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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 hunter riflescope 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 a crystal-clear image, adjustable objective lens size, and a generous relief to the reticle, then this Crossfire II 3-12×56 AO Hog Hunter is the best scope for you.

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 as well.

Pros

  • Great for hunters with night vision problems
  • Easy-to-focus reticle feature
  • Comes with a generous eye relief
  • Features a fully adjustable objective lens
  • 30mm size tube body and parallax correction
  • Customizable magnification

Cons

  • Slightly heavy weight
  • 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 and high quality product at a cheap price, the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Adjustable Objective Riflescope is one of the most recommended low light 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 features altitude and windage adjustments with straightforward zoom fitting, providing eye relief and fast-focus for long range scopes. We find that it doesn’t have lots of fancy trappings, but it fully satisfies the most important parts of a low light hunting scope – its glass, coatings, and adjustments.

Pros

  • Features a fast-focus eyepiece for any hunting scope
  • Easy and fully adjustable lenses for shooting
  • Good price range and budget-friendly
  • Features 4-12x magnification with a 40mm objective lens size
  • Multi-X reticle and multicoated lenses for brightness and effective light transmission
  • Provides eye relief (of about 3.3 inches), making your view more comfortable
  • Great to use for muzzleloaders, rifles or shotguns
  • Argon purged
  • O-ring sealed
  • Built for both long and short ranges

Cons

  • Scope fogs up quickly during humid low light conditions
  • Adjusting the distance can sometimes be tricky on the field
  • 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 top-notch riflescope is capable of withstanding abuse and heavy use, and yet, it falls within the low and affordable price range.  We find that it provides a solid performance above 100 yards, yet it’s a little simple compared to others as well. One of its features is the BDC fast-to-zero reticle, which is built to see through ballistic circles designed to make it perform better for long-range hunters during low light conditions. 

Pros

  • Positive click adjustments with its fast-to-zero reticles
  • Good performance if you’re on a low budget
  • Accurate shots
  • Gives crystal clear and bright images with its anti-reflective compounds
  • Built for rough terrains
  • Features a large exit pupil for better brightness
  • Inexpensive price

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 want an inexpensive and perfectly functional scope for low light conditions, this is one of the best low light rifle 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 in the field. If you aren’t a hardcore-hunt-all-the time-in-all-weather conditions sort of guy, you may as well save a few cash and take this low light rifle scope at a good price.

Pros

  • Offers a durable fog-proof and waterproof 40mm objective lens
  • Shock-proof
  • Clear optic with excellent image illumination
  • Features 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
  • Good clarity and brightness at an affordable price

Cons

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

5. Vortex 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 image even when light conditions are at their lowest. So if you’re going to hunt deer in the dark, this will provide the brightness and clarity that you need.

It even features 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 fully multi-coated lens
  • Versatile and has an appropriate tube body
  • Offers excellent value for your money
  • Waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof
  • Glass-etched BDC reticle, appropriately illuminated
  • Good eye relief of about 4 inches
  • Rests in a forward position
  • Comes with a lifetime no-questions-asked warranty
  • Quick target acquisition and precise performance

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, clarity, high contrasting visuals, bright and clear field of view, and a design that allows you to perform right-through, close-quarter, and long-range shots with no qualms, you’ll find that the Weaver Kaspa 3-12X50 Dual-X Scope is a good choice at a low price.

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

Pros

  • Anti-glare properties for clarity
  • One-piece tube construction
  • Great performance for competition shooting
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Favorable price range
  • Features ¼ MOA adjustments
  • Lasts under heavy recoil
  • Comes with fully multi-coated tube lenses
  • O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged
  • Provides clarity in the field of view
  • Excellent gathering and transmission of light

Cons

  • The parallax could be improved
  • Takes long to ship

7. Vortex Crossfire II AO 6-18×44

Vortex Optics Crossfire II AO 6-18×44

The Crossfire II has earned a spot on our list as it’s one of the low light scopes that offers quality for a lower price. 

This low light hunting scope has a variable magnification between 6x to 18x. It has a large objective lens which is 44m diameter in size. It also has an adjustable graduation value of ¼ MOA at 100 yards.

Like many other models, it comes with 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 field of view of your target and its reticle has an easy adjustment because of its fast focus eyepiece.

Pros

  • Comes with a lifetime warranty
  • Very affordable
  • Constructed with quality materials
  • Good parallax adjustment
  • Top-notch brightness and performance
  • Reticles are easy to adjust

Cons

  • Adjustment on optical bell is difficult
  • No zero stop technology

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

Nightforce Optics 5-25×56 ATACR ZeroStop Riflescope

This zero-stop 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 zero-stop low light rifle. 

Moreover, the little markings on it are very clear and easy to read because of its off-white color. This fog proof zero-stop low light scope also has an excellent parallax adjustment, providing eye relief as you take aim 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 and brightness
  • 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 top-performing scope targets up to 1,500 yards. It has fullly 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. Even the construction material of the main tube is top-notch – 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum.

Pros

  • It is light
  • Has high functionality and adjustment features
  • Has custom designed FFP reticle for faster range estimation
  • Has flip-up lens covers for protection
  • Excellent parallax adjustment
  • Comes with a detachable honeycomb filter sunshade
  • Two years manufacturer warranty
  • Has 80MOA feature for both windage and elevation
  • Effective in low light conditions
  • Very affordable
  • Variable magnification

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 may be quite tricky. So, when looking for the best low light rifle scopes for a responsible and successful hunting experience, you may want to bear in mind the following:

 

Man with Rifle

Basic Features to Look Out For

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

Other important features that you need 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. Larger magnification shrinks your scope field of view which makes finding targets even 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 larger 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 may want to use more magnification for shooting 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 it allows magnification adjustment or you can simply “zoom in” as you wish.

Effective hunting range gets shorter with a high powered optic as the sun goes down. In this case, you need 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 glass or objective lenses on binoculars, objective lenses on scopes gather, retain, and provide light on a target to produce the image you see when you look through your scope. Most scopes have an objective lens diameter ranging anywhere between 32mm to 44mm, which comes in handy if you want to see most game like deer from afar.

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 even 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 glass or 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 need to check the optics quality of your scope. Even though having a clear picture is fully dependent on many factors including the focal plane and glass quality, the optic quality allows you to 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 when shooting in low light conditions. Also, illuminated reticles are game-changers in the dark as they have redefined how low light rifles are used. If you need to use one on your scope, a light weight option helps.

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, allows a huge difference in rifle scope brightness. It can double scope brightness without adding extra bulk or weight. It might also take light transmission and contrast up a notch.

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

In scopes with uncoated lenses, you can be sure to take more than half the light that enters your scope farewell. However, this light transmission 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 it will make might 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, larger size, better 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 and 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 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 a little 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, in most cases, your range (of over 100 yards) efficacy will depend on two factors, mainly your chosen caliber and 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 pay more attention 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.

Wondering what upgrades are best for your Taurus G2C? Our roundup of the best items should help you.

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 scope 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 riflescope 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 Crossfire II 3-12×56 AO Hog Hunter Riflescope is the best low light rifle scope in our list.

Using this low light scope is quite easy in low light conditions. 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.

Expand your knowledge on cartridges. Find out which between the 308 and the 30-30, both from Winchester, is the better deal.

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