The 5 Best Mil Dot Scopes for the Money — Rifle Optic Reviews 2020

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Photo by The U.S. Army / CC BY

Mil Dot reticles are one of the most popular reticles and for very good reason. With a bit of training and understanding of how they work, you can quickly calculate distance and bullet drop trajectory. The Mil is not a reference to military but rather to “milliradian,” which is 1/1000th of the radius of a circle. It’s all rather mathematical and convoluted, which is why I suggest checking this article out which does a great job of explaining the concept.

Of course, this then begs the question of what is the best mil dot scope for the money? A broad and lazy answer would be to start grabbing at the top shelf stuff like Leupold and Nightforce and call it a day, because those are some of the best scopes period. But that is a boring way of doing it, so we poked around and found 5 of the top mil dot scopes that are quality units but also affordable and usable for most people and purposes.

Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16x44


The Primary Arms Classic Series 4-16x44 rifle scope is one of the best budget rifle scopes on the market. Even outside of mil-dot reticles and scopes, the Classic series are outstanding optics. This model has a moderate amount of magnification with its 4-16 power variable magnification levels.

The 44mm objective lens is large enough to help gather plenty of light to use the significant levels of magnification to an efficient degree. The Primary Arms Classic Series Mil-Dot reticle is finely tuned and very accurate. It allows you to compensate for both elevation and windage and will enable you to place rounds right where you need them quickly.

UTG 30mm SWAT with Illuminated Reticle


Another nifty mil dot scope, this one has an illuminated reticle, A large European style 30mm tube, A 3-12x magnification and an oversized 44mm objective lens. Featuring a nitrogen purged shock, fog and waterproof tube, coated optics for optimal clarity and light transmission, recoil proof illumination circuit, and an integrated sunshade with flip up lens caps (and all of this at a very reasonable price), this is one of the best mil dot scopes at this amazing price. Ideal for use on tactical rifles or those desiring a compact, yet powerful mil dot scope with an illuminated reticle, you’ll find this scope is as home on the range, in the field, or on your favorite home defense carbine.

Millet Illuminated Tactical Scope


This mil dot scope has some serious reach. With its whopping 50mm front objective lens, 4-16x magnification illuminated reticle, and big light gathering 30mm tube, this might one of the top mil dot scope (see full specs) for your favorite hunting rifle or fantasy sniper piece. Built to Millet’s legendary specs and unflinching dedication to quality, it’s hard to get a better, bigger, badder scope without spending two to four times the money. If you’ve got the real estate on your rifle for a monster scope, this is the one for you.

Millet TRS-1--Mil-Dot-Bar--Ranging Practice to 800 yards

Leupold Mark 4

OK, we talked about “affordable” earlier, but the word “affordable” differs for each person.  If you have deep pockets, the best mil dot scope has the best name on it--Leupold--and it doesn’t get any better than this. The Leupold Mark 4 (see full specs) features 6.5-20 power magnification, a whopping huge 50mm objective lens, large 30mm tube, water, fog and shock proof construction, Leupold’s industry leading lifetime warranty and the reliability you know comes from owning a Leupold scope. Perfect for long range hunting, tactical law enforcement use or ringing steel at a thousand yards, about the only thing this scope can’t do for you is clean and dress your deer. If you’ve already invested in an accurate rifle, invest in the scope most worthy to go on top of it.

Tasco World Class Rifle Scope


After the last couple of scopes, this one is much more modest in its features and functions, which makes it one of the best mil dot scopes in my book. After all, at the end of the day many of us just want a simple scope for hunting. This features a basic 3-9x magnification, a 40mm objective lens for easy targeting, and the usual water, fog and shock proof construction you would expect from Tasco. This is the perfect scope for a basic hunting rifle or even just buying to keep around as a spare. Simple, reliable, affordable and effective--what more do you want from a scope?

Tasco 3-9x40E Scope Review

Mil Dot Scopes Make a Difference

Long, long ago rifle scopes had some crosshairs of a sorts. Either etched directly into a lens or made of fine wire or spiderweb, they worked for the time. Later scopes became more advanced and different reticle patterns appeared. While there are a great many different reticle patterns still being made, the mil dot reticle is one of the most popular and common.

Based off the duplex crosshair, where the crosshairs are thinner towards the middle so as to not obscure the target, but thicker towards the edges to speed target acquisition. The mil dot brings the ease of traditional duplex crosshairs with sniper like precision for aiming. Mil dot scopes when properly used allow you to place the crosshairs exactly where they are needed on your target, and provide much improved potential for accuracy and performance. A mil dot scope is the culmination of centuries of optical and ballistics technology, brought together in a single handy scope.

The best mil dot scope, of course, is a matter of some debate. Some people will insist on one with an illuminated reticle, which permits easy use in low light and poor weather. After all, an illuminated reticle is much more visible against a dark target than a plain black reticle. For fair weather hunters and casual shooters, the added cost of an illuminated reticle isn’t required though. Others may desire the larger 30mm tube some mil dot scopes come in. As opposed to the smaller 1” tube common in the US, a 30mm tube allows for greater light transmission and therefore a better, clearer sight picture. For hunting, there is little need to have more than a 40mm objective lens, but for people who really enjoy long range shooting a 50mm objective lens will provide a superior sight picture at distance or higher magnification.

Mil dot scopes are literally everywhere, from the cheapest import junk to high end scopes costing as much as some used cars. It is a time proven and effective reticle that can be easily learned and once mastered will give you an edge on long distance shooting. Once you’ve found the right mil dot scope for your rifle, spend a few minutes and a box of ammo learning the system and you are golden. Good luck!

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2 responses

  1. THANK YOU for writing this. The straight-forward, informative but not over the top informative approach is a relief to someone like me who knows absolutely nothing about scopes but is trying to buy one for my husband for Christmas. This guides me in the right direction and finally gives me some confidence in what I’m purchasing.

  2. I really enjoyed this very informative look at long range scopes. Very educational. Thank you.

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