The 45-70 cartridge is a well known, and well-aged round that the U.S. Army developed at their Springfield Armory in 1873. As you can see, they’re quite old in style. However, they are still in circulation today, and with some exceptional abilities. In this article, we will look at some of the best scopes that you can use for rifles utilizing the 45-70 ammo.
In the newer cartridge identification system, you will see that the full designation is 45-70-405. Before we get into the scopes, let’s have a look at what the name means:
.45. – This number is the diameter of the bullet part of the round in decimal inches (0.458 inches to be exact). That translates to 11.63mm for those who are more converse with the metric system.
70. – 70 is the weight of black powder in each of the rounds, based on grains. (1 grain equals precisely 64.79891 milligrams. Therefore, there are 4.56g in each round).
405. – 405 is also weight in grains, but this time of the lead part of the bullet. (26.2g)
The original 45-70 round in 1873 had a pretty dismal accuracy due to the heavy, slow bullet. In fact, if you were consistently hitting a 6ftx6ft target at 600 yards, you were skilled. The same round was only effective up to 200-300 yards for a man-sized target. Bear in mind, though, that was a man-sized target, and it could hit anywhere on that target to be called valid. If you were looking for anything better, you would have to get as close as 100 yards to get a grouping of 4 inches.
The second refinement of the 45-70 saw the inclusion of a more substantial round at 500 grain (32.5g), and it was much higher quality. You are now looking at the 1000 yard effective range. However, you still need to have a good sense of wind and drop-off. If you are using one of the rifles with 45-70 ammo, then I would highly suggest getting a high-quality scope and learning to use it well.
What Magnification Do You Need?
You are sure to find some issues while you are using a 45-70 rifle unless you are very experienced in them. However, you will not need a scope with an immense magnification ability as the round will not be effective at long range. If you are looking at much more than a 9x magnification, you will probably be disappointed.
Of course, the actual magnification that you require will depend highly on what you are shooting at, and at what range. If you are shooting at large targets and a short-range, with occasional longer distances, you may want to opt for a 2-7x magnification. On the other hand, if more of the shooting involves medium range, and seldom short, you may want to choose a 3-9x.
Irrelative of what I say here, though, my guides are only to help you decide what you want. Only you know what ranges you actually shoot at, and what will suit you. Just bear in mind that you are going to be hugely unsatisfied, and forever fighting with your scope if you choose anything more significant than the ones we have listed below.
The 6 Best 45-70 Scopes
Here is a list of the top 6 45-70 scopes that you should consider:
1. LEUPOLD VX-Freedom 1.5-4×20
2. Primary Arms 1-4X 24 Illuminated Scope, Black
3. UTG 3-9X 32 Bug Buster Scope
4. Nikon ProStaff 2-7X 32
5. Bushnell Banner Dusk&Dawn 3-9X40mm
6. Burris Fullfield II 2x-7x-35mm
Below you can check our full reviews of each scope.
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4 x 20mm Riflescope
The Leupold VX-Freedom is a scope that has a magnification of 1.5x-4x and is known for its accessible targeting features. The lens system offers the advantage of giving a very bright, sharp sight. The elevation and windage level adjustment’s range is 67 MOA at a quarter MOA per click.
This scope is one of the most durable that you will find available on the market to purchase. Built to last a long time, and put through very harsh weather conditions. The special DiamondCoat lenses will last well through harsh abrasions without getting scratched or damaged. This scope is also waterproof with second generation Argon/Krypton, which gives it even more protection from wet weather.
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of the Leupold.
- The adjustments for the elevation and Windage are sturdy and tight.
- Very Durable and meant to last in several different weather conditions.
- Waterproof and fog proof.
- The eye relief feature might not work for rifles.
- Limited range to only 4x magnification.
2. Primary Arms 1-4X 24 Illuminated Scope, Black
The Primary Arms scope has a range of magnification between 1x-4x. The center of the reticle also has an illuminated dot. There is a range of 12 different brightness options that offer the user an array of different lighting settings for varying levels of darkness. The windage and elevation move at ½ MOA per click and be easily adjusted.
You’ll like that the scope is waterproof 100% to water and fog conditions. It also comes with protective flip caps that give the lens extra protection until you get ready to use the scope. The field view is 23′ wide at 100 yards, for an extra-wide view of your field of surroundings.
- A clear, sharp red dot.
- It can hold zero through multiple recoils.
- It comes equipped with a holder used for keeping a spare battery in case the one inside the scope dies.
- At 1x, users might experience fish-eye distortion.
- The rear flip cap has reportedly had issues staying on securely.
- The magnification range is limited to 4x max.
3. UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope
The BugBuster scope is like none other, and it is a tremendous scope to utilize for all of your outdoor purpose hunting. This scope comes with a 3x to 9 x magnification, and you can choose from the colors red and green for various lighting conditions. You can keep the light black as well for when you are in broad daylight. The TRE range Mil-Dot reticle is what this scope features, which is a great feature to have when it comes to accuracy. The windage and elevation per click adjustments are one-quarter MOA for each click.
The scope is waterproof, and it is also fog proof, which makes it easier to view your targets regardless of the weather conditions. The elevation and windage features are lockable, and they are easy to reset to zero. The openings have 2-inch sunshades that are easy to flip the caps open.
- The scope is durable and able to withstand multiple recoils.
- Its crystal clear optics make it easy to see through.
- Lit reticles work in various lighting conditions.
- The eye relief may not be as effective for rifles.
- Reticle might be canted a little.
- In low light settings, the scope might not provide enough light.
4. Nikon ProStaff P3 2-7×32 Black Matte Riflescope
Next in the Best 45-70 Scopes, let’s discuss the Nikon ProStaff Riflescope. This is one of the best options available on the market for scopes of .45-70, according to consumers. The magnification that you will get with this scope is 2x to 7x. It gives the user 98% of light transmission, which makes it easy to mark your target in different lighting situations. The windage and elevation adjust at one-quarter MOA per click. It comes equipped with the Nikoplex reticle, which means that it can adapt quickly and precisely.
The housing of the scope contains nitrogen and provides a waterproof and fog proof resistance. Therefore, this scope can withstand quite a rough beating. The turrets are spring-loaded, which allows easy adjustments when needed.
- It has incredible clarity within its optics.
- The scope gives a bright view in different lighting situations.
- Magnification has a lower power, which gives the user a great target when working at a close range.
- Zooming in is not the most exceptional feature on this scope.
- Might work only for close-range shooting.
5. Bushnell Banner Dusk&Dawn 3-9x40mm Riflescope
The Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Riflescope is known for its 3x-9x magnification. The lenses on this scope are also multi-coated, which give off a superb brightness regardless of the type of lighting situation that you’re in. You can also easily use your fingers to adjust the windage and the elevation when you need to customize them. These adjustments move at one-quarter MOA per click.
The scope is nitrogen-filled, waterproof and fog proof. It’s quite durable and can keep hold to a zero setting when there are heavy repeat recoils.
- The optics have superb quality when it comes to clarity.
- It’s easy to see the reticle in low light settings
- Even with repeat recoils, it holds a sturdy zero.
- Not so good at shooting past 300 yards.
- The reticle does not illuminate.
6. Burris Fullfield II 2-7x35mm Matte Ballistic Plex
The Burris Fullfield II 2x to 7x is a serious contender to the Best 45-70 Scopes. It is quite sturdy and of superb quality. You’d be fortunate to catch a scope like this one on sale just because of how well-made it is. This an excellent scope to make your primary tool when it comes to your hunting and camping needs. The material is aluminum and made in the United States.
In the family of Fullfield brand scopes, this scope is the smallest. So if you want a compact-sized scope then this might be the ideal option for you. However, in this case, size doesn’t matter as this scope has proven to have one of the best performances out there with the same features as some of the larger-sized scopes. With it being light in weight, it makes for a great scope to carry around if you will be hiking or going on long walks in your hunting terrain.
If you like short fixed hunting, then this is perfect to use for those short distances. You’ll also find that this scope works out perfectly for stalking timber as well. The sturdy aluminum allows it to be resistant to damage in rough terrain.
- It’s light in weight
- Easy to carry
- Made of aluminum and made in the United States.
- Covered by the Burris Forever Warranty.
- It might be too small in size for some users.
Concluding our Best Scope for 45-70 Guide
When you are buying a scope, ensure that you take the time to understand your needs and the capabilities of the scope. There is no point in buying a hugely magnifying scope for only ever shooting at 100 yards.
You will also need to take your eyesight into consideration. If you have slightly poorer eyesight than you used to, then you may want to opt for higher magnification and dial it into the distance you are firing at. Likewise, if you are carrying it for an extended time, you may well want to buy a lighter scope such as the Burris Fullfield II.
If you would like more information about choosing the best 45-70 scopes, you may want to check out our scope buying guide, here.