Boost Crossbow Performance by Swapping Out the Scope

If you want to squeeze the most utility out of your high-performance crossbow, then get rid of the crappy scope that came with it.

Nearly every crossbow on the market these days comes with a scope already mounted on its rail. A lot of these optics have what I call "whiz-bang" features--meaning they make a lot of noise, but they don't really help you hunt. They include various colors and intensities of reticle illumination, overdressed holdover references, and stylized logos and turret designs.

What you really need in a crossbow scope, though, is the same thing that you really need in a riflescope: bright optics, a simple, useful sight picture, and durability. And for these, you might want to think about tossing the $35 scope that came with your crossbow and investing a couple hundred bucks in a serious hunting optic.

I'll be hunting this year with TenPoint's new Stealth SS crossbow. It ships with a 3-power scope, the Pro-View 2, with holdover points calibrated to an arrow zipping along at 350 feet per second. It's a great plug-and-play unit. Right out of the box, the bow was zeroed at 30 yards, and the holdover points put arrows in the target at 40 and 50 yards.

But the optics and coatings on the package scope leave something to be desired, so I swapped the Pro-View out for a 1.75-to-5-power Bushnell Legend Ultra HD crossbow scope. The $200 scope has bright glass, liberal mounting dimensions, and the company's DOA (Dead On Accurate) reticle with aiming points in 10-yard increments. The only trouble I've had with it is that the reticle is tuned to bows shooting around 300 feet per second. My TenPoint is significantly faster than that, so I've had to play around with the right magnification to conform to my arrows. It turns out that at 4x, my reticle is precisely tuned to the ballistics of my bow.

You'll want to spend some time mating your aftermarket scope to your specific bow, but once you get the right prescription, you'll like the payoff in bright glass, more refined reticle references, and durability.