot-on lethal. Take aim: Variable 1.75-4x magnification; Solid objective gathers ample light without adding bulk; 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof; Fully multicoated optics for light transmission and contrast; matte finish for a sleek appearance; Fast-focus eyepiece for quick targeting; 3.5″ eye relief; 1/4 MOA adjustments for windage and elevation; 7 different styles with six configurations for the crosshair reticle; Light weight and ready to go.
- A short-range scope for turkey or deer hunting, that features a wide field of view
- Fully multi-coated optics
- 91% light transmission
- 100% waterproof, fogproof and shockproof
- Fast-focus eyepiece
- One piece tube w/integrated saddle
- 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
- Finish: Matte
- Power / Obj Lens: 1.75-4
- Reticle: multiple options
- Field of View (ft @100yds): firstname.lastname@example.org
- Weight (oz / g): 12.7 / 360
- Length (in./mm): 13 / 330
- Eye Relief (in): 3.5
- Click Value (in. @100yds / mm @100m): 0.25 / 7
- Adj. Range (in. @100yds / m @100m): 150 / 4.2
- Mounting Length (in. / mm): 5.3 / 135