There are a variety of shooting applications that a 1-4X variable powered scope can be a perfect match. A large number of tactical rifle users enjoy having a variable powered scope rather than using more open or CQB sights. A lot of hunters also prefer a 1-4X powered scope in the field rather than a high powered scope, especially when they are often in more wooded and denser areas.
Though it is a niche field, a quality 1-4X scope, in tactical or hunting situations can be extremely useful when used in the correct settings and might be an option you should take a closer look at.
In this article, we will take a look at four different 1-4X scopes and discuss the characteristics that landed them on our list. We will also briefly discuss some of the features and components of these scopes that you should pay attention to when searching and doing research on your own.
1-4X Scopes Buyer’s Guide
- Reticle: The reticle is such a critical part of the scope that always seems to gain less attention than more outward characteristics, lens quality, and magnification. While all of these aspects are critical, the reticle also plays just as important role in precision and accurate shooting.
The style of reticle that is going to serve you the best is going to depend on the shooting you have in mind. One of the first options that are available is illuminated reticles. These are great for short range in tactical situations that allow you to get on targets quickly.
Another option is the design of the reticle. The two more prominent designs are a simple duplex and a BDC (bullet drop compensation). For most hunting applications for a 1-4X scope, a duplex reticle with tapered lines are very popular as they do not feel cluttered, are easy to use, and great for shots where a 1-4X magnification is needed. A BDC reticle might be an option tactical shooters, or even hunters are interested in if they are shooting calibers with more pronounced bullet drop characteristics. There are even more options than the more popular ones, but what all have in common is a clear and crisp reticle that draws your line of vision center quickly.
- Lens Quality: Whether you are interested in tactical or hunting applications, having quality glass is paramount for a scope. Lenses should be made from fine grain glass and be treated to shed water efficiently, reduce glare, and increase light transmission. With these qualities, you are not going to find yourself in an environment where you shouldn’t have a clear image of the field, other than complete darkness of course.
- Magnification: Obviously, this is an article about 1-4X variable powered scopes, so that makes it a little easier when deciding on the type of magnification you are interested in. Still, it’s important to think about how well the scope transitions between magnification. Especially when used on more tactical firearms, it is critical that the scope can transition between the magnification powers without having to sit and adjust the focus to properly utilize the scope.
- Eye Relief and Eye Box: The eye relief is important for both tactical and hunting shooting applications. The eye box might be more critical for tactical situations where you are going to need to pull off shots quickly without the time to properly line up every single shot. For hunting, you can get away with a tighter eye box in most shooting situations where you have to time to sit and line up a shot. Regardless, a larger eye box is always preferable.
For eye relief, both tactical shooters and hunters are going to want to see a few inches in their scopes. Especially those using rifles chambered for high caliber, high power rifles.
The Best 1-4X Scopes
Following the criteria outlined above, the following section will provide a selection of 1-4x scopes that are certainly worth their money.
As we mentioned in the introduction, a lot of tactical shooters, including AR platforms, like to use a 1-4X scope. One of the most used rounds for these types of rifles are the 5.56 calibers, and this scope is tailor made for those chambered rifles.
This scope from Bushnell is made from quality aluminum and has been anodized, gas purged, and sealed tightly to make it a very durable and resistant scope to the elements and shock. All these qualities are most needed for tactical firearms.
The objective lens is 24mm in diameter, and with the coated optics you get clear images and fantastic light transmission making this a scope you can be confident with in low light situations.
The BDC ballistic reticle is calibrated for 55-62 grain 223/5.56 rounds with markings to reach out to 500 yards. This is the component that caught our attention and makes it a great choice for a lot of tactical rifles.
While this is not a true 1X, it is extremely close, and when positioned correctly you can use this scope in two eyes open shooting applications. The only issue that you might have with this concept is the small eye box. It can make it difficult in some shooting positions to get a full image of the field. When you do get an image, this scope has a fantastic field of view ranging from 112-37ft at 100 yards making it a great option for a variable powered scope that can be used in close quarters shooting.
This scope is incredibly easy to mount as well as sight in with the tactical windage and elevation turrets. These turrets can also be adjusted easily in the field, and with .1mil click values, you have incredibly fine and precise adjustment control. This scope also does well with holding the zero setting through numerous trips in the field and with hundreds of rounds being sent downrange. It will be hard to find a more accurate and precise scope. When zeroed in, you can group shots with no problem out to 250yards.
The scope is compact and gives you some space on the rail for mounting options and the 3.5” eye relief also aids in mounting positions for comfortable shooting. It is a little heavy at 16.9oz, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue with throwing off the balance of causing fatigue.
- .223 rated reticle
- Quality construction
- Water, fog, and shock resistant
- Great image quality
- Low light performance
- Close to 1X application
- Good FOV
- Easy to adjust and zero
- Tight eye box
- 30 millimeter tube dia
- Drop zone reticle; Field of view (feet at 100 yard) 90 feet at 1X to 23 feet at 4X
- Fully multicoated optics
This 1-4X20mm scope is perfect for high caliber and magnum rounds with its rugged aluminum and anodized body. It’s far more versatile than just for high-powered rounds and can be extremely effective when mounted to a .22lr or used as an AR15 scope. The scope is also purged and sealed for fog and water resistance. Another excellent feature of this scope is how compact and lightweight it is. It can make a world of difference when going on extended hikes in the wilderness.
Leupold offers some of the best glass available in the world, and you will quickly notice the difference if you have used cheaper scopes in the past. The image clarity is unrivaled throughout the magnification range, and even with the small objective lens, you still get a tremendous amount of light transmission which greatly helps this scope’s ability to perform in low light situations, a huge plus for hunters.
What makes this, in our opinion, one of the best 1-4X scopes for hunting purposes is the simple, but effective duplex reticle. It’s excellent line tapering, and beautifully clear optics draws your line of sight right down the middle of the image and is easy to use in any light setting, besides total darkness of course. Some tactical shooters might want a little more markings for wind and elevation adjustments, but this duplex reticle is great for up to 150-yard shots.
The VX-2 1-4X scope is one on of the easiest scopes on this list to sight in, and you will quickly find that this scope is highly accurate and will group shots consistently. More important than a scope being accurate at the range sighting it in, is that this scope is going to hold its zero in the field. You can be confident when taking a shot that this scope is going to put the bullet where you intend it to go.
This scope does not function well as a true 1X scope. For some of you this might be a big problem, but for hunters looking for a low powered variable for hunting purposes, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Though it doesn’t function as a true 1X scope the incredible eye box and eye relief still makes it a viable option for more close range shooting.
- Compact and rugged
- Tremendous light transmission
- Great eye box and eye relief
- Very accurate
- Holds zero
- Simple, clear, and effective reticle
- Smaller field of view at highest magnification
A lot of tactical shooters and even hunters in some scenarios prefer an illuminated reticle. The Burris MTAC 1-4X24 riflescope provides the option for an illuminated dot that is centered in the reticle.
This is a heavy duty 1-4X rifle scope that is built to take some abuse and stand up to the elements. This design also makes it great for holding zero when used with high rifles firing high caliber and magnum rounds. Though heavy duty, it doesn’t necessarily feel bulky or unwieldy when mounted to the top of your firearm. While it takes up most of your railing, it mounts easily and is extremely easy to zero in on the range.
The lenses on the scope are fully multicoated and provide a crisp and clear image that are high resolution. We also think the fast focus eyepiece will be a favorite feature for tactical shooters and hunters alike. The scope also has superb light transmitting properties and is a great scope for low light shooting scenarios.
Now, the biggest feature of this scope that will attract a lot of attention is the illuminated reticle. The reticle can be switched from on and off and for close range combat is a tremendous advantage. The only issue with the illuminated scope is that the dot is a little larger than some precision shooters would like. Again, at close quarters it is not a huge issue, but for precise shooting at longer ranges, it becomes difficult. You can always turn off the illuminated reticle in these scenarios, but it defeats the purpose of having an illuminated scope.
This scope offers tremendous field of view that ranges from 100 to 32ft at 100 yards. This large a field of view provides excellent use at closer range shooting and still provides enough of an image where you can quickly find a target even at the 4X magnification which can be important for hunting scenarios.
This is not quite a true 1X scope at the lowest setting, but it is extremely close and be used with two eyes open shooting in tactical situations. The great eye relief, 3.5-4”, and the wide eye box makes this a great tactical scope as well as hunting scope and provides quite a bit of versatility in shooting positions.
While this is an extremely heavy duty scope that is going to stand up to heavy recoil from powerful rounds, but the drawback is that it is a slightly heavier scope at 17oz and it takes up a lot of room on your rail.
- Very rugged and durable
- Holds zero very well
- Quality glass and high-resolution images
- Excellent FOV
- Close to 1X application
- Great eye relief
- Slightly heavy
- Maybe a little too long for tactical rifles
- Illuminated reticle too large for precision
- Covered under warranty for life
- Made using the highest quality materials
- Tested for complete quality and reliability
If you’re not willing to spend a larger amount of cash on your 1-4X scope, but still want a piece of equipment that is going to perform well consistently, then the Primary Arms 1-4X Illuminated Scope might be one of the best options available.
The scope is purged and sealed for fog and water resistant qualities needed in a scope that is going to be in the field in less than ideal conditions. This is not a compact scope and is a little heavy, so if you’re planning on adding more accessories to your rail or tactical firearm, in general, you need to think about the amount of weight and how it will impact balance and fatigue in the field.
With the lens quality, coating, and the 24mm objective lens you get fantastic image quality with this scope and the fast focus eyepiece brings images into focus quickly when switching through the various magnification settings. The low light performance is adequate but not near as efficient as other scopes on our list.
The reticle is a simple crosshair with the option for an illuminated dot at the intersection of the crosshairs. We like the illuminated dot and think it aids in daytime shooting and does not wash out or blur throughout the magnification range.
This scope has tremendous eye relief at 3.5-4.9″ and makes it a great choice for hunters with high powered rounds who would like to avoid scope eye. This is a great feature for tactical shooters as well, but the small eye box might make use of this scope in those shooting scenarios difficult to maneuver with.
This scope doesn’t have a whole lot of drawbacks, but there are a few features that you should consider when buying the scope that might pose some minor issues in the field. The first is the poor field of view. It ranges from 23 to 90’. When compared to other scopes on this list, it is pretty low, but it doesn’t make it unusable in the field.
While the scope is easy to set in and we like the sensitivity of the windage and elevation adjustments, this scope tends to lose its zero when shot with powerful calibers. That could be a major concern if you are a fan of these powerful calibers. With that said, this scope has tremendous accuracy and will group shots within a couple of inches at 150 yards.
- Very affordable
- Water and fog proof
- Easy to mount and zero
- Fine windage and elevation adjustments
- Great eye relief
- Clear reticle with option for illumination
- Not the best FOV
- Zero knocked off easily
- SIMPLE DUPLEX DOT RETICLE: The second focal plane design keeps the duplex reticle the same size at any magnification while guiding the user’s eye to the center dot
- PARTIAL RETICLE ILLUMINATION: Powered by a common CR2032 battery, the center dot illuminates red and features 12 brightness settings for use in low-light conditions
- GENEROUS EYE RELIEF: Eye relief ranging from 3.5 inches to 4.9 inches depending on magnification
Conclusion on the best 1-4x Scopes
Before you head off, we always like to pick our favorite scope from the list and summarize its attributes that landed it the title of the best 1-4X scope. While a tough decision, we think the Leupold VX-2 has the edge in a list of four scopes that all would be a good choice to put on your rifle.
One of the main reasons for choosing this scope was it’s ability to be effective on both tactical and more traditional hunting rifles. It is a lighter and compact scope, but extremely durable and weather resistant. It’s easy to zero in on the range, can group shots at 150 yards with no problem, and it’s going to hold zero even on the heaviest hitting of calibers. It’s also got some of the best glass available and provides a sharp and clear image and incredible performance in low light conditions.
The 1-4X scope might only be needed in a small niche of the shooting world, but they can be invaluable in those situations and cover shooting applications no other type of scope can. We hope you take advantage of the four excellent 1-4X scopes that we have listed and reviewed in this article. Happy hunting!
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