Muzzleloader Scope vs Rifle Scope

Muzzleloader scope

Are you confused about which is a better choice for you between a muzzleloader scope and rifle scope? In theory, a scope is a scope. Both the muzzleloader scope and rifle scope operate in the same manner with a few interchangeable cases. However, when it comes to features, there are distinct differences.

Knowing the main differences between a muzzleloader scope and a rifle scope can help you choose the right optic to use on your gun. Whether you specialize in modern rifle scopes or are a muzzleloader shooter, choosing the right scope is critical for accurate and precise shooting. In this post, we will explain the major differences between the two scopes.

Riflescope Overview

Rifle scopes as we know provide magnifications for long ranges enabling shooters to have precise shots. The scopes feature lenses or sometimes a combination of lenses and prisms to magnify targets at long distances. In general, most rifle scopes provide a magnification of 3x to 20x.

Rifle scopes feature precisely machined rings that clamp to rails on top of rifles. The rails hold the scope and rifle together for easy zeroing on targets.

Muzzleloader Scope Overview

Muzzleloader scopes work in a similar manner as riflescopes. They feature objective lenses and ocular lenses. They can also use either lenses or prisms. Unlike rifle scopes, muzzleloader scopes top out at a maximum of 9X magnification. This is because of the long-distance at which they can shoot and the strong recoil.

So, what are the main differences between a muzzleloader scope and a rifle scope? Let’s have a look at these two under different categories.

Eye relief

This is where we have a major difference between the two scopes. Eye relief is the distance you can hold your head behind the scope when zeroing on targets. Muzzleloader scopes tend to have a greater eye relief than rifle scopes. Most muzzleloader scopes have an eye relief of at least 5 inches. Riflescopes on the other hand have an eye relief of at least 3.5 inches. This is because muzzleloader scopes tend to have more recoil as opposed to riflescopes.

When hunting larger games at short ranges, you need a powerful rifle to ensure an immediate kill. A muzzleloader scope for deer hunting is a great choice since it can withstand stronger recoils. The kick from a muzzleloader can be immensely powerful leading to strong recoils. The longer eye relief is designed to keep your eye further away when shooting.

It is recommended that you have at least 4 inches of eye relief when shooting on a muzzleloader scope. While most rifle scopes have an eye relief of 3-4 inches, you can find rifle scopes with as low as 1.5 inches of eye relief. However, rifle scopes with very small eye relief are intended for use on small caliber shooting.

Field of view

Riflescopes usually have a larger field of view as opposed to muzzleloaders. The field of view directly relates to eye relief. While muzzleloaders have larger eye relief, they have a small field of view. Hunting with a muzzleloader scope early in the morning and evening can be a little tricky. This is because of low light levels and a reduced field of view. You need the best muzzleloader scope for low light to hunt effectively early in the morning and late in the evening.

The choice on the right scope here comes to what you consider important. Do you take the field of view over eye relief? It comes down to what you’re hunting and the distance. If your targets are static, then the field of view should not be a major concern.


Parallax can be a little difficult to explain. In the real world, things closer to the eyes tend to move faster than when they are further away. This makes it tricky when looking for targets through the scope. When lining a reticle, it is a few inches from your eyes. However, the target is a few hundred yards away. This can be a problem when using optical devices. Most rifle scopes are designed to reduce parallax when viewing targets at 100 yards. However, most users might experience parallax when viewing beyond 100 yards. You will find most scopes with higher magnifications designed to reduce parallax at 200 to 400 yards.

Muzzleloader scopes are usually ideal for shooting at long ranges. Most manufacturers of muzzleloaders design parallax at 50 to 100 yards.

Reticle design

The reticle design is another important feature that brings major differences between the two scopes. Riflescopes usually feature standard crosshairs on their reticles. In addition, they also feature extra markings and lines. These lines are important in helping shooters make adjustments and shoot precisely. For example, rifle scope reticles feature a BDC ladder, (Bullet Drop Compensation). Bullets at long ranges will usually land lower from the center shown on the scope. The BDC ladder helps you compensate for the drop so that you hit the desired spot.

Muzzleloader scopes also feature a reticle design but their BDC ladder is quite different from the one in rifle scopes. The BDC ladder on muzzleloader scopes usually reflects the velocity and size of the muzzleloader shots. They vary from one muzzleloader to another even when the caliber of the bullet is the same.

It is important to note the drop of the bullet over a certain distance changes depending on the projectile size and velocity. Muzzleloader scopes don’t rely on markings or lines on the crosshairs to make fine adjustments for the bullet drop. Instead, they rely on the size and velocity of the projectile.

Final verdict

In conclusion, these two scopes are close to being the same but have major differences in specs size. Both scopes can serve you well depending on the situation. You will not see any major difference at first glance. However, a critical analysis of the features brings out clear differences. We’ve discussed the differences and their effects. There is no better or worse choice. You just need to understand your purpose, range, and rifle and choose accordingly.