The shotgun is one of the most versatile firearms invented. Add the proper scope and it becomes even better. But picking the right scope is not always easy, especially if you are a novice. Let us help you by presenting our list of the Best Shotgun Optics.
When selecting a sight for your shotgun there are two factors you need to consider. First, shotguns have a stronger recoil than many other firearms. This means that the sight, and mounts, need to be more durable than those used on other platforms. Second, it is also important to consider how you will be using the shotgun. You will not want the same scope for home defense as you would for deer hunting.
Our list will offer a variety of options so we are sure one will meet your needs.
What We Will Cover
- When We Use And Not Use The Optic
- Normal Scope for Shotgun
- Thermal Scope for Shotgun
- Red Dot for Shotgun
- Holographic Sight for Shotgun
When We Use And Not Use The Optic
In the right conditions, adding a scope to your shotgun can be a game changer. Do you hunt in a rifle restriction area? If so, an adjustable power traditional scope and rifled slugs can increase your range and accuracy. Looking for the perfect home defense setup? Add a red dot or holographic sight and you have just what you have been looking for. The shotgun will allow you to safely engage a number of target and the sight will allows you to acquire those targets quickly.
There are several other applications shotgun scopes are good for including law enforcement, 3-gun shots, and target practice. However, there are also times when a scope is not your best option. The most common example would be when shooting moving targets. Wing shooting, shooting trap, skeet, or sporting clays are times when aiming is best done without an optic.
Moving targets requires instinctive shooting, aiming, and timing the shoot at the same time. This is something optics interfere with, so when you hit the duck pond or skeet range leave the scope at home.
Normal Scope for Shotgun
What do we mean by “normal” scope? Well, these are the scopes most shooters are probably most familiar with. They are the same ones that are on the rifles you use for hunting, target shooting, and plinking cans. Although today’s scopes include many advanced features the overall design is simple- a tube, lenses, and adjustable magnification.
Many companies manufacture scopes specifically for shotguns. These scopes are heavy duty and meant to withstand the heavy recoil without coming loose or losing zero. If you can not find a shotgun specific scope those intended for inline muzzleloaders are also a good choice.
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 Riflescope
Leupold makes some of the best scopes on the market, and the VX-Freedom line is not exception. This is a premium, top of the line series at a price the average users can afford.
2. Bushnell Trophy XLT Shotgun Scope
This is an excellent introductory shotgun scope, and one that you may very well find is a favorite for many years to come. Although marketed as a bargain scope it offers a wide range of features that will appeal to even veteran shotgun shooters.
The controls are basic, which also makes it good for beginners. Capped dials adjust both windage and elevation and screw in place to prevent accidental changes. Magnification is adjusted via standard just ahead of the sight lens. The glass offers a duplex reticle in a red/orange color for increased contrast.
- Good quality at a bargain price.
- Simple controls that are easy to use.
- Holds zero even when exposed to heavy recoil.
- Control knobs do not include enough serration causing them to become slippery.
- Limited magnification (1.75-4x).
- Eye relief is a little bit to short.
Thermal Scope for Shotgun
Until recently thermal scopes were not a viable option for a shotgun. Not only were they too expensive for the average shooter, they were also too delicate to withstand the heavy recoil. However, recent advances in technology and materials have overcome both these hurdles.
So why would you need a thermal scope for your shotgun? Well, some hunting applications such as predators are far more productive at night. Some law enforcement uses may also require the ability to see at night as well. But the number one reason owners buy a thermal scope has nothing to do with need – it is because they are so much fun.
Regardless of why you are selecting a thermal scope you will want the best. Here are our choices.
3. ATN X-Sight-4K Pro Edition Smart Hunting Rifle Scope
Thermal scopes have come a long way and the X-Sight series by ATN is an example of just how far. This is as much computer as it is scope. With standard features you would expect on any scope coupled with Ultra HD sensor, ballistic calculator, and dual stream video recording this scope can do so much more than previous models.
Higher resolution, multiple color display, the ability to stream to your smart device, and recoil activated recording make this the perfect thermal scope for those interested in documenting their hunts. Plus, you get all this in a package that resembles a traditional scope that can also be mounted with standard rings.
- Traditional design that mounts with standard rings.
- Latest in technology.
- Crisp display with multiple color options.
- Recoil activated recording.
- More technology means more chances for failure in the field.
- Ballistic calculator is of little use on a shotgun.
4. AGM Global Vision
One of the concerns when mounting any scope on a shotgun, especially the typically bulky thermal scope, is weight. Having a large, cumbersome scope on a shotgun can not only make it difficult to carry but also negatively impact your shooting. Many shooters prefer compact models and now AGM offers a compact thermal scope as well.
This light weight, compact scope includes 2-4x magnification, diopter adjustment, and a waterproof design. High resolution display, electronic accuracy correction, and automatic or manual calibration are just some of the features made possible by the latest technology.
Powered by easy to obtain CR123A batteries with USB charging available means you will always be ready to go into the field. If you wish to save your hunting memories this scope is capable of Wi-Fi transmission of both video and images.
- Compact light weight design.
- Easy to use controls.
- Powered by easy to find CR123A batteries with USB backup.
- Limited magnification.
- Flip up lens cover cannot be removed.
Red Dot for Shotgun
Yes, you can mount a red dot on most shotguns. Although it will be of little use on a double barrel or your favorite waterfowl setup, having a red dot on a home defense or target rig can make a world of difference. Many modern shotguns come scope ready with a factory installed picatinny rail. If so, mounting a red dot is quite simple. If not, having a rail added is an easy, inexpensive project.
Having a red dot on your shotgun will increase shot distance accuracy, allow you to acquire targets quicker, and even allow you to shoot at night. Unlike other scopes a red dot site will also allow you to shoot with both eyes open, improving situational awareness and ability to target moving targets.
5. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight
This is one of the best all around shotgun scopes available. It is lightweight, compact, and durable while also being inexpensive. With crystal clear optics and bright crisp red dot this sight allows the user to quickly acquire the target. The rugged, compact design includes watertight gaskets and large, easy to use adjustment knobs. Perfect for use with the heavy recoil of a shotgun, even while wearing gloves. It is also available in either matte black or camouflage.
- Lightweight, compact design.
- Holds zero even under heavy recoil.
- Multiple brightness settings.
- Protective lens covers included.
- Does not provide magnification.
- Not the best for longer distance.
6. Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO)
Aimpoint has established itself as a leader in the manufacture of high-quality red dot sights and the Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) is an example of why. Not only is this a superior sight system it also offers many features not found in other models.
First is the extended battery life. Per the manufacturer, this sight’s battery will last as long as 30,000 hours. Even if you forget to shut if off between used chances are the battery will still be strong. Second, is the rugged construction. The anodized aluminum tube provides light weight yet highly dependable protection. It is also designed to withstand temperatures from -50F to 160F and submersion to 150ft.
The optics include extremely clear glass, an adjustable 2MOA red dot, and the ability to be shot with both eyes open. All surfaces are covered with anti-reflex coating and an additional kill flash lens cover is included.
- Light weight and compact design.
- Rugged enough for use in extreme temperatures and weather conditions.
- Extreme battery life.
- A wide range of accessories are available.
- Mount does not include quick release lever.
- Lithium batteries can be harder to find and more expensive that other options.
Holographic Sight for Shotgun
Holographic sights are a perfect match for the shotgun. Not only are they low profile they also have very few moving parts or components. This means they are less likely to interfere with your operation of the firearm and more likely to withstand the tremendous recoil.
Of course, not all holographic sights are equal. Getting the most out of your shotgun means mounting the best scope for the job. We believe we have found just that.
7. Venom Vortex Optics
Vortex has a reputation for producing high quality, dependable optics. Although many users are more familiar with their tradition red dot lines, they also produce equally impressive holographic models, including the Venom.
One of the first things you will notice about the Venom is that it is designed features that take real world use into account. It is available in both a 3MOA and 6MOA dot, letting you pick the one that suits you best. There are also 10 different brightness settings for use in any lighting condition. It is also built to withstand anything you, or Mother Nature, can throw at it. Being both weather and shock proof provides protection from the elements, dirt, heavy use, and the occasional mishap.
The low-profile design is carried through to the adjustment knobs, which are mounted flush to the body. The multi-coated lens will reduce glare without interfering with field of view and the easy mount system makes using on multiple firearms possible.
- Low profile design is well suited to shotguns.
- Top load battery is easier to change.
- Auto mode will shut off sight after 14 hours.
- At the brightest setting the dot sometimes washes out some range of vision.
- The side mounted controls can be hit when placing into a case.
8. Burris Fast Fire 3
The Fast Fire 3 is a simple, yet reliable sight designed to provide the shooter with a system that allows faster, more accurate shooting. It is one of the most popular sights of its kind because it is dependable, easy to use, and includes the features needed to get the most out of your shotgun.
The Fast Fire 3 is a compact, lightweight sight that offers a standard 3MOA dot. This is the perfect size to be picked up quickly without obscuring the target. No tools are required to adjust the windage or elevation and the brightness can be adjusted to 3 different settings. There is also an automatic brightness adjustment as well.
The top load battery compartment is easy to reach without removing the sight. The easy-to-use mounting system allows the sight to be moved from one firearm to another without hassle. Finally, the construction is rugged enough to withstand weather, dirt and the abuse of real-world use.
- No tools needed to adjust.
- Lightweight, durable design.
- Automatic brightness setting.
- May need a riser for use on a shotgun.
- Limited capability at longer ranges.
So, there you have, the Top 8 Best Scopes for a Shotgun. Whether you are looking to build the perfect set you for self-defense, want to try your hand at 3-gun, or just want to outshoot your buddies next time you hit the range we are sure one of these will get the job done.
Good luck and good shooting.