The Best Prism Scopes & Sights in 2024

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Today I’m going to show you the best prism scope.

In fact:

I’ve hand- tested over 10 scopes alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best prism optics, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

What is a Prism Scope?

If you’re looking for the best budget scope for your tactical rifle that will provide you with everything you need, I would suggest taking a look at prism scopes.

Not only do you get all the benefits of a traditional low-power variable optic, you also get the compact design of a red dot sight.

Don’t know what a prism scope is? Let’s dive in and I’ll explain.

Prism Scopes

To tell you what a prism scope is and how it works, you first need to know how a traditional scope works, so you can see the difference.

A traditional scope uses a series of lenses, just like a telescope, to refract light and magnify the image. Then it flips the image right side up for you.

With a prism scope, or prismatic scope, there are two opposing prisms that magnify the image, which passes light through the etched reticle as it goes and orients the image.

What this means is that a prism scope can do almost everything that a LPVO can, but in a much smaller and more compact package.

This is a relatively new technology and is pretty affordable. Because of that, it provides a great alternative to ACOGs, Aimpoints, and red dots.

So what makes prism scopes so great?

Pros & Cons of Prism Scopes

There are advantages and disadvantages to any kind of optic. In the case of a prism scope, I believe the pros far outweigh the cons, but that will also depend on what you will be using the scope for the majority of the time.

Advantages:

  1. You get a fixed magnification with a prism scope. You can choose which magnification from 1x to 5x. Being able to magnify your image gives you a larger sight picture and increases the distance that your shots will be effective.
  2. You get both an etched reticle and an illuminated reticle. This means that you’ll always be able to use your reticle, even if the battery dies. With a reticle, you can adjust for wind holes and bullet drop compensation.
  3. Prism scopes also give you a brighter and sharper image than a traditional scope, so you’ll be able to acquire your target much faster than you would with a LPVO.
  4. You get a diopter to adjust for your personal vision. This is great for someone with astigmatism or other vision problems, because you can get rid of the distortion.
  5. The compact design is less than half the size, if not even less, than a LPVO. This means you’ll have plenty of room on your rail, even on smaller rifles or air rifles.

Disadvantages:

  1. With a prism scope, you’ll still have to worry about eye relief. If you need a longer eye relief, these might be harder for you to use.
  2. Prism scopes can have issues with parallax, just like an LPVO. The amount is usually pretty negligible for most shooters though. Plus, keeping a good cheek weld and a good, consistent position can easily solve this problem.

As you can see, there are far more advantages to a prism scope. In some cases, they could even be considered an ACOG clone. Plus, the size and magnification make it perfect for an AR-15, Mini 14, or similar tactical rifles.

So what’s the difference between a prism scope and a red dot scope?

Prism Scope VS. Red Dot

Red dot sights are extremely popular and affordable. For close quarters combat and short range hunting, they can’t be beat.

A prism scope is actually a type of a red dot sight. But when you hear red dot, you’re likely thinking of a reflex type sight. This is the one that projects the red (or green) dot on your target.

So what is the real difference between the two? You can check out this video for an in depth explanation…

…Or you can read the main points here:

  1. Red dots are illuminated and run on batteries. If your battery dies, you have no way to get on target. With a prism scope, you have the etched reticle in case your battery illumination dies.
  2. Red dots have unlimited eye relief. Prism sights are limited.
  3. With a red dot, you see the dot and you shoot. With a prism scope, you have a reticle to adjust for wind holds and bullet drop compensation.
  4. Red dots are 1x, so you don’t really get any magnification. Prism scopes can have up to 5x magnification, which increases your effective range.
  5. If you have astigmatism, your red dot will be distorted. With a prism scope, you can adjust for that and have a clear, sharp image.
  6. Red dots are parallax free. Prism scopes do have some parallax, but it is easy to control.

Prism scopes are slowly gaining in popularity because they provide a good middle ground option between red dot sights and LPVOs.

I hope this guide has helped you to learn a little more about prism scopes. If you take the time to consider all your options and what functions you need out of your scope, you’re sure to find the right optic for your rifle.


The 4 Best Prism Scope

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best prism scope:

  1. Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope: Best Prism Scope for AR-15
  2. Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20: Best for 1x
  3. Monstrum Marksman 3X30 : Best Fixed Magnification
  4. Monstrum Raven 3X32: Best for the Budget

1. Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope: Best Prism Scope for AR-15

The Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope is hands down the best prism optic to mount to your AR15 build. The quality is top notch, despite being in an affordable price range.

The scope is compact, rugged and reliable. This is the scope I use on my last-ditch, battle AR15 and I suggest you use it too.

Let me tell you why….


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Because the Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope is made from a single prism, instead of a collection of separate lenses, it has an extremely bright and clear sight picture.

The prism is fully multi-coated and I found my view through this scope to be incredibly crisp. There was no fuzzing, hazing, or smearing.

This clarity made it easier to identify and acquire my target, compared to standard 1x scopes.

The reticle, while illuminated, is also etched directly on the prism. This has several huge benefits over a reflexive red dot sight. Because it’s cut into the glass, even if my AAA battery dies, my optic isn’t rendered useless like a red dot.

I can toggle between a red or green illumination, with many levels of brightness. I can pick the color and level to match any and every shooting situation I may find myself in. The lower brightness levels are also compatible with night vision accessories.

The etched reticle doesn’t look smeared for people with astigmatism or other eye conditions. The fast focus eyepiece lets me focus the reticle so that it’s razor sharp to match my vision needs.

I wasn’t sure I would like the double circle reticle, but I found that it actually helped focus my vision on my target for even faster shot alignment.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Unlike a reflexive red dot, with an unlimited eye relief, the Vortex Spitfire has an eye relief of about 3.8 inches.

When I initially mounted mine to my AR15, I felt like I was looking through the wrong end of a pair of binoculars. The picture seemed smaller than 1x. The problem, I found after a little fiddling, was that I was too far from the optic.

Once I moved the scope closer to me, the sight picture was the correct size and I didn’t have any issues. Just to be clear: the Vortex Spitfire needs to be mounted back enough that you can maintain your cheek weld inside the eye relief.

While the eye relief distance was fairly specific, I did notice that the eyebox was very generous. I was able to shoot from some awkward positions, although not to the extremes that I could with a reflexive red dot.


Durability

Vortex scopes are known to be rugged and tough. The Spitfire Prism is no different. The hard anodized finish is hard to scuff and scratch.

The scope is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, so its waterproof and fog proof.

I have trained with this optic in close to mid range tactical practice. It’s taken a beating in urban combat simulations. I smacked it against the pavement, I’ve dragged it through the mud. it’s been tossed in the back of my pick-up and bounced around.

After all the abuse, it’s still working perfectly. I haven’t had any issues with it losing zero. It hasn’t fogged up on me.

If I managed to destroy it, Vortex stands behind all of their optics and their warranty is one of the best in the business. I know they will repair or replace it for me.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

This is where a prism scope is more like a standard scope and less like a reflexive sight. The turrets are adjustable just like a standard scope.

They have a tactile and audible 0.5 MOA click. All of the controls are rear facing, so they are easy to reach. I also found them pretty intuitive and easy to manipulate in a hurry.

The best part about the Vortex Spitfire is that Vortex includes a BDC turret cap for 5.56/.223 that I can drop into the elevation turret.

It’s marked for yardage, so after my scope is sighted for zero at 100 yards, I can turn the elevation knob to match the range of my target and it will adjust my reticle to account for bullet drop.

This is probably my favorite feature about this scope because I can extend my accuracy out much further than I could with just a standard reflexive red dot.

Zeroing this scope was simple and straightforward. I was acing my target in less than 5 shots.


Parallax & Magnification

Prisms are supposed to be susceptible to parallax just like any other rifle scope. I don’t know how Vortex did it, but they have pretty much eliminated the parallax from the Vortex Spitfire.

It doesn’t matter how I move my head behind the scope, my reticle stays on target.


Mounting & Rings

I didn’t have to worry about mounting this scope to my AR15 rail. The Vortex Spitfire comes with a base and all the necessary hardware and tools to mount this to my rifle out of the box.

It was easy to do. Just remember to keep the finicky eye relief into account when placing the optic.

It also came with lens caps, which is a nice bonus.


Is the Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope worth it?

I most definitely think the Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope is worth it.

Sale
Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope - DRT Reticle (MOA), Black
  • The Spitfire Prism Scope has been built from the ground up to maximize the fast handling performance in close to medium range applications. This prism scope is backed with all the features you need in...
  • The generous sight picture and forgiving eye box get you on target effortlessly in any scenario. Fully multi-coated lenses offer true to life clarity and brightness.
  • The DRT reticle is etched on the prism providing you with a visible point of aim whether powered up or not. Ten intensity levels perfectly match ambient light conditions while you also have an option...

Your AR15 isn’t complete without it. The dependable reticle makes for lightning fast, accurate target acquisition and engagement. If you aren’t quite sold on a red dot, but don’t want to cumber up your weapon system with a full-blown scope, this is the perfect go between.

It has:

  • Rugged, tough build
  • Crystal clear sight picture
  • Dependable reticle, even without illumination
  • Double circle reticle style to improve target focus

Costing at around $300, you really can’t go wrong with this optic. Its easily the best prism I’ve used.


2. Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20: Best for 1x

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 was not a purchase that I would normally make. Trying something new has never been a strong suit of mine; however I am glad I gave this sight a chance.

The technology they are introducing is very impressive for not only people facing an astigmatism, but any shooter that wants to try out something with an added wow factor.

Here’s why the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 is the best risk purchase I have made to date…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The clarity on the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 has been unbelievable.

I have never used this type of scope before and I am really enjoying the new technology.

This sight uses a smart red dot alternative. This means instead of your typical illuminated red dot, this has an etched, illuminated reticle.

The technology was developed for shooters that have astigmatism; however, I have been using it for the past few months and I am trying to decide if I will ever go back to my standard red dot.

The sight comes equipped with the ACSS Cyclops reticle which has been perfect for my needs.

It is not too cluttered and not too minimal. Perfect balance of usefulness and simplicity.

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 has a horseshoe style reticle that has been great for a quick acquisition.

Inside this horseshoe is a tight triangle that is great for more precise shooting.

In addition, this sight has been absolutely fantastic in low light scenarios. I feel the illumination has more than enough strength.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 has been extremely flexible.

I am assuming this is because of the prism, etched design.

The sight has been comfortable all over my AR rail and produces an impeccable image.

Currently, I am using the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 on my AR shooting .223. I have found this to be a fantastic scope for my AR.

It is not often that I am doing any long distance shooting with my AR so the 1x capabilities is perfect for my needs.


Durability

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 is certainly a budget friendly sight, but you can feel the quality the first time you pick the sight up.

I opened the box and the rugged, aluminum construction was great to see.

I am a firm believer that a sight should be capable of handling anything I throw at it. Sand, dirt, mud, and the occasional drop have been no match for this sight.

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 is constructed of aluminum, waterproof, nitrogen purged, and fog resistant.

In addition, Primary Arms offers a lifetime warranty for the sight which is a big positive in my book. They will repair or replace the sight no questions asked.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

Both the elevation and windage knobs have had no problems throughout my usage.

They certainly are not the highest quality knobs on the market but they work flawlessly and are about the level I would expect for the price range.

They make a satisfactory click and have defined movement which is all I can truly ask for out of a turret.

Zeroing in the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 was simple and quick. Took me about 10 minutes at the range and haven’t had to mess with it since.

It has held a zero like a champ. 100’s of rounds and a few minor nicks and drops and nothing has changed.

In addition to the elevation and windage knobs, there is an illumination knob that also holds the battery.

This has worked just as good as the other turrets and has been a non issue.

I am a fan of sights that just work and the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 certainly falls into that category.


Parallax & Magnification

Throughout my few months of use, I have not noticed any parallax.

Obviously a frustrating possibility that could be found on budget scopes, but the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 hasn’t had this issue for me.

The sight has a 1x magnification which is exactly what I was looking for in a sight for my AR.

Because of my lack of long distance shooting, I didn’t feel like I needed any extra magnification. Plus, this keeps parallax essentially at zero.

This sight would be perfect for .22’s, AR’s, and possibly AK’s. I have yet to try it on any of my other firearms because I refuse to take it off my AR setup.


Mounting & Rings

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 comes with a removable 1913 MIL-STD base.

I have used this mount since the day it got dropped off at my doorstep and it has worked flawlessly.

Just like the rest of the sight, the mount is no frills and just works.

In addition, the sight comes with flip-up lens covers which is a must for me. I love when sights come with lens covers so I don’t have to purchase them after the fact.


Is the Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 worth it?

The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 is a sight that I took a risk on. My first sight using the etched, prism reticle I was curious about what I was about to get my hands on.

This sight has blown away all of my expectations and made me a huge fan of the unique design. I am thrilled with my purchase and I would highly recommend it.

Here’s why:

  • Durability
  • Unique design
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • ACSS Cyclops Reticle

In short: The Primary Arms SLX Compact 1×20 is a scope that is easy to set up and work’s every time you need it to, no questions asked. I would not only recommend this sight to people who have astigmatism, but anyone who wants to try out something new and different. If you are still unsure give it a shot, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.

Primary Arms SLX Compact 1x20 Prism Scope - ACSS-Cyclops
  • Silver-rated by the NTOA!
  • Glass etched reticle that works with illumination on or off
  • Partial reticle illumination with 11 brightness

3. Monstrum Marksman 3X30 : Best Fixed Magnification

If you are a serious buck hunter like me, you need a serious optic for long range shots in any light or weather.

After hand testing my short-listed fixed magnification scopes, I settled on a clear favorite: the Monstrum Marksman 3X30. For open landscape hunting, I need a durable, weatherproof and above all, accurate scope.

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The Monstrum prism sight delivered on all my needs and then some.

I just had to share my thoughts on this quality piece of equipment. Keep reading to see why!


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The circle dot reticle is bright and eye catching for fast target acquisition.

The reticle illuminates red or green in three brightness settings for clear sight in any lighting. The reticle is glass etched in black, so you can save your battery during the day.

Multi-coated, high quality glass reduces glare and protects against scratches, water or weather.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

My favorite thing about this optic is the eye box.

It’s big enough to shoot with both eyes open. I prefer to shoot with both eyes open over 200 yards for accuracy and speed, and the Monstrum 3X30 is ideal for those long shots.

If you still shoot like a Cyclops, you need an optic like this. 3.5 inches of eye relief keeps you safe while you shoot.


Durability

This is a professional quality scope that stands the test of hard use.

If you ask the Men With Green Faces what kind of optics they use on their rifles in the field, you’ll hear one thing over and over: aircraft grade aluminum.

Of course, Devil Dogs don’t just shoot deer. I use the Monstrum Marksman to take down Bucks, not infidels. If you need an optic for your AK, take a look at these AK-47 scopes.

The Monstrum scope is designed for hard use. The 6061 aluminum frame is professional quality in a light, balanced package. The total weight is just over one pound!

In other words…

The Monstrum 3X30 is rugged, durable, and wont unbalance your weapon.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets feel great in your hands.

¼ MOA per click means you get a fine tuned zero. Each turn clicks audibly, so it’s easy to turn by feel. The turrets are capped with a rubber O-ring to keep them in place, and keep out debris.

Most importantly, it holds zero no matter the recoil.


Parallax & Magnification

You’ll find your target lightning quick up to 300 yards.

This incredible range is ideal for open landscape hunting and large game. I don’t recommend this optic for use under 100 yards out. For small game and close shots, take a look at this Leupold 1-6X24 scope.

Because the Monstrum 3X30 is a fixed magnification scope, there is absolutely NO parallax to worry about. Just a clear and easy sight, day or night. Bucks beware!


Mounting & Rings

The Monstrum mounts with a picatinny or a weaver rail.

I prefer a riser mount for a long-range optic like this, so I used a Monstrum 3.5 inch pic rail, but the choice is yours.

Monstrum Lockdown Series Adjustable Height Picatinny Riser Mount with...
  • Picatinny riser mount for use with Picatinny or Weaver base optics
  • Innovative patent pending adjustable height design allows for optimal placement of your optic based on rifle setup or preferred cheek weld
  • Riser can be adjusted incrementally via two locking screws from 0.87 of rise up to 1.14 inch of rise, measured from rail surface to rail surface

Is the Monstrum Marksman 3X30 worth it?

In one word? Yes.

There is a lot to love with the Monstrum. It’s best features are…

  • Huge eye box
  • Long-lasting battery
  • Sight up to 300 yards
  • Quality multi-coated glass
  • Bright, eye catching circle-dot reticle
  • Light and durable aircraft grade aluminum

The Monstrum Marksman 3X30 is my first choice for long range hunts in any weather. It’s high quality in a tiny package. If you want a reliable shot, day or night, you can’t do much better than the Monstrum Marksman.

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4. Monstrum Raven 3X32: Best for the Budget

Looking for the best budget scope?

One that can offer excellent features for the price and be reliable for years to come?

Well, I’ve got a reliable scope that will meet your target acquisition needs and more.

Let me introduce you to my little friend.

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Just keep reading…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is clear as can be.

In fact, it’s made with high-quality quartz for the sharpest clarity.

So you can have the power of crisper optics for clearing out your targets.

But what about the reticle?

The illuminated circle dot reticle offers red and green illumination. You also get five different brightness settings to match your environment.

Plus, this reticle is visible with and without a battery source! So no more calling it a day when your battery dies.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is 3.5-4.5 inches.

Which can be tight for some, but wide enough for others. It really comes down to personal preference.

But it is a decent length for fast target shooting.


Durability

The Raven 3X32 scope weighs 15 ounces. So it’s lightweight and made of high-quality aluminum.

Plus, this scope is made with fewer moving parts.

Which means it’s better at holding zero, even against the fiercest recoil.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are hit or miss.

In fact, they were somewhat rough to adjust. I needed the assistance of my screwdriver to complete the job.

Plus, the clicks are quite weak rather than smooth and audible.

The good thing to say is they do remain set in place well.

So how easy is zeroing?

Luckily, zeroing was simple as can be and held up to the test.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification is 3x.

Which gives you a great view in a smaller package. You’ll be able to see a clear picture from 25-30 yards away.


Mounting & Rings

The integrated mount is 2.5 inches.

It mounts to any flat top Picatinny rail platform. Plus, no additional equipment or tools are needed to attach.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other additions you can make to this scope!

In fact, I highly recommend attaching the 2.5 inch Monstrum Lockdown Series Adjustable Height Picatinny Riser Mount with Quick Release.

Monstrum Lockdown Series Adjustable Height Picatinny Riser Mount with...
  • Picatinny riser mount for use with Picatinny or Weaver base optics
  • Innovative patent pending adjustable height design allows for optimal placement of your optic based on rifle setup or preferred cheek weld
  • Riser can be adjusted incrementally via two locking screws from 0.87 of rise up to 1.14 inch of rise, measured from rail surface to rail surface

This will help increase that tight eye relief and make your shooting day more comfortable.

And I would also recommend getting the Monstrum Rubberized Flip-Up Rifle Scope Lens Covers in the 37-43mm size.

Monstrum Rubberized Flip-Up Rifle Scope Lens Covers
  • Rubberized flip-up rifle scope lens covers that conform tightly around your rifle scope tube, protecting your lenses from dust and abrasion
  • IMPORTANT: Sizing is not based on the objective lens size of your scope - a 3-9x40mm scope will not fit with a 40mm sized lens cover. For the correct fitting lens cover, you must physically measure...
  • Each package includes one Rubberized Flip-Up Lens Cover

With crystal clear glass clarity, you might as well protect the scope lens! And these rubber lens covers with stay put and provide the best lens protection.


Is the Monstrum Raven 3X32 worth it?

If you’re looking for a reliable scope for an affordable price, look no further than the Monstrum Raven 3X32.

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This scope steals the show with hunting, swift target acquisition, shooting in low-light conditions, and plinking.

In fact, the red dot covers a lot of area beyond 25-30 yards. So you’ll get those shots in with increased accuracy.

Here’s what I really liked:

  • Sharp glass clarity
  • Great for multiple shooting activities
  • Increased accuracy from 25-30 yards
  • Illuminated reticle works with or without a battery

The Raven 3X32 scope is protected by a two-year warranty. So Monstrum will repair or replace your scope if it becomes damaged within that warranty time.

Plus, Monstrum also offers a 30-day no questions asked return policy. But your scope has to be in new condition in order to return it.

If you’re looking for a simple, no brainer scope that you can rely on to get your target shooting in, the Raven 3X32 scope is for you.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best prism scope guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which prism scope will you pick?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

4 thoughts on “The Best Prism Scopes & Sights in 2024”

  1. I’m a new AR-15 owner and I’m still learning, I’ve owned my rifle about 8 months now. I’ve made some hasty purchases that I ended up regretting, the main one is I bought a Trinity Force Assault V2 scope, it’s a good scope but it’s HEAVY!! I’ve been doing research on prism scopes and I really like how the Monstrum Marksman 3x prism scope looks…. I’m on a $200ish budget, so I was also considering a vortex but I want my optic to have a 200-300 yard range, so I’ve been on the fence…. Until now! After reading this review, Monstrum it is!! Thanks for your review!!

    Reply
  2. Love my Monstrum P332 for my S&W M&P 15-22 plinker. It’s a great fit for the .22, because the weight of the scope (14.5 oz) doesn’t really feel bad on such a light rifle, and the 3x magnification is perfect for .22 shooting at 25 to 50 yards or so (maybe even a bit farther). The big, bright sight picture is way better than expected for a budget scope.

    But for my AR I run the Vortex Spitfire Gen 2 5x. Really the best single-scope option for 50-100 yard shooting, unless you want to spend $1200+ on an ACOG. And in some ways the new Spitfire is actually better than the ACOG for me, being a little lighter (only 9 oz) with a better match for me on eye relief than the ACOG.

    Reply
  3. This article is exactly what I was looking for. My astigmatism is getting bad enough that I can’t use red dots for anything accurate anymore. Gotta swap my red dots for prisms. Decided on the Primary Arms SLX. it’s close enough to the same form factor as my Aimpoints.

    Reply
  4. My favorite is the Burris AR-332 3x 32mm. It is by far the best I’ve used. Don’t know why it’s not on your list. I have probably 6 or 7 on ARs (including the 5x on a couple) & the black etched reticle is mostly what I use in daylight & the red & green are great for low light or dark.

    Reply

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