Find Your Mark: A Comprehensive Guide to The Best Scopes for Elk Hunting

Elk hunting is an exciting and challenging activity that can make a great day outdoors even better. The success of your hunt relies on having the best gear available- especially when it comes to optics. A quality elk hunting rifle scope gives you greater precision and accuracy and enables you to acquire targets at longer distances easily and quickly. 

With so many rifle scopes available for elk hunters today, finding the perfect one for your needs can be daunting. That’s why we created this comprehensive guide! Here, you’ll learn about the top 7 best scopes for elk hunting, plus some key features to look out for when buying one. 

Top 6 Best Scopes for Elk Hunting

Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44

One of the standout features of the Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope is its impressive magnification range. With a 3-18x zoom capability, this scope allows you to track elk at both close and long distances effortlessly. Whether stalking through dense forests or aiming at vast open fields, the Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope ensures you never miss a shot.

Leupold VX-6HD 3-18x44 - Best Scopes for Elk Hunting

Another key feature of this scope is its exceptional clarity. The high-definition lenses and Twilight Max HD Light Management System work together to provide unparalleled visibility, even in low-light conditions. This is crucial for elk hunting, as these majestic creatures are most active during dawn and dusk. With the Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope, you can confidently aim an elk, no matter the lighting conditions.

Any serious hunter prioritizes durability, and the Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope does not disappoint. This scope can withstand the harshest elements, is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum, and is sealed with a waterproof and fog-proof design. Whether trekking through rain-soaked forests or dealing with sudden temperature changes, the Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope will always hold up. 

Price range

The Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope is an investment that any serious hunter should consider. While prices may vary depending on the retailer and any additional accessories included, you can expect to pay around $1,500 to $2,000 for this scope.

Leupold is known for its commitment to quality, and the VX-6HD 3-18×44 scope is no exception. It comes with a lifetime warranty, guaranteeing that it will perform as intended for as long as you own it. This warranty provides peace of mind, knowing that your investment is protected.

Leupold VX-6HD 3-18×44

  • Magnification 3-18x
  • Objective Lens: 44mm
  • Illuminated FireDot Duplex CDS reticle

Price Check:



Leupold VX-FREEDOM 3-9X40 Review

The Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope is one of the best scopes for elk and is designed to provide hunters with a clear and precise view of their target. With a magnification range of 3-9x and a 40mm objective lens, this scope offers a versatile zoom capability allowing easy target acquisition at various distances. Whether hunting in dense forests or wide-open plains, the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope ensures you won’t miss a shot.

One of the standout features of the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope is its Twilight Light Management System. This system optimizes light transmission through the scope, allowing for enhanced visibility during low-light conditions. Whether hunting at dusk or dawn, this scope ensures you’ll have a clear view of your target.

Leupold VX-FREEDOM 3-9X40

Another notable feature of the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope is its rugged construction. This scope is built to withstand the harshest hunting conditions, with durable aluminum housing that is waterproof and fog-proof. Additionally, it is shockproof, ensuring that it can handle the recoil of even the most powerful rifles. With its rugged design, this scope is ready to accompany you on any hunting adventure.

In terms of specifications, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope offers a generous eye relief of 3.7-4.2 inches, allowing for comfortable and safe shooting. It also has a 1/4 MOA windage and elevation adjustment, providing precise and reliable adjustments on the go. With a total weight of just 12.2 ounces and a length of 12.39 inches, this scope is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry and maneuver in the field. 

Price Range and Warranty Information

The Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope offers excellent value for its price range. With prices starting at around $300, this scope provides a combination of quality and affordability that is hard to beat. Whether you’re a seasoned hunter or a beginner, the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope offers a reliable and accurate shooting experience without breaking the bank.

To further add to its value, Leupold provides a lifetime warranty on the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope. This warranty covers any defects in materials or workmanship and ensures you can enjoy your scope with peace of mind. Leupold is known for its outstanding customer service, and their commitment to standing behind its products is a testament to the quality and reliability of the VX-Freedom 3-9×40 scope.

Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9X40

  • Magnification 3-9x
  • Objective Lens: 40mm
  • Duplex CDS reticle

Price Check:



Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 Review

The Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope is packed with features that set it apart from the competition. With its 3.5-10x magnification range and a 50mm objective lens, this scope offers a generous field of view and excellent light transmission, making it perfect for hunting in low-light conditions. The scope also features Vortex’s exclusive XR anti-reflective coatings, which enhance image brightness and color fidelity.

Durability is a key aspect of the Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope. It is constructed from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, making it rugged and resistant to recoil. The scope is also fully waterproof and fog proof, thanks to its O-ring seals and argon gas purging. This means you can trust the Vortex Diamondback to perform flawlessly even in the harshest weather conditions.

Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10x50

Another notable Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope feature is its precision-glide erector system. This system ensures smooth and accurate zooming, allowing for quick and precise target acquisition. The scope also comes with a fast-focus eyepiece, enabling you to quickly and easily adjust the reticle to your eye. Overall, the Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope is designed to enhance your shooting experience and help you make accurate shots every time.

Price Range

The affordability is one of the most appealing aspects of the Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope. While it offers top-notch performance and features, it comes at a price that won’t break the bank. The Vortex Diamondback provides excellent value for money compared to other scopes in its class.

The price range for the Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50 scope typically falls between $300 and $400, depending on the retailer and any ongoing promotions. Considering the quality and durability of this scope, it is a worthwhile investment for any serious elk hunter. The Vortex Diamondback offers a scope that performs like a high-end model without the hefty price tag.

Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50

  • Magnification 3.5-10x
  • Objective Lens: 50mm
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle

Price Check:


Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope 3-18x44mm Review

The Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope 3-18x44mm is another one of the best scopes for elk hunting and is a versatile and reliable scope that offers a wide range of magnification options. You can adapt to various hunting situations with a zoom range from 3x to 18x. This scope also features a 44mm objective lens, which allows for excellent light transmission and clarity of vision. The large objective lens diameter lets you see your target clearly, even in low-light conditions. Additionally, the BDX system allows easy pairing with your smartphone via Bluetooth, providing real-time ballistic data and range estimation.

Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope

Key features

The Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope 3-18x44mm is packed with features that set it apart from other scopes on the market. One of the standout features is the BDX technology, which stands for Ballistic Data Xchange. This technology allows the scope to communicate with a rangefinder and a smartphone app, providing you with accurate ballistic information and range estimation. This real-time data helps you make precise shots and improves your shooting performance.

Another notable feature of the Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope is its illuminated reticle. The reticle offers multiple brightness settings, allowing you to adapt to different lighting conditions. Whether hunting during the day or in low-light situations, this scope ensures that your reticle remains visible and easily aligns with your target. The illuminated reticle also improves accuracy and target acquisition, especially in dense foliage or when hunting at dusk or dawn.

In terms of construction, the Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope is built to withstand the rigors of hunting. It features durable and lightweight aluminum housing that is both shockproof and waterproof. This means you can take this scope on your hunting adventures without worrying about it getting damaged. The scope is also fog proof, thanks to the nitrogen purging that prevents internal fogging. Whether you are hunting in hot or cold weather, this scope will not let you down.

Price Range

When purchasing a rifle scope, price is often a significant consideration. The Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope 3-18x44mm is priced in the mid to high range, reflecting its advanced features and superior quality. While it may not be the cheapest option on the market, it offers excellent value for money. The BDX technology alone is worth the investment, as it provides a significant advantage in the field.

Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope 3-18x44

  • Magnification 3-18x
  • Objective Lens: 44mm
  • Weight: 3lbs

Price Check:


Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×50 Review

One of the standout features of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×50 is its magnification range. With a zoom capability 4-12x, this scope allows you to get up close and personal with your target, making it ideal for long-range shooting. Whether you’re tracking an elk in the distance or aiming for a precise shot, the Crossfire II has you covered.

Another great feature of the Crossfire II is its 50mm objective lens. This large lens allows for enhanced light transmission, ensuring a bright and clear image even in low-light conditions. When you’re out in the field, it’s essential to have a scope that can adapt to different lighting situations, and the Crossfire II does just that.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12x50

Key features

First and foremost, the Crossfire II is built to last. Its rugged construction can withstand hunting demands in various weather conditions. The scope is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum, ensuring durability and shock resistance. It is also nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed, making it waterproof and fog proof.

The Crossfire II also boasts a fast-focus eyepiece, allowing quick and easy reticle focus. This feature is particularly useful when you need to acquire your target rapidly. Additionally, the scope has a generous eye relief of 3.9 inches, providing comfortable viewing even during prolonged use.

Crossfire II offers a Dead-Hold BDC (Bullet Drop Compensation) reticle regarding the reticle. This reticle is designed for long-range shooting and provides holdover points for various distances. Whether you’re shooting at 100 or 500 yards, the Dead-Hold BDC reticle allows precise and accurate aiming.

Price Range

Now that we’ve covered the features and specifications let’s talk about the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×50 price range.

The Crossfire II offers excellent value for money compared to other scopes in its class. It is considered in the mid-range category with a price range of $200 to $300. While it may not be the most budget-friendly option on the market, it certainly delivers in terms of performance and durability.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-12×50

  • Magnification 4-12x
  • Objective Lens: 50mm
  • Dead Hold BDC Reticle

Price Check:



Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42 Review

The Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42 scope boasts impressive optical performance. Its high-quality glass and multi-coated lenses provide exceptional light transmission, allowing for clear and bright images even in low-light situations. The scope also features an illuminated reticle, offering better visibility in challenging lighting conditions.

Durability: Built to withstand the rigors of hunting, the Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42 scope is constructed with a rugged and durable aluminum alloy body. It is shockproof, fog proof, and waterproof, ensuring reliable performance in any weather conditions. This scope can handle the toughest hunts, providing peace of mind and confidence in the field.

Nightforce ATACR 4-16x42

Adjustment and Reticle: The ATACR 4-16×42 scope offers precise and repeatable adjustments. With its exposed turrets and clear markings, you can easily make windage and elevation adjustments on the fly. The scope also features a versatile reticle, allowing quick target acquisition and holdover calculations.

Magnification Range: The 4-16x magnification range of the Nightforce ATACR scope provides versatility for different hunting scenarios. The lower magnification allows for a wider field of view, making locating and tracking targets easier. On the other hand, the higher magnification provides the necessary zoom for long-range shots, ensuring accuracy and precision.

Price Range

The Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42 scope is one of the best scopes for elk hunting with exceptional performance and durability. As such, it falls into a higher price range than other market scopes. However, considering its quality and features, it is well worth the investment for serious hunters who require top-notch optics.

While the price may vary depending on the retailer and ongoing promotions, you can expect to pay around $2000 to $2500 for the Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42 scope. Remember that this price includes the scope itself, but additional accessories, such as mounting rings or lens covers, may need to be purchased separately.

Nightforce ATACR 4-16×42

  • Magnification 4-16x
  • Objective Lens: 42mm
  • Weight: 3.1 Pounds

Price Check:


Factors to Consider When Buying a Scope for Elk Hunting

When shopping for the best scope for elk hunting, several factors must be considered to ensure you make the right choice. Let’s explore each of these factors in detail:

1. Magnification and Objective Lens Size

Magnification refers to how much the scope can enlarge the image of the target. A scope with variable magnification is recommended for elk hunting to adapt to different shooting scenarios. Look for a scope with a wide magnification range, such as 3-9x or 4-12x, which allows you to zoom in for a closer look when needed. The objective lens size is another important consideration, as it determines the amount of light the scope can gather. A larger objective lens, usually around 40-50mm, can provide better low-light performance and a wider field of view.

2. Reticle Options for Elk Hunting Scopes

The reticle, also known as the crosshair, helps you aim accurately at your target. Various reticle options are available, but a simple duplex reticle is often preferred for elk hunting. The duplex reticle features thicker outer lines for quick target acquisition and thinner center lines for precise aiming. It allows for rapid target acquisition in dense cover while providing the necessary precision for longer shots. Some scopes also offer illuminated reticles, which can be useful in low-light conditions.

3. Durability and Weather Resistance

Elk hunting can be physically demanding, and your equipment needs to withstand the rigors of the field. Look for scopes built with rugged construction, preferably made from aircraft-grade aluminum or other durable materials. The scope should be shockproof to handle the recoil of your rifle and waterproof to withstand rain, snow, and humidity. A fog-proof scope is also essential to ensure clear visibility in changing weather conditions. Look for nitrogen-purged scopes filled with argon gas to prevent internal fogging.

4. Optical Quality and Clarity

When it comes to optics, you want a scope that offers exceptional clarity and image quality. Look for scopes with fully multi-coated lenses, which reduce glare, increase light transmission, and provide sharp and vivid images. High-quality glass and lens coatings can significantly affect low-light conditions, allowing you to hunt during the early morning and late evening hours when elk are most active. A scope with good light-gathering capabilities and minimal distortion will help you spot elk more easily and make accurate shots.

5. Adjustments and Turrets for Precision Shooting

To make precise shots at varying distances, a scope with reliable adjustments and easy-to-use turrets is crucial. Look for scopes with exposed turrets or tactical-style knobs, allowing quick and precise adjustments. The turrets should have audible and tactile clicks for easy tracking and repeatability. Additionally, consider scopes with a zero-reset feature, which allows you to quickly return to your zero setting after making adjustments for long-range shots. These features enable you to compensate for bullet drop and windage, increasing your accuracy in the field.

5. Additional Features for Elk Hunting Scopes

While the above features are the most important ones to consider in the best scopes for elk hunting, a few additional features can enhance your elk-hunting experience. Some scopes offer a side focus or parallax adjustment, which allows you to eliminate parallax error and achieve a crisp focus at different distances. This can be particularly useful when shooting at longer ranges. Another helpful feature is a fast-focus eyepiece, which allows you to quickly and easily adjust the focus of the reticle to your eyesight. Finally, consider scopes with generous eye relief, especially if you’re using a high-recoil rifle, to prevent potential injuries from the scope hitting your eye.

Tips for using a scope effectively during elk hunting

1. Get used to your scope beforehand.

My first tip for you is to familiarize yourself with your scope before heading out into the wilderness. Take time to adjust the settings, get a feel for the different magnifications, and ensure everything is in working order. You don’t want to be fumbling around with your scope when you have a majestic bull elk in your crosshairs.

2. Practice at different distances

Another important tip is to practice using your scope at different distances. Elk hunting often involves long-range shots, so you must know how to adjust your scope accordingly. Take your trusty XYZ Scope (or whatever awesome scope you’ve got) to the shooting range and practice shooting at varying distances. Set targets at varying ranges and practice adjusting the zoom to develop your accuracy and range estimation skills. Get comfortable with making quick adjustments and dialing in your aim. Remember, precision is critical when it comes to elk hunting.

3. Patience is Key

When it comes to using a scope during elk hunting, patience is vital. Elk are notorious for their keen senses and ability to vanish into thin air at the slightest disturbance. So take your time and be patient. Settle into a comfortable position, scan the surroundings through your scope, and wait for the perfect shot. Elk are creatures of habit and tend to follow familiar routes and patterns. Look for signs like tracks, droppings, or rubs on trees to determine their movement patterns. Once you’ve identified a potential area where elk might pass through, set up your scope accordingly and be ready. Trust me; it’ll be worth it when you finally bag that elusive bull. Make sure you know where to shoot an elk.

4. Use a bipod or shooting rest.

Elk hunting often involves extended periods of waiting for the perfect shot. Using a bipod or shooting rest will help stabilize your aim and reduce fatigue, allowing for more accurate shots.

5. Practice in different weather conditions

Lastly, always keep an eye on the weather conditions. Elk hunting can take you through various terrain and weather, so knowing how your scope will perform in different situations is essential. Is it fog-proof? Can it handle heavy rain or snow? These are questions you should ask yourself before embarking on your hunting expedition. Don’t let Mother Nature ruin your chances of bagging that prized elk.

How to properly care for and maintain your elk hunting scope


  • First and foremost, let’s talk about cleaning. I know cleaning is not the most exciting part of owning a hunting scope, but trust me, it’s crucial. Start by removing dirt or debris using a soft brush or compressed air. Be gentle; we don’t want any scratches on that precious lens. Now, take a microfiber cloth and a lens cleaning solution (preferably one designed explicitly for optics) and gently wipe the lens in a circular motion. Remember, we want that lens to be as transparent as day so you can spot those majestic elks from a mile away.


  • Next up, let’s talk about storage. Your elk hunting scope deserves a cozy home when it’s not in the wild with you. So ensure you keep it in a protective case or a padded bag to shield it from any potential damage. Also, avoid storing it in extreme temperatures or humid environments. Trust me; your scope won’t appreciate being treated like leftovers in the back of your fridge.


  • Now let’s move on to maintenance. One of the most important things to remember is always to keep your scope dry. Moisture is the enemy here. So if you are caught in a rainstorm during your hunting expedition, dry your scope thoroughly as soon as possible. Did I mention that you should avoid touching the lens with your grubby fingers? Yeah, that’s a big no-no if you want to maintain its pristine condition.

Inspect before hunt

  • Last, but not least, remember to give your scope some love before every hunting trip. Take a few moments to inspect it for damage or wear. Make sure all the screws are tight and secure. And if you notice anything amiss, like a loose lens or a wobbly mount, don’t hesitate to get it fixed before heading out into the wilderness. Trust me; you’ll thank yourself later. 

Tips for Maximizing the Lifespan of Your Elk Hunting Scope

In addition to regular care and maintenance, there are several tips you can follow to maximize the lifespan of your elk hunting scope. First and foremost, avoid exposing your scope to excessive sunlight, as this can damage the lens coatings and affect its performance. When not in use, cover your scope with a lens cap or scope cover to protect it from harmful UV rays. 

Another tip is to avoid touching the lenses with your bare fingers. Natural oils and fingerprints can degrade the lens coatings and reduce the scope’s clarity. If you accidentally touch the lenses, use a microfiber cloth and lens cleaning solution to remove any smudges gently. 

Lastly, carefully handle your best scope for elk hunting and avoid unnecessary roughness or impacts. Even the most durable scopes can be damaged by careless handling. Treat your optics as a valuable investment and take precautions to protect them from unnecessary wear and tear. 

Leave a Comment