Best Rifle Scope Under $500 – Top 5 in 2017 [REVEALED]

best-rifle-scopes-under-500

Why look for an optic under $500? Doesn't that seem expensive?

The answer might surprise you...

Buying a riflescope under $500 satisfies most avid hunter and professional target shooting requirements.

One of the main differences between a scope under $500 and one under $200, is the light transmission on the more expensive scopes will be higher which allows clarity and brightness, specifically when at the top end of the magnification range.

Top 5 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500

  1. Nikon Monarch 3 BDC 4-16x42mm
  2. Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 4-16x42mm
  3. Nikon Prostaff 5 BCD 4.5-18x40mm
  4. Vortex Viper 6.5-20x50mm
  5. Millet Tactical 6-25x56mm

I was able to spend a lot of time reviewing the rifle scopes under the $500 price range and have been able to narrow the best ones down to the Top 5 in 2017!

Top 5 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 in 2017

Why didn’t I include other top rifle scopes under $500 on my Top 5 list?


Lots of people are wondering why I didn’t include some of the other top rifle scopes under $500 like the Nikon M-308 4-16×42 or the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24 on my Top 5 list? After reviewing them, the answer is simple.

  • For some reason the glass clarity wasn’t as good.
  • Honestly, for the value, they don’t really deliver any better experience compared to the other optics under $500.
  • It’s hard to describe but I expected better for the price.

So, in simple words, you are paying for a great scope, but you aren’t getting the quality that you deserve for spending between $300-$500. It’s about finding the BEST rifle scope under $500 that money can buy.

For now, these rifle optics don’t quite cut it.

However, we believe that these rifle scopes are ok if you are the type of person who is loyal to a specific brand and wants to try something new. But we believe our other rifle scopes under $500 have more value.

Why spend between $300 to $500 on a rifle scope?

best-scopes-under

If you have set your budget to buy a quality rifle scope under $500, you are looking for something that has been made very well.

These scopes allow you to shoot at longer distances and with more accuracy which is beneficial for hunters and target shooters alike. They meet the demands and the stand up to the recoil on large calibre rifles better than the cheaper scopes do.

You wouldn’t want to waste an expensive scope on a .22 LR or 17 hmr because the drop in the bullet is far too much to shoot at such long distances. However if you have a .300 win mag or a .308 and would like to shoot/hunt at distances greater than 300 yards then spend the extra money! You won’t be disappointed.

Cheap bulk ammo at Lucky Gunner

Best Rifle Scopes under $500 Reviewed

1. Nikon Monarch 3 BDC 4-16x42mm - Best Rifle scope Under $500 to buy in 2017

nikon-monarch-best-scope-under-500

At #1, the Nikon Monarch 3 really impressed us. We are usually impressed with most rifle scopes at this price range, but the Nikon Monarch found a way to make the #1 spot.

The Monarch line is on the high end of Nikon's optics, with the Prostaff at the mid level and the Buckmasters at the low end. 

The Monarch 3 is one of the most prestigious rifle scope lines to come from Nikon. It was designed to compete on the same level as Minox ZA5 and Zeiss Conquests scope lines.

It's a great hunting scope for medium range, as well as for long ranges, which makes this scope very versatile.

A really great feature with this Nikon Monarch is that it comes with flip up covers. It may not seem like a big thing (especially because they are on the cheaper side), but are you going to buy scope covers for all of your rifle scopes? Most don't, so it was a great add on that added some value.

As I was testing it out, I couldn't believe the lightweight. It's not the lightest scope out there overall, but at the price point of under $500 with a magnification power of 16x, it's one of the lightest I've found at just 1.25 pounds.

This makes it great option for hunting at long range. Nobody wants to carry around something that is heavy as it'll eventually weigh on you when walking ten miles a day to track a herd of elk.

At the range I had it zeroed in within 4 rounds. Very easy scope to zero. I started out at 50 yards, then moved back to 100 yards and then to 200 yards. At 200 yards I shot a 1 inch grouping. Very pleased.

Honestly, I didn’t find anything wrong with this optic. It fogged up on me once, but I blame it on me breathing on it for too long as I didn’t move for a while when hunting and I was in a weird position. Overall, a very great scope for the money.

Overall, I was very happy with this scope. After testing it out, I realized I enjoyed it so much that I ended up purchasing another one for my .338 Lapua 700 Remington. That's pretty rare for me to do.

The clarity was superb. There was no blurriness and the clarity continues all the way to the edge of the sight picture.

I highly recommend this scope which is why I’m rating it as the #1 scope to buy under $500.​

Pros

  • Nikon Lifetime Warranty
  • Love the side focus and the very positive clicks on adjustment..
  • Very clear glass with great clarity.
  • Super fun to shoot with.

Cons

  • Nothing, seriously. Well, maybe the cheap flip up covers, but they come free.
Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope, Matte Black, Duplex Reticle

Specifications:

Magnification: 3-9x
Objective Lens: 40mm
Tube Diameter: 1"
Windage/elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 12.6”


2. Vortex Optics Diamondback HP 4-16x42mm - Best Rifle Scope Under $500 for Long Range

vortex-diamondback-308 or 3006-rifle-scope

Vortex Optics is an industry leader for a reason when it comes to quality optics.

Vortex is often compared with Nikon and Leupold as it produces high quality rifle scopes in every price range.

The Vortex Diamondback HP 4-16x42mm is no different as it offers a lot of features that will give confidence to any long range shooter or hunter.

The scope glass is great. It comes with XD extra-low dispersion glass. This increases the resolution and the XR multi-coated lenses maximize light transmission which helps when hunting in low light conditions. 

The Diamondback HP 4-16x42 has a great profile as long as you have the appropriate mounting rings.

What I mean by this is the scope looks good as it is not too big and definitely not too small. 

The HP stands for high performance and it definitely is a step above the standard Diamondback. 

If you are looking to buy a good rifle scope for under $500 and looking to push it to its limit at around 1000 yards than you will require the additional power that the 4-16x42mm gives you.

While reviewing this scope I looked  to see if it would let me shoot at a long distance so I mounted this scope on my .308, went out to the range to test the scope there and then headed out on a 4 day hunting excursion in the back country with a buddy.

Between all the rounds I put it through at the range before hand and during the hunt, it held perfectly zero. I also noticed that the scope never fogged up at all, and it bette not for a scope between $300-$500.

I shot about 60 rounds at the range and was really happy as it was very clear and lets in a lot of light, something that I always look for in my scopes. even in the shade it did a great job.

The Diamondback is pretty heavy weighing in at 2 lbs when compared to other rifle scopes for mobility. It’s not something I would ever want to mount for a tactical use.

It also isn’t the best scope to take in the brush, sometimes it would have a hard time focusing.

Overall, the quality is not middle of the road with the Vortex Diamondback. The turret knobs; 'click' when turned which is always nice and require no tools or coins to adjust them.

A lot of guys find it hard to make that distance of shot with your standard 3-9x40mm magnification with any accuracy. This scope will provide the clarity at long distances that most others won't and comes with a 5 star rating which is almost unheard of when reviewing the best rifle scopes.
In short, the Vortex Diamondback HP is the perfect and best rifle scope if you want to spend less than $500. It is a clear high quality scope that is worth every penny when you only get one shot at long distances.

Pros

  • Unconditional Lifetime Warranty
  • High quality for the price.
  • Very clear glass with great clarity.
  • Great for long range shooting.

Cons

  • Be aware that this optic is a little heavy (2 lbs).
  • Has a hard time focusing in certain environments, such as the brush.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 Riflescope

Specifications:

Magnification: 4-16x
Objective Lens: 42mm
Tube Diameter: 1"
Weight: 2 lbs.

Windage: 1/4 MOA

BSA Sweet 17 Scope

3. Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC Riflescope, Black, 4.5-18x40mm - Best Rifle Scope Under $500 for Hunters

nikon-prostaff-scope-under-500

Nikon features fully multicoated optics for maximum brightness and light transmission, producing clearer images at long distances. I really like the quick focus eyepiece which allows me to bring the reticle back into focus in a hurry.

Nikon's Bullet Drop Compensator (BDC) is a proprietary reticle that compensates for the bullet trajectory at different distances. In fact, it does a lot of the work for you. Click here for more information about choosing the right BDC reticle for you. 

I paired this rifle with the AccuShot premium 1-inch Weaver style rings and mounted it on my Remington .308 and grouped a half a dozen shots within a quarter at 300 yards. That ain’t bad.

The only negative thing that I could say, is that the reticule is some what wide and could have been reduced in size, but does not take away from the overall effectiveness.

Overall, the Prostaff 5 is a great scope! It's durable and did great at the range. 

It's very easy to zero and comes with a lot of extra features like sun shade and some quick zero caps. 

The glass is really clear and the magnification ring is really smooth. Shooters like this scope so much that they usually buy multiples of the Prostaff 5 to equip on their other rifles..

If you are a hunter and if long-range accuracy matters, this is the scope worth every penny

Pros

  • Nikon Lifetime Warranty
  • High quality for the price.
  • Precise adjustments are easily made.
  • Great for hunters.

Cons

  • Cross hairs seemed a little thick
Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BCD Riflescope, Black, 4.5-18x40

Specifications:

Magnification: 4.5-18x
Objective Lens: 40mm
Tube Diameter: 1”
Windage/elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 14.3”


4. VORTEX Viper 6.5-20x50 PA Riflescope, Mil Dot Reticle, Matte Black (VPR-M-06MD) - Best Rifle scope under $500 for the Highest Accuracy at Long Range

vortex-viper-best-scope-under-500

This Vortex scope features an amazing 95% light transmission and multi-coated optics that provide a hell of a view at all magnification ranges!

Featuring up to 20x magnification, this premium riflescope is ideal for tactical and long range hunting/target shooting with some of the highest precision I have seen on a scope.

I really like the scope’s tough and durable feel as it is made out of a solid block of aircraft grade aluminum which adds to the strength of the scope.

It basically feels like it can handle anything you throw at it in any condition (and trust me, I need a durable scope).

This particular model features the Mil Dot reticle which is great for shooting long distances as it is useful for estimating range, windage, and holdover.

Testing it out was so much fun as I found myself being extremely accurate at distances I hardly ever shoot (upwards to 700-800 yards!)

I sighted it in at 2.75' at 100 yards and then took it out in the back of my buddy's wheat field ​to do some long range testing.

I hit a target in 3 shots at 700 yards​ clicking the vertical adjustment. Needless to say I was super happy so I click the vertical adjustment some more to make 3 shots at 800 yards! 

I wish i could've gone further but didn't have more room, but I don't doubt that I  could have gone farther.

A sign of a good scope is being able to go back to the original zero without a hitch, and sure enough, after I returned the vertical back to the starting point, I made 3 more shots that were exactly 2.75" high at 100 yards.

The scope is pretty heavy. If you are a bench shooter, then it shouldn’t be a problem, especially and you will be able to handle the weight and hit your targets very accurately at long ranges.

Overall, the Vortex Viper is a great optic to equip on your rifle if you need very high accuracy at long range. the 20x magnification power allows you to really see the target very clearly at such long distances.

When comparing the high accuracy, I would compare this scope to a $1500 Leupold. Though the Leupold has much more features (driving up the price), the accuracy felt the same and for $500 there is so much more value!

If you are a long range shooter and super long-range precision matters in just one shot, this is the scope to buy under $500

Pros

  • Unconditional Lifetime Warranty
  • Very clear glass.
  • Adjustments are easy to use.
  • Extremely accurate at long range.

Cons

  • A heavy scope, weighing in at 2.2 lbs.
  • Turrets a little sticky.
vortex-viper-best-scope-under-500

Specifications:

Magnification: 6.5-20x
Objective Lens: 50mm
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Windage/elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 14.4”

BSA Sweet 17 Scope

5. Millett 6-25 X 56 LRS-1 Illuminated Side Focus Tactical Riflescope - Best Illuminated Scope Under $500 

millet-scope-under-500

This scope is relatively large (22” with the included sunshade) and 56mm objective lens which allows a ton of light and clarity when shooting at long distances. Note that this model is illuminated, an added benefit!

With the magnification and size, and after sighting it in, I was able to shoot accurately anywhere from 50 yards to 1000 yards with my .50 BMG!

I also had it on my .308 as it works well on all sorts of applications. I loved the tactical feel and this scope is perfect for long range hunting and target shooting.

Note that it comes with high quality high mount rings due to the objective lens and tube diameter being larger tan other scopes.

While reviewing the Millett, I was very impressed with its power. The 25x magnification power is great and you can really see extremely far.

I would recommended the Millett over the Vortex Viper due to the higher power, as you can really see anything up to 1000 yards, except for the fact that the Millett had some adjustment issues and didn't seem quite as durable as the Viper with continued use.

As far as durability goes, it’s not nearly as durable as the other rifles on this list. I could tell that after continued use it will start to fall apart. But during its prime, it is an amazing optic that can hit targets at very long range, especially with the illuminated reticle.

It’s also heavier than most scopes and should be strictly used for bench sitting.

Overall, I felt like this rifle scope was top notch. I wasn't able to use it long enough to prove that its durability was an issue, but I could tell that it may have some issues down the road.

That didn't stop me from putting it on this Top 5 list of best rifle scopes under $500 because it is still a very high quality scope for the money. 

Not only is it a long range rifle scope with high precision, but it has illuminated reticles and the glass is top quality making the scope very clear.

Though it may not be durable over a long period of time, it’s still made of high quality materials. Great glass, great clarity, and great precision at long range. For under $500, this is an amazing long range rifle scope.

Pros

  • Lifetime Limited Warranty
  • High magnification power (25x)
  • Illuminated Reticle
  • Extremely accurate at long range.

Cons

  • A heavier scope. Not recommended for mobility.
  • Didn’t seem very durable after long term continued use.

Millett 6-25 X 56 LRS-1 Illuminated Side Focus Tactical Riflescope (35mm Tube .25 MOA with Rings), Matte

Specifications:

Magnification: 6-25x
Objective Lens: 56mm
Tube Diameter: 35mm
Windage/elevation: 1/4 MOA
Length: 15”

BSA Sweet 17 Scope

Bonus - Leupold VX-2 Rifle Scope - Best Rifle Scope Under $300

Technically it is under $300, but I was only including scopes in my Top 5 list that were between $300-$500. I felt like the Leupold VX-2 was worth the mention here.

If you’ve been around guns all your life you’ve surely heard that Leupold is a leader when it comes to scopes. Compared to the competition, Leupold’s glass is consistently crisper and clearer.

I would suggest that the main difference between the VX-1 (which was reviewed in the Best Rifle Scopes under $200) and the VX-2 can be seen at high magnification. Not to say the VX-1 was poor at 9x however the VX-2 is just that much clearer due to better quality lenses and has a higher light transmission (92% versus 86%).

Many die-hard Leupold consumers swear by them, and for good reason. Overall, this is one of the best deals out there on a great hunting rifle scope.

nikon-monarch-best-scope-under-500

Specifications:

Magnification: 4-16x
Objective Lens: 42mm
Tube Diameter: 1"
Eye Relief: 4"
Length: 12.6”

Weight: 1.25 lbs.​

BSA Sweet 17 Scope

Final Thoughts - Best Optics Under $500

You can get a great riflescope under $500 and that makes it difficult to choose the best. All of these scopes are great for long range hunting and target shooting – offering quality and durability.

If you are looking for a great “all-around” scope, then I would say the Nikon Monarch is a fantastic choice and one of my favorites. Many die-hard Nikon consumers swear by them, and for good reason. Overall, this is one of the best deals out there on a great hunting rifle scope.

Now for some of you that are looking for a scope with all the bells and whistles, including illumination and with the ability to shoot at extremely long distances, the Millet won’t disappoint you. It comes with mounting rings and a sunshade and perfect for large caliber rifles including a 50 BMG.

And if you're finding that these optics under $500 just aren't cutting it, try going up in price to rifle optics under $1000. You might like what you find if your budget allows!​

Stay safe and happy shooting.

Check back next year for the best rifle scope under $500 in 2017 Top 5 list!

Gary Fretwell is a 33-year-old die hard hunter and blogger from Wyoming. After serving in Iraq, he finished school to become an Asset Protection Officer and currently is learning to be a tracker to help hunters like himself find big game!

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