Objective Lens Diameter
Argos BTR 6-24×50 APMR FFP IR
Leupold VX-3i 4.5-14x50mm Riflescope
Athlon Optics Helos BTR 6-24x50
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective
Burris 4.5 x-14 x -42mm Fullfield II Ballistic Plex Riflescope
3.1 – 3.8 in.
Rifle scopes don’t have to be expensive. The best rifle scope in under 500 dollars range will definitely add to your rifle’s accuracy and provide with other benefits like comfort, more flexibility in different environments and personal contentment.
Scopes come in a variety of price ranges, but the under 500 dollar mark seems to be an affordable, quality choice. I always try to meet many requirements when choosing a scope. I pay attention to telescopic sight, magnification, optics and ease of mounting.
A budget long range scope can lead to a loss of accuracy with lower precision optics. The mid-range price offers the highest quality for the money with some exceptions on the high-end. The more expensive scopes give you clarity and brightness if compare with the lower-end options where it can be difficult to pursue a target unless you have ample light. In the early morning when the sun may still be low, hunting with cheaper scopes can cause difficulties due to insufficient lightning. I’ve thoroughly researched scopes on the market, all within the under $500 threshold, and found the following ones to be the best in their class.
Argos BTR 6-24×50 APMR FFP IR MIL offers a 30mm tube and is in the BTR family of scopes. Featuring an aircraft grade aluminum, you don’t have to worry about damaging the scope even in rough terrain. The ease of use and easy mounting make this a great choice for both newbies to tube scopes and avid hunters.
Key features include:
- 24x magnification
- Multi-coated optics
- Parallax adjustments
During hunting, you need to be able to rapidly make adjustments to your scope. The parallax adjustments are on the side of the scope and allow you to use your fingertips to make quick adjustments. You’ll be able to use the windage and elevation turrets for on-the-fly adjustments.
Multi-coated optics provide a clear, bright image allowing for easier and more precise focusing on your target.
There’s also a special, XPL coating intended to protect the lens. The coating works to protect against:
Magnification levels of 24x enable shooting using multiple disciplines. The ability to zoom in close on a rabbit or zoom in less for bigger game is key. Tracking is impressive with the ability to start at the distance of 250 yards and maintain tracking up to 1200 yards.
Reset at 100 and practice target shooting. As one of the best rifle scopes, Athlon Optics’ Argos BTR also provides thermal stability and has a substantial waterproof effect. When used in rugged terrain, the scope’s high-quality aluminum and optic coating protect the scope and keep it safe and undamaged.
First focal plane, etched glass and illuminated reticles allow for additional support when shooting. The plane reticle grows and shrinks along your target and offers fast action even in low power mode. Illuminated reticles provide additional sight in ambient light conditions, while the etched glass allows for additional shock resistance.
Overall, this is a quality scope with a high level of strength and mechanical integrity. The three-reticle design is superb due to better scope visibility even in low light conditions.
Leupold’s VX-3i is a 50 mm scope that boasts a sleek matte finish to reduce sun reflections off of the scope and features a Duplex reticle. The scope is made from 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum with a lifetime guarantee on performance even under intense recoil.
The VX-3i features:
- 1/4 MOA finger click adjustments
- DiamondCoat 2
- Twilight light management system
I appreciate a scope that is easy to adjust. The 1/4 MOA finger click adjustments allow for the rapid adjustments needed when game is ready to leave the field. Faster, better shots became possible with the finger click adjustments.
The main tube size is one inch with a light weight of just 16.5 ounces to ensure that the scope is never weighed down.
Eye relief lows sit at 4.4” while highs sit at 3.6”. Twilight light management provides a vivid, clear vision of a target with a variation of low and bright perspective. The management system ensures that you have edge-to-edge brightness in your scope for a better shot.
You’ll enjoy an additional 20 minutes of daylight thanks to the full spectrum lens and the glare management system.
The DiamondCast 2 coating for the lens offers an ion-assist feature, which enhances light transmission and, in addition, provides an abrasion resistance. Consider the scope to be waterproof, shockproof and fogproof, and you will know for sure why consumers love this model.
Zoom ratio is set at 3:1, which is the highest in the company’s lineup of scopes until you get to the VX-5HD. Leupold has a CDS system, but you will need to contact the company for a custom dial.
If you want to do a target practice or go hunting in the early morning, the light management system will ensure an outstanding light even when the sun is just rising. You can now plan your hunting earlier and enjoy a clear view. No wonder, as the company that manufactures this model is doing it for already 30+ years!
One of the best long-range rifle scopes under $500, the Helos APMR FFP IR MIL, is exceptional because it is one of the first focal plane rifles that is able to maintain reticle at all power settings.
A specially designed reticle allows for growing and shrinking as you zoom in and out from the target.
The key features include:
- Locking feature
- Illuminated reticle
- Advanced multi-coating
Starting from the moment the scope is mounted, the locking turret feature adds to the functionality of the scope. The locking feature let the shooter lock in the wind and elevate the turret.
Both turrets can be locked at the exactly same time with one push of the dial. Moisture is kept out of the tube thanks to an argon purged design. It uses an inertia gas to remove all liquid for clearer viewing.
Lighting in the scope is enhanced with the illuminated reticle that helps the scope’s visibility in low light conditions. The reticle is enhanced with the advanced multi-coating that reduces reflected light and increases light transmission at the same time. All combined, this coating provides a much brighter image than single coated lenses.
When the turrets are zeroed, they can quickly be adjusted without counting the clicks during the process. The scope holds zero well even after 300 rounds. Tracking is also highly accurate and easy to repeat.
You’ll have no issue going out 1,000 yards, but any further and the glass begins to suffer. Scope caps are even included.
Parallax settings can be difficult to get accurate at first, so spend some time setting up the scope for best results. The high-end functionality and zeroing capabilities allow the scope to remain at zero even after hard bumps or drops.
You’ll find that the features found in this scope are often only found in high-end scopes. While view does begin to suffer past 1,000 yards, the lighting system and great hold make this a top-tier scope.
Vortex’s Crossfire II has 4-12×40, 4-12×50 and 6-18×44 size options. Optimal for hunting and shooting, the Crossfire II has a dead-hold BDC reticle eliminates concern of estimating holdover even when varying ranges drastically.
The Crossfire II boasts:
- Long eye relief
- MOA click adjustments
- Adjustable objective
Vortex offers a great scope if you don’t mind taking the time to set this scope up properly. While not as advanced as the scopes previously reviewed in this article, this model is a mid-range scope offered at an exceptional price.
Long eye relief and a forgiving eye box allow you to react faster, get a sight and acquire your target. The long eye relief and fast focus eyepiece also makes it easy to focus the reticle to make precision shots.
There are capped reset turrets, and MOA click adjustments allow you to zero after sighting faster.
The II has an anti-reflective coating and adjustable objective for quick parallax removal and image focus. Quality is kept high with the aircraft grade aluminum. The entire scope is constructed from a single tube. There is also a sealed O-ring that is nitrogen purged to eliminate fog and water from the scope’s lenses.
A few concerns with the Crossfire II is that the optical bell requires a lot of pressure to adjust. The bell is tight, and it is responsible for adjusting the parallax. Images can become blurry for long-distance shots, too.
Adjustments are needed to reduce the blur, including dialing the AO and estimating the distance properly. If you can make sure that both of these adjustments are made properly, you should have no issues with clarity even at 10x zoom.
If you have used scopes in the past, you should have no issue sighting this scope. You can sight the scope in four or five shots. The warranty offered by Vortex is also solid and provides great coverage of your investment.
Burris’ Fullfield II is the first scope on the list to offer a ballistic plex reticle. This simple and effective scope is a good choice if you are looking for a trajectory compensation. Long-range accuracy is the distinctive advantage of this scope.
The Fullfield II features:
- Caliber and bullet weight matching
- Parallax adjustment
- Hi-Lume multi-coated lenses
The lowest setting on the AO lens is 50 yards, and a lot of users will use this scope on the AR. Medium rings won’t work for mounting, so keep this in mind when making your purchase. Burris does provide caliber and bullet weight matching to ensure the best possible accuracy.
Parallax adjustment is available, with the rear focal plane scope being calibrated at the maximum setting.
Drop compensation marks are included for a clear shot. Since the entire eye piece moves when zooming in or out, Bear in mind that flip up scope caps should not be used. Neoprene covers work way better for this scope.
Thanks to the single piece construction, there are fewer moving parts, so only single O-ring is available. O-ring keeps dirt and moisture out of the scope and a single ring means less interruption in the process of shooting.
The scope pulls in a lot of light, especially during the morning hours or right before the sunset when twilight is not enough.
Multi-coated lenses keep glares out of the scope while drawing in the excess light needed for a clear view. The scope holds zero very well, so there’s no need to set it to zero as it often happens with lower-priced scopes. Burris still has some drawbacks.
No lens cap or cloth is provided, and even though they’re cheap to buy, this issue has been brought up by many customers. The turret caps are metal, so they’re more durable than Nikon scopes, and a lifelong warranty comes as an extra bonus.
I’ve covered several great options if you search for an affordable scope, but if I had to choose one, I would pick the Athlon Optics Argos BTR as the best rifle scope under 500. I recommend all the rifle scopes listed, but the Argos BTR indeed stands out from the crowd.
The aircraft grade aluminum allows to use it in rugged environments without being concerned of getting it damaged.
Mounting is easy, but the reticles are really what make this scope one of the best options on the market. The reticle has a first focal plane, etched glass and illuminated reticles. It grows and shrinks with the zoom adjustments which makes for faster action.
Illuminated reticles allow for even better accuracy when shooting at dusk or dawn in the conditions of low visibility. Magnification of 24x allows for long-range shots with added accuracy and precision.
The XPL coating adds a little extra protection for the lenses stopping dirt and dust from entering the lenses and causing scope distortion.
All of these scopes provide clear views, magnification and a relatively easy mounting process.