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  • Writer's pictureCaleb T. Hayes

Best Rifle Scope Under $500: 2023 Review

Looking for an affordable optic to help you hit your targets? These 12 rifle scopes will get the job done, and each will do it for $500 or less.

FYI, Prices and ratings are accurate as of time of writing.

1. Vortex Optics - Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Top-rated: 2,916 ratings | 334 answered questions

Vortex Optics - Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Highlight: The new illuminated BDC3 reticle focuses the shooter's eye to the target faster. Holdovers allow for immediate use out to 650 yards for targets of known distance.

Helpful review: "I was impressed with this scope. Every part about it screamed quality and performance. I will say this, though: I did screw up mounting it. I highly suggest you do NOT use some cheap torque driver. Get one that goes to the inch pound adjustment. I over-tighten the rings and it made a slight dent (though it's barely noticeable). I cried a little thinking I just tanked $500, until I called customer service. The lady was super nice. She took my info and emailed me a warranty slip all filled out to print. Thank God, because my hand writing sucks. I sent it in and within a week they sent me a replacement. I bought their vortex driver which is well worth the money. Then I set the scope up and was drilling holes in no time. I've never imagined customer service could be so seamless and easy. I plan to buy just Vortex from now on - their customer service is AMAZING! You see, all too often hunting rifles get dropped, or you trip/slip and your scope gets cracked, dented or filled with water. If you got a Vortex - they have your back, no receipts, just send it in and they'll do everything they can to get you back out there. Since often I'm sharing guns with friends and family, it's particularly important to me. If anything happens, they can send it in themselves to get it fixed and I don't need to worry about anything. I can't thank Vortex enough for their support and care. I love their products and you can't beat the service. If you're new to hunting or shooting sports, I highly recommend Vortex anything. You won't have to worry about making a mistake or having an expensive accident, which happens to everyone at some point. I plan to treat all their products with care. It's just insanely comforting to know they got my back." — Naomarius
Trending review: "This is the second Vortex optic I've purchased and the result is always the same. Outstanding product for the money. A value that is unmatched by any other optics company. Can you find better? Sure you can but not without triple the cost and you WILL NOT match their warranty anywhere. For under $300 you will not find a better scope for your AR. Pros- for $300 it has very clear glass. The reticle is great. Illumination is daylight bright. The 1-6x at the cost is fantastic as it is a true 1x and works just as well as a red dot. At 6x it maintains its clarity and really is pleasing to eyes in a way that you will not find with another scope at this price range. Cons- at 1x there is a very slight amount of fish eye effect (very slight and goes away after 3x and up). The weight is a little on the heavy side. It added enough weight to take my 16"carbine Bushmaster XM-15E2S to about 10.5 lbs. Not a deal breaker but noticeable. The magnification ring is a little stiff and a throw lever will be desired. Final thoughts - this scope shocked me at how good it is for the low cost. You'll spend near 1k to match it with another brand. With the warranty your $300 investment is protected for life. It's built tough, it's very clear and very functional as well as intuitive. Even pro shooter friends of mine are buying it because they can't justify the extra spend on the higher dollar models when this does so well at $300. Buy it and don't look back." — Neil Inabnitt
Reassuring review: "Very nice optic for a great price, its hard to justify high dollar optics for every rifle but this fits the bill and the good thing is that when I get tired of this one I will put it on another rifle just as I did my EOtech. At least that how I justify my awful habit lol... I have used it at 50 yards to zero (zero took 6 rounds) then at 100 and 200 yards and it worked beautifully. Once I get my corn out I will extend it out to 500 yards. If its anything like the other Vortex products I'm sure it will last a long time. Target acquisition is fast and the halo really helps line up my shots. The only negative I've found is that the illuminated reticle does wash out in bright sunlight even on 11 but I knew that going into the purchase and was ok with it. The crosshairs are etched so its not a big deal to me. I am not a 3gun competitor but mealy a simple plinker so I don't plan on banging it around however it looks and feels sturdy enough to take some abuse and if anything should happen how can you beat the Vortex warranty. I will add a few photos of the field of view one is at 1X the other is @ 6X. Kudos to Amazon Prime too for having it to me in 2 days." — Dennis Diehl
Most-discussed review: "I bought this for my first competition gun (18" ar15) and it's everything I could as for. The price here is fantastic considering MSRP of $400 (I paid approximately $220). The glass is quite clear given the price bracket and for almost everyone it is all you need. The scope has no issue holding zero between range visits and getting knocked around. The reticle is great for up close at 1x, especially while illuminated, and easy to use at reasonable range - I can only attest to 400yds since that is the furthest I've taken it to. One of the biggest selling points for me was the warranty. Vortex has the best warranty I have ever seen which is especially important when you bagging around something made of glass. It is really reassuring to know that I can do what I need to do without having to worry about babying my scope. As the title of my review says, the scope is high enough quality to do what I need it to do, and the warranty gives me the piece of mind to do it. I see myself using Vortex optics for many years to come." — Thomas
Favorite review: "I have more expensive scopes that don't even compare!! Great sight picture and the lit reticle is clear and doesn't wash out like some other scopes. Etched glass and lifetime warranty is tough to beat without spending a small fortune. Installed on my POF Renagade + and headed to the range. Sighted in quickly and proceeded to punch out sub MOA groups at 100 yards. Be sure to check out the Aim assist throw lever and the Vortex cantilever ring mount. Makes a great combo and everything works together to make a great package. Couldnt be happier and now it's my favorite rig in the safe." — GK
Updated review: "Arrived quick, and to my surprise, came with decent caps installed. I mounted using the Vortex Sport Cantilever Mount, which itself, is well made and a bargain. Went out shooting today, and could not be happier. Had it sighted in within about 5 shots, and shot a total of 3 mags. Excellent sight picture at all magnifications. Shot from 10 to 100 yards. In my opinion, this is almost overkill for my needs and an outstanding value for the money. I hopefully will never need the warranty, but that is a plus as well." — DroidGuy

Get it from Amazon now: $499.00 & FREE Returns


2. Vortex Optics - Diamondback Tactical (6-24x50) First Focal Plane Riflescope

Top-rated: 2,544 ratings | 227 answered questions

Vortex Optics - Diamondback Tactical (6-24x50) First Focal Plane Riflescope

Highlight: Extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses transmit a crisp, bright sight picture.

Helpful review: "Starting from the outside, scope is of sturdy build and turrets are well mounted and tight when twisted, while also being strong enough to not be twisted by bumping into things or moving around in a case. Using the magnification is very easy and it maintains clarity through 4-15x magnification. At 16x you will experience a dip in clarity but this is to be expected with any scope when maxed out, and even then it will still beat any stock or budget aftermarket scope you could find. The reticule is extremely crisp and defined, even so much so that at at 4x magnification it is hard to see the numbers on the hold over and wind correction marks. This is mainly because it is a first focal plane scope so the reticle zooms in when you zoom in, meaning it's outstanding and HD when you start to use higher magnifications rather than too large and in the way. Secondly is the fact that when I zeroed this scope and store it in a soft cover it retains it's zero to this day. I drove all the way from Texas to Wyoming, switching it between vehicles multiple times, mounting it on ATV's, riding back country trials up in the Big Horn National Forrest on the side of Cloud Peak, and it never bumped off its zero even after a solid week of that. If you are looking for a high quality scope that doesn't break the bank this is it." — Chase
Trending review: "Worth every sent and I feel like this is one of the best deals on optics out there. I can do with this the exact same thing I did with scopes 3 times the price. Quality of glass is not as good as higher end optics... so do your research and understand the difference. I’m not taking a picture and bottom line, the Bullet hits in the same place at extended range. 800 to 1000 yards is not an issue. You may be or the weapon but the optic is solid. Also holds zero... I have had zero issues. MRAD is fantastic and reliable once you’ve run it out to range. If you use the turrets they work like there supposed to and I’ve had no issues returning to zero after dialing them in at range. Zero sets a little lower then zero... doesn’t line up exactly between the turret and the housing. It’s really a tiny thing as it makes no difference once you understand how it lines up... mine is just a hair lower. I use ballistic wraps on my turrets so it’s a real non-issue for me." — CT
Reassuring review: "This is my second Vortex Diamondback Tactical FFP scope. I have the 4-16x44 for my deer rifle and have been so impressed with it, that I ordered the 6-24x50 for a long range .308 build. The glass is as clear as any I've ever seen for under $2000. The side focus is easy to use, with its clear range labels. The reticle is great for long distance shooting. It is so easy to use that I rarely dial in my windage or range. I just hold over with the reticle. The only negative I've noticed is there is a very small amount of play between the "clicks" on the windage and elevation turrets. These are 1/4 MOA clicks, so any play between clicks amounts to an imperceivable effect. Overall, I have not found another scope with the quality and features of the Vortex Diamondback Tactical anywhere close to its price. I have two now, and would not hesitate to buy another." — Dave
Most-discussed review: "Like the headline states, it's a Vortex, you can't go wrong. I have this very scope on a few rifles and I love it. The only thing you have to decide on is reticle option, the basically standard MOA format, or the MRAD, it's all preference. I find calculations easier on the MRAD, but it's the same scope as the MOA, so accuracy and quality are sublime. My only gripe is that the image gets a little distorted at max magnification, but it's liveable, especially at it's price point." — John Knox
Favorite review: "I had serious doubts about the quality of this scope given the price point, but it surpassed my expectations. The thing that worried me was that their wasn't very much parallax adjustment past 300 yards. In fact none. I went to our spot and dialed in a target at 347 yards. The adjustment was already out to infinity at this short distance. The picture was clear and crisp. Went to 400, 600 and then 850 yards. Still a clear picture on infinity setting. Glass was clear to the edges, big eye box. Even bobbing my head gave no parallax deviations. Tracked perfectly and returns to zero, spot on! Turrets are not mushy like others have said. They are just close ratioed, but concise feelable clicks. Using the Burris XTR Signature rings with 20 MOA inserts added gives me plenty of adjustment to go out beyond the 1000 yard mark. Not worried about not having a zero stop as one full revolution (15 MOA) gets you already out past 600 yards, so doubt you will get confused as to where you are at. Buy once, cry once! This scope is as good as or better than competing scopes costing up to twice the price." — FX
Updated review: "For the price of this scope it is very well made. I put mine on a Savage .308 Model 12 and it seems quite accurate. All functions of the scope worked flawlessly. Glass is exceptionally clear for the price point. I was able to zero in, in about 6 shots after using a bore sight then moved my mil markers to zero with one screw for each turret (elevation and windage). Was pinging 200 yard plates every shot by the end of my hour on the range. Going out to the long distance range this weekend to see how far I can stretch its legs." — Trevor Howl

Get it from Amazon now: $399.99 & FREE Returns


3. Sightmark Wraith - HD (4-32x50) Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Top-rated: 1,269 ratings | 240 answered questions

Sightmark Wraith - HD (4-32x50) Digital Night Vision Riflescope

Highlight: 5 weapon profiles to save zeroes for different firearms and calibers.

Helpful review: "This is a relatively new product with few reviews available. A day/night optic at this price point is an obvious value and it works well. However, it is most suitable for shooting from a stable platform over a wide open area at distances between 100 and 300 yards. If you want it for any other shooting solution, self defense for example, this may not be the best way to go. I am not a hunter and hoped to employ this optic for self defense and found it unsuitable for my specific application. I returned it without problem. I think it does exactly what it say it does and if that is what you want, you should consider this optic. If you want to solve different problems, again as with self defense, this may not be the best solution. Again, the device is a great value but for what it does. Perhaps a more skilled shooter than myself could more easily and quickly adapt this for different situations. I have no negative criticisms of the device, but I did not realize how specifically it should be employed." — JustAnotherGuy
Trending review: "Needed a good night scope that i could also use in daylight. The Wraith does it both and well. The one shot zero is convenient and the fact you can program several different guns on this scope is great as well. The zoom is good until the higher range and then everything gets pixelated bad, night time is even worse. The IR light that comes with it is mediocre at best. Spend the money if you can and upgrade to a better light you will be glad you did. The other downfall is battery life. Get some rechargeable batteries and you will be good to go. The customer service for Sightmark is amazing and this scope comes with a limited lifetime warranty. There are a few other small things I've found that are lacking. Using the arrow pad while looking through the scope can be tricky as you cant always feel a positive click. While using at night you will loose your natural night vision as its bright even with the brightness turned all the way down. Its normal but sucks. The record function is nice but this version doesn't have sound. The new 4K version Sightmark is releasing will though. Regardless it is still nice." — Alex
Reassuring review: "I have spent ridiculous dollars on NV and this scope would have saved me $1200 if I got into it a few years later. SightMark is good. My first one was a Photon XT 4.6x42mm and it did suck. Wouldn't hold zero at all but I believed in the brand enough to order a 6.5x50 XT and that one does hold zero. So I use the first one as a spotter and I'm ok at that. The 6.5 XT dot looks like 6" at 180 yards so I upgraded to this Wraith HD. So now I wish I never got into NV because this Wraith HD is the real deal. I'd buy it again and I just may be doing that if this one keeps kickin butt." — FS
Most-discussed review: "Went out on a limb and spent the cash for a medium NV scope This thing has a lot of options and could be quite confusing. Read the instructions manual and before installing it on my rifle, I did a functional test. Glad I did because this is a heavy item once installed on your rifle. I countered the back weight by putting on a (legally) stamped suppressor. Weight is balanced, but still heavy. Out of the box in daylight mode, it rang the steel target at 100 yards. Made 2 adjustments and dead on. Night vision mode has green and white/black modes. IFR light on side is only good in total pitch black setting." — T.L.
Favorite review: "A small learning curve to use, but a great alternative to the super expensive night vision sights. I initially had difficulties zeroing in the scope. It was not the scopes fault as it worked fine on our AR-15, but when we went to install it on our Remington 243, being relatively novice we did not realize we would need additional mounts. So obviously, the Sightmark bolt action mount was in order. We installed it and still couldn't zero in the scope. We called Sightmark and they suggested getting a 20 MOA mount. That did the trick, installed the 20 MOA along with the bolt action mount and the scope zeroed in perfectly." — R. Raboin
Updated review: "I was hesitant about wanting to purchase this night vision because of how cheap it is compared to other models. But, I am very happy to say that this is a very well made scope and does everything I need it to do. It did take me a few shots to figure out how to sight it in. And it wasn’t until a week later when I figured out that the infrared had three different settings. Lol. It is a little on the heavier side though. So I would suggest a bipod to go with it. No real complaints, and I plan on purchasing another one very soon." — Daniel Kinsey

Get it from Amazon now: $499.97 & FREE Returns


4. Burris - Fullfield II Hunting Scope

Top-rated: 1,116 ratings | 158 answered questions