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Best Mil-Dot Scope under $500 – When Range-Finding meets Cost-Effectiveness

What is the big fuss about Mil-Dot scopes? And why is it more favored than an MOA scope? I will tell you why. Mil-Dot scopes are best known for their range-finding prowess. Mil-Dot reticles give you the provision of estimating the distance between a target of known size or even the other way around – estimating the size of a target at a known distance. They are essential and helpful in cases when you want to take your shot at a range further than what is in your purview. Hence the fuss over it.

Unlike popular conception, Mil does not refer to the military. Though it is used effectively in the military, the model is not named after it. Mil refers to Miliradian which is a type of angular measurement. Not necessarily like MOA but you are somewhere close. But this guy will help you from calculating your shot to aiming it. Well, ready to find out the perfect scope for your perfect shot? Read on.

Top 5 Best Mil-Dot Scope Under $500

NameSpecsUSPToday's Price
Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50Clarity ScopeClick Here
Leupold Mark MOD 3-9x40Best AR Style ScopeClick Here
Nikon Prostaff 53.5-14x40Best Aiming ScopeClick Here
Primary Arms 4-14x44First Focal Plane ScopeClick Here
Mueller 8-32x44Target ScopeClick Here

1. Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50mm Rifle Scope

best mil-dot scope under $500

Any listicle without Vortex? That is not going to happen at any time soon. Vortex has been for ages the most popular scope manufacturer. Their claim to fame rests mostly in their ability to perfectly mix affordability and quality. That being said this Viper scope is not what you can necessarily call as cheap. But yes, it is cost-efficient. Let us find out how.

This Vortex Viper has an objective lens of diameter 50mm. Any shooter will know that this is big enough to transmit lots of light into the lens. Essentially, the bigger the lens better the light being absorbed into the device. To further light up the image we have the XD and XR lens elements. XD features give you low dispersion quality. Hence the image resolution will be high, the color will not be distorted and you will see a sharp and clear image. The XR lens gives you a fully-multi coated feature. This means that the lens will have anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass interfaces.

The scope has a highly efficient Mil-Dot reticle. While the range for this scope is more or less limited to medium distance target, the Mil-Dot reticle will help in taking the shot further with utmost accuracy. This reticle will give you accurate windage and elevation estimations. It will also efficiently estimate the range and make up for bullet holdover compensation. This reticle is placed in the Second Focal Plane. The reticle efficiency is ensured by the Precision Glide Erector System and the Precision Force Spring System.

In terms of adjustments, the scope has a fast-focus eyepiece for easy and swift target acquisition. The MAG bar provides the possibility of efficiently changing the magnification without affecting the shot at all. This scope is bestowed with a good quality parallax adjustment system. With the help of the side knob parallax, you can be rest assured that discrepancies in viewing do not come into your picture. Further, the capped turrets ensure premium quality windage and elevation adjustments. They can be easily reset to zero and remains intact.

In terms of structure, the scope is made of a strong aluminum alloy. This aircraft-grade Aluminum is guaranteed to give you durability and strength. It is also waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.


  • High-quality lens
  • XD and XR lens feature
  • Second Focal Plane Reticle
  • Precision Glide Erector System
  • Precision Force Spring System
  • MAG Bar
  • Parallax adjustment
  • Efficient capped turrets
  • Strong and durable
  • Weather-resistant
  • Shockproof


  • Insufficient eye-relief

What’s The verdict?

Vortex is a trustworthy manufacturer and any user would gladly agree that it is a scope worth a shot.

2. Leupold Mark MOD 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope

Leupold stands as much chance as Vortex in stealing your heart. Nevertheless, the scope will come at a price higher than that of Vortex. Extended quality also comes with this. Leupold does give much attention to optical as well as structural quality. Let us see what this Mark scope is all about.

To start with the scope has a 40mm lens. This may not be the best on the list but it is definitely sufficient enough to bring in an ample amount of light. Further, the lens is fully multi-coated with the MultiCoat 4 feature. This ensures edge to edge clarity, remarkable contrast, and brighter images even in low light conditions.

The Mil-Dot reticle is further accentuated with the PS5 dials. This MOD 1 P5 dial gives elevation BDC dials for .223 cartridges. This reticle and dial helps in precision shooting and is meant for extending the range even further. Light conditions do not affect the device and its functioning. The field of view for this scope is remarkably wide. This basically helps in getting your shots into the long-range scene.

Made of a one-inch main tube, this scope is definitely strong. Also, it is made of a strong Aluminium alloy. The Argon or Krypton gas-filled tube makes the scope weather resistant. That is, it is water and fog proof.


  • Quality lens
  • MultiCoat 4 feature
  • PS5 dials
  • Wide field of view
  • Strong
  • Weather-resistant


  • Turret issues have been reported

What’s The verdict?

Leupold is a scope worth the money you invest in it. It will guarantee you perfect shots as well.

3. Nikon Prostaff 5 3.5-14x40mm Rifle Scope

Nikon might not shine well in the competitive market. But they do shine the light into your eyes with the clearest images. Yup, Nikon is well known for its quality optics and advanced features. They do not cater to the competitive market and hence have a few features that are specific and unique for only this manufacturer. Let us see how much of these are made use of in the Nikon Prostaff.

Prostaff has an objective lens of diameter 40mm. This lens brings in an ample amount of light into the lens. Hence, your image will be bright and clear. Further, the Nikom special Ultra Coat lens coatings are present to enhance the given clarity and sharpness. These multiple layers of anti-reflective coating act as a medium between the air to glass interface and hence brings in more brightness for dawn to dusk shooting.

The reticle is obviously a Mil-Dot reticle. But, what more? One means of ensuring precision is through the Spring-Loaded Zero-Reset Turrets. This makes zeroing in as well as other field adjustments as easy as feeding in indices. Add to this a fast-focus eyepiece and you can make adjustments on the go! Hence you will not have to compromise by pausing your shooting in between to manage the external measurements.

Further, the scope has a Spot On feature which gives you aiming points. Based on your ammunition, load, and range preference, the scope gives you possible aiming points. Thus guaranteed success at shooting is offered by Nikon.

Structurally, Nikon Prostaff 5 is strong and durable. It is Nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed. This makes the device weather resistant. That is, it is waterproof and fog proof. The shockproof nature makes the scope amicable with high power rifles as well as high recoil shots. The eye relief also helps in this arena. Stable extended eye relief of 4 inches is more than enough to ensure your safety at the hands of a hard recoil.


  • High-quality optics
  • Fully multi-coated
  • Mil-Dot reticle
  • Spring-Loaded Zero-Reset Turrets
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Spot on for aiming indications
  • Strong and durable
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Extended and remarkable eye relief


  • Image tends to get hazy with time
  • The reticle is not etched

What’s The verdict?

In conclusion, Nikon Prosstaff 5 is a scope that is amazing for aiming. Many components of the scope are new and innovative. So it is definitely worth a try.

4. Primary Arms 4-14×44 Rifle Scope

Primary Arms stand a rung above many others in terms of quality. The reputation this manufacturer has obtained over time is primarily owing to this superior quality. These scopes are a must-have for professional hunters who wish to ace their name. Let us see what this specific scope has to offer.

In terms of lens, the scope has an objective lens of diameter 44mm. This lets in an ample amount of light into the lens. On top of that, the additional coatings on the surface of the scope enhance the clarity of the lens. The SLX optics remains an attraction to most buyers. Anyone who is familiar with Primary Arms would know the prominence and beauty of such an optic.

Moving on, another feature that is highly celebrated is the First Focal Plane reticle. In fact, most users tend to describe its reticle as the ‘true’ one rather than the accurate one. The fact that along with magnification the reticle size also enhances will be a reason for this. A Mil-Dot reticle that functions based on accuracy and ranging functions very well with this First Focal Plane feature. Hence your reading will be ‘true’ for all magnifications.

Other features that add to this efficiency in performance is the fast focus eyepiece and the side parallax adjustment system. The fast-focus eyepiece helps you swiftly make focus changes and hence makes it easy for you to chase a moving target. The side parallax will get rid of any error in the visual readings. The scope is also bestowed with 1/10 windage and elevation turrets. Not only is this highly precise but it also helps in making accurate changes. This accuracy is brought to you by the tactile and audible adjustment sensors. These exposed tactile style turrets are bestowed with an easy zero reset option.

Moving on to the structural aspects – the scope is strong and durable. The scope body is made of aircraft-grade Aluminium. Thus strength is guaranteed. This 30mm tube makes space for internal adjustments as well as makes the scope compatible with most types of mounting rings. Further, the scope is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof.


  • SLX optics
  • High-quality lens
  • First Focal Plane reticle which remains true to all magnifications
  • Mil-Dot reticle
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Side parallax adjustment system
  • Exposed tactile style turrets
  • Easy to reset to zero
  • Strong
  • Water, fog, and shockproof
  • Compatible with most mounting options


  • There have been a few complaints that the hash marks do not align perfectly

What’s The verdict?

In conclusion, if you are more comfortable with a First Focal Plane reticle then you must try this Primary Arms scope. It is definitely worth the money invested.

5. Mueller 8-32×44 Rifle Scope

Mueller optics are not that famous in the market. They are just building a space for themselves in this competitive business. Yet, their claim rests on a strong base. Mueller is definitely worth the money you invest in it. Read on to know more.

This target scope has an objective lens of diameter 44mm. This means that the scope will let in a good amount of light into the scope. This is further enhanced with the help of lens coatings. Mueller optics are fully-multi coated to enhance the brightness and clarity of the scope.

The Mil-Dot reticle is placed in the Second Focal Plane. This is a fit combo for beginners. The reticle feature is accentuated by the presence of a fast-focus eyepiece. This makes it easy for you to keep track of moving targets. Not just keep track, moving targets can be located and aimed at clearly with the help of this feature. Hence, you will not get a blurry image, even if the scope is kept at a higher magnification.

The tactical exposed style turrets add a lot to the accuracy of the scope. These side knobs are easy to maneuver and are precise. Further, the scope has a side parallax adjustment which extends from 50 yards to infinity. This means that there will not be any unwanted discrepancies in the reading.

In terms of structure, the scope is strong and durable. This dry Nitrogen filled construction makes the scope weather resistant. Hence, it is water, fog, and shock proofed.


  • High-quality optics
  • Fully multi-coated
  • Target reticle
  • Tactical exposed style turrets
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Side parallax adjustments
  • Strong
  • Water, fog, and shockproof


  • Does not have a glare reduction feature

What’s The verdict?

In conclusion, the Muller scope is best for target gaining. You should surely give this scope a try for that sake.


Are Mil-Dot scopes expensive?

There are cheap, cost-effective well as expensive scopes for all kinds of ranges. In the case of Mil-Dots, the ones we discussed in this listicle are below $500 and hence are what you can call cost-effective. There are expensive ones too and a lot of the features in these expensive scopes might also be there for budget-friendly scopes. The difference occurs mostly with respect to quality. Expensive scopes will surely have a higher structural as well as workmanship quality that will become visible to you only after you start using them extensively.


We have thus come to the end. There are many other scopes too that you could try, but I have shortlisted the best of the best for your likings. Brush through the specifications of each product and choose that one scope that will serve your needs with utmost perfection. Off we go now. Happy Hunting to you!