6 Best Elk Hunting Scopes of 2020

We abused our eyes so you don’t have to.

Below are the top 6 best elk hunting scopes that we’ve meticulously picked from multiple rounds of in-depth testing by our experts. They’re also arranged in specific categories so no matter the conditions you’re about to use it in, there is surely a right one for you.

Here are the best elk hunting scopes you can buy in 2020:

  • Best Overall: CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope
  • Best For Thicker Woods: Bushnell Red Dot Sight
  • Best For Early Morning: Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane
  • Best For Rainy Environments: Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
  • Best For Dark Environments: Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope
  • Best For Harsh Use: Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope
Best Elk Hunting Scope: Top 6 Picks
Best Overall
CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope
    Read Our Review
    Best For Thicker Woods
    Bushnell Red Dot Sight
      Read Our Review
      Best For Early Morning
      Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane
        Read Our Review
        Best For Rainy Environments
        Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
          Read Our Review
          Best For Dark Environments
          Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope
            Read Our Review
            Best For Harsh Use
            Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope
              Read Our Review

              Best Overall: CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope

              CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope
              CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope
              9Outstanding
              Pros
              • Work great in low light condition – feature variable colors and deliver good brightness
              • Easily hold zero with a decent amount of recoil
              • Extremely affordable
              Cons
              • Scope rings feel flimsy and thin

              To be honest, this hunting rifle scope comes as a surprise to a bunch of us because it performs as efficiently as any scope up to 10 times the price.

              It easily holds a zero with decent amount of recoil, and 10 shots at 100 yards all in a 3.5” grouping.

              When it comes to elk hunting scopes, parallax resolution at freezing the crosshair is also our biggest concern. And this model works great despite its inconvenient location. Magnification functions well and it’s easy to adjust. Same with the turrets function.

              The elevation and windage turrets even have some adjustment and measurements with ease of use, which is a big bonus.

              Although the vision is not crystal clear, it’s moderate to see each impact at the distance.

              CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope Specifications

              Magnification

              6-24x

              Eye Relief

              3.52 Inches

              Objective Diameter

              50mm

              Field Of View

              28 ft @ 100 yards

              Highlight Features

              Click Value: 1/8 inch @ 100 yards

              Field Of View: 28 ft @ 100 yards

              Objective Diameter: 50mm

              Objective Diameter: 50mm

              Verdict

              At under $50, we’re really impressed with CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope. It’s the best value we’ve never seen in a long time.

              Best For Thicker Woods: Bushnell Red Dot Sight

              Bushnell Red Dot Sight
              Bushnell Red Dot Sight
              8.6Great
              Pros
              • Great for bush and woods – feature 11 brightness settings
              • Not fog or absorb water when used in the rain - Nitrogen Purged Fog Proofing and Waterproof Construction
              • Versatile – can work with muzzleloaders, rifles, shotguns, pistols, and most Picatinny rails
              • Extremely durable – Shockproof construction
              Cons
              • Cheap batteries
              • Wish the red dot was a bit smaller

              The Bushnell Red Dot Sight is a huge blind spot at 300 yards highlighting 11 brightness settings, making it the best choice for shorter range, like thick wooded areas.

              It works well on muzzleloaders, rifles, shotguns, pistols, and most Picatinny rails.

              The shockproof and waterproof construction with nitrogen purged fog-proof features makes this scope hold up well against extreme conditions. Even when immersed completely in water, its interior still stays dry.

              What amazed us the most was even dropping it from 5’ high, the scope still shot with accuracy from 100 yards.

              Bushnell Red Dot Sight Specifications

              Magnification

              No

              Eye Relief

              Unlimited

              Objective Diameter

              1 x 25mm

              Field Of View

              Unlimited

              Highlight Features

              Nitrogen Purged Fog Proofing

              Shockproof construction

              Waterproof Construction

              A 3 MOA Dot reticle with 11 brightness settings

              Verdict

              If you want something lightweight, compact, effective, and durable to use in densely wooded areas, the Bushnell Red Dot Sight is exactly what you are after.

              Best For Early Morning: Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane

              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane
              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane
              9.4Outstanding
              Pros
              • Gather plenty of light with amazing crispness - Anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses
              • Can make small adjustments without losing where your main baseline zero is at - Capped reset turrets with MOA clicks
              • Not interfere too much with the ejection port – feature trim design
              Cons
              • The illuminated dot is a little hard to see in daylight

              For the price, you can’t beat this Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane.

              It highlights anti-reflective lenses with full multiple coatings to give you crisper, brighter images, especially in the late evening or early morning without glaring the scope up.

              The capped reset turrets work great. You can make small adjustments without losing where your main baseline zero is at – something that the cheaper scopes hardly do. Another compliment for its MOA clicks. Each clip offers a positive clicky feel with no detection of mushiness.

              We also love the fact that it is trim enough to not interfere too much with the ejection port.

              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Focal Plane Specifications

              Magnification

              2-7x

              3-9x

              4-12x

              Eye Relief

              3.9 - 4.7 inches

              Objective Diameter

              32mm

              40mm

              44mm

              50mm

              Field Of View

              34.6 - 14.6 [email protected] yards

              Highlight Features

              Aircraft-grade aluminum single-piece tube

              Capped reset turrets are finger adjustable with MOA clicks

              Anti-reflective

              Fully multi-coated lenses

              Long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box

              Verdict

              If you want a high-quality rifle scope for early morning or late evening without costing you the same as a whole riffle did, take this.

              Best For Rainy Environments: Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective

              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
              9.4Outstanding
              Pros
              • Allow adjusting the focus to correct parallax at various distances – adjustable objective
              • Easy to reset to zero after sighting in - Capped reset turrets
              • No fogging or residue problems when working in the rain
              Cons
              • Not for big game
              • More challenging to shoot at dawn or dusk

              What makes this rifle scope different from the previous Vortex version is it allows you to adjust your focus to correct parallax at various distances.

              Another outstanding feature is its performance in the rain. Once the lenses get wet, while other scopes will have a tendency to be more difficult to see through, this isn’t the one.

              We tested this function while hunting in the Pacific Northwest where it commonly starts raining when you are out hunting. The scope held up without fogging or any residue issues to make more accurate shots. A big bonus is that whenever we want to track the scope back to zero, it works perfectly.

              Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective Specifications

              Magnification

              4-12x

              Eye Relief

              3.7” to 3.9”

              Objective Diameter

              40mm

              Field Of View

              15.2’-5.3’ [email protected] yards

              25.7’-8.4’ [email protected] yards

              24.7’-8.4’ [email protected] yards

              Highlight Features

              Long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box

              Adjustable objective

              Dead-Hold BDC reticle

              Verdict

              For being as affordable as it is, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective is an extraordinary model to be used in rainy environments.

              Best For Dark Environments: Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope

              Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope
              Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope
              9Outstanding
              Pros
              • Collect the light from targets efficiently in dark conditions – feature Advanced Fully-Multi Coated Optics
              • Offer superior thermal stability and waterproofing – argon purging
              • Easily adjust windage and elevation - first focal plane reticles along with Side Parallax Adjustment
              Cons
              • The side focus knob would work better
              • Heavy

              Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope is the one and sole unit in this list that can work efficiently in darkness. That’s a big thank you to the Advanced Fully-Multi Coated Optics that collects as much light from the target as possible to give you an ultra-bright picture with decent crispness and details.

              This lens is protected by an exclusive XPL coating to keep away any outer impact, harsh weather conditions, grease, or dirt. Additionally, the argon purging makes it better in thermal stability and waterproofing.

              We do appreciate the variety of first focal plane reticles along with Side Parallax Adjustment that gives you easy windage and elevation adjustments to any range right at your fingertips.

              Athlon Optics Argos BTR, Riflescope Specifications

              Magnification

              6-24x

              Eye Relief

              3.3 inches

              Objective Diameter

              50mm

              Field Of View

              16.7-4.5 feet

              Highlight Features

              Argon purging

              Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lenses

              First focal plane reticle

              Verdict

              When it comes to elk hunting scope used in darkness, Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope is by far the best selection for the money.

              Best For Harsh Use: Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope

              Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope
              Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope
              9.6Outstanding
              Pros
              • Sturdy, solid, and extremely durable – made from 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum
              • High light transmission - DiamondCoat 2 - Ion-assist lens coating
              • Offer premium edge-to-edge picture quality - Twilight Max Light Management System
              Cons
              • Expensive
              • Wish the turrets worked better

              Extreme weather conditions, bumps, drops, and rough abuse are no problem with this USA-made hunting scope.

              It is made completely from 6061-T6 aircraft-quality aluminum that has been punisher tested to ensure a lifetime of shockproof, fog-proof, and waterproof performance under the harshest abuse. For souped-up abrasion resistance ability, the scope is added with DiamondCoat 2 - Ion-assist lens coating.

              This add-on is also known for decent light transmission that combining with Twilight Max Light Management System, it delivers unbeatable edge-to-edge picture quality.

              Besides, you’ve got 20 extra minutes of shooting light.

              Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope Specifications

              Magnification

              3.5-10x

              Eye Relief

              Eye Relief (in) - Low: 4.4

              Eye Relief (in) - High: 3.6

              Objective Diameter

              40mm

              Field Of View

              Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) - Low: 29.8

              Linear FOV (ft/100 yd) - High: 11

              Highlight Features

              Twilight Max Light Management System

              Made with 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum

              DiamondCoat 2 - Ion-assist lens coating

              100% Waterproof

              Fog proof and shockproof

              Verdict

              If you’re about to hunt elk in harsh conditions and rough terrains, the Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Riflescope is our recommendation for you.

              How To Choose The Best Elk Hunting Scopes?

              Magnification

              • This factor is purely subjective to one’s needs so it’s varied between hunters.
              • We highly recommend testing out some different magnification levels at various distances to find out the most suitable if possible. But don’t worry if there is no hunting gear store in your neighborhood, 2-7 power range is a common choice.
              • 3-9 is also fine but don’t go for a 4-16 power scope because it’s too powerful. Remember the potential danger big games present when they get wounded, even an elk. When choosing magnification of a hunting scope, make sure it has lower settings as well.
              • The two power selections let you shot in close range more efficiently and precisely.
              • If you want to scout and see targets at further ranges, the 7-9 power scope is perfect.

              Lens Coating And Size

              • Clarity and precision of image are two paramount factors in elk hunting scope. And what affects them the most is the lens.
              • Poor-quality scopes utilized poor-quality lenses, which means it can create distortion to lower accuracy. Good lens coating helps to aid in light transmission while avoiding flare like a champ. Fully multi-coated optics deliver the highest performance but at the same time, it is the most expensive.
              • Lens diameter takes a huge role on the light transmission through the image. It decides how bright and clear of the image, especially during dust and dawn.
              • The larger the lens size, the brighter and clearer the image.
              • But it also results in heavier scope.
              • To get the best of both worlds, we highly recommend a 40mm to 42mm of lens diameter.

              Which Brands Make The Best Elk Hunting Scopes?

              Bushnell

              • Founded in 1948, it’s no strange when Bushnell has now been the world’s leading firm in sporting optics and relating products. Their hunting scopes are known for quality with decent precision while the prices are considerably lower than other competitors.

              CVLIFE

              • Similar to Bushnell but quite younger, CVLIFE is specialized in optics products for hunting, outdoor activities, and sports. It is a reliable brand where you not only receive the highest quality products but also the best services.

              Vortex Optics

              • Another desirable brand is Vortex Optics, founded in 2004 by Daniel C. Hamilton in the USA. It is famous for a wide range of optics equipment and hunting scopes are one of them.

              FAQs

              What are the benefits of using the best elk hunting scope?

              The biggest benefits of using an appropriate scope for elk hunting are:

              • Highly clean and bright image
              • Durable and last longer
              • Work decently in low light conditions, like dust, dawn, night, and foggy days
              • Lightweight and versatile
              • Quick and easy zero reset
              • Ideal for longer ranges of use

              What magnification do I need for 200 yards?

              3x to 9x

              How long should elk hunting scopes last?

              10 to 15 years, depending on the quality, brand, frequency of use, in which weather conditions, and maintenance.

              What range is a 3 9x40 scope Good For? Or, how far can you see with a 3x9 scope?

              100-300 yards.

              Conclusion

              We write these reviews because we’re elk hunters who want to put out honest, reliable advice on the gear we love the most – scope. Hopefully, you get the same value from this post as we got from using them: the boil-down on the best elk hunting scope for you. Thanks for reading!

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