web analytics

What is the Best Rifle Scope under $300? – Editor’s Pick for 2018

You can find a quality scope for under $300 without a problem. You will get a good scope that won’t have all the bells and whistles. However, you can choose from a number of hunting optics from several brand name manufacturers like Nikon, Leupold or Vortex.

Scopes at this price point will deliver reasonable quality and specifications that will typically be good enough for the casual hunter. You can expect to get a long lasting optic that allows you to precisely target for short to medium distances.

What to expect from the Best Riflescope under $ 300

The basic requirements you can expect to be fulfilled are that the optic will be made from durable material. Most scopes at this price range are constructed from high grade aluminum and will have no problem taking the day-to-day abuse of hunting trips.

Another requirement that you should be able to cross off your list is that the scopes are shock proof as well as fog proof. Having a fog proof scope is important as it is a useless paperweight if fog builds up on the inside of the optics which then will not allow you to target anything anymore! A shock proof scope is capable to withstand drops from short heights as well as the force of the recoil from a rifle.

These scopes are typically water proof but you should not expect to find a scope that is fully submersible. The quality of the glass itself will be acceptable while certainly not comparable to a scope that costs over $1,000!

One other thing you can expect is that you get a precise optics. At this price point you should not have to deal with optics that fail to be precise and that cause you to miss a shot.

Lastly, you can expect a scope with variable magnification. Most scopes in this price range will give you a range from 3 to 9x but look further down as we did find some surprises for you.

Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope

You get a high quality scope for a very good price. The scope offers the standard magnification you can expect for this price. You get a reasonably low 3x magnification for close range shots. The range can be tripled to 9x for precision shots at mid-range. The turrets are easy to use and allow precision adjustment.

Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope

The scope offers multi-coated lenses that is fog and water proof. The scope is filled with Leupold’s proprietary Argon and Krypton blend of gases. The eyepiece is lockable and holds your selected focus even after heavy recoil.

Is there anything outstanding with this scope? Not really. You get a great scope for a great price that has all the features you can expect at this price point. Overall, this scope is highly recommended and a great buy for under $300.

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24x50 Riflescope

Compared to many other scopes in that price range, the Bushnell Trophy Extreme X30 6-24x50 has a distinct advantage in bringing a 30mm tube to the table. This is rare for scopes in that price range yet offers a list of advantages. It provides a larger inlet for light so the low-light conditions are improved. Specifically, as Bushnell also added a large 50mm objective lens!

The other advantage is that you have a larger adjustment range. A scope with a large magnification like the Trophy Xtreme only benefits from such a larger range!

The glass in the scope is of top quality. Bushnell uses its own coating called HD rain guard so the scope provides a clear and bright image no matter what surrounding conditions you face. Whether rain or fog the scope will stay clear.

Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24x50 Riflescope

The image produced by the scope is great. The combination of the large tube and objective lens with highest quality glass ensures a crisp and clear image even at long distances. The scope is designed for demanding hunt trips as it is shockproof and overall very designed and built sturdy. This allows it to be mounted on rifles with heavy recoil without a problem. The eye relief is 3.6 inches which should be enough for rifles with heavy recoil.

The downside of the solid build, large tube and large objective size is that the scope is pretty heavy. While it only measures around 14 inches in length, it does come in at a weight of 23.7 inches. The large magnification in combination with the large tube and objective size make it an excellent scope for longer distance hunting and shooting.

The scope also offers a fast focus eye piece. The windage and elevation adjustments are easy to reach and use and allow for precision adjustments. The adjustments are performed in 0.125 inch increments. It also offers a side parallax focus.

 Overall, Bushnell produced a home run with this scope. It’s affordable and offers top of the line features and quality. If you’re out performing long distance shots then this is a great scope for you.

Nikon PROSTAFF 5 2.5-10x40 BDC Riflescope

The Nikon ProStaff 5 2.5-10x40 offers a slightly higher magnification level as the other two scopes we looked at before. Being a Nikon scope you can expect excellent quality and outstanding reliability from this scope.

The optics are clear and sharp and the scope offers a crisp image. The scope offers a great range of magnification and provides better range for shooting. The optics are coated with multiple layers of anti-reflective and anti-fog compounds. These coatings optimize light transmission and improve low light performance.

Nikon PROSTAFF 5 2.5-10x40 BDC Riflescope

Adjustments of the scope are easy and precise as you would expect from a Nikon scope. The turrets offer a spring-loaded instant zero-reset capability.

This is a fantastic scope in the under $300 range. The magnification levels are excellent. The optics are fully waterproof as needed and expected for a hunting scope. The larger range of magnification makes this scope overall a better buy than the Vortex and Leupold scopes we looked at before.

Nikon P-223 4-12x40 BDC 600 Riflescope

It’s not necessarily surprising to find a scope with this level of magnification in the under $300 range but that there’s a Nikon scope was somewhat of a surprise. This scope is rugged and reliable and made from great components.

The P-223 is specifically designed to be used on AR rifles and the enhanced magnification allows for longer range shots with such a kind of rifle. The reticle has bullet drop marks to effectively allow to make compensate for shots up to 600 yards.

Nikon P-223 4-12x40 BDC 600 Riflescope

The scope features Nikon’s multi-coated optics which deliver a sharp and clear image. The multi-coating reduces reflection and glare and helps to improve visibility in low-light conditions.

The turrets on this scope feature Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset settings. The turret adjustments are easy and precise.

If you have an AR rifle and are looking for medium to slightly longer range shots then this is the scope for you. The lower end of the magnification makes it somewhat hard to track targets at lower ranges but as soon as you’re around 100 yards out you’re golden. A great scope for the AR for a good price.

Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 Riflescope

This is a high-performance rifle scope for medium range shots. The power level adjusts from 4x to 12x magnification. The Diamondback by Vortex offers excellent optical and mechanical features.

The lenses are fully multi-coated with Vortex’ proprietary coating. These coatings are formulated to increase light transmission and reduce light reflection off of the lens. They help to reduce the glare that you often experience at higher magnification settings.

Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40 Riflescope

The tube is made from high-quality, aircraft-grade aluminum which provides a rigged scope that will survive even tough conditions during your hunt. The tube is purged with argon gas to prevent it from fogging up internally.

The mechanical side of the scope feature precise and accurate adjustments for windage, elevation and range. The scope features Vortex’ BDC reticle to compensate for bullet-drops.

This scope is an excellent value if you’re looking for a hunting scope for medium to somewhat longer range shots. It offers outstanding optics at the under-$300 level which you will have a hard time finding elsewhere.

Mueller 8-32 x 44mm Target Rifle Scope

This scope offers outstanding magnification for long range hunters and target shooters. Typically, for long distance shots you’d want to spend more money in order to get better optics on the scope but this scope offers great features for an outstanding price.

This scope is not for everyone. The lower end of magnification renders it not a good fit for a lot of hunters but if you’re into long-range shots then this is the scope for you in this price range. The upper level of magnification is a whopping 32x which gives a lot of other scopes a run for their money.

Mueller 8-32 x 44mm Target Rifle Scope

The scope is solidly built and features high-end optics and materials. As you would expect and need, this scope offers a 44 mm lens as well as a 30 mm tube. This is rather standard for long-range optics but otherwise hard to find on a scope for this price.

It offers easy to adjust settings for windage, elevation and magnification. The scope retains zero even when shooting with rounds and rifles that have heavy recoil.

The lenses are multi-coated for anti-glare and offer a crisp image of the target at any magnification level. The larger lens and tube diameters allow for maximum light transmission and provide excellent low-light capabilities.

This scope is a fantastic choice for long-range shooters that are on a budget. You won’t find another scope in the under $300 range that offers these long distance capabilities. But be aware that you only want this scope if you are indeed looking for long-range shots!

Conclusion

Is there a clear winner? No, certainly not. These are great scopes for different uses. The Mueller is a fantastic scope for long-range shots but you don’t want to use it when you try to shot on rather short distances.

With the other scopes you really can’t go wrong when you’re looking for a solid medium-range scope for a good price. You want to adjust your scope’s magnification capabilities depending on whether you shoot shorter ranges or tend more to the medium distances.

Any of these scopes provides a great value for the money. These scopes all are rugged, reliable and accurate and will not fail you when you use them. Overall, these scopes all offer solid features that allow you to take reliable shots in most circumstances you can find in the field.

​Update

For the 2018 version of this list we did remove the Vortex Viper 3-9x40 ​scope for the simple reason that it's not available anymore. Otherwise, it was/is a great scope and if you can get it then there's no reason not to.