Best Scope Under $1000 in 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Last updated on July 22nd, 2024

On a budget and you want the best scope under $1000? This list shows the 8 best scopes under $1000 available today with value for money in mind. The optics have been selected based on their features with a focus on long distance shooting.

There are countless optics to choose from, with companies constantly releasing new models with better features. This list below is a starting off point with most of the optics listed available in additional configurations, such as magnification ranges and reticles. The options listed are crafted to appeal to all types of shooters from competition to long distance hunters, here’s what’s worth checking out.

Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56

best scope under 1000

In Australia, it’s hard to visit a shooting range without spotting a Vortex Strike Eagle. This optic has earned the trust of rifle users worldwide. Whether you’re entering the competitive shooting arena or seeking a versatile range optic, this scope checks many boxes. It boasts a superb reticle design, well-considered illumination, and functional turrets. However, when dialed to full magnification, some users may notice a slight drop in glass quality. Nonetheless, given its price point, it remains a dependable performer.

My own experience with Vortex Optics has taught me that their strength lies in delivering quality optics that surpass the expectations of their budget category. The Strike Eagle series offers various models, including the 1-6×24, 1-8×24, 1-8×24 FFP, 3-18×44 FFP, and the 5-25×56 FFP, the latter being the model under review here. Straight out of the box, this scope surprises with its inclusion of extras like a throw lever for easier magnification adjustments and a sunshade to combat glare. All these extras thrown in make it an easy contender for the best scope under $1000.

The EBR 7C reticle is a standout feature of this optic, offering versatility and reliability. The scope’s package includes a sunshade, lens cloth, battery, turret tools, and rubber lens covers, all neatly presented in impressive packaging. The scope itself exudes sleekness with its matte black finish, precise alignment, and well-calibrated turrets, complete with a zero stop feature. Performance-wise, it shines in the mid-range category. While there may be some color distortion at full zoom, it’s minimal and forgivable considering the scope’s affordability.

best scope under 1000

The Vortex Strike Eagle offers all essential features required by long-distance shooters, such as a zero stop, parallax adjustment, illumination, locking turrets, throw lever, an advanced reticle, and fully multi-coated lenses. What sets it apart is its ability to provide budget-conscious shooters with a high-quality optic packed with features, all backed by a lifetime warranty. For those seeking a reliable scope that enables accurate long-distance shots without breaking the bank, the Strike Eagle 5-25×56 is the ideal choice and truly considerable for the best scope under $1000.

Quick Stats: Vortex Strike Eagle

Price$799 USD
GlassChina
Magnification5-25×56
Weight30.4oz / 861g
Eye Relief3.66″
IlluminationYes

Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56

SIG Sauer Sierra3 6.5-20×52

best scope under 1000

For those that like tech in their shooting gear the SIG Sauer Sierra3 6.5-20×52 is like they’ve pulled something straight out of a sci-fi movie and slapped it into a scope. We’ve all seen firearms evolve over the years but recently, it seems like the real innovation is happening with scopes. The SIG Sauer Sierra3 6.5-20×52 is often bought in a kit with the Kilo Range Finder and together they produce a firing solution onto the reticle.

This scope is best used as part of a system, including the range finder, scope, and the phone app to bring all the features together. It’s definitely a scope for the techie but a worthy consideration if you have the time to dig a little deeper into the ballistics side of shooting. This is a great scope for someone who’s willing to embrace the new world of tech assisted shooting and who doesn’t have big cash for a scope with an in built ballistic computer. I’v been hands on with this system and tried it out with different ammo out to 500m and it does work. It requires you to have a bit of practice with it and to get a feel around the app, but once its setup its easy to use.

The glass on the Sig Sauer is crisp and clear, and the reticle lines are easy to see. This isn’t on the cheaper end, but you’re getting some top notch tech for your dollar. If you’re hunting focused, I’d say it’s a good choice. I’m keen to see in the long run how Sig evolve this tech in the future. It’s not for everyone, but if it fits your bill, the SIG Sauer Sierra3 6.5-20×52 is a beaut. For me it’s a peek into the future of shooting tech, and I’m excited to see where it goes from here. The SIG will stay on the best scope under $1000 list for now until another more advanced scope comes along.

Quick Stats: SIG Sauer Sierra3

Price$849 USD
GlassPhilippines
Magnification6.5-20x52mm
Weight25.9oz / 734g
Eye Relief3.43″
IlluminationYes
best scope under 1000

Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×50

Best Scopes Under $1000

It’s like they’ve taken everything you need and none of what you don’t, and packed it into one neat little package. In stark contrast to the Sig, this scope it all about getting back to basics with great lenses, sensible magnification, and made in the US. For those unfamiliar, Leupold have become one of the most recognised optics manufacturers in the world. The high quality, made in the USA reputation of Leupold make time with the VX-3 easy.

 A 3.5-10x optical system might not sound like much, but do you really need anything fancier for a solid, reliable medium and close range rifle? At 3.5x, it’s perfect for close range work and at 10x, it’s good for those longer shots at medium range. The CDS turrets on the scope are solid and there’s no need for complex calculations. You can even get a custom dial from Leupold to match your specific ballistics. The 30mm tube and 50mm objective lens work together, funneling light right where you need it. And the fast focus eyepiece is sharp.

What I really like about this scope is the forgiving eye box. It’s great to use, especially on a rifle where you might be shifting positions a fair bit. You’ve got MOA and MRAD options to choose from depending on your preference. The windage dial is capped, preventing any accidental movement. The illuminated reticle’s dot is a nice touch too, making the reticle alot clearer if you are shooting in low light. Leupold have made a scope that’s all about function, no frills. The image quality is top notch, the build is sturdy as they come, and the warranty is a testament to their confidence in the product. It’s a classic case of keeping it simple and easily makes the ‘best scope under $1000’ list.

Quick Stats: Leupold VX-3HD

Price$799 USD
GlassUSA
Magnification3.5-10×50
Weight15.1oz / 428g
Eye Relief3.6″
IlluminationYes
best scope under 1000

Meopta Optika5 4-20×50

best scope under 1000

First released in 2020, this Czech-American scope has made many fans. Meopta’s Optika5 is a trimmed down version of the popular Optika6 line. It’s all housed in a sleek 1 inch diameter tube which is a bit more compact compared to the chunkier 30mm and 34mm sizes. Its in the second focal plane and has capped turrets so you are losing some aspects that might appeal to more fast paced shooting but this scope has other strengths.

Meopta’s unique triangular rubber grip is a feature I like. Especially in the wet, it’s a great feature to have. And for those who want even more easier mag changes, there’s an optional screw in throw lever for the magnification ring. The 4-20x magnification offers good versatility across close, medium and even longer distances. The ZPlus reticle, in the second focal plane, works like a charm at various magnifications. The side parallax knob is effective, focusing down to 10 Yards and out to infinity.

If you are chasing illumination, there is a more expensive illuminated version thats available and would be my pick to help adding versatility if you plan on doing any low light hunting. The turrets offer a total of 60 MOA of elevation. True to Meopta’s reputation, the Optika5 4-20×50 delivers great optical performance. The sharpness, contrast, and brightness make target acquisition a breeze. If you’re after more options in reticles and turrets, the more expensive Optika6 line might be your go to.

Quick Stats: Meopta Optika5

Price$549 USD
GlassCzech Republic
Magnification4-20×50
Weight23.5oz / 666g
Eye Relief3.62″
IlluminationYes
Best Scopes Under $1000

Athlon Ares 3-18×50

Best Scopes Under $1000

The Ares 3-18×50 is a versatile and high performing rifle scope in the price bracket. Short and long range shooting are covered with the 3-18 magnification range. It does have a higher price point but it still scrapes into the top 8 for the best scope under $1000. The large 50mm objective lens coupled with the decent glass provides a clear and bright image, even in low light conditions and is a standout feature on the Ares. The scope also has several reticle options available, suitable for long range shooting.

The scope is built well and is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. It can withstand heavy recoil and bad weather conditions, making it a durable and reliable for use in the field. The turrets are easy to adjust and offer good audible and tactile feedback. It is relatively heavy, which may be an issue for some shooters who prefer lighter rifle setups.

best scope under 1000

The left hand turret houses both the parallax adjustment and the illumination dial. The parallax adjustments range from 10y out to infinity. The illumination dial has 6 brightness levels, with off positions between each setting. There is a very capable amount of magnification being 3-18x, this is great for shooters using it for short and medium ranges. The Ares series and has made good impressions with friends that I know that run them.

It is made in China, like several other optics listed here but don’t let that discourage you, as the recent advancements in glass quality coming out of SE Asia aren’t what they used to be. Overall, the Athlon ARES 3-18×50 is a standout close to mid range optic with its versatile magnification range, clear and bright image, good reticles, and a durable construction for the field. Despite being on the heavier side it is an excellent choice for shooters who require a high performance scope for target shooting or hunting.

Quick Stats: Athlon Ares

Price$999
GlassChina
Magnification3-18×50
Weight31.4oz / 890g
Eye Relief3.7
IlluminationYes

Bushnell Engage 4-16×44

Best Scopes Under $1000

Decent mag range, good objective lens size and a good reticle choice land the Bushnell on the list. It’s got tactical scope vibes with its sleek lines and included flip up scope caps that appeal to my optic preferences.The Deploy reticle is great for close and medium ranges with good evaluation and windage holdover capability.  The crosshairs are just right, not too thick and not too thin.

The locking turrets are also a good feature to be included. No tools needed, just a simple push-pull mechanism. They’re not the crispiest turrets on the market, but they do the job well enough for the price bracket. And while there’s no zero stop, you can reset them easily enough. The Engage has a 30mm tube, and 50 MOA of travel on the elevation turret. The scope boasts good light transmission  thanks to the coatings used on the lenses. The parallax focus starts at 10yards ensuring you can focus on closer targets.

Anyone after a versatile, tactical style optic without the hefty price tag will find the Engage 4-16×44 attracive. Overall the Bushnell Engage 4-16×44 is a good choice for those who want a bit more from their scope without having to spend a fortune. It’s tactical vibes combined with its build quality make it a great choice in the best scope under $1000 bracket.

Quick Stats: Bushnell Engage

Price$269
GlassChina
Magnification4-16×44
Weight20.1oz / 570g
Eye Relief3.6 in
IlluminationYes
best scope under 1000

ZeroTech Trace Advanced 4.5-27×50

Best Scopes Under $1000

I ran the ZeroTech Trace Advanced on my .308 Ruger Precision Rifle for engaging steel targets at extended distances. Its magnification range and well-suited reticle make it an ideal companion for both medium and long range shooting scenarios, offering excellent value for its features. With a magnification range of 4.5-27, it provides ample clarity for distant targets.

Constructed from a single piece of 30mm tube, the scope feels exceptionally robust. A notable convenience is the inclusion of alloy flip-up covers for the lenses, sparing the need for separate purchases. The turrets are user-friendly, requiring a simple pull-up to unlock for adjustments, with a press-down feature to securely lock them in place, preventing inadvertent changes.

Equipped with essential features expected by long range and competitive shooters, such as Zero Stop functionality, the Trace Advanced ensures reliable return to zero after elevation adjustments. The parallax adjustment, conveniently located on the left side of the optic, offers a range from 25 meters to infinity. The ZeroTech RMG reticle, positioned in the first focal plane, facilitates quick holdover adjustments, enhancing shooting efficiency.

best scope under 1000

The reticle is offered in both MRAD and MOA variants, each showcasing a central floating dot to provide a clearer view of your target. A standout feature of the scope is the exceptional quality of its glass, especially considering its price point. With 92% light transmission through its 50mm objective lens, it ensures excellent clarity. Weighing in at 834 grams (29 ounces), the ZeroTech Trace Advanced strikes a favorable balance, offering a weight that is manageable for both hunting and competitive rifle setups. Packed with features, it stands out as an excellent choice for long-distance shooting, easily earning its place when looking at the best scope under $1000.

Quick Stats: ZeroTech Trace Advanced

Price$999
GlassChina
Magnification4.5-27×50
Weight29.0 oz / 824g
Eye Relief3.9″
IlluminationNo

Vortex Venom 5-25×56

best scope under 1000

The major difference between the Vortex Venom and the Vortex Strike Eagle mentioned above, apart from the lower price is that the Venom has no illumination, no locking turrets and slightly less glass quality. Even with those features shaved off, you still get some great long distance shooting must haves such as a zero stop, a throw lever, the awesome EBR-7C reticle and huge turret travel.

For those seeking a budget-friendly optic or aiming to find the best scope under $1000, the Vortex Venom impresses with its overall fit and finish, boasting solid build quality. Its sizable 34mm tube ensures shockproof performance, similar to the Strike Eagle series. Having been on the market for nearly two years, the Venom has garnered widespread acclaim within the shooting community, particularly for its resilience when used with heavy-hitting magnum cartridges in long-distance shooting scenarios, demonstrating its shockproof durability.

In hunting scenarios where adverse weather conditions are common, the Venom proves its worth with its waterproof and nitrogen purged design, ensuring fog and water resistance. However, it’s worth noting that the robust 34mm tube and extensive magnification range come at the expense of weight, with the Vortex Venom tipping the scales at 35 ounces (992 grams). While not excessively heavy overall, it does lean toward the heavier side compared to its competitors.

At this price point, it’s essential for the glass to offer clarity for target identification beyond 500 meters and to discern steel targets at 1000 meters. Fortunately, the Vortex Venom features fully multi-coated lenses, purpose-built for this task. The lenses provide excellent contrast and color rendition for the price, meeting the demands of long-distance shooting. The large 56mm objective lens further enhances performance by allowing ample light transmission, resulting in a brighter image.

The EBR-7C reticle from Vortex, available in both MOA and MRAD, adds versatility to the Venom. Its prominent hash marks aid long distance shooters in making quick shots using holdovers. When venturing into long-distance shooting, repeatability is crucial for success, and Vortex delivers that with the Venom. Packed with essential features and designed with budget-conscious shooters in mind, the Venom ensures affordability without compromising on performance, making it an accessible option for those eager to get behind a rifle and start honing their long-range shooting skills.

Quick Stats: Vortex Venom

Price$499
GlassChina
Magnification5-25×56
Weight35 oz / 992g
Eye Relief3.6″
IlluminationNo

All Specifications Compared

You will no doubt have specific features that are important to you when choosing an optic, whether its magnification range, long eye relief or a specific price point. The tables below compare the common specifications of the optics above that are important to users when selecting an optic.

Price Comparison On Budget Long Range Scopes

Even with all optics under the 1000 mark, there are some big differences in prices of these scopes. The Bushnell Engage is $700 USD cheaper than the Athlon Ares. It might not have the quality of glass as the Athlon but the Engage is still a very capable optic.

Vortex Strike Eagle$799 USD
Sig Sauer TANGO4 $499 USD
Leupold VX-3HD$799 USD
Meopta Optika5  $549 USD
Athlon Ares$999 USD
Bushnell Engage$269 USD
ZeroTech Trace Advanced$999 USD
Vortex Venom$499 USD

Glass Comparison For The Price

This table shows where each scopes on the best scope under $1000 list’s glass is manufactured. In this price range its not unexpected to see most optics are manufactured in China to keep costs down. Buyers of budget optics generally wont put a lot of weight into the manufacturing origin of the glass however it is worth knowing and might help you make a decision.

best scope under 1000
Vortex Strike Eagle China
Sig Sauer TANGO4  Philippines
Leupold VX-3HD USA
Meopta Optika5   Czech Republic
Athlon Ares China
Bushnell Engage China
ZeroTech Trace Advanced China
Vortex Venom China

Magnification Ranges For Long Distance

The optics on offer have a variety of magnification ranges and objective lens sizes. A larger the objective lens helps capture light and allows for a crisp image. The magnification ranges vary between manufacturers however each optic on offer is capable of long distance shooting.

If magnification is an important factor for you, the ZeroTech Trace Advanced and Vortex line are clear leaders. If magnification isn’t as important, then sacrificing magnification range for a higher quality build makes the Leupold and Athlon in front. Be mindful that some of the optics listed are also available in lower and higher magnification ranges. The higher magnification ranges may blow it out of the best scope under $1000 category however.

Best Scopes Under $1000
Vortex Strike Eagle5-25×56
Sig Sauer TANGO4 6-24×50
Leupold VX-3HD3.5-10×50
Meopta Optika5  4-20×50  
Athlon Ares3-18×50
Bushnell Engage4-16×44
ZeroTech Trace Advanced4.5-27×50
Vortex Venom5-25×56

Rifle Scope Weight

There is a spread of weights between all optics on the best scope under $1000 list with the Vortex Venom being the heaviest and the Leupold VX-3HD the lightest. The weight of an optic becomes important if you are spending a lot of time on foot where the weight of the rifle combined with the weight of the bipod and the optic can quickly become a burden. Choose an optic with a weight that combined with your rifle will suit your style of shooting.

best scope under 1000
Vortex Strike Eagle30.4 oz / 861g
Sig Sauer TANGO4 26.2 oz / 742g
Leupold VX-3HD15.1 oz / 428g
Meopta Optika5  23.5 oz / 666g
Athlon Ares31.4 oz / 890g
Bushnell Engage20.1 oz / 570g
ZeroTech Trace Advanced29.0 oz / 824g
Vortex Venom35.0 oz / 992g

Eye Relief For Long Distance Scopes

Most of the optics have a very similar eye relief with only the ZeroTech and Athlon standing out from the pack with larger ranges. If you wear glasses you may be suited to an optic with a little more eye relief.

Best Scopes Under $1000
Vortex Strike Eagle3.6″
Sig Sauer TANGO4 3.3″
Leupold VX-3HD3.6″
Meopta Optika5  3.6″
Athlon Ares3.7″
Bushnell Engage3.6″
ZeroTech Trace Advanced3.9″
Vortex Venom3.6″

Illumination – Best Scope Under $1000

Having the reticle illuminated allows the user to see the crosshairs more easily in low light conditions. This offsets looking at a dark object in low light and trying to see where the center of your crosshair is. Some optics listed don’t come with an illuminated reticle which keeps their cost down.

Vortex Strike EagleYes 
Sig Sauer TANGO4 Yes 
Leupold VX-3HDYes 
Meopta Optika5  Yes 
Athlon AresYes 
Bushnell EngageYes 
ZeroTech Trace AdvancedNo
Vortex VenomNo

Summary

No matter if you’re just starting your shooting journey or you’re an experienced shooter, there’s something here that should fit your needs and budget. The best scope under $1000 really boils down to what you need, what you like in a scope, and how you shoot.

Whether you’re out hunting, competing, or doing a bit of plinking, there’s a scope in this price bracket that’s up to the task.

EDITORS PICK

Vortex Strike Eagle 5-25×56

Great glass, tough build and with a fantastic warranty.

LONG DISTANCE HUNTING PICK

SIG Sauer Sierra3 6.5-20×52

High magnification with clear glass and lots of tech built in.

leupold-vx-3hd

MOST DURABLE

Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×50

Built like a battleship, Leupold wont let you down in the field.

BEST VALUE

Meopta Optika5 4-20×50

Euro favorite with good glass quality at the price point.

SLIMLINE PICK

Athlon Ares 3-18×50

Incredibly clear glass and high quality build in a neat package.

CLASSIC PICK

Bushnell Engage 4-16×44

Affordable optic with a solid reputation, good glass and reliable tracking.

HIGH END PICK

ZeroTech Trace Advanced 4.5-27×50

On the more expensive side but packs great features for the money.

COMPETITION FAVORITE

Vortex Venom 5-25×56

Huge objective lens for capturing light and great magnification range. This optic is comp ready.

Editors Picks

Every long distance shooter needs this book. A must have.

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Provides a secure hold on your firearm and a place for all of your accessories.

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BEST CLEANING SOLUTIONS

Hoppes 9 Elite Gun Cleaning Kit

Effective solvent for removing primer, powder, lead and metal fouling.

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