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While there are plenty of rifle scope options that exceed $1,000, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get a top-notch scope for under $400. To prove it, we tracked down the best rifle scopes that you can find under $400 and created reviews for them here.
While these scopes might not be picture perfect, they’re phenomenal options that can last you a lifetime. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, check out the comprehensive buyer’s guide that will walk you through everything that you need to know!
With any of these scopes, you’ll be bulls-eying your targets in no time, blowing away the friends and family who threw their money away on a more expensive option.
|Best Overall||Leupold VX-Freedom 450 Bushmaster Riflescope||
|Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope||
|Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Riflescopes||
|UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope||
|Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope||
There are few names in the rifle scope industry more reliable or more notable than Leupold and for a good reason. It’s an ultra-reliable brand that designs, manufactures, and assembles all its products in the U.S.A., and it offers a lifetime warranty on everything it makes.
Its VX-Freedom 450 is no different. It features the brand’s twilight light management system that gives you the brightest possible optics, and the 3x to 9x magnification range is ideal for most applications. Even better, this scope offers generous eye relief at 3.66″ at the highest magnification and 4.17″ at the lowest levels.
While this scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle, if there’s any scope that doesn’t need it because of all the light that it brings in, it’s this one.
A quality rifle scope option is the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope. It’s a scope that won’t max out your $400 budget but performs like its more expensive counterparts. For starters, the optics give you HD clarity, and they bring in a ton of light, even during low-light conditions.
The best part about this scope is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, so you won’t have to worry about it wearing out after a few years. There is a ton to love about this scope, but the sharper 3.3″ of eye relief is what keeps it out of the top spot on this list.
A well-known name in the rifle scope industry is Vortex Optics. It offers a lifetime warranty on all its products, but not all of its products are made in the U.S.A.
Still, there’s a ton to love about this scope. There are two reticle options to choose from and two different magnification ranges. No matter what you’re looking to use your rifle scope for, the Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical line is sure to have an option that works for you.
Even better, the 3.8″ of eye relief on this scope is among the best that you’ll find. However, the price tag is pretty high.
If you’re looking for a great scope with a higher top-end magnification range, you should check out the UTG 4-16X44 30mm Scope. With a maximum magnification range of 16x, it’s a great choice when you’re trying to hit a distant target.
It also comes with a lifetime warranty and gives you a crystal-clear view that makes it easy to see your target, no matter how far away it is. However, there’s no doubt that this scope is at the top end of the $400 budget.
Moreover, while it’s a clear and bright picture, it’s not as clear and bright as the Leupold or Vortex Optics scopes on this list.
Just a small step behind the UTG rifle scope is the Sightmark Wraith HD Digital Riflescope. It has an excellent magnification range that starts at 4x and maxes out at 16x. Even better, this scope comes with a night vision mode and the ability to record in HD.
However, despite these additional features, this scope only comes with a 3-year warranty. While that’s nothing to sneeze at, it’s a far cry from a lifetime warranty. Also, this one is at the upper end of the budget, which means you’ll want it to last a lifetime.
If you’re looking for a rifle scope that excels in short-range situations, consider the TRUGLO TRU-Brite Illuminated-Reticle Rifle Scope. While the maximum magnification range of 6x leaves something to be desired, the minimum 1x magnification range means your target will never get too close.
This scope has extremely generous eye relief at 3.75″, and the illuminated reticle comes in two different colors that you can cycle through: red and green. Overall, it’s an excellent scope for shorter-range applications.
Its high-end magnification is limited, but if you’re looking to exclusively shoot close-range targets, this is an excellent choice.
When you think of Nikon, you might not think of rifle scopes, but its P-Tactical Rifle Scope is an outstanding choice. The 3x to 9x magnification range makes this an extremely versatile choice, and the optics are extremely bright and clear.
Moreover, this scope has spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets on both the elevation and windage adjustments, making it an excellent choice for hunting and other applications where the conditions can change on a dime.
This scope offers 3.6″ of eye relief, which is decent but not great. Also, Nikon provides a lifetime warranty on this scope, but sometimes it can be hard to get Nikon to honor its warranties.
A decent scope with a powerful magnification setting is the Burris Optics Fullfield E1 Riflescope. The maximum magnification range is an impressive 14x, and you get crystal-clear optics even at full power. Even better, the minimum magnification range of 4.5x means that you can use this scope in most close-range applications too!
However, while this scope is an excellent combination of affordability and performance, it has extremely sharp eye relief. While it starts at 3.8″ at the lowest magnification range, that number quickly shrinks to 3.1″ at full power.
A robust long-range scope is the Monstrum G2 FFP Rifle Scope. The maximum 24x magnification setting is incredibly strong, especially at this price point. Even better, while the 6x magnification setting is too powerful for close-range targets, it does allow you to hit medium-range objects.
But the best part of this scope has to be the generous 4″ to 4.5″ of eye relief. That’s the best of any of the scopes on this list, and it’s not even close. However, this scope only comes with a 2-year warranty.
While it has an illuminated reticle, it does a terrible job at collecting light, so the scope itself is practically useless in low-light situations.
If you want a scope with a ton of magnification, then consider the Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope. It has a maximum magnification range of 34x, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a scope at this price range that offers more power.
However, the highest magnification ranges on this scope are a bit fuzzy, which limits its usefulness. While this scope does come with a first focal plane reticle, offers excellent light transmission, and has a lifetime warranty, that’s where the perks end.
The minimum 8x magnification makes this scope useless for close-range applications, and the 3.3″ of eye relief is extremely harsh. It’s also at the high end of the $400 budget and doesn’t come with any mounting materials.
With so many features and so many scopes, it can all be a little overwhelming if you don’t already know what you’re looking for. That’s why we want to walk you through everything that you need to know about rifle scopes.
This way, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking at before making a purchase and what you need to do when you have your new scope in hand.
Eye relief refers to the distance that you need between your scope and your eye to see through it correctly. If you’re too far away, you won’t have a clear image of your target, but if you’re too close, the recoil will send the scope straight through your orbital socket.
But not only do you want a scope with more eye relief so you don’t smack yourself in the face, but you also want more eye relief so you can comfortably mount your scope farther up your rifle. This makes it easier to shoot.
It’s not hard to see why eye relief is such an important measurement, but how much do you need? While there’s no right or wrong answer, we recommend at least 3.5″ of eye relief for a more comfortable shot, but the more eye relief, the better.
Most of the products on the list had a lifetime warranty. That’s because a lifetime warranty is a company putting its money where its mouth is.
Every company will tell you that its scope will last a long time, but only those with lifetime warranties guarantee it. This can give you extra peace of mind because you know that not only will your new scope last year after year but also that you’re getting a higher quality product right out of the gate.
While you might be able to find a scope that offers a few more features for less money, if it doesn’t have a warranty, you’re likely saving a few bucks now by spending more later, so stick with the lifetime warranty.
Before you purchase any rifle scope, ensure that you can mount it to your rifle. The most common rifle mounting options are Picatinny rails, weaver rails, and dovetail mounts, but these aren’t the only mounting options out there.
So, before you purchase a new scope, take a look at your rifle to see what kind of mounting system you have.
It doesn’t matter if you spend $20 on a scope or $1,000. If you don’t take the time to sight it in, you’re wasting your money. The good news is that once you’ve mounted your sight, sighting it in is easy.
All you need to do is take your time and spend a few hours at the range, and you’ll have your new rifle scope perfectly sighted in no time!
The amount of magnification that you need undoubtedly comes down to what you’ll be shooting and how far away it is, but for most applications, the 3x to 9x magnification options are perfect.
That’s because the lower magnification setting of 3x is low enough to allow you to hit close-range targets, while the 9x magnification range makes it easy enough to hit distant targets. Keep in mind that even if you get a more powerful scope, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to hit extremely distant targets.
It takes more than an excellent scope to hit long-range objects — it also takes plenty of practice and skill. So, while an option like the Athlon Optics Argos BTR rifle scope offers 34x magnification, unless you’re a professionally trained sniper, you’re not going to be able to effectively use that magnification range.
Also, keep in mind that you can have too much magnification. When you’re looking at a closer object with too much power, the view is going to be distorted. The slightest movements will also cause large shifts in your view, making it harder to hit your target.
When it comes to your reticle, there are two main styles for you to choose from, regardless of the shape or style of the reticle itself.
First focal plane scopes appear the same size regardless of the magnification setting that you’re using. In contrast, second focal plane scopes have the reticle appear larger when you’re at the highest magnification settings.
There’s no wrong choice here, but if you stick with a second focal plane scope, you need to understand that the reticle will look smaller at lower magnification levels. This is a chief complaint among users who don’t understand how a second focal-plane sight works.
It doesn’t matter how crisp and powerful your sight is if you can’t see through it. While scopes make it easy to see targets that are far away, it can be difficult for them to draw in enough light so you can clearly make out what you’re looking at.
That’s why some scopes, like the Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn rifle scope and the Leupold VX-Freedom 450, have special coatings and features to help them bring in more light. This is a huge boon when you’re shooting in low-light conditions, and it can be the difference between a successful hunt and heading home empty-handed.
One of the most talked-about features in many rifle scopes is the illuminated reticle, but is it a feature that you really need? It depends on when you plan on using your rifle scope and which scope you choose.
If you’re shooting in low-light conditions, an illuminated reticle makes it much easier to see all the different hash marks that you need to line up your shot. But if you’re using a scope like the Leupold VX-Freedom 450 or the Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical Riflescope, these come with extremely bright optics that significantly reduce the need for an illuminated reticle.
On the other side of things, the Monstrum G2 comes with an illuminated reticle, but it’s the only thing that you’ll see in the sight during low-light conditions!
So, while an illuminated reticle can be nice, it’s truly a secondary concern to the rest of the scope.
Considering these reviews, it’s not hard to see why the Leupold VX-Freedom 450 Riflescope earned the top choice. Whether you’re looking to hit the range or the deer, it’s a scope that excels in a wide range of applications.
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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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