Best Scopes For Elk Hunting – 2021 Complete Buyer’s Guide

| Last Updated June 5, 2021

Big Game Logic is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Whether you are a professional hunter or have been hunting elk for a long time, you will agree that better elk hunting opportunities come with a good scope.

It not only helps you cover various ranges but also increases good hunting opportunities. Elk are fast animals with a brilliant sense of smell, sight, and hearing. Therefore, the best scopes for elk hunting are essential to enhance your hunting experience. 

Read ahead to find out the different types and also to learn about the best units available on the market. 

Comparison of the Best Scopes for Elk Hunting

  • It features an anti-reflective lens.
  • The tube is constructed with aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • Best overall elk hunting scope with its 4-12x40 adjustable lens.
View Latest Price →
  • It is made with aircraft-grade aluminum.
  • The scope is waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof.
  • Runner-up scope with its ion-assist coating on the lens.
View Latest Price →
  • Available in 2 color tones.
  • The lens has a Hydro-Shield coating.
  • Best for the money that comes with an affordable price tag.
View Latest Price →
  • It features 2-12x magnification.
  • The tube has a diameter of 30 mm.
  • It features an objective lens of diameter 42 mm.
View Latest Price →
  • It has a 4-16x magnification.
  • It has an objective lens of diameter 44 mm.
  • The lens features multiple optical coatings for protection.
View Latest Price →
  • It features a 4-12x magnification lens.
  • The scope weighs about 1.35 pounds.
  • Metal on metal adjustments for zero resets.
View Latest Price →
  • Best Scope for 30-06 Elk Hunting
  • Advanced multi-coated lenses gives better light transmission
  • Made of argon purging offering thermal stability and waterproof
View Latest Price →

Scopes 101 - Various Types Explained

There are several kinds of scopes you will come across on the market. Therefore, it can get really confusing and become a hectic task to choose the most appropriate kind for elk hunting. Here are some most commonly found units that you can consider buying.

Fixed Scopes

Scopes work based on their magnification level. The greater the magnification power, the closer it will make the object/animal look. In fixed scopes, there is a certain, fixed magnification level. You cannot change this magnification power, and therefore, you need to select such units very carefully. 

Variable Scopes

However, variable scopes allow you to adjust the magnification according to your need at the moment. This makes such units a better choice for most hunters, especially those who hunt on various occasions and have varying needs. 

Night Vision Scopes

Night vision scopes use highly advanced technology that allows the hunter to find and target animals in the dark, as well. This type, of course, is great for night-time hunters. 

How to Choose a Scope for Elk Hunting

Here are important considerations you should make before buying a scope for elk hunting. 

Manufacturer and Brand

The brand or the manufacturer of any product is very important. This is true for almost all products. You should make sure the brand you are purchasing from is reliable and has been in the business for a decent amount of time. You can also check customer feedback and reviews on the same brand for more reliability and credibility. Furthermore, it's also important to make sure that the seller or retailer you are buying from is an authorized seller and not a scammer. 

Lens Coating or Protection

Lens coating and protection are the utmost important factors. They will determine the quality of the image the scope will produce and will also determine the unit’s durability. Anti-reflective coating and anti-scratch protection are some features you can look for. Coatings protect your lens from dirt and debris and also ensure clearer images. 


To choose a good scope for yourself, make sure you know which magnification level you need. For example, when covering almost all kinds of distances and bases, you can go for a 3-18x power unit. Another common and inexpensive alternative is to buy a 4-12x or 3-9x magnification power unit.

Lens Quality and Features

Lens quality and features refer to the size of the lens, its build quality, and so on. For longer ranges, you should go for a larger objective lens. You can also see if the lens is good enough or has adequate functions to allow you to view objects at nighttime, as well. Lenses larger in size can usually gather more light to form images, which makes them suitable for night-time hunting. 

Review of the Best Elk Hunting Scopes

This is the most important section of the article. Here, we'll discuss some of the best, most popular, and most reliable scopes for elk hunting. The reviews are based on authentic customer feedback and contain all the essential details and descriptions regarding the products. Read ahead to discover the best product for yourself!

Best Overall:
Vortex Optics Crossfire II


  • Adjustable lens adds to the versatility
  • Its anti-reflective lens ensures better images
  • Strong, sturdy, and durable construction 
  • Clear and bright, even in rainy/foggy environments
  • Fast focus eyepiece ensures reliability and better hunting


  • Not for a scout rifle
  • Might not be the best for long ranges

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers have specifically commented on the image quality the lens of this riflescope produces. They have found the images to be very clear and bright and have also reported clarity in fog or darker environments. The only negative feedback seemed to be that the scope is not made for scout-style rifles, but was great otherwise. Customers also reported that it is great for medium ranges.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It stands out to us for a number of reasons. It’s our top pick from the market which is clearly because of the versatile lens features. It has an adjustable objective and a multilayered, anti-reflective lens that works great for everyone. Therefore, it is highly versatile and impressive, considering its durable aircraft-grade build quality.

Who Will Use This Most

We highly recommend this unit for use by people who hunt in rainy environments. This is because the lens is multi-coated, won’t be damaged by water, and gives excellent images. Moreover, it is also the best choice for anyone hunting in medium ranges.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, this is our top pick from the market due to its versatile features which make it so reliable. With a strong, durable build and an adjustable lens that is protected by multiple layers, this is a great option for anyone and everyone.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm


  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Works great in all kinds of lighting conditions
  • Precise adjustment features allow greater control
  • Ion-assisted lens coating ensures high-quality images
  • Waterproof construction makes it suitable for all environments


  • Some issues with delivery reported
  • Issues with product description being misleading

What Recent Buyers Report

Many customers said that the description of the product was somewhat misleading and did not match the actual product. There were also issues reported with the delivery of the product being not right and unreliable, too. However, other than these few complaints, we saw some highly satisfied users. Users found the scope to be highly reliable and were given an activated warranty for their convenience. Many users also said that it's durable and is actually resistant to any kind of harsh use.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It’s hard to find an all-in-one scope so easily. However, this Leupold scope is the answer to all your questions. It is a waterproof, shock-proof, and fog-proof scope. This makes it highly versatile and has impressed us enough to add to the list.

Who Will Use This Most

We highly recommend this scope for use by hunters who are on the go. It is a strongly built, versatile unit with a waterproof, shock-proof build. This makes it appropriate for various kinds of environments and, therefore, can be used by hunters who don’t have a permanent hunting spot.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, we would recommend this lightweight, durable scope for every hunter. It’s good for covering all kinds of ranges and hunting in all types of environments, too. It’s also good for nighttime hunting.

Best for the Money:
 Simmons Truplex .22 Mag Riflescope


  • Easy to use and adjust
  • Affordable price with great features
  • It has a rubber surface for better grip
  • Highly sharp and bright images are produced
  • Lightweight design makes it good for on-the-go hunting


  • Issues with the adjustments reported
  • Many complaints about defective pieces being delivered
  • Some complaints about the scope breaking after a few uses

What Recent Buyers Report

Even though the scope is affordable and adds value to your money, there were still some disappointing comments from users. Many customers were delivered defective products, which wasted both their money and time . Other than that, users had lots of issues with the adjustments of the scope, and it didn’t zero for many users. However, there were happy customers who loved the lightweight design of the product.

Why it Stands Out to Us

It is difficult to find an affordable scope, such as this, at such a great price. It has all the features and functions you will find in any other high-end unit. Therefore, it stood out to us and we added it to our list of best scopes for elk hunting.

Who Will Use This Most

We recommend this scope for use by beginners. This is because it’s an inexpensive option, and still has great features to work with. However, we do not recommend this for harsh environments, rough use, and professionals.

Bottom Line

Other than some complaints from users, the scope seems like a good option for someone looking for something cheap. However, you can also explore other options and decide to make a one-time investment, rather than spending less on a less durable unit.

4. Leupold VX-6HD 2-12x42mm


  • It has a sleek, matte finish
  • It's waterproof and shockproof
  • The large-sized lens makes it great for longer ranges and dark environments
  • It is weather-resistant, making it highly versatile and appropriate for all environments
  • Twilight Max HD Light Management System increases light transmission and night view


  • Some failure issues reported in the first few uses

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers love the scope for its versatility. They are highly satisfied with its night vision capability. Users who wanted to hunt in damp environments also found it to be truly useful and waterproof.

Why it Stands Out to Us

We absolutely love the versatility of this product. It has all basic, and even some extra, features that you might need or want. From a shockproof build to weather resistance, this scope will be any hunter's best friend. It is not common to find weather-resistant units that allow you to go and hunt in absolutely any place. Therefore, it stood out to us and we added it to our list.

Who Will Use This Most

The scope is lightweight and strongly built with shockproof and weather restart features, which means that it can be used by hunters who are on the go. It is great for all hunters, whether professionals or beginners.

Bottom Line

In brief, this is the most reliable Leupold scope you can find on the market. It comes from a renowned brand and a reliable manufacturer, which further makes it a great choice.

5. Bushnell Engage 4-16x44mm


  • Great for longer ranges
  • Easy and quick zero reset
  • Versatile and lightweight design
  • Works great in low light conditions
  • The lens is water-resistant and fog-proof 
  • Highly bright and clear images produced by a multi-layered lens


  • Slightly pricey
  • Few complaints regarding the zeroing

What Recent Buyers Report

Recent buyers have shown high levels of satisfaction. They love its lightweight design and have also appreciated its black matte finish. There were not many cons found and rarely any negative customer reports were present for this unit.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The reason this scope stands out to us is its highly strategic design and build. It has a strong, average-sized objective lens that is great for longer ranges and nighttime hunting too. It is nothing less than any other highly-priced scope, which is why it will add great value to your money. Therefore, we have added this to our list.

Who Will Use This Most

The scope is slightly pricier than other models, which is why we recommend this for use by professionals. People with greater budgets can also opt for this, since it will add great value to your money with all the versatile features. It's also great for hunters who hunt in nighttime or low lighting environments.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, this is a higher-end unit that will not disappoint you. While saving money might be your priority, let's not forget that scopes such as this make hunting a lot easier and a lot more fun too. Therefore, we highly recommend this for professionals and on-the-go hunters.

6. Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 SFP


  • Easy adjustment features
  • Fog-proof and waterproof seal
  • Lightweight design with a durable build
  • Multi-coated lens allows for clear, bright images
  • Features a fast-focus functionality for quick and easy use


  • Misleading product description
  • Many customers complained about the hat being useless

What Recent Buyers Report

Surprisingly, there were many complaints from customers that said they had to pay for the supposedly free hat. Plus, the hat proved to be highly dysfunctional for most of the people. On the other hand, customers loved the quality of the scope itself. Some customers also initially felt unsafe ordering from this brand but it turned out well for them. Other than the issue with the hat, we did not come across any negative feedback about it.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The scope stands out to us for its highly user-friendly functions. Its zeroing function, along with the fast focus functionality, make it not only versatile but also very user-centric. It also makes it a great choice for beginners. Therefore, this versatile and easy-to-use unit stood out to us.

Who Will Use This Most

It is highly recommended for hunters who are on the go. This is because it is very lightweight, along with sturdy and durable features such as the fog-proof and waterproof qualities. Moreover, it is also for use by professionals, as well as beginners, considering the easy-to-use features.

Bottom Line

To sum it up, the scope is great considering its price and its highly advanced features. It has an intelligent design and quality build that make it appropriate for everyone. Don't go firearm hunting without a scope as excellent as this one!

Best Scope for 30-06 Elk Hunting:
Athlon Optics Argos BTR


  • Shock resistant to ensure durability
  • Aircraft-grade aluminum construction
  • Good quality images with multi-coated lenses
  • 4x magnification suitable for multiple shooting purposes
  • Fully waterproof construction ensuring usability in humid areas


  • Unable to hold zero
  • Has a poor packaging

What Recent Buyers Report

People have found this Athlon Scope a compact and lightweight unit compared to other products that they used. They also were able to hunt elks with this scope due to its great functionality with longer ranges and distances, even more than 600 yards.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The construction quality of this scope is definitely remarkable. It has a waterproof construction, featuring an argon-purged design that pushes out and prevents any moisture or water droplets from entering the unit. It is also resistant to shock, guaranteeing that it will last for a long time.

Bottom Line

Summing it up, the Athlon scope overall is outstanding on the market for its high-grade aluminum construction. It also is rugged and made for use in tough conditions. For elk hunting, a 30mm scope such as this makes up to be a great choice.

Best Spotting Scope for Elk Hunting:
Celestron Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope

Celestron – Ultima 80 Angled Spotting Scope – 20 to 60x80mm Zoom Eyepiece – Multi-Coated Optics for Bird Watching, Wildlife, Scenery and Hunting – Waterproof and Fogproof – Includes Soft Carrying Case


  • Comes with a carrying case
  • Razor-sharp, smooth zooming optical
  • Backed by a generous two-year warranty
  • Highly recommended for long-distance shootings
  • Anti-reflective coatings to ensure better light transmission


  • Reported to be unsuitable for 200 yards and beyond

What Recent Buyers Report

Buyers of this unit were able to use it from a distance and still received bright and clear images. This was also used for birding, and the results were satisfactory. Other reports suggest that the scope has a sturdy and solid build. People also used it for astronomical purposes.

Why it Stands Out to Us

The zooming feature in scopes is essential and important for all hunters and shooters. However, this particular scope has an extraordinary zooming capability, which is smooth and fast. The razor-sharp zooming optical guarantees ease of use. We also find the warranty supporting this unit impressive.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, this Celestron scope is great for elk hunting with its 80mm magnification. It is also supported by a warranty, ensuring that you get full value for your money. Lastly, it has anti-reflective advanced lenses and also a carrying bag!

What Size and Type of Scope Do I Need for Elk Hunting?

The smaller the animals are, the more the magnification will be needed. For animals like elks, long-distance viewing is necessary as you do not want to go near them and scare them away. There are a few features you might want to look into before choosing the right type of scope for elk hunting. 

So, if you are elk hunting in daylight and closer ranges, a 3-9x40 magnification scope works fine. A 6-18x50 scope is recommended for far-range deer and elk hunting. 

In short, the main factors that you must consider before choosing a scope include the distance or range you will be shooting at, the situation or conditions of the environment such as the climate, daylight or night time and also if you are deep into the wilds or just in the countryside. 

30mm vs. 1-Inch Scope

You will find the 30mm lenses in more higher-end scopes, normally. However, for beginners, or people who are more about ease of use and convenience, should definitely go for one-inch scopes. The benefit 30mm scopes have over one-inch scopes is that it has more adjustment options. This makes them more suitable for professional usage. 

40mm vs. 50mm Scope

For those people who will be shooting in longer ranges and daylight, 30 to 40mm scopes are a better choice. Meanwhile, 50 mm scopes are more relevant for low-light situations as it transmits more light into the lens. Compared to 40mm, 50mm is also lightweight and relatively affordable. 

1-6 vs. 1-8 Scope

1-6 scope is cheaper than 1-8 scope, so if budget is a problem, 1-6 is your answer. 

The 1-8 scope is lighter, brighter, and more suitable for low-light conditions. This scope is also great for up to 400-450 yards. 

FFP vs. SFP Scope

FFP and SFP are two different configurations for optical lenses. The major difference between the two is that with FFP scopes, the size of the reticle changes (shrinks or extends) as you zoom in or out. Meanwhile, with SFP, the size remains the same regardless. 

SFP is found in more precise scopes with higher magnification power. Therefore, they are most suitable for long-range and big game shooting, such as for elk. 

Benefits of Investing in a Quality Scope

Now that we've looked at some of the best scopes for elk hunting, you must be wondering whether you should really invest in them. So, to help you, here's a list of the benefits of investing in one. These might be enough to convince you to buy one of the best units on the market. 

Cover Longer Ranges

Elk are smart and dangerous animals. Unlike deer, they don't run away from fear and instead, choose to fight back. Therefore, it is important to maintain a good distance from them. However, it is also difficult to properly hunt from a distance. And this is the primary reason you need to invest in a good quality scope for elk hunting; so you can cover longer ranges and distances. 

Better Hunt

Scopes magnify the animal and help you identify targets more accurately. They also help spot the animals when they are hiding or are not visible to the naked eye. Therefore, scopes increase your hunting opportunities. 

Upgrade to Pro-Level

The first step of upgrading is to move to firearms from a bow. Now that you have started using a firearm, you must realize that a scope is essential for you to consider yourself a professional. All hunting enthusiasts think that riflescopes are a must-have for anyone hunting with a firearm. 


Clearly enough, to qualify as a professional hunter, you need to invest in a good quality scope. A firearm hunter is incomplete without a good unit. Improve your accuracy and make better use of hunting opportunities by investing in a good product. Elk hunting will be made much easier if you choose a scope wisely! 

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.