The Best 1-4x Scopes & Optics in 2024

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In this guide I’m going to show you the best 1-4x scope.

In fact:

These are the same scopes that many optic experts and competitive shooters use.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need a solid 1-4 scope for hunting, you’ll find it here.

Let’s get started!

What is a 1-4x Scope?

Put shortly, it’s a magnifier that can go from 4x power to zero magnification.

This ability puts it on par with the speed of red dots and iron sights when the magnification is turned down, but it also gives you the ability to reach out and touch someone when needed.

For me, 4x is more than enough magnification to take man-sized targets at up to 500 yards. Obviously, this will vary based on your shooting skill, but large targets aren’t hard to acquire and don’t require the magnification used in target competitions.

Most often, the question of red dot vs. 1-4x scope comes up for home defense rifles or battle rifles. This is a decision that could protect or cost you your life at some point.

The 1x setting on the scope allows you to use your optic almost the same way you would a red dot or an ACOG. The 4x is to assist you with longer range shooting.

Let’s dive a little deeper.

What Makes a Good 1-4x Scope?

Durability, dependability, and ease of use are key to any good sighting system, but a good 1-4x scope also needs to be set up for your preferences.

It’s important to ask, “What is the primary role of this weapon?”

When I was shopping, I found myself wondering mostly about the sight picture, or how the reticle looks over a target. Without getting bogged down, a close-quarters combat optic needs to be fast on target, and a simple dot works wonders.

If longer range targets are a possibility, then some mil-dots or other sighting aids would be helpful, but they can end up cluttering the sight picture.

Then there is the question of illumination. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with a lit sight picture. On the other hand, your batteries won’t last forever in a SHTF bug-out situation, so it’s nice to have a plain reticle to fall back on when the battery goes dead.

My Bushmaster AR-15 was set up for home defense primarily, but I also wanted to lug it with me if, God forbid, I ever had to evacuate my family. By leaving the magnification on 1x, it fills its primary role nicely, but I have the optical power necessary if I were being pursued on the road.

Your situation may vary, but these are important things to think about. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to a 1-4x scope, and the market is flooded with options.

1-4x Scope vs. Red Dot

There are a lot of great scopes for an AR out there. It’s hard to know where to drop your hard-earned dollars.

Red dots are great, don’t get me wrong.

They’re one step up from iron sights, and thus contain within them the same limitations. First, lack of magnification. The biggest drawback is that they require batteries, and when the batteries run out, the sight is pretty much useless.

On the plus side, a bright red or green dot gives faster target acquisition compared to a black reticle or iron sights. Magnification can be added with the addition of a simple magnifier scope, or even a flip-down type to give the best of both worlds. Extra batteries can be carried without a lot of extra weight, and so on.

The difference with a 1-4x scope is that most of these add-on features for a red dot are included in the scope itself.

Even when illuminated by battery power, most still carry a functional black crosshair when they are off. Magnification can be adjusted easily by twisting a knob, and the whole package is a single addition to your top rail. The simplicity of the setup is really where a 1-4x scope stands out.

The main drawback is that a 1-4x scope is still very much a scope, and eye relief is something to think about.

It’s argued that they are slower in target acquisition even at 1x power, but some 3-gun shooters, myself included, will disagree with that statement, citing that picking up that speed is part of learning a new sight picture.

Parallax can be an issue on some 1-4x scopes as well, but the results vary so much from scope to scope and shooter to shooter that it’s hard to decide if this is really an issue. Once you get used to centering the black ring around the picture, parallax issues go away naturally.

For me, the real comparison comes down to use. A quality red dot is suited for weapons where magnification should never be needed, like a pistol or crossbow. If a rifle is capable of taking game at over 200 yards, why would someone not choose a magnified sighting system is a question I struggle to answer.

Another solution might be a prism scope if you aren’t concerned as much with close quarters or are adding a LASER. This can be a tough decision, even by the experts.

Scope Qualities Worth Looking At

Primary Optic Diameter

On a 4x scope, this might be something easily overlooked as there isn’t much magnification to dim the picture in the eyepiece, but the size of the front glass on the scope makes a difference at night.

Scopes collect light, besides magnifying things, and the amount of light collected is important. For the average adult, a primary optic of 25-30mm will present the brightest image possible in the dark, without night-vision anyway.


Coatings

Always look for fully-multicoated to be written somewhere on the packaging or spec sheet. This means that all of the elements have good coatings on both sides, and more light will get through, meaning a cleaner view at dusk or in the dark.

Durable coatings are also important. Just make sure the tint of the front lens isn’t ruby red, and you should be okay, but for the best, fully-multicoated is the way to go.


Windage and Elevation caps

Some manufacturers of this type of scope will skimp on the little things, and this is one that occasionally gets missed. Make sure that the turrets to adjust your aim point are protected from bumps and bangs in the field, as well as giving the whole scope an added layer of protection from the elements.


Rings

Just as on your hunting rifle, strong rings are important. If this will be a weapon that may save your life, then the mounting hardware is nothing to skimp on. If your scope doesn’t come with solid hardware, then be sure to pick some up.


Reticle

Make sure to pick something for the application. A simple dot or a dot with a circle around it is best for CQB rifles, while some type of drop and/or wind compensation ticks are better for a rifle meant to be used at range.

1-4x Scope Cons

There are some glitches inherent to this type of scope that come as a surprise to some when first trying them out.

First, since this is a full optical system rather than a single plate of glass, eye-relief can be an issue. A red dot can be placed just about anywhere on the rail, but a variable scope of any sort needs to keep your eye within a comfortable range of the scope.

Make sure to check the eye relief before you purchase.


Parallax

This can be a huge deal or a non-issue, depending on the scope.

Parallax determines how the reticle moves relative to the target as you move your head behind the scope.

Brand name and cost aren’t always indicating factors, either. I’ve heard from friends with cheap Chinese knock-offs that function flawlessly, but putter around the net and you will find an occasional complaint about an expensive 1-4x scope with a parallax problem.

Probably the easiest way around the problem is to find a scope with parallax adjustment, but that can also raise the price considerably.

Is a 1-4x Scope for You?

To answer that, here is a little recap of what a quality 1-4x scope can do for you:

  • Low cost and cleaner look
  • Greater selection of aiming reticles
  • A simplified setup vs. the red-dot/magnifier combos
  • Short and long range shooting with minimal adjustment

The choice is yours. In my opinion, this is the best way to dress out a truly adaptable battle rifle for defensive purposes, 3-gun competition, bug-out/SHTF scenarios, and more, without spending a ton of money on something like an ACOG or an EOTech combo.

Of course, those options are available for those with the cash.


The 5 Best 1-4x Scope

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best 1-4x scope:

  1. Elcan Specter 1-4×32: Best for AR-15
  2. Bushnell AR 1-4×24: Best 1-4x Scope for the Money
  3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24: Best for 3-Gun Competitions
  4. Athlon Talos BTR 1-4×24: Best 1-4 Scope For Hunting
  5. Vortex Viper PST Gen I 1-4×24 : Best 1-4x Scope Under $500

1. Elcan Specter 1-4×32: Best for AR-15

If you’re looking for one of the best combat optics money can buy, look no further than the Elcan Specter 1-4×32.

In fact, this scope has quickly become my new favorite for 3-gun competitions.

It is by far the most rugged and well built scope that I’ve ever used.

Want to hear more? Keep reading…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass on the Elcan Specter is unbelievable clear and crisp.

The scope is on the pricier side, but is well worth it with top-notch, crystal clear glass.

Plus, it has a dual-thickness ballistic crosshair reticle with user-selectable red dot, VSOR rangefinder, and area fire circles. It’s also night vision compatible!

I found the red dot to be precise and it’s not cloudy at all. And the full reticle illuminates in low light conditions. The crosshairs are thicker on the edges and thin out toward the center, which brings your eye quickly to the center for fast target acquisition.

The illumination works perfectly and there are 5 different brightness settings, on top of the NV compatible settings. It does use a CR2032 battery, but that lasts anywhere from 600 to 3000 hours depending on the illumination settings you use the most.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The one downfall of this scope is the short eye relief.

It’s definitely closer than I would prefer, but it is manageable. And with the rest of the benefits of the scope, the eye relief seems like a small problem.

You can minimize the issues of the short eye relief with proper positioning and cheek weld.


Durability

The Elcan Specter 1-4×32 was built to last and there’s no question that it’s highly durable.

It is made to withstand harsh conditions with hard-anodized aluminum that resists corrosive elements. It’s also combat tested and made to be used and abused.

This scope is waterproof up to 2 hours and can be submerged up to 66 feet. Hopefully that’s something you’ll never need, but it’s nice to know it can take some water without being damaged.

It’s also shock resistant and can withstand the recoil from even the highest calibers.

The downside to this is that the scope is pretty heavy. You wouldn’t necessarily want to put it on a rimfire rifle, but it’s great for an AR-15. The added weight isn’t that noticeable, especially since the scope is one of the best.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage turrets are ½ MOA adjustments and can be adjusted up to 120 MOA.

The clicks on the adjustment are very precise and accurate.

On top of that, this scope is super easy to zero. I had it done in about 15 minutes.

I’ve used the Elcan Specter for multiple 3-gun competitions and the zero has held steady. There is some play between the scope and the rifle mount. I’ve noticed a bit of movement, but it’s made to be flexible. Even with that, it returns to zero immediately.


Parallax & Magnification

The best part of this scope is the dual field of view that you get with 1x or 4x magnification.

The red dot is easy to see at 1x, no matter the situation. You could be rushing or carrying offhand and still see the red dot to get on target quickly.

The throw lever works perfectly and with just a flip of the lever, you’ve got 4x magnification. At the 4x magnification, I think this scope is as good as my ACOG.

The eye relief stays the same at either magnification, so that’s one less thing you have to worry about.

With the ability to get an accurate sight picture from 100-500 yards, this scope is perfect for close quarters combat and mid-range situations. That’s what makes it so great for your AR-15 and 3-gun competitions.

On top of that, the parallax is fixed and I haven’t noticed any kind of distortion.


Mounting & Rings

It comes with an Integral A.R.M.S. Picatinny mount, so you have everything you need to get it mounted on your AR-15.

However, the ARMS mount is non-adjustable, which means it may not fit all rails. It may require the use of shims to get it mounted right.

I also bought the Tenebraex anti-reflection device, for added glare reduction.

Tenebraex KillFlash Anti-Reflection Device for Schmidt & Bender...
  • FITS SELECT SCOPES: Schmidt & Bender. Please refer to sizing chart below for additional compatibility details. Scope cover compatible
  • TACTICAL TOUGH: Constructed with hard thermoplastic that is resistant to chemicals, abrasion, and fatigue
  • SEE NOT SEEN: XLUME coating on the honeycomb tubes is one of the secrets to the killFLASH ARD’s great performance. XLUME has a fine microstructure that captures the grazing light rays from light...

Is the Elcan Specter 1-4×32 worth it?

This scope is my overall favorite scope for the AR-15.

It has:

  • 5 illumination settings
  • Unbelievably clear glass
  • Night Vision compatibility
  • Ballistic crosshair reticle with red dot
  • 1x to 4x magnification with the flip of a lever

If you’re looking for a versatile scope that combines the abilities of an ACOG and a CCO, try the Elcan Specter 1-4×32. It is well worth the price.


2. Bushnell AR 1-4×24: Best 1-4x Scope for the Money

Need a good tactical scope for your rifle to function for close range and long distance encounters?

Don’t have a lot of money?

Don’t worry, I have you covered.

The Bushnell AR 1-4×24 is just what you are looking for.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The view is crystal clear and plenty bright, and the reticle is just right.

The coatings on the Bushnell are fully-multicoated, a high-end feature that allows for maximum light transmission.

The scope works well, even in low light conditions. A 24mm objective is minimal, but it works at 4x and keeps the budget in line on this scope. It’s a terrific compromise that also drops the weight of the scope. If you really want to see at night, they make night vision scopes.

You could choose something a bit larger, like a 30mm objective for a bonus at night, but for all practical purposes, and with the great coatings, 24 does the trick for the AR 1-4×24.

The reticle is fairly simple. Not too busy, but still allows for some dots to help with bullet drop. The Drop-Zone 223 is a no-nonsense sight picture that will guide your bullets soundly at the effective range of this scope.

It would be nicer with some optional illumination, but for this price that’s a tall order, especially considering the price and other noteworthy points of the scope.

The scope comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaning fully waterproof up to three feet. Just don’t drop it in the neighbors swimming pool and leave it there overnight, and you should be fine.


Eye Relief

If this were a red dot or a holographic sight, a 3.5 inch eye relief might not serve so well, but it works on this scope.

Having magnification ability built-in on a 1×4 scope means I don’t need extra space for a separate magnifier or a co-witness. I wanted a scope, and a scope is what I got.

Taken in that light, 3.5 inches is plenty, and provides enough room that this scope could be used on any battle rifle without worry of scope bite.

If you were mounting this on a shotgun and pumping magnum shells, maybe not the best idea. The Bushnell AR is made for AR platforms or weapons with similar calibers.


Durability

Takes a lickin’ and keeps kickin’. The scope zero has held well.

There is a drawback here. The turrets are not capped, and thus susceptible to being knocked off a bit. Make sure after zeroing your weapon, you move the turret knobs to a zero position so that you can see if something is off before taking a critical shot.

Other than that, shock-proof construction is part of the Bushnell experience, so I never have any doubts about one of their scopes in this department.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

Beware. The dials are in mils, not MOA.

If you are unsure about using mils, just remember that there is about 3.5 MOA to one mil. It works out to roughly a third of an inch per click at 100 yards, if that’s easier, as the clicks are 0.1mil.

The knobs are pretty easy to turn, and the clicks aren’t exactly jaw-dropping. You can feel a little tug at each click as you turn the dial, but this is something that definitely could have been done better.


Parallax & Magnification

I did notice some parallax, but quickly forgot it as fast as I could flick the scope from 1x to 4x and back.

Some scopes have adjustments built in, but this isn’t one of them. The zero-parallax point is fixed at 100 yards. More than that, the more you move your head, the worse it gets. Same as your targets get closer, but they are also much easier to hit, so it evens out on that side.

All in all, most scopes made in the last 100 years did not come with parallax adjustment, and we got along just fine. I could take it or leave it, but if this is something you really want, you might need to look to other scopes.

The magnification is the real key-note on this scope. The quick-flip lever offers some of the fastest swapping from low to high power of any scope or reflex/magnifier combo available, and at a super affordable price.

Leave it on 1x for home defense, and flick it into high gear when you spot that buck out at 200 yards. It’s ready when you are.


Mounting & Rings

The scope came with no mounts or rings. For my picatinny rail, I ordered a CCOP cantilever mount, and it worked great.

Sale
CCOP USA 30mm Cantilever Scope Mounts Black
  • 12 Torx fasteners for secure zero hold
  • Precision CNC Machined from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum
  • Fits any 30mm Optics

The ring size is 30mm. I would suggest that while saving money on your scope you invest a little extra in a solid mount. It can mean a world of difference, and you should have rings at least as rugged as what the scope can handle.


Is the Bushnell AR 1-4×24 worth it?

In the end, it all comes down to you. I think this is a great scope for the budget, but on any budget scope there are going to be some trade-offs.

Just to recap, this is what you’re buying:

  • IPX7 Waterproof
  • Rock-solid housing
  • Fully multi coated optics
  • Good performance in low-light
  • Lightning fast magnification swapping

For the money you save, I would say that the Bushnell AR 1-4×24 is a terrific scope, keeping costs down while the most important elements that make a great scope are still there. Plus it comes with Bushnell’s lifetime guarantee.

Sale
Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24mm Riflescope with FFP Drop Zone-223 BCD...
  • The feature-packed Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24 gives you the features you need to outfit your AR with a capable and fast-deploying optic. Available in the second focal plane (SFP) Drop Zone-223 with...
  • Exposed turrets allow you to dial for windage and elevation adjustments quickly and accurately, and the Throw Down PCL makes magnification changes almost instant. The IPX7 waterproof rating and fully...
  • Fully Multi Coated - Multiple layers of anti-reflective coating on all air-to-glass surfaces deliver bright, high-contrast images

3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24: Best for 3-Gun Competitions

If you are looking for a 3-gun scope that can take being hammered in competition, I have the perfect scope for you.

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 is a lightweight, precise optic that will check all the boxes and meet your demands.

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Let’s check it out…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The picture on the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 is clear and bright. I didn’t have any haziness at all through the entire magnification range on this scope. Image outlines are sharp and defined when looking through this optic.

While this scope doesn’t have the same clarity or brightness of a much higher end scope, it is pretty darn good for its price range. You can’t get any better quality without paying significantly more.

Vortex Optics has provided the Crossfire II with fully multi-coated lenses that are also treated with an anti-glare coating.

Anti-glare coatings prevent glare-off on the objective lens from giving away my position in defensive situations. And anti-glare coatings funnel more light to my eye providing a brighter picture.

I have the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 with the V-Brite reticle on the second focal plane. This is a wire cross hair with an added illuminated red dot in the middle.

For 3 gun competitions, having an illuminated reticle paired with a variable magnification range really helps improve efficiency. I can start to line up my shot as I’m pulling my rifle into position during transitions.

The illuminated reticle was a little hard to see in bright daylight, but the simple crosshair was intuitive for me to use.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Vortex Crossfire II has a very forgiving eyebox and longer (4 inch) eye relief. What this means for me, as a 3-gun shooter, is that I can shoot effectively from awkward positions.

I don’t need to be lined up square behind my optic to place effective shots.

Because of these features, plus the red dot-reticle, I have improved my times by sighting in on my target as I’m bringing my gun up to a firing position.


Durability

Firearms take a beating during 3-gun competitions. It’s important to have a scope that will hold zero despite the abuse. I don’t have to worry about my Crossfire II. I’ve thrown it around, knocked it against barriers, etc and it’s held zero.

I’ve zeroed this scope in once in less than 4 shots. I have dropped it, bashed it, muddied it, and abused it. I haven’t had to re-zero yet.

This scope is nitrogen purged, so it won’t fog up on me. It is o-ring sealed. I know it’s waterproof and I won’t fret if it goes for a swim.

Its also shock proof and almost indestructible. If the tube, or any of the lenses break, Vortex’s “No Questions Asked” warranty is one of the best in the business. They’ll repair or replace it for me.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

It’s a good thing that this optic holds zero so well, because the capped turrets on the Vortex Crossfire II are not my favorite to use.

In order to zero the scope, I need to first remove the caps. Then the finger-adjusted turrets are small and a little hard to turn. They aren’t as tactile as I would like.

The specs say that the turrets make 0.25 MOA adjustments per turn, but it feels more like 0.5 MOA and not as fine as I would hope.

I would personally rather use larger, uncapped turrets for competitions. All that said, the turrets are definitely functional. I can’t have a dream scope at this price point– and it’s not logical to expect one. But, this scope has everything it needs to get the job done.

Zeroing this optic in is a one-and-done. It holds up to abuse, and the glass is good quality. I’m okay with Vortex cutting cost on turrets I hardly use over, cutting cost on durability or glass.


Parallax & Magnification

The Vortex Crossfire II 1-4×24 is a variable range optic. The 1x looks very close to true. With it I can accurately engage close range targets with both eyes open. I feel like I have good situational awareness and can quickly move between targets.

With the variable magnification, I can zoom through to 4x. This really helps with mid-range shots or fine-tuning my closer-range shooting.

If you like throw-levers to help slam through magnification quickly, check these out.

The parallax is fixed from the factory. My sight picture didn’t move as I adjusted my head.


Mounting & Rings

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II has a 30mm tube, and can be accommodated by any 30mm ring set. The Vortex Optics Tactical rings are what I use.


Is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 worth it?

For 3-gun competitions where equipment takes a beating, I definitely think that the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24 is worth every penny.

No products found.

To recap its features:

  • Robust design
  • Budget friendly
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Quality glass and lens coatings

The Vortex Crossfire is my go-to for defensive competition shooting. I think it would be a great addition to your competitive equipment.

Here’s a run-down of the best AK47 scopes, if you are interested.


4. Athlon Talos BTR 1-4×24: Best 1-4 Scope For Hunting

I don’t know about you, but when I go hunting, I’m rough on my equipment.

It gets caught on bushes, smacked against rocks, and dunked in rivers while I’m tracking deer.

So it hurts when I drop a ton of money on an optic and the glass breaks, or it gets dinged or cracks on its first trip out.

No matter how careful I think I’m being, I’m basically the Hulk when it comes to being gentle on my gear. There’s a lot to consider when choosing the perfect riflescope.

That’s why I was so excited to try the Athlon Talos BTR 1-4×24.

You can usually get it for under $200, and the glass quality and durability on it are incredible.

We’re talking comparable with optics 3x the cost.

Keep reading and I’ll tell you why you need to pick up this optic for your next hunting trip.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

This scope comes with multi-coated lenses which make the glass crystal clear.

The light transmission is incredible, and it helps the reticle really stand out.

It’s easy to make out targets at 500 yards and to clearly distinguish them.

This scope excels during the low light of early morning and late evening.

That makes it ideal for hunting, as those are the hours that I’ve managed to tag the majority of my deer.

It’s got an illuminated, glass-etched, AHSR MIL reticle, and since it’s an SFP scope, your reticle is also going to stay in the same spot.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is 3.5”.

That’s solid for any kind of hunting rifle I’ve mounted it on.

It’s also got a generous eye box and I’ve never felt cramped while using it.


Durability

I was so pleasantly surprised by how sturdy and tough this scope was.

It’s pretty heavy at 18 ounces, but the weight isn’t surprising when you see how solid this beast is.

This scope is made from a solid piece of heat-treated aircraft-grade aluminum, and the tube has been nitrogen purged.

On top of that, it’s waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof.

I’ve put my Athlon Talos through its paces, and it hasn’t disappointed me yet.

This poor scope has been banged on boulders, scraped against brush, and it even got plunged into a river that was deeper than I thought.

Through all of that, not only has it kept working perfectly, but it somehow doesn’t have a ding or scratch to show for it.

Plus, it’s kept its zero since the first time I sighted it.

That’s not bad for a budget scope.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

This scope has exposed turrets, which can be a drawback for some people.

They’re fairly sturdy though, and although they’re easy to turn I haven’t had an issue with bumping them and messing up my sights.

The elevation and windage knobs both have a return to zero setting on them, which is incredibly handy when switching between magnifications.

The turrets audibly click and can be turned with fingertip pressure.

All in all, there’s nothing super fancy, but the turrets do what they need to.


Parallax & Magnification

The Athlon Talos has a 1-4x magnification range with a 24mm objective lens.

The 1x power is closer to 1.5x than it is to a true 1x, but it’s close enough to be effective.

I was able to zero it in at 100 yards with 3 shots at my practice range, and it’s held that zero perfectly since.

The transition from 1x to 4x is super smooth, and it’s easy to switch between magnifications on the fly.

Since this scope only goes up to 4x power, I haven’t had any issues with tunneling or parallax.


Mounting & Rings

No mount or rings are included with this scope, so you’ll need to pick one up.

In keeping with the low price of the scope, I picked up the Monstrum Slim Picatinny Mount.

No products found.

It mounted easily on my rifle and it’s held steady since I installed it.

If you’re looking for a scope that can handle more of a kick than a hunting rifle gives, check out these shotgun scopes I recommend.


Is the Athlon Talos BTR 1-4×24 worth it?

For the price, the quality of this scope is insane.

If you’re a fan of Vortex Optics, then you’ll definitely want to check out this quality and much cheaper competitor.

Once again, it’s got:

  • Incredible durability
  • 1-4x magnification range
  • Illuminated glass-etched reticle
  • Crystal clear multi-coated glass
  • Waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof
  • Return to Zero elevation and windage settings

On top of all that it’s covered by Athlon’s “gold medal” lifetime warranty.

Don’t just take my word for how great this scope is, check out the Athlon Talos BTR for yourself.

Athlon 215025 Talos BTR 1-4x24 Direct Dial Fixed Riflescope, Black
  • Illuminated reticle provides greater visibility at dusk and dawn
  • Reticle is etched on the glass to provide excellent backing support for complex reticle design and offers great durability and much higher shock resistance to recoil
  • Fully multicoated optics effectively reduce reflected light and increase the transmission of light giving you a brighter image than normal single coated lenses

5. Vortex Viper PST Gen I 1-4×24 : Best 1-4x Scope Under $500

The Vortex Viper PST Gen I 1-4×24 is the scope you can find on the market that runs under $500.

In fact:

I bought this scope in a hurry because I needed something affordable and effective for both precision and speed shooting. I haven’t taken it off since.

Want to know why? Keep on reading, starting with…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is very good, and much better than any other optic I’ve tested in the sub-$500 category. The view is very clear, making it easy to use the sight in a hurry.

There is some fish-eye effect around the edges, most noticeably at the lowest magnification settings. However, the optic’s capability to scope with both eyes open overcomes this flaw.

The lenses use extra-low dispersion (XD) glass which increases the glass clarity and gives the scope a bright picture. They’re also covered with multiple anti-reflective coatings so you won’t be giving your position away.

While the 30 mm tube does help give this scope its bright image, the Vortex Viper PST Gen I also comes with an LED illumination feature.

I’m a big fan of the illumination control knob- the illumination can be switched off with a single click between each level. This means I don’t have to crank it all the way back to zero if I want to turn it off.

With a sub-$500 optic something had to give. And I will say that the illumination is not very bright in sunlight, however the clarity of the glass and etched reticle are more than visible in those conditions.

The illuminated reticle really helps in low light situations or when target contrast isn’t that great.

Speaking of the reticle, this is one of my favorite features.

The reticle is TMCQ MOA (also available in MRAD). It might look a little busy initially, but it offers a lot of info while also being quick to sight when it needs to be.

The broken circle dot ring is vibrant red and great for quick sight acquisition, but the crosshairs really draw your eye to the center with markings for more precise shots.

The second focal plane scale of the reticle maintains the reticle’s size throughout all magnifications so the reticle remains readable no matter the distance.

The center dot is very fine as well which makes for great precision shots even at range. So, overall the reticle is really easy to use for both rapid fire or slow precise shots.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Vortex Viper has a 4” of eye relief.

This allows for both eyes open shooting, and a comfortable space for higher recoiling weapons.


Durability

I’ve yet to be disappointed with Vortex’s quality and this scope once again checks all of the durability boxes.

The Vortex Viper has a rugged construction that’s waterproof, shockproof, fogproof, and ready for whatever you throw at it.

It’s fully waterproofed and O-ring sealed to prevent moisture, dust, or debris from getting inside the tube. The single-piece construction also ensures its waterproofness while enhancing your base optics.

The scope is filled with argon gasto keep the scope is fog-free for a wide range of temperatures and fluctuations. You’ll have a clear shot no matter the weather.

Scopes have to endure a heavy beating. The Vortex Viper is designed to handle the pressure thanks to the ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating and aircraft-grade aluminum construction.

Made from 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum for increased strength and rigidity, this scope is ready to drop, shock, and rock.

And, the unlimited lifetime warranty is great for my peace of mind.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

Both the elevation and windage knobs adjust with smooth, audible clicks at 0.5 MOA click values.

The turrets have an adjustment range of 90 MOA which, for a long range shooting, is very generous.

The turrets lock and unlock by lifting up on the turret. No allen keys or special equipment required so you can make adjustments easily wherever you are.

Zeroing was very easy once I got on paper. I was able to zero at 100yds and, after a few minor adjustments to elevation, I was plinking steel at 300-350 yards with no issues.

The scope’s customizable rotational stop feature helps the optic return to zero after dialing a temporary elevation correction which is a high tech feature for a sub-$500 optic.


Parallax & Magnification

The Vortex Viper has a magnification range of 1x-4x, making it great optic for anything from short- to long-range distances.

It isn’t a true 1x. But even the most expensive optics rarely are.


Mounting & Rings

The scope comes with some basic lens caps, but you’ll have to purchase your mount and rings separately.

I’m personally a big fan of pairing this optic with the Vortex Optics Precision Quick-Release Extended Cantilever 30mm Riflescope Mount. The quick release and light weight make it a great compliment to this scope’s potential for 3 gun competition.

Vortex Optics Precision Quick-Release Extended Cantilever 30mm...
  • This quick-release cantilever mount is designed for mounting telescopic sights with 30mm tubes onto a rifle.
  • The offset of this cantilever mount positions the scope in a forward location, providing correct eye relief and head placement when used.
  • This mount positions the center of the riflescope tube at a height of 1.45 inches (37 mm) from the top surface of the Picatinny base.

I’d also recommend a throw lever like the Vortex Optics Riflescope Switchview Throw Levers. Because of the range in magnification, I like using a throw lever so I don’t lose time cranking my adjustments.


Is the Vortex Viper PST Gen I 1-4×24 worth it?

The advanced reticle design on this scope makes it a versatile optic for fast target acquisition and precision shooting, plus the range of magnification gives it the capability to aim at most distances.

If you do 3 gun competitions or close range hunting up to about 100 yards, this optic would be a fantastic fit.

Here’s why:

  • LED illuminated reticle
  • Unconditional lifetime warranty
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Glass-etched, second focal plane TMCQ reticle

In short, this scope has all of the fine details of a premium optic at a fraction of the price.

If you’re wondering whether the Vortex Viper PST Gen I 1-4x is right for you, I say, try it and see for yourself.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best 1-4x scope guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which scope will you pick for your rifle?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.


Written By

Richard Douglas

Hello, I’m Richard Douglas, a Firearms Instructor, Tactical Advisor, National Defense Security Consultant, and the voice behind Scopes Field.


4 thoughts on “The Best 1-4x Scopes & Optics in 2024”

  1. I have 2 Athlon scopes one is a Neos on my Magnum Research 22 semi auto and the other a Talos on a Ruger American bolt rimfire both are excellent for the application and both have really super clear glass. For the money Athlon is extremely hard to beat as far as value and quality for the money is concerned so i will be buying this Talos 1×4 for my AR pistol.

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  2. I have the Bushnell AR Series scope on my AR15. I use it for NRA/CMP XTC (across the course) matches. They’re fired at 2, 3, and 600 yards. Max magnification allowed is 4.5x. This scope has served me well. I haven’t had to re-zero it. The knobs have good “clicks” and stay put and repeat. That’s important in match shooting. There is more than enough adjustment in the turrets so you can “dial in” to what ever range you’re shooting at and don’t have to rely on the BDC dots. The glass is fantastically clear for a low price scope and the set parallax causes no problems. It’s a terrific scope for the price.

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