Do you what to know the big problem with shopping for the best rifle scopes on a budget?
It’s weeding through all the bad, poorly made, cheaply executed, and piece of junk scopes. Excuse my French, but some budget scopes are absolute crap. Luckily, not all of them are.
What’s tough is trying to find the diamonds in the rough when it comes to budget optics. Today, I’m going to do that for you. I’ve put together the best optics that are available for under $300.
Nikon ProStaff 5
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Leupold VX Freedom
Primary Arms Silver Series FFP
Burris Scout Scope
1. Nikon ProStaff 5
This is my personal go-to budget rifle scope. I’ve used it far and wide on a ton of different rifles. This includes everything from powerful AR 10s in 308 to light shooting 17 HMRs. The Nikon ProStaff 5 is the 5th Generation of ProStaff optics and is one of my absolute favorites.
This Nikon scope is very versatile and easy to use optic that can work over a wide variety of different weapons. It comes in a variety of magnification ratings, but the 2.5-10X is my favorite. This level of magnification allows for both close- and long-range shooting, as well as the ability to shoot teeny tiny targets at moderate ranges.
This model is also the most compact and lightest. The Nikon ProStaff 5 BDC reticle works with Nikon’s own online-based software. This system allows you to enter your load data and be given an appropriate level of drop that coordinates with your reticle.
This makes it easy to swap between the 17 HMR and the .308 and to every caliber in-between. In terms of build quality, the Nikon ProStaff 5 is a great scope that is built to last and last. It can absorb the recoil of anything you toss at, up to the mighty 375 H&H magnum.
The optic is waterproof, shockproof and fog proof, but beyond that, it’s field proof. It’s perfect for hunting because this quality scope can take what nature tosses at it.
The Nikon ProStaff 5 is also outfitted with Nikon’s proprietary anti-reflective, multi-coated optics that translates to excellent light transmission with clear images. This makes it a great choice for low light shooting.
The Nikon ProStaff 5 is a well-built optic that will suit a ton of different rifles and different purposes. This is a great option if you are looking for an optic you can move from gun to gun with as little drama as possible.
The ProStaff also carries a lifetime warranty.
2. The Nikon P-223
I’m one of many people who like to hunt with their AR 15. Why not? It's lightweight, accurate, reliable, and plenty capable of taking medium game.
If you hunt with your AR 15, you’ll likely want to top it off with an optic. The Nikon P223 should be the one you consider. The 3-9x40 model is perfect for the AR 15 and makes an awesome hunting scope. It gives you a wide berth of magnification levels well suited for shooting at various ranges.
You will be spot on when shooting deer from 25 yards away or feral hogs out to 300 yards. This level of versatility is perfect for the best AR 15.
The Nikon P223 is specifically designed to accommodate the AR 15’s favorite cartridge the 223. The Nikon P223 sports a BDC 600 reticle that gives you specialized drop points that allow the shooter to automatically adjust for bullet drop.
There is no dope to dial in and no effort on the shooter’s part. This makes it quick and easy to get on target and stay on target. The Nikon P223 also features tactical turrets for quick and easy to adjust and dial in for windage.
The Nikon P223’s zero-reset turret design uses ¼ MOA adjustments. Each movement gives instant audible and tactile feedback. The magnification ring glides as you adjust it and it gives you a small throw ring to make quick and broad adjustments.
The scope is purged with nitrogen to remain fog proof and O ring sealed to keep water and debris out.
While it’s designed for the soft-shooting 223, it's strong enough to take the abuse of much larger calibers. The P223 gives you an excellent level of clarity and brilliant low light performance.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4x24
Vortex is well known for being able to create amazing optics at an excellent price. The Crossfire 2 is a family of optics that range from low powered variable optics like the one we have here up to long-range models.
The LVPO variant was chosen because it’s an excellent scope for action shooting sports and even tactical applications.
Heck, it’s even a perfect choice for close-range hunting with a semi-automatic rifle. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II is designed to be used in a wide variety of tasks. As a low powered variable optic, it’s on the cutting edge of optic design.
This optic was made for semi-auto rifles and for those needing something incredibly versatile. The 1-4x power optics are perfect for shooting anywhere from 5 yards to 500 yards.
Dialed down to 1X, this quality scope gives you an excellent close-range optic. When you dial to 4x, you can see and engage your target at moderate ranges.
Outside of the magnification range, the Crossfire 2 features a versatile reticle known as the V Brite reticle. This features a bright red dot in the center of the optic with a standard crosshair.
This reticle allows for near red dot performance at 1X and is perfect for close-range engagements. The same small red dot is quite precise as you dial in the high magnification. The small, precise red dot won’t obscure a target at longer ranges and allows you to dial into life-size targets with ease.
The Crossfire 2 also features excellent eye relief and a fast-focus eyepiece. This quick focus eyepiece makes the optic easy to get on target and very forgiving for snap shooting and rapid-fire.
4. Leupold VX Freedom
Leupold is likely one of the most well-known manufacturers of high-quality optics. They produce optics designed for hunting rifles, military applications, and competition. The VX Freedom is perfect for hunters looking for high quality, easy to use optic.
The VX Freedom in its 2-7 power configuration is an excellent tool for hunters whether they are using it on a slug gun, a bolt action rifle, or semi-auto rifle. Freedom is an appropriate name for an optic that can be used on nearly any type of rifle with ease.
The Leupold VX Freedom offers shooters up to 4.7 inches of eye relief, which makes it well suited to heavy recoiling weapons. This keeps the shooter from getting punched in the face when launching powerful cartridges downrange.
The VX Freedom’s 2-7x design keeps the scope very lightweight and compact, making it quick and easy to get on target. The VX Freedom weighs only 11.1 ounces and is only 11.04 inches long. The VX Freedom series is well built and designed to last.
Not only is this hunting scope fog proof and waterproof, but shockproof to an extreme degree. Leupold puts the VX Freedom series through something they call the Punished 5,000 times. The Punisher simulates 3X the recoil of the 308 cartridge.
The Freedom is built to last and will last and last through all the abuse and inclement weather conditions you can toss at it. The VX Freedom series gives shooters the Twilight Light Management System that provides shooters with an extra ten minutes of shooting in low light conditions.
The VX Freedom is one of the best hunting optics priced below the $300 price point.
5. Primary Arms Silver Series FFP
First focal plane scopes are designed in such a way that the magnification causes the reticle to shrink or grow as the magnification changes. This allows any BDC of MOA/MIL marks to remain accurate regardless of the magnification level.
Calculating windage and elevation adjustments at different ranges is much easier at lower magnifications. The Primary Arms Silver Series FFP is by far the most affordable first focal plane scope on the market. At less than the $300 price point, this scope rocks.
The Primary Arms Silver Series FFP comes in a powerful 4-14 power magnification with a 44mm objective lens. This FFP optic also sports the ACSS Orion reticle that is designed around the 308, 30-06, and 223 caliber rounds.
This blend of FFP design, a powerful and diverse magnification range, and the Orion reticle system makes this a very versatile optic. When you set to 4X, you get speed and close-range shooting skills. Dialing it up to 14X gets you ready for long-distance shooting with precise long-range performance.
The Primary Arms Silver Series FFP scope is designed to last as well. It’s waterproof and shockproof. This hunting scope is nitrogen purged to prevent any fog from building up inside the optic. The Primary Arms optic is well suited for long-range target shooting as well as hunting.
The FFP design even lends itself to tactical use or for tactical shooting competition. This dynamic optic is one of a kind and to see an FFP scope at this price is a rare bird indeed.
6. Burris Scout Scope
Scout Scopes are specifically designed to be used with rifles that require a long eye relief. They come from Jeff Cooper’s Scout Rifle concept and have become popular for various reasons.
The Burris Scout scope incorporates some of the best features of Scout scopes. Here, Burris has produced an affordable, but well-made optic.
The Burris Scout scope is well suited for rifles like the Mosin Nagant or the SKS. Equipping an optic to these rifles in a traditional design is difficult.
Scout scopes are small, lightweight, and often quick and easy on target. The Burris Scout scope is one of the lightest weight optics making it quick and easy to get on target. The relatively low powered 2.75 magnification allows for more precise shot placement over best iron sights.
The heavy plex reticle is big and easy for the eye to catch. This combination gives you a fast on target scope that fulfills the needs of Colonel Cooper’s scout rifle concept.
The versatile Burris Scout Scope allows for 8.5 to 14 inches of eye relief making it easy to use on a variety of platforms. This would be an excellent scope for a slug gun or a powerful single-shot rifle. It’s also a light and easy to mount scope for a military surplus rifle.
With the right mount, this would require no rifle modification so you can preserve its historical value. The Burris Scout Scope weighs only 7 ounces and is also only 9.2 inches long. It’s light, quick, and easy.
7. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24 x 50
The Bushnell brand is well respected for being affordable while maintaining high quality. The Bushnell Trophy XTreme X30 6-24 x 50 is a long-range scope designed for hunting, target shooting. It is a solid all-around scope. It’s perfect for those looking for the best scope that can do a little bit of everything on almost any kind of rifle.
Personally, I’d feel best tossing this optic on a bolt action rifle in a full-powered rifle cartridge. Something like a 308, 270, or similar would be perfect for the XTreme X30. The X30 is a budget optic but is built to be surprisingly robust.
It’s 100 percent waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof. The X30 is made from one piece of aircraft-grade aluminum so it’s robust.
The lenses feature the Bushnell RainGuard coating which aids in maximum light transmission, 91% to be specific. The Rainguard HD coating also allows for use with wet lenses that would traditionally blur an optic.
Beyond that, the X30 offers Bushnell’s DOA LR 00 reticle that gives you aiming points out to 800 yards. Admittedly you’ll have to be a good shooter to make that shot, but the optic will do its part--providing you do yours.
I believe that this optic is best suited for full-powered rifle cartridges. The scope features a long 3.6 inches of eye relief so getting a black eye from the scope recoiling won’t be an issue.
The Bushnell Xtreme X30 is a powerful budget optic that is well suited for a variety of roles. It’s not an optic designed for war, but for 99% of civilian shooters, it will get the job done.
What to Expect From a $300 Scope
When you purchase a rifle scope for $300, you need to tailor your expectations for that price range. You can get an awesome optic without a doubt. At $300, you won’t be getting a scope designed for precision long-range shooting. Getting out to a thousand yards is going to be impossible at this budget.
Scopes in this price range reach out and hit man-sized targets up to 500 to 600 yards. If they have the necessary magnification, $300 scopes should also be durable and well designed. They should be waterproof fog proof, and shockproof.
These scopes typically aren’t the best for tactical use by military and police forces. They are best suited for competition, hunting, target shooting, and similar tasks. You shouldn’t be trying to fight ISIS with a $300 scope.
Let us know below which under $300 optic you chose!