No matter what you use your shotgun for, hunting, defense, etc., there is a shotgun scope out there to help you do it more effectively. You can find them with significant magnification for the occasional fowl hunt where you’ll need a clear image of distant target groups, or without magnification for close-quarters situations where you depend on the speedy acquisition and reflexive aiming.
Best Shotgun Scopes
- Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7x33mm
- Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane
- UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm
- Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane
- EOTECH EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7x33mm
The Leupold VX-Freedom has everything a hunter could want from their shotgun scope, without costing a down payment on a car. The Twilight system allows for simple target acquisition in low light, dim evening conditions. It has a variable 2x-7x magnification and a relatively long eye relief for your comfort and safety. It features a simple and clean duplex reticle, and the aluminum housing adds minimal weight.
- 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum case for strength and low weight
- Entirely fog proof and waterproof for perfect performance in any conditions
- ¼ MOA precision for intuitive fingertip adjustment
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane
For anyone that hunts big bird prey, like turkey, the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle makes an ideal shotgun scope. The 1x-8x variable magnification is perfect for up-close encounters as well as distant targets. In the same vein, it works for just about any fowl that you hunt. The horseshoe BDC reticle is placed in the second focal plane so you have consistent imaging.
- 11 illumination settings for low light versatility
- Super-long battery life
- 40 MOA adjustment for windage and elevation
UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
The super-rugged UTG 3-9X32 is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, so it will always give you premium performance on your shotgun. The assistive illumination enhancement system gives the user optimal visibility in any weather or environmental conditions. The ¼ MOA finger-click adjustment lets you set target turrets precisely.
- EZ-TAP illumination enhancing system
- Objective lens adjustable from 3 yds to infinity
- 2-inch sunshade and flip-up caps
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm
It’s hard to find a good shotgun scope for muzzleloaders, but the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm is one of them. It also works great for deer hunting since it has a great 3x-9x variable magnification, and is an amazing low-light scope. The eye relief maxes out at more than 4 inches at low magnification. The Twilight Light Management system cuts glare while it amplifies ambient light, letting you squeeze the last 30-40 minutes out of your day.
- Minimum eye relief of 3.66 inches at max magnification
- Incredibly durable aluminum housing can take some abuse
- Fixed 60-yard parallax creates zero distortions
Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane
For an incredibly versatile scope that can function wonderfully for hunters, the Vortex Optics Diamondback is hard to beat. It has a really nice 1.75x-5x magnification variance which you don’t see often and is a great range. The coated lenses provide a super-sharp image from dawn to dusk, and the 3.5-inch eye relief is relatively comfortable.
- Dead-hold BDC reticle helps take the guesswork out of holdover
- Second focal plane reticle remains consistent through magnification changes
- 100-yard parallax setting
EOTECH EXPS3 Holographic Weapon Sight
If you need a sight with complete dusk through dawn hunting ability as well as the versatility to aid in shooting or marksmanship competitions, the EOTECH EXPS3 is the sight for you. It has an incredibly clear and sharp glass clarity and the reticle is just as crisp. The unlimited eye relief lets you aim comfortably in any position. As a holo sight, it uses a battery, but it boasts more than a 500-hour run time.
- Infinite eye relief
- 500-600 hours of battery at maximum illumination
- Simple side-button fingertip operation
What Are Shotgun Scopes
To put it simply, a shotgun scope is any scope that you can mount on your shotgun and use effectively. While many scopes on the market will be sold as rifle scopes or even just scopes, there are some that will be sold as shotgun scopes. A shotgun scope is a sighting tool attachment that helps you to acquire your target and steady your aim without using the iron sights and often with some degree of magnification.
Why Use A Shotgun Scope?
The short answer is that they drastically improve the ability to aim at, acquire, and reacquire your targets. No matter what you are shooting at, in nearly every case there is a shotgun scope that will give you increased accuracy, quicker target acquisition, and faster reacquisition after firing. Using a shotgun scope can make every single shot you make more effective and more likely to go exactly where you need it to.
In close range engagements, or firing at targets that are much closer to you than the average hunting quarry, it makes the aiming process much quicker. It is far easier to place the majority of your focus on the target itself, and simply guide a dot or reticle to it, than to focus on the front sight marker, center it within the rear, and finally bring it to bear on the target.
For long-range targeting, the best shotgun scope will have some degree of magnification. This enables those who hunt, for example, to get a far better image of their target. Many of the long-range shotgun scopes will have a reticle that also helps to guide the eventual spread of the shot at the target distance. They are also useful for those who are firing slugs since they often have a relatively significant amount of drop at distance, and the graduations on the reticle can help account for that drop.
Things To Consider When Buying A Shotgun Scope
There are a number of factors that should be considered when evaluating a shotgun scope. You should look at how durable it is, the degree of image clarity, the level of magnification for the use case, how easy it is to mount and operate, the eye relief, and the type of finish it has.
Any good shotgun scope is going to have to stand up to a variety of environments while in use. This means not only different situations and scenarios for use but also weather conditions. Shotguns are incredibly popular and are frequently used to hunt deer, rabbits, and a wide variety of fowl such as ducks, grouse, quail, and turkey. Any quality scope should be able to stand up to these uses, as well as to the normal operation of the shotgun, which will include a far more powerful recoil than many rifles.
A good shotgun scope will not leave you squinting at your potential target. It will show a clear, crisp image. It won’t need a high resolution, or a very large objective lens since most of your targets will be closer than several hundred yards in most cases. Provided it makes the target easy to differentiate from the rest of the scenery, mount it up and hit the range.
There are two types of magnification available for shotgun scopes, fixed and variable. No matter what you choose, since it will depend greatly on what you are using it for, make sure that it is comfortable and intuitive to use. Sometimes even though a scope is the level of magnification you need or want, it just doesn’t look or feel right. Trust this feeling and keep browsing.
Some scopes, even some shotgun scopes, can often come with a number of features or benefits. But when it comes down to it, simplicity will be the name of the game when you need a shotgun scope. The more features it has, the more parts and manufacturing go into it, and the greater chance there is for life span reduction or part breakage. Less is more.
The finish of your shotgun scope will matter to an extent. While it won’t make or break any scope, in our opinion, it can add to the overall effect of the scope. If you are going to be spending a lot of time in the brush hunting fowl, dressed head to toe in camo, only to have a big shiny black scope instead of a camo print one, it’s going to detract from the overall effect. Likewise, matte finishes are going to best a gloss finish any day of the week since they are far less visible in general.
One of the major considerations should be the eye relief of the scope. Shotguns are known for having incredibly strong recoil and any scope that you choose should have an eye relief long enough to prevent injuries. Long eye relief is also essential for comfort and speedy target acquisition.
Are Shotgun Scopes Better Than Lasers?
This may be comparing apples to oranges. While both can be used in a close-quarters environment, they are generally used in different lighting conditions. While a scope will be indispensable at acquiring a target during the daytime, a laser will be much more difficult to see. On the other hand, using a shotgun scope at night will not offer much help unless there is some sort of light source around to help out, while a laser will be undeniably visible in the dark as a bright red or green dot.
Check Your Magnification
There are two magnification types that you will see in shotgun scopes, there is variable and fixed magnification. Each has its benefits and drawbacks.
Fixed magnification will give you the same exact image each time, and cannot be adjusted or changed. The upside to this is that you will always have a reliable performance from your scope since the parallax is set. This is often most useful for those who are confident they will not have to shoot beyond their base magnification.
Variable magnification scopes allow the user to change between two or more magnification settings, going from a 3x to a 7x, for example. These are great for hunters that may need to operate at unpredictable distances. The downside to variable magnification scopes is that they need more parts and more glass. Often this makes them not only bulkier but heavier as well, and subsequently harder or more complex to use