Shooting Mystery is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more

Can You Put a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow: Answer Explained!

1_Can You Put a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow- Answer Explained!

I’ve used a crossbow a few times; they’re a nice change to my shooting arsenal.

Although I don’t prefer them over rifles, I was curious if I could mount one of my scopes on it.

I did some research and testing myself, and the results are quite interesting!

Will it work? Can you put rifle scopes on a crossbow?

Continue reading this article, and I will explain all the answers that you are looking for.

Can You Put a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow?

Despite their differences, YES, you CAN put a rifle scope on a crossbow!

On the one hand, rifle scopes have more power than most crossbow scopes since it is required for the former’s function.

It is also larger and more expensive.

On the other hand, crossbow scopes are specifically designed to be lighter, which is in line with bow purposes.

This is why crossbows are smaller and easier to navigate than a rifle scope.

However, setting it up was COMPLICATED for me and it surely set me back a few extra bucks.

If you are just starting on your hunting journey, you better set aside this plan for now.

NOTE: A rifle is a firearm, which is different from a crossbow. Thus, rifle scopes may have higher features for improvements on your bows. Yet, it is risky and hard to pull off.

Rifle Scopes vs. Crossbow Scopes

Rifle Scopes vs. Crossbow Scopes

I thought ALL types of scopes function the same, which is to aid us in shooting targets. It might be minimal, but crossbow and rifle scopes have several differences.

A rifle and a crossbow are both used for shooting, yet they have different primary functions. 

What more when it comes to the scopes being used in these weapons?

Seeing their primary function differences also call for varied features.

These are variations in distance covered, magnification, lens size, recoil, reticle, and parallax settings.

Range Marks

Rifles are made for long-range shooting.

It has a range mark of 100-1,000 yards which is way beyond what crossbows can offer.

Crossbow scopes are suitable for short-range target shooting at 100 yards; the closer, the better!

They can also extend your bow range up to 125 yards.

I decided to actually test this just for curiosity’s sake, so I set up a target at 500 yards away. The arrow didn’t even reach the target.

Maybe it was just the crossbow I was using, but the distance was definitely too much.

Thus, in the showdown for distance, rifle scopes are the winner.


Rifle scopes also bring 500-yard targets closer to your eyes. Thus, it has a higher magnification power of up to 30 fold.

However, this is overkill for crossbows.

Most shooters using these weapons do not go beyond a hundred yards, which is why the magnification of the crossbow scope ONLY reaches 4x.

In fact, most crossbow scopes have fixed magnification, which was a surprise to me.

Again, rifle scopes win in this category.

Lens Size

The closer the scope to a crossbow’s body is, the better. This is why scope manufacturers stick to an objective lens size not greater than 40 mm.

However, a rifle’s lens size is usually 50-56 mm, so you might have difficulty mounting one in your bow. I know I did.

Regarding size, I can give the win to rifle scopes due to their larger size range.


Recoil energy is the knockback power of a gun when shooting. This means a force comes back from the rifle every time the bullet moves forward.

From the definition above, rearward recoil is present among all types of firearms—normal rifles, shotguns, air rifles, and more.

A rifle scope is designed to ACCEPT recoil forces generated without damage—the rifle size is also congruent to its scope.

Also, every firearm has different recoil directions. There are even types with multi-directional recoil forces.

In the context of crossbows, you don’t have to endure recoil energy, meaning there is NO recoil potential energy in any crossbow that might damage your scope.

I am looking at the scope’s durability to accept recoil in this category. Thus, the win still goes to any rifle scope


Crossbows have a short-range hunt shooting capability. Thus, its scopes have multiple reticles for arrow drop and distance adjustments.

When it comes to reticle styles, a rifle scope has way more markings than the one in crossbows.

Illuminated reticles also differ among rifles and crossbows. The latter has larger details while the former has finer detail.

However, both can use an illuminated reticle for better target acquisition and shooting.

Thus, I will give them a tie decision in this category.

NOTE: A rifle scope with Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) reticles is best for replacing your existing crossbow scope.

Parallax Settings

Parallax settings are usually factory set.

Crossbows are being set at 50 to 75 yards, while the ones for rifles are set at 100-125 yards.

However, an adjustable parallax is still present but ONLY for a rifle scope.

Hence, it is a clear win for the rifle scope due to having additional adjustments on the setup.

Overall, lower scope specs are facts for a crossbow compared to the ones used for rifles. But, these wide gaps are all acceptable since they are different weapons.

NOTE: There is more to know when it comes to scope types. You can even encounter the red dot scope in your journey to learn more.

Benefits of Using a Modern Crossbow

The main benefit of using a crossbow are its close-quarter capabilities and quietness.

Its compound limbs hold potential energy which is transferred to the bolt upon release.

When used correctly, its close-range shooting is just as accurate as a rifle scope at 100 yards.

I also see the appeal of modern crossbows because they are quieter than rifles. I don’t need to wear hearing protection and it will not get the attention of my prey.

Drawbacks of Using a Modern Crossbow

On the other hand, crossbows are not the best for long-range shooting. Chances are the arrow will not even reach the target.

I’ve tried it myself and had no luck.

Plus, crossbows take longer to reload, so you must make your first shot COUNT. If you miss that squirrel, it will get away before you can even load the second arrow.

How Far Can a Crossbow Shoot Without a Scope?

Man sporting crossbow

Remember that crossbows are NOT designed for long-range shooting hunts.

Thus, you can commonly shoot a crossbow shot forward with a distance range of 75 to 100 yards.

But, adding a crossbow scope can EXTEND this distance up to 100 yards. This is definitely way beyond what a traditional bow can do.

You can still extend to reach a target farther when you use a rifle scope.

These scopes are present to aid long-range rifles. What more if most hunters use them on their crossbows?

What to Look for in a Crossbow Scope?

Man hunting with crossbow

When I was looking for crossbow scopes, I noticed the criteria were a bit different than rifle scopes.

A good crossbow scope is also essential to aid you in this beginning stage. Thus, it would be best if you looked for the following features:

1. Magnification

Your crossbow scope should have a quality optic despite not being designed for long distances.

Our normal vision can only see so much. Thus, crossbow scopes have the reticle feature of magnifying the target image up to 4x.

The higher the magnifying power, the better! This is to have a CLEARER view within a hundred-yard distance or less.

2. Length and Weight

It is a no-brainer to choose a LIGHTER scope for your crossbow.

Having a lighter total wait for the crossbow and its scope lets you move freely. It also helps best for better aiming for your arrow drop.

3. Illumination

Hunting can also be done at night or during low light times of the day!

An illuminated reticle helps you see your target clearly despite the darkness. For this feature, you can choose from LEDs colored red, green, or amber.

4. Coated Lens

Try shooting a standard or lighter arrow without a scope on a bright day.

Sounds difficult, right? 

A coated objective lens is present to help you eliminate more light from reaching your eyes while aiming.

Whether using rifle scopes or crossbow scopes, I always choose multi-coated lenses to ensure my view of the target is CLEAR and SHARP.

5. Weatherproofing

The weather NATURALLY changes when you are hunting outside.

You don’t want water, dust, and fog to hinder you from making a good target shot, so your crossbow scope should be resistant to these elements.

6. Durability

Regardless of your scope type, durability is a MUST. Being scared that your scope will break when shooting should not be on your mind.

No matter how often you look in multiple directions, your scope should stay and not dismount.

You wouldn’t want to lose a good target while you are still FIXING your crossbow scope.

Crossbow Scope Recommendations

Effective range, multiple elevation, bolt speeds, and variable magnification are just a few things to look for in a crossbow scope.

This means you should also keep and remove outdated crossbow scopes that already have descending range marks.

I found these scopes to be very effective when taking the crossbow outside!

1. Vortex Crossfire II

Vortex Crossfire II

Imagine my delight when I saw that one of my favorite brands had their own crossbow scope!

Vortex Crossfire II is currently the best crossbow scope on the market.

I love this scope for its accuracy in close-range hunting. It also works best in a specific bolt speed which you can capitalize on even in low light.

This scope is the LIGHTEST among the three in this pool, which gave me a lot of mobility without feeling heavy.

With a scope size of 32 mm that can be magnified up to 7x, it can reach a range of 20-100 yards.

It is definitely the TOP CHOICE if your target is the best of its kind!

2. Excalibur Twilight DLX​

Excalibur Twilight DLX​

I knew hunting for crossbow scopes was going to cost quite a bit, which is why I’m lucky to have found this scope at an AFFORDABLE price.

Since it is cheaper than the others, you can also expect a low power range of 40-50 yards.

I definitely recommend this variable magnification scope for beginner crossbow users who want to get their feet wet with its shorter power range.

Choose this crossbow scope to easily adapt to what REAL hunting is, and you will want to maintain its similar setup for years.

3. Hawke XB30

Hawke XB30

Most crossbow owners for years already have money to invest in their hunting equipment.

They go for crossbow scopes that give justice and high value for the money they pay.

Hawke XB30 is the perfect answer to this need! I could definitely feel how premium it is as soon as I held it.

It is the longest and the heaviest on this list, with 15.1 oz. But, its weight is still manageable when mounted to a crossbow.

Don’t miss its power range of 20 – 100 yards!

This scope from Hawke is indeed worthy of your next upgrade!

How to Choose a Scope for Your Crossbow

Man shooting crossbow

It helped me a lot to practice with a compound bow like archers do.

If you have no knowledge or prior experience shooting arrows, this is a good place to start.

It has compound limbs that make the aiming and shooting job easier for you. These limbs hold potential energy that will require less energy when used.

While in the practice stage, you can already look for scopes relevant to your hunting objectives, budget, and the complexity you can cater to.

What’s Your Hunting Objective?

A rifle scope can definitely be used for big-time hunting.

But, if you are considering the original scope for the crossbow, then you should choose smaller targets.

Knowing the main purpose of why you are hunting is essential to choosing the perfect scope to use.

The Budget You Have In Mind

Checking your cash balance is the first big step before checking a scope for your crossbow.

As mentioned above, a rifle scope is more expensive than those used for any crossbow.

This is understandable, as the former has more features and higher specifications than the latter—having more reticle marks being one of them.

Always remember to buy according to your needs and budget!

If you need more than a rifle scope can offer, then go. But, if not, then it is better to save money for other crossbow upgrades.

TIP: It is useless to pay more for features you will not be able to use on your crossbow in the long run. 

The Complexity of a Scope

Most scopes for crossbows already have a factory default setup, like having a fixed parallax.

Unlike a rifle scope, the ones used in crossbows are mainly easy to navigate.

Thus, checking the scope usage complexity is essential to not waste your money after purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Scope Should I Use for My Crossbow?

One thing is for sure, a rifle scope won’t cut it.

When it comes to crossbows, it is best to use scopes that are made specifically for crossbows.

These scopes are designed to cater to the trajectory of the arrow, versus rifle scopes which cater to the bullet.

It is always better to use a scope that MATCHES the weapon of choice.

Can I Adjust the Scope to Account for the Speed and Trajectory of My Crossbow Bolt?

Yes, some crossbows come with adjustable reticles and magnifications to help you shoot more accurately.

If your scope has windage and elevation turrets, you can adjust those as well to help you zero in on your target easier.

Can I Use a Rifle Scope that I Already Have?

It is possible to use a rifle scope you already own, but it may not be the best option.

As mentioned earlier, is rifle scope is for rifles, which shoot bullets. If you are using a crossbow, you are better off with a crossbow scope.

Bullets have a different trajectory than crossbow bolts, so a rifle scope’s reticle and magnification may not be suitable.

You may only end up getting missed shots!

Final Thoughts

Man hunting with crossbow

It is definitely possible to put a rifle scope on a crossbow, but it may be difficult to utilize if you are not an expert.

In my experience, since I barely had any crossbow experience, I couldn’t just treat it like a regular rifle.

A rifle scope has more features, such as an adjustable crosshair focus, reticle-resistant scope, windage marks, better variable magnification, and a clear vision of a farther target.

Having one on your crossbow for hunting is complicated to mount and hard to use if you are not experienced.

Thus, I suggest opting for modern crossbows if you are just beginning. This is to have upgraded specs in the present time.

Before you use a rifle scope on a crossbow, try practicing with a rifle scope first before transitioning to a crossbow.

About the author