8 Best Prism Scopes | 1x to 5x Prism Scopes Reviewed

Confused by all the different prism scope options out there? Or perhaps you’re confused about what a prism scope is in the first place. Either way, you’re in the right place. Comparing prism scopes doesn’t have to be difficult, and we’ve compiled a list of our top picks for best prism scopes.

Let’s go over the different prism scope options and how they compare to one another. As a reference point, we’ll also discuss how they work on the M4 carbine, which will give us insight into how they’ll work on other rifles as well. Here’s everything you need to know about choosing the right prism scope for your needs.

What to Consider When Choosing a Prism Scope

For the most part, you’d select an M4 or other carbine for close-quarters use; home defense, perhaps hunting in a densely wooded area where you can’t really make shots further than 35 yards or so anyway, or as a survival or emergency firearm that can be stored more easily than a longer rifle.

Most of the scenarios in which you’d reach for your carbine are also scenarios in which you won’t need a lot of magnification and want your rifle to stay light and easy to maneuver. Depending on your purposes, however, you might want a small amount of magnification as an option.

Prism scopes are great for a lot of firearms, not just carbines, and certainly not just M4’s, but we’re focusing on M4s because their design makes them great for the vast majority of situations that best prism scopes are also great. We’ll talk more about how 3x prism scopes are perfect for some situations, good for others, and not great for some.

PRODUCT

DETAILS

Products

BEST FOR CLOSE RANGE

Primary Arms ACSS Cyclops 1x Prism Scope

Primary Arms ACSS Cyclops 1x Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 20mm
  • Magnifier: 1x
  • Length: 4 in
BEST FOR MID RANGE

Monstrum S330P 3x Prism Scope

Monstrum S330P 3x Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 30mm
  • Magnifier: 3x
  • Length: in
BEST FOR RAPID TARGET

UUQ Prism 4x32 Rifle Scope

UUQ Prism 4x32 Rifle Scope

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnifier: 4x
  • Length: 4 in
BEST LIGHT WEIGHT SCOPE

Primary Arms SLX Compact Gen III 3x Prism Scope

Primary Arms SLX Compact Gen III 3x Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnifier: 3x
  • Length: 5.59 in
BEST FOR CLEAR IMAGE

Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope

Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 25mm
  • Magnifier: 1x
  • Length: 4.3 in
BEST FOR WIDE RANGE

Primary Arms SLx Gen III Prism Scope

Primary Arms SLx Gen III Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 36mm
  • Magnifier: 5x
  • Length: 5.78in
BEST FOR MID RANGE

CCOP Outdoor Products Tactical Prism Scope

CCOP Outdoor Products Tactical Prism Scope

  • Diameter: 32mm
  • Magnifier: 2.5x
  • Length: 4.68 in
BEST FOR SHORT RANGE

Sightmark Wolfhound HS-223 Prismatic Weapon Sight

Sightmark Wolfhound HS-223 Prismatic Weapon Sight

  • Diameter: 24mm
  • Magnifier: 3x
  • Length: 5.9 in

Are Prism Scopes the Perfect Middle Ground?

On one end you have traditional lens scopes, which tend to be around a foot long, can weigh upwards of a pound, and can bring magnification anywhere from 3x-20x and beyond.

On the other end, you have red dot sights that typically don’t have any magnification at all. Long-range shooters obviously find their perfect fit with lens scopes, and short-range with red dot sights.

But what about when you need something that will serve passably in as many situations as possible? Enter in the best prism scope. Another viable option would be Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs), but this article is going to be focused on which prism scopes are the best solution and use the best prism.

Prism scopes work differently than a traditional lens scope, and the difference is in their names. Traditional lens scopes operate similar to binoculars, telescopes, etc. by achieving magnification through 2 or more lenses (usually an objective lens and an ocular lens). Prism scopes instead use a prism to focus light.

This comes with a few benefits and a few drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of prism scopes:

Pros:

  • Much smaller, more compact design
  • Etched reticles and prism design make batteries not essential
  • Have no moving parts like a lens scope

Cons:

  • The reason they have no moving parts is that they have fixed magnification
  • Not as quick as red dots; they have eye relief and some parallax

Generally, you won’t find any prism scopes with magnification higher than 5x, and if you want more than that a lens scope would most likely be a better fit anyway. You can find prism scopes with 1x magnification that add some benefits to red dot sights but they can be on the pricey side.

Even though the name might lead you to believe otherwise, prism scopes can actually be more direct competitors of red dots than they are of lens scopes, depending on the magnification you’re looking at and the goal you’re trying to achieve.

A 2.5x or even 3x prism scope can serve the same purposes as a red dot while also giving you a little help when you need to shoot a bit farther.

That said, especially if you’re shooting .22lr, you don’t need much magnification, and choosing a lens scope could be a less versatile choice than a prism scope.

The M4 Carbine and the Prism Scope - A Perfect Match?

The answer, as with most things, is “it depends”. The fixed magnification on prism scopes means that you can’t really get a single prism scope that will work great for every scenario. If it’s an emergency rifle or for close-range hunting, then you’ll want 2.5x or 3x prism scope or maybe more, but if it’s for home defense, 2.5x might be too much.

As usual, your best bet is to plan ahead and consider what the core purpose of the prism scope is going to be and get one that fits the best.

The M4 carbine, unlike many other carbines, shoots .223 and 5.56 NATO instead of 9mm or another pistol caliber, which can be a factor in which optic to choose, as it needs to be able to withstand more recoil

That’s all well and good, but I think that’s enough chit-chat, let’s get into our recommendations…

All of these come with our recommendation, but they are in no particular order. Each one is the right fit for different situations, and we encourage you to pursue the one that looks best to you.

1. Primary Arms ACSS Cyclops 1x Prism Scope

prismatic scope

The Cyclops is a pretty amazing prism sight. It is designed to compete in the red dot sight space but has a different feature set that makes it both better and worse than red dot sight depending on the situation.

You’ll get an etched reticle as well as a powered illuminated reticle, and a unique reticle design that adds a horseshoe as well as range markers to your standard red dot sight.

You can see on PrimaryArms videos of the 1x Cyclops being used to make 400-yard shots, and a lot of that comes down to this reticle design.

prism scope

Your field of view at that distance will be enormous, so expect that more practice and training will be required to make that kind of shot than with a traditional scope.

The Cyclops has a generous eye relief and a bright exit pupil (13mm), all with the intent to make target acquisition as quickly as possible. Being a 1x magnification, your MOA adjustments are ½, which could make those 400-yard shots a little more difficult.

The etched + illumination style of reticle makes the Cyclops better for shooters with astigmatism, as it will be sharper.

It comes with a standard 1913 MIL Picatinny rail mount that is also removable, multi-coated glass elements, which are fairly standard, and the National Tactical Officers Association has given it a Silver-tier rating.

Primary Arms ACSS Cyclops

The price of Primary Arms ACSS Cyclops 1x Prism Scope varies, so check the latest price at

2. Monstrum S330P 3x Prism Scope

best prism scope

As the name would suggest, the Monstrum S330P comes with 3x magnification, which makes it better suited for long-range shots, but still not nearly as helpful as something with more powerful magnification.

Another consideration with a fixed 3x magnification is that if your target is closer than about 12 feet, or you’re in a CQB situation, having that much magnification is more of a liability than an asset.

In a home defense scenario you have to ask yourself if you’ll really be able to line up your sight picture, acquire your target, and fire quickly enough, especially if your target is moving.

The S330P is 5 inches long and weighs 15 ounces, which makes its weight comparable to some scopes but much shorter and more compact.

prism scope

Your objective diameter here is 30mm and you have a much more standard reticle than the Cyclops, along with ¼ MOA adjustments that show that this prism scope is designed for longer-range shooting.

You have the etched plus illumination style of reticle that is pretty standard on prism scopes, which makes it great as an emergency or survival optic because even if the battery dies and the dot is no longer illuminated, you can still see the reticle in black.

Granted, this makes it less adapted to low-light shooting, but gives you more options than a red dot sight.

Reviews are solid for the S330P, with an average 4.2-star rating on Amazon. It takes a CR2032 battery, which is commonly available, and should last for a while, though Monstrum does not specify how long they expect the battery to last.

Monstrum S330P 3x Prism Scope

The price of The Monstrum S330P 3x Prism Scope varies, so check the latest price at

3. UUQ Prism 4x32 Rifle Scope

prismatic scope

This prism scope is designed for longer-range shooting and might be the toughest (and most affordable) scope on this list. It is constructed completely of metal (and multi-coated glass, of course), and is shockproof, fogproof, and rainproof.

You get ¼ MOA adjustments for windage and elevation and a 32mm objective diameter for long-range shots, but you also get a mechanical fiber optic sight system on the top of the scope.

This sight is designed for close-range shots where the 4x magnification is too much. It’s a clever solution to the main gripe with prism scopes and makes this possibly the best catch-all solution for a carbine.

That said, that means the sight has to be zeroed in separately from the scope, and if you have no need for it, it may unnecessarily clutter your setup. There are also reports that the fiber optic sight is a bit fragile, so may not be a good solution for rifles with high recoil.

The UUQ comes with a 20mm weaver mount standard and a side rail for mounting a flashlight or other accessories. All in all, the UUQ is pretty tactical and does a decent job of striking the middle ground between high magnification scenarios and low magnification scenarios.

UUQ Prism 4x32

The price of The UUQ Prism 4x32 Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

4. Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III Compact Prism Scope

prism scopes

We have three different models in the SLx product line in this list, and that is no accident. This SLx has 3x magnification and a 32mm objective diameter.

The eye relief is big enough that you can shoot with both eyes open, and they have done their best to squeeze as much accuracy at long range as they can, boasting that it can make 600-yard shots using 5.56 NATO.

They appear to have done this with their reticle design, which, being completely honest, I’m not personally a big fan of. I shot with iron sights pretty exclusively for my first 25 years of life, and I get impatient pretty quickly with cluttered reticles. If I have to study and learn how to read a reticle before I can shoot accurately, I get annoyed.

That said, busy reticles have their place, and in the case of the SLx 3x32mm, their reticle design is what allows it to make shots at such long range, as long as you’re patient enough to memorize what all the different lines and dots mean.

You get ¼ MOA adjustments with total elevation and windage adjustment of 60 MOA, which should give plenty of room for zeroing in. Primary Arms also ships the Gen III with their new “next generation ruggedized mounts to provide...incredible clamping power”. The mount is picatinny.

Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III

The price of Primary Arms SLx 3x32mm Gen III varies, so check the latest price at

Want to know more details about this scope, Check out our detailed Primary Arms Gen III 3x32mm review

5. Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope

best 1x prism scope

Taking a quick break from the long-range aspirations of prism scopes, the Spitfire takes it back to basics with no magnification and a straightforward design. The performance is there with the Spitfire, and it has a large eye box and clear reticle for fast target acquisition but you can also get vortex optics spitfire 3x prism scope.

The Spitfire is bigger than most of the other optics on this list; it’s nearly 7 inches long and 4 inches tall and weighs almost a pound, but the features that it offers as a prism scope make it more than competitive with red dot sights.

The sight picture on a Spitfire is parallax-free with a minimalist reticle that is etched onto the glass as well as illuminated by a standard (and cheap) AAA battery. The simple reticle design makes it great for shooters with Astigmatism, and a handful of reviews on Amazon talk about how great it is for their Astigmatism.

The drawback of the 1x magnification and minimalist reticle is that it won’t be great for long-distance shots, capping out at about 100 yards and a maximum of 200 in the right conditions.

You do have control over the brightness of the reticle for better shooting in different lighting conditions, and you can choose between red and green illumination. The Spitfire is a tough optic that has been nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed.

Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x

The price of Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope varies, so check the latest price at

If you are looking for a same scope with higher magnification, then here is the detailed vortex optics spitfire 3x prism scope review for you.

6. Primary Arms SLx 5x36mm Gen III Prism Scope

prismatic scope

Look familiar? It should, as it’s the 5x magnification version of the Gen III we discussed earlier in this list. With the 5x version, PrimaryArms has partially addressed my qualms with their busy reticle design, by choosing a fairly standard BDC (bullet drop compensation) ladder that’s a bit less cluttered.

You still have to learn what all the extra lines and dots mean, but at least there are fewer of them, and it won’t take as long to memorize or properly incorporate them into your shooting. Combined with the 5x magnification, Primary Arms boasts that the SLx 5x36mm can range out to an incredible 800 yards.

If long-distance shooting is your cup of tea, and you want the improved image clarity and small form factor of a prism scope, the SLx 5x36mm should be on the top of your list.

You’ve got generous eye relief given the magnification, ¼ MOA adjustments, red or green illumination, and a picatinny top rail for adding other accessories like a red dot sight or other sight for us short-range guys. Your field of view will be narrower, but that’s just a natural consequence of the magnification.

As you should probably expect, the SLx 5x36mm is waterproof, fog resistant, and shockproof, and comes with a durable anodized hard coat finish.

Primary Arms SLx 5x36mm Gen III

The price of Primary Arms SLx 5x36mm Gen III varies, so check the latest price at

Want to know more about that scope? Check out our detailed primary arms 5x prism scope review

7. CCOP Outdoor Products Tactical 2.5x32mm Prism Scope

prism scopes

This may be one you have not heard of before, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at. The 2.5x magnification makes it a bit more versatile than most of the other scopes in this list, and it comes with not one, but two rails (appear to be picatinny) for mounting accessories.

The rails are removable, which could be a big plus as they add a lot of bulk to the optic.

Your adjustment clicks are ½ MOA, which makes sense given the fixed 2.5x magnification. The optic should be quite durable and tough, tested to be 100% waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof, and built with a one-piece construction 32mm tube out of an “aircraft grade aluminum alloy”.

Reviews are pretty skimpy on this optic, so you’ll want to check out some review videos and stress tests if you can find them before you pull the trigger (pun intended) on this one.

That said, it comes with an etched reticle (as expected), red and green illumination (as expected), and a 12.4mm exit pupil (a bit bigger than expected). The reticle is a horse shoe design with stadia lines on the 6 o’clock line.

CCOP Outdoor Products Tactical

The price of CCOP Outdoor Products Tactical 2.5x32mm varies, so check the latest price at

8. Sightmark Wolfhound 3x24 HS-223 Prismatic Weapon Sight

prismatic sight

The Wolfhound belongs on this list because we’re talking about the best prism scope for an M4 carbine, and the Wolfhound is ballistically matched to .223, 55 grain and 62 grain ammo. The dot on the Wolfhound is incredibly small, measuring at only .5 MOA, and surrounded by a horseshoe reticle with a BDC ladder underneath.

What’s cool about the design is that there’s a secondary .5 MOA dot set at the base of the horseshoe that is a holdover reference for different distances at different calibers & grain counts.

Sightmark has coated the exterior of the Wolfhound in rubber, which makes it rather unimpressive to look at, but should be very serviceable and have high durability in practice.

The main flaw with the Wolfhound is that the eye relief is low enough that multiple reviews mention that it is difficult for them to use.

The .5 MOA dot is also so small that it is difficult to see in some conditions, and while it may be great for long range shots in certain conditions, it’s going to be much smaller than necessary for short or even mid-range shots.

Granted, that’s what the horseshoe is there for, but overall it doesn’t seem like the best way to find a middle ground.

If you have sharp vision and are shooting an M4 carbine or AR-15 variant, the Wolfhound could be a great option for you.

Sightmark Wolfhound 3x24 HS-223

The price of Sightmark Wolfhound 3x24 HS-223 varies, so check the latest price at

Summary

You can use a prism scope on any firearm that you can put a lens scope on, but with fixed magnification that typically doesn’t go higher than 5x, prism scopes are the best fit for rifles that will be doing more in the short to medium-range shooting than long range.

That said, you can find prism scopes (like the SLx 5x36mm) that can theoretically handle shots up to 800 yards.

Let’s be honest, if you’re shooting at distances that far though, you will not be interested in using a 5x prism scope to do it more than once just for bragging rights.

Prism scopes fit best in scenarios where compact size and minimal magnification are a priority, which makes them more of a competitor to red dot sights than lens scopes in practice.

Red dot sights have the advantage of zero parallax, no eye relief, and lower weight. Prism scopes have the advantage of etched reticles and some magnification, which makes them better adapted to a wider variety of situations generally.

In the end it comes down to what’s the best tool for the job you’re doing, as well as your own personal preference.

As I mentioned earlier, I prefer a minimalist reticle and to just re-zero my sight when I’m going to be shooting at a longer distance, so my choice would likely be different from an experienced long-range shooter familiar with having to compensate for each shot on the fly.

If you’re new to scopes or firearms in general, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by all the different options and specifications of each of the optics on this list.

Just focus on what you need for your situation. That will narrow down the choices substantially, and then you can spend the time researching just the ones that look like they’ll work.

Conclusion

This is our list of recommendations for prism scopes. My personal favorite on this list is the UUQ Prism 4x32. It may be a bit gimmicky, but I really like having the fiber optic sight at the top for those close-range situations in which a 4x magnifier would be a liability rather than an asset.

Have you had experience with any of these prism scopes? Are there any that aren’t on this list that should be? Would love to hear your thoughts and responses in the comments and I’ll do my best to respond to them.

If anyone has had experience with Burris optics, I have not used a Burris and would be interested to hear from those who have. I hope this article was helpful and if you want to learn more about different types of optics I’d encourage you to check out more of our article on best AR 15 scopes.

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