Being a professional journalist, James knows how to turn any topic into a comprehensive, easy-to-digest text. Even if you've never dealt with telescopes before, rest assured James will explain everything you wanted to know about them better than your physics coursebook.
Charles holds a Master’s degree in Physics Engineering (optics and photonics specialization), has been teaching physics at school for almost 15 years and recently has started teaching a course on optics at a local university. Our irreplaceable website expert.
Last updated: April 16, 2022
The Optics is reader-supported. We may earn a commission through products purchased using links on this page. Learn more about our process here
While many people know that a reliable riflescope can drastically increase your accuracy, it can be quite tricky to find an affordable option that ensures the same results as some high-end models. Not all scopes ensure the same results because they vary in certain important characteristics, which make some scopes better for hunting sports and others for target shooting. To help you with your choice, we’ve compiled a list of the best riflescopes under $300.
For our research, we’ve considered crucial features, including the objective diameter, magnification, the field of view, eye relief, length, weight, and more. These factors are important because they relate to the type of shooting activity you have in mind, which then helps you select the best-suited scope for your requirements. Do you want to learn more? Continue reading, and you will find everything about how to get a product that offers maximum comfort and accuracy!
More features: 1/4 MOA finger click, 3:1 zoom ratio, scratch-resistant lenses, waterproof and fog-proof
This scope by Leupold is our editor’s choice because it offers unbelievably good results at a low price. This sports series scope is a dependable tool that costs just under $300, and it doesn’t fail to provide outstanding accuracy! With an objective diameter of 40mm, it offers a clear and wide vision. The field of view this device offers is 33.1 ft. at 100 yds., along with an adjustable magnification that helps you see the target closer or increase the field of view.
The magnification adjustment of the glass lens of the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 1in Riflescope is 3-9 times the actual image. The high-quality lens offers an eye relief of 3.7-4.2 in., and the twilight light management system allows more light to pour into the scope. This item does not cause excess arm strain, with its acceptable diameter and weight of 12.39 in. and 12.2 oz., respectively.
This scope has fantastic additional features, such as 1/4 MOA finger click adjustment range, 3:1 zoom ratio, and scratch-resistant glass lens. On top of that, the product is waterproof and fog-proof, so you can use it all year round.
The downside of this product is that it doesn’t come with a buying warranty.
More features: all-weather ready, fully multi-coated, waterproof, fog-proof and shockproof, limited lifetime warranty
This riflescope by Mueller Optics is one of the best on our list because it is particularly suited for hunting and can withstand the larger caliber recoils of modern rifles. With an objective lens diameter of 40mm and a multi-coated optics, this scope offers a clear image, with maximum brightness and contrast.
The advanced German # 4 reticle allows quick target acquisition and the 3.2 in. of eye relief range, along with a fast-focus eyepiece that allows you to adjust the reticle clarity quickly. The 11-position brightness intensity rheostat offers precise shot placement in dim lighting. It offers a 3 to 9 times magnified view and a complete 39.1 ft. at 100 yds field of view.
The length of this scoop is a good 12.6 in., which proves to be quite balanced. The weight is 14 oz, which does not cause strain. This product has fantastic extra features, such as 1/8 MOA click value adjustment that doesn’t require any extra tools, waterproof, shockproof, fog-proof, and weather-resistant construction. The fully multi-coated, scratch-resistant crystal lens ensures a durable and long-lasting investment.
The only con of this scope is that there are no batteries in the package.
This top of the line riflescope by Redfield caught our attention with its modern design that provides outstanding results with excellent functionality. The objective diameter of this product is 40mm, and the superior glass lens offers amazing results. The vapor-deposited, multi-coated illuminator lens coating protects the lens and the shooter’s eyes from direct beams. The magnification of this lens is 3-9 times, with an adjustable field view of 32.9 ft. at 100 yds.
The lens is an O-ring sealed design that keeps dirt and dust away, protecting the coated lenses. The rod-like scope length is 12.3 in., which provides considerable leverage and weighs just 12.6 oz. The best part about this product is the elevation adjustment function, which lets the user conveniently position the lens as suited to their current position.
The adjustment click view is 0.25 MOA, with an eye relief of 3.7-4.2 in., making this tool user-friendly. The durable lens, with a steel blade and matte finish aluminum construction, is waterproof.
The downside of this riflescope is that it has no parallax adjustment and no illumination.
The Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40 Matte Riflescope is one of the best-rated models on the market. This tough and sturdy product features aircraft-grade aluminum construction, making it one of the most durable options. Popular for its excellent performance, this tool has fully multi-coated lenses to reduce reflection and provide just the right brightness for a clear and accurate target.
This riflescope has an objective diameter of 40mm and a field of view of 44.6 ft. at 100 yds., which helps to increase your rifle’s performance. The high-quality lens has a magnification of 3-9 times zooming effect and an eye relief of 3.3-3.5 in.
The pop-up dials on this tool provide easy, quick, and precise adjustment of elevation and windage. The fast-focus eyepiece offers great optical clarity, and its mechanism makes this riflescope a good pick for hunting sports. Next, the length of the tough aluminum rod is 11.6 in. It is a relatively heavy model at 14.4 oz. The product is waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, and the reticle has SFP. Lastly, the click adjustment value is 0.25 MOA.
As for the drawbacks, the rings can be too short, and the light collection at 9x is not that great.
Why did it make our list?
Wide field of view
What is not ideal about it?
Lens light transmission at max zoom is not that impressive
More features: fully multi-coated optics, 1/4 MOA click value, Spot On Ballistic Match technology, aircraft-grade aluminum main tube
The Prostaff P3 Predator Hunter 3-9X40mm Scope by Nikon is the perfect pick for people who are passionate about hunting. The classic 40mm objective diameter and 3 to 9 times magnification range make this an excellent pick under just $300. The best part about this scope is that the fully multi-coated high-quality lenses optimize light transmission and reduce reflection and glare to enable a bright and clear image.
The eye relief of the lens is 3.6 in., which is a comfortable distance. The field of view is 33.5 ft. at 100 yards, and the Spot On Ballistic Match technology lets you uncover various aiming points on the bullet drop compensator reticle (SFP) suitable for your rifle’s caliber, ammunition, and load type. The click value adjustment of the lens is ¼ MOA.
The length of this hunting sports range scope is 12.4 in., and the weight is 15 oz., which is relatively higher than with other models. One of the most impressive things about this item is its aircraft-grade aluminum alloy construction that is durable and weather-resistant. The waterproof nature of this scope allows you to use it all year-round.
Perfect for sports and long-range hunting, this scope by Primary Arms is one of the best scopes under $300 on the market. With an impressive 44mm objective diameter, this tool allows a wide view. This product’s unique selling point is its state-of-the-art construction, with finger adjustable windage and elevation turrets that allow comfortable and easy adjustment, enabling a clear picture in various conditions.
Another outstanding feature of this scope is its parallax adjustment knob, located on the side of the rifle scope, allowing an accurate view of the ARC-2 MOA reticle. It offers 4-14 times of the original magnification and a field view of 27.2 ft. at 100 yds. The best thing about this riflescope is that it has reticle illumination to increase accuracy, making this tool particularly suited for competitive shooting.
Another quality of this product is that it’s easy to mount and adjust to a convenient angle, with an eye relief of 3.14-3.22 in. The length and weight are 13 in. and 1.5 lbs., respectively, which make this model a little heavier than other alternatives. However, the extra features more than make up for it.
Other features that set it apart from others are the fast-focus eyepiece, waterproofing, nitrogen purged construction, fog-resistance, and fully multi-coated lenses. This product also comes with a 3-year warranty.
If you have been searching for the best tactical scope under $300, look no further because we have the perfect one that lets you shoot with extreme accuracy! The P-TACTICAL Riflescope 2-7×32 by Nikon is an amazing tool from a trusted and well-reputed brand that will prove to be a long-term companion on your adventures.
With a 32mm objective diameter and 2-7 times magnification, this product offers the classical features of a good scope. It has an impressive field of view at 44.6 ft. at 100 yds and an eye relief of 3.8 in. This product promises comfort at an affordable price!
This scope will maximize your shooting experience with its fully multi-coated optics that enable superior light transmission at any time of the day. The modern style O-ring seal and quick-focus eyepiece allow maximum readability while offering smooth, repeatable adjustments.
The advantage of this product is its spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets that set it apart from competitor products. The length of the scope is 11.5 in., and the weight is 16.9 oz. The waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof construction of this tactical scope makes for a durable and weather-resistant purchase, enhancing your shooting adventures! A few people wished that the turrets were a tad smaller.
More features: IPX-7 water resistance level, coated lenses, ED and HT glass for image clarity, rugged armor
This riflescope made it to our list of the best scopes under $300 not just because of its affordability but also because of its high-quality performance. The perfect scope for short, medium, and long-range shooting, you can zoom in this adjustable magnification device 3 to 9 times. With an objective diameter of 40 mm, this riflescope can be your go-to recreational shooting companion.
The improved optical zoom and various reticle options on the second focal plane enable you to achieve excellent accuracy. Its unique eyepiece makes for smoother, faster, and more precise reticle adjustment.
The field of view, at 33.9 ft. at 100 yds, allows for long-distance shooting. The eye relief on this scope is 3.5 in. that makes it quite convenient to use. Next, the length of this tool is 12.3 inches, and the weight is 15.7 oz.
This riflescope has some unique features, such as ED and HT glass lens for better performance and a rugged armor for sturdiness and protection. The high-quality lenses feature IPX-7 water resistance level as well as coatings. The only disadvantage is that the product does not come with a warranty.
More features: first focal plane, illuminated reticle, fully multi-coated optics, aircraft-grade aluminum, waterproof, fog-proof, shockproof
This scope is popular for its excellent magnification at 4 to 14 times. This feature makes the Athlon Optics Talos BTR 4-14×44 Side Focus Riflescope perfect for competitive shooting, especially in low light conditions. Also, this is one of our best-rated products because of its multi-coated optical lenses that provide excellent transmission of light in bright or dim light conditions and reduces reflection and glare.
The objective diameter of this riflescope is 44 mm, and the field of view is 27.2 ft. at 100 yds. The eye relief range is 3.15-3.23 in. It has an illuminated reticle that helps acquire your target quickly. Moreover, the reticle is part of the glass lens to keep it functional if there is a power failure. The length of this scope is 13.1 in. and the weight is 23.6 oz, making it a lightweight yet durable purchase.
Suitable to withstand harsh weather conditions, this scope is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and has a waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof exterior. The first focal plane of this scope allows precise holdover positions at various angles, making it perfect for harsh hunting adventures.
More features: water and fog-resistant, 1/4MOA click value, first focal plane, reticle illumination, aircraft-grade aluminum construction
This riflescope has a large objective diameter at 50 mm, which provides excellent performance. The impressive magnification of the first focal plane reticle with an adjustable objective (AO) lens, at 6-24 times, allows for precision for shooting targets that are up to 800 yards away. The field of view of this scope is 39.3 ft. at 100 yds., which lets you have a clear and wide picture of your target side, helping in tracking a target.
The eye relief is 4-4.5 in., allowing a comfortable shooting experience. The length and weight of this riflescope is 15.5 in. and 1.8 lbs., respectively. This scope offers an unmatched fast range estimation and holdover correction, and it also has the first focal plane reticle and adjustable side focus dial. On top of that, many users will appreciate reticle illumination that can be quite useful in darker conditions.
Another unique feature of this item is its aircraft-grade aluminum construction, with a sealed nitrogen-charged scope tube that makes it weather resistant. Finally, the product has removable spring-loaded flip-up lens covers that protect the lenses when it is not in use. Unfortunately, you don’t get a warranty with this product.
If you are an adventurous soul, who likes to participate in risky but highly thrilling sports, you will know the adrenaline rush that comes with shooting. For an improved recreational or competitive shooting experience, you need a top of the line, modern scope that will help you aim accurately and provide a bright and crisp view of the field. Finding the perfect scope that will be your ultimate shooting companion, yet will not poke a dent in your wallet, is an extreme sport in itself, but that’s why we are here for. This detailed guide will help you pick just the right scope under $300 for you.
Things to consider before getting a scope under $300
Before you buy a riflescope, you need to consider some important features of these products. First, check basic parameters like the objective diameter, the magnification range, the field of view and eye relief, and also some additional features that will help you determine if the scope is suitable for the particular shooing activity. These extra features include reticle adjustment for added comfort, weather resistance, such as waterproofing and fog-proofing, as well as other unique additions like sturdy construction.
The objective lens diameter is responsible for gathering light at the front of the scope. The larger the diameter, the greater the amount of light allowed at the front of the lens of the scope. The light that enters through the objective lens produces a bright image resulted from a larger pupil exit.
Most standard riflescopes have lenses with an objective diameter of 40 mm, such as seen with the Mueller Optics 3-9 x 40mm Sport Dot Series Scope. But some modern products that are designed for use in darker conditions have an objective diameter greater than 40 mm, such as the one from Athlon Optics, which has an objective diameter of 44 mm.
The magnification is especially important when you want a clearer picture of an object from a considerable distance. It enlarges the objects, enabling you to take an accurate shot. The more you magnify the image, the less field of view you get.
The Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP Scope is a great example with 4-14x magnification and clear optics to provide excellent results each time you use your rifle.
Field of view
Another important aspect of a scope is the field of view the lens offers. The field of view is measured as the distance in feet you can see clearly, at 100 yards away. In simple terms, the FOV is the area you are able to see through your scope’s lens from right to left at that distance.
The FOV plays an important role in your shooting range, and the number of targets you can detect as the viewing field increases or decreases. For example, the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 1in Riflescope has 33.1 ft. at 100 yds., allowing you to spot multiple targets at the same time.
A greater FOV enables you to see a larger picture, which is why adjusting the magnification of your scope affects the FOV. If you increase the magnification, the FOV decreases.
Eye relief is the distance at which you hold your shooting eye from the rear or ocular lens of scope in order to see the entire image produced by the scope. It is important to find a comfortable eye relief in order to shoot accurately. The ideal eye relief is 3 ½ inches, such as offered by the Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40 Matte Riflescope, but it may vary for people. Some scopes under $300 offer adjustable eye relief, but this still does not make a difference of more than two inches.
The length aspect of scope comes into play when shooting. However, it is also important to consider this factor when it comes to portability. A scope with small dimensions is obviously easier to carry, especially at steep or rocky locations. The small length, like with the Nikon P-TACTICAL Riflescope 2-7×32, also reduces the weight of the scope, making it more travel-friendly and portable. For scopes with a shorter length, it is important that the magnification is greater to compensate for the length. It does not affect the performance of the scope considerably. That said, you will find a shorter scope much easier to handle.
The weight of a scope denotes how heavy it will be when you carry it around. This factor is more important than it sounds because it affects your performance directly. An extremely lightweight scope will not be able to resist the recoil of the rifle when it fires. A heavy scope will not just be difficult to carry around either, weighing you down, especially in steep and difficult locations, but it will also mess with your accuracy because the heavy tool will strain your arms.
This is why it is important to figure out the ideal weight that will be most suitable for you and select a scope that will not be too light or heavy. In that case, we recommend the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 1in Riflescope. It is a balanced option that many seasoned hunters prefer for their hobby.
The reticle is the aiming point of your rifle because it helps you focus and shoot. This function affects the accuracy of your shot. You can adjust the reticle angle, and most scopes under $300 offer easy and quick adjustment, including the Monstrum G2 6-24x50mm Riflescope.
Some offer a second focal plane (SFP), while others have the first focal plane (FFP). The difference is that the SFP reticle scale appears the same, regardless of whether you adjust the magnification. However, in an FFP, the size of the reticle changes with the magnification. Illumination on a reticle is usually at the side of the scope, which is easy to adjust. The main function of the illumination is to offer a bright image in darkness.
While illumination does not guarantee the accuracy, it can be handy in low light conditions.
Weather resistance is an important feature in a riflescope under $300 because it does not only play a part in durability but also offers wide usage even in harsh or unfavorable weather conditions. You get the best protection against all weathers with aircraft-grade aluminum construction, such as seen with the Vortex Diamondback 3-9×40 Matte Riflescope, which is made of a sturdy and tough material that resists wear and tear.
The other crucial factor is lens coating, which offers a waterproof and scratch-proof protective layer to keep the optics safe from harsh winds and rain. Be sure to consider all these features before buying a scope so that you can use your scope in different conditions.
Light transmission of a riflescope has to do with the type of lens on your model. The lens coating, whether partial or full, determines the amount of light reflected and transmitted. The objective diameter also affects the amount of light that passes in.
The light transmission is considerably better with fully multi-coated optics because they eliminate glare and reflection.
A quick-focus eyepiece enables fast diopter settings. For scopes that have a quick-focus eyepiece, you can adjust the rotation of the diopter setting to suit your eyes, reticle, and even the target all at the same time. Most modern riflescopes have a quick-focus eyepiece that helps you save time and achieve accurate aiming. The Sig Sauer Whiskey3 3-9x40mm Riflescope has a unique fast-focus eyepiece that results in smoother, faster, and more precise reticle adjustment.
Each model’s price varies depending on the model, design, construction, specialization, and extra features. A well-equipped product for use in specific conditions or for certain activities will be on the higher end of the $300 bracket, compared to a scope that has all the basic features of a simple model. Still, that doesn’t mean that you won’t find all the necessary parameters for your favorite hobby.
All of the models from our list are fairly easy to mount and adjust. You just have to follow six easy steps. First, you need to match the rings to the base, which in most modern models come pre-drilled or tapped for mounting scope bases. Then you mount the base of the scope to the rifle as low as possible, which you can adjust later.
The third step is to lock the scope base on the rifle using a small drop of a thread-freezing compound, such as Loctite, followed by aligning the reticle by tightening the top halves of the rings and rotate the scope until you achieve a precise vertical and horizontal reticle. Next, you adjust the eye relief to a suitable magnification and tighten the screws to secure the scope in place.
The best thing about these budget scopes is that they are highly weather-resistant. Waterproofing is important because you never know what you will face during your trip.
Some models even have an IPX-7 water resistance level, which enables them to function flawlessly on rainy days. The illumination on the reticle also aids in producing a bright and clear image despite the weather. Also, don’t forget that most of these models are protected with a warranty, so you can rest assured that you will receive a replacement if anything goes wrong.
You can use a lens cap as a protective device to keep your lens clean and scratch-free. However, you will find fingerprints, watermarks, and even mud on your scope and its optics from time to time and after use. The easiest way to clean your scope is to start by blowing the dust off using a lens duster/brush instead of damp cleaning, even if your lens is water-resistant.
Using the microfiber chamois pad at the end of a lens brush can help you get in the tiny nooks and crooks of the thorough cleaning scope. You can also polish the lens using the same brush to get rid of the stubborn mud residue of watermarks. There are liquid lens cleaners available for thorough cleaning. An expert tip is to remember the turret adjustments when cleaning!
Finding an affordable yet high-quality and well-functioning scope is difficult, so we compiled a detailed guide of the top-rated scopes under $300 to make your job easier. Every single item on our list was picked carefully to meet everyone’s needs.
Our winner is the Leupold VX-Freedom 3-9×40 1in Riflescope. It is an all-round item with excellent features, such as good weather resistance, impressive accuracy, and easy finger click adjustment at an affordable price.