Updated in October, 2016
Inflation has moved some nice designs out of this range, but there are a few reasonable options out there. In this price, it is still best to resist the temptation to get the most feature rich scope in the known world. Looks for something with solid fundamentals.
Vortex Diamondback 1.75-5×32, 2-7×35 and 3-9×40
Burris Fullfield II 2-7×35 and 3-9×40
HiLux Leatherwood ATR Professional 1.5-6×44 and 2.5-10×44
Weaver Classic K 4×38 and 6×38.
Earlier recommendations: February, 2011
Now we are getting into a price range where some scopes are truly competent, not just affordable. I think the sweetspot of performance for the money is still in the higher price ranges, and there aren’t any high magnification scopes that I like for $200. However, if you are a hunter or a casual shooter, you can get one of these and be set for a long time.