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  • Writer's pictureRay Campbell

I Tested And Ranked The Best Vortex Rifle Scopes In 2024

Vortex rifle scopes allow you to shoot further out and more accurately,‎ and no other brand can beat their unlimited (and unconditional) lifetime warranty. Here's my ultimate ranking of the best options for the money.

best rifle scopes

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


1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


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: "Overall my review is very positive, this is an amazing scope even if it was $499. But I need to point out the two dumb issues I experienced because you might also deal with them.
If the product had a solid, reliable rear flip cap cover, and the throw lever had fit as Vortex specified it would for this model, this would be a five-star review because the scope is worth WAY more than what I paid for it.
If you've enjoyed Trijicon ACOG then you know how clear and excellent glass can be--this is close. I'd say the Vortex Strike Eagle has 70% to 80% of the ACOG's clarity. Based on that alone, and a .5.56 ACOG running $1,600, this excellent Vortex Strike Eagle should be triple its price of $499. If you can afford to run an ACOG, why are you reading this? Get an ACOG. If you cannot afford an ACOG--absolutely buy this Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6 scope (and pick up another flip cap cover, and do buy the throw lever).
The rear flip cap self-destructs on its own (even if you protect your rifle as I do).
The flip cap, and impossible to find pin and spring, fly off whenever they feel like it, leaving you to spend your day on the ground or range floor trying to find the pin and spring instead of shooting. This is the only weak design element on this scope. I finally lost the spring so I now take the entire cap assembly on and off, with the flip cap glued in place.
The above product description says that the tube is 30mm, however, when you go to any website to order the cap it only comes in 32mm--so I'm going to try and replace it with yet another poorly designed Vortex flip cap cover ($19.99). And, the tube front may be 30mm, but the rear portion is much larger. I do know it is not 44mm, as I went to the Vortex site to learn the correct Vortex brand throw lever to buy here on Amazon, and I did. But when it came it didn't fit [Vortex Switchview SV-4 Throw Lever (1.72 inches / 44 mm)]. So, at least on the one shipped to me, the rear, zoom rotating tube portion is *NOT* 44mm.
You WILL want to buy the throw lever as it isn't easy, nor convenient to rotate the zoom.
I guess I need to buy calipers and find the true dimensions and then order the throw lever and crap replacement flip cap. Silly. Totally silly.
One of my AR-15s is a CORE 15 Scout, Keymod rifle (veteran built). I added DD Daniel Defense furniture (comfort, quality, and looks), added a QD Quick Detach mount to the back of the lower receiver, and under the front rail, both of which complement the built-in QD on the DD stock. I use a very nice Magpul MS4 Gen 2 Multi-Mission Single Point / 2 Point Sling which gives you more slung options than you need and works great as a two-point sling adjusted tight, end-to-end on the rifle for superb stability (almost like a bench rest) when you need a very stable firing platform.
For convenience, I added a DDC Devil Dog Concepts Hard Charger Tactical Side Charger for much easier charging while keeping the rifle where it should be at eye level. Another convenience is the Troy Ambidextrous Bolt Release. All AR-15's should have a bolt release on the right side, above the mag release, the way POF-USA and LWRC AR-15s do. If you got the bucks always buy the top end POF-USA and LWRC AR Rifles. Incredible quality and aerospace tolerances.
Finally, I topped it all off with an excellent Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x 24mm scope. I'm going to add either a Viper or Venom RMR top-mounted to the rear scope ring so I can have a low-profile quick glance QCB view, similar to the way Trijicon sets up RMRs on top of ACOGs.
FINAL NOTE:
I adjusted and tested again and again and discovered that when you go end to end with the sling, adjusted so you can quickly tighten it across your back and weak side arm, and push your fore-grip all the way out to the end of the front rail, you get really, really good off-hand stability. Why? Because your extended arm, and the tight sling across the arm and your back, create a triangle type leverage effect that you just cannot get unless you've got a tree, rock, backpack or bench to support your firing platform." — Charlie M. Mark

Get it from Amazon now: $369.99 & FREE Returns

 

2. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II First Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Extra-low dispersion glass increases resolution and color fidelity.

Helpful review: "I'm extremely impressed with this scope and will go over several reasons why you should or shouldn't purchase it along with features, functionality, fit/finish, and application.
I currently own a Vortex Razor HD Gen II and have had many other top tier scopes as well, but this particular model has left a great impression. I wanted 3-15x because it allows you to engage close range while 15x is certainly more than enough magnification to connect with targets well past 1000 yards if you do your part. This optic is sitting on an AeroPrecision M5E1 in 308win, which I have set up as a semi-auto precision. I plan to use this rifle for hunting, and medium to longer range target shooting. It's got a 24-inch Criterion Barrel, Larue MBT-2S trigger, and Toolcraft BCG..
I was able to zero this scope within 3 shots of getting on paper. Tracking is excellent! You will not be disappointed with the visual appeal of your rifle with a PST Gen II sitting on top. This scope just looks great. I'm using the Seekings 30mm AR HIGH rings to mount it. Be careful, standard high rings may be too low and contact the rail. Note, this comes with a sunshade, lens cloth, and allen wrench.
This optic is a first focal plane, which means you can use the reticle to range targets at any magnification, and you can use holdovers at any magnification level. Do you really need this? The answer depends on what you intend to use your rifle for. Personally I prefer first focal plane scopes. Once I find the load that shoots best in my rifle, I chronograph it and get a velocity average over 10-shots. With this information, I can create a drop table using JBM Ballistics or Streylok Pro (or whatever ballistic software your heart desires). When you have your drop card made, you can then quickly refer to it and use the scope's reticle to hold over for the specified firing solution. It's fast, it's accurate, and it works... In PRS matches, this is a MUST HAVE feature. Heck, some of the stages have no elevation dialing, so if you don't have a tactical reticle you are kinda screwed.
For hunting, I think this is also very applicable. If you have a 100 yard zero and a deer walks out at 225 yards, you may not have time to range it and dial your elevation knob so a quick hold may be all you get.
Illuminated reticle is not bright enough for daytime shooting, but this is a precision scope not a red dot. If you're hunting and the sun is going down the reticle illumination will be perfect to make sure you can keep your crosshairs on your target and take the shot at dusk. Also, unlike the Razor HD series only the cross section of the reticle is illuminated, NOT the dot (which I actually prefer as I'm not going to be holding for wind at night time).
The clicks on the elevation turret are an interesting point for me... They're definitely not Razor HD Gen II turrets. An interesting thing about my scope is that when I click through 1-4 MOA, to be honest it's kind of soft. Once I hit that 4 MOA mark the turret all of a sudden becomes very crisp and precise. At the end of the day, it's not a Nightforce, Vortex Razor, or top tier scope so you have to sacrifice a little.
I think for a $1,000 scope it's an amazing deal and functions extremely well for a majority of applications. There are revolution indicators however so you don't get lost on your elevation knob. Another fantastic feature is the hard Zero Stop. Setting the zero stop was super easy and the spot where you set it at is where it stops. Unlike other optics there is no over travel past your zero. I actually prefer this over the Razor HD Series.
Who is this scope for? If you are a long range hunter, target shooter, PRS competitor, or enthusiast this scope is a great choice. If you have an entry level optic and want a scope that has all the pro level features without breaking the bank, this is your scope. Paired with the Vortex guarantee, you cannot go wrong. Without directly naming them, I find many of the other top optic companies in the market have great optics but simply don't give you what Vortex does. First focal plane, clarity, parallax adjustment, tactical reticle, illumination, zero stop, 30mm tube, and a sunshade... let's be honest you simply don't get this type of package for less than $2,000 in the market space today.
If you're a 'Zero your rifle 1 inch high at 100 yards' kind of guy, I do NOT recommend this scope. You'd be paying far too much for features that you're not using.
1ST UPDATE:
I purchased this scope in December of 2017, so I've had it about 15 months and as of yesterday, the rifle that it's been sitting on now has 1,200 rounds of 308 Winchester. I finally decided to run this rifle in a PRS match yesterday and I must say I'm very pleased with the performance. My local club matches go to 600 yards, and I had no problems hitting a small 8-inch plate at 600 with 15x magnification. I was able to read the mirage for wind calls quite well. Dialing firing solutions and hold-overs both worked as expected. The icing on the cake for me was winning a wild card stage where they put a balloon on a string at 600 yards and I was able to pop it.
2ND UPDATE:
This will likely be my last data point for this scope. I ended up buying another PST Gen II and played musical scopes on my rifles. The 3-15x went on my 223 and I picked up a 5-25x mil/mil with the EBR-7c reticle - which by the way is absolutely phenomenal. I wanted to update my post because in my initial review I noted that the turrets were soft in the first several MOA of elevation and then became solid clicks. In my new Viper PST Gen II 5-25 this is not the case at all... The turrets are super crisp the entire way around and tracking has certainly been accurate as I have tall-target tested both scopes. Clicks are still not Razor HD Gen II quality, but for an optic that was purchased below $1,000 this is probably my favorite item on the market. Still highly recommended!!!" — Bill Bailey

Get it from Amazon now: $1,199.00 & FREE Returns

 

3. Vortex Optics Diamondback First Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


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

Helpful review: "This is a great mid range scope. It’s by no means comparable to a similar spec Leopold, but I didn’t expect that. So I wasn’t let down. There. That’s said. At 100 and 200 yards the target is crisp and clean with a little adjustment of the parallax. And with a little fine tuning of the diopter, you can see clearly far past that at 24x.
Sighting in is a little trickier at 100 at 24x than your typical 3x9 scope just because of magnification, so ensure you get a competent gun shop to bore sight you’re rifle for you as far as possible. Don’t let bass pro do it. They bore sight to about 10 yards and usually don’t adjust windage and elevation because as they have told me, “we aren’t gunsmiths”. But once you get a good solid bore sight then ensure your parallax is set correctly with no movement in the scope and proceed accordingly. It took me a while I’ll admit. But once in, from a lead sled the groups were great.
As for light, this thing is no Leopold but comes awfully close for 1/3 the money. As soon as I can see what I’m trying to aim at in the morning out of a deer stand, within 10-15 minutes I can see it clearly through the scope. Same goes at dusk. When I can’t see through my scope anymore, I’ve got about 10 minutes of useable light left to pack up and get out of my tree stand and head on back to camp.
This scope shines from 9x to 16x. Really clear. With very little parallax adjustment needed between magnifications in this range.
It works well for making adjustments on the fly at the range as well, to tighten up groups and what not. I have never shot past 200 so I am not to familiar with bullet drop or wind compensation using the tactical reticle.
Scope itself seems to be built well. I have hunted in soaking rain and never noticed any clouding while hunting, or had any problems the next time I unpacked my rifle. Turrets are solid and require steady pressure to turn. Glass was super clean and very impressive when first purchased and has stayed that way with simply using flip up covers. Comes with a sunshade I have yet to use as I hunt and shoot targets mainly in Tennessee and Georgia.
So. I like this glass a good bit and am impressed by its value for money, even though I would prefer the much better low light performance of the far more expensive Leopold, I’d save the money and get this.
That being said, I wish I’d of spent a couple of hundred more dollars and purchased the same specs on a model with a red illuminated reticle. After getting used to the bright red reticle on my AR-15, I am now so accustomed to the illumination that I have a little trouble seeing the hash marks on this scope now. But I don’t think Vortex offered such an option on a 6x24x50 then.
So all and all: Good clear bright glass in the sun. Works pretty well in low light. Built solid. Excellent turrets. Good fine tune diopter adjustments. Big frame looks great on any rifle. Really could use a throw lever for getting that magnification dial around, but those can be purchased. But for the money, it really can’t be be beaten and still get a lifetime warranty." — Austin Nelson

Get it from Amazon now: $399.99 & FREE Returns

 

4. Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: A solid one-piece tube with a hard anodized finish creates a shockproof and durable scope while helping camouflage the shooter's position.

Helpful review: "This was a hard call, but I own the Diamondback AND Diamondback HP models, and I am comparing the two. That may not be the most fair comparison, but it's why I gave this 4 vice 5 stars--the HP model spoiled me.
Look, if you can find this on sale between 150-170, then buy it. It's a great scope in it's own right--especially for a 4-12x40 scope (THIS model might benefit from the 50mm occular). Knobs are easy to turn, turrets adjust with strong audible clicks, good glass, and it holds its zero--not to mention the warranty [if it breaks in ANY way--you drop it out of a tree onto rocks, gets busted in an avalanche, wife beats you over the head with it until it snaps in half (the scope, not your head--they can't warranty your head)]. It performs as well as any other scope in it's range. I would rather have this than a similar Burris, Bushnell Legend Ultra, or Leupold VX1--those are really this scope's competition. I'd rather have a Bushnell Elite or a VX-2, both of which have significantly less glare in the last few minutes of legal light.
To be fair, the glass is crisp and clear with good contrast and it's at or near the top of its class. The Athlon Talos gives similar performance with better features and the same warranty. Hopefully that inspires Vortex to step up its game a bit. Give us Diamondback HP glass at or below the current price point and Vortex would stop losing market share. Vortex has grown complacent, in my opinion.
The real issue I have with these vice the HP, like I mentioned, is the performance at very first or last light with the sun in front or behind you. It causes too much flare/glare for my taste and can be difficult to acquire your target (maybe it's my eyes going bad). If the choice between these two is a matter of $30-50, then it's a no brainer--get the souped up model. It's when that difference goes between 90-140 that I'd be hard pressed to justify that--but that's just me.
UPDATE:
Vortex apparently discontinued the HP models, feeding my image of them having grown complacent. They have also raised the price of the Diamondback without giving any commensurate rise in performance. At this price point, Vortex is competing against the new Leupold VX-Freedom line, which has VX2 glass at VX1 prices. So Leupold has learned to innovate due to pressure from Vortex. Vortex will need to do the same. Until they do, I'll spend my money on better glass or better features. It's all about value for your dollar and Vortex is slipping behind the curve.
I have almost all the guns I REALLY love already dressed up with nicer scopes. For those that I take to the range, or just aren't my "go to" guns I automatically grab when I head out, these do fine. For my kids guns? This is (when it's on sale) a hard one to beat to introduce your kids to the fact that the $35 scope is not the bargain you think.
No one can tell you how to spend your money. If you NEED a 4-12x and you can't spend the extra, then get this. If this is cheaper than the 3-9x40mm DBack, yeah, I'd probably go with this one too. If I could have the HP instead of the regular, I'd do it. Your next jump up is to the Viper. However, at Viper prices, I have found many better bargains with superior optics.
BOTTOM LINE:
This is a solid scope with optics and features that make it better than some others in its class. Good glass, but you get a real step up with the HP if you can spring for it. At the end of the day, buy the best glass you can afford. I've never heard anyone I know complain about spending money on good glass. Poor glass? You bet. This is NOT, however, poor glass. It's in the class of scopes that TO ME, represent the minimum level of acceptable scope." — Warren Putnam

Get it from Amazon now: $299.00 & FREE Returns

 

5. Vortex Optics Viper Second Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: Side knob for quick and easy adjustments (with range numbers visible while in the shooting position).

Helpful review: "I bought this scope after months of research. I wouldn't pay the $1500 for a comparable Leopold. After putting around 300 rounds through my Savage model 10 with this scope mounted I can say it is impressive. Not just impressive for the price, but impressive all around. Glass is as clear as the Nikon that I had previously, and every function of the scope works well. I even emailed vortex to see if painting the scope would void or alter the warranty in any way and got a response in less than 24 hours stating that it wouldn't. I would recommend Vortex scopes to anyone." — Willy
Trending review: "Mil Dot reticle is excellent for long range shooting, that's why I bought if for my Savage 338 Lapua Magnum. After zeroed the rifle, I concerned two things: 1. Is 20x crisp clear enough? 2. Can this scope hold zero @ 50 rounds of 338 LM? They turned to be positive very soon, after three times of range shooting, the scope proves itself to be clear @ 20x and sturdy @ the multiple recoils of the 338 LM. The best benefit cost ratio in the high powered scope market." — Sleepy Guy
Reassuring review: "Quality of optics appears very good. I was able to focus the scope clearly. I have it mounted on a .300 Remington Ultra Mag with a one-piece mount. The system works extremely well. The crosshairs could possibly be the slightest bit darker. I wondered if the field of view might be a bit narrow in the field, but I never felt that way under any conditions through the fall." — TheOne
Most-discussed review: "I just got back from the range sighting in my new scope and I love it so far. It's only a 100 yard range, but everything was crystal clear, even with it set to 20X. I didn't even need a spotting scope to clearly see where every bullet hit. After sighting it in, I zeroed it, then tested it to see how it would hold zero. Every time I came back to zero it was spot on. There is a range in the south part of town that goes out to 800 yards. I'll be going there next week and will update this review." — FFournier
Favorite review: "Awesome scope. Replaced a leupold vx III with this scope for more magnification on my 7mm Remote Mag. To my surprise, this scope was more clear than my Leupold. The parallax adjustment is amazing. Set it on 20 X look out 200 yards and while looking through the scope change the parallax from 50 to 200 and watch the scope draw out every ounce of inconsistency in the picture. Very very pleased. Best scope for the money no doubt." — AZ
Updated review: "Alaska, Oregon and Idaho approved! Great scope. Smooth adjustments and parallax knob was calibrated spot on. Even in lower light situations this scope stays crisp and clear out to 20x. With the shorter eye relief I wouldn't put this on a heavy recoiling magnum. I have it on a .308 and love it. I would buy again and I would recommend. Cheers" — AK

Get it from Amazon now: $499.00 & FREE Returns

 

6. Vortex Optics Venom First Focal Plane


best rifle scopes

Credit: Amazon.com


Highlight: The First Focal Plane EBR-7C reticle gives you accurate holds at any magnification, and an included throw lever allows for fast transitions between magnifications.

Helpful review: "This is a good quality scope. A bit heavy for hunting on a wooden stock rifle. Main issue is the dials are pretty stiff, which makes quick adjustments difficult, and the reticle markings are too fine for my tastes. Hard to use. I am going to upgrade to an illuminated reticle and see if that helps. Great scope for the money, just wasn’t for me." — N.M.
Trending review: "Very nice optic. Easy to use and good lens quality. Performed well in its first two groups at 100yds with 6.5CM 26” barrel. Center is first group. Too right is corrected second grouping. Easy half MOA." — TheRush
Reassuring review: "Let me start by saying this scope is worth every penny (5x25x56). I've have been looking for a scope to get to 700 yards and beyond, of good quality and without breaking the bank. The glass here is A1 crystal clear. I have it mounted on my Mk12 that I built and it's awesome. I can hit the wings off a fly lol." — L.B.
Most-discussed review: "I picked this up because I'm cheap, but the scope isn't! Sure it's not a Strike Eagle, but for the money it does the job all right. It has a Zero Stop, and large turrets with nice clicks and throw lever for zoom. Again, if you were looking for more, you wouldn't be looking at this model. For this price, reticle and options, it competes very well!" — T.S.
Updated review: "Mounted on my rifle and sighted in at the range. Click adjustments are precise, parallax works well and the magnification ring turns smoothly. Love the reticle with the small dot center - it makes for very precise aiming. Seems to be a little brighter than the 6-24x56 FFP scope it replaced." — Mike S.

Get it from Amazon now: $499.00 & FREE Returns

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