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Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 – Make a hole in your target, not your pocket.

On a budget and want to get a bang for your buck? Look no further. The market has an overwhelming amount of options that look similar at face value. This can be immensely confusing and utterly frustrating.

Therefore, we’ve listed and reviewed the top 5 rifle scopes under 500$ to give you a concise view of their features, pros, and cons. From reticles to turrets to focal planes, we’ve got it all covered – here’s all the information you need to find the best scope for you. Let’s get started.

Top 5 best rifle scopes under $500 

NameSpecsUSPToday's Price
Athlon Optics BTR6-24×50Best overallClick Here
Vortex6-24x50Best experienceClick Here
Leupold VX-3i3.5-10x40Best visualsClick Here
Athlon Optics Argos BTR6-24x50Most durableClick Here
Primary Arms3-18X50Best long range scopeClick Here

1. Athlon Optics BTR 6-24×50 Direct Dial Side Focus FFP /W APLR2 IR Riflescope

best rifle scopes under $500

Athlon promises to provide ‘ridiculously good optics’ while doing so at an affordable price range. If you ask me, they have kept their word. 

The Athlon optics IR riflescope minimizes light loss and provides a clean, clear image thanks to its fully multi-coated optics- a feature common in high-end scopes. This, in addition to the illuminated reticle, makes the Athlon Optics BTR riflescope a great choice for hunting in any lighting condition. 

The FFP reticle paves the way for a seamless experience at any magnification, eliminating the need to perform vexatious mental math before every shot. This can be of immense help, especially if you’re shooting long range. 

The locking turrets can be helpful, especially if we’re talking windage – your scope is bound to bang into things and this might come in handy when things get shaken up.

The scope is argon-purged, which is another feature common in high-end models. This ensures that your seal stays in good condition for a relatively long time.

The body is light and completely weather resistant, come rain, fog, or hail. It comes with a lens cap and extra batteries, which make for a nice little bonus.

However, the illumination knob and turrets can be tricky to use. The scope also loses some of its clarity after a certain point.

Pros

  • Fully multi-coated lens
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Argon-purged
  • Lightweight
  • Durable

Cons

  • Illumination knob and turret knobs are tricky
  • Scope clarity is inconsistent 

What’s The verdict?

In conclusion, the Athlon BTR rifle scope is a well-made scope with high-end features and a good one to have for long-range hunting.


2. Vortex 6-24×50 Diamondback Tactical FFP Riflescope

Vortex 6-24x50 Diamondback Tactical FFP Riflescope

It’s safe to say that vortex is one of the most well-known brands when it comes to rifle scopes.

When one buys from Vortex, he knows he is investing in a quality piece.

The Vortex Diamondback has a fast-focus eyepiece that sharpens your reticle quickly and with no fuss. The reticle is fully multi-coated and illuminated for crisp images and low light hunting. They also have an anti-reflective coating to further enhance visibility and image quality.

The magnification range goes from 6x to 24x, which is impressive. This makes the rifle suitable for both, long and short-range hunting. The FFP reticle changes its size and adjusts itself according to the magnification. This makes zooming in and out on your target a whole lot more convenient. The bonus here? Vortex’s precision-glide erector system to improve the visual experience.

The turrets are user-friendly and smooth, allowing you to adjust the crosshairs quickly and with efficiency. 

I can’t help but mention the aircraft-grade aluminum body, making this one of the most durable rifle scopes out there. The weather-proof qualities go without saying. 

The one downside is that the reticle cannot be seen over white backgrounds.

Pros

  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Fully multi-coated
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Precision-glide erector system
  • Great turrets
  • Durable 

Cons

  • Reticle not visible over white backgrounds

What’s The verdict?

The Vortex 6-24×50 Diamondback packs great features at a great price and is suitable for all kinds of hunting.


3. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope

Leupold is another well-known brand that pays close attention to the quality of its products.

The VX rifle scope has Leupold’s signature Twilight Max system, which combines maximum transmission of the visible spectrum, glare reduction and great resolution to improve performance astronomically. 

It has a fast focus eyepiece for quick and clear adjustments.

The edges of the lenses are blackened to reduce glare and prevent any hindrance caused by stray light. 

It has a fixed parallax that is adjustable from 75 yards to infinity.

It also features a twin bias spring erector system which helps you to make precise adjustments, time, and again, and prevents any shifts and mistakes that can be caused due to pressure during impact.

It is an SFP rifle scope, which means that the reticle will maintain its size across the magnification range. The good news here is that unlike the FFP, the reticle remains consistent in thickness and is relatively easier to see. It’s great if you shoot only at high magnification. However, it gets tricky once you start to reduce the magnification.

Another downside is that this scope does not have an illuminated reticle.

Pros

  • Twilight Max system
  • Lens edges are blackened
  • Twin Bias Spring erector system
  • Fast focus eyepiece 
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Non-illuminated reticle

What’s The verdict?

The Leupold VX rifle scope asks for compromise in some areas to be able to deliver better in other areas at this price point. It’s definitely worth it if these features resonate with you.


4. Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50mm Side Focus Riflescope

Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50mm Side Focus Riflescope

Athlon has made it into the list once more. This time we’re looking at the Athlon Argos 6-24x50mm Side Focus riflescope.

The optics are designed exactly how you’d want them- fully multicoated, illuminated reticle etched on glass. You can expect bright, crisp, high res images.

It’s an FFP rifle, which as we read about before, is great for long-range shooting and avoiding the horror of solving math equations in your head. This is also a relatively exclusive, high-end feature since about 85% of scopes on the market are SFP.

The tube is an aircraft-grade aluminum one-piece tube: your recipe for ultimate durability and strength.

The turrets can be adjusted with more ease as compared to the other Athlon rifle scope on this list.

However, the eyepiece can get a little bulky. I also wish it came with a sunshade.

Pros

  • Fully multi-coated lens 
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Good turrets
  • One-piece tube
  • Argon-purged

Cons

  • Bulky eyepiece
  • No sunshade

What’s The verdict?

The Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24x50mm Side Focus Riflescope delivers on its promise at a good price.


5. Primary Arms 3-18X50 Front Focal Plane Riflescope

Primary Arms 3-18X50 Front Focal Plane Riflescope

Last but not least, Primary Arms is another affordable and trustworthy brand. The Primary Arms reticles are some of the most precise, well-designed reticles in the world. 

The reticle is partially illuminated, which means that only the center of the reticle lights up. However, the illumination light is as bright as ever and this does an equally good job as a fully illuminated reticle. However, some people might still prefer a fully illuminated reticle. 

The magnification range is noteworthy. It allows for quick short-range shooting at 3x as well as long-range shooting (it promises to let you cross the 1000 yard line effortlessly) at 18x. The FFP allows for a straightforward, trouble-free glide across this magnification range. 

The turrets can be zeroed and locked – this is always music to my ears. They’re not the crispest, but they work just fine. 

Like any good reticle, it’s tough and can survive an array of harsh conditions.

However, if you’re an impatient man, the turrets might tick you off from time to time. The scope can’t handle harsh lighting too well either. 

Pros

  • Great reticle
  • Good magnification range
  • Locking turrets
  • Tough
  • Fast focus eyepiece 
  • Shooting up to a 1000 yards

Cons

  • Tricky turrets
  • Not great for harsh lighting

What’s The verdict?

The Primary Arms 3-18×50 is undoubtedly advanced in some areas and a great choice if you’re looking at these features.


Things to look for when you’re purchasing a rifle scope under $500.

Now that we’ve looked at the top 5 rifle scopes under $500, here are some important things to keep in mind while choosing the perfect scope for you. 

Both focal planes have their pros and cons. As we discussed earlier, an FFP reticle changes size according to magnification while an SFP reticle stays consistent throughout. FFP reticles are especially great for long-range shooting and quickly switching between magnification values. However, this is a high-end feature and the scope might compromise on other areas to accommodate it. 

The SFP is great if you shoot at a high magnification range, but it requires some calculations and can be tricky when you reduce the magnification. However, some apps can do the numbers for you now. Affordable scopes that have SFP might make up for it in other features, so lookout.

If most of your shooting takes place in low-light conditions, pay attention to the illumination of the reticle. Fully multi-coated optics are also a great feature to have as they ensure minimal light loss.

Turrets are one of the most important features when it comes to rifle scopes, therefore it is important to test the crispness and ability to hold zero. Locking turrets are always helpful.

If we’re talking tubes, one-piece tubes are always preferable since there’s a lower probability of fractures.

Each riflescope is unique in its own way and has at least one feature that makes it stand out from the rest. This could include blackened lens edges, argon purged tubes, great magnification, or impeccable turrets. These details help you find the edge you’re looking for. 

Conclusion

That’s all you needed to know about choosing the best rifle scope under $500 for you. We hope you’re leaving this article feeling well-informed and equipped to make the right choice. 

The quality of your scope can indeed make or break your game. However, there’s no need to break the bank for a good hunt. We have aimed to shed light on this fact and help you make a bang on a budget. Happy hunting!

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