If you are looking for a rifle scope that will be perfect for hunting, target shooting, or competition shooting you are in the right place. You’re also in the right place if you are looking for a scope with a price tag of just south of $500. It is possible to find a high-performing scope without breaking the bank.
On top of that, there are plenty of scopes that are excellent in terms of overall quality but affordable in price. The three scopes we’ll be looking at below are anything but cheap. But nevertheless, they are affordable for most budgets.
Before we get to the list, we’ll be going over the buyer’s guide so you can be able to make a decision based on some factors that stand out. This will include some specific features and other considerations. If you are looking for a scope but don’t want to spend a lot, keep reading.
How To Choose? What To Consider?
While it’s tough to choose one scope out of many, having a handy buyer’s guide will make it a lot easier. We’ll be listing the features to look for along with the kind of considerations you’ll want to factor into your decision. Think of it as playing your own game of “Elimination” whenever you want to choose the scope that’s right for you.
Let’s begin with the list of features first:
Objective: If you are looking for a scope that will help you see a target better. Whether it’s dawn or dusk, you’ll see your game target in front of you and still be able to squeeze off an accurate shot. The larger the objective, the more light it will gather in. Also, a large objective will allow you to see more through the scope.
Reticle: The reticle might just be one of the more important parts of the scope. Without it, you won’t be able to line up a shot perfectly and never know where it lands. Some reticles are also illuminated, which may further your chances of taking a shot in low-light conditions. Your reticle shape may differ as well. But as long as you line up the dead center of it with the kill zone of a game target or the bullseye, you should be in a good position to hit the target exactly where you want it.
Magnification: The magnification levels do vary from one scope to the next. Some scopes have fixed levels while others have variable levels ranging from low to high. Regardless, magnification will be used for looking closely at your target. The type of magnification may depend on your personal needs or preferences. But variable types will allow you to see your target up close using different power levels to ensure your shot is in line and projected to go in that direction.
Turrets: The adjustment turrets are made to adjust the windage, elevation, and parallax. You want the turrets to be easy to control. Some of them will have audible clicking noises indicating those adjustments. Other than that, you’ll want the adjustments to be made easy no matter which direction you are turning the knob. The object here is to make sure your shots are straight and not appearing a bit off.
Tube body: The tube body is something that shouldn’t be overlooked. That’s because the way it’s constructed can determine whether or not it’s actually durable enough to handle multiple shots over time. Most of the scopes are made from types of aluminum that are stress-tested for toughness. The three things to look for in a scope are the following: shockproof, waterproof (or rainproof), and fogproof. If these three attributes are included, then you know for sure that it’s durable enough to handle almost any abuse or weather condition known to man.
Things To Consider
Now that you have a good idea of what features to keep on eye on, there are some other things to consider. You’ll want to mull these over carefully as it might be the difference between choosing a scope that can go the distance or something where it can be effective up to a certain range like 300 to 600 yards.
These are some of the following factors to consider:
What type of rifle do you have?
Do you own a 6.5 Creedmoor? A .308? Whatever rifle you have, you want to make sure that you have a scope that is compatible with it.
Also, you’ll want to take into account what kind of characteristics that rifle has. If you have one that has plenty of recoil, odds are you want a scope that has plenty of eye relief along with enough durability to handle the large amounts of shock associated with recoil. The goal here is to get a scope where it handles so much shock that the zero settings are the same after 100 or more shots.
What do you intend to use your rifle for?
Are you a hunter? Is it just for target shooting? Either way, the purpose of your rifle could play a role in which scope you use.
If you are a target shooter, there’s a good chance you’ll be firing off multiple shots at a time. So it would make sense to get a scope that will handle plenty of shock. Likewise, a scope that is tough to handle the weather conditions and shock from recoil will be ideal for hunters who will be outdoors for hours on end (and squeeze off a few shots throughout the day).
What kind of scope mounts will you need?
Every scope needs a mount. The question is: which one will work best for you? There are two types of scope mounts on the market: flat mounts and scope rings.
While we are not going to go into detail about them, it’s important to find the right mount that will fit your scope and provide you with the best stability possible. Also, ease of installation will be important since the right kind of mount will determine whether or not the scope will be able to fit.
Best Rifle Scopes Under $500: My Top 3 Picks
The following is a list of the three best rifle scopes under $500. If you are on a budget and serious about looking for a scope that works best for you, then one of these might be your best option. We’ll be taking a look at the best overall, runner-up, and best for the money picks.
With that said, let’s dive right in:
Bushnell Banner Dusk and Dawn Multi-X Reticle Rifle Scope – Best Overall
First is the Bushnell Banner Dusk and Dawn Multi-X Reticle Rifle Scope. Our best overall choice is perhaps one of the best performing scopes for almost any rifle out there. For one, it lives up to its name “Dusk and Dawn”.
That’s because it can perform quite nicely in low-light conditions. Whether it’s sunrise or sunset, you will more than likely make your targets without even needing an extra bit of light. If you want to land your hunting target before everyone else gets settled in for the day.
Other than that, if you want excellent accuracy with precise adjustments for windage and elevation this scope might be exactly what you need. Most users say that the adjustments are easy since the turrets aren’t a challenge to turn in either direction. This is a pretty good rifle scope that has a solid build, good eye relief, and can be fitting for rifles like a .308, 30-30 Marlin, and others.
- Excellent in low light conditions
- Great durability
- Effectively accurate at 300 yards
- Easy adjustments for windage and elevation
- Perfect for hunting and target shooting
- Eye relief could be better
- Reticle may be sticky at times
- Shooting groups may jump around a bit
- Bright. Accurate. Dependable. We'll assume your stand is in the right spot and suggest our Banner...
- This Banner 3-9x40 scope is in the tried & proven 3-9x40 configuration that's a classic...
Last update on 2023-02-08 at 08:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope — Runner-Up
Next on the list is the Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescope. One of the things that Vortex is best known for is its durability. And there is no doubt that any scope from Vortex Optics will last a long time.
They even have a lifetime warranty to prove it. But how well does it function? It provides you with excellent image clarity that might give other scopes a run for their money. According to users, the image clarity and the thin reticle makes every shot as accurate and precise as possible, especially from various distances. One user said that it’s effective for when you want to nail targets as far out as 600 yards.
If you own a rifle like a 6.5 Creedmoor, this scope might be the clear favorite. Especially when you want the price to stay below $500. This scope does a great job performance-wise, but the durability really makes this scope stand out even more.
- Excellent for long-range rifles
- Superior durability
- Great image clarity
- Easy adjustments
- Holds zero after hundreds of shots
- Glass can be blurry at powerful magnification levels
- Crosshairs may be a bit too thin for some
- Turrets don’t always stop on hash marks
- The Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane 6-24x50 stands at the intersection of precision and...
- Extra-low dispersion glass and fully multi-coated lenses transmit a crisp, bright sight picture. The...
Last update on 2023-02-08 at 10:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Vortex Optics Copperhead SFP Rifle Scope — Best For The Money
Our best for the money choice is another scope from Vortex Optics. This time, we’ll be taking a look at the Copperhead SFP Rifle Scope. You will still get the legendary durability that makes the Vortex Optics scopes famous.
On top of that, you get a generous amount of eye relief. With a lot of eye relief at your disposal, this can work quite nicely with rifles that pack a powerful punch. If you have a Springfield M1A or an M14 chances are this could be the scope that will match perfectly.
This scope is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. For the price that it’s going for, the way it performs, and how durable it is makes this such a steal of a deal. If you want a scope that will be perfect for hunters who spend a lot of time out in the field or the target range, this might be the scope that delivers exceptional results minus the cheap quality and subpar performance.
- Best for the money
- Excellent durability
- Performs well in low-light environments
- Perfect for M1A or M14 rifles
- Easy turret adjustments
- May be blurry at high magnification settings
- May not be suitable for rimfire
- Specifically designed for hunters and shooters, the Copperhead riflescope offers the highest levels...
- The Dead-Hold BDC is good for hunting and shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over is a...
Last update on 2023-02-08 at 06:02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Open Questions For Scopes Under $500
What is the ideal eye relief for a scope?
The ideal eye relief for a scope should be 3 inches. However, if the rifle has more recoil, you may want to consider a scope that will give you longer eye relief.
How much magnification do you need to shoot at 500 yards?
If you are planning on shooting targets at 500 yards or more, then consider the idea of getting a scope that has 5x or 10x the magnification power.
What kind of scope mounts are available?
You can choose between two types of scope mounts: flat or scope rings. While scope rings provide you with more support and reliability, scope mounts will likely be a better fit if you have a much larger scope in diameter.
Fixed magnification or variable: which is better?
It all depends on your personal preferences. However, if you want to shoot at targets at various distances, you should consider the idea of purchasing a scope with variable magnification levels.
If you are considering the idea of purchasing a scope under $500, then one of these three will be a good option. However, if we had to choose we say that the Bushnell Dusk and Dawn rifle scope would be the best option.
With its ability to work great in low-light conditions and provide you with excellent reliability, this scope will definitely be a hunter’s best friend out in the field. If you are at the range more often than not, this will definitely be a scope worth trying out with rifles like the .308.