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The $500 price range is kind of the sweet spot for rifle scopes.
At this price point, you’ll get a great scope that will do just about everything you want. Not only that, but most $500 scopes are capable enough that you can put them on a very high-end rifle without clipping its performance. On the other end, a low-end rifle will shoot even better with a $500 scope.
So, whatever your shooting needs are, you’ll find an optic for you and your budget.
And with that, these are the best scopes under $500:
OUR BEST CHOICE
Leupold Mark AR Mod 1
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a cheat sheet:
The Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 is the best scope you can snatch for $500. No matter what sort of shooting you’re into, this scope will get it done
Our Top Choices
The 3 Best Rifle Scopes under $500
Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 - Best under $500
Leupold is an old favorite among hunters and tactical shooters. The Leupold Mark AR Mod 1 is one of Leupold’s most popular scopes because it offers a great combination of performance and versatility.
First, Leupold’s image clarity is one of the best in the industry. The Mark AR is equipped with high density, low dispersion lenses. Additionally, the lenses are coated with Leupold’s proprietary Diamond Coat multi-coating, which improves light transmission and scratch resistance. This gives the Mark AR superior image quality and durability.
Leupold designed the Mark AR with hunters in mind. The Mark AR sports a classic 3-9x magnification and a 40mm objective lens. This is ideal for most hunting ranges, and provides ample light collection to locate game during dawn and dusk hunting.
To improve how all this hardware works together, the Mark AR is constructed using Leupold’s Quantum Optical System, which uses index matching, anti-reflective multi-coatings, and blackened lens edges to provide up to 98% light transmission for the clearest possible image in all light conditions and environments.
The reticle is a Leupold mildot reticle that features hash marks for estimating range and windage and holdover shooting at various ranges without making adjustments.
To improve low light performance, the reticle features Leupold’s proprietary Firedot-G TMR reticle illumination, that brings out the most important parts of the reticle without overpowering the image in low contrast environments.
Lastly, Leupold outfitted the Mark AR with industry standard durability features: waterproofing, fog-proofing, and shock-proofing so it will last for years of hunting trips.
The Mark AR is the best scope for the money for hunters or long range shooters who need hardware that will help them on hunting trips and on the competition circuit.
Nikon Prostaff 7 SF M BDC - Best Long Range
Ever since Nikon started producing rifle scopes, they’ve been a staple of the shooting optics industry. Nikon optics are affordable and high quality.
The Nikon Prostaff 7 SF M BDC is one of Nikon’s most beloved scopes because it offers a ton of long range capability at a lower price point than most manufacturers.
Nikon produces professional photography grade glass and uses it in their shooting optics. The Prostaff 7 is equipped with Nikon’s ultra clear lenses that are laser aligned to maximize light transmission.
The Prostaff 7 transmits up to 98% of available light to the shooter’s eye. This means that you get a high definition image in all light conditions and environments.
Additionally, the lenses are fully multi-coated with a anti-reflective compound that maximizes light transmission and minimizes glare, so you never feel like you’re getting too much light during daytime shooting.
All this is packaged in a chassis that features a 50mm objective lens and a 30mm body tube, coupled with a 5-20x magnification range, so you’ll always have clear detail for target acquisition and identification, no matter how far you’re shooting.
Nikon uses what they call a BDC reticle, which is a standard mildot reticle, with aiming circles on the vertical post.
The aiming circles offer aiming points for predefined ranges, so you can confidently take shots at multiple ranges without making any adjustments. This is excellent for hunters and competition shooters who need short range accuracy and long range precision with minimal time between shots.
The Prostaff 7 is a great scope that will provide long range shooters the long range performance they need for competition with the flexibility to get it out in the woods for hunting.
Athlon Optics Argos BTR - Best Value
Athlon Optics produces a wide range of scopes that come in under $500. The popular price point and high performance of Athlon scopes makes them one of the most popular manufacturers in the shooting sports.
The Athlon Optics Argos BTR is a well reviewed scope that comes in multiple configurations.
The first notable thing about the Argos is that it’s a first focal plane rifle scope, so you can use your reticle for range and windage estimation even when you change the magnification power. This means fewer calculations and more shooting.
Athlon offers some of the highest quality glass at this price point, and fully multi-coats their lenses in several layers of anti-reflective, high light transmission coatings for excellent image quality and true color at very high ranges. Long range shooters will find that the Argos provides the image sharpness they need to hit competition targets at maximum distance.
The Argos is offered in a standard configuration of 6-24x50, which is an excellent setup for long range shooters and hunters who want a bit more reach than a standard 3-9x scope provides.
However, the Argos also comes in 8-34x56 and 1-4x24 models for shooters who want better long range performance, or more tactical viability.
The 6-24x50 model provides excellent light collection for hunters who like to get out early and stay out late to ensure they never come home empty handed.
All models of the Argos feature an etched reticle for exceptional reticle crispness in all light conditions and environments.
The Argos is equipped with the waterproofing, fog-proofing, and shock-proofing you’d expect, and goes one step further with Athlon Optics’ proprietary Xtra Coating that improves scratch resistance on the lenses.
Given the features and price point, the Argos is easily the best value scope you can get for $500, and there’s a configuration for any shooting context.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND
Leupold Mark AR Mod 1
Any shooter with a $500 budget will be happy with the Leupold Mark AR Mod 1. It’s easily one of the best scopes in its class, and provides versatile performance for any type of shooting.
Now that you’ve got a handy shopping list, it’s time to go out and get a scope!