Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 – Honest Tell All Review

It is possible to find the best rifle scopes under $500. Even when you’re on a budget, you’re still going to find that there are a lot of them available. So which one will stand out above the rest?

In this article, we’re going to break down five of the best rifle scopes currently on the market for less than $500.

Is there a guarantee that you’ll find your next scope here? Probably not. But the five products listed below might just be a good place to start looking.

Comparison of the Best Rifle Scopes Under $500

PRODUCT DETAILS
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Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

  • Zoom Level of Up to 4x
  • Waterproof, Fog Proof, and Shockproof
  • Dead-Hold BDC Reticle for Eliminating Guesswork on Windage and Elevation
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Nikon P-223 BDC 600 Riflescope with Rapid Action Turret

  • Four Inches of Eye Relief
  • Waterproof and Fog Proof
  • Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets for Easy Adjustments
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Vortex Optics Strike Eagle

  • Highly Versatile Zoom of Up to 6x
  • Waterproof, Fog Proof, and Shockproof
  • Fully-Coated Lens for Anti-Glare, so Your View is Always Clear. Will Also Take in a Good Amount of Light, Even in Low Light Conditions
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Primary Arms 4-14x44 FFP Rifle Scope

  • Magnification Levels of 4x to 14x
  • Six Brightness Settings for Excellent Illumination
  • Constructed of High-Quality Aluminum for the Best in Durability
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Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm

  • Crafted From Aircraft-Grade Aluminum for Superior Durability
  • Quality Built to Prevent Fogging Up or Taking in Water During Inclement Weather
  • Versatile 3:1 Zoom Ratio Erector System so it Can Easily Adapt to Any Hunting Situation
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Can You Find A Quality Scope For Under $500?

Believe it or not, yes you can. Just because you can find one under $500, doesn’t mean that the quality will be poor. You should also keep in mind that if you’re on a budget, the last thing you’ll ever want to do is sacrifice quality on a scope just because it’s cheap. Find the best quality that you can afford and there’s a good chance that you will be satisfied with your next scope.

The Benefits of Investing in a Great Rifle Scope

There are some great benefits that you can enjoy when you invest in a great rifle scope. The good news is that you don’t have to spend over $500 to find one. The following are benefits that some past buyers have been able to enjoy:

Can Hit Targets From Long Range

One of the chief reasons gun owners choose to invest in a rifle scope is because they want to get the best accuracy out of their gun from long range. They know their rifle can fire a bullet that far. But making sure that it hits the target dead-on makes all the difference.

Magnification Ability

Finding a scope with good magnification will make your shot a little more on-point. Nothing is more satisfying than hitting your target at the exact location of where you line up your reticle. Also, you can still get a good shot at your desired distance, even if you can’t look closer due to your rifle’s ability to kick.

Eye Relief

Eye relief can make or even break your shot, but it comes with the territory, which is to say that the magnification level can pick up the slack. Knowing that your rifle can recoil, you’ll need a scope that gives you good eye relief while giving you a good view of your target at the same time.

Quick Take - The Best Riflescopes Under $500

These are our recommendations for the best models:

  1. Vortex Optics Diamondback
  2. Nikon P-223 BDC 600
  3. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle

Review of the Best Rifle Scopes Under $500

Below are five of the best rifle scopes that are currently available for under $500. While each has some different features, they have the same purpose of giving you a nice clean shot from a distance. Please review each one carefully as they may be a fit your personal needs.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA)

Pros

  • Backed By a Lifetime Warranty
  • A Good Fit for Rifles like the 270 Winchester
  • View is Still Clear, Even at Maximum Magnification

Cons

  • Some Have Complained About it Arriving Damaged
  • One Reviewer Said the Mounting Area Tends to Be Really Short
  • One Reviewer Complained About the Eye Relief Not Being the Best

If you’re familiar with scopes, then you’re probably not surprised to see Vortex top our list of riflescopes that are available for under $500. Vortex is one of the more trusted brands for this type of product and for all the best reasons.

For one, it is one of the most durable products out there. It is shockproof so it can withstand a great deal of recoil regardless of how long you use it. What stands out other than its durability is the patented Dead-Hold reticle. Not only will you accurately shoot targets at long range, but you’ll be able to choose all kinds of ranges.

Of course, the multi-coated lenses allow clear sharp views that will keep bright even when the light conditions are low. Finally, you'll enjoy a zoom range of up to 4x with an easy to adjust side focus that will help you make some small adjustment before you take your shot.

Let’s not forget that not only is this sucker shockproof, but it’s also waterproof and shockproof. So, no matter what the weather conditions are, you’re still going to get a pretty good shot out of this. If you want a durable scope that will give you a clear shot and will last you a great while, you might be happy with the Vortex.

Bottom Line

The Vortex Diamondback is a pretty good scope for your rifle. Even if something does go wrong with it, you know that you’ll have a lifetime warranty that is customer-friendly and you will have a replacement in no time.

The scope itself makes a name for itself for being one of the best available for under $500. If you want a device that can last you a long time, the Vortex Diamondback just might be it.

Nikon P-223 BDC 600 Riflescope with Rapid Action Turret, Black, 4-12x40

Pros

  • Crystal Clear Vision at All Points of Magnification
  • Zeros in Easily and Maintains Setting After a Few Hundred Rounds
  • Does a Great Job Being Accurate, Even When Sighted in at 300 Yards

Cons

  • May Not Be Ideal to Use After Dusk
  • Targets May Be Difficult to Acquire at Initial Use
  • Reticle May Be so Fine to a Point Where You May Not See the Crosshairs in Low Light Conditions

If not for Vortex, then obviously Nikon would be considered the top dog when it comes to riflescopes. This is a great choice for a handful of reasons. Number one, this eliminates parallax so you're shooting is at your most precise.

The second is the generous amount of eye relief that you get. You can still be able to get a clear view even when you don't look far too close into your scope. Finally, the Nikon is waterproof and fog proof. That, of course, is more than enough confirmation to say that this can withstand bad weather.

Bottom Line

The Nikon is best known for their unmistakable optics. And you will get crystal clear optics with this scope. Even at distances 100 yards and beyond, it will not disappoint you. So you're certain to get a good accurate shot no matter how far the target is. If you want a product with a high-quality field of view, you'll probably love the Nikon.

Best Long Range Rifle Scope: 
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 4-24x50 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - EBR-4 Reticle (MOA)

Pros

  • Reticle is Perfect for Long-Distance Shooting
  • Great for Guns Like ARs and Long-Range Rifles
  • Crystal Clear View and Great Eye Relief to Go Along With It

Cons

  • One Reviewer Says That the Reticle Might Be a Little Too Big
  • The Illumination May Not Be Bright Enough, Even on a Sunny Day
  • One Reviewer Complained About the Battery Life Not Being the Best

Once again, we go back to the Vortex brand for this scope review. We all know that Vortex brand scopes tend to be very strong. But can they also do a good job giving you the best accuracy at long range? The answer is yes.

The lens has several anti-reflective coatings to ensure that there is no glare, making your shot much clearer than ever. Even at the highest magnification level, you won’t have to worry about wind issues and holdover. Its 30mm tube is designed to be a strong, durable device that can withstand recoil after recoil. And because they’re so confident in it being strong, it’s even back by...you guessed it, a lifetime warranty.

Also included with is the zero resettable, tactical style turrets that have marked adjustment rotation indicators so you can accurately dial in your preferred adjustments.

Bottom Line

If you want a durable product for your long-range rifle, you might be happy with the Vortex Strike Eagle. You can still get some precise aims in, even in low light conditions. Not to mention, the field of view is pretty clear as well. A durable, but clear scope for long-range shooting? If that's what you're looking for, then the Vortex can't be beaten.

Best Illuminated Rifle Scope:
Primary Arms 4-14x44 FFP Rifle Scope

Primary Arms SLx3.5 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR-308

Pros

  • Holds Zero After About 200 Rounds
  • Options With a First Focal Plane Scope is Hard to Find
  • Once Sighted at 100 Yards, You Can Gauge Distances and Acquire Moving Targets Just By Using the Reticle Alone

Cons

  • Not Ideal for Rifles Like an AR-10
  • Some Users Have Said They Had a Hard Time Switching the Illumination On or Off
  • Battery Life is Questionable. Some Batteries May Be Bead on Arrival According to Some Reviewers

Illumination is important when it comes to scopes. In low light conditions, you can still be able to get a good shot off with just enough light to see the target. If you want an illuminated option that gets the job done, you'll probably like the Primary Arms Rifle Scope. It is constructed with high-quality aluminum to ensure that it is durable and withstand amounts of recoil with every shot your take.

This has a magnification range from 4x to 14x, so you can take your shot at whatever level you see as fit. As for illumination, this is where this product really makes it worth the money. This features six brightness settings and has an "off" notch between each setting. You can still take a clear, bright shot even when the lighting conditions are low.

And if something goes wrong with it it's backed by a three-year warranty. Primary Arms will either repair it or replace it. Regardless, you still get a good product with excellent illumination options.

Bottom Line

For a rifle scope under $500, the Primary Arms does pretty well. You get a durable product that can give you a clear, bright shot every time. As one reviewer says, “a scope like this is hard to find”. So consider yourself lucky if you decide on a product like the Primary Arms.

Best Hunting Rifle Scope: 
Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm

Leupold VX-1 3-9x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope, Matte Black

Pros

  • Very Clear Optics
  • Holds Zero Very Well
  • Backed By a Lifetime Warranty

Cons

  • Clarity is Questionable at Shorter-Range
  • Some of the Adjustments Could Use Some Fine-Tuning
  • One Reviewer Complained That There Were No Mil-Dots

Lastly, we wrap this up with yet another reputable brand for scopes. The Leupold is one brand that gives someone like Vortex a run for their money. Long lasting durability and a lifetime warranty are what set Leupold from most of its competitors.

One of the best features that come with a Leupold is it's iconic 3:1 zoom ratio. You can enjoy zooming in on a target and be able to get a good look at your target before taking the shot.

The magnification levels on the Leupold range from 3x to 9x. It's waterproof, fog proof, and even shockproof. Not only will it withstand recoil time and time again, but it will also withstand whatever elements nature throws its way.

The Multicoat 4-lens system gives you an edge to edge clarity and a bright picture, even in low lighting conditions. You can easily make adjustments for windage and elevation with ¼ MOA precision finger click adjustments.

Bottom Line

For hunting situations, you'll want a scope that will last you outing after outing, and season after season. Leupold takes pride in manufacturing a scope that is built to last and gives you an excellent shot every time you use it. If things go wrong with it, you'll know that it can be repaired or replaced thanks to the lifetime warranty. If you want a brand that you can trust for a lifetime, then Leupold may be the brand for you.

Types of Rifle Scopes

Before making a decision, you need to know the types of rifle scopes that are available. Each scope is different as it fits a certain type of purpose. Here are some of the types of rifle scopes that are available:

Compact Rifle Scopes

These are the most common type of scopes available in price ranges below $60. A lot of compact rifles come with scopes that are mounted with SKS mounts. Usually, these are mounted to a rifle permanently. The objective lenses are roughly 30mm.

Sniper Scopes

The price range is vast for these types of scopes. Low-end prices start at around $30 with the higher end scopes not going more than $500. Obviously, higher quality products will be more costly. Not to mention they usually come with some nifty features like built-in WiFi or a gyroscope (no joke).

Laser Rangefinder Rifle Scope

Laser rangefinders can be dated back to a couple of decades ago. With these types of scopes, they can measure a range of close to 660 yards or longer. While this started with the now-defunct LRD series scopes, some manufacturers have created similar models.

Conclusion

Finding the best rifle scope does not have to be a challenge. Consider the five products listed above or one that is based around your specific intent. You'll never know what you might find in your next scope. But find the one that can last you a long time and make sure your happy with its performance every time you use it.  

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