Years ago, I was working behind the gun counter of a local sporting goods store. We carried a decent range of firearms, from moderately priced rifles up to some pretty expensive ones. We offered mounting and bore sighting for every scope purchased with a rifle. It seemed that every year, some guy would come in and buy a nicer rifle, and then want to put cheap, ineffective glass on top of it. I usually tried to convince them otherwise and quite often it worked. Always put good glass on top of your hunting rifle. Today’s scopes are extremely good and priced right. Here are some examples of great optics with affordable price tags.

Leupold VX-2

vx scope

Is there a more storied brand of optics in North American than Leupold? It’s doubtful. The American-made VX-2 line is undoubtedly their most famous, too. Priced right and with the features most hunters want, it would make your head spin to think of just how many game animals have fallen to a rifle outfitted with one. Never one to rest on their laurels, Leupold has redefined the VX-2 line with the new Indexed Matched Lens System that has lead-free, edge-blackened lenses. The DiamondCoat lens coating gives you 94 percent more light transmission while being more resistant to scratches, scuffs, and other abuses you can throw at it. Keeping things accurate is helped with finger-adjustable, 1/4-MOA click windage and elevation. Add to that Leupold’s legendary durability backed by a great warranty, and you’ve got a terrific choice to top any rifle you own, or plan on owning. Some models are also available with their new Custom Dial System (CDS) turrets, which allow you to dial in your scope for specific calibers, and bullet weights.

Vortex Viper HS 30mm

vortex viper HS

Wisconsin-based Vortex Optics has taken the optics world by storm in recent years and with good reason. They produce some of the best scopes you’ll find for the money anywhere, rivaling European offerings at a price much less than you would expect. So what makes them good? It starts with the glass. Vortex uses extra-low-dispersion XD glass, which provides amazing clarity and light transmission, meaning you’ll have a bright, clear sight window. Vortex coats the glass for even better light transmission and another coating for abrasion resistance. Judging by the harsh conditions Vortex tests in, they’re pretty confident in their coatings. 30mm tubes offer even more light, making these scopes bright under any light. What will really get you is the warranty. Vortex’s VIP Warranty means you can send it back at any time, no questions asked, and get it replaced.

Nikon PROSTAFF 5

prostaff 5

Gun guys often refer to Nikon’s PROSTAFF scopes as sleeper scopes, meaning they’re not always the ones that people think of wanting to put on top of their rifles—until they pick one up. Anyone who has ever tried one can tell you that they are just as good as scopes that cost more. The latest versions of the PROSTAFF scopes offer extra-large eyepieces that give you a wide field of view. The reticles have been optimized to use Nikon’s Spot On Technology. When used with their excellent Ballistic Drop Compensator reticle, you can dial in your scope for your specific rifle and load, giving you outstanding accuracy in the field. Add to that great light transmission, clear glass, and a lifetime warranty, and you’ve really got something. Then you take a look at the price and just smile and smile.

Nikon MONARCH 3

monarch 3

Nikon builds on their reputation for quality optics at prices every hunter can afford with the Monarch 3 riflescopes. Some of the key features include 4X zoom range and four inches of constant eye relief. This is good news for the hunter that really wants to keep on evaluating that animal right up to the shot. A huge ocular lens, generous field of view, and locking side-focus parallax adjustment for any distance (for models exceeding 10-power magnification) help to ensure that you’re confident in the shot you’re taking. Nikon’s BDC reticle lets you dial in the rifle and load to hold on target at longer distances, yet with BDC, you still have a normal sight picture at shorter ranges. The Ultra ClearCoat Optical System gives up to 95-percent light transmission. Hand-turn 1/4-MOA reticle adjustments ease sighting in, too. The Monarch scopes have been around for a while now and Nikon keeps improving on their “kingly” line. They are definitely worth a look when selecting your glass.

Burris scopes with Fastfire III Sights

burris with fastfire

With the explosion of modern sporting rifles (MSR) in the hunting world, there has been a rapid advancement in optics that are designed to optimize the design of the rifle. Burris’ scopes offer a spectacular setup for MSR shooters. The scopes are designed for the AR platform and have the mounting position and eye relief necessary for the rifle design. What’s more, Burris adds a 3 MOA Fastfire III red dot that mounts directly above the scope, giving you unsurpassed options when in the field. This just may be the perfect setup for hunting in heavy cover, or when predator hunting. Each scope is fully multi-coated for an astounding 99.8-percent light transmission clarity. They are tough as nails and feature Burris’ Forever warranty.

Vortex Viper HS-T

vortex viper HS T

Vortex went looking for a scope to take on the rigors of hardcore hunting and tactical shooting alike, and may have just hit a grand-slam home run with the HS-T line. Available in both MOA and MRAD models, the HS-T has a hashmark-based, second-focal-plane reticle and can be dialed in for repeatable, accurate shots at distances you’d be hard pressed to believe. The old saying that only accurate rifles are interesting also applies to scopes, and if you’re going to be shooting at critters a long ways off, you’ll probably find the HS-T scope very interesting. How interesting? Take a three-shot group at 100 yards and then repeat it at 300. Sounds pretty interesting to me. They’re backed by a lifetime VIP warranty, too.

Leupold Mark AR Mod 1

mark AR mod 1

The problem with some illuminated reticle scopes is the battery can die, and it’s usually at the worst possible moment. Leupold changed that with Motion Sensor Technology used in their Mark AR Mod 1 line, which turns the scope off after five minutes if you don’t move it. No more forgetting to turn it off and throwing it back in the case. They took this new technology and added it to their already tried and tested AR-platform scopes, which work amazingly well for hunting situations on MSRs. Now, you don’t have to get one with the illuminated reticle. You can get one with a standard reticle, or with ballistic compensating reticles, or a standard duplex or mil-dot reticle. Whichever you choose, you get a bright, clear scope designed to work with your AR-platform rifle, backed by legendary Leupold quality and a lifetime warranty. Not a bad deal!

This article was produced in cooperation with Cabela’s.

Images courtesy Cabela's

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One thought on “The 7 Best Hunting Scopes under $700

  1. Vortex Viper HS 30mm
    This is the third vortex scope I have purchased. Vortex just out performs other scopes in quality, optics clarity and guarantee, hands down. Windage and elevation adjustments are very simple and easy. Love the Zero stop adjustment, you never lose your Zero!

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