Top 6 Best Rifle Scope Under 400 Dollars – Unbiased Review

How much should I spend on a rifle scope? This is a question you have probably asked yourself more than once. While the answer depends on your financial ability, the $300 to $400 price point seems to be the preferred price point for most.

At this price point, you will get a decent enough scope without having to spend a crazy amount of money. On the flip-side, there are so many options at this price point that finding the best rifle scope under 400 can be a nightmare.

After extensive research and testing out several scopes at this price point, we narrowed down to six. These six proved to be the best in this price category, and below we have prepared detailed reviews of each.

More importantly, we have also compiled a buying guide on why we choose these six. 

The Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescopes is our top pick. It comes in two variants and is excellent for long-range shooting. However, you can also use these rifle scopes for close-range shooting.

Second on the list is the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Rifle Scopes, which in our view is the best 1x scope in this price point. 

Is Bigger and More Expensive Rifle Scope, Always Better?

When it comes to rifle scopes bigger and more expensive is not always better. Scopes that cost upwards of $1000 come packed with specialized features. Most will feature high magnification levels ranging from 3x all the way to 24x.

This kind of magnification is often reserved for professional long-range shooters such as snipers. Also, a bulky scope will weigh you down when hunting. Thus a bigger scope is not the best choice for hunting.

Why Spend Between $300 to $400 on a Rifle Scope?

The $300 to $400 price segment is the sweet spot of rifle scope pricing. The scopes you find in this price point are of high quality without being overly expensive. 

How To Pick The Best Scope Under $400

Which is the best scope under 400? This is the question we will be seeking to answer in this section. There are several things to consider when searching for a scope under $400. The main things to consider are;

The Magnification

A rifle scope’s primary purpose is to give you a clear view of your target by bringing it closer to your eyes. This is done through magnification. Therefore magnification is the number one aspect to consider.

There are two types of scope you will find, fixed and variable magnification scopes. Fixed magnification refers to a fixed magnification level, e.g. 4x. Variable means a varied range that can range from 3.5x to 24x. 

In this price point, variable magnification scopes will be more common. What you need to consider is the amount of magnification you need. Hunting in close cover requires a low magnification of 3.5x or 4x. 

Thus a scope that has a low magnification of 3.5x will be the right choice. If you plan on hunting from long range, a higher magnification may be necessary. For long-range shooting, you will want a 6x to 24x magnification.

The Exit Pupil

Our eye pupils adjust based on the amount of light available. During the day at noon, the diameter of the pupil will be 2mm. However, later in the day as the sun sets this distance increases to 4mm.

Exit pupil is therefore crucial for hunting in low light conditions. A scope’s exit pupil can be calculated by dividing the objective lens diameter with magnification. For example, a 4×32 mm scope will have an 8 mm exit pupil.

For low light hunting either at dawn or dusk, a more extended exit pupil will be ideal. 

Objective Lens Size

As seen above the size of the objective lens, generally measured in millimetres, determines a scope’s exit pupil. However, the size of the objective lens is essential for several other reasons. A bigger objective lens diameter means more light entering the scope. More light translates to clearer image quality.

Also, a larger objective lens translates to a wider field of view, which is important when hunting. For hunting purposes an objective lens of at least 40 mm is recommended. The downside to a larger objective lens is it increases the size and weight of a scope.

Lens Coatings

Any time light hits a glass surface; it is mirrored back, which creates glare and leads to light loss. To prevent this scope, glass surfaces are covered with a special layer of coating. This chemical coating prevents the reflection meaning more light and less glare. 

The more coated a glass surface is, the less glare and brighter the image quality will be. A fully-multi coated scope is always the best. This means all the glass surfaces on the scope have multiple layers of this chemical film coating. 

The Reticle

The reticle is the part of the scope you use as the targeting point. In this price point you the most common reticle type is the duplex or multiplex reticle. The latter is characterized by thick lines that become thin towards the centre.

The outer thick lines make the reticle easy to see, especially in low lighting. Also, for low lighting shooting, you will need an illuminated reticle. For long-range shooting, it is best to have a reticle with MIL-dots.

Parallax Adjustment

Parallax is a phenomenon that occurs when shooting from long range. A moving reticle characterizes it. In this regard, the reticle seems to move or shift as you look through the scope. In most cases, parallax is common when hunting from 100 yards and over.

Also, it is common in scopes with higher magnifications of over 10x. Parallax adjustment allows you to make adjustments so that the reticle stays in place while you move your head. 

Reviews Of The Best Rifle Scope Under 400 Dollars

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Diamondback Tactical 4-16x44 First Focal Plane...

The Vortex optics diamondback tactical first focal plane riflescope comes in two variants. There is the MOA reticle and the MRAD reticle. Both are the same with the only noticeable difference between the two is the reticle. 

These two are designed for long-range shooting mainly due to their first focal plane status as well as magnification. The magnification ranges from 4x to 16x and is paired with a decently large 44mm objective lens.

All the glass lenses on these two scopes are fully multi-coated, giving you crisp and sharp image quality. When it comes to the reticle, they both have essentially the same type of reticle, but with different crosshair configurations.

Both allow you to adjust the range of your rifle scope. The MOA version is the cheaper of the two, but it comes down to preference. The exposed turrets on both versions allow for easy and quick adjustment of windage, elevation and.

What we liked

  • They come with tall exposed turrets for easy adjustment for windage and elevation.
  • Both offer a parallax adjustment of 20 yards to infinity.
  • They feature a first focal plane reticle ideal for long-range shooting.
  • Come with fully multi-coated optics for crisp and clear images.
  • The 4x to 16x magnification is ideal for long-range shooting.

What we did not like

  • The magnification is not ideal for close-range shooting.
  • The glass quality is not of the highest quality.

Features

  • 4-16x magnification
  • 44 mm objective lens
  • Fully-multi coated optics
  • 30 mm single-piece tube
  • O-ring seals

If you plan on making some long-range shots, this is the scope for you. Everything about the scope is designed for long-range shooting.


Vortex Optics Strike Eagle Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6x24 Second Focal Plane...

There are many 1x rifle scopes on the market, and in our opinion, the Vortex Optics strike eagle is the best in the sub-400 price point. It has a lot of features that you are going to love, from the illuminated reticle to the BDC marking.

Let’s start with the reticle. It is a BDC reticle that achieves its intended purpose without being overly complicated. It has thick lines on the outside that come in handy for close range 1x shooting.

Towards the centre, you get fine lines with the BDC points. These are great for medium-range shooting when you need a little bit more precision. 

Given that it is a second focal plane riflescope, you will need to increase the magnification to 6x to take advantage of its BDC ability. We found the BDC to be quite accurate from a range of 250 yards.

What we liked

  • Offer an impressively accurate Bullet Drop Compensator reticle.
  • With its 1x magnification it can be used for close-range shooting.
  • Features easy to adjust capped turrets
  • The scope comes with scope covers already included.
  • It is a 30 mm tube and is easy to find mounts.

What we did not like

  • We experienced distortions when scoping beyond 300 yards.
  • The eye box on this scope is quite tight.

Features

  • 1-6x magnification
  • 24mm objective lens
  • Illuminated BDC reticle
  • 30 mm tube
  • 0-ring sealed

This is an excellent scope for when you need to get up close to your prey. It will be a great option for hunting at dawn or dusk in cover when you can get close to your prey.


Athlon Optics, Argos BTR, Riflescope

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal...

The Athlon Optics Argos BTR rifle scope is another that will appeal to long-range shooters. You get a magnification range of 6x to 24x. This allows you to get a clear picture of your target from a long way out.

But what makes it stand out is its illuminated reticle. The latter is ideal for low light shooting and offers something other scopes lack. The reticle is etched directly onto the glass. The effect of this is a more durable reticle, that can withstand recoil.

The reticle itself is a MIL-style reticle. As such, you get holdover points for estimating windage, elevation and some bullet drop compensation. 

All the glass surfaces on this scope are fully-multicoated. Paired with the large 50 mm objective lens, you get a crisp and bright image quality. Also, these two features add to the scopes ability to perform in low light.

What we liked

  • The MIL-style reticle allows for the estimation of elevation and windage.
  • Comes with fully-multi coated optics
  • Its illuminated reticle works great in low light conditions.
  • Features parallax adjustment
  • The scope is weatherproof.

What we did not like

  • The illumination dial is not easy to get to
  • The MIL-style reticle may not be familiar to most hunters.

Features

  • 50 mm objective lens
  • 6-24x magnification
  • Fully multi-coated lenses
  • Illuminated MIL-style reticle
  • Argon purged tube

This is yet another scope for long-range shooting. It offers excellent performance, and dependability at a great price.


Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40mm Riflescope

The Leupold VX-31 is an excellent all-round riflescope. With its 3.5-10x magnification, it is a great scope for both short and long-range shooting. Moreover, it is a great scope for both beginners and professional shooters.

The duplex reticle is one that most people are familiar with. It is based on the second focal plane and lacks any holdover points. This results in a clean, uncluttered interface.

While the lenses on this scope are multi-coated, it isn’t easy to tell. It offers bright image quality and is one of the brightest scopes on the market. The lenses are also abrasion resistant and should last long.

What makes it a great option for hunting is its magnification. It works great for under 1000 yards. Thus can be used for most hunting scenarios.

What we liked

  • Has a fast focus knob for quick and easy focusing
  • The lenses on this scope are of excellent quality.
  • This scope is great for most hunting environments.
  • The glass surfaces are abrasion resistant and can withstand wear and tear.
  • It performs well in low light conditions.

What we did not like

  • It does not come with parallax adjustment. 
  • It has a relatively small field of view.

Features

  • ¼ MOA click adjustment turrets
  • Duplex reticle
  • Multi-Coated optics
  • 3.5-10x magnification
  • 40 mm objective lens
  • 4.5 inches eye relief

This is a rifle scope that most people will be familiar with. It is simplistic in its design and does not have any complicated features. This means it is great for hunting in all kinds of environments.


Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 6-24X50 First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 6-24X50 First Focal Plane...

The 2nd generation of Athlon Optics’ Argos BTR is yet another long-range scope. It is a first focal plane scope with a 6 to 24x magnification range. This magnification is sufficient for hitting targets from long range.

One of the best things about this scope is the glass quality. The clarity you get from this scope is superb and came close to matching the image quality of pricier models. While the clarity gets a bit worse with the increase in magnification, it is still great for the price.

As for the reticle, it is an illuminated reticle with 11 brightness settings. Using the brightness knob, you can customize the illumination to match the time of day. Thus the reticle remains visible and clear in low light as well as in bright sunlight. 

More importantly, the reticle is etched onto the glass. This means it is more durable and does not require a battery to function.

What we liked

  • Comes with 10 yards to infinity parallax adjustment
  • The lens has an XPL coating that protects them from grease, dirt and oil.
  • The windage and elevation turrets are easy to turn. 
  • Comes with a 6-24x magnification ideal for long-range shooting
  • The reticle has 11 brightness settings.

What we did not like

  • The eye relief is relatively short.
  • Clarity worsens with an increase in magnification.

Features

  • First focal plane reticle
  • 6-24x magnification
  • 50mm objective lens
  • XPL lens coating
  • Illuminated reticle with 11 brightness settings
  • 3.3-inch eye relief

For the price, this is one of the best scopes under 400. It works great in low light thanks to its illuminated reticle. Also, it is excellent for long-range shooting.


Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42SF Matte MK1-MRAD

Nikon M-Tactical 3-12x42SF Matte MK1-MRAD

One of the recent additions to Nikon’s line of riflescopes is the M-Tactical MK1-MRAD. The latter is another excellent scope from Nikon and has some exciting features.

For starters, this scope has fully multi-coated optics. Thus you get a crisp and sharp image quality with improved light transmission. 

It has a 30 mm main tube with anodized matte finish. The latter not only looks great but also makes the scope durable. It should serve you for a long time and withstand harsh weather conditions.

Similar to most of the other options on our list, this scope has a parallax adjustment. It is a side-mounted adjustment knob. The turrets are also ergonomic and comfortable to turn with or without gloves.

What we liked

  • The scope has fully multi-coated lenses.
  • Comes with a 30 mm scope mount included
  • Features a side-mounted parallax adjustment
  • The scope is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof.
  • The turrets are easy to turn with or without gloves.

What we did not like

  • The scope is a bit difficult to mount
  • The reticle is not the best.

Features

  • 3-12x magnification
  • 42mm objective lens
  • 30 mm tube
  • Anodized matte finish
  • Zero-reset turrets
  • Parallax adjustment

This is an excellent all-round riflescope. With a minimum magnification of 3x, it works great for close-range shots. On the other hand, you can use it for long-range shooting with its 12x max magnification.


Conclusion

There are many riflescopes priced under $400. However, not all are designed to meet your needs. The best scope under 400 will depend mainly on your needs. For long-range, shooting a higher magnification range of 6x and over is recommended.

However for close to medium range shooting a magnification range of below 4x is recommended. All the six scopes on our list offer both long and short-range capabilities. 

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