Cartridges that are able to shoot on long ranges are more popular than ever.
However, to be able to bring out the maximum potential of these guns, you’ll need to be equipped with the right scope to go along with it.
Whether you are an amateur game hunter or a professional shooter, there may come a time when you will require something more than what standard sights can offer. And this is precisely where a long range scope comes in.
But the current market is filled with a variety of scope models, each ranging differently in price, specs, and features.
So, if you’re having trouble picking the one that can best suit your needs, we’re here to help. And in our guide, we will go over everything you need to know about long range rifle scopes along with some of our favorite models.
You can check some of our guides on long-range calibers/rifles:
- Best scopes for 300 Win Mag
- The Best scopes for Scar 17
- The 4 Best scopes for 30-06
- The 4 Best Scopes for 338 Lapua Magnum
Understanding what is Long Range
It is hard to classify a distance as ‘long-range’ simply because there are many cartridges nowadays with various ballistic characteristics. However, it is vital to at least broadly define what long range is if you want to decide which scope might be most suitable for your needs and preferences.
So where’s the problem in all this? Let’s look at it this way. For example, if you use a .22 rifle, you can consider even 150 yards to be long range. Then if we talk about the 6.5 Creedmoor or .338 Lapua Magnum, things change considerably. 500 yards and up is what would be considered a long range for them. These cartridges can shoot to 1000+ yards in the right hands.
In order to define what “long-range” is for your rifle, we recommend to check your cartridge ballistics, you can do that at GunData.org
When the bullet drop starts to increase significantly, this is when a suitable scope can help tremendously.
What you need to consider before buying a Long Range Scope
How much magnification will you need is a very important aspect to consider.
To determine how much magnification you’ll need, you should consider your usual shooting range and the size of the targets.
The farther the target and the smaller it is, the more magnification you will need.
Generally, at least 10x magnification is used for long-range shots. For competition shooting usually, 20x+ power is used.
Finally, you may be tempted to use the highest magnification scopes. However, the higher the magnification, the more the scope will cost. Also, scopes with higher magnification will be heavier than those that cannot zoom in as much. If you never shoot beyond 400 yards and your targets aren’t extremely small, you probably do not need a scope with magnification more than 15x.
Why is the objective lens important? Well, simply because it gathers light which creates the image that you see when you look through it. Every scope has one, but what should you look for in an objective lens if you want to shoot long range?
The larger the objective lens, the more light it gathers, which makes it more useful in dimly lit conditions.
However, you should never choose an objective lens that is too big. Even though it will give you a better view, it can also negatively affect shooting performance. How? By changing the balance point of your rifle and adding unnecessary weight. Though, weight shouldn’t be that much of a problem if you’re shooting long range, simply because your rifle will usually sit on a bipod/tripod.
We tried to include scopes which do not have excessively big objective lens.
BDC Reticles are growing in popularity of late. They are perfect for those rifles that are intended for use at multiple ranges, like the .308 Winchester for example.
BDC reticles are highly rewarding because you can adjust them quickly. They have multiple integrated aiming points that you can choose when you’re switching shooting range. With these options, you won’t have to adjust the scope to zero preset and estimate the windage and hold-over.
Manufacturers usually produce BDC reticles for rifles that are chambered in multipurpose cartridges like .308 and .223. However, if these aren’t your cartridges of choice, there are other suitable reticles that you can find. Also, some manufacturers are willing to produce custom reticles according to your specifications.
The downside of BDC reticles is, that they are designed for a certain caliber, and you won’t be able to use them successfully with a different cartridge. Why? The reason is calibers ballistics differ greatly and the chance is the aiming references will be at least several inches off.
Riflescope optics are frequently prone to image distortions which are a result of glare and mirages. To help minimize a majority of these effects, most of the modern day lenses come with chemically treated coatings which make the images through the scope seem significantly more apparent.
Lens coatings primarily come in 4 different types:
Coated Lenses: These are lenses with a single chemical coating on the optical lens.
Fully Coated Lenses: A single chemical coat is applied to all of the optical surfaces.
Multi-Coated Lenses: These have multiple layers of chemical coatings applied to the objective lens.
Fully Multi-Coated Lenses: Multiple layers of chemical coatings applied to all outside optical surfaces.
From the Coated lenses to the Fully Multi-Coated ones, there is a significant improvement in image quality at every stage. However, the cost of the lens also increases along with it, and it’s wise to consider your overall budget and the intended scope use before going for an expensive fully multi-coated lens.
The 12 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes
As there are a plethora of rifle scope models in the current market, it won’t be fair to pin the less expensive ones to the more high-end models.
So we will categorize our top pick in different budget groups, and thereby try and make your scope search a bit easier.
Long Ranges Scopes Under $500
1. Athlon Optics Argos 6-24×50 Rifle Scope
We will not be surprised if this is the first time you’re hearing of the optic company Athlon and their range of high-end rifle scopes. These guys are relatively new to the field, and it’s off late that they have been making a noticeable splash in the rifle shooting community.
The Argos 6-24×50 is one of their more popular models that provides a fantastic user experience at a very competitive rate.
Why should you buy the Athlon?
What makes the Athlon Argos such an amazing deal, is that for such a low price you get an objective glass which is fully multi-coated. This guarantees that you will get the best in image clarity even under extremely low light conditions.
This is not something that most scopes of that price range can provide, and even if they did heavily focus on the optic, the durability of these scopes could feel slightly lacking in comparison.
However, this is not something that the Argos compromises on. The scope is highly waterproof and also comes purged of nitrogen and argon to prevent condensation. And just like many of the high-end models, it has a mil-dot reticle and turret adjustment features as well.
You will be hard pressed to find a better long range scope at this price.
- Fully Multi-coated lens for excellent light transmission
- Etched mil-dot reticle for improved shot precision
- Easy to adjustable turrets for user convenience
- Waterproof and condensation resistant
- Argon used for waterproofing
2. Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24×50 AO, SFP Riflescope
A lot of shooters and veteran rifle enthusiasts consider Vortex to be more of a high-end scope manufacturer that caters more to the professionals than the domestic game hunters. But let us assure you that it’s simply not the case.
Take their Crossfire II SPF scope, for example, it represents one of the best value for money models that Vortex has to offer, and for an amateur shooter, this is probably the best place to start.
Why should you pick the Crossfire II?
Gravity is perhaps one of the biggest nemesis to any small game hunter. As soon as the bullet is fired, it starts to drop; hence long-range shooters usually sight their weapons in such a manner that they shoot a bit upwards to hit the target accurately.
This is called estimating the holdover and is something which can be extremely difficult for any amateur shooter to accomplish.
However, here is exactly where the Crossfire II’s Deadhold BDC Reticle comes in handy. It automatically factors in the holdover and assists the shooter to get accurate shots every time.
For improved durability and shock resistance, the scope’s single piece tube is constructed out of aircraft grade aluminum that weathers the harshest environmental conditions. But for the scope to be so hardy, it’s made somewhat heavier than the average ones and may slow you down if you generally prefer to go on long hunting trips.
The clarity is a bit disappointing at higher mags as well. But it is not something fatal at this price point.
- Highly durable with waterproof and fog proof features
- One of the best scopes for amateur shooters
- Is able to Hold Zero
- The adjustable objective allows image focus and parallax removal
- Clarity can be better at higher magnification
3. Bushnell Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24×50 Scope
Bushnell has been one of the more innovative companies in the scope manufacturing industry for some time now. And in the world of sporting optics, their rifle scopes have been the standard go-to for both professional and amateur rifle shooters.
The Trophy Xtreme X30 is the latest addition to their lineup that has recently been taking over the scope market by storm.
What makes the Bushnell Trophy Xtreme so amazing?
In our eyes, the most attractive feature of the Bushnell scope is its excellent magnifying capabilities. Unlike the rest of the models in the under $550 category, this scope produces amazing image clarity even at its max magnification of 24x.
Getting accurate shots off of it within the 500 to 800 yards range is effortless, to say the least, and along with Bushnell’s very own DOA LR-800 reticle, calculating windage will no more be an issue.
The Bushnell Trophy Xtreme goes really well with certain hunting calibers such as the .270, .308, and the .22-250 for long range varmint hunting. And the fingertip elevation dial feature makes it extremely convenient to adjust the eye relief mid-use.
However, what the Bushnell has in precision it lacks in beginner-friendly features. We wouldn’t recommend it for the more amateur shooters, as it’s a ‘long-range’ only scope, and to shoot targets at a longer range one needs to be well versed in estimating the holdover, which the scope doesn’t help with.
- Fantastic magnifying capabilities
- DOA LR800 reticle helps achieve excellent precision even at the 500-800 yard range
- Convenient fingertip windage and elevation adjustments
- Comes with HD fully coated multi-lens with a rain guard
Long Range Scopes between $500 and $1000
1. Nikon M-308 4-16X42 Riflescope
The really cool thing about this Nikon scope is how its design is specifically tailored to suit rifles that employ the .308 Winchester cartridge. Not many scopes can say that they specialize in a particular gun category, and the M-308 is one of the very few that tops the popularity charts in this regard.
Why should the M-308 be your pick?
If you are using the .308 Winchester cartridge yourself, then the reasons to go for this scope are self-explanatory.
But even though this Nikon model specializes in a particular cartridge type, it would be wrong to assume that it might not fit any other model.
As the .308 is a moderately ranged cartridge, the M-308 tops off at the 16x mark.
Hence, if you’re hunting field isn’t all that big, or you’re using a gun with a moderate range why go for an expensive scope with higher magnifying capabilities when a moderate one will do just fine?
The M-308 excels at medium range shooting, and along with Nikon’s Spot On Ballistic Match technology, the scope is extremely precise.
However, at maximum magnification, there can be certain problems with eye relief. Above 12x mag getting a comfortable eye relief zone can be somewhat complicated, and you may have to adjust your position over and over again to achieve the ideal field of view. This can be an inconvenience for professional and competitive shooters.
- One of the best below medium-long range scopes
- Spot On Ballistic Match Technology significantly improves shot accuracy.
- Hands down the perfect scope for .308 cartridges
- Light and portable body design.
- Has issues with eye relief beyond 12x magnification.
2. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24x50mm
Among all the mid-priced scopes that hog today’s market, not many will be able to provide you with the same amount of visual clarity as Vortex’s Viper HS-T. Packed to the brim with the latest in Vortex’s proprietary technology the HS-T is the professional’s favorite for all long-range shooting competitions.
Why should you opt for the Viper HS-T?
As we have mentioned before, the Viper HS-T has one of the best optic quality that any scope of its price range can provide. And it’s all thanks to the premium fully multi-coated lens that the manufacturer installs into the model.
This glass has a unique ‘extra-low dispersion’ feature that improves the contrast of the image and makes it appear significantly more vivid and lively. It improves the color fidelity, thereby enhancing the resolution as much as possible.
While the XR coating along with the aperture makes the optic one of the best in light gathering, the armor tech coating, on the other hand, protects the lens from scratches and rough use.
For shooting versatility, the Viper HS-T comes with a four-act zoom ratio, which conveniently combines with the parallax adjustment to provide enhanced focus in longer ranges. The fast focus eyepiece has a non-critical feature as well, that will allow you to adjust the reticle to your eye whenever you want.
But, the eye relief can feel quite narrow for many users, and it can take a lot of adjusting and customization to get a full view under higher magnifications.
- Extra-low dispersion lens provides an excellent image clarity
- XR coating improves the light gathering ability
- The armor tech coating keeps the lens durable
- Allows you to adjust the reticle mid-use
- The eye relief can be improved upon
3. Millett 6-25X56 LRS-1 Illuminated Side Focus Tactical Riflescope
The Millet range of rifle scope has been falling out of popularity for some time now. Most of their models can’t compete as well with the more premium brands, even though they have always boasted great design and quality.
6-25 X 56 LRS-1 Tactical Riflescope is one of their flagship models. The reason why we have included it on our list today is because of its fantastic aperture and magnification which are 56mm and 25x respectively.
What do we think about the LRS-1?
For a scope between the $500-$1000 price range, the LRS-1 has exceptional magnifying potential and has the capability of keeping up with the most demanding of calibers.
25x is quite a lot no matter which way you look at it, and where most of its competitors will blur the image after the 16-20x mark, the Millet is able to keep the image bright and crisp. And this is because of the large 56mm optical lens; apart from allowing the scope to provide a larger than average field of view, it improves light transmission and keeps the image bright no matter the light setting.
The Millet is ideal for long-range Magnums and long hunting trips that span from dawn to dusk all thanks to its fantastic light gathering potential.
And though the scope is waterproof, it’s not as resistant to fog as we would have liked. There are reports it fogs up sometimes when temperature changes quickly.
- Largest aperture and magnification for a mid priced scope.
- Amazing light gathering potential.
- Doesn’t blur up as easily at higher magnification.
- Fits the most demanding of magnums perfectly.
- Can fog up sometimes
4. Nikon Black X1000 6-24x50mm Riflescope
The Nikon Black series may not be the cheapest models in the $500 to $1000 price range, but nevertheless, they are a fantastic value for money. And what makes them so very reliable for the modern rifle shooter is their amazing optic and reticle.
The X1000 is one of the more premium models that boasts craftsmanship and ingenuity which reflects Nikon’s decade long experience in the field of optic manufacturing.
Can the Nikon Black X1000 be your choice of Rifle Scope?
If you are in need of a highly tactical rifle scope for all your long-range shooting competitions, then the Nikon Black X1000 is precisely what you’re looking for.
For some time now this model has been a professional favorite as the X-MOA reticle that it comes with allows easy holdover corrections. As the reticle is present in the second focal plane, it’s able to have ranging and measurement indications to help customize the focus through the subtensions.
The X-MOA reticle has the perfect balance between simplicity and functionality. It’s rather easy to use but offers high-end functions such as estimating range, dialing elevation to compensate for the windage along with maintaining holdovers.
Additionally, it has an excellent side-mounted control that will allow you to control the red illumination through 10 different levels and help you to easily adjust the image brightness. This comes especially handy during low light settings.
The model offers convenient turret use as well, but they are a bit misaligned, as the hash markings do not correctly line-up with the marks on the body. However, we find it to be more of a manufacturing defect than anything else.
- Maintains holdovers and allows holdover corrections
- The scope is easy to use and quite portable
- Estimated range markings improve accuracy
- Brightness controls make it perfect for use in low light conditions
- The turrets are a bit misaligned
- The image may blur a bit at the highest magnification (which is 24x)
5. Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle Riflescope
It’s only in the mid-price range scopes that you will find Bushnell significantly improving their product quality and making models that appeal to both amateurs and professionals alike.
The G2DMR is by far their most popular scope from the Elite tactical lineup and is made with their very own premium glass and multicoat technology for the best in light transmission and visual clarity.
What makes the Elite Tactical G2DMR so very popular?
Much of the G2DMR’s popularity lies in the fact that the scope is much more user-friendly than most of its competition. As one of Bushnell’s ‘very first focal plane optics,’ the scope has an etched mil-hash reticle which makes it just perfect for beginner long range shooters.
From windage calculation to correcting holdage, it has everything that an amateur can ask for.
The turrets are placed conveniently as well and are somewhat oversized allowing for easy access and even easier adjustment of windage and elevation. From long range varmint hunting to rifle range competitions the Elite Tactical makes every shooting activity a fun one.
Bushnell’s very own multicoat technology allows the scope optic to have amazing light gathering potential. It will help you get a vibrant and high contrasting image in all types of light conditions. But, the brightness and image clarity does falter at higher magnifications. The image may tend to blur, and the resulting view may not be as crisp as one would expect from this scope.
- The proprietary multicoat on the lens grants an amazing light gathering potential
- Turrets are easy to use and allow convenient windage adjusting
- Allows holdage corrections
- A durable body can weather the harshest environmental conditions
- Can be a bit heavy
- The brightness settings falter at higher magnifications
For a high-end scope which boasts the latest in tactical features, the Vortex Viper is surprisingly budget-friendly. The scope is equipped with fantastic MOA adjustments, an SFP reticle and a build quality that can easily rival the more expensive models.
What makes the Vortex Viper a top contender?
The Vortex Viper is all about getting the exact amount of magnifying power and image clarity as that of an expensive high-end scope but on a much smaller budget.
But the lower price range doesn’t mean that Vortex has compromised on this scope’s build and design in any way. The scope has optically indexed lenses which permits better color and resolution at full-zoom.
Hence, even if you’re magnifying it to the fullest, at about 24x, the image will not blur and would remain detailed under various weather conditions.
The scope also comes with a quick focus eyepiece and a side parallax knob for easy adjustments of windage and elevation. The knobs along with the zero-stop feature are cushioned by a spring system so that they won’t be accidentally knocked out of place when handled roughly.
However, even though the light gather potential and the magnifying power of the scope is absolutely brilliant, it doesn’t have the same glass quality as those on the above $1000 list. Additionally, the scope is somewhat cumbersome and big, and if you’re concerned about weight or size, then this scope is probably not the one for you.
- Cost-effective and budget friendly for a high-end scope
- Excellent image clarity at higher magnifications
- Easy to access side parallax and turrets for easy adjusting
- Spring cushioned features negate accidental adjustments
Long Range Scopes over $1000
1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56
When it comes to the ‘big boy’ range of rifle scopes, let us start off the list with this fantastic Vortex model. The Razor HD Gen II is, by all means, the model of choice for all forms of precision shooting and tactical operations.
Its cutting edge glass-etched EBR-2C MOA reticle has 11 illumination intensifiers and ensures that the subtensions stay accurate no matter what the shooting condition.
Why should you go for the Vortex Razor HD Gen II?
The Razor HD Gen II is all about allowing long-range precision in the harshest of shooting and environmental conditions.
It comes with an L-TEC Turret System which supports a unique locking mechanism. This will, in the long run, prevent accidental elevation adjustments, which will come extremely handy when shooting beyond 1500 yards where being able to dial a large amount in the scope is essential.
With this scope, you will be able to quickly achieve an MOA of 78 for shooting up to 1 mile at over 7000 feet elevation.
While the 6x zoom allows versatile ranges of magnifications, the fast focus eyepiece, on the other hand, will adjust the reticle into sharp focus on any level of zoom. The eyepiece along with the APO optical system will keep the image crystal clear at the higher magnifications.
One issue that we did have with the scope is that though it kept its zero very well the zero screw seemed a bit wobbly and loose. The zero turrets are free spin and don’t click when adjusting.
- 11 illumination intensifiers make sure that the subtensions remain accurate.
- Elevation lock doesn’t allow accidental elevation adjusting.
- Easily achieves 78 MOA for 1-mile shots at over 700 ft. elevation.
- APO optical system doesn’t allow the image to blur at higher mags.
- Zero set screw feels a bit lose.
- The scope is decently bulky.
2. Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS Riflescope
The NXS series of the Nightforce optics are built to military specifications and boasts an extremely high magnifying range along with a cutting edge MOAR reticle system.
The scope provides an array of convenient features like the extended eye relief, a zero stop, an extremely narrow tube and an amazing optic with a 52mm aperture.
If you don’t have much of budget restraint, then we highly recommend that you go for this scope.
What makes the Nightforce NXS so amazing?
The NXS rifle scope makes taking accurate shots at the 1000 yard mark and beyond as effortless as possible. This level of power perfectly complements those premium magnum rifles that use high caliber cartridges.
And so as not to get damaged easily by the more powerful gun recoils, the scope is made completely shock resistant up to the highest calibers. Its body is tightly sealed to prevent water intrusions and is thoroughly purged to minimize internal fogging.
It is this durable nature that has made the scope such a popular pick for the military in countries all over the world.
With all these amazing features and durability, you might think that the scope will be made heavy. But it’s as light as it gets, docking at just 2 pounds you can carry it around wherever you please. The scope is quite ideal for long hunting trips.
However, the NXS is very expensive and may not be affordable to the average buyer.
- Premium grade scope with military specs.
- High range and high power for improved shot accuracy at all magnifications.
- Extremely durable and fully shock resistant to the most powerful of recoils.
- Lightweight and will not slow you down in long hunts.
- A very expensive model; can be out of reach for the casual rifle shooter.
3. Primary Arms 6-30X56 FFP Scope with Illuminated DEKA MIL Reticle
What sets the Platinum Series apart from the rest of the Primary Arms models, is that they’re primarily made with long distance shooting in mind. Where the previous Primary Arms scopes were notorious for using ACSS reticles, the Platinum scope, on the other hand, comes with a DEKA-Mil Reticle, which specifically caters to ‘aid in the application of precision rifle fire at long and extreme long distances.’
What makes the Primary Arms Platinum Scope so unique?
As we have mentioned before, the reticle of the Platinum scope if by far its most attractive feature. This DEKA-Mil Reticle uses milliradian increments to aid in range estimation.
These are easily distinguishable and are laid out in such a way so as to make out the basic holdovers, holdunders, and wind hold effortlessly. The chevron tip is fine and repeatable and offers an infinite and exact aiming point without completely covering up the target.
The optic of the Platinum scope is made in Japan, and though it may not be as great in quality as the German Schott glass, it still has excellent light transmission capabilities. The image is clean from edge to edge on the lower magnifications, and pretty much stays the same till you hit the 25x mark.
Between 25-30x the sides of the image do start to blur, but the picture remains clear.
The parallax works really well from 0-800 yards, but beyond that, the scope does seem to run out of parallax adjustments.
- DEKA-Mil Reticle makes the scope ideal for use in extremely long ranges.
- Bright and clear image quality up to the 25x mark.
- The chevron tip of the reticle is thin and doesn’t cover out the target.
- Parallax works great up to 800 yards.
- The sides of the image blur after 25x.
- Can run out of parallax adjustments after 800 yards.
No single rifle scope no matter how perfectly built and designed can cater to every customer needs and demands. So before you pick a scope make sure that the model you are willing to go for has all the particular specifications that you need and want. And more importantly, always keep your budget in mind before you feel like putting a hole through your savings for the more higher end scopes.
Hope you enjoyed our guide today.
Till next time!