The 4 Best Illuminated Reticle Scopes [2020 Update]

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Today I’m going to show you the best illuminated reticle scope on the market today.

In fact:

I’ve hand-tested over 15 illuminated reticle scopes for this review alone and spent hours of research.

The result?

My personal list of the top 4 illuminated reticle scopes.

Best Illuminated Reticle Scope
Via: Unrelated Activities

Let’s dive right in!

The 4 Best Illuminated Reticle Scopes

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick list of the the 4 best illuminated reticle scopes:

  1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24: Best Illuminated Short Range Scope
  2. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best Illuminated Long Range Scope
  3. Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44: Best Short-to-Long Range Illuminated Scope
  4. UTG 3-12×44: Best Illuminated Scope for the Money

1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24: Best Illuminated Short Range Scope

The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 is the best short range illuminated rifle scope.

In fact:

This is the same scope I use for night time operations like hog hunting.

Let’s take a closer look…

Reticle and Glass Clarity

The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x features a BDC reticle that is etched onto the glass. There are 11 illumination settings to choose from as well.

The illuminated reticle has a semicircle for close encounters and quick target acquisition. Inside the circle is a solid vertical line with hash marks crossing it horizontally. This allows for more precision when you have further shots to take.

It is zeroed at 50 yards and the furthest hashmark reaches out to 600 yards. The reticle is a second focal plane set up. This means it will not change in size while adjusting the magnification. It also means that the scope must be fully magnified for the reticle to be calibrated.

The glass is decent with very minimal distortion at inclining magnifications. The scope also comes with flip-down lens caps to protect the glass.


Eye Relief and Eye Box

The eye relief sits back at an easy 3.5 inches. This gives you plenty of room, especially if you wear glasses.

The eye box is a bit smaller and you may find it a little difficult to keep the reticle in full view.

For some, this is an inconvenience and for others it’s unnoticeable. It just depends on the shooter.

So, there is some to be desired, but how reliable is it?


Durability and Weight

This optic is pretty light weight at 17.6 oz.

The tube is a standard 30 mm. This means there are plenty of mounting options available.

It boasts being waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. Even though it’s a little heavy, it is resilient and a reasonable size.

It is powered by a CR2023 battery and has a max life of 150 hours. To cap it off, this optic is covered by Vortex’s lifetime warranty.

So it’s rugged and insured. Let’s dial in on the…


Elevation and Windage Knobs

These turrets have caps and not meant to be adjusted while shooting.

That’s okay since this is geared more towards fast-paced, mid-range shooting.

You can adjust them at ½ MOA intervals with a max adjustment range of 140 MOA. The windage cap has a neat little space to store an extra battery as well.


Magnification

This is a mid-range optic through and through. The magnification ranges from 1x to 6x.

The parallax is set at 100 yards and is not adjustable.

There is a rotating turret near the back of the optic to adjust the magnification. It is a bit stiff to turn but this means it won’t move while bouncing around on the rifle.

There is also a raised fin on the turret to make adjusting it easier. If you are still wanting more, there is also an optional throw lever you can put on the magnification turret.


Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 Review: Is It Worth It?

The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 is an entry-level scope for competition plinking.

If you’ve been curious about entering a competition at your local gun club or range, then this is the perfect fit.

In fact:

The vortex illuminated reticle scope is great for a variety of distances and quick target acquisition. The 1-6X magnification is more than typical for plinking competitions. The sturdy magnification turret is easy to use if you’ve got targets at varying distances. And lastly, it is has a more forgiving price tag.

To put it simply:

If you’re looking for a great illuminated riflescope that won’t fail on you, then I highly recommend the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24.

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC Reticle (MOA)
843 Reviews
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC Reticle (MOA)
  • The Strike Eagle 1-6x24 is defined by speed and versatility. Adjust to six power when you need to engage targets at a distance
  • High quality, fully multi-coated lenses deliver a clear, crisp sight picture and optimal low light performance
  • The illuminated, glass-etched BDC reticle features 11 illumination settings to accomodate for changing light conditions. An extra battery can be stored in the windage cap and easily released

2. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best Illuminated Long Range Scope

The Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 is the best illuminated long range scope.

In fact:

This is the same scope I use on my 6.5 Creedmoor rifle. It’s insanely reliable and capable of short-to-long range shooting.

What makes it so versatile?

Keep reading to find out…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The clarity is excellent in normal shooting conditions with an illuminated first focal plane reticle that stays valid at all power settings.

Clarity at maximum power, however, is a touch on the blurry side.

The reticle is etched on glass and provides excellent backing support for complex reticle design. The illuminated reticle provides greater visibility during dusk and dawn as well as other low ambient light environment.

My favorite part?

The illumination is crisp and not overpowering.

The fully multi-coated lens gives better light transmission to bring ultimate brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.

It’s a solid step above a non IR reticle when dealing with low light situations for hunting or tactical training. Reticle is sharp, but because it’s set in the FFP, it could be a bit hard to see at the lowest magnification (6x).


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is phenomenal at 3.3 inches of field view at 100 yards.

There is not much more I can add. At maximum zoom, the eye box is a bit tight. However, for the price, it’s a good value.


Durability & Weight

The package weight was 3.1 pounds with the weight of the actual scope being 15.8 ounces. Durability is great with much higher shock resistance to recoil.

It’s also completely waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof thanks to the O-ring seal and nitrogen-purged tube.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

This is the scope’s biggest con…

Spongy turrets.

When turned, the click isn’t positive and audible. This could lead to over-adjusting. But good news:

You can fix this simply by re-greasing the turrets with Halofun Green Slime Lubricant:

HALOFUN 1105 Factory Team Green Slime
83 Reviews
HALOFUN 1105 Factory Team Green Slime
  • This product is made from high quality materials, and it is designed for lasting performance
  • Use Team Associated stock and Factory Team replacement parts to get the most out of your Team Associated vehicles
  • This is for use on RC vehicles, consult your user's manual for exact parts listings

Here’s a video that’ll work you through it, step-by-step:

Easy, right?

Moving on, the scope holds zero like a champ. It also tracks true.

In short: the turrets are reliable.


Magnification & Parallax

The 6x-24x magnification is very versatile.

In lower light conditions, the high magnifications doesn’t have the brightness you have on lower magnification.

However, you will maintain the same level of holdover.

Parallax is dead on as far as range goes, but it did take some playing with the tightness of the front scope mount to allow the parallax adjustment to slide smoothly in the scope housing.

All in all:

The Athlon BTR 6-24×50 is a great scope for hunting if you are using different magnifications at various ranges.


Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re getting started with long-range shooting and need a solid illuminated riflescope, then get the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50.

It’s armed with gold:

  • Clear glass
  • Illumination
  • True tracking
  • First focal plane
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Long range capabilities (1,200+ yards)

Truth be told:

The performance of this scope is way above its price.

In fact, it performs very similar to my higher end optics.

It’s a solid long-range illuminated scope with solid warranty. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this scope again.

Sale
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle,
315 Reviews
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle,
  • First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the specially designed reticle that shrinks or grows along with your target as you zoom in or out.
  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.
  • Reticle etched on the glass that provides excellent backing support for complex reticle design and offers great durability and much higher shock resistance to recoil

3. Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44: Best Short-to-Long Range Illuminated Scope

The Strike Eagle 1-6×24 is awesome at close range shooting.

And the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 excels at long-range shots.

But what if you want both close and long range capabilities?

Enter: Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44.

It’s one of the best short-to-long range illuminated riflescopes on the market today. And I’d even argue that the Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44 is one of the best illuminated scope for the money.

Here’s why…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Primary Arms’ SLX 4-14x44mm offers surprisingly good glass clarity for a budget scope.

The view is clear well past the 500yd mark and is comparable to scopes costing twice as much.

Etched onto the glass is the ACSS HUD DMR .308 reticle.

This reticle is specifically tuned for .308 loads and some .223 Winchester loads.

At first glance, it may seem a bit “busy”. But once you understand how to use it, you may just fall in love!

The ACSS HUD DMR is first focal plane (FFP). It stays true at any magnification setting. Turn the magnification up and the reticle will get larger to match. Turn it down and the reticle will shrink accordingly.

A horseshoe and center chevron design gives fast, accurate engagement of closer targets.

The markings on the glass are a combination of the BDC and MIL ranging systems.

This includes marks for range estimation, windage and bullet drop compensation out to 1,000yd.

Not only that, but the moving target leads estimate out to 600yd.

Put short, it does all of the math for you! (Speaking of math, there are scopes that automatically calculates the distance to an object called Laser Range Finding riflescopes).

You can range objects with a height of 36in, a width of 18in and a diameter of 10 inches.

Simply line up your target with the ranging marks along with the corresponding bullet drop marks, then pull the trigger.

The system is easy to pick up and quickly becomes intuitive.

You may actually end up using the reticle more than the turrets to dial in.

The ACSS HUD DMR reticle also functions as a partial red illuminated dot. It has 5 brightness settings and runs on a single CR2032 battery.

This red dot does double duty!

Because it is a “partial red”, the lowest settings are night-vision compatible and the highest settings are meant for daytime use, including very bright sunlight. In addition, it’s a great red dot alternative if you have astigmatism.

The illumination dial has “off” settings between each level of brightness.

This allows you to leave the dial set near the brightness level you prefer.

Then, when you are ready to use the dot, you only need to turn the dial once to get to the brightness level you want.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is 3.22 at the lowest magnification and 3.14 at the highest magnification.

You won’t have much room between your eye and the eyepiece when aiming.

This might be a bit problematic if you’re shooting a gun with heavy recoil. But for the most part, you’ll be fine 🙂

The eye box is also pretty tight. Just make sure to practice good cheek weld for optimal field-of-view.


Durability & Weight

The SLX 4-14x44mm has the solid, hefty feel of a much more expensive scope.

At 24 ounces, this is a medium weight scope that won’t weigh you down too much or feel cumbersome.

Thanks to its 6063 aircraft aluminum tube, it is shockproof and very durable.

It’s undergone the Primary Arms extensive round of torture testing to ensure a sturdy and reliable optic.

Unlike some lower-end scopes, you don’t need to worry about it falling apart on you or loosing zero after the first bump or jostle.

The SLX 4-14xmm is waterproof and fog-proof. You can count on it to performs well under most weather conditions.

However, it should be noted that the magnification adjustment ring gets a bit sloppy and wiggles in temperatures below freezing.


Elevation & Windage Dials

The turrets are tactical style (uncapped) and come with zero reset. This makes it easier to get to them but also makes it possible to mistakingly change your setting by accidentally nudging the dial.

Each turret has a click value of 0.1 MIL per click for extremely precise adjustments.

Elevation and windage both adjust to 17.4MIL individually.

The windage turret has a clear clicking sound that you can hear and feel as you turn it.

However, the elevation turret has much softer clicks and you can’t feel them as strongly.

Both dials have a reference point on them to track the number of full rotations you’ve made. Each full rotation is 6MILS but it may not always line up exactly with the numbers on the dial.


Magnification & Parallax

The side parallax adjustment goes from 15yd to infinity. This is an important feature for long-range shooting and really nice to see in a scope under $300.

Magnification is 4-14x, giving you more than enough for hunting whitetail, elk or mule deer.


Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44 Review: Is It Worth It?

If you’re looking for a do-it-all illuminated scope, then get the Primary Arms SLX 4-14×44.

It’s got:

  • Clear glass
  • Illumination
  • Tactile turrets
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Short-to-long range capabilities

Truth be told:

For under $300, you can have a pretty decent scope that has a lot of the features that premium optics have.

Feel free to give it a spin. And if you don’t like it for whatever reason, you could always return it back to Amazon within 30 days:

Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR-308
228 Reviews
Primary Arms SLX 4-14x44mm FFP Rifle Scope - Illuminated ACSS-HUD-DMR-308
  • Variable 4-14x magnification first focal plane scope features the ACSS HUD DMR reticle for .308/some .223 loads
  • ACSS HUD DMR combines wind leads, ranging, BDC and a MIL-ranging system into a clean, intuitive design
  • Partial red illumination with 5 brightness settings powered by a common CR2032 battery

4. UTG 3-12X44: Best Illuminated Scope for the Money

The UTG 3-12X44 is the best illuminated scope for the money.

Why?

Keep reading and all will be revealed…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is nice.

It’s multi-coated with layers of emerald. Which means better light transmission and clearer views.

Now the reticle is where things get real…

To start, it’s a second focal plane mildot reticle, a great choice for beginners. Mildots are easy to use yet useful enough to improve accuracy. 

Why is that?

Mildots estimate distance and holdover, making long-range shots MUCH easier. 

Second, the reticle has 36 different colors! I know…it’s a bit of an overkill. But a plus if you’re into personalization. It’s also an amazing feature for colorblind users. 

Lastly, the reticle is etched into the glass. Which means, it doesn’t need a battery to operate. 


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief of this scope is 3.4 inches. It could be more, but it’s enough to allow needed space. 

Check how close your eye is to the scope to find your perfect amount of distance. 

This is important so you don’t poke your eye out. 


Durability

The UTG is durable.

Built on Leapers’ True Strength Platform, it’s completely shockproof, waterproof and even fogproof. It could handle abuse.

However, it comes at a cost:

The scope weighs a hefty 24 ounces.

If you move your rifle a lot (ex: hunting), then go with another scope as this will drag you down. But if it’s going to be your range scope, then it’ll probably work for you. 


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are very reliable because they don’t need to be uncapped. They’re also lockable, resettable, and make a nice “click” sound when adjusted. 

What about zeroing? 

These turrets hold up after they lock in. It might take a few tries, but once they’re set, they’re set for good. 


Parallax & Magnification

This scope is mostly parallax free and the magnification goes up to 12x. It’s a good, clear view for the price. 

However, the magnification is slightly blurry at the highest setting. 

Keep in mind: 

The higher the magnification, the higher the chance of losing a crisp view. 


Mounting & Rings

The scope does have to attach to the rifle, so it’s great that mounting and rings are included. 

There are 4 screw high-profile rings with thumb screw picatinny brackets to get the mount secured.

You may need higher rings — like the UTG 1” — to fix some possible incompatibility issues…

UTG 1'/2PCs High Pro LE Grade Picatinny QD Rings: 22mm Wide
180 Reviews
UTG 1"/2PCs High Pro LE Grade Picatinny QD Rings: 22mm Wide
  • 4-Screw High Profile "Tiger" Rings Precisely Machined From Aircraft-Grade Aluminum Alloy With Anodized Black Matte Finish
  • Robust And User-Friendly Quick Detachable Lever Lock Fully Adjustable To Fit On Any Pica Tinny Rail
  • High Quality Synthetic Protective Tape Applied On Rings Internal Surface For Maximum Protection Of Your Scope

…but that’s up to your specifications. 


Is the UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope For You?

If you’re a long-distance shooter and on a budget, I highly recommend the UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope. 

Not only is it easy to use, it has: 

  • Durable build
  • Great glass clarity for the price
  • Turrets that lock in place and are easy to readjust 

In short: it’s a great scope with nice features. It even has a lifetime warranty. So if you manage to break this scope, it’s 100 percent covered by Leapers Inc. 

I would highly recommend the UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope for the affordable price, high-quality build, and user customization.

Sale
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings
1,640 Reviews
UTG 3-12X44 30mm Compact Scope, AO, 36-color Mil-dot, Rings
  • 30-millimeter SWAT 3-12X44 IE tactical range estimating scope with mil-dot, full 36-color EZ Tap reticle
  • 30-Millimeter tube built on True Strength Platform: sealed and nitrogen filled, shockproof, fog-proof, and rain-proof
  • Best in class multi emerald coated lenses; integrated angled front sunshade complete with flip-open lens caps

Conclusion

I really hope you enjoyed my guide to the best illuminated reticle scopes.

If you have any questions or concerns about this review or any of the recommended illuminated scopes above, let me know in the comments down below.

Also, I’ve written an in-depth guide comparing the Aimpoint Comp M4s and Pro.

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