Cheap scope for out to 500 yards or so

Oct 13, 2013
292
2
18
Missouri
#1
I have a friend who is in the market for a scope but only has up to $300 to spend. He just bought a 308 and wanting to play. I am not familiar with scopes at this end of the price range. I know he can't get a good tactical long range one with turrets like I am used to. Maybe a fixed power with a tree like reticle? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 

steve123

Lt. Colonel
Mar 16, 2008
7,186
190
63
Flagstaff, AZ
#5
I have a friend who is in the market for a scope but only has up to $300 to spend. He just bought a 308 and wanting to play. I am not familiar with scopes at this end of the price range. I know he can't get a good tactical long range one with turrets like I am used to. Maybe a fixed power with a tree like reticle? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
The Athlon Argos BTR 6-24x50 is worth the extra money at $369 MAP, hunt around, you can find them cheaper new or used. FFP, in mil or moa, modern tree reticle, illuminated, focuses as close as 10y so later on if he wants to upgrade the scope on his centerfire he can put the Argos on a rimfire.

There's also the Talos BTR 4-14x44 at $300 or a little less. I like the reticle more in this less expensive scope.
 
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Greg Langelius *

Resident Elder Fart
Aug 10, 2001
5,037
433
83
Arizona, good place for me...
#6
Cheap/inexpensive, as opposed to cheap/chintzy.

I am somewhat familiar with the scopes at this end of the price range, and the inexpensive vs chintzy issue is no small change. I have been using the Bushnell AR Optic Drop Zone 223 BDC for several years now on both AR and bolt rifles. They work as advertised.

In essence, you sight them in at 100yd, then use the sequence of small dots below the intersection of the crosshairs as your aim points for 200, 300, 400, and 500yd, with the top of the heavy part of the vertical wire serving as the aiming point for 600yd. When the 100yd zero is properly established, the dots below serve as effective aiming points from the other distances listed above.

Now knowing what those distances (or more properly, the drop value for those distances) are is a a pretty important part of this exercise. The normal method is to use a Laser Range Finder to lase out the distances to the desired target.

But if your friend is trying to save money, then telling him he has to also invest in an LRF is not going to please him. Fear not, all is not lost, there is another way. We can use the scope and its drop points reticle to find the actual distance in a way that makes the scope's aiming points effective.

To use the scope as a range finder, simply aim at the target, putting the intersection of the crosshairs right on the target. When the bullet impacts, it will land at a distance below the aiming point and by putting the crosshairs right back on the target, the actual point of impact will be at the same proper level as the correct aiming point on the reticle. Then simply aim higher so that aiming point is on the desired point of impact for the next shot, and that next shot should be a hit, or very close to it.

Well, this has worked very nicely with my 223's; but I had always wished that Bushnell had made one for the 308. Well, it turns out that they do.

And now presenting:

Bushnell AR Optics 4.5-18x40mm Rifle Scope Drop Zone .308/7.62 BDC Reticle - AR945184B
And now, my work here is done.

Greg
 
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longshot2000

Artillery Major
Feb 19, 2017
1,100
87
48
Northern VA
charliescustomclones.com
#7
I would be inclined to look at the following in that price range.

--> FIRST CHOICE: Used Leupold VR-X Patrol
--> SECOND CHOICE: Leupold Mark AR 3-9x Fire Dot
--> THIRD CHOICE: Burris XTR-II, choose your strength. These scopes do not sell well, but are reasonably good scopes. Ask a dealer for a deal, or find a used one.
--> FOURTH CHOICE: Primary Arms, take your pick of scope, and use the ACSS reticle. I can help you here, if you find something you like.

Personally, I have had bad luck and not impressed with Athlon, short of the Cronos, and while you will find Vortex scopes in this range, I am not a fan. The more expensive PST Gen2 and Razor lines are really good, but the lesser scopes, not so much.

One dog's opinion. Like belly-buttons, we all have one, and not sure what good they are.
 
Oct 17, 2017
443
119
43
Dallas
#9
SWFA fixed 10-12x tough as a red brick.
If your buddy is looking for trouble free, nearly guaranteed performance, then this is the only option in this price range IMHO. But you sacrifice versatility of a zoom scope. 12x fixed SWFA would be a fantastic option IMHO.

Building a zoom scope with decent optics, reliable tracking, good controls, good build quality, durability, etc. in this price range is pretty much impossible. So you have to figure out what you're willing to sacrifice. If it's optical quality and build quality, I'd go with the Athlon (which is a decent option if he's not going to abuse the scope). If he doesn't need wider zoom for close-range hunting, then I'd get the SWFA fixed-power 12x and be done with it. The SWFA mil quad reticle is a big upgrade from mil-dot, but is a bit dated compared to more modern designs like Athlon. But if he's just getting into LR shooting, how much is a tree reticle really going to mean for him?

I will say that the mid-range Athlon scopes are not a huge step down in optical quality from the SWFA fixed-power scopes. I wasn't too fond of them looking at the range, but they're really not bad in comparison since the SWFA non-HD glass is just ok as well.

Bottom line: Athlon isn't bad, but I'd still go with the SWFA unless he really has a need for the zoom, in which case the Athlon is probably a fine choice.
 
May 12, 2006
725
63
28
The Big Country
#10
I have a friend who is in the market for a scope but only has up to $300 to spend. He just bought a 308 and wanting to play. I am not familiar with scopes at this end of the price range. I know he can't get a good tactical long range one with turrets like I am used to. Maybe a fixed power with a tree like reticle? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
For $300, there is NOTHING better or even as good as a fixed power SWFA SS. Their tracking, zero retention and return to zero is as good as anything out there. Their glass is very usable. I would recommend he get the fixed 10x with the mil-quad reticle. Contrary to much of what is written, 10x is plenty to take him to 1000 yards. As you get higher magnification in the SS classics, the eyebox becomes much more critical. Be sure to not let your friend focus purely on image quality. The greatest picture in the world is absolutely worthless if the scope won’t retain zero, track precisely and return to zero.

https://swfa.com/swfa-ss-10x42m-tactical-30mm-riflescope-3.html

John
 

gr8fuldoug

Supporting Vendor
Jan 24, 2006
1,947
114
63
54
Old Bethpage NY
www.cameralandny.com
#12
The Athlon Argos BTR 6-24x50 is worth the extra money at $369 MAP, hunt around, you can find them cheaper new or used. FFP, in mil or moa, modern tree reticle, illuminated, focuses as close as 10y so later on if he wants to upgrade the scope on his centerfire he can put the Argos on a rimfire.

There's also the Talos BTR 4-14x44 at $300 or a little less. I like the reticle more in this less expensive scope.

It would be our pleasure, as a long standing supporting vendor here, to assist you. Please give us a call, 516-217-1000
 

Mordamer

Professional Know It All
May 11, 2010
546
92
28
Hooker, OK
#13
SWFA 10x. The SWFA 10x glass is excellent, the eyebox is good, but it gets worse if you pick a 12, 16, or 20 power SWFA. These scopes were a bargain 10 years ago for $300 and they have added a better reticle since then and never raised the price. If they charged $450 people would still buy them because they are that good.
 
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Clark

Gunny Sergeant
Jul 4, 2003
2,558
6
38
WA the everblue state
#15
I have ~ 100 good scopes and lots of take off scopes filling up file folder boxes.
I ordered a scope this morning for $180.
https://www.opticsplanet.com/leupold-vx-freedom-2-7x33-1-inch-riflescopes.html
The reason I ordered that one is for the small diameter eyepiece.
I build a lot of rifles. The most epensive would be Defiance action, Bartlein fluted, McMillian stock, etc.
The cheapest are previously sporterized Mausers or Arisakas.
The way some bolt handles are bent, I want a small diameter eyepiece.
Here you see and Arisaka I put a Winchester 25-06 take off barrel on it and rebarreled it to 257 Roberts. I sighted it in a 200 yards and got a 1" group.
It has the ultra light rimfire small eyepiece.

When I started building rifles and buying a half dozen deer tags, I found any old rifle would hit any broadside deer at 400 yards if I practice with it and the rangefinder for a couple hours.
It seemed like every year the expensive 7mmRemMag I would build would reach 500 yards consistently in the small kill zone on the target.
The cheaper guns with less power were only a sure thing to 400 yards.
The shooter, ammo, gun, and wind conditions had to get better.
I have, through the years, upped my game, and can kill at 650 yards with the powerful expensive guns and 500 yards with the wimpy cheap guns.

Right now I could hit every deer in the lungs at 500 yards with that $180 moa reticle rimfire scope with a wimpy cheap 243, 250S, 260, or 308 rifle.
 

Attachments

Nov 20, 2008
269
113
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dirt nap
#16
Jordan Peterson seems to say that aesthetics create a religious experience. But the Arisaka makes me an atheist.

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koshkin

Dark Lord Of Optics
Feb 22, 2006
1,258
474
83
Los Angeles
www.opticsthoughts.com
#17
At $300 price, I am generally with the SWFA SS 6x or 10x recommendation. They just plain work. If you want a scope that you can trust to track for $300, this is easily my top pick.

If you want to use reticle for holdover exclusively, there are other options out there, like the Athlons mentioned above, but I would lean toward the SS.

ILya
 
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pineoak

Assistant Minion
Feb 15, 2017
1,787
84
48
Raleigh, NC
#20
Argos BTR or SWFA 10x or 12x

Argos glass is great, but the turrets are horrible

SWFA is solid scope, but fixed and I'd spend more for the side focus even though it's more
 

fdkay

Gunny Sergeant
Nov 27, 2009
3,518
223
63
55
Ingleside, Tx
#21
Falcon M18+ 4-18. Very good reticles. decent glass FFP
SWFA 10 or 12 power, I lean to the 12 X.

Sleeper hit:
Weaver 3-10 tactical from Natchez Shooters Supply.
Awesome, Japanese made scopes for just over 200, leaves you room for a decent set of rings.
It is just about impossible to beat these. The SWFA have a better reticle, but are fixed power.
https://www.natchezss.com/weaver-gr...pe-3-10x40mm-mil-dot-reticle-matte-black.html
 
Likes: INMY01TA
Jan 10, 2011
237
0
16
35
Missoula Montana
#23
SWFA. 12X or 10 X I have ran them for years and been tough on them and never had one shit the bed yet. They are my go 2 when I dont want to spend a bunch of money on a good variable power FFP scope.
 
Oct 17, 2017
443
119
43
Dallas
#26
The side focus model is more convenient, but it's not necessary. The front end of the eyepiece adjusts for parallax, which isn't as nice as side focus but is much better than some other hunting-style scopes where the objective bell is adjusted for parallax.

I wish they made the 10x with side focus in HD glass for just a hair more $.
 
Mar 24, 2018
206
48
28
AZ
#28
How does the swfa work dealing with parallax or does it? Says it has rear focus. Version with side focus is $100 higher
Rear focus = parallax ring where your magnification ring is.

The side focus model is more convenient, but it's not necessary. The front end of the eyepiece adjusts for parallax, which isn't as nice as side focus but is much better than some other hunting-style scopes where the objective bell is adjusted for parallax.

I wish they made the 10x with side focus in HD glass for just a hair more $.
For me, there are only three models worth owning from SWFA: their 6x, 10x, and 3-9 HD. 12x and above, including the 5-20 IMO eyebox gets touchy, and the 10x HD is just priced way out of reality.
 
Oct 17, 2017
443
119
43
Dallas
#29
5-20 HD is an awesome scope. The eyebox is fine to me. More forgiving than my Gen 2 PST.

I run the 5-20 HD at 12x-16x most of the time when pinging steel and it's incredibly forgiving in terms of depth of field, eye box, and the optical clarity is just fantastic.
 
Apr 25, 2014
778
162
43
Boise, Idaho
#30
--> THIRD CHOICE: Burris XTR-II, choose your strength. These scopes do not sell well, but are reasonably good scopes. Ask a dealer for a deal, or find a used one.
-->

One dog's opinion. Like belly-buttons, we all have one, and not sure what good they are.
I'm not sure where you heard your sales numbers brother, but for the first 3 years this scope was on the market Burris was pumping them out as fast as they could make them, and you still couldn't find them on the shelves. The entire years allotment was gone by January. This is really the first year that a person could just arbitrarily look for one and find one for sale. And we are going on over 4 years on the market.

The same thing has happened on the new spotter and the RT-6. The entire year was sold out by the end of SHOT Show. If people knew how many XTR II's were already out there, you would be shocked. I know I was. This scope still sells like hotcakes.

Just one dog's opinion to another ;)
 

koshkin

Dark Lord Of Optics
Feb 22, 2006
1,258
474
83
Los Angeles
www.opticsthoughts.com
#31
The side focus model is more convenient, but it's not necessary. The front end of the eyepiece adjusts for parallax, which isn't as nice as side focus but is much better than some other hunting-style scopes where the objective bell is adjusted for parallax.

I wish they made the 10x with side focus in HD glass for just a hair more $.
I prefer the rear focus model since I often shoot lefty and it is easy to reach with either hand.

The rear focus of the 10x HD is fairly stiff though. It could use a cat tail. On the Classic scope, it requires less effort to adjust.

ILya
 
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Moose

Sergeant
Jul 3, 2005
845
6
18
Red Bank, NJ
#33
I have a friend who is in the market for a scope but only has up to $300 to spend. He just bought a 308 and wanting to play. I am not familiar with scopes at this end of the price range. I know he can't get a good tactical long range one with turrets like I am used to. Maybe a fixed power with a tree like reticle? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thanks.
The SWFA 10X or 6X classic is a lot of scope for the money, with a whole lot of elevation and good glass.
 

flyer

Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
485
159
43
#36
I would be inclined to look at the following in that price range.

--> FIRST CHOICE: Used Leupold VR-X Patrol
I have one, I like it, I'm not sure you could find one for $300...

Cheap/inexpensive, as opposed to cheap/chintzy.

I am somewhat familiar with the scopes at this end of the price range, and the inexpensive vs chintzy issue is no small change. I have been using the Bushnell AR Optic Drop Zone 223 BDC for several years now on both AR and bolt rifles. They work as advertised.
I just bought one of these (4.5-18x40) around Christmas for a cheapo Black Friday sale AR15 upper build.

The worst I can say about it is that the focus knob is stiff so it is difficult to focus if you're holding the scope by hand. On a rifle should be easier.

I can't complain about the clarity or light gathering too much considering I paid $125. I got a chance to compare one against a Nikon Prostaff 5 at Bass Pro and it was very close looking in to the dark corners at the other end of the store.

I have heard that their tracking isn't the best which makes the BDC reticle a good idea. I consider it a bargain but I know I have to work around a few limitations.

The VRX Patrol 3-9x40 is very nice but I'm not sure it's 4.5x as nice.

Fixed power SWFA scopes are ok but a 10x might be too much power for a hunting situation.

Several years ago I bought a Nitrex TR2 3-15x42 on clearance from Natchez. It's essentially the same as a Weaver Super Slam. Those deals are long gone but a new one comes along from time to time.

The important thing to know is that you get in to diminishing returns once you go over about $500 and the amount of value you get can vary wildly due to the brand or retailer.

$300 could get a pretty good scope, a $125 scope might be good enough. Some $500 scopes could be a disappointment.

You need more info about how he wants to use it before you can figure out best for $300 or best bang for the buck.
 
Apr 25, 2014
778
162
43
Boise, Idaho
#37
I don't think we'd be upset if we sold a few more. But certainly not in the $300 range this post is talking about.
I would sure like to see something like the MTAC 4-14 come back on to the market. A nice inexpensive mil based scope with a good reticle.

There just isn't enough time in the day to make every scope a person wants...
 

Bryan Stewart

Sergeant of the Hide
Mar 9, 2017
15
0
1
Livermore, CA
#38
I'm pretty damn happy with my Primary Arms HUD DMR ACSS scope on my 6.5 Grendel. I have no problem ringing steel at the Sacramento Valley gun range steel range which goes from 50 yards to 550 yards. Zero'd at a 100 yards and good through the whole range.
 
Oct 13, 2013
292
2
18
Missouri
#39
He will use scope for casual shooting at steel and some for occasional hunting. Hunting I know better with 6x but 10x better for longer range work. Will teach him how to hit out to 1000. Leaning toward the 10x. He is not big hunter.
What about good set of rings for the swfa that won't break the bank?
 
Apr 17, 2010
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28
71
Astoria, Or.
#40
I'm going to throw one more into the mix. The Vortex Viper 6.5-20X44 or 50. These sometimes go on sale for $300.00 to 329.95 including shipping. I have used them on .223s and a .308. Between myself and two other guys we have seven of them. Of those one has gone back to Vortex. Vortex sent it back and said it was OK but cautioned the owner about torque on the ring cap screws. An in. lb. torque wrench later and all was fine. We used these hard for a number of years varmint hunting and they are considerably more scope, in every respect, than the dollars would indicate.

If I remember correctly, Koshkin has a soft spot for these.
 
May 12, 2006
725
63
28
The Big Country
#42
He will use scope for casual shooting at steel and some for occasional hunting. Hunting I know better with 6x but 10x better for longer range work. Will teach him how to hit out to 1000. Leaning toward the 10x. He is not big hunter.
What about good set of rings for the swfa that won't break the bank?
I use the SWFA rings. They are not fancy, but they are stout, align well and have never failed me.

https://swfa.com/swfa-ss-tac-30mm---1-rings-97259.html

John
 

flyer

Sergeant of the Hide
Apr 25, 2018
485
159
43
#46
I believe you can buy a one piece sloped Weaver (brand) base for the Savage Axis which is helpful for long range shooting. I'm not sure if they make a flat one but I think they are about $25.

A one piece base should keep everything aligned well, I would go for that style of base if not that Weaver in particular.
 
Dec 17, 2017
119
20
18
#47
I'm a newbie with only a little practical experience but just researched all my options for my first precision rifle . I settled on a Vortex Crossfire II 6-24X50 scope and paid $250 for it new. I have not yet been disappointed - I have looked thru and handled/shot lot of scopes belonging to Range Buddies and my Brother has some pretty decent scopes.

Most folks who have checked out my Vortex Crossfire II have been pretty impressed with the bang for a buck. It is an SFP scope (which I actually prefer to FFP) with capped turrets.

VooDoo
 
May 12, 2006
725
63
28
The Big Country
#48
Hondo, Will these rings work on a Savage AXIS .308? Need a base also? These rifles any good? Just not familiar with them at all. Haven't even seen his rifle yet.
The rings will work with the correct base.

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1018662988/egw-1-piece-picatinny-style-base-savage-axis-edge

I’ve messed with exactly one Savage Axis in .308. It was about what I would expect from a budget light barreled factory rifle with an injection molded stock. Grouped a little over MOA.

John
 
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