It does not matter whether you are a hunter or practice shooting for sport. You will be aware that choosing the scope of the rifle will go deep in determining the accuracy with which you will be able to shoot. The scope of the rifle allows you to zoom in precisely on the target. It allows you to decide the exact location where you want the shot to strike. There are several scopes in the market made by many manufacturers. It can be a taxing job to choose the best scope under $500. Here are some we reviewed for you.
What is a rifle scope?
A simple definition of the rifle scope would be a tube which accommodates the magnifying lens and the reticle that highlights the point of impact of the shot. This essentially makes the rifle scope a small telescope that has cross hairs. The main tube of the scope could be constructed from one or two pieces, with most experts holding the belief that one piece tubes are slightly better performers. The tubes of scopes are generally made from high-quality aluminum, which is often referred to as aircraft grade. But some manufacturers also make use of steel and titanium. But titanium models can add on to the weight and cost.
Types of rifle scope
- Compact rifle scope
Compact scopes are among the cheaper scopes and you will find some of the best ones under $60. Most compact rifles come with SKS mounts that are generally permanently attached. Usually, a compact rifle scope will come with a dust cover. The objective lenses are generally in the 30 mm range.
- Sniper rifle scope
Sniper rifle scopes are often considered the best, since they are used by the military. These are available in all ranges right from $30 to $500. You could of course note the difference in quality. The costlier ones are often better in quality, use aircraft grade aluminum and come laden with features like Wi-Fi and gyroscope.
- Laser rangefinder rifle scope
The technology of laser rangefinder dates back to 1997 when Swarovski Optik first introduced the LRD series rifle scopes. This was the first in the market with an in-built laser rangefinder. The rifle can measure a range up to 660 yards and now even longer. The LRS series has been discontinued, but similar ranges from other manufacturers have surfaced.
- Pistol scope
As you would guess, a pistol or handgun scope will be smaller than most other rifle scopes. Also since, pistols are short range firing arms, these scopes would have a maximum 10x zoom. Of course, the ones used by federal agencies and police are slightly better since they may be used for long range firing as well.
- Open sight rifle scope
These are considered among the rather basic forms of scopes. The shooter has to line up two sights (or points) in the rifle and shoot. The rear sight is generally shaped like a U or V. However, the front sight is a usual vertical erection. These rifles are often the first training rifles used by students.
- Aperture sight rifle scope
These are very similar to the open sight scopes. But a ring is often used for the rear sights. The front sight has to be aligned within and inside the ring before taking the shot. This is again, one of the more basic scopes that do not magnify the target.
Top 5 recommendations
The Vortex Optics Strike Eagle is a totally multi-coated scope. There are several layers of anti-reflective coatings of the scope, increasing the overall light transmission. The reticle on the second focal plane is such that it helps maintain an ideal appearance size. Range estimation is done through the reticle sub tensions. Even at the highest degree of magnification, the wind drift correction and holdover are measured meticulously. There is glass etching on the reticle.It is protected between two glass layers for better reliability and durability. The unit allows precision-aims even under very low lights.
There is a single 30mm tube that is responsible for maximizing the alignment and bettering the accuracy. This also provides optimum visual satisfaction along with water-resistance and improved strength. Vortex Optics has included a free Vortex Ball Cap with the unit. There is a back closure with the cap that is adjustable with a Velcro.
- Free Vortex Cap.
- Glass-etched reticle.
- Superior performance under all light conditions.
- Impressive price point.
- Ultra-pointed wind drift measurement.
- Missing hat on some shipments.
The VORTEX Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Riflescopeis all about the range, bullet holdover and wind estimations. The scope does not really complicate on what it wants to do and that it its singular greatest achievement. This also allows the manufacturer to make the scope score in those precise few areas. It can be said that the scope is built for long distance shooters and hunting enthusiasts who like to play with the range ability of the scope. The scope provides pretty accurate measurements even at 14x zooms.
While the paper does not really have the kind of accessorizing that modern scopes come with, it still makes the premium spot. Part of that is because of the 95% of the light transmission and the multi-coated options for great color differentiation. This is just the kind of feature-set that you would not search for in a $500 scope. And that exactly what the Viper throws at you.
- Premium finish.
- Minimalistic design.
- Accurate even in highly windy conditions.
- Impeccable customer service.
- Outstanding warranty.
- No sunshade.
3. ATN X-Sight 3-12 Smart Riflescope w/1080p
The ATN X-Sight 3-12 Smart Riflescope is every bit a modern rifle scope that you want. Loaded with features, the scope has GPS, Geotag, Wi-Fi and E-Compass. If that does not complete the list, the scope also has altitude, velocity, image and video recording at 1080p. The HD recording riflescope can be used both in the day and night. The scope can record 720p at 60fpsand 1080p at 30fps. The choice rests with the user. In either case, you will have the opportunity to bring those exciting moments back home as well.
The electronic zoom deserves special mention in this already high-tech scope. It offers great field flexibility. The geotagging featurealso works seamlessly. You may track and record all points on the interactive map for later viewing. The Wi-Fi built in the device allows you to connect the scope to a mobile or desktop. You may upgrade the latest firmware and use the phone as a view finding device.
- Built-in Wo-Fi, Geotagging.
- HD Image and video recording.
- E-compass for interactive mapping.
- Superior electronic zoom.
- In-Built gyroscope.
- Smart shooting solutions.
- Control buttons too small for fat fingers.
- Off-center window between screen and eyepiece.
The Vortex Viper PST 1 sports a minimalistic look upfront. The lenses are optically indexed to deliver better image brightness and sharpness, while being true to use of the reticle.The glass minimalizes dispersion and enhances color fidelity and resolution, giving you crisp and sharp images. As you would naturally expect from a high-tech riflescope, the lens is completely multi-coated, transmitting more light and enhancing brightness in the process. Vortex has preferred a 30mm tube over the 1” inch tube, chiefly because of the wider adjustment and greater strength on offer.
The tube is made from one-piece aircraft standard aluminum for greater rigidity, improved strength and spot-on accuracy. The seals in the tube prevent contamination from external factors including but not exclusive to debris, dust and moisture. Internal fogging is avoided by the argon gas filling inside the tube. The reticle is also glass-etches for higher durability. Both the reticle and control panel are illuminated for better low-light visibility.
- Illuminated reticle and controls.
- Optically indexing in lens.
- 30mm tube for greater strength.
- Aircraft-grade aluminum.
- Dust, debris and moisture proof.
- Internal argon gas filling.
- Ice could make the lens blurry.
- No daylight illumination.
The Sightmark Photon XT comes across as one of the most versatile scopes under the sun. The higher magnification in the unit is just where the feature-list begins. On prolonged operation, we discovered that the battery life is 33% longer in the scope. While most scopes in the market are pretty heavy on the weight, this one from Slightmark is at least 30% lesser than the averages cope weight. But you should take into account the fact that the manufacturer has not built the scope as a premium long range unit. It best works for the medium range.
But you may always increase the range of the scope by attaching a high power IR light to the scope. Also, you will take into account the fact that most wild beasts cannot see IR (opposed to popular rumors that boars cannot see red). You can also permanently attach a lens cap to the scope.
- IR light compatibility.
- Great for mid-range shots.
- 30% lighter than the average scope in class.
- High performing battery.
- Not great long range compatibility.
- No built-in lens cap.
What should I look for in a $500 rifle scope?
- Field of view
The width of the area covered by a still picture on the scope is denoted as the field of view. This automatically makes the field of view a very important consideration when buying. You can opt for a larger field of view if most targets are fast moving. Experienced shooters often like the challenge of a smaller field of view.
- Level of magnification
The level of magnification is described as the point to which an object gets enlarged when you zoom in on it. The level of magnification depends on how far you aim to shoot with the rifle. For smaller to mid ranges, a scope with 15x magnification will do. Scopes with very high levels of magnification are also available.
- Power of scope
The power of scope is not much different from the level of magnification. This is rather the general term under which magnification is described. Sharp sniper shooters prefer something similar to a 32x scope while thick forest deer hunters can make do with 15x ones. Choose one that fits your bill.
Reticles are the patterns that highlight the point of impact when you shoot. There are many such patterns. The simplest ones are the center dots and the complex ones include several grid patterns. The duplex reticle happens to be the most common among the different types available. Most starters are advised to start with these.
- Parallax error
The parallax error is one that arises from the fact that the reticle and the target belong to different horizontal planes. Also, whenever the eye is moves, the reticle seems to be shifting its position on or beyond the target. With scopes that have fixed focal points, there is no parallax error beyond a certain range.
- Light transmission
Light transmission is the amount of light that enters the scope. Reflected light is considered to be largest limitation of light transmission in scopes.This is one reason most scopes in the range of $500 offer multi-coatings to prevent reflection of light. This feature is a must for any scope in the range.
- Quality resolution
It gets difficult to take a shot if the image is low quality. There are several adjustments that you can make in the scope to better or reduce the resolution. There are also some scopes that provide illumination for images and reticles to make it easier to take shots in the dark.
- Advance lens coatings
You must have realized by now that the lens for magnification is among the most integral parts of the scope. In fact, the job of the scope is mainly to house the lens. The advanced lens coatings make sure that the lens stays protected inside the scope. At a $500 range, you will get some great coatings to protect the lens.
- Water and fog proof
For those who like taking shots at extreme conditions and in the wee hours of the morning, ensuring that the scope is protected from water and fog is very essential. Some scopes come with argon gas fillings to protect from internal fogging. These are pretty routinely available in $500 scopes, but you should still cross check before buying.
Since scopes are used outdoor, they are prone to attract wear and anomalies. In unpredictable weather, they can even be affected by fog, water and dust. Warranty is one way of ensuring that the scope does not fall out of shape right for some time at least. When you are buying a scope worth $500, there is all the more reason to discuss warranty.
- Rifle scope vs Muzzleloader scope
The general concept about the difference between rifle scopes and muzzleloader scopes is that the rifle scopes have a parallax set at 100 yards while the muzzleloader scopes have a parallax set at 100 yards. By this, it is meant that in rifle scopes, the parallax error becomes insignificant after a range of 100 yards and in the muzzleloader scope, the parallax becomes insignificant after a range of 50 yards. But this has been proved to be flawed and rifles now have the better range capacity compared to their older cousins.
- Rifle scope vsShotgun scope
Shotgun scopes are similar to rifle scope in terms of the power of the scope in that they have a lower level of magnification. This is often coupled with the shorter range of the firearm. Since rifles are long range firearms, they have scopes with better magnifications. So the difference between rifle scopes and shotgun scopes would be chiefly in the lens. Since the lenses in rifle scopes arebetter quality, the scopes are better quality as they need to protect the lens.
- Rifle scope vsRed dot sight
Rifle scopes generally have reticles that help in aiming. The red dot light is generally used in pistols, where the reticle is nothing more than a simple red dot which appears over the target and helps the user take aim. While the red dot serves as a suitable reticle for shorter distances, for longer ranges, a pattern reticle is better suited. The pattern reticles found in different scopes help in determining the windage and are also instrumental combatting the parallax error.
- Rifle scope mounting instructions
To mount the scope, you will first have to match the rings and bases on the barrel of the rifle. It is advisable to mount the base on the rifle as low as it is possible. This way you can reduce the parallax error to a minimum. Then, you will have to lock the scope on to the mount with screws. If you are concerned about the fit, you may even use a drop of thread-adhesive. At this point all you will have to do is to align the reticle.
Buying a $500 scope that will take care of your shooting needs and protect the lens at the same time can be a difficult call to address. If this is your first purchase, you have all the more reason to research heavily on scopes. Make sure you buy a scope that suits your range and adjust the lens magnification accordingly.