Riflescopes: $400 to $600

 

Updated in December, 2017

Some of the products that were in the lower price ranges have creeped up into this one, but many of my recommendations have not really changed.

Low range variables:

I am not aware of any good 1-8x scopes in this price range, but here you have an option of a truly daybright illumination with scopes like Steiner P4Xi 1-4×24 and Leupold VX-R 1.25-4×20

General Purpose Hunting:

Leupold VX-R 3-9×40 is not the sexiest design out there on paper, but it works exceedingly well and offers a very well executed illuminated reticle.    Outside of that, Meopta MeoPro 3-9×40 with #4 reticle is really a well sorted out option.  Personally though, for $600, I would lean toward the same scope I recommend on the tactical side of things SWFA SS 3-9×42.  This scope has been around for a while, I have two of them, and it just plain works.



High Magnification:

There really isn’t anything terribly compelling in this category.  HiLux Uni-Dial 5-30×56 is a very respectable scope that offers a lot for the money, although I would not mind seeing the glass improved a little.  Out of the more conventional scopes, Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50, to me, still delivers one of the better images for the money.  Honestly though, if you are looking at high magnification scopes you should try to stretch your finances and go a little higher in price.

Reflex/Red Dot Sights:

Here you are finally getting into some really nice stuff.  Both of my current favourite non-magnifying sights fall into this range.  With reflex sights, I think Shield SIS is the one to beat.  With holographic sights, Vortex UH-1 is really nice.

Tactical:

SWFA’s SS HD 3-9×42 FFP scope with Mil-Quad reticle has probably been my most recommended scope since it came onto the market.  It does not look all that fancy on paper, but it is just about bulletproof, works well in difference lightign conditions and tracks like a champ.  This is the scope I recommend more often than any other in any price range. There is a reason for it and there is a reason this recommendation has not changed in six years.

 

 

 

 

Updated in October, 2016

As the manufacturers in the Phillipines and China get better, some interesting scopes start showing up in the sub $600 category

 

Low range variables:

Generally, if you are looking for a low range variable in this price range, it comes down to SWFA SS 1-4×24, Vortex PST 1-4×24 and HiLux Leatherwood CMR4 1-4×24.

If true 1x on the bottom is not critical, but illumination is, Leupold VX-R 1.25-4×20 is a nice option

 

Mid-High Magnification:

The SFP version of SWFA SS 3-15×42 is a pretty versatile option when combined with the MilQuad DM reticle.  Pretty fast to acquire and still offering good precision.  This is also an excellent arigun scope with its close focus.

For more of a classic hunting scope, Meopta MeoPro 3-9×40 and 4-12×50 are excellent for right around $600

 

High Magnification:

Vortex still makes their rather well worked out Viper 6.5-20×50 and for a bit under five bills with a Mil-Dot reticle, it is a good way to go.

If you like a more sophisticated reticle, take a look at Hi-Lux/Leatherwood PentaLux 4-20×50.  If you look around my recommendation list, you will notice that I am still somewhat suspicious of many Chinese-made scopes and only recommend them if I believe that the company will stand behind them.  Hi-Lux does and that is why it shows up frequently among my recommendations (well that, and the scopes are pretty good).

 

Reflex/Red Dot Sights:

I used to strictly be in the Aimpoint Micro camp.  Five years later, it does not even make the list.  Is is still a nice sight and you can’t really go wrong with it, but it has not changed, while the competition did.

Trijicon MRO is basically “Micro done right”: better FOV and ambidextrous control.

If you want a compact sight that is small enough to fit well on a pistol or on a lightweight carbine, Leupold Deltapoint Pro is a bit under the $600 mark.  Honestly, I am not convinced it is better than my current favourite, the sub-$400 DocterSight III, except it is available with a triangle instead of a dot.  That offers interesting options in terms of sight in and aiming at different distances.

 

 

Tactical:

SWFA S.S. 3-9×42 (FFP Mil-Dot).  This is the scope I recommend more often than any other in any price range. There is a reason for it and there is a reason this recommendation has not changed in five years.



Previous recommendations: April, 2011

In terms of general hunting use I am not convinced there is a whole lot to gain by buying a scope more expensive than the excellent choices in the $250 to $400 range.  To get a substantial improvement in basic performance in a hunting scope, you have to spend a fair bit more money.  If all you want is a 3-9×40 or something along those lines and stay under $600, I do not think it makes sense to spend more than $400 or so.

What you do get for $600 is some more magnification options and features that you can not easily get in lower price ranges.

Red Dot Sights:

There are a lot of red dot sights out there.  The only one I routinely recommend is Aimpoint Micro.  There are three varieties of it and all are right at $600 or just a bit lower.  I do not think there is any future for full-size red dot sights, but the tiny ones might survive longer and Aimpoint Micros are the best ones available.

Low range variables:

Vortex Viper HS 1-4×24 (conditional recommendation since these scopes are new to the market)

Weaver Super Slam 1-5×24

Leupold VX-R 1.25-4×20 (another conditional recommendation since the scope is new)

Mid-High Magnification:

Sightron S2 Big Sky 4.5-14×44 or 4-16×42

Minox ZA-5 3-15×50

High Magnification:

Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50

Tactical:

SWFA S.S. 3-9×42 (FFP Mil-Dot).  This is the scope I recommend more often than any other in any price range. There is a reason for it.

 Posted by at 11:17 am

  5 Responses to “Riflescopes: $400 to $600”

  1. I would like your recommendation for a scope for my Grandson’s T/C Venture 7mm-08. He will be hunting deer and hogs in low light conditions. Price range <$600.

    • Since you are mentioning pigs, I assume that you might be takign a shot in very low light, since there is not time limitation on how late you can shoot one (correct me if I am wrong; I do not know the rules for all states). In the sub-$600 range I would look at 3-9×40 or 3-9×50 Leupold VX-R. Another good option is Meopta MeoPro 3.5-10x44RD (recently discontinued, but still around).

      ILya

      • Thank you Ilya. I had considered the SWFA SS 3-9x 42. I have found a website selling it for $449. My grand son hunts deer more than hogs, but most shots occur at daylight or dusk. Hog hunting in Florida may done anytime 24/7/ all year long.

  2. Thank you Ilya. I had considered the SWFA SS 3-9x 42. I have found a website selling it for $449. My grand son hunts deer more than hogs, but most shots occur at daylight or dusk. Hog hunting in Florida may done anytime 24/7/ all year long.

  3. I have been beating on them to offer version os this one & the 3-15×42 with shorter or capped turrets for more sporting/hunting friendliness?