Can You Use A Rifle Scope On A Crossbow?

When you have your crossbow ready to go, you are likely to be excited to use it. It can get expensive to upgrade and buy all of the accessories you want. Sometimes, people wait to add a rifle scope because they are normally close to the game they are hunting. However, if you have a rifle scope, you may wonder if you can use it on your crossbow. 

You can use your rifle scope on a crossbow. That said, it is important to make sure that the scope is a quality optic, and it needs to handle multi-directional recoil. This is important because crossbows and rifles don’t have the same type of recoil. It should also have features including adjustable parallax for under 100 yards. 

Can You Use A Rifle Scope On A Crossbow

The Benefits of the Modern Crossbow

A modern crossbow is an advanced tool for hunting, and it has upgraded over those that came before it. It has compound limbs and mechanisms that are built in to draw the string. When it is used correctly, it can be as accurate as most rifles up to 100 yards away from the target. Crossbows are a great choice when you want to hunt in close quarters. 

There are other benefits, such as sound. Crossbows are quieter than rifles, and you don’t need hearing protection. When you compare them to compound bows, they have greater speed, and they hit the target harder. They are also easier to learn to use. Crossbows are accurate, and they can be used in some states during both archery and firearm seasons

Drawbacks to the Crossbow

There are a few drawbacks to the crossbow. First, they have a slow reload time, so you need to be accurate with your first shot. The range is limited, and they are not much less expensive than rifles. While there are a few drawbacks, crossbows are great for hunting at close range. 

Using a Scope on a Crossbow

If you want to use a crossbow for hunting, they can be improved with a quality sight. You can buy an open sight for a crossbow, but many hunters prefer to use a scope. There are many more scopes for rifles than there are for crossbows, so people often want to use a rifle scope on their crossbow. 

Can a Rifle Scope Be Used on a Cros...
Can a Rifle Scope Be Used on a Crossbow?

You can use a rifle scope on your crossbow, but you need to consider the recoil. However, crossbows and rifles have different kinds of recoils. They both have a rearward recoil, which means that when the bullet or the bolt is shot forward, there is a force that pushes back. This is simply following the rule of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. However, the rearward recoil for your crossbow is a lot less than it is for a standard hunting rifle. 

The Issue with Using a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow

Part of the problem in finding a rifle scope that works for your crossbow is that there are differences with the crossbow. First, the crossbow has limbs, and the rifle doesn’t. The limbs hold potential energy that is transferred to the bolt when you pull the trigger. The limbs move forward, which causes an equal force to move rearward. The bolt can continue traveling forward, but the limbs have to stop because they are fixed in place. 

As a result, your crossbow has two levels of recoil. First, it moves rearward, which is what happens with a rifle. Then, it moves forward, which is like a bow. If you use a rifle scope on the crossbow, it needs to be able to handle the recoil energy in both directions, and not all of them do. 

What Types of Scopes Are Compatible with Crossbows?

First of all, if you want to find a rifle scope that will work with a crossbow, you need to look for some of the following features:

  • Fixed parallax under 100 yards, with 50 yards being ideal, or close-range parallax.
  • Reticle with multiple elevation and windage marks, such as BDC reticles.
  • Look for a low power range, such as 1 – 4x, 2 – 7x variable, or 4x, 2.5x fixed. 
  • It should have an adjustable crosshair focus.
  • It should be rated for different types of weapons, including handguns, shotguns, and air rifles.
  • Ask the manufacturer if it will work on a crossbow.

Some scope manufacturers make versions of their rifle scopes for crossbows, such as Vortex. 

What Types of Scopes Are Not Compatible?

There are scopes that are not compatible with crossbows. It is also important to note that you won’t be able to adjust any scopes for bolt speeds and weights, so you will have to calibrate it to a specific bolt speed and weight. If you change either one, it will give you a very different zero range. 

You won’t be able to use a rifle scope that is only made for one type of rifle. The scope has to be able to handle recoil in more than one direction. You shouldn’t choose a scope with long-range parallax, as it has to be 100 yards or less. 

How Are Rifle Scopes and Crossbow Scopes Different?

While rifle scopes and crossbow scopes are designed for similar purposes, there are several differences. Take a look at the following:

Magnification Power

Rifles are normally used for long-range shooting, which is 100 yards or more away from the shooter. Scopes that are made for rifles usually have variable magnification that lets you view and shoot at short and long-range. The ideal magnification is 3x to 9x.

Crossbows are used for shooting targets that are up to 100 yards away, but usually 50 yards. The ideal magnification is between 1x and 4x. 

Objective Lens Size

The objective lens lets more light in when it is larger, and it is larger for rifles than for crossbows. For a crossbow, it is limited to 40 mm. 


For a rifle, the recoil goes backward after it is fired. For a crossbow, it needs to go in more than one direction, and a rifle scope that can’t handle it can be damaged by this recoil. 


Crossbow scopes usually have multiple reticles to help the archer track the bolt after it leaves the bow. Rifles have a reticle that lets them have multiple reference points. 

Should You Use a Rifle Scope on a Crossbow?

Although you can find some rifle scopes that can work with a crossbow, the fact is that you should choose one that is made for crossbows if you have the option. It will improve your experience, and the scope is made with the nuances of a crossbow in mind. This way, you won’t damage the scope, and it will deliver the results that you are looking for. 

Final Words

Scopes that are made for rifles are different from those made for crossbows, but there are some rifle scopes that you can use on your crossbow. The main issue is the recoil, as the rifle only has rear-moving recoil, and the crossbow moves in multiple directions. The force of the recoil can damage a scope severely if it isn’t made to handle this recoil. However, if you want to try a rifle scope on your crossbow, follow the guidelines above. 


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Hi, I'm Sam! I used to work as a caregiver, and now I'm in medical school. My blog is about helping people get healthier through fun activities like archery, hunting, and powerlifting. If you like one of my articles, please share it with your friends and family so they can be healthy too!

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