Most modern crossbows come with a scope included. However, these scopes are usually no good, as they are not designed to deliver the best shooting clarity and accuracy possible, even in optimal shooting situations.
The good news is that you can replace your provided scope with a better one. Rifle scopes are generally regarded to be the best scopes for shooting applications, including game-hunting and target archery. But will rifle scopes work on crossbows?
To answer this question, it is important to delve into the differences between rifle scopes and crossbow scopes.
Rifle Scopes vs. Crossbow Scopes – What’s the Difference?
Even though rifle scopes and crossbow scopes are designed to work in an almost similar style, there are a few noteworthy differences between them, including:
1. Magnification Power
One of the significant differences between rifle scopes and crossbow scopes is the magnification range required for each type of weapon.
Generally speaking, rifles are ideal for long-range shooting. Long-range shooting is generally regarded as shooting at targets located at a distance of 100 yards and beyond from the shooter. Scopes designed for rifles normally have variable magnification for viewing and shooting at both short-range to long-range targets.
The 3-9x rifle scope is perhaps the most ideal rifle scope for game hunters and target archers. It offers users a choice of magnification power between three and nine times their regular vision.
Crossbows, on the other hand, are designed for shooting at targets at much shorter ranges than rifles. As a result, the magnification range for rifles is not the same as that for crossbows, and the scopes can’t be used interchangeably.
The optimal magnification power for crossbow scopes is between 1x and 4x, with the numbers before the ‘x’ representing magnification power of the scopes. A 1x scope has zero magnification power, whereas a 4x scope has the ability to magnify targets four times greater than the shooter’s normal vision.
This magnification range ensures more light enters the eye for optimal clarity when aiming and shooting at the target. Unlike rifle scopes, crossbow scopes offer low-power, fixed magnification, for the most part.
2. Objective Lens Size
It is not just the magnification power of rifle scopes that is larger than that of crossbow scopes – the objective lenses on rifle scopes are also larger, for the most part.
The bigger the size of the objective lens, the more light it will let in. More light provides a clearer view of the target even in low light conditions. This explains why the most powerful scopes on the market typically have the largest objective lenses.
Unfortunately, objective lens size for crossbow scopes is limited to 40mm. This is because the scope needs to be mounted as close as possible to the body of the crossbow to be effective at engaging targets at short range. To achieve this goal, crossbow scope companies usually have to use smaller objective lens than rifle scope makers.
Recoil is the backward-moving force exerted when the trigger of a rifle is pulled or the forward-moving force exerted when the string of a crossbow gets released. As the direction of recoil for crossbows is opposite to that of rifles, using a rifle scope on a crossbow isn’t recommended, as the scope can get damaged by the reverse recoil.
Generally speaking, target archers don’t really need to use multiple reference points when shooting at targets in a fixed distance. But when it comes to hitting targets at varying distances, a bold multi-reference reticle will come in handy.
Another key difference between rifle scopes and crossbow scopes is that the latter comes with multiple reticles to let archers track the arc of the bolt based on distance (yards). This quality makes crossbow-specific scopes a better choice for crossbows than rifle scopes.
Now Back to the “BIG” Question: Will Rifle Scope Work on Crossbow?
So, will rifle scope work on crossbow?
Not really. Any good crossbow scope should offer low-power, fixed magnification and require multiple reference points. As you can see above, rifle and crossbow scopes are designed with different shooting conditions in mind – rifle scopes for short to long-range shooting and crossbow scopes for short-range shooting. Therefore, the rifle scope will not deliver the same results when used on a crossbow.
If you take your bow-hunting or target shooting seriously, you need to invest in a crossbow-specific scope instead of a rifle scope for your crossbow. You’ll be able to get a better view of your targets, but also avoid potential recoil damage to your crossbow.
More importantly, you’ll become more confident when you shoot.