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What is the Best Low Light Scope?

Hand holding rifle dim light

When hunting in dark conditions, you are left with two options, either you go home or purchase a low light scope. If you choose the latter, there’s still a catch: it’s not easy to choose the best scope for long range. Our experts have put together a list of the best low light scopes for low light hunting—check them out. 

Reviews of the Best Low Light Scopes for Hunting

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope

An interesting thing about this Vortex optics hunter rifle is that it allows users to customize the magnification level from between 3 – 12x depending on the model. It can be used in a low light hunting environment with the least amount of light.

If you prefer low light rifle scopes that provide crystal-clear views, adjustable objective lens, and a generous relief to the reticle, then you should go for Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12×56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope.

This waterproof and shockproof scope ticks all the boxes of a standard low light scope. Also, it has an illuminated V-Brite reticle, 30mm tube size, and a hard anodized black finish. 

Pros

  • Great for shooters with night vision problems
  • Easy-to-focus reticle feature
  • Gives generous eye relief
  • Adjustable objective lens
  • 30mm tube body and parallax correction

Cons

  • Slightly heavy
  • The parallax adjustment on the side of the scope might be preferable

2. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Adjustable Objective (AO) Rifle

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Adjustable Objective (AO) Rifle

If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, budget-friendly, yet high quality product, the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Adjustable Objective Rifle is one of the most recommended scopes for long range. 

With the low light scope, you get the best bright visuals and light transmission through its objective lens. It works well on a variety of rifle scopes and has great magnification as well.

It also offers altitude and windage adjustments with straightforward zoom fitting, providing eye relief and fast-focus for long range scopes. It doesn’t have lots of fancy trappings, but it satisfies the most important parts of a low light hunting scope – its glass and coatings.

Pros

  • Has a fast-focus eyepiece for any hunting scope
  • Easy and adjustable lenses
  • Good price range and budget-friendly
  • 4-12x magnification with a 40mm objective lens
  • Multi-X reticle and multicoated lenses for dusk and dawn light hunting
  • Provides eye relief (of about 3.3 inches), making your view more comfortable
  • Great for muzzleloaders, rifles or shotguns
  • Argon purged
  • O-ring sealed
  • Can be used for both long and short ranges

Cons

  • Scope fogs up quickly during humid low light conditions
  • Adjusting the distance focus can sometimes be tricky
  • Elevation and windage may need some extra tweaking to get right

3. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm Riflescope

Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm Riflescope

The Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm Riflescope is an amazing low light scope on the market. After testing this rifle scope for night hunting, our experts found this to be one of the best options for use during a low light situation.

This riflescope is capable of withstanding abuse and heavy use, and yet, it falls within the low and affordable price range.  It is solid, yet simple. One of its features is the BDC reticle, which sees through ballistic circles designed to make it perform better for long-range shooters during low light conditions. 

Pros

  • Positive click adjustments with its fast-to-zero reticles
  • Good if you’re on a low budget
  • Accurate shots
  • Gives crystal clear and bright images with its anti-reflective compounds
  • Ideal for rough terrains

Cons

  • Best used for shootings of above 100 yards
  • Has short eye relief

4. Tasco World Class Illuminated Reticle 3-9 Scope

Tasco World Class Illuminated Reticle 3-9 Scope

If you’re looking for an inexpensive and perfectly functional scope for low light conditions, this is one of the best low light scopes to consider.

Coated with a 40mm objective lens, a coated optic, durable water, fog, and shockproof construction, the Tasco Illuminated Reticle Scope is the definition of the best hunting scope for dark or low light conditions.

It is most suitable for common hunting scope and for casual use. If you aren’t a hardcore-hunt-all-the time-in-all-weather conditions sort of guy, you might as well save a few cash and roll with this low light rifle scope. 

Pros

  • Offers a durable fog and waterproof
  • 40mm objective lens
  • Shockproof
  • Clear optic with excellent illumination
  • Good if you’re on a low budget
  • 11 variations of illumination dial
  • Provides eye relief
  • Light, and easy to mount
  • Its one-inch tube lets in adequate light, which is perfect for low light environments

Cons

  • Best for casual use
  • Glass is not very clear
  • Turning the illumination might cause blurriness

5. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope

With a 1-6x magnification, this second focal plane low light rifle scope is made for close-range targeting. 

It’s perfect for engaging targets at a distance under low light conditions. Appropriately illuminated, its 11 illumination settings built into the glass-etched BDC reticle gives you a superb view even when light conditions are at their lowest.

More so, it has a cantilever mount with a two-inch offset, placing the scope in a forward position, thereby giving you the best eye relief and head placement, especially when holding your rifle at 1.59 inches in height from the base.

Pros

  • Best used for close-range targeting and shooting
  • Has a multi-coated lens
  • Versatile and has an appropriate tube body
  • Offers excellent value for your money
  • Water, fog, and shockproof
  • Glass-etched BDC reticle, appropriately illuminated
  • Good eye relief of about 4 inches
  • Rests in a forward position
  • Lifetime no-questions-asked warranty
  • Quick target acquisition and precise shots

Cons

  • Not suitable for precisions that involve a large range
  • Has a tight eye box

6. WEAVER Kaspa 3-12X50 Dual-X Scope

WEAVER Kaspa 3-12X50 Dual-X Scope

Weaver Kaspa 3-12X50 Dual-X Scope is a one-piece one-inch tube construction. It’s nitrogen purged to prevent fogging and O-ring sealed to make it waterproof. Our experts find the shockproof design capable of withstanding rough handling during shooting impressive.

If you want versatility, high contrasting visuals, bright and clear view, and a design that allows you to perform right-through, close-quarter, and long-range shots with no qualms, the Weaver Kaspa 3-12X50 Dual-X Scope is a good choice.

With ¼ MOA adjustments for windage and elevation, you enjoy the benefits of precision targeting. What’s more, the field of view makes your view wide enough to easily spot your game.

Pros

  • Anti-glare properties
  • One-piece tube construction
  • Ideal for competition shooting
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Favorable price range
  • ¼ MOA adjustments
  • Lasts under heavy recoil
  • Fully multi-coated tube lenses
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged
  • Crystal clear field of view
  • Excellent gathering and transmission of light

Cons

  • The parallax could be improved
  • Takes long to ship

7. Vortex Optics Crossfire II AO 6-18×44

Vortex Optics Crossfire II AO 6-18×44

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II has earned a spot on our list as it offers quality for a lower price. 

This scope has a variable magnification between 6x to 18x. Its objective lens has a 44m diameter. It also has an adjustable graduation value of ¼ MOA at 100 yards.

Like other models, it has a V-Brite (MOA) battery-powered illuminated reticle, CR2032 battery, and an unlimited lifetime warranty. It is nitrogen purged, O-ring sealed, and has a beautiful Low-glare matte surface hard anodized finish. This scope also provides a clear view of your target and its reticle is easy to focus because of its fast focus eyepiece.

Pros

  • Lifetime warranty
  • Very affordable
  • Constructed with quality materials
  • Good parallax adjustment
  • Clear and bright visibility

Cons

  • Difficult to adjust optical bell
  • No zero stop technology

8. Nightforce Optics 5-25×56 ATACR ZeroStop Riflescope

Nightforce Optics 5-25×56 ATACR ZeroStop Riflescope

This low light scope has top notch quality scope that has a tube that is double the thickness of the scope. What’s more, its tube is constructed out of a multi-piece aircraft-grade aluminum material.

Here’s the kicker: Its diameter of 34mm, the O-rings in the metal locks, and bonding agent provide high durability to this low light rifle. 

Moreover, the markings on it are very clear and easy to read because of its off-white color. This fog proof low light scope also has an excellent parallax adjustment, providing eye relief when aiming at your target.

Pros

  • High thickness
  • Waterproof
  • An internal adjustments of Elev-89MOA/26MIL, Wind-60MOA/18MIL
  • Provides eye relief of 3.54 inch
  • Has mounting length of 6.3/160 (inches/mm)
  • Easy to operate
  • Fog proof
  • Shockproof
  • High durability
  • Good parallax adjustment

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No cleaning kit
  • Slightly heavier than others on the list

9. Monstrum Tactical G3 6-24×50

Monstrum-Tactical-6-24x50mm-G3-Box-Contents-2000

If you are looking for the right scope for long ranges, this one’s for you. It has a variable magnification power between 6× and 24×. 

Our experts have verified that this scope targets up to 1,500 yards. It has full multi-layer coated lenses and an adjustable objective lens. 

Also, its reticle is positioned in the first focal plane for faster range estimation and holdover correction. The objective lens of the Monstrum Tactical G3 6-24×50 is ultra-wide measuring up to 50 mm. The construction material of the main tube is 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum.

Pros

  • It is light
  • Has high functionality
  • Has custom designed FFP reticle for faster range estimation
  • Has flip-up lens covers to protect your optics from dust
  • Provides eye relief of 4 - 4.5 inches
  • Excellent parallax adjustment
  • Comes with a detachable honeycomb filter sunshade
  • Two years manufacturer warranty
  • Has 80MOA for both windage and elevation
  • Effective in low light conditions
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Too Long
  • Poor reticle alignment

Low Light Scope Buyer’s Guide

Thanks to the advent of low light scope, the challenge of poor night vision for hunters during night hunting has become a thing of the past. 

Even though a low light scope is designed to be efficient in every light condition, finding the right rifle scope can be quite tricky. So, when looking for the best low light scopes for a responsible and successful hunting experience, you might want to bear in mind the following:

 

Man with Rifle

Basic Features to Look Out For

An objective lens of 50 or 56mm, a minimal magnification ranging from 2x to 4x, capped turrets, durable batteries, high quality glass and coatings are some of the key features to look out for. 

Other important features include fixed or slightly variable magnification, 30mm tube/rail mounting, thick FFP reticle, and low intensity illumination.

Scope Magnification

Like low light performance, scope magnification is also key to not missing your targets. As a general rule, the least magnification level that gives you a crystal clear target image and a bright view is the best magnification for your scope. 

Too much magnification puts you at a disadvantage. It shrinks your scope field of view which makes finding targets harder, especially when hunting in a low light environment [1].

High power, which is a result of too much magnification, reduces exit pupil diameter. This means that in dim light, the target image won’t be as bright as it should be on a normal day. The magnification that makes a target bigger also plays the role of bumping up the amplitude of reticle movements due to muscle tremors and heartbeat.

Rifle with focus

Having said that, you might want to use more magnification for smaller animals like prairie dogs, rabbits, pheasants, geese, and ducks. Just be sure to get your scope at the appropriate magnification level.

If you’re confused whether your scope has a fixed or variable magnification, we have an expert tip to make remembering easy: a fixed magnification has a single number before the X while a variable magnification has two numbers with a dash between them. This means you can adjust the magnification or simply “zoom in” on the target as you wish.

Effective hunting range gets shorter with a high powered optic as the sun goes down. In this case, you’ll have to adjust the magnification down to the level that has as much usable light as possible.

The Objective Lens

The objective lens is the glass at the end of a scope that points toward the target. Optics with powerful magnification usually have larger objective lenses than the remaining parts of rifle scopes.

Much like the objective lenses on binoculars, objective lenses on scopes gather, retain, and focus light on a target to produce the image you see when you look through your scope. Most rifle scopes have an objective lens diameter ranging anywhere between 32mm to 44mm.

Gun Tripod Weapon

A large оbјесtіvе lens dіаmеtеr on a scope gives you a very large objective and іntеrfеrеs with уоur mounting роѕіtіоn which results in poor eye alignment and discomfort. To cushion this effect, you’ll need a higher mounting ring to kеер the оbјесtіvе bell off уоur rіflе’ѕ barrel. 

Веіng аwаrе of the ѕіzе of the оbјесtіvе lens dіаmеtеr and focal plane gives you a feel of how the scope is going to sit on your rifle. Ensuring that your rifle scope has the right lens diameter guarantees that you’ll be able to achieve a consistent cheek and weld method, and a fast and easy eye alignment. You can also use standard height mounting rings.

Picture Quality

To ensure that you get clear pictures, you have to check the optics quality of your scope. Even though having a clear picture is dependent on many factors including the focal plane, the optic quality makes sure you get a crisp view at night or during day shootings.

Illuminated Rеtісlе

The reticle, also called a crosshair in firearms, plays the role of a marker. The reticle you choose is crucial in choosing the best low light scope. 

A bright illuminated reticle helps with target acquisition at low light conditions. Also, illuminated reticles are game-changers as they have redefined how low light rifles are used. If you intend to use one on your scope, go for those that are lightweight

The best illuminated reticle low light scope reduces the predator’s problem when hunting in the dark. You can also get a rifle scope at an affordable price range. 

Hand holding riflescope

Scopes with an illuminated reticle provide safety, and make you more confident in your skills. This is why our experts recommend a rifle scope with an illuminated reticle for budding shooters and hunters.

Make sure that the scope you choose is a right fit for your reticle, keeping in mind that your reticle determines the result you get. A confounded reticle will throw you off your game in low lighting; always go for simple ones.

Lens Coat

Lens coat, also known as an anti-reflection coating, makes a huge difference in rifle scope brightness. It can double scope brightness without adding extra bulk or weight. It also improves light transmission and contrast.

Understanding the lens coat is sometimes tricky. But the important thing to note, however, is that raw glass loses about 4 percent of light each time light hits or exits it. Many light rifles or light scope have 6 to 10 lenses with many air-to-glass surfaces. 

With uncoated lenses, you can be sure to bid more than half the light that enters your scope farewell. However, this problem is solved with more layers of coating.

Soldier holding gun

Our experts agree that multiple layers of lens coat can drastically reduce reflection and light loss to as little as 0.02 percent in a low light scope. Some scopes claim 85% to 95% of anti-reflective coating, but the difference can be subtle. Just be sure to take a good look at the scope lens coat and focal plane.

Battery Capacity

When selecting a scope, you often get what you pay for. Generally,  more expensive models have greater durability, battery life, and optical clarity than the cheaper models.

Quality scopes come with long-lasting batteries (1,000+ hours). These batteries will last for two hunting seasons. 

Pay attention to the type of batteries used in the model. Batteries that require expensive or hard-to-locate varieties will be an added cost for you and a logistical strain. After every hunting expedition, turn off your scope to avoid battery drain.

Price

Scopes are investments. Occasionally, they cost more than the rifle itself. Prices vary greatly. A solid, dependable, mid-power scope with quality mount may range between $500 and over $1000 depending on the manufacturer, and whether or not the scope is variable.

Shallow focus of brown rifle

You can have the sturdy, basic red dot sights starting around $200. However, anything cheaper than that should be reserved strictly for a fun gun. 

A common rule of thumb is to spend as much on your scope as you would on your rifle or low light scope. Since the best low light rifle scopes don’t depreciate, investing on the best one you can afford is a good idea. Also, it is preferable to opt for a well-established brand with a good reputation.

Scopes Long Range

Cartridges that can shoot on a range of over 100 yards have become popular on the market. But, to get maximum results from your guns, you’ll need to equip yourself with the right scope that offers more than standard sights.

There isn’t a single operational range that we define as “long” for everyone. You’ll have to know your rifle’s ballistics to determine what scope long range means for you.

While the specific range can change from rifle to rifle or hunter to hunter, in most cases, your range (of over 100 yards) efficacy will depend on two factors, mainly your chosen caliber and rifle barrel length. One low light scope differs from another regarding their maximum ranges. For instance, a .22 rifle user might classify a range of 100 yards to 150 yards as long.

Daylight Conditions

This is one factor people neglect everytime. They focus more on low light conditions and best low light shooting tips. It is important to ensure that your scope works as well in daytime shootings as it does in low light conditions. 

Warranty

A good scope design usually comes with a good warranty. Occasionally, manufacturers can also offer product replacement, lifetime warranty, fix damaged designs with no questions asked, and a one year money back guarantee.

FAQs

What Is The Best Hunting Scope For Low Light?

The best hunting scope for low light is Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12×56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope. This low light rifle  offers a solution to poor night vision, excellent eye relief, durable battery, and excellent parallax correction.

Does a Scope Accept or Gather Light?

A scope can accept, but not necessarily gather light. Riflescopes can only transmit some of the available light, but a low light instrument increases the available light. Everything you see without a scope is tunnelled from the big picture into a small picture that you can see with one eye.

What Is The Best Rifle?

The best rifle is the Leupold VX 1.5-4x Scout. It has an excellent magnification range, and a nice reticle for both near and far target engagements. The Leupold VX 1.5-4x Scout has 1.5x and was a close call for 4x, providing the best eye relief possible.  

Is Having a Low Light Scope a Must?

Yes, a low light scope is a must if you plan on going hunting in low light conditions. A low light rifle helps you see better and hit directly at your target without missing, similar to what you do during bright light conditions. 

Is Illuminated Reticle Necessary?

No, an illuminated reticle is not necessary. However, it’s a nice feature to have especially for hunting in the shadows. 

Our Top Pick for the Best Low Light Scope:
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope

Vortex Optics Crossfire II AO 6-18×44

With its advanced features such as easy to focus reticle feature, generous eye relief, adjustable objective lens, and 30mm tube body and excellent parallax correction, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12×56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope deserves our top spot.

Using this low light scope is quite easy. With appropriate training and a simple navigating, you’re sure to master this scope in no time. You can also get it without breaking the bank.

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