When hunting season arrives, hunters and aficionados alike will gather for the joy of game and celebration.
While everybody has their guns and rifles ready to shoot at the next target, there is one key element that is essential for all hunters, and that is a scope. With proper aim and precision, a riflescope greatly assists the hunting process.
If you are one of those who are hunting as a pastime or for conservation reasons, it doesn’t matter what choice of weapon you are using because it is the riflescope that makes a significant difference.
That is why we are here to help you choose the best rifle scope under $500.
Top 7 Rifle Scopes Below $500 In 2021
Is 500 Bucks a Good Budget?
You might be wondering if 500 bucks are enough to get you a good riflescope. After all, riflescopes belong to a particular niche, and the ones considered good are generally expensive.
But it doesn’t have to be that way, because, even with 500 dollars you can expect to get the great ones.
For this price tag, you can find scopes with medium-range to long-range aims, including the magnification power from the lowest level of 4x to crossing 25x at most. So, these features are more than decent for the price.
You can also expect to see higher quality optics that support better precision and clarity, enabling good visibility.
Around this price range, the tube size is usually 1inch at least with a large enough objective lens that is capable of outputting a brighter image.
Moreover, it may have other essential features, and that includes being durable enough to guarantee long-term use. It means that the product is resistant to impact, recoil, and abrasion.
There are riflescopes that are also waterproof or fog-proof to withstand various environmental conditions.
Best Rifle Scope Under $500 Reviews
Buying rifle scopes without prior knowledge can be troublesome. But we can alleviate that. So, let’s get on with our reviews of the 7 best scopes you can get with just under $500.
#1. Vortex Optics Viper PA Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
The Vortex Optics Viper is an excellent choice of a riflescope when it comes to its robust craftsmanship and heavy-duty quality to withstand any recoil or impact.
Its tube size is 30mm with a varnish of anodizing to give that rugged exterior, making it waterproof and fog-proof.
This makes it ideal for use in tactical and hunting activities. It is perhaps the perfect choice for a hunting scope under 500 dollars. This is an excellent choice for high-end rifles like – 338 Lapua Magnum, 300 Win Mag, etc.
The scopes feature impeccable lenses that are capable of producing top-notch resolution and color due to the multi-coated, extra-low dispersion lenses.
Also, the XR coating it comes with imparts it with increasing light gathering properties. All these features in the lenses come while being protected by Armortek coating. As for the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, it is customizable and provides a variety of uses.
It has a fixed second focal plane, so you do not have to worry about it changing while you magnify. This makes it perfect for long-range use in hunting, while you do away with any extra guesswork or windage adjustments. Internally, this piece has components to help with smoother magnification.
Such is the Precision-Force Spring System which ensures consistent results and easy adjustment, thanks to the premium materials they use for the spring system.
Then comes the Precision Glide Erector System, which assists with lens zooming under any circumstances.
Meanwhile, the MAG Bar feature permits you to make quick changes in magnification. It is convenient too because it has capped reset turrets, parallax adjustment all in the right place.
So even after viewing it lets you rearrange the turret to zero. And the latter enables quick changes as you can also see the range numbers while you see through the scope.
#2. Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Riflescope
This stellar scope is a versatile piece that is useful for a range of applications, mainly shooting and hunting. It comes with Monarch 3 Eyebox Technology with a capacity of 4x to 16x zoom and quick, secure eyepiece support that allows eye relief with its 4-inch space.
So not only is it versatile, it is comfortable to use too. It also has the nifty feature of zero-reset turrets that is useful for getting back into zero settings after any prior adjustments.
So, when you are out in the hunting zone and spot an animal 500 yards away, you can make correct adjustments to shoot it.
But if you want to reset it back to zero for 200 yards, then you don’t have to remember or look into the scope for adjustments, because you can pull the trigger and get back to zero!
The lenses also have remarkable traits, like its 42mm lens with Ultra ClearCoat Optical system that allows 95 percent of light to pass through.
While the lens may not be on the bigger side, it still has a sufficient size and can gather light even in low light. So don’t bother getting the bigger lens. With a reliable brand like Nikon, you can’t go wrong with a 42mm lens.
Not to mention the BDC side focus adjustment, which helps you avoid parallax error. Because if you want to use your scope for long-range hunting and higher magnification level, then this feature is a must. It allows you to be efficient in your aim and strike with the correct shot.
#3. EOTECH 512 A65
This is quite a popular holographic riflescope, and it is constructed for both close and long-range shooting. It boasts a range distance of 3 to 300 yards.
Most importantly, its hallmark is the optics that fall into the red dot sign category but with modern technology to complement it.
Therefore, it consists of a laser that reflects into the reticle rather than a red dot optic, and it is parallax free. The Eotech also has a simple, minimalistic design with a square body and square lenses, which allows the user ease of viewing.
At the same time, this contributes a wide FOV for the user, and that allows more efficiency to target correctly as well as being alert. Plus, it is assembled with sturdy aluminum making it waterproof so that you can use it in a variety of situations.
It has an incredible feat of 20 brightness settings too that makes it versatile for use in all kinds of environments.
The wide range of settings provides the convenience of adjusting brightness without being dependent on external factors such as daylight or any other time-consuming hassle.
So you are free to see clearly and tune the way you want to get a proper aim at your target. The scope also has a battery life that alternates between 1000 hours in lithium battery to 600 hours in a standard battery. Although it seems quite incredible in reality, it is not up to the standard for its price.
For example, other holographic models would quickly have a battery life of 50,000 to 80,000 hours!
Holographic reticle requires more energy than the standard red dot optic. So, the battery might be a downside, but it is still sufficient as it comes with double batteries and their availability is universal.
#4. Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6×24 FFP
Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6×26 is a III Gen rifle scope from the company that is supported by their very own Advanced Combined Sighting System.
It delivers impeccable performance for range adjustments, proper lock, and target for bullet drop compensation, even if your prey is moving.
It is designed with a matte finish due to the hard-anodized aluminum body, making it rugged and water-resistant at the same time.
Also, it’s internals are purified with nitrogen to provide the anti-fog attribute. Then it has 11 brightness settings that lead to the flexibility of use.
Moreover, the lens allows maximum light transition with its multi coats of anti-glare and scratch-resistant attributes.
The scope is also ergonomic. It consists of a red reticle that is capable of completely illuminating the 10.04 inches tube without wasting much battery.
Plus, a spare CR2032 battery is also included and can be found in the turret cap. It even features a quick focus eyepiece that gives good eye relief. The turrets are also finger-adjustable by handling the turret caps.
On the other hand, it consists of 6 levels of magnification with absolute accuracy due to BDC. This provides balanced options for magnification options without too much excessiveness, which could lead to loss of quality.
Moreover, the ACSS Raptor’s first focal plane reticle is scaled to the same size at any magnification.
Furthermore, it also features automatic ranging that can target accurately in long distances such as 600-800 yards. It can also be precise while targeting moving objects regardless of their size. If you need a scope for AR 15, this is it.
All these features make the scope a top-tier one without question since it has so many appealing features that are present in suitable standard riflescopes.
#5. Vortex Optics Spitfire Prism Scopes
On the first impression, this model is a unique one packed with cool features. First of all, it is a prism scope since it’s optical system is based on prism instead of the usual red dot optic models.
Also, the prisms are multi-coated with anti-reflective properties, and that provides superior light transmission for brightness and clarity of the image. It has a fast-focus eyepiece that gives a sufficient level of 2.8 inches of eye relief and a large field of view for 100 yards.
Moreover, it displays remarkable performance when it comes to close to mid-range shooting thanks to its 3x magnification. Its reticle system is laced with advanced technology that enables red and green reticle color to adjust the brightness levels that are appropriate to use in the given condition.
So, even if it is stormy and dark outside, this can work well enough. Furthermore, the scope has a rugged and heavy-duty build. It is designed with robust aluminum that imparts its shockproof and recoil-proof ability.
Similarly, it is purged with nitrogen for delivering fog-proof and waterproof properties. It is also compact and easy to carry, and all this comes without compensation for quality.
One of the benefits of prism scopes is that even when the battery has run out, the scope is still usable thanks to the functional etched reticle. It guarantees a perfect aim at the target even with the absence of illumination.
The optics are also easily mountable, and it allows standard sizes from 30mm to 40mm optics to be mounted. Additionally, it features a double Picatinny mount that enables mounting of a reflex sight and that allows fast target acquisition.
#6. Argos BTR Riflescope
This riflescope is a high-end model that is ideal for beginners and novices alike. Surprisingly, it has impeccable features for the price that makes it more than worthy. For instance, with this scope, it is possible to aim at long range that is as far as 1000 yards!
So, instead of investing in a 2000 dollar scope for the same distance, you can easily get away with this long-range scope under $500!
The reticles of this scope are etched on the glass that doesn’t require further focus and magnification since the reticle is already fixed.
Also, the battery power and the no-illumination attribute do not impact the first focal plane reticle it features so that you can use the fixed reticle without any hesitation.
Additionally, it has an impressive 100 yards Field Of View and 3.3 inches of eye relief that supplements the features. The reticle size even varies to indicate the magnification level.
So, make no mistake about the reticle features because it adds to the versatility of this scope.
Moreover, the lenses are fully multi-coated for glare management that allows excellent light transmission for balanced brightness and full color. This also features top-class optics with parallax adjustments for your convenience.
Quite impressively, the scope is made out of aluminum that is 6061T6 aircraft grade. So imagine the sturdy build and durability of this product.
It is touted to have extraordinary toughness and amazing mechanical efficiency that will protect it against rough conditions.
Also, it is purged with argon to give it thermal stability and superior waterproof and shockproof quality.
#7. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm
The Leupold VX-3i is loaded with relentless specifications making it the best hunting scope for the money.
This item has been popular for decades, and it doesn’t come as a shock since this model has been used by generations of hunters all due to its reliability and dependability.
Due to its reliability, it guarantees a lifetime of usage. It can handle both close-range and long-range effortlessly. Why wouldn’t it, when it has got a magnification range of 3.5x-10x thereby making it ideal for hunting and other purposes.
It’s double reticle feature also makes everything just better with its ultra-precision of ¼ MOA. It offers other convenience of finger adjustments for elevation and windage.
Even in low light, it doesn’t disappoint at all as it is bestowed with the technology of their patented Twilight Max Light Management System.
This important feature makes a whole lot of difference because it allows flexibility for you to see details under dim lighting conditions or unfavorable weather.
That’s not all, because this convenient feature also allows you to use for an extra 20 minutes of shooting light. Also, the premium lens has the utmost clarity that is coated with anti-reflective properties.
This magnificent equipment is also waterproof, shockproof, and fog-proof. It can also withstand extreme recoil or impact and even harsh climate conditions.
What enables such unbelievable durability is its build of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum that is varnished with a matte Diamond Coat 2; even the lenses are ionically coated for optimum light transition and to withstand any abrasion.
For Low Budgeters
Do you want to save more money? There are a few more options available.
Here is a list of our recent reviews that you should not miss:
What to Look for in a Scope?
Now that you have seen our comprehensive list of the best scopes. It is time that we shed light on what to look for when you are buying a riflescope in the market. In the end, only you can be the judge of the riflescope that meets your needs.
The lens is the defining element of a rifle scope. There are two main types: Ocular and Objective Lens. The smaller lens that is used to view is the ocular one while the larger one at the rear end is the objective lens. By and large, the objective lens is far more important.
While an Ocular lens is also important on its own as it determines the field of view and focal plane, but it is the objective lens you should mainly pay heed to when buying a riflescope.
The primary task of the objective lens is to gather light from the target to produce a real image for the ocular lens to see.
It brings more brightness to the scope and therefore, more clarity for viewing. However, as magnification increases, so does the darkness of the scope. Only the bigger objective lens help in situations like these.
There is some misunderstanding concerning the size of the objective lens. An objective lens has one drawback, and it is the extra weight.
But many people assume that a larger lens means more magnification level, which is not true. A larger lens helps with brightness while a thick lens is needed for magnification.
Below we discuss the primary components of lenses.
Magnification is what obsesses people. Everybody has this misconception that large magnification is the best choice, but that is not always the case since having a bigger view of your target does not guarantee perfect shots.
But, the solid choice of magnification we recommend is the 8x to 10x scope. This gives pretty accurate results, and that is why this magnification range is also used in the military. What matters, in the end, are the objective lenses and the coating it has.
A thicker magnification will have a darker view and therefore, the difficulty of using in low light. What it needs is a bigger objective lens and extra coating to tackle such a situation.
Finally, magnifications are generally 4x for a shorter range to 40x for a long-range. The choice of magnification largely depends on the type of scope you want.
Field of View
The field of view is the observable or coverage of the area that a person sees through any optical lens. Feet and yards are used to measure the distance of the Field of View. You will get less FOV with greater magnification.
The purpose of FOV is to find the target when you look through the ocular lens. With a shorter distance of FOV, you might have troubleshooting or finding a turkey or a deer. But it becomes much easier when you have a FOV of about 30.
Although, it might take a back seat to all the other important factors. But it is always helpful to be aware of its effects. Compared to the smaller field of view, a bigger field of view allows you to aim faster at your target.
Another significant factor about lenses is the focal plane. You should consider getting a scope with the first focal plane, as they are fixed and allows for stable targeting and shooting. They are not affected by magnification and therefore have the same point of impact.
Alternatively, with a second focal plane, the point of impact varies with the magnification level due to the reticle staying the same. But in the first focal plane, the reticles changes with magnification.
Although these are generally on the expensive side, you can expect them to be within your budget.
Eye relief is a very crucial factor that you must not oversee. After all, you don’t just want the best rifle scope; you want comfort and ease with it too. So, eye relief is the distance your eye can be away from the scope and still give a clear view.
Most scopes come with eye relief greater than 15mm, so it is not worrying since it is enough even when you wear glasses. But if you still have to look closer than 15mm, then you don’t get enough eye relief.
The second factor to consider is recoil. When you fire a shot, your rifle might recoil, and you don’t want the scope hitting your eye. So for rifles with big recoil, there are scopes with more eye relief.
Types of Rifle Scopes
There are many kinds of rifle scopes out there in the market for a variety of purposes. So we will talk about the many types and categories they fall into.
To be precise, tactical scopes usually have 40x magnification and large objective lenses. The lower magnification level goes as low as 4x.
For instance, its purpose is to expand and double the 250 meters range of a rifle to 500 meters with low magnification. This also excludes any limitation on close range.
These are usually used in the military snipers. Although they are not overpowered scopes, they have powerful optics that are used by the military. The fixed 10x scope has been proven effective by specialists, and that’s what is commonly used.
Beware, it is not easy to use these scopes because it requires you to shoot from almost impossible distances. So it needs proper skill and training to handle it. Even with huge distances, it maintains the FOV and the clarity of viewing.
Hunting scopes are mostly simple and durable. They need to be able to withstand certain obstacles and environmental conditions when you take them out in the woods.
Typically, hunting scopes come with a magnification of 10x to 20x with simple adjustments and reticle. They might have fixed, or variable magnification but the objective lenses are always bigger for brighter clarity and view.
A good FOV and optic are crucial to spotting camouflaging animals, and for you to shoot the target without any delay. Hunting scopes largely depends on the terrain and the specimen you are hunting for.
For competitions, it is a large power scope that takes the cake. Since you need total accuracy to pinpoint targets that have a variety of distance lengths, for instance about 100 to 500 yards away, consider getting a powerful scope.
It does not even have to be ridiculously priced. Get a good long-range scope that doesn’t have to be too durable or needs to have brighter light transmission.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked queries regarding riflescopes:
What’s the ideal magnification?
Normally, we recommend 8x to 10x magnification. It strikes a perfect balance for handling any situation.
Which one should I opt for, fixed or variable scope?
Conversely, a fixed power scope is a better option than the variable scope for the same price because it is durable, higher quality, and consistent. They have their fair share of pros and cons, but the fixed ones are more reliable.
What is the best size for the objective lens?
First of all, you should look through the scope to assure that you get a bright, clear view because the objective lens should be equal to the magnification.
How many reticles do I go for?
For beginners, it is best to choose two reticles. If you are mainly a hunter, then go for the plain single reticle. But for long-range optics, a standard reticle will do.
What does parallax mean?
Parallax is quite easy to grasp. It is an error you make when your aim is out of alignment and displays darkness around the edges of the lens.
It happens due to the wrong positioning of the eye with respect to the reticle of your scope, which is an aiming aid in the lens of the scope. To avoid it, try to hold the riflescope in proper alignment with your eye, properly centered in the eyepiece.
We have given you the reviews of the best rifle scope under $500. These are good quality scopes that have been used and therefore tested by many.
We need you to consider why you want a riflescope in the first place, and the purpose you are using it for. This guide will make sure that you are well-informed about rifle scopes when you finally go shopping for them.