Tactical

Best Affordable Optics of 2023 (That Won’t Break)

It’s time to get an optic for your gun. But getting something like an Aimpoint, a Trijicon, or an EOTech is going to be expensive.

So you think…”I’ll go cheaper.”

Who doesn’t like saving money?

But then you hit the internet and start hearing that cheap optics are all garbage.

So you get the optics blues. You can’t sell any of your guns, that would be a travesty. And you find out selling a kidney isn’t exactly legal — so you just don’t know what to do.

Trijicons don’t come cheap…

Well, you’re in luck. Were going to separate fact from fiction in terms of internet forums, and create a non-exhaustive list of a few affordable, but high-quality optics you can pick up to outfit your rifle, pistol, or shotgun without breaking the bank.

Table of Contents

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Summary of Our Top Picks

Cheap vs. Affordable

The internet notion that cheap optics are crap is rooted in some truth. For a long time, the optics world was dominated by a handful of companies and many other options were substandard imported goods.

However, manufacturing and design processes have gotten infinitely better, and the optics landscape now is nowhere near what it was even ten years ago.

Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x
Companies like Vortex have changed the optics landscape by offering quality and durability at low prices.

Another problem is these internet commandos often lump anything that is under $1,000 or isn’t used by the military in the “crap” camp. This is where they are wrong.

There is a big difference between cheap and affordable. Affordable doesn’t mean bad; affordable is often a compromise that delivers an optic that works well and will last but without some of the features higher-end optics may have. 

Best Affordable Optics

For those of you on a budget that don’t want to sacrifice quality, we have compiled a list of solid, affordable optics for various platforms to help you get pointed in the right direction for your next build.

1. Holosun HS407C-X2

Red dots on pistols is the new meta. Many people are making the switch from irons, and a ton of companies are ensuring they have optics-ready pistols for this growing market segment.

Micro Compacts with Micro Red Dots, Front
Pistol dots are the new hotness.

So naturally, if more people are shooting on pistol dots, more companies are going to make them, which means more competition. This competition has brought us a clear leader of the pack — Holosun.

Known for their affordable, feature-packed, and quality optics, Holosun is dominating the pistol dot market. This is partly thanks to the HS407C, which is their attractively priced entry-level pistol reflex sight.

Holosun 507C X2 Primary Arms Vulcan
The 407C utilizes the standard Trijicon RMR footprint and also features a side-loading battery tray.

But don’t let the price fool you, the 407C is packed with features like shake-awake technology that automatically turns the dot on once it senses movement and a solar failsafe to ensure your sight still works even if your battery doesn’t.

Best Affordable Pistol Dot

244

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Aside from those awesome features, you get a whopping 50,000-hour battery life on medium brightness settings, along with clear glass and a 2 MOA dot that is available in either red or green.

For those looking for sight with a smaller footprint to fit their micro-compact guns, Holosun offers the 407K, which is available in a 2 or 6 MOA dot, and has all the same features with the exception of the solar failsafe.

224

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want a solid dot for your pistol at a solid price, look no further than the 407.

2. Sig Tango MSR 1-6x24mm

Like pistol dots, LPVOs (Low Power Variable Optics), have enjoyed widespread popularity in the last 10 years.

This is largely due to their flexibility of being able to be used as a close-range combat optic at 1 power (unmagnified) while being able to extend the shooter’s range by offering 6, 8, and even 10 times magnification.

The Sig Tango MSR is the little brother to the Tango 6T, which was recently adopted by the US Army. (Photo: Coldboremiracle)

Due to their nature, LPVOs are a natural fit for the AR platform, which means there is a huge market out there.

Fortunately, there are a ton of good options for budget LPVOs on the market. Scopes like the Vortex Strike Eagle, Burris RT-6, and Primary Arms SLx are all excellent, affordable options, but the reason we picked the Sig Tango MSR 1-6 is price.

A look at the BDC6 reticle on the Tango MSR (Photo: Sig Sauer)

While all of those scopes are relatively close in price, at $299-330, the Tango already comes with a good mount and throw lever. Not having to shell out another $40-100 for a scope mount can help open up some cash for other things like slings and magazines if you are on a budget.

The Tango 1-6 offers good class clarity that is on par with its competitors, as well as a decent eyebox and an illuminated reticle.

These are great optics for those looking to toss something on a do-it-all AR build without digging too deep into their wallet.

3. Sig Romeo5

This is it, the undisputed king of budget optics and the savior of reasonably-priced AR builds nationwide — the Sig Romeo5.

Romeo5 on MP5K and AR-15
A pair of Sig Romeo5 red dots on an MP5K and AR-15.

Why is this little guy so popular, you ask? Well, you get a 2 MOA dot with good clarity, durable housing, shake-awake technology, and a decent mount — all for right around $100.

Sig Sauer Romeo5 Red Dot
Sig Romeo5

That’s right, the Romeo5 fluctuates between $99 and $130 most of the time, with it frequently going on sale. For a standard red dot to go on your AR, PCC, or anything else, the Romeo5 is just unbeatable at the price point.

Bear in mind that there are versions that only include a high mount and ones that have both high and low mounts for co witnessing, so be sure to double-check.

Not sold yet? Check out our 4-year ongoing review of the Romeo5!

4. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50mm

Long-range shooting can be daunting to get into, especially if you don’t want to throw down stacks of cash.

Forums will tell you that you need to spend the price of a used car just to get a decent setup, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50mm with a Burris P.E.P.R mount. (Photo: Ammoland)

If you have a gun and you want to stretch its legs out a bit, the Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x50mm is worth taking a look at.

These scopes offer a hefty level of magnification, but more importantly, they feature a 30mm main tube and a 50mm objective. This means you are going to be bringing in enough light to make all of that magnification useable while also extending your ability to shoot during twilight hours.

Vortex Strike Eagle EBR-4 MRAD Reticle

Additionally, you get a well-thought-out illuminated reticle that is available in both MOA or MRAD configurations. While you may not win a PRS competition with this guy, the glass clarity is pretty good, given the price.

Best Budget Long-Range Scope

359

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

To top everything off, you get Vortex’s amazing unconditional, transferrable, no-questions-asked VIP lifetime warranty. All of this comes in at a reasonable price of around $350-400.

5. Primary Arms SLx 3x MicroPrism

Primary Arms is another company that has come on strong in the last few years. Their notable products include their awesome LPVOs, their ACSS reticle designs, and their excellent prism scopes.

Primary Arms SLx 3x MicroPrism

Prism scopes offer a fixed magnification in a compact package with more durability due to fewer moving parts. The reticles are etched, meaning if your batteries fail, you just lose illumination, but you still have a useable reticle. Oh, and they are great for people who have an astigmatism!

You could say that Primary Arms are the champions of prism scopes, and they are constantly developing and improving their lineup, with the SLx 3x MicroPrism being our current favorite.

View-through of the ACSS reticle on the 3x MicroPrism.

These sights offer a good level of magnification that still allows for close-range work while helping you out at distance. At only 8 ounces, these compact and lightweight sights help keep your build streamlined.

The ACSS reticle is excellent, and they offer both 5.56/.308 reticles, and 7.62×39/.300 BLK reticles to ensure ranging targets is easy regardless of caliber. Both red and green illumination are available.

At $319, those looking for something a little more than a red dot but not as bulky as an LPVO might find what they are looking for in the SLx MicroPrism.

Best Budget Prism Sight

319

at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

You can check out our hands-on review here!

6. Burris Fullfield IV 2.5-10x42mm

So you got invited to go out hunting this season and need to get a decent rifle and scope setup on a budget, but one that ensures you won’t miss that important shot.

Enter the Burris Fullfield IV.

A Fullfield IV 2.5-10x42mm. (Photo: Getzone)

Burris has been making quality scopes since 1972, but they still fly under the radar for a lot of folks.

Their Fullfield lineup provides excellent glass clarity at an amazing price point. Multi-coated lenses also provide good color distinction when looking for animals amongst foliage.

We picked the 2.5-10x42mm because it has you covered for most standard hunting ranges. Scopes pull in more light when they are at lower magnification, so being able to dip down to 2.5 power can really help you grab that light during dawn and dusk hours.

Illuminated E3 Reticle. (Photo: Burris)

This scope is available with a standard Plex reticle and both illuminated and non-illuminated Ballistic E3 reticles.

Although it is only a 1″ main tube, the 42mm objective, lower power, and edge-to-edge clarity still make this an excellent choice for hunters looking for a sleek setup on a budget.

Best Budget Hunting Scope

169

at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Oh, and worth mentioning, Burris has their no-questions-asked, unlimited lifetime Forever Warranty. So if anything goes wrong, whether you are the first or fifth owner, they have you covered. Not bad for a scope coming in around $200.

7. Holosun HS510C

Once again, Holosun makes the list with their outstanding HS510C reflex sight.

Holosun 510C
Holosun HS510C

Plain red dots are great and all, but sometimes you want a bigger viewing window and a more robust reticle.

The 510C has both of those. Its generous viewing window, combined with its circle-and-dot reticle, makes for a quick and easy-to-pick-up sight picture.

Holosun Optics HS510C
The 510C has been out for over 5 years and is still a staple in Holosun’s lineup.

Don’t like being locked into one reticle option? Good news — the 510C allows users to cycle between the circle-and-dot, dot-only, or circle-only reticles, allowing for more flexibility.

Many people with astigmatisms have noted that the 510C reticle is notably crisper than many other sights, but as always, your mileage may vary.

Like many of the other Holosun products, the 510C boasts the same 50,000-hour battery life on the medium dot-only setting, shake-awake technology, and a solar failsafe.

Holosun 510C Reticle
Holosun 510C Reticle

An integrated quick-detach mount and a titanium protective hood ensure both easy mounting and long-term durability.

Coming in around the $300 dollar mark, give or take, the 510C is a great alternative for those who don’t want to shell out the big bucks for an EOTech.

Most Worth It Holographic Sight

309

at OpticsPlanet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

This one is a favorite among our staff, so be sure to check out our hands-on review!

Final Thoughts

Choosing an optic is always a little tricky, especially when choosing affordable optics. You just need to remember to identify your needs first and determine if an affordable optic can fill that role.

Bunch of 1-6x Scopes

Sometimes it won’t be possible, but unless you need a weapon for duty use, it’s most likely it will work just fine. Remember cheap and affordable aren’t the same!

Do you have any experience with any of the optics we listed? Are there any go-to affordable optics that you like? Let us know in the comments below! Need to outfit your build some more? Check out our article on the 6 Best Budget Weapon Lights!

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