Choosing the best rifle scopes under $500 for your needs can be a difficult task. There are so many variables to consider, and the world of optics is rapidly changing. With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to provide some concrete guidance on how you can choose your next rifle scope purchase.
We'll go over what features to look for when buying a new optic, which types of scopes are the most popular among hunters and sports shooters, and review some of our top picks for riflescopes on the market today.
Anatomy of a Rifle Scope
Before we jump right to the best rifle scopes and reviews, let's go over the basics. The anatomy of a rifle scope can be complicated, but understanding it will help you to make an informed decision on which one is best for your needs. Here we'll cover the external features and mechanics of two main types of riflescopes: fixed power and variable power.
Fixed Power Scopes: Fixed-power scopes are popular among hunters and target shooters who want to achieve maximum accuracy with minimal fuss. A fixed-power scope has just one magnification setting, or power level. These scopes are great for shooters who want to dial in a precise impact by using various targets and distances; they also provide the best return on investment for money because you need to buy only one scope to cover all your shooting needs. They're best for hunting and target shooting, but like any other type of optic, you should try them out before making a purchase decision.
Variable Power Scopes: Variable-power scopes are designed to adapt the magnification amount automatically with the firing of a cartridge. By shrinking or expanding the reticle, they allow you to adjust for elevation changes while keeping your target in focus, even while firing at varying distances. This type of rifle scope is best for shooting from different distances and varying conditions, from long-range shooting to tactical applications.
While fixed power scopes are fine for targets at a fixed distance, they work poorly in adverse conditions or after long periods of time. Variable power rifle scopes are easily affected by light changes and other factors, but they're the best option for shooters who want versatility in their hunting or shooting needs.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical
A Short History of Rifle Scopes
Riflescopes have been around since the earliest years of man's existence on this planet. But while riflescopes have been around since man decided to make bows and arrows, they've been modified to suit every specific need from the beginning.
Early Rifle Scopes: While hand-held scopes have existed since the beginning of firearms, modern rifle scopes came about in the 19th century. Early versions used open sights and bore-mounted scopes to elevate accuracy.
Modern Rifle Scope Technology: WWII helped spur the production of modern rifle scopes with the invention of fiber-optic scope technology, which allowed for greater visibility in changing weather conditions. After World War II, rifle scope design started to advance at a relatively steady pace that correlates with technological advancement as a whole.
Advances in technology have helped the rifle scope market grow exponentially over the last couple decades, but now it's starting to slow down. That's because modern rifle scope technology has advanced to the point where it's not changing much. There aren't a lot of groundbreaking new designs coming out, and most companies are just releasing slight variations on existing products.
How to Choose a Rifle Scope: The Best Features to Look for!
Choosing a rifle scope can be overwhelming when you're so much in the dark about what each feature means and when or why you should use it. In Target Frog I wrote a guide about how do Rifle Scopes work, so you can choose your next optic with confidence. Depending on your needs, you may have to choose between different models.
This article is about the best Rifle Scopes under $500 for your needs; we'll be covering the difference between average and premium scopes below.
11 Best Rifle Scopes under $500 > Only available and top rated products listed
Nikon MONARCH 3 BDC Riflescope
More importantly, the Nikon MONARCH 3 BDC Riflescope is built with zero compromises. The scope is equipped with a fast-focus eyepiece that makes it easier to track moving targets in low-light conditions, while the riflescope is also equipped with Night Vision compatibility.
The Nikon MONARCH 3 BDC Riflescope has an oversized 4X zoom range that features four different magnification ranges for fast adjustment of distance and optimum clarity under any shooting conditions. It includes an illuminated reticle for easy target identification at up to 600 yards out, while its quick focus eye piece allows you to quickly adjust your view when confronted by extreme recoil or turbulence on your weapon which can make it difficult identify your target.
The BDC reticle pattern on the MONARCH 3 BDC riflescope features a duplex crosshair with supplemental aiming points that compensate for bullet drop. It also includes a brilliant 4-Plex Reticle that dramatically increases accuracy and speed in any shooting situation.
Another cool feature of the Nikon MONARCH 3 BDC riflescope is its use of extra-low dispersion glass to achieve maximum clarity throughout the scope's entire magnification range.
The Nikon MONARCH 3 BDC Riflescope is equipped with a fully multicoated optical system for ultimate light transmission and control of reflectivity, with all areas being multi-coated with Nikon's Ultra ClearCoat anti-reflective coating.
This riflescope is waterproof and fogproof and features a hard anodized single piece aircraft-aluminum body that can withstand extreme conditions and recoil more efficiently than other riflescopes of its kind.
The MONARCH 3 BDC riflescope is built to endure the toughest conditions, including recoil more efficiently than other riflescopes of its kind.
Vortex Optics 1 inch Tube Rifle scopes
The 2-7x32 Crossfire II riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for hunting. With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture and acquire your target. The fast focus eyepiece allows quick and easy reticle focusing.
Vortex is a leading manufacturer of rifle scopes and other shooting optics designed to enhance accuracy and performance for recreational/sport shooters, hunters, law enforcement professionals, military personnel and precision applications.
Vortex's optics were designed for a wide spectrum of uses from hunting, target shooting and tactical applications to home defense and everyday carry knives.
Vortex Crossfire II series of optics allows the shooter to see through a piece of clear, unwarped glass that is free from distortion and parallax adjustments that are set at the factory. It does not matter whether you are shooting long range or short range, this riflescope will provide you with a bright and clear reticle image with a wide field of view.
The Vortex Rifle scopes quality is apparent in all aspects of its construction. All lenses are multi-coated for excellent light transmission, contrast and color rendition. The rugged one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tube will stand up to years of hard use as well as harsh weather conditions. The windage and elevation adjustment knobs are finger adjustable with a large, easy to grip surface.
Vortex Optics Rifle scopes makes use of the Dead-Hold BDC reticle. This reticle is ideal for hunting applications since you will be able to compensate for bullet drop at ranges where you would typically need to use holdover or hold-under techniques. The mil dot reticle gives you the option to zero in your rifle scope at 300 yards instead of having to zero at 100 yards which can be time consuming. The mil dot reticle also helps to eliminate any parallax issues making it easier for fast target acquisition.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Rifle Scope
Scope is one of the most important upgrades to bring your rifle to the next level. You may be trying to decide between a red dot and a rifle scope. Well, after reading this review, you will see that it is one of the best scopes available on the market.
It features an extra-low dispersion glass which transmits a bright sight picture with sharp accuracy. It also has fully multi-coated lenses which make it easy for you to see in any condition. The reticle features first focal plane aiming points which stay accurate throughout 4x zoom range.
It comes with 30mm aluminum tube which is lightweight, yet highly durable. It is waterproof, shockproof and fog resistant. The O-ring sealed waterproofing safeguards the scope from damaging effects of moisture. The glass-etched reticle withstands the test of time and can be relied upon for years to come.
It is a perfect scope for a long-range shooting which can reach up to 1000 yards. It delivers high accuracy in the field. You will surely love its sleek, clean design. Moreover, it is lightweight and compact which makes it easier to hold when you are in the field. The glass-etched reticle is easy to determine when firing at targets from 50 yards out to the longest ranges. [To use as knowledge, not to be copied verbatim] When you zero at 100 yards, your point of impact only changes by 0.4 inches at 300 yards and 0.5 inches at 400 yards with 22LR match ammo, so it's plenty accurate enough for hunting if that's your thing.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective, Second Focal Plane, 30mm Tube Rifle scopes
This is a 30mm tube rifle scope that comes with an adjustable objective lens and second focal plane features that make it ideal for long-distance shooting. It has a large aperture range which means it's capable of capturing detailed images of distant targets in low light conditions. This also makes it great for shooting at dawn or dusk when natural light is less available.
This scope is designed to be lightweight and compact, making it perfect for mid-length rifles. It has little bulk so you can take advantage of your rifle's full length without feeling like it's too heavy to use.
It also comes with fully multi-coated lenses that offer excellent light transmission and clarity. This makes it easier for you to adjust the zoom, focus and other adjustments that are needed when shooting at different positions. These built-in features ensure that you get great images in all situations without having to worry about the right adjustment.
All of these features come in a package that only weighs about 23.6 ounces. This makes it one of the lightest 30mm rifle scopes on the market, but it's also strong enough to withstand heavy use.
Another great thing about this scope is that it comes with a free pair of flip up lens caps with its purchase. The cap is lightweight and durable so you won't have to worry about losing it when you need it most.
The Vortex Rifle Scope with second focal plane reticle is definitely worth checking out for any shooter who needs an ideal long-range scope for their rifle, regardless of their skill level or shooting style.
Vortex Optics Viper Parallax Adjustment Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
Vortex Optics Viper Parallax Adjustment Second Focal Plane Riflescopes are known for their fantastic optics. The lenses are multicoated with anti-glare properties which help to reduce any glare to help you identify your target even more easily. These Vortex riflescopes allow you to adjust the parallax settings at the second focal plane, which ensures that the reticle stays clear and crisp regardless of how much an object moves away from or closer to you, giving you a better view of your target. It has a 50 millimeter objective lens diameter that provides maximum light transmission for brilliant images in any situation. The Viper Parallax Adjustment Second Focal Plane Riflescopes are designed for shooters who want a top of the line riflescope but at a budget-friendly price.
These Vortex riflescopes are available in a variety of magnification options, which makes it easy to find a perfect optic to fit your particular needs. Scopes with a magnification of 20x will provide you with magnifications that are perfect for long-range shooting. The 6.5x Viper Parallax Adjustment Second Focal Plane Riflescopes make it easier to shoot targets from a closer distance with precision accuracy. Specifications are below:
- Item Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.4 x 4.3 inches
- Sport Type: Hunting
- Item Weight: 2.3 Pounds
- Material: Aluminum
- Magnification Maximum: 20x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 50 Millimeters
- Magnification Minimum: 6.5x
MEOPTA Optika6 3-18x56 30mm SFP Second Focal Plane Hunting Rifle scope
Meopta Optics is widely known for manufacturing innovative optics, binoculars, rifle scopes, and spotting scopes. They produce a variety of different models, including variable-powered rifle scopes targeted at many different applications.
The Meopta Optika6 model is one of multiple configurations in the same line. This particular model features an MOA (minute of angle) measuring system to provide accurate holds at long ranges. The scope’s zoom ratio is well suited for close range hunting shots as well as longer distance shooting scenarios.
This Vortex Viper Scope has a 30mm objective lens diameter that helps to gather enough light for bright images in low light conditions like dusk or dawn. This model features a nitrogen-filled objective lens to help prevent optical distortion and provide a crisp, clear image. The objective lens is protected by the Meopta Optika6 durable scratch-resistant Mil-Dot duplex reticle.
The Meopta Optika6 Rifle Scope also features an angled two-piece duplex crosshair reticle that is perfect for precise aiming and holds at extended distances. This scope’s precision and quality makes it an affordable option for those on a budget or on a tight budget. The Meopta Optika6 3-18x56 30mm variable zoom rifle scope is capable of delivering crisp.
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II Second Focal Plane Rifle scopes
If you're in the market for a new riflescope, the Vortex Optics Rifle Scope Viper should be at the top of your list. This rifle scope is incredibly versatile and ideal for close to long range shooting scenarios. It's quality and features will give you no reason to worry while it eliminates any worry about price tag. All in all, the Vortex Optics Rifle Scope Viper is an excellent choice for an affordable riflescope with unmatched optical quality.
A well built riflescope is essential for any shooter who wants to do his or her best in competitive shooting tournaments. If you're in the market for a new riflescope, the Vortex Optics Viper should be near the top of your list. This riflescope is made with quality in mind and will do its job every time, eliminating any worries about price tag. All in all, the Vortex Optics Rifle Scope Viper is an excellent choice for a new target shooter looking to get out there and win it big.
The Vortex Optics Rifle Scope Viper is designed with quality in mind. The first thing you'll notice about this riflescope is the sturdy construction. The Viper uses aircraft grade aluminum for its main tube, making it both lightweight and strong. Specifications are below:
- Item Weight: 1.1 Ounces
- Material: Aluminum
- Magnification Maximum: 25x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 50 Millimeters
- Magnification Minimum: 5x
- Field of View: 24.1-4.8 ft/100 yds
Vortex Optics Viper HS Second Focal Plane Rifle scopes
Maximum Vortex riflescopes are built on a rugged 30mm one-piece aluminum tube. The lenses are fully multi-coated for optimal light transmission and clarity, while the heavy-duty construction ensures reliability in severe environments. They also have a side parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity, giving users an unlimited field of view, with both high-end features and value priced alike.
In this article we will review that very rifle scope that reflects all of these qualities: the Vortex Optics Viper HS Rifle scope 4-16x50. In particular, we will focus on its Dead-Hold BDC reticle which is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating holdover would be a concern.
Vortex Optics Viper HS Rifle scope 4-16x50
This rifle scope is equipped with a 4-16x magnification, a 30mm one-piece aluminum tube, and a Dead-Hold BDC reticle that's good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating holdover would be a concern.
- Style: Dead-Hold BDC
- Item Dimensions LxWxH: 19.9 x 4.2 x 4.1 inches
- Sport Type: Hunting
- Item Weight: 1361 Grams
- Material: Aluminum
- Magnification Maximum: 16x
- Objective Lens Diameter: 50 Millimeters
- Magnification Minimum: 4x
Trijicon TR20 Accupoint Rifle scopes
As shooters, our skills are critical to the way that we operate in the field. The ability to know precisely what is happening can be one of the most deadly assets that we have. This is where the Trijicon 3-9X 40 rifle scope comes into play. With its crosshair Mil-Dot aiming reticle with an amber illuminated center dot, it offers a larger, 40 millimeter objective diameter for long distance shooting. Illuminated through the use of fiber optics for automatic light adjustments and a built-in self-luminous Tritium Phospor Lamp.
It will allow you to ward off those animals abundantly found in the hillside as well as those creeping around in the night. In all, it is one of the most ideal rifle scopes that can be used for hunting or by those who want to aim at an object from a long distance away.
The quality of this product is something one would expect from the manufacturer of the world-renowned night vision devices. It can withstand abuse to deliver performance in all situations. Its sturdy construction and solid top cover will prevent optical errors when using it in an urban environment where there are many obstacles that might interfere with proper aiming.
Since this is a rifle scope, it has to be able to withstand an amount of recoil that would be experienced while taking out animals or other objects that are considered undesirable. The scope has been tested under heavy recoil while holding up well while still maintaining its sight alignment. Its durable construction will give you a lasting performance and is something that you would like to pass on to your children.
Night Owl Optics Digital Night Vision Rifle scope with IR illuminator
A rifle scope is an expensive accessory for hunting and target shooting. Highly-priced scopes can cost $1,000 or more, so what about a more affordable option? Night Owl Optics has developed a digital night vision rifle scope that costs under $400.
The Night Owl Optics Digital Night Vision Riflescope offer state-of-the-art technology in terms of color display resolution with 640x480 pixels. They are available at an affordable price of less than two hundred dollars which makes them ideal for buyers looking to buy their first night vision riflescope without the hassle of worrying about the cost associated with some other popular brands. In terms of the quality of this product, Night Owl Optics claims that they have been created as a rugged and durable scope that can withstand scratches as well as light rain and dust.
On the internet, you can find several different opinions regarding this product. Some people are satisfied with the quality of the scope while others claim that it has affected their night vision negatively. Some people claim that the rifle scope is great for all shooting scenarios except when shooting at extremely long distances of more than 200 yards. It’s very unlikely that any type of rifle scope will be able to perform well at such long distances anyway. Overall though, we would recommend this product to anyone looking to get a riflescope on a budget but still wants good quality and performance from their purchase.
If you are interested in purchasing this scope for yourself you can get more information at the Night Owl Optics Amazon.com store for this product.
Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40 Rifle Scope
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a rifle scope, but the Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Rifle scope is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a full-size scope that has an affordable price tag.
This scope offers great value for those who need a top performing optic with plenty of features. It features high magnification and lots of eye relief – which is good news for varmint hunters – as well as side parallax adjustment that makes it easy to sight in targets at long distances. And, of course, it comes with a duplex reticle that helps make target selection easier.
The Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10x40mm Rifle scope has fully multi-coated optics to provide excellent clarity and contrast, even in low light conditions. And this scope also boasts a side parallax adjustment which is great for shooters who are using the scope to shoot at distances of over 600 yards. This feature can be hard to find in other models in this price range, so this scope offers great value when it comes to features alone.
It also offers three distinct reticle choices, which makes it possible to easily change out the reticle to match different target types. When you’re shooting at an animal like a deer or coyote, for example, it’s best to use a simple crosshair if you want to maximize your accuracy potential.
The scope is made from a sturdy aircraft-grade aluminum that is O-ring sealed and filled with nitrogen to help prevent fogging. And the 40mm lens system on this model is fully multicoated on all air-to-glass surfaces along with the front lens element.
The scope features a large turret and easy-to-use side parallax adjustment system. You can make adjustments to the turret with a quarter turn of the elevation knob, while you’re adjusting the windage adjustment ring with your finger.
This is an excellent scope that provides great value for money, and it’s suitable for both new and experienced shooters alike. With its side parallax adjustment, it’s also great for hunters who are shooting at long distances. This scope features fully multi-coated optics, so you get excellent clarity and contrast in all lighting conditions.
Buying guide to identify - exactly what are you looking for
Scopes for handguns may be less common, but rifle scopes are still a regular sight. You can use them to hunt or compete in shooting events like at the Olympics. Because of their usefulness and the cost of high-quality rifle scopes, it's often best to buy one as an investment. That means you want it to last and perform well even over time — which can be difficult on some budget promises. That's why we compiled this guide to help you choose the best rifle scopes under $500.
Do Your Research And Find The Right Fit
No matter what rifle scope you're looking at, it's important to consider its features and your options. The variety of riflescopes on the market is almost endless, but narrowing them down can be simple if you determine what exactly you need first. For example, if you're into long-range shooting or just intending to shoot targets out at a hundred or more yards, then a riflescope with a powerful magnification will be a great choice for you. And on a lower budget, a mid-range magnification is more affordable and can still help hit those targets from far away.
All of the scopes in our list fall under one of these categories in one way or another, so it's important to understand your needs.
Find The Right Fit For Your Scope
There are a number of factors that go into finding the right fit for your rifle scope, which include magnification, objective lens size, eye relief distance and the lenses themselves. The best way to find your perfect fit is to simply try it on two different rifles. Get with a friend who owns one similar to you and allow him or her to try out your scope on their rifle first. Then, get on the other end and try it on yours. Once you've both found your perfect fit, you can start reading up on some of our firearm related articles or ask some of our knowledgeable staff at targetfrog.com.
Know Your Options
One of the biggest issues when shopping for a rifle scope is their options and accessories. Choosing between a gas-specific optic and a rim magnifier is just among some of the bigger differences in these products that can throw one off budget, but there are still dozens more to choose from that may throw you off. That's why we included information about rifle scopes with many different types of accessories at the bottom of this page. They're all available through ar15.com and we've got a great community here that will walk you through all of your options. Look for scopes that come with multiple reticles as well. They make it easier to find the exact target you need as well as maintain awareness of your surrounding environment without any additional tools.
Choose Your Scopes Based On What You Want To Use It For
While many scopes might seem identical, there's really no such thing as a universal rifle scope for all kinds of uses. On a budget, you'll often have to be a little more picky about what you're going to buy and use it for, so it's important to realize what exactly you're going to use it for before taking the final plunge into the purchase. Maybe you'll be heading out and want a red dot sight and a ballistic reticle, and maybe you're going to use it for competition shooting with precision targets. That's why we also gathered information on some of the top rifle scopes that can be used for different purposes on this page.
Find the Right Scope For Your Shotgun (if you use shotgun)
Shotgun optics are more versatile than rifle scopes, but they can still come with their own unique issues — especially if you don't know how to work with shotguns in the first place. For instance, while most handgun scopes work well with shotguns, cabindo is not one of them. Even if you can use one of the scopes on this page for your shotgun, you'll still want to take the extra step of looking at them here. They can help you find the right scope that fits your needs and eases some of the worries that come along with using a shotgun.
Perfect Your Balance
Balance is something that's more important on some types of guns than others, like bows and rifles. Some scopes are lighter than others, so it's important to choose one that's more balanced on both ends to ensure it doesn't turn too easily or wobble during operation. That's particularly true of more expensive scopes since they're usually made out of better materials than their budget counterparts.
Look For Versatility
Once you've established your perfect fit, it's time to take some time to look at the scopes available on our list. Some are more versatile than others, with some riflescopes having multiple reticles, which helps them offer versatility in their use. But some are still the same across multiple rifles or guns instead of being specific to one rifle or type of gun. That's why you should look for scopes that will work across many different types of guns instead of investing in simply one scope for all your guns instead.
If money is really tight on a budget, then an issue might arise when considering all the accessories that come with most scopes on the market. That's why it's important to improvise and get creative when looking at the features you need. For example, if you need to shoot at longer distances but can't afford high-powered magnification, you could look for a lower-power scope with better light transmission instead. That won't allow you to hit your target from hundreds of yards away, but it should work at close to medium ranges.
Upgrade To A Better Scope
Not every scope is going to be the best fit for your needs, so if you've tried a few different scopes that fall under your budget without much luck then it might be time to consider investing in something better. But don't do so without knowing what you'll be getting. You can't just buy a more costly scope and expect it to perform the same as the cheaper ones, so do your research before you start upgrading to something that might be a great fit for your needs.
Scope Accessories (optional)
Even if your rifle scope has everything you need, there's still a chance that you'll want to use it in conjunction with some additional accessories. Some useful accessories can include laser guides, sling mounts, swivel mounts, sling pads, and most importantly, target sights. These extra features can make your rifle scope even better than it already is. But they do come at an additional cost, so be sure to find out if they're worth investing in before buying these or any other accessories.
At targetfrog.com, we're always looking to make your experience on our website as hassle-free as possible. That's why we've included all of these tips and tricks, and hopefully they'll help you find the best scopes for your needs without having to do any of the work ourselves. It may take a little bit of time, but it's well worth it in the end. And don't forget to check us out on Facebook for all the latest firearm news and reviews!
At this point, you should have all the information you need to further understand the benefits of rifle scopes and how to find the best one for your needs. It's time to go out and get your own, even if that means purchasing one from another country. But you'll want to make sure you find a reputable dealer first so you'll be able to receive the very best customer service and the highest quality scope from them.
With those tips in mind, you should have no problem finding a good scope for your needs. If not, let us know what your experience was like by leaving a comment below. Have any additional tips of your own to share?
Before you go and purchase any rifle scope, we highly recommend checking out some of our buying guides and reviews — just like we did while taking a look at these scopes. They're full of information that will help you make an informed decision on whether or not a rifle scope is worth buying in the first place. We also have a great community of experienced targetfrog.com users that are more than happy to help you out with any questions you might have. After all, that's what we're here for, right?