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With practice and training, you can make shots out to 200 yards with only 4x magnification – but only if the optics you’re looking through provide enough clarity to see details at that distance.
Shopping for different 1-4x scopes can be difficult, which is why we’ve put together these reviews of some of the best 1-4x scopes you can find on the market today.
If you want to learn the differences between these different scopes, then these reviews are the right place to look. Let’s get started!
|Best Overall||Vortex Optics Crossfire II Riflescopes||
|Best Value||Simmons Whitetail Scope||
|Premium Choice||Hawke Vantage 30 WA IR 1-4x24 Scope||
|Monstrum 1-4x20 Rifle Scope||
|Bushnell Optics Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope||
Vortex has really hit a home run with their Crossfire II. The 1-4x version gives you the option to have an illuminated “V-brite” reticle, which adds a bright red dot in the center of the crosshairs. Since at 1x the scope will serve the same purpose as a red dot sight, having an illuminated dot makes the Crossfire II fantastic at close range.
Another thing the Crossfire II does right is parallax adjustment via the adjustable objective. The beauty of a 1-4x scope is in how versatile it is, but if your reticle wanders anytime you deviate from a certain distance, the scope becomes that much less versatile (for a full explanation on what a parallax in a rifle scope is, be sure to read our buying guide down below).
The image quality through the Crossfire II is fantastic for the price. You could certainly get a sharper, clearer image with a much more expensive scope, but the Crossfire II punches above its weight in this category. The Crossfire II is not going to withstand heavy recoil though, and only the center dot is illuminated. The brightest illumination setting on the dot is not exactly breathtaking.
It’s hard to beat the price on the Simmons Whitetail, and it’s definitely one of the best 1-4x scopes for the money. The Whitetail has a clear image throughout the zoom range, and finger-adjustable windage and elevation turrets. There aren’t really any bells and whistles on this one, but the core purpose of a rifle scope is to provide a clear image that shooters can use to see targets further out.
The bells and whistles missing on this scope are parallax adjustment and reticle illumination. For the 1-4x model of the Whitetail, Simmons does not include parallax adjustment and instead has it fixed at 100 yards. With a 1-4x scope, most of the shots you’ll be making will be shorter than 100 yards, so you’ll experience some parallax with most of your shooting.
The reticle is also not illuminated, but this and the parallax don’t matter nearly as much when you have solid image quality and a reliable scope that won’t lose zero over time. The Simmons holds up well and gives you the basics at a great price. With all that said, we think this is the best 1-4x scope for the money this year.
The Hawke Vantage 30 takes image quality to the next level. Multi-coating on the lenses can make a significant difference in how bright and clear the image in the scope is, and Hawke uses 11 layers of coating on the lenses. Shooting in low light situations is also helped by the reticle illumination that can either be red or green. If you have the budget for it, the Hawke Vantage 30 is a great choice for defense and hunting in low light.
The one thing you’ll notice that’s missing is parallax adjustment. Parallax is fixed at 100 yards. As helpful as adjusting for parallax is, it’s something that can also be worked around. The more you shoot with the scope, the better you’ll get a feel for what the sight picture looks like in different scenarios. You’ll also get more and more consistent in your shooting form, so your eye ends up in the exact same place every time.
The illumination just covers the center dot, which may be a drawback if you like more of the reticle to be illuminated, but it certainly helps preserve battery life. The Vantage isn’t designed with large-bore rifles in mind and will feel more at home with smaller calibers.
The Monstrum is a great scope. The main thing holding it back from the number one spot is that it lacks parallax adjustment, which the Crossfire II has. Besides that, it has full reticle illumination, not just a dot in the center of the crosshair. The entire reticle lights up in your choice of red or green, which means no matter what you’re aiming at and at what time of day you’ll be able to see your reticle clearly.
The reticle is really what sets the Monstrum apart. It has a rough rangefinder on the reticle that helps you estimate how far away a target is. It’s not the ultra-precise, tactical rangefinders you’ll find on more expensive scopes, but it’s enough to be useful and increase first-shot accuracy.
The Monstrum also comes with mounting rings that are actually quite good. Often, rings that are included with a scope tend to be low quality, but the rings that come with the Monstrum are tough and accurate. If you need the scope mounted lower or higher, you’ll still need to buy separate rings, but as long as the included rings fit, then they’re good enough to use.
The Bushnell is actually very similar to the Barska but focused more on long-range shooting instead of short-range. Instead of a mil-dot reticle, the Bushnell has a drop zone reticle. A drop zone reticle will be more useful for compensating for bullet drop, but less useful for measuring how far to the left or right your shots are hitting.
The drop zone reticle on the Bushnell is calibrated for 55-62 grain .223 Remington, which makes the Bushnell that much better for AR variants and other .223 rifles. The optics are fully multi-coated and the image quality is bright and sharp. You also get adjustment clicks of .1 mil (which is .36 MOA) for more precise adjustments at longer distances.
The issue with the Bushnell is the same as many low-priced rifle scopes: it doesn’t last very long. It’s not unheard of for the Bushnell to start to lose zero between 500 and 1,000 rounds, and even less with a higher-caliber rifle. If you only put 100 rounds through your rifle in a year, then the Bushnell should last you plenty long enough to justify the cost.
If you’re shooting an AK-47 or an SKS, this is a 1-4x option that should work great for you. The Centerpoint abandons the traditional reticle approach and goes instead with the dot plus circle that is more common on a red dot optic. The dot is 3 MOA and the circle is 65 MOA wide. At 100 yards, that means the circle is 65 inches wide, so it gives you a quick reference to estimate how far away something is or even lead the target if needed.
Parallax adjustment is missing on this scope, which is unfortunate and part of what’s holding it back from being higher on the list. The main advantages of an AK-47, SKS, or other rifles chambered in 7.62×39 is that it’s a high-energy round with devastating force at shorter distances. Not “short range” per se, but beyond 400 yards the round slows down so much that it is no longer accurate, and the round really shines at 200 yards and under.
The dot plus circle reticle gives you lightning-fast target acquisition compared to something more complicated like a rangefinder reticle or mil-dot. The other side of that coin is that you won’t have much help from the reticle when it comes to compensating for individual shots. Like a red dot, it’s designed to help you quickly put the dot on your target and pull the trigger, which makes it perfect for 7.62×39.
This is a good scope, but nothing about it jumps out as making it especially good for any situation, with the possible exception of beginners. The image clarity is good but not exceptional, the durability is there for the most part (though some reviews mention receiving lemons), and there are 11 brightness settings for the red illumination.
No green illumination here for daytime shooting, and the reticle is a starburst center dot. The reticle is the one thing that makes it more for beginners than experienced shooters, because the starburst doesn’t really provide any valuable information that helps with adjusting shots. Most beginners are going to shoot at the distance they’ve zeroed the scope at, and they won’t really know how to take advantage of a more tactical reticle anyway.
Functionally, the starburst is just a red dot that looks cooler. The Falcon is a solid scope and a safe choice, but there’s also nothing about it that separates it from the rest of the pack.
The Athlon would be higher up on the list if it wasn’t more expensive than some of the other options. The Athlon is constructed with aircraft-grade aluminum and has phenomenal shock resistance. If you’re looking to mount a scope on something like a .308 Winchester or larger, this Athlon is one to consider. You get an illuminated mil-line reticle.
The reticle has 10-mil lines along each axis to aid in calculating subtensions for whatever cartridge you are using. It’s a flexible reticle that isn’t designed with any specific round in mind but rather adapts to whatever you want to use it for.
Image quality is sharp and bright, and it does well, although the illumination on the reticle is not bright enough for daylight, so if you’re looking for a red reticle in the middle of the day, you’ll need to look elsewhere.
Readers familiar with rifle scopes may be a bit surprised to find a TRUGLO at the bottom of this list. The TRU-Brite 30 is a good scope, but it has a few fatal flaws that keep it from being higher. The first flaw is that the 1-4x version does not have an illuminated reticle; only the 1-6x version does. If you actually want the 1-6x version then great, but as far as 1-4x scopes go, not having illumination is a drawback.
The next issue is the short eye relief. Every other scope on this list has eye relief of more than 3 inches, but the TRU-Brite has 2.5 inches at 4x. Depending on your background and how you were trained to shoot, that may be just fine or even preferable, but most shooters will find that uncomfortably close and difficult to manage. With eye relief that short, you may need to order a lower-profile rear iron sight in order to fit it between you and the scope.
The image quality and durability are good, and the reticle is a serviceable mil-dot. Good image quality can get a scope on the list, but it takes more to get to the top.
Here are some important things to consider when finding the right 1-4x scopes for your needs.
Parallax refers to how objects closer to your eye move differently in relation to you than objects further from your eye. That may sound complicated, but parallax is easy to understand. If you close one eye and hold your thumb up, your thumb will block something from your view. To see whatever it’s blocking, you can just move your head.
That’s called parallax because your thumb moved differently in relation to where your eye was than whatever it was blocking. If there was no parallax, then your thumb would block the same thing from view no matter where your eye moved.
With rifle scopes, parallax is introduced because the reticle is much physically closer than whatever you are aiming at down range. The cool thing about modern scopes, though, is that you can adjust the parallax of the reticle to match whatever distance you are aiming at, so that the reticle moves with the target area and covers the same spot no matter where your eye is.
This is useful because unless you are an experienced and skilled shooter, your eye won’t always be in the exact same spot every time you get ready to shoot, and so your reticle may not be centered on exactly where your bullet is going to hit unless you have adjusted the parallax to match.
You’ll usually see two colors of reticle illumination: red and green. Red illumination is generally the best for low-light situations (although green works fine here) because the bright red contrasts very well and cleanly with the dark, often blue-toned shadows at night.
Green illumination can be used at night as well, but it’s often used during the day to make the reticle easier to see. Anytime your target area is close in color to black (like when there are harsh shadows or lots of lines like with long grass), being able to kick on some green illumination can make the reticle much easier to see.
With a scope designed for long-range shooting, reticle illumination becomes more of a luxury and less of a necessity, but with 1-4x scopes, the goal is often versatility and tactical use, so illumination can make a big difference in the efficacy of the scope. Fast target acquisition and low light situations are when illumination shines, and that’s what most 1-4x scopes are for.
The nice thing about low power variable optics like 1-4x scopes is that it’s easier for manufacturers to achieve high image quality and a bright picture. The higher the magnification the more difficult it is to keep the image bright and sharp. That doesn’t mean there aren’t 1-4x scopes with terrible image quality, because there absolutely are, it just means that you’ll have a lot of affordable choices that give off great images.
A good way to check image quality is to look at pictures uploaded by customers and compare the image in the scope with what is visible outside the scope. Is the image in the scope dimmer, just as bright, or brighter than with the naked eye? Does it look comparatively sharp?
You can find ways to spend huge dollars on 1-4x scopes. There are options that are far more expensive than our premium option on this list. Typically, though, there should be a very specific reason why you need something that scope has to offer that these don’t.
For example, if you’re going to be putting lots of rounds through your rifle with a 1-4x scope mounted on it, then it may be worth paying more for one that will stand the test of time.
The best overall 1-4x scope that we found was the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4x with the V-brite illuminated reticle. You can get the Crossfire with a non-illuminated reticle and save some money, but that extra brightness on the center dot makes the scope that much more versatile. In our reviews, we found that the best 1-4x scope for the money was the Simmons 1-4x Whitetail.
Hopefully, these reviews were helpful and you are able to find your way to a scope that makes the most sense for you. The most important things will always be image quality and durability but features like an illuminated reticle and parallax adjustment can take a scope from good to great, or from great to perfect.
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Featured Image Credit: benjaminwgr0, Pixabay
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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