Many hunters will take to the field this year armed with shotguns; slug guns, rifle bore pump actions, break open shotguns, anything that fires a shotgun shell and in states and during seasons where centerfire rifles are prohibited for hunting they are particularly important.
Many hunters prefer shotguns for hunting, because of the wide variety of ammunition available for them, the simple fact that the same gun can handle the exceptional stopping power and lethality of a slug or buckshot as well as smaller shot for birds and extremely mobile ground game. Additionally the shorter range of slugs and buckshot compared to high velocity rifle rounds make for safer hunting.
Whether or not you prefer a shotgun, the reality is that many of the finest whitetail states in the nation require them for the general gun season. To make the most of shotguns for large game like deer using slugs a scope is a sensible addition to your setup.
Here are the best shotgun scopes, and how to choose the proper one so when the season rolls around, you won’t be left staring at a bead sight wondering why that big-buck got away!
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for Shotgun Scopes:
Table of Contents
- When to Use a Shotgun Scope?
- Top 5 Best Shotgun Scopes & Red Dot on the Market
- Shotgun vs Centerfire Rifle Scope
- The Verdict
When to Use a Shotgun Scope?
Some people say the ugliest thing in the world is a scope on a shotgun. Depending on the situation a scope might be enormously helpful, or downright stupid. For the majority of times a shotgun is being used, rifle sights or a scope is a huge hindrance.
Any wing shooting done with a shotgun must be done with a bead sight, otherwise you are going to be severely handicapping your ability to follow through and see the target while you’re shooting.
However, when turkey hunting or using a scope on a slug gun or rifled shotgun barrel, they are extremely helpful to prevent missing and increase accuracy. When shooting a single projectile like a slug, you essentially have a very large caliber low-pressure rifle.
Even when shooting at turkeys with shot, aiming at a small target that is stationary is completely different than shooting at ducks or birds in flight. In these situations rifle sights or a scope are preferable.
Top 5 Best Shotgun Scopes & Red Dot on the Market
1 Nikon Prostaff P3 Shotgun BDC 200 Riflescope 2-7x32mm
Nikon make some of the best rifle scopes in the world. They make all types of optical equipment ranging from eyeglasses to high-grade scientific equipment and the technology that goes into these critical industries go straight into the rifle scopes, and you can tell as soon as you use one.
This is one of their most popular shotgun scopes, and in fact one of the most popular scopes on the market for shotguns, because of the quality and value that it delivers. Not only does this scope feature some of the best fully multicoated lenses available, it is specifically designed to be used with shotguns.
With moderate magnification topping out at 7X power and a slim 32mm objective lens, this scope provides plenty of light gathering capability and magnification to use to the edge of a shotguns effective range, without burdening your weapon with a bulky scope.
The BDC included on this shotgun scope has been specifically designed for use with the types of ammunition that are common when using a shotgun for hunting. This feature alone is excellent, but when combined with the scopes target turrets it makes for a very potent piece of equipment that is very easy to use for follow-up shots and for calculating necessary hold over.
You’ll have no problems with quality both in optics or overall build with any of Nikon’s products, and this shotgun scope will serve you for years to come as one of the best on the market.
2. Simmons 517793 Prodiamond Shotgun
Simmons makes a multitude of low-cost hunting equipment from electronic rangefinders to scopes for rifles and shotguns. This is one of their best piece of equipment that is used widely by hunters and has been well received.
It is a specialized shotgun scope utilizing all the technologies that go into high-end rifle scopes, but tailoring them specifically for the ranges and applications that most hunters will use their shotguns for.
The best feature of this scope is the pro-diamond BDC reticle. It provides a very clear aiming picture for you to place rounds on target whether hunting turkeys or medium game like deer or hogs, and doesn’t obscure the target too much with a complicated pictogram for holdovers.
In fact, there is zero learning curve with his BDC reticle and it is extremely intuitive once you shoot through it. You should have no problem using this in the field under pressure.
Everything you expect from a medium grade scope is on this model, fully multicoated lenses, decent magnification and excellent light gathering capability make this a joy to use in the woods no matter what game you’re chasing after.
It is a fixed magnification scope, which is good for simple use but the scope is on the heavy and bulky side, not a bad thing when hunting with hard recoiling slugs or turkey loads, but it can be a problem for smaller statutre hunters carrying a heavy weapon in the field.
Overall for the price, you won’t have any problems with the scope, it will serve you well for years to come and very few hunters would regret buying this shotgun scope.
3. Nikon Prostaff P3 Shotgun BDC 200 Riflescope 3-9x40mm
As previously mentioned, Nikon make some of the best low-cost optics in the business. The optical quality of all their scopes cannot be surpassed for the price and this specialized slug hunting shotgun scope is an excellent example.
The best thing about this scope is that it brings a level of accuracy designed specifically for rifled slug guns that no other scope comes close to. You can get the most from a rifled shotgun when this scope is properly paired with it.
The huge objective bell with it’s fully multicoated lenses gathers light exceptionally well and a BDC reticle that is included to help predict and compensate for the drop that slugs experience in flight is an invaluable feature included in this excellent piece of equipment.
The body of the scope has excellent build quality and the dry nitrogen purged O-ring sealed construction will never fog and protects the fully multicoated lenses well enough that you’ll never have to worry about recoil damage or bumping the optic off zero.
If you need a high-quality scope to master the potential of a high-quality rifled shotgun, there are few scopes on the market that come close to the features and performance of this specialized shotgun scope. Especially for the price you pay for this excellent scope.
4. Truglo Compact Strut N Rut Scope 4X32
Truglo has made low-cost optics and hunting accessories for a long time. This is a good example of one of their cost driven optics made specifically for shotguns that performs well in the field despite having relatively few features.
The main reason for using a scope like this is a limited budget and a love of simple equipment. It has a fixed 4x power magnification and 32mm objective lens that makes for a slim and trim optic that doesn’t get in the way or catch on debris while in the field or during transport.
The optics in this scope are acceptable and gather light decently well to shoot during common hunting situations, but do leave a little to be desired especially on the edge of legal shooting light.
Overall this is one of the best values in shotgun scopes. It comes with a few extra features like a rubber eye guard to protect your brow from hard recoiling slugs or turkey load, includes a mount and is ready to be screwed on to your gun right out of the box and taken to the range.
It doesn’t get any simpler or cheap than this scope made specifically for shotguns by Truglo.
5. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope
Bushnell makes a ton of different optics. They make scopes that can be found on the rifles of elite military and law-enforcement units and also on the shelves of Walmart. It just depends on which scope you want and how much you’re willing to spend, they probably have a model that suits your needs.
This is an excellent example of one of their newer electronic scopes that is essentially a red dot sight made specifically for hunting that is taking the shotgun world by storm and is well loved by hunters in the field, especially those hunting at close ranges as is common with shotguns.
This is an excellent compact and lightweight shotgun sight that while offering no magnification offers a ton of benefits. Mainly the simplicity of a red dot optic. All you have to do is put the red dot on the target and pull the trigger.
There’s no need to worry about parallax, magnification, field-of-view, or any other collocations that come from high-powered shotgun scopes. All you have to do is paint the target with it and pull the trigger.
There’s really no downside to this optic other than the odd batteries it uses. It is an excellent value option that is rugged in design and long-lasting. It’s built in mount and camouflage coating only add to it’s value.
If you are going to be hunting turkeys or medium-size game like deer or hogs at close ranges seriously consider a red dot optic like this version from Bushnell.
Shotgun vs Centerfire Rifle Scope
While there are more options than ever before made specifically for shotguns there are still more options available for centerfire rifles. If you have an old centerfire rifle scope that you like to reuse, or are attached to a certain model of rifle scope that you just won’t give up, don’t be afraid to put that onto your shotgun.
While many shotguns recoil much harder than the vast majority of rifles available, they tend to be no harder on scopes than rifles. When in doubt contact the manufacturer and see if the particular scope you plan on using is rated for the recoil of a shotgun, before you mount it up. Misuse of rifle scopes will almost always void the warranty and leave you stranded if you break it in the field.
While most rifle scopes will have more magnification than you need and also be bulkier and heavier, this isn’t always a problem on shotguns because the more the gun weighs the less it recoils, and shotguns are known to kick!
If you are in the market for a shotgun scope to hunt medium size game with a slug gun, or chasing turkeys in the early spring you’re in luck. There’s never been a better time to buy shotgun optics with more options on the market than ever before with even easier buying options than yesteryear.
Decide your budget, what features and ranges you need your scope to perform at and get the best one you can get your hands on.
You can’t go wrong with one of the scopes on this list, but as soon as you get it mount it up and get into the field! The best shotgun scope in the world won’t do you any good in your safe.