Best Long Range Rifle Scopes in 2023 [Hands-On]


Want to consistently hit targets at 1000 yards plus?

You’re going to need a capable rifle, match ammo,…and then some decent glass.

We’ll start with hands-on covering 9 popular long range scopes. As I test out more scopes I’ll keep adding to this article.

They’ll be view-through images, tracking tests, a lot of subjective stuff, and short videos covering every scope.

By the end you’ll have a great idea of the best long range scope for your budget and purpose.


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How Much Should I Spend on a Rifle Scope?

Get ready for some firearm sayings…

The old rule of thumb was spend as much on your scope as your rifle.


There’s so many factors like your rifle quality and intended purpose…plus scope quality has risen while prices have dropped.

I’d would instead update the advice to buy the best scope you can afford.

If in doubt…I always skew more towards a buy once, cry once mentality since crappy glass is not fun to shoot through…and you can always remount your nice scope onto a better future rifle.

But I have to warn you…these scopes I’m about to show you are a pretty penny since they are from some of the most reputable scope manufacturers.

Basic Scope Terms

I’ll be using some technical terms so here’s a basic rundown of 8 terms:

1. Eye Relief

The distance from the scope to your eye where you can see the full picture.

You want it far enough(I’d say minimum is 3.5 inches) so if you’re shooting magnums you don’t bash your eye.

You can roughly see how much eye relief each scope has later on by how far I mount each one.

2. Eye Box

The spot behind the scope where you can see everything at all magnifications.

This relates to eye relief but I use this term as how “spot on” you have to be to see everything. Some scopes are more forgiving than others.

3. Parallax

Scopes are glass lenses at the end of the day…and they can only show a clear image at one set distance.

The parallax knob (usually on the left side) lets you focus for the set distance.

4. Windage & Elevation

Those knobs you see people crank?

The top is for elevation (up/down) while the right side is for windage (left/right).

5. MOA vs Mil

Two different units of reticle and adjustment knob setup.

For the most part I like Mil better since it’s what I’m used to…and what my buddies use so it’s easier for us to spot each other.

If you’re just starting out…it’s ok to go with MOA (I did).

Just be sure that the units of the knobs and the reticle match up.

6. Tracking Test

When you use those knobs…it moves the reticle inside the scope to compensate.

A tracking test is shooting at the center of a target but only using the elevation/windage knobs to hit four corners.

7. First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane

This relates to the reticle…or the crosshairs of the scope.

A second focal plane (SFP) reticle means that the reticle stays the same regardless of magnification.

However, this means at different magnifications the hashmarks on your scope will mean different distances.

A first focal plane (FFP) reticle changes with magnification…

But the hashmarks will means the same distance at any magnification.

FFP scopes are typically more expensive…but I like these for longer range shooting since you can make adjustments to your scope windage/elevation knobs at any magnification.

And it’s easier to communicate with a spotter.

Want to go more in-depth in FFP vs SFP? Check out our guide to first focal plane and second focal plane scopes.

8. Long Range Scope

I’m kind of making this up…but I’m considering a long range scope to have magnification of around 5x-25x.

That number sometimes afterwards like 5-25×50is the objective lens diameter (lens closest to the target). Bigger number means the scope lets in more light.

This is subjective but I’ve found most people like this range for longer range shooting and better target identification.

I’m also including some lower ranges like 4-16x for those who prefer that instead.

Now…let’s get on to our best long range rifle scopes!

1. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50

My most affordable pick is the Strike Eagle 4-24x.

Vortex’s Strike Eagle line has some of the best bang-for-the-buck optics…like their 1-6x which I used for years in rifle competitions (Best 1-6x Scopes).

Plus there’s the famous Vortex warranty which covers it for a lifetime…and is fully transferable.

Now onto the scope…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Now…it’s pretty hard to get a good picture of the glass and reticle through a camera. It’s almost always the case that real life is better than my pictures.

And tons of what I’m going to say is subjective.

But the Strike Eagle has decent glass for the price.

Here I am aiming at a 600 yard full-sized IPSC torso target.

At 24x magnification.

It’s a second focal plane (SFP) and the hash marks on the EBR-4 reticle are at a good thickness to be useful at both 4x…and 24x.

However I don’t like how the hash marks start at 4 MOA from the center. This makes it a little harder to make adjustments on the knobs when you’re off by less than 4 MOA.

There’s some slight distortion at the sides but it only becomes apparent at max magnification.

A little like the Strike Eagle 1-6x which starts to not look great at 6x.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is at a standard 3.5 inches so you’re ok unless you’re shooting the most magnum of rounds.

Eye box was ok too…but you’re going to have to be a little more meticulous on getting to it when you’re fully magnified.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Mine was a tester model from Vortex…but wow was the elevation hard to turn!

I had to put on gloves to fully turn then when zeroing since they came in very far off for my setup.

The feel of the knobs?

A little sticky combined with the hardness. Plus they were a little smaller than I personally like.

Parallax & Magnification

Stiff too…but not like the elevation.

It’s next to the illumination knob so it’s a little hard to turn.

I also prefer numbers or another type of visual indicator for distance…but the Strike Eagle starts off with 20 and then some differently spaced hash marks until infinite.

Magnification ring was nice and smooth but also on the heavier side…you’re not going to be switching magnifications quickly.

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Fit & Feel

Overall fit and feel is good. It’s still a Vortex after all.

Here’s a quick video of me going over the scope:


I went with 30mm Warne Extended Mount which were easy to install and held zero even when I was taking the scope on and off a couple times.

Tracking Test

How did it go?

It was one of my first tests so I made sure to reconfirm zero…that’s why there’s two holes in the center.

This was done at 100 yards with my DTA SRS which is at least a half-MOA rifle (will shoot under 1/2 an inch at 100 yards).

Overall very good…all the shots are within the red squares.

Other Features

Comes with an illuminated reticle…but it goes from 0-11 without OFF positions next to each number.

It works.

Keep in mind that illuminated reticles are not daylight bright…you use them during dusk or dawn.


Great entry point long range scope with decent glass…despite some side distortion at higher magnifications, stiff knobs, and not my personal favorite reticle.

2. Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Viper PST II is definitely clearer than the Strike Eagle.

It’s like when I moved up from the Strike Eagle 1-6x to the PST II 1-6x for my current competition rifle.

Let’s start with 5x magnification of its EBR-2C reticle…

It’s a little thin so you might lose it depending on your target and background.

But since it is first focal plane (FFP)…at 25x the reticle gets grows.

The reticle is Vortex’s EBR-2C and it’s a little busy for me.

But I totally get that it’s for holdovers, ranging, and windage corrections. I’m not there yet in my long range shooting skills so it might very well be the best thing ever.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is listed at 3.4 inches but feels better maybe since the glass is more premium.

Eyebox is also more forgiving compared to the Strike Eagle.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Now we’re talking!

I’m a snob for nice knobs.

And the PST II has got them…crisp clicks with the perfect amount of resistance…and audible too.

There’s zero stop (so you can’t dial it under sight-in zero) and some fiber optic for a more visual confirmation.

Parallax & Magnification

Finally…the PST II has numbers for parallax. They matched up nicely too with the ranges I shot. Also smooth to adjust.

Magnification was also easy to adjust with a nice quality feel.

Fit & Feel

Finish is identical to the Strike Eagle but the PST II is a little longer…plus with all the nicer amenities missing on the Strike Eagle.

Take a look at the nice tactile windage/elevation adjustments.

Here’s a quick video:


I went with a Midwest Industries 30mm Quick Disconnect Mount which might be my favorite so far.

Easy to install and super easy to take on/off…with good zeroing.

My PST II came with Vortex Cantilever Mounts…but it didn’t fit my DTA rails although were fine on my mil-spec AR-15 receivers.

Tracking Test

I lost track of stuff here…

So you can see where I goofed with only going halfway to the right direction.

It’s a decent test although I would have liked to see the top two segments be inside the red.

Other Features

Comes with illuminated reticle AND with off buttons next to each level.


The PST II is what I would have wanted to fix up in the Strike Eagle…and Vortex has done it.

It’s what I used the most at a long range event.

To hit 1000 and 1250 yards.

Of course it’s at more of a premium.

But if you’re ready to seriously go after 1000+ shots you can’t do wrong with the Viper.

3. Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25×50

Boom! Now we’re onto another well known company in the scope game…Leupold with their LRP 8.5-25x.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Clarity is good…

Though at higher magnifications it was hard to get a well-lit picture.

Reticle is second focal plane but very usable at all magnifications.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

I’m really bummed to say it but I didn’t like it as much as even the Strike Eagle (at half the price) in terms of eye relief and eye box.

Eye relief was quite good with 5.3 in at low magnifications and 3.7 at high. You can see how much more forward it is on my rail.

It was hard to get a well-lit picture since the eye box was not as forgiving.

Especially at high magnification I found my eyes getting fatigued during the zeroing and tracking test.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The clicks are pretty large in terms of travel distance…you’re going to need to turn a lot more for each mil of adjustment.

But they felt nice in squishy but good kind of way. Audible but not too loud either.

Windage (left to right) is capped on the right side.

I personally don’t like that since it makes it harder to adjust on the fly…but it protects your zero if you’re moving around and most of the time you’re probably holding for wind anyways.

Parallax & Magnification

The parallax knob is a series of different sized dots ending with an infinite sign. I like numbers better but I’m glad at least there’s a visual confirmation of roughly where you are (instead of just hash marks)

The magnification ring has an integrated throw lever which makes it very easy to change magnifications.

Fit & Feel

Overall it still looks and feels quality and is pretty light for its stats.


I used a Leupold cantilever single piece mount which was easy to install but I wish there was a different knob on the base so I could more easily use my torque wrench.

Tracking Test

This one wasn’t the best one even after taking out that messup at the top left square.


Not my favorite at the price point. I would say get the Strike Eagle or up it a little to get the PST II or some of the other ones down the list.

Gave me some eye fatigue due to the eye box despite pretty good eye relief.

4. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56

Redemption! I really like Leupold’s Mark 5HD scope.

But then again…I might just like nice things. This is one of Leupold’s newest creations and comes in over $2000.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Great glass clarity at all magnifications. I got the version with the CCH reticle but there’s plenty of choices.

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Here it is at 5x…I like how the three skinny triangles bring your eyes toward the center. The reticle is a little thin at 5x but if you’re using this…you’re probably zoomed in at least a little.

Here it is at 25x magnification.

It’s a lot of stuff that hunters and military will use for wind and moving target holds. Plus the CCH reticle is optimized at 12-16x magnification for night vision and thermal attachments.

More than I need for my purposes!

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Listed at 3.6 inch for 25x and 3.8 inch for 5x…so it’s pretty standard. You can see it’s actually a little closer to my eyes when mounted than other scopes.

Eye box is forgiving and a joy to look through when coupled with the great glass and 56mm objective lens that lets in a lot of light compared to the 50mm’s from before.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

There’s a nice locking button that protrudes out for zero stop. That mechanism also disappears after one full turn…and then a metal pin on top comes out after 2 full turns.

This is a scope that’s made for low light use when you have to use tactile indicators for zero.

Turning the turret knobs is soft/easy and there’s a good audible click.

Windage is covered which is ok since it’s coupled with the CCH reticle that helps a lot with holdovers.

The indicator for windage is not centered…but instead more at the top. It does make it easier to see but is different from almost all other scopes…so it takes some getting used to.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax was very close to the actual distances and I like the numbered graduations.

And it comes with an integrated throw lever that makes it easy to transition the entire zoom spectrum.

Fit & Feel

Very quality and actually lighter than I thought for all the features and the bigger tube/objective lens.


I used the very high 34mm rings from Leupold which worked better on my DTA SRS. However one set of the rings had a very sticky screw that needed a little more oomph to manipulate.

I still like going with single piece mounts since I take my scopes on and off a lot and they hold zeros better.

Tracking Test

Tracking was dead on even though the zero shifted a little from taking the rings on and off.


Overall super clear glass and extra features built into the great windage/elevation knobs.

You might choose a more “normal” reticle like their TMR since the CCH is built for movers and windage holds.

Lives up to the Leupold name.

5. Burris XTR II 5-25×50

The Burris XTR II is a pretty good deal for what you get coming in around $1000.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

This bad boy comes with very decent glass and one of my favorite reticles…the SCR Mil which is an enhanced “normal” reticle.

Check it out at 25x which is very usable and has good graduations for both windage and elevation holds.

While still being useful at 5x, especially with the 3 thicker lines drawing your eyes into the center.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is listed at a good 4.24 and 3.5 inches although the eye box did not feel very forgiving.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets/knobs were a little stiffer than I would have liked…but were plenty tactile.

And very personal knock…but I don’t like the harder-to-read-than-needed font for the numbers. And the inclusion of +10 numbers on elevation above the regular numbers makes it very busy.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax is easy to adjust and has numbers.

Plus illumination goes from 1 through 11 with each one next to an off.

Fit & Feel

Overall very nicely built.

Check out the turrets in action:


I used the Burris PEPR mount which is great for the money but is heavy. However it does include Picatinny rails for offset red dots.

Tracking Test

Tracking was ok and somehow I was shooting not that great.


A good option if you’re trying to stay under $1000 with good glass and can live with the slightly less than ideal eye box and stiff/busy turrets.

6. Steiner PX4i 4-16×56

Let’s get some German glass up in here with the Steiner PX4i.

I love their 1-4x scope and their 4-16x is one of the nicest pieces of glass I’ve had the pleasure to looking through.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Since it’s less magnification, a smaller ratio (4-16x vs 5-25x), 56mm objective lens…AND it’s Steiner…the glass is super clear and bright.

Coupled with their SCR reticle which was developed for precision use…you’ll be ready for any long range task.

Here it is at 16x magnification. This is definitely one of those cases where the picture does not do the actual optic justice.

And at 4x. Thing but usable especially with the draw-in sides.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is a generous 4 inch and eye box is very forgiving.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Great feeling turrets…stiffer in a good way and more tactile than others. Can definitely be used at night.

Plus that white circle turns green when you pass one full rotation.

Windage is exposed and is slightly easier to turn but same great quality feeling.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax starts at 50 and uses a volume-like control to denote distance. Makes sense and I can probably get used to it as opposed to numbers.

Magnification ring feels quality and decently easy to turn with about 2 large cranks to reach min and max.

Fit & Feel

Looks and feels great. It’s decently short with a thicker tube (34mm) and larger objective lens (56mm).


The Steiner mount is kick-ass!

Super quality feeling and comes with a built-in bubble level.

Tracking Test

Pretty consistent here although I would have liked all of them to be on the left edge like the zero-ing shots.


If you’re looking for a super quality feeling and looking optic that’s battle-tested…you can’t go wrong with this Steiner.

Plus if you’re worried about mirage the 4-16x is perfect.

7. EOTech Vudu 5-25×56

EOTech’s foray into long distance gives us the Vudu 5-25x.

We love our EOTech Holographic Sights and this super short scope is perfect if you’re looking to rock night vision or thermal devices on your rifle.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

You’re probably giving something up by going so short…check it out below 4th from the left.

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But so far I can’t tell because the glass is great.

It uses a pretty standard MRAD reticle.

That’s great at both 5 and 25x.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is listed at 3.6 inches so you’re not bashing your eye with magnums.

And eye box wasn’t a problem for me to get a nice sight picture at any magnification.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

A nice but also kind of annoying feature is the lock feature on the elevation turret.

You’ve got to remember to pull the turret up in order to turn it…and there’s not much of an indicator when it’s on or off.

However turns are nice and solid with an audible quality click. Windage is capped.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax has numbers which I appreciate and dead-on with my 100 and 600 yard known distances.

Magnification is super easy to turn…but it’s the entire rear of the scope so if you have attached scope caps…it’s not going to be fun. Might be why it comes with clear bungee covers.

Fit & Feel

Feels super quality in its compact form.

Here’s everything in action:


Has a 34mm tube and I used my go-to Aero Precision Lightweight mounts to keep everything together.

Tracking Test

Pretty good results here and I’m glad I’m shooting a little better than the previous!


The go-to if you want something super short and compact. Either just because or if you need to attach some serious electronics to the end of it.

8. Primary Arms 6-30×56

Wait…PA is on the list?

Well turns out they don’t just make very bang-for-the-buck scopes (Best 1-6x Scopes), but also have entered the premium area with their Japanese glass-ed PLx 6-30x.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Glass is very clear and bright with its 56mm objective lens.

However…I’m not in love with its DEKA Mil reticle.

It’s very usable at 6x.

But then becomes kind of big at 30x.

If you’re aiming at torso sized targets it’s fine but anything smaller might be hard with those giant futurist hash marks. The chevron center also takes some getting used to.

*Update*: Looks like other people like me have been heard…there’s no more DEKA reticle.

Much bigger fan of the Athena version.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is 3.3 inch to 4 inch so it’s pretty normal.

I found the eye box to be pretty forgiving too even at the max 30 magnification.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Very nice big knob with quality subdued-sound clicks.

Windage turrets are slightly stiffer but have the same feel quality.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax is a little hidden with the illumination knobs (yes, they have an off next to each setting) but has numbers that are graduated nicely. Also on the dot with my known distances of 100 and 600 yards.

Magnification ring has a smaller integrated fin that helps a lot with adjustment.

Fit & Feel

Good heft and quality finish. PA is really stepping up their game.


Again I went with an Aero Precision Lightweight mount but if you purchase from PA you’ll usually get a free mount too.

Tracking Test

Pretty good!


If you want some quality Japanese glass on a scope that could probably cost 2x what it does now…try the PLx out.

It has Primary Arms’ lifetime warranty like all their other stuff.

9. Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56

Ooh…the big boy S&B PMII is here.

Almost universally known as the best of the best…it’s used by some of the top police and military units (hence the PM) in the world.

It’s also around $3000.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Subjectively the best to me and my buddies who rock them. Closest would be Steiner and US Optics.

There’s also tons of reticles to choose from…I just happen to have the H2CMR which is close to a basic Mil with circles that make it easy to count how much to hold/correct.

The first focal plane (FFP) reticle is thin but usable at 5x.

But shines at 25x.

Normally it’s pretty hard to get a well-lit picture at max magnification…but it was definitely easier with the PMII.

Also no side distortion!

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is average with 3.5 inches but eye box is pretty forgiving even at 25x. That also helps in getting a nice picture.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

I’ve cranked on these since 2012 and they are the same since the day I got them…crisp with the perfect amount of resistance. Also down to .1 mrad per click for refined.

Also the white open rectangles at the top of the elevation ring change to orange after one full rotation. Oh…and of course zero stop too.

Windage is exposed and has the same feeling as elevation.

Parallax & Magnification

The giant parallax knob is super smooth and uninhibited by an illumination lever since there’s very few times where it’s actually useful. Also dead on for my known distances.

Magnification ring is smooth and easy to use. Plus there’s a nice little “sharks-fin” attachment you can get for a better throw.

Fit & Feel

Tons of use and I’m only starting to see some scuff marks at the edges of the turrets. If it’s good enough for USMC sniper teams…it’s good enough for me.


I use a Larue OBR mount which has kept within .5 MOA over countless on and off across multiple rifles. This setup is my go-to for AR-15 accuracy tests so it’s been…around.

Tracking Test

Pretty good…all within the red boxes. Although I must admit I’m SO DONE with tracking tests.


If you want my personal best of the best…here it is. Hands-down.

What’s your take on the PMII if price were no object?

Honorable Mentions

This is only a slice of what’s out there…and I intend to keep testing and updating!

Here’s some of my other favorites I’ve tried but don’t have in hand for a more in-dpeth review:

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 FFP

Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56

Nightforce is another manufacturer known for high-quality glass…and the ATACR is its premier line. I have and love their NXS line but mine is only 2.5-10x. I really want to try their 5-25x.

U.S. Optics B-25 5-25x

The U.S. Optics B-25 has a simple, sleek aesthetic, and that simplicity extends to its controls.

Plus it’s one of the few scopes to rival Schmidt & Bender in glass quality.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>