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Best Low Light Rifle Scope for Deer Hunting: Top 8 Picks

Best Low Light Rifle Scope

Successful hunting usually happens during the magic hours of dusk and dawn. But, the magic does come with the price of blindness IF you’re NOT careful.

The problem? You can’t hit when you can’t see, and target shooting without clear images is risky, especially if you’re with the gang.

The solution? You NEED not just the good but the best low-light rifle scope to rely on.

We listed down 8 of the best low-light rifle scopes you can find on the market.

Let’s get started.

Best Value
BARSKA IR Huntmaster Pro 3-12x 50 Rifle Scope
Best Overall
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x 56 AO Hog Hunter Rifle Scope
Budget Pick
Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X Reticle 6-18x 50 AO Rifle Scope

8 Best Low Light Rifle Scopes for the Money for Deer Hunting

Hunting in low-light conditions doesn’t have to be less fun.

If you are someone who lives and breathes shooting in the woods, you just need the perfect light scope for a brighter hunting game.

So, let’s zoom in on these bad boys and see what they’ve got!

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x 56 Adjustable Objective Hog Hunter Rifle Scope

BEST OVERALL

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x 56 Adjustable Objective Hog Hunter Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 3-12x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
  • Reticle: Illuminated V-Brite
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane
  • EP: 4.67 mm – 18.67 mm
  • Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Weight: 21 oz
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Vortex Optics is one good low-light scope that excels when hunting in the lowest light.

Thanks to its fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings, the light transmission (more on that later) is higher in this low-light scope.

So, even the nights are better when you’re with Vortex.

The versatile 3-12x magnification and oversized 56mm objective lens will let you shoot with confidence even when lighting conditions are at their worst.

Vortex has an illuminated V-Brite reticle that gives a brighter and clearer sight picture of your target.

And you can also adjust the objective for parallax adjustment for a better field view.

Is Vortex for You?

It’s made from aircraft-grade aluminum material, so rest assured, it is sturdy and reliable. That’s why it’s the BEST OVERALL for you!

Plus! It is everything-proof:

  • Shockproof
  • Waterproof
  • Fog proof

This Vortex Optics scope is one of the budget scopes in our price range to get a hold of ’cause it won’t break the bank, and it is packed with features that are perfect for low light conditions.

Pros

  • Bigger and adjustable objective lens
  • Fully multi-coated and anti-reflective lens
  • Parallax adjustment
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Quite heavy

2. BARSKA IR Huntmaster Pro 3-12x 50 Rifle Scope

BEST VALUE

BARSKA IR Huntmaster Pro 3-12x 50 Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 3-12x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
  • Reticle: Illuminated 30/30 IR Cross
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane
  • EP: 4.2 mm – 16.7 mm
  • Material: Not specified by the manufacturer
  • Weight: 21.3 oz
  • Warranty: Limited lifetime

BARSKA is an ideal riflescope when lighting conditions are anything but ideal, making it our BEST VALUE pick!

Advanced optic technology, ruggedly durable construction, remarkable accuracy help this product excel over other rifles.

It is built around a center-lit illuminated 30/30 IR Cross reticle with no fewer than 11 brightness settings. 

Also, thanks to its illuminated crosshair feather, large objective lens, and multi-coated lenses, you get an increased light transmission in your riflescope.

So, you can see high-contrast downrange views that are superb for low-light hunting use.

Is BARSKA for You?

BARSKA’s sleek and sturdy scopes construction can withstand beatings from nasty weather conditions and everything it entails, like water and fog.

If you want your scopes to be strong and tough, just like you, then you’ll be happy and satisfied with this one without disturbing your nest egg.

Pros

  • Multi-coated lenses
  • Advanced optics technology
  • Sturdy without being pricy

Cons

  • No anti-reflective coatings

3. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X Reticle 6-18x 50 Adjustable Objective Rifle Scope

BUDGET PICK

Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X Reticle 6-18x 50 Adjustable Objective Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 6-18x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
  • Reticle: Multi X
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane
  • EP: 4.67 mm – 18.67 mm
  • Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Weight: 19 oz
  • Warranty: Unlimited Lifetime

Bushnell is the name, Dusk & Dawn is the game (and name too). Need to know anything more?

I don’t think so.

But if the name doesn’t convince you yet, then let us try again. We’ll be more specific!

The Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X Reticle Riflescope has a 6-18x magnification range and a 50mm adjustable objective lens, which is more than enough to see your target crystal-clear even in twilight hours.

It has fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings to reduce the risk of alerting your target. Also, this low-light scope contains GOOD elevation adjustment (and that’s saying a lot for its price).

It is a batteryless rifle scope that can give you super clear low-light visuals.

You can also rely on its STABILITY because its Argon-filled optics remain stable regardless of ambient temperature.

Its fog proof and waterproof qualities allow you to hunt even in the worst light and weather conditions without asking for too much.

That’s why the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn scope is our BEST BUDGET pick for you!

Is Bushnell for You?

Suppose you’re looking for a 50mm low light rifle scope that would not cost a fortune, THIS. IS. YOUR. SIGN.

Get this!

You can’t beat these scopes for clarity, functionality, and price. It is tested and is highly recommended by many for low light conditions and even for long-range hunting.

Pros

  • Adjustable objective lens
  • Fully multi-coated lenses with anti-reflective coatings
  • Great elevation adjustments
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Parallax, windage, and elevation adjustments may need extra tweaking to get them right
  • Riser is required for effective utilization in AR

4. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x 50 Rifle Scope

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x 50 Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 3.5-10x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
  • Reticle: Duplex, Non-Illuminated
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane
  • EP: 5 mm – 14.29 mm
  • Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum
  • Weight: 23 oz
  • Warranty: Lifetime

From its edge-to-edge clarity to its full visible-spectrum lens coatings and glare management, Leupold will max out your game.

It has Diamond Coat 2 Ion-assist lens coating so your low light scope can get a higher light transmission and resistance against abrasion.

Not only will you get longer hunting hours, but more like longer hunting years with this riflescope.

Leupold also has fully multi-coated lenses and a Twilight Max Light Management System to reduce light loss and glare to give you a brighter, seamless, and longer time in the field.

It allows you to enjoy hunting with a MORE vivid, bright, and clear sight picture and image quality in a wider variety of low and bright conditions.

And, of course, it has a charming 50mm objective lens. Although its magnification power range is at 3.5-10x only, it is still in for low light scopes’ must-have qualities (we’ll talk more about that later).

Is Leupold for You?

Aside from being waterproof, fog proof, and weatherproof, this Leupold low-light scope is impact tested and verified.

Leupold riflescope is designed to survive a minimum of 5,000 impacts (each impact’s force is 3x the recoil of a 308 rifle) on its impact simulation machine.

Impressive, right?

So, if you’re looking for rugged reliability, Leupold is that guy, pal.

Pros

  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Twilight max light management system
  • Rugged reliability

Cons

  • Exclusion of mountain rings
  • Quite heavy

5. NightForce Optics ATACR 5-25x 56 Rifle Scope

NightForce ATACR 5-25x 56 Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 5-25x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
  • Reticle: Digillum, Illuminated
  • Reticle Focal Plane: First Focal Plane
  • EP: 2.3mm – 8.3mm
  • Material: Not specified by the manufacturer
  • Weight: 38 oz
  • Warranty: Transferrable limited lifetime

With this Nightforce Optics riflescope, you’re gonna see what you’ve been missing.

And you will never forget your first look at Nightforce’s ED glass.

We assure you that you have never seen images as bright and crisp through a riflescope. This will give you a sight picture as clear as seen in the premium camera lens.

It is a first focal plane riflescope to give you consistent reticle values, regardless of the magnification setting.

Plus! It offers a wide range of options like intelligent reticles and elevation adjustments that can allow you to get target engagements at “out of range” distances.

With its premium glass quality, lens size, reticle design, overall scope design, and other fantastic features, this is one of the best low-light rifle scopes that you find in the market for sure!

Although, it is on the higher limit of our price range.

Is Nightforce for You?

This low-light scope might cost an arm and leg.

BUT if you’re willing to spend some bucks, you are investing in a good eye. You’ll definitely fall in love at first sight with this riflescope.

So, if you are SERIOUS about stepping up your hunting game, add this to your setup. Your prey may never like it, but you certainly will!

Pros

  • Oversized objective lens
  • Premium ED glass quality
  • Consistent reticle values

Cons

  • Pricy
  • Heavy

6. Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15 x 56 Rifle Scope

Swarovski Z6i 2.5-15 x 56 Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 2.5-15x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 56 mm
  • Reticle: Illuminated 4A-I/BRH-I
  • Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane
  • EP: 3.8 mm – 9.5 mm
  • Material: Not specified by the manufacturer
  • Weight: 23.1 oz
  • Warranty: years

This low-light scope is the Mercedes Benz among the best low-light scopes. How fancy!

It has a central tube size of 1.18 inch which is pretty large for a scope’s tube, but does it mean that it’s the best low light scope because of that? Hmm…

Let’s find out later.

But for now, let’s talk about Swarovski’s other superior features.

It’s a 2.5-15x power scope, with a remarkable 56 mm lens, HD glass, and lateral parallax correction. It’s guaranteed to give an effective zoom range of use from a field of view and a faultless image.

Swarovski also comes with flexible brightness controls, which you can use for twilight and daylight conditions.

So, you can use it whenever and wherever you like.

Is Swarovski for You?

Just the name itself sounds fancy. So, it’s not surprising to know that it’s a pricy riflescope.

But it is SUPER WORTHY!

This European riflescope is a premium European brand that believes in “you get what you paid for” memento.

If you don’t mind the bucks, this is a good low-light scope, something worthy to bank on.

Pros

  • Oversized objective glass
  • HD glass
  • Excellent long-range accuracy

Cons

  • Expensive price point

7. Zeiss Conquest V6 5-30x 50 Rifle Scope

Zeiss Conquest V6 5-30x 50 Rifle Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 5-30x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50 mm
  • Reticle: ZMOA, Non-Illuminated
  • Reticle Focal Plane: SFP
  • EP: 1.7 mm – 9.5 mm
  • Material: Aircraft Grade Aluminum
  • Weight: 27.9 oz
  • Warranty: Transferable Limited Lifetime

The Zeiss Conquest V6 is serving optical performance in a compact but durable one-piece tube.

This high-end scope offers 6x zoom power that is perfect if you need it for mid to extra-long range shooting.

It’s made from high-quality fluoride glass and hydrophobic coatings, so this guy is eligible to boast a higher light transmission rate of 92%!

And not only that, because Zeiss also features a crystal clear and bright image that is very much welcome for your low light needs.

And it’s ALSO waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof. Totally perfect for your rugged demands.

Is Zeiss for You?

If you’re looking for low light scopes and long-range scopes in one body…

Then, Zeiss, it is!

Its features can undoubtedly meet your expectations while giving you a wide range of magnification levels from close to long-range distances.

Pros

  • Multi-coated lenses
  • Maximum magnification flexibility
  • Rugged reliability

Cons

  • Unnecessary magnification range for low-light needs

8. TenPoint Rangemaster Pro 1.5-5x 30 Illuminated Crossbow Scope

TenPoint Rangemaster Pro 1.5-5x 30 Illuminated Crossbow Scope

Features

  • Magnification: 1.5-5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 30 mm
  • Reticle: Duplex
  • Reticle Focal Plane: N/A
  • EP: N/A
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Weight: 19.2 oz
  • Warranty: Not specified by the manufacturer

Rifles are not the only weapons we can use for low-light games. Crossbows are also great, especially if it’s your forte.

If that’s the case…

Then, this TenPoint crossbow scope is the perfect choice for crossbow users!

It has a high-quality, multi-coated glass and etched-glass illuminated reticle that will give you the MAXIMUM visibility needed for scopes used in low-light conditions.

You can also choose from its five-position light intensity settings for two illuminated color views to suit your needs.

Is TenPoint for You?

TenPoint Rangemaster is for your scope if the crossbow is your favorite buddy.

It’s designed with 3 duplex crosshairs, 4 dots, and a triangle, all calibrated to suit your needs and for desirable arrow drop compensation settings.

TenPoint is a great bet for crossbow scopes during dusk and dawn!

Pros

  • Multi-coated lens
  • Arrow drop compensation

Cons

  • For crossbow use only

What Makes a Light Scope Good in Low Light Conditions?

Have you found THE ONE?

We know it’s a tough decision to make, especially if you see so many shiny and good-looking potential hunting buddies.

But if you’re still unsure which is the best low light scope for your needs, then let’s talk about these things that you should ALWAYS consider when looking for a low light rifle scope.

Objective Lens Size

What the objective lens does is to allow the light to get inside the scope. You can’t shoot what you can’t see, so your low light scope can gather as much light as possible.

The LARGER the size of the objective lens, the MORE LIGHT will get into your scope.

So, for a low light rifle scope, a good objective lens is between 50-56mm. These sizes will welcome more light into your scope.

The more light that got into your scope, the merrier because it will give you a clearer image at the focal lens.

And of course, the CLEARER the image you see, the HAPPIER your hunting will be!

Lens Coatings

Another important thing that really matters is lens coating. Yes, it really matters ’cause it makes a difference in hunting scopes’ brightness.

Why So?

Because coatings can double scope brightness without adding weight to it. Sweet, right?

As glass normally losses light, a layer of anti-reflective coating on your hunting glass can decrease the loss in half.

Applying another layer can decrease the loss further, allowing you to save about… well, I’ll let you do the Math. Multiple coating to the glass helps in increasing the light transmission in the scopes.

In short, the MORE LIGHT you save, the BRIGHTER you’ll see.

Also, another benefit of a good lens coating is it WON’T alert the target of your location. You would want to see your prey from your low light rifle scopes, but you don’t want your prey to see you.

Reticle Illumination

When you’re in low light conditions, aiming at your target is a bit challenging, so consider an illuminated reticle when choosing THE ONE.

We can all agree that having an illuminated reticle is a MUST for low-light target shooting. But, it is important to have one with a fine-tunable setting.

A tunable illuminated reticle can offer fine light and dimmer light intensity. Plus, it won’t shine too much (a common problem of cheap rifle scopes).

Wait! There’s More?

We all want the best.

And if you want the best low light scope, here are some more things that you might want to check as well to clear your doubts and see the brighter choice:

Magnification Levels

Magnification Levels Icon

Low light conditions affect your shooting range.

Even in low light conditions, a good magnification range can also benefit you to be a good hunter. BUT, in low light conditions, you don’t need too many magnification levels.

A magnification power ranging from 2-12x is good enough for low light rifle scope to zoom in your target, but you can still choose a riflescope with a magnification setting higher than that,

BUT!! The price range might be HIGHER as well.

Don’t choose a higher magnification power over other necessary features for low light scopes. It’s a TRAP!!

Reticle Design

Reticle Design Icon

Having an illuminated reticle is a MUST for every low-light hunter. But you might also want to compare reticle designs when debating which is which.

When choosing a design, choose a reticle design with a slightly bigger dot and/or thicker reticles.

It will be much easier to use in low-light hunting because it will contrast against the dark environment, which is useful in low-light rifle scopes.

Exit Pupil

Exit Pupil Icon

The eyepiece at the end, the exit pupil, is another one to note.

It is a calculation of the objective size and magnification. But hey! We’re not discussing Math here. Just know that exit pupil is important, okay?

And remember this: The larger the exit pupil is, the brighter the image will appear to the hunter.

Also, remember that our eyes dilate in darkness?

Well, it does at roughly 7mm. So, having an exit pupil close to 7mm is ideal for a low light scope.

Weatherproofing

Weatherproofing Icon

To be a good hunter, you must be ready for ANYTHING.

And the weather is definitely not an exemption to a hunter’s come-what-may-I’m-ready-for-anything list.

It’s not unusual to encounter drastic weather changes during dusk or dawn, so having a waterproof fog-proof scope is very much welcome.

After all, you don’t want to waste your time and money researching and finding THE ONE, just to be left alone hanging in the dark and cold rain.

Warranty

Warranty Icon

Most scopes come with a lifetime warranty, which shows CONFIDENCE in their own craft.

Of course, you don’t want to waste your bucks for a flashy-friend-turned-evil-money-maker.

So you better consider the length and extent of the warranty, especially if it’s a close-rifle-scope-fight.

Tube Size Matters: A Myth

The low light scopes with a 30mm tube diameter are brighter than those with a 1-inch diameter. -Anonymous

You probably heard this somewhere.

Does a bigger tube size give the brightest light?

Uhm, not really, no.

The amount of light that exits the low light scopes depend on the power level. Put it this way:

  • The LOWER the power, the LARGER the exit pupil is.
  • The LARGER the exit pupil is, the BRIGHTER the light exits the light scope.

In short, the diameter of the tube DOES NOT affect the brightness of low light scopes.

So, if you ever heard it somewhere, forget about it. It’s fake news.

Top Picks

Surely you don’t want to miss a thing when hunting. And to be able to see better days or nights ahead, you better use the best low-light riflescope.

Let’s check our winners!

Best Overall: Vortex Optics Crossfire II 3-12x Hog Hunter Rifle Scope

VORTEX!!

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II Hog Hunter Rifle Scope is the clear winner because this hunting scope has:

  • Oversized lens
  • Sufficient magnification range
  • Fully multi-coatings
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Good EP
  • Desirable weatherproofing
  • Lifetime warranty

Imagine! You can get all of these!? Without asking for a crazy sum of money?? Sweet!

This rifle scope product really amazes us. And we hope that you can get this too and see for yourself!

Best Value: BARSKA IR Huntmaster Pro 3-12x 50 Rifle Scope

Are you looking for a slightly cheaper scope that maximizes your value for money? The BARSKA IR Huntmaster Pro is your BEST OPTION!

A plethora of brightness settings (11 to be exact) allows you to make your own configurations so that you can set up the brightness level according to your liking.

We also cannot forget how multiple coatings and an illuminated crosshair feather deliver that rugged and sturdy construction other scopes can only dream of having.

Best Budget Pick: Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi X Reticle 6-18x 50 AO Rifle Scope

The Bushnell Banner Multi X Reticle Rifle Scope is another solid choice, ESPECIALLY if you’re looking for a reliable budget scope. It satisfies what a hunting scope should be to aid you well in low-light environments.

Essential elevation adjustment, reliable Argon-filled optics, and durable coatings ensure a holistic and hassle-free hunting experience.

Unlike other scopes, the Bushnell reticle WON’T have you worrying about fixing unstable or broken parts in the middle of your shooting session.

Final Thoughts

All in all, we gave you a list of the best. But THESE are the BEST of the best.

That means you can’t go wrong picking any of these scopes because you’ll be treated to top-tier service and performance with every scope option.

So, add it or them to your buddies. ‘Cause nothing beats going home with the bacon!

FINAL TIP: If you’re looking for the best scope options for nighttime hunting, that’s another story. Lucky for you, we also have a guide on the top night vision scopes under 500 dollars.

About the author

Christopher Wade

Christopher Wade is a true outdoorsman. After spending most of his career as a firearms expert and instructor in Nebraska, he retreated to the great outdoors to enjoy retirement.

Christopher’s expertise in handling firearms and hunting gear are what propelled him to create the Shooting Mystery blog. He hopes for all readers to gain useful and practical knowledge for enjoying their time outdoors.