Best LPVO (Low Power Variable Optics) Scopes in 2022: Top 5 Picks

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By Dennis Howard •  16 min read

Low Power Variable Optics are relative newcomers to the traditional optics market. Many shooters wonder why a whole new niche of scopes has suddenly appeared in the marketplace. Part of the reason LPVO scopes have become so popular lies with the rise in popularity of the AR-15 rifle platform. As more and more shooters adopt the AR-15 platform and associated calibers, they have realized that their scope expectations change. The challenge becomes finding the best LPVO for their shooting needs.

Several criteria define a Low Powered Variable optic. First, it has a relatively low power magnification range. Typically, the scope has magnification ranges from 1X to 6X. Most LPVO scopes have illuminated reticles with variable illumination settings, are shorter than traditional scopes, and some mind of throw lever on the magnification ring.

Most major rifle scope manufacturers have added LPVO scopes to their product lines. Unfortunately, a host of LPVO scopes are coming from offshore sources that are junk and not worth the time or trouble to mount on your rifle. I will look at what I consider to be the best LPVO scopes available today in several categories.

In this article, we’ll be breaking down:

What Sets a Scope Apart as a Low Power Variable Optic?

In one sense, an LPVO scope is just a variant of a traditional variable magnification scope. Variable magnification scopes give hunters and precision target shooters the ability to find, range and hit targets at extreme distances. Taking shots confidently well beyond 1,000 yards is not uncommon. These kinds of distances require precision optics with a high magnification range.

Low Power Variable Optic with flip up lens covers and battery for reticle illumination

More and more shooters, hunters, and competitors alike find that the rifle and caliber they shoot don’t need these high magnification ranges. Most of the shooting performed by the AR-15 platforms are within the 300 to 400-yard range at most. The average deer hunter in the United States rarely takes a shot over 250-yards. A different sort of scope is needed to fit the criteria that define an LPVO scope. In most cases, an LPVO scope features the following items:

Low Power Variab le Optic with extend throw lever on magnification ring

These styles of scopes could just as easily be described as a variable combat optical gunsight. However, that name doesn’t work well in the civilian market, so low power variable optics became the standard terminology.


My Choices for a Low Power Variable Optic

Choosing a scope of any kind for your rifle is a personal thing. Every shooter has expectations for what they want out of scope. The scopes I pick may not match exactly what you think a scope should deliver. However, if you are new to the market, seeing what someone else looks for in any scope is advantageous. These are the LPVO scopes that I believe to be the best on the market in each category.

LPVO Scope DETAILS
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  • Magnification - 1-6X .
  • Objective Lens - 24mm .
  • Adjustment Per Click - 0.5 MOA.
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  • Black Anodized aluminum construction.
  • Eye relief - 3.5 inches.
  • Overall length - 9.4 inches.
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  • Magnification - 1-4X.
  • Objective lens - 24 mm.
  • Second focal plane reticle.
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1. Best Overall LPVO Scope – Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x24mm Rifle Scope

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Vortex Optics has been my go-to scope manufacturer for several years. There are several reasons for Vortex Optics getting my nod as the Best Overall LPVO scope. In my opinion, Vortex Optics provides the quality and features at the best price I have found. No scope can do everything. The Vortex Strike Eagle covers all the bases nicely without giving up too much in the compromise for the shooter who does a little of everything.

Feature-wise, you won’t be disappointed at the features and options that Vortex Optics provides with the Strike Eagle scope. Add uncompromising attention to quality and unparalleled customer service to the features, and Vortex Optics is a clear and easy choice.

Features

 

Specifications

For most AR-15 shooters, the Vortex Strike Eagle Gen 2 scope is a perfect low-power variable optic scope. Most shooters find the Vortex Strike Eagle to be versatile enough to cover the range of their shooting needs. With this scope mounted on your rifle, you can easily move from the range to hunting or even competitive 3-gun shooting.

Vortex Strike Eagle LPVO rifle scope for precise shots

The Pros and Cons of the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Gen 2 Scope

Pros
Cons

 

My Thoughts

I don’t believe you can get a better LVPO scope for the money. You can buy more expensive scopes with better glass, but I don’t think the average shooter will benefit from spending more money to get the incremental increases in quality, light transmission, and clarity.

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  • Magnification - 1-6X .
  • Objective Lens - 24mm .
  • Adjustment Per Click - 0.5 MOA.
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2. Best 3-Gun Match LPVO Scope – Bushnell Drop Zone 1-4X24mm

Bushnell LPVO optic for mid-range shooting with bullet drop compensation

If you routinely compete in 3-gun shooting competitions, your needs for an optic for your AR-15 or comparable rifle are a bit different than other shooters. The premise of the 3-gun shooting sports is to combine pistol, rifle, and shotgun shooting in situations that are close to combat situations. An LPVO used for these types of competition requires tailoring to some specific attributes of the matches.

Bushnell’s entry into the LPVO market fills these specific attributes quite well. Surprisingly, Bushnell does this in a package that comes in under two hundred dollars. Working through the features list, one would almost think that Bushnell designed this optic, especially for three-gun shooters.

Features

 

Specifications

Bushnell 1-4x 24 LPVO scope with BDC reticles and second focal plane optics

The Bushnell 1-4X24 AR Optics LPVO rifle scope gives anyone wanting to shoot three gun competitions the opportunity without investing more in their scope than they do in their gun. However, this Bushnell scope is versatile enough to excel in the field for hunting or on the range for bench shooting.

The Pros and Cons of the Bushnell Drops Zone LPVO Scope

Pros
Cons

 

My Thoughts

I must admit that it has been a long time since I shot in a three-gun match. However, were I to get back into the game, the Bushnell Drop Zone LPVO scope would be high on my list of optics as I was setting up my guns.

  • Black Anodized aluminum construction.
  • Eye relief - 3.5 inches.
  • Overall length - 9.4 inches.
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3. Best LPVO scope for Hunting – Steiner P4XI 1-4X24 Rifle Scope

Steiner P4XI second focal plane scope with illuminated reticle

There is a perception that German optics are inherently superior to scopes made elsewhere. To some extent, this may be true based on the history of German engineering and glass production. I remember my uncle telling me that if you want the best in optical glass, buy German.

Steiner optics certainly upholds this tradition. The reputation for quality and performance has merit. This traditional reputation is especially true of the Steiner P4XI LPVO rifle scope. From the engineering to the final production, Steiner easily boasts that it is among the top tier of optics. Just reading through the basic features of the P4XI rifle scope is proof of this claim.

Features

Specifications

For field use where extreme conditions are common, the Steiner P4XI LPVO scope excels. Nothing can ruin a hunt faster than a missed shot due to a failed optic. With a Steiner on your rifle, that worry fades into the background. The P4XI is a scope that lets you take your rifle out to the limits of its range with confidence.

Steiner P4XI rifle scope G1 reticle enables fast target acquisition and rapid range estimation

The Pros and Cons of the Steiner P4XI LPVA Scope

Pros
Cons

My Thoughts

The Steiner is certainly not the most inexpensive scope on my list. However, for hunting, this scope’s reliability and optical clarity are hands down superior. When conditions get nasty, this scope delivers what counts the most: clear images and superior optical quality.

  • Magnification - 1-4X.
  • Objective lens - 24 mm.
  • Second focal plane reticle.
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4. Best Budget Low Power Variable Optic – UTG 3-9X32 1″ BugBuster Scope

Leapers UTG Bugbuster scope features good eye relief and in a second focal plane scope

I always try to identify one product that is easy on the budget but delivers performance that belies the price. Leapers UTG rifle scopes often fill that role. Leapers is a sleeper in budget-priced optics that deliver on reliability and performance.

The ITG 3-9×32 Bugbuster scope is not, in the strictest sense of the term, an LPVO rifle scope. You can’t dial the scope down to a true 1X magnification. A lack of true 1X magnification can prevent you from using this scope in some 3-gun competitions. However, if you want to hunt, shoot a few competitions, and drill holes in paper targets on the range, the ITG Bugbuster scope is a good choice. It offers a host of benefits for a very reasonable price.

Features

 
Specifications
UTG 3-9X Bugbuster scope with quick detach mounting rings and daylight bright illumination

The Pros and Cons of the Leapers UTG BugBuster 3-9X32 Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons

My Thoughts

The UTG BugBuster scope is not a low-power variable optics. It doesn’t allow a true 1x magnification setting, which can be a problem if you are a serious competitor in three-gun matches. However, this is a great option for casual shooters who want a scope that can be used easily for home defense in close-range situations. If you need to take this scope to the field for hunting, it is a versatile scope that can take you to the fringes of the range of your rifle. These are great features in a scope that included the scope rings for under one hundred dollars.

  • 3 - 9X magnification.
  • One inch tube diameter.
  • Eye Relief - 4.2 inches to 3.2 inches.
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5. The Ultimate Low Power Variable Optic – Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 Rifle Scope

Alt Image: Trijicon VCOG line of variable scopes offer the shooter the best glass clarity on the market

Trijicon has forged an almost unshakable reputation for its optical systems. Anyone who has spent time in the military is familiar with the Trijicon ACOG fixed power rifle scope. Now Trijicon has a variable power close-quarter combat rifle scope that fits the LPVO criteria.

The Trijicon VCOG 1-5×24 riflescope is the penultimate expression of low-power variable optics. When you combine the reputation of Trijicon with an impressive list of features, you get the most advanced combat optical gunsight available in the civilian market.

Alt Image: Trijicon VCOG line of variable scopes offer the shooter the best glass clarity on the market

Features

Specifications

Trijicon VCOG first focal plane reticle with circle and dot configuration

The Pros and Cons of the Trijicon VCOG 1-6×24 Rifle Scope

Pros
Cons

 

My Thoughts

I occasionally recommend that someone dig deep and find the cash to spend on a VCOG scope. I don’t think the average shooter gains anything by spending this kind of money that they can’t get at a better price with another variable power scope. On the other hand, my son is a law enforcement officer who provides his patrol rifle for duty use. I made sure that his rifle is equipped with a VCOG. When your life may depend on your equipment, you get the best you can get.

  • Overall Length 10.06 inches.
  • Weight - 23.2 ounces.
  • Magnification 1-6X.
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Final Words

Low power variable optics are just like anything else. Typically, the higher the quality and performance, the more you have to pay. However, you can get to a point where you reach diminishing returns. Most shooters don’t have the skill or the need for the most expensive LPVO scope on the market. Making good decisions about price and features will provide most shooters with all the needed scope.

Dennis Howard

A life long hunter, fisherman, and outdoorsman, after surviving a devastating tornado in his home town, he saw the effects on people's lives as they struggled to cope. He built his first bugout bag a few weeks later and has been a dedicated prepper/survivalist since that time. After a career as a fireman, Dennis opened a retail store (FFL approved) catering to the military, law enforcement, and like-minded individuals. The store built their own AR platforms. Furthermore, Dennis was also an NRA instructor in both long gun and handgun as well as a certified range safety officer. Read his full interview here.