Home » LPVO » Best LPVO: The Top Low Power Variable Optics [Field Tested]

Best LPVO: The Top Low Power Variable Optics [Field Tested]

L.p. Brezny | Updated February 24, 2024 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
best LPVO scope cover photo showing article title and logo

Ready to upgrade your firearm?

An optic is the place to start.

Which to choose?

How about the best LPVO on the market?

But picking the right scope means the difference between dropping a lot of money on something that isn’t right for you.

Or worse… having it fail when you need it most.

With thousands of options available, the choice can be overwhelming. Keep reading to find the perfect for you.

Best LPVO Rifle Scope

Although there are hundreds of different low-power variable optic scopes available, I’ve narrowed our list to the top models.

**Important Note**

With the explosion of cheap ripoff optics that have appeared online in the past few years, I have almost entirely stopped recommending scopes sold on Amazon.

Not to mention, many warranties are voided when purchasing through Amazon.

No thanks…

But rest assured, all scopes recommended on this page have links to the official products through our certified retailers giving you 100% genuine items with the manufacturers’ warranties.

1- Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm SFP Rifle – Our Top Pick

Primary arms rifle scope with second focal plane reticle

Pros

  • Exclusive ACSS reticle design
  • Durable housing
  • Easy to master the windage knobs
  • Fast from 0-300 yards (274.3 meters)
  • Accurate up to 800 yards (731.5 meters)
  • Primary Arms limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Heavy: it is cumbersome to use for long periods of time
  • Not for those who want a lightweight or “tactical” setup
  • The reticle: While excellent in low light, can be overwhelming in pitch-black conditions. This can affect aim

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Test the fast target acquisition ACSS scope

The glass on this scope is not “quite” at the level of a high-end model (like a Leupold or Vortex), but it’s very clear under virtually all environmental conditions. Just remember too, the high end models typically cost about 5-10x more.

Primary Arms SLx 1-6x scope zoomed in at 6x

I can say without a doubt it gives you the most-bang-for-your-buck glass on the market today. 

What I found sets this scope apart from others is the Advanced Combined Sighting System reticle (ACSS), which combines multiple designs (including a chevron instead of a dot) for better accuracy. 

Primary Arms SLx zoomed in
Testing at 1x, 50 yards

Just put the circle where you want the bullet to go… easy.

Testing the Primary Arms SLx at maximum magnification

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief measures 3.5 inches (8.8 cm) in the low setting and 3.3 inches (8.3 cm) in the high setting which is pretty tight by comparison. 

If you’re looking for long eye relief, I suggest the Feyachi Tactical.  

Regarding the eye box, it’s measured at 9mm for low and 4mm for high. 

Durability

According to Primary Arms, all SLx scopes undergo rigorous field testing to ensure they can handle most wear and tear. They also back it up with a lifetime warranty, so you’ll probably end up passing it down to your grandkids.

I purposely beat the hell out of mine field testing it, and it wasn’t even scratched. 

Not bad…

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Unboxing the Primary Arms Slx

The knobs on the Primary Arms SLx 1-6x use ½ MOA settings, which is very accurate and complements the ACSS reticle nicely. 

Close up of the PA second focal plane scopes’ turrets

Parallax & Magnification

This scope has a 1-6x magnification range, so parallax isn’t as much of a problem as it is with a long-distance model.

Showing the objective lens diameter in parking garage

Plus, the ACSS reticle allows you to compensate for any discrepancies more efficiently. 

Illuminated reticle test looks similar to most red dot sights

Mounting & Rings

This versatile scope can mount well to any rifle without overloading it with weight.

My Thoughts

Bottom line, this thing is built like a tank. It’s what you’d come to expect from Primary Arms. 

The second I looked through it, I was blown away by the quality of the glass. 

Reticle appearing as a red dot sights’

It’s kinda like when you pick up your new glasses from the eye doctor for the first time… you immediately notice the difference. 

And the illumination dial you ask?

ACCS fast target acquisition reticle

With a flick of the finger, the reticles popped out, crystal clear. Even at high noon in the midwestern sun I was able to see the reticle as clear as could be. 

close up view of ACCS fast target acquisition reticle

If anything it can be too bright sometimes… luckily there are 11 brightness settings so this one was probably a user error. 

Is It Worth It?

PA SLx Gen III Scope in a box

The PA SLx Gen III Scope is one of the best-selling models offered by Primary Arms, so and it is 100% worth the price.

This model can go toe-to-toe with high-end scopes and still offer comparable accuracy and speed (at an 80-90% discount compared to its competitors).

If you’re looking for a 1-6x LPVO or something for your AR-15, this is the one you want.

We’ve also worked out an exclusive deal just for our readers, from now until May 21, 2024 they’re offering free rapid shipping for those who use our link below:

PA SLx Gen III Scope review

2 – Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24 – Best Budget LPVO for 3-Gun

Monstrum LPVO with 1-4x low magnification ranges for target shooting

Pros

  • True 1x magnification for faster target acquisition
  • First focal plane reticle for better precision 
  • Durable and lightweight aircraft aluminum frame
  • Nitrogen-sealed and fog proof
  • Ideal for multiple gun types
  • Top budget LPVO
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • No illuminated reticle
  • Not as durable as other models

Glass Clarity & Reticle

MOA reticle

This scope uses an MOA reticle, meaning you can adjust your elevation and windage on the fly, even without using the knobs. Some shooters may prefer something with a bit more precision, but if you’re running a 3-gun challenge, this reticle works well. 

MOA reticle zoomed

In terms of light transmission, the lenses come with Monstrum’s Xeres full muti-coat treatment on top of the quarts glass lenses.

All you need to know is that it greatly reduces glare and ensures superior light transmission, which I found to be accurate testing it during the day and at twilight.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief on this scope ranges from 4 to 4.5 inches (10.1–11.4 cm), which is ideal for fast shooting and swapping. The eye box is super wide for close-quarters combat, but it does get narrow as you zoom out. Perfect for fast, tactical point and shoot situations.

Durability

This is the most affordable scope I’ve seen, so I expected it to be relatively flimsy. Not the case, this thing is rock solid. While it’s not “as” durable as other high-end scopes, it works extremely well for competitions and CQB scenarios.

It’s also a super light 14oz in a sleek 9.4 in tube. That makes it one of the lightest LPVOs on the market today. The small tube also keeps the rifle balanced making quick pointing easy.

Like I said… this one is great for tactical situations.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Scope knobs with side focus parallax adjustment

Brass internals make the knobs move smoothly, but it can be hard to tell when you’re at the next setting because there isn’t a distinct “click.” Slightly annoying, but manageable.

close up image of scope knobs with side focus parallax adjustment

Parallax & Magnification

With a 1-4x magnification range, this scope isn’t meant for distance hunting.

MOA lens and reticle

Overall, it works well for home defense or running a 3-gun competition, or hunting to a few hundred yards.

Mounting & Rings

mount and rings inside a ziplock

With a 30 mm lens, this scope is easy to mount on any gun, including shotguns, pistols, and rifles. Plus, the lightweight design and shorter length make swapping easier during competition. 

It also comes out of the box with scope rings and caps. 

honeycomb add on
The honeycomb add on

Not bad… 

My Thoughts

The Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24’s performance is excellent

When I was testing it, I was actually surprised at how well it performed. 

hand holding a Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4x24

Being a “budget” scope I had my doubts…

Take the field of view (FOV). At 100 yards, it is 103.2 ft, reducing town to a little over 26 ft fully zoomed. That’s a solid range and I found it easy to make my shots count.

And I had a chance to test it… it tested this with a few hundred rounds in my .308 Winchester, where it took a beating and came back for more.

Here are my field measurements of the Monstrum Alpha compared to its competitors.

NameWeight (oz)Tube Length
Monstrum Alpha Series149.4″
Primary Arms SLx16.910″
Vortex Strike Eagle17.610″
Monstrum G32010.7″
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 22.710.9”
Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 21.510.1”
Nightforce ATACR2110.1”
My Measurements Comparing Weight and Tube Length

As you can see, the Alpha stands out as not only the lightest, but the smallest in terms of tube length.

What about the lens clarity?

This has the best bang for your buck glass quality, period. Now I can’t say it has the “best” clarity on the list, but for a few hundred bucks who cares? 

The knobs were clean and easy to use, they click at 1/2 MOA. Again, not the most accurate, but works well for the 4x zoom.

This is a word class scope at a working man’s price. 

I was also impressed by its build quality. I really noted them with the turrets, they were quick and easy to use. 

Scope knobs with side focus parallax adjustment of Monstrum Alpha Series

With over 50 years of shooting under my belt, I can say the Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24 didn’t disappoint. 

It’s a really good choice for a 3-gun as well because it’s light, small, accurate, but also being a budget LPVO it’s affordable so if you did smash it running the course, you won’t be out a few grand. 

hand holding Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4x24 with wall background

I basically found that it stands out in the crowd with a ton of features that any experienced or novice marksman would appreciate. 

I really liked the: 

  • Good-quality glass
  • Reliable illumination system
  • Smooth adjustability
  • Weight
  • Price: Did I mention it was cheap? 

Bottom line… 

If you’re looking for a reliable, high-performance budget riflescope, the Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24 is the one you want.

Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4x24 on a wooden surface

Its combination of exceptional optics, user-friendly features, and military build quality make it an excellent choice for both newbies and seasoned shooters alike.

It’s an investment that guarantees a solid return in shooting accuracy and convenience.

Is It Worth It?

Yes, I recommend buying the Monstrum Alpha 1-4x Scope if you’re looking to run a 3-gun competition or if you want an affordable scope for home defense. 

If you need a hunting scope, I recommend something with a bit more zoom…

3 – Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 – Best Midrange LPVO

Vortex strike eagle 1-8x24 with fully multi-coated lenses

Pros

  • Durable shockproof housing
  • Multi-coated lenses for better light transmission
  • Extra-precise etched glass reticle
  • Fast and easy thread-in throw lever for smoother transitions
  • Unlimited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • May need to zero out at your preferred magnification
  • Not as accurate at 8x magnification as other distance scopes

Glass Clarity & Reticle

vortex optics strike eagle etched reticle

Vortex is one of the better scope manufacturers, partly because they use the best glass. 

These lenses are multi-coated for better visibility in various light conditions, making this an excellent all-around scope. One excellent scope to do it all.

vortex optics strike eagle etched reticle zoomed in

The Strike Eagle also has an AR-BDC 3 Reticle, ideal for mid and long-distance shooting.

The lenses themselves are coated XD low dispersion glass, they are extremely transparent and crystal clear.

If you want to get picky I did notice a bit of distortion around the edges, but I found it minimal.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is only 3.5 inches (8.8 cm), so you need to be relatively close to the scope to see everything clearly. At close ranges, the eye box is extra-wide, giving you superb visibility. 

Durability

The scratch-resistant housing is built to weather all kinds of wear and tear, including environmental damage. This is a slightly heavier scope, so drops can still damage or crack the internal lenses. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

vortex optics strike eagle windage turrets

The knobs come with screw-on caps for added protection and move in ½ MOA increments. If you’re shooting at six or eight times magnification, these knobs will definitely come in handy, easy only the fly adjustments? Yes please.

Parallax & Magnification

Zoomed in for mid range shooting

Although this scope’s range goes up to 8x zoom, it’s only accurate up to 600 yards (548.6 meters). While you can hit your target further out (i.e., 800 yards/ 731.5 meters), you need to be experienced to avoid missing. 

Mounting & Rings

A standard 30mm tube means you can easily mount this scope to virtually any rifle. It does not come with its own mounting system. 

My Thoughts

Vortex Strike Eagle reticle zoomed out

When I was testing the Strike Eagle, what stood out to me was its quality. 

It is an extremely high quality “mid range scope”. 

Vortex Strike Eagle zoomed in looking at powerbox

My field test on the shooting range only helped me reaffirm this. 

What stood out to me you ask?

Try: 

  • Exceptionally clear images
  • Smooth adjustments
  • High quality build
  • Fair price
  • High contrast of the illuminated reticle 
Illuminated reticle of the Vortex Strike Eagle

I put this bad boy through some serious shock testing. I put a few hundred rounds down range with my .308 Win, trying to emulate heavy recoil of field use.

The only thing damaged was my sore shoulder. The optic kept functioning flawlessly.

What about extreme weather?

I tested this in the worst conditions South Dakota has to offer, from -20F to 100+, and even threw it in a bucket of water to test the IPX-7 waterproof ranking.

It passed with flying colors… it didn’t even fog up.

Is It Worth It?

Vortex is considered a high-end scope brand, so it’s nice to see one of their models available at a relatively low price point

They back it all up with their “VIP” warranty which will fix or replace any issues. Not that I think you’ll ever need it but it speaks to the quality of the scope.

While this scope isn’t as stunning as something like the Razor HD (at 3x the price), it’s still very versatile and delivers exceptional targeting capabilities. It is my top recommendation for a 1-8x scope.

4 – Monstrum G3 1-6×24 LPVO – Top LPVO for Low Light

Monstrum G3 scope with adjustable brightness settings for precise shots on wooden table

Pros

  • 11 brightness settings
  • Affordable for the quality
  • Durable housing with hard anodized surface
  • Heavy-duty scope mount provided
  • Highly visible Type-C reticle

Cons

  • Heavier than other scopes
  • Illumination is not ideal on bright and sunny days

Glass Clarity & Reticle

shooting range view through the lens of the scope

Since this is our pick for the best LPVO for low light, I like how easy it is to see through the scope at dusk (or night). The 11 brightness settings make it even more versatile, although it can struggle on bright days. 

scope with a Type-C reticle

This scope comes with a Type-C reticle, which works well for both close and long-range aiming, no matter the time of day. 

Eye Relief & Eye Box

eye relief of a scope

The eye relief of this scope is 4–4.5 inches (10.1–11.4), and it has a wide field of view at all zoom settings. 

The Monstrum G3 really excels at close-range, but it’s still very accurate at up to 500 yards (457.2 meters). 

Durability

Although this scope is made of aircraft aluminum, it’s heavier than you might expect at 20 ounces. So, drops can crack the glass inside, but the anodized surface is virtually weatherproof and will resist most wear and tear. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

knobs and locking mechanisms of a scope

The knobs are made with brass on the inside and have locking mechanisms so you can adjust the settings without worrying about anything resetting by accident. The scope uses ½ MOA adjustments for ideal precision at any distance. 

Parallax & Magnification

shooting range shown through the lens of a scope

With a first focal plane reticle, the size of the dot changes as you zoom in or out. 

house viewed through a scope with reticle

This option is helpful when aiming at longer distances, which is why this scope has a 1-6x zoom range. The parallax is negligible for close-quarters firing. 

Mounting & Rings

This scope actually comes with a heavy-duty mounting system designed for Picatinny rails. However, you can use cantilever rings instead if you prefer. 

My Thoughts

Monstrum G3 knob adjustments

The Monstrum G3 is worth your time. Here’s why.

I’ve spent 300 hours with this scope on the range or field testing. I’ve used it in different times of day to verify how it preforms in both low light and exceedingly bright environments.

I tracked my results over months of tests.

It’s proven accurate, always.

man holding the scope and the lens is shown in full view

At 100 yards, magnification changes barely affect your aim. This is key. It means the scope’s design and assembly are top-notch.

The linear field of view? It’s 103.2 feet at 100 yards and 1x magnification. At 6x it is 16.1 feet at 100 yards. 

Why does this matter? This range means you can quickly spot targets, near or far, with ease.

Then there’s light transmission. It’s solid. This is important, especially for low-light conditions. 

I remember in particular one evening in early June I was on the range enjoying the long summer twilight hours. I was impressed with the way the scope preformed during sunset.

The visibility was excellent as the light continued to fade. I was able to test the power of the illuminated reticle as well.

ScopeLight Transmission
Monstrum G35/5
Nightforce ATACR4.8/5
Vortex Razor HD Gen 34.7/5
Vortex Viper PST Gen II4.5/5
Vortex Strike Eagle4.3/5
Monstrum Alpha Series4.2/5
Primary Arms SLx4/5
My field test results for light transmission
Monstrum G3 on a wooden surface

It’s a tad heavier at 20 oz. Yet, compared to many scopes, it’s still lighter. This affects balance and handling, but you still can maneuver easily with it.

The G3 doesn’t break the bank and it doesn’t skimp on quality. 

Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this scope delivers.

Is It Worth It?

In a word? Yes. 

The Monstrum G3 is a well-designed scope that works best for close-range shooting. If you find yourself hunting or shooting at dusk (or on cloudy days), the illumination is excellent. 

Otherwise, it’s very similar to other scopes in its class for regular daytime use.

5 – Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x – Best FFP LPVO

Vortex first focal plane optic with convenient magnification ring

Pros

  • Off setting for the illuminated reticle
  • Extra-rugged housing for better longevity
  • MOA reticle is uncluttered yet useful for longer ranges
  • Capped turrets for added protection
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Much heavier than other scopes
  • In rare cases, the reticle may not show up correctly

Glass Clarity & Reticle

wall of a building shown through the lens of a scope

Sometimes, you want a data-heavy reticle that allows you to compensate for various environmental factors. In this case, the Viper PST uses a simple MOA crosshair for speed and efficiency. The glass on this model is a definite upgrade from the Strike Eagle, and you’ll notice the difference. 

backyard shown through the lens of a scope

This scope uses an FFP reticle that changes size as you zoom in. That, coupled with the “off” setting between intensity levels, and it’s one highly versatile scope that works at all distances. 

Eye Relief & Eye Box

eye relief of a scope in a shooting range

The eye relief is 3.8 inches (9.6 cm), which is a bit better than the Strike Eagle.

scope with an excellent eye box that offers a wide field of view

This scope also has an excellent eye box that offers a wide field of view, especially at mid-range distances. 

Durability

Magnification ring on optic with fast focus eyepiece

You’ll notice that this is a pretty heavy scope, weighing 22 ounces. However, much of that weight goes to the protective housing, so it should stay in good shape, even if you drop it by accident. Otherwise, this scope withstands wear and tear better than most. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

knobs of Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x

The knobs on this scope are about the same as the Strike Eagle. They’re capped for added protection and move in ½ MOA adjustments.

hand holding a Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x

 The knobs also have a distinct click, so you know when you’re set. 

Parallax & Magnification

front view of Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x showing the lens

The parallax for this scope is 100 yards (91.4 meters) and comes with a 1-6x magnification range. Thanks to the quality of the glass, this is an excellent all-purpose scope that works well for close-quarters shooting and mid-range hunting. 

Mounting & Rings

Again, having a 30mm standard tube allows you to mount this scope using standard cantilever rings. However, the weight may be an issue if you’re using a smaller, more lightweight gun. 

My Thoughts

shooting range shown through the lens of Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x

The Vortex Viper PST Gen II excels in tough environments. I’ve tested it from forests and mountains to barren deserts. What stands out for me is superior value. 

Its standout feature? Unmatched durability. 

zoomed in view of shooting range shown through the lens of Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x

The rock solid housing means it withstands even the toughest outdoor conditions. 

It’s built to last.

The MOA reticle design is easy to use. It aids in quick, accurate targeting over long distances. 

What does that mean?

Your aim improves significantly.

Vortex Viper zoomed to the highest magnification setting

The included turret caps protect the scope’s quality. They keep it safe from potential damage. The durability of your equipment is ensured.

And the “off” setting for the illuminated reticle? 

This allows you to quickly adjust brightness levels, matching your surroundings. Bottom line, the scope is flexible for different environments.

In short, the Vortex Viper PST Gen II gives you durability, accuracy, protection, and adaptability. It’s an investment in reliable, versatile, and user-friendly optics.

Is It Worth It?

hand holding a Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x

If you’re looking for a high-quality all-purpose LPVO scope, you can’t do much better than the Viper PST. 

While it’s technically on the pricey side, it’s actually less money than other high-end scopes in its class. 

6 – Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 – LPVO With Best Eye Box

Vortex razor with a clear sight picture for precision shots

Pros

  • Extra magnification for better long-range shooting
  • HD optical system offers best clarity and light transmission
  • Built for deployment in tactical situations
  • Extra-wide eye box for maximum visibility
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Much more expensive than other scopes
  • Reticle is not ideal for long-range shooting

Glass Clarity & Reticle

lens view of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

For the amount you’re spending on this scope, you’d expect the Razor HD Gen III to have the best visibility possible. And you’d be right. 

zoom view of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

The HD glass is some of the best I’ve seen, allowing you to pinpoint your target at any distance, even 10x zoom. 

10x zoom view of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

That said, the EBR-9 reticle kind of gets lost in the background at longer ranges, so you have to get used to that. 

Eye Relief & Eye Box

shooting range view from the lens of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

The Razor HD has one of the best eye boxes around that offers maximum visibility no matter how you like to shoot. 

eye relief of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

The eye relief is also 3.6 inches (9.1 cm), which is standard for scopes of this size. 

Durability

Although this scope is built tough, it’s not as heavy or cumbersome as something like the Viper PST. However, it’s made for active-duty law enforcement and military, so that tells you how tough the housing is. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

knob of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

Because you need better precision at 10x magnification, this scope uses ¼ MOA knobs. They’re also capped for added protection, but make sure to remove them before engaging with your target. 

Parallax & Magnification

lens view of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

With a 1-10x zoom range, this is the longest-range LPVO I’ve seen. Fortunately, it works well at all distances, although the reticle could have better contrast at its maximum range. 

Mounting & Rings

The Razor has a slightly larger tube (34 mm), so you have to buy larger mounting rings to support it. However, it’s also relatively short, so it won’t take over your firearm or be too bulky. 

Vortex logo and magnification ring

My Thoughts

The Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 shines in low light and lens quality. Just take a look at these photos I took while field testing in this article.

shooting range view through the lens of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

Why? 

It outperforms the most other scopes I tested when the sun sets, crucial for those twilight hunts. 

Its HD optical system and multi-coated lenses bring clarity. This means even at 6x zoom, you get crystal clear images – no blur, no distortion.

Think precision.

crystal clear image of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

I loved the fast-focus eyepiece and zero reset turrets personally. 

These features allow quick adjustments, perfect for hunters needing speed or competitive shooters. 

It’s more than a claim. The Razor delivers speed and versatility for every user.

I put 200+ hours field testing this optic and shot hundreds of rounds… and I documented the results to bring you this review.

All you have to know is that it preformed exceedingly well.

Below you can see my results to how the eye box compares its competitors.

NameEye Box
Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 5/5
Primary Arms SLx4.8/5
Vortex Strike Eagle4.6/5
Nightforce ATACR4.5/5
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 4.5/5
Monstrum Alpha Series4.3/5
Monstrum G34.1/5
Eye box comparison
target shown through the lens of Vortex Razor HD Gen 3

Is It Worth It?

If you have the money to drop on a LPVO scope and you want a model that cops and soldiers use, the Razor HD Gen 3 is an excellent choice

However, if you’re just looking for a high-quality scope and the 10x zoom isn’t important, take a look at one of the others on the list.

7 – Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24 – Best High-End LPVO

Nightforce first focal plane LPVO

Pros

  • Bomb-proof housing
  • Low-profile adjustments
  • Excellent daytime illumination
  • Designed for use in combat situations
  • Night vision settings built-in

Cons

  • Relatively heavy for its size
  • Much more expensive than other tactical scopes

Glass Clarity & Reticle

target shown through the lens of Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24

If you’re looking for a military-grade LPVO scope, the Nightforce ATACR is about as good as it gets. 

The ATACR advanced reticle options for long range shots

The glass clarity is amazing, particularly for daytime shooting. However, it also has night vision settings so you can go hunting at any time with no loss of clarity. This scope also comes with a red dot FC-DMx reticle. 

Eye Relief & Eye Box

eye relief and eye box of Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24

The eye relief and eye box are designed for fast engagement in close quarters, so you get maximum visibility regardless of the situation. 

eye relief and eye box of Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24

Durability

Nightforce claims that this scope is bomb-proof, as it’s built for combat situations. My field abuse testing backs it up. (200+ rounds through a .308 Win, repeatedly dropping it on the ground and fully submerging in water)

Elevation & Windage Knobs

If you prefer MRAD adjustments, you’ll love that this scope comes with .2 MRAD settings on the knobs. The settings are also very low profile so they won’t interfere with your shot. 

Parallax & Magnification

With a 1-8x zoom range, you should be able to maximize your precision at longer distances. Attaching this scope to a tactical rifle like an AR-10 or AR-15 means you’ll maintain accuracy for the max range of the gun. 

Mounting & Rings

A 34mm tube means you need slightly larger mounting rings to attach this scope to your rifle. 

My Thoughts

lens view of eye relief and eye box of Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24 showing reticle

The Nightforce ATACR stood out to me. It’s versatile. 

The 1-8x magnification is key… it handles close and medium-range shooting like a charm. 

The 24mm objective lens helps a lot, I found it to really boost visibility in dim light.

The multi-coated ED glass is a hero feature. It gives you clear, sharp images. 

zoomed in view of Nightforce ATACR 1-8×24

High resolution and color contrast are the takeaways. 

Not to mention… 

The rugged 34mm tube stands up to tough use. It’s built to last.

The 0.1 Mil-Radian click adjustments are the real deal. They give this scope its top-notch accuracy. 

Most scopes on this list are giving you ½ or ¼ MOA clicks for comparison. 

Scope reticle with BDC reticle

Many shooters and hunters vouch for this, and with my 50 years of firearm experience, I do too. 

To sum up, the ATACR 1-8×24 is the best of the best, top quality at a high price. 

Is It Worth It?

As with the Vortex Razor, if you can afford something like this, you may appreciate its durability and attention to detail. 

However, if you’re just shooting targets on the gun range, I suggest saving money and investing more in your rifle.

LPVO Comparison table

NameZoomEye ReliefReticle
Primary Arms SLx1-6x3.3 – 3.5”ACSS
Monstrum Alpha Series1-4x4 – 4.5”MOA
Vortex Strike Eagle1-8x3.5”AR-BDC3
Monstrum G31-6x4 – 4.5”Custom Type-C
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 1-6x3.8”VMR-2 MOA/MRAD
Vortex Razor HD Gen 3 1-10x3.6”EBR-9 MOA/MRAD
Nightforce ATACR1-8x3.74”FC-DM/DMx

What is LPVO (Low Power Variable Optic)?

A hand making windage and elevation adjustments

As we mentioned, LPVO stands for low-power variable optic, and it refers to any rifle scope with a magnification range starting at 1x. A low-powered variable optic scope is much more versatile than a red dot sight, but you still get the speed and efficiency when engaged in close-quarters combat (CQC). 

The average magnification range of low-power variable optics is 1-6x, but some models may go up to 8x and 10x, while others may only magnify up to 4x. When looking for the best LPVO scope, you want as much magnification as is necessary. 

The eye relief refers to the distance between the rear lens of the scope and your eyeball. LPVO scopes generally have a relatively short eye relief, but it’s much easier to master than a red dot sight. (Reference 1: LPVO Optics)

Matters of Preference

Rifle scope on a scope mount

What you think is the right LPVO won’t be the same for everyone. For example, in the case of magnification, having 1-6x scope may be the best for you because of its versatility, but for someone else, perhaps a 1-4x is all they need as they’ll be doing more close-range shooting and it’s perfect for the budget.

The best reticle plane to choose is also down to preference. You might want something with a first focal plane, while someone else may prefer a second focal plane. 

If you don’t know what this is, essentially, a first focal plane reticle changes shape based on the amount of magnification. A second focal plane scope has a reticle that remains the same size at all distances. Many shooters prefer this option because you don’t have to adjust your shooting strategy for longer shots.

Finally, the reticle design plays a huge part in whether you’ll enjoy a scope. The most common reticle designs include: 

  • Standard 
  • Red Dot 
  • Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) 
  • German Reticle
  • Duplex Reticle 

Matters of Quality

While your preferences will help ensure you get the right LPVO for your needs, you also have to pay attention to elements of quality. These pieces can include: 

  • Glass Coating – Generally, the better the coating, the easier it is to shoot on sunny days or long distances. 
  • Adjustment Settings – Make sure to buy a low-power variable optic with high-quality adjustment settings to make this process easier. The two types of settings are mil-rad and MOA. 

Types of LPVOs

One component you’ll have to consider when comparing the best LPVO scopes is the type of focal plane. Both options have pros and cons, so let’s break them down more in-depth. 

First Focal Plane

A first focal plane reticle changes in size depending on how far you’re zooming in and out with the scope. Typically, experienced shooters like FFP rifle scopes because the target dot doesn’t get in the way. 

Second Focal Plane

A second focal plane scope has a reticle that doesn’t change sizes while zooming. This way, the dot stays in place as you magnify the image and vice versa. 

The Most Significant Features in the Best LPVO Scope

Choosing a low-power variable optic is relatively easy when you know which features to pay attention to and how they affect your shot.

Eye Box

The eye box is the area in the line of sight where you can see the picture in full. If you’re too far from the scope, you’ll have a small eye box with lots of black space around the image.

Reticle Design

Bullet drop compensator reticle with very minimal side distortion

The most common reticle designs are BDC, Mil-rad, German, and standard. Each design has advantages and disadvantages, so you have to consider how you’ll be using your rifle scope. 

Glass Quality

The glass inside your rifle scope matters a lot for a few reasons. First, it needs to withstand fogging and other environmental issues. Second, it has to be crack-resistant in case of bumps and drops. Finally, high-quality glass offers better image clarity and resolution. 

Magnification Range

Typically, you only need your scope to have a 1-6x variable zoom. However, if you like to shoot at longer distances, you might want to upgrade to a 1-8x or 1-10x model instead. For those who plan on close-quarter shooting, a 1-4x scope is more than sufficient. (Reference 2: Rifle Scope)

Eye Relief

LPVO scopes are often deployed for combat situations where soldiers need to act quickly when taking their shots. So, a shorter eye relief ensures you can pinpoint your target immediately. 

Durability

Overall, you want a rifle scope that’s durable enough to be deployed in all kinds of situations. Otherwise, you’ll need to replace your scope regularly, which can get expensive fast. 

Light Transmission

Light transmission refers to how much light enters the scope, allowing you to see everything within the field of view. The best LPVO scopes have excellent light transmission that works in low-light conditions, as well as bright, sunny days. 

Image Clarity

If you don’t have a clear image when looking through your scope, you’ll never hit your target accurately. The best scopes will have excellent contrast that enables you to see depth easily. 

Field of View

A scope’s field of view refers to how much you can see when looking through the eyepiece. A wide field of view allows you to move around faster, but it can be harder to spot a target if there’s a lot of background movement.

Mounts

Picatinny rail on a white background

Some rifles come with a Picatinny rail while others have more unique mounting systems. Make sure your scope is compatible with your rifle mounting system. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter how good it is because you won’t be able to use it. 

Price

As you’ve seen, the price of LPVO scopes can range from a couple hundred bucks to several thousand dollars. However, don’t assume you have to buy a high-end scope to get the job done.

My Personal Notes and Findings

After looking through so many rifle scope options, many of the features and benefits start to blend together. However, when it comes to an LPVO scope, here are some notes I’ve discovered in my research: 

  • Know Your Goals – Don’t just go out and buy a rifle scope because you think it’ll be cool. Instead, figure out what you’re trying to do with your gun and get a scope that fits that need. 
  • Higher Price Doesn’t Always Mean “Better” – As far as glass quality and durability go, high-end scopes tend to be better than cheaper models. However, a good rifle scope doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars.

If you’re looking for more reading specially for LVPOs with a maximum power of 6x, see our full article on the best 1-6x scope on the market today.

A Bit On The Author & Barrett Rifles

The author of this article, L.P. Brezny is a industry recognized professional who is regularly asked to speak at conferences and write for respected industry leading firearms publishers around the world.

For more, see his published works and his full bio below.

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Our Top Pick – Primary Arms SLx 1-6x24mm SFP Rifle

Primary arms rifle scope with second focal plane reticle

References

  1. Vortex Nation, Is an LPVO right for you? Retrieved from https://vortexoptics.com/blog/is-an-lpvo-right-for-you.html
  2. Team Bushnell A breakdown of the relationship between rifle scope magnification vs distance. Retrieved from https://www.bushnell.com/through-the-lens/bu-blog-a-breakdown-of-the-relationship-between-rifle-scope-magnification-vs-distance.html

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