Optics increase your potential as a rifleman by increasing the precision of your sighting system. LPVO, or low-power variable optics, allow you to identify and engage targets at close to medium range more effectively.
Best 1-6x Scopes & LPVO
Leupold Mark VI 1-6x20mm Rifle Scope
Leupold is a famous manufacturer of rifle scopes, having started in the late 1940s and pioneering inert-gas purging to reduce condensation or “fogging” of the optical glass. The firm manufactures a wide variety of telescopic sights to suit every conceivable application, from law enforcement and hunting to long-range interdiction and combat.
On the lower end of the magnification spectrum for the company is the Mark VI in 1-6x. Unlike most other models, the Mark VI has a 20mm objective lens rather than the more typical 24mm. This smaller lens reduces the profile somewhat but doesn’t detract from close- to medium-range performance.
The Mark VI uses a first focal plane reticle, so the reticle’s size will change depending on your zoom setting. For increased visibility, regardless of ambient lighting conditions, the Mark VI also features an illuminated reticle with seven brightness settings to choose from.
As with other low-power variable optics in this magnification range, the Mark VI provides a wide field of view, enables rapid acquisition of targets, and extends the accurate range of your rifle. However, Leupold has several novel features relative to other offerings.
Leupold takes light transmission seriously, and the Xtended Twilight Lens system provides unparalleled image clarity by matching multi-coatings to glass indices, enhancing the blue and red wavelengths.
The lens coatings include the company’s own DiamondCoat2, which improves light transmission per lens surface and increases scratch resistance.
For ultra-precise elevation and windage adjustment, the Zerolock turrets shift the point of impact one-tenth of a minute of angle per click. You’ll both feel and hear each click, improving your overall shooting experience.
In addition, the Mark VI is no slouch regarding durability. Every Leupold rifle scope undergoes recoil testing in the company’s recoil-simulation machine, affectionately named The Punisher. This machine subjects the scope to 5,000 impacts equivalent to a .308 rifle. If a rifle scope suffers damage during this test, the company re-evaluates it and, if necessary, redesigns the optic.
Trijicon Credo 1-6x24mm Riflescope
Trijicon, formed by Glyn Bindon in 1981 under the trade name Armson USA, is a world-renowned manufacturer of sighting systems for firearms, most notably the ACOG (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight). In addition to its range of non-magnified optics, Trijicon also offers high-FOV (field of view), low-power rifle scopes for tactical firearms.
These high-FOV scopes include the Credo, which the company designed for competitive target shooters and law enforcement officers.
Available in either first or second focal plane and several choices in reticles, the Trijicon Credo is built using a 30mm tube made from 6061-T6 aluminum alloy and weighs 18-19 oz., depending on the specific variant.
All Trijicon-brand optical products feature the Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC), named after the company’s founder. The BAC technique uses an illuminated reticle to draw the attention of your dominant eye, combined with the ability to keep both eyes open, which allows you to acquire and track targets rapidly.
The illumination is provided by a single lithium coin or button cell, and the LED brightness is user-adjustable, ensuring you’ll always have the reticle intensity you need for your particular environment.
Bushnell AR Optics 1-6x24mm Riflescope
Bushnell offers a budget-friendly alternative to the Trijicon in the AR Optics 1-6x24mm Riflescope. This 1-6x optic features fully multicoated lenses to maximize light transmission per lens surface. At only 16.5 oz., the Bushnell AR Optics Riflescope is relatively lightweight, despite using a 30mm main tube.
As for aiming, the AR Optics rifle scope uses Bushnell’s illuminated BDC (bullet-drop compensator) reticle, powered by a single CR2032 battery, which helps you predict how much the bullet will drop at a certain distance. For those times when you need to switch from high to low magnification settings, or vice versa, quickly, the rifle scope features two Throw Down Power Change Levers. A throw lever attaches to the power selector ring and allows you to adjust the magnification.
For all-weather use, the AR Optics rifle scope is rated IPX7. Bushnell uses an O-ring to seal the internals, contributing to the water-resistant construction.
In addition, for an added layer of protection against rough handling in the field, the turrets are capped.
SIG Sauer TANGO6T 1-6x24mm Riflescope
The SIG Sauer TANGO6T is a high-quality rifle scope designed for military service. Used by the United States Army on its Squad Designated Marksman Rifle (SDM-R), the TANGO6T has several innovative features applicable to the sportsman, civilian self-defense enthusiast, and law-enforcement officer.
The first and arguably most important feature of any rifle scope is its image clarity, and SIG’s riflescope has that in abundance. This clarity is thanks to its HDX optics, in which it uses high-definition and high-transmittance glass to maximize light transmission and resolution, ensuring that what you see is always crisp and clear.
The TANGO6T is available in several reticle choices, but the standard is the Hellfire. The Hellfire uses fiber optics to adjust the brightness of the central aiming point according to ambient conditions, allowing you to hit what you aim at, regardless of whether you’re shooting at night or in broad daylight.
SIG’s riflescope also has two types of protective lens coatings: LensArmor and LenShield. The former increases abrasion resistance so you won’t scuff the external surface and ruin your riflescope. LenShield, an oleophobic coating, repels oil, water, and other liquids, helping you keep the lens clean.
At IPX8, the TANGO6T is water-resistant to 20 meters. If you need to shoot in environments subject to heavy rainfall, you can rest assured that the TANGO6T will continue to perform.
Sightmark Triple Duty M4 1-6x24mm Riflescope
Sightmark’s Triple Duty M4 fulfills a variety of tactical and self-defense applications, hence the name. If you need a 1-6x tactical rifle scope with a 24mm objective lens for close-range engagements, the Triple Duty features an illuminated Circle Dot Duplex Reticle. A duplex reticle consists of thicker outer lines that narrow to thin inner lines. The thick outer lines enable rapid reference, allowing you to find the center of the crosshair. The thin inner lines allow for more precise aiming and obscure less of the target.
Featuring industry-standard multi-coated lenses for maximum light transmission, the Triple Duty is also fogproof, water-resistant, and is made from a single-piece 30mm main tube. The wide field of view ensures maximum target visibility without compromising awareness of your surroundings, and the oversized locking windage and elevation turrets are easy to manipulate under a variety of circumstances.
Traditional rifle sights consist of a front post or blade and a rear notch or aperture that you align vertically and horizontally. Together, these are referred to as iron sights and provide you with your sight picture. Iron sights are the most durable sighting system available for rifles; however, iron sights can’t magnify your target and offer significantly less precision than optical sights.
As the human eye can only focus on one object at a time, you must shift your focus between three focal planes to achieve a sight picture: the target, the front sight, and the rear sight. This shifting is necessary to verify correct alignment.
However, a rifle scope has only one focal plane — you look at the reticle placed on the target — improving precision when aiming. In addition, those shooters with less visual acuity can more reliably acquire a sight picture.
The best rifle scopes use a single-piece main tube or housing. This single-piece preserves rigidity and protects the delicate lenses inside the system.
The traditional high-power rifle scope allows you to see targets far away, gathers more light, and improves resolution. Scopes are not all positives though. Unless you need to shoot a long-range target — 500 meters or more — the increased objective lens diameter, weight, expense, and fragility may not be worth it.
Low-Power Variable Optics (LPVO)
LPVO, or low-power variable optics, provide an optimal solution to the aiming requirements of many competition shooters, hunters, and self-defense practitioners at relatively close to medium ranges. An LPVO is low power compared to traditional rifle scopes, as its magnification range starts at 1x and doesn’t typically exceed 8x. It’s variable because you can adjust the magnification — it’s not fixed.
Many shooters, competitive and tactical alike, use a relatively close-range optical sight in conjunction with offset — i.e., angled — iron sights. In this set-up, you would use your offset iron sights by tilting the rifle to your left (or right, depending on whether you’re right- or left-handed). Alternatively, some shooters choose to place a close-range red-dot or holographic sight on or beside the primary optic, transitioning between them as necessary.
You’ll need to ensure that the system you’re using affords the necessary clearance to allow these kinds of backup sights.
First and Second Focal Planes
If the manufacturer places the sight reticle at the first or second focal planes, it will directly affect how you perceive the reticle during magnification adjustment. In the first focal plane (FFP), you will perceive the reticle change in size when you zoom in and out. In the second focal plane (SFP), the reticle’s size will remain constant — i.e., it will neither become enlarged nor minimized.
One of the primary disadvantages of a traditional rifle scope is that it limits peripheral vision and situational awareness. If you’re stalking a game animal or addressing multiple disparate threats, knowing your surroundings can be critical to your success or survival. Low-power variable optics allow you to preserve your situational awareness more effectively while still improving your shooting precision compared to iron sights and non-magnified optical sights (e.g., red dot and holographic).
Weight and Bulk
Weight increases shooter fatigue. A heavier weapon, all else being equal, will exhaust you more quickly than a lighter weapon. When you have to carry your rifle for a protected period in the woods while running, crouching, switching shoulders, climbing, and performing other physically demanding activities, you’ll feel every extra ounce.
Overall length also contributes to your perception of weight. A longer weapon of the same weight will feel heavier, tiring the muscles in your forearms faster. This weight distribution is one of the side effects of front-heavy rifles and shotguns.
Reducing weight and bulk has been a military goal for decades regarding small arms, and this objective extends to competitive target shooters and hunters. Rifle scopes, especially those with large objective lenses and long profiles, increase the weight and bulk of your rifle platform, rendering it less maneuverable and less comfortable to carry.
The designation 1-6x indicates that the rifle scope has a magnification range of 1 to 6 times. This scope enables close- to medium-range magnification, suitable for intermediate-power calibers, such as .300 blackout, .308, .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO which are all common to AR-15 platforms as well as other breeds of rifles.
A low-power variable optical can enhance your capabilities as a marksman, allowing you to take full advantage of your AR-15’s capabilities. The features that you should search for are a single-piece main tube or body made from aircraft-grade 6061-T6 or 7075-T6 aluminum; argon, krypton, or nitrogen gas purging; and the quality of its glass and lens coatings.
A rifle scope, regardless of its magnification range, needs to gather and deliver adequate light, providing a sharp image.
When you decide on a suitable optical sight, don’t neglect the sighting in/zeroing process. Remember that zeroing your rifle with ammunition different from what you intend to use will shift the point of impact.