Riflescopes: Under $1000 or just over

 

Updated in December 2017

There is a considerable gap between $600 and $1000, so there are a lot of scopes to choose from  and most are pretty competent.  Still, I have some rather specific favourites.  Also, I am extending this to just over $1k, since there is some variance in pricing between retailers.  Generally, I take pricing information from the SWFA website and use that for my categories as appropriate.

Low range variables:

Burris XTR II 1-8×24 barely sneaks into this range, but does so with a bang.  I like FFP reticle in 1-8x scopes and the XTR II really works well.

If you prefer a mrad based reticle rather than a BDC one, SWFA SS HD 1-6×24 is still my favourite of the FFP designs.


However, with 1-6×24, there is a lot to be said about good SFP scopes and Hawke Frontier 1-6×24 was a very pleasant surprise.  It is a very solid package with an intelligently designed reticle.

General Hunting:

Vortex introduced their Razor HD LH scopes and they have become my general recommendation for hunting scopes.  I have tested all three models and I am very impressed with them: 1.5-8×32, 2-10×40 and 3-15×42.  Aside from other good qualities, these are exceptionally easy to get behind and they are lightweight to boot.

If you like FFP scopes for hunting, consider Burris Veracity 2-10×42.  It has a well worked out reticle that functions nicely across the whole magnification range.

Allround performance:

Vortex Razor HD LH 3-15×42 (good optical and mechanical quality, long and flexible eye relief, enough magnification range for almost any type of shooting you might do other than house clearing).

Low Light:

The options for low light used to be a lot more  sparse than they are now.  Almost any good quality scope with a large enough objective will do.

Swaro Z3 4-12×50, Meopta MeoPro 4-12×50 and Leica ER5 3-15×56 are all good options.


High Power/Bench/Long Range/Varmint:

In the $1k range, I think Sightron SIII scopes are really your best bet with 6-24×50 and 8-32×56 being real standouts.

Tactical/Precision Shooting:

SWFA SS 3-9×42 and 3-15×42 FFP scopes are still my go to designs in this category, but once you get to $1k or so there are a couple of other very good options.  This segment has been very active in the last two years.

Burris XTR II 2-10×42 is a very well rounded option with good glass, repeatable turrets, and excellent general purpose magnification range.

 If you want a little more magnification, try Vortex PST Gen 2 3-15×44.
These two, in my opinion, are the best of their respective product lines.
If you are looking, for yet more magnification, I like two designs that are sufficiently far apart price-wise that they should both be here:
Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50 is about as good as you will find in a full featured scope for $800 or so. I have now had enough hands on time with it to be reasonably confident in endorsing it.
If you can go up in price to just a touch over $1k (roughly 30% increase over the Ares), Vortex PST Gen 2 5-25×50 is a little better optically.  Both of these scopes are working very well for me.



Updated in October 2016

In this price range, you can already look for more than simply solid fundamentals.  Here you can pick and choose certain features.

There is a considerable gap between $600 and $1000, so there are a lot of scopes to choose from.  Still, I have some rather specific favourites

 

Low range variables:

Burris XTR II 1-8×24 barely sneaks into the sub $1k range, but does so with a bang.  I still need to finish a complete test, but I am pretty impressed so far.

If you prefer a mrad based reticle rather than a BDC one, SWFA SS HD 1-6×24 is still my favourite.

 

General Hunting:

Vortex introduced their Razor HD LH scopes and they have become my general recommendation for hunting scopes.  I have tested all three models and I am very impressed with them: 1.5-8×32, 2-10×40 and 3-15×42.  Aside from other good qualities, these are exceptionally easy to get behind and they are lightweight to boot.

 

Allround performance:

Vortex Razor HD LH 3-15×42 (good optical and mechanical quality, long and flexible eye relief, enough magnification range for almost any type of shooting you might do other than house clearing)

 

Low Light:

Trijicon 2.5-10×56

If you want something a little lighter, try Meopta MeoPro 4-12×50

 

High Power/Bench/Long Range/Varmint:

Sightron S3 6-24×50

Sightron S3 8-32×56

 

Tactical/Precision Shooting:

SWFA SS 3-9×42 and 3-15×42 FFP scopes are still my go to designs in this category.

 

 

 

Updated in April 2011

In this price range, you can already look for more than simply solid fundamentals.  Here you can pick and choose certain features.

There is a considerable gap between $600 and $1000, so there are a lot of scopes to choose from.

Low range variables:

Trijicon 1-4×24 (likely the best illuminated reticle in the business and one of the fastest focusing sights out there)

Meopta Meostar 1-4×24 (solid scope with very bright illumination)

General Hunting:

Swarovski Z3 3-9×36 (small, lightweight and optically perfect no frills scope)

Trijicon 3-9×40 (the most visible reticle in the business, good quality in a compact design)

Allround performance:

Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16×42 (good optical and mechanical quality, long and flexible eye relief, enough magnification range for almost any type of shooting you might do other than house clearing)

Low Light:

Trijicon 2.5-10×56

Meopta Meostar 3-12×56

High Power/Bench/Long Range/Varmint:

Sightron S3 6-24×50

Sightron S3 8-32×56

Minox ZA-5/30 6-30×56

Tactical (in order of increasing magnificaiton):

Burris XTR 1.5-6×40 (this is an odd duck scope, that has great appeal in my opinion: moderate magnification with tall knobs and reticle designed with 7.62×51 in mind)

PFI Rapid Reticle RR800-1 3-9×42 (for those who prefer to use the reticle: this is the fastest system for shooting out to 800yards I know of)

SWFA S.S. 10x42HD (heavy duty fixed power scope with superb glass and knobs)

PFI Rapid Reticle RR800-2 10×42 (for those who prefer to use the reticle: this is the fastest system for shooting out to 800yards I know of)

Weaver Tactical 3-15x50FFP mil/mil ((the recommendation is conditional on how they hold up since these scopes are new)

Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50FFP (the recommendation is conditional on how they hold up since these scopes are new)

 Posted by at 7:23 am

  4 Responses to “Riflescopes: Under $1000 or just over”

  1. For hunting use, if you had to choose between the following, what would be your go to? This is going on my 300 WSM. I already have American Rifle Company rings in 30mm, but could sell them to get 1″ rings.

    Right now, I’m using a Viper PST 2.5-10×32 FFP. I really like the optic, but I’d love capped windage turrets since it keeps spinning when I hike with my rifle slung.

    – Burris Veracity 2-10×42 Plex E1 for $625 USD
    – Leica ERi 2.5-10×42 Ballistic for $1100 USD
    – Leupold VX-5HD 3-15×44 Impact-29 for $1000 USD
    – Vortex Razor HD LH 2-10×40 G4-BDC for $700 USD

    I know they’re all over the place in terms of price / feature set. I carry a laser rangefinder, but also know how to range using reticles relatively quickly, as such FFP is nice, but not critical.

    I hunt to 30 minutes after dusk which means illumination is nice, but not critical as well, especially with a thicker reticle.

    And I’d prefer to keep the gun lighter if possible.

    Is any of the glass going to blow me away? Are any of those options truly stand out?

    Thanks!!

    • There is quite a bit of variance there.

      In terms of optics, ERi is the best scope in your list.
      Razor HD LH and VX-5HD are pretty close with a small edge to Razor HD LH.
      Veracity is very respectable for the money, but not quite as good as the rest of these in terms of optics.

      If you can find a Leica for a good price, it is hard to counsel against that. It is a really solid scope. If you are interested in a little more magnification on the top end, I am probably going to put up my VX-6HD 3-18×44 with Impact 29 for sale fairly soon. With Impact 29, you need reticle illumination. by itself, it is not great in low light.

      G4 BDC reticle in the Vortex was sorta conceived as a general purpose reticle design, so it works well in low light and the scope itself is nice and trim.

      ERi was available with different reticles, so I am not sure which exact one you are looking for. Both Ballistic and IBS reticels are essentially mil-scale designs on 10x, so they are easy to use, but they are also a touch on the thin side in the center, so they need illumination.

      Veracity, while not illuminated is pretty well designed and those tapering bars are very helpful on low mag. I am not big on BDCs, so if you were looking at the Burris 2-10×42, I would lean toward the XTR II with G2B reticle.