Best Riflescopes Under $500 – 2021 Reviews

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No matter what activity you plan to use your rifle for, there’s a great chance that you can do it much better and achieve far greater results with a riflescope. 

The general rule of thumb with riflescopes is, you get what you pay for. This means that you can hardly expect to get the same level of performance from a budget riflescope as one of the more high-end ones. 

Nevertheless, there are plenty of riflescopes out there that offer solid levels of quality and performance if you’re on a budget and looking for the best riflescope under $500. On the flip side, there are loads of good-looking dross in the market, and many buyers have got their fingers burned to try to sort the good from the bad. 

To help you avoid this particular pitfall, we’ve delved into the market and come up with this list of the best riflescopes under $500 available, so you don’t have to waste precious time and effort poring through hundreds of options. We’ve also included the lowdown on what to look out for in a riflescope, in case you want to explore other options, not on this list…

Top 3 Riflescopes Under $500

TOP PICK
Best Riflescopes under $500
VORTEX OPTICS
  • Dimensions: 10.5″ x 1.77″ x 1.77″
  • Weight: 18.5 Oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty: Unconditional, Lifetime
  • Brand: Vortex Optics
EDITOR’S CHOICE
VORTEX OPTICS
VORTEX OPTICS
  • Dimensions: 9.1″ x 9.1″ x 9.1″
  • Weight: 22.7 Oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Warranty: Unlimited, Lifetime
  • Brand: Vortex Optics
RUNNER UP
VORTEX OPTICS
VORTEX OPTICS
  • Dimensions: 9″ x 7″ x 14″
  • Weight: 20.8 Oz
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Reticle style: VMR-1 (MRAD)
  • Brand: Vortex Optics

Riflescopes Under $500 – Reviews

When selecting a budget riflescope, the most important thing to do is manage your expectations and go for one that meets your immediate needs. You may have a hard time trying to find a riflescope at this price point that offers the same qualities as some of the more illustrious and expensive scopes. 

That said, there are plenty of scopes in this price range that will do a more than decent job. You need to identify what you need your scope to do and look for one that meets this need perfectly within your budget.

For instance, if you’re looking for ultra-high magnification levels, you’re unlikely to get that here. If, on the other hand, you’re on the lookout for a scope that helps you engage in medium to long-range shooting and hunting, each of these scopes can help you manage that quite comfortably.

1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle

No. 1
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24
9.8/10 Our Rating

The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle is a compact and durable scope that’s perfect for all short to medium-range shooting applications. It counts fast target acquisition, generous eye relief and zero parallax among its many qualities, which ranks it among the very best riflescopes within its price range. It also comes equipped with Vortex Optics’ lifetime warranty.

Like most Vortex Optics scopes, the Strike Eagle is made with aircraft-grade aluminum, which ensures that it is capable of taking whatever you or nature throws at it. It’s also been o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. If you’re looking for durability, you’ll find it in spades here.

This scope’s 30mm tube is fitted with two low-profile turrets (for elevation and windage) and one knob for the illuminated reticle. The turrets are smooth and sturdy, can be adjusted up to 100 MOA and most crucially, hold zero.

The 11-setting illumination feature is quite handy, because it supports precise and quick target acquisition irrespective of lighting conditions. By the way, this scope’s BDC reticle is glass etched, so illumination is rarely required. The reticle is set in the second focal plane, ensuring it remains stable regardless of magnification.

With a magnification range of 1-6x, the Strike Eagle is perfectly capable of delivering targets within 0-600 yards. It’s very effective at point-blank range while being pretty handy from mid-range.

Why We Like This Product:

  • Clear Glass
  • Extremely Durable
  • Lifetime Warranty

Final Verdict:

Vortex Optics is one of the most popular and trusted names in the market due to the quality of their products and this one does not disappoint. The Strike Eagle scores top marks for versatility and performance and offers great bang for your buck.


2. Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical FFP Riflescope

No. 2
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope
9.8/10 Our Rating

If you’re looking for a proper gem that won’t leave a hole in your pocket then don’t look beyond this scope. This first focal plane riflescope packs loads of immense qualities that make it, quite frankly, a steal at the price it’s offered.

If you’re looking to hit medium to long-range targets, this riflescope is packed with features (like its first frontal plane reticle) that can help you consistently hit them with surgical precision. On the flip side though, the lower magnification of 6x may make it more challenging to use in close quarters.

The reticle facilitates quick target acquisition and adjusts accordingly when the magnification changes, leading to greater precision and accuracy over long distances. This scope’s compact 30mm tube is fitted with exposed turrets that enhance quick and easy adjustment. The turrets can also be reset to zero.

Most budget scopes skimp on the quality of their lenses in order to justify the reduced price and we half expected this one to. Amazingly, it didn’t. The glass is still anti-reflective and multi-coated and produces a crystal clear image, irrespective of light conditions.

The Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-16×44 riflescope is clearly built to last. It’s constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and is shockproof, ensuring that it remains stable under heavy recoil. The tube has also been o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged, guaranteeing consummate protection from the elements.

Why We Like This Product:

  • First focal plane enhances accuracy over long distances
  • Extremely budget-friendly
  • Exposed turrets for on-the-fly adjustment

Final Verdict:

Boasting features you’d expect to find in higher priced scopes, the Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-16×44 scope is one scope you absolutely should go for if you are presented with a chance to. Highly recommended by us.


3. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T SFP Riflescope

No. 3
Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 4-16x44 Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
9.7/10 Our Rating

The third Vortex Optics scope on our list is certainly not less impressive. Described as a hybrid of Vortex Optics’ successful Viper PST and Viper HS scopes, this riflescope boasts several high-end features. The consensus is that this scope is one of the best on offer at its price range and we’re inclined to agree.

Unlike the Diamondback, the Viper Hunting Shooting Tactical (HST) riflescope features a second focal plane reticle. Nevertheless, this scope remains more than adept at a number of medium to long-range shooting applications. As a matter of fact, this scope can help you hold your own in competitions against pricier options.

The Viper’s 30mm tube is lightweight yet practically invulnerable to mistreatment from both nature and man. Made from a sturdy chunk of aircraft-grade aluminum, this scope also sports a low-glare matte finish, to help you maintain the element of surprise when hunting at any time of the day. Its shockproof feature ensures that the scope remains locked on regardless of recoil. It has also been o-ring sealed and argon purged to promote durability and enhance performance.

Performance wise, this scope scores top marks. The glass provides crisp and clear images, even in low light conditions. The view can be adjusted with easily accessible turrets. These turrets are precise, provide positive tactile feedback and are resettable to zero.

Why We Like This Product:

  • The turrets are easy to reach, crisp and provide great feedback
  • Affordable and competent
  • Excellent build quality

Final Verdict:

While this scope is a less than perfect substitute for a high-end one, it does boast enough of their qualities to ensure that it at least does a decent job. It’s offered at a very good price and if that doesn’t sway you, the lifetime warranty should!


4. Vortex Optics Crossfire II

No. 4
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube Riflescope
9.6/10 Our Rating

Vortex Optics is a highly regarded and respectable brand in the scopes and other optics market, due to their unflinching commitment to delivering perfection and this riflescope maintains that proud tradition. The 4-12×40 Adjustable Objective Crossfire II riflescope has been getting plenty of rave reviews, and it’s easy to see why.

First and foremost, this scope offers versatility, comfort and adaptability, something that not all scopes are able to. It’s been designed to acquire targets very rapidly, no matter what time of day you put it to use. The eye relief of this scope is also great, helping you avoid injuries to your face and prevent fatigue.

The ultra quick target acquisition of this riflescope is made possible by an easily focused second focal plane reticle that remains constant irrespective of magnification. Speaking of magnification, this scope’s magnification range of 4-12x helps improve precision and accuracy of shots of up to 300 yards, while still being useful from point-blank range. Further, its fully multi-coated, anti-reflective glass ensures that image rendering remains crisp and clear even when magnification is cranked up to the highest.

As we’ve come to expect from Vortex Optics, the 4-12×40 Adjustable Objective Crossfire II riflescope is a marvel of solid workmanship. This scope is constructed from aircraft-grade aluminum and like others before it, is waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.

Why We Like This Product:

  • Nice eye box and eye relief
  • Solid and responsive adjustment turrets
  • Extremely durable

Final Verdict:

If you’re looking for a riflescope that helps you hit short to medium-range targets with accomplished ease, and you do not want to break the bank for it, this is the scope for you.


5. Leupold VX-3i Riflescope

No. 5
Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm Riflescope
9.5/10 Our Rating

The Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm riflescope is the perfect combination of style and substance. Its matte finish infuses with a look of simple elegance while its 4.5-14x magnification range falls within that sweet spot that’s sure to get hunters’ pulses racing in anticipation.

Competition shooters will also fancy their chances of hitting medium to long-range targets with this scope. It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to shoot down deer or shooting records, this scope is certainly up to the task.

Precision and accuracy are given a massive boost by the duplex reticle of this high-powered scope. Nevertheless, if you’re more used to red dots, you may need some time to get used to it. Another area where this scope reflects brilliance is optics. It boasts a really impressive objective lens diameter and combined with Leupold’s flagship Twilight Light Management System, the effects are truly marvelous.

Crucially, lens surfaces are scratch-resistant which is an excellent feature, especially considering the rough and tumble nature of elite hunting. Which brings us to the fact that this scope is pretty near indestructible. It’s been crafted with 6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum, making it6061-T6 aircraft quality aluminum, making it able to survive anything from sheer drops and water submergence. It’s also shockproof, waterproof and fogproof.

Why We Like This Product:

  • Extra crisp and clear image rendering
  • Up to 20 minutes extra shooting time at dusk
  • Precise and easily adjustable turrets

Final Verdict:

This scope is relentlessly excellent and it offers subtle features that can improve your accuracy, skills and success rate. For the price it’s offered, purchasing it is a no-brainer really.


6. Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 Scope

No. 6
Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50 SFP PA Riflescope
9.4/10 Our Rating

The Vortex Viper is designed to help you flourish in any shooting application you put it to use for. Its magnification range of 6.5-20×50 is perfectly placed to help you take down whitetails and other large game ethically. Several other built-in features also ensure that long-range shooting records are never out of reach.

Built on a 30mm tube, The Viper also sports a hard anodized finish that provides ample protection from damage. It’s been crafted from aircraft-grade aluminum that practically guarantees that an investment in this scope is one that’ll last a lifetime. It’s also waterproof, fogproof and shockproof.

The optics of this riflescope are right out of the top drawer. It features an extra-low dispersion (XD) glass that exponentially improves resolution and image rendering while the lens are fully multi-coated and anti-reflective. An easily accessible MAG-Bar facilitates rapid changes in magnification to align with specific lighting conditions.

This scope also features a second focal plane reticle which is perfectly placed right behind the lenses. The idea of this is to encourage super fast target acquisition and improved accuracy over various ranges.

Why We Like This Product:

  • Extra crisp image rendering even in poor lighting conditions
  • Responsive turrets
  • Lifetime Warranty

Final Verdict:

If you’re on the lookout for a reliable scope that checks all the right boxes and is offered at a good price, check out the Vortex Viper today.


7. Monstrum 1-4×20 Riflescope

No. 7
Monstrum 1-4x20 Riflescope with Rangefinder Reticle and Medium Profile Scope Rings
9.4/10 Our Rating

The Monstrum 1-4×20 riflescope is an uncomplicated but efficient scope. Despite it’s relatively low profile, this scope is solid enough to do a more than decent job and versatile enough to execute a wide variety of close to medium-range shooting applications.

It boasts all the usual features that other excellent scopes within its price range are known for. It also sports a really cool look of simple sophistication. Made with aircraft-grade aluminum, this scope also counts water and fog resistance among its impressive list of qualities.

Its magnification range of 1-4x is unlikely to win you any long-distance shooting competitions but it’s good enough to take down targets within a 300 yards radius. The optics are impressively crisp, with multi-layer lens coating improving clarity of images as well as providing protection from inevitable scratches.

It features a second focal plane reticle which is etched on the glass and always visible. Nevertheless, in low light conditions, this reticle can be illuminated for better target acquisition and holdover correction.

Why We Like This Product:

  • Windage and elevation turrets are perfect
  • Great value for money
  • Really generous eye relief

Final Verdict:

The Monstrum 1-4×20 riflescope offers pretty impressive features for its price. We were expecting a massive trade-off in quality but apart from a few issues with parallax, this scope is perfect. Highly recommended.


8. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen I

No. 8
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen I 1-4x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
9.3/10 Our Rating

This scope contains all the qualities that make Vortex Optics such a favorite. It is a high performing, second focal plane, close to medium-range riflescope that does all it’s required to do yet still retains the capacity to surprise.

The Viper PST 1-4×24 is solid and durable, as it’s been made from aircraft-grade aluminum, like most scopes on our list. Like other Vortex Optics products, it’s also fogproof, waterproof and shockproof. This scope is more likely to wear you out rather than the other way around.

It also features Vortex Optics’ usual extra-low dispersion (XD) glass which has been coated to improve image quality while also protecting the lens from damage. The illuminated reticle has been optimized to enhance rapid target acquisition and promote visibility under bad lighting conditions.

Vortex Optics’ trademark Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS) is another feature that’s present in this scope. This feature ensures that turrets return to zero after application.

Why We Like This Product:

  • It holds zero perfectly
  • Excellent image rendering
  • Great value for money

Final Verdict:

This scope is low-power, yet it is an excellent choice for close to medium-range shooting. Offers several high-end features which makes it quite a bargain at its price.


Factors To Consider Before Buying a Riflescope For $500

Before purchasing any riflescope, not to mention budget riflescopes, these are some of the features to look out for when you’re examining your options:

1. Construction Quality

No matter what scope you end up choosing, one of the first things you need to make sure of is that it is solidly built. Look for scopes that are made with solid materials such as aircraft-grade aluminum. Also, ensure that the scope is o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to guarantee that your scope is adequately protected from the elements. 

Keep a close eye on the glass quality as well. Ideally, look for a crisp, low-dispersion glass that enhances good light transmission. This will ensure that images are rendered clearly. You may also want to ensure that whichever scope you choose has the ability to hold zero. 

2. Adequate Magnification Range

This depends almost entirely on what use you’re putting your rifle and scope too. Typically, the 1-8x magnification range is ideal for tactical shooting and competition, but if you’re going to be doing true long-range shooting, you should look for something different. 

Scopes in the 4-14x and 6-25 are great for long-distance shooting and hunting applications. However, most standard hunting scopes offer a 3-9x magnification range. 

3. Reticle Style

This one is crucial, and you’d need to keep a close eye on the reticle style of the scope you’re purchasing. While red dots are the most common, duplex reticles are also adequate for hunting scopes, especially if you’re not very experienced. For the skilled shooters who are interested in advanced target shooting, take your pick out of the multiple “Christmas tree” style reticles available. You may also like BDC reticles, as they make it fairly easy to gauge where your round will hit from a distance. 

4. Adjustment Method

If you’re going to be aiming for targets further in the distance, look for scopes that offer reset turrets,  parallax adjustment knobs, and windage and elevation turrets. This will help you gain more control over your shots and eliminate the guesswork. 

5. Warranty and Support

It’s important to find a manufacturer that’s willing to back up their product with a good warranty as this will go a long way towards increasing trust. In case you have an issue with the scope further down the line, good customer support is also a definite plus. We ensured that all the scopes on our list offer both. 


Conclusion

Scopes are the perfect accessories for your rifles. They are great for a wide variety of hunting and shooting applications and can massively improve your accuracy and success rate. 

While the high-end scopes are generally not cheap, there are still some great bargains to be found on the lower end of the price spectrum. There are budget scopes that offer several fabulous features and can last for the long haul. However, trying to separate the gold from the dross, relatively speaking, is very time and effort-intensive. 

Nevertheless, in this article, we’ve highlighted eight of the best riflescopes under $500 to help make your decision-making process easier and faster. We’ve also included the lowdown on riflescopes to help make your search for the perfect scope for you less of a needle-in-the-haystack search.