The 3 Best 1-4x Scope [2020 Update]

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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!

The 3 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

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 SB5600-ARD Anti-Reflection Device, Black
  • Our extensive inventory means we have killFLASH ARD’s to fit virtually any brand and model of scope or optic. Please check the product description to see if this particular one fits your optic.
  • Protect your optic lens from damage and scratches.
  • Tenebraex’s proprietary XLUME coating absorbs light, further reducing the potential for glint or reflections.

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.

CCOP USA 30mm Cantilever Scope Mounts
  • 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, 1-4x24 Drop Zone Optics , Black
  • Fully multi coated - multiple layers of anti-reflective coating on all air-to-glass surfaces deliver bright, high-contrast images.
  • Shockproof construction - built to withstand bumps, bangs, drops and the rough-and-tumble environment of the field.
  • Fully multi coated lenses with rain guard

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.

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.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - V-Brite Illuminated Reticle (MOA) , black
  • The 1-4x24 Crossfire II riflescope is one of many configurations in the Crossfire II line. The V-Brite reticle uses the V-Plex format with battery-powered electronics to illuminate the center dot for...
  • With long eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight picture and acquire your target. The fast focus eyepiece allows quick and easy reticle focusing.
  • Anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses provide bright and clear views for the user.

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.


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.

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