Some of the most versatile firearms on the planet, shotguns are the real workhorses of the firearms world. They are used for home defense and law enforcement applications. Shotguns can also be used to effectively hunt everything from 4-ounce doves to 500-pound black bears. Shotguns are flexible and effective weapons, and when paired with the best shotgun scope, they can be deadly accurate.
The world of optics has advanced significantly in recent years, and shotgunners are no longer limited to basic riflescopes. Because shotguns are used in diverse ways, there is no one-size-fits-all shotgun optic.
Thankfully, there are tons of shotgun-appropriate optics to choose from. If you aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help. We’re going to dive deep into the world of shotgun optics and help you find the right optic for your shotgunning needs.
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for Shotgun Optics:
- 1Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Overall
- 2Burris Fastfire III - Best Red Dot Sight for Shotguns
- 3EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight - Best Tactical Optic for Shotguns
- 4TRUGLO TruBrite 30 Hunter 1-4x24 Shotgun/Rifle Scope - Best LPVO for Shotguns
- 5TRUGLO Gobble Stopper - Best Shotgun Optic for Turkey Hunting
- 6Meprolight Mepro M21 - Best Reflex Sight for Shotguns
- 7Hammers Slug Shotgun 2-7x32 Scope - Best Budget Shotgun Scope
- 8TRUGLO 4x32 Compact Strut’N RutShotgun Scope - Best for Deer Hunting
- 9Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 Riflescope - Best Shotgun Scope for Slugs
- 10Nikon 3-9x40 BDC Reticle Scope
Table of Contents
- Why Your Shotgun Needs a Scope?
- What Type of Optic Do You Need?
- Best Shotgun Scope on the Market Reviews
- 1 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Overall
- 2 Burris Fastfire III - Best Red Dot Sight for Shotguns
- 3 EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight - Best Tactical Optic for Shotguns
- 4 TRUGLO TruBrite 30 Hunter 1-4x24 Shotgun/Rifle Scope - Best LPVO for Shotguns
- 5 TRUGLO Gobble Stopper - Best Shotgun Optic for Turkey Hunting
- 6 Meprolight Mepro M21 - Best Reflex Sight for Shotguns
- 7 Hammers Slug Shotgun 2-7x32 Scope - Best Budget Shotgun Scope
- 8 TRUGLO 4x32 Compact Strut’N RutShotgun Scope - Best for Deer Hunting
- 9 Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 Riflescope - Best Shotgun Scope for Slugs
- 10 Nikon 3-9x40 BDC Reticle Scope
- Final Thoughts
Why Your Shotgun Needs a Scope?
In the not so distant past, if you brought a shotgun mounted with an optic to your hunt camp or gun club, you would have been laughed out of town. Because shotgun shells contain multiple projectiles, a shotgun optic was once considered impractical, and even dangerous. However, if you think modern optics are only for your long-range rifle, you’re dead wrong.
While you’ll probably want to skip the optic on the trap field or in the duck blind, the right optic can be an absolute godsend for other shotgunning disciplines.
An LPVO (low power variable optic) or a prism scope pairs well with a slug gun. If you're a deer hunter (especially one in a rifle restricted area), one of these scopes will help you make precision shots at distance. They can also be helpful for turkey hunters who use tight chokes to produce tight shot patterns.
Reflex sights can help shotgunners get on target fast, making them perfect for some 3 Gun classes, helping competitors shave precious seconds off their course times.
And when it comes to home defense, a quality red dot on a 12 gauge can help inexperienced shooters deter dangerous threats. These optics are easy to use and almost foolproof, even when you’re dealing with a massive adrenaline dump from a stressful life-or-death situation.
What Type of Optic Do You Need?
There are several types of modern optics that work well with the traditional scattergun. Each has its own pros and cons, and what you need largely depends on what type of shooting you plan to do with your shotgun. Here is a quick rundown of the different types of shotgun optics and what they do best.
Although scopes were originally intended for long-range rifle shooting, machined slugs and fully rifled barrels have greatly increased the effective range and accuracy of the typical shotgun.
If you need an optic for a dedicated slug gun, a low power riflescope works well. However, even the best slug gun will have a much shorter range than the typical rifle. You won’t need a scope with massive magnification. A scope in the 1.5x to 9x range is plenty.
You will need to make sure to find a scope built to handle the harsh recoil generated by a 12 gauge slug. If you can’t find a shotgun specific scope, look for a muzzleloader scope to ensure your optic holds zero and doesn’t fly apart when you pull the trigger.
Red Dots and Holo Sights
Red dots are perfect for fast target acquisition, and with little to no magnification , they are perfect for most shotgun hunting scenarios. These qualities also make them a good option for 3 Gun competition.
Reflex sights like red dots and holographic sights are also popular additions to home defense shotguns. Since shooting basics are often forgotten in stressful shooting situations, these intuitive sights can be a valuable tool for self-defense shooting.
Best Shotgun Scope on the Market Reviews
1 Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) - Best Overall
The Aimpoint PRO is easily the most popular red dot sight on the market, and it functions perfectly with semi-auto shotguns.
This is one of the most durable and reliable red dots on the market. Built for tough use and rugged conditions, the Aimpoint PRO is literally bombproof. It is made with a hard anodized aluminum alloy housing that’s strong enough to handle even the roughest abuse.
The PRO can also handle extreme conditions. It has a reliable operating range of -49 degrees to 160 degrees and it is submersible up to 150 feet.
Shooters will appreciate the PRO’s crisp 2 MOA aiming point. It is completely night vision compatible and has an impressive battery life of up to 30,000 hours. That means you could leave it on for three whole years before you’ll need to swap out the batteries.
This mini red dot is rugged, dependable, and highly affordable. It is also compact, lightweight, and easy to use, even if you aren’t familiar with red dot optics. Basically, it’s everything you could possibly want for your shotgun.
The Fastfire III features adjustable reticle brightness. It also has a handy auto setting that adjusts brightness to the surrounding light conditions for maximum visibility.
You can choose from two reticle options - a 3 MOA or 8 MOA aiming point. Both are awesome, but the 8 MOA is much better suited for shotgunning, especially if you choose to load your 12 gauge with buckshot.
3 EOTech EXPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight - Best Tactical Optic for Shotguns
EOTech’s holographic sights have a very dedicated fan base. While these holo sights are usually seen gracing the tops of AR-15s and other modern sporting rifles, they also pair well with both 20 gauge and 12 gauge shotguns.
The wide field of view encourages shooters to keep both eyes open, which is a major asset for the rapid target acquisition and close-up shooting often required of shotgunners.
The EXPS2 also features a reticle with a 68 MOA ring and 1 MOA, which works well for both slugs and buckshot, allowing you to easily transition between the two having needing to adjust your optic.
4 TRUGLO TruBrite 30 Hunter 1-4x24 Shotgun/Rifle Scope - Best LPVO for Shotguns
Built with the shotgun hunter in mind, the TruBrite 30 from TRUGLO is perfect for hunting whitetails, varmints, coyotes, and wild hogs. It features an ample 30mm tube which helps provide bright, clear images, even in low light conditions. When coupled with the scope’s fully coated lenses, you get crisp clarity and sharp contrast, extending your shooting visibility near dawn and dusk when game are most active.
The true 1x magnification allows you to get a fast sight picture on up-close, fast moving targets. Dial it in to 4x when using slugs to deliver precision shots at longer ranges.
This scope is built for the tough recoil shotguns are known to deliver. It is shock resistant to 1000g, has a wide field of view, and a generous 3.75 inches of eye relief.
5 TRUGLO Gobble Stopper - Best Shotgun Optic for Turkey Hunting
With a name like the “Gobble Stopper”, you know this optic is optimized for turkey hunting. This awesome red dot from TRUGLO features an illuminated reticle specifically designed to bring down big toms. The reticle is designed with a precision aiming point surrounded by a glowing ring that represents a 24-inch circle at 30 yards (the typical pie-plate patterning distance most turkey hunters use).
Perfect for chasing early morning turkeys right off the roost, the Gobble Stopper has multi-coated lenses that provide more than 95 percent light transmittance. You can also switch between red and green illumination for the perfect level of visibility in any light. And for mid-day turkeys, the Gobble Stopper has a detachable sunshade to eliminate any glare from the front lens that might alert a strutter to your position.
6 Meprolight Mepro M21 - Best Reflex Sight for Shotguns
This reflex sight from Isreali manufacturer Meprolight is super simple, but highly effective. The combat-proven design is perfect for slugs and offers effective accuracy under extreme conditions, including inclement weather and physical stress.
Incredibly reliable, the Mepro M21 uses no batteries. Instead, it has a fiber optic collector system for during daylight hours and a miniature tritium light source at night. This means you never need to worry about your power source failing when you need it most. This optic is always on and ready to go.
7 Hammers Slug Shotgun 2-7x32 Scope - Best Budget Shotgun Scope
Designed for hard-hitting slugs, this variable power scope from Hammers offers tons of eye relief (a whopping 4 to 5 inches).
Perfect for precision shooting, the Hammers Slug Shotgun scope has easy-to-use finger adjustable windage and elevation screws for those difficult long range shots. They also easily reset to zero after adjustments.
Although this riflescope has few frills, it provides great value for the money. If you’re a slug hunter on a tight budget, this scope is a real performer, providing quick targeting in low light and premium multi-coated optics for razor sharp views.
8 TRUGLO 4x32 Compact Strut’N RutShotgun Scope - Best for Deer Hunting
This versatile fixed power scope from TRUGLO lets you hunt fall whitetails to spring gobblers with one highly versatile optic. It features fully multi-coated lenses and a generous 32mm objective lens for maximum brightness, clarity, and color contrast even in dim light.
With a fixed 4x magnification and a matte camo finish, this optic is perfect for chasing both deer and turkey, although it does a fine job for varmint hunting, too.
The Strut’N Rut is one of the best rated shotgun scopes on the market today. It’s also priced well under $100. What more could a shotgun hunter ask for?
9 Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40 Riflescope - Best Shotgun Scope for Slugs
Leupold makes some of the best quality riflescopes in the world. If you’re serious about finding a top-notch scope for a dedicated slug gun, we promise you won’t find anything better than this specialized model. Leupold’s VX-Freedom is a high quality, yet surprisingly affordable, riflescope that is suitable for a variety of shooting applications.
What makes this version perfect for your slug gun? It features Leupold’s proprietary UltimateSlam reticle. This unique reticle provides BDC marks calibrated specifically for your sabot slugs. The maximum error of the UltimateSlam is less than one inch. When you compare that to the 14-inch maximum error of the best of Leupold’s competition, this shotgun scope is worth every penny you’ll invest.
10 Nikon 3-9x40 BDC Reticle Scope
Although this Nikon scope wasn’t designed specifically for shotgun use, it features a sturdy shockproof construction that shrugs off harsh recoil with ease, making it perfect for hard hitting slug guns.
Made from tough aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard anodizing surface finish, this scope has an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. The housing is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed to prevent internal fogging and deliver reliable performance against thermal shock. Not only can it easily endure rough recoil, it also handles the rough conditions serious slug guns are expected to survive. And it does it all without losing its zero.
Shotguns are amazing and versatile weapons. They are regularly used by military and law enforcement personnel and for civilian home defense. Scatterguns are also popular for a wide range of hunting and competitive endeavors.
While the right optic can make your scattergun even more effective, even the best shotgun scope can’t perform miracles. No matter which optic you choose, be sure to spend some time practicing with your new set-up. Ultimately, proficiency with your rig is your most effective weapon, no matter what target you have in your sights.