Best Budget Scope for Deer Hunting

By Archer | Reviews

Aug 30

Finding the right scope for deer hunting is hard enough, but when you’re on a budget it can be even trickier.

It’s important to find something that is affordable but not cheaply made. With so many options available, finding the best budget scope for deer hunting can be confusing and frustrating. Here, some of the top models were compiled and reviewed to help you make an informed purchase decision.

Key Features for Budget Scopes for Deer Hunting

Most importantly, your scope should help you zoom in on your target in order to make your shot. Of course, a good scope will do this easily, however, when you start looking at the more affordable scopes, this simple request can become harder to fulfil. This is because cheap scopes tend to use low-quality glass for their lenses which creates unreliable optics. Luckily, if you stick to the well-known brands you can trust in the craftsmanship and glass quality.

The Reticle

If you trust the brand’s optics you can move on to look at other features. First, look at the reticle position. Most shooters prefer one focal plane to another so you have to look at each to see whether it is a first focal plane reticle or a second focal plane reticle. The main issue here is that the size of your reticle will either remain the same or get bigger as you zoom in on your target. Some shooters prefer for their crosshairs to stay the same size despite the magnification so they don’t block their target while others prefer the larger crosshairs to help them aim especially when hunting for deer in a forest.

Magnification Capabilities

You should also look at the magnification capabilities of each scope and compare them. Since you’re looking for a budget-friendly scope you have to expect the magnification to be more conservative than the more expensive scopes that tend to have stronger magnifications. While you might prefer a fixed magnification setting that is more reliable, a variable magnification setting will help you reduce your movement while on the hunt. Think about your needs as a deer hunter and be sure to pick a scope that will function the way you need it to out in the field.

Physical Specifications

Finally, you should look at the build quality and physical specifications of your scope. Make sure that it won’t be too long or too heavy for your firearm. If a scope is too heavy or long it can throw off your gun’s balance and alter the way you shoot. This can be the difference between hitting and missing your target.

Similarly, look at the durability and craftsmanship of the scope. You don’t want to buy a cheap scope made of fused together parts instead of a single-tube optic because the former has more of a chance of falling apart with frequent use. Look for a scope that is made of quality materials that are meant to withstand the elements as well as the bumps it will inevitably take throughout its lifespan (try to find a scope that is shockproof for this). Finding a scope that is waterproof and fog proof is also important since you’ll never know what the weather will be like when you’re hunting.

As you shop for your new scope look first at these key features and determine what you like best. You might see that your favorite scope on paper isn’t the best option based on one of these important considerations.

Overviews of the Best Budget Scopes for Deer Hunting

Whenever you shop for a product it’s best to compare a handful of the most popular or highest rated items in order to narrow down your options until you find the one perfect item for your needs. To help you do just that, some of the top-rated and most popular budget-friendly scopes for deer hunting have been analyzed and reviewed.

Deer Hunting Scope Comparison Chart

When it comes to buying any kind of riflescope, especially when selecting from some of the top brands, it really comes down to personal preferences and compatibility with your rifle(s). Assuming you already know what will work with your firearm, you’ll basically be comparing each scope’s features and choosing one that fits both your preferences and your budget. This chart will show you some of the key features of each reviewed scope before detailing the specifics of each product.

 Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mmNikon Prostaff 3-9×40Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16×44Leupold FX-II Scout 2.5-28mm
Reticle PositionSFPFFPSFPSFP
Length12.6 inches12.4 inches13.7 inches10.10 inches
Weight11.2 oz13.7 oz18.4 oz7.5 oz
Price ($USD)Check PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price
Best Budget Scope for Deer Hunting Comparison Chart
In A Hurry?
The Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Riflescope is my favorite out of the 4, you can check it out on Amazon here.

1. Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm Riflescope

Best Budget Scope for Deer Hunting | Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm

Made by one of the most trusted brands for riflescopes, the Leupold VX-2 is an aluminum scope featuring a DiamondCoat lens making the scope’s body and optics more durable than others. This coating also helps minimize glare as you aim while also allowing for better light transmission.

Like most Leupold models, there are 7 reticle styles to choose between making this scope highly customizable. This allows you to actually create your ideal scope to some degree. In terms of the magnification, this model has a range from 3x to 9x making it a great mid-range scope. The VX-2 scope features ¼ MOA clicks for windage and elevation adjustments. Also a comfortable eye relief of 3.7 inches in high setting and 4.2 inches in low settings.

Finally, this comes with Leupold’s lifetime guarantee to protect your purchase. The price is quite affordable at around $230 through most online retailers.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable
  • Durable scope body and lens
  • 7 reticle styles to choose from
  • Comfortable eye relief
  • Lifetime guarantee
  • Finishes isn’t good, scratches easily

Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Leupold VX-2 3-9x40mm riflescope on Amazon

2. Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 Riflescope

Nikon Prostaff 3-9x40 riflescope

A nice mid-range scope for deer hunting is the Nikon Prostaff riflescope. It features a multicoated lens for minimal light transmission to limit glare while a 3-9x magnification allows for a respectable range of sight.

The scope is made of durable aluminum and the optics have been purged with nitrogen to create a fog proof design. An O-ring in the scope helps create a waterproof seal. This means the Nikon Prostaff will always work the way it should no matter the weather. While its strong build will help it withstand frequent use and heavy impacts.

This also features a comfortable eye relief of around 3.6 inches and a field of view of around 11 feet at the highest magnification and just under 34 feet at the lowest magnification setting. The scope also comes with a Nikon lens cap for additional protection during transport. You can find it through most online retailers for around a modest $175.

Pros Cons
  • Very affordable
  • Fog proof design, works in any weather
  • Comfortable eye relief
  • Durable
  • Inability to properly hold zero

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 riflescope on Amazon

3. Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16×44 Riflescope

Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16x44 riflescope

One of the pricier, yet still budget-friendly scopes is the Vortex Optics Viper HS. From one of the leading manufacturers, this scope features the infamous Dead-Hold BDC reticle and a nice 4-16x magnification capability (the widest range out of all the featured scopes). This wider range of magnification makes the higher price a little easier to chew.

It’s made of aircraft-grade aluminum creating a durable design that will withstand strong recoils and frequent use while also being scratch, dirt, and oil resistant. It is also waterproof and fog proof thanks to the O-ring built into it and Argon-purged lenses.

The scope also features multicoated lenses to create a sharper image that captures optimum light even at dusk. Capped turrets keep your adjustments in place but also utilizes quick-resetting action to get you back to zero after sighting in easily. It also has a comfortable eye relief of 4 inches and a field of view up to 27.4 feet per 100 yards.

Again, it’s a more expensive option, available for around $500, but comes with protective lens caps, a lens cloth, and a 4-inch sunshade. There is also a warranty that you can request once you purchase the scope even if you get it through an online retailer.

Pros Cons
  • Durable design, made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Fog proof and waterproof
  • Comfortable eye relief of 4 inches
  • Pricier

Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Vortex Optics Viper HS 4-16×44 riflescope on Amazon

4. Leupold FX-II Scout 2.5-28mm Riflescope

Another scope from the trusted Leupold name, the FX-II Scout is a small forward-mounted scope with a low-magnification optic. This is a hunting scope for those who aren’t looking to do any long-range shooting as it’s made to hit targets up to only 250 yards.

Since this is a Leupold scope you can trust the quality of it as the lenses are crystal clear, waterproof, and fog proof. The scope itself is a one-piece design that is quite durable and shockproof. Capped turrets help hold your adjustments as you move, too.

The Scout scope features a very generous 9.3-inch eye relief along with a forging eye box. It’s a second focal plane with a Duplex reticle and a fixed magnification of 2.5x. Again, this isn’t a strong magnification but having a fixed magnification means that you’ll have a reliable view at all times. You can pick this scope up for under $300 if you choose the black matte finish (silver or gunmetal gray may cost you a little more).

Pros Cons
  • Quality lens
  • Scope is durable and shockproof
  • Generous eye relief
  • Reliable view
  • Low-magnification
  • Hit targets up to only 250 yards

Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Leupold FX-II Scout 2.5-28mm riflescope on Amazon

General impressions

While all of these riflescopes are great choices, there are always notable pros and cons that are based on actual user reviews that you should take into consideration. These are factors that other shooters have pointed out that can help you make a final purchasing decision.

For the Leupold VX-2, the lifetime guarantee, the no-glare finish, and its sharp reticles are praised. The generous eye relief, waterproof and durable design, and the reliable magnification range are also benefits that shooters recognized as advantages. The scope is so good that there are barely any complaints about it in user reviews. Few complaints that were made seemed to be regarding packaging and one-off malfunctions that were quickly rectified by the manufacturer.

Nikon users love their Prostaff for its lightweight design and its durability. They specifically mentioned the waterproof and fog proof design along with the minimal light transmission and included Nikon lens cap. However, there are also some complaints about the scope’s inability to properly hold zero.

The Vortex Optics Viper HS is a great scope with the highest magnification range out of the bunch. While the price seems to be a sour note for a lot of shooters, you get what you pay for. With the comparatively expensive price tag, you get a scope that is durable, waterproof, and fog proof with an easy-to-focus reticle and a quick zero-in ability.

Finally, the Leupold FX-II Scout is a great scope for those looking to hit targets at a closer range. Users love the clear optics, the generous eye relief, and the scope’s ability to handle strong recoils. One of the complaints made about this scope is the lack of magnification. However, the fixed magnification of the scope is clearly advertised so there are no surprises here. Other complaints seem to be more about Leupold’s customer service than about the scope itself.


Overall, each of these scopes has a lot to offer and would make a fine addition to your arsenal but when it comes down to it, the Leupold VX-2 seems to be the best choice out of these options. This is based on the scope’s features as well as the price when compared to the other scopes.

As you can see, there are plenty of high-quality riflescopes available even if you’re on a budget. Remember to keep your personal preferences as well as the specific considerations mentioned here in mind when looking for the best budget scope for deer hunting. With the proper tools, you’ll have no problem hitting your target every time.

About the Author

I love adventures and the great outdoors!

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