At a Glance: Best 1-4x Scopes
Comparison of Best 1-4x Scopes
Our Top Pick
|Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20mm Riflescope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Monstrum 1-4×20 Rifle Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II||View Latest Price|
So you bought or put together your next long gun and now you need a scope to go with it. You don’t want to spend too much money on a scope because you’d rather save it for your ammunition. We have all been there so I won’t argue with your decision.
Our list of the best 1-4x scopes at a reasonable price
On the other hand, you might have heard of the horror stories of reticles disintegrating or turrets falling off a scope. You do not want to experience that. That’s why we’re here, to give you this list of the 8 best 1-4x scopes so you can make an informed decision without breaking the bank.
Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4x20mm Riflescope
Leupold, founded way back in 1907, is a legendary name in American-made optics. It continues to be run by the same family, now in the fifth generation. Leupold has an unrivaled reputation in scopes, their iconic gold band is a shorthand for quality and reliability.
The VX line of Leupold scopes is designed specifically for use with AR-15 style rifles and the 5.56mm or .223 ammo they usually fire. This model offers 1.5-4x magnification. Many scopes that are marketed as having the ability to drop down to 1x do not, so kudos to Leupold for taking the high road.
The turrets adjust with positive 1/4 MOA clicks. The solid aluminum construction, waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof design contribute to a build quality that will keep this scope functioning for a lifetime. Although the objective lens seems small, this scope comes with Leupold’s Twilight Light Management System. Plus, the profile makes it easy to mount low to your rifle.
You get four choices of reticle with this model, duplex, a couple with MOA marks, and something in between specifically for shooting boar. Of course, the lenses are multicoated and scratch-resistant. The weight is 9.6 ounces. This is an outstanding scope for a great price. No frills or gimmicks, just a solid, workaday piece of equipment that will last a lifetime.
- Outstanding build quality
- 4 reticle choices
- Twilight Light Management System
- Easy to mount low
- 1/4 MOA turret adjustment clicks
- Slightly heavy
- No illumination
Monstrum 1-4×20 Rifle Scope
Monstrum Tactical is a Southern California based company that creates new and innovative products for very cheap prices. Its 1-4x scope is made out of aluminum with a 1-inch sealed, nitrogen-charged tube for water and fog resistance.
When you first see it, it looks smaller than other scopes but it is quite robust and durable. Its weight is 11 oz and the objective lens is 20mm. The package includes mounting rings for easy installation of the scope on your AR-15. You just need a flat screwdriver or a wrench to tighten it to the flat top rail of your black rifle.
This 1-4x scope comes with a big throw lever for an easy adjustment from 1 to 4x zoom. It works great especially for competitive shooting where you need to switch the shooting distances rather quickly.
The reticle has crosshairs and some dots with MOA drops and windage compensation. The reticle is entirely illuminated. The illuminated reticle works great during dusk and dawn. The turret adjustments move ½ inch at 100 yards per click. That allows fine-tuning for distance shots. You can sight in this scope at 100 yards while on 4x zoom and then easily go back to 1x for quick close-range shots.
The reticle always appears the same size no matter the zoom. The glass is clear and fairly bright thanks to the adjustable eyepiece. It allows you to easily focus it in for the 1x zoom setting and use it like a red dot. If the illumination does not get bright enough, the unilluminated crosshair is clear enough to be used instead. This 1-4x scope is super affordable and a great bang for the buck.
- Sturdy and durable
- Weighs 11oz.
- Mounting rings included
- Illuminated reticle
- Water and fog proof
- Very affordable
- Illumination is not bright enough in bright sunlight
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics has great customer service and an unconditional lifetime warranty. If anything happens to this scope you just send it to Vortex Optics with the receipt and they will help you out very quickly. We reviewed their Strike Eagle scope above and here we have another super cool scope from this amazing company.
Their Crossfire II 1-4x scope is an affordable product with a lot of features you would find on much more expensive scopes. It is made from an aircraft-grade aluminum 30mm single tube with a hard anodized finish for added strength and durability. It withstands rough handling and recoil. It is 9.8 inches long and weighs about 16 oz.
This 1-4x scope is also waterproof and fog proof thanks to the nitrogen fill inside the tube. The scope turrets are protected externally with caps and you can easily re-zero after sighting your rifle in. The magnification is easily adjusted. The eyepiece helps with accuracy. The eye relief is great and allows for shooting with both eyes opened.
The reticle is in the second focal plane. That means no matter how much you zoom, the reticle will stay the same size. This 1-4x scope has a so-called V-Plex reticle with a central illuminated red dot. The illumination is meant for low light conditions. There is a setting for it between 1 – 10 with 10 being super bright. However, setting 10 will get washed out during bright sunlight. This 1-4x scope is super versatile. You get a lot of value for the money, even though this scope is not the cheapest compared to other scopes in its price range.
- Sturdy and durable
- 30mm single-piece tube
- Shockproof, waterproof and fog proof
- V-Plex reticle with an illuminated red dot
- A lot of value for the price but not the cheapest
- Lifetime warranty
- Illuminated red dot becomes invisible in bright sunlight
- Quite heavy, 16 oz.
Athlon Optics Talos BTR
Athlon is an up-and-coming US company which focuses on designing and manufacturing high-quality optics for an affordable price. They achieve great affordability through strategic alliances with various high-end manufacturers. Athlon offers a lifetime warranty which is always a great selling point.
This 9.2-inch long 1-4x scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum with a 30mm heat-treated one-piece tube. That guarantees extreme durability even for shooters who are rough with their equipment. This scope holds zero perfectly even when used on rifles with heavy recoil. The scope is waterproof and fog proof thanks to the nitrogen-filled tube.
Lenses are fully multi-coated which reduces reflection and increases light transmission. The windage and elevation turrets are exposed which makes them perfect for quick adjustments. They also have a return to zero function. To use it after sighting in your rifle you unscrew your turret, lift it up, set the zero back, and then you will know how many clicks you need to go left and how many right. However, if you crawl with your rifle through bushes there’s a chance you’ll bump the turrets and lose your adjustments.
Another cool thing about this scope is the illuminated reticle. The illumination setting goes from 1 to 11 with 11 being the brightest. The illumination works best in low light. The Talos has its reticle in the second focal plane scope so the crosshair stays the same size at any magnification level. This 1-4x scope is very versatile. It allows you to shoot short distances as you would with a red dot only but you still have the 4x power in case you are hunting and see a suitable target farther away.
- Durable and high quality
- 30mm one-piece heat coated tube
- Fully multi-coated lenses
- Return to zero feature
- Illuminated reticle
- Medium price range
- Turrets are not capped
- Heavy, 18 oz.
Barska 1-4×28 IR Hunting Scope
Barska is a US company founded in 1994. It manufactures high-quality optics while keeping the price low. It also offers a lifetime warranty. The Barska 1-4x scope is a sturdy, durable, 10-inch long, 16oz budget optic milled from aluminum. It has a robust design with a 30mm tube. You can bang it around and even take it through a thunderstorm as it is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. You will appreciate its versatility since it has variable zoom and allows you to shoot medium range as well as short distance. Set it at 1x and it will feel like having a red dot when looking down the tube because you can keep both eyes open when shooting.
The picture is crisp and clear. The eye relief is comfortable. The turrets are adjustable with audible clicks and with a return to zero. When you finish the adjustments on the turrets you can lock them down to prevent knocking them out of place.
The reticle is on the second focal plane (will stay the same despite the zoom) and illuminated with brightness settings from 1 to 5. When outside in the bright sun it is rather a tinted reticle than illuminated.
The scope comes with its own mount which is sturdy and resists any recoil. There are some downsides to this scope. It is not the lightest scope on the market. Adjusting the zoom is slow and not easy to do since there is no lever. You have to twist it a lot as it has a long throw from 1 to 4. When you look through it at 1x the edges feel warped like a fish-eye effect. The easy solution is to move it to 1.5x which provides a much flatter picture.
- Good quality for the price
- Shockproof, waterproof, fog proof
- Comfortable eye relief
- Locking turrets
- Illuminated reticle
- Medium price range
- 1x zoom feels like a fisheye
- Quite heavy
Centerpoint Optics 1-4×20 MSR Rifle Scope
Centerpoint Optics scopes are made by Crossman arms, a US company founded in 1923. It manufactures good quality optics including this sturdy-looking 1-4x scope with a great price tag – half to third of the price of comparable offerings. On the other hand, you get what you pay for. The package includes a one-piece mount where the rings are split horizontally. The mount is very durable but it is not quick to detach so you have to re-zero it if you remove and replace it on your rifle.
The scope is housed in a 1-inch diameter tube. It weighs around 15 oz. It holds zero pretty well even under hard recoil. The glass is quite clear with some fish-eye style distortion at 1x. You can use both eyes when shooting at 1x. However, the eyepiece is not very comfortable. Also, its 1x power is not true 1x. This is more pronounced when focusing on things that are very close. Further away the difference is minimal, more like a 1.25-4x scope.
It gathers light well even in the dusk. However, the reticle is illuminated which helps greatly in low light. The color options for the illumination are green and red and the illumination requires a battery. There are multiple brightness settings for the illumination with a large leap of brightness between settings 1 and 2. Most shooters run the illumination on the lowest setting.
The turrets are covered with caps. After you remove them, you will see that the turrets have a ½ MOA click and can be adjusted by hand. The reticle is 65 MOA and has a large 3 MOA center dot which is a bit detrimental to your accuracy, as a typical crosshair reticle is 1 MOA. At a higher power setting, this 1-4x scope provides quite good picture clarity.
- Illuminated with green and red
- Gathers light well even at dusk
- Mount is included
- Holds zero well even with heavy recoil
- One of the cheapest
- Turrets are covered for protection
- 3 MOA center dot prevents accuracy at long range
- Fisheye distortion at 1x
- 1x is not true 1x, more like 1.25x
Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24 FFP Rifle Scope
This 1-4x scope offers all the features a budget-minded beginner shooter needs. This scope ships with 30mm mounting rings. They sit medium-high on a flat top rail. Even with harder recoil, the scope won’t move. The scope also includes spring-loaded flip-up lens caps which keep the scope glass protected and a honeycomb kill flash to decrease the glare. Like most others, this scope is made from aircraft-grade aluminum. The tube is nitrogen-filled to prevent fogging. The scope is also water-resistant.
The Alpha series is 9 inches long with a 30mm tube and weighs 16oz. It is also shockproof in case you are rough with your equipment. The turrets have ½ MOA clicks and a gnarly finish for good grip even with wet or oily hands. The clicks are audible but if you have hearing protection on you can actually go by feel. This 1-4x scope has an illuminated reticle with a battery and brightness settings next to the turrets.
The only downside of this scope is the magnification ring, which is super hard to turn. The solution is to buy a ring with a throw lever for easier manipulation. Also, the illumination is not visible in bright daylight and is better used at dawn and dusk. The scope has very generous eye relief. So if you need your scope farther away from your eye than most then this is a perfect scope for you. The reticle is in the first focal plane. That means the reticle will appear to get bigger as you use higher power magnification. The glass is very good, clear, and crisp.
- All necessary features and accessories in one package
- Medium price range
- Front focal plane reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- Good grip on turrets
- Shockproof, water-resistant, fog-resistant
- Mounting rings
- Illumination is not visible in bright daylight
- The magnification ring is hard to turn
Bushnell Optics, Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope
Bushnell Corporation is an American company specializing in sporting and hunting optics and other outdoor products. Each of its products comes with a lifetime warranty. This 1-4x scope is made from highly durable aluminum alloy with an anodized finish and sealed to protect the internal components. All lenses are fully multi-coated to reduce glare and increase brightness.
The scope is 9.5 inches long and weighs 16.9oz. The eye focus ring helps you with focusing. Once you find the clear picture you should leave it at that place, especially if your eyesight is not that good. The magnification ring is easy to twist although a throw lever would make it even easier. 1x is not a true 1x but more like 1.2x. The turrets are the weak point of the scope as they are very easy to move, by hand or by bumping them on something. They have 1/10 mil of adjustment which is great for precision shooting. However, for this kind of scope and the shooters who will use it might be a little bit of overkill, ½ MOA might have been easier to work with.
The reticle is simple, which a lot of shooters like as they can better focus on the target. It is also on the second focal plane which means the reticle will not appear to grow with an increase in magnification.
- Fully multi-coated lenses
- Eye focus ring for easy focusing
- A simple SFP reticle
- Medium price range
- Turrets move too easily
- 1/10mil of adjustment for windage and elevation is an overkill
- No illumination
What is a 1-4x Scope?
1-4x scopes are great for close to mid-range shooting. You can use them almost as you would a red dot. They give you just barely enough magnification for medium-range shooting. That makes them very versatile and useful for sport shooters and hunters alike. If you are serious about acquiring excellent shooting skills you should probably start with a low magnification scope as 1x will simulate shooting with iron sights. However, shooting without a scope might get boring soon so a good scope for short to medium range is a great solution. When you have a solid 1-4x scope on your rifle, you can also try some tactical shootingas the mag range is just about perfect for that application. All in all, a 1-4x scope will be an instrument that will greatly improve your shooting competence as well as your shooting enjoyment.
Why Buy A 1-4x24mm Scope?
There are multiple reasons why you should buy a 1-4x scope.
- One of the major appeals of low power scopes is the low-end magnification. It is perfect for engaging close range targets. Hunters, law enforcement, military, and civilians defending their homes all have to plan for the possibility of targets appearing suddenly at a short distance. If you have too much magnification at close range, it will take you a few seconds to find the target through the scope. When you have a low magnification scope, you just bring the rifle to eye level and fire. Recently, there has been a lot of talk about “true” 1x. That means the lowest setting should have zero optical distortion for instant target acquisition. It is a great feature to have but it adds costs to a variable power scope. For targets a few yards away, a scope with 1.25x or 1.5x is still very usable. If you are a hunter and want lower magnification but don’t need true 1x, then check out 2-7x scopes as they will give you a better chance on a moving target than variable magnification scopes starting at 3 or more x.
- Another great benefit is using a 1-4x scope at a medium-range, which is over 50 yards up to the distance where you need some sort of support for your rifle to shoot accurately. At this range, you will mostly shoot while standing, kneeling down or sitting and you don’t want too much magnification since there will be quite a bit of movement in the sight picture. That is called the “wobble zone.” The wobble at lower magnification is quite manageable, especially if you learn proper technique. However, if you go with a higher power, the target will appear to move all over the place and be disorienting. Most variable magnification scopes these days have a lower power which is usable at a medium range. When you have a 1-4x mag scope, you are not tempted to crank it up to a self-defeating level.
- The next advantage for lower power scopes is their size and weight. They are much smaller and lighter than high magnification scopes. The objective lens at the front end of the scope is usually quite small and allows the scope to be mounted very low to the rifle. A lot of shooters find a low profile scope mount helpful to maintaining a consistent position on the stock between shots. The weight of the scope is quite important if you are planning to hike with your rifle while hunting. You will feel every extra ounce when you carry it for multiple days. The current trend is to increase the high end of the magnification range, e.g. going to 1-8x, but the trade-off is usually greater weight. As noted above, high magnification is not always desirable, especially if you usually hunt in thick bush.
- Last but not least, one reason to buy a low magnification scope is that magnification will not solve all your problems when shooting and hunting. You might think that getting a higher power scope will allow you to see your target clearly. You also need good glass that provides you with a crisp and clear picture. Having a low power scope with good glass is always better than high magnification with so-so glass. Please remember that when you are choosing your 1-4x scope. Also remember that equipment is never a substitute for skill.
How to Choose the Best 1-4x Scopes for AR 15 Rifles
When choosing the perfect 1-4x scope for your AR 15 rifle, you should | first realize why you need a low power scope.
- Are you looking for versatility because you mostly shoot close and medium range?
- Do you hunt a lot and need a lightweight mid-range scope?
- Are you planning to join a 3-gun competition?
- Do you keep an AR 15 for home defense and need to be ready to shoot across the yard?
There are many more questions you could ask yourself to find your main use cases. However, as a general rule you can follow these points when choosing the best 1-4x scope for your AR 15 rifle:
- There is a saying that you should spend the same amount of money on your scope as you do on your rifle. That means that if you invest in a good rifle you should not get a low-quality scope. Having low quality scope is always a bad idea and can do more harm than good. So the first thing to look for is a high-quality 1-4x scope. Go with a reputable brand. They usually provide a lifetime warranty and good customer service. In case something happens to your 1-4x scope, it will be easy to exchange or fix it.
- Lower magnification provides a wider field of view, so it is easier to acquire your target whith full situational awareness. Yes, higher power magnification allows you to lock on to targets farther away, but unless you are in a prone position or have your rifle supported the sight picture will feel wobbly. Don’t get a scope with greater range than your rifle.
- If you plan to do multiple-day hikes with your rifle, you don’t want to add much extra weight to it. I am not saying you should go for the lightest 1-4x scope but take it in consideration when choosing the best 1-4x scope for you.
- A larger objective lens allows more light to get in. That means a brighter and crispier picture for the shooter even in low light conditions. However, a larger lens adds to the weight and bulk of the scope.
- There is no point to buying a scope that will outrange your ammunition. That won’t happen if you go with a 1-4x scope since .223 or 5.56mm NATO works great up to 500 yards. But keep this point in mind when you start “needing” a higher power scope.
- The shape of the reticle is also quite important. Some shooters don’t like the Christmas tree and mil-dot reticles as they feel too busy when shooting at medium range. That applies mainly to reticles on the first focal plane as they appear to grow with increased magnification.
- An illuminated reticle is another great feature often seen on 1-4x scopes. It is most useful during low light conditions like dawn and dusk. In bright sunlight, it is hardly visible. Some of the scopes above have an illuminated red dot which comes handy when shooting at 1x.
- Some 1-4x scopes come with accessories like mounting rings. That is great as those rings will fit the scope perfectly.
- The price tag will be something to consider too. More expensive 1-4x scopes are probably better quality but there are exceptions to this rule.
1-4x Scopes versus a Red Dot with a Magnifier
In the past, 1-4x scopes were much more expensive than a red dot with a magnifier. That has changed in the last couple years as more affordable 1-4x scopes have hit the market. So the price is not much of an issue anymore, however there are other considerations. For more info about the differences, check out this video.
|1-4x scope||Red dot plus Magnifier|
|11 oz to 18 oz||Around 16 oz|
|Clear small red dot, no smeared reticle at any magnification||The reticle smears and it’s hard to know where is the middle of the dot at long distances|
|No problems with peripheral vision||Red dot flips out to one side when not used which hinders peripheral vision (you can’t use your left eye)|
|Usually, the eye relief is more forgiving||Magnifier has fixed eye relief|
|The eye box is quite big so it is easy to see the target||The magnifier usually has a smaller eye box|
How to Zero a 1-4x Scope
The best thing to do is sight in your 1-4x scope at 100 yards. The process is pretty simple. If you need more information on how to count the clicks on the turrets, check out this video.
- Set up a target at 25 yards.
- Shoot a three-round group while your rifle is supported by rests, sandbags or similar items to stabilize it. Aim for the bullseye.
- Unload the gun and check the group. Those three rounds should be very close to each other, preferably touching each other.
- If the shots are higher than the middle of the target, adjust the elevation turret to lower the impact. If the shots are too much to the right, move the windage turret to the left. Observe and measure your shots. If the average of your three shots was about, let’s say, 1″ too low, and 1″ too far to the left, you need to turn both the elevation and windage turrets 4 clicks.
- Shoot another 3 rounds. Check the results and adjust as needed until you are hitting dead center.
- Once you are satisfied at 25 yards move the target to 50 yards and repeat the process.
- Then move to 100 yards and repeat the process again.
How to mount a 1-4x scope
Generally, there are two types of mounts for 1-4x scopes. Both are very easy to use and neither is better than the other
- A single-piece scope mount is two scope rings integrated into a single base. They are perfect for semi-autos and high recoiling systems and are not suitable for bolt action rifles.
- Two-piece rings are much lighter than a one-piece mount but still very durable. They are suitable mainly for bolt action rifles and need to be aligned properly. They are also cheaper.
Tools you will need to mount your 1-4x scope include:
- Loctite or Sure Thread,
- A lapping bar and pin set,
- Screwdriver and bits, and
- a Level.
These are the steps for mounting your 1-4x scope:
- Unload the rifle.
- Position the one-piece mount on the top rail.
- If you are using the two-piece ring mounts, then adjust them individually.
- Attach your scope loosely to the mount(s) and shoulder your rifle. Look through the scope to find the perfect eye position.
- Take out the scope and fix the mount securely to the rifle.
- Place your rifle into a vice and with help of the bubble level check that the mount is balanced in all directions.
- Set your scope inside the mount again to verify your eye relief.
- Tighten the screws.
- Use a level to see if the scope is positioned correctly from all angles.
- Unscrew each top cap screw and add a drop of blue Loctite on the threads. Then screw back down. Do not over-torque them as it might make the scope shift. Repeat with each screw.
To learn more about how to mount a 1-4x scope on your AR15, check out this video.
Crash course on what you need to know about scopes
There is quite a lot of information that you need to know about scopes and we have covered most of the important points here. If you are a beginner to optic sights and want more detailed information you can check this very informative article.
All the 1-4x scopes we reviewed are high quality, durable, and effective. They are all shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. However, there are some differences:
- If you are looking for a light 1-4x scope then the Monstrum is your choice at only 11oz.
- If you prefer a throw lever on the magnification ring, you should choose
- If you like the idea of having mounting rings included in the package then these are your choices:
- Monstrum Alpha
- For illuminated options look at these:
- Vortex Crossfire II
- Monstrum Alpha
- And if the most important thing is the price tag then go for the CenterPoint. Having said all that, I’d go with the Leupold. I’m confident that you’ve learned everything you need to know and can now go and get the perfect 1-4x scope for you!