Best 1-8x Scope – The 5 Top Optics in 2021

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Best 1-8x Scope

Not all scopes are built with super high maximum zoom settings. After all, most hunting activities only require scopes within the 1-8x range. Finding an ideal scope for your rifle often depends on narrowing down your choices and filtering out scopes with magnification levels you’ll never actually use.

That’s why we put this guide together. Below, you’ll find the best 1-8x scopes for rifles or hunters of all types, plus some advice to help you locate the best scope on your first try. Let’s get started


What Range is a 1-8x Scope Good For?

A scope with magnification settings between 1x and 8x is an ideal hunting scope for most expeditions and for hunting most kinds of game. Since average hunting situations usually take place between 300 yards and 500 yards, this scope can cover both of those distances and quite some distance below or above them, as well.

Put simply, a scope with these magnification settings will be ideal for hunting below 1000 yards. While it might be possible to get lucky on a shot approaching 1000 yards, it’ll be difficult if not impossible. Instead, scopes with these zoom levels have the ability to keep your target within your sight picture, since they aren’t zoomed in so far as to make tracking a target difficult.

These scopes offer decent fields of view, especially when paired with excellent lenses. All in all, scopes of this type are ideal for most hunters and can also be used for target practice, although their benefits are somewhat wasted on still targets, which can be hit from further away with higher power scopes.


What to Look for in a 1-8x Scope

While practically every scope that can magnify between 1x and 8x is going to be a decent choice for hunters, the rest of a scope’s features can distinguish it from the others and might let you know if it’ll be a good fit for your rifle. Let’s go over the main things to focus on as you browse, so you can distinguish better scopes from poor ones.

Durability

You should always consider how durable a given 1-8x scope is overall, as this indicates how long it will last and in what conditions it can be used. As an example, scopes that are waterproof or fog proof are great for hunters that have to pursue their prey in inclement weather or in watery conditions. These scopes are usually great value for money.

You should also see if a given scope has any defensive coatings on its lenses. These special coatings will protect the lenses from being scratched or marred from dirt or debris and may even increase a lens’s ability to transmit more like to your eye. All in all, multicoated lenses are far superior to regular lenses. Naturally, the scopes below are durable and have excellent lenses to set them above most other scopes on the market.


Eye Relief

What is eye relief? Basically, it’s the maximum distance at which your eye can rest and still see the entire picture provided by the scope. The farther this distance, the more your eyes are protected from possibly being bruised when a rifle kicks due to recoil.

As you might imagine, rifles that have a lot of recoil must be paired with scopes that have a generous amount of eye relief. You’ll probably want something with 3 to 4 inches or so. Rifles that don’t have a lot of kick can work with smaller amounts of eye relief, however.

There isn’t a single amount of eye relief that’s perfect for every rifleman, so we provided scopes with variable amounts of eye relief. This way, you can choose the scope that’s perfect for the rifle you plan to use it with.


First or Second Focal Plane?

Scopes with 1x-8x zoom and beyond will have reticles positioned on either the first or second focal plane. This describes where the reticle is positioned within the scope tube.

Reticles on the first focal plane will slightly change size as you switch between magnification settings. They’ll become larger as you zoom in and smaller as you zoom out. The advantage of this process is that the holdover or estimation hash marks included on the reticle will stay accurate relative to your target. This can make adjusting for various conditions easier, especially when it comes to hitting distant targets.

Second focal plane reticles do not change size as you swap between zoom levels. This makes it very easy to get used to the reticle, although it does require that you estimate the real effects of windage or elevation since the holdover points are only truly accurate for one magnification setting, which is usually determined in the manual or instructions that come with a given scope.

Overall, FFP or SFP reticles can both be effective under the right circumstances and in the right hands. We provided scopes with both types of reticles below so you can choose which you buy based on your preferences or experience.

If you are a fan of variable scopes, also check our guides on 1-4x optics and 1-6x optics.


The 5 Best 1-8x Scopes


1. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8×24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8x24 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - BDC2 Reticle (MOA)

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Vortex is known to make top-tier scopes for all magnification ranges, and this 1-8x zoom scope showcases their expertise. It features a second focal plane reticle that’s perfect for switching between the variables zoom settings, with 1x being perfect for quick target acquisition in close quarters and 8x being ideal for more distant hunting.

It features high-quality and multicoated lenses that deliver a clear sight picture and offer optimal low light performance. Furthermore, this scope provides you with plenty of eye relief and a fast-focus dial on the eyepiece. This dial enables you to focus sharply on your target in an instant.

A waterproof and fog proof body adds even more value to this scope as a whole.

BDC Reticle

This scope features a detailed BDC reticle that’s been etched onto the glass and which features 11 illumination settings. Not only can you use the bullet drop compensation holdover points to account for gravity’s impact on your next shot, but you can also take shots in low light conditions thanks to the illumination feature. Even better, you can store an extra battery for this feature in the windage cap.

Pros:

  • BDC reticle is effective
  • The reticle can be illuminated
  • Very durable overall
  • Lenses are multi-coated to improve light transmission
  • The eyepiece provides fast focusing

Cons:

  • No included parallax adjustment turret

The Final Verdict

All in all, this scope offers a superb effective range and is a perfect choice for hunters that spend their time in various weather and environmental conditions. The BDC reticle and its illumination capabilities mark this as a perfect complement to any hunter that stalks prey during the dusk or dawn hours, as well.

See the full Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 review.


2. Primary Arms 1-8x24mm SFP Riflescope

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If you want a relatively short to midrange scope, you’d do well to check out Primary Arms’ SFP model here. This scope comes with a 24 mm objective lens and a host of other quality features to make it worth your while.

For instance, it’s both waterproof and fog-resistant, so it’s perfect for taking into the field or for extending hunting trips. It’s also designed to be user friendly since it features capped windage and elevation turrets that audibly click with each adjustment you make.

The scope only weighs about a pound and is made primarily of lightweight but durable aircraft-grade aluminum. Lens caps come with the purchase to further boost its value for money.

Illuminated Reticle

Of particular value is the illuminated reticle that comes with the scope by default. It’s a second focal plane variety but you can choose between three different reticle types: ACSS 5.56, 5.45, or .308. Regardless, each reticle comes with BDC or bullet drop compensating hashmarks on the bottom vertex.

These allow you to compensate for bullet drop at a distance. It’s a feature that’s most useful when combined with the optic’s higher magnification powers, but it’s a great touch no matter what.

But the reticle can also be illuminated in red. You’ll be able to swap between 12 different brightness settings using a dedicated control on the optic’s side. As a result, you can rely on this for both bright daytime and nighttime shooting alike. Add to that a limited lifetime warranty and it’s easy to see why this Primary Arms SFP riflescope is a top choice for those in need of a 1-8x optic.

Pros:

  • Comes with capped windage, elevation, and illumination adjustment turrets
  • Has an illuminated reticle
  • Good eye relief
  • BDC reticle hashmarks included
  • Relatively durable and long-lasting

Cons:

  • Battery life could be a little better
  • No parallax adjuster dials

The Final Verdict

Primary Arms’ SFP riflescope has very few downsides in exchange for high-quality construction and great features overall. It’s a phenomenal choice as a relatively close to midrange optic for a variety of rifles.

This scope can perfectly fit rounds like the .223 Remington.


3. Bushnell 1-8×24 AR Optics Ill BTR-2

Bushnell 1-8x24 AR Optics Ill BTR-2, Black (AR71824I)Check Price on Amazon
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You can’t get much better with relatively short-range scopes than this AR Optics II scope from Bushnell. It features a 24 mm objective lens and fully multicoated lenses that can provide optimal light transmission for any shooting experience.

Even better, the scope comes with a special throwdown lever you can use to customize the scope’s mount between two different heights. This makes it an ideal scope for use with multiple rifles over the course of your hunting career.

Additional benefits also make it worth your while. For instance, the scope comes with windage and elevation adjustment turrets. These offer audible and tactile feedback every time you make an adjustment, so compensating for these variables while you are sighted-in to your target is easy and simple.

BDC Reticle

But you’ll also want to consider this scope thanks to the BDC, or bullet drop compensating, reticle. This means the reticle includes additional vertical holdover points that you can use to estimate for bullet drop at a distance. It’s not as useful as it otherwise might be, considering that the scope only goes up to 8x magnification, but it’s still a nice thing to have overall.

Plus, the reticle can be illuminated to help you pick it out in low light environments. Talk about value!

Pros:

  • Comes with an illuminated BDC reticle – this can help with bullet drop at longer distances or in low light environments
  • Made to withstand inclement weather
  • Can be mounted at two different heights depending on your needs
  • Features tactile and adjustable windage and elevation turrets

Cons:

  • BDC reticle isn’t as valuable as it would be with a longer-range scope

The Final Verdict

This affordable and versatile scope is a great 1-8x optic for regular hunters and target shooters and can work with a variety of firearms due to its two mounting height options.


4. Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28 Riflescope, Red MRAD Crosshair Dot Reticle w/Thumbscrew MountTrijicon VCOG 1-8x28 Riflescope, Red MRAD Crosshair Dot Reticle w/Thumbscrew Mount

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Trijicon makes many of the world’s best rifle scopes, and it has a great 1-8x VCOG model for sale. This optic is a quality piece of equipment for several main reasons, including ease of installation, multiplatform usability, and a special crosshair dot reticle.

For starters, this Variable Combat Optical Gunsight is rugged and versatile, being made of aircraft-grade aluminum to ensure durability without increasing its weight too much. The scope is also designed with exceptional glass lenses to reduce distortion to zero and to boost color transmission and contrast.

The scope is further equipped with a segmented circle MRAD crosshair dot reticle. You’ll be able to use this reticle with a variety of calibers, ammunition weights, barrel lengths, and more. In short, this versatile scope can be used with multiple weapon platforms without having to spend tons of time recalibrating it for accuracy. Naturally, the reticle is set on the first focal plane so it remains accurate at any time to vacation power.

The reticle is also an LED illuminated variety, with 11 different brightness settings to choose from. It is battery-powered, but it should last for a long time to come as each battery has enough power for 633 hours. 

Dedicated Mounting System

Perhaps most importantly, the Trijicon VCOG comes with a dedicated mounting system right off the bat. You can use this to install the scope onto your rifle with a minimum of difficulty, all without having to use tons of hard-to-get tools or enlist the assistance of a gunsmith.

Note that the Trijicon VCOG scope is quite expensive, so this is not a very budget-friendly choice.

Pros: 

  • Has a dedicated mounting system for easy installation
  • Comes with illuminated reticle and 11 different settings
  • Reticle battery life is long
  • Made with durable materials
  • Has excellent lenses and light transmission

Cons: 

  • Significantly more expensive than many other scopes

The Final Verdict

All in all, the Trijicon VCOG Riflescope is an expensive but stellar piece of equipment that provides versatility, ease of use, and effectiveness all in a single package. Its reticle, mounting system, and overall durability should make this a staple scope in your arsenal for years to come. 


5. Athlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 1-8×24 Riflescope – ATSR5 SFP IR BDCAthlon Optics Argos BTR GEN2 1-8x24 Riflescope - ATSR5 SFP IR BDC, Black

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Athlon Optics’ Argos BTR Gen 2 Riflescope is also an excellent choice if you want a well-rounded, versatile 1-8x optic for hunting or property defense purposes. For starters, this sight comes with an illuminated reticle, which promotes excellent visibility during dusk and dawn or any other lowlight location.

Furthermore, the reticle is glass etched; this means that it won’t shudder or shake, even if you use this optic with a high recoil firearm. The reticle is set on the second focal plane, which will keep it the exact same size no matter your magnification power. Whether this is superior to a first focal plane reticle is largely dependent on your preferences.

Regardless, the Gen 2 Scope features multicoated optics that improve light transmission and ensure fantastic clarity, even when shooting at a distance. They are further bolstered by XPL coatings that reduce dust or debris scratches on the lenses.

Naturally, the scope is argon purged and designed for weatherproof functionality. At just 16.1 ounces, the scope is a great choice for hunting in inclement weather or practically any environment.

Capped Turrets

Of particular note are the capped, finger reset and adjustable windage and elevation turrets. These come with zero stop functionality, allowing you to quickly re-zero your windage or elevation turrets instantaneously when necessary.

With these turrets, you’ll be able to further compensate for windage and elevation, marking this optic as a great choice for hunting in any location.

Pros: 

  • Excellent capped turrets
  • Weatherproof functionality
  • Great lenses
  • Glass-etched illuminated reticle

Cons: 

  • Turrets aren’t marked, unfortunately

The Final Verdict

All in all, the Argos BTR Gen 2 Riflescope is an affordable and versatile piece of equipment that hunters would do well to check out, especially if they want something that doesn’t break the bank. With its illuminated reticle, zero resettable windage and elevation turrets, and weatherproofing, this scope can do it all and let you hit targets no matter what your conditions are.


Concluding our 1-8x Scopes Guide

Ultimately, the ideal 1-8x scope for your needs will balance budget, features, and durability. Remember to pick a scope that has a reticle on your ideal plane – first or second – and you’ll enjoy it for a long time to come. Good hunting!

Want a fixed scope? Check our SWFA SS 10×42 review.