Using a rifle scope with variable magnification was not immensely popular when the technology came out. Many hunters just used whatever sights their rifles originally came with. If their chosen rifle came equipped with iron sights, that’s what they use. If they do use scopes, most choose to get the ones with fixed magnification.
It was only recently that the niche market of scopes with variable magnification, particularly the 1-4x scopes, expanded. Some attribute this boom to the popularity of three-gun competitions. These matches required shooters to go through courses and engage targets placed in a variety of positions.
Others believe that the rise of the popularity of scopes with variable magnification was ushered in by hunters. These shooters realized that while their rifles can shoot at targets both near and far, a regular scope hinders them from shooting at a prey standing a shorter distance away. It was apparent that there is a need to be able to change the magnification of the scope as needed.
Why Is It Difficult to Choose a 1-4x Scope?
With the gradual expansion of the market for 1-4x scope, manufacturers of gun accessories realized that there is money to be made there. They started producing said scopes at a fast pace, making it much difficult for buyers to choose.
Besides the dizzying number of options, a buyer also has to choose from the array of features each scope offers. This is why we made this review. We want to help you understand how each feature can improve your shooting. This will hopefully assist you in choosing the best 1-4x scope for your rifle.
What Is a 1-4x Scope?
In the simplest term, a 1-4x scope is a rifle scope that allows you to select the magnification settings depending on your needs. The number 1 stands for the minimum magnification that this rifle scope offers, while the 4 is the highest possible magnification it is capable of.
The 1x means zero magnification. You see the target through the scope as you would see it with your naked eye. The 4x, on the other hand, makes the target appear four times closer than that.
Now, before we go further with our discussion about magnification, let us answer the question that could be on people’s minds: What good is a scope that offers a 1x magnification if it doesn’t magnify? There are three answers to this.
It is important to note that scope magnification is usually rounded off. So, while it might say 1x, it means about 1.4x or lower. This difference depends on the manufacturer and how the user adjusts the scope. You will have to check the scope’s manual to find out what the 1x stands for.
Another thing is, even though the 1x of a variable magnification scope does not magnify, the scope still aligns the crosshairs and the target, allowing you to aim better. You get to line up your rifle for a sure shot at hitting your target.
Finally, any true 1x rifle scope benefits the shooter because it enables him or her to shoot with two eyes open. This allows for quicker shooting. It is akin to using a red dot optic except for this type of scope gives the shooter the advantage of shooting more accurately at medium ranges.
Who Would Use a 1-4x Scope?
After knowing what a 1-4x scope is, it is now time to find out where and when this particular rifle scope will come in handy. It is something that a hunter, competitive shooter, and the average property owner can find useful.
Are you a small game hunter? Whether you are hunting for sport or out of necessity, using a scope will come in handy n landing your prey. You don’t want to graze the animal you are shooting at because it would escape. Using the best 1-4 scope will increase your chance of making the kill shot even from a safe distance.
Competitive and Recreational Shooters
Using a 1-4x scope at a shooting range can help you improve your skills. Whether you are training for competition or for a firearms qualification, having a scope during practice will allow you to feel more confident about your shooting ability. It also trains you to hold your weapon right and aim it with more conviction.
Certain competitive shooting events now allow the use of scopes. The number of shooting competitions, especially in the long-range category, has increased considerably. In this stage, a shooter must engage several targets placed at varying distances on the course. This requires them to shoot in different conditions. Using a scope is not only acceptable, but it has also become the norm.
These days, crime situations seem like a common occurrence. If you want to protect your property and your loved ones, owning a gun is a logical choice. Why would you choose to use a scope? For one, you want to be able to see the field clearly to check if there are any intruders around.
If there are and you see that they intend to do you harm, you want to make sure that you only hit the one that you are aiming at. With a 1-4scope, you will be able to see if there are other people nearby so that you can avoid hitting them accidentally.
How to Choose the Best 1-4x Scope
Just like with buying regular scopes, choosing a scope with variable magnification would depend on what you are going to use it for. If you are going to use your rifle in a competition, you need to find a scope that affords immense mechanical precision and high optical clarity.
On top of that, you want it to have precise tracking turrets. Stay away from options that use standard mildot. You will need this feature when you adjust your scope in-between stages. You also want to look for something that has a grid pattern.
As a bonus, you can also go for scopes that have revolution indicators, zero stop, and illuminated reticles. They are a bonus because you don’t need them during the competition. These extra features can raise the price of the scope, so you don’t have to get them if you are working with a small budget.
If you are planning to run speed courses, look for a scope that has ballistic turrets. This is a raised turret with a removable cap and markings. You adjust this to increase or decrease the bullet’s impact. A ballistic turret is ideal for competitive shooting because it is simpler to use particularly when you are in a high-tension situation.
Now that you have some idea of what features to look for in the best 1-4x scope, let’s look at 8 models that we think should be included in your list of options. The review features the scopes alphabetically.
Top 8 Best 1-4x Scopes
1. Burris 200437
First on our list is the scope that buyers claim to provide the best clarity in its price range. The Burris 200437 offers clear images with minimal edge distortion. You can easily and conveniently make adjustments and the images almost instantly resolve. Naturally, this is a plus when you want to take consecutive shots as quickly as possible.
While the reticle seems busy, owing to a large ring in it, the scope is still a tremendous help when it comes to close-range shooting. The users can easily acquire their targets and shoot precisely. The reticle is also etched. Hunters like using it during long outings because they do not have to worry about batteries. You will still be able to see the lines even if the battery runs out of juice.
If you plan on using this scope on long-range outings, you need to prepare for some adjustments and training The capped turrets, which come with durable metal caps, can take a while to master particularly for precision shooting at ranges exceeding 400 yards. However, once you get used to using the turrets, shooting at a target even 500 yards away would be a breeze.
The Burris 200437 has an illuminated reticle, making it a perfect accessory for use in cloudy or low-light conditions. At its maximum illumination setting, the vision is extra crisp and there is almost zero interference.
- Sighting is quick and easy
- Turrets give out clicks
- There is good eye relief
- Crisp and clear images
- Great for medium-range shooting
- Illuminated and etched reticle
- Is not as lightweight as other models
- Not very precise in long-range shooting
2. Bushnell Optics BTR-1 1-4x24mm Riflescope
While not as popular as other brands, Bushnell ensures that their scope can rival models from top brands in terms of durability. The aluminum alloy case and an anodized finish seals make sure that the elements are kept out. Additionally, the scope’s tube is nitrogen and O-ring sealed to guarantee 100% protection against water, fog, and shock.
It is also rust and scratch-resistant. This makes the Bushnell Optics BTR-1 the perfect companion for your high-recoil rifle. Bushnell manufactured this scope for law enforcement purposes and is designed to withstand serious abuse.
Need to adjust your magnification settings as quickly as possible? This scope comes with a PCL lever. With just a flick of the wrist, the throw down lever enables you to transition from 4x to 1x magnification.
The reticle is illuminated as well and features a red dot. The glowing red marker enables shooters to get on target easily. Once the battery runs out, the red dot becomes a black marker that is still highly visible.
- Perfect for low-light conditions
- Features an illuminated, red dot reticle
- Rust and scratch resistant
- Has a PCL throw-down lever
- Rear glass dislodges after repeated shots
3. Centerpoint Optics 1-4x20mm
A favorite among hunters, the Centerpoint Optics 1-4x is perfect for those looking for a no-frill option that is reasonably priced. This scope provides sufficient illumination, features clear glass, and has a good aim point.
While it is not a heavy-duty rifle scope, the Centerpoint Optics has a quick-aim reticle. This allows shooters to quickly focus on a target without needing to look away. Therefore, the feature is great when you want to keep track of your prey.
The scope gathers light effectively. In fact, it is good enough to use during dusk when there is low light. Its glass is clear and shows very minimal distortion when the magnification is set at 1x.
If you hate the feeling of extra bulk on your rifle, this is the scope to consider. It is extremely lightweight at 1.25 pounds. It is more compact than some of the lighter models as well. Yet, despite its size, the scope can effectively minimize recoil.
Probably its biggest selling point is the price. The Centerpoint Optics 1-4x is half the price of big brand scopes. This combined with its functionality and compact size makes it the perfect rifle accessory for hunters who need to walk around for long distances.
- Has quick-aim reticle
- Compact and lightweight
- Effective light gathering
- Can be used for long-range shooting
- Field of view is narrow
- Eyebox for the 1x magnification is not as good as other brands
4. Monstrum Tactical 1-4×20
The Monstrum Tactical 1-4x is another affordable rifle scope. Given the price, you would be surprised to discover that it is still a good choice, particularly as a tactical firearm accessory. It is made from aircraft-grade aluminum, making the scope extremely lightweight yet surprisingly sturdy.
Its short length of its tube makes the scope extra sturdy The 1-inch tube is highly resistant to fog and water because it is nitrogen sealed. You can drop your rifle in the mud or river and not worry about the integrity of this scope.
Besides its solid construction, what sets the Monstrum Tactical 1-4x apart from the rest is its reticle. It features a range estimation system. This takes out the guesswork in assessing how far your target is. The reticle allows for estimation in 50-yard increments and is accurate up to 500 yards.
The range-finder reticle also boasts of adjustable brightness and variable color options. You can choose if you want it to be red or green. When the battery runs out, it automatically switches to black.
- Features built-in throw lever
- Adjusting magnification is very easy
- Reticle features multiple holdover markers
- Brightness and color of the reticle are adjustable
- Gradation for elevation and windage is coarse
- Mount comes loose easily
5. Primary Arms 1-4×24
Firearms aficionados know Primary Arms as a manufacturer of affordably priced yet well-designed optics. Their 1-4x model is not an exception to this. It is meant to be a basic tactical scope with variable magnification. If you are looking for a scope that is still affordable but feature-packed, this may be the right scope for you.
Just like the Bushnell 1-4x option, durability is the main selling point of this scope. Its tube is typically nitrogen purged, ensuring that fog and water cannot get through its casing. While the design isn’t anything we’d consider groundbreaking, it still does the job at a reasonable price.
This scope offers finger adjustable knobs for elevation and windage. There is no need to bring any special tools to make your adjustments on the field. The eyepiece can also be adjusted with a few twists.
Another factor that sets the Primary Arms scope is its sight picture quality. It is clear even in low-light settings and there is no considerable distortion.
Being a tactical scope, this one has a Duplex Dot reticle. This is extra handy when you are trying to aim at a target over a few hundred yards away. The duplex dot reticle is also combined with several illumination options.
One downside to buying this scope though is the need to buy a separate switch to be able to easily change the magnification range. Although Cat Tail levers are not expensive, it is an additional purchase that might dissuade you from getting this particular scope for your rifle.
- More affordable than other models
- Uses a Duplex Dot illuminated reticle
- Features easy-to use knobs for adjusting windage and elevation
- Requires extra tools for magnification adjustments
- Not compatible with night vision
6. Steiner Model P4X1
If you need a scope with unparalleled sharp images, this could be the best 1-4x scope to buy. The reticle’s design is simple yet works effectively. Even if the battery dies, the scope is still functional. Additionally, numerous buyers commented about being pleased with the eye relief.
This 1-4x model from Steiner boasts of a compact design. However, the small construction does not take away from the scope’s power. While it offers a crisp image at 1x magnification, the accuracy it provides even if the target is over 600 yards away is impressive.
People who bought this scope claim that the reticle can be somewhat distractive but they cannot discount that it makes aiming much easier.
- Offers edge-to-edge image with no distortion
- Great for close-range shooting
- Uses turrets and easy-to-use illumination controls
- Compatible with patrol rifles
- Has shut-down option for the P3TR reticle to avoid battery drain
- Battery cover is hard to remove
- Illumination dial and turret can be hard to adjust
7. TRUGLO TruBrite 30mm
If you want to be able to shoot fast, give the TRUGLO TruBrite a chance. It boasts of true 1x magnification. As mentioned above, this feature enables shooters to make use of the scope’s quick sight picture. They can aim and shoot with two eyes open.
This particular scope offers an immensely wide field of view so you don’t just focus on your target but also the area surrounding it. Thus, it makes for a safer shooting experience.
Its 30mm tube ensures increased brightness, allowing you to use your rifle effectively even in not-ideal conditions. In addition, the lenses are fully coated to ensure maximum contrast and clarity. The coating also protects the glass from scratching and the elements. Thus, this scope is considered a tough accessory.
Many rifle owners complain that while their scope works wonderfully, they still do not leave 5-star reviews because of mounting issues. This is not a problem with the TruBrite as aircraft-grade aluminum is used for its construction. Indeed, this scope is as sturdy as it comes. However, mounting this on your gun can take some know-how. So, if you are considering buying this, make sure that you brush up on how to loosen rail mounts and scope rings.
While it may not seem significant, the flip-up optic guard is a welcome feature. The leaf-spring click adjustments allow shooters to make changes on the scope for good elevation and windage.
- Ideal for fast shooting
- Has a wide field of view
- Offers excellent eye relief
- Features leaf-spring click adjustment
- Knobs easily break
- Yellowing of image after some use
8. Vortex Optics Crossfire
This model may be last on our list because it is arranged alphabetically, but it is first in countless reviews because of its features and quality. It is designed for use with a tactical rifle. Made from anodized, aircraft-grade aluminum, this scope may be the most durable of all the scopes mentioned in this review.
Just like many of the scopes above, the tube is O-ring-sealed and nitrogen purged to make it impervious to water, fog, and dropping. Shooters even use it during extreme weather conditions.
Adjustment of magnification is easy with its oversized turrets. The eyepiece boasts of easy-to-grab focus adjustment features to enable hassle-free changing of magnification. Aiming at a target is not a problem using the Vortex Optics Crossfire II because it not only offers crisp images but also has a red reticle to easily line up your shot.
Speaking of which, this scope makes use of a V-Brite type reticle and a V-Plex system. This means you can use its various illuminating features to adjust to the brightness outside. Vortex designed this scope for use anytime, even at night time.
This is not our first Vortex Viper review so we can assure you that the quality of products from this brand is considerable.
- Lifetime warranty no-questions-asked
- Sturdy construction with high-quality material
- Accurate illumination system
- Resistant to water and fog
- Adjustments can be imprecise
If you are a novice shooter looking to find the best 1-4x rifle scope or an experienced one trying to find a different brand or model, this guide will have an option for you. As soon as you buy the best 1-4x scope, you will realize how much better your shooting experience can be with the aid of this small but powerful accessory.