When it comes to looking for the perfect rifle scope, everyone is going to need something different. Whether you’re a hunter, a competitive shooter, or even just a hobbyist, there’s tons of features, mechanics, and other factors that you’ll need to consider when buying your next scope.
If you’ve bought a scope before, then you’re probably a little more familiar with what you need to look for. If that’s you, I’m including a list of products for you to start your search, since you’ll already know your ideal features. If you’re brand new to the rifle scopes community, this article will serve as a tool for understanding the long range scope, how it works, and what to look for in a quality device. We’ll talk about all of the important stuff today.
Not only that, but we’ll continue our base of knowledge with a list of varied recommended long range scopes that will suit any type of shooter’s needs. This way, no matter your style, you’ll leave here today with some sort of idea as to what you want in a best long range rifle scope.
- What is a Rifle Scope?
- Key Features
- Best Long Range Scope
- 1. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP
- 2. Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56 F1
- 3. Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1
- 4. Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56
- 5. Vortex Optics Razor HD 3-18×50
- 6. Burris XTR II 8-40×50
- 7. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50
- 8. Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30X56mm
- 9. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40
- 10. Athlon Midas TAC HD 6-24X50
- 11. Nikon Black FX1000
- 12. Horus Vision HoVR 5-20×50
- Other Information
What is a Rifle Scope?
First things first, what actually is a rifle scope? Of course, we all know what they do and what they look like, but the majority of shooters don’t actually know the inner mechanics of the device. Knowing how your scope works can not only save you money when it comes to maintenance, but will also clue you in as to what features you need to look for that will be best for you.
I’ll be honest with you, it’s pretty much as simple as it sounds. A scope is basically just a mini binocular that you can look through to help you shoot more accurately. Of course, don’t take me too seriously; binoculars come in pairs, a scope is only one (just think of the concept). A rifle scope will allow you to magnify and focus on your target with a reticle picture, giving you extreme accuracy compared to the traditional iron sights.
Why Long Range?
Long range rifle scopes are a particular submarket of the rifle community. These scopes are made for those who are solely long distance shooters. Whether that’s for target shooting or hunting, there’s tons of different long range scopes out there.
What makes a long range scope different from a typical rifle scope is the reliance on the magnification range. The magnification of an optic is what allows the shooter to zoom in on their target from long distances, providing the ability to see your target easier and turn your firearm into a precision rifle.
If you typically find yourself shooting big game from 300 yards away or further, then you might want to look into getting a long range scope. While you might not think it’s necessary, the benefits of using a long range rifle scope can be a game changer for avid long distance hunters like you. But, don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the facts.
Top list long range scope on the market :
- Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP
- Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56 F1
- Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1
- Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56
- Vortex Optics Razor HD 3-18×50
- Burris XTR II 8-40×50
- Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50
- Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30X56mm
- Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40
- Athlon Midas TAC HD 6-24X50
- Nikon Black FX1000
- Horus Vision HoVR 5-20×50
Types of Long Range Rifle Scopes
If you’re reading this, you’re on the hunt for a long range rifle scope. While you’re looking, there’s a few types of long range that you need to be aware of. Each type has different features, magnification, and range. Keep these in mind as we continue, as they will serve as a guideline for the features that we will talk about in the coming paragraphs.
Variable Power Long Range Rifle Scope
The vast majority of today’s rifle scopes will be a variable scope, including the category of long range. Long range rifle scopes rely on magnification, which means that they will more than likely be a variable optic. A variable sight is one that allows the user to adjust the levels of magnification that the scope offers to their liking, giving the option of customization and optimal precision when it comes to shooting.
This type of scope is also meant to be versatile. While there are some people out there who do nothing but shoot long distance, a good amount of gun owners want something that they can use in all situations. A variable scope provides that desired versatile magnification; you’ll be able to adjust to both short and long distances with just a few clicks of a knob. This way, you won’t be confined to one magnification and can be flexible with your weapon and where you shoot it.
Fixed Power Long Range Rifle Scope
The second type of scope is a fixed magnification optic. This is exactly what it sounds like: you only have one magnification to shoot from. This is a great option if you are in the competition for long distance shooting, or only hunt from long distances. If you don’t plan on using your rifle for anything but long distance, then you’ll definitely want to check out a fixed rifle scope.
Fixed rifle scopes tend to be lightweight, cheaper, and simpler to use because they lack the extra magnification mechanics. However, that also comes with another price: versatility. This scope will be virtually inflexible when it comes to applications. You won’t be able to hunt from other distances or use the scope for anything but long distance, which has brought this category of long distance rifle scopes to the rare side of the market.
This type of scope is becoming increasingly rare with the variable power optics taking the long distance market by storm. If you’re just looking to hit a fixed target from far away, or maybe just target shooting for fun, then a fixed power optic is calling your name.
Extreme Long Range Rifle Scope
The last and least common: the extreme long range scope. Most long distance shooters tend to stay below the 1,000 meters range when it comes to even attempting to hit a target. Anywhere from 300-1,000 yards is the range that a long distance shooter will typically stay. However, there are those few that challenge the average.
There are some scopes out there on the market that are made for the extreme: 1,200 meters or above. This is where the numbers may start to get intimidating for some people. But, if that sounds like you or even something you would want to explore, try an extreme long range optic.
These types of scopes are specifically designed for extreme distances, offering high levels of magnification and elevation or windage adjustments. They also are mostly variable scopes, which means they can compensate for a lot of different extreme distances. However, because of the sheer magnification that is needed for such a target, these scopes tend to be heavy beasts. They are heavier and bulkier than most other scopes because they are packed with the power needed to hit targets in the multi-mile range.
Let’s talk about what makes a long range rifle scope special. There’s a lot of features that you can look for in a long range optic and a lot of standard scope features that are important to a long distance shooter. Let’s take a look at the key features of a long range rifle scope.
Magnification in a rifle scope is what allows you to clearly see targets from further away. Having magnification on a rifle scope means that you can see further through it than you can with just your eyes alone, allowing you to aim more precisely at your target and increasing your chances of landing the shot.
Each rifle scope will be different in terms of the magnification that it offers. In order to choose the right one, you’ll need to know why magnification is so important and how it’s measured.
Magnification is measured in numbers like once time magnification, twice, quadruple, so on. The number annotations for the specifications of the scope will look something like this: 1x, 4x, 8x, so on and so on. Choosing the right magnification for your purposes can be difficult; it’s important to know the intended uses of each magnification so you can apply them properly.
How much magnification do you really need? Let’s take a look at some general magnification ranges that apply to common uses for a rifle.
|Target shooting at 100 yards.Hunting small game.Self defense.||Target shooting at 200 yards.Hunting big game.Hunting in diverse terrains (forest, mountains)||Target shooting beyond 200 yards.Hunting in open fields or terrains.|
This magnification range is pretty small and not made for long distances. 1-4x is best for shooting targets that are up to 100 yards away. It’s also useful for hunting small game and self defense situations at your home.
This is where the longer ranges start coming in. You’ll want this level of magnification if your target is up to 200 yards away. This magnification range is also good for hunting large game or hunting in forested landscapes with a lot of diverse terrain like mountains.
This is the long range shooting magnification. This range is specifically good for shooting targets that are beyond the 200 yard mark, as well as hunting from far away over open land like plains or fields.
The objective lens is one of the most important components of a long range rifle scope. This lens is located on the end of the scope; it’s what gives your optic its brightness and viewing clarity. The objective lens size will vary from scope to scope, but typically the bigger that your objective lens is, the more clearly you’ll be seeing your target.
While seeing clearly is great, you’ll want to find a good balance between the size of the objective lens and your scope. There’s a few downfalls to having a large objective lens:
- Your scope will be heavier.
- You could end up with some scope ring problems.
- Your position could be compromised from the reflection off of your lens.
The size of your objective lens is usually annotated in millimeters and will follow the magnification measurement. A typical scope specification will look something like: 3-10x40mm. The 3-10x is the magnification range while the 40mm is the diameter of your objective lens. See, all those numbers are actually a lot less intimidating than they look.
Just like with the magnification, there stands the question of just how big you’ll want your objective lens to be.
|Objective Lens Sizes|
|28mm & Smaller||30-40mm||50mm & Bigger|
|For weapons with little to no recoil.Close quarters shooting.Low power magnification.||For weapons with moderate recoil.Low light hunting.Higher power magnification.||For high powered magnification in lower light levels.For extreme long distance targets.|
28mm & Smaller
This size of objective lens is best put on a weapon that has little to no recoil. This size is good for close quarters hunting and shooting, as well as lower power magnification scopes.
This size is able to withstand firearms that have more recoil. It’s also good for hunting in low light conditions and for higher power magnification scopes.
50mm & Bigger
This final size is great for when you need high magnification in low light levels. It’s also good for those extremely long range targets.
This is one that not a lot people might know about. But typically, most rifle scopes come equipped with some sort of special coating on the objective lens that will provide a variety of protections and functions. The lens coatings are equipped to provide greater glass clarity and brightness by increasing the light transmission that goes through your scope. This way, depending on which type of coated glass you get, you’ll get insane clarity and brightness of your reticle without struggling with the glass being blurry.
There’s 4 different kinds of glass coatings that you’ll find on the market today. The first one is just called coated. This is where a single glass surface on the scope will be coated with a specially formulated solution. This solution is the one that provides clarity and increases the light transmission through your rifle scope.
This is most likely going to be your cheapest option, but will also provide the least amount of results.
Fully coated means that all your external glass surfaces will be coated. This gives a little better results than the coated option but will be a little more expensive. This is the standard option that will be found on a majority of average rifle scopes.
Multicoated means that one external surface on your scope will be coated multiple times. This option is typically found on expensive scopes and will provide great results for a price.
This is going to be your most expensive option. Fully multicoated means that all surfaces of your external scope glass is going to be coated multiple times for multiple layers. This usually will be found on the highest end scopes on the market.
If you’re really liking the idea of the benefits of a lens coating, you’ll want to look for something that has been fully coated or above that. That is what most scopes are standard with anyways; it’s also where you’ll get the best results. Just remember that a good lens coating won’t be able to cover up poor quality glass, that will still be an issue no matter what coating you get. A lens coating can be important, but it’s not something you need to spend a lot of time debating.
Field of View
Field of view is basically everything that you can see from the left side to the right side. Just like with your normal vision, field of view is also a concept that can be applied to rifle scopes as well. When you look through a scope, you’re bound to have less field of view than you normally would. However, a good quality sight will give you the best possible field of view that you can have when looking through a scope.
Especially in the case of long range rifle scopes, your field of view will differ depending on the magnification level that you are using. Let’s say you’re only using 6x magnification. While using this level, you’ll be able to not only see your target, but also a lot of the surroundings around it.
Now, let’s zoom in to 24x magnification. The field of view on this setting is not going to be too good, you’ll pretty much only be able to see and focus on your target. Which, would make sense, if you think about the logic behind it. I mean, the more you zoom in, the smaller the circle is on your target.
The problem that a lot of gun owners run into is something called tunneling. Tunneling on a rifle scope is typically found in cheaper scopes where the manufacturers took shortcuts in order to make a quick buck. Tunneling happens when you try to zoom in on your target and the lens itself gets smaller instead of just zooming it. This means that while you think you’re zooming in, you’re actually just being fooled by a camera trick. This is something that a lot of unreliable manufacturers will do to prevent having to put a lot of money into a scope, but will sell it for a higher price.
So, not only are you experiencing low field of view from the magnification, you’re also getting double the negative with the tunneling. Think of it like tunnel vision, but through a rifle scope.
If you find yourself in a situation where your scope is tunneling, you should probably look into getting a new one. Tunneling makes it extremely hard to see your target accurately and it will tend to affect your shots too. So, just try to avoid tunneling completely. If you can, see a gun shop and take a look at some scopes yourself to make sure you get a good quality one that doesn’t tunnel on you.
Another feature that everyone wants in a product is reliability, rifle scopes are no different. When it comes to using a long range rifle scope, that device is going to be the make it or break it of whether or not you make that important shot or not. Whether you’re using one for hunting, competitive shooting, or find yourself in a military application, you always want to have a scope that you can rely on to get the job done.
There’s three important categories that are known to make up long range scope reliability: zero retention, repeatability, and tracking. When it comes to a long distance scope, understanding the reliability of such a device can be hard, especially if you don’t have an outrageous budget. If you’re going to spend your hard-earned dough on something, you’ll want something you can trust. Consider these three factors before choosing and purchasing a rifle scope.
Whether or not your rifle scope can hold a zero is critical for landing long range shots. Since you’ll be shooting from such far distances, you need every variable on your side that you can get. It’s already hard enough trying to aim and shoot at a target that you can barely see with your own eyes, let alone having to try and mess with the zeroing adjustments while you’re doing it.
If your scope is quality, it will be able to hold the zero that you adjusted it to no matter what it knocks or bumps into. Drop your scope? It should still hold its zero with no issues. If it doesn’t, that’s where the problems will come in. Scopes that lose zeroes can lose them if it takes any sort of physical hit, which means that using your scope in a real life hunting situation would be hard. If you hit your scope on a tree branch, there’s the chance of your zero going out. This leaves you with a long distance target that’s quickly getting out of range and an inaccurate rifle.
So, before you get a long range scope, make sure you read some reviews and consult some experts. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s worth your time zeroing the thing.
This factor is probably not one a lot of people would even think about when it comes to choosing a rifle scope, but it’s actually more important than you might think. Repeatability is the scope’s ability to instantly adjust to the different elevation adjustment or windage adjustment that you might need without needing time to get used to it.
Basically, some scopes wind up making you waste some ammo or struggle with trying to force the optic to find its new zero right after you adjust it. This can be extremely frustrating and tends to be a huge problem for a lot of hunters and long range shooters. You’re already trying to go through the irritation of getting your zero right; the last thing you want to do is waste even more bullets after you’ve done all the heavy lifting of adjusting it.
Tracking in the rifle scope world is also known as adjustment accuracy. This is the measurement of how accurate your rifle is when it comes to adjusting the zero measurements in accordance with the real life exact math. The scope’s quality of construction and how the mechanics work inside it are a key point in how it will perform in the field of tracking.
A lot of low quality rifle scopes’ measurements won’t be exactly 1 MOA or 0.5 MOA like most typical rifle scopes claim to be. While they might boast about their 1 MOA measurements, a lot of these scopes can be off, even the tiniest bit. While it might not affect the normal hunter, for a long distance shooter, those inaccuracies add up. Over a long distance with a rifle scope that’s tracking improperly, you can end up missing your target by 10 inches or more!
When this happens, it can leave you questioning whether it was user error or something else that went wrong, especially if you aren’t aware that this is a common problem. Before you go out and buy your scope, make sure you do your research. While the specifications of a product can give some great information, they most likely won’t be able to tell you anything about the exactness of the adjustments. For that, consult some expert buddies or a scope expert; they’ll be able to tell you which scopes will steer away from poor tracking.
The shape, size, and style of a reticle can mean the difference between hit or miss. Every shooter will have their own preferences when it comes to reticles, but there are still some factors that you’ll want to consider. These factors, while a lot of the reticle design is up to subjective preferences, can still have a practical effect on your shot and what you can estimate with the reticle.
There’s a few main reticle styles that we’ll talk about today. These are all designed with different applications in mind and might help you to gain a preference or an idea of what you want for your scope.
This is probably one of the most common. If you’ve seen any action movie ever, you’ve probably seen a duplex scope in use at some point. A duplex reticle just looks like a basic crosshairs and is very easy to use. This is usually the default when it comes to rifle scopes and is recommended for new users and beginners.
The mil-dot reticle might not be as familiar, but it does have a great feature: distance estimation. With this style of reticle, you’ll be able to guess on how far your target might be based on what you have your scope zeroed to. This reticle style is the go-to for the military and other law enforcement officers.
The BDC definitely isn’t as common as the other two. The BDC, or bullet drop compensating, reticle is known for exactly that: compensating for the bullet drop. This reticle will look like a dot in the middle with hash marks that extend to the bottom of the scope. These hash marks allow you to estimate what kind of bullet drop your firearm will experience and allow you to use the marks to adjust for it. This is an especially useful feature for long range shooting since the longer the distance, the greater the bullet drop.
MOA vs. MRAD
Now we’re starting to get into some tricky stuff. If you’ve been around firearms for a while, I’m sure you’ve heard the terms MOA and MRAD. While we won’t go into too much detail today (you can check out my other guide on the different between the two), we’ll go over some basics and what might bring one over the other when it comes to long range shooting.
MOA, or minute of angle, is an angular measurement that allows you to adjust and zero in your rifle. It will measure your rifle for 1 inch every 100 yards. This system will be more familiar to you if you use the imperial measurement system like inches, feet, yards, etc.
MRAD, aka milliradian, is another form of angular measurement. This type of measurement is also used for zeroing a weapon and is measured at 0.36 inches per 100 yards. This measurement system is more based off of the metric system; if that’s what you’re used to, MRAD will be more familiar.
Now, there’s really no difference between the MOA and MRAD. Whichever one you choose is totally up to you. It’s like comparing inches to centimeters; there’s no real comparison to be had here. They don’t measure any differently in terms of accuracy or the quality of the zero. Whatever measurement you choose for your rifle won’t affect your accuracy or how you use your weapon; it’s more about which one makes more sense to you.
If you’re stumped, just call up some friends and get their sides. If you can’t pick, just use whatever they use. Either way, you’re neither gaining nor losing anything if you pick one or the other.
This is another one that comes down a lot to preference and your intended use of the scope. When using magnification on a long distance scope, there’s typically two types of scopes that you’ll encounter: reticles on the first focal plane and reticles on the second focal plane.
First Focal Plane
The first focal plane is when the reticle adjusts based on your magnification. This means that as you zoom in more on your target, your reticle will also become bigger with it. This can give you a great advantage when you are long range shooting because you’ll be able to see your reticle more clearly and have a higher chance of hitting your shot. However, it may overtake your target if you use it from a short distance.
Second Focal Plane
Reticles that are on the second focal plane will not enlarge when you use the magnification of your scope. They will stay the exact same size no matter how much you zoom in or out. This means that no matter what range you’re shooting from, your view won’t be obscured and you’ll get to save a few dollars when it comes to purchasing your scope.
This question is kind of tricky. The first focal plane scopes are great for long distances, but that’s pretty much it. If you’re intending to use the scope as versatile tool for more than just long ranges, then it has a chance of obscuring the target at a smaller distance, leaving it difficult to make your shot.
That being said, the second focal plane won’t do that. Since the reticle never changes size, you won’t have to worry about it getting in the way of your aim. However, it won’t give you the same benefits for long distance if that’s what you’re looking for. This option will be a lot cheaper, though.
Let’s highlight some key differences.
|First focal plane||Second focal plane|
|Long range shooting||Hunting or target shooting|
|10x magnification or higher||8x magnification or lower|
|Open shooting environments||Crowded shooting environments|
A rifle scope turret is what you will use to set the elevation adjustment and the windage adjustment to what you need to zero in your firearm. Turrets can range wildly from product to product and brand to brand, so it’s best if you know what a good, quality turret is supposed to look like and how it’s supposed to function.
Turrets are responsible for moving your scope either horizontally or vertically. They are either measured in MOA or MRAD, just like we talked a little bit about before. Again, whichever one you choose is entirely up to you.
There’s two main types of turrets that we’ll talk about today: elevation turret and windage turret. These two turrets are what makes your scope act like a scope; they allow you to adjust where your aiming point will be on the target.
The elevation adjustment is what sets your rifle up or down. These measurements are meant to help you zero in your rifle at whatever distance you like as well as compensate for bullet drop. Now, the bullet drop rate will differ depending on the caliber of your firearm, which will be important to know before you go to adjust your elevation.
This turret does just the opposite: it moves your scope side to side. This is what will compensate for wind or other factors that might try to push your bullet off to the side of your target.
Turrets are the most essential part of a rifle scope. They are what make a rifle scope, well, be a rifle scope. If you can’t properly adjust your turrets, then you’re in for a world of hurt when you try to land your shot. These turret adjustments are quite literally the lifeline of the accuracy of your rifle. If you mess these up, or if the turrets themselves are poorly made and inaccurate, then you won’t be able to hit anything.
When you’re looking for a new scope, make sure you get a good idea on what the turrets look and feel like. Again, remember the repeatability that we talked about earlier. This is where that applies. If the scope can’t automatically adjust itself to the new turret measurements, that’s a good indicator of a poor quality scope.
Tracking also applies here too. If your turrets aren’t exact, then your shot will end up being inches off when it comes to shooting over longer distances. Look for a good, crisp, audible click when you adjust the knobs. That will give you an indication of whether or not the knobs are solid and are clicking into place on an exact measurement.
This one is more of a safety feature than anything. Eye relief is the distance that you can rest your face behind the scope without getting the recoil to the face, but still being able to use your scope properly. If you don’t have enough eye relief, you can end up with a black eye or other serious injuries.
So, be aware of the recoil and how much eye relief the scope has. In general, an eye relief of about 3-4 inches is a good range for starters. If your rifle has more kickback than a normal one, then go for more eye relief.
Parallax is quite a big problem when it comes to long range rifle scopes. Parallax is known as the phenomenon that your reticle moves when you move or tilt your head. If you look through your scope at an angle, there’s a good chance that the reticle will no longer be centered because of parallax.
Parallax has a few different fixes though. When it comes to traditional rifle scopes, you can opt for:
- A parallax turret: this is an optional third knob that can adjust the parallax.
- Adjustable Objective (AO): this is a ring on the scope that you can twist to eliminate the parallax.
- Factory settings: often times, scopes are shipped from the factory with built in parallax protection.
Believe it or not, these options will all pretty much completely eliminate parallax. While no scope is completely parallax free, these options will give you one where you won’t even be able to tell the difference.
Best Long Range Scope
Now that you know exactly what to look for, let’s talk some scopes. I’ve picked out a range of products that come with varying features; there will be something here for every shooter’s preferences and budget. Even if none of these are your style, use this as a guide as to what brands and types of products you’ll want to be searching.
1. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP
This scope is definitely the budget option, but that doesn’t mean it has to come with a quality sacrifice. This scope proves that anybody can get into the field of long range shooting, no matter your budget or tastes. This Vortex optic offers plenty of features at a great price for anyone to get started.
This scope offers a magnification range of 5-25x. For the so-called budget price, this range is impressive. This scope is essentially versatile, allowing you a wide range of different zooms that you can use to hit any target from any distance.
Along with that, it also comes equipped with an etched glass lens. The lens features an illuminated reticle as well. This will allow you to see your aiming point more clearly, as well as line it up properly with your target quicker and easier. Using an illuminated reticle will give you a great advantage when the light transmission of the scope might not be so great.
There are also MOA and MRAD reticles available on this scope. That way, anyone can use it to their personal preferences. No matter which measurement you prefer, this scope offers both. You can customize it to fit your needs and make it the most comfortable and versatile for you to shoot.
The turrets are at an increment of 0.25 MOA, which offers great accuracy and precision when it comes to adjusting and zeroing your rifle. This way, you can hit that tiny notch that you need to when you’re trying to zero in on a tough target. Also, it comes equipped with the parallax adjustment knob, which not a lot of scopes might have. This allows you to eliminate the worry of parallax and focus solely on aiming and improving the accuracy of your zero.
This scope also has fully multicoated lenses. This way, you get better light transmission and lens clarity. The lens coating will also protect your lenses and give you tons of great benefits when it comes to seeing and hitting your target. For the price, this lens coating is invaluable for long distance shooting.
While this scope is durable, it doesn’t perform too great in harsh weather conditions. It also has a zero reset feature, which has been reported to not work very well. It’s best not to use it.
- It’s affordable.
- It has an illuminated reticle.
- It offers both MOA and MRAD reticles.
- It doesn’t perform well in weather conditions.
- The zero reset feature doesn’t work well.
- It’s not as precise as more expensive optics.
2. Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56 F1
While this scope isn’t the cheapest, it provides a great balance between price and features. It’s not too pricey, which means it won’t have any crazy high end features, but it’s also not a low quality budget scope. This is the perfect option for an average shooter who needs something affordable but reliable.
This optic comes equipped with a few different reticle styles, which means that you’ll be able to customize what your scope looks like and how you shoot. You’ll be able to enjoy different benefits from the different reticle styles at your fingertips. Not only that, but it also has 2 illuminated reticle options, to give you even further versatility.
The turrets offer 0.25 MOA adjustments and 0.1 mil adjustments. This is what will give this scope the opportunity to be used by anyone, regardless of your preference. This way, you can choose the measurement system that you prefer and still have a very accurate zero with the small and precise adjustments.
It also comes with the parallax adjustment, which allows you to eliminate an extra variable that might affect your shot. This way, you can focus on zeroing your rifle without having to account for another thing like parallax on top of it.
This scope is extremely durable and reliable, as much as it is precise. It lives up to the Nightforce ATACR legacy when it comes to performance for the price. While it is a little on the expensive side, you won’t be disappointed with how you spent your money.
While it has great mechanics, that also means that the scope itself is pretty heavy. If that’s a main concern for you, then this might not be your best choice. This scope can add a little bit of extra noticeable weight to your rifle, which might affect your shooting if you’re not used to it.
- It has a great value for the price.
- It has a great range of reticle options.
- It offers both MOA and MRAD adjustments.
- It includes 2 illuminated reticle options.
- It’s expensive.
- It’s heavy and bulky.
3. Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1
This scope is the extreme long range from the line of Nightforce optics. Like the last optic, you won’t be disappointed by the features this one has to offer.
This optic offers a staggering 7-35x magnification range, a significant just from its last counterpart we discussed. This scope is made specifically for those crazy long distance shots you’ve always dreamed of making. This way, you can be accurate at any long distance without having to worry about too little magnification to hit your target.
There’s tons of options for reticle styles, which includes another 2 for illuminated reticles. With such a wide selection, you won’t encounter a situation that the Nightforce doesn’t have a reticle for. Regardless of your situation, this scope will likely have the adjustment in reticle style that you’re going to need.
This scope is also equipped with a zero reset feature, which will allow you to move the scope around from firearm to firearm as you please. This way, you can easily reset the reticle to the default, making it easier to adjust to different rifles, distances, and targets with the simple click of a button.
This scope also features the 0.25 MOA adjustments and 0.1 mil adjustments, giving you that extra option for personal preference accommodation. This way, you won’t have to worry about learning a new measuring system just because your scope doesn’t use it. You’ll be able to use the turrets no matter what for precise zeroing.
Not only that, but it’s also equipped with the extra parallax adjustment knob, so you won’t have to worry about struggling with that issue when it comes to your extreme long distance hunts. Just focusing on your target is all you’ll be doing when it comes to adjustments.
This scope is known for its heavy weight and heavier price tag. Also, the eye relief might not be sufficient for larger rifles that have massive kickback, which can be a huge safety thing for the shooter.
- It’s very reliable.
- It has a great range of reticle options.
- It offers both MOA and MRAD adjustments.
- It includes 2 illuminated reticle options.
- It’s expensive.
- It’s heavy and bulky.
- The eye relief doesn’t suit every rifle.
4. Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56
This Leupold optic is definitely the one you want to go for if you’re in the game for something that’s versatile. If you’re not just about the long distance and want something that’s flexible and good for all kinds of distances, this is the optic for you.
This optic offers a 3.5-25x magnification range. This incredible range will allow you to use the scope for any types of hunts or shots, regardless of whether they are long distance or not. This way, you’ll be free to explore other types of shooting without being restricted to one type of distance when you’re using it.
The reticle patterns come in many different options and offer illuminated reticles as well. You’ll never be uncomfortable when you’re shooting this scope. It allows you to accommodate your personal preferences as well as balance your needs for the benefits that different reticle styles might offer.
This optic also boasts the zero reset feature, which is a great thing to have if you’re in a pinch. Not only that, but this feature allows you to switch the optic from one weapon to the other without having to struggle with trying to find that perfect zero every time. Resetting the optic essentially gives you a fresh start for each time you need to reuse it.
This scope also features the 0.25 MOA adjustments and 0.1 mil adjustments, giving you that extra option for personal preferences and customization, which can be valuable to the shooting experience. These measurements will give you precision, but also allow you to use the system which is the most familiar to you.
However, many users of the Leupold don’t like how the turrets are push to lock in place. The concept of a push button for a zeroing adjustment can prove to be a problem when it comes to holding a zero against physical hits to either tree branches or anything else that might come in your path.
- It’s very precise.
- It has a great range of reticle options.
- It offers both MOA and MRAD precise adjustments.
- It has great lens quality.
- It’s expensive.
- The push turret design is hard to use.
5. Vortex Optics Razor HD 3-18×50
Are you looking for a nice and reliable long-range scope? Let’s take a close look at this Vortex Razor HD if it suits your shooting distance.
One of the wonders of this scope is that you can use it to hit targets that are about 3,000 yards away. This is why I totally recommend this sight for your long-range shooting. When I examined this Vortex scope, I observed that the sight image was unusually crisp across the whole magnification range.
The image remains sharp, and the colors remain accurate from edge to edge. If the quality of the lens is lower, you will notice that the image becomes darker as you move your gaze around the scope’s edges. This Vortex Razor scope is not one of those poor image-quality long-range scopes.
So, why is the field of vision of this scope so clear? The clarity of the scope is because it is composed of extra-low-dispersion glass with a high density. This is an indication that the glass was made with the highest quality materials that are designed to give excellent color integrity and picture clarity.
In addition, the lenses are completely multi-coated, and they have anti-reflective XR coatings too. These coatings boost light transmission, allowing more light to reach the eyes of the shooter rather than bouncing off.
This results in an extraordinarily brilliant image, especially at the greatest magnification levels. The scope has its reticle on the first focal plane position, and it is engraved directly on the glass.
Since the scope’s reticle is FFP, its size would change as you adjust the magnification. When you tune to a lower magnification, the reticle lines will be smaller and finer, while at a higher magnification, the lines will appear heavier and larger.
This Vortex Razor scope will take the guessing out of your shooting when you want to shoot exceptionally long-range shots because the holdovers for bullet drop, windage, and elevation will remain constant.
The reticle of the scope is illuminated, and it is visible in any lighting condition. The Vortex Razor has an eye relief of 3.7 inches and a very accommodating eye box.
Even with a powerful weapon, you’ll have plenty of room behind the ocular lens when taking a long-range shot.
This scope is really tough. It has an O-ring seal that protects the internal components from moisture, and it is nitrogen purged to prevent fogging. This Vortex scope can be dipped and dragged on dirt or mistreated and knocked over different surfaces, and it will still hold zero.
The strong anodized finish is barely chipped, and its AmorTek coating prevents dirt, filth, and fingerprints from harming the lens surface.
The windage and elevation knobs are dependable and simple to operate- you can even turn the turrets with your gloves on. The turrets of this scope give out a tactile and audible click, so you will feel and hear the clicks as you make changes. The turret locks protect the turrets from spinning accidentally when you’re not using the scope.
This scope’s magnification ranges from 3x to 18x, making it an excellent scope for both long and medium-distance shooting. You can use the lower magnification during mid-range activities such as deer hunting. You can easily shoot a 6-inch steel plate at 2000 yards using the top magnification.
The scope has a side parallax knob that can be adjusted from 25 yards to infinity. The illumination settings are also located on the parallax knob. Vortex did a good job by simplifying the controls
The tube of this scope is 34 mm in diameter. As a result, you can use the 34mm TAC rings. The rings are reasonably priced and work nicely on a Picatinny rail.
The Vortex Razor HD scope is fantastic for long-range shooting. It contains everything you need to obtain a great view from long distances:
6. Burris XTR II 8-40×50
The Burris XTR scope is another great long-range scope. It has a wide magnification ranging from 8x to 40x, and it comes with a 50mm objective lens diameter. The scope has an F-Class reticle.
The image quality of the scope at the lowest magnification is bright and sharp however, it loses some brightness when you increase the magnification to the highest (40x).
This Burris sight is suitable for distances exceeding 1000 yards, however, shooters often use it for distances between 200 and 1400 yards.
The F-Class reticle was created for F-class long ranges targets. The reticle of this Burris scope is positioned on the first focal plane, and it has four illuminated dots at every 10 MOA on the elevation line.
While it offers 11 brightness levels, the light is difficult to perceive, which is owing in part to the .125 MOA dot size.
Because of the big 34mm tube, The turrets of the scope are quite tactile and have a total of 30 MOA movement on the windage side and 70 MOA on the elevation. Burris refers to the knob as an ’80-Click knob,’ and adjustments are accomplished in extremely tiny 1/8 clicks. You can use the Zero Stop and click on the turret for a quick return to zero.
The Burris XTR scope comes with a sunshade, lens covers (flip-up), and a turret wrench. It is built in the Philippines and comes with a lifetime warranty from Burris.
The only item lacking that you might want to have is a magnification ring throw lever for quick magnification changes.
7. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50
Vortex Strike Eagle series of scope boasts some of the greatest optics for the money. They’re also well-known for the Vortex warranty, which is usually for a lifetime and entirely transferable.
Now let us get to the juice of this scope…
When it comes to scopes that have a decent glass clarity and reticle, the Strike Eagle scope cannot be left out. The lenses give shooters a nice image that is sharp enough for long-range shots. It has good glass for its price.
The scope has its reticle on the second focal plane position, and the EBR-4 reticle’s hash markings are thick enough to be usable at 4x and 24x magnification.
I’m not comfortable with how the hash markings begin at 4 MOA. When you’re wrong with less than 4 MOA, it would be more difficult to make changes on the knobs.
The scope has a little distortion on the edge, but it is only visible at maximum magnification. Eye relief is standard at 3.5 inches, so you should be fine unless you want to shoot a very massive bullet. The eye box is also satisfactory…
The turret adjustment was somewhat difficult to turn. I had to wear gloves to properly turn them while zeroing because they were far off from zero out of the box. Furthermore, the knobs were a bit smaller than I preferred.
The parallax adjustment is stiff as well… although not as much as the windage and elevation turrets. The magnification adjustment was lovely and smooth; however, it was also heavy… You won’t be changing magnifications quickly, so that shouldn’t be an issue.
Overall, the fit and feel are satisfactory. I used a 30mm Warne Mount while mounting the scope because it is simple to mount and can hold zero even after you take the scope off several times.
The scope has an illuminated reticle that would aid the reticle visibility at any time of the day. The illumination can be adjusted from 0 to 11, with no OFF places next to the numbers. Remember that illuminated reticles aren’t as bright in daylight. They are used at dawn or dusk.
This sight is an excellent entry-level scope with good glass. Although it has some blurring on the sides at higher power, and the knobs are somewhat stiff.
8. Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30X56mm
The next long-range scope on our list is the Primary Arms Plx. This scope has a massive objective lens diameter of 56mm, which would allow you to have a better view of your target. The glass of the scope is exceedingly bright and clear. The reticle of the scope is useable at the lowest magnification. However, at 30x, it becomes too large.
It’s OK to aim a torso-sized object, but anything smaller may be difficult with those massive hash marks.
Eye relief on this scope ranges from 3.3 inches to 4 inches, which is within the standard range. Even at the maximum magnification of 30x, the eye box is rather forgiving.
Very good huge knob with subdued-sounding clicks. The windage turret is somewhat stiffer than other standard turrets, but it has the same touch quality.
Parallax is buried behind the reticle lighting knobs, but it has well-graded numbers. The magnifying ring includes a tiny incorporated fin that aids in adjusting. The scope has an excellent and a high-quality finish. I used a different Lightweight mount, but Primary Arms usually gives a complimentary mount.
This scope, like all of Primary Arms’ products, comes with a lifetime guarantee, therefore, you can use the scope for any of your outdoor long-range shooting without fear.
9. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40
A quality long-range scope does not have to cost a lot of money. You can actually get a good long-range scope with some decent features and quality for less than $200.
I, too, was apprehensive about purchasing this low-cost scope. However, after trying it out, I was glad I did. This is because the scope offers the shooter a stunning view and does not disappoint, whether you’re using it in the daytime or in the dark after nightfall.
The glass of this Diamondback scope is completely multicoated. The multi-coating helps to produce a clean and bright sight image. The reticle is so amazing, and it performs flawlessly. The reticle is etched on the second focal plane; it is a BDC reticle, and it takes some getting time to get accustomed to.
The scope has a varying eye relief that ranges from 3.4 inches to 3.1 inches depending on whether the scope is on low magnification or high magnification, so you’ll never have to adjust your rifle’s cheek weld to have a good vision.
The Diamondback scope is tough as a nail. If you do not intentionally hit the scope on the road or concrete, it will stay together and maintain zero perfectly fine. The body of the scope is highly durable and solid.
The turrets of the scope aren’t spectacular, but they perform their job admirably. I prefer a somewhat louder click so that the shooter can keep track of the adjustment. The turrets are finger adjustable; therefore, you’ll not need tools to dial the knobs. The capped turrets of the Diamondback are pretty solid, and they can easily return to zero.
This scope’s magnification is ideal for mid to long-range shooting. The 4x magnification allows shooters to fire comfortably at targets a few hundred yards away. Whenever you need more precision, you can use the 12x magnification, which is not an overkill like some other scopes we’ve reviewed.
The scope comes with a soft lens cover in the package, but I’d recommend investing in a Vortex flip cap, which would fit more firmly and provide greater lens protection.
This Vortex Diamondback scope may not look like the other scopes in this article because it doesn’t have a magnification up to 20x, but it can do what most other scopes on the list can do in terms of long-range shooting.
Also, Vortex offers its users a lifetime warranty, with that, you’re sure that they’ll repair or fix the scope if anything happens to it.
10. Athlon Midas TAC HD 6-24X50
The Midas line of Athlon’s scope is one of their mid-level long-range riflescopes. It is the series’s longest-range scope, and it appears to have been designed in response to criticism on the Midas line of scope.
Everything about this sight screams quality. It comes with an exposed turret that has a highly tactile feel to it, and the reticle is glass-etched. Setting the reticle on the first plane lets it to grow in size as you increase magnification, ensuring superb sight image and accuracy at any distance.
The turrets track quite well and generally very accurate, clear, and loud clicks. I brought this up because Athlon’s lower-priced scopes have been regarded as mushy.
It offers premium features such as Advanced Wide Band Fully-Coated optics, an external XPL protective coating, side focus, 30 mm scope tube, and Argon filled tube to prevent fog- which is superior to Nitrogen.
It even includes the Precision Zero Stop System, which is generally found exclusively on the greatest scopes. This is a high-quality scope if you desire long-range precision at a fair price.
11. Nikon Black FX1000
The Nikon FX1000 is one of the most affordable and basic optics available, but it has exceptional long-range features. With optical strengths of 4x-16x or 6x-24x, and options of FX-MOA, FX-MRAD, and a price tag that is just good for shooters seeking to test the boundaries of their guns without breaking their budget.
The turret mechanism particularly stands out in this scope. It is one of the quickest and simplest turret systems you’ll find. You’ll also love the zero stop because it makes adjustment easy.
The tube diameter of the scope is 30mm, and when combined with the large objective lens diameter of 50mm, you may anticipate a better image clarity and superior light transmission.
If you go with the illuminated version, which I recommend, you’ll find 10 brightness intensity adjustments, and you can toggle these settings as you wish. All of the reticles aid in the detection and correction of range, elevation, windage target size, parallax adjustment, and holdover limitations.
Despite its basic design, the scope is very sturdy and tough, with reasonable waterproof and a lens that seems to be fog-free regardless of climatic circumstances.
Another significant feature that drew my attention was the 3.5 inches of eye relief. It is wonderful, even with such high magnification settings, and is simple to use even for shooters using glasses. This Nikon scope is one of the finest on the market so you can give it a try.
12. Horus Vision HoVR 5-20×50
This scope is on the more expensive side, but that doesn’t mean it lacks in features for the price. It offers tons of great features and high quality.
This scope features a 5-20x magnification range, making it a great choice for all you long distance addicts out there. The magnification range is versatile, allowing this scope to be used for close encounters and far target tracking. You won’t be disappointed with the range when it comes to seeing your targets and hitting them too.
Not only that, but it also comes with 3 different reticle styles to choose from. This allows you to customize your shooting experience while still having the option to choose between different reticles. You’ll have variety in benefits from the 3 different styles and will be able to use them in different firing situations.
The adjustment turrets can range from 0.1 mil or 0.25 MOA, depending on the reticle that you use. These smaller increments will give you great precision when it comes to adjusting your reticle and finding the perfect zero. It also provides customization in support of using different reticles; the measurements will adjust based on the reticle you choose.
A possible drawback here is the lack of any illuminated reticle options. Depending on your intended uses, this might be a deal breaker for you. The scope is also known to have some light transmission issues, which can be a big hit to your glass clarity and target visibility.
However, despite all of that, the scope retains its zero perfectly. You won’t have to worry about the zero becoming inaccurate or dropping when you need it the most.
- It’s durable.
- It performs well.
- It’s lightweight.
- It offers both MOA and MRAD reticles.
- There’s no illuminated reticles.
- It’s expensive.
- It has poor light transmission.
When you’re looking for the best rifle scope, that might be hard to find with such an extensive market for the long range category. However, you can use this list as one to help you start your search and know what to look for and how to look for it. Whether you’re long range hunting, or competition shooting, or just want to try it out, there’s something out there for everyone.
If none of the scopes I listed seem to be hitting the mark with you, here’s some other brands and products you can check out to help get you on your way:
- Vortex Razor
- Crossfire II
- Primary Arms SLX
- Vortex Optics Viper
- Vortex Diamondback
Just remember, this is merely a recommendations list. If you’re not finding something you like, take some advice from friends that are also long distance enthusiasts. Take a look at some of these brands too, they are reliable and well known in the long range shooting community.
What’s the best magnification for a long range rifle scope?
High powered rifle scopes are best for shooting at long distances. The magnification range for this is typically between 12x and 20x.
What size of objective lens should I get?
When it comes to long range hunting, you’ll want to get a larger objective lens. This will make sure that the lens you pick will be able to accommodate your rifle’s high powered magnification.
What magnification do I need for 400 yards?
You’ll need 4x-6x magnification range.
How far can I see through a 6-24×50 scope?
With this magnification, you can see over 1000 yards.
What magnification range do I need for 1000 yards?
You’ll need roughly 10x magnification.
How far can I see through a 24x scope?
You can see up to 1000 yards.
Mike Hardesty is a published freelance gun writer. With dozens of articles and reviews published in Pew Pew Tactical, Snipercountry.com, and TTAG (The Truth About Guns), Mike is considered a firearms expert. His special area of expertise is handguns.
Mike is a long-time shooter. He has been punching paper targets, taking deer and other game and shooting at competitions since about 1975. Other related pursuits include reloading and bullet casting. He currently reloads for over 10 calibers, both handgun and rifle. His reloads, particularly for 9mm, were in great demand during the height of the ammo shortage among family and friends. He donated hundreds of rounds to informal shooting sessions. He was quoted as saying “I do not sell my reloads but I sure will help my guys shoot ’em for free!”. He has a few cherished firearms that he has inherited or otherwise procured — those are his favorites.
He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from Indiana State University in 1974-1975.
He’s a firearm experts and is the founder of mhardesty.com.