Choosing a Hunting Optic on A Budget

Thus, it is completely understandable if you are not pursuing the highest quality and most expensive scopes, but are looking good enough scope, with a decent price that just gets the job done.

This is exactly what this guide will help you to do, help you to choose a good optic for hunting purposes while not breaking the bank.

Essential and Non-Essential Features

When you are choosing a budget scope for your hunting rifle you have to consider a variety of different factors. These factors include the things you need and the things you really don’t. When you factor out the things you don’t need and find an optic with the qualities you do need, you save money and acquire a quality optic. Let’s first focus on the some of the features you may need.

Essential For Hunting

Right Magnification Type

Most hunters agree that a 300-yard shot is what most shooters/hunters are capable of making to score a humane kill. Some experienced hunters and shooters may extend past that range, but for most of us, this is the range we can humanely kill an animal. This may change with the actual size of the animal and the weapon used, but we’ll use it as a baseline for most deer, bear, and hog hunting.

The most common and often most affordable option is the 3 to 9 power optic. The 3 to 9 power option will work well at 300 yards, and, of course, works well at closer ranges. Other options include 2-7 power, and even as high as 4 to 16 power. In these magnification ranges, you have plenty of versatility and plenty of different options.

Another idea is to choose a dedicated fixed power optic. Fixed power optics can run anywhere from 4 power to 10 power, and offer a variety of advantages.

The first is cost savings. A fixed power optic will be much more affordable, and provide a high level of quality. A fixed power optic is also extremely durable and has fewer failure points than a variable optic. Of course you are isolated to one magnification range and sometimes 4 power may not be enough and 10 power may be too much. Everything is a trade-off when it comes to budgeting.


Hunting can be a rough environment, it can be rough on you, on your rifle, and on your optic. You and your rifle can be pretty durable inherently, an optic, however, uses glass, and any kid playing baseball in the yard realizes how easily glass breaks. One of the most important features in purchasing an optic is its level of durability. The field by its very nature is averse, and can be devastating to a piece of gear made from aluminum and glass.

The first thing you need to take into account is how well the optic takes the shock. You may fall, trip, bang your rifle on your tree stand, or a rock while climbing up a hill. All may result in little more than a scraped knee for you but can destroy a scope if it’s not prepped for the fall. A shockproof rating is something you should look into when it comes to an optic.

Rain, dew, and fog are the enemies of optics , so you want something that is both waterproof, and fog proof, because you never know in what conditions you may be hunting.

Ability To Take Recoil

Another factor is the caliber you are firing, is the optic rated to handle your round? Are you hunting with a 45-70 or a 223? The recoil for both rifles is very, very different, one can be brutal, and the other is a pussycat. So the bigger the caliber, the more shockproof scope you may need.

Quality Reticle

For two or three hundred yards you won’t need anything especially fancy. I suggest either a simple duplex reticle or a simple mil dot design. These are both easy to use, and highly effective reticles. They are also quite affordable since they are simple and affordable to produce. An illuminated reticle is nice, but not necessary. Often times the illuminated reticle on a budget optic features a degree of washout that can make it difficult to see your target, or could kill your natural night vision. Keep it simple.


I want to go over a couple of bullet points with glass, which is simple, and easy to observe.

  • Objective size aids in light gathering and field of view size, but two to three hundred yards won’t require anything larger than 40 or 42mm.
  • Fully multicoated lenses aid a lot in reducing glare and aids in gathering light, which gives you a brighter, clearer picture. Fully multi-coated lenses make a massive difference in optical clarity.

Non-Essential Features

A few things you don’t need on a hunting budget optic include.

  • A massive amount of magnification, like a 28 power, is not necessary for hunting. It’s nice, but hardly necessary, and adds weight and cost to your optic.
  • An illuminated reticle is nice, but another unnecessary addition that can work well, but can also kill your natural eyesight.
  • Tactical turrets. If you can find a set of fingertip adjustable turrets in your budget, then great, but they aren’t necessary, and can add close to a hundred dollars to some optics.
  • Tactical anything. Tactical features are often oversold and unnecessary for hunters. Tactical work and hunting are two different fields, and one doesn’t cross over into the other.


Scope Suggestions

Choosing a Hunting Optic on A Budget
Leupold VX-1

I do have a few suggestions for budget optics. First and foremost these are optics I have personal, hands on experience with. They range a bit in price, but each delivers when it comes to performance and durability.

Leupold VX-1

The Leupold VX-1 is one of my favorite scopes of all time. The VX-1 ranges right around 200 dollars. The VX-1 is superbly simple, easy to use, and durable as hell. Leupold provides an excellent warranty on their optics, which will cover anything that happens to it.

The Redfield Revolution

The Redfield is an American tradition, a scope design that has been around for generations. The Revolution is dead nuts simple and is incredibly reliable. The optic shines with its simplicity and is an excellent option for a hunting optic. The Redfield is one of the most affordable options available as well. And in matter of fact, I even have a full Redfield Revolution review up on my site. More specifically it was the 3-9×40 version and got 4.3/5 stars from me. Quite good for such a budget scope.

Choosing a Hunting Optic on A Budget
Redfield Revolution


248 Shooter
Charles is the editor for 248 Shooter a midwest based gun news and gear review site as well as Online Content Director for On Target Magazine. He is an avid student taking classes from top tier trainers around the country. Charles shares his love for training as well as experience and opinions on some of the most talked about gear and products used by competitive shooters, military, leo and civilians.