Best Cheap Scope:

What is the Best Cheap Scope?

I am constantly asked "WHAT IS THE BEST CHEAP SCOPE?" or "WHAT IS THE BEST CHEAP SCOPE UNDER $300, $500?" or some other dollar amount. In the past I have always dreaded having to give a response, but here in 2010 with the US economy in the crapper good folks must watch every penny like never before. Keeping that in mind I set out to see what the state of cheap scopes was currently like. I did like any other shooter would. I looked at catalogs, read some forums, visited online stores and scope manufacturers web sites. I then took that information and combined it with my scope experiences of the last two years or so and created this page. All the choices on this page are under $500 and by no means am I implying that a $250 Vortex is as good as a Leupold, Nightforce or Zeiss nor would they survive the riggors of combat. These suggestions are for the casual shooter, hunter and weekend warrior.

A note on shooting forums, community and online blog's. Many of these outlets tend to have brand favorites which might not be apparent to the passer by doing research. Try to remain open minded and look for patterns.

How Much Scope Do You Need?

Here's the tough part for many shooters. Shooters often wrestle with "Needs" versus "Wants but being on a budget you really owe it to yourself to be honest with yourself. I havve thrown together some questions to help you the shooter take a reality check.

  1. How much is your budget? - You need to be realistic and keep in mind there may be additional costs such as scope rings, scope bases and scope lens caps. Are the extra items included in your budget?
  2. How will the gun and scope be used? - What is the intended target? Will you be shooting White Tail Deer at 100 yards or varmints at 400 yards? Can scope failure cost you your life? Are you going to punch paper at 1000 yards, Will it be used in low light or will it be a combination of these scenarios?
  3. How often will the gun and scope be used - Will you be using the scope for a few hunting trips per year, spend every weekend punching paper, or is it a safe queen only coming out for photo opportunities?
  4. What kind of gun is the scope being mounted too? - Recoil is a big concern with inexpensive scopes. A scope that disintegrates internally on the first shot when mounted to a 30-06 might work well and last a lifetime on a .22
  5. Magnification - How much do you need? a 3-9x, 4-10x are suitable for most close to medium long rang shooting situations. Do you really need to be able to see the hairs on a flies ass at 600 yards? Can a fixed power scope handle your needs? A 10x fixed scope can cover quite an array of shooters needs without the added cost and decreased reliabilty that an adjustable power scope offers. Most shooters buy more magnification then they need because as humans and males we have the "More is better" personality trait. How many guys keep there 3x9's set at 9x all the time?

Keep something else in mind too. Some of the inexpensive imported scopes are coming from the same factory under different brand names. Its always laughable to read someone bashing a scope when they own the same exact scope manufactured under a different name.

Best Cheap AR-15 Rifle Scope

I get this question the most at this site. Typically there two groups. The first is guys that want scopes with target or tactical style adjustment knobs. The second group is looking for a budget version of an Acog, Aimpoint or Eotech

If your are running a flattop AR-15 you have several good choices under $500. Several of these scopes would perform well on any rifle not just an AR-15

Mueller Tactical 4-16x50mm AO

Mueller is one of the brands being privately labeled by others. Why not avoid the middleman and buy direct.

Mueller Tactical 4-16×50mm AO

Nikon Monarch

The Nikon Monarch series scopes are some of the best scopes available. Scopes that cost two or three times more then the best Monarchs do not yield the same difference in performance as there cost implies. Additionally some of the Monarch models include alternative Tactical or Target adjustment knobs in the box. If a given model doesnt include them they are available directly from Nikon. They are also available with different reticules and bullet drop compensators. If your budget allows, go with the Nikon Gold. You wont be disappointed.

Nikon Monarch AR-15 Scope


Millet knows how to make a quality scope at a reasonable price point. Many folks contact me about how they are pleased with the performance of the Millet TRS, DMS-1 and Millet LRS scopes. Millet received some bad press with the initial batch of TRS and LRS scopes. The company quickly resolved the issue and to date support is pretty good from Millet.

Millet DMS-1

The DMS-1 is one of my favorite AR-15 optics. A great scope for close to medium ranges 5 to 500 yards, down on the spot. The best of riflescope type optics and red dots meet in this compact, extremely versatile and rugged design for close quarters to mid-range combat. Its specialized reticle allows you to switch from precision shot placement to rapid target acquisition in less than a heartbeat.

Millet DMS-1 Millet DMS-1

SWFA SS Super Sniper Scopes

SWFA's line have developed a cult like following. I have no personal experience but everyone cant be wrong. Furthermore the service from SWFA is top notch.

SWFA SS Super Sniper Scopes

Vortex Rifle Scopes

Vortex is another of those brands that are becoming popular these days. Vortex has a rifle scope for every budget ranging from $100-$2000. The Viper, Crossfire and Diamondback lines seem to be most popular.

Vortex Scope

My picks of this bunch would be the Millet DMS-1 and the Nikon Monarch series.

Best Cheap 3x9 Rifle Scope


Best Scope for a Ruger 10/22 or a Tactical .22

One of the cool things about a .22 and its lack of recoil allows you can buy those inexpensive guilty pleasure import scopes, you know the ones. The Barska's, NcStars and Acog, Aimpoint and EOTech knockoffs. All those scopes you wondered about that are dirt cheap and look pretty cool on your Ruger 10/22,GSG-5, Colt Umarex M4, Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22 etc.

Acog, Aimpoint, Eotech Knockoffs


Contact us for more info