Best Scope for 270 – “King” of Whitetail Deer Hunting Cartridge

When looking for a scope for your 270 rifle, there are tons of factors, features and choices that salespeople try to sell their scopes to you. It’s normal to be bewildered by those choices, and end up choosing just the worst option possible, the law of adverse selection.

Best scope for 270 #6

However, it’s possible to keep a cool head by narrowing down all those choices logically to find which features, and hence scope, would suit your needs.

Here’s a quick summary of my recommendations.

Best scope for 270

  1. I mostly hunt in the woods.
  2. I mostly hunt in hilly or open plain terrain.
  3. I want to hunt/shoot beyond 400 yards.
  4. I’m a beginner looking for a nice scope.
  5. I’m buying this as a gift for my wife/child.

Table of Contents

4 Basic Traits Every Scope Needs to Have

Before we start refining our options, there are basic things that make a scope work and you should look for these traits when buying a scope.

  • Durable
  • Hold zero
  • Weather resistant
  • Reliable Warranty

 

Which one is you?

Please select the best option that describes you.

  1. I mostly hunt in the woods.
  2. I mostly hunt in hilly or open plain terrain.
  3. I want to hunt/shoot beyond 400 yards.
  4. I’m a beginner looking for a nice scope.
  5. I’m buying this as a gift for my wife/child.
  6. None of the above.

 

I mostly hunt in the woods.

In the woods, game could appear up close from spots you aren’t aware, and sprung away real fast. Fast target acquisition speed is necessary for your hunt.

And you want to keep cost low so that you can enjoy your favorite hobby more.

Top 3 features you should look for :

  • Low or no magnification
  • Lightweight and compact
  • High light transmission and contrasting lens

Low or no magnification – Since you’re hunting in dense woods, it’s likely that your shots will not exceed 75 yards. By having too much magnification your scope becomes a hindrance, slowing you down while acquiring your target.

Also when low magnification is used, it’s easier for you to maintain peripheral vision as your brain can more easily sync between scope-eye and your other eye.

Recommended magnification power is 1-4x, 1-6x, 2-7x, 2x ,3x, 4x or no magnification at all.

Lightweight and compact – A compact scope is less likely to snag branches in the woods, reducing chance of damaged scope during your important hunt.

Less weight is almost always welcome during your long walk. Plus, when you need to shoot at odd angles, a light weight scope won’t throw your rifle off-balance.

High light transmission and contrasting lens – Because dawn and dusk is when games are most active. Furthermore in forests, there are lots of overlapping shadows and contrasting light, which could make you easily miss your game. But a good lens can solve these problems and extend your effective hunting time.

Cheaper scope manufacturers often use big objective lens to improve light transmission. Even though brightness is really improved and you can get it at lower price, these big objective scopes are often too clunky and won’t suit you.

Fancy Turrets and Parallax Adjustment are NOT important to you

Some features, while good, is a bit overrated for your case. Forego them to lower costs.

  • Turrets function such as Finger adjustable, Zero reset, Zero stop – it’s mostly set and forget for you.
  • Parallax adjustment – Even though your target might be up-close, but target size is big enough that parallax won’t make much of a difference.

Recommended Scope

1. Leupold VX-1 2-7x33mm, Duplex Reticle

  • Good light transmission glass at affordable price. (If you have enough cash, go for VX-2 for better light transmission)
  • Clutter-free reticle = fast target acquisition. And you have no need for holdovers.
  • Lightweight (9.9 Oz) and compact (Length 11.3”, 1” tube)
  • Durable with very reliable warranty

 

2. Vortex Optics Strikefire II – 4 MOA Red Dot Sight (Reflex sight, Not a riflescope)

  • 4 MOA dot, no magnification for fastest target acquisition
  • Best for running targets
  • Relatively parallax free, giving you accurate shots even without perfect eye position.
  • Batteries and electronics do fail easier than riflescopes. Prepare backup batteries.

 

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I mostly hunt in hilly or open plain terrain.

If you’re going to hike up and down a lot, you’ll want a lightweight scope. Light transmission is important as it’ll help your chance of bagging game.

And you want to keep cost low so that you can enjoy your favorite hobby more.

Top 3 features you should look for :

  • Lightweight and compact
  • High light transmission and contrasting lens
  • Medium range magnification

Lightweight and compact – Less weight is almost always welcome during your long hike. Plus, when you need to shoot at odd angles, a light weight scope won’t throw your rifle off-balance.

High light transmission and contrasting lens – Because dawn and dusk is when games are most active. And especially in open plain, when you zoom out a lot, you tend to lose those precious light (exit pupil) due to physical law between your objective lens and zoom factor. So you’d want high quality glass with good light transmission.

Cheaper scope manufacturers often use big objective lens to improve light transmission. Even though brightness is really improved and you can get it at lower price, these big objective scopes add to the overall weight and won’t suit you.

Medium magnification – Since you’re hunting in hilly or open plain terrains, it’s likely that your shots will be around 50 – 250 yards.

If you hunt in open plains, recommended magnifications are 3-12x, 4-12x, 4-16x.

If you hunt at closer range, hilly or light wood, recommended magnifications are 2-7x, 3-9x, 3-12x.

Fancy Turrets are NOT important to you

Some features, while good, is a bit overrated for your case. Forego them to lower costs.

Turrets function such as Finger adjustable, Zero reset, Zero stop – it’s mostly set and forget for you. And if you need to reach out to 250 yards, you can use holdovers.

Recommended Scope

1. For open plain – Nikon ProStaff 4-12×40, BDC Reticle

  • Adequate magnification
  • Good glass at affordable price (Go for Nikon Monarch 3, 4-16×42 if you have enough cash
  • Lightweight (14.3 Oz)

 

2. For hills and light wood – Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm, BDC Reticle

  • Good light transmission glass at affordable price
  • BDC Reticle in case you need to reach out
  • Lightweight (13.1 Oz)

 

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I want to hunt/shoot beyond 400 yards.

Most .270 has acceptable Ballistic Coefficient, to the point that some people has reported shooting bucks with .270 Win beyond 800 yards (not sure if this is ethical!).

And you might want to practice long range shooting with .270 before upgrading to real long range calibers.

Note that long range shooting requires better scopes, better rifles, better loads and higher skills to perform well.

Top 3 features you should look for :

  • Precise turrets with long range features
  • Parallax settings
  • First focal plane

Precise turrets with long range features – In long range shooting, turrets precision is probably the most important thing, as you need precise adjustment for your distance-varying shots. It would be a nightmare if they are not repeatable.

Long range features which will make your long range shooting life easier include zero-reset, zero stop, revolution counter and matching turrets/reticle unit (MOA/MOA , MIL/MIL).

An example of matching turrets/reticle unit : Suppose you fine-tune your turrets to 400 yards, and you want to quickly shoot at 500 yards target with your reticle holdovers. Suppose that at 500 yards your bullet further drop by 13.5”. This translates to 2.7 MOA adjustment (13.5/5). However your reticle is instead, denoted in MIL. Imagine doing the calculation in the field to get 0.785 MIL (1 MOA = 0.29 MIL), yikes!

Parallax settings – Parallax refers to the errors when your eye looking through the scope is not at the same place every time, shifting your point of aim. This is more pronounced at longer range as high magnification will magnify this error. To fix this, find a scope with parallax adjustment, either side parallax knob or Adjustable Objective is fine.

First focal plane – First focal plane is necessary for serious long range shooters as it allows your reticle markings to adjust along with your magnification. Those MILs or MOAs markings are going to be accurate at every magnification you decide to use.

For Second focal plane scope, reticle markings stay the same at every magnification. Most manufacturers set them to be accurate at only highest magnification. (For example, a 4-16x Second Focal Plane reticle will be accurate only at 16x.)

Excessive Magnification is NOT important to you

Some features, while good, is a bit overrated for your case. Forego them to lower costs.

  • High magnification – A bit counter-intuitive, but you have no need for 6-18x, 6-24x and beyond. You can already hit a big sized target at 800 yards with 12x or 16x already. (Note that quality scope with high magnification often comes with very high price tag.)

Recommended Scope

Primary Arms 4-14x44mm FFP Scope, Non-Illuminated Mil-Dot Reticle

  • Very affordable FFP scope
  • Side parallax knob
  • Acceptable turrets precision
  • Matching MIL/MIL turrets and reticle units

 

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I’m a beginner looking for a nice scope.

What you want is something affordable and fits most type of hunting. Furthermore the scope should be user-friendly.

Top 3 features you should look for :

  • Affordable
  • Has many functions
  • A popular brand, so it’s easy to sell/upgrade later

Affordable – When starting out, it’s generally better for you to not spend a lot of money. Because it will take time for you to get the feel of what activities do you like or what kind of features do you need for your scope.

Has many functions – The idea is to try things out to see if you like them. Such as BDC reticle, zero reset turrets, adjustable parallax and such.

This way, you’ll know what you want the next time you buy.

A popular brand, so it’s easy to sell/upgrade later – Since the scope could be a starter item, which you’ll upgrade afterwards, you want it to be easy to sell and have reliable transferable warranty.

Recommended Scope

Price fluctuates. My recommendation is to pick the cheaper one between the two.

1. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm, BDC Reticle

  • Very affordable
  • Lots of features : BDC Reticle, reset turrets
  • Lightweight (13.1 Oz)
  • Reliable and transferable warranty

 

2. Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32, Dead-hold BDC Reticle

  • Very affordable
  • Lots of features : BDC Reticle, reset turrets
  • Reliable and transferable warranty

 

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I’m buying this as a gift for my wife/child.

You want a gift that can impress and inspire your loved ones to participate in the sport. The scope needs to have lots of functions to “wow” and at the same time affordable.

Another important thing is that they must have unconditional warranty in case of mishandling.

Top 3 features you should look for :

  • Affordable
  • Has many functions
  • Unconditional warranty

Affordable – It’s not like you’re going to be cheap on your loved ones. But you aren’t 100% confident that they’ll love the sport. So it’s better not to spend the big dollars at the moment.

Has many functions – Because your wife/child might not be able to tell the difference between average glass and superior glass, the “wow” factor is going to be much bigger when you present new toys to them that can “do” lots of stuffs.

Unconditional warranty – The thing is, your wife/child likely will not know how to take good care of optics, especially children. Imagine your child mounting the scope in an unsecured way, and damaged the scope after use. You’ll want warranty on this kind of incident.

Super High Quality Glass is NOT important to you as they might not appreciate the difference

Some features, while good, is a bit overrated for your case. Forego them to lower costs.

  • High quality glass – It’s likely that your wife/child cannot tell the difference between average glass and superior glass, especially if they don’t have a chance to hunt during dawn and dusk.
  • And you know that quality glass adds quite a markup to scope price.

Recommended Scope

Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32, Dead-hold BDC Reticle

  • Very affordable
  • Lots of features : BDC Reticle, reset turrets
  • Unconditional warranty

 

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None of the above.

Ouch, I don’t have enough information for you. Please post your situation in the comment section and I can recommend a scope just for you.

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How to choose a 270 scope in general

Read this if you want further information on how to choose scoeps.

Magnification Power Needs to Match What You Hunt

Regarding scope magnification, there are 2 numbers for you to look at, the max and min power (unless it’s a fixed power). Between the two, can you guess which number is the more important one?

For medium to big game hunting rig, low power is the one you’re going to use more (and thus more important), because you want to be able to aim fast. Especially if you hunt in thick woods, there are plenty of times when a deer appear up close. And because of deer’s movement, it’s going to get away fast. If you’re running your scope at 8x, you’re never going to bag those game upclose. My recommendation is to never pick anything above 4x at low power for .270.

As for high power, rest assured that 10x is more than enough for you to shoot out to 600 yards. But since higher magnification is often paired up with higher costs, you can do well at much lower than 10x, since most hunting occur at 25-200 yards anyway.

To sum up, 3-9x is okay for .270. 1.5-5x or 2-7x are even better especially if you hunt in dense wood areas.

Another mention is fixed power scope. Many new hunters scoff at the notion of fixed power scopes, however you’ll see many hunting experts love them. Why? Because variable power scopes are generally harder for manufacturers to produce. At similar price range, fixed power scopes are going to outperform their variable cousins in significant ways, be it glass, light transmission and turrets tracking. So a fixed 4x or 2.5x are legitimate choices.

A 59 minutes video explanation on how to choose your scope’s magnification power

 

Big Objective Lens Diameter is NOT Everything

Note : Objective lens refers to the glass at the far side of your scope.

Bigger objective lens does mean more light and brighter image. However you compensate that with more weight, bulkiness and the need of high mounts.

Many “Chinese junk” employ gigantic objective lens to hide their poor manufacturing skills. I used to see a ridiculous 4-16x60mm scope that looks very similar to a spotlight.

No, never fall for those tricks. For medium to big game hunting keep your objective lens at 40mm or less. Why? Because on a hunt you’d be walking and hiking around all the time. And excessive weight is never good. If you want brighter image, go for better glass and coatings instead.

 

Glass and Lens Coating Could Spell the Difference Between a Trophy or an Empty Bag.

Good glass and lens coating are a must for high quality scopes as they help reduce glare, improve light transmission and provide clear contrasting images through the lens.

 

30mm Tube Size is Nice

Standard tube size diameter are 1 inch and 30mm.

Even though experience tells us that 30mm tube provides better qualitty scopes than 1 inch tube, the real factor is not tube size according to Ron from Swarovski Optics.

It’s just that manufacturers charge more and produce higher quality scopes for bigger tubes. What bigger tube really does for you are increased durability and more internal turrets adjustment. However they weight and cost more.

So know that 30mm scopes are generally good, but you can find quality 1 inch scopes too, which are lighter.

 

Who Wants Excessive Weight on a Long Hike?

No one wants to carry an extra weight for nothing. This is especially true when you’re out hunting in places with lots of hills or high altitude. So go for light and compact scopes.

4 cartridges variations of .270
licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported; Author : Snowjackal at English Wikipedia

 

Patterned Reticle is all the Rage These Days

There are countless of reticle types in the market. Reticle pattern can be categorized into 3 groups which are Simple reticles, MOA or Mil-Dot reticles, and BDC reticles.

The “Keep it simple” principle works well in this regard because you generally don’t need any holdovers for shots under 200 yards if you zero your scope 1-2 inch high. Some small holdovers like the Boone & Crockett reticle would work fine, but you don’t need the full fledge holdovers reticle of a long range scope.

Focal planes, be it first or second is also irrelevant for .270 scopes.

 

Eye Relief, for Obvious Safety Reasons

Standard rifle scopes have 3” to 4” of eye relief. It helps prevent the scope hitting your eye due to recoil.

Another topic closely related to eye relief is how much room the scope allows for eye and head movement.

This number is not shown on manufacturer’s specifications. Instead, one needs to find out from users’ experiences. As a general rule, high magnification scopes tend to have smaller sweet spot to place your eye.

 

Turrets Ain’t Got to be Fancy, but Need to Hold Zero

For hunting purpose, turrets often come with caps or are not finger adjustable to prevent accidental movements. They must hold zero well so that you don’t end up frustrated wasting your hunting trip. Repeatability is also desirable.

 

Durability is Key to Performance and Cost Savings

As with every equipment for shooting/hunting, you want high quality scopes that function properly even in harsh field conditions. That means weather resistant, waterproof, fogproof and the ability to withstand external force such as a fall to the ground.

As a safeguard, good warranty is also nice to have. Luckily, scopes industry is in such a competition that many companies offer tranferable lifetime warranties. Note that this is also favorable when you want to sell and upgrade to a better scope.

Wilderness in Alaska
Wilderness in Alaska

 

Price : You’re One Lucky Guy

Hunters/Shooters looking for scopes today are one of the luckiest people on earth. Optics technology has never been better. A mid priced scope ($300-$600) can easily beat the best scope money can buy 50 years ago.

If plinking is the objective, most scopes would do fine. But if you intend to hunt or do some serious shooting, investing in a too cheap (under $100) scope is ill advised as you normally get what you pay for in the world of optics.


 

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