MINUTEMAN REVIEW may be compensated for purchases done through links on our site. To learn more about this, you can read through our Affiliate Disclaimer here.
The under $300 price range is a popular one, and one that will get most people the right scope for their rifle. In another article, we mentioned that a great rule of thumb is to spend about half as much on your scope as you did on your rifle.
Following that rule, a $300 scope will work for a lot of rifles.
Not only that, but many $300 scopes are capable enough for even more expensive rifles. So here are the best scopes under $300 that you can get your hands on:
Running short on time? Here’s what you need to know:
The Nikon Prostaff 4-12x40 is the best buy for $300. You’ll get a great scope that will work for just about any shooting you want to do.
Our Top Choices
The 3 Best Rifle Scopes Under $300
1. Nikon Prostaff 4-12x40 - Best Overall
Nikon usually comes in pretty high on any short list of scopes. Their combination of high quality glass and affordability is really hard to beat. The Nikon Prostaff 4-12x40 is a favorite among shooters looking to get exceptional build quality and performance at a moderate price point.
The Prostaff features Nikon’s professional photography grade lenses and full multi-coating that enhances image clarity and minimizes glare. The Prostaff transmits up to 98% of collected light to the shooter’s eye, which is uncommonly high light transmission in this price range.
This is coupled with a 40mm objective lens and a 1 inch body tube that delivers a bright, high definition image even in bad light or low contrast environments like sage plains and scrublands.
The reticle is an etched BDC reticle with aiming points for multiple ranges, so you get precision at pre-calculated distances without making any adjustments. This is perfect for hunters and competition shooters who need accuracy at varying distances with minimal time between shots.
For long range viability, the Prostaff offers a 4-12x magnification range. This magnification offers excellent performance and familiar sight picture at typical hunting ranges, and gives you an edge when you want to reach out a bit further.
Nikon set the eye relief at 3.7 inches, so you’ll get less eye fatigue when you spend a long day looking through your scope.
Nikon purged the Prostaff with nitrogen and sealed it for waterproof, fog-proof, and shock-proof performance, so your optics will perform no matter where you hunt and what the weather is like.
The Prostaff is one of Nikon’s best selling scopes for a reason: people are happy with it. Any hunter or competition shooter will be well-served with the Nikon Prostaff.
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II - Best Long Range
Vortex Optics is one of the major players in the long range game, and is quickly becoming the go-to manufacturer for shooters running the long-range competition circuit. The Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50 brings professional long-range performance to a more budget friendly price range.
Even though this is one of Vortex’s budget scopes, the Crossfire is still built using high density, low dispersion lenses and anti-reflective multi-coatings so the image is exceptionally clear, even when you’re shooting at long ranges using maximum magnification.
The objective lens is a generous 50mm, which collects a lot of light. The body tube is 30mm. This means the Crossfire delivers a high definition image even during dawn and dusk shooting, when the light is the worst.
Vortex etched the reticle directly into the glass of the Crossfire, so the reticle is always sharp. This gives you repeatable accuracy and hits when you need them. The reticle is Vortex’s proprietary Dead Hold BDC that gives you hash marks for making range and windage estimations, and overhold shooting to help minimize adjustments.
For those who want to shoot at greater distances, the magnification goes from 6-24x. The magnification range is excellent for tactical and competition applications, and versatile enough for hunting. The Crossfire provides all-purpose performance for shooters who want a one-size-fits-all optic.
The only thing that shooters may struggle with is the focal plane. The Crossfire is a second focal plane scope, so the reticle doesn’t retain it’s proportions at different magnifications. This means that you’ll need to do some calculations to use the elevation and windage hash marks at every magnification setting.
All in all, though, the Crossfire is an excellent optic for shooters who want tactical and competition viability that can be taken into the woods to bag some game.
3. Primary Arms 4-14x44 - Best Tactical
Primary Arms is known for building feature-rich optics at reasonable price points. Even though their scopes have a lot of capabilities, they don’t skimp on the quality, either. The Primary Arms 4-14x44 scope is designed for tactical and competition performance at a fair price.
The 4-14 is built for long range precision, and uses fully multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission and the clearest possible image at all ranges and magnifications. The 44mm objective lens gives the scope good light collection so you’ll get a bright image, even when the light starts to fail.
The thing that makes this scope stand out is the reticle. It’s equipped with Primary Arms’ proprietary ACSS HUD DMR reticle, which features aiming points and hash marks specifically designed for .308 rifles. The scope can be zeroed for other round types, but it’s extremely quick and easy to get this scope setup on a .308 rifle.
Tactical .308 shooters will find that the reticle has a ton of functionality for both long range and short range shooting.
For better low light performance, Primary Arms fitted this scope with an illuminated reticle that has 6 brightness settings, so your reticle will never overpower your sight picture.
Another standout feature of this scope is that it’s a first focal plane scope. This is fairly uncommon in the $300 range. This means you can cycle through the magnification range, and use your reticle for range and windage estimations and overholds without making any additional calculations.
The .308 is an extremely popular tactical round, and the application specific to this round makes this the best tactical scope you can get for $300 right now.
Getting a Handle On Things
If you haven’t put a lot of thought into which grip you have on your AR-15, it’s time to take a look at it. That mil-spec A2 grip isn’t doing you any favors. A grip is a low-cost upgrade that makes your rifle much more comfortable and accurate in your hands.