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How To Choose A Rifle Scope for Elk Hunting

How To Choose A Rifle Scope for Elk Hunting

How To Choose A Rifle Scope for Elk Hunting- Introduction

 Guest Contribution by Victor Nicholson

Few things may be more exciting than getting up early in the morning on an elk hunting day. As you savor your cup of coffee and have a hearty breakfast, you also tick off various items on your checklist to ensure you are well-equipped. This includes clothing, some food and water, and, of course, all your hunting gear.

Since different hunting situations require different rifles and scopes, getting a scope specific to elk hunting would be ideal. You would want to get the best firearm and gun optic combination possible for a satisfying experience. In this article, we will tackle different rifle scope types and the characteristics a scope should have for this particular prey.

Types of Rifle Scopes

Choosing the best rifle scope for elk hunting may not sound like a big challenge. However, it is crucial to understand that there are lots of different types of scopes you can choose from. Once you are familiar with the various types of scopes, you will be able to decide on one which suits your goals and needs best. Here are some of the most common types of rifle scopes.

  • Fixed scopes are the most basic type. Just as its name reads, fixed scopes have a fixed magnification level. This means you can’t zoom in or out while using them. As an advantage, fixed scopes are usually cheaper than other types.
  • Variable scopes provide an option to change the magnification level while using them. Variable scopes have some numbers written on them, which indicate how many times you can zoom in or out.
  • Hunting scopes generally don’t require high magnification levels. They focus on materials such as being water-resistant and robust enough to survive rough climates. Regardless of how bright the daylight is, they offer a clearer image than other scopes.
  • Scout scopes are wildly popular among hunters. Their magnification levels tend to be relatively low (8X usually as a maximum). They don’t offer many customization possibilities and are very simple to use.

How to choose Rifle scope for elk hunting
How To Sight in A Rifle Scope for 100 yards

Sighting in a brand-new rifle scope is crucial to rely on your skills as a hunter. While there are many techniques, one of the best ways to sight in your rifle scope is to go with the trial-and-error technique.

This technique requires you to fix your rifle on a stable surface. A bench or a table would usually do the trick. Placing your firearm on the ground is not a good idea while sighting in your rifle scope because it’s generally not flat, and your rifle could move during the process.

Once you have set your rifle steadily enough, place a fixed target at 100 yards from you. Aim directly to its center, trying to hit a bullseye in your first attempt. Of course, if you do hit the center of the target, there’s nothing else to do, and your rifle scope is already good to go. However, this is quite unusual, and you would be fortunate if it happened.

Fire your rifle and see where the bullet gets. It is essential to set a target where you can see the bullet hole. As we said before, you won’t hit the center. Without moving your rifle, look through your scope and make some adjustments to match the bullet hole. It may be good to have a buddy helping you do this, but it’s not impossible to perform it on your own.

Once the scope is aimed at the bullet hole, aim again at the center of the target and try it again. This second time, your shot should either hit the bullseye or get closer to it. If it does, you’re good to go. If it doesn’t, repeat this process until your shot gets exactly where your rifle scope is aiming.

Notice that your rifle doesn’t move during the process, but your scope does. It’s imperative to leave your rifle untouched while adjusting your scope. If you happen to move it accidentally, you’ll need to start the process all over again from scratch.

Best Scope Magnification for Hunting Elk

A common concern concerning scope magnification is, “can you get too much of it?” Now that we’ve gone through the different rifle scope types, we can discuss scope magnification. We’ll see what you should look for when hunting elk.

While it is true that the higher the magnification level, the farther the hunting range, there are also other aspects to consider. Hunters do not usually shoot from very long distances, mainly because they either need to be accurate enough as to the part of the animal they choose to hit or avoid surprises from the game.

Another vital factor to consider is budget. You may want to get the best scope for your rifle, but that does not mean it has to be the most expensive one. Sometimes, high-end scopes with large magnification levels are not what we need, and you may end up spending more on a scope you won’t use than on your rifle. Get the best firearm optics that suit your hunting goals and needs.

When hunting elk, a 6X magnification level may be more than enough. However, depending on your preferred hunting place, you may want to go for a little higher. All in all, you would not need to get anywhere beyond 10X. Bigger, more powerful scopes may become challenging to handle as your target may not entirely fit your scope, forcing you to miss your shot.


In summary, choosing a rifle scope for elk hunting requires you to look at a few aspects. Besides budget, your level of experience is also crucial. Whichever type of scope you choose to go for, a magnification level of 6X to 10X should be sufficient for hunting elk.

Images: Unsplash/ Martin Potkin and Thomas Tucker


Author Bio

Victor Nicholson is an outdoor enthusiast, camper, fisherman, and hunter. With 20 years of experience exploring great Australian landscapes and nature, he has honed his ability in evaluating and recommending the right equipment for various outdoor activities.