Ok Readers: What Under $200 Optics Should We Review?

We (and by we I mean me) are frequently criticized for only publishing reviews about expensive high-end knives, optics etc. not low-end affordable options. I love that our readers never hesitate to give us honest feedback No really, I do. Honest feedback keeps up in-touch with that you want to read. It is all to easy just write about the most interesting (expensive) products that nobody can afford, and forget that you all need advice on what to buy and you have a limited budget. It costs us nothing to borrow a high-end scope for a couple of months to do a review, you don’t have that option.

For our first series of Under-$X reviews, we will be writing a series of reviews on Modern Sporting Rifle Optics Under $200. These are the scopes I already have on my shortlist:

Redfield Battlezone 3-9x42mm with TAC-MOA Reticle

Redfield Battlezone 3-9×42 with TAC-MOA Reticle: $200

Nikon 3x32 P-223: $150

Nikon 3×32 P-223: $150

Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x24: $180

Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24: $180

Leapers UTG 3-9x32 Compact: $90

Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Compact: $90


So what optics that fall into this category (Modern Sporting Rifle / AR-15 / Semi-automatic Rifle, under $200) do you want us to review? Let us know in the comments below this post.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Mk32

    Not sure if red dots count but primay arms stuff is solid. The AR-optics stuff is nice as well I got one on a rifle, hate BDC’s though.

    Though at $300/$250 on sale, the SWFA fixed power scopes are basically considered the best value scope for any type of distance shooting and are respected as some of the most solid gear available. Got one on my 700 5R 300wm.

    • erwos

      I run the Bushnell 1-4x Throw Down PCL, and it’s fantastic. A bit heavy, but has a feature and glass combination that beats almost every other 1-4x in the price range.

      I agree that the Primary Arms scopes need to be in this competition.

      • jmark80

        I run the same, and it is fantastic. I would really like to see a solid review comparing it to the Primary Arms 1×6 ACSS.

    • Dave The Great

      I have two SWFA/SS scopes, and I would gladly have paid twice as much as I did. Best bang for the buck, and I have recommended them to several of my friends. Clear glass, great at dawn/dusk, and solid enough to use it as a club if you run out of ammo.

      “Super Sniper” was a silly choice of a name, and the ones I bought don’t have a serial number, but those are literally the only bad things I can say about them.

  • Timothy G. Yan

    Weaver V-3 1-3×20. I need to do a write up of that. As for others, I probably wouldn’t trust them.

    • Cranky Old Dude

      Leupold Rifleman Series, usually $169-$199.

  • Jon R.

    Its $259, but really would like to see a review of Primary Arms 4X Compact Prism Scope, or the Primary Arms 6X Scope with ACSS Reticle for $119.

    • iksnilol

      Don’t forget the two 4-14x FFP scopes.

    • jmark80

      I would love to see a head to head between the Bushnell Throwdown PCL and the Primary Arms 1×6 ACSS.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I’d like to see the PA 1-6X ACSS as well. Kind of a poor-mans VCOG that’s reticle is compatible with 5.56 and .308 rifles.

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox


  • Ray_G

    A little above $200 and not all that popular would be the Bushnell Elite 10×40; growing up on the M40A1 I’m a fan of mildots and fixed power-sometimes it is worth highlighting the basic components since far too many shooters cannot actually live up to the potential of their variable power super optic.

    • TerrierCarrier

      Another vote for the Bushnell 10×40. It fits the criteria – on sale (9/23) for $179 at Midway. Great little scope for the price. Put one on a 223 bolt varmint gun. No goofing around with varying mil-dots as you get with variable power scopes.

  • Dave The Great

    What would be really neat is if the reviews on this site were something we could selectively subscribe (or not) to. The RSS system basically brings EVERYTHING to my inbox, and frankly I don’t actually want to read a half-dozen articles a day.

    If there was an “everything” options and a “reviews-only” option and a “no reviews” option and a “personal story” option and a “history & culture” option and a “news” option, we could all pick and choose just how much stuff we want to scroll through every day.

    The site now has SO MANY reviews that it’s losing some of what brought me here in the first place. Gun news, without the political ranting our hobby/passion/profession tends to have too much of. Such a wonderful idea. I love this place, but the reviews are becoming so common that I dread coming here and slogging through page after page of reviews.

    • TFB Reader

      I understand what you’re saying, but even if the system they’re using allows that, my reader (Digg Reader, adopted after Goggle shut down theirs) shows a one-line headline, on which I can click if interested, which shows the first sentence or two, on which I can click and load the enter page into a new tab if I want to continue. It works as long as the first few sentences of the post tells what it’s about, which was always taught in the newspaper days.

      It’s a matter of personal discipline for me to skip over those posts that don’t interest me. Sometimes I don’t have it, and close tab almost immediately, but I’d rather make the judgment myself than risk missing something that I might like.

      • GJE

        Responding to Dave the Great, I don’t mind the reviews in this blog. In fact I like reviews. If I’m not interested in reading a review of a particular firearm I just don’t click on it. It only takes a minute to scan down the list of articles here every day. I don’t have any problem skipping those I’m not interested in. So I don’t see what the problem is. A great blog. Keep up the good work!

  • jw

    I hear there is a millet 1-4×24 that is nice for around $200. yes to Primary Arms. also, its more than 2G’s, but the hi-lux leatherwood CMR products. I am cheap and would never spend more than $300 for a optic.

    • Fred Johnson

      2G’s? Must be a typo. 😀

  • Asdf

    100 over the limit, but the Vortex prism scopes would be great

  • Dave The Great

    With that said, a generic scopes-for-dummies review/tutorial would be great. I grew up in the era where rifles were something you bought for $40 at a garage sale or inherited from older relatives who had left them in the back window of their truck for 30 years, so I never had a chance to learn how to generally buy a scope. And I moved away from my rural home to a city when I was a teenager, so I just wasn’t surrounded by other gun people whom I could ask (this was pre-internet, so I also couldn’t just google for good advice).

    This led to quite a few unfortunate purchases when I started earning enough money to build my collection. Thin tubes that didn’t let in good light, poor choice of magnifications (did I really need a 20x scope for a swamp gun? That cost $25 new? And lost zero after every shot?). Flea-market plastic imported junk that a BB gun would be embarrassed to use wound up on my 30-.06. A zoom scope that had such a drastic upper range and a very narrow tube wound up on (and then very quickly off) my small game rifle because I had to constantly “chase the circle of light” whenever I tried to shoot. I even bought a scope that had a removable front lens (removable; not re-attachable). This was decades ago, and I’m a lot more savvy now, but a generic scopes for dummies guide, list or chart would have made a HUGE difference.

    I eventually just took every scope off and used iron sights, which at least always worked.

    A flowchart, with no brands or model numbers, that simple outlines the pros and cons of all the features that go into optics would not only be useful today – it will be useful forever. The same chart can be pulled out ten years from now when new companies and new lines come out, and shooters can use it to make a pretty good in-store evaluation of a scope just by knowing why thicker tubes matter, or what magnification you really need to shoot a squirrel at 25 feet, or how to decide between a fixed power scope and a zoom scope, or frankly what all the knobs, recticles and markings mean.

    This is information that would be helpful in years to come; not just until the next batch of models are released.

    • Dave The Great

      DId you know that the bases you mount rings to come in angled varieties to give the scope more rise over long ranges? Of course you do, but newbies don’t. Why would they? That’s darn good info, and NOBODY tells them this.

      Did you know that over long ranges, a scope that is not level to the ground will be wildly inaccurate? I sure as heck didn’t, even though it’s completely obvious (hey, I grew up in places that never had more than 150 yards of line-of-sight shots, so nobody told me). My body’s natural prone position is about 20 degrees tilted to the left due to an injury, and I didn’t know that was important.

      So many universal terms and design ideas that will never be irrelevant. That would be a GREAT article to help new shooters (and probably some older ones).

      • TFB Reader

        Everything you said is good, but it sounds like a separate web site dedicated to optics. Maybe one already exists.

  • random ffl

    Mueller APV is a great affordable scope

    • thedonn007

      I agree, the APV and APT are great scopes for the money. I would also like to see a review on the Mueller Speed Shot 1-4×24

  • Jeff Smith

    If you’re going to do the Bushnell AR line, go for the 1-4x with the throw lever and illuminated reticle (it’s listed as AR91424I on their site). It’s a first focal plane, has an illuminated reticle, and has the horseshoe reticle instead of a crosshair.

    I’ve been seeing them floating around online for $169 AFTER a $30 mail in rebate.

    Barely under $200, but it seems like the best option out there for an AR scope.

  • jones

    Bushnell tr25

    • Mark N.

      That is a red dot that was reviewed–quite favorably–not too long ago on this site in a shoot off of various red dots using averaged scores from five shooters. It came in second by a hair. I bought one but have been too busy to go shooting yet.

  • TFB Reader

    A “little over $200” shouldn’t count, even if it excludes some good choices. There will always be something “a little over” $N, no matter what you choose for N. Of course $200 has been my personal target, so I’m biased.

    Oh, and is it MSRP or street price?

  • Ryan

    Refield 2-7×33. Great Scope

  • TFB Reader

    Brand often mentioned as “good stuff” include Mueller and Vortex. I’m not sure if they have models under $200.

  • Eric

    As much as I like Leupold, when price is an issue I always look at Nikon scopes. As I already own a P-223 scope I’d love to read what you have to say about it.

  • Sergio in NC

    The Optisan Mamba 1-4 w/ mount $150 at SWAF

  • Fred Johnson

    If magnified red dots fall in the price range or low powered AR type scopes, I’d like to read up on those.

  • echelon

    Simple. Primary Arms.

  • James R.

    I use the lauded, Japanese-made Weaver V-3 1-3x optic in almost all of my rifle reviews. I think it is severely under-appreciated.

  • mgomez

    weaver v-3 1-3x, burris e1 ff-ii models under $200.

  • Renegade

    Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40

  • jmark80

    That Bushnell Throwdown is an awesome scope. I love it. Also, the Primary Arms ACSS in direct comparison to it would be wonderful. I currently run the Bushnell, but I have heard great things about the PA (although I am not sure if it is quite below the 200$ mark) and I would love to see them put up head to head.

  • John

    I surplus Hensoldt for $90 will beat them all (Easily). In fact, it will beat every under $1,000 Trijicons, Leupold, Redfield, and Elcan for clarity, color fidelity and brightness (Easily). I collect optics and own them all.

  • Krtismo
  • BryanS
  • Justin Oros

    I would like to see a review/comparison between the Primary Arms Micro vs Aimpoint T1.

    • Fred Johnson

      I saw a video on that a while back. They didn’t show range time, though.

    • Slovko

      At 1/6 the price of a T1, the PA Micro is just a fantastic little red dot. Very bright and super durable. Just make sure to get the America Defense mount for it or something else at least as good.

      This guy beat the ever-living hell out of a MD-06 and was amazed at what he put it through. http://www.tacticalsandwich.com/?p=78

      Also saw a video of from Vuurwapen Blog involving Andrew skidding it across a concrete range pad multiple times and still holding zero.

      My only complaint is that the laser module sticks out a little bit into the sight picture. Not really a big deal, but it’s the only thing I really don’t care for. Bottom-line: if I were LEO or using my rifle every day, the T-1 would be worth the money. For the rest of us, the MD-06 is a great choice.

  • Tenacious221

    The leapers/utg was gonna be my suggestion. Its the one that comes on the mossberg mvp patrol so I’m curious if it’s junk.

  • matt

    Burris fullfield, Nikon prostaff, 1×4, 2×7, 3×9

    • Fred Johnson

      The 2-7×32 Nikon Prostaff is a sweet scope. I have one that is one generation older than what is made now. It ain’t too big and it ain’t too small. It’s just about perfect for general shooting or hunting.

  • anonymous

    the Bushnell and Nikon optics are both very attractive to me and i would appreciate a review of both

  • Mike

    Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24 Please

  • Patrick the Canadian

    Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24

  • mike

    Review the Nikon 3×32 P-223 please.

    • David Johnson

      I own one, and shoot more accurately with my eotech at 100yds. Crosshairs too thick and magnification too low. Wanna make an offer?

      • Fred Johnson

        But, can you see the 100 yard target better with the Nikon?

        • David Johnson

          barely, go with higher magnification,

  • Blake

    BTW there’s a huge list of years of scope reviews at G&SO: http://www.chuckhawks.com/scopes_index_reviews.htm

    a few of the “selecting & buying riflescopes” articles are well worth reading before digging into the reviews: http://www.chuckhawks.com/index2i.scopes_optics.htm

  • Collin C.

    NcStar Mark III Tactical 3-9×42 w/ backup red dot, $160 on Amazon. ACOG look-alike.

  • Slovko

    It will be interesting to see how scopes under $200 compare or if you could can find some good bargains. In my experience, the best price/performance scopes to be had are usually found somewhere in the $250 range. In $200 and under range however there seem to be more losers than winners.

  • Leo

    I own Nikon above on my MO15 and it is just great, paying more than this is not smart to me.

  • toms

    none! cheap optics are great till you drop em or put a few thousand rounds down one.

  • Mack

    Anything primary arms, vortex, or swfa! the models under 200 that is!

  • plumber576

    I’d like to see the Mueller Speed Shot or other Mueller optics reviewed.

  • Pete in Alaska

    I would suggest a look at the Burris 3-9×40 w/ Multi Balistic Plex retical. I have a several of these on bolt guns from .223 to .300 and have been very pleased with all. The retical is the the way to go. Zero center and one is good to go at ranges inclusive of 500 meters from the zero center range its not perfect and one must keep some information in mind when using but it takes a lot of the guess work out of ranging and hitting ones target. Yup, its under $200 too.
    Can’t wait till ya do a blog on the high end stuff!

  • richd

    Definitely test the utg scopes. I have 2 and would
    Put them up against any $500 scope.

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    The Leapers UTG 3-9 x 32 Compact AO “Bug Buster” Scope with adjustable QD mounts as shown above is a solidly-built and excellent quality scope that has proven to be both highly reliable and accurate. Not surprisingly, it has been generally overlooked and ignored in the massive clutter of name-brand scopes that have flooded the market, and it really deserves a much closer look than it has so far gotten.

  • Kyle

    I think a review of the Sightmark 4-16 would be nice.

  • Mr_Fastbucks

    Weaver Kaspa Tactical.
    Vortex Diamondback.
    Millet DMS.

  • Michael

    After you have found good scopes for under $200 please do a comparison with $400 and $600 scopes. The question is how much do we need to spend on a good scope?
    I just purchased a Burris fast fire Mini red dot. Much better than a sightmark, But is a Trijicon or Leuopold significantly better?

  • Joe

    Anything that isnt made in China.

  • Adonis Francisco

    Barska Swat AR scope

  • tenner

    Mueller Sport Dot. Heard some very good things about them.

  • Zechariah

    Can you please review the leapers UTG 3–9×32 and the Nikon 3×32 P-223. Thanks. Looking forward to the review.