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If you think you have to give up world-class brands to spend blue-collar prices on a rifle scope, then you'd be wrong.
Let's face it, there are just some hunters that will never even bat an eyelid at a rifle scope under $300 because of this false reason.
Too bad for them, they don't know what they're missing out on. Lucky for you, we have our lineup to help you find the best rifle scope under 300 dollars so you don't miss out too!
Top Low Budget Hunting Scopes Under $300
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12X40||CHECK PRICE|
|Primary Arms 4-14X44||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24X50 AO||CHECK PRICE|
|Monstrum G3 6-24X50||CHECK PRICE|
|Mueller Tactical 8-32X44||CHECK PRICE|
|Primary Arms SLX 1-6x SFP ACSS||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||CHECK PRICE|
If you don't have more than a few hundred bucks in your pocket, there's good news. The rifle scopes in this low budget category cater to a whole range of shooters from highly-reputable brands. You might want to gift a scope to your entry level son or perhaps a friend new to guns and optics.
The neat thing about the variety of low budget scopes out there is that even if you're a seasoned hunter and you're just looking for a good deal - the low budget market caters to you too. In deciding what scopes made the top 5, we looked at quite a few things: quality of lens coatings, level of difficulty to focus and sight in, ability to hold zero, and of course, cost.
Low budget rifle scopes are no-fuss, practical, and easy to use devices that deserve a spot on your "must buy" list.
8 Best Rifle Scopes Under $300
1. Vortex Crossfire II 6-18X44 AO Rifle Scope - Best Overall
The Crossfire II is a best seller series for plenty o' reasons with price being the first. Affordable, high quality, and backed by an industry-best warranty, you can't go wrong with what could be the best rifle scope under $300.
- Adjustable Objective
- Illuminated reticle
- High magnification
- Image quality at max power
As an entry-level scope, the Crossfire II series sets the standard. This model is the 6-18x44 with AO. With such high magnification, what are the image quality issues? With FMC optics, it has the best optical coatings for entry-level, however, it would've been nice to see some HD elements to offset the blurriness seen at high power - but, that would put it into a higher price bracket.
This model features an AO (Adjustable Objective) that allows the scope to be focused for various distances and eliminates parallax. It also has the V-Brite reticle that has the V-Plex reticle as the base with an illuminated, floating, center dot.
Powered with a CR2032 battery, the center dot can be adjusted with multiple brightness levels. Crossfires with this feature will find the illumination turret on top of the eyepiece bell.
As is usual for a Vortex scope, it's constructed with a single-piece 1" tube made from aircraft-grade aluminum. It's fully fog, water, and shockproof to handle the abuses of bad weather and harsh recoil.
The scope has 50 MOA elevation and 50 MOA windage adjustment travel with 1/4 MOA clicks and 15 MOA revolutions with the ability to reset your zero. The Crossfire weighs 19.6 oz and is 13.5" long, so it's no child's toy.
Backed by the Vortex VIP Warranty, the customer always comes first. This warranty has hallmark features that sets the standard in the industry - unlimited lifetime, transferable, and no proof of purchase needed - ever.
With long-ranging power and a reticle to pinpoint your aim, what more could you ask for in a rifle scope under 300?
2. Leupold VX-Freedom 4-12X40 Riflescope - Best Lightweight Scope
Are you disappointed to have seen the VX-1 and VX-2 series of scopes shoved out the door? Don't be. To replace the discontinued Leupold scopes is the VX-Freedom series that are now being lauded as the best entry-level line of optics on the Leupold shelves. One of the new Freedom scopes is the 4-12x40 model that has nothing but raving reviews about it.
- Tri-MOA reticle
- 80 MOA adjustment travel
- Finger click turrets
- Mushy turrets
The Freedom 4-12x scope is making a lot of shooters happy. Looking for the compromise between budget, low prices, and high quality isn't an easy thing to do. This is where Leupold comes in with an entry-level scope with high power and full-size potential. The 4-12x might not have a side focus, but then if it did, it'd be out of this price range.
What it does have is 1/4 MOA finger adjustable turrets. Yes, we tout the finger click feature because there's nothing more annoying than having to dig around for a coin or screwdriver to make an adjustment. For entry-level, you know we are lovin' the finger clicks.
However, it seems to be a trend for the Freedom series of scopes to have less than crisp turrets. There's been few complaints that the clicks are too fluid and easy to use.
The Tri-MOA reticle is a big hit too. It's easy to see and use with its 1 MOA hash marks with 10 MOA in each direction. But, if you're not after the stadia-line reticle, there's no current option to go with the Duplex reticle.
The 1" tube still allows a wide 80 MOA of adjustment travel in both elevation and windage. Who needs an illuminated reticle when you have a SFP reticle and Leupold's Twilight Light Management System to extend your hunt 10 more minutes during last legal light?
Having the freedom to buy Made-in-the-USA scopes with a budget of a few hundred bucks may be the best selling point Leupold can make. Hunters and huntresses, the VX-Freedom series.
3. Primary Arms 4-14X44 Riflescope - Best Illuminated Reticle Scope
This 4-14x44 scope from Primary Arms is part of the Silver Series of rifle scopes that paved the way for the brand to enter the world of FFP (first focal plane) scopes. Every feature on this scope is will not go unused. Every nook and cranny on this scope has been engineered to bring home the trophy rack, reduce your pest population, and even mil targets with the ranging reticle. How much does it cost? Just enough for you to afford it.
- Illuminated reticle
- FFP reticle
- .308 reticle
- 30 mm tube
- Build quality issues
There's so much going on in the 4-14x44 scope, where do we start? The ACSS HUD DMR .308 reticle is obviously designed for .308 Winchester loads with its illuminated center horseshoe and chevron aiming point. Take advantage of rapid target acquisition with the 6 brightness illumination settings.
With an FFP reticle, you can depend on having accurate subtension data at any magnification range. You can even mil a distance of a target of known size, holdover for up to 1000 yards, hold for wind, and track moving targets up to 600 yards with this reticle. With a 30 mm tube, you have 17.4 MIL of adjustment travel for both elevation and windage with 1/10 MIL clicks.
For a feature-packed scope such as this, it's right around where we expect it to be in terms of weight - 24 ounces. But, it's not the heft that we're curious about when it comes to complaints. There seems to be internal erector spring issues with the scope being unable to hold zero. Fortunately, this isn't the norm, and the scope is backed by the brand with a 3-year warranty.
If you're out to outfit your 308, do it with this scope. It is the best .308 rifle scope under $300 and is worth toting around!
4. Vortex Crossfire II 6-24X50 AO - Best Long Range Rifle Scope
As you may know, there are many models in the Crossfire II series of rifle scopes, but the 6-24x50 model is the largest and most powerful of them all.
- High magnification
- 30 mm tube
- BDC reticle
- Long eye relief
- Turret/reticle issues
There's not much to whine about on the 6-24x50 model, but if there is an issue, it's been reported the turrets may be a little loose causing the reticle to come out of focus or "jump." However, backed by the VIP warranty, these zeroing and/or reticle issues have been addressed.
Another thing to note is its high magnification range and FMC optics with no special HD/ED glass elements to amplify clarity and detail at max power. Fortunately, you only need to power up to 18x, indicated by a red dot on the power ring, to use the BDC reticle for holdovers.
The Dead-Hold BDC reticle has holdovers hashmarks out to 500 yards and windage holdovers in 2 MOA increments. Although turrets are in 1/4 MOA clicks with 15 MOA revolutions, it has limited 40 MOA elevation adjustment travel.
The main difference with this model over others in the Crossfire II series is its 30 mm tube usually built for more adjustment travel. In this case, it seems it's been made to provide strength to the overall system.
With long eye relief of 4", there's no fear of kissing the scope in the way that leaves you bruised and bleeding. Many users have employed this scope for long-range target shooting and hunting in the field. Left satisfied with quality and clarity even though it's an entry-level model, they say it's more than worth it for the price of under $300.
5. Monstrum G3 6-24X50 - Best Tactical Scope
This is the most expensive first focal plane (FFP) rifle scope Monstrum Tactical offers - the G3. With extreme high power, FFP reticle, and brass mechanics, the Monstrum may be a high-end scope in the wrong price range.
- FFP reticle
- 30 mm tube
- Brass mechanics
- Requires retorquing if experiencing shift in POI
It seems there may be shifts in POI (Point of Impact) after firing off a few rounds. The fix to this has been making sure the scope has been torqued down to specs and then retorquing if you have POI shifts while trying to zero. This is not a common complaint, but it is one, nonetheless.
For a scope under 300 bucks, it features an FFP reticle which is surprising since it's usually only seen on high-end scopes. It also features an illuminated custom Type-H reticle designed in-house by Monstrum. It has 20 MOA dots in 1 MOA increments on both sides of the center dot for windage holdovers. The elevation crosshair features 30 MOA dots for holdovers with Monstrum claiming over 1500 yards of scope range. With 1/4 MOA clicks, it has a max travel adjustment of 80 MOA.
Now, to see to its specs. . . It has a 30 mm tube, weighs a ton at 30 oz, and is 15.75" long. It has excellent long eye relief of 4-4.5", and it features an AO for focus and parallax removal. You can reset your zero, and impressively, lock in your turrets to avoid accidental movement.
The G3 comes with 30 mm medium scope rings, 1x CR2032A battery, flip-up lens cover, and a honeycomb sunshade - all for under 300 bucks!
6. Mueller Tactical Side Focus 8-32X44 - Best Mil-Dot Scope
This Mueller has all the right features for a tactical scope. Tall, exposed turrets, fine MOA adjustments, and parallax correction - yep, it's really the best tactical rifle scope under $300.
- FMC optics
- Mil-dot reticle
- 30 mm tube
- 1/8 MOA turrets
- Difficult to use at max power
- MIL/MOA turrets
To preface this review, the Mueller Tactical scope is an entry-level model with matching performance. Its flaws lie with its high power of 32x where magnification benefits may be negated due to the very small exit pupil at that magnification and sensitive eye relief of 4".
If you're willing to take a second longer to find the sweet spot at max power, you'll appreciate the features the Mueller has to offer. The tactical reticle has 5 mil-dots from the center of the scope on every crosshair. Adjustments are in 1/8 MOA for fine-tuning your groups, so obviously this is a MIL/MOA scope system and may be difficult to zero for those with no experience with the conversions it takes to get on target.
Once you're zeroed, you can hit steel at 500 yards, and test your skills out even further thanks to the clarity and resolution of the FMC optics and quality glass. According to users, this scope has no issues keeping its zero. It also has a side focus for parallax removal and focusing from 10 yards to infinity. Although most tactical scopes have glass-etched reticles, we believe these are wire crosshairs.
Standard lens covers and a 3" screw-in sunshade are included with the buy. If you have any troubles with the scope, it's covered with a Limited Lifetime Warranty, but you must be aware that although it's owner transferable, you must include the original proof of purchase with the claim. Additionally, you're responsible for pre-paid shipping to and from Mueller Optics.
7. Primary Arms Gen III SLX 1-6x24 SFP
Whether it’s going on a bolt-action rifle or an AR-15, the Primary Arms 1-6x SFP LPVO is a scope that’s worth the money with features that make it an everyday champ. I recommend it for hunting, target shooting, and mid-range shooting.
- SFP reticle
- Illuminated ACSS reticle
- Capped, low-profile turrets
- 30 mm tube
- 800-yard holdovers
- Quality control issues
There’s always some level of quality control problems with optics, and the SLX LPVO has a few complaints from illumination to reticle issues. These are covered by defects in materials or workmanship and can be remedied via Primary Arm’s Lifetime Warranty. Fortunately, complaints of this nature are far and few between.
Though I really like FFP reticles, this LPVO has an SFP reticle which has benefits of its own including remaining highly visible at 1x power. The ACSS reticle can take you out to 800 yards and has a few more capabilities that you mightn’t ever use, but I think it’s nice to have them.
The reticle is glass-etched, so you can still see it even when the illumination is off.
It’s designed to be a set-it and forget-it kind of scope. I say that because it has low-profile, capped turrets. You’re not going to be dialing up a storm with the PA LPVO, so I recommend it for CQB engagements say for home defense, competition, hunting, and target shooting.
For the money, the PA SLX 1-6x scope is a worthy buy. It has solid quality, good features, and great performance.
8. Leupold FX-II UltraLight 2.5X20 Wide Duplex – Best Hunting Rifle Scope
Many carbine, lever-action, and rimfire shooters find it difficult to find the right scope without mounting issues. The FX-II UltraLight scope is not just for the full-size, big-boy rifles, it’s also well-suited to the shorter, finnicky-mounting, lightweight ones too.
- Fixed power
- Wide Duplex reticle
- Fixed power
You should first know that the FX line of Leupold scopes are fixed power scopes. With that out of the way, the FX-II is a fixed 2.5x scope. If you can call this a flaw, it may be because it’s too low-powered for your needs for longer range or larger seeing. Since variable scopes are all the rage, the FX series of scopes takes what we think is a bold approach in a bigger-is-always-better society. If you’re shooting around 100 yards give or take another 50 yards, you’ll be fine with the FX-II.
Its primary benefit is its compact and lightweight size. It’s why it makes for an exceptional pairing to scouting setups, carbines, lever-actions, and more. It can handle kick too since it’s shockproof, and oh yeah, the 4.9” of eye relief is obviously a big advantage.
With the Wide Duplex reticle as the only available reticle for this model, you’re limited somewhat. But then again, this isn’t a scope that’s designed to be fiddled with as it’s all about instant target acquisition and speed. It doesn’t feature finger adjustable turrets and you shouldn’t need bullet drop for the distances this scope is designed for. Keep it simple, buddy.
The Leupold FX-II UltraLight is a scope worth checking out. You may love it so much that you may just buy one for your Mauser M77 .358, Browning Semi-Automatic 22, or Marlin 336 lever-action carbine. Get the idea? It’s great for close-range work and any rifle you use for the job.
What to Look for in a Rifle Scope Under $300
In this price range, you're looking at the top of the line entry level rifle scopes in the market. You won't have to deal with extra technologies and this and that feature that can complicate use. Sticking with the basic features is exactly what you want, but you also want quality where those fundamental features can maximize scope use. Let us show you where you want to see quality and where you can go without.
The higher the quality, the better.
A rifle scope under 300 won't have any advanced, state-of-the-art glass elements you see in higher-end models. However, as the upper end of entry-level models, the glass and coatings provide for brighter, clearer, and sharper sight pictures than cheaper scopes.
You still may experience chromatic aberration and/or some fuzziness at the edges of the FOV, but this is usually only noticeable at high magnification where the optics can't keep up with the demands of high power.
At the end of the day, in this price range, sight picture quality is largely dependent on where you buy your scope from. Staying brand specific will ensure you get quality glass.
What is ED Glass? Check out our explanation here.
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||No|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||No|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||No|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||No|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||No|
The more, the better.
The bad news is, specialized and exterior, protective coatings aren't introduced in this price range. The good news is, every scope in this price range must have FMC (Fully Multi-Coated) optics - the top tier of coatings in the industry. If your potential scope doesn't have it, don't consider it, especially if it has high magnification, small apertures, or if you need it for hunting at low light.
To read more on lens coatings, see our guide here.
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||FMC|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||FMC|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||FMC|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||FMC|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||FMC|
If you're going high-powered, shop for the most practical and accurate reticles you can find if you need ballistic data.
There are going to be many different types of BDC (Bullet Drop Compensating) reticles, and some may be specifically designed for a brand's use. You must also research if that reticle is calibrated for a specific caliber to use holdover's accurately.
However, having a ballistic reticle is a matter of preference. Many hunters with a 3-9x40 scope won't demand the same type of reticles that a long-range target shooter will require. FFP reticles are rarely seen with this budget, but they exist, so be on the lookout for that if you decide on a long-ranging BDC reticle.
Illuminated reticles are introduced in this price range of under $300, and it can aid with fast target acquisition, especially at low light.
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||Dead-Hold BDC MOA||Yes||No|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||FFP ACSS HUD DMR .308||Yes||Yes|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||Dead-Hold BDC MOA||No||No|
|Monstrum G3||Custom Type-H||No||Yes|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||ACSS SFP||Yes||Yes|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||Wide Duplex||Yes||No|
There will be a huge variety of magnification and aperture configurations in this price range. This literally means you have the market at your feet, and there will be a scope that will fit your needs.
Generally, the higher in magnification and the larger the aperture, the more the scope will cost. What you need to consider with high power scopes is if the optics can keep up. If the scope is lacking in quality glass and coatings, it will negate any high-powered magnification benefits. The idea is to see clearly and see more detail.
To achieve ultimate sight picture quality, it may mean scaling down in magnification or choosing a scope from a brand with a better reputation for glass quality.
|Product||Magnification||Objective Lens Size|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||6-18x||44 mm|
|Leupold VX-Freedom||4-12x||40 mm|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||4-14x||44 mm|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||6-24x||50 mm|
|Monstrum G3||6-24x||50 mm|
|Mueller Tactical||8-32x||44 mm|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||1-6x||24 mm|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||2.5x||20 mm|
Eye Relief 3"+:
Going cheap doesn't mean you have to go without decent eye relief. Your rifle scope is going to let you know what a real black eye is if you don't pay attention to this feature.
Fortunately, there are scopes in our lineup that have 4" or more of eye relief without moving into the scout scope category. If you're not convinced that 4" can do you right, or if you have a high-kicking rifle, check out our long eye relief rifle scopes to find one that won't leave you bruised up.
Also, you might be interested in knowing the exit pupil specs. It may provide some indication of lowlight performance.
|Product||Eye Relief||Exit Pupil|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||3.7 inches||7.3 – 2.4 mm|
|Leupold VX-Freedom||4.9 – 3.7 inches||10 – 3.3 mm|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||3.22 – 3.14 inches||11 – 3.1 mm|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||4.0 inches||8.3 – 2.0 mm|
|Monstrum G3||4.5 – 4 inches||8.3 – 2.0 mm|
|Mueller Tactical||4.0 inches||5.5 – 1.3 mm|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||3.5 – 3.3 inches||24 – 4 mm|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||4.9 inches||8 mm|
Using and abusing this scope is a reality. Make sure it can handle the terrain and recoil for your firearm and style of hunting/shooting.
Part of making sure it will hold up amounts to its ability to withstand impacts and shock. In this price range, people don't expect much, but they do expect that their scope will hold zero. Rugged, strong, and one-piece tube bodies housed with double-spring tension systems can ensure your reticle and turrets will stay in place.
While argon-purging isn't seen in this price range, nitrogen-purged scopes is a necessity for fogproof benefits against condensation and temperature changes. Watertight scopes with O-ring seals ensure internal systems are kept dry when a downpour happens in the hunt. The only thing you need to worry about is whether you can withstand the cold or see through dew-laden lenses.
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-18x||13.5 inches||1 inch||19.7 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Leupold VX-Freedom||12.49 inches||1 inch||12.2 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Primary Arms SLX FFP||12.9 inches||30 mm||23.9 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Vortex Crossfire II 6-24x||14.5 inches||30 mm||23.6 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Monstrum G3||16.25 inches||30 mm||30 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Mueller Tactical||15.87 inches||30 mm||32 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Primary Arms SLX LPVO||10 inches||30 mm||16.9 oz||Yes||Yes|
|Leupold FX-II UltraLight||8 inches||1 inch||6.5 oz||Yes||Yes|
Minimal Cost for Maximum Gain!
This is the high-end for entry level rifle scopes. All the quality is in the fundamental features of the scope. If you know what to keep your eyes peeled for, you won't be duped into buying a dud.
Good thing for you, there are plenty of world-class brands that specialize in this price range and quality. It's up to you to decide which brand you're going to stay loyal to. No more sitting on the fence, it's time to choose a side!
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2 thoughts on “Best Rifle Scope Under $300: We Review 2023's Top Quality, Hunting & Long Range Scopes”
I have gotten to where I enjoy your approach and sensibility of your reports. From my perspective of exactly 75 years of hunting all across the US and every type of game and target shooting outside of nutsy long range , I have a practical approach that is not tainted by the cosmopolitan generation . I am very open minded and like to learn new things . I am a retired marketing manager for a fortune 500 and understand the mystique of the BS factor very very well . Things like holdover with FFP vs SFP is simply BS for people that understand how to handle holdover at least in the world of hunting . Target shooting is different . How did we ever survive all those years . $300 or even $400 is a lot to pay for scope but prices are up . The value of a good scope in this range is not an entry level ( what ever that even means ? ) unless you classify entry level as how much money you want to throw away .
Boyd, that's an amazing way to spend 75 years of your life. I agree, $300 and more for a riflescope is a lot of money, and many have gone up in price.
I classify entry-level as budget-friendly, without additional features (like Zero Stop, locking turrets, illumination, etc), and with basic but necessary quality (like fog/waterproof, coated lenses, etc.).
There are some very popular scopes in this article and they generally fit my entry-level criteria. To get a few more features will usually push you up in cost. What one person wants from a scope is always a little bit different to someone else's. Thanks for the comment.