Intro To Long Range Scopes
Hitting a target at great distance is an extremely satisfying experience. It also takes quite a bit of practice and patience. This is when a long range scope becomes your most valuable asset because it’s going to simplify your target acquisition process.
There isn’t any standard operational definition of “long range” because effective shooting range depends on the type of gun and cartridge used. Some rifle calibers are remarkably effective with just iron sights up to 500 yards, and others become ineffective past 150 yards – you can learn more by checking out our rifle caliber guide. Generally speaking, it becomes very difficult to maintain accuracy with most rifles beyond 350 yards without some kind of optical sight. And at that range the scope doesn’t necessarily have to be designed for long range. However, it gets increasingly difficult with most rifles to maintain consistent accuracy at 500 yards and beyond without a long range scope.
It’s important to keep in mind certain aspects of long range shooting that factor into accuracy and precision.
This will be your primary consideration. You need to determine the general distance of your targets. Magnification range can significantly affect the price of a scope so you want to make sure you’re purchasing within your ideal range. Long range scopes are usually versatile enough to accommodate shorter distances so you’ll often find scopes in the variable 2-10x zoom range. 10x is more than enough magnification power for most hunters, but magnification can go up to 15x or 20x for extremely long ranges.
– Objective Lens
Brightness and optical clarity are extremely important at long ranges where targets become difficult to spot under low light conditions. The objective lens size directly impacts your scope’s light-gathering capability. Bigger lenses will create brighter images with a wider field of view at greater distances. The drawback to a bigger objective lens is obviously its size and how that may affect the weight and balance of your rifle, particularly if the lens must be mounted higher up.
– Reticle Type
Reticles in the first focal plane (FFP) are a good option for long range shooting because the size of the crosshair and holdover marks will adjust on target relative to the magnification level. This will allow you to transition through the magnification range and maintain accuracy without needing to perform ballistic calculations. The downside of FFP is that the reticle may become too thin or thick at respective magnification levels. Second focal plane (SFP) reticles will maintain a precise and consistent size at all zoom levels which many people prefer as well. Moreover, you want the reticle to be clear and crisp. Some reticles feature advanced illumination and outstanding clarity at very long distances, even in low light. Look for reticles that offer bullet drop compensation. These reticles are usually called BDC or CDS (Custom Dial System) and offer very quick bullet drop adjustments and small aiming circles that don’t obstruct your field of view. SCR reticles are excellent for precision and competition use.
– Parallax Adjustment
Scope parallax is an optical illusion that makes your reticle appear to move across the target when you adjust your head position. This is terrible for long range target acquisition. Almost all long range scopes have a parallax adjustment to compensate for this inconsistency.
You want a long range scope that will address these issues so check out this list to consider which features you may specifically need.
The Best Long Range Scopes Reviewed
Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-8.5x24mm Illuminated BTR-2 (FFP)
The Bushnell Elite Tactical 1-8.5x24mm is designed to seamlessly switch between a wide focal range, allowing the user to zoom from true 1x magnification to 8.5x very quickly and accurately to engage long-range targets.
It features Bushnell’s new and exclusive EXO Barrier Protection lens coating to repel water, oil, dust, and surface debris while preventing scratches. The Elite Tactical is one of the best long range scopes because of its exceptionally versatile BTR-2 Ballistic Tactical Reticle (first focal plane) that provides supreme clarity and illumination up to 600 yards.
Offers great eye relief and a “both eyes open” aiming experience at low magnification. But more importantly, the Bushnell Elite Tactical is a fantastic long distance 3-gun competition/tactical scope that offers well-calibrated ranging T’s and very accurate hold over for longer range shots. For more quality scope options check out our guide to great scopes.
The optics are clear and adjustments are crisp and precise for instant target acquisition.
The Best Long Range Scopes Reviewed
Leupold VX-6HD 2-12x42mm
The relentlessly performing VX-6HD 2-12x42mm offers an incredibly wide FOV while allowing the shooter the versatility to transition to long-range targets with elite optical performance.
Ideal for hunters needing a best long range scope that is durable and lightweight, the Leupold VX-6HD provides a wide zoom range (2x-12x) with outstanding color consistency, brightness, and resolution to maximize the early and late hours of the day.
The VX-6HD is a truly versatile optic with an advanced in-scope electronic reticle level, CDS-ZL2 Zero Lock elevation dial and removable throw lever. It has a unique combination of features that give it excellent ruggedness and supreme performance at all ranges, including clear long distance shots up to 500 yards with consistent accuracy.
Leupold VX-5HD 2-10x42mm
The extremely versatile VX-5HD 2-10x42mm offers a wide field-of-view while allowing the shooter the ability to transition to long-range targets with outstanding clarity and accuracy.
Ideal for hunters and shooters needing a best long range scope that can adapt to any environment, the Leupold VX-5HD provides versatile magnification (2x-10x) with outstanding color consistency, brightness, and resolution (with its Twilight Max HD Light Management System) to maximize the early and late hours of the day.
The VX-5HD is a truly versatile optic with an advanced illuminated Fire Dot Duplex CDS reticle, Zero Lock CDS-ZL2 (Custom Dial System) and removable throw lever. The shooter can simplify long range shots by eliminating the need for holdovers or ballistic calculations.
The VX-5HD has a unique combination of features that give it excellent ruggedness and supreme performance under the toughest lighting conditions, including incredibly illuminated long distance shots up to 500 yards with consistent accuracy.
Definitely one of the best long range scopes with elite optical quality in its price range.
Burris XTR II 4-20x50mm
The Burris XTR II 4-20x50mm is designed for serious long-range precision shooters — tactical or competitive.
Featuring an ergonomic side focus and easy-to-reach parallax adjustment for improved long distance accuracy, the XTR II is one of the best long range scopes for precision rifles because it has great magnification power, a crisp and clear reticle, easy adjustments, and maintains point of impact through the magnification range so you can consistently engage targets down range.
It has a versatile 5x zoom system for excellent target acquisition at long ranges. The XTR II is a very high resolution optic that also features tactical or competition reticles like the SCR MOA (Special Competition Reticle) or SCR Mil.
Bushnell Forge 2.5-15x50mm Black Finish Deploy MOA (SFP)
If you thought Bushnell was not the most premium brand on the market, think again.
The Forge 2.5-15x50mm with Deploy MOA (Second Focal Plane) Reticle is one of the newest Bushnell riflescopes designed for recreational or competitive long range shooters/hunters, or even on a pink gun! This best long range scope has a lot of great features at a great price: a turret-halting Revlimiter zero stop that guarantees a true zero stop that can be easily adjusted, a Throw Hammer power change lever to assist in zooming in and out with speed and precision, and astonishingly clear and bright optics.
The Forge 2.5-15x50mm has a compact size with great field of view and an ability to engage long-range targets with speed and consistency. Makes a great option as a .308 scope.
Some Final Words
All of these scopes should offer the essential features you need as a long range shooter or hunter: variable magnification, advanced reticles, quick adjustments, and outstanding optical clarity. But because some of these scopes are incredibly advanced, you should carefully consider which ones offer features you may not require depending on your skill level and shooting environment.