So you finally bought that perfect long range rifle 6.5mm Creedmoor bucks the wind better than a 308 with less recoil and a flatter trajectory. But now you need to find the best scope for the 6.5. Scopes unlike 6.5mm ammo are in no short supply….yet. Finding the best scope is difficult there are so many brands with minor differences between them. But don’t worry follow this guide for the best 6.5mm scope and you’ll be able to complete the mile challenge in no time, providing you can find a long enough range.
Straight into the best scope for the 6.5mm. We love many of the tested scopes but Vortex remains the leader of the pack, Bushnell is coming up on them with their DMR series and the others in our list are great if you want to spend a bit more or prefer a different reticle. Vortex has several slots on the list, not because they are the best scopes money can buy but because they have a great range for the price points and knows what shooters are looking for, not to mention their amazing customer service. While other companies are hit and miss Vortex is a pleasure to work with when you are upset. I mean when else do you call customer service.
Now a lot of people don’t understand firearms and think that mounting a $100 scope on a $1000 rifle is good enough, the rifle is the important part, right? Sadly no, teaching long range shooting for the last 10 years, the biggest problem I see with a rifle setup is cheaping out on components like scopes, rings, and bipod. I bet you have often heard buy once, cry once. The issues are not only that you will eventually buy a better piece of equipment but that until you do, you will cry foul about every missed shot. 6.5 e is one of the more interesting rounds to watch this phenomenon with because it is a match caliber. Everything from the barrel to the round on the gun is setup for long range shooting, it is difficult to find ammunition that is not considered high quality, guns that shoot 6.5 e are more than likely built to match quality on a bolt action that means the rifle could start out around .75 MOA and improve, while a semi-automatic will shoot around 1 MOA. However, when you go to the gun range and look at the groups they might be around 2-4 MOA with excuses. The easiest way to show someone the error of their ways is to mount a solid scope to their rifle and have them shoot again. When it is ¼ their previous groups they know. Okay sometimes, they know but once an idiot makes a mistake you know it is never that easy.
Your best scope will depend on your range. How far can you shoot? A 6.5 e will fly 1000 yards without much issue but there are few ranges that can support your shooting. Do you intend to hunt? Shoot competition? Do you just want to long range plink? Hunting scopes can be lighter than competition scopes, hunting past 300 yards is illegal or frowned on in many areas. Do you like the reticle available from this manufacturer? Do you prefer another? A lot of manufactures sell several different reticles if they make it and you can’t find what you what you may need to custom order it. I recommend a solid Mil-Dot with a Horus Tree, it helps withholds and ranging and you can tune out the noise.
- Range Options
- But what about magnification?
- Focal Plane
- Objective Size and Tube Diameter
- Illuminated reticle
- Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes
With the 6.5mm you can range out a long, long way, but mile long ranges can be tough to find. Since the 6.5 has 30 MOA of drop at 1000 yards, you will want a scope that has at least 60 MOA of travel. Don’t understand, that’s okay. Travel is the total distance the reticle can shift while the scope is mounted You can add additional drops with 20 and 40 MOA rings as well as using the hash marks on the reticle to increase the distance your round can drop. Go to Hornady’s website for a ballistic calculator and you can get a chart like the one above if you plan on shooting more than 1000 yards. If you plan on shooting more than 1000 yards it might be wise to grab 20 MOA rings. Since the 6.5mm e is a long distance round, you may want to purchase them anyway to future proof your rifle.
But what about magnification?
Do a quick search for ranges in your area and then follow the formula below.
Find the maximum range, the most common range, and the dream range, then divide the maximum by the highest magnification and that is how far it will be to shoot a 1x scope at that range.
Example: 800 yards is the longest range I have. My scope is a 5-25x. 800/25=32. So I have a 32 yard shot with a 1x scope.
That’s the napkin math. Long range is generally 200yards-1760yards or 1 Mile so you want a scope that meets your needs. If you will only ever shoot a 200-yard target, save the money on the zoom and buy a lower magnification with much better glass quality.
It has been a while since I have even tested a scope without numbered turrets. Before companies adopted the practice you had to count the clicks by feel, no you just get a good amount of data for doping your scope, and quickly adjust to the number on the windage and elevation turrets. You still want the solid feel of a good turret because then you know that you are on precisely but since companies have for the most part figured this out, we don’t even recommend poorly made scopes, no matter how much they offer to pay us at the contact information available below.
Buy a First Focal Plane scope; it is like the metric system the only people that haven’t adopted it yet are those that don’t understand the benefits or those people in niche fields. ¾ inch is just a 19mm wrench. But it does save me from doing complex and annoying math. Well, to be fair the first focal plane allows you to use the hash marks no matter the zoom you are using. Allows you to range targets and you windage holds for most common rounds if you are using a Horus reticle. But most importantly the second focal plane scope just isn’t as fast, precise, or useful, I don’t recommend any of them.
Objective Size and Tube Diameter
Pay attention to these when buying your rings. Your objective needs to be far enough from your rifle that it doesn’t touch the barrel. Your rings also need to fit your scope, it doesn’t take a genius but we have all seen some stupid gun setups. If you are looking for accuracy keep your scope as low as you can to your rifle it just makes the physics of shooting have less variability.
They are nice to have but I’d rather have increased glass quality. A good reticle for long-range makes the difference, illuminating it won’t change your performance. They also increase weight and require annoying batteries that never last. One slip up leaving the scope on and you will need a trip to Walmart before it works again.
Weight of most scopes weigh around a pound and a half. If you are building for ultra-light weigh the scope may be a place you can lose a few ounces but I’d rather see it lost from other equipment, do you really need a shooting mat on a hunting trip?
Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes
The Vortex Venom
Vortex Venom is the new offering from Vortex, and we love it. It is the perfect scope for a new shooter or a new gun. Basically, it is a Strike Eagle, stripped down, meaning no illuminated reticle, that’s basically it. Spend 20% less on a scope without a feature you will rarely use. The Glass is ED coated very clear, very bright, it uses the same reticle as the Strike Eagle and PST, the 5-25 power magnification allows you to see the bullet hits on a paper target out to about 300 Yards farther if you use the splash targets. The Venom is a great scope, frankly I wish it was available earlier to replace my PST Gen I at ½ the cost I could have spent another $600 on ammunition and I would have been a better shooter earlier in life.
This is the best 6.5mm Scope for the money. It is also about the cheapest scope I think could work on a 6.5mm using much less and you will risk missing at $1 a round. The Venom has a 56mm Objective lens and a 34mm tube which are big. It gives you great eye relief and a clear bright picture. Not to mention it weighs a bit less than the Strike Eagle. A 5-25x Magnification allows you to really get a close-up view from a way out.
The Vortex Strike Eagle
The Strike Eagle is a Vortex Venom with features, illuminated reticle, zero stop, slightly different turrets. Same Glass as far as I can tell. More options especially in the magnification of 5-25x. The massive difference is the illuminated reticle and locking turrets. Great for hunting, or travel. Locking turrets do what they are advertised they lock so you don’t accidentally change your zero without you knowing. The illuminated reticle isn’t a feature I place great importance on for this type of optic unless you are shooting at black silhouettes at extreme ranges. It also has an additional 20 MOA of turret travel. The Strike Eagle is great value for the price, but it is a step up in price and features. Even with all the features it still weighs 5 ounces less than the Venom which is odd considering how similar they are.
The glass is the same between the Venom and the Strike Eagle, very close eye relief, forgiving eye box and field of view, both feel amazing. Look amazing and are covered by Vortex’s amazing customer service.
Vortex Viper PST Gen II
The Vortex PST has been the go to optic for shooters for years; it is a great mid-range optic. The Gen II really up the game with better glass, better eye relief and every feature you could want. I have praised this optic for years because of its low price for the features and glass. Compared to the Venom and the Strike Eagle it has a sharper image from the high quality glass but it is a small improvement. I hate to say this because it is still the best glass in its price point but it may be time to wait on the Gen III PST. The Gen II does have better turrets with more positive feel and slightly tighter groups in the box test but is that worth the extra money. The PST Gen II also has better glass, not worlds of difference but it is better, the question is again does the increase in quality justify the price?
Why is that?
The PST has a 50mm Objective lens, the standard for optics for a long time. While the Venom and the Strike Eagle have 56mm objectives about 10% difference making them gather more light and appear brighter. So does the PST Gen II justify the price, If you need it to be competitive I would look at the Razor series until the Gen III comes out next year. Or look at the Bushnell DMR at a similar price.
Bushnell Forge 4.5-27x50mm
Bushnell has been coming out with several long range scopes to attempt to break Vortex’s hold on the market. The Bushnell Forge is an equal optic to the Vortex PST Gen II; I mean it is nearly identical. Great glass, Great turrets, solid clicks, slightly different field of view because the magnification is slightly different. In a blind test, it was difficult to tell the difference.
So it will come down to the reticle you prefer, I prefer the Vortex reticle because the open crosshair doesn’t cover the target at extreme range. They also recommend the Vortex PST because of the amazing warranty from Vortex. Bushnell Ironclad warranty covers everything for the life of the optic while vortex is a transferable lifetime of the company.
For a 50% increase in price, you can check out the Bushnell DMR
Vortex Razor HD Gen II
If you are looking for an amazingly competitive scope this is it. The glass quality completely blows the rest of the scopes on the list out of the water. The only way I can really explain it is look at your hand. Yes it is a hand, does all the hand things. Okay now really focus on the skin of your hand you see the crisscross of lines on your skin and your hand follicles, the veins beneath the skin. That is the difference between glass quality one will let you shoot the wings off a fly. The other will let you see the colors as they burst apart. That is the difference we are talking about. Do you need it? Not unless you are shooting in matches and have enough money to afford it but once you can afford it. Relax your other Vortex scopes might have some resale value or at least work great on a 22lr Trainer.
As for the rest of the scope frankly there are only so good you can make turrets, Vortex Venom and PST have great turrets, the Razor’s are better clicking somehow more solid and smoother. Larger Field of view and better eye relief. Frankly, there isn’t much about this scope I don’t recommend because it is one of the nicest scopes I’ve used other than the Nightforce ATACR. They are on another level. If you want to have the best this is it for under $2000. If you want an upgrade grab the ATACR from Nightforce.
So you actually compete in long range matches? Awesome, here it is the best of the best the Nightforce ATACR, the reason I don’t pay for cable. Because I can watch my neighbor’s two miles down the road. Nightforce makes high quality optics that match perfectly with the 6.5mm round.
The scope is fantastic, the build quality is amazing, everything feels tight and solid even after a thousand rounds of everything from 22lr to 300 Win Mag. Nightforce has been a frontrunner of optics for a long time, their NXS and SHV scopes are great as well but the ATACR is their best offering and when you are spending $3 for each round of 6.5mm it makes sense that you want the best experience possible.
So let’s talk about the glass. It is clear, and bright, looking through the scope it actually improves compared to my eyeballs, like someone invented a Heads Up Display for my eyes, almost like I’m not looking through a scope. It is frankly a pleasure to look through. This scope is on the Christmas list for every shooter I know, it is simply the best scope you can currently buy.
But being the best comes at a price, for the Nightforce ATACR the price is about as massive as its field of view. This scope costs more than any single gun I own including my M39 EBR….well not quite but it is close. The only way to justify it is having one scope for every gun, with solid Spuhr Quick detach mount it is a great value because you just keep your dope tagged to each rifle and it works perfectly switching between guns. It can also replace a spotting scope in your arsenal, making it a good deal for a new shooter that wants to do it all without tons of different equipment.
How does it compare to the Venom, frankly it is better in every way but we knew that. Is it 6x better? Out to 300 yards, no the Venom will serve your needs, but if you are reaching out on a regular basis, I’m talking 600, 800, 1000, 1750 yards you might want to take a serious look at this scope and just how many hours driving Uber it will take to pay for it.
Spuhr 34mm QDP Riflescope Mounts
Andrew Maurer is a Precision Rifle Series competition shooter and gunsmith. Building competition rifles for over 12 years. He works as a big game hunting guide in Iowa, South Dakota and Arizona. He is also a political scientist studying the effects of gun control on society. He teaches youth rifle shooting.