To be an effective hunter, you need to be able to place a proper shot on your quarry. To do so will take time, practice, persistence, and proper equipment. An essential piece of equipment in this equation to success is a rifle scope.
With a daunting variety of rifle scopes on the market, choosing a rifle scope for a beginner in shooting or hunting can be difficult. If you are choosing a beginner rifle scope or just want a new scope, tune in to this article to find the best rifle scope under $300.
- 1 Best Rifle Scope Under $300: Comparison Table
- 2 Why is a Good Rifle Scope Necessary?
- 3 Selecting a Riflescope
- 4 Top 10 Rifles Scopes Under $300 Those Will Worth The Money
- 4.1 Leupold VX2 3-9×40
- 4.2 Vortex Optics Diamondback Scope
- 4.3 Nikon Prostaff 5 – BDC Reticle 3.5-14×40
- 4.4 Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24×50
- 4.5 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
- 4.6 Nikon Prostaff 4-12×40
- 4.7 Simmons 8-point 3-9×50
- 4.8 Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14×42
- 4.9 Bushnell Engage 2.5-10×44
- 4.10 Nikon P-223 3-9×40
- 5 Get out for Some Fun!
Best Rifle Scope Under $300: Comparison Table
Why is a Good Rifle Scope Necessary?
Your rifle scope, coupled with your rifle itself, of course, represent the last step in harvesting an animal or making that all-important shot. You cannot skimp on one and expect the other to make up the difference. Both pieces of equipment must work in harmony with each other.
The rifle scope is an often-overlooked piece of hunting equipment. Many may view it as a simple sighting device that is comparable from one to the next. However, quite a bit of variability in quality and features exist among rifle scopes. It is important as a hunter and consumer to weigh out these differences to select the proper scope for your need.
Selecting a Riflescope
When selecting a scope for your rifle, there are several variables you ought to consider. Riflescopes come in a dazzling variety of brands, purposes, magnification levels, features, etc. However, when it comes down to it, there are three things for the beginner to consider when purchasing a rifle scope. These are magnification power, the field of view, lens size, scope size, and reticle design. Finding a balance among these qualities will aid in finding the perfect riflescope for your needs.
One of the primary traits of any individual rifle scope is its magnification power. This refers to how much you are able to zoom in on your target. Magnification levels on conventional rifle scopes range anywhere from 2x on the low end (1x would be equivalent to normal human vision), all the way up to 30x on the high end for long range competitive shooting scenarios.
Most scopes can be adjusted across a range of magnification levels. This allows the user to fine-tune according to the situation. When hunting in a brushy situation where a close shot is likely, adjust your scope to the lower magnification power. However, it will be a nice feature to have to dial that magnification power up in case a long-range shot is necessary.
On my general all-around hunting rifle, I personally use a scope that is adjustable between a magnification range of 4x-12x. From my research and experience, this seems to be the most versatile magnification range for anything other than extreme long-range shots and close quarter hunting.
Objective Lens Size
Another primary trait of any conventional rifle scope is the objective lens size. This refers to the diameter (in millimeters) of the front lens of the scope. The objective lens is typically the second number in rifle scope description. The first number being the magnification power while the second number refers to the objective lens diameter. That is a scope, which reads 4-12 x 50, would have an adjustable magnification level of 4x to 12x and an objective lens diameter of 50mm. This lens diameter dictates several functions of the rifle scope.
First off, the diameter of the front lens determines the scopes “field of view”. This can be visualized as the width of the viewing cone of the scope. A larger objective lens will allow for a broader picture at a specific distance than a smaller objective lens.
Secondly, the objective lens diameter is responsible for gathering light. The gathering of light is paramount in providing the shooter with a crisp and clear image of their target. In low-light settings, target acquisition and definition may be difficult through a rifle scope. In low-light settings, a larger objective lens is going to perform better. This allows the scope to gather more light than a smaller lens. This gives the shooter a better target image.
However, the increased performance in low-light scenarios of a larger objective lens scope is met with a trade-off of increased weight and bulk.
Lastly, another factor to consider when buying a rifle scope is the reticle design. What is a reticle you ask? This is more simply put as the “crosshairs” of the rifle scope. However, not all crosshairs are made equal. Reticles come in an astounding variety and flavor. With different widths, line markers, dots, windage markers, etc. it is yet another easy way to get lost in the matric of purchasing a scope. For simplicities sake, we will break them down into four main categories.
- Duplex – this is the type of reticle you think of when envisioning the classic “cross-hairs” of a rifle. They are simple and lack any sort of frills, however, different widths and arrangements of lines may exist. The duplex is a solid choice for a standard hunting rifle for close to medium range shots.
- Mil-Dot – Preferred by the military sub-section of rifles, the aptly named “mil-dot” reticle performs differently than the traditional “duplex” designed. For the Mil-Dot reticles, close range and quick target acquisition are the names of the game. Both of which are scenarios that may or may not suit your specific hunting style.
- BDC- Short for “bullet drop compensation”, BDC reticles are fixed with hash lines below (and sometimes to the side) of the cross-hair apex. These lines being designed to be used as relative indicators of distance and aiming points on specified target distances. Hash marks to the side of the center can be used to compensate for wind. With a little familiarization and practice, BDC reticles can be highly valuable when taking long shots at targets and game. This is personally the reticle choice that I take along on most of my rifle hunting escapades.
Top 10 Rifles Scopes Under $300 Those Will Worth The Money
Now, let’s go ahead an take a look at some products on the market. We have done the work of sorting through a plethora of budget rifle scopes on the market. This has left us with a list of best rifle scopes under $300, let’s check them out and see what suits you best.
Leupold VX2 3-9×40
Being an old trusted name in optics of all sorts, buying a Leupold is never a bad idea. This model of the VX-2 comes with an adjustable zoom magnification from 3x to 9x. The objective lens is 40mm, on the smaller side of the middle ground for scopes. The advantages are the slimmer size and reduced weight
A big selling point for this scope is that it was designed for inclement weather. The VX-2 is an entirely waterproof scope and you could expect it to perform on hunts in tough weather. Additionally, the lens on both the front and back of the scope has Diamond Coat. This is a special coating that helps fight against scratches and abrasions to the lens.
Leupold is an old trusted name in optics of all sorts. They are a brand that comes with good heritage and this scope appears to follow suit. At a price point getting close to the $300 budget of this review, it is good value for the money.
Vortex Optics Diamondback Scope
This company has developed a reputable name for itself in recent years. All Vortex Optics products come with an unconditional lifetime warranty, boding well to the long-term investment of hunting optics. Vortex produces a large range in quality and definition of their optics. However, even on the lower end of this spectrum, Vortex produces quality optics.
The Diamondback rifle scope comes in a range of options for the consumer. There are varying magnification levels and reticles available.
The Diamondback series of Vortex Optics is for the budget minded consumer who still wants quality. This series encompasses rifle scopes, binoculars, and spotting scopes for hunting applications. Even though it is for the budget-minded consumer, the Diamondback rifle scopes offer excellent value for the quality and unconditional lifetime guarantee. Best of all, it is a sleek, compact and lightweight. These are all factors I take into serious consideration for a hunting scope.
If you are looking to do a variety of hunting or target shooting, this is a good entry-level rifle scope. This can do just about anything you want other than extreme long ranges. I think this would make a great all around hunting scope.
Nikon Prostaff 5 – BDC Reticle 3.5-14×40
The Nikon Prostaff 5 is a newer scope on the market that comes with some excellent features. The quick focus eye piece of this scope allows shooters to quickly acquire targets. Assist by a magnification adjustment of a wide range from 3.5x all the way to 14x.
One of my favorite features of this scope is the BDC reticle. As we discussed earlier bullet drop compensation (BDC) reticles have hash marks below the cross hairs that will correlate to certain distances. This makes shooting at longer ranges quicker and easier. Nikon Spot On Ballistic Match technology on the Nikon website allows the user to get a good idea of the bullet drop for their specific setup.
Another neat feature is the “Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets”. For the shooter who likes to make adjustments on the turret for wind and distance, this is an ultra convenient feature.
This is an excellent scope if you want higher magnification levels and a BDC reticle. These two things are helpful if you plan on participating in longer range shooting.
Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24×50
Are you looking for a big long-range shooting rifle scope? If so, check this one out. The Bushnell Xtreme X30 offers higher levels of magnification than most scopes. The user can choose between 6x zoom all the way to 24x. Making even the farthest targets up to 1,000 yards out seem attainable. However, the trade-off is a high minimum magnification of 6x. This would be a not ideal scope for closer quarter hunting scenarios.
Because of the higher magnification levels and 50mm lens, this scope is a bit larger and bulkier than other rifle scopes. This scope comes with Bushnell’s own DOA LR800 reticle. This is essentially and ramped up BDC reticle. The hash marks below the crosshairs also have windage dots on each side. This one is truly a scope for the long-range shooter.
If you are setting up a long-range shooting rifle, for under $300 this rifle scope is a great bargain. This scope may not be the best suit for a general-purpose hunting rifle, however.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
On our list of best rifle scopes under $300, we are going back another scope from Vortex Optics. It’s hard to get away from that unbeatable lifetime guarantee. This time, it is the Crossfire II series. The next step up from the Diamondback Series is this. It is ideal for someone looking for more magnification and zoom than the Diamondback offers.
Your choice a few zoom ranges, the minimum would be 4x and the maximum, 24x. Like the previous Bushnell scope, this is designed with the long-range shooter in mind. Equipped with a simple BDC reticle, determining points of aim at a distance can be quick and easy. Vortex even has a calculator on their website to determine your specific bullet drop. This depends on your gun, ammunition, and scope. This scope, unlike most others, has a focus adjustable objective lens. This allows for find image tuning at longer ranges.
This is certainly a scope with the long-range shooter in mind. With that said, you can zoom down to 4x on the 4-16×50 model, which is still good for closer quarter hunting scenarios. This could be a good compromise and all around scope. It just barely squeezes into your budget of $300.
Nikon Prostaff 4-12×40
This Nikon Prostaff model is similar to the Prostaff 5 we already reviewed. However, this model is somewhat simplified, reduced, and friendlier on your budget. With a zoom range of 4x to 12x, this is personally my preferred range for most western hunting scenarios. I also like the slimmed downsize of the 40mm lens to save on weight for those long hikes.
Like the Prostaff 5, it comes with “Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets” for quick resets. Not all shooters will utilize this feature, however. This scope is also water-proof and fog-proof. The lens is designed for optimal light transfer to enhance target visuals. The BDC reticle is also a great feature of this small and light hunting scope.
For a general all-purpose scope, this may be your ticket. With a mid-range of magnification levels, quick and easy to read BDC reticle, plus excellent features and durability, this a great bang for your buck.
Simmons 8-point 3-9×50
Still on a tighter budget than these scopes offer? Here is a scope that is fully capable and best of all, easy on the wallet. Coming in at an ultra-budget price, the Simmons Riflescope is a solid choice for a shooter.
I personally have a Simmons scope on my .22 rifle. I didn’t want to spend more on the scope than the gun. My ultimate decision came down to the Simmons scope and I love it.
While it lacks features and ultra-high quality glass, it is a fully functioning scope. It is designed to be fog proof and waterproof, along with having a special coating on the lens to help protect it.
This Simmons scope delivers outstanding precision and performance for those on the tightest of budgets. Not a bad choice if you ask me.
Burris Fullfield II 4.5-14×42
Burris rifle scopes have been built on years and years of trial in error. Being another good name in optics, the Fullfield II model makes a great addition to any western hunting gun. With a zoom that can reach out to 14x, moderately long shots can easily be achieved. Even yet, this scope could be used for closer quarter hunting at 4x zoom.
The adjustable objective lens is a great feature of this scope. The focus ring has adjustments labeled with specific yardages to optimize image clarity. The Ballistic Plex Reticle on this model is a modified BDC reticle. This feature is one I generally look for in a longer range hunting or target rifle.
While the Burris Fullfield II doesn’t have anything in specific that makes it stand out, it is a solid choice. With a zoom range that I feel is great for western hunting and nicely laid out reticle. I think it is a high quality scope on a price-minded budget. This is a great rifle scope for under $300.
Bushnell Engage 2.5-10×44
The Bushnell engage comes in a slightly narrows magnification range than other scopes. The 44mm objective lens makes it a nice compromise between a 40mm and 50mm commonly found on most scopes. The zoom range is excellent for close quarter to mid-range hunting scenarios. I would call this one an excellent do-it-all scope.
This scope has ultra-thin reticles, assisting in precision. Another great feature is the tool-less turret functions that have a locking feature. No more accidentally bumping your zero. With a more professional appearance to the scope, you will certainly be pleased to mount this one to your rifle.
I see the Bushnell Engage has fitting well to a general purpose hunting rifle. It retains the looks of a competition target rifle with the larger turrets and would be a slick addition to your gun.
Nikon P-223 3-9×40
Last on our review list, but certainly not least, sits the Nikon P-223. This is a great looking scope and has been designed to cater to the bullet trajectory of the .223 round. For those looking to put a more hunting style scope on their AR-15, look no further.
This unit still retains overall shape and dimensions of a hunting scope. However, with increased eye relief and large zero-rest turrets, it retains the look that AR users want. Most importantly, it has a BDC style reticle that is perfectly suited to the ballistics of the .223 round. The reticle has hash marks from 100 yards out to 600 yards.
For those looking to hunt or shoot longer range with their AR-15 .223 rifle, this scope is perfect. It incorporates style and functionality of both a traditional rifle scope and military style scope. This is an excellent Nikon quality rifle scope for a budget price.
Get out for Some Fun!
By now, you should have gained a good bit of knowledge on rifle scopes on the market. You have a solid selection of rifle scopes under $300 to choose from. There are lots of factors to take into consideration though. Such as magnification level, objective lens size, reticle, and other features. How you intend to use your rifle and scope will be the determining factor for your selection.
Now it’s time to get yourself a scope and mount that thing to your rifle. Even if you have an old scope already on your gun, it might be best to step into the modern age with one of these top quality selections. Have fun out there! Shoot straight and shoot safe!