Though long-range shooting seems all the rage today in the shooting community, other firearm applications requireentirely different setups.
It is about more realistic scenarios like close quarters, self-defense and hunting fast-moving targets. However, you will need equipment from the opposite side of the spectrum for these situations.
Until recently, the best solution for close-quarters fighting was a red dot sight with an unlimited field of view and almost imperceptible weight. About a decade ago, a trend of new LPVO scopes began to dominate in professional shooting circles and soon gained traction among civilian shooters.
The Low Powered Variable Optic, or, for short, the LPVO or just LPV, is an incredibly versatile type of scope designed for everything from close-quarters personal defense and hunting scenarios to longer-distance target work.
Practically the LPVO scopes bridge the gap between red dots and high-powered riflescopes. An LPVO or a Low power variable optic provides the users with point-and-shoot capability at lower magnification. In contrast, the increased magnification allows the shooter to reach targets roughly 200+ yards away quickly.
The Low Powered Variable Optic has a distinct look with a larger ocular lens and a smaller objective lens ranging from 20 to 30mm.
The most noticeable feature of LVPOs is their magnification range which starts at 1.0x or 1.5x power and offers magnification to a max of 12x.
The specially designed reticles are another LPVOhallmark since they work at close and mid to long ranges.These reticles usually come in the form of inverse horseshoes, circle-dots, or triangle-like designs combined with a bullet drop compensating reticles, BDC. Like a traditional variable optic, the LPVO rifle scopes may use reticles located in a second or first focal plane (SFP or FFP). Usually, the low-power variable optics in 1-4x and 1-6x configurations would work cohesively with the reticle in the SFP. On the other hand, anything above 1-6x often works better as an FFP.
Other attributes to consider are a broader field of vision, the generous eye box and a wider eye-relief window compared to most high-powered, long-range optics and classic scopes.
Finally, as with other rifle scopes, the LPVOs can considerably vary in price range depending on the glass quality and the extra bells and whistles of additional features. The LPVO scopes are priced as affordably as $100 but can also cost more than $2,000.
For this overview, we will start with the more affordable, basic LPVO scopes, then cover some pricier ones, and finally, we will review some of the best LPVOs on the market today.
MONSTRUM G3 1-6 x 24mm FFP RIFLESCOPE
We are starting this overview with one of the best-selling LPVO scopes branded with the Monstrum Tactical logo. As its name says, the Monstrum G3 1-6x is the third generation of the Monstrum G-Series, where all scopes feature the First Focal Plane reticle position and illuminated reticle system.
All the Monstrum Tactical G3 Series scopes are based on a 30mm main tube manufactured from single-piece aircraft-grade 6061 aluminum and protected with a Mil-Std 8625 type III hard anodized finish. The scope housing is sealed, nitrogen-charged for fog proof and water resistance, and can withstand the recoil of heavier calibers.
While the new G3 scope features all internal assemblies composed of solid brass, the straight central tube bears push/pull low-profile windage and elevation turrets. The aggressive and straight knurling on the G3’s adjustments knobs offers a satisfying tactile “click” with click values in 0.5 MOA increments. Instead of the previous electronic touch button mechanism for reticle illumination control, the new G3 model boasts a left-side turret with 11 levels of reticle illumination.
Unlike older models, the G3 Monstrum 1-6×24 rifle scope comes equipped with Optical Quartz glass and fully multi-coated lenses. The lenses are additionally protected with Monster’s proprietary Xeres lens that helps to increase light transmission and prevent scratches on the lens.
The G3-F1624 LPVO rifle scope comes with a simple but appropriate type-C first focal plane reticle. The etched, Custom Type-C version illuminated reticle features a larger hashed circle for close-quarter work but also allows the shooter for fast-range estimation and holdover correction up to 400 yards and over.
With 10.75 inches long body and 20-ounce weight, the Monstrum isn’t the lightest LPV scope on the market but is still a very viable option for AR-style rifles and other carbines.
Vortex 1-6×24 Strike Eagle
Vortex Optics was the first big-name company thatdisrupted the market in 2015 by unveiling the Strike Eagle 1-6x. The 1-6×24 model was the first from the Strike Eagle series, designed as an entry-level series of tactical riflescopes.
The first Strike Eagle scopes were 1-6×24 and 1-8×24 models, and both were made for the AR platform.
Due to the renowned manufacturer, feature-rich optics and generous accessories package, the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 became an extremely popular low-powered variable optic for beginners, recreational use, and some hunting applications.
Today we discuss the newly developed Gen II Strike Eagle scope with manufacturing number SE-1624-2. It comes in a relatively standard LPV scope configuration of a 1-6x magnification range with truly one power and a 24mm objective bell.
Like all second-generation Strike Eagle scopes, the 1-6x24mm features a 30mm diameter main tube built from one piece of 6061-T6 aircraft aluminum. The anodized tube has an anti-reflective finish that prevents scratching and perfectly match any AR-15 rifle.
The scope housing is purged with nitrogen and sealed to prevent the internals from fogging and meet IPX7 waterproofing standards.
The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6×24 scope sports low-cappedstyle turrets that help keep dust and debris away from the precise adjusting mechanism. With 44 MOA of travel available per full turret rotation, both windage and elevation turrets offer maximum adjustment travel of 140 MOA. Like other LPV scopes, the Strike Eagle boasts a rough ½ MOA impact point correction.
The main selling point is the new etched-on-glass AR-BDC3 reticle developed explicitly for the Gen II 1-6x Strike Eagle. This illuminated reticle is located in the second focal plane and powered by an included CR2032 lithium battery. The brightness control is located on the left side of the LPVO and provides 11 levels of reticle illumination.
The BDC3 reticle is designed as an upside-down horseshoe with subtensions for elevation and windage that correspond with all popular .223/5.56mm cartridges allowing users to estimate the distance and shoot at targets to 600 yards.
Although the scope is made in China, the lenses are still impressive for an LPVO as it features extra-low dispersion (XD) glass elements and fully multi-coated lenses.
The scope provides a 3.5″ eye relief, a standard for the LPVO optics and shooters will have a field of view between 19.2 and 116.5 feet at 100 yards.
Finally, along the scope, in this affordable package, you will get a thread-in throw lever, the one CR2032 battery, flip caps and lens cloth.
Primary Arms SLx 1-8x24mm Rifle Scope
The budget LPVO market is reserved for more than just the less-known names since the big brands in the industryalso offer alternatives for cheap LPV scopes. One of themis a US-based brand of optical equipment Primary Arms Optics, a company known for its patented Advanced Combined Sighting System (ACSS) reticle system.
For this review, we chose the 1-8×24 FFP GEN III model from the SLx entry-level line, which blends the Platinum series’ premium features and an affordable price point from the Primary Arms Silver Series.
The SLx 1-8×24 FFP GEN III from Primary Arms Optical offers an expansive magnification range, an eight-time zoom ratio, and a brilliant field of view at all magnification levels.
The wide 1-8x magnification range starts with a true 1x optical zoom perfect for close quarters and ends with a large 8x magnification enabling precise shoots up to 800 yards.
One of the critical features of this SLx optics line LPVO scope is, without a doubt, the ACSS reticle system. As the third generation, this scope offers an advanced reticle located in the first focal plane (FFP).
The ACSS reticle is a small chevron covered by an outer “horseshoe” ring that expands and shrinks as you increase or decreases magnification from 0-800 yds. This first focal plane construction features full red reticle illumination with a battery installed on the left-hand side dial.
This PA LPV scope has typical low-profile capped turrets that offer tactile and audible 1/4 MOA click adjustments.
The Primary Arms 1-8x rifle scope sports a classic size 24mm objective lens and is made of a 30mm diameter aluminum main tube, which is waterproof, shock resistant, and fog resistant.
At 10.75 inches in length, this compact scope weighs just 17.9 ounces making it very lightweight and handy for use on an AR-style rifle.
Athlon Optics Cronus BTR Gen II 1-6 x 24 mm
Athlon Optics is another US-based optics manufacturer whose rifle scopes are produced overseas, in China and Japan facilities. While most Athlon optics are made in China, the Cronus BTR is made in Japan as their premium scope.
The second generation of Cronus BTR LPV scope comes with redesigned and improved features such as UHD Glass for brighter and sharper images and ˝AFMC˝ (Advanced Fully Multi-Coated) lens coatings on inner lenses for increased transmission of light.
The new Cronus 1-6×24 scope also boasts an XPL coating on the exterior lenses for scratch resistance and repelling dirt and oil.
This Athlon Cronus BTR Gen 2 model has a 30mm tube constructed of one-piece hammer forged 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum.
The new Cronus BTR Gen2 1-6×24 UHD has improvedexposed turrets with a locking mechanism. Low-profile turrets are tactile with very positive clicks allowing the shooter 120 MOA of elevation and windage adjustment.
The Athlon Cronus BTR 1-6x rifle scope has a new reticle design called ATSR2 reticle. The second focal plane reticle is specifically designed for 3-gun competitions, close-range hunting and tactical applications. The illuminated reticle has holdover points for bullet drop of heavier 223 Rem/5.56mm NATO rounds.
Although comparable to the Vortex Razor LPVO, this high-end rifle scope from Athlon is approximately one-third cheaper.
Swarovski 1-8×24 Z8i
Swarovski Optiks offers one of the best glass in the industry, and If you are in the market for superior LPVO, look no further than the Swarovski Z8i series. Swarovski Z8i rifle scopes come in several configurations purpose-built for driven hunting, stalking, mountain hunting, and all-around use.
The Swarovski 1-8×24 comes from Swarovski’s flagship scope line, the Z8i and represents excellent LPV optics for anyone who needs a reliable wide-angle scope.
Although based on a slim 30-mm (1.2 in) central tube, the Z8i 1-8×24 enables an exceptional field of view of 127.5 feet at 1x magnification. Along with a complete overview of the rapidly changing situations, the real 1x magnification makes it easy to use both eyes when aiming during close-range engagements.
As the next evolutionary step from a Z6 line, this Tyrolian LPVO offers an impressive 8x zoom and maximum flexibility for all shooting and hunting applications. It translates to the ability of quick shots within a hundred yards or precise shoots at 800 yards in a matter of a fraction of a second.
Besides the 8 times zoom factor, a maximum versatility in all shooting situations undoubtedly is credited to the newlydeveloped illuminated Flex-change 4A-IF reticle. Inspired by the German classic #4 reticle, this switchable, 2nd focal plane reticle allows the user to change from Dot to Circle Dot at the push of a button, enabling the shooter a quicktarget acquisition during close-range hunting.
Already known for outstanding optical imaging performance, the Swarovski outfitted the Z8i 1-8×24 model with a sophisticated reticle illumination system called SWAROLIGHT with incredible 64 levels of intensity.
Among the many highlights, the Swarovski Z8i 1-8x24features capped finger-operated turrets that can be upgraded with the optional high-precision Ballistic Turret Flex (BTF).
The low-profile turrets offer adjustments of 72 MOA for windage and elevation with an impact point correction of 0.36″ MOA at 100 yds per click.
With the incredible popularity of AR/MSR rifles, many owners have begun to see the increasing usability of the LPVO scopes. The optics industry responded by offering a large selection of lower-powered variable scopes with flexibility for close-range defensive work but also for precision shooting at extended ranges.
In this guide, we tried to encompass several price categories of rifle scopes ranging from entry-level optics to high-end LPVO scopes that run over $2,000.
Anyway, the scope choice is on you, your shooting style and your level of knowledge.
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.