5 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Best Rifle Scope Under $500

Spending more on your rifle scope means that that you are more likely to get something with solid quality and performance that suits your shooting or hunting style. But the good news is that there are many great rifle scopes out there that you can get for under $500.

At this price point, you can expect to get a feature-rich scope that is designed to make targeting and shooting quicker and easier. However, you still need to choose the best rifle scope under $500 from the many options. 

Most top rifle scope brands will have several models in this price range that are meant for medium to long-range shooters.

And to help you pick one that suits your hunting/shooting needs, below we review 5 high-quality rifle scopes under $500 and highlight the important things to consider when making up your mind.

You can also read other rifle scope reviews such as rifle scope for the money, rifle scope under $300air rifle scopescout rifle scope.

Product Name

Magnification

Field of View

Eye Relief

Rating

Current Price

1. Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Rifle Scope

4-16x

6.3 to 25.2 ft at 100 yds

3.7-4 in

4.6

2. Vortex Optics Viper Rifle Scope

6.5-20x

6.2 to 17.4 ft at 100 yds

3.1 in

4.4

3. Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Rifle Scope

4-16x

6.3 to 25.2 ft at 100 yds

4 in

4.0

4. Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

3.5-10x

11 to 29.8 ft at 100 yds

3.6-4.4 in

4.5

5. Nikon Prostaff 5 BCD Rifle Scope

4.5-18x

5.6 to 22.4 ft at 100 yds

4 in

4.3

1. Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Rifle Scope

Best 308 Rifle Scope under $500

Editor's Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars (4.6 / 5)

Nikon M-308 4-16x42mm Rifle Scope
  • Magnification: 4-16x
  • Eye Relief: 3.7-4 in
  • Field of View: 6.3 to 25.2 feet at 100 yards
  • Length: 13.5 inches

With a magnification of 4-16x and eye relief of 3.7-4 inches, the Nikon M-308 is the perfect scope for long range shooting.

It is also one of the best 308 rifle scopes under $500 out there as it has been made specifically to accommodate the trajectory of these rounds.

The scope comes with a durable one-piece main body tube that is designed to give it maximum strength and to keep its weight down. And with its fully multi-coated optics, you also get up to 95% of light transmission and maximum brightness for excellent images from dawn to dusk.

The tactical-style turrets are designed with zero reset feature and are also super easy to adjust by hand when on the field. Also, the smooth zoom control makes changing the magnification quick and easy.

Although this scope no longer comes with one-piece mount, this is still not a deal breaker as it is easy to get and also not expensive.

Pros:

  • Durable and lightweight one-piece main tube
  • Fully multicoated lenses
  • Quick focus eyepiece
  • Smooth and quick magnification changes
  • Simplified field adjustment

Cons:

  • One-piece mount not included
  • Eye relief not very good at high magnification

2. Vortex Optics Viper Rifle Scope

Best Rifle Scope under $500 for Long Range

Editor's Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars (4.4 / 5)

Vortex Optics Viper Rifle Scope
  • Magnification: 6.5-20x
  • Eye Relief: 3.1 inches
  • Field of View: 6.2 to 17.4 feet at 100 yards
  • Length: 14.4 inches

Vortex Optics combines several features with a solid main tube to make their Viper scope one of the best long range rifle scope under $500 that you can get anywhere.

These features include the dead-hold BDC reticle that is one of the key things that make this a great scope for long range shooting and situations where estimating the hold-over is vital.

The company also uses some premium quality and fully multicoated lenses that will help ensure maximum light transmission while also bringing great resolution and color fidelity for bright and clear images.

Parallax adjustment is also a quick and easy process thanks to the included side knob and there are also some capped reset turrets that will provide quick re-indexing to zero after sighting in.

Changing the magnification is also a rapid and simple process thanks to the Mag-Bar, and Vortex Optics uses an O-ring seal and argon purging to ensure a fog and waterproof performance.

The 3.1-inch eye relief is the smallest among our rifle scope under $500 reviews but it should still be more than enough for most shooting and hunting situations. And so it should not stop you from buying this otherwise amazing scope.

Pros:

  • Tough and rugged main tube
  • Premium quality and fully multicoated lenses
  • Quick and easy parallax adjustment
  • Rapid magnification change
  • Complete fog and waterproof performance

Cons:

  • Smaller eye relief
  • A little heavy for some rifles

3. Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Rifle Scope

Best Hunting Rifle Scope under $500

Editor's Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Rifle Scope
  • Magnification: 4-16x
  • Eye Relief: 4 inches
  • Field of View: 6.3 to 25.2 feet at 100 yards
  • Length: 14.7 inches

Nikon's Monarch 3 is a top-notch quality scope and one of the best hunting rifle scopes under $500 you can get out there, and besides the brand reputation, there are many other things that make it a great buy.

They include the super easy adjustment when on the field, and this is mostly thanks to the spring-loaded instant zero rest turrets that will give hunters a very easy time.

Bringing the reticle into focus whether you are aiming at a moving or stationary target is also made easy and fast by the quick focus eyepiece.

Also, with the smooth zoom control and handy magnification reference numbers, you can easily adjust the magnification setting to suit any situation.

This Nikon scope also uses the Ultra ClearCoat optics system to ensure up to an impressive 95% light transmission for an incredibly sharp and clear sight picture. And this is a completely water, fog, and shockproof scope.

Reticle markers may seem to get a little too large when at high magnification settings, but they are still within an acceptable range as they will not affect your aiming in any way. Also, you will hardly even notice the size once you get used to the scope.

Pros:

  • Easy adjustment turrets
  • Quick and easy reticle focusing
  • Smooth zoom control
  • Completely water, fog and shockproof
  • Delivers an incredibly sharp and clear sight picture

Cons:

  • Reticle markers seem to get a little too big at long ranges
  • Lens covers/caps not the best

4. Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope

Best Low Light Rifle Scope under $500

Editor's Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Leupold VX-3i Rifle Scope
  • Magnification: 3.5-10x
  • Eye Relief: 3.6-4.4 inches
  • Field of View: 11 to 29.8 feet at 100 yards
  • Length: 12.7 inches

Whether you are on the search for the best tactical rifle scope under $500 or are looking for something reliable for sports shooting or hunting, Leupold always has you covered. Their model VX-3i scope is a perfect example of a Leupold scope that will be perfect for all this and more.

The rifle scope is built with durability in mind, and it will feature one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum construction and with an equally durable matte black finish.

Its versatile 3:1 zoom ratio makes it ideal for various shooting conditions and situations and is one of the reasons why this is a highly versatile rifle scope.

You can also easily adjust the zoom when on the field thanks to the easy power selector. And both windage and elevation adjustment is made easier and more precise by the precise 1/4 MOA adjustments.

This scope also offers a generous eyebox with up to 4.4 inches of eye relief, edge-to-edge brightness and a full and clear sight picture that will fill the eyepiece completely.

Although the mounting hardware is not included, this should be a non-issue as you can easily and cheaply get high-quality mount rings and anything else you need to install it on your specific rifle type.

Pros:

  • Durable housing with a matte finish
  • Versatile zoom ratio
  • Easy and precise click adjustments
  • Compact and  quite lightweight
  • Full lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Mounting hardware not included
  • Field of view edges can be a bit blurry at high magnification settings

5. Nikon Prostaff 5 BCD Rifle Scope

Best Value under $500 Rifle Scope

Editor's Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars (4.3 / 5)

Nikon Prostaff 5 BCD Rifle Scope
  • Magnification: 4.5-18x
  • Eye Relief: 4 inches
  • Field of View: 5.6 to 22.4 feet at 100 yards
  • Length: 13.6 inches

Given the overall construction of Nikon's Prostaff 5, its features and price tag, it will offer you the best value for an under $500, and it is also the cheapest on our list.

The feature-rich rifle scope has a patented BDC reticle that will be perfect for long-range shooting but can also work great for short range shooting.

The scope provides a 4-inch eye relief that is quite generous and the best thing about the scope is that the eye relief remains very consistent. With its fully multicoated optics, you will also get bright and vivid sight pictures at any time of the day.

Shooters can also bring the reticle into focus instantly when using this rifle scope thanks to the quick focus eyepiece. And with the click-stops that you can easily feel and hear, adjusting this scope is also quick and easy.

Nikon also optimizes this scope for use with their Spot On Ballistic Match Technology and will also back it with a lifetime repair or replacement warranty.

The crosshairs on this scope are quite thick which can be problematic at high magnification settings when shooting at long ranges. But unless you plan on using the scope to shoot from super long distances, the crosshairs should still be okay as they will not obstruct your target.

Pros:

  • Simple hand-turn adjustments
  • Generous and consistent eye relief
  • Bright and vivid sight pictures
  • Quick focus eyepiece
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons:

  • Crosshairs are quite thick

How to Buy the Best Rifle Scopes under $500

How to Buy the Best Rifle Scope under $500

While it is true that if you put your budget cap at $500 you are more likely to get a top-notch quality rifle scope, models that fall in this category are all not the same in quality and features.

Hence, to get the best rifle scope for your firearm, it will be vital to consider the following important things as you compare different models and brands.

#1. Durability

The scope on your rifle needs to be able to withstand use in any environment, and this is more so the abuse that comes with external conditions such as when you are hunting.

Durability is often determined by the choice of material and the construction of the scope. Rifle scopes made with aluminum alloy or anodized aluminum are some of the most durable ones and they also give you the benefit of being lightweight.

When it comes to the construction, a one-piece main tube is by far the best option as it is solid and highly durable. Also, a good scope should be nitrogen or argon-purged to make it water, fog and shockproof which enhances its performance and durability.

#2. Magnification

Magnification is how much the target or image gets enlarged when you zoom in on it, and it is one of the most crucial aspects of a rifle scope as it has a huge effect on accuracy.

You can get scopes with either fixed magnification or variable magnification with the latter being the most common and probably also the best option for most hunting situations.

But, variable scopes are also available in different options but for an under $500 scope, you will hardly get models with 3-9x magnification as these are mostly meant for short range shooting.

Read More: 10 Best 39x40 Scopes

At this price range, a scope with at least 4-16x magnification should be good for you, and this is more so if you are looking for something for medium or long range shooting.

#3. Field of View

Field of view is simply the width of the area that will be visible on the scope, and the larger it is the better as it will make ranging easier.

It will in most instances be expressed in feet at a distance of 100 yards and the wider it is the better because a smaller field of view makes it harder to find a visually spotted target with the scope and tracking moving targets is almost impossible.

But, even as you try to pick out a scope with the best field of view, it is important to note that magnification also affects it. The higher the magnification setting the narrower the field of view.

You need to strike a perfect balance between the two or decide which one you want most between high magnification and wide field of view.

#4. Adjustment Range

Because long-range shooting will require some serious adjustment ranges, the best long range rifle scope under $500 for you is one that will allow for easy adjustment.

A scope with internal adjustment for the windage and elevation will make it easy to zero it in to the rifle it is mounted on.

Depending on the scope model and brand, the adjustments can be in form of dials that are flush with the tube or target knobs (turrets) that protrude from the scope's main tube.

Turrets will give you an easier time because you can make adjustments easily with your fingers while dials will require a coin or screwdriver for adjustment.

Competition shooters and small game hunters seem to prefer turrets while the big game hunters are more comfortable with dials. But, regardless of what you prefer, it is important to make sure that adjustments have discernible and audible clicks.

#5. Reticle

While magnification will make your target appear larger, it is the reticles that will make aiming easier and more accurate as they highlight the point where the shot will land.

You cannot afford to make the wrong reticle choice because by doing so the rifle scope will not be very useful as you will hardly ever hit anything when using it.

When it comes to scope reticles, you will generally need to choose between the duplex, BDC and mil-dot reticles and each option is ideal for different situations.

Duplex is the most common and preferred reticle option with both beginner and pro hunters and shooters. BDC reticles, on the other hand, are perfect for shooting situations where compensating for bullet drop is crucial.

But with the best mil-dot scopes under $500, you will get a rifle scope that will also help you estimate the range and target size.

Conclusion

As much as there are numerous great quality rifle scopes in the under $500 price range, you should still have an easy time finding one that suits your needs provided you know what to look for.

To get the best rifle scope under $500, you need to watch out for essential things like the durability of the scope, its magnification, adjustment and also the quality and type of reticle.

Also, make sure that you understand the rifle and cartridge types that you will be using as they will also affect your choice of scope significantly.

And while ultimately the decision on the scope to buy will depend on you, our top 5 rifle scope under $500 reviews above is an excellent point to start your search.