Most people are obsessed with long-range shooting. However, you’ll be surprised at the number of shooters perfecting their skills for short-range shooting.
Just like long-range shooting, short-range shooting requires precision. This requires low-powered variable optics (LPVOs) in the range of 1-4x. The optics work pretty well for 5 to 500 ranges.
What’s more, 1-4x scopes are pretty versatile and a lot easier to install. They work on a wide range of devices giving shooters reliability. The scopes are pretty efficient and work the same as red dot sights.
But what are the best 1-4x scopes? For a new shooter, choosing the best can be challenging. How do you go about choosing an excellent 1-4x scope?
Join me as I dig deep into the 1-4x scopes and how they compare with a red dot.
- What is a 1-4X scope?
- Best 1-4x Scopes – Our Recommendation
- How to choose the 1-4x Scope
- What Distance Is a 1-4x Scope Good For?
- 1-4x Scope or Red Dot Comparison: Which one is better?
What is a 1-4X scope?
A 1-4X scope is a scope with a magnification range of 1-4. It’s a scope that moves from zero magnification to times 4 power.
At zero, the object, as seen through the scope, will be the same size. At 4X, the object will be four times the original size.
Low magnification scopes in the range of 1-4X are considered low power variable optics, LPVOs.
The scopes are becoming popular as shooters learn to shoot from zero or a red dot sight to up to 200 yards on the same rifle and scope. The scopes in this range are ideal for short-range shooting and mid-range shooting.
Best 1-4x Scopes – Our Recommendation
1. Bushnell Optics, Drop Zone Reticle Riflescope
With a 30mm tube, the Bushnell makes a great choice LPVO for short range shooting. It’s a quality scope at affordable prices for shooters on a budget. It is a unique design scope specifically designed for the AR-15 rifles.
The scope works best with a 16-inch barrel carbine model and a 223 caliber round. It is a 1-4X24mm scope with a drop zone reticle ideal for short range shooting.
It’s a suitable reticle that compensates for bullet drop. MOA adjustments are also easy and fast due to turrets. Once dialed, turrets are usually reset to zero. It’s a simple reticle that does not block vision.
Overall, this is an attractive low-price scope to consider buying right away. It features a fast-focus eyepiece saving you time and energy.
2. Burris MTAC 1-4×24 Illuminated Scope
This is one of the best 1-4X scope with the highest quality material construction. It’s a top-notch scope with with a 30mm tube and two reticle options.
The scope is uniquely designed for tactical operations. Burris features a single-piece aircraft grade-aluminum material construction for durability. Shooters are assured of extra precision and durability.
Additionally, the reticle choices are the ballistic AR reticle and the Ballistic CQ reticle. The Ar reticle is a more traditional reticle while the CQ is an illuminated reticle.
Overall, Burris is a versatile design scope that fits almost all rifles. You also get the best lifetime warranty for confidence buying.
3. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4X scope
The Vortex Optics II is a more versatile scope suitable for competition and tactical shooting. Its a scope that boasts one of the best illumination making it a popular choice for hunters.
You can easily adjust the magnification from a true zero to 4X. The construction is also rugged and solid providing for durability. This is a waterproof and shockproof scope with an anodized and matte finish.
In addition, the scope is fog proof and can withstand fog conditions. This is a single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum scope with a 0-sealed ring. The scope features a bright glass etched reticle for comfortable use in poor lighting conditions.
The V-plex format reticle combines both a red dot and crosshair. It features an inside red dot and outside crosshair for added accuracy.
Overall, the scope is pretty easy to adjust with capped reset turrets. Lens are also fully multi-coated for bright and clear views.
5. Trijicon Accu Power RS24
The Trijicon is a classic line of LPVOs and by far one of the best picks. It’s a highly recommended model with pretty exciting features.
First, the scope features a solid construction with aircraft-grade aluminum construction. It looks rugged and can withstand falls and bumps. This is testament of all Trijicon products.
Additionally, the scope features a sleek and lightweight design. It’s a perfect choice for short rifles and carbines.
The reticle is colored and provides for faster target acquisition. A further 3.5 eye relief makes the scope comfortable and safe to use. There are 11 brightness settings with green and red reticle colors.
Overall, this is a true zero to 4X reticle to consider buying for short-range shooting.
6. Barska IR Hunting Scope
The Barka is by far the cheapest LPVOs on the list and a decent choice when on a strict budget. It’s a perfect scope for AR-15 rifles and 22 LR rifles. Despite the low pricing, the Barska competes with some of the top-notch low power scopes.
First, the scope is quite easy to mount without any mounting rings. This is a single-piece construction scope with a standard Picatinny rail system. You can effortlessly fix it on any rifle.
It also features a Mil-Dot reticle etched into glass and illuminates for red and green. It is a suitable reticle style for precise shooting. Furthermore, the unique reticle style compensates for height and windage.
Overall, this is a shockproof, waterproof and fog proof scope to order right away.
7. Nikon Black Force 1000
The Nikon Black Force is another decent low power variable scope with faster target acquisition. It is a scope widely used in competitions due to faster target acquisition.
This is a solid design scope with military coatings and a low light dispersion glass. You can use it without glare. The scope works perfect and delivers a bright and clear target image.
What’s more, the scope is quite versatile and offers a generous 3.8 to 4.1 eye relief. It’s one of the few scopes you can get for competition use at a decent price.
The accuracy is also high with crosshairs for windage compensation. Elevation adjustments are also easier due to low profile capped turrets.
Overall, this is a sturdy aluminum piece scope that can withstand falls and knocks. It’s easy to mount and use with different rifles.
How to choose the 1-4x Scope
1-4x scopes are low to mid-range scopes working best for 5 to 500 yards shooting. The scopes are quite popular in shooting competitions and short-range hunting.
They are quite versatile scopes that offer users flexibility and ease of use. Choosing a suitable 1-4x scope is never easy due to the myriad of choices on the market. There are hundreds of models to compare.
For a consumer, a decision on the right pick is time-consuming. So, how do you narrow your choices and pick the best? To help make the decision, let’s see the factors to consider.
These are crucial features that a good 1-4x scope must have. Once you narrow down your choices based on the factors, you can make a final choice based on your personal preferences.
Below are the important factors to consider when buying a 1-4x scope.
Scope construction is crucial and determines the scope’s durability and longevity. Depending on the scope of the application, construction is crucial.
Avid shooters in rough terrains require scopes with solid and tough construction. For competition purposes, scope construction is not a big issue.
Make sure you consider scopes with high-quality aluminum construction. If shooting in foggy conditions, make sure the scope is weatherproof and can withstand some fog.
Secondly, make sure the scope is shockproof. Can the scope withstand a few falls and bumps? This feature is important when using heavier caliber weapons. You can choose a solid scope that can withstand recoil forces.
Quality of the Lens
Secondly, you want to make sure the lens is of the highest quality. The best 1-4X scopes should feature fully multi-coated optics. Such optics allow for low dispersion and can support shooting in different lighting conditions.
Lens quality is crucial in determining target clarity. Crisp and clear images are everything if you want to shoot accurately. The best quality lens ensures excellent light transmission.
Make sure you learn how the different lenses will cope under different light conditions. When checking lens quality, make sure you check the lens diameter.
For a 1-4x scope, the common lens diameter is 24mm.
Reticle style and quality
The reticle is another crucial factor to consider. It can break or make the quality of a 1-4X scope. Scopes can have either the first focal plane (FFP) or the second focal plane (SFP).
Both reticles are pretty okay, but you cannot find the FFP on most low-powered variable optics. On the first focal plane, the reticle shrinks and grows in proportion to the target. This doesn’t make much sense for a 1-4X scope.
Generally, there are different types of reticles for the different 1-4X scopes. Some of the common reticles include the glass etched, Mil-Dots, BDC (Bullet Drop Calculation), Duplex, and German ones.
The best reticle depends on what really works for you. They are all designed differently and work to suit a specific application. You just need to know what works for your rifle and application.
For a newbie, visiting the local gun store and talking to an expert makes sense. Some might even allow you to test a few reticles giving you a feel of what works for you.
German-style reticles are among the easiest to use and highly recommended for beginners. For example, the Duplex reticle is considered the best for hunting.
The BDC and Mil-Dot reticles are ideal for long-range shooting. While reticle type is downplayed, make sure you take time and choose a reticle that best works for you.
Illuminated or non-illuminated
Still, under the reticle, you need to decide whether to choose an illuminated one or a non-illuminated one. There are always advantages and disadvantages of illuminated and non-illuminated reticles.
Illuminated reticles are the best and can work for day and night use. However, if you’re shooting during the day, then a non-illuminated reticle works just fine.
Illuminated reticles are quite popular despite the higher pricing. The prices of illuminated are slowly coming down as the reticles become popular.
If you shoot at different hours during the day, then consider an illuminated reticle. It’s versatile and allows you to shoot at dawn, midday, dusk, and other different hours.
You don’t want to order scope and end up returning it because it’s not compatible with your rifle. Scope compatibility is another crucial factor to consider before making any purchase.
The scope must properly mount on the rifle; otherwise, there is no need to use it. Does the scope come with its own mounting rings, or do you buy them separately?
Most important is having a scope that is compatible with your rifle. The good thing is that most 1-4X scopes will fit the 15-ar rifle perfectly. But it’s always good to check whether the rifle rails fit with the scopes.
Eye relief is also an important thing to consider when buying a 1-4X scope. Most shooters prefer a long eye relief for safety and comfort. For most 1-4X scopes, the ideal eye relief is about 4 inches.
For military-grade shooting, a shorter eye relief for 1-4X is recommended. Eye relief can also be affected by the tube diameter. However, the difference is always small and negligible.
Now that you’ve narrowed down a wide range of features, it’s pretty important to move a step closer and look at extra features. These are features that add more functionality to your scope.
First, check and ensure you have a true 1X scope. Does the scope adjust and go all the way down to 1X? The ideal 1-4X scope should also feature a 24mm lens width, a fully multi-coated lens, and be able to work under different conditions.
The next extra feature to check is the brightness settings. Does the scope support multiple brightness settings? A suitable 1-4X scope should feature multiple adjustable brightness settings. Consider models with up to 12 different brightness settings.
Under construction, make sure the scope is shockproof. The tube can be made of aluminum or steel. But in the end, you want to make sure the construction is solid and can withstand a few falls.
Also, check the reticle and ensure it’s what you want. Is it illuminated or non-illuminated? What about the reticle? Is it a duplex, a BDC? Choose a reticle that works for your application.
Overall, you need to check the various extra features, especially when paying a premium price.
Lastly, you need to consider the scope prices and choose according. Price is last on the list but does play a big role in the type of 1-4X scope you buy. Are you limited on the budget? If yes, then you might have to compromise on some features.
Aircraft-grade aluminum scopes with fully multi-coated lenses will tend to cost more. When considering the price, make sure you check the features and see if they match up to the price.
You can overlook a few features that are not important if you’re on a small budget.
What Distance Is a 1-4x Scope Good For?
The ideal distance for a 1-4x scope depends on a variety of factors. For example, a trained sniper can shoot effectively at much longer distances than a novice. The size of the target is also crucial in determining the good scope distance.
However, a general rule that seems to work is that if you can hit a target at 50 yards without any magnification, then you need 2x for 100 yards and 4x for 200 yards.
It’s a simple rule you can use to find the good distance for a 1-4x scope. At what range can you hit an average size target without magnification? Multiply the range with an increment of the magnification.
Having said that, a 1-4x scope can shoot precisely from 5-200 yards and even longer, depending on the user and target size. If you’re hitting a tiny 5-inch object, you need higher magnification as opposed to hitting a big game at the same distance.
Another general rule is that the maximum you can shoot for a 1-4x scope is 200 yards with a 5 MOA adjustment. However, a lot of things come into consideration. In some instances, you might have to adjust to fully 4X just to shoot at 100 yards.
Some experienced snipers can adjust the same 4X and shoot even at 500 yards.
The type of rifle you have also played a key role. Make sure you test your rifle at the 4X magnification before deciding a purchase the 1-4x scope. You just want to have a feel of the rifle and check whether it will work with the scope.
1-4x Scope or Red Dot Comparison: Which one is better?
There are always lots of options for short-range shooting when deciding on optics. Most people are never sure whether to choose a red dot or a 1-4X scope.
So, which one is better? A 1-4X scope or a red dot sight?
There is no better or worse between these two. The better choice comes down t the intended rifle use. You need to ask yourself a few questions when deciding between these two optics.
Will, you be shooting while seated or standing? Will the target be in motion? What about range?
Before deciding on the best for what application, let’s take a closer look at the two optics.
Red dot sight
A red dot sight is a magnifying reflector for firearms that gives shooters a point of aim with a red dot illumination. It’s an optic designed for close-range shooting.
When the red dot is on target, then you’re zeroed in to shoot. Overall a red dot is lightweight and allows for faster target acquisition.
A 1-4x scope
A 1-4X scope, on the other hand, is a magnifier that goes from zero magnification to 4. It’s pretty lightweight and easy to install and use.
The ability to go from zero to 4 magnification puts the scope on the same level as a red dot sight or iron sight.
The main argument when deciding between a 1-4X scope and a red dot is speed and accuracy. Both optics are pretty fast to zero in and shoot.
A 1-4X scope can easily take the red dot spot on the rifle, but one has to lose out on the field of view. Scopes tend to have a limited field of view as opposed to red dots.
Secondly, scopes take a little more to align, and one must account for eye relief. This is not something you have to consider for a red dot sight. As a result, scopes do require some extra practice before you can shoot accurately as red dots.
Practice is never a big issue, and for professionals, this factor does not make for any big change. With practice and regular use, LPVOs can be as fast as red dots.
Overall, the best between a red dot and scope comes down to application and personal preference. Some people are just better with scopes, while others are better with the red dot sight.
For short ranges, the 1-4 X scope is a great alternative to the red dot sight and fixed power scope. These scopes are pretty versatile, easy to use, and offer shooters comfortable shooting at short ranges.
For carbines and semi-automatic rifles, nothing beats a short-range 1-4X scope. The scopes work perfectly for zero to 500 yards. Th scopes also offer comfortable eye relief in the range of 3 to 4.5 inches.
You have no excuse not to get a 1-4X scope. Most are affordable and weigh pretty light. If you’re an avid shooter at short ranges, then consider getting a 1-4X scope right away.
Share your experiences with a 1-4X scope below. We are looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences.
Travis Mike is a firearm enthusiast and author passionate about all things guns. With 10 years of experience in the industry, Travis Mike has gained a wealth of knowledge on the subject. He is skilled in gunsmithing and tactical training. In addition to professional experience, Travis Mike is an avid hunter and shooter, regularly participating in local shooting ranges and hunting trips.