Elk season is just around the corner, and it can be a daunting but exciting task trying to decide what gear is best for you. Let’s be careful not to overlook one of the most important pieces of equipment: the rifle scope.
Vortex Optics manufactures scopes that have led countless hunters to success. Let’s take a look at their lineup and decide on the best option for your hunt.
So What is the best Vortex Rifle Scope for Elk Hunting? Among the seeming countless quality products offered by Vortex Optics, the following 3 scopes make the most sense:
- Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10×44,
- Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50
- Vortex Diamondback 3.5-10×50
Let me explain the choices in more detail below.
Our number one choice from Vortex Optics for hunting elk is the Viper HS 2.5-10×44. This optic offers a great magnification range for every hunting scenario.
It can be dialed in for a close shot achieved by a long stalk, or it can offer you reliable precision across open country. While Vortex Optics offers great options at a slightly lower price, the features that you are paying for with the Viper HS are simply worth it.
The Viper HS offers extra-low dispersion glass on this optic which will provide a sharp, clear picture when you’re on target. There will be no guesswork while looking down the sight. You will be able to make out a prize bull elk in the densest bush.
When coupled with the XR fully multi-coated finish that Vortex offers, the sight picture will be second-to-none. The net result is that the Viper HS 2.5-10×44 will be a dream to sight-in at the range, and reliable out in the field. It is both durable and relatively light-weight, coming in at 16.5 oz.
A hallmark of a good scope is that you can set it and forget it. You will not have to worry about tinkering with your scope when you are out in the field and need to make the shot. The Viper HS 2.5-10×44 with 1/4 MOA adjustments and a responsive turret system will give you peace of mind.
While the Viper HS 2.5x10x44 is an excellent choice, it may be considered an expensive option for beginner hunters. Luckily, Vortex Optics has a range of scopes that are suited to hunters at any experience level.
Let’s look at a couple of options that are suited to hunters that are looking for a stellar performance on a budget.
For people who find the Viper HS 2.5-10×44 a bit on the expensive side, the Vortex Crossfire II 3-9×50 will do just fine for a fraction of the cost.
This scope was almost our choice for the top spot. It is a relatively inexpensive scope that offers a myriad of features that are useful to any hunter. It is a generous offering for such a low price point.
Straight away, the objective lens size diameter catches the eye: 50 mm.
This is going to provide plenty of light during long hunting sessions and a clear sight picture even in low-light situations.
The 3-9x magnification is plenty enough for any elk hunting situations and is generally considered as the standard magnification for elk and deer hunting.
The Crossfire II offers the same 1/4 MOA adjustments for an easy zeroing experience.
What is the difference between the Crossfire II and the Viper HS?
Two words : GLASS QUALITY.
The Viper HS is going to edge out the Crossfire II in sight picture quality. This is by no means a dismissal of the Crossfire II, but the picture down the Viper HS will appear sharper when compared to the Crossfire II.
However, due to the Crossfire II’s larger objective lens (50 mm vs 44 mm) the picture will be plenty bright enough in both scopes. And chances are, you might not be able to tell the difference if I didn’t tell you about this.
Here’s a scope that offers a compromise between the Crossfire II and the Viper HS scopes. It bridges the gap between the two in terms of price and quality.
It offers the same durability as the Crossfire II and performs similarly in terms of shooting ability, but weighs in at only 16.2 oz. It is the lightest of the three scopes discussed here.
The glass quality is comparable to the Crossfire II and is still more than any hunter could ask for, but the scope comes equipped with a Precision-Glide Erector System which facilitates a smoother dial-in of the magnification, allowing you to keep on target as you zoom-in for the shot.
The Diamondback offers all the features that make Viper Optics such a trusted brand of optics. It is durable, precise, and simply reliable.
How to Decide on Magnification for Elk Hunting
Let’s be honest here: shooting while hunting is not the same as target shooting.
You are faced with a myriad of challenges out in the field from weather to fatigue. You are not going to shoot as well as you will at the range. It is that simple. Why is this relevant? You need to choose a magnification with an honest assessment of your ability in the field.
Would it be rewarding to make a shot that requires maximum magnification? Of course. Is it practical or even ethical? That depends.
The general standard for elk and deer hunting is 3-9x magnification. This is going to cover the vast majority of shots you would feel comfortable taking. There are plenty of options that are near or encompass this range of magnification that are available as well: 2.5-10, 3.5-10, etc.
You generally won’t want to stray too far from these magnification ranges because simply put, most hunters wouldn’t feel comfortable pushing much further than this range.
The other aspect that dictates magnification choice is elk behavior. An elk is generally going to spend the winter in low elevation browsing through the woods and sagebrush. They will migrate up higher in the spring, spend the summer up high, and migrate back down to cover the largest amount of ground during the rut.
This means that they will likely be found in wooded areas or high country, brush-covered areas where long shots will not be possible or necessary.