Choosing the ideal scope magnification for deer hunting largely depends on where you hunt and your own personal price point.
When choosing a scope, magnification is indeed an important factor. In fact, it’s probably the first number most of us look at, asking: how much can I zoom in?
While scope magnification can sometimes make or break a shot, it’s not always for the reason you may believe; as in, you didn’t have enough power. On the contrary, it’s often too much magnification that allows a big buck to scoot unscathed through the hardwoods.
So, let’s look at the best scope magnification for deer hunting, and talk about the pertinent points to consider in your research.
Choosing the Best Scope Magnification for Deer Hunting
When it comes to deer hunting, choosing the right scope magnification is essential. A scope with high magnification power will allow you to shoot longer distances. But it can also get you in trouble at shorter distances in tight spaces.
Plus, a lower magnification provides a wider field of view (FOV). Hence, the argument that the 3-9×40 may be the best rifle scope for deer hunting of all time. We’ll get to that a little later.
Consider Field of View
When selecting the ideal scope magnification for deer hunting, field of view is something to be aware of. And in fact, if you spend your season sitting stand in an oak bottom, on dense ridge lines, or overlooking small green fields, then field of view is perhaps your most important consideration.
The lower the magnification power setting, the wider the field of view. Yet FOV decreases as you zoom in. Pick a nickel-sized spot on the wall across the room. The spot is small while the room is in full view. Without taking your eyes off the spot, slowly walk closer. The spot gets bigger as your view of the rest of the room decreases. There’s an obvious tradeoff so find a scope magnification for deer hunting that gives balance to the equation.
In terms of a rifle scope, FOV is determined by the size of the area,in feet, you can see at 100 yards when looking through the scope. At low power, the rifle scope is going to provide the maximum FOV whereas it’ll be considerably lower at the highest magnification. We’re using our own scopes for the estimated measurements below:
- At 1x, a scope should offer an average FOV of 100 feet
- FOV @2x = 50 feet
- FOV @3x = 34 feet
- FOV @6x = 18 feet
- FOV @10x = 8 feet
- FOV @15x = 7 feet
Jon LaCorte discusses his choice of scope magnification for deer hunting.
Let’s again consider the application of your scope-rifle combination to determine a feasible weight for your scope. If you’re walking many miles to hunt a particular area, there’s no question your gear needs to be lightweight. If you’re dropped off at a comfortable shooting house each sit, then you can get away with a heavier scope and more magnification.
If you’re the former, a hunter who puts the miles away on any given day to reach a far away stand, you want to stay in the neighborhood of 16 to 18 ounces. If you’ve created a hunting spot for yourself that requires less walking, you could easily get up around 30 ounces for a scope that’s packed with a little more power all around.
The TORIC 2-10×42 at 18.6 ounces is ideal for any hunter looking for a high-performance optic
Be sure to check the quality of the lenses in the scope that you are considering. Well manufactured lenses will ensure that your scope performs when sighting targets in different terrain, weather, and light. They will also increase the life of your optic. If you were to look through any middle-of-the-line scope that you’ve had for 10 years, the sight picture would be nothing compared to what it was when new.
Look for fully multi-coated high transmission glass and extra low dispersion lens. A quality optical system, as in the inner workings of the scope, will give you long-lasting performance.
Where Did the 3-9 Go?
Let’s come back to this. The 3-9×40 has long been considered the best scope magnification for deer hunting. Its low power magnification (at 3x) provides a wide field of view (FOV), especially important for the hardwoods during the rut when deer are constantly moving. Then, it’s assumed that 9x is optimal for the range of shots that the eastern deer hunter will take.
The 3-9×40 gives you a three time zoom with a 40mm objective, both of which are fair qualities in a rifle scope.
But what if there’s the option to expand the capabilities of that rifle scope on both ends with five times magnification rather than three? The TORIC 2-10×42 is versatile in that it’s built for both short- and long-range situations. Plus, it’s a capable scope for those who hunt on the western plains.
The RESPONSE 2.5-10×42 is another go-to for whitetail deer hunting, giving hunters an extremely wide FOV (35 feet) on the low end of magnification. It’s also versatile, pairing well with centerfire rifles, muzzleloaders, and slug guns.
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If we can answer any questions about your next rifle scope choice, please give us a call at 631-662-7354, send us an email at [email protected], or hit the Live Chat button at the bottom left of your screen. We’re always happy to help!