3 Best 1-6x Scopes [2019 Real Views+Video]

Best 1-6x Scopes

  1. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x
  2. Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS
  3. Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x

The 1-6x scope can do almost anything.

Close-up shots at 1x is almost the same speed as a red dot.  And 6x allows you to hit targets out at several hundred yards easy.

Best 1-6x Scopes
Best 1-6x Scopes

I’ve bought and used a bunch of 1-6x scopes for competition and plinking over the past few years.

Here’s my favorite Low Power Variable Optics (LPVOs) across a couple of price ranges.  All with real views and videos through the scopes.

Why a 1-6x Optic?

Like I mentioned above…if you choose the right LPVO and reticle you’ll be almost as fast as a standard red dot.

But should you go with an 1-6x over a red dot and magnifier combo?

3x Magnifiers
3x Magnifiers

Pros of an LPVO over a Magnifier Combo

  • A range of magnification instead of either 1x or 3x (mostly) which makes it great for competitions
  • Etched reticle doesn’t require a battery and is clearer for folks with astigmatism
  • Better reticles for distance shooting

Cons of an LPVO over a Magnifier Combo

  • Weight and cost (though there’s a couple great bang-for-the-buck options now)
  • Not quite as fast as a red dot
  • Illumination usually isn’t daylight bright

If a magnifier combo seems like a better idea right now…check out our Best 3x Magnifiers.

And for more information on choosing an LPVO over combo…check out this article from Primary Arms.

Now let’s get to our picks!

Best 1-6x Scopes

1. Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x

I was so happy when the Strike Eagle came out.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x
Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6x

I was ready to move up from my 1-4x Burris Tac30 ($240) I used for a year and that was losing me time after my local rifle competition introduced ~400 yard targets.

This is a view of 1-4x for comparison aiming at 100 yard steel plates:

Burris Tac30 4x

There were some 1-6x scopes out but they were expensive.  The Vortex Strike Eagle made it accessible for normal folks at around $300 (just a little step up from 1-4x scopes).

It had everything you needed with decent glass.  Very minimal side distortion on the sides at 1x.

Vortex Strike Eagle at 1x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 1x

And acceptable clarity at 6x.

Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x

The illuminated reticle is also not daylight bright.  Fine for dusk/dawn but don’t expect it to be a red dot at other times.

I’d knock the reticle a little bit…I prefer a dot or cross for 1x shots.  But the bullet drop compensation (BDC) marks did help for the couple hundred yard shots.

It held zero for the 2 years I used it as my primary rifle competition optic.  And the magnification ring was easily turned for speed since it has a protruding fin.

Strike Eagle 1-6x
Strike Eagle 1-6x

We also have a full YouTube video review:

And a full written review too.

At the end…my runner-up recommendation for a budget 1-6x scope.  With Vortex you also get a transferable lifetime warranty.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck Scope
299
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Recommended Accessories:

2. Primary Arms 1-6x ACSS

My new recommendation for the best budget 1-6x scope is the PA 1-6x with ACSS Reticle.

PA 1-6x Closeup
PA 1-6x Closeup

I’ve always heard of Primary Arms having affordable optics that perform great.  Now I’m finally a believer after using their 1-6x and 4-14x scope that they sent me for testing.

Primary Arms 1-6x and 4-14x with Mounts
Primary Arms 1-6x and 4-14x with Mounts

It’s the same price range as the Strike Eagle at under $300.  But if you purchase directly from Primary Arms you get free rings or a discounted single-piece mount.

Testing the PA 1-6x ACSS
Testing the PA 1-6x ACSS

So far both have held zero admirably…although a little heavy.  I’d opt for the single-piece over the rings since it’s much easier to take on and off without losing zero.

Primary Arms 1-6x with ACSS
Primary Arms 1-6x with ACSS

Now…how does it look through the glass compared to the Strike Eagle.

Primary Arms at 1x, ACSS Reticle
Primary Arms at 1x, ACSS Reticle

Less distortion at 1x.  And much clearer at 6x.

Primary Arms at 6x, ACSS Reticle
Primary Arms at 6x, ACSS Reticle

Here is the Strike Eagle at 6x again:

Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x
Vortex Strike Eagle at 6x

I also like the ACSS reticle a lot more.  It has a single arrow for precise work but also the bigger bold circle for hosing targets.  The BDC also worked well for several hundred yard shots.

ACSS Reticle
ACSS Reticle

I haven’t shot the PA as much as the Strike Eagle but so far so good.  Zero has held for several range trips (2000 round count now) but I’ll report back if anything changes.

Magnification ring is also easy to manipulate but illumination shown at the beginning of the video is only useful for dusk/dawn.

Primary Arms 1-6x Scope Magnification Ring
Primary Arms 1-6x Scope Magnification Ring

For under $300 to get decent glass and a free mount (although heavy)…you can’t ask for anything better than that.  Plus PA offers a lifetime warranty.  I had a damaged red dot and they took care of it quickly & easily (Best Budget Red Dots).

PA 1-6x in Action
PA 1-6x in Action

Note that PA’s stock goes in and out since the 1-6x sells like hotcakes.  I also dig the simple reticle of the 1-6x KISS model.

290
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

*Update*  Now we have a full review AND a YouTube video…

What do you think of the PA 1-6x with ACSS?

Readers' Ratings

No ratings yet.

Your Rating?

3. Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x

If you want to spend a little more to get a much better glass and a day-time bright red-dot.  I would heavily recommend the Vortex Viper PST II.  I saw it at SHOT Show 2017 and had to buy it as soon as it was available.

It’s my current competition rifle optic.

Testing Vortex Viper PST II
Testing Vortex Viper PST II

Forgiving eyebox (how specific your eye placement needs to be) and little distortion at 1x and 6x.  When you’re actually on the rifle it’s like having a thin black circle and a floating reticle.

Hard to replicate that through a cell phone camera!

PST II at 1x
PST II at 1x

And here it is at 6x.

PST II at 6x
PST II at 6x

I also really like the reticle because of the red dot.  I’ll try to get a better picture of it later since it was a super sunny day.  It even washed out the reticles in my Best Holographic Sights article when they were fine to my eyes.

Zero has held well in the Aero mount and magnification ring manipulation is fine too.  I’ve been putting off on getting a scope lever since my competition stages usually require only one change.

Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x
Vortex Viper PST II 1-6x

My current recommendation for the best bang-for-the-buck higher end 1-6x scope.

Recommended Accessories:

Honorable Mentions

There’s a lot of scopes out there…and these honorable mentions are for the higher end ones.  These are the ones I’ve shot at ranges or borrowed a fellow competitor’s rifle for use on a stage.

When a slight edge in performance is worth a few hundred (or thousand) more dollars over the PST II…

Clearest 1-6x Glass
1099
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The highest end Vortex has a much more forgiving eyebox and better glass while still having the daylight bright illumination.  My favorite for a future upgrade.

2000
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Lightweight and awesome describes the Kahles.

1899
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Daylight bright and awesome glass you can expect from the name Swarovski.  If money were no object.

Conclusion

Scopes have come a long way in the last few years.  Quality glass for plinking and competition doesn’t have to break the bank now (but always can).

Bunch of 1-6x Scopes
Bunch of 1-6x Scopes

My go-to recommendation for a budget 1-6x scope is the Primary Arms.

290
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Runner-up is the Strike Eagle 1-6x that has served me well and will still live on in a backup competition upper.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck Scope
299
at Amazon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

And my best bang-for-the-buck optic is Vortex’s Viper PST II.

Let us know if we missed any that we should try out in the future.  And for more of our favorite guns & gear…check out our Editor’s Picks.  Or for more optics…check out From Red Dots to Magnified.

22 Leave a Reply

  • acidcigarfan

    SFP vs FFP...pros & cons please. Shopping for a new optic and looking for some experienced info on the two. Leaning toward the FFP since I don't see any negative feedback.

    2 months ago
    • David, PPT Editor

      SFP will have a reticle that is the same size at all magnification ranges, this makes for an easy to see reticle even at short ranges but means that the BDC holds will only be calibrated for a certain magnification. FFP the reticle changes based on magnification, this makes the BDC holds calibrated for all magnifications but gives you a harder to see reticle at short range. FFP is also normally a decent amount more cost. Personally, I like FFP for precision shooting or shooting past 300+ yards. I like SFP for shorter ranges or "good enough" shooting like for 3- or 2-gun.

      2 months ago
  • Jebxgp1

    Burris RT6 is hands down better than PA and SE. better glass and clarity . I’ve had all 3

    2 months ago
  • Hans

    Hey ho, whats about the TANGO6 1-6×24 by Sig Sauer? I think the US Army has chosen it as scope for the squad designated marksman rifle a year ago.

    4 months ago
  • Timothy V Noecker

    Wow, not a single Leupold scope mentioned? I purchased a VX-R Patrol 1.25x4 powered scope ($700 msrp) for $309 on EBay dot com. Excellent quality scope for the price point. To my almost 50yr old eyes, this low-powered scope is a blessing. I took my Ruger AR-556MPR to the range and at 30yds this scope at it's maximum setting made my target look like it was only 5yds away. Definitely worth the price paid. I was cross-shopping the Leupold to the Steiner p4xi but I just couldn't justify the extra $150 for it.

    5 months ago
    • Brian

      Because 1.25x sucks for both-eyes-open shooting.

      3 months ago
  • Jeff Bonar

    If all I wanted was a Lifetime Warrany the PA maybe. But only being a waterproof, not fogproof, not shockproof and non NVG compatible 1x6 scope makes it inferior to the Vortex out of the gate. Glass clarity is to a point, subjective and is augued among the very best of scopes. Resistent is NOT proof. BTW Primary Arms lists the Vortex as Non NVG compatable, however, a simple phone call to Vortex for the uneducated will clear that right up.

    1 year ago
  • Mike Bottoms

    How are you going to review a bunch of 1-6x scopes and not mention the Atibal XP6 1-6x24? Pretty sure it is the only 1-6x First Focal Plane optic on the market for under $500 (I read that in Recoil). This was a good article and you reviewed some great products, but the XP6 definitely should have made the list.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Looking to have that in the next version!

      1 year ago
  • Connor H

    Woohoo! Glad to see the ACSS 1-6x finally get recognized and reviewed as the tremendous deal, and incredible reticle, that it is. I try to recommend Primary Arms whenever I can, their prices are great, customer service is well above average, and you can't beat the glass for the price. Their owner is also really down to earth and helpful, he's a regular forum contributed over at ARF.

    1 year ago
    • Connor H

      Also recommend their 2.5x, 3x, and 5x fixed prism scopes. Etched reticle, similar ACSS idea, and they work for people with astigmatism, which is a major problem with traditional red dots. The 2.5x and 3x can be used both eyes open with just a bit of practice.

      1 year ago
  • Sabre22

    What about the Shepherd scope? I realize you cannot have every scope. i just rediscovered them myself I was looking for a moderately priced 16 and did some digging and found them

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Actually haven't seen one yet!

      1 year ago
  • ChrisL

    I would have loved a comparison to the Cadillac--the VCOG from Trijicon. I was so impressed that their 1-4 accupoint performed just like a red dot at 1x, true two eyes open shooting with no hassle around parallax or eye-relief, I'm really curious if their 1-6, or 1-8 accupower are as good. Also, Eotech has come out with their new Vudu in 1-6 and it has that same 65-MOA big circle reticle as their holosights. It's in first focal plane, and the dot in the middle is actually a mini bdc horseshoe, which zooms when the scope zooms so at 6x the big ring goes away and you get a cool precision aiming reticle. I'm dying to hear how that compares to the holographic sights when it's at 1x. I've tried all the cheap scopes, including the primary arms 1-6, and all of them stunk at 1x compared to a true red dot, the tube created a double image when you bring it up to your eyes already on target, it ends up being slow like a magnified scope because there are two images and your brain has to switch over to the image in the scope, which is slightly out of alignment with the image in the eye that's not looking through the optic. For me, I prioritize the 1x performance the most because, well, the in-close stuff is where you need to be able to react instantly. It's why I just couldn't ever run an acog. With longer range stuff, you have a little more time to line everything up just right.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Hi Chris, I got to play with my buddy's Accupower and it had great clarify and awesome eye relief. I'll have to try out the VCOG and Vudu soon though.

      1 year ago
  • JC1977

    How about the SWFA 1-6x for $1K? Any thoughts on that scope?

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      I've heard good things but haven't had the chance to look through one or test.

      1 year ago
  • Wild Bill

    The strike eagle and the primary arms are basically the same thing probably from the same plant. The reticle on the primary arms is the best part of it.

    1 year ago
  • Matt

    I’d heavily recommend checking out the new Primary Arms ACSS Raptor. It’s a little more expensive because it’s also First Focal Plane (just bought one for $399 with mount).

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks for the rec...didn't know PA made a first focal plane version of their 1-6x.

      1 year ago
  • Randy Ashman

    You should take a look at the Trijicon 1-8x28 AccuPower. It is the one I settled on and love it. MSRP is $1699 on their website - can’t remember what I bought it for last year.

    1 year ago
    • Eric Hung

      I will try, thanks for the rec!

      1 year ago
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