Finding the right rifle scope takes a little patience. You need to find a scope that fits your rifle, as well as your intentions with the rifle. You’ll need to ensure it functions in the conditions you shoot in and provides you enough optic to get on target at the ranges you want to shoot at. Plus, you have to factor in your budget. We’ve talked about the right scope for the AR 15, for the 30-30, for hunting, for long ranges, but today we are going to talk all about finding the right rifle scope under 300 dollars.
Three hundred bucks isn’t a bad budget to start with. It provides you with a worthwhile optic that might be a little less featured than others. At 300 bucks, you get a quality optic that excels at the basics of being an optic. It might not be fancy, but it will be functional. A 300 dollar optic will hold zero, take some abuse, and won’t mind getting a beat down every now and then.
Best Rifle Scope Under 300 Dollars
- Swampfox Trihawk
- Burris Fullfield 4 Hunting Rifle Scope
- Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm
- Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X
- Bushnell Engage 3-9X
- Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot
- Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4×28
What’s 300 Bucks Get You?
Hunting optics – If you are hunting a hunting optic, then 300 bucks can take you a long way. Hunting optics need to be good enough to use in lower light situations because of the nature of most hunting. You’ll find yourself taking shots under a canopy, in the shadow of a mountain, or as the sun rises and sets. Hunting optics need to be tough enough for bumps, a little water, and such. Three hundred bucks allow you to achieve those goals with most hunters.
Home Defense Optics – At 300 dollars, you can obtain a very solid red dot scope for home defense optics. Home defense optics need to be reliable and capable optics that won’t flicker when you need them to. They should provide daylight bright illumination, as well as easy-to-use controls. Long battery life is also a must-have. Home defense optics are in the home but should still be able to take a little abuse. A well-made red dot could easily be found for 300 bucks.
Competition Optics – Maybe! It really depends on the competition. For action shooting sports, like 3-Gun, then yep, you’re covered. These sports encourage close-range shots on small targets. They’ll also need to be capable of taking a little abuse and high round counts without issue. That’s not tough to achieve with 300 bucks. Admittedly they may not be as nice as other competitive optics, but you can get started.
For long-range shooting competitions, you need to invest a bit more in your glass. If you want to reach out to 1,000 yards and hit a small target, a 300 dollar scope might get you there, but it likely won’t be consistent.
What 300 Bucks Doesn’t Get You?
If you’re thinking of duty optics, 300 bucks won’t get you a duty optic. Police and military users need a very durable and dependable optic. When it’s rattling around in a cruiser for 8 to 16 hours a day, it needs to be tough and well made. Optics used by military forces need to be tough enough to take the abuse 18-year-old Joe tosses at them. At 300 bucks, you’d be hard-pressed to get an optic that can take the abuse a duty optic takes.
Best Rifle Scopes Under 300 Dollars
Best Scopes Under 300 Dollars Specs
|Scope||Magnification||Objective Lens Diameter||Length||Weight|
|Swampfox Trihawk||3X||30mm||4.55 inches||15.4 ounces|
|Burris Fullfield 4 Hunting Rifle Scope||3-12X||42mm||12 inches||17.6 ounces|
|Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm||1.5-4X||20mm||9.35 inches||9.6 ounces|
|Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X||1-6X||24mm||10.5 inches||17.6 ounces|
|Bushnell Engage 3-9X||3-9X||40mm||14.2 inches||12 ounces|
|Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot||1X||31mm||2.6 inches||5.9 ounces|
|Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4x28||4X||28mm||9.2 inches||7.5 ounces|
Best Scopes Under 300 Reviews
Below is our top seven scopes under 300 dollars. We’ll dive into their reviews, the pros and cons and the price of these individual scopes.
Swampfox Trihawk Specs
- Magnification 3X
- Objective Lens 30mm
- Length 4.55 inches
- Weight 15.4 ounces
Swampfox Trihawk Review
Prism sights might be going out of style with the LPVO crowd, but they’ll always have a place on my guns. The Swamp Fox Trihawk emphasizes everything that’s right with prism optics. It’s a compact option with fixed magnification and a versatile reticle. If the batteries die, that reticle will work without issue due to its etched design.
The Trihawk also packs a massive 52-foot field of view at 100 yards. The Trihawk is the class leader with a wide and bright field of view. The reticle options include an AR 5.56 bullet drop compensating type or a simple MOA type reticle for easy ballistic drop estimation with a variety of rifles and calibers.
The Swampfox Trihawk delivers a lot of optic for less than 300 dollars. It’s perfect for a carbine that might be used anywhere from 5 to 300 yards. Like most prism sights, it’s a plug-and-play package with a built-in mount it installs with ease.
Swampfox Trihawk Pros and Cons
- Massive Field of View
- Plug and Play Option
- Versatile Reticle
- Illumination Could Be Brighter
Swampfox Trihawk Deals
Burris Fullfield 4 Specs
- Magnification 3-12X
- Objective Lens 42mm
- Length 12 inches
- Weight 17.6 ounces
Burris Fullfield 4 3-12x Review
When it comes to higher magnification levels finding the right optic under 300 dollars isn’t easy. As magnification increases, you either pay for clarity or see a lot of diminishing returns with a cheap, higher-powered optic. The Burris Fullfield 4 walks a fine line with its 3-12 power option.
Glass clarity is awesome throughout the entire range of magnification. That range of magnification provides a versatile option for hunting in a wide variety of environments. 3X works perfectly for brush hunting, while 12X allows you to stretch your ballistic legs a bit. The Burris Fullfield 4 also allows you to choose between three different reticles that offer a variety of different wind and elevation holds.
The Fullfield 4 provides hunters with an excellent option regardless of their chosen prey. You can hunt squirrels and prairie dogs with ease, as well as hogs, deer, elk, and more. Burris backs the optic with an outstanding warranty and provides shooters with an outstanding optic for hunting or long-range shooting for 300 or so dollars.
Burris Fullfield 4 3-12x Pros and Cons
- Generous Eye Relief
- Versatile Magnification Range
- Excellent Reticle Options
- Illumination Could Be Brighter
Burris Fullfield 4 3-12x Deals
Leupold VX-Freedom Specs
- Magnification 1.5-4X
- Objective Lens 20mm
- Length 9.35 inches
- Weight 9.6 ounces
Leupold VX-Freedom 1.5-4X20mm Review
Low-powered variable optics typically fall into the category of tactical optics, but the Leupold VX-Freedom provides an LPVO for hunting. In the southeast, where the hunting is done in close quarters, the 1.5-4X provides more than enough magnification. The crystal clear glass makes it easy to see vivid colors and detect game hidden in dense vegetation.
The Pig Plex reticle provides an option for both rapid fast shots and for those moderate range shots. Zoom in to 4X, and you can reach out and touch a target. The optic provides a 200-yard holdover with drop points out to 600 yards. The Leupold VX-Freedom is quite light and compact, perfect for your average hunting rifle without being heavy and cumbersome.
Leupold is a classic American optic manufacturer that makes outstanding optics. The VX-Freedom is no different, and at this price point, it’s tough to beat for a working gun. The VX-Freedom comes with Leupold’s famed warranty and is feature-filled for the low price point.
Leupold VX-Freedom Pros and Cons
- Awesome Reticle
- Lightweight and Compact
- Super Clear Glass
- Adjustments Are Tough To Detect
Leupold VX-Freedom Deals
Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X Specs
- Magnification 1-6X
- Objective Lens 24mm
- Length 10.5 inches
- Weight 17.6 ounces
Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X Review
If you want to edge more towards the tactical side of LPVOs, you can do so for under 300 dollars. The Vortex Strike Eagle offers an affordable 1-6X option for shooters who want that tactical optic at an affordable price point. At the scope’s core is a bright illuminated reticle that provides an option for both close and moderate range shooting.
A big three-quarter circle provides a close-range reticle that’s big, bright, and easy to see. As you extend your range, the crosshairs in the middle and the drop points allow for ballistic compensation. It takes full advantage of the 1-6 magnification range. The Strike Eagle provides decently clear glass for bright environments and makes it plenty easy to hit your target in action shooting sports or even for hunting if you swing that way.
The Vortex Strike Eagle gives you a robust optic that uses a single-piece tube design made from aluminum. It’s water and fogproof and will withstand recoil and impact without issue. It excels in the basics of being an optic at an affordable price point.
Vortex Strike Eagle Pros and Cons
- Versatile Reticle
- Bright Illumination
- Easy to Use
Vortex Strike Eagle Deals
Bushnell Engage 3-9X Specs
- Magnification 3-9X
- Objective Lens 40mm
- Length 14.2 inches
- Weight 12 ounces
Bushnell Engage 3-9X Review
Bushnell has carved itself a nice little niche of providing affordable optics that tend to perform rather well. The Bushnell Engage provides shooters with a classic 3-9X set up with all the benefits of that magnification range. It’s a lightweight optic with a classic 1-inch diameter tube. The 3-9X magnification range allows you to hunt at nearly any reasonable range.
The star of the show is the simple but handy Deploy reticle. This reticle provides 1 MOA increments for both drop and windage, which makes holdovers easy. It’s not as precise as other options but does simplify the holdover process.
As a second focal plane reticle, it only provides accurate measurements at the highest magnification setting. That being said, if you’re holding over, you’re shooting at longer ranges. You’re likely using the highest magnification anyway. This is a great optic for a wide variety of rifles. From bolt guns to ARs, it fits perfectly.
Bushnell Engage 3-9X Pros and Cons
- Awesome Reticle
- Classic Magnification Range
- Second Focal Plane Design
Bushnell Engage 3-9X Deals
Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot Specs
- Magnification 1X
- Objective Lens Diameter 31mm
- Length 2.6 inches
- Weight 5.9 ounces
Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot Review
Red dots rule. They are simple, reliable, and perfect for home defense, close-range shooting, plinking, and even learning to shoot. The SPARC Solar Red Dot is a brand new optic that skirts right under 300 bucks, and for the money, it’s a hard option to beat. The SPARC comes equipped with a solar panel that provides a secondary source of power if the battery dies.
The SPARC also automatically switches to solar when it detects enough light to power the optic. As such, the battery life is 150K hours. The red dot reticle is crisp, clear, and very easy to see. The 2 MOA reticle is fine enough for rifle use and makes engagements quite easy at a multitude of ranges. The SPARC Solar Red Dot delivers where necessary.
Vortex also includes both an AR height mount and a low mount. This allows the optic to be used on nearly any weapon without issue. It keeps things versatile and doesn’t dedicate the optic to the AR platform.
Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot Pros and Cons
- 150K Battery Life
- Backup Solar Panel
- Comes with Two Mounts
- Little Adjustment Feedback
Vortex SPARC Solar Red Dot Deals
Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4×28 Specs
- Magnification 4X
- Objective Lens 28mm
- Length 9.2 inches
- Weight 7.5 ounces
Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4×28 Review
One of the things people love about rimfire rifles is their low price point for both ammo and rifles. As such, you typically don’t want to spend a ton on an optic. The FX-1 Rimfire combines both a high-quality rimfire optic with a relatively low price point. The FX-1 is built from the ground up to adorn 22LR, 22 Magnum, and 17 HMR rifles with ease.
The fixed four power magnification is plenty for rimfire rounds. Even at close ranges, it makes hitting those small targets we often associate with rimfire rifles easy. The Leupold FX-1 Rimfire uses a fine duplex reticle to make it very easy to see those targets, as well as small game like squirrels and rabbits.
Leupold’s little optic is lightweight, compact, and capable for the rimfire enthusiast. It’s tough to beat for rimfire sharpshooters. The Leupold FX-1 comes with an outstanding warranty, and as a Leupold, its reputation precedes it.
Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4×28 Pros and Cons
- Fine Duplex Reticle
- Simple Design
- Limited Versatility
Leupold FX-1 Rimfire 4×28 Deals
Best 300 Dollar Scope Buyers Guide
Let’s look at the world of rifle scopes in general and discuss a few points relating to optics. Hopefully, this quick dictionary will provide you with some definitions for the phrases we’ve used above. Plus, you’ll find 300 dollar optics in all of these configurations, so it’s well worth knowing.
Different Scope Types
Variable – Variable scopes encompass all optics that transition through a series of magnification levels. For example, a variable optic like a 3-9X scope allows you to alternate from 3x to 9x and all the magnification levels in between. These optics are commonly used for hunting and moderate to long-range shooting.
LPVO – Low Powered Variable Optics are optics that have gained a definition separate from variable optics. LPVOs start at 1 or 1.5X and up to various magnification ranges from 4 to 10X. LPVOs are mostly used in the tactical world, as well as action shooting sports. LPVOs are extremely versatile and can be used for plinking, hunting, and whatever else you want to use them for.
Prism – Prism optics are small, fixed power optics commonly utilized for tactical shooting. These compact optics provide a lower-powered setting and feature etched reticles that work with or without power. Their small size makes them compact and lightweight for easy use. You can score some great prism optics for 300 bucks or less.
Red Dots – Red dots optics are 1x optic that features a simple red (or green or amber) reticle for close-range shooting. These optics are super simple and highly effective for close-range shooting. They are very common for home defense, and at 300 dollars, you can get a defensive-worthy red dot.
Fixed Power – Fixed power magnified optics provide you a compact magnified optic that uses a traditional layout to provide a wide degree of magnification. They can be 2.75X, 10X, or 4X. Typically fixed power optics tend to be on the lower range of power levels, but as high as 10X isn’t too tough to find.
What To Expect From With a 300 Dollar Budget
A Name Brand – I’d much rather spend 300 dollars on a budget Leupold than 300 dollars on a company with a nonsensical name and questionable optics. coughPintycough
Proofed Up – At 300 bucks, you should be able to get an optic that’s waterproof for one. Waterproof ratings vary quite a bit, and in the 300 dollar budget, you should get an optic that can be submerged a meter deep for half an hour. Three hundred bucks won’t give you Navy SEAL depth-worthy optics, but it’ll shrug rain off.
Also, at this price point, the optics should be shockproof. A 300 dollar optic should be able to take the abuse from the most powerful recoiling rifles. It should also be capable of withstanding a drop or two without losing zero.
Finally, it should be fogproof with some form of gas purging. Nitrogen is the most common means to purge optics, but lots of fogproof gases will work.
Bright and Clear Class – At 300 bucks, you should have a reasonable expectation for class quality. The higher the glass quality, the higher the price, so you can’t get pro-level glass at 300 bucks. However, at that price, you should be able to see a man-sized target out to 500 years clearly. At closer ranges, the glass should allow you to see colors in vivid detail and tell the brown fur from a deer from the brown color of fall leaves.
You might not be able to see the guy’s face at 500 yards, but you should be able to see him in general. Glass clarity should clear from edge to edge at the highest magnification levels.
Realistic Magnification Ranges – When it comes to magnification levels, you need to have reasonable expectations for magnification. An optic that costs less than 300 dollars and offers you 6-24 power magnification is unlikely to be very clear and consistent at longer ranges. At 300 bucks, you are really suited with a lower magnification optic.
From my experience, I wouldn’t go beyond 12X at the maximum level of magnification. Even then, the extra magnification lets you see targets a little more clearly, not necessarily targets at longer distances. You have to have reasonable expectations for these optics at these ranges.
Daylight Bright Illumination – If you are rocking an optic with an illuminated reticle, you should expect it to be daylight bright at the 300 dollar price tag. Daylight bright can be tricky with budget optics, but if you are relying on that illumination, then it’s a necessity. Daylight bright means you should be able to clearly see the reticle at the brightest part of the day.
Some budget optics do not provide daylight illumination, and at their highest settings, they still wash out in the face of that 2 PM sunlight. For LPVOs, red dots, and prism sights the daylight illumination is necessary for close-range shooting.
Warranty – Yes, at 300 bucks, you should have some form of warranty. It might only stick with the original owner, but it’s a must-have. Three hundred bucks is not a small sum of money and as such, your investment should be protected. A warranty that covers the optics and any potential electronics should be offered.
Optics vary so greatly in price that many may be surprised to find out that 300 bucks is considered a budget optic. It certainly seems and feels like a lot of money for a new shooter. What I can say is that at 300 bucks, you are getting a good, well-made optic that’s designed to last and provide a basic optic you can be successful with.
Fret not. At this price point, you are getting a good starter optic that will serve you well on your rifle. For the more experienced gunslingers, what’s your favorite 300 dollar optic? Let us know below!
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023
November 28, 2023