Can You Use A Rifle Scope On A Shotgun?- Yes! But Should You?

If we particularly answer the question of the “usability” of rifle scopes on shotguns, the answer would be “yes”, you can use the rifle scopes on shotguns. But if we ask, should you use them for shotguns? Then the answer would be “no”. When you’re buying scopes for shotguns, rifle scopes shouldn’t be your first option.

Since both rifles and shotguns are two different firearms, they come with their distinctive features. Hence, it’s obvious that there would be some limitations for which you can’t just swap around the accessories from one to another.

In this article, we will discuss these “yes” and “no” factors which means “when you can use them” and “why you should not use them”. So, if you’re interested in knowing, scroll down!

Oh! We have also mentioned which optic will be more appropriate for shotguns. Don’t forget to check that out too!

What Is The Difference Between Rifle Scopes And Shotgun Scopes?

Before we move on to the part where we will discuss how you can use rifle scopes for shotguns, let’s look at the factors that work to differentiate between rifle scopes and shotgun scopes. 3 main key factors make the difference such as magnification, recoil, and eye relief.

Magnification: Most of the rifle scopes are designed to have a wide magnification range because the rifles are used for different target range shootings. Whereas the shotgun scopes are specifically made to use within the close range distances.

You will see shotgun scopes have a maximum high magnification range of 4x or 5x. But the rifle scopes may come with up to 20x, or 25x of magnification range. So, it becomes quite unnecessary for shooters to have scopes with a wide magnification range when it won’t help much in their close-range shooting with shotguns.

Recoil: The shotguns tend to produce more recoils than the rifles. Hence, if you mount a regular rifle scope on your shotgun, it may end up damaging the scope and your eyes because of the heavy recoils. Therefore, many shotgun users prefer the scopes that are made to mount on the shotguns so that they can endure the recoils.

A study shows shotgun loads can develop recoil energies that can be compared to the biggest rifle calibers. The reason for mentioning the study is to give you a clear picture of how heavy a shotgun’s recoil can be. Below is an excerpt of the result of the study:

Shotgun Gauge and LoadRecoil EnergyRifle Caliber and LoadRecoil Energy
12 gauge, 2.75″, 1-1/2 oz.45.0 ft. Ibs..375 Wby. Mag., 300 gr.47.3 ft. Ibs.
16 gauge, 2.75″, 1 oz.21.5 ft. Ibs.7mm Rem. Mag. 175 gr.21.7 ft. Ibs.
20 gauge, 3″, 1-1/4 oz.31.0 ft. Ibs..300 Wby. Mag. 180 gr.31.6 ft. Ibs.

Eye relief: Since the shotguns have heavy recoils, it is essential to have scopes with longer eye relief. It ensures that your eyes will remain safe whenever you use your shotgun.

On the other hand, the rifle scopes may not always offer long eye relief. Hence, even though your selected rifle scope has great durability, it won’t be able to provide the required amount of eye relief you need with your shotgun.

Read More: M4 Optics

How Can You Mount Rifle Scopes On Shotguns?

Low-magnified rifle scopes are the best option for shotguns. So, if you want to go for rifle scopes or you have a scope that has a low magnification range, you can consider it to mount on the shotguns.

However, don’t forget the other factors like eye relief and recoils. Make sure you get the right scope rings to mount the scope. Otherwise, the scope won’t remain steady in times of recovery.

Plus, you must check whether the scope has long eye relief or not. Some manufacturers offer rifle scopes, compatible to use with shotguns as well. What ensures their compatibility is that they make the scopes by keeping these factors in consideration.

Take the “Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33 Rimfire Riflescope” as an example. It is a low magnification (2-7x) rifle scope that has been made to be used with shotguns like Savage 220. It has a very sturdy construction and the mount rings for this scope are also easily available. In terms of eye relief, it can provide up to 4.17” of eye relief.

So, if you have this sort of rifle scope or you’re planning to buy scopes with this type of configuration, it will work with your shotguns. Therefore, when you buy rifle scopes for shotguns, just remember these 4 things as a mantra:

  • Low magnification range.
  • Sturdy construction to withstand recoils.
  • Sufficient eye relief.
  • Right mounting rings.

Read More: 300 Blackout Scopes

What Is The Alternative Of The Rifle Scopes For Shotguns?

When you’re investing money in purchasing the scopes, try to buy scopes that are specifically made to use with shotguns. For example, the “Burris Scout Scope” features all the necessary factors we look for in a shotgun scope. It has a low magnification range (2-7x), long eye relief (9.2” to 12”), and durable and lightweight (Aluminum) construction.

Hence, if you can find shotgun scopes like this one, go for it. However, another viable option is the red dots, especially the Prism sights are a very good choice for shotguns. Because the red dots or the Prism sights come with a fixed to no magnification range.

Plus, they offer unlimited eye relief. The sights are even sturdy enough to endure the impacts of heavy recoils. More interestingly, these red dots or Prism sights weigh less than the shotgun scopes, so they will not add any extra grams to your firearm. If you want to purchase a Prism sight, check out the “Monstrum P330 Marksman 3X Prism Scope”. It is one of the best options around in Prism sights.


To sum up, even though rifle scopes are not the ideal options for shotguns, you can use them with your shotgun. Now, there are a few restrictions here which we have discussed in the article. And we would highly recommend you to go through that section.

Besides, we have also suggested the alternatives of rifle scopes that you can consider for your firearm. So, in the end, it comes down to you, whether you want to use rifle scopes for shotguns or not. But if you do want to use them, of course, keep factors like magnification, recoil, and eye relief in your consideration while making the purchase.

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