7 Best Rifle Scopes [Hand-Tested]: All Types & Budgets

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Not sure what scope to get for your rifle?

Look no further.

I’ve tested ALL the best rifle scope (plus rifle scope mounts and accessories.)

By the end of this guide, you’ll find the perfect optic for your rifle.

Let’s get started!

What is a Rifle Scope?

To put simply, a rifle scope a magnified optic that helps you shoot further out and more accurately.

If you’re looking for sights that are meant for close range or CQB, then check out these articles instead:

Or if you’re looking to scope your AR-15 rifle, then I highly recommend reading my best AR-15 scopes guide.

Otherwise, let’s quickly cover some rifle scope basics and then show you the best optics you can buy for your firearm.

Rifle Scope Basics

Here’s a quick rundown of some technical terms I’ll be using throughout the guide.

Be sure to read it. This will ultimately help you make a better buying decision.

Reticle

Reticle is just a fancy word for crosshairs.

Different scopes use different reticles, besides just the standard crosshairs.

Some reticles use a circle, a chevron, a dot, or a series of lines. It all depends on the scope, and different styles of reticles are better suited for different purposes.

Eye Relief

Eye relief is the distance between the end of your scope and your eye.

You’ll want to make sure that you get a scope with enough eye relief that you’re not hitting yourself in the eye with the recoil from your rifle. (This is called “scope bite,” and trust me, you don’t want to experience it firsthand!)

In most cases, 3.5 inches of eye relief is plenty of room, but if you have a very high caliber rifle, you may want to look for longer relief.

Eye Box

“Eye box” refers to an imaginary box that you place your head in when looking through your scope. If you’re not “in the box,” you won’t be able to see the scope’s crosshairs.

Some scopes have a larger eye box than others, which means that the scope is more forgiving of things like improper cheek weld or an awkward shooting stance.

Parallax

The vast majority of rifle scopes use glass lenses, which means that they can only be focused at a set distance. Trying to use the scope outside of this distance produces parallax.

Parallax can most easily be described as “reticle wobble.”

Basically, if you move your head within your eye box and the reticle appears to move around inside of the scope, then you are experiencing parallax problems.

Vortex Optics put together this great video all about parallax and parallax errors:

Most scopes are factory fixed for parallax at a certain distance, while others offer an adjustment knob so you can fix your parallax on the fly.

Windage and Elevation

Windage and elevation refer to those knobs you see on the top and sides of scopes. These are how you adjust your point of aim (also known as POA.)

Windage is for left and right, and elevation is for up and down.

First and Second Focal Plane

This has to do with the physical placement of the reticle in the glass lens.

A first focal plane reticle will grow as you increase your level of zoom.

This is especially useful for long-range shooting. If your reticle has hash marks for elevation and windage, they will remain accurate as you zoom, since they are changing size. That’s why I recommend FFP optics in my best long range scope review.

A second focal plane reticle does not change as you zoom in or out.

This is more advantageous for defense gun setups, because the reticle remains consistent no matter your level of zoom, allowing for rapid target acquisition.

Zeroing

Zeroing a scope is the process of aligning your Point of Aim (this is where your crosshairs are pointing) with your Point of Impact (this is where your bullets are actually hitting.)

Since scopes are made to be used on a variety of different weapons, you’ll need to properly zero your scope after mounting to make sure that it’s going to accurately guide your shots.

Magnification

This is just the level of zoom that the scope provides.

When it comes to magnification, scopes are made in two flavors: fixed magnification and variable magnification.

Fixed magnification is exactly that: the level of zoom is “fixed” and cannot be increased or decreased. So a 6×32 scope would provide you with a fixed 6x zoom.

Variable magnification scopes, on the other hand, let you zoom in and out in within a set range of magnification. So, a 6-12×32 scope would give you between 6x and 12x magnification.

Objective Lens

I hear what you’re saying: “What’s the last number there? The one after the magnification?”

Well, that last number is the size of the objective lens, or the lens on the end of the scope facing away from the shooter.

Generally speaking, a larger objective lens is going to allow for a wider field of view as well as a brighter, crisper image. This is because a bigger lens allows more light to travel through it.

However, increasing the size of the objective lens will increase the size and weight of the scope overall, so it’s really about finding a good balance for what you need.

How Much Should I Spend On a Rifle Scope?

Spend up to half of what the rifle costs itself.

Of course, if you have money to shell, I’d go even higher. But for most people, I’d recommend spending up to half of what your rifle costed. 

Why?

Because if you cheap out on your optic, then you’ll get cheap results. I’ve been on so many failed hunts where one of my hunting buddies scopes unexpectedly blew out on them. 

Don’t be that guy. Get yourself a quality scope and believe me: You won’t regret it. 

Which leads us to…

The 7 Best Rifle Scopes

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

  1. Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24: Best for AR-15
  2. Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout: Best Scout Scope
  3. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50: Best Hunting Scope
  4. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50: Best Rifle Scope Under $500
  5. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best Long Range Optic for the Money
  6. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56L Best Long Range Scope
  7. Simmons Truplex 3-9×40: Best Budget Rifle Scope

1. Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24: Best for AR-15

The Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 is the best LPVO scope for the AR-15.

It’s not as expensive as similar scopes and will serve your short to mid range shooting needs.

Don’t believe me?

Keep reading for a simple breakdown…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is sharp.

Due to its extra-low dispersion glass, it increases the lenses’ resolution and color.

Which means that you’ll get a crisp image and increased light transmission with the anti-reflective glass coating.

Now what about the reticle?

It’s a Tactical Milling Close Quarter (TMCQ) reticle set in the Second Focal Plane (SFP). So the reticle remains the same size, no matter how much zoom power is used.

Plus, it uses Minute of Action (MOA) subtension lines for ranging, holdover, and windage corrections.

It’s also illuminated with a range of brightness settings, so it’s great for low-light conditions.

The best part?

The reticle is etched into the glass. So if your batteries die, you’ll still be able to use the reticle. And I’ve found that etched reticles work better in brighter conditions.

For the price of this scope, you get excellent clarity and a red dot sight.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is a generous 4 inches.

It can even make split-second shots a breeze.

In fact, I was able to clearly see objects up close and then zoom right in on other potential targets further away.


Durability

The PST 1-4×24 is strong, but I’ve seen better.

Here’s why:

This scope does have a hard, anodized finish, making it durable. It also has a low-glare matte finish, which is great for camouflaging your firearm’s position.

But when I was positioning it to sit on a mount, I dropped the bolt on an empty chamber. And that broke the illuminated reticle, causing it to flicker on certain brightness settings.

The outside of the scope was okay, but one tap and it was internally broken.

Now, I’m sure this isn’t the norm because when I tested the PST II 5-25×50 in my best 6.5 Creedmoor scope guide, it held up to anything and everything — including being thrown in fire.

I probably just received a defective product. Any how, I’ll be updating this section after I receive a replacement.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are tall and uncapped.

Which means that range calculation and shooting adjustments are faster and smoother. They also make an audible clicking sound when adjusted.

But I found the turrets too tall for my liking. It’s a bit unnecessary for a smaller scope like this, but it’s also a personal choice.

How easy is zeroing?

Very easy.

In fact, the zero remained at 50 and 100 yards when I tested it out.

This is due to its Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS) feature. This returns the scope to zero after dialing.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification is 1-4x.

Which is nice for any big game hunting. You’ll be able to easily engage with animal targets and practice targets.

But the zoom ring is too stiff to twist.

So I suggest getting a throw lever to fix this issue, which will be listed in my recommendations below.

Also, this scope is parallax free.

But it’s factory focused at 100 yards.


Mounting & Rings

There are no mounts or rings included.

But the scope does come with a few things: battery, CRS shims, and a lens cloth.

For mounting, I recommend using the 30mm Vortex Optics Sport Cantilever Riflescope Mount with the 2-inch offset. It’s sturdy, lightweight, and compatible with most rifles.

Pair the mount with these 1-inch Vortex Optics Hunter Riflescope Rings. These are great for general hunting setups.

And now to solve the issue with the zoom lever, I’d highly recommend the Vortex Optics Riflescope Switchview Throw Lever.

Since I talked about problems with this scope’s durability, I think a lens cap is also in order for extra protection. I’d highly recommend the Vortex Optics Defender Flip Cap (Size: E-10 & O-24).

Vortex Optics Defender Riflescope Flip Caps
  • Virtually indestructible, the Defender is the most versatile and durable flip cap on the market, this is the last flip cap you'll ever need
  • A stainless steel spring flips the cap into multiple stop positions at 45 and 90 degrees
  • Made in the USA

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

If you’re a hunter or occasional shooter, the Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24 will serve your target-hitting needs.

Here’s the best features:

  • Extra-low dispersion lenses
  • Illuminated TMCQ reticle
  • Generous eye relief
  • Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS)

It also comes with lifetime warranty. So Vortex Optics will either fix your damaged scope or replace your scope on them.

So if you want the best AR-15 scope for hunting and other shooting activities at a budget-friendly price, I’d recommend the Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24.

Vortex Viper PST 1-4x24 Riflescope with TMCQ MOA PST-14ST-A
  • The Viper PST 1-4x24 Second Focal Plane boasts features associated with top-tier riflescopes. The one-piece, shock proof 30mm tube, precision-machined from a single solid block of aircraft-grade...
  • Matching reticle and turret measurements allow accurate, fast dialing of shots. Illuminated Reticle Electronic illumination aids in low light visibility of reticle Daylight visible Battery included.
  • Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS) aids in return to zero after dialing temporary elevation correction. Precision-force spring system uses premium components in the erector-spring system to ensure...

If you’re more of an AR-10 user, you might be interested in my guide on the best scopes for AR-10.


2. Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout: Best Scout Scope

The Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout is the best scout scope.

Not only is it affordable, but the Crossfire II Scout is packed with amazing features.

In fact:

This has been my go-to scope every time I take my Mossberg MVP or Springfield M1A out. I’ve used it on a wide variety of hunting applications and casual target shooting, and loved it.

Here’s why…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Crossfire II gives me a bright and clear image quality thanks to its anti-reflective, fully multi-coated lenses.

This scope features a Fast Focus Eyepiece, which allowed me quick and easy reticle focusing.

Speaking of reticles, the Crossfire II Scout comes with a V-Plex reticle set in the second focal plane. This means you can increase or decrease magnification without changing the reticle’s size, therefore not obstructing your target’s view.

This is great for accuracy and could even be named as one of the best rimfire scopes.

Also, If you’ve never heard of V-Plex, it’s an MOA based reticle that is basically Vortex’s version of the standard duplex reticle.

This scope boasts an illuminated center dot, which is advertised to work well under low-light conditions.

But that wasn’t always the case here.

I’ve found it to have poor light transmission when it gets dark out. This has really limited my ability to see during peak hours of deer season.

However, for its price, the Crossfire II Scout is pretty decent.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Crossfire II Scout is equipped with an incredible 9.45” eye relief.

With a scout rifle, having a long eye relief is essential for accuracy and quick reloading capability. In fact, from my hunting experience, anything closer than 8” just does not cut it.

I did have to mount the Crossfire II all the way forward on the scout scope mount, so I would say the eye relief may even be a little more than advertised.

This scope also has an ultra-forgiving eye box.

On the other hand, the field of view is a little narrow, but it’s easy to see around and over.


Durability and Weight

The Crossfire II is 10.5 inches long and weighs 12 oz.

This scope is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, sealed O-rings, and is nitrogen purged, making it entirely weatherproof.

Overall, extremely rugged and robust.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are capped, finger adjustable with audibly crisp MOA clicks.

You can reset them to zero after sighting in.

On that note, I was able to zero in the scope within 5 minutes. Even after 100 rounds, it still held zero well.

Take note:

The turrets are also very stiff at first. However, it loosens up with usage.


Magnification & Parallax

The Crossfire II Scout sports a variable 2-7x magnification with a 32mm objective lens.

Some have experienced a fair amount of distortion above 6x magnification. In my opinion, it works best for close-to-medium range shooting, which is my preference.

The parallax adjustment is fixed up to 100 yards. This is a good fit for this level of magnification.


Mounting & Rings

The package doesn’t come with mountings & rings.

I used Warne 1 Inch Quick Detach Rings. These rings attach securely around the Crossfire II.

For mounts: Vortex offers low, medium, and high 1 inch mounts. You can easily choose what’s best for your specific build.

Sale
Vortex Optics Pro 1-inch Riflescope Rings - Medium Height (0.88 in)
  • These Vortex Pro Rings position the center of the riflescope tube at a height of 0.88 inches (22.35 mm) from the base.
  • Streamlined, strong and durable, the Pro Rings use four T-15 Torx style socket cap screws for secure mounting of your riflescope. Unique design permits easy installation and removal of the scope...
  • Permanently attaches to either Picatinny or Weaver bases. Square-edged crossbolt ensures positive engagement of ring to base.

Also:

I would highly recommend skipping the flip covers that come with the box. Use the Butler Creek Eyepiece Tactical Scope Cover (1-Piece), 10-11X instead.

Sale
Butler Creek Eyepiece Tactical Scope Cover (1-Piece), 10-11X
  • Tactical flip up caps
  • Protect your expensive optics from dust
  • Unique one piece design

They fit perfectly and helps keep dust, dirt, and weather off my lens’ surface.


Is the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout worth it?

So if you are looking for a practical and versatile riflescope that won’t break your bank, get the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout.

Here’s why: it’s got…

  • Quality glass
  • 2-7x Magnification
  • Second Focal Plane
  • Precise, capped turrets
  • Long eye-relief distance
  • Waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof build

And to top it all off, if you’re worried about it breaking, Vortex’s Lifetime VIP warranty has you covered: they will repair or replace it without charge, no receipts required.

Jeff Cooper himself would be proud to see the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout on his rifle.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle , Black
  • The 2-7x32 Crossfire II Scout Riflescope is perfect for Use on your Scout rifle, The V-Plex reticle is a popular all-purpose hunting reticle intended for a wide variety of hunting applications
  • With 9. 45" of 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

Trust me. You would be too.


3. Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50: Best Hunting Scope

The Leupold VX-Freedom is the best scope for hunting.

In fact:

I’ve used this scope for back country hunting and target shooting and it works just as well as my other high-end scopes.

By the end of this review, you’ll know if the Leupold VX-Freedom is for you.

Let’s get started!


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass is bright and clear.

This Leupold VX-Freedom is equipped with a duplex, second focal plane reticle. It means that the reticle size remains the same even if you dial the magnification down or up.

However, the downside of this scope is that it has thin crosshairs. It wasn’t a dealbreaker to me but other shooters might not prefer it.

The Leupold VX-Freedom also features a Twilight Light Management System.

I actually recently took this scope out hunting and mounted it on my .308 rifle and let me tell you this: it gave me perfect clarity at dusk and dawn.

Who doesn’t love that extra 30 minutes of hunting right?


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The Leupold VX-Freedom has 4.2-3.7 inches of forgiving eye relief, which keeps me from getting hit in the eye.

It comes with a large eye box. You don’t have to be perfectly lined up to get a good field of view.


Durability and Weight

With its aircraft-grade aluminum, gas-purged and O-ring sealed construction, the VX-Freedom is exceptionally rugged.

I actually found it to live up to the same punishable treatment as the higher-end scopes, and takes a beating like a champ.

The Leupold VX-Freedom is fully shockproof, fog-proof, and waterproof, giving you nothing but amazing performance from this scope on the field under any conditions.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage turrets are pretty durable.

The clicks are not as audible as other scopes. Some shooters may miss that satisfying sound.

Personally, I was very satisfied with the scope’s overall performance, therefore I didn’t mind the silent adjustments.

Within the first 10 rounds, I was able to zero the scope without difficulty. It also holds zero well even with all the heavy recoil or accidental drops.

After firing over 100 rounds, the turrets tracked true and proved to be reliable.


Parallax & Magnification

The Leupold VX-Freedom sports a 3-9x variable magnification and 50mm objective, making it great for medium to long-range shooting.

The best part?

Its newly redesigned ergonomic power selector. I was able to easily manipulate it in wet rain, cold snow, and whether I was wearing gloves or not.

The larger diameter also made it easier for me to locate moving targets.

I was easily shooting 100-200 yards with accuracy and I’m confident the scope would have performed well past that.


Mounting & Rings

For mounting, I highly recommend the Leupold Dual Dovetail 1” Medium Rings. The rings stayed on tight and had no issues with holding zero.

Also:

I purchased the Leupold 50mm Lens shade which worked perfectly for anti-reflection.

Leupold 4""-50Mm Lensshade Matte Alumina 52353
  • Model #52353 - Alumina in size 50mm lens with a Matte finish

Lastly, I personally don’t like the bikini caps so I replaced it with the Leupold Alumina Cover Kit.

Leupold Alumina Flip Back Lens Cover Standard Ep 59055
  • Model #59055 - Alumina flip back lens cover kit in standard EP

Is the Leupold VX-Freedom worth it?

If you’re looking for a high-quality scope with relentless performance on the field, absolutely! The Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50 is worth it.

Why? It’s got…

  • Clear glass
  • Affordable Pricetag
  • Second Focal Plane
  • Great eye-relief distance
  • 3-9x Variable Magnification
  • Waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof build

And to top it all off, Leupold’s Lifetime warranty will repair or replace the scope without charge if you ever break it: even if you aren’t the original owner.

For under $300, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50 will give you excellent performance in a feature rich package without emptying your wallet.


4. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50: Best Rifle Scope Under $500

The Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50 is the best rifle scope on the market for less than $500.

In fact:

When I pulled it out of the box and saw all that it had to offer, I was shocked I didn’t pay 3x as much.

Here’s why…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity on the Vortex Strike Eagle is really good, but not great.

There’s minimal distortion at higher magnifications, but it’s still a very usable image which is often the concern with high magnification and lower price points.

It might not compare to the XD Glass Vortex offers on its much more expensive models like the Viper PST, but for its price range, it can’t be beat.

Fully multi-coated lenses with multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces put this scope on another level. You won’t be worrying about scratches or glares when you’re shooting.

The reticle is definitely one of my favorite features of this scope.

Here’s why:

The EBR-4 MOA reticle can determine ranges, holdovers, windage corrections, and moving target leads all without obstructing your view. It’s visually clean for quick target acquisition but allows for extremely precise and measured shots as well.

The reticle design horseshoe allows for quick target acquisition while the crosshairs are loaded for more precise shots at further distances. It’s great for a variety of shooting situations.

The second focal plane reticles are near the eyepiece and behind the image erecting and magnifying lenses. This means that the reticle won’t change in size when you change magnification, but it always maintains the same appearance.

This scope also includes built-in illumination, which is a unique feature for a scope at this price range. That being said, it wasn’t as bright as I wanted it to be.

I was running it on max illumination of the 11 brightness levels on a nice sunny day.

I never find myself using illumination features much anyway. The etched reticle was more than visible to get the job done.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

At full magnification (6x), the minimum eye relief is 3” and the max is 3.5”. As you dial back the magnification, it will open up the eye relief and make it more forgiving.

The eye box on this scope is tight at 1.73”. However, practice and consistent cheek weld are enough to solve this minor complaint.


Durability

The Vortex Strike Eagle is ruggedly built to withstand virtually any condition.

The fully multi-coated lens coatings protect against dirt, grease, and harsh weather.

It’s also O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to ensure that the scope stays completely waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof — making it one of the best muzzleloader scopes.

The one piece tube construction is also better at keeping out moisture, keeping your scope fog proof for the rest of its life.

The Vortex Strike’s construction does fall short on battery life.

I accidentally left mine on for a few days and it was completely dead. An auto-off feature on the illumination would have been a great consideration.

The scope takes a CR2032 battery which is included in the box. The spare battery holder in one of the turret caps makes it easy to always have a spare on hand so you don’t have to worry.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The locking turrets are a premium feature on this scope.

Windage and elevation turrets are easy to turn with a finger, and adjustments have nice, clean clicks.

After a few rounds to get on paper, it took only 6 more to zero. After I set zero at 100 yards, I was able to group a 3” pattern into a bullseye.

It held zero several hundred rounds later even after being banged around.


Parallax & Magnification

The 6x zoom range lends itself to a wide array of shooting scenarios.

There’s no scope in its price range with these features if you want 1-6x and not 1-4x.

Parallax adjustment is streamlined with a side knob.

The adjustable parallax from 20 yards to infinite makes it easy to see a target at 24 magnification from 20 yards and then to look at mountains several miles away.


Mounting & Rings

The scope body is 30mm, so you’ll need a set of 30mm rings. The height and base of the rings will depend on what kind of setup you have and how high you want your scope.

I have mine mounted with the Vortex Cantilever Rings and it looks and performs beautifully on my AR. How you mount those on your rifle will depend entirely on your gun choice.

The Vortex Strike Eagle comes with a number of accessories which are especially impressive given its price point.

In the box, you get a sunshade, removable lens covers, a lens cloth, a CR2032 battery, and a 3mm Hex Wrench.

I’m a big fan of all of these accessories except for the lens covers. I’ll admit that they’re pretty garbage.

My scope caps that came in the box fell apart almost immediately and I spent most of my shooting day on the range floor looking for the tiny pin and spring.

Do yourself a favor and get the Vortex Defender flip-up scope caps (Size: E-10 & O-24).

Vortex Optics Defender Riflescope Flip Caps
  • Virtually indestructible, the Defender is the most versatile and durable flip cap on the market, this is the last flip cap you'll ever need
  • A stainless steel spring flips the cap into multiple stop positions at 45 and 90 degrees
  • Made in the USA

Is the Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50 worth it?

If you’re looking for precision capabilities at a low price point, this scope is it and then some.

The generous zoom range works well for a variety of shooting disciplines: hunting, target shooting, and long-range shooting.

Here’s why it works:

  • Durable build
  • Zero stop turrets
  • EBR-4 MOA reticle
  • Fully multi-coated lenses

In short, this scope will give you the added accuracy you need at a reasonable price and backed by Vortex’s lifetime warranty.

If you’re looking to dramatically improve your shooting accuracy, the Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50 will get you the results.


5. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best Long Range Optic for the Money

Without a doubt, the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 is the best long range optic for under $400.

In fact:

It’s glass clarity alone compared to my Leupold Mark 5 which cost 5 times more than the Athlon BTR.

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


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The quality of glass on this scope is way better than anyone would expect for the price.

The glass is clear and bright as all but the highest magnifications.

The fully multi-coated lens is a premium feature. It optimises the transmission of light for a brighter image, all while reducing reflection so you don’t give yourself away.

At higher magnifications (18x-24), the glass isn’t as crisp.

The glass isn’t on par with my Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24×50, but I’ll put the glass in the same category with Vortex Viper PST Gen 1, SWFA, and Weaver Tactical. Not bad considering it’s half the price.

The Athlon Argos BTR comes with a first focal plane, etched and illuminated reticle.

Let me break that down for you.

Firstly, it’s an APMR MIL reticle (also available in MOA). The reticle actually shrinks and grows along with your target as you zoom in and out.

The first focal plane reticle is a feature you usually only see in top dollar scopes. It’s ideal for long-distance ranges.

11 illumination settings ensure that you can shoot no matter the lighting situation. I had visibility during dusk and dawn, so I can stay out for longer.

I do wish that there was an auto-off feature to save battery, but most manufacturers don’t include this.

While the scope is illuminated, the etched glass ensures that you can still use the scope if your battery dies. It’s also more durable than wired reticles.

The Athlon Argos BTR might be inexpensive, but it’s certainly not cheap on quality.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on this scope is probably the biggest limiting factor.

An eye relief of only 3.3” is tight, especially for heavy recoiling calibers. That’s at low power.

At 24x, I only had around 2”.

I was able to get by, by practicing good cheek weld, but it is something to be considered.


Durability

The Athlon Argos BTR is a powerhorse built to withstand virtually any condition.

The 6061 T6 Aluminum tube is the same material that Nightforce uses on their scopes- for 3 times the price. It’s premium material for an inexpensive price.

The XPL lens coating protects against dirt, grease, and harsh weather.

It’s also O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to ensure that the scope stays completely waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof.

The one piece tube construction is also better at keeping out moisture, keeping your scope fog proof for the rest of its life.

Athlon also has some of the best customer service and warranty in the industry, so if anything were to happen I know this scope is backed by their unconditional lifetime warranty.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets aren’t perfect, but there are some things that you can do to make them better.

Out of the box, the up and down turrets were mushy and the clicks weren’t as crisp on the vertical adjustment as they were on the windage knob.

Here’s how I fixed them:

First, remove the turret cap. Then, take long cotton swabs and a cleaner and wipe out all the factory grease. Finally, re-grease it with Halofun Green Slime Lubricant.

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

Ready to rock and roll.

The adjustments themselves are dead on. Good, tractile clicks that hold zero.

It tracks like an old hound.


Parallax & Magnification

The 6x-24x magnification makes this scope very versatile for multiple shooting disciplines.

Whether I want to go hunting, target shooting, or even long-range shooting, this scope is ready and waiting.

However, as I mentioned earlier, anything beyond 20x magnification loses some clarity.

I’m able to get on target up to 1,120 yards with a .308 and reliably out to 800-1,000 yards.

For more on the best scopes for 308, check out my guide.

The parallax adjustment (10 yards to infinite) is dead on with the marks. Side parallax adjustment placement means that I can make quick adjustments on the fly.


Mounting & Rings

Scope rings aren’t included, so you’ll need to find some 30mm rings. How you mount those on your rifle will depend entirely on your gun choice.

With all the money you save on this scope, you could splurge on some GG&G Flt Accucam Mount W/30Mm Rings. They’re very sturdy, easily adjustable, and light-weight, but expensive.

I’m more than happy with my budget friendly Burris PEPR 30mm Mount. It works just as well.

Another thing to consider is the scope’s weight (29.6 ounces). I generally bench or stick rest when using this setup, so it isn’t much of an issue for me.

The flip caps were an added bonus and fit nice and snug on the scope tube. All the bells and whistles for under $400.

I ended up adding a sunshade from Athlon to help further reduce the glare. Definitely recommended if you frequently shoot in bright, sunny conditions.


Is the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 worth it?

If you’re looking for precision capabilities at a low price point, this scope is it and then some.

There isn’t another scope in its price range that can boast the options, brightness, clarity, and quality.

It works well for a variety of shooting disciplines: hunting, target shooting, and long-range shooting. Just zoom and boom.

Here’s why it works:

  • Durable build
  • Rapid zero adjustment
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Lifetime, unconditional warranty

If you enjoy ringing steel at 1,000 yards but can’t afford to drop a couple grand on a rifle scope, I recommend the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50.

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle, Black
  • 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

6. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56: Best Long Range Scope

If you’re looking for the best long range scope, look no further than the Leupold Mark 5HD.

Not only will you be able to make precision shots at 1000 yards, you’ll be able to do it at dawn and dusk, when prey is most prevalent.

I’ve owned many different scopes through the years and this one has quickly become my favorite for long range.

Want to know why? Keep reading…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Leupold Mark 5HD has everything going for it, including glass that offers a crisp, clear image from edge to edge.

It also sports Leupold’s Twilight Max HD light system, which reduces glare and maximizes light gathering, letting you see better in dim light.

This means you essentially get an extra 30 minutes of hunting time!

Not only that, but the Mark 5HD has a fast focus eyepiece that quickly brings the reticle into focus for fast target acquisition.

What about the reticle?

This scope has a few different reticle options available, so you can pick the one that’s right for you.

They are all front focal plane, which means the reticle magnifies along with the target. This is essential in long range because you can estimate the range at all magnifications.


Durability

Not only is the scope incredibly durable, it is also lighter than any other scope in its class!

When you’re trekking through the woods, that weight makes a huge difference.

Leupold puts all their scopes through rigorous testing to make sure they can stand up to the harshest treatment.

I’m hard on my scopes and usually just through them in the back of my truck at the end of hunt. The Mark 5HD still performs like it’s brand new.

The lenses are also scratch resistant for extra protection.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The best thing about the Leupold Mark 5HD is the elevation and windage turrets.

There’s 3 revolutions of adjustment and the 1/10 MIL clicks are both easy to feel and easy to hear with very crisp clicks.

If that’s not enough, it has a high speed throw lever that lets you change the magnification almost instantly. You’ll never have to worry about missing a shot while trying to make those changes.

Zeroing is also incredibly easy. It only took me a few minutes to have this scope zeroed in and it has a zero locking feature, so it holds zero accurately.


Parallax & Magnification

When you’re trying to choose a rifle scope, you’ll have to take into account the distances that you’ll be shooting the most.

The Leupold Mark 5HD has a 5-25x magnification, so you get a variety of options for medium to long range targets.

I was delighted to still be able to make out details at over 800 yards. Shooting accurately out to 1000 yards was no problem at all with this scope.

Plus, this scope has a side adjustment to easily focus the parallax.


Mounting & Rings

With the Leupold Mark 5HD you get the added bonuses of a lens shade and a cover included with the scope.

You will need to buy your own mount or rings though. I bought the Mark IMS 35mm.


Is the Leupold Mark 5HD worth it?

If you’re a serious hunter and want a scope that’ll let you pick out your prey at long range, the Mark 5HD is ideal.

It has:

  • Clear glass
  • A throw lever
  • FFP reticle options
  • Variable magnification
  • Superior low light visibility
  • Lightest weight for its class
  • Waterproof, shockproof, fogproof

To put it simply:

This scope has all the features you’ll need for long range shooting on a frame that’s 10 ounces lighter than the competition.

Not only will you feel less bogged down by the weight of your scope while hiking through the woods, with the Twilight Max system, you’ll get an extra 30 minutes at dawn and dusk to hunt your prey.

If you’ve been looking for a scope that’ll have you shooting long range with confidence, try the Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56.


7. Simmons Truplex 3-9×40: Best Budget Rifle Scope

In a pinch and need a scope that works well but you won’t need a small personal loan to buy?

Look no further than the Simmons Truplex Rifle Scope 3-9×40.

This is one of the best Ruger 10/22 scopes to use for family range days. It’s a great scope for anyone on a budget. 

Let me tell you why…


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Considering the price point, I felt like the glass was clear enough. I did see some fuzzying around the edges at higher magnifications.

That said, I could see my target through all magnifications and I could place descent groups.

Was it Vortex or Leupold clear? No. This scope isn’t even in the same class. It isn’t really fair to compare it to scopes that cost ten to twenty times more. It’s impossible at this price point to get the same quality.

This is a perfect example of “you get what you pay for” quality. And this scope has good quality glass, considering how cheap it is.

The Truplex reticle is a very simple, second focal plane reticle.

It hasn’t any bells or whistles like illumination. It doesn’t even have Mil-dots. However, the duplex styled reticle is surprisingly thin. I loved that it didn’t obscure my target in any way.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

I had a hard time finding the sweet spot for eye relief on the Truplex. The specs for it say that the eye relief is around 3.75 inches

I found myself as close as 3 inches at 100 yards to fight the parallax.

I went even closer to the eye piece for farther-distanced shots. I wouldn’t recommend putting this on a heavy hitting rifle. I feel like I’d get a scope bite because of how close I had to get to it.


Durability

I think the durability is debatable. Simmons boasts that it’s fogproof, waterproof and shockproof. In real-life environmental conditions, I think this is a fair weather scope.

The Truplex does fog in damp and cold weather. It can handle some bumps and knocks. I’ve dropped mine. It went a bit off zero, but it didn’t break.

It won’t survive being smashed against rocks, it does have plastic parts.

I personally wouldn’t take this bushwhacking in the backcountry. But I think it holds up great for family campouts or plinking at the range.

If it breaks, I’m definitely not going to cry over it.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turret knobs are plastic.

One way that Simmons was able to make a great scope for cheap by using plastic parts where they could.

Turning the turrets was a little mushy.

They only clicked if I turned them very, very slowly. I had a hard time gauging the amount of adjustment made because there was no definitive feedback from the scope.

I did appreciate that the scope came with twist-on caps to cover the turrets so they couldn’t be accidentally adjusted.

The Truplex did hold zero once I found it.


Parallax & Magnification

This scope has a lot of parallax. And there isn’t a parallax adjustment knob.

The only way I could fight the parallax was by adjusting where I sat behind the rifle. I had to move back and forth until I found my sweet spot in the eye box.

I needed to readjust every time I changed magnification.


Mounting & Rings

The Simmons Truplex doesn’t come with any mounting hardware.

I needed 1 inch rings to mount this optic on my Ruger 10/22.

LIRISY 1" Scope Mount Low Profile Scope Rings for 11mm Dovetail Rails (2 Pieces)
  • -- One of the rings has a stop pin the bottom of it for rock solid application
  • -- With four screws Design, it will hold the scope more securly than a single screw on both sides
  • -- Scope Rings Type: Medium Profile (14mm),Fit for a .22 rifle or an air rifle using a 3/8" or 11mm dovetail mount

If I over or under tightened the mounting screws, it did impact the accuracy of the scope.

If I cranked down the screws too hard, I found I couldn’t adjust the elevation at all. If I under tightened the mounting hardware, over time my shots creeped up.

I think it is worth the time to set this scope up correctly.


Is the Simmons Truplex 3-9×40 worth it?

For what it’s worth, this is a great scope for its price point.

I have it on my Ruger 10/22 that I let my kids use for plinking and varmint hunting.

For the cost it has all the important things:

  • Holds zero
  • Fully coated glass
  • Screw on turret caps
  • Comes with lens covers
  • Easy to read duplex reticle

For anyone looking for an affordable scope, the Simmons Truplex Riflescope is a great choice. I have had a great time using this with my family and friends.

Sale
Simmons 510513 Truplex Riflescope, Matte, 3-9x40mm
  • 8-point Riflescope with fully-coated optics
  • 1-4-MOA sure grip audible-click windage and elevation adjustments
  • Fully coated optics, waterproof, fog proof & shockproof

Best Scope Brands

I get it:

There are so many scope brands out there that it could get a bit overwhelming to know which one is best for you. Good news is:

I’ve been testing all kinds of scopes from the top scope manufacturers for as long as I can remember.

And today, I’m going to show you the best scope brands that can help you narrow your search for your perfect rifle scope.


Vortex Optics

Vortex Optics is an American manufacturer established in 1986. It’s a Veteran Owned, Family owned and operated business of hard-working hunters located in the South. Their optics are built for multiple shooting applications like hunting, bird watching, wildlife watching, outdoor recreational sports, and law enforcement. Vortex manufactures rifle scopes, spotting scopes, binoculars, and many other optics accessories. Their Razor HD, Crossfire II, Strike Eagle and Viper series scopes are well known worldwide.

Vortex always makes sure they give 100% customer satisfaction by offering an Unlimited Lifetime VIP Warranty. They’ll repair or replace your scope ensuring your investment is well worth it.

Leupold & Stevens, Inc.

Leupold has been designing and manufacturing high quality, American-made optics since 1907. They’ve produced top-tier products from simple hunting scopes to the incredibly powerful and adjustable tactical scopes — like the Leupold VX-R — for over five generations.

Their scopes have been used by US Army snipers, Navy SEALs, and Secret Service agents. To top it all off, Leupold’s Lifetime Warranty will repair your scope if it becomes damaged or defective. If you ask a hunters’ best recommendations, you’ll definitely hear at least one of Leupold’s scopes.

NightForce Optics

Anyone who is an optics enthusiast is bound to know who this prodigious optics company is. NightForce has a nationwide, five-star reputation with its high-class tactical scopes and their hunting scopes. All their optics are proven to be solid, rugged, and extremely durable. These are the three main features that make the products of NightForce Optics stand out among other competitors.

Swarovski Optik

Swarovski Optik is an Austrian manufacturer best known for its light-capturing crystal clear optics. The company was established in 1895 for jewelry, but in 1953, Wilhelm Swarovski started designing and producing binoculars. In fact, he built scopes for use in the German Wehrmacht’s Karabiner 98k and the Mannlicher M1895 during World War II.

They make some of the highest-performing, most intuitive, and high-precision rifle scopes available. You can bet that their scopes feature the same premium quality glass that Swarovski uses for all their products.

Bushnell Corporation

Bushnell Corporation is well-known for delivering a fantastic line of outdoor optics. Their products range from monoculars, compact/ hunting binoculars, hunting rangefinders, and even golf rangefinders.

If you’re on the hunt for your next scope and run into Bushnell’s products, I recommend taking a look at the Trophy Extreme X30 6-24×50 long-range Riflescope or the Banner Dusk & Dawn Riflescope. They’ll make you appreciate the quality of Bushnell’s optics.

Nikon

Nikon is best known for its top-notch quality scopes that are affordable and user-friendly as well. Quality and commitment to innovation are the company’s greatest strengths. Even Canon, a rival brand, once hired them to make the lenses for some of its first photography equipment.

Now, rifle owners depend on Nikon’s camera optics expertise to produce the same cutting-edge lenses for their scopes. This company is a household name in the hunting industry for its no-brainer, high-performance hunting optic rifle scopes.

Trijicon

Trijicon is one of the industry-leading manufacturers of optical solutions for rifles and firearms. With incomparable durability, innovative clarity, wide field of view, and quick target acquisition, this company is preferred by the special units in the US military, law enforcement, hunters, and shooting aficionados. It also makes one of the best 300 blackout scopes on the market.

Athlon Optics

Athlon Optics may be new to the industry. Still, they’re already reputable for offering a wide range of high-quality products, including long-range optics, hunting scopes, red dots, and various sport optics. With crystal clear glass, smooth eyecups, and quality workmanship, you can’t go wrong with an Athlon Optics Rifle Scope.

Burris Optics

Burris Optics is a company well-loved by hunters, sport, and professionals shooters all over the United States because Burris not only creates premium quality scopes but employs only the most competent and eager engineers.

Burris is also widely known for their scopes having lenses with larger diameters than most competitors. Their patented HiLume lens coating has a phenomenal light transmission keeping a clear image. So whether you’re hunting game or shooting an actual target in a competition, Burris won’t disappoint.

ATN

Tech-savvy shooters love optics that take advantage of the 21st Century’s latest modern technologies, and that’s exactly what ATN is known for. This company is the world’s leading manufacturer of top of the line night vision scopes, thermal scopes, digital scopes, and sights. Whether you plan to hunt at night, maybe explore the terrain, work in Law Enforcement – ATN has the right scope to fit your needs.

Primary Arms

The scopes produced by Primary Arms are also top-notch. It’s one of those companies that people trust for its proven quality optics. From their SLX 1-6×24 to their PLX 6-30×56 and everything else in their scopes line, one can always expect the right combination of good optical performance and affordability.

They also offer other products such as cleaning tools, shooting gear, scope mounts, lasers, and many more. It may be a smaller company, but the people who work there know what they do.

Simmons

It’s always a challenge to find scopes that have an array of impressive features for a low price tag. Well, Simmons has put a lot of time (25 years to be exact) and effort into finding the perfect combination of features for a variety of different needs, without breaking your bank. So the next time you’re out looking, check out Simmons Binoculars, Simmons Red Dot Sights, and Simmons Trail Cameras.

Sig Sauer

Sig Sauer features a great line of tactical and hunting riflescopes that are known to offer unwavering accuracy. More than one-third of law enforcement agencies in the US use their high-performance firearms and optics. That alone should say a lot about this company.

Their military-inspired scope designs, technically-advanced electro-optics, and superior HD-quality glass are only a few of the reasons why they can boast weapons of choice for many shooters and hunters alike.

SightMark

Rugged, trustworthy, and endlessly customizable, every shooter dreams of owning a riflescope by SightMark. This company specializes in manufacturing hunting scopes, night vision devices, and other home defense products. Sightmark guarantees that their scopes are built to last, especially their bestsellers like the Citadel, Latitude, Core, and Pinnacle series.

Barska

If you had never thought you’d find a reliable scope with an illuminated reticle and an AO parallax adjustment for under $100, you’re wrong. Barska is an American company that produces an amazing lineup of sights and scopes that excel in the hunting and tactical industry.


Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best rifle scope guide.

So as a recap:

If you’re looking for the best scope for AR-15, get the Vortex Viper PST 1-4×24.

Vortex Viper PST 1-4x24 Riflescope with TMCQ MOA PST-14ST-A
  • The Viper PST 1-4x24 Second Focal Plane boasts features associated with top-tier riflescopes. The one-piece, shock proof 30mm tube, precision-machined from a single solid block of aircraft-grade...
  • Matching reticle and turret measurements allow accurate, fast dialing of shots. Illuminated Reticle Electronic illumination aids in low light visibility of reticle Daylight visible Battery included.
  • Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS) aids in return to zero after dialing temporary elevation correction. Precision-force spring system uses premium components in the erector-spring system to ensure...

Looking for the best scout scope? I’d recommend Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32 Scout.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescope - V-Plex Reticle , Black
  • The 2-7x32 Crossfire II Scout Riflescope is perfect for Use on your Scout rifle, The V-Plex reticle is a popular all-purpose hunting reticle intended for a wide variety of hunting applications
  • With 9. 45" of 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

How about the best hunting scope? Then opt-in for Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×50.

If you’re looking for the best rifle scope under $500, get the Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50.

If you are looking for the best long range optic for the money, I’d recommend Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50.

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle, Black
  • 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

Looking for the best long range scope? I’d recommend LEUPOLD MARK 5HD 5-25X56.

How about the best budget rifle scope? Then opt-in for SIMMONS TRUPLEX 3-9X40.

Sale
Simmons 510513 Truplex Riflescope, Matte, 3-9x40mm
  • 8-point Riflescope with fully-coated optics
  • 1-4-MOA sure grip audible-click windage and elevation adjustments
  • Fully coated optics, waterproof, fog proof & shockproof

That said, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. After all, I have hand and torture tested all the above scopes, and proved to be reliable.

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.

1 thought on “7 Best Rifle Scopes [Hand-Tested]: All Types & Budgets”

  1. I’m going big, too big in fact, and putting a Vortex Viper PST GenII 5-25×50 ERB 7C on an AR15 with 18in BCM barrel. What mount would you recommend and am I completely crazy? I’m strictly a target shooter.
    I’ve really learned a lot from your site.
    Would really appreciate your comments,
    Fred

    Reply

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