Best Rifle Scopes Under $300: Top 3 Picks Reviewed

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By Dennis Howard •  23 min read
Best Rifle Scopes Under 0

Contrary to popular belief, you needn’t spend thousands of dollars to get a quality scope for your rifle. Advances in optical glass manufacturing technologies, lens grinding, and CNC milling have brought the cost of excellent scopes well within most shooters’ budgets.

Often the trick is separating the wheat from the chaff in the scope market. We are here to help you get a head start on that selection process.

Competition in the rifle scope market, especially for rifle scopes costing under $300, is fierce.

What this means for you is there are some great opportunities to put very high-quality optics on your rifle for an amazingly affordable cost. On the downside, it also means there is a lot of, well, junk in the marketplace as well. You need to be an informed buyer to be able to spot those scopes that are questionable in quality and performance.

Before we get to our actual list of what we consider the best rifle scope under $300, you need to be familiar with the criteria we use to judge the scopes on our list, the features and specifications we believe are the most important, and some of the terminology that we will use when discussing these rifle scopes.

Rifle Scope Basics

Discussing rifle scopes can be confusing, especially regarding the terminology used to describe the various parts and functions. Just so we know that we are all talking about the same things, these are the terms that we commonly use to describe the parts, functions, and design of a rifle scope.

A fast focus eyepiece

Objective Lens

When mounted on your rifle, the objective lens of your rifle scope is the end of the scope furthermost from your eye and closest to your target.

The objective lens gathers the light that is ultimately transmitted through the scope to your eye. Many shooters incorrectly associate the objective lens’s size with the scope’s quality, but this is an incorrect assumption.

Scope Tube or Body

The scope tube is the main structural component of the scope. The ocular assembly, objective assembly, and erector assembly are supported by the scope tube. Most scopes feature a one-piece aluminum scope tube, but some high-end rifle scopes feature a two-piece tube structure.

Erector Assembly

The turrets on the erector assembly handle your scope’s windage and elevation adjustments. On some scopes, a third turret on the erector assembly allows is for the parallax adjustment. In some scopes with reticle illumination, the intensity controls may also be located on the erector assembly.

Note: Most scope manufacturers offer scopes calibrated with a mil dot reticle or an MOA reticle and adjustments.

Magnification Ring and Assembly

Variable scopes give you a range of magnification options. The magnification assembly, like the erector assembly, is housed in the scope tube. Changes to the magnification range are made using the magnification ring. Some scopes will include a raised blade or a lever attached to the magnification ring to aid in making changes.

Fully multi-coated lenses are a must-have feature on any scope used in the field.

Ocular or Diopter Adjustment

On the end of the scope nearest your eye, you find the ocular lens assembly. Better scopes will have another focus ring near the ocular end of the scope that allows you to focus the scope for your eye. This allows a shooter to use the scope without needing their eyeglasses.

What Things Should You Consider When Choosing a Rifle Scope?

Before you even begin shopping for a rifle scope, there are some things you should have well fixed in your mind.

These things can significantly impact your scope choice and will help you narrow the crowded offerings currently in the rifle scope market.

How Will You Use Your Rifle and Scope?

Competitive long-distance target shooting demands a different set of scope characteristics than hunting varmints or feral pigs. You should have a thorough understanding of how you intend to use your rifle scope after it is mounted on your rifle.

If you primarily do short-range shooting, there is no need to mount a scope with a 24X magnification range on your rifle.

What Kind of Rifle Do You Have?

Your rifle choice is as much a part of selecting a scope as the magnification ranges.

A large caliber rifle demands a scope designed to handle the recoil generated by the cartridge. A scout-style rifle needs a scope with a long eye relief to accommodate the forward mounting position. A tactical-style rifle may better suit a red dot or holographic sight than a traditional optical sight.

What is Your Budget for a Scope?

This question is almost moot in the case of this article. Since we are looking at the best scopes under $300, we have pre-defined the budget cap in this case.

You can spend almost as much as you wish on a scope. However, for most shooters, the wisest option is to find the best ratio of features and quality to the price that fits within your pre-established budget. For example, adjustable parallax scopes usually cost much more but there are some less expensive scopes with this feature.

My Choices for the Best Rifle Scope Under $300

To create this list, I surveyed the market for firearm scopes under $300.

Using the criteria listed above and with a $300 budget, these are the scopes under $300 that I recommend for the specified purposes. I currently use or have used most of the scopes on this list. Your situation and needs may be different.

1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope – Best Overall Rifle Scope Under $300

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope

If you want all of the features that you would normally only expect to get on a much more expensive scope, you want to look at the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Rifle Scope.

The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is a versatile scope that can be used for long-range shooting or at shorter ranges for brush-style hunting. This is one of the best scopes under $300 that is available on the market today. Very few scopes in this price range feature parallax adjustment and the quality of optical glass used by Vortex.

When you consider price vs. features, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II scope comes in ahead of the pack. These feature-rich optics perform above and beyond what you might expect for a weapons scope under $300.

VOrtex Optics Crossfire ii Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts About the Vortex Optics Crossfire II

In my opinion, the Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24X50 AO Second Focal Plane scope is one of the best values on the market in the under $300 range.

If you look at the Vortex Optics website, you will see that the MSRP is above $300. However, the going street price is just below the three-hundred dollar mark, getting it onto my list.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50 AO, Second Focal Plane Riflescope -...
  • The 6-24x50 Adjustable Objective Crossfire II riflescope is one of many configurations in the...
  • The adjustable objective provides image focus and parallax removal. Anti-reflective, fully...

Last update on 2024-07-15 at 00:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

2. Athlon Optics Talos 6-24×50 Rifle Scope – Runner Up Best Overall Scope Under $300

I discovered Athlon Optics while I was shopping for a long-range shooting solution for a new rifle build. I ultimately purchased an Athlon scope, and I have been pleased with the results of my decision. That led me to the Athlon Optics Talos 6024×50 rifle scope for this list of weapons scopes under $300.

The question then becomes: Why I didn’t put Athlon at the top of the list?

My personal project was to build a good long-range shooting rifle with a scope for under $1000 total. This put a pretty serious cap on my optics budget. The Athlon choice was my best option to meet my project goals.

Athlon Optics 6-24X50 Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts About the Athlon Optics Talos 6-24X50 SFP Rifle Scope

This was a close call between the Vortex and the Athlon scope. I think the Vortex is a slightly better value, even at a few dollars more, because of the reputation of Vortex optics and their customer service.

You do get a few more features in the Athlon scope, such as reticle illumination. For some shooters, this may be an important factor to consider.

3. Monstrum Guardian 6-18X50 Rifle Scope – Best All-Around Budget Rifle Scope Under $300

Monstrum Guardian 6-18X50 Rifle Scope

If you are on a strict budget, and you’re looking for a long range rifle scope, be sure to check out the Monstrum Guardian.

Monstrum Tactical began in 2008 as a project to design and build quality tactical gear for AR platform rifles. Since that time, they have expanded to include a wide variety of accessories for many types of firearms as well as a line of optics products.

Monstrum Tactical sources their rifle scopes from China, as do most other discount or budget scope retailers.

There is always some question in my mind about the quality of the optical glass in this category of scopes, but I have found the Monstrum scopes to be above average for the price range. These scopes provide features that come only on much more expensive scopes.

Monstrum Guardian 6-18X50 Rifle Scope Features

Factory Specifications

My thoughts on the Monstrum Guardian 3-18X50 Rifle Scope

I will admit that this is not a scope I would want to bet my life on.

However, for the average shooter or hunter, you will be hard-pressed to find optics that work as well as this scope works for a price that can often be found under $150. This is no precision long-range firearm scope, but it is a good hunting scope.

Monstrum Guardian 6-18x50 AO Rifle Scope with Parallax Adjustment | Black
  • Adjustable 6-18 times magnification, for targeting out to 1000 yards and beyond
  • An adjustable objective lens or AO - that allows for sharper focus of the target image, elimination...

Last update on 2024-07-15 at 00:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

4. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Scout Scope – Best Scout Scope Under $300

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Scout Scope

If my first choice for an all-around scope is the Vortex Optics Crossfire II, the scout scope version of this same weapon scope is also my pick for the best scout scope under $300.

There are a few differences between these two scopes, but you still get the basic Vortex Optics features, the great warranty, and the knowledge of the reputation for great products.

This scope is designed to meet the critical requirements of a scout scope, including a generous eye relief of over nine inches. In keeping with the philosophy of the scout rifle creator Jeff Cooper, these scopes are compact and lightweight but tough. There are no lack of features here just to cut cost or weight.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II Scout Scope Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts on the Vortex Optics Crossfire II Scout Scope

It stands to reason that I pick the Scout Scope version of the Vortex Optics Crossfire II scope as the best scope in the scout scope category under $300.

Not only does the Vortex scout scope meet the requirements for a scout scope, it is also a great hunting scope as well as a versatile tactical scope.

Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 Scout, Second Focal Plane, 1-inch Tube...
  • The 2-7x32 Crossfire II Scout riflescope is perfect for use on your scout rifle. The V-Plex reticle...
  • With 9.45" of eye relief and an ultra-forgiving eye box, you'll be able to quickly get a sight...

Last update on 2024-07-14 at 16:33 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

5. Burris Scout Scope 2.75-20mm – Runner Up Best Scout Scope under $300

Burris Scout Scope 2.75-20mm

This scope is the only fixed magnification scope that made my list. I usually recommend a variable magnification scope under almost any circumstances.

However, this Burris Scout Scope is such a steal that it had to be on my list. Some shooters prefer a fixed magnification scope based on the principle of keeping things simple means fewer things to break or go wrong.

Whatever your feelings are, Burris got it right with this scout scope design. This is one of the best low-light scope choices you can make for under $300. This certainly isn’t among the long-range scopes but for medium to close-range work, these are among the best rifle scopes you can find.

Burris doesn’t skimp on the features side to keep the price down.

Burris Scout Scope 2.75X-20mm Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts on the Burris Fixed Magnification Scout Scope

If you prefer a fixed magnification scout-style scope, you can’t beat this deal from Burris. The sight picture quality is outstanding. This may be the best hunting scope in the fixed magnification category you buy for under $300.

If you choose this scope, long ranges are off the table, but for close to mid-range shooting, you will be rewarded with the right firearm scope for the job.

Burris Hunting Durable Compact Lightweight Finger-Adjustable Scout...
  • burris 200269 scout riflescope
  • 2.75x20mm, heavy plex, matte, 1 inch

Last update on 2024-07-15 at 00:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

6. UTG 2-7X44mm Scout Scope – Best Budget Scout Scope Under $300

UTG 2-7X44mm Scout Scope

UTG scopes often get passed over when review time comes up.

I think many people are missing a great bet if they don’t consider UTG scopes, especially if you are on a budget and looking for feature-rich products at economical prices. These scopes are made in China with Chinese optical glass, so the glass’s clarity may be a little questionable. However, the UTG scopes I have used have above-par image quality for the price.

The UTG Scout Scope won’t break the bank. If you want features, this is the scope to consider.

This is the only scout scope to make my list with reticle illumination. UTG also packages its scopes with mounting rings and other handy accessories. This only adds to the value.

UTG 2-7X30mm Scout Scope Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts on the UTG 2-7X44 Scout Scope

Up front, you must understand that there are better scopes for not much more money in this category.

However, what you do get with the UTG Scout Scope is an illuminated reticle, adjustable parallax, and good image quality. The glass quality may be a bit questionable, and this may not be the best low-light scope you can find. However, for the price, this is a great scope.

UTG 2-7X44 30mm Long Eye Relief Scout Scope, AO, 36-color
  • Emerald Lens Coatings; TS Platform with Shockproof, Fogproof and Rainproof; Practical TactEdge...
  • Provides Up To 11'' Eye Relief for Shooters to Effectively Use on Any Firearm Where the Optics...

Last update on 2024-07-15 at 00:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

7. Monstrum G3 5-25×50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope – Best First Focal Plane Scope Under $300

Monstrum G3 5-25x50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope

Finding the best rifle scope with a first focal plane reticle under $300 is a challenge.

First focal plane scopes tend to be much more expensive scopes than second focal plane designs. However, Monstrum has met the challenge with its Monstrum G2 5-25X50 FFP scope. If you are on a budget but prefer a first focal plane scope, this is a great scope for long ranges.

Monstrum is rapidly building a solid reputation for making some of the best hunting scope models in the budget scope category. The Monstrum limited lifetime warranty and sold construction translates into a scope you can buy confidently.

The Monstrum scope line will fill your needs if you are feature conscious.

Monstrum G3 FFP Scope Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts on the Monstrum G3 Rifle Scope

If you are looking for a 1,000-yard scope for under $300, the Monstrum G3 5-25X50 FFP scope is probably your best bet. You will find it difficult to source a first focal plane scope with parallax adjustment and illuminated reticle, including rings, for under $300.

It isn’t a Leupold or a Ziess, but this scope will take you out to the long ranges for the right money.

Monstrum G3 5-25x50 First Focal Plane FFP Rifle Scope with Illuminated MOA...
  • High performance tactical rifle scope with 5-25x magnification for mid to long distance shooting out...
  • Functionally designed first focal plane MOA reticle, with easy-to-read ranging information that...

Last update on 2024-07-15 at 00:22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

8. Leupold Freedom RDS – Best Red Dot Scope for Under $300

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A traditional optical scope may not be the best scope for your needs, especially if you are involved in tactical types of shooting.

In many cases, the better option is a red dot scope.

Red dot scopes bring a different set of advantages for aiming a rifle. One of the biggest of these advantages is the ability to use the optical sight with both eyes open for rapid target acquisition and a wider field of view.

Without much argument, Leupold is one of the world’s premier optics producers. Their Freedom RDS sight barely squeaks under our $300 cap. That is fortunate since it means you can put a Leupold on your rifle and still meet your budget. You won’t sacrifice the features that you expect from a Leupold product at this price.

Leupold Freedom RDS Features

Factory Specifications

My Thoughts on the Leupold Freedom RDS Rifle Sight

The Leupold Freedom RDS is a premier, first-class, top-tier red dot sight. If you want to mount a red dot on your rifle, this is an excellent choice and still keeps you under our $300 cap on price.

Most other red dot sights in this price range feature 3 or 4 MOA dots. The one MOA dot on the Leupold is a definite advantage.

Final Thoughts – Best Rifle Scopes Under $300

When all is said and done, finding the best scope for your needs under $300 can be a challenge.

I hope that my selections give you a better idea of where to start looking for your scope and what features and specifications you can find in that $300 price range.

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.