Best Long Range Rifle Scope for all Budget Levels (Top 11 From $100 to $2000+)
Last Updated: October 23, 2020
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The best long range rifle scope for hunting will demand exacting reticle systems, wide elevation adjustment ranges, dependable structural integrity, and upgrades in optical quality.
As you can expect, the prices associated with these top-of-the-line scopes often mean they're long-shot buys for the average budget.
But, stay dialed in. We have surprise buys here and there that will fit everybody's budget!
Best Long Range Scopes for Hunting & Shooting
|NightForce NXS||CHECK PRICE|
|Leupold Mark 5HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Swarovski Z3||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Viper PST Gen II||CHECK PRICE|
|Vortex Viper HS LR||CHECK PRICE|
|Athlon Midas TAC 6-24X50 HD||CHECK PRICE|
|Schmidt & Bender 12-50X56 PM II/P||CHECK PRICE|
|Primary Arms PLx 6-30X56 FFP||CHECK PRICE|
|Barska 30/30 Varmint AO||CHECK PRICE|
|Nikon Black FX1000||CHECK PRICE|
|Burris Eliminator III||CHECK PRICE|
Long range can mean different distances to many shooters. Are you long range hunting? Maybe hitting steel at extreme long range distances? For the sake of staying consistent, we'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 the expectations of rifle integrity always 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 brands. 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, it's not the reality that every hunter who wants long-ranging capabilities is going to have that kind of cash available to them to spend on a scope. For those who are willing to splurge, feel free to browse through the quick links provided. For the rest of you, and presumably the majority, we've come up with a lineup that caters to various points in your budget from $100 to $2300.
If you're a new hunter, it might be best to get some experience under your belt before taking on the long shots. You might want to take your practice to the range. The nice thing about target shooting is you can get all your mistakes and learning curves done on steel. Besides, long range target shooting is something both beginners and seasoned marksmen can do with big boy, long-ranging scopes!
The 11 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes
1. NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56 MOA Scope
This is a very sexy rifle scope that's made for every serious, abusive shooter. Whether it's hitting steel or live game, the NXS was built to nail it first time, every time. It 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, you can always expect more. Durability can't be questioned when it's made to surpass even the military's standard of being rugged and robust. With a 30mm tube, 2- 3x thicker structural integrity than conventional scopes, and recoil-proof rates of up to 1250 G's, you can't go wrong mounting this scope to your big boy guns. 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 tops this long range lineup. With the new Mark 5HD, it's no surprise that if fittingly earned its spot. The new line of Marks are the ultimate tactical and extreme long range scopes a shooter could want. However, its optical system allows it for dual-use purposes such as hunting and combat shooting.
It's the most expensive optic in our lineup this far, but the scope is featured to the max. With the Horus-designed reticle, you know it's as productive as it is busy but extremely accurate to 1/10th of a Mil. Audible turret clicks, 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. Swarovski Z3 4-12X50
We're so happy to announce that Swaro comes in under $1000 for a buyer on a budget. The Z3 isn’t the freshest cookie in the jar, but it absolutely has a solid place on the shelves. Because it's a Swarovski, you're getting every ounce of value out of your buy - their glass, quality, service, and of course, their reputation. You sort of earn some bragging rights when you sport one of these on your guns - every hunter will know you're serious about shooting.
The Z3 has a 4W reticle that allows you to adjust for wind drift. However, the excitement comes in with the 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.
4. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50 FFP EBR-2C MRAD
Vortex is a household name for many Americans, and their PST line of scopes are geared towards expert level shooters. But, a newb looking to impress his buddies would be able to earn his stripes with the PST Gen II 5-25x50 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 regards 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 better suited for extreme long range target shooting. Heck, it begs to do that because it was made for it.
High power of 5-25x is right on par with industry-leading, long-range scopes. The EBR-2C MRAD reticle has an illuminated center and is in the first focal plane (FFP) for accurate use at any power. 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. RZR (Rapid Zero Return) Zero Stop gets you back to your zero without thinking.
As you can see, we can go on and on about the Viper rifle scope, but we don't need to. Get one, get out there, and see how good it is for yourself.
5. 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. Vortex has quickly climbed the ladder in positively competing against the big kahunas of the industry. Their low prices, incomparable warranties, and A-class quality products have given them a hand in building a solid, well-deserving reputation.
The Viper HS Long Range scope is additional evidence to Vortex's promise to quality. It's high-powered enough, has a large objective lens, and it has that Vortex clarity and depth of color that's hard to find in a scope for under $1000. To make those long shots a little easier, the 30mm tube has a 75 MOA elevation adjustment range, BDC reticle for holdovers, and an over-sized tactical elevation turret. Not bad at all for a long range scope that conveniently falls into your budget, eh?
6. 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.
7. Schmidt & Bender 12-50X56 PM II/P
Yep, it’s a Schmidt und Bender rifle scope at a price point that seems more realistic than many of their other models. This 12-50x56 PM II scope is part of their Military and Police Forces/Police Marksman Series designed for professionals who have sniper and long-ranging demands to satisfy.
- High power
- Close focus distance
- DT/ST Turrets
- 34 mm tube
- Short eye relief
This German company knows their stuff. They make quality, high-precision, long-range scopes for hardcore enthusiasts and professionals. This model has a 34 mm tube that provides up to 65 and 16 MOA elevation and windage travel adjustment. The side focus has an extremely close focus system that allows you to accurately make shots as close as 10 meters which you may need for target shooting competitions.
This is the DT/ST model which means it has the Double Turn turret system that is unique to the brand. If you’re in the first revolution on your elevation turret, the “window” at the top will be clear. When you move into higher revolutions, the window will switch to a yellow color. The windage turret has Single Turn turrets.
It has the P3 reticle with duplex style crosshairs and MOA intervals marked with dots. It has a 16.4” length, 39 oz weight, and 2.8” (70 mm) of eye relief. It may be short for those wearing glasses, and while it is on the short end of the stick, it’s right at minimum amount of eye relief required for rifle scopes.
This brand is top-notch, and although this may be one of their entry-level models for this series, it’s plenty of scope enough for your needs.
8. 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!
9. Barska 30/30 Varmint 4-16X50 AO
We can see your eyebrows raised at this suggestion. Again, not all shooters can spend what they want to spend on a quality optic, and sometimes they must settle for the scope that will at least get the job done. The Barska Varmint scope is high powered, comes with an AO for parallax correction, and turret adjustments are made in 1/8 MOA.
While it's not the fanciest, long-range rifle scope available, it's one of the cheapest. The reticle is basic, and it doesn't count for bullet drop. But, if you're the definer of what long range means, you'll know what shots you want to take with this scope, and the shots you don't.
10. Nikon Black FX1000 6-24X50SF FX-MOA
With a mouthful of a name, expect more than a mouthful of awesomeness from the Nikon Black rifle scope. It has a lot going on, a lot to explain, and a lot to offer. For under $1000, the FX1000 scope deserves to be in our lineup and on your buying radar.
- FFP reticle
- High magnification
- Illuminated reticle
- 30 mm tube
- Loss of reticle at max power
First impressions: We love the murdered-out logo Nikon stuck on the eyepiece that saves the aesthetic appeal of the tactical-style scope. This Nikon is feature loaded. It has everything other high-end scopes on the heavier end of this price range have: a glass-etched, illuminated, FFP reticle, high power, and a 30 mm completely fog, water, and shockproof body.
The scope is lightweight for its features, weighing in at 24.5 ounces. Suited for bench rest competition and target shooting, you could easily mount the Black FX-MOA scope to your hunting rifle for extreme accuracy and low light advantages come this hunting season.
This scope also sports Nikon's revamped Return-to-Zero integral zero stop feature to rapidly have you back at your zero without thought and fuss. Stretch your long-range goals with the tactical turrets that has 25 MOA travel per revolution with a max of 60 MOA adjustment travel.
The hash-marked reticle is purposely designed to be underwhelming and yet high performing. Adjust illumination intensity with its 10 levels of brightness. For added convenience, you have intermittent "off" positions between each brightness setting found on the side focus turret.
Turrets are nicely knurled, and reports on adjustments are crisp, accurate, and consistent. However, as an FFP scope, it seems there is some loss of the MOA reticle at max 24x magnification. If you need every part of the reticle at max mag, you'll be disappointed to be forced to come down in magnification.
Other than that, some quality control issues have been mentioned, but since the scope is covered by Nikon's No Fault policy, you're guaranteed to have the best functioning scope Nikon can provide.
11. Burris Eliminator 3 4-16X50
The Burris Eliminator 3 4-16X50 just might be the long range scope you've been looking for. It's not cheap, but it's certainly a heck of a lot cheaper than some scopes that made the lineup. It has a built-in laser rangefinder, illuminated reticle, and digital wind drift calculator.
This "thing" automatically calculates values and correct reticle aiming points for you that we're not quite sure it's a rifle scope. It may be a micro-sized computer in the form of a rifle scope. Either way, if you want the scope to do all the work for you, the Eliminator will eliminate all the heavy lifting.
What to Look For in a Long Range Rifle Scope
Ultimately, we can define what long range distances mean to us. However, in the end, you'll have to determine what that long range shot really means when you're out in the field. Does it mean just having high power? Maybe an advanced, tactical reticle could help in the hunt? Will you get by without parallax correction? Will quality glass make up for lack of skill?
We help answer those questions by listing out what features you should look for and how it will apply to your budget, shooting applications, and your skill levels.
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 this on a long range optic is going to cost you. We won't sugarcoat the fact that the best scopes to get you well-placed shots down range are going to be expensive, but worth the investment.
- Quality glass - 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.
- Quality coatings - 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.
- High Magnification - It 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 better chance of accuracy.
- Weight - Try and watch the scope's weight. Ideally, it shouldn't be heavier than 24 ounces, but when you increase things like larger objective lenses, more magnification, and parallax correction, the weight quickly sneaks up on you. Try to at least keep it under 30 ounces for practical use on medium-sized rifles.
- Ballistic reticles - This is practically a must-have if you want accuracy and confidence in your shots.
- Ballistic turrets - If you'd rather opt out of using a complex reticle and take advantage of ballistic turrets instead, this would be a time-saving feature, however, very expensive. Make sure you 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.
- Parallax correction - With magnification ranges over 10x, you will definitely want a side focus or AO to ensure you're dead-on with every long range shot.
- Eye relief - Don't forget that you need adequate space of at least 2-3" (preferably 3" or even longer) if you don't want a shiner from your heavy caliber gun.
- Cost - 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 how serious you are about your shooting applications.
- Warranty - Always protect your high-purchase rifle scope. A "no-questions" or "no-hassle" warranty provides that extra layer of reassurance in case something happens. But, protect it with a warranty from a company that you know will honor it.
Long Range Ain't as Easy as You Think
Sure, the concept is easy to grasp - aim, adjust some dials, and shoot. No. Long range shooting beyond distances of 400 isn't a common concept for many hunters. Others who hunt in wide-open plains may be more accustomed to it and appreciate a well-placed shot when they get the chance to take one.
Long range shots take a lot of work. You've got wind, mirage, moving targets, scouting, and did we mention a lot of space a bullet has to get through to reach and impact your target with enough force to kill it, and in the kill zone too?
Oftentimes, spotting scopes, binoculars, and laser rangefinders are in heavy use to aid in the process. 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!