The 3 Best 1-8x Scope [2020 Update]

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Not sure what scope to get for your 1-8x?

Look no further.

I’ve tested ALL the best 1-8x scope (plus 1-8x scope mounts and accessories.)

By the end of this guide, you’ll find the perfect optic for your 1-8x.

Let’s get started!

The 3 Best 1-8x Scope

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best 1-8x scope:

  1. Swarovski Optiks L Z8i 1-8×24: Best 1-8 Scope
  2. Athlon Argos BTR GEN2 1-8×24: Best for AR-15
  3. UTG 1-8×28: Best for the Budget

1. Swarovski Optiks L Z8i 1-8×24: Best 1-8 Scope

If you are in the market for a scope to use with your 45-70 and want the best in the industry, look no further than Swarovski Optiks.

The Swarovski Optics L Z8i 1-8×24 is the clearest scope on the market.

Let me tell you why….


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Swavorski sets the standard for best optics glass in the industry–hands down. No one does it better than this Austrian company. A few may come close–but they can’t quite cut it.

Between near perfect glass clarity and the fully-multi coated lenses, the L Z8i line transmits 93% of visible light.

Meaning this is the clearest and brightest view through an optic that you’ll ever see. After using this scope, even my “best” scopes seem hazy.

The view on this scope is truly clear and precise from edge-to-edge. Other scopes may claim they have edge-to-edge clarity, but really, they only have 70% of the range this scope has.

There’s no fuzzing at the edge of objects. I couldn’t get a sharper sight picture if I had cut it with an exact-o knife.

When I took this optic out to the range, I didn’t need a spotter. I could clearly see all the hits on my paper–even pushing passed 500 yards. There’s no questioning where my shots landed.

This scope is outstanding and as Swarovski’s flagship line, the Z8i 1-8×24 outperforms all other scopes you’ll ever use in low-light situations.

The illuminated Flex-change 4A-IF reticle gives me a fully adjustable red dot. Or if I’d prefer, I can toggle to a red dot centered in an illuminated red circle.

The red dot illumination levels are the most adjustable I’ve ever seen: there are 64 different intensity levels.

The scope also features an ingenuitive battery saving feature–if the scope senses that the rifle isn’t being held at a shooting angle, it turns the red dot off.

The reticle cross hairs are thin and unobstructive. I can clearly see my target. The Z8i 1-8×24 comes with either a BDC reticle or a simple duplex.

If you have an eye condition that makes red dots hard to see, you might be interested in holographic sights.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on this particular Swarovski is pretty standard: 3.74 inches (95mm).

I found the eyebox forgiving. I use this scope in 3-gun competitions and I can easily see my shots from cover or around odd angles.


Durability

The Swarovski L Z8i 1-8×24 is nitrogen purged to prevent fogging.

The aluminum housing is sturdy and strong. It holds up to heavy recoil and can take a beating. As I said, I use this for 3-gun competitions so it gets thrown around and beat up.

This scope isn’t a “gun-safe queen” that I only bring out to the range on sunny days. I don’t treat it softly. It’s a tool and I work it hard.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The Swarovski L Z8i’s turrets turn with 0.1 MRAD clicks. The turrets turn with a tactile click that I can hear and feel.

The turrets are compact and unobtrusive. They are easy to turn.

Swarovski offers turret upgrades called Ballistic Turret Flex or BTF. These are aftermarket turrets you can swap out for both the elevation and windage ones that come standard from the factory.

They cost about $300 each and you don’t need extra tools to install them.

What’s the benefit of the BTF turrets?

Well, they allow me to set zeros for 3 different distances to better fine-tune your shots.

For example I can set and save zero for 100 yards, 250 yards and 500 yards to improve accuracy and take the guesswork out of hold overs or hold unders.

Personally, I think they are a worthwhile upgrade. If you’re going to spend almost $3000 on the scope, spending an extra $600 for pin-point customized accuracy is a no-brainer.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification range on this Z8i is 1-8x. The single power is a near perfect 1x. The true 1x paired with an illuminated reticle makes it easy to engage close range targets with both eyes open.

The 8x is impressively clear. I could easily pop 6 inch steel targets from 800 yards.

With the aid of a throw lever, I can slam through the magnification range on the Z8i for quick target acquisition or identification–making this a perfect optic for defensive or battle use.

There’s no questioning my target in low light situations because I can clearly see it.

Check out my list of the other top 1-6x scopes on the market for a comparison.


Mounting & Rings

This optic has a 30mm tube. Any 30mm ring set will work quite well. I prefer to use these mounts from Vortex. They are only compatible with a picatinny rail. They won’t mount to a weaver.

Vortex Optics Precision Matched Riflescope Rings
  • These Vortex Precision Matched Rings position the center of the riflescope tube at a height of 1.00 inches (25.4 mm) from the base. Will only work with Picatinny spec mounts—will not work with...
  • Our Precision Matched Rings are kept in pairs throughout the manufacturing process — ensuring perfection from one set to another.
  • We start with certified USA 7075 T6 billet aluminum and hold it to an extremely tight tolerance of .0005 using our precision Computer Numeric Controlled (CNC) mill.

Is the Swarovski L Z8i 1-8×24 worth it?

Swarovski set a high bar for optic clarity that all optics companies are trying to reach. As Swarovski’s flagship scope line, the Z8i is the best scope you can buy.

They don’t need any extra bells and whistles that other companies add to their optics to distract you from their inferior glass and coatings.

As such the Swarovski L Z8i 1-8×24 is the worth it because it has:

  • Durable design
  • Flex-Change reticle
  • Unbelievable clarity
  • 93% Light transmission

Why settle for any old optic, when you can get the best?


2. Athlon Argos BTR GEN2 1-8×24: Best for AR-15

The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 has a set of features that make it perfect for the AR-15.

In fact:

I’ve personally bought and hand-tested this scope to see if these claims were true, and they most certainly were.

Need proof? I’ve got it all laid out down below.


Glass Clarity and Reticle

The excellent glass quality gave me a picture with no distortion or blurring to be seen. Nothing but a crisp, crystal clear image of the target.

The glass is fully multi coated and excels at drawing in ambient light for a much brighter picture. Its anti-reflective glass reduces light reflections, making it perfect at drawing less attention to your position.

The reticle is horseshoe shaped and works perfectly for aiming at silhouettes. It draws my eye to the target quickly and is useful even at maximum range. I was especially impressed with how simplistic it was so that I could focus on what I was aiming at.

I was impressed by the illuminated reticle. Targeting was a breeze even around dawn and dusk, especially when combined with the multi coatings ability to draw in ambient light.


Eye Relief and Eye Box

The eye relief is a generous 3.4” and led to no issues even at max range.

As I expected once I saw how great the glass quality was, I didn’t suffer from eye fatigue even after several hours of use. The glass is clear all the way through and even around the edges there was no sign of blurring or distortion.

Eye box was also a non-issue. I was able to easily center my picture and didn’t have to get into an uncomfortable position to do it.


Durability

The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 was designed to be as durable as possible.

During testing I dropped it, banged it around, and fully submerged it in water. The high levels of abuse didn’t even scuff the exterior of the scope, much less damage the interior. It also held my zero with no issues throughout the testing.

How was it able to do all of this?

The aircraft grade aluminum this scope is made of can already handle just about anything you can throw at it, but it also has an XPL coating on the lenses.

This prevents any dirt or oil from affecting the glass and helps prevent any scratches.

It’s also argon purged and completely waterproof.

You won’t have to worry about any fogging or moisture damage even in the roughest of terrains. The one tube construction gives it an extra layer of durability as well.


Elevation and Windage Turrets

The turrets on the Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 are top of the line.

Each adjustment gave crisp audible clicks just as good turrets should. Even with heavy recoil they never adjusted without me wanting them to, which is one of the top criteria I expect from them.

The best part?

It only took me 20 rounds to find my zero, and it solidly held it for the next 300 after that.


Parallax and Magnification

The parallax is fixed at 100 yards, and even bouncing between magnifications this proved to work just fine.

The magnification is 1-8x. The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 is capable of landing some pretty distant shots, but its real strength is in the close to mid range. It is best used for close quarters combat, target shooting, or hunting.

While this scope would go best with an AR, even higher power rifles work well with it. I also slapped this scope on one of my lever actions, and it’s without a doubt the best scope for Marlin .45-70.


Mounting and Rings

The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 does not come with any mounting or rings.

I highly recommend getting the Vortex Optics Pro Series rings, as they mesh very well with this particular scope. $60 for the 30mm is a small price to pay for keeping your scope secure.

Vortex Optics Pro Series Riflescope Rings
  • The finishing touch to your rifle and optic combination. Pro Series rings combine rock-solid reliability and strength with high quality machining to ensure ultimate accuracy and consistency.
  • Streamlined, lightweight and durable, these rings use four T-25 Torx-style socket cap screws for secure mounting.
  • Fits Weaver and Picatinny Rails.

Is the Athlon Argos BTR GEN2 worth it?

If you’re looking for a scope for your AR-15 that can deliver amazing glass quality, incredible durability, and unmatched versatility, then look no further than the Athlon Argos BTR Gen2.

Here’s why:

  • Audible turrets
  • Extreme durability
  • Crystal clear multi-coated glass
  • Horseshoe reticle for easy silhouette targeting

To sum it up: this scope has an amazing set of features that would be at home on any sort of assault rifle.

It’s a very reasonable price for the product’s quality, and I’m honestly surprised it wasn’t higher. The level of effort that was put in to make this scope incredibly durable with the high quality glass is clearly well above the norm.

So if you need an AR-15 scope that can handle any situation you get into, then look no further than the Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 1-8×24.

Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 1-8x24 Riflescope - ATSR5 SFP IR BDC, Black
  • 0.5 MOA Click Value, 100 MOA Total Adjustment, 100 yard Fixed Parallax
  • Fully Multicoated optics effectively reduces reflected light and increases the transmission of light giving you a brighter image than normal single coated lenses
  • The illuminated reticle provides greater visibility during dusk and dawn and other low ambient light environment.

3. UTG 1-8×28: Best for the Budget

Searching for an all-around budget scope is tiring.

I’ve found one for you.

And it’s the best scope deal anywhere. Here’s why.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Clear glass. Super clear.

The fully-multicoated emerald coatings on this scope allow maximum light transmission. With the 28mm objective lens, lighting just before dawn or after dusk can be tricky at high magnification, but it works well through most of the range.

In low light conditions, it will provide plenty of brightness at 5x or less to pop those pesky critters that keep attacking the chicken coop.

There are several reticle options available, so get the one you prefer. A BDC is available that is pre-set for .223 or 5.56 rounds, making this the perfect budget scope for an AR-15. It also comes in mil-dot and dot-circle variants.

In all cases, the reticle is etched, so if the battery dies you will still have a point of aim.

All of the extra colors seem a bit excessive to me personally, but I have mine set on the brightest red I could find and I just leave it there. If you want more color options, there are 36 in total, so you can go red, green, blue, yellow, teal, or whatever you want.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Some say that a “true” 1x scope should have infinite eye relief, but the reality is that complex lens arrangements make this impossible.

Still, I tested the eye relief as soon as I picked up the scope, and at 1x I could fit my whole hand between my eye and the scope and see just fine. Then I read the specs.

A whopping five inches of relief at 1x, and it only drops to 3.4 inches at 8x. In short, the eye relief is plenty for any application, especially high kick rifles. It’s probably the best scope for lever action 45-70.

The eye box is roomy, bigger than the front objective, making the whole setup very pleasant in both hunting and battle situations.


Durability

UTG continues to innovate, trying to keep up with the likes of Leupold and other top manufacturers, while keeping their price point down.

The tube is nitrogen purged and sealed with o-rings to ensure that it is water tight and will never fog up.

They’ve also started using this coil erector return spring on some of their scopes. Think of this like the shocks on your car. Even under heavy recoil or an occasional bump, the inner guts are protected from damage and remain solid, holding your zero under adverse conditions.

It also uses a smart spherical structure to maintain integrity of the outer skin to inner components. Every piece of this scope was designed around being tough, and it lives up to that reputation on top of my .308.

With the included heavy-duty mount, all of this strength does come at a cost. The scope itself is 18oz and mounted can be over a pound and a half. More on the mount later.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets have a solid click, a feature that I like.

There’s nothing worse than mushy turrets that make you take your eye off the target just to ensure that you have the right elevation dialed in for the range.

The ½MOA clicks are fast to dial in, and there are no caps in the way, so you can click over to the proper elevation and windage easily.


Parallax & Magnification

Parallax is fixed at 100 yards. This may bother some people, but if you have a solid cheek weld, you really can’t ask for more from a budget scope.

For the price of an air rifle scope, the important thing is how well the secondary focal plane and optical path are aligned. Even without adjustment, the maximum deviation due to parallax isn’t going to be enough to affect the shot too much, unless you are looking for a competition scope.


Mounting & Rings

The UTG 1-8X28 comes with its own mounting system. Depending on which variant you purchase, it will come with a single clamp mount for a Picatinny rail or two rings that will work with Picatinny or Weaver rails.

As I mentioned earlier, the scope rings are a little heavy, but they are also built ultra-rugged. This review on youtube suggested that you could smack the mount with a hammer and not budget:

I wouldn’t recommend that, but it is a super solid mounting system.


Is the UTG 1-8×28 worth it?

The UTG 1-8x28mm scope is the best all-around scope for the price, period.

For hunting, target shooting, combat, you name it, you won’t find a better optic for even twice the price. The only applications where you might want something else if if you needed a red-dot scope or a true long-range target scope.

  • Fully-coated optics
  • Responsive tactile clicks
  • Wide magnification range
  • Layers of durability through design
  • Includes mounting rings, battery, and more

By the way, it also comes with a lifetime warranty from UTG!

If you want the best all-around scope for the money, the UTG 1-8×28 is it, hands down.

Sale
Leapers Inc, UTG 1-8x28mm 30mm MRC Scope, IE, BG4 Reticle, with ACCU-SYNC, Black (SCP3-18IEBG4)
  • Variable Power: Magnification of the scope is adjustable
  • Mounting Accessories Included: Ring mounts with appropriate saddle height are included with the product
  • 30mm Tube with Best in Class Emerald Lens Coatings to Achieve Maximum Light Transmission for Best Clarity

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best 1-8x scope guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which rifle scope will you pick for your 1-8x?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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