Best Long Range Rifle Scope Under $500: Shooters Guide
Most shooters know the immediate impact that a quality optic can have on accuracy and precision in your shooting. With more and more technological innovations in the optics market and the access to quality materials that has increased as the shooting market has increased, it’s now easy to find excellent quality optics for a reasonable price point. We decided to write this article on the best long-range rifle scope under $500, because we feel you can get the best range of scopes for the best value at this price point.
Sure, there are reasons to buy a $2500 scope if you have the needs in your shooting scenario, but for the most part, you aren’t getting a whole lot at the top end of the market that you cannot also get for right around $500.
Let’s clarify one thing: you can get the same magnification, the same lens diameter and light introduction; the same materials (for the most part) and the same options. The only difference for most top tier scopes compared to a sub $500 scope is the quality of manufacture, the glass quality (not magnification, but coatings and finishing) and the proprietary bits.
We have no complaints about shooting with top tier, high-dollar glass, but we also feel comfortable shooting on a budget rig and we use the sub $500 glass more often than not.
Besides, do you really want an accessory that costs more than your firearm? Do you really want to worry what would happen to your $2800 German rifle scope if you slid down a hill accidentally on a hunting trip during heavy rain and sleet? It’s a matter of understanding the needs you each have, to pick the best fit for you.
At $150-500, you can find a sweet spot for long range rifle scopes (you’ll see in a bit) for anyone that doesn’t need the absolute best of the best and is using the scope for recreation and not for tactical precision shooting or sniper work.
The guys using those $3000+ scopes for that kind of work are limited in what they can use by government or departmental guidelines, and they don’t buy their own equipment, so there isn’t really a carryover.
The important part is this: You can find incredibly good quality optics at the under $500 price point. So, if you want to know how to select the best options and find the best long-range rifle scope under $500, keep reading…
Our Top Five Long Range Rifle Scopes Under $500 in 2018
- ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope...
- Nikon Buckmasters II, 4-12x40mm, BDC, Rifle Scope – EDITOR CHOICE
- Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal...
- BARSKA 8-32x50 IR AO Excavator IR Target Dot...
- Simmons Truplex Riflescope (3-9X40, Matte)
Reviews of Best Long Range Rifle Scopes Under $500 on the Market Today
1. ATN X-Sight II HD 5-20 Smart Day/Night Rifle Scope Review –
HD video recording and many more
This has so much integration and capability that nothing even comes close to it for the money. It’s not cheap though and just barely makes our list at the $500 mark (at the time of writing). The types of functionality you get for the money are ridiculous (in a good way) and the optics are decent; more than capable of keeping up with the other scopes at the price point ($100-500). It can video record and has GPS, tagging, and other functionalities that can help with your future hunting trips and enjoyment factor. It is a high-tech device though, much more than it is a mechanical glass optic.
- Tons of perks.
- Great quality.
- Nothing has specs to match the integration into the shooting experience once you have learned all the gadgetry.
- Quirky sometimes on the user interface.
- If you don’t have battery, you don’t have optics.
What it’s good for: For the people who are constantly looking for the newest tech gadget before all their friends have it and just so happened to really get into shooting. It’s good for analyzing shots, making good calculations on the fly, and recording hunts. The optics are better than average, but they aren’t amazing, so make sure you have an extra battery pack, and that you’re not going out past 600 yards on the regular.
- Use Day & Night in HD resolution - our HD...
- Zero range: 100 yard. Day & Night Vision in...
- Ballistic Calculator - shifts Point of Impact on...
2. Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12x40mm Scope with BDC Reticle Review – EDITOR CHOICE
Best Long Range Rifle Scope Under $500
The reticle allows for on-the-fly adjustments out to 600 yards. This distance is perfectly attainable if you learn the bullet drop of your cartridge of choice, with the 12-power magnification and the adequate 40mm objective lens. The Nikon glass is well known and offers sturdy build quality and a good reputation for delivering top tier products at reasonable prices. This is a great lower end model on their spectrum, without any of the concerns that most lower end models from major makers, normally have.
- Good price point.
- Variable magnification and a quality build.
- From a value perspective this could easily be seen as the Best Long Range Rifle Scope Under $500 when you actually factor in what you get for the price you pay.
- This is not their (Nikon’s) top tier scope model.
What it’s good for: For the money this scope is very hard to beat. It is a good scope for hunters using it for large game hunting. The high potential magnification and the variability and the decently large objective lens gives good quality pictures despite lower tier glass, which allows excellent performance for low cost. It can be used for hunting, target work or for any other scope need. It is particularly good for deer hunting on meadow and plains terrain in decent light.
- Extremely bright sight picture: Allows for...
- Fully multicoated lenses offer increased light...
- Patented BDC reticle.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24×50 AO Riflescope Review
High-quality imaging and durable build
This is where the scopes start getting a lot better glass quality (around $300), and this Vortex has great clarity up to about 16x magnification. It begins to get a bit grainier after that and even though it will put you at 24x, it’s not the clearest picture. Still, this scope, while massive, is a great bargain for what you get. It will take you out to 600+ yards. You can get to 800 with the right rifle, but you might be close to the extreme limitations of the optical clarity aspects of this scope.
- Great glass to 16x.
- Good price point considering glass quality.
- Exceptional warranty, almost worth the price of admission, alone.
- Some spotty quality control at times.
- Not made for particularly heavy shooting/recoiling guns but… that warranty though!
What it’s good for: putting on a mid-ranged rifle that needs to go out to about 400-500 yards consistently. This is an excellent choice for longer range rifles with flat shooting cartridges that are actually used at 300 yards more often than they are used at 600. That said, this would be an excellent coyote scope for 500+ yards with something like a .22-250, where you need the optics, and have the round that can match the optical power.
- The Diamondback 4-12x40 riflescope is one of...
- Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or...
- Lenses are fully multi-coated for crstyal clear,...
4. BARSKA 8-32×50 IR AO Excavator IR Target Dot Riflescope Review
Excellent value for the money
For the money, it is an excellent value. It is not, however a super quality scope. It has some concerns at the higher end of the power scale, where the quality of the glass is lacking enough to manifest it on the viewport. Most people shooting this price point for a scope are mounting it to a gun that isn’t capable of actually using the full power of this scope by the numbers anyways. That isn’t an indictment on the buyer or user, but rather the point that this scope offers a lot for the money.
- High end numbers even if they are unusable at the highest levels.
- Good accessories package included with it.
- Excellent price.
- It shows its quality at the top end of the spectrum in use. That is to say: it is not as quality as it needs to be to fully be capable of the specifications it touts.
What it’s good for: those who need a simple, capable scope out to 300 yards or so, and don’t want to have to apply for a second mortgage on their house. The all-in value of this optic is very high, but it does have its limitations. Know what to expect and don’t try to put this on a $5000 counter sniper rifle and you will likely be pleased with the performance. It can generally keep up with any mainstream value priced gun on the market without a bunch of hurdles.
- 8-32x variable magnification with large 50mm...
- Multi-coated optics with Illuminated Target Dot...
- Adjustable Objective lens is built with a...
5. Simmons Truplex Riflescope (3-9X40, Matte) Review
Another good scope for the budget
A seriously good scope for a budget riffle build, this is a straightforward easy choice for those who need a bargain price point with good quality to 150-200 yards without all the perks of the more expensive rifle scopes. Yes, the glass is not amazing, but it’s usable. Yes, the build quality is not amazing, but it’s very good; and that’s before you include the fact that it’s priced at the same price as less than a week’s worth of coffee at your local Starbucks to buy one of these.
- Low cost.
- Good adjustment.
- Glass quality is lower end.
- Not the best durability.
What it’s good for: budget rifle builds about which, you aren’t sure yet that you want to invest heavily on a scope but still need an optic to have some fun with it. The quality is seriously amazing for what you pay for it.
- 8-Point 3-9 x 40mm
- Trueplex reticle
- Waterproof, Fog proof & shockproof
Rifle Scope Buying Guide
Components of a Scope
- Power – as in the magnification of the glass to show the target to the shooter.
- Objective lens size – The amount of light (corresponding to the diameter of the lens – the bigger the better the light gathering is) that is let into the view on scope.
- Tube size and mounting – the size of the actual mounting tubes that allows the scope to be put onto the rifle (we left pistol scopes out of this article).
NOTE: the objective lens and the mounts are important because you have to be able to fit the scope onto the rifle, so you’ll need to know the height of the scope at the mounting location and the tube size to get the right mounts and rings for putting the scope onto the gun.
What is Magnification?
It’s a relatively simple calculation. The magnification number is usually first in the technical name of the scope. For instance, we will take our first scope in the list as an example: Nikon Buckmasters II 4-12x40mm Scope with BDC Reticle in this example the magnification of the scope is from 4x to 12x (4 times the size as actual ranging up to 12 times the size as actual, in the scope).
The second part of the technical specification is the 40mm objective lens. This means that the objective lens is 40mm across its face. The larger it is, the more light it can capture, to reflect back onto the image, giving more detail and better attenuation to the eye of the target.
Most scopes are listed for sale in this way. If they aren’t, it’s an easy bit of research to find out the two most important pieces of information.
Please note: not all optics or glass for that matter, are created equally. Premium glass will perform better than cheaper glass. But that does not mean you cannot get very good comparative value for much less money if the general parameters are close/match.
What is Field of View?
FOV or field of view is the amount of the target area you can see at different magnifications at different distances. The further away the target is, and the closer you want the details to be in the FOV, the smaller the FOV will be.
The field of view is the reference information that frames the target, in conjunction with the target. From a practical perspective, with higher quality scopes you’ll see more and with greater clarity.
What is Eye Relief?
Eye relief is the amount of distance it takes to position your eye to see a full view of your scope’s objective lens. This means it is how close your face will need to be to see the complete projection of the target in your lens. The eye relief will have some effect on the mounting and placement of your scope.
What is the Difference Between Focal Planes?
Focal plane is the reference to your reticle size relative to the magnification in the scope.
FIRST FOCAL PLANE: The first focal plane is where the reticle size changes based on the increase or decrease in magnification.
SECOND FOCAL PLANE: The second focal plane allows for the reticle to stay the exact same size in the viewport regardless of the amount of magnification that is applied to the scope.
Knowing this basic information will give you the tools you need to make a more informed decision about which scope will perform best for you and your needs.
If you are unsure about how a specific scope fits into the grand scheme of things, you can view each of our listings “What it’s good for” section. What follows, is a list of our favorite scopes for long range shooting that are also under $500.
When you need to find an optic that can take you out to extreme distances, but you aren’t ready to spend 3 times what you would on a top tier rifle on just the optics, the $100-$500 range is a very nice place to be. Some of our best choices in this price range are actually closer to 100 than they are to 500. That’s an interesting point, because it proves that for basic utility, when the optical clarity at super long distances and the proprietary perks aren’t the main focus, you can get very good value at the lower price points.
Note: these aren’t scopes that can barely handle a .22LR at 100 yards; this list of the contenders for the Best Long Range Rifle Scope Under $500 is a list of capable, versatile scopes that can legitimately provide value in the field going after big game or on the competitive circuit for competition and target shooters.