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Scopes for long range work will demand exacting reticle systems, wide elevation adjustments, dependable structural integrity, and upgrades in optical quality.
With that in mind, I have more than a few best long range rifle scopes that come in close to $2000 but I also looked for affordable options – one even under $500.
I also compared scope configuration, specs, size, reticles, and more. So stay dialed in!
Best Long Range Scopes for Hunting & Shooting
Long range can mean different distances to many shooters. For the sake of consistency, I’ll define long range as distances beyond 400 yards.
While this is all good and dandy, it’s those extreme long range distances of over 1000 yards and more, sometimes even a mile, that will require the best-in-class quality. It’s those rifle scopes that are expected to perform right on the mark during high-intensity situations when you need to get dead-on.
Unfortunately, the quality that comes along with these long-range expectations means it’s going to cost a heck of a lot more than your standard scope. If a no-room-for-error attitude, exacting precision, and high-quality performance sounds like something you want to bring to the table, then you need to stick with the big boy manufacturers. You can’t afford to take short cuts when it comes to field application. Here’s where your hard-earned bucks are best spent.
But the reality is, not everyone is going to have that kind of cash available to spend on a scope. For you, I’ve come up with some of the best long range scopes that are reasonably affordable.
The 12 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes in 2023
1. NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56 MOA Scope
This is a very sexy rifle scope that’s made for every serious shooter. Whether it’s hitting steel or live game, the NXS was built to nail it first time, every time. I like that is has just the right kind of specs that you’d want to see on an extreme long-range scope. High power, illuminated reticle, and 2000-yard ranging distances and beyond are what you can expect from this optic.
Because it’s a NightForce, I always expect more than what I would usually expect from another manufacturer. We all know that NightForce durability is unquestionable. The NXS has a 30mm tube, 2-3x thicker structural integrity than alternative scopes, and excellent recoil-proof zero retention. To make those long distance shots, it’s going to take skill and the right equipment to get the job done!
2. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56
It should be no surprise that a Leupold ranks high in this long range lineup. The new line of Marks are the ultimate tactical scopes for extreme long range a shooter could want. However, I like that its optical system allows it for dual-use purposes such as hunting.
The Mark 5 HD is featured to the max. I’ve always liked Horus reticles, and this model has a Horus-designed one in the FFP. I know that’s it’s a ‘busy’ reticle, so it’s not for everyone, but it’s productive and extremely accurate to 1/10th of a mil.
Audible, crisp turrets, aircraft-grade aluminum, and a European fast-focus eyepiece with a magnification throw lever makes this scope a welcome addition to the market. It might just be that welcome addition to your shooting gear if you have the cash to part with!
3. Maven RS.4 5-30×56 FFP
When going long-range, there are certain things beyond glass to consider. We tested the Maven RS.4 and it checks all boxes plus some.
- 5-30x magnification
- FFP reticle
- ED Japanese glass
- 34mm tube
- Dual illumination
- Too many parallax markings
The RS.4 has features made for long-range applications. Not only does it provide the optical quality necessary to get you there, but it also packs in the mechanical quality needed to get there accurately.
The Maven scope has 5-30x magnification with high-transmission, color-true sight right up to max power. Honestly, the glass on this scope is fantastic. If it’s good enough for PRS, it’s going to be more than good enough for everything else.
We love the 34mm tube, since it gives you a ton of room to dial in. Plus, with the FFP, glass-etched reticle, you’ll always be able to count on your holds. Don’t forget it has dual illumination, too.
The side focus has a minimum 15-yard setting followed by a lot more. For long-range use, we think it would do to ditch most under 100, but for those who will be using the RS.4 outside of PRS, you may find the minimum distance settings useful.
Turrets are exposed, huge, and tactile. The body is both water and fog-proof to handle the elements. The RS.4 is deceivingly small and that is one of our favorite features of the scope. For what it offers, you’ll be surprised by its less than 13” length and 35 oz weight.
All in all, the Maven RS.4 is a top scope in its field – the long-range field. Priced lower than its worthy alternatives, cost is not a legitimate cause for complaint here. Do we think it is value for money? Absolutely!
4. Swarovski Z3 4-12X50
I’m so happy to announce that this Swarovski scope comes in under $1000! The Z3 isn’t the freshest cookie in the jar, but it absolutely has a solid place on the shelf. Because it’s a Swarovski, you’re getting every ounce of value out of your buy – their glass, quality, and of course, their reputation. You sort of earn some bragging rights when you sport one of these on your rifle – every hunter will know you’re serious about shooting.
The Z3 has a 4W reticle that allows you to adjust for wind drift. However, I’m really excited about its ballistic turret that does everything from allowing you to sight in for elevation adjustments to making those extreme long range shots out in the field. Not only will you make the shot with shocking accuracy, with four stops to zero, you’ll make first-placed shots every single time.
5. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRAD
Vortex is a household name for many Americans, including mine. Their PST line of scopes are geared towards expert level shooters. But, a newb looking to improve and impress would be able to earn stripes with the PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP scope with the EBR-2C MRAD reticle. It has all the right features and whistles to get out to 1000 yards and beyond. Why spend more?
- High magnification
- Glass-etched reticle
- Illuminated reticle
- 30 mm tube
The PST Gen II series of scopes has been held in high regard since their original release. The newest upgrades further justifies the existence of the line. While this particular scope can do you right in long range hunting conditions, it’s heavy. Weighing in at 2 lbs, it’s one of those scopes I recommend sitting atop a rifle that’s at the bench or on a bipod. Heck, it begs to do that because it was made for it.
High power of 5-25x is right on par with alternative 5x scopes. The EBR-2C MRAD reticle has an illuminated center and is in the first focal plane (FFP) for accurate use at any power. I should mention that it comes in MOA as well. Windage and moving target holdovers are unobtrusively displayed with the Christmas tree style design.
The Vortex PST Gen II scopes have consistently been the standard amongst the masses to compare exposed, tactical turret clicking quality with. Adjustments are crisp, tight, and accurate. Thanks to the single-piece, 30 mm tube, max 20 MRAD elevation and 10 MRAD windage adjustments are achievable. I think the RZR (Rapid Zero Return) Zero Stop is a major benefit since the Diamondback Tactical lacks this feature.
As you can see, I can go on and on about the Viper rifle scope, but I don’t need to. Get one, get out there, and see how good it is for yourself.
6. Zeiss LRP S5 5-25×56 – Best for Competition
Made for precision shooters, the new LRP S5 rifle scope can be a game-changer for the PRS/NRL competitor. Complete with a throw lever, positive zero stop, and even a lockable windage turret, it presents advantages to competition shooters and long-range hunters.
- Excellent optics
- FFP illuminated reticle
- Precision mechanical integrity
- Locking turrets
- MRAD & MOA models
The price is high, but Zeiss is known for their quality optics that are always attached with expensive price tags. That quality is felt in the mechanics and witnessed in performance. I promote it as an extremely accurate scope with highly visible markings on the turrets and on the side focus. Reference visibility can make all the difference for aging eyes or those in lowlight or when sun glare is in the way.
Part of Zeiss’ ability to provide clear, big references is thanks to the enormous, oversized turrets. I can see that the ‘bigger is better’ theme is continued with the 34mm tube and over generous 40.7 MRAD (140 MOA) and 24 MRAD (60 MOA) travel adjustment in the elevation and windage lockable turrets for 1500-yard shooting and beyond.
For big performance from big features, I reckon the LRP S5 is a heavy son-of-a-gun at 36.3 oz. At least you know it has legit reasons behind its heft. It’s a long-ranging champ with 5x zoom, a large 56mm lens, fat 34mm tube, FFP illuminated reticle, and the works in Zeiss optics.
Schott glass, fluoride lenses, T* coatings, LotuTec coatings, and fast focus eyepiece allows for extremely clear and sharp images.
The ZF-MRi and ZF-MOAi reticles are illuminated at the center and feature a Christmas Tree style design with hashmarks and numbers for fast visual reference. Made for precision long-range shooting, the LRP S5 has literally been said to be made to dominate, and I believe it.
7. Vortex Viper HS Long Range 4-16X50
You can trust Vortex to deliver the same quality you see in premium scopes for a price that’s much easier on the eyes and the wallet. One such example is the Viper HS Long Range scope that comes in under $800 with features to get you out there and all in a lightweight and affordable package.
I deem it high-powered enough to get out to 1000 yards, has a large light-transmission objective lens, and it has that Vortex clarity and depth of color that’s hard to find in a scope for the money.
To make those long shots a little easier, I really like the 30mm tube has a 75 MOA elevation adjustment range, the simple Dead-Hold BDC reticle, and an over-sized tactical elevation turret. Not bad at all for a long range scope that conveniently falls into your budget, eh?
8. Athlon Midas TAC 6-24X50 HD
The Midas TAC line is Athlon’s series of upper mid-level rifle scopes. It’s the longest ranging scope in the line, and apparently, it was developed after the brand took in feedback about their Midas scopes. Here are the deets on this decked-out unit.
- Tactical features
- FFP reticle
- Mil reticle
- HD glass
- Non-illuminated reticle
This rifle scope has everything premium about it from one end to the other. It has been decked out with a very tactile-feeling, exposed elevation turret and a glass-etched reticle. It has the uncomplicated APRS2 MIL reticle with both elevation and windage hashmarks. Having the reticle set in the first focal plane allows it to get larger in size as you crank up power, so you’ll have perfect sight and accuracy regardless of distance.
With 25 MIL elevation and 15 MIL windage adjustments, you’ll have plenty of travel to make 1,000-yard shots, plus some. Impressively, these turrets track excellently and are make very precise, clear, and audible clicks. I only mention this because Athlon’s cheaper scopes have been described as squishy.
It has premium features that includes Advanced Wide Band Fully-Coated optics, an exterior XPL protective coating, a 30 mm tube, side focus, and Argon gas for fog- proofing the optics – better than Nitrogen gas, FYI.
It even has the Precision Zero Stop System that is usually only seen on the best of the best scopes. Dial back down without having to look for the “0” reference. This is a scope worth its salt. If you want long-ranging accuracy on a budget, this is it without compromise.
9. Burris XTR II 8-40×50 F-Class MOA
The 8-40×50 rifle scope with the F-Class MOA reticle is the highest magnification scope within the entire Burris XTR series. It’s high power for the type of long-range performance you need for competition and whack-a-mole at over 1000 yards.
- 8-40x magnification
- FFP reticle
- 1/8 MOA adjustments
- 34mm tube
- Zero Click Stop knobs
- Poor illumination
The optical performance of the XTR II at 50 yards (side focus min. setting) is just as impressive as its clarity at max 40x, although a small amount of brightness is lost. This Burris scope is good for beyond 1000 yards but is consistently used by shooters for 200-1400 yard ranges.
The F-Class MOA reticle has been designed for F-class targets at long-range distances. It has an FFP reticle with four illuminated dots every 10 MOA along the elevation crosshair. While it has 11 brightness settings with intermittent ‘off’ positions, the illumination is very difficult to see and is largely in part due to its .125 MOA dot size. The most common advice is not to depend on the red dot illumination.
The turrets are very tactile and offer 70 MOA in elevation travel and 30 MOA in windage thanks to the large 34mm tube. Adjustments are made in very fine 1/8 clicks with what Burris calls an ‘80-Click knob.’ The turrets also have Burris’ Zero Click Stop for a fast and hard return to your zero.
The XTR II comes with a 3” sunshade, flip-up lens caps, and wrench for the turrets. It’s made in the Philippines and is covered by Burris’ Forever Warranty. The only thing missing that you may want to purchase is a Burris power ring throw lever for fast adjustments to magnification. With that screwed in, the XTR may just be the long-range scope you need for F-class or prairie dog control.
10. Primary Arms PLx 6-30X56 FFP
This isn’t your standard Primary Arms budget scope. This is top-of-the-line stuff as the PLx stands for Platinum Series, and it’s made in Japan – woo wee!
- Japanese Glass
- FFP reticle
- 34 mm tube
- Illuminated reticle
You won’t be left wanting with this scope as it literally has every feature a long-range shooter needs. Starting with the build, you have a very large 56 mm aperture and wide 6-30x magnification that is sure to pack on pounds. It weighs 38.2 ounces which is almost 2 lbs, so it comes in a touch heavier than 5-25x models. It also has a very thick 34 mm tube body for strength and maximum travel adjustment for 27.6 MIL elevation and 13.1 MIL windage. Adjustments are made in 0.1 MIL clicks.
Within the optical housing is the illuminated reticle set in the first focal plane. The reticle brightness knob is found on the outer ring of the side focus knob. When it comes to the tactical-style turrets, they’re all oversized and exposed. You have both zero reset and zero stop features – both of which are expected at this price point.
The Athena Ballistic Precision MIL Reticle (BPR) is well-detailed, and yet, it doesn’t clutter the FOV. At the very center is a chevron tip with 0.2 MIL hashmarks and then extends to 0.5 MIL hashmarks below the center. Everything about is designed for precision accuracy beyond 1000 yards and even ranging. To the upper right section of the reticle is the Athena Ranging Ladder that is calibrated for targets 5’10” tall measuring with the vertical section and for kill zones 18” wide measuring with the horizonal section.
How Primary Arms made this scope at this price point is a mystery. We’ll let them have their secrets if they keep pumping out the good stuff!
11. Sig Sauer Sierra6 BDX 2-12×40 – Best Smart Riflescope
While the Sig Sauer Sierra6 BDX 2-12×40 scope has the lowest magnification range of the Sierra6 Series, it has the better price tag. The BDX feature provides rapid ballistic solutions for up to 800 yards. Given its advantages for long-range use, it’s been bought and field-tested alongside a BDX LRF.
- BDX feature
- Manual BDX configuration
- Night-vision compatible
Considering that the Sierra6 is best suited to use with a BDX rangefinder, this long-range combo takes you over a grand just to get started. But considering that most long-range getups are expensive, at least you’re getting the BDX feature that I found to be extremely valuable.
The BDX (Ballistic Data Exchange) technology allows the Sierra6 to sync with the Sig Sauer BDX App and a BDX rangefinder. We bought the KILO1600BDX and tested it with the scope. With it, ballistic solutions are provided right to the digital SFP reticle for up to 800 yards. It was so easy to pair the two optics and I never once experienced connectivity issues between them while I was field testing.
Wind and other environmental info can be configured inside the app. When it is paired with the LRF, wind holds are provided and LEDS are illuminated along the windage and elevation crosshairs.
It has 10 illumination settings of which two are compatible with NV devices. I wouldn’t describe the illumination as necessarily daylight bright, but the crosshairs are bold for daylight shooting, and I thought illumination was excellent for low light conditions.
It also has MOTAC that is the auto standby battery conservation mode. LevelPlex is an integrated digital anti-cant system. KinETHIC allows you to set the threshold in either velocity or energy measurements.
I thought being able to manually configure the reticle to provide illuminated holdovers based on the predetermined ballistic groups to be especially brilliant. Of course, if you bond it to the KILO1600BDX, you’ll have custom aiming points for those long-range targets.
12. Vortex Diamondback Tactical 6-24×50 – Best Under $500
The Diamondback Tactical is perhaps one of the most recognized long-range scopes best for the money. It delivers over 1000-yard performance with its 65 MOA total travel, side focus, and wide magnification range.
- 6-24x magnification
- EBR-2C reticle
- ED glass
- FFP reticle
- No illumination
The DB Tactical has the EBR-2C reticle in both MOA and MRAD. It has very fine .12 MOA crosshairs with an open .25 MOA center. Though excellent for small targets at distance, it can be difficult to see without illumination.
But I like that it’s in the first focal plane, and given its 1000-yard plus performance, it has a ton of holdovers for wind and drop.
Vortex scaled down on the Tactical to provide a cost-conscious product. Though the glass has ED elements, you will need to use the side focus to gain maximum clarity. But I can see where the cutbacks have occurred as there are no locking turrets even though they’re exposed and there is no zero stop. This could be a deal-breaker for many, so it must be made clear that you can reset the turrets to your zero, but it won’t come to hard stop when you dial back down.
For the money, the Diamondback Tactical gets you into long-range shooting without spending over $1000. It is what I would consider an entry-level long-range scope for beginners, but I would put it in the upper echelons of the starter market.
What to Look For in a Long Range Rifle Scope
Remember that all labor, components, and materials that make up a functioning rifle scope is its fundamental, operational quality. That quality must be above par if you want above par performance from your scope.
The demand for quality and performance on a long range optic is going to cost you. I won’t sugarcoat the fact that the best scopes to get you well-placed shots down range are going to be expensive but are worth the investment.
Glass & Coatings
Your scope would be nothing at extended ranges if you don’t have good glass on your side. The optical abilities and potential of a scope stems from its glass quality. Not all manufacturers are transparent about glass sources, providing “HD” terms and such, but many will have ED or fluorite elements to provide the clarity needed at high power and at distance.
Just as important as glass quality is coating quality. The higher light transmission that occurs in the scope, the better your clarity and brightness will be for long distance shots.
Magnification & Objective Lens Diameter
A long range scope has to offer at the very least 10x power on the highest end. Essentially, the more power you have, the bigger the target picture. The more you can see means a better chance of accuracy.
However, at max magnification, clarity and resolution is lost and so is eye relief. There is a balance with using high power and how you incorporate that at the bench is personal preference.
Scope Weight & Dimensions
Ideally, a scope shouldn’t be heavier than 24 ounces, but when you increase things like larger objective lenses, more magnification, and parallax correction, the weight quickly adds up.
In the long-range world, a scope around 30 oz is the norm though they can be lighter or heavier depending on certain riflescope features.
Reticles, Turrets & Parallax
Ballistic reticles and parallax correction are practically must-have features of a long range scope. Considering that the power ranges are over 10x, an adjustable objective or side focus must be considered.
Wind and drop holdovers will vary between scopes and must be confirmed by practice at the range for your rifle and loads.
Ballistic turrets are a different kind of beast. If you’d rather opt out of using a complex reticle to take advantage of ballistic turrets, this would be a time-saving feature, however, very expensive.
Shop for a system that is easy for you to understand. Positive clicks, precise and accurate adjustments, and quality spring/coil systems to protect the turrets are aspects to scrutinize.
Eye Relief, Exit Pupil & Field of View
The eye relief must be considered when searching for the best long range rifle scope. Long eye relief scopes are preferred for scout rifles and heavy kicking rifles. However, 3-4 inches of eye relief is usually the standard.
It should be noted that eye relief becomes shorter and less forgiving at high power, so it is expected that it will take training to accustom oneself to perfect alignment at max magnification.
The better quality the scope, the more it’s going to cost. Going long range often means you’re serious about taking down game with the first shot or making tight groupings for competition. You should consider how much you’re willing to spend depending on your application.
Always protect your purchase. A “no-questions” or “no-hassle” warranty provides that extra layer of reassurance in case something happens. Most warranties don’t require registration or proof of purchase while others will require that information. Overall, protect your long-range scope with a warranty from a company that you know will honor it.
Long Range Scopes: Up for the Challenge?
Those in competition, even hunting, or the long-range target shooting field appreciate a well-placed shot that the best long range scopes can deliver.
There is wind, bullet drop, moving targets, and even mirage to contend with. You may want to consider upgrading your spotting scope or laser rangefinder to aid the long-rangeprocess.
Are you willing to acquire the skill it takes to be a long range shooter? A world-class optic doesn’t make you a marksman, but it can help you get there!
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