If you’ve been paying attention to many of the new rifles being offered by the major manufacturers, you’ll notice one thing. Magnum rifles with long barrels and huge scope mounts are now the norm. Flat shooting exotic cartridges are being pumped out to take advantage of one of the biggest trends in rifle shooting, long-range precision shots.
The trend in long range shooting is not looking to cease anytime soon. There’s something inherently attractive about being able to range out and pulverize watermelon or exploding milk jug from 1000 yards away. While the thousand-yard shot is more common than it used to be, for the ranges still are being shot all the time thanks to advances in technology, optics and ballistic equipment.
For sure, the 1000 yard rifle scope of today can be had for under $300 and is head and tails above the long range sniper scopes of years’ past.
Shooters today have a greater assortment of long-range rifle scopes than ever before. Sorting through this huge number of models on the market takes a methodical approach to understand the highly technical nature of optics.
To save you time, here are 10 of the best long range rifle scopes on the market as well as a few tips and tricks to make sure that you don’t buy the wrong one and to get the most bang for your buck.
Table of Contents
- Best Long Range Scope - Needs Vs Wants
- Best Long Range Rifle Scope Review - Our 10 Best Picks on the Market
- 1 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
- 2 Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 2-10x32 FFP Riflescopes
- 3 Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24x50 SFP Riflescopes
- 4 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50 AO, SFP Riflescope
- 5 Nikon P-308 4-12x40 Riflescope, Matte, BDC 800
- 6 Leupold VX-2 6-18x40 AO Rifle Scope
- 7 Nikon Pro Staff 3-9 x 50 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)
- 8 Bushnell 756245B Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24x50 Scope
- 9 Leupold Rifleman 4-12X40Mm Matte Wide Duplex
- 10 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
- How Much Magnification Do You Need?
Best Long Range Scope - Needs Vs Wants
#1. Objective Bell
Objective bell server very important purpose that doesn’t mean you have to have the largest one on the market. All things being equal, a larger objective bell will provide you with better low light performance and a larger field-of-view, but also change the balance point of your rifle and add much weight in bulk.
Same goes with 30mm tubes, they are a luxury for the vast majority of people and unless you know you need it, skip it. Nothing adds to the cost of setting up a long-range rifle scope and rifle combination than huge objective bells and 30mm tubes.
#2. BDC Reticle
BDC reticles are almost requirement to sell a long-range riflescope these days. All the best rifle scopes will have them, and very rarely do they add any measurable level of complexity and add zero weight or bulk to a rifle scope.
In days past, BDC reticles were nightmares to try and use. These days as slim and trim designs that allow for aiming references at intuitive intervals are common. However, make sure you know your reticle before you use your rifle in a high stress situation, this is especially important for beginners.
Many times, people have changed ammunition or found himself hunting at a different elevation and found that there aiming references were several inches off what they were expecting. This can be disastrous to a hunt or competition.
If you are inclined, many manufacturers like Leupold and most custom shops will take your load data from a given cartridge and rifle combination to produce a custom turret set up to complement it BDC reticle. This is becoming more common and cost-effective all the time, don’t be afraid to take advantage of this technology.
#3. Target Turrets
Target turrets, or target style turrets, are large knobs the protrude out from the two of the scope that allow you to make quick adjustments on where the reticle is positioned within the focal plane. This is very helpful if you are going to be shooting at a known distance or with a given wind speed because it allows you to hold that on the target with the reticle.
This may or may not be needed depending on your cartridge and expected ranges. Oftentimes, target turrets are only effective when target shooting because it takes time to dial them in and get what is referred to as a “dope.”
In a hunting, or unknown distance context, target turrets are more likely to cause problems by weighing the scope down, make your rifle unwieldy to carry and getting caught on every strap, find an obstacle in your path while the field. Only get them if they are well within your budget and you absolutely need them.
Best Long Range Rifle Scope Review - Our 10 Best Picks on the Market
1 NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope
When people think of premium optics, NightForce is normally at the forefront. Certainly, a boutique brands that makes highly specialized scopes, these optics are not for everyone. They are expensive, heavy and have a steep learning curve to learn how to use. However, if you know how to use one of these and have a genuine need for it, there’s none better.
NightForce optics are some of the most ruggedized on the market. Some other brands are known to be tougher, but at this point, you literally splitting hairs about which one would survive a grenade blast. This scope, in particular, is a military grade 5-20x56mm riflescope with a 30mm tube.
This is one of the more lightweight scopes offered by NightForce because it is a non-illuminated reticle and doesn’t have as much elevation in windage built into the adjustment knobs and target turrets.
This is both a good and a bad thing. For people who will be shooting a no distances during the day, this is a great compromise between price, weight, and bulk. It provides everything that you would need to stretch out to the very edge of a truly Magnum class rifle like a .50 bmg or .338 Lapua chambered gun used for ultra-long range shooting.
This is also one of the best night vision capable military long-range scopes for under $2000. A feat that is hotly contested by almost all of the major manufacturers.
The fast focus eyepiece, noncritical eye relief, and every bell and whistle done with the best quality money can buy means that this is truly one of the best rifle scopes on the market. If you have a genuine need for a rifle scope like this and don’t mind the large target turrets or excessive weight this is a no compromise solution.
2 Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 2-10x32 FFP Riflescopes
Vortex optics is known as being one of the most innovative optics manufacturers on the market. Each and every year they come out with new designs, new features, and proprietary technologies that push the envelope of what optics can be. This is one of their best optics to come out in recent years because it is perfect for a lightweight carbine, that is going to be shot a long distance.
This is the Vortex optics Viper PST Gen 2. A 2-10x32mm first focal plane riflescope that is built around a 1 inch aircraft grade aluminum tube, with fully multicoated lenses, illuminated reticle and very fast zero reset target turrets.
The main idea behind the scope is to provide modern sporting rifles like an AR 15 or AR 10, or other light and fast rifle with the perfect optic to range out to the edge of a common cartridges ballistic potential. This scope inherits Vortex is reputation as making some of the toughest scopes on earth, backed up by the best customer service in the industry, this scope is a tactical long-range shooters dream.
Available in both in the way and am red adjustments with illuminated tactical style reticle, there is no a single feature that you would miss here whether you are shooting at home on your range or on the battlefield.
3 Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24x50 SFP Riflescopes
Of all scopes on this list, this is the longest-range scope by far. The Viper HS-T from Vortex optics is a 6-24x50mm scope that packs as much optical power into a package as possible. An outstanding value for the money, there is more proprietary technology in the scope, the most any other on the market that all comes together to make one of the best long-range shooting packages on the market.
This scope uses premium fully multicoated, extra-low dispersion lenses to bring out the most color fidelity and highest-quality resolution possible. The XR coatings on this scopes optics provide enhanced light gathering and the combined armor tech coating protects the lenses from scratches and where.
Exposed target turrets are constructed for precise finger adjustable clicks. The CRS zero stop system allows for reliable return to zero after dialing in temporary elevation in windage corrections. Great for a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle or for .300 win mag that’ll be used to range way out there with a lot of clicks.
The four acts zoom ratio provides as much versatility as possible while combining side focus parallax adjustment to dial in very small details for very long range shooting. The fast focus eyepiece has noncritical eye relief and allows you to quickly adjust the reticle to your eye.
The scope is made from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum and is double O-ring sealed and hard on purged to make the scope rugged and dependable, like all Vortex products. This is a simple and reliable rifle scope that is available in three different models, a hunting model, a shooting model, and a tactical.
It offers several different reticles and one of the best long-range optics for hunting and shooting on the market, dominating almost all other scopes for under $1000.
4 Vortex Optics Crossfire II 6-24x50 AO, SFP Riflescope
This scope represents the best value that Vortex optics has to offer long-range shooters. It inherits many of the innovative technologies that Vortex is pioneered for their more expensive models, the butt rains in the level of quality to a perfectly usable level while still making it utterly affordable.
For starters, it inherits the bombproof construction that Vortex products are known for. A single piece to construction made from aircraft grade aluminum, make sure that this scope is plenty strong and offers shockproof performance, no matter what exotic Magnum cartridge you’re shooting. Double O-ring sealed, and dry nitrogen purged the crossfire II is ready to go in any environment just like this more expensive cousins.
The fully multicoated lenses gather ample light to shoot well out to 1000 yards thanks to the 50 mm objective bell and dead hold BDC reticle included in the first focal plane. This scope even has an adjustable objective and parallax removal to allow you to account for very small variances and target picture.
Great video on How to use Vortex Dead Hold BDC Recticle?
Many of the features on the scope are for advance shooters who know how to use science and technology to achieve first-run hits out to 1000 yards.
5 Nikon P-308 4-12x40 Riflescope, Matte, BDC 800
If you’re shooting the ever popular .308 Winchester cartridge, you’re in luck, most long-range shooters favor this round because it allows for the most amount of options when it comes to equipment and loadings for long-range shooting. If you’re looking for a purpose made scope around the .308 cartridge, this is one of the best on the market for the money.
This scope from Nikon is a 4-12x40mm rifle scope that features both target turrets and a BDC reticle, specifically designed for the trajectory of the .308 Winchester round with 168 grained hollow point boat tail match grade bullet at the common velocity of 2680 ft./s.
Many shooters will find this BDC reticle to be close enough that they can accurately predict the arc of their bullet at long-range. If that arc happens to be off due to elevation or velocity, dial in the BDC with the excellent zero stop target turrets and enjoy reliable first round hits, especially for .308 rifles.
Like all of Nikon’s other riflescopes, it features some of the best fully multicoated optics in the industry along with outstanding value. The scope itself is dry nitrogen purged and completely waterproof, fog proof and shockproof.
You won’t find any other scopes that can compete with this one both in terms of sheer quality and the number of purpose driven features for the price.
6 Leupold VX-2 6-18x40 AO Rifle Scope
Not every long-range scope needs to be a large hunk of steel and glass. Leupold has done this scope right by including features and balance into this designed, to make it one of the most refined and purpose driven scopes for long-range shooting. Especially if you’re looking to save weight and size. It is a 6-18x40mm scope that outperforms nearly every other in its class, especially for competitions where speed would be involved.
The main reason to buy specialized scope like this one from old as the target turrets. You can get nearly all the performance from a less-expensive scope in this model, but you can’t get the same performance without the inclusion of target turrets.
The large easy to grasp turrets allow you to dial the scope on to targets with extreme focus and speed that is impossible even with BDC reticles or more field-of-view. Other proprietary processes like argon purging and a diamond coat exterior make this an exceptionally high-quality scope in a steel for the money.
All the little details like the fit and finish of those zero stop turrets or the black and lens edges to reduce light diffusion make for a very easy to shoot riflescope and very positive shooting experience.
Few other scopes in this category are light and compact as this scope and it would be perfectly at home for a carbine used to stretch out ranges or on top of a modern sporting rifles like AR 10 or AR 15.
7 Nikon Pro Staff 3-9 x 50 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)
While Nikon might be best known for their glasses and camera equipment, there’s no denying that they make some the best optics in the world. Certainly, some of the best values and sporting optics and this is no different.
This is a classic 3-9x power scope but with a twist, exceptionally high-quality 50 mm objective bell and purpose driven BDC for long-range shooting.
The fully multicoated optics system inside the scope transmit nearly 98% of all available light. That allows you to shoot the very edge of legal shooting hours. The nitrogen filled in O-ring seal housing makes for waterproof fireproof performance that leaves nothing to chance, even with the harshest of recoiling rifles.
The quick focus eyepiece works exceptionally well along with a zero reset turrets, and spring-loaded adjustment knob to make for very fast shots on game out to extended distances. The BDC reticle allows you to accurately predict the arc of your bullet out to the edge of its ballistic potential.
In terms of sheer value, the pro-staff line from Nikon is very difficult to beat and this rifle scope, in particular, is excellent for anyone looking for a long-range rifle scope for cheap. You get high quality optics along with very intelligently designed features, a compact and lightweight package.
8 Bushnell 756245B Trophy Xtreme X30 6-24x50 Scope
Bushnell’s one of the world’s largest sporting optics manufacturers. Their riflescopes can be found on the shelves of Walmart and in the showcases of the finest hunting outfitters on the planet. Many of their models are purpose driven to do a specific job in the field. This scope is one of them.
This is a long-range hunting scope specifically designed to get the most out of the 500 to 800-yard range. Three being is that most of the long-range hunting occurs happens in the 500 to 800-yard range. For starters, this scope is built around 30 mm tube and large 50 mm objective bell.
The magnification range is set from 6-24x power combined with an LR 800 reticle. Essentially speaking, this scope is perfectly set out for you to mount to a conventional rifle, like a .308 or .30-06 rifle and successfully hunt at extended ranges. The rain garden HD fully multicoated lenses work extremely well to gather light and forces it through the high quality optics inside the scope.
Representing one of the best valued scopes under $500, this is an excellent starting scope for anyone who wants a serious long-range scope without sacrificing too much money. The waterproof fireproof and shockproof construction leaves nothing to chance and Bushnell backs it up with a limited lifetime guarantee and some of the best reputations in the industry.
9 Leupold Rifleman 4-12X40Mm Matte Wide Duplex
Leupold makes him the classic American optics. Everything they make is made in the United States and this is one of their best scopes for long distance shooting. Topping out at 12x magnification with a 40mm objective bell, you’ll find the scope to be the right size with the right features for long distance shooting out to at least 700 yards.
Leupold makes some the finest sporting optics on the planet and many of the attributes that make their scopes so effective in the field are the proprietary technologies. Years of refinement has led Leupold down the path of making things differently and this scope inherits many of those design principles and technologies that the high dollar scopes that Leupold produces have.
The fully multicoated lenses inside this scope are guaranteed reliable with Leupold 3x lens a rector system. This is a proprietary way of affixing the scope and lenses and such a way that even the nastiest the recoil from heavy Magnum rifles can’t knock the internals of the scope from zero.
The wide duplex reticle is easy to see onions any background, especially in low light conditions and you shouldn’t have any problems with this, one of the best values in precision optics on the market, especially for scopes under $500.
10 Bushnell Banner Dusk & Dawn Multi-X Reticle Riflescope
If you think you need a high dollar, high magnification scope with all the bells and whistles under the sun to shoot at long-range, you’re mistaken. If you want to shoot out to the edge of an intermediate cartridge’s ballistic potential, something like 500 yards for a 5.56, you don’t need a massive objective bell or enough magnification to look at footprints on the moon.
This scope is a perfect example of what someone who is on a budget could purchase for long distance shooting with an intermediate cartridge. This is an excellent value with a 40mm objective bell, fully multicoated lenses and a BDC reticle.
The 3.3-inch eye relief is great for lighter kicking cartridges like 5.56, .22-250, or 7.62x39. It’s lightweight but plenty rugged enough for a range gun or even like varmint hunting and shooting out to the edge of any of these rounds ballistic potential is going to be easy with the light gathering capability and optical quality of this scope.
This is one of the most proven lines from Bushnell and it is beloved by shooters as being one of the best values in the optics game, perfect for getting you out to 500 to 700 yards.
How Much Magnification Do You Need?
While many awfully tempting to buy a scope with the maximum amount of magnification you can physically put on your rifle, this is a bad idea. The old adage of “it’s better to have it not need it than needed and not have it” does not apply to magnification.
Scopes will with a larger magnification range will not only cost more, they are more complex will require a larger objective bell to get the same amount of low light performance, will be heavier and you run the risk of losing your target due to a smaller field of view when you go up in magnification.
With zoom ratio as of 6:1 becoming commonplace on sporting scopes, and especially tactical scopes, you can take advantage of true 3-18x power scopes that will cover about all the bases you need for both closes in and far away shots. However, these scopes are expensive and heavy compared to contemporary 3-9x or 4-12x power scopes.
When determining how much magnification you need, take into account not only the distance your targets will be at but also the size of the targets. Someone hunting groundhogs with a .243 Winchester can reach out much further and will be hunting much smaller game than someone with a .30-30 hunting deer. Choosing magnification is as much an art and a science, don’t expect to get it perfectly right the first time around.
If you’re in the market for a new scope for your long-range rifle, make sure to not buy a scope based solely on reputation or an advertisement. Optics are very technical piece of equipment that can get very expensive, very fast.
When you finally settle a single best long range rifle scope. Focus all of your effort and energy on learning the scope like the back of your hand. The more features on the scope, the steeper your learning curve and you need to get it right before your next hunt or for a competition shooting match.