Can You Use A Rifle Scope On A Crossbow?

Crossbows are becoming increasingly popular as a hunting and shooting weapon among outdoor enthusiasts. These lethal and accurate weapons have evolved tremendously throughout time. They use cutting-edge technology to improve their performance. Among the various advancements, the question arises: Can you use a rifle scope on a crossbow?

Crossbows were traditionally outfitted with crossbow optics intended to match the peculiar ballistics and trajectory of crossbow bolts. With the increasing popularity of rifle scopes and their superior optics, some have pondered if these scopes may be adapted for crossbow use.

In this essay, we look at the possibility and potential benefits of using a rifle sight on a crossbow. We will examine criteria such as compatibility, precision, and safety. Following that, we will determine whether this crossover is feasible and advantageous. Hunters and shooting enthusiasts can make more educated decisions if they grasp the implications of this adaptation.

Are Crossbow And Rifle Scopes the Same?

Although crossbow and rifle scopes appear similar, they are intended for different types of weaponry. Crossbow scopes are intended for use with crossbows, which have a shorter range and fire rate than rifles. As a result, crossbow scope magnification is often lower than rifle scope magnification.

They also frequently have a red dot sight or other sort of reticle that is easier to operate at close range than the crosshairs seen on typical rifle scopes. If you’re looking for a sight to place on your crossbow, ensure it’s particularly intended for that reason.

Can You Use A Rifle Scope On A Crossbow? 

If you want to use a crossbow for hunting, they can be improved with a quality sight. Although an open sight for a crossbow can be purchased, many hunters prefer to utilize a scope. Because rifle scopes are far more plentiful than crossbow scopes, users frequently desire to utilize a rifle scope on their crossbow.

One of the most important factors to consider is compatibility. Crossbows and rifles have quite different mechanics, particularly in terms of recoil and ballistics. 

They both have a backward recoil, which implies that when the bullet is fired forward, a force pulls back. This is merely following a physical law. However, your crossbow’s backward recoil is significantly less than that of a normal hunting rifle. As a result, putting a rifle sight on a crossbow may cause concerns with the scope durability and alignment. 

Furthermore, crossbow bolts have different ballistics and trajectory than rifle rounds. Crossbow bolts have a more defined arc, and their flight path is controlled by variables such as bolt weight, velocity, and arrow drop. 

Rifle bullets, on the other hand, have a flatter trajectory. As a result, the essential changes to compensate for the peculiar ballistics of crossbow bolts may be lacking. As a result, the shots are imprecise.

Another important factor to consider when utilizing a rifle scope on a crossbow is safety. Using an incompatible scope and deviating from the manufacturer’s instructions can be extremely risky. This can result in malfunctions or, in severe situations, shooting accidents.

You can use a rifle scope on your crossbow, but keep recoil, compatibility, and safety in mind. 

Read this post: The Best Crossbow Target For Broadheads: The Ultimate Guide You Need

Rifles and Crossbows: What Does a Scope Need to Do?

Consider what rifles and crossbows can do. Both are employed for hunting, but they do so in quite different ways. The differences between a rifle and a crossbow serve to explain why rifles and crossbow optics must be different.


Rifles are long-distance weapons. Rifles used for hunting often have ranges ranging from 100 to over 1000 yards. Modern crossbows can fire a dart over 100 yards. However, the effective distance is typically between 75 and 100 yards.


Many riflescopes have magnifications of 30X or higher. Higher magnifications facilitate 500-yard shots by bringing the target image closer to the shooter’s eye. However, most crossbow hunters rarely shoot at a target more than 100 yards away. At the range that a normal crossbow shoots, the requirement for increased magnification is limited.

Objective Lens Size

It is not uncommon for riflescopes to have objective lens sizes ranging from 50mm to 56mm. If your backup scope has an objective lens greater than 40mm, it will most likely not fit on your crossbow. 

Crossbow sights should be mounted as close to the crossbow’s body as possible. Crossbow scopes rarely have objective lenses larger than 40mm.


After firing a weapon, the recoil moves backward. It needs to go in more than one direction for a crossbow, and it can harm a rifle scope that can’t handle it. Riflescopes are built to withstand the rearward forces of rifle recoil. A powerful crossbow’s forward recoil can cause strains that a rifle scope isn’t built to tolerate.


Crossbow scopes typically contain many reticles to assist the archer in tracking the bolt after it has left the bow. Rifles include a reticle, which allows for many reference points.

Choose A Rifle Scope For Your Crossbow

A rifle scope will allow you to view your target better and make more accurate shots. If you use a rifle sight on a crossbow, it must be able to handle recoil energy in both directions, which not all do. 

Can you use a rifle scope on a crossbow

What Types Of Scopes Are Compatible With Crossbows? 

To begin, if you want to find a rifle sight that will operate with a crossbow, check for the following features:

  • Close-range parallax or fixed parallax under 100 yards, with 50 yards being optimum.
  • Reticle with multiple elevation and windage marks, such as BDC reticles.
  • Look for a power range with a low power range, such as 1 – 4x, 2 – 7x variable, or 4x, 2.5x fixed. 
  • It should have a crosshair focus that can be adjusted.
  • It should be rated for a variety of weapons, such as handguns, shotguns, and air rifles.
  • Inquire with the manufacturer if it will work with a crossbow.

Some scope manufacturers, like Vortex, make crossbow adaptations of their rifle scopes.

What Types of Scopes Are Not Compatible?

Some scopes are not suitable with crossbows. It’s also worth noting that no scopes can be adjusted for bolt speeds or weights. So, you’ll have to calibrate it to a specific bolt speed and weight. If you adjust one of those, you’ll get a significantly different zero range. 

You will be unable to utilize a rifle scope designed just for one type of gun. The scope must be capable of withstanding recoil in more than one direction. You should not choose a scope with long-range parallax because it must be within 100 yards. 

Final Thought

Can you use a rifle scope on a crossbow? Although several rifle scopes can be used with a crossbow, if you have the option, you should go with one designed specifically for crossbows. It will enhance your experience, and the sight is designed with crossbow nuances in mind. This manner, you won’t harm the scope and it will produce the desired results. 

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