8 Best Elk Hunting Scopes

Winchester Mod. 70 in 30.06

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"Hey There, Nice Rack!"

Today, we are going to talk about one of the most incredible times of the year, and that is elk season or, more precisely, an astonishing scope to hunt elk with during elk season.  

Yellowstone huge elk 1

Environmental Challenges For Elk Rifle And Scope Combinations.

Elk season is open during inclement weather seasons.  The scope, in particular, must be able to survive being dropped onto hard frozen ground, sliding down the side of the truck or ATV and hitting the ground.  All this dropping comes with a sickening and expensive heartbreaking noise.

Elk hunting rifle and scope platforms also get exposed to and suffer from riding in the bouncing truck or worse on the front rack or handlebars of and ATV, as it finds every rock and rut on the way to god's own country.

Elk Hunting Needs Lots Of Power.

Elk rifles must be high powered, and that means they make recoil, and lots of it.  Elks are huge animals and need a rifle that can deliver lots of power to the target.  I have included a picture from Yellowstone a few years back, where I picked up and stood between the points of an elks rack, and I have not been the size of a jr. high schooler since my 5th-grade year. 

yellowstone huge elk 4

So, to get the comments section to light on fire with traffic, I will make this statement, "Elk rounds need to be 30 caliber to do any good." OK, bring it on! (please keep all responses PG, it's just a jab at folks)

The rifle I use was given to me by my grandfather when I graduated high school.  It is a Winchester pre '64 Model 70 Featherweight, chambered in 30.06.  I don't know about featherweight; it seems to gain one pound of weight every mile on the hike. 

Winchester Mod. 70 in 30.06

Rugged Environments For Elk Hunting Scopes.

The best choice scope must be able to handle wet, cold snow and adjusting temps, here is a standard temp and environment adjustment that this scope may be exposed to image weather outside of truck

Weather outside of truck
  • Home – Truck – ATV – Field – Camper – Field, repeat until its time to haul meat to the freezer.

Rubber armor coating is highly valuable for a working field scope.  Stable as hell rings and scope base, must hold up to not only heavy recoil but bumps and even significant impacts on the hunt.  (like a tumble down the side hill).  Mounts should be "glass bedded: with the receiver to avoid movement and deflection due to weather, crashes, recoil, and temperature variations.

Scope rings should be lapped and aligned to ensure total rings to body contact, and aligned to make sure the scope tube is not being bent or warped, and the reticle is parallel to the barrel bore and torqued precisely to ensure the scope and mounts not twisted.

Most Desired Reticle Basics For Elk Hunting.

The scope reticle should be made with the duplex reticle or its close cousins, and if possible, an illuminated center dot.  Offhand shooting an elk rifle with a scope is possible, so a very clear and awesome reticle at low magnification will be a requirement.  Variable magnification will help for target ID and help to close the distance.  The higher magnification will work against the hunter with an exaggeration of the shaky commonly experienced.  You know what I am talking about - "Buck fever," as seen through a scope, looks like a "Cops" foot chase scene on TV.

If the scope you are looking at has a quick reference ranging reticle, that would be a fantastic tool for field use.  Some scopes (more and more of them built this way) have a BDC reticle, and that may be helpful in some instances, BUT, elk live in mountain regions, and a BDC does not include up and down angles and is more designed for a target gun.




Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope


Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:3.5-10x
  • Eye Relief:1.5 - 3 in
  • Fabric/Material:Glass

Trijicon Huron Rifle Scope

Trijicon Huron

Trijicon Huron Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:2.5 - 10 x
  • Eye Relief:2.4 - 3.3 in
  • Fabric/Material:6061 Aluminum

Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

  • Magnification:4 - 14 x
  • Eye Relief:3.14 - 3.22 in
  • Fabric/Material:Aluminum, 6063 Aluminum

Burris Fullfield E1 Rifle Scope

Burris Fullfield

Burris Fullfield E1 Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:3 - 9 x
  • Eye Relief:3.1 - 3.4 in
  • Fabric/Material:Aluminum

Primary Arms ACCS Orion

Primary Arms ACCS Orion

Primary Arms ACCS Orion

  • Magnification:4 - 14 x
  • Eye Relief:3.14 - 3.22 in
  • Fabric/Material:Aluminum, 6063 Aluminum

Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

Leupold VX-3i

Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:3.5 - 10 x
  • Eye Relief:4.4 - 3.6 in
  • Fabric/Material:6061-T6 Aluminum

Vortex Crossfire II AO Rifle Scope

Vortex Crossfire II

Vortex Crossfire II AO Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:4 - 12 x
  • Eye Relief:3.9 - 4.4 in
  • Material:Aircraft Grade Aluminum

Burris Veracity Rifle Scope

Burris Veracity

Burris Veracity Rifle Scope

  • Magnification:2 - 10 x
  • Eye Relief:3.5 - 4.25 in
  • Weight:22.7 oz

Included Accessories

Elk Hunting scopes that include or upgraded with flip-up caps should be the see-through type, for the surprise out of nowhere bull elk.  A built-in sunshade would be great dealing with sunshine obviously, but also pretty nice for foul weather rain or even snowfall, keeping the objective lens clear. 

Rugged Environment 1

Turrets need to be lockable, capped is preferred, so the many things that may touch the scope, do not adjust the set zero, and you don't even know it.

Hang on to something, maybe get a tissue, this scope (package) is unreal.

1. Sig Sauer BDX 4.5 – 10 x 44mm - Combo Set With Laser Rangefinder

For an Best Elk Hunting Scope, if there were a number rating higher than first place (or whatever you call it), this would take it! 

Sig Sauer Super Scope

This combo kit able to pair through Bluetooth, the KILO1400BDX Laser Rangefinder, and the SIERRA3BDX rifle scope.  (This is available without a smartphone integration or even better, with the smartphone proprietary app called BDX 2.0.)

What this perfect storm of ballistics will do is, send info from the rangefinder to the app and the scope.  The app will have preset ballistics for nearly all Elk Hunting calibers an Illuminated hold over dot and wind hold, and this info will even include environmental conditions to the scope and make the adjustments for the shooter.

Even more exciting is this combo will alert the hunter to low levels of bullet energy on the impact on the target, keeping the hunter's ethics in check.  

All of that is great and nearly unbelievable, kind spooky (I think that is what the Terminator was seeing) make sure you have plenty of cell phone battery and a few backups for the scope and the rangefinder.

  • The lenses are Spectra Coated for ultra-wideband light gathering and anti-reflective protection.
  • With a 42mm objective lens, the field of view will be very nice, easy to keep an eye downrange on the giant horns.  (yes, I know they are antlers, we call 'em horns, cause we just do).
  • Red illuminated Digital Ballistic reticle. It is located in the Secondary Focal Plane, in MOA.  The scope uses motion-activated illumination, so the battery life is stated at 20,000 hours or more.
  • The body is a 30mm tube, fog-proof, and IPX-7 waterproof down to 1 meter of total immersion.
  • The eye relief is 1.5 – 3 inches
  • This scope is a heavyweight in offerings, and gravity coming in at 2 pounds.
  • The effective range, as stated by Sig Sauer, is 800 yards.
  • Its operating temperature range is -40* up to 140*F, so it should handle just about anything.

Sig Sauer backs this with their Infinite Guarantee and Limited Electronics warranty.


Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope

The price of Sig Sauer BDX Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

2. Trijicon Huron 2.5-10x40mm

Trijicon Huron

Holy Cow!  Talk about fitting my description of a great Elk Hunting scope to a "T." 

The Trijicon Huron boasts some things I have never seen from any other manufacturer, more on that in a few seconds.

yellowsotne huge elk 2
  • The body is 30mm and made from 6061 aluminum, so it is tough.
  • The reticle is a BDC, but this one is better than most for a hunter's scope.
  • The Trijicon BDC is a Hunters BDC "made for the North American Deer Hunter," could it be more on the money.
  • The reticle is non-illuminated and located in the Second Focal Plane.

Before we leave the body construction and all the goodies, there is more, and it is exciting to see.

  • The Huron boasts an Alaska to Africa rated temperature or -20* to 140*F.
  • The scope is nitrogen filled and tested to full immersion to ten feet deep.
  • Waterproof and fog-proof goes without saying, the shockproof claim is unbelievable.
  • Trijicon recoil tests every scope before being boxed up 5000 times and tested holding zero, and then they drop test every one of them as well.
  • Now for a thing that I have never seen, Trijicon builds for and tests for vibration stresses; remember the ATV handlebars I spoke of earlier.
  • The turrets are capped, and MOA.  The Huron has a diopter that can be adjusted to match the shooter's prescription.  The lenses are anti-scratch and multi-coated and state an extra-wide field of view.
  • The eye relief is 2.4 – 3.3 inches and weighs in 2 ounces over one pound.
Trijicon Huron

Trijicon Huron Rifle Scope

The price of Trijicon Huron Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

3 Primary Arms 4-14x44mm ACSS-HUD-DMR

Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

Super sweet and tough enuff to drive nails.

If you have looked into the Elk Hunting scopes world for about 5 minutes, you know that the Primary Arms SLx is the backbone of their rifle scopes line up. 

yellowstone huge elk 3

This scope may be just the ticket for the long range shooting, with the magnification range of 4-14x power.  This scope also has many built-in features that are right there in the reticle, and it has a lot of them, no computer needed.

  • The reticle is illuminated with six settings, in the ACSS style with a built-in or etched in to be correct, HUD for .308 ballistics.
  • The reticle is located in the focal plane scope so that the reticle will stay true through the entire magnification range.
  • A bit more on this ACSS reticle, you will be able to lead a target out to 600 yards, adjust for wind and bullet drop all in the view as you are watching the elk getting into position.
  • They made it from 6063 Aircraft-grade super-tough aluminum, and 30mm diameter.
  • Fogproof, waterproof, and shockproof as everyone has come to expect from Primary Arms optics.
  • This super tough build does come at a bit of a price weighing in at 1.55 pounds.
  • The turrets are designed for target shooting and hunters that like to count their clicks, and especially when you can't take your eyes off the target.
  • The turrets are tactile and audible on each click.
  • Mil/Mill and exposed as a target rifle, with a zero reset.
  • The parallax is adjustable on a side knob from 15 yards to infinity
  • They are made with a quick focus eyepiece to round out a fantastic scope offering.
Primary Arms ACCS Orion

Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

The price of Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR varies, so check the latest price at

Want to know, How that scope works? Check out our detailed Primary Arms 4-14x44mm review

4. Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm

Here is a world-class Elk Hunting scope, for a very affordable price, and with Burris' NO QUESTIONS ASKED warranty.  How can you go wrong?  Collect the surviving chunks and get a new one! 

Burris Veracity
  • The body is one-inch, made from aluminum.
  • The reticle is a second focal plane scope position in MOA.
  • The reticle in this scope is the E1 reticle and made just for a hunter's scope.
  • Simple sight picture, and complete with cascading dots for windage and elevation tracking moving targets
  • The shooter can quickly make their adjustments without taking hands off the gun or eye out of the sight picture.
  • The turrets are made for the field, as easy to adjust, low profile, and then capped.
  • The magnification ring is separate from the eyepiece so that flip-up caps can be used, and the parallax is rated at zero.
  • The lenses are Hi Lume Multi-Coated.
  • Burris states this scope's effective range at 500 yards.
Burris Fullfield

Burris Fullfield E1 Rifle Scope

The price of Burris Fullfield E1 Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

If you are looking for some other options with same magnification, then must check out our guide on best 3-9x40mm scope. 

5. Primary Arms ACCS Orion

Primary Arms ACCS Orion

Another scope from Primary Arms, yes, but this one needs to be here as well.  The ACSS Orion is a hunter's scope to its core.  It is made for coyotes and deer in mind so that we will have a look.  The Orion is part of the SLx line of tried and true, pure-blooded Primary Arms. 

yellowstone huge elk looking at me
  • The tube is a 30mm aluminum housing
  • Non-illuminated First Focal Plane reticle in MOA

Now, let us talk about this reticle a bit more; this is a BDC reticle, that is made for ranging deer-sized targets in .308 Winchester or 30.06 Springfield calibers, they do offer one for 5.56, but around here that round is not allowed for big game animals.  That makes my old bones feel warm and fuzzy, a touch to the traditionalist in me.  The ACSS is the same deal as the other Primary Arms scope above, so I will not restate the same thing.

  • The BDC made for a hunter aiming at his or her game target
  • All the ballistics are done right in the eyepiece, no math, no notebooks, get the optic to do what you need it to do, and place the shot, easy as that.
  • The Orion is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof
  • Side knob to adjust parallax.
Primary Arms ACSS-HUD-DMR

Primary Arms ACCS Orion

The price of Primary Arms ACCS Orion varies, so check the latest price at

6. Leupold VX-3i – 3.5  - 10 x 40mm

Leupold, as expected, delivers a very clear, sharp sight picture with this scope.  The image is vivid due to Leupold's lens coatings and the way they make the lenses. 

  • The lenses are diamond coated, super tough!  Leupold's Twilight Max system lenses gather and deliver every "drop" of light to the shooter's eye.
  • At dusk or even in deep shadows, this scope will help you find and take that mega bull elk.
  • The body is 1 inch and made from 6061-T6 aluminum, and Argon/Krypton filled.  Waterproof, weatherproof, fog proof, and shockproof.
  • The reticle is duplex, or another option is wind plex for adjustment dots on the reticle itself.  Non-illuminated, and in MOA.
  • The fast-focus eyepiece is lockable, and parallax is fixed.
  • Eye relief is 3.6 – 4.4 inches and weighs in at one pound even.
  • The Leupold VX-3i is a masterpiece created for an elk hunter's scope.
Leupold VX-3i

Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

The price of Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

Want to know more about best leupold scopes? Here is our complete guide.

7. Vortex Crossfire II AO 4-12 x 50mm

Is it possible to write a list of Elk Hunting scopes or any elk Hunting optics and not include Vortex?  The answer to that question is – nope.

Vortex is so intrinsic with rifle scopes and high-performance scopes, they are everywhere, and everyone loves them, and there is a good reason – they are tough as hell and work every time on every gun that is lucky enough to have one mounted.  Another big seller for Vortex is their involvement with their shooters and that community, they get it, and the Elk Hunters in the world return the favor and love Vortex.  


On the topic of the quality and "voice of the customer," the price is always affordable.  What is left to say other than "show me the stuff."

  • First off, the 50mm objective, talk about a field of view.
  • The Crossfire II AO uses a BDC reticle, that is a dead hold, so no holding over, etc.
  • The reticle is located in the Second Focal Plane and is Non-illuminated, and in MOA
  • Built from Aircraft grade aluminum, with a one-inch tube.  Purged and waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof.
  • They are made solid from the start.  The scope weighs in at just over one and a quarter pounds.
  • The eye relief is 3.9 – 4.4 inches
  • Lenses are full-multicoated, with an adjustable objective.
  • Parallax is adjustable from 10 yards to infinity.
  • Vortex includes a sun shield and lens covers with this scope.

Vortex has what they call the VIP warranty.  What that means is, if you buy one of their scopes, and it breaks, unless you saw it in half or something like that, they fix it or replace it, that's it.  No cards to fill out and send back, no receipt to drag around, just fixed or replaced, forever!

Vortex Crossfire II

Vortex Crossfire II AO Rifle Scope

The price of
Vortex Crossfire II AO Rifle Scope 
varies, so check the latest price at

8. Burris Veracity 2-10 x 42mm

Burris Veracity

Finishing up the Elk Hunting Scopes article is the Burris Veracity.  This scope is again a crossroads of a target scope and a hunting scope, nothing wrong with that, and it is just what I see.

The fantastic craftsmanship and materials used by Burris can not be overstated, and if that is not enough, they do offer the Forever Warranty.  How can you go wrong when the warranty has you buy this scope once, and they fix it forever, no matter what happened to the optic.

  • The Veracity uses a Ballistic E2 reticle, located in the First Focal Plane, and MOA.
  • The Ballistic E2 reticle is an improvement on the Duplex hunters crosshairs, in that it has progressive thickening crosshairs.
  • The crosshairs start very thin, then get wider the closer to the edge.
  • What the progressive widening crosshairs do is act as a quick, in the sight picture, ranging and target size estimator.
  • The main body is 30mm, nitrogen filled, waterproof, and fog proof.
  • Burris uses dual internal spring tension to keep the reticle holding solid during shock, recoil, or vibration (remember the ATV racks and rocky roads).
  • Weight comes in at just under one and a half pounds
  • The turrets are a zero-click stop set up, allows a return to zero without counting.
  • The Parallax focus is adjusted with a side knob, 50 yeards to infinity.
  • The lenses are index-matched and HI LUme multi-coated for unmatched clarity
  • Burris has a 5x zoom system, and this will keep a large field of view, even at high magnification.
Burris Veracity

Burris Veracity Rifle Scope

The price of Burris Veracity Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

OK, Elk Hunter, What Comes Next?

Let us sum all of this up, shall we? 

yellowsotne huge elk 5

We talked about the mountain environments that elk live in, and the seasonal weather challenges that will test both Elk Hunter and optic choice.

We spent some time discussing the mounting of an expensive (dollar-wise) scope and the priceless (practical value) of needing to keep it shooting straight.

We covered the fact that Elk Hunting rifles pack a serious amount of punch, and they will leave some of that against your shoulder.  And, we made sure to keep that in mind when looking into the scopes on the market.

Now all you have to do is choose the best scope your budget can allow, and get it correctly mounted on your rifle and get all of that into the wilds.

If you fill a tag this season, please put a picture in the comments so we can all celebrate your good fortune.

Happy Hunting!

Want to know about best DMR scopes? Check out our guide.

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