You can get a clean long-range shot each and every time… and all for a low price.
No matter whether you’re hunting or out on the shooting range, you want long-distance shooting ability. That means you require a riflescope.
However, you don’t want to take out a second mortgage on your house.
Table Of Contents
- Quick List of the Best Riflescopes Under $300
- What Are the Benefits of Inexpensive Riflescopes?
- Riflescope Vocabulary and Specifics:
- What About Parallax?
- What Is MOA?
- What to Consider When Buying a Hunting Scope
- The Best Scopes Under $300
- What Is the Best Budget Long-Range Riflescope?
Quick List of the Best Riflescopes Under $300
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50mm AO
- Nikon P-223 4-12×40 Matte BDC 600
- Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 3-9x40mm Riflescope
- Mueller Target Riflescope 8-32x44mm
- Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40mm
We get it. You’re looking for a reasonable price range while simultaneously nabbing a riflescope that gets the job done. Fear not, avid hunters; there are plenty of high-quality scopes for your hunting rifle that clock in at under $300 USD.
In this article, we’ll go over the benefits of inexpensive scopes, the vocabulary you need to know for purchasing your riflescope, other things to consider, and then we get into the best scopes that don’t cost you an arm and a leg (and another arm and another leg).
Let’s get to it!
What Are the Benefits of Inexpensive Riflescopes?
What’s great about riflescopes that don’t cost too much is that you can still get a lot of bang for your buck. Here are the benefits of getting a scope for your gun that’s on the cheaper side:
Provides ample eye relief
Most of the scopes you will see in our list offers terrific eye relief, which is the distance between the scope and your eyeball that offers you a full picture view. The closer the distance, the higher the chance you’ll get nasty scope eye.
With long eye relief, you can get a full, bright image at a comfortable distance from the scope itself. And if it’s a fast-focus eyepiece, you get eye relief in the blink of an eye (literally).
Accounts for windage: These scopes typically have turrets on top and to the side, which accounts for both range and windage. By adjusting the zero-reset turret on the side, you can ensure your shot is accurate despite the wind.
Long-range shooting capability
Obviously, this is the biggest advantage of a riflescope. You can increase your range to around 300-500 yards, which is necessary for skittish game out in the woods. Plus, it’s usually a magnification range, which means the target gets bigger as you range out.
A long-range scope goes a “long” way to improving your shot both in the field and on the shooting range.
We mentioned these turrets before, but they’re a benefit in and of themselves. The zero-reset turrets allow for a springloaded experience that’s both accurate and quiet. Therefore, you can make elevation adjustments based on your sighted-in “zero” setting, with every setting above zero adding range.
Of course, there’s also the wind-age turret to assist you with the breeze.
Incredible sight picture
With any scope, you want to be able to see. (Quite the concept, isn’t it?) Not only that, but you want the alignment of your reticle with your target to be spot on. With a quality scope and a BDC reticle, you get precise sight and clear pictures every time.
As well, anti-reflective glass and maximum light transmission provide for a crystal clear image.
Saves money without skimping on quality
You can get all of the advantages listed above at a low cost. A quality budget scope gives you tremendous range and sight without breaking the bank.
What’s more, a lot of the options we’ll give you below can be found on Amazon, which means you can get it for even cheaper, and quickly!
With all of these benefits, it’s hard to find a reason NOT to get a riflescope for under $300. The only argument would be if you wanted even more advantages, but that would only drive up the price.
So if $300 and below is your price range, then fear not — you still get an amazing tool for your hunt.
Riflescope Vocabulary and Specifics:
What Are Reticles?
Reticles are essentially types of crosshairs. There are a few kinds made for riflescopes, but we’ll focus on the top three for riflescopes under $300:
Also known as a bullet drop reticle, this type looks like a normal crosshair with an open circle in the middle, followed by numerous tinier circles spaced below the middle dot. That means you don’t have to adjust your turrets if you don’t have the time for that.
Just put your holdover on one of the lower reticles for a farther shot. There are specific types of BDC reticles, including a dead-hold BDC and BDC 600 (which goes up to 600 yards), but we’ll cover each of the top scope’s reticles in detail below.
This is your typical thick crosshairs on the outer part of the glass, but they turn into a line of dots on each crosshair as you get towards the middle. This allows you to account for long-range distances, elevation adjustments, and windage without going to your turrets in a pinch.
Short for Advanced Combined Sighting System, this is an advanced reticle that combines bullet drop compensation with range estimation, windage, and target leads. It comes equipped with a middle dot (usually illuminated) and a semi-circle around and above that dot (also illuminated).
Plus, it has MOA subtensions (explained below) beneath the middle dot. The ACSS reticle drastically boosts the first hit ratio, as well as decreases the time of engagement.
What About Parallax?
This is a tricky concept to explain, but easy to comprehend after seeing it. The parallax in riflescopes is the apparent movement of objects within the field of view in relation to the reticle.
In a scope, you have two pieces of glass: the first focal plane (the glass closest to your eye, which is where the reticle is) and the second focal plane (SFP, also called the objective lens).
With an adjustable objective piece, you can ensure that your target is in the exact same focal plane as your reticle. This means a clean shot that should go where you aimed.
High magnification scopes are normally equipped with a parallax adjustment so that the parallax doesn’t mess with the sight. That way, you can place your objective lens at any distance and make the shot count.
Tactical scopes and scopes with low magnification rarely have this type of adjustment because the exact range can’t be anticipated and the range is too low to have any heavy parallax, respectively.
Because the objective lens creates the primary image of the target, and because the distance between the two can vary, parallax can vary.
Seeing as the reticle stays put within the housing of the scope, the parallax can form in front of or behind the reticle. Hence the need for adjustment.
Here’s a simple way to think about parallax: If you get a scope with high magnification ranges, make sure it has parallax adjusters or objective adjusters. If you get a tactical scope or a scope that doesn’t magnify, you don’t have to worry that much about parallax.
What Is MOA?
Minute of Angle (MOA) is an angular measurement, where the distance between reticle one (the first reticle, smack dab in the middle) and the second reticle (the one right below the middle reticle) transfers to X amount of yards.
In short, MOA is the reason why you can put the third bead on a target that’s 300 yards farther than where the scope’s sighted and make an accurate shot.
One MOA is 1/60th of a degree, and one MOA also spreads about one inch per 100 yards. This is the math and science behind BDC reticles.
Because a bullet drops over an extended range, you need to compensate for that bullet drop. MOA helps you with said compensation.
What to Consider When Buying a Hunting Scope
A great scope should have everything on this list:
- Quick focus eyepiece: This improves the speed in which you obtain full sight and a complete picture of your target. A quick focus eyepiece shaves seconds off your time between putting the stock in your shoulder and pulling the trigger, which is the difference between getting a shot off and not in some cases.
Magnification level: Some people prefer low magnification; others prefer high magnification. Low magnification reduces overall parallax, which means less adjustment but a lower total range. High magnification, on the other hand, amps up the range but increases parallax. If you go with this option, get a scope with an adjustable objective lens.
- Fog-proof, waterproof, shockproof: Most scopes come with O-rings built into their scopes, which keeps moisture out of the scope’s body. This makes it waterproof and fog-proof in any weather condition. Plus, some are made out of aircraft-grade aluminum or an equivalent material, increasing its durability and embracing against shocks if one were to drop their rifle.
Overall field of view: Anti-glare glass and scratch-resistant lenses should help with giving you a clear field of view.
- Scope features: How does the scope function under low-light conditions? Does it provide a clear image? Tube length. These are details that might be important when considering how you’re attaching the scope to your rifle or what kind of riflescope experience you want. What type of game you hunt should also be considered.
- Materials: You want your scope to be built with materials that can absorb shocks and improve durabilities, such as aircraft-grade aluminum or some type of steel.
- Price range: Obviously, you want your scope to clock in at under $300.
- Lifetime warranty: To continue the theme of being cost-savvy, get a scope with a long-term warranty, preferably lifetime. Things happen, and your scope could get damaged. With a warranty, you get protection and enhanced care from the company you got your scope from.
Now, let’s get into some scopes!
The Best Scopes Under $300
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50mm AO
Vortex Crossfire riflescopes are terrific adversaries to have out on your hunts. This one, in particular, has a dead-hold BDC reticle, which means you can select an appropriate hashmark in the BDC reticle that will have a suitable bullet-drop compensation for all reasonable distances.
The 30mm tube uses 1/4 MOA adjustment graduation, too.
It gets better and better. The Crossfire II comes with four inches of eye relief, a fast-focus eyepiece, resettable turrets, and is made of single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum that is nitrogen purged and sealed with an O-ring for waterproof and fog-proof purposes.
Plus, it has a capped turret style, removable lens caps, and a lens cloth.
Complete with a lifetime warranty, and you’ve got one hell of a riflescope. You can’t go wrong if you pick the Vortex Optics Crossfire II.
Nikon P-223 4-12×40 Matte BDC 600
The second Nikon scope on our list, this one has an impressive BDC 600 reticle. What this means is it has hash marks from 100 yards to 600 yards, and it’s developed specifically for the trajectory of the .223 Rem/5.56 NATO round with 55-grain polymer tip bullets. (The scope works for other rifles and ballistics, too.)
It has 3.7 inches of eye relief, a parallax setting of 100 yards, and a matte finish. The scope is waterproof, fog-proof, and comes equipped with Nikon’s Spot-On Ballistic Match Technology.
With two options to compensate for bullet drop — dial in your distances with Rapid Action Turrets or using the BDC 600 reticle — you can get a clean shot no matter your preference.
Due to the reticle and the technology included in this riflescope, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better scope than the Nikon P-223.
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 3-9x40mm Riflescope
This super price-friendly scope (it goes for under $150) by Bushnell is a spectacular option for your rifle. It has a second focal plane Multi-X crosshair reticle, fully multi-coated optics with 91 percent light transmission, and is 100 percent waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, as well as nitrogen-filled.
The Trophy Xtreme 1/4 MOA fingertip windage and elevation adjustments and a fast-focus eyepiece. Also, it provides 100 yards of parallax adjustment range.
Combine this with capped turrets and a rain guard, and you’ve got an impressive riflescope.
Incredibly nice for your budget, the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme is a solid choice for a scope under $300.
Mueller Target Riflescope 8-32x44mm
A 30mm tube and four inches of eye relief make the Mueller Target scope an impressive selection. What else does it have? A high-magnification, micro-fine Mil-Dot reticle, a fast-focus eyepiece, and a windage/elevation adjustment range of 40 inches at 100 yards.
This riflescope also has fully exposed target turrets, a slim tube, and is super lightweight. Plus, it has a side parallax adjuster, so that magnification doesn’t mess with your shot.
Add to that edge-to-edge clarity and you have a scope that’s worth a higher price than what it’s going for.
While it might have a little less than the other riflescopes on this list, the Mueller Target Riflescope is worth every penny.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40mm
Last up, we have the Vortex Diamondback, which has a dead-hold BDC reticle and 1/4 MOA adjustment graduation.
That’s not all. It has 3.1 inches of eye relief, a 100-yard parallax setting, and it’s made with one piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. This material makes the riflescope virtually indestructible and highly resistant to heavy recoil.
Fully multi-colored, waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof, this scope has capped reset turrets and a Precision-Glide Erector System that “ensures the components in the zoom lens mechanism glide smoothly and cleanly through all magnification ranges.”
This is one of the best scopes available at this price range. If you’re in the market, go for the Vortex Diamondback.
What Is the Best Budget Long-Range Riflescope?
This is a very tough call; all of the above scopes are solid choices.
But if we had to choose, it would be the Vortex Crossfire II. This riflescope offer the most features at a low cost.
However, the best budget long-range scope for YOU might be a different brand or different scope type. Make sure you go out to stores and test all of these scopes before making a final decision.
That does it for the best riflescopes under $300. Reread our list of considerations, check out the scopes on this list, and make the choice that makes the most sense for your individual needs.