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The 5 Best Rifle Scope under $500 in 2024 (Tested by Experts)

Choosing the right rifle scope can be a daunting task. The task even worsens when you buy a rifle scope under $500.  There are plenty of high-quality, budget-friendly riflescopes available that give optimum performance without crashing your bank. But there are equal chances of you falling for a wrong choice.

The rifle scope you choose should be durable. It should be made of aircraft-grade aluminum or durable steel to protect the riflescope from external conditions. There should be no harm to internal components if the scope accidentally falls. So, if you have to follow a budget and buy a riflescope, you are in the right place. We have been surfing numerous websites and going through various reviews to provide you with the best buying guide.

Just a reminder: links here are affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase, the site gets a small commission at no extra cost to you. Following is our list of the best rifle scopes under $500:

TOP 5 Rifle Scope Under 500

1. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

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Vortex Optics Viper is one of the most versatile best rifle scopes under $500. This riflescope comes with extreme precision, high-target acquisition, and smooth working.

It has a decent four-inch eye relief with a 6x magnification range and three-inch eye relief with a 24x magnification variant. The images of this rifle scope remain clear without any disturbance at the edges.

It has XR fully multi-coated lens and anti-reflective properties. The lens has extra-low dispersion to view different images in any light conditions.

The riflescope has parallax removal and side focus adjustment to get perfect images. It is a single 30mm long aircraft-grade aluminum tube and is shockproof against impact and recoil.

All this is possible because the exterior lens has an Armor Tek coating. Argon gas is purged in it to make it fog-proof. It is also waterproof with O-ring seals to keep moisture content out.

Vortex Viper comes with Customizable Rotational Stop (CRS) to return to Zero after elevation corrections. There is a fast-focus eyepiece for quick and easy focusing.  It comes with a 4-inch sunshade to protect the lens from the sun.

Pros
Easy to read dials and offer a wide field of view.
Turrets have an audible click for quick tuning
Practical and uncluttered reticle
Remarkable construction
Excellent glass clarity
Accurate ranging
Cons
Magnification adjustment is stiff
High price tag

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2. Athlon Optics Helos BTR 6-24×50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes

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Athlon Optics is not the most recognized name when it comes to gun optics. Athlon Optics Helos BTR series of scopes have high-quality optics with an illuminated first focal plane reticle and special glass, making it an obvious choice as the best rifle scope under $500 to work in any light conditions at this price point.

It has a reticle on the first focal plane. Thus, the scope is excellent for long-range shots. It has a large 50mm objective lens in front that provides a lot of space for light to come in.

The scope comes with a 4x zoom ratio. There are variants of this riflescope with a magnification range from 6x to 24x, making it an ideal choice for long-range shots. Sometimes, it is hard to target smaller prey at shorter distances.

The glass has multi-coating to make it glare-free and to get distinct images. The riflescope has an aircraft-grade aluminum tube with a diameter of 30mm. The tube is argon purged and seal to make it fog proof and waterproof.

The windage and elevation turrets can be locked. Both turrets can be adjusted by 18 mils (60 MOA), with a six mil adjustment possible per rotation.

Pros
Waterproof, fog proof, shockproof
Sturdy build
Locking turrets
Illuminated reticle
Argon gas
Cons
Requires extra glass treatment

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3. Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50 PA SFP Riflescope

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This is another type of long-range scope under $500. It has impressive magnification ranges between 6.5x and 20x. The Vortex Viper has a magnificent design. This scope has a huge 50mm objective lens allowing tons of light to get into it.

The combination of multi-coated lens and excellent light transmission produces crisp and distinct images. It is a second focal plane rifle scope that weighs 2.3 pounds. It is argon-filled and O-ring sealed, making it waterproof and fog-proof.

This SFP riflescope has a BDC reticle that gives fast focus. The mil-dot reticle allows one to get precise focus at dusk but not at night. The reason is, it is not illuminated. The hunter can get the best sight because the turrets are zero resettable.

It is possible to focus at any position because the side knob focus removes parallax. This is one of the best hunting scopes if you have to follow a budget and go for long-range shooting.

Pros
It comes with resettable turrets
Has side knob focus
Impressive shock absorption
Amazing clarity
Weatherproof and fog proof
Cons
Not illuminated

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4. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Riflescope

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Anything can come your way when you hunt.  To get it done, this Leupold VX-3i has fantastic power ranges to shoot a target from 100 yards to long-range shots. It is a non-CDS scope and has a duplex reticle that makes it fit in the category of scopes under $500.

The design of this rifle scope is just so simple.  There is a good performance in low-light conditions, lightweight, clear, and bright glass, something precisely like any hunter would desire. The scope is built with high-grade aluminum and weighs only 12.6oz. The design includes low-profile, slim, and capped turrets. The rifle scope is nitrogen-filled and O-ring sealed to make it waterproof and fog-proof.

The duplex reticle with heavy posts drawing your attention to the center cannot get simpler. The turrets can be set to zero but lack a zero stop.  The Twilight Max Light Management system can help you push the limits of your hunt with another 20 minutes.

The Leupold  VX scopes have edge-to-edge clarity and sharpness at all magnification levels. It comes with an adequate eye relief of 4.4-3.6″. With this rifle scope, the hunter has nothing to worry about over dark sight pictures, excess magnification, and over-exposed dials.

Pros
Twilight Max Light Management System
Weatherproof & Lightweight
Duplex reticle
Budget-Friendly
Cons
Confusion due to different models of Leupold VX-3i

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5. Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex Scope

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Burris Fullfield is another remarkable scope at a price point under $500. This is a hunting rifle scope as it has a Ballistic Plex reticle. If you want a highly inexpensive scope, this is what you are looking.

This rifle scope has an excellent build and exceptional optics. Due to the 50mm objective lens, this rifle scope provides greater visibility in low light conditions. It is an amazing choice for long-range shooting as it has a magnification range from 6.5x to 20x. This scope is significantly lighter than the Vortex Viper. It is just 1.2 pounds.

The reticle of this rifle scope is at the second focal plane. This makes the rifle scope a little difficult for long range shooting. It comes with an eye relief of 3.1 to 3.6 inches.

Windage and elevation turrets provide adjustments up to 30 MOA. It is a little cheaper than Vortex Viper. You can save $50 to $100 by choosing Burris Fullfield II. This rifle scope is overall a good choice for hunting.

Pros
Long-range shooting
Compact and lightweight
Ballistic reticle
Weatherproof and Shockproof
Cons
Integrated focus ring

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Buyer’s Guide

Quality of construction

There should be no compromise with the build and design. The scope should be able to hold zero once set and used for sighting. Even if the scope is budget-friendly, it should be able to have precise and repeatable adjustments. The rifle scopes should be made of aircraft-grade aluminum or durable steel. The scope is purged with argon gas and has O-ring seals. Thus, the rifle scopes are waterproof, fog proof. We also want clear low dispersion glass to have sound light transmission. There is no scope for inferior quality glass.

Appropriate Magnification range

This is independent of the price range. Whatever the price tag of your riflescope, it should have an appropriate magnification range. A riflescope with magnification ranges of 1-8x is excellent for competitions, and tactical shooting but not ideal for long-range shooting. A long-range shooting rifle scope for target shooting or hunting should have a magnification range of 4-14x or 6-25x. Standard hunting scopes have a magnification range of 3-9x but can go higher to level up the game and shoot animals long distances.

Adjustment Method

Are you going to be dialing the windage and elevation for long-range shots, or are you comfortable with guessing and estimating the holdover on a duplex reticle? Long-range riflescopes will have reset turrets, parallax adjustment methods usually with a side knob. The elevation will be generally dialed in to avoid guessing during holdover also put the crosshair where it has to be in a precise position.

Reticle style

If you use a regular hunting scope, then a simple duplex reticle will do your job. Various reticles are available for target shooting that can make windage and elevation adjustments easy, and compensate for a longer-range drop and mark. BDC reticle comes with a bullet drop compensator that helps identify where you will hit assuming your round is calibrated. This is very useful for quick and competing shots.

Clarity or Precision

Shooting without an aim is pointless. Your scope has to be precise. This is a feature we consider even at a shop. The focusing game is on point if your scope is accurate.  In that case, it is the objective lens and magnification lens that your eyes need. All rifle scopes come with an optic system that even illuminates at night. So choose a riflescope that will not strain your eyes and give a sharp and quick focus.

Warranty and Support

No matter the price point, the manufacturer should always be willing to stand behind the customer. Thus, a good warranty and good customer support must be at hand. All the scopes in the list have a lifetime warranty or a limited warranty and good customer support. No issue will go unresolved. There are also third-party accessories like lens covers or sunshades that always help keep your experience with the riflescope memorable.

Happy Hunting

So here we have compiled the best rifle scopes under $500. All the necessary information that you need to know about any riflescope is right here. Strictly analyze your requirement, carefully go through each rifle scope you are interested in, and then choose. The above rifle scopes are used every day by numerous professional hunters and shooters.  You will not fall for the wrong one if you choose from the above list. Also, if you get a scope, don’t forget to check out our guide to zeroing it in.

There are numerous other scopes available, and we haven’t gone through all of them, but still, the above ones are safe with no risk at all.  So, find your favorite riflescope and enjoy your shooting endeavor.

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