Low Power Variable Optics (LPVO) are some of the most versatile scopes on the face of the planet. These awesome optics manage to combine the benefits of a red dot for close-quarters shooting and the extended range capabilities of a traditional riflescope.
With the growing popularity of modern sporting rifles like the AR-15 and AR-10, optics manufacturers have been engineering serious, high-quality LPVOs to pair with them. Today, there are literally hundreds of models to choose from. With so many options, finding the best LPVO for your shooting needs can feel like an overwhelming task.
If you aren’t sure where to start, we’re here to help. In this article we’ll cover some of the basic things to consider when purchasing a new LPVO. We even share a few of our favorite models to help you with your search.
If you don’t have time for the details, check out the list below for the best rated LPVO:
- Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28
- Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24
- Swarovski Z6i 1-6×24
- EOTech Vudu 1-6×24
- Bushnell Drop Zone 1-4×24
- Leupold VX-6HD 1-6×24
- Burris Optics RT-6 1-6×24
- TRUGLO TRU-Brite 30 Series 1-6×24
- Steiner T5Xi 1-5×24
- Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24
Table of Contents
- What is an LPVO?
- What to Consider When Choosing an LPVO?
- Best LPVOs on the Market Reviews
- Final Thoughts
What is an LPVO?
LPVO is an acronym that stands for “Low Power Variable Optic.” The term is commonly used by members of the tactical AR-15 crowd, although the term is gaining popularity among hunters and 3 Gun competitors.
A great alternative to a red dot optic, LPVOs facilitate rapid target acquisition on close-range targets. They also provide greater precision than iron sights on targets out to 600 yards.
If you struggle with astigmatism, an LPVO will solve the blurry red blob problem of a red dot optic.
What to Consider When Choosing an LPVO?
All LPVOs are not created equal. Finding the right LPVO for your shooting needs largely depends on how you’ll be using it. Here are a few key things to keep in mind while sorting through the options.
True 1x and Speed
The beauty of an LPVO is that it provides a nice balance of speed and precision. If you need to make frequent quick shots on close-range targets, you’re likely to spend a lot of time with your optic dialed to 1x. For effective 1x performance, look for an optic with a wide FOV (field of view), a generous exit pupil, and minimal optical distortion.
However, low magnification will still be important when engaging targets at longer ranges. In the world of LPVOs, there are always compromises. More magnification usually sacrifices 1x performance. You can expect better 1x performance from a 1-4x scope than from a 1-10x scope. If you’ll be spending most of your shooting time at 1x, you should consider sticking with a model that doesn’t offer an extensive magnification range.
How Much Magnification Do You Need?
As we mentioned above, more magnification doesn’t always mean better. If you need to identify targets at 800 yards, you’ll be thankful for 8x magnification (or more). However, if most of your shooting happens within 300 yards, a 1-4x scope offers plenty of magnification. It will also save you some money as scopes with powerful magnification generally come with more expensive price tags.
FFP Vs SFP
First Focal Plane (FFP) scopes have a reticle that changes size as you zoom in and out on your target. In other words, as the magnification increases, so does the size of the reticle. That means the subtensions are accurate no matter where you sit in the magnification range. This comes in handy for trajectory compensation and point of impact corrections when engaging targets at longer distances.
A Second Focal Plane (SFP) scope has a reticle that stays the same regardless of magnification. This means the reticle subtensions are only accurate at one magnification.
Both SFP and FFP reticles generally work fine for an LPVO.
The main advantage of an FFP optic is that your eye can reference the BDC marks quickly and without confusion, no matter where you are on the magnification dial.
If you’re on a budget, SFP optics tend to be cheaper. A static reticle also won’t have you straining to see the finest details at the high end of the magnification range.
Best LPVOs on the Market Reviews
1 Trijicon VCOG 1-8×28
When it comes to combat-proven optics, Trijicon is king. The company is best known for its fixed-magnification ACOGs (Advanced Combat Optical Gunsight), which have graced the US military’s M4 and M16 rifles in some of the most dangerous and demanding circumstances around the globe.
The VCOG (Variable Combat Optical Gunsight) was developed in response to military demand for an LPVO that offered similar performance and reliability.
Practically bomb-proof, the VCOG has a tough-as-nails construction that features a forged aircraft-grade 7075-T6 aluminum housing. The optic is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed for dependable fogproof performance. It is also completely waterproof and shockproof.
The scope also comes with ruggedized electronics. The FFP LED reticle is sturdy and robust enough to handle any shooting application. Powered by a single lithium AA battery, the optic offers 633 hours of use and provides 11 brightness settings.
For precision shooting at medium ranges, the reticle also features universal MOA marks for easy subtensions regardless of caliber, barrel length, or ammo. That means this optic will work just as well on an AR-10 chambered in .308 as it does on an AR-15 chambered in .300 Blackout.
2 Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-6×24
If you’re looking for a quality workhorse optic, the Vortex Strike Eagle definitely fits the bill. It features a lightweight construction and a one-piece, anodized aluminum tube. The 30mm tube is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed, making it highly resistant to harsh weather and rough use.
The optic is made with quality XD (extra-low dispersion) glass and fully multi-coated optics. The result is razor-sharp image clarity and bright, true-to-life colors, even in low light.
The SFP reticle is glass-etched and illuminated to enhance visibility in any lighting condition. The scope also features Vortex’s exclusive BD3 reticle design that focuses the eye to the target for rapid holdovers out to 650 yards.
Other notable features include a fast focus eyepiece, indexing turrets, and 11 brightness settings.
Although the Vortex Strike Eagle has a price tag well under $500, this is anything but a cheap, budget scope. It provides serious performance for the money, and is a solid LPVO regardless of your optics budget.
3 Swarovski Z6i 1-6×24
If you have a significant sum of money to drop on an LPVO, this one from industry leader Swarovski should be near the top of your list. The Z6i delivers performance well worth the high-end price tag.
In addition to crystal clear image quality, high-performance ballistic turrets, and SwaroClean non-stick lens coatings, the Z6i has a unique SwaroLight on/off timer. With a built-in tilt sensor, the scope automatically recognizes when your rifle is moved to a shooting position. When you raise your weapon to shoot, SwaroLight powers up and turns on reticle illumination. This ensures your reticle is always visible when you need it, yet helps conserve precious battery power when you don’t.
4 EOTech Vudu 1-6×24
EOTech optics and AR-15s go together like peanut butter and jelly. If you want a solid, battle-ready optic, this is it. (Although this LPVO works just as well on a bolt-action as it does a modern sporting rifle.)
The EOTech Vudu is made from a single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum with a hard anodized finish for extra durability. With XD glass and anti-reflection lens coatings, the Vudu provides crisp, bright images, even in low light.
The daylight bright illuminated reticle is located on the first focal plane, making this scope perfect for engaging targets at a variety of ranges. It also features a throw lever for fast magnification changes, a zero reset function, and surgically precise target turrets.
5 Bushnell Drop Zone 1-4×24
The Bushnell Drop Zone 1-4×24 riflescope is designed specifically for the AR-15 and other modern sporting rifles. It features an illuminated SFP reticle calibrated for standard .223/5.56 NATO FMJ loads. The design allows you to quickly engage targets out to 600 yards with surprising accuracy.
The optic has adjustable brightness with six settings to optimize visibility in practically any lighting condition.
All Drop Zone optics are covered in multiple layers of a proprietary anti-reflective coating. This fully multi-coated design provides excellent light transmission. The result is bright, high-contrast images, even in low light.
Other notable features include a throw-down power change lever and excellent, easy-to-use target turrets.
6 Leupold VX-6HD 1-6×24
No list of “best” scopes would be complete without at least one Leupold optic. Leupold consistently puts out some of the highest quality riflescopes on the market today. When it comes to LPVOs, we think Leupold’s VX-6HD is one of the best.
The VX-6HD has two features that really set this optic apart from the crowd. The first is the Twilight Max HD Light Management System. Using high-quality glass and a blend of patented lens coatings, Twilight Max HD is designed to produce jaw-dropping image clarity, even in the harshest lighting conditions. This is a particular asset for big game hunters who often get the best shot opportunities at dawn and dusk.
The second stand-apart feature is the Custom Dial System ZeroLock 2 (CDS-ZL2). CDS-ZL2 eliminates the need for holdovers on long-range shots. You simply adjust a dial customized to your rifle/ammo combination.
7 Burris Optics RT-6 1-6×24
A great option for competitive 3 Gunners, the Burris RT-6 is significantly shorter than the average LPVO. Designed for speed, the RT-6 has a true 1x at its lowest magnification for rapid, both-eyes-open target acquisition. Dial the magnification up to 6x for targets out to 600 yards.
The RT-6 features a Ballistic AR mil dot reticle. This unique reticle provides a middle circle for rapid target acquisition on close-range targets with BDC points for those tough distance shots.
8 TRUGLO TRU-Brite 30 Series 1-6×24
Featuring an ample 30-inch main tube, TRUGLO TRU-Brite 30 Series riflescopes provide bright, crystal clear images, a wide FOV, a large exit pupil, and generous eye relief.
The TRU-Brite rifles scope comes with interchangeable BDC turrets pre-calibrated for .223 (55 grain) and .308 (168 grain) loads.
Built for rough use in harsh conditions, the TRU-Brite 30 Series is constructed from a one-piece 30mm tube of aircraft grade aluminum. The housing features a hard anodized finish for extra durability, and the tube is nitrogen-filled and o-ring sealed for shockproof performance.
9 Steiner T5Xi 1-5×24
Although the Steiner T5Xi is the most expensive optic on our list, it is packed full of high-performance features.
Steiner’s optics are well-known for their impeccable image clarity. Steiner grinds and polishes its premium lenses and then covers them in multiple layers of their patented coatings to provide unmatched contrast, detail, and brightness, even in low light conditions.
The illuminated reticle is daylight bright and features 11 brightness settings to optimize visibility. It even has 4 settings optimized for use with night vision. The reticle features hash marks below the cross hair that are calibrated for the trajectory of 7.62mm loads, making this scope the perfect compliment for your AK-47.
10 Monstrum Alpha Series 1-4×24
Perfect for the budget-conscious shooter, Monstrum Alpha Series riflescopes offer surprising performance for inexpensive optics.
These rugged scopes feature aircraft-grade aluminum construction with a 30mm nitrogen purged tube. The tube is o-ring sealed to resist internal fogging, external moisture, and shock from recoil and rough use. The exterior of the scope has a tough, military standard hard anodized finish for extra durability.
Monstrum Alpha Series LPVOs feature functional FFP MOA reticles for fast range estimation and holdover corrections.
If you’re looking for an optic that balances fast target acquisition and long-range accuracy, a Low Power Variable Optic definitely fits the bill. While our list of the best LPVO isn’t an exhaustive list, all of the scopes we’ve reviewed here are some of the most durable, accurate, and reliable optics available to shooters today.