On a budget you want the best value for money you can get. This list shows the 8 best scopes under $1000 available today. The optics have been selected based on their features with long distance shooting in mind.
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
The Vortex Strike Eagle has become one of the most popular long distance shooting optics in the world and its no surprise seeing it on the list of best scopes under $1000. From my own Vortex Optics purchases over the years I quickly learned that Vortex’s strength is providing quality optics that exceed expectations of the budget category they are in.
This optic’s strength is its large magnification range of 5-25x which is perfect for long distance shooting and hunting. The Strike Eagle is shockproof and has made a name for itself as being tough in the field. The large 56mm objective lens lets more light in than a 44mm or 50mm lens, helping make the clear and high contrast image.
This scope has everything the long distance shooter needs including zero stop, parallax adjustment, illumination, locking turrets, throw lever, an advanced reticle and fully multi-coated lenses. The beauty of the Vortex Strike Eagle is giving the budget minded shooter, the option of getting a great optic packed with features and a lifetime warranty under $1000. You can check out our full review here.
Quick Stats: Vortex Strike Eagle
|Weight||30.4oz / 861g|
Sig Sauer TANGO4 6-24×50
Well priced, the TANGO4 brings a lot to the table including a great magnification range, Sig’s Low Dispersion glass and nice tactile turrets. Other included extras are a throw lever for making magnification changes easier and zero stop to help your return to zero after dialing up. The scope is finished well and has a great tactical aesthetic. The TANGO4 has a modest 60 MOA of elevation and 25 MOA of travel per rotation which makes it well suited to the PRS shooter. For the price point the Sig Sauer TANGO4 sits in, the quality is great and will stand up to use in the field.
Quick Stats: Sig Sauer TANGO4
|Weight||26.2oz / 742g|
Leupold VX-3HD 3.5-10×50
A cheaper offering from a company that manufactures some high end scopes, the Leupold VX-3HD makes it onto the list whilst staying under budget. Leupold have a long history in the US and have become one of the most recognised optics manufacturers in the world. The high quality delivered from Leupold is why the VX-3HD made the list. Although the magnification range is the lowest of all optics on the list, the VX-3HD brings quality. It is higher on the price side but has fantastic image quality giving you high contrast images in all manner of light conditions which is down to its amazing objective lens and high-quality lens coatings.
The rugged build quality also helps ensure that you can use it without hesitation in the harshest of conditions. Lastly, you will love the lifetime warranty that Leupold offers, showing their faith in their great products.
Quick Stats: Leupold VX-3HD
|Weight||15.1oz / 428g|
Meopta Optika5 4-20×50
The Czech and American optics company Meopta has made a name for itself for manufacturing affordable, popular hunting scopes. The major strength for the Optika5 is its great glass quality. The compromise is the smaller 1″ maintube and the reticle only being available in the second focal plane.
The Meopta Optika5 4-20×50 has however been on the market since 2020 and has built a good reputation amongst shooters. Glass quality is an important feature and the colour range and sharpness are impressive. The 50mm objective lens helps make a bright image down-scope and helps makes target acquisition easier.
Quick Stats: Meopta Optika5
|Weight||23.5oz / 666g|
Athlon Ares 3-18×50
The Ares 3-18×50 is a versatile and high-performing rifle scope. Short and long-range shooting are both covered with the 3-18 magnification range. It does have a higher price point but it still scrapes into the 8 best scopes under $1000 list. The large 50mm objective lens coupled with the decent glass provides a clear and bright image, even in low light conditions. The Ares 3-18×50 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 extreme weather conditions, making it a durable and reliable choice 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. Overall, the Athlon Ares 3-18×50 is a high-performing rifle scope that offers a versatile magnification range, a clear and bright image, good reticles, and a durable construction. Despite being on the heavier side it is an excellent choice for shooters who require a high-performance scope for a variety of shooting scenarios.
Quick Stats: Athlon Ares
|Weight||31.4oz / 890g|
Bushnell Engage 4-16×44
On the cheaper end of the list is the Engage series from Bushnell. Despite its low price point the scope is surprisingly packed with appealing features including full multi coated lenses, locking turrets and a decent reticle making it onto the best scopes under $1000 list. Listed as waterproof and fog-proof the Bushnell Engage isn’t just a bench-rest optic and is up to tackling more challenging environments. This scope doesn’t have all the features of the Forge series from Bushnell, however it does have the features you need to start long distance shooting . A nice added feature is the lifetime warranty.
Quick Stats: Bushnell Engage
|Weight||20.1oz / 570g|
|Eye Relief||3.6 in|
ZeroTech Trace Advanced 4.5-27×50
ZeroTech have a variety of optics including red dots, low power variable optics all the way up to the long range Trace Advanced. I have this exact optic and have been impressed with the value it offers. The high magnification range, reticle and quality glass on this model are a perfect match for sending rounds down range at both short and long distances and make it a standout in the best scopes under $1000 list. The Trace Advanced is packed with features that make it great value for money for the long distance shooter including ZeroStop, locking turrets and a versatile reticle. The 30mm tube feels sturdy and the included flip up scope covers ensure its protected outdoors. ZeroTech have provided a great value for money option with the Trace Advanced 4.5-27×50.
Quick Stats: ZeroTech Trace Advanced
|Weight||29.0 oz / 824g|
Vortex Venom 5-25×56
The slightly cheaper version of the Strike Eagle, it comes packed with some long distance shooting must haves such as a zero stop, throw lever, the awesome EBR-7C reticle and huge turret travel. Its made cheaper with no illumination, no locking turrets and slightly less quality glass.
For a budget minded optic, the overall fit and finish is nice and the Venom does have a good overall build quality. The bigger 34mm tube is made of aircraft grade aluminum which Vortex state is shockproof.
The EBR-7C from Vortex is a versatile reticle. The significant hash marks in the reticle are aimed at supporting the long-distance shooter make shots quickly by using holdovers.
If you are new to long distance shooting, one of the main things you want it repeatability. Vortex have brought that with the Venom. The feature packed and budget minded Venom comes with the must have’s for long distance shooting. This setup makes it more affordable to get you behind a rifle and start sending rounds down range. This is an easy contender for one of the 8 best scopes under $1000. You can checkout our full review here.
Quick Stats: Vortex Venom
|Weight||35 oz / 992g|
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.
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|
This table shows where each scopes 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.
|Vortex Strike Eagle||China|
|Sig Sauer TANGO4||Philippines|
|Meopta Optika5||Czech Republic|
|ZeroTech Trace Advanced||China|
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.
|Vortex Strike Eagle||5-25×56|
|Sig Sauer TANGO4||6-24×50|
|ZeroTech Trace Advanced||4.5-27×50|
There is a spread of weights between the scopes 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.
|Vortex Strike Eagle||30.4 oz / 861g|
|Sig Sauer TANGO4||26.2 oz / 742g|
|Leupold VX-3HD||15.1 oz / 428g|
|Meopta Optika5||23.5 oz / 666g|
|Athlon Ares||31.4 oz / 890g|
|Bushnell Engage||20.1 oz / 570g|
|ZeroTech Trace Advanced||29.0 oz / 824g|
|Vortex Venom||35.0 oz / 992g|
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.
|Vortex Strike Eagle||3.6″|
|Sig Sauer TANGO4||3.3″|
|ZeroTech Trace Advanced||3.9″|
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 Eagle||Yes|
|Sig Sauer TANGO4||Yes|
|ZeroTech Trace Advanced||No|