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.
If you’re in a rush, then have a look at our list of best rifle scopes under $300:
- Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm – Best Overall
- Bushnell Engage 4-12×40 – Best Medium Range
- Nikon PROSTAFF 5 2.5-10×40 BDC – Best Hunting
- Vortex Optics Crossfire II – Best Eye Relief
- Nikon P-223 4-12×40 BDC 600 – Best Rimfire Scope
- Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 – Best Image
- Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 4-12x 50mm – Best Low Light Scope
- Mueller 8-32 x 44mm Target Rifle Scope – Best Affordable Long-Range
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 precise target for short to medium distances.
What to expect from the Best Riflescope under 300 Dollars
Nearly every brand nowadays provides more than one rifle scope under $300. These scopes offer many of the features you expect from high-end rifle scopes and manufacturers.
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 you should be able to cross off your list is that the scopes are shockproof, waterproof, and 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 and the force of the recoil from a rifle.
These scopes are typically fog-proof and waterproof but you should not expect to find a scope that is fully submersible. The quality of the glass itself will be acceptable while not comparable to a scope that costs over $1,000! – Choosing The Best Rifle Scope
One other thing you can expect is that you get 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 (Best Rifle Scope Magnification and Power Range). Most scopes in this price range will give you a range from 3 to 9x but look further down as we found some surprises for you.
However, you should not expect to get a superb long-range rifle scope in that price range. The required glass quality, tube diameter, etc. are simply not to be expected for a price under $300.
What do you have to know to pick the Best Rifle Scope Under $300
We compiled the essential features you should look for when looking for a scope under $300. Depending on your shooting and hunting requirements, you might have additional requirements that we haven’t covered in the following section. Below are some general features and recommendations for what you can expect.
Scopes even under $300 are made from high-quality material. You can expect that the tube is machined from aircraft-grade aluminum, which is durable and rugged.
The scope construction itself should be waterproof and fogproof as well as shockproof. These features are all common in this price range, and you can definitely expect these from brand manufacturers.
The magnification range you can get from a rifle scope that costs less than $300 will vary wildly. Typically, the lesser-known brands will provide you with higher magnification ranges but will, unfortunately, have lesser quality in other components.
Renowned brands will typically have offers with a lower magnification range but will use better quality components. If your shooting matches these, then you will be better off picking those high-quality scopes.
Glass quality and Lens Coatings
Glass and coatings are the areas where you will often find the most significant differences in this price range compared to more expensive scopes. You can expect good-quality glass but will most likely not find scopes with top-of-the-line glass that’s ultra-clear.
Basic lens coatings to improve picture quality and clarity of the sight image. Many proprietary coatings of high-end manufacturers significantly enhance low-light visibility. You most likely will not get these superb coatings when the scope costs less than $300. You can, however, expect to get lenses and coatings that improve scratch resistance.
Light transmission is mainly dependent on the quality of glass, lens coatings, and objective lens and tube diameters. Typically, you will not get the highest-end specifications in these features.
However, you can expect reliable light transmission that enables you to shoot and hunt during dusk and dawn. However, more expensive scopes will be able to give you better performance in challenging light conditions.
You can and will find all kinds of different types of reticles for under $300. You will have to expect that all scopes in that category will be second focal plane scopes. This means that the reticle will stay the same size with increased magnification.
You will also often find a mismatch between the scope’s adjustments and the reticle holdover and subtension units. You might, for example, get a rifle scope with Mil-Dot windage and elevation adjustments while the reticle is based on MOA. However, that’s true for many scopes that are far more expensive.
Overall, choose the reticle that fulfills your needs for quick target acquisition and reliable shooting. Read more about reticles here.
Turrets and Adjustments
Expect to get finger-adjustable windage and elevation turrets. These should come with a zero-reset feature which is pretty standard in this price range.
What you might find less often is that there will be parallax adjustment. More often, you will find a rifle scope with a fixed parallax at, for example, 100 yards.
Assuming that you won’t find a scope with ultra-high magnification, you should not necessarily have to worry too much about adjusting parallax. It won’t have a significant impact on shorter distances.
You’ll find scopes with sufficiently extensive eye relief. A large eye relief that is consistent across the scope’s magnification range makes it comfortable to spend hours hunting game.
Your eyes will not tire as quickly when aiming for long periods. Another factor is that you know you can rest assured that you won’t end up with scope bite due to too short eye relief. Depending on your rifle, you typically want sufficient eye relief to aim comfortably. Numerous hunters do prefer to use a scout scope and mount with more than 10 inches of eye relief.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are additional factors that you should consider. In many cases you will have to compromise between your theoretical non plus ultra compared to realistic expectations and limitations.
For example, hunters will want to have a large objective lens as it allows more light into the scope for better low-light hunting. However, this comes at the price that your scope needs to be mounted higher and is a lot heavier. Tracking through the brush for hours with a much heavier scope can take the fun out of a little better low-light visibility pretty quick.
So, take the list above as a starting point to consider the features you require in a scope. You can find solid contenders that hit the mark on those features when you’re looking for the best scope under $300 to suit your hunting and shooting needs.
Here are the Best Rifle Scopes you can get under $300
Let’s dive right into reviewing the top-rated rifle scopes under $300.
Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope – Best Overall
You get a high-quality scope for a superb price when you purchase the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9x40mm. 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 by 0.25 MOA per click.
The scope offers fully multi-coated lenses that are fog and waterproof. The scope is filled with Leupold’s proprietary Argon and Krypton blend of gases which you also find for other Leupold scopes like the VX-3i that we reviewed here. The eyepiece is lockable and holds your selected focus even after heavy recoil.
The Leupold VX-2 hunting scope has the reticle located on the rear focal plane and comes with an eye relief ranging from 3.7 to 4.2 inches. The FoV at 100 yards is between 34.60 feet and 14.60 feet. The Wind-plex reticle makes it easy to adjust for windage and elevation when targeting.
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 a rifle scope under $300.
Bushnell Engage 4-12×40 Riflescope – Best Medium Range
Compared to many other scopes in that price range, the Bushnell Engage 4-12×40 has a distinct advantage in bringing a 1 inch 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 to improve the usage in conditions where it’s not bright and sunny. Specifically, Bushnell also added a reasonably sized 40mm 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.
The image produced by the scope is great. The combination of the large tube and objective lens with the 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 of high-quality design and build. This allows it to be mounted on rifles with a heavy recoil without a problem. The eye relief is 3.5 inches which should be enough for rifles with heavy recoil.
The downside of the solid build, a large tube, and large objective size is that the scope is pretty heavy. While it only measures around 15.5 inches in length, it comes in at a weight of 16.4 ounces.
The large magnification in combination with the large tube and objective size makes it an excellent scope for longer distance hunting and shooting.
The scope also offers a fast-focus eyepiece. The windage and elevation adjustments are easy to reach and use and allow for precision adjustments – Knowing The Essentials In Adjusting Your Rifle Scope.
The adjustments for windage and elevation are performed in 0.25 MOA 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 going to perform long-distance shots, then this is a great scope for you.
Nikon PROSTAFF 5 2.5-10×40 BDC Riflescope – Best Hunting
The Nikon ProStaff 5 2.5-10×40 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 a 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.
Adjustments of the scope are easy and precise as you would expect from a Nikon scope (Nikon Monarch or Prostaff Rifle Scope – Which is Better?). The turrets offer a spring-loaded instant zero-reset capability.
The scope tube on the Nikon Prostaff 5 measures 1 inch in diameter. The 40mm objective lens enables a lot of light transmission into the tube and reticle.
This is a second focal plane scope. The optic has a BDC reticle that is easy to use and operate.
It has an eye relief of 4 inches and a field of view at 100 yards of 9.9-40.4 ft. The fast-focus eyepiece allows to quickly acquire a target at any range.
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 (Vortex vs. Leupold Rifle Scopes – Who makes the best optics?) we looked at before.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II – Best Eye Relief
The Crossfire II is designed as a multi-use scope by Vortex Optics and is a great scope under 300 dollars. It comes with an adjustable objective designed for hunting or target shooting over several distances.
The adjustable objective allows you to adjust the focus of the image to get the best picture of your target possible.
The 4-16 magnification range on the Vortex Optics Crossfire II is enough for most hunting situations. The 50mm objective lens provides a lot of size for light to enter.
The tube is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum. This provides ruggedness and durability in any situation.
The diameter of the tube measures a more than solid 30mm. In most cases, you’ll find these sized tubes in scopes with prices starting a bit north of $300.
The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 4-16X50 is equipped with a Dead-Hold BDC reticle that is a great combination for hunting or target shooting. The BDC helps you when you’re estimating holdovers for shots at varying distances. The Dead-Hold BDC reticle is located on the second focal plane.
The Vortex Crossfire II has fully multi-coated optics so you get crisp and clear images even in not-so-perfect light conditions. The coatings also reduced reflections and glare from the sunlight.
The combination of the large scope tube and the objective lens in addition to the multi-coated lenses provide excellent light transmission.
The Vortex Crossfire II hunting rifle scope offers a wide field of view ranging from 25.3 feet to 7.0 feet. The eye relief on the Crossfire 2 4-16×50 is 3.7 inches which makes it a great choice for most rifles.
Vortex designed the Crossfire II scopes to have a reasonable long eye relief. It lets you acquire your target quickly with its fast-focus eyepiece with quick focusing of the reticle.
Nikon P-223 4-12×40 BDC 600 – Best Rimfire Scope
It’s not necessarily surprising to find the Nikon P-223 4-12×40 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 Nikon 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 compensation for shots up to 600 yards. The BDC reticle on the Nikon scope is positioned on the second focal plane.
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 Nikon P-223 scope has a 1″ scope tube and it’s built from aircraft-grade aluminum. The eye relief is 3.7″ for the optic.
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-range 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.
It’s a great scope for the AR for a good price. Due to it being waterproof and fog-proof, you can use the scope in most situations for hunting, home defense, and shooting competitions.
Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 Riflescope – Best Image
The Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 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’s proprietary coating. These coatings are formulated to increase light transmission and reduce light reflection off the lens. They help to reduce the glare you often experience at higher magnification settings.
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. In short, you get an optic that’s designed with quality components and that is fog-proof and withstands usage during hunting.
The mechanical side of the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 scope features precise and accurate adjustments for windage, elevation, and range.
The scope features Vortex’s BDC reticle to compensate for bullet drop. The BDC reticle is positioned on the second focal plane which is to be expected looking at a hunting scope under $300.
The eye relief on the Vortex Optics Diamondback is 3.3″ at full magnification. The field of view ranges from 35.8′ – 13.5′ which provides a lot of visible area across all magnification settings.
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.
Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 4-12×50 – Best Low Light Scope
Sig Sauer made a splash when they introduced the Whiskey 3 series. These are the low-range scopes that are offered by this brand and offer a 3x magnification range making this a standard 4-12x scope.
The Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 comes with a 50mm objective lens and in combination with the fully multi-coated, ultra-clear glass it’s our top pick for low-light conditions in the price range under $300. The reticle on this scope is a standard duplex that’s on the second focal plane.
The eyepiece is of European design. It allows for quick and precise adjustments on the reticle making target acquisition fast and easy.
Eye relief on the Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 is 3.6 inches and the field of view at 100 yards ranges from 24.8 to 8.3 feet. The eye relief is sufficient for most rifles with moderate recoil and makes a good distance to aim with one eye open.
Some higher-priced Whiskey 3 models come with illuminated reticles which makes it an even better choice for lowlight shooting. Unfortunately, the price point for these illuminated models is above $300. The reticle on all models is located on the second focal plane.
Nonetheless, the glass quality and the large objective lens make this scope a great choice if you often shoot during dusk or dawn. You’d be hard-pressed to find a scope in this price range that offers you better low-light visibility.
Mueller 8-32x44mm Target Rifle Scope – Best Affordable Long-Range
The Mueller 8-32×44 Target scope offers outstanding magnification for long-range hunters and target shooters. Typically, for long-distance shots you’d want to spend more money to get better optics on the scope but this scope offers great features for an outstanding price.
This Mueller 8-32×44 Target rifle 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.
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 and a 30 mm scope tube. This is rather standard for long-range optics but otherwise hard to find on a scope for this price.
Eye relief on the Mueller Target scope is 4 inches which makes it a good choice for many rifles and calibers like the 6.5 Creedmoor, AR15, etc. The eye relief is large enough for allowing to mount the Mueller scope onto rifles with moderate to high recoil.
It offers easy to adjust settings for windage, elevation, and magnification. The scope keeps 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 due to its magnification range as well as solid eye relief. 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 looking for long-range shots! The minimum 8x magnification makes it pretty much useless for close-range shooting.
Conclusion – Finding the Best Scope under $300
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 shoot 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.
In our opinion, if you have a closer look at the Leupold VX-Freedom or the Vortex Optics Crossfire II then you’ll look at the best all-around scopes in that price range.
For low-light hunting, you should have a closer look at the Sig Sauer Whiskey 3 4-12×50. It offers great glass and light transmission in this price category
Any of these scopes provide 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.
What is the best scope under $500?
The $500 price point is a step (or two) up of the scopes we review in this list. This higher category offers several scopes with excellent capabilities.
We compiled a list of the best rifle scopes under $500. You can find it at https://riflescopescenter.com/best-under-500/.
What scope do you need for 300 yards?
The rule of thumb is that you need a 1x magnification increase for every 100 yards. Based on that rule you need to at least need a 3x scope.
If you shoot at smaller game or targets, then you need a higher magnification. Consider a 6x or even higher in that case.
What is the best scope for a .308?
The Winchester .308 is a very popular choice for hunting medium and big-sized game. Recoil on the .308 is not too hard.
There are several good scopes for the 308. We compiled our list of the best ones and you can find them at https://riflescopescenter.com/best-308/.
What is the best riflescope for 1000 yard shooting?
Shooting at targets or game at 1,000-yard ranges requires substantial magnifications of at least 10x. Typically, you want to go higher than that.
These scopes have to have excellent quality and require ultra-clear glass. This comes with a price. Check out the best scopes for 1,000 yards at https://riflescopescenter.com/choosing-the-best-1000-yard-rifle-scope/.
What are the Best Scopes for Shorter Ranges?
You obviously won’t need a 6-24x or 5-25x scope when you’re shooting within a couple of hundred yards. A versatile alternative in that case can be a solid 1-4x rifle scope.
If you want to go for a slightly higher range then consider choosing from the top-rated 1-6x scopes. They offer a lot of versatility and are affordable.
For 2019 we added two scopes to the list. First, the Vortex Crossfire II. It’s a great all-around scope that’s in all fairness a close runner-up to the Leupold VX-2.
Secondly, we added the Sig Sauer Whiskey 3. This scope has excellent low-light capabilities at an affordable price.
For the 2018 version of this list, we did remove the Vortex Viper 3-9×40 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. You can check out: Vortex Viper HS-T 4-16×44 Review – A good Hunting and Shooting Scope?