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7 Best Hunting Scopes Under $500

September 27, 2023
Kevin "KJ" Jarnagin

I love a good bargain, but that doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. We tested countless scopes for your hunting season and hear are the best hunting scopes for the money.

In no particular order, but I do include my thoughts and considerations for each optic.

1. Burris Signature HD

Like: First, the price point is nothing to sneeze at. At $455, the Signature HD from Burris gives quality glass and features at a fraction of the cost of super-expensive products. I also appreciate the 2-10X40mm option available. The standard used to be 3X9, but Burris opens the viewing range up with the 2X10 and a wide viewing angle at low magnification.

Considerations: I’m a MIL guy. The Burris Signature HD optics are available in MOA options, but I wish they’d give us MIL folks a scope with those features.

All-in-all, this isa great option for hunting rifles of all calibers.

2. Vortex Diamondback

Like: The Vortex Diamondback Tactical has operator features at a bargain. The EBR-2C MRAD reticle works great if you’re out west or in a clear cut down south. The lifetime warranty offered with every-single Vortex product is a nice addition. I’ve moved toward the 4-16x magnification optics because it spans the close range and extend beyond the traditional 9X power that we’re used to seeing.

Considerations: Mess around with this optic enough and you’ll end up buying another. You’ve been warned. (Pictured above)

3. Bushnell Nitro

Like: Bushnell seems to have lost their minds on this one. I’ve ran a Bushnell Nitro since they launched a couple years ago. To my amazement, I went to their site, and they’ve marked down the Nitro glass. I love the Multi-X Crosshair SFP option for youth hunting. My boys enjoy a simpler crosshair without the confusion. I’ll ease them into something more advanced as they progress in the shooting journey.

Considerations: Second Focal Plane is my enemy. I find First Focal Plane options easier for my brain. However, if you’re looking for a traditional option this Bushell Nitro is for you.

4. Viridian Venta

Like: I bet you didn’t know Viridian made optics that were great for predator hunting. The Veridian Venta outpunches its weight class by a wide margin. With a wide variety of features what stood out to me was the clarity and durability of the Venta. Plus, it’s got a mildot reticle that I enjoy shooting.

Considerations: This is a varmint optic in every sense of the word. If you are looking for something with a little more light capturing features like a bigger objective lens this puppy is not for you.

5. Leupold VX-Freedom

Like: There’s nothing like having a gold ring atop a fine hunting rifle. The Leupold VX-Freedom with Hunt Plex reticle is a simplistic dream with matte finish, scratch-resistant lenses, and equipped with Leupold’s Advanced Optical System. All that means is more light transmission, reduced glare, and clarity.

Considerations: It is a simple reticle, but the lines and points in the reticle mean something. So, know and understand your optic before you hunt in the field.

6. Crimson Trace Brushline Pro (Muzzleloader)

Like: Most folks snag just any scope for their muzzleloader. They don’t take the time to think about their purchase. The Crimson Trace Brushline Pro Muzzleloader is dedicated to the inline crowd. The CT Custom BDC reticle is favored by many hunters that must make quick shots out to further distances.

Considerations: The price on this optic is $259. They also offer options for pistols, shotguns, and rifles. I’d consider picking an additional CT optic up for your other platforms immediately.

7. Swampfox Patriot

Like: I love seeing new companies challenging the norm. Swampfox is a new on to me, but they crank out some dang clear glass. The Swampfox Patriot optic may have all the trimmings of a precision rifle optic but don’t think twice about taking this sucker into the field. I love the reticle, which is their Sharpshooter Grid with MIL or MOA options.

Considerations: I’m about to back up the bus. The reticle is bound to be too busy for many hunters. I adjust hold in the reticle when I’m on the go, but I’ve found that is the quickest way to make a quick shot when the critter moves further away.

The seven optics listed are proven winners. The only consideration beyond this point is which one and how many are you purchasing? ~ KJ

Kevin Jarnagin (KJ) hails from Oklahoma but quickly established Louisiana roots after joining the Gun Talk team. KJ grew up as a big game hunter and often finds himself in a different venture often. His early career had him working with one of the finest PR agencies in the outdoor industry – Blue Heron Communications. Before that, KJ molded the minds of business school students at the University of Oklahoma. Quickly learning he had to grow up sometime, KJ dedicated himself to the outdoors no matter what it took.


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