A proper scope can make or break your entire hunting experience, no kidding!
It allows you to get a magnified view of your target to land a clean and precise shot. You simply can’t attain that accuracy regardless of how sharp-eyed you are. Thus a rifle is almost useless without it. Although here’s no getting around that scopes are usually expensive, you can get great ones on a minimal budget.
Yes, this is what this wordy piece is all about. If you want to get the best rifle scope under $300, here we have 9 unique picks reviewed.
Plus, you will get to know what to expect in this budget and some of the top brands available. Without further time killing, put your eye on the scope and continue reading!
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II 30mm Tube||MAGNIFICATION: 1-4x24mm|
Tube Size: 30mm
Focal Plane: Second
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1" Tube||MAGNIFICATION: 2-7x32mm|
RETICLE: Dead-Hold BDC
Elevation Adjustment: 60 MOA
|Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm||MAGNIFICATION: 3-9x40mm|
EYE RELIEF/EXIT PUPIL: 3. 6"/4. 4-13. 3mm
Elevation Adjustment: 80 MOA
|Bushnell Optics Drop Zone||MAGNIFICATION: 2-7x32mm|
EYE RELIEF/EXIT PUPIL: 3.7"/13.5@2x/4.6@7x
|Vortex Optics Diamondback||MAGNIFICATION: 1.75-5x32mm|
RETICLE: Dead-Hold BDC
Focal Plane: Second
|Simmons 8-Point||MAGNIFICATION: 3-9x50mm|
EYE RELIEF/EXIT PUPIL: 3.75"/16.6-5.6mm
|Nikon PROSTAFF||MAGNIFICATION: 2.5-10x40mm|
Turrets: Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset
|Nikon P-223||MAGNIFICATION: 4-12x40mm|
RETICLE: BDC 600
EYE RELIEF/EXIT PUPIL: 3. 7"/3.3-10mm
Elevation Adjustment: 60 MOA
|Mueller Target||MAGNIFICATION: 8-32x44mm|
EYE RELIEF: 4"
Tube Sizet: 30mm
Are Rifle Scopes Under 300 Dollars Worth It?
This is a fairly common concern considering the best scopes out there can cost over $1,000. Of course, even the best scope under 300 dollars will not be able to come close to that kind of quality. However, the answer to the question relies on where and how much you are going to use it.
For example, when out hunting deer, you can buy $2000-$3000 scopes with unparalleled precision, immense range, and maximum comfort, but that just seems like overkill.
You will not need these kinds of over-the-top models if you are out to hunt or use recreationally. Of course, they are incredible to have, but not nearly necessary.
In the past, this did make a lot of difference. Cheaper models lacked features like a proper focal plane and scope tracking and adequate knobs. However, in recent years, even less expensive scopes manage to retain these features in some form without breaking your bank account.
Although you will not get the kind of clarity and glass qualities that you would get in the expensive models, they are good enough for a plethora of uses. The immensely low price also justifies the lack of features and makes them completely worth it.
You could even flip the question around and ask whether or not a scope that costs so much is worth the money.
If you are on a low-budget, you can check our review about the rifle scopes under $100.
Top 9 Scopes Under $300
Riflescopes will be a complicated purchase if you don’t know its functionality and which aspects to look out for. Besides, the recent demand for these items has let the market produce in bulk which you need to stay clear from.
So, we have assembled a certified collection of rifle scopes that you can trust.
#1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II, 30mm Tube Riflescopes
If you are desperate for CQB and long-range functionality but do not want to break the bank, then you can stop your hunt right here. The Vortex Optics II does not compromise with quality and is meant for hunting and shooting purposes. Having trouble with estimating holdover is quite common when it comes to hunting.
The Dead-Hold BDC can quickly fix that by assuring maximum accuracy. And the 6-24×50 adjustable objective also acts as an aid in solving this issue. Consequently, the shooter can score a long-range shot with ease. It is also equipped with SFP reticle which allows maintaining the same appearance.
Hence, the user will not get puzzled. Another great feature of this scope is that it causes a minimum shock when fired, which in turn allows the bullet to deviate as less as possible.
A single aircraft-grade aluminum tube piece makes the telescope shockproof and also adds more strength. The MOA clicks will allow the user to reset the torrents using their hands. Focusing from a minute hole can be very taxing, which is why the ultra-forgiving eye box makes it easy to focus.
Furthermore, the lenses are multi-coated and offer a clear view of the shooter. The waterproof and fog proof features of the item also help in achieving a more unobstructed view.
Nitrogen purged gadget and O-ring sealing make the body waterproof. This is an excellent purchase under 300 and can quickly complete with big shot rifle scopes. However, they are suitable for hunting or sports shooting purposes. Taking these on the battleground might not give desired results.
- The long eye relief system
- Easy reticle focusing
- Waterproof and fog-proof lens
- Nitrogen purged body
- Multi-coated and anti-reflective lens
- The optics may fail if not adjusted properly
#2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II, 1-inch Tube Riflescopes
Clearer vision is an absolute must when it comes to scopes for rifles. Long-range shots will practically be impossible if the vision somehow gets blurred. Thankfully, the Vortex Crossfire II with a 1-inch tube will not fail you in this regard.
A critical difference between this product and the previous product mentioned is that the diameter of the tube is wider. This enables the scope to cover a more significant distance and make the image sharper. A larger diameter also makes it easier on the eyes while focusing.
Every athlete needs hours of practice, and a hunter may need to wait a long time for their prey. In such cases, long eye relief, which is constructed in the optics, could be of great help. The configuration of 4-12×44 makes the rifle see from varying distances without losing focus.
The deadlock feature is more effective in this model, as the tube diameter is more fuller. This means the holdover can be measured with more accuracy. The exit eye pupil is generously sized and allows the user more flexibility with head positions.
Also, the scope is shock-free and reduces the chances of backfire and eye injury. High quality, multi-coated, and anti-reflective lenses are used in this mode. The anti-reflection helps shooting in the sunlight without having to bother about light intensity.
These lenses are also waterproof. The varying scope makes this model versatile. Moreover, the body of the scope is made of high-grade aluminum which strengthens the body and also increases durability. It works really great with 17 WSM.
- Wider tube of 1-inch diameter
- Fog-proof and waterproof lenses
- 4-12×44 configuration
- An anti-reflective and multi-coated lens
- Clearer and wider view
- Superior deadlock feature
- The varying scope needs adjustments unlike fixed scopes
#3. Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm
Lenses are susceptible, and if by any chance it gets soggy or foggy, you will not have the opportunity to open the lens apart and dry off the water. That is why rifle scopes must remain waterproof and fog proof.
These types of products stay very close near the eye. They are also attached to heavy guns, and it is a high possibility that the backfiring might injure the eye. Also, if the rifle cannot absorb the initial shock from the gun, it can cause the bullet to deviate from its course.
However, Buckmasters II is shockproof. Other safety features also include long eye relief. You can stay at a distance from the scope and still see the target easily with the help of the long eye relief system.
Hence, you can reduce the possibility of getting injured by the scope. This scope can also create crisp and bright images on the lens. The clarity can ensure that the user is on target.
This bright sight will increase the accuracy of a shot by leaps and bounds. However, there are other elements, such as the 3-9×40 mm configuration which helps a lot in covering the distance and capturing a wide range. The configuration teamed with the clarity makes for a sure shot.
Moreover, this scope is user-friendly and easy to mount on the gun. The varying scope makes it easy to use for different purposes such as hunting on ground level or sky level. In short, this is a reasonable budget long-range scope.
- Multi-coated lens
- Excellent BDC hold
- Waterproof, fog-proof and shockproof
- The long eye relief system
- Intense clarity
- The accuracy may drop
#4. Bushnell Optics Drop Zone-22 BDC
The rifle scopes must be made of durable material. Otherwise, the jerking and recoil motion of the rifle will wear down the body and eventually cause less accuracy. Fortunately, the Bushnell will not trouble you with cheap material. This item is made with high-grade aluminum alloy.
Moreover, the aluminum makes the scope more durable but also keeps it lightweight. Consequently, the user can bear less load and can hold the rifle for a more extended period. The alloy body is ionized to protect the inside of the body from flying bullet cases or sharp particles that may splatter when shot.
For a hunter, the scope must focus fast because the prey might be moving. So, to take the shot immediately, the fast-focus eyepiece on the Bushnell marks an accurate deadlock on the target. It also helps in adjusting side focus parallels.
This means the user can have more flexibility with the side-eye view, and they can make a proper assessment of their surroundings. Also, this helps in fast focusing. The Bushnell can zero with ease at 50 yards and can aim to point at 125 yards.
And this quickly makes the Bushnell one of the best hunting scope under 300. It is designed to be calibrated at 38 to 40 grains and can match up velocity at 22 long rifle high. On top of all of that, the AR optics which are fully multi-coated make things much more comfortable.
- AR optics
- Fully multi-coated for better color grading
- 22 long rifle high velocity
- The fast-focus eyepiece
- Can zero at 50 yards
- Aluminum alloy body
- Durable and strong
- Waterproof lens
- The scope can get heavy for some users
#5. Vortex Optics Diamondback SFP
No one wants to do more guesswork after getting a scoped rifle. It should be accurate enough to eliminate the need for predicting. With the Vortex diamondback, you can comfortably take your shot, knowing that it will hit the target.
The MOA reticle is designed with BDC Dead-Hold which has customized dots to signal the user that the rifle is an open target. As soon as the target is on the center of the hold, a precise shot can be achieved. This will also be handy for users who have issues with holdovers.
Additionally, the 4-12×40 configuration is also a reason why this can be your go-to hunting scope. This eyepiece also has a second focal plane to measure the distance more accurately. Having an SFP allows the scope to have better eye relief.
Hence, the user will no longer have to stick their eyes out to get a better view. This also can zero at a good range and offer flexibility to the user when it comes to setting the variables. The turrets on this are metal on metal. This ensures zero resets when sight has been completed.
For tracking and repeating the steps, the scope has a precision glide erector system. The ionized finish on the body makes it more durable and shockproof. It also helps in staying camouflaged during a shoot.
O-ring sealed scopes are argon purged which can keep the lens from fogging up. This, in turn, increases the life span of the product. Besides, the lens can offer superior vision even in the dusk as it is multi-coated.
- Clear vision from dawn to dusk
- 4-12×40 level configuration
- A second focal place equipped the scope
- Eye relief feature
- Easy tracking and repeating system
- Stays camouflaged
- The lens with scratches can create problem while focusing
#6. Simmons 8-Point 3-9x50mm with Truplex Reticle
Usually, a 50mm objective lens has to add a decent amount of weight to the scope to attain its quality. Not this Simmons unit, however. It brings an incredible degree of comfort and clarity at a reasonable weight and price.
Starting, we have to talk about its incredible value. It delivers a lot for its budgeted price. The moment you aim, you can notice just how bright and clear the view is. It will make seeking out your target a trivial task. You can take this rifle out on any environment.
The fog-proof and waterproof lens keep your targets as clear as possible no matter how wet, or humid your surroundings are. Although it does not completely nullify the recoil on the scope, it can substantially reduce it. We all want a scope that is both easy on the eyes and fast on focus.
Simmons’ spectacular unit manages to attain both. It utilizes the QTA eyepiece that can attain both. You can focus quickly and aim at your target. The knobs click into place as you turn them. You can hear each adjustment, making it easier and faster to get the perfect shot. Also, it has a zero-resetting feature.
This allows you to keep the adjustment system locked to zero, so you do not have to make additional calculations to get the absolute perfect shot. With all of this, it is hard to overlook this incredible unit. Aiming becomes even nicer with its unique Truplex reticle.
- QTA eyepiece for better aiming
- Zero reset feature
- Fog and waterproof lens
- Reduced recoil
- Incredible clarity
- Does not provide the eye relief you would expect from a 50mm glass
#7. Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC, 2.5-10×40
This brand has a well-deserved high reputation when it comes to sheer lens quality. They have constantly put out scopes with immense quality at the budget price; it is almost shocking.
However, with all the astounding features they offer, you can see how they have earned their status and why their scope is worth every single penny. Firstly, we have to talk about its optic capabilities.
Just from a glance, you can see that the brightness and light transmission is on a whole other level compared to other units on the list. This is because it uses Nikon’s signature multi-coated optics to give this scope a fantastic view.
You get to see a 2.5x to 10x distance with utmost clarity through its incredible 40 diameter glass. The layout design also makes it easier for you to aim much faster to focus the reticle on to your target. So, if you compete in a lot of time trials, its fast aiming prowess is something you will want on the field.
The unit is bound to boost your performance. In case you doubt its usefulness, you can use the Nikon spot on ballistics match technology to figure out all the aiming points on your scope’s reticle. This lets you study and work towards making your aiming game even better.
It might not be the cheap rifle scope for deer hunting you are looking for since it has a low magnification distance. However, it was meant for hunting and also AR combat. The clear magnification gives you a solid view of all of your target and lets you aim fast on your automatic weapon.
Moreover, the zero resetting turrets and high-quality knobs make this an excellent rifle overall. With all the benefits it offers, it is hard to look over such an amazing option. However, we are not done with Nikon just yet.
- Zero resetting turrets for fast aiming
- Quick focus
- Hard to beat lens clarity
- Has Spot on Ballistics Mach technology
- Patented high-grade BDC reticle
- The windage quality can feel a bit mushy at times
#8. Nikon P-223 BDC 600 with Rapid Action Turret
You will hardly find a brand as consistent with its quality as a Nikon scope. Like all of its kind, it is optimized for its signature spot on ballistics technology. It gives you all the information you could ever need to achieve the true aim.
This feature allows you to quickly and easily find out all the aiming points on your scope’s reticle. You can use this to get incredibly accurate shots that let you easily seek out your target effectively. The 4-12×40 scope is also exceedingly impressive in its aim.
Also, the 40-diameter glass lets you zoom in from 4 to 12 times the distance you could see with your naked eyes. This is the kind of clarity you should expect from Nikon by now.
Its pristine glass has a viral feature like waterproofing and fog-proofing to give this set an additional edge over its competitors. This allows you to shoot in a variety of environments with no hindrance to your aim.
So, if you want to shoot some rounds in foggy or humid environments, you can do so with utmost ease and convenience. These top-tier lenses come with Nikon’s excellent multi-coated optics. And they give the viewers a level of clarity hard to expect from this budget.
Moreover, it gives you a good level of brightness and light transmission so you can perfectly see what you are dealing with when you make the shot. Along with that, it did not slack off with the kind of knobs they included. These spring-loaded masterpieces give you the coveted zero-reset feature.
As such, the aim becomes much more convenient and fast. With all of this, it becomes clear why we have included so many Nikon models. You simply cannot overlook this unit.
- Great lens clarity
- Comes with Zero reset turrets
- Reticle drastically boosts accuracy
- The incredible spot on ballistics feature
- Quick focus eyepiece boosts your speed
- Eye relief distance prevents it from being the perfect model
#9. Mueller Target, Black, 8-32 x 44mm
For our last entry, we will discuss an incredible scope that takes you to a whole new level of long-distance aiming. You get a highly reliable and efficient scope for a budget price. It is hard to ignore this model with its clear glass system and Mil-Dot reticle.
To start, we should take a moment to discuss its incredible magnification distance. It’s base distance lets you see eight times the distance you could see with the naked eye. It lets you see an immense distance with no additional adjustments at all.
However, if you want to see even further, this lets you go all the way up to an astounding 32x view. It makes long-distance shots an extremely simple task. This is made better with the Mil-Dot reticle that lets you calculate the drop-off and aim perfectly no matter how far you are shooting from.
The eyepiece focuses fast, allowing you to aim at your target faster. It makes you a perfect long-range shooter as you can shoot fast and far with ease. Unlike other models that come with all of these features, this Mueller model manages to be incredibly cheap for the plethora of benefits it gives you.
You are getting so much for so little it is often baffling. They even boosted its knob performance as you get to turn them without worrying about it changing numbers even while you carry it in its case. This is because they have definite stops; allowing them to click into place when adjusted properly.
Overall, this is a spectacular scope that does more than it should. With all the additional features it brings to the table, you will think it is criminally under-priced. In case you are looking for a cheap scope for 1000Y shooting, then this is the model for you.
- Very low priced
- Huge range
- Reliable Mil-Dot reticle
- Great replacement for higher-end scopes
- Highly effective in 1000Y shooting
- Clarity is hindered around the 28x to 32x range
Key Considerations When You Buy
You are not ready to get your scope just yet. There are a few things you need to know and keep a note of before you buy your ideal scope. Study these carefully, and you should get an idea of what you should watch out for.
Scopes are not as uniform as you might think. There are a few variations. You need to know these and determine which one you need.
This is probably the most common type out there. These scopes allow you to adjust the magnification. This means that you can adjust how far you can see with this type of scope. They come in a variety of ranges of magnification.
You need to pick up a variable scope with a range that is most suited for the kinds of a target you are shooting at. For example, you cannot expect the same results in shooting birds if you have a deer hunting scope. As such, if you are getting a variable scope, make sure you get the range you need.
This completely contrasts the variable scopes. They have a fixed magnification that is not adjustable in any way. As such, they have a lower user rate than the previous type.
However, it does have its unique appeal to it. This type is very popular among people who do not like to fiddle with their scope setting and just get down to business fast. It is also preferable for people who know exactly the kind of magnification they need.
Night Vision Scopes
This type is quite different from the earlier ones. They can have the attributes of a variable scope or a fixed scope. Its ability to grant you vision in the night sets it apart from the rest.
They are the ideal type if you often hunt when it gets dark. It is the most suitable option in places that are naturally dim and lack light. So, if you usually hunt in such dark environments, these are the types you should consider.
The Exit Pupil and Eye Relief
Hunting can be very uncomfortable and risky if you are not using good equipment. Your eyes are at risk when dealing with scopes. You need to keep it a good distance away from your face so that your eye is not hurt from the recoil.
That is where the Exit Pupil and Eye Relief come in. The Exit pupil is basically the point that shows you the magnified view. It determines how precisely you need to position your head to get a proper view through the scope.
The bigger the exit pupil is, the more freedom you have over your head position. You will not struggle with keeping your head exactly in place, which could lead to discomfort and inferior accuracy. However, larger exits will make it heavier.
On the other hand, Eye relief is a measure of how far you can be from the scope and still get a full view. As stated before, you need to keep your head away from the rifle to avoid damage due to recoil. As such, more eye relief lets you stay safer when shooting.
Typically, eye relief goes as far as 4 inches. However, few specialized higher-end units could have higher eye relief. You should try your best to get a rifle that has the relief that suits you the most within the budget.
We have already talked about this slightly when describing the variable and fixed scopes. However, there is a lot more to this specification that is vital to a proper purchase. This is how far you can see with the scope. You can only get a specific amplified few on the fixed variety.
On the other hand, you get to adjust the range of magnification on the variable ones. Numbers like 4-12×40 denote this.
Essentially, this means that the scope can zoom in from 4 times to up to 12 times the view you get from the naked eye. You can adjust between those values to get to zoom in just enough. The 40 here is the diameter of the objective lens.
This was for variable scopes. For fixed scopes, you are just told how much it magnifies; it will not have a range. You must get the right magnification for your purposes.
The quality of the lens is what makes or breaks a good scope. It has a direct impact on the clarity of your scope and how well you can see through them. Better lenses make you more accurate and improve eye relief. You can also keep your head further away due to the better quality.
Usually, the diameter of the lens is the biggest indicator of quality. The bigger it is, the more capable it is. However, it is a double-edged sword as larger diameters mean a heavier scope.
This added weight can throw off the balance of your rifle. It could make it feel clunky and uncomfortable. As such, you should aim for the sweet spot of between 40 to 44 diameters to get a reasonably sized and perfectly capable lens.
Top-Rated Brands on the Market
Some brands truly stand out from the rest. In case you want a clear idea on who the top manufacturers are, go through this list.
There is a good reason why the top entries of our list are filled to the brim with Vortex units. They release so many extraordinary units at such a low price, it’s unbelievable. Their quality and level of features should not be underestimated either.
When lens quality comes into question, Nikon is really hard to beat. They come with a huge variety of astounding scopes. All of their units are cutting edge in quality and features.
This brand is among the unsung heroes of affordable scopes. They release a plethora of feature-filled scopes with outstanding quality; all for a measly price tag that keeps your pocket happy.
If you are going for a scope with a lot of history to its name, the Bushnell is here for you. They have maintained their quality reputation throughout its entire lifespan. If you are looking for a shotgun scope, then Bushnell is your brand.
Although we did not introduce a Leupold model in our list, we cannot get away with just how incredible their units are. Their sheet quality and craftsmanship have led them to reach among the best brands in the world. In case you get a higher budget, try to get a Leupold unit. Check our best scopes under 400 reviews.
How to Mount a Scope?
You cannot use a scope if you do not mount it onto your rifle. It is a complex procedure that you must delicately handle since a poorly mounted scope is harmful to itself, you and the rifle. Follow these instructions step by step, and you should be able to secure it properly.
Before we get started, there are a few things you need to tend to if you want good results. Firstly, you need to make sure that you have prepared the rifle for the base. This means that you need to drill and tap the rifle to accept it.
Moreover, you need to buy the correct base and rings for your rifle to install the scope. Then, you should clean all the relevant components like the screw, the screw holes, and the base. Apply some medium-strength adhesive onto the screws and use those to install the base onto your rifle tightly.
Installing the Scope Rings
This is more complicated as different manufacturers require different methods to install the rings. However, you will receive the manufacturer’s instructions on how to install these properly onto your rifle.
Generally, you will have to install the front rings onto the base using a socket arrangement where you need to twist the rings by 90 degrees.
You should not try to twist it by hand. Instead, use something like a lever to do the job for you like a wooden dowel or a pipe. You should not use the scope itself as it could bend the tube and ruin the whole operation.
Setting the Scope on the Rings
Start by placing the scope on the bottom half of the rings. Next, attach it with the top half of rings but do not tighten it just yet. Make sure it is properly linked with the rings but not tightly attached.
Adjusting to the Ideal Position
This is the reason why we recommended that you do not attach the scope immediately after setting it on the rings. You now have free reign to slide it around and make adjustments to be in the perfect position for you. As such, use this to position it perfectly according to your preference and your shooting style.
Of course, you have to install it perfectly based on the eye relief and exit pupil of the scope. As such, make sure you take aim and see how well and comfortably you can aim with the settings once you find the perfect setting.
Use measurement tools to make sure that the scope is not tilting and the crosshair lines up adequately. Remember, you must install it with the notion where readjustment is not an option. Afterward, you can move on to the final step.
Tightening the Screws
Now that everything is set, it is now your job to tighten the ring screws to secure the scope. Make sure it is tight enough so that the scope does not move or tilt no matter how much pressure or strength you put.
Also, ensure it does not move upon moving the rifle. Once that is over, you have completed mounting the scope onto your rifle.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding the best rifle scopes under $300:
- Do I need fog or waterproof scopes?
Yes, if you plan on shooting in different weather conditions and environments.
- What should I get if I want to shoot in the dark?
In those cases, you should pick up a night vision scope.
- Is more eye relief important?
More eye relief gives you more comfort and safety from recoil. It is vital if you value those benefits.
- What range is best for deer hunting?
Go for 3-9x or 4-12x for deer hunting.
- Can I use a sniper scope on an AR?
You can, but it will not be nearly as effective.
There is a lot to take in when it comes to getting a reliable scope. You have to watch out for a lot of features to know for sure if you are getting the right one in your proper budget. However, now that you know everything, you can now get the best rifle scope under $300 in the market. Happy hunting!