Don’t think you can get a Best Rifle Scope Under $500 or $300? When buying cheaper scopes doubts are common.
Is it durable enough? Will the optics be good? Does it have ample eye relief or a good magnification range? Questions that cannot be answered unless you have tried out various models.
And since you cannot do that, I did it for you. So after testing over 30 Scopes Under $500 and $300 for over 4+ months, here’s my top picks for the Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 in 2022 which also includes Best Rifle Scopes Under $300.
I have reviewed these based on build quality, optics clarity, ease of use, portability, battery, and reticle so you get the best bang for your buck. Let’s get into it.
For more details, this comparison table below should help you out.
Best Rifle Scope Under $500
- Leupold VX-Freedom 6-18x Rifle Scope – Top Pick
- Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Riflescopes
- Primary Arms SLX 4-14 FFP Rifle Scopes – Budget Pick
- Sig Sauer SOB53101 Bravo5 Prismatic Sight
- Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
But if you have an eye for details, here are the in-depth reviews of the scopes.
1. Leupold VX-Freedom 6-18x Rifle Scope
At less than $500, it hardly gets any better than the Leupold VX-Freedom 6-18x Rifle Scope. I know you don’t think so yet, but just give it a minute or two.
What I like most about this scope is its magnification range. For the price, it gives you an amazing magnification of 18x allowing you to scope and lock onto targets even 500-600 yards away.
But just having magnification isn’t enough, you also need clarity, right?
Well, while it does not match the premium scopes, the multi-coated lens ensures the distortion is minimal even at full magnification (now scope for distances well around 300-400 yards with ease). This coating also keeps the lens protected from oil, fingerprints, etc. for added durability.
Talking about durability, the scope is a beast. With a strong and rugged aluminum build, it is designed to handle the rigors of the wild (a few bumps and hits ain’t breaking this bad boy) and has amazing recoil resistance as well.
But don’t take my word for it. Each Leupold scope has to undergo their punisher test where it is subjected to recoil 3 times that of a .308 rifle.
Furthermore, you can also leave it submerged in water. Yes, with the sealed o-rings, there’s no chance of water seeping in allowing you to also comfortably use it in rain or snow.
Yes, it works just as well in cold as well thanks to the nitrogen purge that ensures you won’t have to wipe the fog off the lens every couple of minutes.
And even if you do face any kind of issue with the scope, backing it up is a lifetime warranty which means you do not have to pay a dime for any repair or replacement.
A durable scope with good functionality is like a burger without the patty and Leupold knows that. This is why Leupold arms every model with a Custom Dial System (CDS) that is created based on the ballistic info you provide.
This aims to remove the need for holdovers. Just range your target, dial the distance, and bam, just like that you’ll be hitting the bull’s eye each time (just the kind of thing a beginner needs).
Moving on to the turrets, I loved how smooth they were and required minimal force thus allowing you quick-fire adjustments. They are also tall enough for good grip and pretty audible which helps with precision and also makes up for the lack of numbers and markings.
Another downside of the scope is that the reticle isn’t illuminated so its performance does dip in low light though the proprietary Leupold reticle does hold better than other scopes without illumination.
- It is backed by a lifetime warranty
- AIrcraft-grade aluminum build for excellent durability
- Tested on the Punisher for recoil-resistance
- Sealed o-rings made it 100% waterproof
- Get a CDS to eliminate the need for holdovers
- Turrets are smooth and have good audibility
- Nitrogen purge ensures the lens remains fog-free
- Get an amazing magnification of 18x
- Better optics than other scopes in this price range
- The reticle isn’t illuminated
- Numbered turrets would have been easier to adjust
2. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Riflescopes
If you are talking about quality low budget scopes, there’s always going to be a Vortex Optics scope around and the Strike Eagle is just another example of why.
Do you need a little more oomph on magnification? The Vortex delivers an amazing 24x magnification. And equipped with a multi-coated lens that provides good light transmission, it is very usable throughout the range of the magnification allowing you to scope well beyond 500 yards.
Another advantage the Vortex Optics scope has over the Leupold is that it comes with an illuminated reticle. With 11 brightness settings, you have the freedom to hunt at dusk or dawn. And even if the battery failed, the reticle still manages to be bright and clear as it has been etched onto the glass.
Adjusting the illumination is easy with the side knob that has been conveniently located for quick changes and work smoothly.
Furthermore, the reticle also makes shooting accurately easier. That is because it comes with hash marks for accurate holdover and windage details. Plus, it is an SFP reticle which means it remains large and clear irrespective of the magnification making it ideal for accurate long-distance shooting.
Another thing I love about this scope is that the turrets are marked and numbered, something which is a rarity on cheaper scopes. The elevation turret is a bit tight at first but they have good audibility so you know exactly when it has been changed.
Durability is another strong suit of the scope. Just like the Leupold scope, even this has an aluminum build that ensures slight bumps and hits don’t result in major damage.
But life happens, right? And maybe you drop it from a height. Don’t panic, Vortex has you covered as their scopes are also backed by a lifetime warranty.
The one thing I know for sure cannot damage your scope though is water. Yes, the sealed o-rings ensure the scope can be left underwater and even used in rain or cold weather. Further adding to the ease of using it in extreme conditions is the nitrogen purge that ensures the lens never fogs up.
Part of the package is also pop-up lens covers that keep the eyepiece and lens protected from dust, dirt, scratches further adding to the durability of the scope.
To top it all, the Strike Eagle costs less than the Leupold scope but keep in mind, that their scopes are also not as stress-tested as Leupold scopes which is one of the reasons Leupold is #1.
- Turrets are numbered and marked for precise adjustment
- Excellent durability and it is waterproof
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- The reticle has 11 brightness illuminations
- It also gives holdover, windage details for precision
- SFP reticle remains large and clear irrespective of the magnification
- You get a very usable 24x magnification level
- Nitrogen purge keeps the lens clear in the cold and rain
- The elevation turret is a tad tighter
- There’s slight distortion at full magnification
3. Primary Arms SLX 4-14 FFP Rifle Scopes (Budget Pick)
Need something on an even tighter budget? How about something less than $280? Say hello to the Primary Arms SLX 4-14x rifle scope.
But don’t just buy it for the cheaper price, here’s what’s to like about it.
One of the best things about the scope is the Primary Arms proprietary reticle which has been tailor-made for beginners looking to hunt animals like coyotes, white-tailed deer, mule deer.
That is because it takes all the guesswork out of the shooting by providing you accurate bullet drop compensation. Furthermore, it also has 2.5, 5 and 10 mph wind holds at every range.
And it is also ideal for those that prefer FFP reticles that adjust as per the magnification and are better suited for both close and long-range shots.
It also has a good magnification range. While it says 14x, I would keep the threshold to about 10x as the distortion above that is hindering. Though even 10x is pretty good for distances between 250-300 yards.
And also helping with accuracy at these distances is the side parallax knob that you can reach to and adjust without having to change positions. It is smooth and takes minimal effort.
Just like the turrets as well. The turrets on the Primary Arms seemed thicker which makes up for the shorter height as they are equally easy to grip and adjust quickly. Not numbered or marked but covering prevents accidental changes and keeps it well protected.
Talking about protection, for a cheaper scope, it sure does pack a punch when it comes to the build. I was pleasantly surprised by the aluminum build considering it is on the cheaper side. This means it is just as strong as any of the scopes above and can also take a beating.
Plus it is waterproof and fog proof. This mainly comes down to the sealed o-rings and the nitrogen purging that prevents water from seeping in and the lens from fogging up respectively (rain or cold, use the scope anywhere and everywhere).
Oh, and it is backed by a lifetime warranty as well which means any repair needed even 10 years later is on Primary Arms.
On the downside, the non-illuminated reticle hinders performance in low light conditions. Also, as mentioned above, the turrets aren’t numbered.
- Backed by a lifetime warranty
- Costs less than $280
- Aluminum build means it can handle abuse
- It is also waterproof
- Nitrogen Purge makes it usable even in cold weather
- Turrets covering prevents accidental changes
- The special reticle eliminates guesswork and increases accuracy
- Comes with a good 10x magnification
- The side parallax knob makes it easy to adjust quickly
- The reticle isn’t illuminated which hinders low light performance
- The turrets aren’t numbered so precise adjustments take practice
- There’s distortion above 10x magnification
4. Sig Sauer SOB53101 Bravo5 Prismatic Sight
Not a brand you will often find me mentioning on the site but once I tried the Sig Sauer SOW3320, I was impressed with it, and here’s why.
If you prefer a scope with fixed magnification that can aim to about 100-200 yards and comes with better optics than the Primary Arms then the Sig Sauer SOB53101 could be the scope for you.
One of the standout features of the scope has to be it’s seriously long field of view which mainly comes to the special MegaView that is designed to give you 43% more FOW.
Team up its good optics with the illumination and it works really well in low light conditions. And to turn on the illumination, you don’t need any knob or buttons, it is automatic making the scope’s use effortless.
This is because it has been equipped with a special Motion Activated Illumination System that also powers down when the scope is left idle thus saving you loads in battery time.
Furthermore adding to the comfort of using the scope is the adjustable eyepiece that comes with +/- 2 diopter correction.
Its durability is also commendable. The magnesium housing keeps it safe from scratches and slight bumps. The IPX8 waterproof rating was a surprise.
This means you can submerge it in water up to 13 feet. This is much higher than most scopes that can only be submerged at up to 3 feet. And it’s fog proof as well thanks to the nitrogen purge.
Lastly, the integrated Picatinny rail means you can also use a variety of accessories such as lasers or MRDs that further improve accuracy while allowing you to use the scope for more than just hunting.
- Comes with better optics than most scopes less than $300
- Magnesium housing makes it rock-solid
- It can be used with MRDs and lasers
- It can be submerged in 13ft of water and is fog proof
- The illumination activates automatically upon sensing motion
- Also shuts down when left idle to save battery life
- Comes with a big field of view for comfortable usage
- It has a fixed magnification
- Average battery life
- Bigger eye-relief would have been better
5. Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
Last but not least on the list of the best rifle scopes under 500 is another one of the budget buyers and this baby from Bushnell costs less than $100 (yes, you heard it right).
And considering the price range, its build looks good. It is solid enough to handle all the bumps and hits while a multi-coated lens adds to it while also ensuring you get good visuals up to 100-125 yards.
Yes, the lens in tandem with the magnification works well though I would keep it limited to 6x as anything higher than that results in more and more distortion.
Oh, and it is waterproof and fog proof as well. Not to be left as long as you would leave the more premium scopes but I left mine for about 2 minutes in 3-feet deep water and it worked just as well.
I also loved the Multi-X reticle that is thicker on the outside so it has good visibility in low light and does not get lost due to the background of sunlight during the day. And then in the center is thin for accuracy at longer distances.
And since it is an SFP reticle, it maintains its size irrespective of the magnification you use it at. Furthermore, it also has a quick-focus eyepiece for quick aiming even when the targets are moving.
Turrets are smooth with good audibility but they do not have any markings or numbers. Though the covering ensures once set, you won’t have to change them again. There’s no illumination either which limits the use of the scope.
- Costs less than $100
- Multi X reticle works well in most conditions
- SFP reticle means it maintains its large size at all times for clarity
- Good durability and its waterproof, and fog proof
- Ideal for a range between 100-125 yards with 6x magnification
- Turrets are smooth and audible
- No illumination on the reticle
- The reticle doesn’t give range estimations
- Blurring at higher magnifications
- Turrets aren’t numbered or have markings
All in all, only get this scope if your budget is seriously restricted or you need a backup scope.
Best Rifle Scope Under $300
Now, it’s time to answer this question: what are the best rifle scopes you can get under $300 in 2021.
Suppose you’ve been shying away from getting a rifle scope because of the price. In that case, you’ll love this section as it talks about quality budget options you can turn to that will still get the job done.
The list will also contain, some of the advantages and disadvantages of each rifle scope. This is to give you a clear picture of what each scope entails.
Without further ado, let’s jump right in.
- Leupold VX Freedom 4-12×40 – Our Top Pick
- Nikon Prostaff P3 Predator Hunter BDC
- Mueller AO Eraticator Rifle Scope
- Vortex Optics Copperhead 4-12×44 Second Focal Plane
- Vortex Crossfire II 6-18×44 AO Rifle Scope
- Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope
- Monstrum G3 6-24×50
Below is a comparison table that singles out a few features that set the scopes apart.
|Leupold VX||• Magnification of up to 12x|
• Spots a tri MOA reticle
|Nikon Prostaff||• Magnification of up to 9x|
• Amazing optics
• Bullet drop compensator reticle
|Mueller AO||• Magnification of up to 25x|
• Generous eye relief
• Long-lasting battery
|Vortex Optics Copperhead||• Magnification of up to 12x|
• Possesses a second focal plane
• Good eye relief
|Vortex Crossfire||• Magnification of up to 18x|
• Adjustable optics
• Vortex guarantee
|Athlon Optics||• Magnification of up to 24x|
• FFP reticle
• Amazing light transmission
|Monstrum G3||• Magnification of up to 24x|
• Brass mechanism
• Free battery and flip-up lens cover added
But if you want to get into the details about each of the scopes before making a purchase, this section below is just what you need.
1. Leupold VX Freedom 4-12×40
The VX Freedom rifle scope was introduced to replace the VX-1 and VX-2 scope series. And although this was met with some apprehension from loyal fans, it soon changed to admiration for the new release.
The reason for this change is not far-fetched. The VX Freedom 4-12×40 is a true delight. Leupold, known for its high-end optics, decided to produce a budget scope with impressive specs for its users. This is where the VX Freedom 4-13×40 rifle scope comes in.
Fitted with a tri MOA reticle and cross to make it easier for you to aim your targets. Magnification of 4x to 12 X covers a whole lot of distance as you can enjoy from mid-range to long-range shooting without stress.
It also has finger clickable to turrets of ¼ MOA graduation to adjust your windage and elevation. The VX Freedom 4-12×40, as the name implies, spots a 40mm objective lens and a 1-inch tube which allows for enough light to enter.
It is, however, lacking in side focus, and its turrets get loose easily, and the clicks may be harder to get.
Nevertheless, its matte finish and lightweight make it a delight for its users. It goes for around $249.
- Finger adjustable ¼ MOA graduation per click for your elevation and windage adjustments
- Wide magnification range of 4x to 12x
- It spots a tri MOA reticle
- Loose Turrets
- No side focus
2. Nikon Prostaff P3 Predator Hunter BDC
This scope prides itself on having one of the best lens displays for scopes under $300. The images it produces are clear and crisp even when views under less ideal conditions. The lens is also coated to protect it from scratches, dust, or smudges that may affect the quality of the image it produces.
But the display quality is not all there is to this rifle scope, as you’ll soon see.
As the name implies, this scope is made with hunting in mind and focuses its power on making your hunting easier. It is fitted with a bullet drop compensator reticle that is active when shooting within the specified range.
It has a 3x to 9x magnification and an objective lens of 40mm. The magnification covers medium ranges to long-range shooting. The 9x magnification means you may not be able to see clearly if the distance is too far. It goes for $299.
- Superb optics produces crisp and clear images
- Decent magnification
- Bullet drop compensator reticle
- Coated lens to prevent dust and scratches
- Its magnification means it can be used for several other purposes aside from long-range hunting
- Can be too heavy or clumsy to handle
- Poor eye relief
3. Mueller AO Eraticator Rifle Scope
Like the Nikon P3 predator rifle scope, this scope has a multi-coated lens that prevents scratch and dust from penetrating, thereby keeping its images clear and crisp. The reticle also has a crosshair and an illuminated dot that improves your aiming tremendously.
This illuminated dot is best suited for night shooting as you see the additional light and color guides your aim. During the day, you can make use of the glass-edged dot, which is the standard.
It is fitted with a click-stop operated 1/8 MOA graduation for your elevation and windage adjustments.
Its magnification of 8.5x to 25x is what stands this scope apart from most of the others in this price range. You can see far distances clearly, which is further helped by the unique 50mm objective lens allowing enough light to enter.
Its eye relief of 3 and price of $250 completes its most prominent features.
- Generous eye relief
- Outrageous magnification capacity
- Long-lasting battery
- Click stop operated 1/8 MOA graduation
- Illuminated dot for better night aiming
- Amazing optics
- Water and fog proof tubes
- Poor brightness at high magnification
- Lack of lower magnification ranges
4. Vortex Optics Copperhead 4-12×44 Second Focal Plane
A list of superb optics gadgets without a vortex product in it will be questioned. That is how good a brand vortex is when it comes to optics. They produce some of the best rifle scopes out there and are best known for their durability.
This vortex Copperhead scope comes with a second focal plane. Its large 44mm objective lens and 1-inch tube let in enough light to allow you to see a wider range around your target and give you a more precise image by harnessing the light in the lens. The field of view available is 24.7-8.4 ft at 100 yards.
Its magnification of 4x to 12x covers a good range for mid-range and long-range shooters. Its awesome eye relief of 4 makes it idle for use on powerful weapons with high recoil rates. It also spots a multi-coated lens that prevents scratches and keeps dust out.
It has an MOA of ¼ per click for adjusting windage and elevation. Vortex Optics copperhead 4-12×44 second focal plane weighs around 15.8 lunches and is sold for $209.
- Affordable at $209
- Decent magnification range of 4x to 12x
- Good eye relief
- Second focal plane
- Multi-coated lens to prevent scratches and dust from entering
- Not weather restricted
- Blur vision from ranges above 650 yards
5. Vortex Crossfire II 6-18×44 AO Rifle Scope
This rifle scope has even been touted as being underpriced compared to its quality. It brings you a magnification of 6x to as high as 18x; stretching the distance, you can comfortably use your rifle scope.
The AO here means adjustable objective. This prevents parallax by being a dynamic scope that can be adjusted for any distance. The high magnification of this rifle scope will pose some image problems as it gets blurry at high magnifications even though that has been offset a little by the use of FMC optics.
It has a crossfire focus feature with an illumination turret and target dot for aiming, all powered by a CR2032 battery.
One major reason vortex is loved in the optics industry is its durability, and this particular scope is no different. It is made from aircraft-grade aluminum that protects it from scratches and makes it shockproof and against recoils of powerful weapons.
Its tubes are nitrogen-purged to keep water out and make it fog-proof. It weighs 19.6 ounces and sells for $219.
- Unbelievable vortex guarantee
- Illumination turret
- High magnification of 18x
- Adjustable optics
- Shockproof as it is made from aircraft-grade aluminum
- Fog and waterproof
- Blurry image at high magnification
- Can be bulky to handle
6. Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope
Most rifle scopes with high magnification in this price range face the blurry display at high magnification.
Well, Athlon optics Argos BTR seems to have taken care of that issue by introducing a reticle that shrinks and grooves alongside the target as you move between magnification. This reduces the effect of blurry vision at higher magnification power.
The lens is also multi-coated to prevent scratches and keep its display sharp. It sports an illuminated reticle perfected for aiming in low light conditions. Its light transmission is one of the best in this range as it continuously gives you clear images.
An issue with this scope is that you may find it difficult to hold down zero at any distance. Nevertheless, it is durable as it is made with aircraft-grade aluminum, which keeps it shockproof.
It is also water and fog-proof and can be used in wet conditions. It sells for $277
- First focal plane design that prevents blurry images at higher magnification
- Shockproof as it is made with aircraft-grade aluminum
- Water and fog proof
- Multi-coated lens to keep dust and scratches away
- Awesome light transmission
- High magnification range of up to 24x
- FFP reticle
- Will struggle to keep zero
- May struggle with short distance aiming
7. Monstrum G3 6-24×50
Monstrum G3 packs a lot when it comes to rifle scope quality. Like the Athlon Argos BTR optics, it sports an FFL reticle that is rare for scopes in this price range. It also sports a high magnification power of 6x to 24x to help you target far objects.
Monstrum tactical, the company producing the monstrum G3 rifle scope, also added its in-house reticle – illuminated custom type-H.
You may have to adjust its point of impact after showing some rounds as it tends to lose accuracy. It has an MOA of ¼ graduation per click for adjusting the windage and elevation turrets.
Unlike most other reticles, monstrum G3 comes with additional gadgets like a flip-up lens cover, one CR2032A battery that powers the scope, and more.
Its adjustable objective removes parallax errors, and its eye relief of 4-4.5 inches gives you more freedom. It weighs 30 ounces and sells for $239.
- Adjustable objective to remove parallax
- Additional gadgets like a flip up lens cover and battery
- Good eye relief
- ¼ MOA graduation
- FFP reticle
- Awesome magnification range of 6x to 24x
- Brass mechanism
- Heavy and bulky
- Constantly changing point of impact
There’s everything you need to know about the Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 and Best Rifle Scopes Under $300. The Leupold and Vortex Optics Strike Eagle prove even cheaper scopes can be both durable and functional.
If you are on a tight budget, the Bushnell or Primary Arms scopes are tailor-made for you. In fact, the Bushnell costs less than $100.
In case you have used any of these scopes or think you know of a better scope at this price range, do share your views in the comments section below.
You can also write to me your questions using the contact form in case you need additional help though I am sure the guide has you well covered from all angles.