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!

Are you looking for an upgrade for your next hunting session? You might consider using a rifle scope to replace your traditional crossbow scope.

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

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

Is It Possible to Put Rifle Scopes on a Crossbow?

Despite their differences, YES, you CAN put rifle scopes on crossbows!

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 is COMPLICATED and will surely give you an additional cost. 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

You might think that ALL types of scopes function similarly—aids us in shooting targets.

It might be minimal, but rifle and crossbow 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.

The latter is suitable for short-range target shooting at 100 yards; the closer, the better! The scopes also can extend your bow range up to 125 yards.

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.

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.

Regarding size, we 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.

We are 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, we 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.

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

Do you have that feeling about starting or continuing a hunting experience?

You can have those modern crossbows to start your equipment hunt to purchase. 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.

In other words, multi-coated lenses ensure your view of the target is clear and sharp when you shoot.

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

Whether it is a crossbow or a rifle scope, 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

Many hunters already possess modern crossbow scopes at home.

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.

Thus, we prepared a pool of scopes to start your journey to picking the perfect one for your crossbow.

1. Vortex Crossfire II

Vortex Crossfire II

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

Many hunters use this crossbow scope due to 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. It weighed 14 ounces at a length, width, and height of 14.09, 3.7, and 3.19 inches, respectively.

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​

You are looking at the perfect crossbow scope if you start your hunting journey with a tight budget.

With dimensions of ‎12.8 x 3 x 2.4 inches for its length, width, and height, Excalibur Twilight DLX is considered the most budget-friendly in this pool.

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

This is still advisable for starting hunters.

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!

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

You can start practicing via compound bow like archers do if you have no knowledge or experience in shooting arrows.

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, the budget you have in mind, and the complexity you can cater to.

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 factor 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.

Final Thoughts

Man hunting with crossbow

It is definitely possible to put a rifle scope on a crossbow.

But, this is only ideal for most hunters who are already an expert or near that level.

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.

Thus, you better opt 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