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The Best Budget Rifle Scopes (2023)

The Best Budget Rifle Scopes (2023)

Posted by on Oct 27th 2022

Good optics are usually expensive, costing over $500 for top brands and models. But there are plenty of budget rifle scopes available that perform well without breaking your bank. Let's take a look at some top picks for the best budget scopes.

Buying a Scope: What We Look For

If an entry-level optic does well in the below categories, it's a safe bet you're getting a good value.

Construction & Lens Coatings

Any quality rifle scope should be machined from billet (6061-T6) aluminum. A corrosion-resistant anodized coating is preferred, too. Lenses should have multi-coat treatments. These treatments help reduce sun glare and reflections. They also protect your eyes from UV rays while enhancing clarity.

Parallax Adjustment

You'll want infinity parallax adjustment on any variable-power optic. This ensures the reticle and target rest on the same plane, ensuring any subtle change in sight picture and shooting stance don't negatively affect your point of aim.

Fast-Focus Eyepiece

Whether fixed or variable, your optic should come with a fast-focus eyepiece adjustment. Separate from parallax adjustment, a fast focus ensures your optic and reticle are clear and crisp

Quality Turrets

Your turrets need to produce solid, even clicks for adjusting windage and elevation. Reticle tracking is important, too. A scope that tracks well means its reticle returns to the original position when zeroed, and accurately adjusts up, down, left, and right with the turrets.

Recoil Management

Cheap scopes will suffer, here. A good budget scope should be able to handle centerfire rifle or handgun recoil without losing its zero. Turrets should also be able to handle recoil without unwanted adjustments.

Reticle & Magnification

More budget scopes are available with good targeting reticles, which include elevation and windage subtensions for holdovers. Any fixed optic will be more affordable than variable power. If you plan on shooting at closer distances -- say, under 300 meters -- a fixed power may be worth the extra cost savings.


Since we're focusing on budget scopes, we're reviewing long-range scopes that cost $800 or less. For close- and medium-range optics (like a fixed-power 4x, or variable 3x--9x), we're reviewing options under $500.

Top Rifle Scopes: Our Picks

Best AR-15 Scopes Under $500

Bushnell AR Optics (1-4x24 mm) w/ Drop Zone .223 Reticle

Buy the Bushnell AR Optics Here

Bushnell's AR optics is probably the most affordable variable-power AR scope coming from an established brand. At the mid-$100 mark, it provides a quality, compact tube with generous eye relief and solid turrets. The lever throw on the fast-focus eye relief is a nice feature normally found on more expensive models. The 24mm tube provides a small profile, and it provides plenty of light and clarity. Magnification is available between 1x and 4x.

The Bushnell AR's big selling point is the "drop zone" .223 reticle. It provides simple but effective distance holdovers for 55-grain to 62-grain 5.56 and .223 loads (M855 and M193) at distances of 200, 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards. For accurate holdovers, the Bushnell must be zeroed at 100 yards and used at 4x power.

Additional Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.6"
  • Scope tube length: 10.2"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Tube mounting length: 154mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 16.5 oz.
  • Reticle: Drop Zone .223, second focal plane
  • Total elevation adjustment: 50 MOA / 14.6 MIL
  • Total windage adjustment: 50 MOA / 14.6 MIL
  • Adjustment per rotation: 6 MIL (21.6" at 100 yards)
  • Field of view (100 yds): 100 feet at 1x, 16 feet at 6x
  • Zero Stop: No
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • UltraWide Band Coatings: Yes
  • Waterproof rating: IPX7 (submersible)

Why We Like the Bushnell AR

This simple, non-illuminated scope still comes with plenty of features that make it worth arguably more than its low price: It's waterproof, it comes with nice turret caps, the fast-focus throw looks and feels great, the lenses are multi-coated, and the tube is rugged and compact. Glass is clear with no aberrations nor fish-eye effects, and the reticle tracks well on both turrets.

If you're willing to spring $200 more, you can grab the Bushnell AR with 1x-8x power and an illuminated reticle with upgraded subtensions. At just under $350, the illuminated Bushnell provides practically identical specs and features as its competitor from Vortex, the Strike Eagle, while costing a bit less.

Burris RT-6 1-6x24mm Tactical Rifle Scope

Buy the Burris RT-6 Here

The Bushnell AR falls short when it comes to obtaining accurate windage holdovers -- its available reticles are designed to compensate for distance and bullet drop. For a sighting reticle that provides great windage subtensions, we recommend the Burris RT-6. Its 1x-6x power provides bullet drop compensation out to 600 yards, too.

On the RT-6's reticle, you have a fair bit of measuring: The distance between each horizontal stadia line (tall hash mark) measures 1 MOA. The distance between each subtension (short hash mark) and stadia line measures 0.5 MOA. Bullet drop is measured from the top of the vertical reticle (200 yards) to the bottom (600 yards) in 100-yard increments.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.3" to 4.0"
  • Scope tube length: 10.3"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Tube mounting length: 154mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 17.4 oz.
  • Reticle: Ballistic 5X, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 80 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 80 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.5 MOA (1" at 100 yards)
  • Zero Stop: No
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Battery: CR2032
  • Illuminated: Yes, 11 brightness settings

Why We Like the Burris RT-6

The RT-6 tends to get very favorable reviews. Some say they've switched from the Vortex Strike Eagle to the RT-6, and found that Burris affords better glass with brighter clarity, and solid (perhaps better) build quality. We like the RT-6 because it provides one of the best reticles found on any AR-type scope while costing less than closely matched competitors.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm Scope w/ BDC3 Reticle

Buy the Strike Eagle here

The Strike Eagle from Vortex is the "premium" budget choice for an AR-type rifle. It's similar in specification to the RT-6 and Bushnell AR, but with overall higher quality glass, a more impressive reticle, and very well-built, low-profile turrets with a zero index.

The BDC3 reticle provides tons of holdover data for 5.56 and .223 loads, with accurate subtensions out to 650 yards. Housed inside a larger 30mm tube, the Strike Eagle provides the most clarity and ballistic data out of all the AR scopes we're reviewing. A total of 140 MOA in adjustments provides plenty of room to push your rifle to its max effective range.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.2" to 3.5"
  • Scope tube length: 10.5"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 18.5 oz.
  • Reticle: AR-BDC3, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 140 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 140 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.5 MOA (0.25" at 100 yards)
  • Zero Stop: No, but zero-resettable
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: No

Why we like the Strike Eagle

The Strike Eagle is just incredibly well-built, and its turrets, reticle, and glass outmatch both the Bushnell and Burris. You are, of course, paying a fair bit more for that quality. But the BDC3 reticle and wide adjustment range makes this a top choice for shooting longer distances without sacrificing the compact, AR-type scope profile.

Best Budget Hunting Scopes (3x-9x)

Burris Fullfield E1 3-9x40mm Scope

Buy the Fullfield E1

At around $150, you'd think a scope like the Fullfield must be cheap. Except "cheap" is the wrong word, because the E1 3x-9x50 provides one helluva sight picture and quality glass. Its 40mm objective lens provides excellent brightness.

The E1's reticle balances an unobstructed sight picture with useful holdovers at trophy-taking distances. Parallax is set to 100 yards. Included "Posi-Lock" turret locks prevent accidental adjustments messing up your zero in the field.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.1" to 3.4"
  • Scope tube length: 12.2"
  • Scope tube diameter: 1"
  • Scope weight (no rings): 13.0 oz.
  • Reticle: Ballistic Plex E1, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 50 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 50 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA (0.25" at 100 yards)
  • Zero Stop: No
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: No

Why we like the Fullfield E1

As far as hunting scopes go, the Fullfield E1 is arguably one of the most well-constructed and durable optics available at such a low price. It includes redundant O-ring seals, its purged two dozen times with nitrogen, its billet tube is tough as nails, and its glass provides a bright, clear picture in all light conditions. Turrets are solid, the Posi-Lock provides added security, and its compact profile and light weight make it the perfect choice for any American game bolt gun.

Riton 1 Primal 3-9x40 Rifle Scope

Buy the Riton 1 Primal

Spec-wise, the Riton 1 Primal is a direct competitor to the highly-rated Fullfield E1. It sports the same magnification and lenses, but comes with a full duplex reticle sporting a few more subtensions and holdover marks than the Fullfield. 

The advertised MOA-marked "RAK" reticle is housed inside a typical billet aluminum 1" tube, sporting what Riton calls their "HD Glass." It's fully coated and claims enhanced clarity in low-light conditions. It, too, is a second-focal plane setup, providing accurate holdovers at 9x power.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.5" to 3.9"
  • Scope tube length: 12.0"
  • Scope tube diameter: 1"
  • Scope weight (no rings): 22.4 oz.
  • Reticle: "RAK" MOA, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 80 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 80 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA (0.25" at 100 yards)
  • Zero Stop: No, but zero resettable
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: No

Why we like the Riton 1 Primal

Although similarly priced and spec'd to the Fullfield E1, the Riton 1 edges out its Burris competitor with more generous MOA adjustments and a more "rugged" construction, evidenced by its 40% greater weight. Some shooters may also prefer a full duplex-style reticle, too. The Riton delivers with a clear sight picture and proper subtensions. Lastly, the Riton has zero-resettable turrets.

Vortex Crossfire II 3-9x50 Scope

Buy the Vortex Crossfire II here

If you prefer a brighter optic with more light (or you want an illuminated reticle), the Crossfire II from Vortex is a great choice. It's more expensive than our 3-9x picks from Burris and Riton, but neither of those scopes provide a 50mm objective lens, nor illuminated reticles. The Crossfire's "V-BRITE" reticle provides a classic duplex setup with a red-lit center dot.

The Crossfire provides an overall clearer, brighter sight picture than competitors we mentioned from Burris and Riton. The relatively simple V-BRITE reticle also provides a simpler and perhaps less distracting setup for shooters who prefer a standard duplex against subtension markings. 

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.4" to 3.8"
  • Scope tube length: 12.8"
  • Scope tube diameter: 1"
  • Scope weight (no rings): 18.0 oz.
  • Reticle: "V-Brite" red dot, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 60 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 60 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA (0.25" at 100 yards)
  • Zero Stop: No, but zero resettable
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: Yes

Why we like the Crossfire II

Vortex needs little introduction. They're one of the most popular mid-range rifle scope makers on the market. The Crossfire II holds up alongside their reputation, providing incredible picture quality and construction for around $200. The Crossfire II isn't as heavy as the Riton 1, and its tougher than the Fullfield. The V-BRITE reticle also still provides basic holdovers: Distance the reticle lines measures 2 MOA, or 1 MOA from the red dot to each reticle line in all directions. The Crossfire II also comes available with a straight wall or dead-hold BDC reticle.

Best Affordable Long-Range Scopes

Bushnell Match PRO 6-24x50 Scope

Buy the Match PRO here

Bushnell's introduction of the Match PRO long-range scope was met with favorable review: This 6-24x variable optic provides a first-focal plane MIL reticle, providing holdover accuracy at any magnification. Large target turrets, parallax from 10 to infinity, and a special "EXO barrier" glass coating are said to afford the kind of clarity and adjustment needed for long-distance shooting, minus the typical $1,000+ price point. The Match PRO averages around $550.

The etched MIL reticle provides loads of holdovers for windage and elevation, marked out to 800 meters for bullet drop. Zero resettable turrets with base-10 MIL adjustments make sight-in and on-the-range adjustments easy, like how any proper long-range FFP scope should function.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.7"
  • Scope tube length: 14.0"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 29.8 oz.
  • Reticle: MIL dot, FFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 18 MIL
  • Total windage adjustment: 18 MIL
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.1 MIL
  • Zero Stop: Yes
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: Available

Why we like the Match PRO

Long-range scopes need high-quality glass. Small variances in manufacturing tolerance can produce a terrible sight picture and poor clarity at full power. NRL22 match shooters have remarked positively about the surprisingly high quality of the Match PRO's glass, saying it's easy to take clear shots up to 1,000 yards. This scope is also heavy and tough. The weight isn't an issue -- it's made for bench rifles. It'll hold up to high recoil, and its turrets and tracking are spot-on.

Vortex Diamondback 6-24x50 Scope

Like Bushnell's Match PRO, Vortex focused on providing the Diamondback with their best glass. This FFP setup provides a remarkable sight picture for its roughly $400 price tag. Available with an MRAD (MIL) or MOA reticle, the Diamondback provides a similar holdover dot setup like the Match PRO, with subtension dots out to 1,000 meters.

Etched into the first focal plane, the reticle's holdovers are accurate at all magnifications. The individual windage dots tend to blur together at low power, but both drop and windage holds are still easy to identify at any magnification. Turrets provide 1/4 MOA or 0.1 MIL clicks, with 65 MOA or 19 MILs of total adjustment.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.9"
  • Scope tube length: 14.5"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 24.6 oz.
  • Reticle: MIL or MOA dot, FFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 65 MOA/19 MIL
  • Total windage adjustment: 65 MOA/19 MIL
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA/0.1 MIL
  • Zero Stop: No, but zero reset
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: No

Why we like the Diamondback

The Diamondback comes priced about $100 less than the Match PRO. It weighs a bit less, too, making it more suitable for a rifle that's on the move. The extra-low dispersion glass provides amazing clarity in low light, with no chromatic aberration, no fish-eye, and perfect tracking across both adjustment planes. Vortex provides what they call a "precision-glade" erector system with tuned springs for each turret. They function very well, providing tactile, clear clicks with zero mush.

Riton X1 Conquer 6-4x50 Scope

Buy the Riton X1 here

This writer had plenty of time to review the Riton X1, and walked away impressed enough to compare it to a $1,000 optic. Unlike the Diamondback and Match PRO, this is a second-focal plane setup with a simplified MOA reticle sporting regular subtensions across its duplex. The glass on this optic is practically as clear and bright as an optic commanding four digits on its price tag, in addition to providing absolutely accurate tracking and MOA measurements at 24x, verified in our longer, dedicated review of this scope.

 Quarter, half, and single MOA subtensions provide easy-to-read holdovers for windage and elevation. Some shooters prefer this setup to the conventional dot matrix found on our other reviewed options. This cleaner reticle is preferred by this writer, too.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.8"
  • Scope tube length: 14.5"
  • Scope tube diameter: 1"
  • Scope weight (no rings): 24.0 oz.
  • Reticle: MOA duplex, SFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 67 MOA
  • Total windage adjustment: 67 MOA
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA
  • Zero Stop: Yes + locking, zero resettable
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: No

Why we like the Riton X1

As this writer previously noted, the quality of the Riton X1 is comparable to that of an optic he owns that cost over $1,000. This scope even provided almost identical light transmission and clarity in a difficult low-light environment, and its reticle was perhaps a little clearer than its more expensive competitor. The turrets track and click beautifully, parallax is accurate, and overall build quality far outmatches the Riton's own price point. Speaking of price, the X1 is our most affordable long-range scope reviewed, coming in at around $240.

Sig Sauer TANGO4 6-24x50 Scope

Buy the Sig TANGO4 scope here

Sig has made some impression red dot optics, and their entry into the long-range scope market is no exception. The TANGO4 scope provides low-dispersion glass, excellent brightness through its 50mm lens, a clear etched FFP reticle with illumination, available in MOA or MIL, and some of the most well-crafted turrets we've felt on any scope.

With illumination, the Tango4's reticle is perhaps the clearest and easiest-to-read dot matrix reticle we've seen on a scope below $1,000, coupled with turrets we'd expect to find on a Zeiss or U.S. Optics that costs 3 to 4 times more.

Specs & Features:

  • Eye Relief: 3.7"
  • Scope tube length: 14.8"
  • Scope tube diameter: 30mm
  • Scope weight (no rings): 22.9 oz.
  • Reticle: MOA or MIL dot matrix, FFP
  • Total elevation adjustment: 60 MOA/17 MIL
  • Total windage adjustment: 30 MOA/8.5 MIL
  • Adjustment per rotation: 0.25 MOA/ 0.1 MIL
  • Zero Stop: Yes + locking, zero resettable
  • Lens coatings: Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated: Yes

Why we like the TANGO4

With the TANGO4, Sig provides a scope that truly compares to premium optics costing well over $1,000. At around $650, the Tango4 is certainly not cheap. But you're getting your money's worth at least twice over. With zero stop, zero reset, nearly perfect glass with excellent brightness, locking turrets that feel great and a crisp reticle that tracks perfectly, the Sig functions like a top-tier optic because it truly is one. It's arguably one of the most "premium" budget scopes on the market today.

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