At a Glance: Best Rifle Scopes Under $500
- OUR TOP PICK: Burris 3-12x32mm Scope
- RUNNER UP: Bushnell Engage Riflescope 4-16x44mm
- BEST BUDGET OPTION: Sig Sauer Tango4 4-16×44 30mm Riflescope w/ Illuminated Reticle
Comparison of The Best Rifle Scopes Under $500
Our Top Pick
|Burris 3-12x32mm Scope||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Bushnell Engage Riflescope 4-16x44mm||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Sig Sauer Tango4 4-16×44 30mm Riflescope w/ Illuminated Reticle||View Latest Price|
When it comes to hunting rifles, there are plenty of options available in different price ranges. But most experienced hunters know that the quality of the rifle scope matters too. In fact, it can be more important than the quality of the rifle. You can hit a target using even a mediocre rifle as long as it is supported by a great rifle scope. But, that does not mean you need to clean up your bank accounts to buy one. Let’s look at some of the best rifle scopes under $500 on the market.
Our Guide to The 6 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 Available Today
Riflescopes fall under different price ranges. In case you are not looking at spending too much, a mid-range rifle scope would be the best solution. For a budget of $500, you can bring home a rifle scope with superior features to enhance your shooting experience.
Burris 3-12x32mm Scope
A major plus point of the Burris 2-7x32mm handgun scope is its wide and flexible range. Both seasoned shooters and beginners appreciate the accuracy and flexibility that this handgun can provide. I give the Burris bonus points for the extended eye relief it provides.
- Total Weight: 16 oz
- Max Magnification: 12x
- Objective Size: 32
- Reticle: Ballistic Plex
With Burris’ standard Posi-Lock system you can make precision windage and elevation adjustment with a simple turn of a key. The scope tubes in this waterproof gun are filled with nitrogen that helps prevent fogging when it gets cold or it’s raining. The lenses are larger than other scopes and are made of premium-grade optical glass to ensure superb brightness and reliable clarity.
Lightweight, reliable, and has impressive magnification. The scope boasts of 2x low-end magnification and quick target acquisition with a large field of view. Burris scopes are designed to withstand recoil, shock, and vibrations.
Enhanced with Hi-Lume multi-coating, which helps increase your success rate in low-light conditions. This coating also lessens any glare that can cause you to lose sight of your target. This is a riflescope that can withstand the rigors of shooting and hunting under extreme conditions. Magnification is great for long-range on a steady rest. With its generous eye relief, you can spend extended hours out in the field, and be confident that your scope can keep up with you since it is also covered under Burris Forever Warranty.
- Generous eye relief
- Hi-Lume multi-coated lens
- Integrated spring tension
- Built-in Posi-Lock system
- Can be matched with any caliber or bullet weight
- Lifetime warranty
- Heavier compared to other scopes.
Bushnell Engage Riflescope 4-16x44mm
This mid-priced scope is nitrogen-purged, making it the perfect scope when it becomes foggy. The EXO barrier or the protective lens coating helps repel debris, dust, fog, oil, and water. This is the main reason why this is pegged as the market’s best long-range rifle scope.
- Second Focal Plane (SFP)
- Total Weight 1.26 lbs
- Illumination Type: Non-Illuminated
- Adjustment Click Value: 0.25 MOA
- Protective EXO lens coating
The 1-MOA reticle with windage and elevation hash marks allows you to aim and shoot with precision on short to mid-range distances. You can also seamlessly make adjustments. You don’t need to pause and remove your sight from the target just to tweak some settings.
This riflescope has a side parallax adjustment and integrated locking turrets, so you know you are safe even with the expected bumps and drops during hunting. What’s best is you won’t need further tools to release or lock-in the turrets, and you can just focus on the experience. It’s waterproof too, so rain doesn’t have to stop you from aiming and locking in that target. You will also get the best brightness and clarity out of the scope because of its ultra-wideband coating, reducing reflection and glare.
The only setback I’ve experienced with the Bushnell Engage is its minimal eye relief, especially if you are set to higher magnification.
- Nitrogen-purged lenses
- Fog and waterproof proof
- Side parallax adjustment
- Integrated locking turrets mechanism
- No tools needed to make turret adjustments
- Eyepiece cover included
- Limited eye relief
Sig Sauer Tango4 4-16×44 30mm Riflescope w/ Illuminated Reticle
The Sig Sauer Tango 4 is the brand’s ambassador for showcasing quality at a surprisingly low price and one of the best scopes under 500 that you can own. As expected from Sig Sauer, the overall quality of this rifle scope – inside and out – is impressive. For starters, priced below $500, you get a scope set in the first focal plane, which is a rare find. The 44mm objective lens is crystal clear and is comparable to scopes that are priced higher.
- Ideal for mid to long range tactical engagements, designated marksmen and hunting.
- Reticle Focal Plane: First Focal Plane (FFP)
- Objective Lens Diameter: 44 mm
- Tube Diameter: 30 mm
- Illumination: Yes, 8 Daylight / 2 NV
You also get a reticle that boasts several brightness levels with two-night vision settings. It is designed to be bright and visible even in the most non-ideal settings. It has an off-setting intended to make for in-between illumination convenience. With this, you can easily switch off your reticle and, when needed, get it back to the last saved light setting.
With the Sig Sauer Tango 4, you can easily lock-in your targets. Large turrets make adjustments easy, even with your gloves on. The turrets return positive and tactile click adjustments, so you don’t need to look at the settings to confirm if you’ve set it right. I’ve found its zero-lock capability reliable, and with the integrated turret lock, you won’t have any problems with accidental bumps and whacks.
Its parallax adjustment is also simple and allows you to modify or tweak your focus regardless of your distance.
Another reason why this is well worth your 500 bucks is its ability to hold on to zero even after tens and hundreds of rounds. Replacing the battery is also hassle-free thanks to its magnetic cover.
- 4x times optical zoom
- Integrated brightness levels
- Comes with 2-night vision settings
- Tactile and audible turret clicks
- Can hold on to zero even after hundreds of recoil
- Hassle-free battery replacement
- Scratches easily
BSA Sweet 17 3-12X40 Riflescope
Black with a matte finish, the BSA Sweet 17 riflescope is specially designed and calibrated for the .17 HMR bullets, so you know that no shot is wasted. This particular model has a side parallax that can be adjusted from 10 yards to infinity, with a minimum magnification of 3x to a maximum of 12x. This lets you close in on that target and get a sure shot.
- Objective Lens Diameter: 40mm
- Eye Relief: 4 in
- Illumination Type: Non-Illuminated
- Adjustment Type: MOA
- Parallax: 10 yds to infinity
Best suited for target and varmint shooters, the scope has an objective lens with a diameter of 40mm. Its multi-coated lens will ensure that the glare of the sun will minimally impact your aim and your shot. With its fast focus and generous eye relief of four inches, you can extend your adventure without impairing your accuracy.
This rifle scope is designed for durability. It is made of aluminum and is guaranteed to be fog proof, shockproof, waterproof, and all-around weather resistant. A disadvantage of the BSA Sweet 17 is that it is heavier than other scopes of the same price range. I also found the magnification ring tight especially during the first few uses of this scope, which made it difficult to turn.
- Generous eye relief
- Side parallax of 10 yards to infinitude
- Lenses are fully-multicoated
- Made of premium aluminum material
- Fog proof, shockproof, and waterproof
- The magnification ring is too tight to turn
Leupold FX-II 4x28mm Rifle Scope
If relentless performance is what you are after, the Leupold will not disappoint. This scope is lightweight but solid and rugged enough to survive the usual wear and tear and harshness of the environment. With the Twilight Light Management System, you can gain up to 10 extra minutes of shooting light. This feature allows you to see more in less light and eliminates 80% more glare-producing stray light than its competitors
- Second Focal Plane (SFP)
- Total Weight: 7 oz
- Illumination Type: Non-Illuminated
- Adjustment Range: 110 MOA
Every scope design by Leupold must survive 5,000 impacts delivered by a recoil simulation machine where the force of each impact is 3x the recoil of a .308 rifle. This is known as the Punisher Test.
- Integrated Twilight Light Management System
- Successfully passed Leupold’s The Punisher
- Adequate eye relief
- Ultra Lightweight
- Lenses are scratch-resistant
- Guaranteed to be fog proof and waterproof.
- Limited field of vision
Aim Sports 3-9X40 P4 Sniper Scope
If you are into simplicity, quality, and functionality, then the Aim Sports Tactical Series rifle scope is what you are looking for. This is a top favorite among traditional hunters, and beginners can take advantage of its no-frill system and generous 3.5 inches of eye relief.
- Weight: 16.2 oz
- Objective is 40 mm
- Reticle: P4 Sniper
- Reticle Focal Plane: Second Focal Plane (SFP)
- Illumination Type: Non-Illuminated
- Adjustment Range: 30 MOA
What I like about this is how the optics of this matte finish scope seems to be always at attention and ready. The scope is made from industrial-grade aluminum so it can endure any amount of recoil. It allows you to acquire your target at lightning speed and pinpoint with impressive accuracy.
Clarity will never be a problem with the Aim Sports 4×40 rifle scope thanks to its blue fused and multi-coated lens that gives you better light transmission than other scopes in the market. The resolution through its 40mm objective lens is always clear even if you maximize your field of view up to 100 yards. This layer of protection also makes your lens scratch-resistant. With this model, you can adjust the windage and elevation as needed, but carrying and running it around may prove to be a little tiring because of its weight.
- Blue-fused and multi-coated lens
- Nitrogen purged, making it fog proof.
- Black matte finish with the industrial-grade aluminum make
- Generous eye relief of 3.5 inches
- Durable and shock-resistant housing
- Heavier compared to other scopes
How to Choose the Best Rifle Scope for the Money
Your $500 can still land you a quality and well-functional riflescope. Riflescopes under $500 are affordable, but that does not mean their quality is compromised. Since you are clear about your budget, you can research a bit to ensure that your rifle scope meets your requirements.
Here are some quick guidelines that you should look into while choosing the best long-range rifle scope so that your purchase is worth every penny of the 500 bucks you pay for it.
Rifle Scope Material
While choosing your scope, ensure that it is made of durable material. it is made of is durable. You should shortlist brands that use industrial-grade aluminum or steel as the main construction material.
These two materials are excellent choices because they can protect your scope from the damage and the usual wear and tear. The high-quality materials will ensure that accidental drops and bumps won’t cause its internal components to damage easily.
You should keep in mind that not all scopes under $500 are designed keeping the elements in mind. Hence, it is best to create a list of scopes under $500 that designed to endure the rigors of the outdoors and natural elements like the weather. Consider those that are waterproof and fog proof too.
You can go for scopes that are marked ‘weatherproof,’ which is an indication that it can be used any time of the day, whatever the season. If you want to get your money’s worth, weatherproof rifle scopes would be the best option.
Aside from the housing material, you should also consider the coating used on the lens. Most lenses come with a coating to prevent scratches and damages. Some boast multi-coated lenses, which are even better. This could add to the final price tag of your rifle scope. What I’ve seen even in most rifle scopes under $500 is that the lens comes with a protective layer to make it more efficient.
Most, if not all, rifle scopes will have integrated elevation or windage adjuster knobs. These would usually be found either on the side or top. These are intended to give you better accommodation when it comes to distance and elevation variances between you and the target. These dials can also compensate for any strong wind before you take that critical shot.
While most of the rifle scopes on the market, regardless of price, have these integrated adjusters, opt for brands and models that can provide you with audible or palpable clicks. By feeling and hearing every turn of the knob, you can make the adjustments blind. As a shooter, you need your eyes to be always focussed on your target. You don’t want to take your eyes off your scope and stop your activity just to make these needed tweaks.
If you can bring home a rifle scope with a parallax adjuster without exceeding the $500 budget, that’s great. You have surely scored a good deal because this feature permits you to restrict or eliminate parallax, compared to you and your target. This is a rifle scope feature that most experienced hunters require, especially when attempting to shoot a long-distance target.
The Focal Planes
While choosing your rifle scope, you need to look at whether your choice has a reticle on the first or the second focal plane.
First Focal Plane
This makes quite an impact because when the reticle is set on the first focal plane, there would be a slight change in its size to accommodate the increasing and decreasing magnification level. This allows the hash marks or the holdover points to maintain its accuracy relative to the crosshair.
Newbies or those just learning to shoot may find this positioning a little overwhelming and hard, especially if it is long-distance shooting. At certain levels, first focal plane (FFP) reticles can be so small that hitting your target with the magnification set too high will take over your personal skill and precision.
Second Focal Plane
Meanwhile, reticles set on the second focal plane retain the reticle’s size regardless of whether you tweak the magnification. This is recommended for beginners or for shooters who prefer closer distance shooting.
Riflescopes following a second focal plane reticle can be used by all shooters regardless of skill and experience. You just need to have reasonable estimations when it comes to what the hash marks really mean as you zoom in and zoom out from the standard setting of magnification.
What to Look for in Rifle Scopes
If you are shopping for the best rifle scope for under 500 dollars, you might be under the impression that the scope you settle for would be of poor quality given its value pricing. But $500 is all the budget you need. Here are some of the basic features you need to consider to get the best out of your riflescope.
There are several reticle styles available today. For the traditional hunting riflescope, the simple duplex is 100% workable. For those who have more advanced skills in target shooting, there are other more complicated patterns. Reticle patterns help you determine the windage and elevation holds so you can make adjustments to compensate for the drifts and drops in long-range shooting.
BDC reticles are good options because it has a bullet drop compensator that makes it easier to forecast where your shot is going to land. That is with the assumption that your reticle is completely calibrated with your round decision. Your other choices are mil-dot, German dot, a fine crosshair, or a target dot.
What is bullet drop?
Remember from school that whatever goes up, must come down? Think of that when thinking of bullet drop. When you pull the trigger on your AR-15, the bullet leaves the barrel traveling very fast, soaring through the air and falling, that is, losing elevation, because of gravity. The point of aim is a straight line from your eye to the target, but the bullet travels slightly above and below that line depending on the distance. This is why a 50-yard zero is simple. Take a look at the picture below which provided me for a better visual on bullet drop, point of aim, and point of impact.
Your objective lens size impacts the amount of light that can pass through. Furthermore, this would influence the brightness of the images that you see.
Simply put, you cannot apply precision if you don’t have a good view of your target. This is why you don’t want silhouettes and distorted images. For a rifle scope within $500, an objective lens with a minimum diameter of 40mm should provide you with a wide field of view.
Most people tend to forget about this. You are too focused on the actual scope that you forget about the rifle you will be using with the scope. Remember that scopes are not for all rifles. Know your gun and check possible compatibility and fitting issues. It is always a good idea to bring your rifle with you when shopping for a scope so you can check for physical compatibility.
Do you have a Ruger 10/22? We reviewed the Best Red Dot Sights for your Ruger 10/22 here.
Your magnification needs would vary based on your intended purpose and use. Typically, long-range shooting would require higher magnification, but you have to weigh in the target’s overall image quality. There should be a balance between magnification and image clarity. Just imagine having the maximum magnification, but barely being able to make out the image of your target.
If you are not into long-distance shooting, a lower magnification is perfectly acceptable. The best long range rifle scope within the $500 budget will offer many options ranging from 1-8x and 3.5-10x up to 4-16x and a maximum of 6-24x. Take note that the higher the magnification is, the more expensive the scope becomes.
Excellent light transmission
When you have better light transmission, you have the privilege of additional shooting light. With good light transmission, you can continue shooting even after sunset.
Generous eye relief
Recoil is always expected after shooting. However, recoil after recoil can bring strain to your eyes and put pressure on your brows. Always consider the eye relief a rifle scope can offer you.
Consider checking the exit pupil as well because a generous to unlimited eye relief means that you can just continue your hunting adventure without a nagging headache or discomfort. Always look for a rifle scope that can offer 3 inches and more eye relief.
An eyepiece that is quick to focus means that you can lock in your targets faster and more accurately too.
Nobody likes the complicated process usually involved in mounting a scope. Even if you are an expert, it can still take a few seconds to make or break your shot. To remedy this, look for a fast and easy to set up scope where you don’t need to literally stop on your tracks to mount it on your rifle.
Warranty and Customer Support
These factor is often overlooked since you feel you are buying a brand-new rifle scope and you expect that it would work like a charm. But all products, regardless of age, are susceptible to damage, wear and tear, and accidents. Even if you intend to buy a budget-friendly scope, always make it a point to check if you receive some warranty from the scope’s manufacturer.
A warranty for your rifle scope will help in case there is any wear or tear. It also provides you with a layer of security from any possible defects, courtesy of the manufacturing process. For example, if the $400 rifle scope you bought had a crack on its lens, a warranty entitles you to simply send it back and get a free replacement.
Most rifle scopes priced at $500 carry a lifetime warranty that gives you a security cushion when dealing with repairs and replacements, especially if a new scope does not function as expected. While a warranty is not the main deciding factor, it should also be considered while choosing a rifle scope.
After-sales support is vital with any purchase. You may be a whiz in finding answers online, but it is still reassuring to talk to someone real about damages, replacements, and getting your questions answered. Issues associated with quality control can be frustrating, and this is where reliable customer support comes into the picture.
Lots of bullets are sadly wasted because of the incorrect set-up of the rings and the mount base. Apart from wasting bullets and your money, you’ll also be left frustrated with your shots’ inaccuracy despite several modifications to your scope. This is something that will surely take the fun out of the whole shooting activity.
Purchasing the right mounting type is crucial. There are several styles, and they are made of varying materials. Bases made of stainless steel are considered the sturdiest. However, I’ve found bases made in aluminum equally reliable due to their excellent water resistance.
Here are three main mounting types you need to look for:
- Weaver Scope Mount – This is considered the most common of all mounts. This style has a flat and wide base with crosswise recoil slots that are divided into the base. The base is designed to fit Weaver-style scopes with lugs at its bottom. Like a puzzle, the base and the rings are created to be a perfect fit; it, therefore, does not get altered even if there is movement in its coil. Attaching Weaver scope rings are easy. You can put it into the base even if the scope is still secured inside it. With Weaver mounts, the advantage is that it doesn’t impact the zero even after taking it off and reattaching it.
- Picatinny Scope Mount – Another proven scope mount, the Picatinny Scope Mount has a wider and deeper slot than the Weaver. Its base is thicker and provides uniformed spacing between the slots that go down the whole length of the base. This scope mount is useful because of the additional surface area you get and the freedom of movement that it offers to move your scope to another slot and make adjustments as you like. With this mount, using a 20 MOA base for long-range shooting is no problem at all.
- Leupold Scope Mount – This is a typical non-weaver mounting style system and is often called Burris or Redfield. There are one or two scope base pieces. It is also quite popular because of its smooth shape and impressive strength, making it a hunter’s choice for those engaged in long-range shooting.A Leupold Scope Mount shares the same interchangeability as a Weaver, but unlike the Weaver rings, this one is not easy to remove and transfer to another rifle. You cannot make the changes by hand, and you would need the assistance of a press fit.
And the winner is…
All the six scopes I reviewed can meet their intended purpose and exceed expectations, even if they are priced below $500. These brands are also popular, great value for money, and will be a great addition to your arsenal collection. Clearly, each has its unique strengths and workable opportunities.
With the market being full of affordable but quality options, you can’t go wrong buying any of the brands presented today. They’re all within budget, are real keepers, and worth the money.