The best long range rifle scopes 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
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!
|Leupold Mark 5HD||5-25X 56mm||Tremor 3||Over $2000||View on Amazon|
|NightForce NXS||5.5-22X 56mm||Illuminated MOAR-20 MOA||Over $2000||View on Amazon|
|Swarovski Z3||4-12X 50mm||4W||Under $1000||View on Amazon|
|Vortex Viper HS LR||4-16X 50mm||Dead-Hold BDC||Under $600||View on Amazon|
|Nikon Monarch 3||4-16X 42mm||BDC||Under $500||View on Amazon|
|Barska 30/30 Varmint AO||4-16X 50mm||30/30||Under $100||View on Amazon|
|Burris Eliminator III||4-16X 50mm||Plex, Ballistic Plex||Under $1500||View on Amazon|
Our 6 Top Long Range Rifle Scopes (+ 1 Honorable Mention!)
Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25X56 – New to 2018!
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!
NightForce NXS 5.5-22X56
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!
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.
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?
Best Long Range Scope on a Budget – Nikon Monarch 3 4-16X42
Getting down to under $500, the pickings may get slim as you don’t want to go “too cheap” to maintain your long range goals. Fortunately, a well-known brand still lingers in the budget class that’s considered affordable to hunters. Nikon pumps out a scope that’s lightweight with the right length and has high power to get long range shots done and done.
The Monarch 3 scope has a quick focus eyepiece, ballistic reticle, and a zero-reset turret to maximize performance for long ranging distances. Equipped with a side turret to correct for parallax, those far-reaching targets will be within your reach. As expected for a Nikon, the fundamental features are the integral components of the scope. The fully multi-coated optics, the Ultra ClearCoat coatings, and its wide field of view will be an invaluable aid in taking down your target at under 1000 yards.
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.
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″) 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 thingy-majig the turrets or somethin’-a-rather 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!