There once was a time when about $200 would buy a hunter a great scope for a general-purpose deer or varmint rifle. Even to this day, among my assorted working rifles and shotguns, I have several scopes made by Bushnell Optics that are about 30 years old. These scopes are still delivering spot-on performance.
The following review covers what the shooter can expect to get for $200 today. Hang on because times have indeed changed?
Todd Gifford “Back Bird LLC“ with a 22 LR gunned raccoon during a commercial project for pest elimination. The Bushnell Rimfire is tacked on to a Ruger SR-22 rimfire rifle. This is not a high-end optic. Instead, it is $200 glass sight that gets the job done at close range and stays within your working budget.
Bushnell AR Optics
Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane (SFP)
Vortex Optics Diamondback
Nikon Buckmasters II
Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex
1. Nikon 223
This scope is a budget level scope for general use. The scope is useful for plinking and leisure time target shooting in terms of overall function. The scope retains a carbide reticle, a 100-yard parallax setting, and is stated to be waterproof, shockproof and fog proof.
This scope makes us of ¼ MOA turret settings and retains positive stop clicks for accurate elevation or windage changes.
The scope's multi-coated objective lens features a 98% light gathering ability. This increases the scope's light transmission capacity and makes it excellent for lower light conditions.
Because this scope is compact in design, it is well suited for use on AR rifles with shorter receivers. This is a lightweight fast handling scope; however, do not assume it is workable for anything close to professional shooting standards. This is an entry-level tool.
The scope uses the Nikon developed BDC reticle with its series of horizontal rings that fit varied ranges with selected ammunition. This scope is set up for the .223 Remington and acts as a range finder. Other cartridges can be used with the system but must be calibrated with the ring system installed in the .223 Nikon.
2. Bushnell AR Optics
This scope features the “Drop Zone” BDC reticle calibrated for the .223 but is adaptable for other cartridges as well. The reticle carries a magnification of 3-9X40 and is set up as best AR optics. This is an ideal scope for a lightweight, smaller rifle in 17 HMR or 22 Magnum.
The scope makes use of multicoated optics and is calibrated for .223 rem for targets situated up to 600 yards downrange. Scope windage and elevation adjustments are set up in ¼ MOA increments. The eye relief on this scope is 3.7” meaning it can handle use on shotguns in heavy gauge offerings as well as rifles.
The scope carries a 31-11ft field of view at 100 yards. The scope is set up in the second focal plane (SFP). This means crosshairs will stay the same size as power settings are increased or decreased. The impact correction range at 100 yards is exactly 55 inches.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane (SFP)
Vortex is a young company that comes up quickly with big ideas! Vortex doesn't just build super long-range, specialized hunting scopes, but they also take care of the general-purpose budget minded shooter. Enter the Crossfire II scope line with a 2-7x32 multipurpose glass sight that gets the job done.
This scope features a one-inch tube and is set up in the second focal plane. These specifications are those most desired by general-purpose shooters when shopping for a basic rifle scope.
This scope uses the “Dead-Hold” BDC reticle system and is a cross over multi-round system. This is not set up for a single type of cartridge or grain weight bullet.
This reticle is very workable for general hunting and shooting situations and is useful for range use. The lenses in this scope are anti-reflective and provide a clear image.
The scope produces a maximum elevation of 60 MOA, which will keep it right in the correct range for the appropriate field applications. The turret adjustments reset to zero after the correct impact points have been achieved with the rifle.
This scope is built of a single piece of material housing the turret and lens. It is a smaller version of the big guys in rifle scope development.
4. Vortex Optics Diamondback
The Vortex Diamondback scope is ideal for general purpose mounting on rifles, shotguns, muzzleloaders, small rimfire rifles, and even target/varmint rifles. This is a multipurpose scope in the budget price range.
To be sure no one is going into Afghanistan with this optic system on an assault rifle, but it can work well on many varied firearms when the targets include anything from a tree squirrel to nasty brush hogs.
This scope carries a 4-12X40 bell housing and power setting. It is sized appropriately and designed like a “big rifle” optical system.
The Diamondback carries a 1.75-6X32 Dead-Hold BDC MOA reticle or variations of that system in 4-12X40 through 3.5-10XC50 in a V-Plex MOA reticle. In other words, be sure you're buying exactly what you want and avoid any mixups. For the most part, the Diamondback is a scope series. In this case, we are concentrating on the 4-12X40 model.
This flexible scope system uses that BDC subtension. This is advantageous for big game hunters as well as varmint target subjects. Learn the system and holdover is a thing of the past
The lens coating provides a clear target image. The scope uses a fast focus eyepiece allowing for quick, clear target acquisition in the field. The turret construction in this scope is detailed and accurate in terms of materials fitting. The precision glide erector system produces accurate tracking.
Elevation and windage adjust with a return to basic zero. In other words, the scope is repeatable even for a budget rate glass sight.
The scope's base tube features solid one-piece construction. It is argon purged and o-ring sealed making it both fogproof and waterproof.
5. Leupold VX
As I have a previously indicated on other scope reviews here at Hunting Mark, the Leupold brand of scope sights has been with me from the early 1960s to the present day. Leupold is a benchmark in scope manufacturing. Because it is an all-American product, I favor it over many other scopes in the marketplace.
The VX retains ¼ MOA elevation and windage settings using crisp and positive turret clicks. Contained in a capped turret system, the hunter can maintain a single zero setting.
This is a solid, dependable scope. I can attest to this fact because I have two of these scopes that are now almost 50 years old. They are still getting the job done for deer, targets, or varmints. One of my very best rifles for cross country or pack in field hunting is mounting Leupold today.
I used this gun and scope while recording my largest whitetail harvest to date. Yes, I am high on this brand for some darn good reasons.
The main scope tube is crafted from 6061-T aircraft-grade aluminum. The glass carries the Leupold “Twilight Light Management System,” that is designed to pull in all available light even in very low light field conditions. The subtensions on this glass is based on the Duplex reticle. The metal features a matte finish.
This scope is built on a one-inch tube making the overall scope somewhat compact when mounted on a lighter weight walking rifle. In this price range, the Leupold is a very solid option when it comes to a budget grade optic that will still get the job done downrange.
6. Nikon Buckmasters II
This scope has a power of 4-12X40 mm and carries a BDC reticle. This reticle allows the hunter to set a dead on hold at varied ranges which depend on the bullet and cartridge selected. This scope is primarily designed to be a hunting scope. However, like others, it can fill in for other glass sights.
The Buckmaster scope series is designed for hunting. The parallax adjustments are preset for 100 yards. The scope is not equipped with a separate adjustment knob. This scope's coated lenses draw light well under low light conditions so common late in the day when hunting big game.
This scope uses 1/4” MOA graduations for easy zero or elevation changes.
This scope provides long eye relief when shooting larger caliber and grain weight cartridges.
The scope measures 19.2" x 4 x 4.5" and weighs 1.6 pounds. As a general-purpose scope, this unit is very popular among deer and big game hunters.
7. Burris Fullfield II Ballistic Plex
Burris makes high-quality scopes and offers this model at an affordable price to the working guy who must pay the bills and wants to have enough left to hunt!
The Fullfield II uses a glass lens that is ground and polished then coated for the best light-gathering abilities possible. This scope has no soft faded glass edges and no metal junk parts.
I shoot this scope brand on my savage Praire Hunter in .224 Valkyrie. To this day, I have not missed a single grass rat or rock chuck with this setup. My glass is crystal clear. The subtensions are correct. The reticle is always as clear can be.
This model scope makes use of capped turrets but uses ¼ MOA graduations when adjusting for the correct zero or changing elevation. Light gathering systems used on Burris high-end glass is the same as the one on the more budget-minded scope. Burris will not offer a lower-priced scope that fails the hunter.
That type of business is not in the book of rules with these folks. As a final note, this scope makes use of a full one-piece tube. This feature contributes to making this scope a solid working system.
I have covered a number of name brand optics here and as such I will always try to give the reader the best information possible and help them make the best scope selection. All these scopes are very workable. The one you purchase depends on your needs and also a little gut-level intuition.