Best Rifle Scope Under $500: We Review 2018 & 2019’s Top Mid Range Scopes

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Scopes Less Than 500You can still expect the best quality from a scope in the middle ground price range.

Just because they’re priced around what we’d realistically spend, it doesn’t mean they’re cheap or temporary optics. In fact, they’re exceptional optics for the money.

If you want to cash in on top-notch brands like Leupold, Nikon, and Vortex, your budget of under $500  is going to go a long way!


QUICK LIST: 5 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 In 2019

  1. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40 Duplex
  2. Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 EBR-2C MOA
  3. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 ATMR MOA – Best Under $400
  4. Nikon Monarch 3 4-16X42 BDC
  5. Nikon Prostaff 7 4-16X42 BDC


Best Rifle Scope Under $500

Every intermediate and pro hunter can tell you that they’ve owned a rifle scope in this price range. It might still be their favorite scope to hunt with to this day. That’s because they’ll last, perform well, and remain accurate even after multiple hunting seasons.

If a beginner gets to pick their first-time buy from this price range, it’s definitely going to be a splurge. But, why not start off strong by looking over some of the best rifle scopes under $500 dependable scopes in the market? You’ve got nothing to lose with A-class brands catering to your scope needs!

tt-table__imageLeupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40
  • Magnification: 3.5-10X 40mm
  • Reticle: Duplex, Boone & Crockett
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 4.4-3.6 inches / 11.43-4.0 mm
tt-table__imageVortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: EBR-2C MOA
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 3.9 inches / 8.3-2.1mm
tt-table__imageAthlon Argos BTR 6-24X50
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: ATMR FFP IR MOA
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 3.3 inches / 8.2-2.1 mm
tt-table__imageNikon Monarch 3 4-16X42 BDC
  • Magnification: 4-16X 42mm
  • Reticle: BDC
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 4 inches / 2.6–10.5 mm
tt-table__imageNikon Prostaff 7 4-16X42 BDC
  • Magnification: 4-16X 42mm
  • Reticle: BDC
  • Eye Relief / Exit Pupil: 3.6–4 inches / 2.6–10.5 mm



Our 5 Top Rifle Scopes Less Than $500


Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40

Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Rifle Scope
72 Reviews
Leupold VX-3i 3.5x10x40mm Rifle Scope
  • Leupold Model #170680: VX-3i 3. 5-10x40mm with Duplex reticle and Matte finish.
  • 100% Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof.
  • Diamond Coat 2 - Ion-assist lens coating for higher light transmission and the greatest level of abrasion resistance.

The Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10X40 is a beauty of a scope that has many various reticle options including the Boone & Crockett and an illuminated reticle.

It also features Leupold’s Twilight Max Light Management System and Diamondcoat 2 lens technology that gives you the best, clearest, and sharpest image possible, as well as a fast-focus eyepiece with locking mechanism.

These features combine to give you a great all-purpose rifle scope with the Leupold stamp of quality, accuracy, and premium usability.

Whether you are in a wooded forest, or the open plains, the VX-3i will help you get the job done for under 500 bucks.

Read Full Review



Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 EBR-2C MOA

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes -...
163 Reviews
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes -...
  • The Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane 6-24x50 stands at the intersection of precision and value, delivering an impressive array of features and performance.
  • Extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses transmit a crisp, bright sight picture. The first focal plane, glass-etched reticle keep subtensions accurate...
  • The precision-glide erector system uses premium components in the zoom lens to ensure smooth magnification changes under the harshest conditions.

Vortex sells themselves short with their “relatively simple design” and “back-to-basics” description of the Diamondback Tactical rifle scope.  It’s anything but a modest scope.  It has some of the best features you could ever ask for in this price range.  Thanks to Vortex’s humble approach, you get a scope with premium features for less than 500 buckaroos.  Seriously, why would anyone ever spend a penny more?

  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • 30 mm tube
  • High magnification

  • No Zero Stop feature

The Diamondback series of optics have long been known to be affordable, high-performing, and everyone’s go-to product when they want value in their buy.  This rifle scope is the longest-ranging scope in the Diamondback Tactical series with it’s high magnification of 6-24x and a large 50 mm aperture.

To make use of that huge objective lens, the scope has FMC (fully multi-coated) optics and XD (Extra-low dispersion) glass elements to provide that iconic, crisp, and clear image quality Vortex is known for.  The glass-etched reticle is in the first focal plane (FFP) that sits in front of the magnifying assembly.  Zoom in and out and depend on consistent subtension values regardless of the power range you’re in.

This model has the EBR-2C MOA reticle with hashmarks all over the place – neatly displayed of course.  With a 30 mm tube body allowing a generous 65 MOA in both windage and elevation adjustment travel, and a detailed MOA windage reticle, you can dial out to 1000 yards and beyond.

For a 6-24×50 scope, it’s lighter in weight than other comparable scopes, weighing in at only 24.6 ounces.   As is usual for a Vortex, we could go on about its many features, and yes, there’s more.

For as much as this scope has, no one has a right to complain about a lack of this or that for its low price.  But, a zero stop would be the cherry on top.  Just sayin’.  Would we buy this scope as is?  Day in and day out, all day long.



Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50 – Best Under $400

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope , 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm...
61 Reviews
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR , Riflescope , 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm...
  • First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the specially designed reticle that shrinks or grows along with your target as...
  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.
  • Reticle etched on the glass that provides excellent backing support for complex reticle design and offers great durability and much higher shock resistance to recoil

Has your confidence levels moved you into the PRS arena?  Need a scope more than good enough for competition use?  Are you stuck with a tight budget?  Turn to Athlon since they have the Argos BTR.  It will see you through PRS competitions and more.

  • Price
  • FFP reticle
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Glass-etched reticle
  • One piece tube body

  • No Zero Stop

The Argos BTR long-range rifle scope is PRS ready for the day you pull the trigger on buying one.  The buying part is easy since it’s conveniently right within your budget.  It might just be one of the best budget rifle scopes to date.   Why would we give it such high praise?  Let us enlighten you.

It has everything tactical about it and stays true to its function.  Tall and exposed turrets are audible and positive when making adjustments.  Another tactical feature is its glass-etched reticle that’s practically indestructible.  Being in the FFP, you can use it at any magnification.  For rapid target aiming, illuminate your reticle and get on bull’s-eye fast.

The one piece 30 mm tube body provides extra strength, robustness, and weatherproofness over multiple tube body scopes.  Extend your long range goals with the 60 MOA/18 MIL of adjustment travel for the windage and elevation turrets but don’t expect a Zero Stop in the mix.  A flaw we’ve identified is the lack of a Zero Stop, but it’s not the only scope in this price range not to have one.

Athlon says nothing about glass quality, but we can guess it’s top of the line for a scope in this price range.  With Wide Band Fully Multicoated Optics and Xtra Protective Coating layers, we can see why there are multiple reports about crystal clear glass.

After all that, it sounds like it’s a scope right up your alley to get you competition ready for the big day.



Nikon Monarch 3 4-16X42 BDC

Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Riflescope, Black, 4-16x42
48 Reviews
Nikon Monarch 3 BDC Riflescope, Black, 4-16x42
  • Featuring MONARCH 3 Eye Box Technology with 4-time zoom range and up to four Inch of eye relief
  • Adjustments are made easy with Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets
  • A quick focus eyepiece allows the shooter to instantly bring the reticle into focus
  • Ultra ClearCoat Optical System for up to 95% light transmission
  • Optimized for use with Nikon's Spot On Ballistic Match Technology

The Monarch is Nikon’s flagship optic line, and this Monarch 3 more than comes up to par. It’s got just the right amount of quality to justify its price of under $500, and you’ve also got the trusty Nikon name under its belt.

It’s outfitted with ballistic technology from the reticle and parallax correction turret to the zero reset turret and access to Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. It’s also going to deliver exceptional image quality with its fully multi-coated optics, Ultra ClearCoat, and quick focus eyepiece.

What can we say? The Monarch rightfully reigns over all other Nikons!

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Nikon Prostaff 7 4-16X42 BDC

Nikon ProStaff 7 4-16X42 BDC Riflescope
7 Reviews
Nikon ProStaff 7 4-16X42 BDC Riflescope
  • Objective lens diameter 42mm
  • Eye relief. 4"-3.7"
  • Exit pupil 4.2 mm
  • Tube diameter 30mm
  • Reticle adjustment 100 yds 1/4 inch

The Prostaff 7 4-16X42 BDC is from a favorite, dependable, and well-known brand – Nikon. This relatively new Prostaff puts you in the under $500 range and you’re getting comparable quality to Nikon’s flagship Monarch line that costs twice as much.

With a 30mm tube body, increased internal adjustment range, and zero reset turrets, this scope is a great buy. Nikon is known for their dependability without muddying up the waters of the scope industry with too many fancy trappings that devalue the functionality and simplicity of a rifle scope.

Once again, Nikon delivers an excellent mid-range rifle scope that deserves more attention than the cool guys want to give it.

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What to Look in a Rifle Scope under $500?

If you’ve seen what high-end rifle scopes look like, you’re probably thinking you’re going to lose out on a lot when spending $500 or less – not so. This middle ground price range is usually where hunters will realistically spend their cash. On that note, optics manufacturers will still pump out quality because they know that’s exactly what we’re looking for. If you want to know what quality looks like for under 500 bucks, here’s your checklist.

  • Quality glass: Includes premium glass elements Ex. ED, HD, etc.
  • Quality glass coatings: Includes prism coatings, and weather, scratch, and debris repellent coatings.
  • Ballistic reticles: Shop for the most practical and accurate reticles you can find if you need ballistic data.
  • Eye relief 3″+: Without decent eye relief, your rifle scope is going to let you know what a real black eye is.
  • Parallax correction: Going high powered and long range? Less than $500 can still land you a scope with parallax correction.
  • Durability: 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.
  • Quality warranties: Have the assurance that your rifle scope is fully covered for any unforeseen damage.


Mid-Range Isn’t Mediocre!

This might be the middle ground when it comes to budgets, but in no way does it mean mediocre quality. You’ve still got very high-end quality, but the extra features are just scaled down a notch.

The best rifle scopes under $500 are very popular because hunters feel comfortable with their performance for the money they’ve spent. They’re made to impress, last, and perform. In our books, this is a mile above mediocre.

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