7 Best Crossbow Scopes: Which One is Right for You?

by Dave Chesson

May 26, 2023

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The crossbow is my favorite weapon for hunting and I live by one principle; even the best crossbow is useless if you can’t get the bolt to hit the target. Here’s where a scope makes all the difference. Once you’ve gotten a good scope, being accurate is fairly easy.

While many high-end crossbows do come with their own scopes, they are usually not of the same quality as the crossbow and can seriously affect your hunt.

After going through a lot of scopes and testing them, I’ve put together a list of my favorites. They are what I consider to be the best scopes in the market this year. That being said, there are different scopes for different folks who want to do different things. What works for one shooter may not work for you. So, I’ve sorted them based on categories. 

Types of Crossbow Scopes

So, before we get to our best scopes, you should know about the different types of crossbow scopes. Let’s narrow down the choices to find the one that’s right for you.

I broke crossbow scopes down into three categories:

Red dot scopes – As the name says, this scope uses a single red dot in the center of the lens to pinpoint the bolt. It’s very easy to use since you don’t have to think about multiple reticles or aim points and I personally like using it for short-range targets. 

Magnified scopesThese scopes are great for aiming at targets that are either far away or are very small. You can magnify your target and quickly adjust the aiming point for different distances. All the crossbow scopes we’ve recommended have magnification as a feature. 

Multi-reticle scope – If you want to shoot targets spread out over different distances, they are the best scopes for you. They have multiple crosshairs or reticles, each with a different aiming point, and are very adjustable.

I’ve recommended a mix of scopes based on their category. What’s right for you really depends on your personal situation. Having said that, let’s take a look at the list of best crossbow scopes. 

Gun University’s choices of the best crossbow scopes

Best Crossbow Scopes

Vortex Crossfire II
  • Affordable
  • Illuminated reticle for low-light conditions
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof features
  • Multi-reticle
Buy on Amazon
Best Value

CVLIFE 4×32

CVLIFE 4x32
  • Affordable
  • In-built weaver mounts
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof features
Buy on Amazon
Best Scope w/ Range Finder

Garmin Xero X1i

Garmin Xero X1i
  • High performance optics and features for precision
  • Digital and illuminated aim points
  • Lithium batteries
Buy on Amazon
Best Value Scope w/ Range Finder

Burris Oracle X

Burris Oracle X
  • High tech
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof features
  • Forever warranty
Buy on Amazon
Best Premium Scope

Hawke Sport Optics 12221

Hawke Sport Optics 12221
  • Weatherproof
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 11 layers of lens coating
Buy on Amazon
Best Night Vision/Thermal Scope

ATN THOR-4

ATN THOR-4
  • Hybrid, next-gen thermal capabilities
  • Dynamic reticle
  • Customizable bolt profiles and ballistics
Buy on Amazon
Best for Low Light

Hawke Sport Optics XB30

Hawke Sport Optics XB30
  • Exceptional low-light capabilities
  • Works With Crossbow Speed of 250 FPS – 450 FPS
  • Forever warranty
  • Multi-reticle
Buy on Amazon

Best Crossbow Scopes Specifications

Below is a table of the crossbow scope specs. Click the name of the scope to jump to that review.

ScopeMagnificationObjective Lens Diameter (mm)Field of ViewEye Relief

Vortex Crossfire II

2-7x322x: 42' @ 100 yd (13.9 m @ 100 m) 7x: 12.6' @ 100 yd (4.2 m @ 100 m)3.9 to 4.7 in (99 to 119 mm)
CVLIFE 1.5-5x32 1.5-5x3223 ft @ 100 yds3.3 in (83.82 mm)
Garmin Xero X1i 3.5x32mm Diagonal5 Degrees2.4 in (62 mm)
Burris Oracle X2.7x3247 - 14ft @100yds2.4 in
Hawke Sport Optics 122211.5-5x321.5x: 75' @ 100 yd (25 m @ 100 m) 5x: 22.5' @ 100 yd (7.5 m @ 100 m) 3 to 3.2 in (76 to 81 mm)

ATN THOR-4

4-8x3016x: 12.5'90 mm

Hawke Sport Optics XB30

1.5-6x361.5x: 87.9' @ 100 yd (29.3 m @ 100 m) 6x: 21.8' @ 100 yd (7.3 m @ 100 m)3" (76 mm)

Best Crossbow Scopes

Here is our list for the best crossbow scopes:

  1. Vortex Crossfire II
  2. CVLIFE 4×32
  3. Garmin Xero X1i
  4. Burris Oracle X
  5. Hawke Sports Optics 12221
  6. ATN THOR 4
  7. Hawke Sport Optics XB30

Best Crossbow Scopes – Reviews

Best Overall Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Crossbow

Editor's Choice
Vortex Crossfire II Featured Image

Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Crossbow

A purpose built crossbow scope with a reticle that gives holdover points to 100 yards and has red and green illumination.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A+

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A

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Vortex Crossfire II Specs

  • Magnification 2-7x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 32
  • Field of View 2x: 42′ @ 100 yd (13.9 m @ 100 m) 7x: 12.6′ @ 100 yd (4.2 m @ 100 m)
  • Eye Relief 3.9 to 4.7 in (99 to 119 mm)

Vortex Crossfire II Review

Honestly, when I bought the Vortex Crossfire II scope back in 2021, I wasn’t expecting much. It cost me less than $200 and I thought, “what’s the most I’d get from it?” But it managed to exceed all of my expectations and more. I’ve used it on a variety of crossbows (currently, I’ve removed it from my CP400 since it came with a decent scope, and will put it on my Ravin that’ll be arriving soon) and while it’s not the best in any singular category, it’s the best overall.

The Crossfire II has a 30mm tube and you can zoom in between 2 and 7 times, which makes it easier to take precise shots at longer distances. But, the coolest thing about this scope is the reticle. It’s specifically designed for crossbows and has multiple aiming points to help you adjust for different distances. Plus, it’s illuminated, so you can see it even when it’s dark out and the reticle also has a nice red dot on it.

Vortex Crossfire II Patch

And its glass clarity? It amazed me that it worked just like my Strike Eagle 4-24×50, which is a much more expensive scope than this one.

Another thing I like about the Vortex Crossfire II is that it’s built to last. Mine’s been through hell and it still works like I bought it yesterday. Even if something goes wrong, Vortex offers a lifetime warranty, so you really don’t have anything to worry about. The only problem I have with it is that the reticle numbers can be a little too small. You may struggle to judge the range because of the reticle’s small numbers, especially in low-light situations, even though the reticle is illuminated. 

But overall, you really can’t go wrong with the Vortex Crossfire II. It’s versatile, reliable and you really can’t beat the price. 

Vortex Crossfire II Pros and Cons

  • Illuminated reticle for low-light conditions
  • Reasonable price
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Lightweight
  • Small numbers on the reticle

Best Value CVLIFE 1.5-5×32

CVLIFE 1.5-5x32 Featured Image

CVLIFE 1.5-5×32

A dedicated crossbow scope with 1.5-5x magnification and a reticle system from 20-100 yards based on speeds from 300-450fps.

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  • Reliability B
  • Glass B
  • Reticle B
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Value A+

Our Grade

B+

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CVLIFE 1.5-5×32 Specs

  • Magnification 1.5-5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 32
  • Field of View 23 ft @ 100 yds
  • Eye Relief 3.3 in (83.82mm)

CVLIFE 1.5-5×32 Review

If you are on a tight budget for your scope, I feel like the CVLIFE 1.5-5×32 crossbow scope is cheap enough to save, but still gets the job done. 

It’s not the best for mid or long range but if you are only hunting short range, I think its fixed 4x magnification is plenty. It’s also very light since it’s made from aluminum alloy and it’s shockproof, fog-proof, and waterproof. I’d say it’s pretty durable for the price. 

I think this is a great value option if you want a reliable scope that won’t break the bank. On the downside though, the eye relief is quite short, so you would have to take the scope to your eye and it’s not the most reliable one for mid or long-range. But for the price, the value you get is still very good. 

CVLIFE 1.5-5×32 Pros and Cons

  • Affordable
  • Durable for the price
  • Not suitable for long or mid-range
  • Short eye relief

Best Scope w/ Range Finder Garmin Xero X1i

Garmin Xero X1i Featured Image

Garmin Xero X1i

A dedicated crossbow scope with a fixed 3.5x magnification, a built in range finder that can range out to 250yds, and many advanced features including custom bolt profiles.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Value B-

Our Grade

A-

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Garmin Xero X1i Specs

  • Magnification 3.5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter 32 mm Diagonal
  • Field of View 5 Degrees
  • Eye Relief 2.4 in (62 mm)

Garmin Xero X1i Review

Personally, I’m generally not a fan of a rangefinder scope combo. Most hunters already have a rangefinder (I use the Vortex Ranger) and didn’t need to increase the price of my scope so I can combine the two. But that being said, if you don’t have a rangefinder, and want a combo, then the Garmin Xero was the better of the options out there. 

The Garmin Xero X1i is a serious piece of equipment and I want to make it clear that it’s not for beginners. It’s probably the most advanced scope I’ve tested with its built-in laser rangefinder and auto-ranging technology that can measure distances up to 250 yards away (Honestly, this is something I’d expect from ATN). It also has a digital display that shows you the exact distance to the target and where to aim for the shot. All it takes is the press of a button.

Like I said above, most already have a rangefinder and if you don’t, you can get one and they are pretty easy to operate. But scopes with built-in rangefinders are expensive and can be heavy. It also applies to the Garmin Xero X1i. Furthermore, it’s a bit harder to learn. 

Some people would argue the Xero X1i is more of a gadget than a practical scope and I wouldn’t say they are wrong. It is a bit of a gimmick and won’t appeal to those who appreciate the simplicity of a traditional scope. 

But if you are serious about hunting, are tech friendly, and have money to burn, I highly recommend you get this scope. 

So, it sounds like I’m ragging on this…well that’s because I really don’t think a rangefinder/scope combo is a great choice. However, my research showed me that I should include one or else I’ll hear it in the comments. So, there it is. 

Garmin Xero X1i Pros and Cons

  • Really good accuracy
  • Built-in rangefinder
  • Legality in different states may differ
  • On the higher end of the price spectrum

Best Value Scope w/ Range Finder Burris Oracle X

Burris Oracle X Featured Image

Burris Oracle X

A dedicated crossbow scope with a 2-7x variable zoom magnification, a built in range finder that can range out to 200yds on animal targets, and several other features.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics B-
  • Value B

Our Grade

A-

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Burris Oracle X Specs

  • Magnification 2.7x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 32
  • Field of View 47 – 14ft @100yds
  • Eye Relief 2.4 in

Burris Oracle X Review

If you read the above section on the Garmin, then you know I’m actually not a fan of rangefinder/scope combos. They are heavy, add cost, and increase complexity. Just purchase a rangefinder, and a separate scope. It’s fine. Plus, you can use the rangefinder for long-range rifle shooting, hunting, or even golf.

However, there are people out there that are looking for a rangefinder scope combo and would like it to be an affordable combo. I get it. So, with that, I give you a cheaper alternative to the Garmin, the Burris Oracle X. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as cheap as a normal crossbow scope, but it’s still considerably less pricey than the Garmin Xero X1i. 

The Oracle is much simpler to use and is not as technical as the Garmin Xero. It calculates the exact aiming point for the shot and you don’t have to take your eyes off the target to adjust your aim. You can adjust the reticle’s illumination to choose the brightness level that works best for you.

Compared to the Garmin, Oracle X definitely is a bulky piece of equipment and I hate lugging things around. But considering it’s almost half the price, it’s really not a deal breaker for me. 

Burris Oracle X Pros and Cons

  • Manual or automatic brightness control
  • Wireless remote
  • Forever warranty
  • Adjustable power magnification
  • Heavy

Best Premium Scope Hawke Sport Optics 12221

Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Featured Image

Hawke Sport Optics 12221

A dedicated crossbow scope with 1.5-5x magnification and a reticle system from 10-100 yards based on speeds from 250-425fps.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass A+
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Value B

Our Grade

A-

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TBD

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Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Specs

  • Magnification 1.5-5x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 32
  • Field of View 1.5x: 75′ @ 100 yd (25 m @ 100 m) 5x: 22.5′ @ 100 yd (7.5 m @ 100 m)
  • Eye Relief 3 to 3.2 in (76 to 81 mm)

Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Review

In my opinion, the Hawke Sport Optics 12221 is the premium choice when it comes to crossbow scopes, and its main feature is high-quality optics. The scope has fully multi-coated lenses (the higher the coating, the more clarity you get) that provide crystal-clear images, even in low-light conditions. It also has a wide field of view, which makes it easy to spot targets quickly.

Another thing that makes Hawke Sport Optics 12221 the premium scope on the market is its range finding capabilities. Like the ones we’ve discussed above, it also has a built-in rangefinder that can measure distances up to 100 yards away. It also displays the exact aiming point for the shot, so you can take accurate shots even at longer distances. So, it is not as good as the Garmin in terms of range-finding capabilities, but packaging everything else together, and I think this takes the cake for premium glass for crossbows.

You can customize the illuminated reticle’s multiple aiming points to match your crossbow’s velocity and arrow weight. One problem I have with it is that it’s not really suited to low light conditions because of its smaller tube. However, I’d still say the Hawke Sport Optics 12221 is a fantastic scope but also a premium-priced one. 

Hawke Sport Optics 12221 Pros and Cons

  • Lightweight
  • Waterproof and fog proof
  • Eye relief for eyeglass wearers
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Smaller tube
  • Unsuitable for low light

Best Night Vision/Thermal Scope ATN THOR 4

ATN THOR 4 Featured Image

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  • Reliability B
  • Glass B
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value B

Our Grade

B+

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ATN THOR-4 Specs

  • Magnification 4-8x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 30
  • Field of View 16x: 12.5′
  • Eye Relief 90 mm

ATN THOR-4 Review

The ATN THOR has some next-generation capabilities that are a game changer. With a thermal detection of 500+ yards and an identification range of 205 yards, you can check animal heat signatures day or night. One problem I found is that the image would occasionally freeze. This happened twice when I tested it.

This scope has some interesting features, like a built-in GPS transmitter that sends the precise impact location to my phone or any GPS device (side note–I personally don’t like using apps with my equipment so this is something I didn’t use). 

But one feature that I might consider setting up is that I can film my hunts and easily transfer the video to any Bluetooth device. I’ve never been one to film my hunts, but if I’m using this scope, why not, right?  

Now, it’s a bit pricey, but I think it’s worth it, especially if you are someone who hunts at night or early morning before sunrise. I personally don’t hunt at night, but I have had a couple of low light mornings where it might have come in handy. Still, I prefer normal scopes for crossbow hunting.  

ATN THOR-4 Pros and Cons

  • Long thermal detection range
  • Dynamic reticle
  • Ability to record your hunt and shot
  • Expensive

Best for Smaller Builds Hawke Sport Optics XB30

Hawke Sport Optics XB30 Featured Image

Hawke Sport Optics XB30

A dedicated, compact crossbow scope with 1.5-6x magnification and a reticle system from 20-100 yards based on speeds from 250-450fps.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass B
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics B
  • Value B

Our Grade

B+

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TBD

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Hawke Sport Optics XB30 Specs

  • Magnification 1.5 to 6x
  • Objective Lens Diameter (mm) 36
  • Field of View 1.5x: 87.9′ @ 100 yd (29.3 m @ 100 m) 6x: 21.8′ @ 100 yd (7.3 m @ 100 m)
  • Eye Relief 3 in (76 mm)

Hawke Sport Optics XB30 Review

The Hawke XB30 is one of my favorite crossbow scopes for hunting – seriously, it was a toss up between this and the Vortex for Editor’s choice. It’s an excellent scope to use in low-light conditions and is suitable for crossbow speeds ranging from 250 FPS to 450 FPS.

I especially like that Hawke uses a larger 30mm scope tube in the XB30 that lets in more light, which is crucial for low-light hunting.

The XB30 also comes with the XB30 Compact SR Reticle, which I think is fantastic. It has aim points from 20 to 100 yards and displays 5-yard increments. It also has windage bars and dots that compensate for 10 mph and 20 mph crosswinds. But its eye relief is quite short. Not as short as the CVLIFE, but not as long as I would like it to be. That’s not really a deal breaker, but I wish they had made it longer. 

Hawke Sport Optics XB30 Pros and Cons

  • Exceptional brightness and clarity
  • Compact size
  • Lightweight
  • No fault warranty
  • Fixed magnification based on crossbow scope

Buyers Guide to Buying Crossbow Scopes 

Buying a good scope can be tricky if you are new to the world of crossbow hunting and scopes. When I buy a scope, I usually ask myself the following questions: 

How do you pick a new scope?

A high-quality crossbow scope can make all the difference in sealing the deal on your next hunt. But before you drop any cash on a new scope, ask yourself some key questions. 

  • Hunting conditions – Where are you going to be hunting? In the woods? In open fields? A mix of both? At what time of the day? This will affect what type of scope you should get.
  • Game size – Next up, what kind of animal are you after? Something as big as a moose or a small whitetail deer? That’ll make a difference in terms of what size objective lens you’ll need, and whether you need a rangefinder.
  • Distance – Will you be taking long shots, or getting up close and personal? A reticle that compensates for drop might be more important in one situation, while a rangefinder might be a better choice in another.
  • Personal specifications – Some folks swear by compact scopes, while others want the best possible low-light performance. I personally look for a combination of range-finding and good light-gathering abilities.
  • Budget – Scopes can range from affordable to premium priced, so figuring out a comfortable range can help you narrow down your choices. 
  • Other features – Some other features you should keep in mind are warranty and durability. Some brands offer a lifetime warranty on their scopes. 

Now that you know what questions to ask when buying a scope, let’s look at some specs you should take a closer look at and what they mean.

What specs should you look at when buying a scope?

Some specs matter more than the rest when you are buying a scope. Here’s a couple of them that you need to watch out for. 

Magnification range

  • The magnification range of a scope tells you how much you can zoom in on your target. When choosing your scope, think about what you are going to use it for. 
  • With crossbows, the ethical range is below 50 yards, and while you can push it a bit with a good scope and a powerful crossbow, you never really shoot beyond 100 yards. 
  • I am personally searching for something with a wide range of magnification that is focused on the lower end of the spectrum.

Field of View

  • Field of view is how much you can see to the side. When hunting especially, it’s good to have more, but it’s not really the end of the world if you don’t. 

Eye Relief

  • Eye relief is the distance between your eyes and the scope. Longer ones are obviously more comfortable, but the shorter ones are easier to carry around. Choose based on what you think is important. 

Illumination

  • Illumination is if your reticle lights up or not. Not having illumination is not a killer, but it’s always a nice feature to have. 

Lens

  • Never compromise on glass quality or lens coating. They can really affect the quality of the image you see. A good lens gives you more clarity even in low-light. 

Crossbow Scopes vs Rifle Scopes

Now you might be wondering why you should get a crossbow scope instead of a standard rifle scope. But while they both may look similar and work similarly, there are some differences that will make you go with the crossbow scope. 

Range and Magnification

One of the many reasons why I prefer a crossbow scope on a crossbow is that they design crossbows for hunting at short ranges, usually between 20 to 50 yards. So, crossbow scopes have fantastic magnification on the lower end of the spectrum 

Rifles, though, are meant to shoot targets at much longer distances, and they design their scopes with this in mind. Now you might think more is always better, but when hunting with crossbows, I find that a focused and clear short-range magnification is always better than having a huge range but no clarity. 

Scope reticles 

Now rifle scopes have crosshair reticles where the intersection is where you aim. 

Rifle Scope Reticle
Rifle Scope Reticle

Crossbow scopes are similar, but they have range marks along the vertical reticle. Each range mark shows an increase of 10 yards. They are very useful because I can use the range mark to better hit my target with an accurate judgment of the distance. 

Crossbow Scope Reticle
Crossbow Scope Reticle

Can you use your rifle scope on a crossbow?

The short answer is yes. But, just because you could, doesn’t mean you should. If you have the choice, I recommend that you go with a crossbow scope for your crossbow. They are made for the weapon and they work far better on crossbows than rifle scopes. Remember, crossbows are not guns. 

Since crossbows are not rifles, their recoil is not the same as that of a rifle. When I use my crossbow, I feel two stages of recoil in two different directions: the first is rearward (like a rifle) and the second is forward (like a bow). Not all rifle scopes are designed to handle the recoil in two different directions–crossbow scopes are much better at doing this job. 

Rifle scopes also wouldn’t be able to adjust to different bolt speeds and weights. But if you are set on picking a rifle scope for your crossbow, look for the following features:

  • Close range parallax adjustment or a fixed parallax under 100 yards 
  • Multiple elevation reticle and windage marks
  • Low power range 
  • Adjustable crosshair focus

Conclusion

Who doesn’t love a good scope? They are a must have for any crossbow hunter and make you a much better shooter as well. And don’t forget about youth or beginner shooters, who could greatly benefit from improved optics to help improve accuracy and enjoying shooting more. Picking the right one for you is not easy and my best advice is to test as many of them as you can before settling. All the articles in the world can’t replace trying them out for yourself, but hopefully you can now approach them with some knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses. 

Crossbow Scopes FAQs

What is the best crossbow scope?

According to my testing, I’d say the overall best is Vortex Crossfire II. It’s not the best in any particular category but it is affordable, has a good magnification, fantastic reticle and glass quality as well. You can’t do much better than that. 

Are crossbow and rifle scopes the same?

Nope. They are two different tools made for two different weapons and you should treat them as such. Crossbow scopes are customized to withstand the recoil from shooting a bolt and rifle scopes are made for shooting bullets, which are much faster and travel long distances. 

What is the best crossbow scope for 50 yards?

I would say it’s the Hawke Sport Optics 12221. It has an etched reticle for every ten yards up to 100 yards and has a really good eye relief as well, ensuring you are as accurate as possible. 

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About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson is prior Navy with a specialty in international arms dealing for the US government across multiple countries. Having traveled the world and abided by ATF and ITAR, Roy has a unique background in legal as well as practical capabilities of weapons deployment and use.

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