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Rifle Scopes Reviewed: Best Under $1000

We live in a golden age for good optics. Never has access to high-quality scopes been so easy or so inexpensive. While scopes aren’t making leaps and bounds every year, it seems that every couple of years there is a game-changer. 

While the best scopes will run you $3,000, $4,000, or even $5,000, there are plenty of solid options that are affordable. 

We’ll cap this list at $1,000, but many of these can be found for much less.

BEST LONG RANGE SCOPES UNDER $1,000

FIT YOUR GOALS

Finding the right scope is really about understanding your own goals and needs. Just like an AR-15 in 5.56 NATO isn’t the ideal tool for duck hunting, a second focal plane (SFP) scope with MOA adjustments and capped turrets doesn’t make PRS shooting easier.

However, there is more room for error when it comes to scopes. Just because a SFP, MOA, capped turret scope isn’t ideal for PRS doesn’t mean you can’t run what you got and try your best.

These recommendations are geared for long-range shooting. Mainly, targets from 100 to 1,500 yards. Steel, paper, and prone having fun at the range or on the clock behind a PRS rifle are the main ideas for these scopes.

They can also work for hunting, but they might be heavier than what is ideal and have features that aren’t necessary. 

Shooting an F-Class match with one of these scopes would be fine, but F-Class is a discipline that looks for specific features not always found on these scopes.

Even what qualifies as “long range” is a bit fuzzy since these scopes would be at home on a .22 LR rifle shooting 300 yards as they would be on a 6.5 Creedmoor shooting 1,200 yards.

MSRP VS. REAL PRICE

A deeply annoying trend in a lot of products lately, but rifle optics especially, have an extremely high MSRP with a street price way, way lower. 

MSRP is the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, but often it’s just the silly price manufacturers post on their websites. Commonly, it is the price that the manufacturer will sell an item directly off their website instead of going through a dealer or retailer.

MAP is the Minimum Advertised Price, this is the lowest price the manufacturer contractually allows their dealers to list for a product. Having a MAP helps prevent dealers from racing to the bottom against each other and helps ensure they make a decent profit per item.

This isn’t uncommon for a lot of products and in almost all industries, it happens a lot more than you probably know. High MSRP and much lower MAP keep retailers/dealers happy because people are encouraged to buy from them instead of directly from the manufacturer’s website, while also giving the illusion that you’re getting a great deal on an expensive item.

Basically, this is a marketing tactic. 

It is also really annoying.

A lot of firearms and accessories do this to degrees, but a trend I’ve seen in the last 5 years or so is rifle scope manufacturers doing it to an obnoxious degree. MSRPs of $1,000 and street prices of $500.

Because of this, a list like this has some pitfalls when it comes to price. Some of the scopes here are under $1,000 MSRP with a street price almost identical to their MSRP, while others have an MSRP way over the $1,000 limit but their street price is almost guaranteed to be under the limit.

Don’t be fooled by the MSRP. Look at the real price. 

BEST RIFLE SCOPES UNDER $1,000

Bushnell Match Pro ED 5-30x56mm FFP

PROS:

  • Incredible value
  • Great glass
  • Features designed for PRS style shooting
  • Perfect tracking

CONS:

  • Turrets can be mushy
  • Bushnell is going through changes

We have a deep-dive article on the Bushnell MPED and it’s worth a read. For a sub-$1,000 optic to shoot long-range range, this gets my top vote. PRS, NRL: Hunter, NRL22, PRS Rim Fire, if you want to shoot at distances and on the clock, the Bushnell MPED offers a huge set of features and outstanding glass at a shocking price.

Punching way above the price tag, the ED glass is clear and crisp with a reticle that just plain works. While not my favorite ever, the reticle has grown on me in the last couple of years of shooting it.

Chromatic aberration is normally a pretty big deal with scopes in this price range, but the MPED is, to my eyes, the second-best on this list. 

Zero stop, MIL and MOA, and Bushnell’s legendary tracking. There is a lot to love.

What not to love? The reticle isn’t perfect, but that’s not huge. The turrets, while tracking perfectly, do have some slop and don’t feel as quality as they are.

The major drawback, right now, is that Bushnell as a company is going through a lot of… changes. First being a part of the Vista Outdoors brand, they were spun off under a new holding company. Then with mass layoffs internally, word on the street is that some of their departments, like customer service, have been gutted. 

Experiences lately have been mixed with a friend of mine having to wait two weeks for a CS response, while I only waited less than a day when I cracked a scope after dropping it on a rock.

What does the future hold? No one knows, but the MPED is still a great scope.

Specifications

  • Make: Bushnell
  • Model: Match Pro ED
  • Zoom: 5-30x
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm 
  • Minimum Parallax Range: 15 yards 
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.8-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $750/$750
  • Throw Lever?: Yes
  • Illuminated: Yes
  • Turret Type: Exposed
  • Adjustment Increment: .1 MIL / 1/4 MOA
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 10 MIL / 25 MOA
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 30 MIL / 100 MOA

Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 5-25x50mm FFP

PROS:

  • Trusted quality
  • Best in the industry warranty
  • Strong value

CONS:

  • Older design
  • Older glass
  • Missing some now common features
  • MSRP is insane

Once the gold standard for what a mid-tier long-range scope should be, the Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 has been around for over 8 years. 

Long in the tooth? Yes. Wildly overpriced MSRP? Oh ya. A little lacking in features? Sure. Gets the job done? Yes, and at the end of that day that’s what matters most.

The glass is better than most, but chromatic aberration is not great. Not unexpected since this scope design is pretty old these days. Reticles are fantastic, the EBR-7C might be the perfect reticle.

Offered in MIL and MOA, it’s easy to like the PST2. And as always, the Vortex warranty is there as a safety net against almost anything.

Don’t be scared off by the insanely high MSRP, but also never pay close to MSRP for this scope. $1,650 is an outrageous price and not remotely worth that cost. However, the street price has been around $700-900 for several years and is likely to stay around that.

If you’re lucky, you can find demo or sale units for the $600-ish range and that’s a great deal.

One blatant downside is the 30mm tube and 50mm objective lens. While fairly standard 8 years ago when the Gen 2 was released, these aren’t the heavy hitters they used to be. Light and brightness is still good, but the PST2 doesn’t perform as well in mid-light as some of the other options on this list.

Specifications

  • Make: Vortex
  • Model: Viper PST II
  • Zoom: 5-25x
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm  
  • Minimum Parallax Range: 25 yards 
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.4-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $1,650 / $700 
  • Throw Lever?: No
  • Illuminated: Yes
  • Turret Type: Exposed
  • Adjustment Increment: .1 MIL / 1/4 MOA  
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 10 MIL / 25 MOA
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 20 MIL / 70 MOA

Riton 5 CONQUER 5-25×56mm FFP

PROS:

  • Good out-of-the-box features
  • Found on sale, major value
  • Very smooth adjustments

After spending a couple of months shooting with the 5 Conquer, I have to say that I have mixed feelings about it. Some of the features are strong, like the duel throw lever, easy-to-set zero stop, and great turret markings. 

But for a $960 MSRP scope, the glass feels a bit underwhelming and the chromatic aberration is fairly pronounced. 

That said, if you look around a little online you can find this scope for the low $500s — at that price, this is a decently kick-ass optic.

Tracking has been spot on, durability has been strong, features are useful, the reticle is not my favorite but solid, and the scope simply feels good to use. 

All of that is contingent on this being a $500-600ish scope. For about that price range, this is a strong contender.    

Specifications

  • Make: Riton
  • Model: 5 Conquer
  • Zoom: 5-25x
  • Tube Diameter: 34mm 
  • Minimum Parallax Range: 20 yards 
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.5-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $960 / $700 
  • Throw Lever?: Yes
  • Illuminated: Yes
  • Turret Type: Exposed
  • Adjustment Increment: .1 MIL / 1/4 MOA 
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 10 MIL / 25 MOA
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 31 MIL / 107 MOA

Primary Arms SLx 3-18x50mm FFP

PROS:

  • Super strong value
  • Great turrets
  • Half the price of our limit

CONS:

  • Chevrons
  • Parallax/illumination knobs

For raw value, Primary Arms is hard to beat right now. The scopes are just good. Real good. 

At only $500 the glass in the SLx is impressive. It’s not top-tier, but it punches hard for the price. Chromatic aberration is expected but not horrible and tends to not be pronounced until about 600 yards. Past that, it was apparent but not breaking. 

Features are strong on the SLx but not all of them are total wins. The included throw lever is nice in theory, but the arm is thin and a little sharp. Instead of giving you a lot of purchase to move the magnification, it kind of bites your fingers. Not my favorite. 

Illumination is always nice to have, but the knob is too stiff while the parallax is too soft. Adjusting the illumination always moves the parallax as well. If you set the illumination first, it’s fine. If you dial in your parallax and then want to adjust your illumination, it’s annoying.

Turrets feel great and are easy to read. No mush, crisp clicks, and the rev counter is easy to see.

If you like Chevrons, the Athena reticle is great. I don’t love chevrons, but I still really like the Athena. It’s one of my favorites from Primary Arms.

The whole package for only $500? Incredible value.

Specifications

  • Make: Primary Arms
  • Model: SLx 
  • Zoom: 3-18x
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm 
  • Minimum Parallax Range:  
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.5-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $500/$500 
  • Throw Lever?: Yes
  • Illuminated: Yes
  • Turret Type: Exposed
  • Adjustment Increment: .1 MIL / 1/4 MOA 
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 10 MIL / 25 MOA
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 30 MIL / 100 MOA

ZeroTech Vengeance 4-16X44mm FFP

PROS:

  • Great glass for the price
  • Newer brand with big ideas
  • Wide range of options

CONS:

  • Design choices are odd
  • 6 MIL turret, 44mm objective lens

If you remember the earlier days of Vortex, I think you’ll get the same vibe from ZeroTech. One of the smaller brands, ZeroTech comes out of Australia but traces its roots to an American serviceman who settled in Australia after service in the US Army in WWII.

Almost 60 years later the company he founded is now in its third generation of family ownership.

ZeroTech has a great foundation to work with. Strong manufacturing, surprisingly good glass, great tracking, and a fair price. Eye relief feels great, reticles work great, and there are loads of options between MOA, MIL, and different magnifications. 

But the scope isn’t perfect and feels like it’s an older design when it isn’t. 30mm tube isn’t horrible, but 44mm objective lens is not ideal. My scope is in MILs and has a 6 MIL turret. Ew. Not the end of the world, but 10MIL turrets really should be the standard for ease of use.

That might be the PRS shooter in me, but it sure feels weird to see in a brand-new scope.

That said, ZeroTech has made huge moves in just a few years. I think we’ll see more from them and they are worth giving a shot if you’re looking for something new.

Ignoring the turret, I like this scope. The glass is solid and it took more abuse than was fair to throw at it. For the price, this has promise. 

Specifications

  • Make: ZeroTech
  • Model: Vengeance
  • Zoom: 4-16x
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm  
  • Minimum Parallax Range: 10 meters
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.6-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $700/$700  
  • Throw Lever?: Yes
  • Illuminated: No
  • Turret Type: Exposed
  • Adjustment Increment: .1 MIL / 1/4 MOA
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 6 MIL
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 23 MIL / 80 MOA

Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44mm FFP

PROS:

  • Amazing glass for cost
  • Cool custom options like engraving
  • Looks sexy

Maven is a brand people sleep on and I truly don’t know why. Maybe it’s because Maven only sells directly and doesn’t seem to spend much on marketing. Either way, people should know them because the optics they make are outstanding. 

Maven glass is second to almost none. It’s so bright, so clean, so crisp. The RS.1 is one of my favorite hunting scopes because it’s fairly light, FFP, and just does everything I need and nothing I don’t.

Because Maven sells only directly to the consumer, they can offer cool extras like a load of custom colors and custom engraving. If you’re willing to throw down the extra few bucks, do it.

While there are a few options in scopes that have better reticle options, the RS.1 only comes in MOA and only has two reticles, both of them are… okay, at best.

For hunting, and that is what this is designed for, the reticles aren’t bad. Not what I love, but not bad. Trying to push this optic into a long-range or worse a PRS-style role isn’t what I would recommend.

Specifications

  • Make: Maven
  • Model: RS.1
  • Zoom: 2.5-15x
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm 
  • Minimum Parallax Range: 10 yards
  • Minimum Eye Relief: 3.4-inches
  • MSRP/Real Price: $1,000 / $1,000 
  • Throw Lever?: No
  • Illuminated: No
  • Turret Type: Enclosed
  • Adjustment Increment: 1/4 MOA 
  • Adjustment Per Turret Rotation: 20 MOA
  • Total Adjustment Range (Elevation): 100 MOA

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