While the classic 3-9x rifle scopes are designed for both first-time shooters and seasoned hunters, the low-powered 1-4x scopes are somewhat specialized tools for a certain type of shooting and hunting. If you decide to invest in a 1-4x scope, you should know that this class or scope is more suitable for experienced shooters.
A 1-4x scope belongs to the LPVO (Low Power Variable Optic) category. With its 1-4x magnification range, these versatile optics function well for defensive purposes, target shooting, fast-paced 3-Gun competition and particularly for driven hunts.
For some new shooters, the low level of magnification can be an issue on 1-4x scopes. However, you have to remind yourself what scope’s power was like in WW2. The best Soviet snipers recorded hundreds of killed Germans using only 4x fixed power rifle scopes within an average engagement range of 300+ yards.
1-4x Scope vs. Red Dot
Although people frequently compare 1-4x Scope vs. Red Dot, you should know these optics are designed for different shooting scenarios and platforms.
The red dots come without magnification, but since they are one step up from iron sights, red dot sights give faster target acquisition compared to stock metal sights.
Due to the lack of magnification, these reflex sights offer the best potential when mounted on short-range weapons like handguns, crossbows or shotguns. In terms of purpose, red dots are great sights for home defense, hunting, or competitive shooting.
Red dots can be equipped with magnifiers for longer distances engagement, but that simplified setup makes plain red dot sight more complex.
On the other hand, a quality 1-4x scope offers a true 1x magnification for intuitive shots on close-range targets and 4x zoom for shooting at man-sized targets at up to 500 yards.
Speaking of functioning, the 1-4x scopes are based on a traditional optical system to provide the user with crisp and clear images.
Red dot sight uses LEDs to project an illuminated dot (red, green or other colors) towards a specially coated lens. The illuminated red dots are powered by batteries enabling easier low light aiming.
Besides single dot, the red dot optics or reflex sights can use multiple dots, circle or horseshoe dot reticles. They all represent different schools of thought, but they all provide fast target acquisition and allow you to transition between multiple targets quickly.
The 1-4x scopes are available with a vast number of reticle designs, ranging from clean crosshair styles to complex bullet drop compensating (BDC) reticles.
A simple dot with a circle around it or a plain crosshair is best for CQB rifles, while some types of reticles with drop and wind compensation hash marks are more suitable for a firearm meant to be used at range.
These classic scopes are available with non-illuminated and illuminated reticles. The illuminated reticle as an extra feature will allow you to hit the target a lot easier and with less struggle.
Finally, red dot sights allow you to shoot with both eyes open, providing better situational awareness.
When using zero magnification on 1-4x scopes, you can do a similar shooting with both eyes open. When the magnification is turned down, your 1-4x optic is on par with the red dots, making you more aware of your surroundings.
For example, if you have a firearm capable of dropping a game at over 200 yards, why would you have limited yourself with close-range sight such as a red dot.
Best 1-4x Scopes
For this guide, we have chosen a few affordable 1-4x scopes and included some of the best on the market LPVO scopes. After all, your shooting style, gun purpose and personal preferences will affect your sight choice.
Monstrum G2 1-4×24
The first product on our list is a Monstrum 1-4×24 scope. Though a brand with a newcomer status, Monstrum has earned a good reputation from 2008 with quality scopes designed for different applications and users.
Monstrum G2 1-4×24 is a Generation 2 of a successful Monstrum tactical rifle scope with 1-4x magnification. The G2 line of scopes boasts many features well above the product price point. Unlike the previous model., this G2 scope sports a first focal plane (FFP) rangefinder reticle, a rare feature in the LPVO category.
The glass-etched FFP reticle offers easy-to-read BDC marks for range estimation and holdover correction. This model features an illuminated reticle in red or green with multiple brightness intensities.
For an entry-level scope, the G2- FFPS1424-R has outstanding glass quality. It features a full multi-layer lens coating that provides an image quality that exceeds higher-priced scopes.
As for the construction, the Monstrum G2 1-4×24 comes with a 30mm main body made of aircraft-grade aluminum offering a sleek tactical design and durability. The scope housing is sealed and nitrogen-filled for resistance to water and fog.
Typically, this scope has a 24mm objective lens. Still, surprisingly the package from Monstrum is shipped with medium profile Picatinny scope rings, flip-up lens covers, a detachable honeycomb filter sunshade, a lint-free cleaning cloth, and one CR2032 3V battery.
Athlon 215025 Talos BTR 1-4×24
Another new kid on the block in the optics industry is Athlon Optics, a US-based optics manufacturer established in 2014.
The Athlon Talos BTR (Ballistic Tactical Reticle) 1-4×24 rifle scope comes with a unique set of features that are difficult to find in optics from other big names in this pricing.
The main selling point of this Athlon LPVO model is its Ballistic Tactical Reticle. It is etched on the glass and optimized for short-range shooting situations such as competitive and tactical shooting.
The AHSR MIL reticle is placed in the second focal plane (SFP) and sports reticle illumination with 11 intensity settings for daytime and nighttime use.
This MIL version incorporates MIL hash increments with adjustment graduation of 0.2 MIL per click. You can use exposed tactical turrets to make a maximum adjustment of 40 MIL for elevation and windage.
The Athlon Talos BTR 1-4x rifle scope has a standard 24mm objective bell equipped with fully multi-coated lenses that reduce reflected light and make the glass crystal clear.
The Athlon Talos wide-angle scope is made from an extremely resistant aircraft-grade aluminum tube. The single-piece scope body is Nitrogen-purged and sealed for fog-proof use at low temperatures.
Although a bit heavy at 18 ounces, the Athlon Talos BTR 1-4×24 with an eye relief of 3.5″ is a great entry-level scope.
Bushnell AR Optics, 1-4×24
One of the best 1-4x scopes for the money bears the Bushnell logo. Like its name says, the Bushnell AR Optics DZ 223 is specifically designed to complement modern sporting rifles such as AR-15 chambered in .223/5.56.
The first thing you will notice on this great budged scope is a Throw Down PCL lever for quick magnification changes. The power change lever can be set to two different heights for better adaptation to your rifle.
Bushnell AR Optics, 1-4×24 Drop Zone scope features fully-multicoated lenses for maximum light transmission and rain guard coating on all air-to-glass surfaces.
The model AR71424 is equipped with a Bushnell Drop Zone SFP reticle which is basically a standard duplex reticle with BDC hash marks specifically calibrated for common .223/5.56 ball ammunition. The illuminated DZ 223 reticle has 6 levels of adjustments.
As with most CQB, LPVO scopes, the user-friendly target turrets are exposed for fast dialing and corrections. The uncapped and non-locking turrets are MIL-based with a click adjustment of 0.1 mil.
The Bushnell AR 1-4×24 is made from aluminum alloy and features both shockproof and fog proof construction. In addition, it comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, meaningfully waterproof up to three feet.
Since the Bushnell AR is made for AR platforms chambered in .223/5.56, 3.5 inches of eye relief is plenty, without the worry of scope bite.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II 1-4×24
An entry-level LPVO scope can take being hammered in hunting or 3-gun competition without any damage. The Vortex Crossfire II 1-4×24 comes with great features for the price and specs for any close quarters shooting situation.
Vortex Optics equips its Crossfire II 1-4×24 scopes with fully multi-coated lenses that deliver exceptional clarity and brightness for its price range.
Vortex Optics has provided the Crossfire II with the V-Brite reticle, a design that makes this CF2-31037 model some kind of hybrid between red dots and scopes.
The illuminated center dot of the reticle and plain wire crosshairs are perfect for beginners offering faster tactical shooting or short-range hunting.
The 1-4×24 Crossfire II rifle scope is a low-magnification zoom rifle scope based on a 30mm main-tube and aluminum body. The capped turrets are finger adjustable and have 1/2 MOA per click adjustment graduation for elevation and windage and 100 MOA of overall travel. The low-profile turrets can be reset to zero after sighting in.
A single piece housing is ring sealed and nitrogen purged, making it waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
Sig Sauer 1-4×24 Tango4
The renowned German optical manufacturer Sig Sauer is one of the best wide-angled scopes mainly designed for use in dynamic shooting competitions, driven hunting or in close-quarter tactical situations.
Like all scopes on our list, the Sig Sauer 1-4×24 TANGO4 rifle scope features 4x times optical zoom and a 24mm objective lens. However, the Tango4 1-4x24mm rifle scope offers a real true 1x setting, allowing you intuitive shots on close-range targets similar to reflex sight capabilities.
The Tango4 sports low dispersion (LD) glass coated with anti-reflection SpectraCoat lens coatings and abrasion-resistant lens coatings known as LensArmor. While improving light transmission, these coatings ensure the lenses avoid scratches and repel water, grease, or skin oils.
The Sig Sauer Tango4 glass is placed sturdy 30mm main tube milled from one piece of aircraft-grade aluminum.
The main selling point is an illuminated horseshoe-shaped aiming point located on the first (front) focal plane. The Horseshoe reticle offers a clear and unobstructed view making it an ideal solution for CQB/mid-range tactical engagements. The illumination is adjustable with 8 daylight and 2 NVD-compatible brightness settings.
The SIG Sauer LPVO comes with exposed tactical turrets that offer 1/2 MOA per click impact point correction and a total of 180 MOA windage and elevation adjustment ranges.
This Sig also employs a motion detection system, MOTAC, intended to save your battery life.
Elcan SpecterDR Dual Role 1x/4x
For the end of this comprehensive review, we have chosen the most rugged and well-built combat sight made by Raytheon ELCAN Optical Technologies. The Elcan Specter DR 1-4x is a dual role weapon sight designed for military and law enforcement professionals.
That said, this combat optic is on the pricier side, but the price is acceptable since it merges the features of both a red dot and a scope.
The more careful readers will notice in the title that the Elcan Specter offers only two zoom levels: no magnification and 4x magnification, with no settings in between.
You can switch instantly between close combat battle mode, and precision ranged fire mode with the throw of a lever.
The Elcan SpecterDR 1x/4x scope is a low profile dual-field-of-view (DFOV) sight as it provides an extra-large field-of-view (146.3 ft. at 100 yds.) at true 1x magnification and a generous field-of-view (34.2 ft. at 100 yds.) at 4X magnification.
Unlike most combat scopes with 24mm objectives, the SpecterDR boasts a 32mm objective lens diameter, providing an extremely fast target acquisition in low light conditions.
Besides dual-field-of-view, this combat scope comes with a dual-thickness ballistic crosshair allowing you to navigate between the crosshair or only a brilliant red dot in the center.
DFOV14-T2 model comes equipped with a CX5396 reticle, which is purpose-built for 7.62 rifles,
This prism-style scope is half the weight of a standard rifle scope though it is shipped with an integral A.R.M.S. mount and integrated BUIS (Back-Up Iron Sights).
Finally, this scope can be used on any battle rifle with Picatinny rail, as it is available with caliber specific reticles for 5.56mm or 7.62mm service carbines, rifles and LMGs.
For bug-out/SHTF scenarios or fast-moving hunting game at close- to mid-range distances, a 1-4x LPVO (Low Power Variable Optic) with quality glasses and the simple, uncluttered reticle will be the best way to dress out your handy rifle or semi-auto carbine.
The list above includes scopes from different price ranges intended for any budget. Some of them are made with recreational shooters in mind and some are designed for professional shooters.
In the end, it’s only you, your style of shooting and planning application, that should influence the decision to select the best wide-angle scope.
With more than 50 years experience in the field and the testing lab, author L.P. Brezny is one of today’s most recognized shotgun experts and authors. He is a contributor to dozens of firearms publications, such as Wildfowl, Shotgun Sports, and Varmint Hunters, and he is a regular columnist in the Gun Digest annual as well as AmmoLand News.