Whether you’re a deer hunter gearing up for the season or a tactical shooter, having the right scope is important. Prism scopes are a compact and versatile alternative to traditional scopes, and if you know what you’re looking for, a prism scope may just save you money, too.
I’m a longtime hunter who prefers the use of prism scopes. Today, I’m going to take you through my top nine picks. And don’t worry–even if you’re new to the shooting world, I’ll help you pick out the perfect scope for you. Without further ado, let’s jump right into our list.
Prism Scopes: My Top Picks
Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope
Getting the best prism optics doesn’t have to cost a huge amount, and Monstrum’s great scopes are proof. This affordable scope is made of aircraft-grade aluminum, amd while it’s heavier than most, it has a low center of gravity, which helps keep your weapon balanced.
Like many sights, this one is illuminated. If the battery runs out, you can still rely on the etched reticle.
Many buyers of this scope have praised it for its great value and durability. However, some have pointed out that while it’s advertised as having a circle dot reticle, the reticle is actually a modified version of the circle dot.
- It is super quiet and durable
- This garage door has a fast installation process
- It comes with tons of features and two remote
- The sensor beam doesn’t always reset itself
- You need a subscription for the ITTT and Google Assistant integration
Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x Prism Scope
A good prism scope is absolutely necessary for some shooters. And if you want the best, Vortex Optics just might be your brand. The Spitfire is a beautifully made, high-quality scope that comes with a lifetime warranty.
The lenses are fully multicoated for amazing clarity, and the ten-level illuminated reticle is designed to match surrounding lighting. This is one of the more expensive scopes on the list, but we think it’s well worth the cost.
Vortex is a respected brand, and this sight has received almost universally positive reviews. Most commonly, buyers praise the incredibly clear glass used. They also appreciate the fact that this sight offers excellent value for the price.
- Rugged and intuitive design makes this sight easy to use in a variety of conditions
- Red or green reticle illumination is available in 10 different intensity levels
- Quick functionality and generous eye box make it easy to acquire your target, even under stress
- The base is not removable, and this limits some of your mounting options
- This sight may be too expensive for some
UUQ Prism 4×32 Red/Green/Blue Triple Illuminated Rapid Range Reticle Rifle Scope
There are plenty of candidates for the best prism scopes for AR platforms, and this is one of the most affordable options on the list. It’s also ideal for shooters who love their options when it comes to illuminated reticles. You can choose from red, green, or blue illumination.
This scope also offers 4X magnification, while many of the scopes on the list only go up to 3X. The etched reticle is fixed at 100 yards, but it can be adjusted to sight out to 600 yards.
Since this is a relatively well-made scope offered for an excellent price, it has largely been reviewed well. Buyers seem to think the glass isn’t in the same league as the glass on more expensive scopes, and some have complained about quality control issues.
- Since it’s priced at under $70, this is one of the most affordable options on our list
- Up to 4X magnification and three reticle lighting colors make it a good choice for picky shooters
- Rapid-ranging reticle can auto-sight for you when distance to the target is unknown
- Some buyers have noted that there are some quality control issues
- The fiber optic sight is somewhat fragile and can be knocked out of place easily
Monstrum P330-B Marksman 3X Prism Scope
For many shooters, the best AR prism optic is one that will hold zero over time. This scope is the top-of-the-line version from Monstrum, and the company guarantees it will hold zero even with strong recoil. It’s machined out of a single piece of aluminum, which makes it incredibly sturdy.
Like other Monstrum prism scopes, this one has an etched reticle that you can see with or without illumination, and you still get up to 3X magnification.
This sight has received largely positive reviews. However, since it’s offered at a fairly low price, some units seem to have poor quality control. Many buyers seem to like the fact that the battery can be changed without removing the scope from your rifle.
- Durable one-piece construction means this sight is built to last
- Coated anti-reflective lenses help simplify target acquisition
- It’s fairly affordable
- Quality control seems to be a bit lacking
- Some buyers have reported that battery life is somewhat low
TACFUN Prismatic Series 4X32MM Scope
A good 4x prismatic scope can be hard to find, but this one manages to offer features found on more expensive options. This scope from TACFUN is machined from a single piece of aluminum for maximum durability.
It also has a laser-etched reticle with adjustable brightness in blue, red, and green. And lastly, the lenses are fully multi-coated to protect against damage and ensure an accurate picture.
While purists might look askance at the brand name, this scope offers decent value. Most buyers rate it very well. However, some buyers have noted that it does not come with a battery.
- 4X magnification is usually hard to find for this price
- Etched reticle can be illuminated in three colors and has adjustable intensity
- Given the features it comes with, this scope is a great value
- It is not a complete kit.
- Some buyers have noted that the scope they received was not exactly as advertised
Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sight – 4 MOA Red/Green Dot with Vortex Hat
This is one of the best prism sight options for the money. Vortex Optics is known for crafting quality sights, and this one really delivers–its anti-reflective lenses will let you zero in on your target in almost any weather conditions, and you can choose from multiple lighted reticle options. As an added bonus, this scope is less than $350.
This scope has received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Many buyers have commented on its high-performance capabilities, and they also appreciate its sleek good looks.
- Coated lenses and multiple retile options make this scope an excellent performer
- It’s versatile enough to be used for hunting and target shooting
- In terms of price, it’s very affordable
- Some buyers have reported receiving used scopes after ordering new ones
- Since it’s designed for short to medium-range shooting, this might not be the best hoice for long-ranger shooters
Primary Arms SLX 3x32mm Gen III Prism Scope
If you’re investing in a prismatic scope, chances are good that you want that scope to last. Luckily, this scope from Primary Arms is one of the most durable on the list.
It has an anodized finish that can stand up to the elements, and the scope itself is waterproof and shockproof. The illuminated reticle has 11 brightness settings, letting you zero in on your target in any conditions.
This scope has received almost all positive reviews. While it’s more expensive than some options on the list, most reviewers have praised its ruggedness and accuracy. Most reviewers also comment on the glass, which is much higher quality than you typically find in this price range.
- Rugged, high-quality construction will outlast many cheaper scopes
- Eleven illumination levels will fit just about any weather conditions
- This scope can be mounted with the included Picatinny mount or on a carry handle
- This sight only reaches 2.5X magnification, which may not be enough for some users
- Shorter eye relief may not be ideal for everyone
Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope
The best prism scope for hunting is often one with significant magnification power, and this scope from Monstrum fits the bill. It can reach magnification up to 3X, and it has flip-up lens covers that protect the glass when it’s not in use.
You also might notice something a little different about this scope–instead of tactical black, it comes in a neutral brown that’s ideal for hunting. (You can also purchase it in black). The etched reticle can be illuminated for easy visibility in low light.
Like many affordable scopes, this one seems to have some quality control issues, and buyers have complained about imperfections in the glass and loose mounting screws. That said, plenty of buyers have also been satisfied with the units they got.
- Lens covers help protect the glass
- This scope comes in faded dark earth or black
- This scope offers decent-quality optics for a fair price
- Quality control seems to be an issue at least some of the time
- Some buyers have noted that this scope does not attach very securely to the mount
Athlon Optics Midas TSP4 Prism Scope
Athlon Optics is a respected brand in the optics world, and this scope offers up to 4X magnification. The lenses are fully multicoated to avoid reflection in the image. Notably, it also has a smart power management system that shuts off the battery after six hours of downtime.
This helps preserve your battery life even if you forget to turn off the scope. The etched reticle has multiple illumination settings to help you get your target in any visibility conditions.
Like many of the higher-end scopes on our list, this one has been favorably reviewed by most buyers. They especially appreciate the bright, nitrogen-filled red dots on the illuminated reticle. This scope also seems to be especially rugged–it’s built to last.
- Adjustable brightness settings let you illuminate the reticle as needed
- Extra durable build makes this a great scope to have outside in the elements
- Multicoated, high-quality glass produces a crisp image with great visibility
- Compared to some other scopes on the list, this one is fairly expensive
- Reticle illumination only comes in one color
Factors to Consider
What is a prism scope? These scopes rely on the use of prisms (rather than traditional refraction of light) to create a focused, magnified image of a target. Prism technology doesn’t require as much space as traditional scopes do, so you have the advantage of mounting a smaller scope to your rifle.
If you have any experience shooting, you know that having the right scope is absolutely crucial to your success. It might take some trial and error to successfully pick out the right scope for you. That said, there are some things to look for when picking out AR 15 scopes.
For the uninitiated, a reticle is a set of dots or lines in a scope. A reticle provides a quick reference point to help a shooter identify his or her target. Many sights have “circle dot” reticles, which are made up of a ring with a dot at the center.
What type of reticle will work for you is determined largely by personal preference. Many sights have illuminated reticles. These are usually illuminated by red light, but green and blue are commonly used.
You may want to purchase a sight whose reticle is etched. This way, even if your scope’s battery is out, you’ll have an etched, physical reticle to sight with.
Size and Weight
Depending on how far you need to carry your AR, weight may matter a good bit. Prism scopes are compact, and they usually aren’t terribly heavy-most weight about a pound. Still, if you plan to carry your rifle over long distances, you may want to look for a lighter prism scope. These scopes can be surprisingly heavy depending on the make and model.
Before committing to any given scope, it’s a good idea to learn a little about lens coating. Fully multi-coated lenses are ideal- this means that every glass surface has multiple coatings. This type of coating creates a well-lit, high-contrast image that makes target acquisition easier.
Multi-coated (not fully multi-coated) lenses are those in which some surfaces, but not all, have multiple coatings. These produce good-quality images, but they aren’t on the same level as fully multi-coated lenses.
The level of magnification you need depends on the range at which you’re shooting.
Many prism scopes are made for short-range to medium-range shooting, and it’s rare to see one with a magnification above 3X.
When in doubt, it’s a good idea to go higher-powered. Adjusting a long-range scope to a shorter range is fairly easy, but you can’t increase the power on a lower-powered scope.
It’s important to note that prism scopes are limited in terms of range, and they usually have magnification between 1X and 5X.
How does a prism scope work?
Traditional scopes use a set of lenses to refract light and create the image of a target. As the name suggests, prism scopes use a prism to create the target image. Prisms take up less space, which means that most prism sights are relatively small.
What is parallax?
“Parallax” means that a picture (like that seen through a scope) appears to change position depending on the line of sight used. This can become a problem (for obvious reasons) when shooting. Luckily, in lower magnifications, parallax normally does not cause a problem.
Why is eye relief important?
Eye relief means the amount of space between the scope and the eye of the shooter when sighting. It’s important to get a scope with enough eye relief to prevent the scope from hitting the eye. If a scope’s eye relief is wide enough, you will be able to sight with both eyes open if desired.
What kind of prism scope should I get?
Only you can answer this question. By taking your budget and desired features into account, you will be able to select the prism scope that best suits your wallet and your needs.
A prism scope is a worthy investment, especially if you’re looking for something more compact than your typical refracting scope. While we think any scope covered on our list is a great option, we think the best prism scope for the money is the Vortex Optics Spitfire 1x prism scope. This is a scope that has been praised for its crystal-clear glass and easy-to-see reticle, along with its incredibly sturdy build.
If the Spitfire is out of your price range, we recommend the Primary Arms SLx 2.5×32 compact prism scope. With its positive reviews and rugged construction, we think this is the best budget-friendly pick–it has many of the features found on many higher-end scopes for a fraction of the price. Whichever one you purchase, be sure to do your research, read reviews, and take your own preferences into account, and you’ll be well on your way to more successful shots in the field or on the range.