Are you looking for a shotgun scope for slugs or turkey hunting?
Choosing any kind of hunting optic can be a little bit tricky, especially with something that’s a little bit niche like a shotgun scope. Fortunately, there are a few great options out there that are perfect for shotgun hunting, or even target shooting.
Let’s go over why you’d want a scope on your shotgun in the first place, and then we’ll dive into the specific recommendations to help you find the perfect one for your needs.
Why Bother With a Shotgun Scope
Optics on a shotgun? Why? Shotguns shoot a spread of pellets, right?
Sometimes they do. Sometimes they shoot a single projectile, a slug. That certainly calls for a shotgun scope. Hunters who shoot rounds with pellets instead of slugs, especially those hunting wild turkeys, also use scopes.
Turkey hunters appreciate large red dot-style optics because they can zero the dot to put it in the center of the spread of pellets. When you are drawing down on a longbeard and have a tight shot window, a quality optic can be the difference between taking home meat or taking home feathers.
Here is a look at the best shotgun scopes in two categories, traditional crosshair scopes and red dot scopes.
Use Red Dot and Holosight Options for Closer Shots
The advantage of the red dot is a wide-open field of view. You can even use iron sights with the right scope, seeing through the red dot window or underneath if you have co-witness mounts. Backup iron sights, even the bead at the end of the barrel, are handy if the battery suddenly dies.
Battery life varies. The company says one thing, but reality says you can expect less, especially if you like to leave the scope on while in the stand. If you do that, any of the coin-cell batteries are only good for a short amount of time.
Bigger tube-shaped batteries will last longer. Regardless, change the battery after every few hunts and then at the start of each season and you should be good.
Best Shotgun Scopes Reviewed
We took a look at a number of the most popular shotgun scopes as well as some recommendations from the shotgun hunters on staff (myself included) to come up with this list.
It is by no means exhaustive, but it does include what we think are the best shotgun optics on the market right. These are all high-quality scopes and sights that will give you every advantage on your next hunt, at the range, or even in a self-defense scenario.
Objective Lens Diameter
Aimpoint PRO Patrol
Primary Arms Slx
EOTech EXPS2 Holographic
Burris FastFire II Red Dot
Sig Sauer Romeo1
Sig Sauer BDX 2.0
2.5 - 8 x
Bushnell Trophy Series
1. Aimpoint PRO Patrol
Aimpoint, a world-leader in red dot optics, lists the Aimpoint Pro Patrol as a tactical rifle scope, but it’s also a great choice for red dot shotgun scopes. The dot is 2 MOA, which is fairly standard for red dots.
The size of the dot, compared to the target, does get bigger as distance increases. On a shotgun, this is not critical. Adjustments are 0.6 inches at 100 yards. With 12 gauge shotgun slugs that is good enough as you’re not going to be taking many long-range shots.
Slug guns are not known for MOA accuracy at 100 yards. For typical slug shooting distances this optic is perfect, and it works great for buckshot as well.
Accessories include night vision devices and Aimpoint magnifiers. For shooters and hunters whose eyes ain't what they used to be (like mine), a magnifier is a great help when reaching the 100-yard mark, especially when deer hunting.
It has a quick-release mounting system. Remember, if you move the scope from gun to gun, you do need to sight it in each time. The quick-release just means you can move it in a hurry.
This one can get wet, submersible to 150 feet, so hunting in the rain is not a problem. A problem with many electronic scopes is the operating temperatures. This Aimpoint works at -49 Fahrenheit to 160 F.
At that low temperature, you will worry more about your gun and ammo functioning properly (not to mention your fingers).
Finally, this makes a good option for a tactical shotgun with a picatinny mount on top. Having that bright red reticle in a home defense scenario is a lot easier to aim with than a simple bead sight, and allows for very quick target acquisition even at close range.
2. Primary Arms Slx
Next up is the Primary Arms Slx Advanced. The Primary Arms Slx series has four different versions. This is the best in the series. The National Tactical Officers Association gives this scope a silver rating, the second-highest possible rating.
Make no mistake, this is a tactical scope, but shotgunners will appreciate the superior performance it provides when on top of a slug thrower.
It has a two MOA dot and 1/2 MOA click values. It has 12 manual illumination settings. It can also be paired with some night vision devices, giving you even more time in the field or the option of some after-dark hog hunting.
Today's crop of hog hunters especially appreciates the ability to chase wild bacon at night. It is waterproof to six feet with the turret caps on so it can handle all kinds of inclement weather conditions. The longer-range versions also come with zero-reset turrets.
It also ships with a pic rail mount that comes off, handy if you want co-witness mounts.
3. EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight
Our next choice for a red dot is the EOTech EXPS2. This is a holographic sight, which is basically a kind of red dot sight, although the technology behind it is a little different and true holos are a little easier to shoot with.
Some waterfowl hunters like this type of wide-view shotgun scope on their gun. This EOTech has a single 1 MOA or double red dot 1 MOA aiming point, the smallest dot of any scope in this review.
Sight the top dot in at 50 yards and then shoot with the double dot to see the point of impact at 100. You should be able to easily make on-the-fly windage and elevation adjustments for targets.
This model offers 1/2 MOA adjustments. It is water-resistant to 10 feet, so hunting in the rain is not an issue. Some of the literature on this scope says the operating temperatures are 20-50 Celsius or 68-122 Fahrenheit so this scope functions just fine when the thermometer dips below freezing.
It comes with a quick-release lever and mounts to a Weaver rail, meaning you can throw it on an AR pretty easily as well.
4. Burris FastFire II Red Dot
When you need ultra-fast target acquisition, the Burris FastFire II delivers. Depending on which model you choose, this comes with a pic or Weaver rail attachment or a plate for Ruger rifle-style mounts
This sight has a light sensor that automatically adjusts the 4 MOA reticle light intensity. The 4 MOA dot is big, especially compared to the others in this list. It's still not the largest dot, though. At 100 yards, that's 4 MOA is about four inches across.
The average deer has 12-plus inches across the chest wall, so you have plenty of room to see and put the dot on the vitals at 100 yards. The scope also has a built-in battery saver.
Oh, it’s also pic-mount so you can always throw it on an AR if you want.
5. Sig Sauer Romeo1
The Sig Sauer Romeo1 is next on our list of best red dot scopes for the scattergun.
Sig Sauer is a premier handgun maker. Its entry into the world of optics has an eye on handguns first, but in general, handgun scopes work very well as shotgun scopes too.
Trajectory performance of bullets from handguns are often similar to shotgun slugs. With a 6 MOA dot, that is six inches across at 100 yards, this is the biggest sight dot on our list.
On medium to large animals, this will not be a problem at 100 yards. At turkey shooting distances, the dot is ideally sized to center on the turkey's head or just below the head to get the best part of the pattern on longbeard's vitals.
Adjustments are also one MOA and have 100 MOA of adjustment, the most of any scope, including the crosshair versions, in this review.
It also has motion-activated sensors. Move your gun and the scope lights up. Leave it still for a while and the scope goes off. This goes a long way towards saving your battery. It is also waterproof up to a meter, so hunting in the rain is nothing to worry about.
Traditional Crosshair Scopes Are Great For Longer Shots with Slugs
If you prefer the traditional look of crosshair scopes, keep this in mind. Shotgun slugs max out around the 100-yard mark.
Yes, you can stretch that to 150-200 with the right gun, the right ammo and an expert shooter, but that is really pushing the performance envelope. So, you do not need a lot of magnification. Lower power scopes are entirely suitable.
6. Leupold VX-Freedom Muzzleloader 3-9x
Leading the list for shotgun rifle scopes is the Leupold VX Muzzleloader, which is designed for smokepoles, but serves just as well on shotguns with slugs.
Ballistics for black powder and shotgun slugs are similar across much of their performance. Of course, load data, the gun, and the shooter can affect performance as well.
Remember, Leupold scope testing is legendary All Leupolds also come with the best lifetime warranty in the business.
Just be aware that Leupold is also the most counterfeited scope on the market today. If you buy one for under $200 on websites based in China (or even from sketchy third-part sellers on Amazon), you are guaranteed to get a knockoff and Leupold will not repair or replace it.
The Freedom model comes with a one-inch diameter one-piece tube and a fast-focus eyepiece.
At 3-9x, it is the largest magnification scope in this list. The 3x beginning setting means finding a target when it is close may take a moment. At max magnification, it has a 13.6’ field of view at 100 yards.
It also comes with a multicoated Twilight Management System which Leupold says gives you an extra 10 minutes shooting time as the sun is going down or coming up by increasing light transmission through the scope in low light conditions. The scope has 1/4 MOA adjustments and parallax adjustments to account for changing distances.
Overall, it will perform under almost any field conditions and temperatures you can reasonably expect and has quality o-rings to keep the nitrogen-purged tube nicely fogproof. The rain guard coating also helps keep moisture from sticking to the outside lenses of the scope.
7. TRUGLO 4x32mm Compact
For our budget-minded or recoil-sensitive shooters, we have the TruGlo 4x32mm Compact. This is ideal for lightweight, low-recoil slugs.
Note: If you are pushing more than a 1 ounce slug or shooting a 10 gauge, get another scope. If you hunt with a 3/4 ounce slug or a 20 gauge or smaller, this scope will serve you well.
The TruGlo compact has 1/4 MOA click adjustments. The fixed 4x magnification gives you a 24-foot field of view at 100 yards. If you are shooting large animals, like a big trophy buck or bear, at close distances you may need a moment to find your target area on the animal.
This fixed magnification serves Ol' Tom hunters well though. The diamond reticle at the center will show you how much of the turkey's neck and head you can expect to cover with the shot. Because you are already zoomed in at turkey distances, you can take the shot with extreme confidence.
This scope comes in camo or black and the purchase includes Weaver rings. It has a one-inch tube and around 3-5 inches of eye relief.
8. Sig Sauer BDX 2.0
Best known for making quality handguns, Sig Sauer has stepped into the optics market as well. One of their newer options is the Sig Sauer BDX 2.0.
The BDX 2.0 is designed for "ultralight weight rifle, shotgun, muzzleloader and crossbow configurations." Ultralight weight rifles means carbines, essentially. It has a 30mm tube.
The scope is a 2.5x8 zoom with a 39.8-foot field of view at 100 yards on max magnification. It is a second focal plane scope. The crosshairs can also be illuminated and Sig has a motion-activated sensor for the light.
If the gun is still, it powers down after a while. You can also set the power down with a timer.
But what really sets this scope apart from the others is Sig's integrated technology.
The scope has Bluetooth capabilities to network with your smartphone for two apps. One is the Digital Ballistics Xchange. In short, you can program up to 25 different loads. The scope can advise you on how to adjust for the wind and drop at distance.
The other option here is the KinETHICs setting. This tells you how much energy your projectile has at the distance you are shooting.
Argue all you want about shot placement and knockdown power, real hunters and real science says how much terminal energy a bullet has when it impacts the target, which is extremely important.
When choosing what guns may be used to hunt animals, researchers take terminal energy into account. With KinETHIC, you know before you pull the trigger if you are delivering enough punch to ethically take down your target at the ranges involved.
On top of all that, it’s waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof so it can take a beating in the field.
9. Bushnell Trophy Series
Bushnell Trophy Series has been around for years and has a reputation for making inexpensive scopes that produce results, much like the Simmons Prodiamond TrueZero and Prohunter shotgun hunter scopes and the Nikon Prostaff line of scopes. We picked this one over the Nikon Prostaff P3 shotgun scope and the Simmons offerings because of it’s lower price and expanded featureset.
The Trophy series is another in the Bushnell lineup that merits a second look, especially for the shotgunner on a budget looking for the best scope possible.
The Trophy comes in a variety of flavors, but there’s two we want to focus on for shotguns.
The 2-7x comes with a 36mm front bell and the 3-9x has a 40mm objective lens. Is 4mm really going to make a difference? Well, as dusk is falling and something that looks like it has a rocking chair on its head steps out from behind a bush, another 30 seconds to a minute of shooting time because of the scope's light-gathering capabilities will matter.
The 2-7x magnification on the Bushnell Trophy shotgun scope is ideal for slug hunters. Up close, you can find your target in a hurry thanks to the quick-focus eyepiece, and at a distance, you have enough magnification to make the shot picture tight.
The Circle-X reticle is perfect for these varied shooting distances and the magnification is ideal for shotgun hunters.
Frankly, getting much past the 7x magnification level is exceeding a shotgun slug's performance capability.
This has 1.4 MOA click adjustments and has a one-inch tube. It is also covered in a nice matte black finish. This matte finish is great for early-morning duck and turkey hunters as it won’t reflect light and spook your quarry. You can also get it in a Realtree finish if you want it more camouflaged.
Oh, there is also the Bushnell TRS-25 red dot in the trophy series lineup! You can consider it our honorable mention for the best red dot picks.
Is a scope going to make a difference for the average shotgunner? I say yes.
It allows better sight pictures, especially under magnification. It also lets the shooter be more precise with shot placement compared to iron sights.
At the same time, it may lead a poor shooter to take shots he'd otherwise let pass. A good shooter may look through the scope and take a pass because of obstructions, a poor angle or not enough of a visible target, compared to what he sees with iron sights.
A shotgun scope is not going to turn a terrible shooter into a marksman. Only practice, with and without a scope, is going to make a shooter better.