As far as versatile and reliable scopes go, nothing compares to a low power variable optic.
But just buying a scope because it’s cheap is a sure way to get a counterfeit optic or worse…
Have it fail when you need it most.
Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable and reliable options so you can shoot accurately without breaking the bank. Our experts who reviewed these scopes have 50+ years of combined firearm experience, so you’re in good hands.
Here are the top picks for the best budget LPVOs of 2023.
- Best Budget LPVO Scopes
- Best Budget LPVO Comparison Table
- Buying Guide for Budget LPVOs
- What Is the Right Barrel Length to Use With LPVO Scopes?
- What Are the Best LPVO Reticles?
- My Personal Notes and Findings
- Conflict Of Interest Disclosure
- Where Do You Buy LPVO Scopes?
- Our Top Pick: PA SLx 1-6x24mm FFP
Best Budget LPVO Scopes
Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm FFP – Top Budget LPVO for the Money
- First focal plane for better accuracy
- Quick focus eyepiece
- 11 different brightness settings
- 1/4 MOA adjustment for more precise shots
- Durable housing holds up to field use
- Not compatible with night vision
- Eye relief is pretty far back at close range
For a scope to be the best budget LPVO for the money, it must be reliable, accurate, easy to use, and can hold zero for as long as possible before needing a reset. While many scopes on this list can technically fit that bill, the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm edges out the competition.
Typically, a 1-6x scope is ideal for most shooting needs, and it’s the most common setting for LPVO models. Also, because this product uses the first focal plane, it’s much easier to find your target when zoomed in all the way.
So, because the reticle size changes with the magnification, any zoom setting you use will have accurate holdovers. No need to worry about a lack of precision at longer ranges.
Speaking of precision, this scope uses 1/4 MOA adjustments instead of 1/2, which is pretty much standard for most LPVO models.
And the best part?
We worked out a deal directly with the manufacturer to get free expedited shipping, exclusive to our readers.
Just make sure to use the link on this article when you buy your SLx, and it is automatically applied:
Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle 1-8x – Top Budget 1-8x Scope
- Durable anodized aluminum housing
- 1-8x zoom for better variable targeting
- Fast-focus eyepiece for quicker shooting
- Multi-coated lenses for better clarity and light transmission
- Waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof lens
- Does not hold zero as well as other scopes
- In rare cases, the illumination can flicker on and off while shooting
If you need a little extra magnification when choosing an LPVO, the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8x is definitely a top pick.
However, because this is an SFP scope, you may find it a little harder to pinpoint your target when zooming at greater distances. That said, if you’re used to SFP scopes already, this may not be a problem at all.
As far as clarity goes, the fully multi-coated lenses are impeccable, allowing you to see clearly in most conditions, from sunny days to overcast evenings. While the Vortex scope is not necessarily the “best” LPVO for low light, it holds its own just fine.
Plus, the entire scope is waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof, so it should be suitable for most environmental conditions, no matter what. Whether you come across rain, a foggy day, or rough terrain, you can trust that this low power variable optic can brush it off and continue doing its job.
Primary Arms GLx 1-6x24mm – Best LPVO Under $500
- Durable aluminum housing
- Excellent light transmission
- ACSS reticle
- Tactical low profile
- Only partially illuminated
- Not shockproof like other scopes
Although the GLx line is not quite as good as the SLx, this scope is still an excellent option. It also comes with an ACSS reticle, making it convenient for those who love to crunch numbers for the perfect shot when aiming at longer distances.
This scope comes with all of Primary Arms’ standard features, including an anodized aluminum body, excellent light transmission, and caps for the front and back to preserve accuracy. Durable, crystal-clear, and with an accurate aiming system – it ticks all the crucial boxes and is still the best LPVO under $500.
The main downside of this scope is that it’s only partially illuminated, so it won’t be as easy to see the reticle as with other models.
Use the link below to get free expedited shipped automatically added to your order:
Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle Limited Edition 1-6x24mm – Best Budget LPVO for AR-15
- Fast target acquisition
- Durable anodized aluminum housing
- Bright illumination for low-light conditions
- Completely waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof
- Coloring may not be FDE
- In rare cases, the scope may not hold zero as well as others
The AR-15 is one of the most versatile firearms. Shooters can use it for target practice, hunting, and close-quarters combat. So, if you’re using an AR-15, you need a scope that can give you the same reliability and versatility.
Fortunately, the Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle Limited Edition is perfect for this reason.
While you can technically use the AR-15 as a ranged weapon, it’s not quite as accurate as other rifles. So, having a 1-6x scope is ideal as it allows you to take advantage of the gun’s capabilities without adjusting your shooting style.
As people often advise, if you don’t need that high of a magnification, don’t get it as it isn’t worth the extra money. LPVOs are low-magnification scopes. And this is certainly the case for this scope, which also earns the ‘Best LPVO Under $500’ title.
Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24mm – Top Budget Pick Under $200
- Durable shockproof housing
- Multi-coated lens
- More affordable than most other LPVOs
- 150 hours of battery life
- Doesn’t hold zero as well as other scopes
- Not as versatile as LPVOs with higher magnification
As a rule, an LPVO scope will set you back at least a few hundred bucks. However, the Vortex Crossfire is one of the cheapest models I’ve seen, but it’s still far more capable than you might imagine.
While I wouldn’t necessarily say that this model can hold up against a high-end scope, it’s certainly more valuable than the price tag would seem to indicate. So, if you’re thinking about getting the best budget LPVO for the money, the Crossfire II is a contender for the top.
As far as durability goes, this scope is made from aircraft aluminum, so it’s more or less shockproof. This is helpful so you don’t have to zero the scope every time you take it out into the field.
There’s nothing quite as annoying as having to check a scope’s zero each time you want to go out and do some shooting. With this, you can just grab it and head off. It’s also mostly waterproof, just in case it starts to rain while you’re out hunting.
Primary Arms SLx 1-8x24mm – Top ACSS LPVO Under $700
- Comes with ACSS reticle
- Super fast and accurate at up to 300 yards
- 12 brightness settings
- Field-tested for durability
- 1-8x zoom for greater targeting range
- Not compatible with night vision
- May not provide a true 1x magnification
In general, Primary Arms has some of the best LPVOs under $500, and this model is excellent for a few different reasons.
First, it’s a 1-8x low power variable optic scope, so it has a greater range than most other units. Second, it uses the incredible ACSS reticle, giving you more precision and control over your shots. And finally, it has super fast targeting, making it much easier to pinpoint your prey in record time.
But what is it about the ACSS reticle that makes it so appealing?
Well, it’s the fact that the reticle has everything you need to make accurate estimates for your shot in one simple system. Besides the standard BDC calculation, this design also shows wind and range estimation.
So, when shooting at greater distances, you don’t have to do as much additional work. Instead, you can focus more on getting the shot just right rather than doing all different kinds of mental calculations.
Use the link below to get free expedited shipped automatically added to your order:
Swampfox Arrowhead 1-10x24mm – Top Pick Under $800
- Up to 10x magnification range
- Locking knobs won’t come loose
- Fully multi-coated lens
- Designed for CQB and long-distance targeting
- Choose from two different reticles
- The eye relief can be hard to master
- Reticle isn’t as sharp at higher magnifications
If you’re using your LPVO scope for active shooting (as opposed to targeting and precision), you know how frustrating it is when you bump your gun and mess with your settings. Fortunately, the Swampfox Arrowhead has a locking mechanism to prevent that.
Even if you slam your gun into something, the knobs can withstand up to 1,100 G forces, so they’re not moving, no matter what.
The Arrowhead is also notable for its extended range, meaning you’ll likely use your windage and elevation knobs a lot. You can even pick the reticle you like best so you can target your prey easier, both at short and long distances.
The glass clarity and brightness of this scope are also impeccable, as it’s designed for active-duty professionals. It can handle any type of brightness level, from low light to the brightest day, and even comes with an illuminated reticle with 12 brightness settings to make sure the crosshairs are always visible to you.
SIG SAUER TANGO-MSR 1-6x24mm – Top Pick Under $1,000
- Mounting bracket provided
- Fast targeting and magnification changes
- Excellent clarity and low-dispersion glass
- 11 brightness levels
- Great for low-light shooting
- In rare cases, the reticle may stop showing up
- Adjusting the windage and elevation is not as smooth as other scopes
One of the problems with buying any rifle scope is that you also have to buy the mount separately. SIG SAUER alleviates this issue by providing the mount with the scope, saving you both time and money. That feature alone makes the TANGO-MSR worth it, but it’s also an incredible low power variable optic.
Another feature that elevates this scope is its fast magnification changes. If you’re hunting a moving target, you need to be able to zoom in and out as necessary to keep it in your sights. The faster speed also makes this a suitable competitive scope, particularly if you’re moving while shooting.
So, a versatile and effective scope is what you’ll be getting with the TANGO-MSR. Whether using your LPVO for hunting, plinking, target shooting, or in competitions, you’ll have the bases covered just from one LPVO.
Atibal X 1-10×30 – Top FFP LPVO Under $1,000
- 1-10x zoom for greater long-distance targeting
- FFP scope makes target matching easier
- Daylight bright illumination
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Pricey for a “budget” scope
- Reticle can get a little fuzzy at greater magnification
As a rule, low power variable optic scopes tend to max out at 8x magnification because of how they’re used. However, if you like to test your distance shooting skills, you may appreciate having more flexibility with this scope from Atibal.
Having up to 10x zoom allows you to get up close and personal with your targets. In practical terms, that means you can shoot targets up to 500 yards away. That covers the whole range that most hunting occurs in.
Better yet, this scope uses a first focal plane, so the reticle grows as you zoom in. This makes it much easier to match your target from a wider field of view, ensuring you can be as accurate as possible.
Best Budget LPVO Comparison Table
|Name||Best For||Zoom||Focal Plane|
|Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm||Top Budget LPVO for the Money||1-6x||FFP|
|Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle 1-8x||Top Budget 1-8x Scope||1-8x||SFP|
|Primary Arms GLx 1-6x24mm||Best LPVO Under $500||1-6x||FFP|
|Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle Limited Edition||Best Budget LPVO for AR-15||1-6x||SFP|
|Vortex Crossfire II||Top Budget Pick Under $200||1-4x||SFP|
|Primary Arms SLx 1-8x24mm||Top ACSS LPVO Under $700||1-8x||SFP|
|Swampfox Arrowhead 1-10x24mm||Top Pick Under $800||1-10x||SFP|
|SIG SAUER TANGO-MSR 1-6x24mm||Top Pick Under $1,000||1-6x||SFP|
|Atibal X 1-10×30||Top FFP LPVO Under $1,000||1-10x||FFP|
Buying Guide for Budget LPVOs
Before you go off and buy a scope, take a look at this buying guide to make sure you get the best budget LPVO for you.
FFP vs. SFP
First, a quick introduction to what FFP and SFP mean. The first focal plane means that the reticle will enlarge as you zoom into your target and shrink as you zoom out. The second focal plane has the reticle staying the same size at any magnification.
So, which option is better?
The answer can vary, depending on who you ask. Some shooters swear by FFP because it allows them to stay more accurate when pinpointing their targets. Conversely, other shooters may prefer SFP because it’s less distracting and won’t potentially affect their shot as much.
Although we’re looking at the best budget low power variable optic scopes, there’s a big difference between the cheapest and most expensive models. Also, spending more doesn’t necessarily mean you get a higher-quality product, so you may want to save some money.
As a rule, the best LPVOs under $500 can still hold their own against more expensive models.
Overall, consider how you plan to use this budget scope and let that determine how much you want to spend. Will this be your primary hunting optic, or will it be a backup for target practice? The more you plan to use the scope, the more you might want to pay for it. (1)
Just because most budget LPVOs have a zoom range of 1-6x doesn’t mean you have to settle for that. Knowing how you plan to use the product will guide you on how much magnification you need.
For example, if you’re hunting big game, you may want to upgrade to a 1-8x or 1-10x model. However, if you’re just varmint or target shooting, you may prefer something with less magnification.
Also, consider what gun you plan to mount the scope to. Is it a single-shot rifle or an AR-15? If the weapon has trouble handling shots at longer distances, there’s no reason to get a scope that can zoom further than you can stay accurate with the gun.
What Is the Right Barrel Length to Use With LPVO Scopes?
Because low power variable optic scopes have such a broad range of shots, it’s best to use them on a relatively shorter barrel.
On average, a 13.7 to 20″ barrel will work best as it coincides with the scope’s accuracy. As many shooters will attest, a shorter barrel will work better with a red dot sight or a scope with a 1-4x magnification range.
What Are the Best LPVO Reticles?
The best LPVO reticles depend on whether you’re shooting with a first or second focal plane.
As a rule, SFP scopes work better with reticles that don’t cover the target, so a German reticle might be ideal, or a mil-dot version. Many FFP scopes use a bullet drop compensation (BDC) style so you can match calculations more easily as you zoom.
That said, the distance of the scope and your personal preference can also affect which reticle works best. Some shooters prefer a simple duplex crosshair, while others want more data in the field of view to compensate their shots accordingly.
If you’re shooting at longer distances, a mil-dot or BDC reticle could be beneficial. However, if you’re hunting at different ranges, a basic crosshair may make it easier to pinpoint your targets.
My Personal Notes and Findings
When testing the best low-cost LPVO scopes, I noticed that many of the different models had nearly identical features. Everything from the reticle type to the magnification range was similar across the board, so it’s hard to differentiate between individual scopes.
Overall, when choosing the best budget lower power variable optic scope, you should know how you want to use it before you start comparing models. This way, you know which basic features to look for and can eliminate anything that doesn’t match your minimum requirements.
Also, adding extra magnification is unnecessary if you don’t think you’ll need it. Yes, the ability to zoom further may sound appealing, but if you don’t need it, there’s no sense in paying extra for it.
Conflict Of Interest Disclosure
All products on this list have been chosen based on their merits only. I am not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned in this article.
I did not receive payment, free items, or any incentive whatsoever to mention one particular product over another.
My goal is always to provide the most accurate and honest reviews possible. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on our contact page. If you have questions on how this site makes money, that can be found in our “Affiliate Disclosure” link at the bottom of this page.
Where Do You Buy LPVO Scopes?
With the explosion of low-quality and counterfeit optics coming out of Asia, it is more important than ever to ensure the place you’re buying from is reputable. For this reason, we have a full article on the best place to buy LPVO scopes.
What is the best budget LPVO for hunting?
The best budget LPVO for hunting is likely the Vortex OPMOD Strike Eagle 1-8x24mm scope. It’s one of the LPVOs under $500 that retains such a diverse range and excellent clarity. You can hunt both large and small game with ease with minimal adjustments necessary.
What is the best low-light LPVO?
The best low-light LPVO is probably the SIG SAUER TANGO-MSR, although most LPVOs work about the same in low-light conditions. The SIG SAUER model is slightly better because it has excellent light transmission and glass clarity, which are necessary for maintaining accuracy with less natural light.
What is the best LPVO under $150?
The best LPVO under $150 is the Vortex Crossfire II. This model is ultra-affordable but still holds its own against higher-priced competitors. That said, its non-sale price is slightly over $150, so you have to plan your purchase accordingly.
What LPVO does the army use?
The LPVO the army uses the most is the SIG SAUER TANGO6T scope. However, the exact model of LPVO can depend on the mission at hand, and some troops use models like the Trijicon ACOG scope instead.
What is the best budget first focal plane LPVO?
The best budget first focal plane LPVO is the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm scope. Since this is our top pick and it uses the first focal plane, it’s what we would recommend for FFP enthusiasts.
Our Top Pick: PA SLx 1-6x24mm FFP
- Vortex Nation, Is an LPVO right for you? Retrieved from https://vortexoptics.com/blog/is-an-lpvo-right-for-you.html
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material for over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world, including Russia, and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American West and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Big Horn Mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems TM.
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