8 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 In 2023

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A List of the Best Rifle Scope Under 500

Ammo - expensive.

Budget - limited.

Buying untested riflescope - scary.

It's why I put together a list of the best rifle scopes under $500 looking to squeeze out as much value as possible. I've even field-tested a few personally just to make sure they're worthy of my recommendation.

I set the criteria to glass-etched illuminated reticles, uncompromising build quality, and practical options from LPVOs to long-ranging, high magnification riflescopes.

Let's scope out my top picks.

Our Top Rifle Scope Picks Under $500

BEST FOR AR
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC3 Reticle...
BEST FOR HUNTING
Burris Signature HD 3-15x44mm 1in Plex Reticle Waterproof Shockproof Fogproof...
BEST VALUE
Maven CRS.1 - 3 - 12X40 SFP Lightweight Hunting Rifle Scope
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC3 Reticle...
Burris Signature HD 3-15x44mm 1in Plex Reticle Waterproof Shockproof Fogproof...
Maven CRS.1 - 3 - 12X40 SFP Lightweight Hunting Rifle Scope
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2,908 Reviews
80 Reviews
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BEST FOR AR
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC3 Reticle...
Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC3 Reticle...
2,908 Reviews
BEST FOR HUNTING
Burris Signature HD 3-15x44mm 1in Plex Reticle Waterproof Shockproof Fogproof...
Burris Signature HD 3-15x44mm 1in Plex Reticle Waterproof Shockproof Fogproof...
80 Reviews
BEST VALUE
Maven CRS.1 - 3 - 12X40 SFP Lightweight Hunting Rifle Scope
Maven CRS.1 - 3 - 12X40 SFP Lightweight Hunting Rifle Scope
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Every intermediate and pro hunter can tell you that they've owned a rifle scope in this price range - I have a few of my own that remain my favorite to this day. That's because they last, consistently perform well, and remain accurate even after multiple hunting seasons.

In my opinion, if a first-timer gets to pick their first scope from this price range, it's a splurge and treat. The reality is, you must start off strong if you want strong results. There's little to lose by looking over some of the best rifle scopes under $500 in the market. In this price range, you also have your pick of some of the best manufacturers!

The Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 in 2023

1. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8X24 AR-BDC3 - Best AR Scope Under $500

Range testing the Vortex SE on AR with cantilever mount
Range testing the Vortex SE FFP on AR-15 with cantilever mount

The new Strike Eagle LVPO scopes are better than ever. I personally tested the SE scope (in the FFP version) and was impressed with the optical quality at 1x and how vibrant the illumination was. Though not the exact model or reticle, they're very similar in all else.

Pros:

  • New model
  • LPVO
  • Throw lever
  • AR-BDC3 reticle
  • Increased adjustment

Cons:

  • No incremental “off”
Field-tested Strike Eagle FFP illumination knob (left) and power throw lever (right)

I think, probably the only drawback to the Strike Eagle is the lack of incremental “off” positions between the illumination intensity levels. It may seem like a small thing to be teed off about, but it makes a huge difference for convenience reasons. It would have been nice to see this on the upgraded models. Beyond that, there’s little to dislike about the LPVO.

In my opinion, the Strike Eagle 1-8x is made for speed. It comes with a thread-in throw lever for instant power changes for point-blank to long-range engagements.

Image Credit: Brownells. Enlarged image of SFP AR-BDC3 reticle (left) VS FFP EBR-8 MOA BDC reticle (right)

The new AR-BDC3 SFP reticle takes the cake in drawing your eye to the center for fast target acquisition. I found during my hands-on experience that the similar but FFP reticle (EBR-8 reticle) is small at 1x, but it's awesome at higher powers. While both are calibrated for the AR-15 5.56, you can figure out holdover points for other cartridges out to 650 yards.

The newer model also saw 40 MOA more adjustment travel, ArmorTek coatings, and improved watertightness. It’s a tough, versatile, and highly accurate scope.

If you had an older Strike Eagle and you were left wanting, I personally feel that the new model will make up for it.

2. Burris Signature HD 3-15x44 – Best Hunting Scope Under $500

Burris Signature HD 3-15x44
Image Credit - Burris

The Signature HD series incorporates modern scope features into a traditional SFP, 1” tube rifle scope to maximize the user experience while in the hunt. Burris covers the hunter with 5x zoom for chasing whitetails or looking to whack-a-mole prairie dogs from a distance.

Pros:

  • 5x zoom
  • Mid-range
  • Locking turrets
  • Zero stop
  • Side focus

Cons:

  • Compact
Burris Signature HD
Image Credit: Burris

I know it's an advantage to hunters to save on overall weight, but you will want to verify that the Signature HD will mount without much hassle. I love the 13.2” length and 20.8 oz weight, and it's obvious that others do too since some have compromised with different mounting options for long action rifles.

I really like the 5x zoom. You have 3-15x magnification that is both well-suited to many hunting scenarios from timber to the plains. With a SFP reticle, you have the option of either a Plex or Ballistic E3 Illuminated reticle. The Plex is highly visible with smaller than 1 MOA center crosshairs and 2.5 MOA bold posts.

I reckon it's a bold move to put modern features on what can be considered a "traditional" scope to cater to long-range shooters. The side focus can be adjusted from 25 yards to infinity, the exposed ¼ MOA turrets lock (push/pull) into position, and the elevation knob has a Zero Stop. Dialing in to 1000 yards can be done with the 80 MOA of adjustment travel in the 1” tube.

Burris Signature HD locking turrets and zero stop
Image Credit: Burris Signature HD push/pull locking turrets (left) and zero stop (right)

Signature rifle scopes are fog and waterproof, and they’re backed by the Forever No Questions Asked Warranty. These features are what I consider must-haves for this price point and for actual shooters who are not at a concrete bench.

3. Bushnell Match Pro 6-24X50 - Best Tactical Rifle Scope Under $500

Bushnell Match Pro scope
Image Credit: Bushnell

Looking for a budget setup for your up-coming match without compromising on performance? The Bushnell Match Pro fits this scenario like peanut butter and jelly. Not a match shooter but interested in long-range precision? It’ll work for you too.

Pros:

  • Price
  • Purpose-built
  • Deploy MIL reticle
  • FFP/Glass-etched
  • Long-range

Cons:

  • No ED glass
Bushnell Match Pro in action
Image Credit: Bushnell

Bushnell puts themselves back in favor with skeptics who have burned off the brand. The Match Pro embodies everything right about Bushnell. They’ve built a competition scope at an affordable price point without compromising performance. Granted, it doesn’t have ED glass to ensure the best optical quality, but you’ve spent less than 500 bucks, you can’t have it all.

Bushnell Match Pro FFP Deploy MIL reticle
Image Credit: Bushnell FFP Deploy MIL reticle at 6x (left) and at 24x (right)

But what the Match Pro does have is worth pounding your fists for. The Deploy MIL Etched Glass Reticle is a Christmas tree reticle – complete without being too busy. It comes with plenty of adjustment travel to hit steel at long-range and beyond distances.

Bushnell Match Pro parallax turret and waterproof body
Image Credit: Bushnell Match Pro scope parallax turret (left) and waterproof body and lens (right)

Turrets are finger resettable, lockable, and tactile. The side focus is absurdly accurate with its reference markings. It’s completely weathertight and shockproof. Just because you may be competing with a .22, it doesn’t mean it isn’t ready for the kick from a .338.

If you’re calling for distance, speed, and accuracy from a scope, Bushnell has answered that call with the Match Pro.

4. Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50 EBR-2C MOA - Best Long Range Scope Under 500

Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24x50
Image Credit: Vortex Optics

Vortex sells themselves short with their "relatively simple design" and "back-to-basics" description of the Diamondback Tactical rifle 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 spend a penny more?

Pros:

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

Cons:

  • No Zero Stop feature

The Vortex Optics Diamondback series have long been known to be affordable, high-performing, and everyone's go-to product when they want value.  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.

Vortex DB Tactical eye bell and reticle
Image Credit: Vortex DB Tactical ocular bell (left) and reticle as seen through the lens (right)

With such a huge objective lens and high power, I really like that it has FMC (fully multi-coated) optics and XD (Extra-low dispersion) glass elements. They're needed to provide that iconic, crisp, and clear image quality Vortex is known for. 

I'm a big fan of the glass-etched reticle in the first focal plane (FFP) - and from personal experience, you'll need the FFP benefits with all this high magnification.  Zoom in and out and depend on consistent subtension values regardless of the power level you're on.

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.

Vortex DB Tactical parallax correction and long range elevation turret
Image Credit: Vortex Parallax side focus (left) and exposed long-range elevation turret (right)

For a 6-24x50 scope, I am obligated to commend its ultra-light weight that comes in lighter than comparable alternatives at only 24.6 ounces.   As is usual for a Vortex, I could go on about its many features, and yes, there's more.

For as much as this scope has, I reckon there's not much to complain about for its low price point.  I think maybe a zero stop would be the cherry on top?  Just sayin'.  Would I buy this scope as is?  Day in and day out, all day long.

5. Swampfox Arrowhead 1-10X24 - Best Low-Light Rifle Scope Under $500

Swampfox LPVO duty grade durability
Image Credit: Swampfox Duty-grade, rugged 1-10x LPVO

Never heard of Swampfox? Well, they’re the newbie on the block, and of course, an LPVO is part of their offerings as is the trend with almost every brand these days. I want to scope out how it measures up.  

Pros:

  • 1-10X LPVO
  • 4-bolt throw lever
  • Dual LED illumination
  • BDC Long reticle
  • Warranty

Cons:

  • Young company

This Swampfox Arrowhead is on the extreme end for an LPVO with its 1-10x magnification, but it’s 1x performance is impressive. Its magnification is usable right up to max power with clear picture and no POI shift. To help make speedy and smooth power changes, it comes with a bolt-in throw lever – ultimate toughness right there

Swampfox LPVO SFP reticle at max and min magnification
Image Credit: Swampfox SFP reticle at max power (left) and at minimum power (right)

I like that its illumination is brighter than most LPVO reticles in bright daylight. I especially think that the NV compatibility, incremental “off” positions, and a total of 12 intensity settings will get the job done.

The reticle on this model is the Guerrilla Dot BDC Long reticle. From my experience, rarely are reticles actually "calibrated." But with an app, like the Strelok Pro that I use, it can be configured for either 5.56 or .308 loads. It’s fast with its center dot, provides range with holdovers, and it can be used as a rudimentary rangefinder. Because the reticle is located in the SFP, I know it's highly visible at 1x and that is usually where FFP scopes fall short.

Swampfox Arrowhead LPVO in action
Image Credit: Swampfox Arrowhead LPVO

While this is a new company, they’ve shown they have the knowledge and experience to give American shooters what they want. If you’re unsure about giving a new brand your hard-earned money, you may like the fact that it’s covered under a 50,000 Round Guarantee. If it fails for any reason, Swampfox shows up. Now, this is a warranty you can get behind, right?

6. Maven CRS.1 3-12x40 – Best for the Money Under $500

Maven CRS.1 Hands on Review

The Maven CRS series are made in Japan, are built for hunters, and are set-it-and-forget-it riflescopes. For the money, there’s a lot of scope to be had starting with its C-series glass and 4x zoom to ending with its excellent build quality and repeatable performance.

Pros:

  • Price
  • SFP reticle
  • Water/fogproof
  • Lightweight
  • Maven unconditional warranty

Cons:

  • Fixed parallax
No side focus turret (left) and max 12x power at 25 yards (right)
No side focus turret (left) and max 12x power at 25 yards (right)

The parallax is factory set for 100 yards, and I think it’s appropriate given its power range. It’s certainly one less thing to think about when in the field. No noticeable parallax occurred. However, I did see some focus softening (spherical aberration?) at 12x power when looking inside and around 25 yards. At 50 yards and beyond, not a problem.

I really like that the CRS.1 scope is tough. It’s water and fogproof, has a 1” tube, is ultra-lightweight at 14.2 oz, and it’s made in Japan. I’d say the finish is only slightly reflective, but it’s held up real well to multiple mountings, frequent range use, and tumbles amongst other gear in the bed of my truck.

Maven CRS series CSHR SFP Reticle

The CRS riflescopes, including the field-tested CRS.2, have the traditional wire reticle in the second focal plane. From my personal experience, I found it simple, easy to use, and highly visible. Due to its boldness, I had no problems with visibility even in lowlight.

I admire the rock-solid build of the CRS scope, the accurate tracking of the ¼ MOA resettable turrets, and the simplicity of use. It’ll mount to anything – but my favorite pairing was with my elk rifle.

500 YARDS Maven CRS 3 12x40 and 4 16x44
Maven CRS.1 3 12x40 and CRS.2 4 16x44

Though it could be considered expensive for its no-nonsense approach, its quality is far better than alternatives that boast multiple features where quality is spread thin. Best of all, because it has “Maven” on it, it’s covered with the unconditional, lifetime warranty. Now that has value in and of itself.

7. KonusPro EL-30 4-16X44

KonusPro EL LCD Scope
Image Credit: Konus

The KonusPro EL-30 is sort of weird for a daytime riflescope, but it may just be exactly what you need – you just don’t know it yet. I know that I'd personally like to play with multiple reticles as needed for the application!

Pros:

  • Price
  • Interchangeable reticles
  • 30mm tube
  • Locking turrets
  • Water/fog-proof

Cons:

  • MIL/MOA

To be upfront from the start, it’s obvious that the scope has a ¼ MOA adjustment system even though it’s marked for 1/10 MIL increments. It has mil-dot reticles, so if you’re unable to compute how to use both systems, this isn’t the scope for you. It’s really not a big deal in the long-run, but only you can be the judge of that.

KonusPro EL reticle types
Image Credit: Konus Non-illuminated SFP reticle examples

I figure the highlight feature of the EL-30 scope are the LCD reticles. There are 10 built into the system that includes mil-dot halo rings to BDC and Christmas Tree-style reticles. They’re non-illuminated, in the SFP, and are powered by a single CR2 battery. Obviously, the power source isn’t your common gas-station battery, but since when are you around a gas station when you’re hunting elk anyway? Get extras.

KonusPRO EL in use
Image Credit: Konus Pro EL scope in action

I would say that the scope is appropriately setup for some long-range shooting with clear glass and high magnification. It has locking turrets that don’t affect zero, and it’s shock, water, and fog-proof to withstand accidents and the elements. From my experience, the build integrity is of note especially when I have a hunt that usually involves rain, freezing temperatures, and warm trucks.

Priced modestly for its quality, I think the KonusPro EL-30 is a scope that may change the way you look at all-purpose shooting. When you can change the reticle, you can adapt to changes in the field as needed.

8. Bushnell Engage 4-16X44

Bushnell Engage Scope
Image Credit: Bushnell

Sticking to the mid-range class of scopes ensures two things: a reasonable price point and quality performance. This about sums up the Bushnell Engage scope. From my experience with Bushnell products, they're reasonable, pragmatic optics for the money.

Pros:

  • Price
  • 30 mm tube
  • Locking turrets
  • Deploy MOA reticle
  • Water/fog-proof

Cons:

  • Not for long-range
Bushnell Engage turrets and coated lens
Image Credit: Bushnell 0.25 MOA turrets (left) and waterproof, coated lens (right)

To clarify my thumbs down for long-range work, the Engage scope has only 50 MOA travel for a 4-16x scope. I once needed almost all of that just to zero a Bushnell scope, but it was ridiculously easy and accurate to sight it in though! However, you may want more travel to acquire those types of distances like 1000 yards. I'd think it’s best suited for close to mid-range distances for target work and hunting.

The Deploy MOA reticle is non-caliber specific, is in the SFP, and offers both windage and bullet drop compensation hashmarks for fast and immediate holdovers. Its non-illuminated crosshairs are 0.18 MOA thick, so it’s obviously excellent for precision and plain hunting. With tool-less locking turrets, side focus, and fast focus eyepiece, I think it’s a setup for fast, accurate employment.

Bushnell Engage reticle in use and turrets
Image Credit: Bushnell Deploy SFP MOA reticle (top right) and Engage scope in action

I really like that for an affordable scope, Bushnell provides the must-have coverage basics by classifying it under the Ironclad Warranty.

For mid-range price points with excellent quality and performance, the Engage scope is one of the best buys for the money. Hit the range or the field and expect to get results.

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, manufacturers will still pump out quality because they know this is the price range we're browsing. If you want to know what quality looks like for under 500 bucks, here's your checklist.

IMAGEPRODUCTDETAILS
tt-table__imageVortex Strike Eagle 1-8X24 AR-BDC3
  • Magnification: 1-8X 24mm
  • Reticle: AR-BDC3
  • Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageBurris Signature HD 3-15x44
  • Magnification: 3-15X 44mm
  • Reticle: Plex, Ballistic E3 Illuminated
  • Eye Relief: 3.5-3.8 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageBushnell Match Pro
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: Deploy MIL Etched Glass
  • Eye Relief: 3.74 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageVortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24X50
  • Magnification: 6-24X 50mm
  • Reticle: EBR-2C MOA (FFP)
  • Eye Relief: 3.9 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageSwampfox Arrowhead LPVO
  • Magnification: 1-10X 24mm
  • Reticle: Guerrilla Dot BDC
  • Eye Relief: 3.54-3.46 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageMaven CRS.1 3-12x40
  • Magnification: 3-12X 40mm
  • Reticle: CSHR SFP
  • Eye Relief: 3.2-2 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageKonusPro EL-30
  • Magnification: 4-16X 44mm
  • Reticle: Interchangeable
  • Eye Relief: 3.3-3 inches
CHECK PRICE
tt-table__imageBushnell Engage
  • Magnification: 4-16X 44mm
  • Reticle: Deploy MOA
  • Eye Relief: 3.6 inches
CHECK PRICE

Checklist of Features to Consider in Rifle Scopes Under $500

Quality Scope Glass:

Shooting a Gun Mounted With a Rifle Scope Under 500

As $500 caps the budget and options in the market, you must expect significantly better glass quality than cheaper alternatives.  These scopes should be a step above entry-level and should provide a bright and clear sight picture.  Although rare for this budget, you may see glass produced in Japan and the Philippines.

While glass source may be of note, extra ingredients or grinding/polishing processes are just as important.  To achieve HD quality from your scope, it must have specific elements that produce this effect, namely, extra-low dispersion elements.  It's not always seen in this price range, but these days there are many that have "ED" glass - it would be extremely beneficial on scopes with extremely high magnification.

ProductGlass SourceED/HD Glass
Vortex Strike EagleChinaNo
Burris Signature HDChinaNo
Bushnell Match ProChinaNo
Vortex Diamondback TacticalChinaYes
Swampfox ArrowheadChinaNot disclosed
Maven CRS.1JapanYes
KonusPro EL-30ChinaNot disclosed
Bushnell EngageChinaNo
Scope Glass Comparisons

Top Quality Glass Coatings:

At this price point, anything less than FMC (Fully Multi-Coated) optics is a bust.  Ditch it and move on - there's better options out there.  The star scopes in this price range are the ones that feature exterior protective coatings that provide a scratch-resistant lens and repels dirt, rain, smudges, and the like.

There are additional coating technologies that may be offered by big name manufacturers that provide ultimate light transmission, are anti-reflective and reduce glare, and allow for a high twilight factor to make the most of last legal light.  Be on the lookout for these technologies but be brand specific.

Cheaper scopes may tout these types of coatings, but the quality just isn't there.

ProductCoatingsExterior Lens Protection
Vortex Strike EagleFMCYes
Burris Signature HDFMCNo
Bushnell Match ProYesYes
Vortex Diamondback TacticalFMCNo
Swampfox ArrowheadFMCYes
Maven CRS.1FMCYes
KonusPro EL-30FMCNot disclosed
Bushnell EngageFMCYes
Scope Coatings & Lens Protection Comparisons

Scope Magnification:

For under 500, you can literally find a scope of any configuration, i.e., variable magnification and objective aperture.  With low powered configurations of 1-8x and 3.5-10x to 4-16x and 6-24x, the market is yours to shop from.

However, magnification benefits are subjective and limited to a scope's optical quality.  True 1x may be more important to the law enforcement agent needing two-eye use in close-quarter combat, but 8x provides some distance potential when 200 yards is considered long range. 

Conversely, match shooters know that high powered optics provide extreme long-range performance, but the issue of glass quality is the priority.  Some will opt for much higher magnification than they'd actually use, like 25x, just so they have the best of optical clarity at the high power they intend to use, like 18x. For most of us not shooting in comps, it's always better to upgrade the glass in compromise for less magnification than it is to crank up power with poor glass.

The pros and cons must be weighed when it comes to deciding what power range you need.  Mid-range options provide versatility for multiple shooting and hunting applications.

ProductMagnificationBest Use
Vortex Strike Eagle1-8xHunting, AR-15, Competition
Burris Signature HD3-15xHunting, Recreational
Bushnell Match Pro6-24xLong-range, Competition
Vortex Diamondback Tactical6-24xHunting, Long-range, Competition
Swampfox Arrowhead1-10xHunting, AR-15, Competition
Maven CRS.13-12xHunting, AR-15, Recreational
KonusPro EL-304-16xHunting, Long-range, Recreational
Bushnell Engage4-16xHunting, Long-range
Scope Magnification & Best Uses Comparisons

Ballistic Rifle Scope Reticles:

The choice of reticle is personal preference.  Single duplex-style reticles are for fast target acquisition and for close-range shots where drop doesn't put you outside of the kill zone.

If you plan on taking shots at long distances, a bullet drop compensating reticle may be for you.  With it, you can zero your scope and check holdover points so that it provides predictable points of aim at various distances.  They can be in MIL or MOA with dots or hashmarks.  Some may have holdover points for windage compensation.

Additionally, there are scopes in this price range that move from the SFP/RFP (Second Focal Plane/Rear Focal Plane) to the FFP (First Focal Plane).  The latter is a considered a high-end feature as it allows you to use holdover points at any magnification setting as it scales up and scales down in size.

You must decide on how complicated or simple you want your reticle to be.

ProductReticleFocal PlaneIllumination
Vortex Strike EagleAR-BDC3SFPYes
Burris Signature HDPlex, Ballistic E3 IlluminatedSFPSelect models
Bushnell Match ProDeploy MILFFPSelect models
Vortex Diamondback TacticalEBR-2CFFPNo
Swampfox ArrowheadGuerilla Dot BDCSFPYes
Maven CRS.1CSHRSFPNo
KonusPro EL-30Interchangeable reticlesSFPNo
Bushnell EngageDeploy MOASFPNo
Scope Reticle, Focal Plane & Illumination Comparisons

Good Eye Relief 3"+:

Without decent eye relief, your rifle scope is going to let you know what a real black eye is. On top of that, having long eye relief can help to address user problems like crawling the stock or having an inconsistent cheek weld.

ProductEye ReliefFOV
Vortex Strike Eagle3.5 inches109 – 14.4 ft @ 100 yds
Burris Signature HD3.8 – 3.5 inches37.5 – 7.5 ft @ 100 yds
Bushnell Match Pro3.74 inches18 – 4 ft @ 100 yds
Vortex Diamondback Tactical3.9 inches18 – 4.5 ft @ 100 yds
Swampfox Arrowhead3.54 – 3.46 inches115.6 – 11.5 ft @ 100 yds
Maven CRS.13.2 – 2 inches34 – 8.5 ft @ 100 yds
KonusPro EL-303.3 – 3 inches22.6 – 9.5 ft @ 100 yds
Bushnell Engage3.6 inches28 – 7 ft @ 100 yds
Scope Eye Relief & Field of View (FOV) Comparisons

Focus/Parallax:

This price range sets the stage for high powered scopes, and with it, parallax and focusing issues may not be far behind.  To combat both optical issues, a side focus or adjustable objective (AO) is installed.  Typically, this feature is usually only required on scopes with more than 10-12x magnification.

There is the third turret style of the side focus that sits on the left side of the scope body or the unobtrusive AO.  Regardless of which style you prefer, you must look for what the minimum focusing range is.  Sometimes, it's as low as 10 yards and other times, it's as high as 50 yards.  To ensure you're picking the right scope for your applications, this feature must be considered.

ProductParallax SettingParallax Correction Type
Vortex Strike EagleFixed @ 100 yardsN/A
Burris Signature HD25 yds – infinitySide focus
Bushnell Match Pro10 yds – infinitySide focus
Vortex Diamondback Tactical10 yds – infinitySide focus
Swampfox ArrowheadFixed @ 100 yardsN/A
Maven CRS.1Fixed @ 100 yardsN/A
KonusPro EL-30Select modelsSide focus
Bushnell Engage10 yds – infinitySide focus
Scope Parallax & Parallax Correction Type Comparisons

Good Durability:

It must be shock, fog, and waterproof - no exceptions.  There is no tolerance for scopes in this price range to lack the ruggedness and durability that you require to depend on your scope while in the field, in the tree stand, or in a tactical engagement.

Not only should it be tough, it must have internal spring systems to ensure your scope can keep its zero.  If your scope doesn't hold zero, it's useless.  Can it handle recoil, and we mean, heavy and repeated recoil?  You may not be a soldier in unforgiving conditions, but you may be throwing this sucker into the bed of a truck on your way to your next hot spot.  Think about that.

ProductWaterproofFogproofLengthWeightTube
Vortex Strike EagleYesYes10 inches17.6 oz30 mm
Burris Signature HDYesYes13.2 inches20.8 oz1 inch
Bushnell Match ProYesYes14 inches29.8 oz30 mm
Vortex Diamondback TacticalYesYes14.5 inches25.6 oz30 mm
Swampfox ArrowheadYesYes10.9 inches20.36 oz30 mm
Maven CRS.1YesYes12.4 inches14.2 oz1 inch
KonusPro EL-30YesYes13.1 inches23.39 oz30 mm
Bushnell EngageYesYes14 inches20.1 oz30 mm
Scope Durability & Size (Dimensions) Comparisons

Quality Warranties:

You dropped money into your scope, so you deserve for it to be backed 110% by the manufacturer.  Most scopes will come with a limited lifetime warranty, but when there are warranties like Vortex's VIP and Burris' Forever warranties, that word "limited" is instantly unattractive.

Be brand specific if you want your scope protected by the best coverage, and usually, it often comes with the best customer service.

ProductWarrantyDetails
Vortex Strike EagleVIP WarrantyUnlimited, lifetime, fully transferable, no receipt needed
Burris Signature HDForever WarrantyNo questions asked, no receipt needed, no charge
Bushnell Match ProIronclad WarrantyNo receipt required, fully transferable, lifetime
Vortex Diamondback TacticalVIP WarrantyUnlimited, lifetime, fully transferable, no receipt needed
Swampfox Arrowhead50,000 Round GuaranteeEmbedded microchip tracking – just kidding! Failure before 50,000 rounds based on honor code is covered
Maven CRS.1Unconditional Lifetime WarrantyLifetime, no fault, no proof of purchase needed, fully transferable
KonusPro EL-30Limited Replacement WarrantyLifetime, limited to original purchaser, replacement only – no repairs
Bushnell EngageIronclad WarrantyNo receipt required, fully transferable, lifetime
Scope Warranty & Warranty Features Comparisons

Mid-Range (Under $300-$500) Isn't Mediocre!

This might be the middle ground when it comes to budgets, but in no way does it mean mediocre quality. You still have quality while the extra features are somewhat scaled down.

These top scopes under $500 are very popular since most feel satisfied with scope performance for the money. They're made to impress, last, and perform. In my book, this is far mediocre.

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6 thoughts on “8 Best Rifle Scopes Under $500 In 2023”

  1. Did the Vortex Venom come out too late for your comparison? Just bought one awhile back for $499.99. It has FFP and available in MOA or MIL. put it on a .28 Nosler and it works very well.

    Reply
  2. I am 72 yrs old and have been an avid hunter all my life. I buy Leupold or Burris and have never had a failure of either brand!

    Reply
  3. Paralax adj feature is worthless unless you are a competitive long distance shooter. Makes no differnce on a hunting scope or shots under 500-600 yards.

    Reply
    • Tod - It's definitely one less thing to think about on a hunting scope inside those ranges. What I've found useful about it, disregarding parallax and user error, is that it can help sharpen and clear up the sight picture a smudge at distance.

      I reckon if it comes with it, there's little to dislike about it. If it doesn't, then it's fixed and I should be consistent with my weld centered down the optical plane all the same. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

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