Although some might scoff at the under $200 price range, the quality of optics that come in under $200 these days is actually quite impressive. What used to be a budget price range now buys a legitimate scope that can be taken hunting or to the competition bench.
So don’t be shy about picking up a $200 scope. These are the scopes that’ll get the most done for a couple hundred bucks:
OUR BEST CHOICE
Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40
If you need to skip to the punch line, the Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 is the best scope you can get for under $200. You’ll be happy with it in all shooting contexts.
Best Value Scope Under $200
Nikon manufactures scopes for a variety of budget constraints.
However, even though the price changes, the quality of their materials does not. No matter what price point you’re buying at, a Nikon scope is a Nikon scope. This is why the Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 is such a great value at under $200.
All Nikon scopes are constructed using high density, low dispersion glass, and the lenses are multi-coated and laser aligned to deliver 98% of the available light to the shooter’s eye. So, the Prostaff delivers an exceptionally bright and clear image at all ranges and magnifications.
The high light transmission also means that the Prostaff gives excellent low light performance. Even in gray dawn and dusk light, the image will remain sharp so you can acquire and identify targets in any environment.
The reticle isn’t illuminated. However, Nikon etches their reticles into the glass of their scopes so that the reticle never gets hazy, no matter how dim the light gets. So you’ll still be able to get good hits.
Nikon fitted the Prostaff with their proprietary BDC reticle, which features 4 aiming circles on the vertical post of the reticle. These serve as aiming points for overhold shooting and minimize the need for adjustments when the distance to your target changes.
The Prostaff also comes with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match Technology. This provides ballistic zeroing for any round, so you can spend less time zeroing and more time shooting. The software also makes it easy to use the Prostaff on multiple rifles.
Given the versatility and capability of the Prostaff, it’s easily the best scope for the money under $200, and would be an excellent optic for any rifle.
Best Tactical Scope Under $200
Vortex Optics is best known for their competition optics, but they build pretty impressive tactical optics as well. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 2-7x32 is a testament to Vortex Optics’ ability to manufacture scopes for every shooting context.
Vortex is another manufacturer that uses the same quality materials in their budget scopes as they do in their high-end scopes. The Crossfire II features high density, low dispersion glass, laser aligned lenses, and Vortex’s proprietary full multi-coating that both maximizes light transmission and minimizes glare. The Crossfire II provides the image clarity that tactical shooting demands.
The Crossfire II comes with a 32mm objective lens, which isn’t the largest objective lens in this weight class, but it’s more than enough for the moderate magnification range, and delivers a bright enough image for shooting in low light or shaded environments.
Speaking of magnification, the Crossfire II is equipped with a slightly lower 2-7x magnification range for better short and medium range performance in dynamic situations. The Crossfire combines the more tactically oriented magnification with a 3.9 inch eye relief and a fast-focus eyepiece for faster target acquisition and sight picture alignment.
The reticle is Vortex’s Dead Hold BDC which provides a good aiming point for short and medium range shots, while still delivering good functionality for adjustments and overholds at longer ranges.
The versatile magnification and reticle make this a strong contender for the title of best tactical scope for an AR-15. But the Crossfire II is also an excellent option for any rifle that you want to use for fast-paced shooting.
Best Hunting Scope Under $200
Leupold makes some of the best scopes on the market, and has been building scopes for many decades. The VX-1 3-9x40 is one of Leupold’s most tested and trusted designs that shooters turn to for hunting and target shooting.
The VX-1 is built using Leupold’s ultra-clear glass, and proprietary lens coatings. The lenses are indexed and aligned for maximum light transmission. The Diamond Coat multi-coatings not only increase the amount of light that reaches the shooter’s eye, they also improve scratch resistance. So the VX-1 will provide a bright and clear image for years of use.
Leupold designed the VX-1 to meet the needs of hunters, so it has a classic 3-9x magnification and a 40mm objective lens. This provides excellent sighting capabilities at common hunting distances, and collects plenty of light for dawn and dusk shooting. This way you can make the most of your days in the field.
The reticle is a standard Leupold duplex reticle, which is designed to give you an unobstructed sight picture, without sacrificing the precision you need to get rounds on target. It should be noted that the duplex reticle has no elevation or windage hash marks, so overholds are a little more work with this reticle.
As is standard, Leupold purged and sealed the VX-1 so it’s waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof. This way you’ll be able to get out and take the shot no matter where you’re hunting or what the weather is.
Although the VX-1 is designed with hunting in mind, it’s still capable enough to double as a target shooting optic. It’s definitely the best hunting scope in this article, and strong enough to be a contender in other shooting contexts.
THE BEST RIFLE SCOPE UNDER $200
Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40
If you want the overall best scope you can pick up for under $200, check out the Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40. It’s an outstanding all-purpose scope that will pair well with any rifle.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, head out and do some scope shopping!