Best Long Range Rifle Scope

By Archer | Rifle

Apr 06
Best Long Range Rifle Scope

So you want to move in with the big boys and go for kills from a farther range? Well, that 3-9x standard scope can only get you so far. Sniping from a long distance is a whole different game, besides having great timing, control, concentration, judgement, accuracy and a great gun, you will need the right scope to hit that target.

The best long range rifle scope is going to have to be top-notch, powerful and precise; probably an overall upgrade of components like the optics quality, turret springs, retaining systems, a higher magnification etc.

Designed to help you make long distance shots that count, these “sniper” or tactical scopes are advanced super precise instruments designed to compensate windage, elevation and parallax errors.

If it isn’t pristine, it isn’t worth it. Most shooters are willing to fork out around $3,000 for a good scope.

However if you are on a budget, here is a list of features to look out for will help you in your buying decision.

You should be specifically looking at:

  • Lenses: This is essential for any scope, but more crucial for long range scopes, as you’ll need crystal clear visuals to help gauge the wind factor and parallax at both low and high magnifications. High quality glass is the difference between a $300 scope and a $3,000 scope. As there isn’t a really fix spec to quantify the glass, it will be better if you do a side-by-side comparison. However if you don’t have the luxury of doing that, you can consider these manufacturers known for using high quality, clear, unmarred glass (optically indexed or digitally engineered):
    • Leupold (higher-end models)
    • Nightforce
    • Premier Reticles
    • Schmidt and Bender
    • Swarovski
    • Trijicon
    • U.S. Optics
    • Ziess (higher-end models)
  • Reticle: While wind and elevation may be not much of a factor at close range, they play a huge role when shooting long range. Long range scopes should have a reticle with evenly spaced dots or hash marks (mils or MOA) along both axis to help you aim with windage (horizontal axis) and elevation (vertical axis). > One thing to consider is etched-in reticle since a lot of reticle issues is due to crosshair coming loose from the glass.
  • Objective lens size: A larger objective lens means more light which means better visuals. But, too large and you’ll be sacrificing precision due to diminishing return. Not only that, you may have difficulty mounting larger scope low enough to get proper alignment with your eye. The best long range rifle scopes will have an objective lens size around 50mm, although 56mm are gaining popularity among long-range shooters these days.
  • Scope Body: You’re paying upwards of $1000 and more. Long life and durability is a must if you’re dishing out big bucks! A high quality scope body should be a single piece design made from incredibly durable material.
  • Magnification: This one is an obvious one. Start looking at ranges 5-6x instead of 3-4x and moving up to 16-18x. Beside the magnification power, we are also talking about the clarity of the image when zoomed in. Do note that lower end zoom range is also useful if the animal is at closer range.
  • Focal plane: This is based on preference, but nowadays the front focal plane is becoming more popular.
    • The front focal plane will change the size of the hashmarks as you zoom in/out, maintaining the dots and hashmark measurements.
    • The second focal plane allows the hashmarks the same size at any magnification, which makes conversion a requirement when reading the dots or marks outside of its specific zoom setting.

Difference Between First Focal Plane And Second Focal PlaneDifference Between First Focal Plane And Second Focal PlaneDifference Between First Focal Plane And Second Focal Plane

 

  • Turret System: In addition to having operational quality and more advanced components; the best long range rifle scope should have a good turret system (to allow elevation to hit really far targets) that has:
    • large in ring size
    • precise adjustment and locking mechanisms
    • exposed and matched to the reticle (for greater control and easy readability)
    • more MOA or Mil graduation
    • knobs with sure “clicks” so you can be sure of each measurement
    • padded to deal with kickback
    • spring/coil systems to shock-guard against recoils or drops
    • note: if your reticle is mildot, make sure your turret adjustments are in mil and vise versa for MOA reticle
  • Budget: You really have to keep in mind how much are you willing to fork out for a long range scope. There are baseline scopes but you will be sacrificing range and power. A long range scope will definitely be more expensive than an all-purpose scope due to the lens. Consider investing in a mid to high range scope (around $1000 and above) if you are serious about long range hunting as these scopes will certainly give you better precision and power while holding up to kickbacks without being misaligned.
In A Hurry?
The Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25x50mm is my favorite out of the 5 scopes, you can check it out on Amazon here.

You will be spoiled for choice from an array of scopes with different powers and specs; special reticle or adjustment turrets. Then again, too many options can also make it hard for you to choose.

There’s a lot to look for when trying to choose the best long range rifle scope. For the most part, it isn’t too different from finding a general scope. The only big differences are the reticle and focal range.

To help make your decision easier, I’ve researched and compiled a list of the top 5 sniper scopes available online that are fine in terms of the above aspects. All you have to do is compare the features!

Comparison of the Best Long Range Rifle Scopes

To get a quick taste of what we’re looking at, here are a few basic specs for the scopes I’ll be reviewing in the article.

 Vortex Viper 6-24x50mmBurris XTR II 8-40x50mmLeupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25x50mmNightforce Optics NXS
5.5-22x56mm
Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50mm
Scope length (in)19.619.21714.816.6
Weight (lbs)1.521.42.12.3
Magnification6-24x8-40x8.5-25x5.5-22x5-25x
Objective Lens Size (mm)5050505656
PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck PriceCheck Price

From $900+ to $3000+, the price range for long range scopes are no joke. You’ll notice that some of the basic specs are similar, optimizing for best performance. There’s also a bit of a difference between specs, allowing room for personal preference.

But enough with the basics. Let’s look beyond them and dive into the features of each individual scope.

Vortex Viper 6-24x50mm

 

Why pay top dollar when you can get everything you need for less? The Vortex Viper provides all of the necessary features and more without hurting your wallet as badly as the other options. Extremely clear images from far distances, made very tough with a single, solid aircraft-grade aluminium, and it’s equipped with an illuminated front focal plane. Heck, this scope even has shout-outs from gun magazines with excellent ratings.

The only downside to this amazing scope? There have been reports of some uses that experience a bit of distortion and discoloration when magnifying the lens at a high power. But that doesn’t stop them from rating the scope as one of the best they’ve used. Also, this isn’t necessarily the best scope on market, but giving up a little bit of quality to save a big chunk of cash? It’s well worth the tradeoff!

Features

  • Front focal plane
  • Single, solid scope body made of aircraft-grade aluminum
  • Zero stop lock-in feature
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 6-24x magnification
  • 4 in. eye relief
  • 17.8-5.1 ft. FOV @ 100 yds.
Pros Cons
  • Great for its cost
  • Good eye relief
  • Body made of single, aircraft-grade aluminium
  • MOA adjustments
  • Exposed, technical turrets for windage and elevation; parallax knob and quick-focus eyepiece
  • Technical hash-mark reticle
  • Computer engineered lens for better light dispersion
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Distortion at higher settings
  • Large and heavy
  • Stiff adjustment knobs
  • Great cost sacrifices a little bit of the quality compared to higher-priced scopes

Verdict: (3.5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Vortex Viper 6-24x50mm on Amazon

Burris XTR II 8-40x50mm

 

The Burris XTR II is for serious shooters. With its 25% increase in thickness to tube and 5-times zoom, this scope will get you the shot that you need. It’s built with high quality materials and is durable in rough conditions such as heavy recoil and road bumps. In addition to its toughness against direct impact, the XTR II is also waterproof, shockproof and fogproof. It’s loaded with features and adjustment settings, giving you the flexibility to be as accurate as possible.

The front focal plane is intentionally very dim at the lowest magnification to maximize visibility, but this can be a weakness to the scope for some. Also, the parallax has been reported to lose focus when zoomed in over 200 yards. But if you can look past these minor flaws, the XTR II is a nice choice.

Features

  • Front focal plane
  • Shock-proof/vibration resistant
  • Zero stop adjustment knobs
  • Illuminated reticle
  • 8-40x magnification
  • 3.50-4.25 in. eye relief
  • 13.2-2.8 ft. FOV @100 yds.
Pros Cons
  • Much clearer glass than the Vortex Viper PST
  • Larger 34mm body allows more light transmission
  • Very high magnification power (40x)
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Hard to read the reticle at low magnification (front focal plane)
  • Parallax adjustment (focus) may give out around 200 yards

Verdict: (4 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Burris XTR II 8-40x50mm on Amazon

Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25x50mm

With the most up-to-date components, the Leupold Mark 4 flaunts its performance and durability. Waterproof, aircraft quality material, great picture, maximum light transmission, etc. With mil-dot reticle, it is an easy-to-follow marking system tactical military-style sight for us.

You name it, the Leupold Mark 4 has it. Hunters rely on this scope for its toughness and accuracy. Likewise, many professional competitors also vouch loyalty to this scope, and for good reason. Speak to any gunsmith, and they’ll tell you that the Mark 4 is a great companion to have.

Features

  • Front focal plane
  • Blackened lens edges to minimize glare and maximize optical efficiency
  • Xtended Twilight lens system to maximize efficiency in low-light settings
  • Solid aircraft quality aluminum body
  • 4x-25x magnification
  • 3.70-5.30 in . eye relief
  • 11.20-4.40 ft. FOV @ 100 yds.
Pros Cons
  • Top quality components
  • Multi-coasted lens for reducing glare while letting as much light in
  • Scratch-proof and water smudge resistant lens
  • Special twilight lens system for low light visibility
  • Compact design for easy mount and easy to reach all turrets
  • Adjustment turrets with spring-loaded knobs for easy reset
  • Sure “clicks” knobs when rotated, can feel through your gloves
  • Not the most expensive product on the market, yet one of the best
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Shorter length means wider bell, have to use different mount setup
  • It’s not yours (yet)

Verdict: (5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 8.5-25x50mm on Amazon

Nightforce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm

 

Claiming to be Nightforce’s most worthy long-range riflescope, the NXS 5.5-22×56 is a premium sniper scope that provides the highest possible image through the glass through all magnification ranges it allows (unlike some scopes which lose quality at higher magnification power). The higher magnification range on the NXS helps pinpoint targets from afar, while remaining accurate at a closer range with the 5.5 magnification.

Zero-stop, extended eye relief and extra-narrow tube, these smart features further justify the hefty price of $2000+!

Features

  • Second focal plane
  • Zero stop feature
  • Solid aircraft quality aluminum body
  • 5.5-22x magnification
  • 3.7 in. eye relief
  • 17.5-4.7ft. FOV @ 100 yds.
Pros Cons
  • Torture tested for durability
  • Stays reliable even in the toughest conditions
  • Speed and accuracy in all situations
  • Although it’s expensive, you can be sure that everything is top quality
  • 100 MOA of internal adjustment
  • Thin tube, less obtrusive yet stronger than a 1″ tube
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Second focal plane (front focal planes are more common nowadays)
  • Hefty price tag at around $2000

Verdict: (4.5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Nightforce Optics NXS 5.5-22x56mm  on Amazon

Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50mm

 

I see, you’re a big spender. If it’s worth it, you’ll be willing to dish out $3000 for a scope? If that’s the case, the Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50mm is the one you want. Built to military standards, this scope is built by experts who have incorporate Steiner’s 65 years of knowledge and expertise into it. With Steiner, you get what you pay for, and $3000 is no chump change.

Features

  • Front focal plane
  • Optimized design for comfort and performance
  • Illuminated reticle with 11 settings
  • 15-50x magnification
  • 3.5-4.3 in. eye relief
  • 23.6-4.6 ft. FOV @ 100 yds
Pros Cons
  • Top quality riflescope
  • Durable in all conditions
  • Great performance and efficiency
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Very expensive

Verdict: (4.5 / 5)

Click here for reviews of Steiner M5Xi 3-15x50mm  on Amazon

Conclusion

Once again, here’s a brief recap of all 5 great scopes and their prices in the table below:

ImageProductPriceBrandLink
Vortex Viper HS-T 6-24x50mm Riflescope w/ VMR-1 MOA Reticle, Black VHS-4325
$639.00
Vortex Optics
Burris XTR II Riflescope with F-Class MOA Illuminated Reticle, 8-40x 50mm
$1,170.14
Burris
Leupold 113092 Mark4 LR/T Scope
$2,079.99
Leupold
Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope, Matte Black Finish with Illuminated MOAR Reticle, Zero Stop Turrets, .250 MOA, 30mm Tube
$2,028.00
Nightforce Optics
Steiner M5Xi 3-15x 50mm Riflescope, MSR Reticle
$3,439.99
$2,995.99Save 13% ($444.00)
Steiner

Personally, I find the Leupold Mark 4 to give you the best for its price. It isn’t overly costly, though still above the cheaper equipment. Despite not being the highest-priced, it certainly gives you an expensive feel. The scope body is built like a tank, and the interior technology allows for top performance. One look through the scope is sure to put a smile on your face without damaging your wallet as much as the higher-cost scopes.

Leupold is a great brand, and they’re known to give shooters what they want, but the other options are also great alternatives.

Whatever your choice is, I’m sure any of the scopes listed above will give you satisfaction in your long-range endeavors.

 

On A Budget?
Then check out our article for Cheap Scopes for Air Rifles

About the Author

I love adventures and the great outdoors!

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