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What Power Scope For Coyote Hunting Should I Use?

L.p. Brezny | Updated February 23, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
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If you’re someone who wants to start chasing song dogs, it’s only natural you’ll wonder what power scope for coyote hunting will be best to use. You can’t just get any scope magnification for your gun – that might end up being ill-fitted, and worse, a waste of money.

But don’t worry, you can avoid that as we’ll be covering the best types of power scopes to get for coyote hunting for a variety of popular gun types out there.

What Gun Are You Using?

So, first, you need to decide what gun you’ll use to hunt coyotes. 

A 220 Swift can easily reach out to 500 yards or more, so it needs a high magnification scope to do that. If you’re shooting the 22 caliber bullet family, the 22 Hornet is a fine yote-stopper but is not adequate past 150 yards.

In contrast, handguns need low magnification scopes because their reach is also limited, especially compared to rifles. The shotgun is even more limited, with slugs good to 100 yards and buckshot (recommended for yotes) being 50 yards and less.

The Best Power Scope Magnification for Coyote Hunting

Essentially, match your scope magnification to the gun. If your rifle is a 1,000-yard shooter, then you need high magnification. Yotes are small, so at 1,000 yards, they are beyond tiny when seen with the naked eye. (1)(2)

But if you plan to do your shooting at 200 yards or less, you can get by with less magnification. 

Now, scope magnification levels start at 1, meaning the image you see is the same size as if you didn’t have the scope. As you increase, the size of the image you see in the scope increases too.

For instance, a 2x means the image you see is twice the size of what you see with your naked eye. 10x means the image is 10 times the size.

What to Use With an AR15

image of an ar15 rifle laying on its side with a scope attached

The scope to use with an AR-15 depends on the cartridge you use. The AR-15 is traditionally a .223 Remington/5.56 NATO but will shoot many more cartridges if you change the upper. 

For example, the 300 Blackout uses the same bolt and magazines as the .223/5.56 but needs a different barrel. The 300 Blackout shoots a .308 diameter bullet vs. the .224 diameter bullet in the .223/5.56.

Its ballistics are also very different. With subsonic ammo, the 300 Blackout is good to 100 yards. So, if you shoot 300 BO, a 1x-6x scope is all you need. It will let you reach 200 yards with 100-grain projectiles and is low enough to handle 75-yard shots with 220-grain pills.

But if you chamber your AR in .204 Ruger, you need more magnification, up to the 10x range.

What to Use With a 5.56

If you shoot the 5.56 with a tactical scope with reticle and turrets computed for this round, then shots to 500+ yards are possible. 

Now, 10x is decent, but going up to 12x will serve you better when taking those extreme long shots.

What to Use With a 6.5 Creedmoor

bolt action rifle laying on its side with a scope attached

If you didn’t know, the 6.5 Creedmoor is taking the long-range shooting world by storm. It was specifically designed for 1,000-yard shooting. If you are capable of reaching out that far, then you certainly need a lot of magnification. 

In fact, a 24x scope is the minimum. Better yet is something like the 15-55x Nightforce Competition – absolutely more than adequate for these distances.

Does Thermal Scope Magnification Work the Same?

No. You need to be careful when looking at thermal scopes. 

Here’s why:

Some thermal scopes have up to a 12x magnification level. But before you buy one of these, read the scope specs, as some of these are digital magnifiers. With this function, the scope doesn’t zoom past a certain point – the electronics just enlarge the image.

As the image gets bigger, you will lose resolution, meaning the picture gets blocky and blurry. So, if you’re trying to zero in on a yote’s head at 400 yards because that is all you can see, you may have a problem seeing it against the background.

Purchasing High Magnification Scopes

A word of warning: be careful about going beyond 24x scopes. Some companies have tried to make scopes with more zoom, and well… most did not succeed. 

However, an exception is Nightforce, which holds more 1,000 yards and longer shooting world records than any other scope company. Better to stick to established products than risk it for the higher magnification levels.

Best Caliber for Coyote Hunting

Apart from choosing the right scope, choosing the best caliber for coyote hunting is also something to consider. Make sure to check out our full article on the topic.

Best Thermal Scopes For Coyote Hunting

Now that you know what magnification to use, the next step is to find which scope to use. By far the best type of scope for hunting coyotes are thermal scopes. Luckily we have a full article on the cheapest thermal scope for coyote hunting for you to check out.

We cover the top scopes money can buy at the best price, so you don’t spend a fortune on your next optic.


  1. Outdoor Life, Coyote Nation: A Crash Course in Coyote Hunting, retrieved from https://www.outdoorlife.com/coyote-nation-crash-course-in-coyote-hunting/
  2. Optics Planet, What Do the Numbers on a Rifle Scope Mean, retrieved from https://www.opticsplanet.com/howto/how-to-rifle-scope-magnification-numbers-explained.html

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