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Best Long Range Scope: Top High-Powered Optics

L.p. Brezny | Updated November 25, 2023 | Why You Should Trust Us | How We Earn Money
Cover photo of best long range scope showing scope mounted on a rifle and a snowy background

Most of my time spent shooting is at close-mid range. But every now and then, you need something with just a little more… power.

(You know what I’m talking about)

To do that, though, I need the best long range scope I can get my hands on. 

Luckily for you…

I’ve included the scope I’ve used to hit bullseyes at nearly 1,500 yards. Trust me, you’re in good hands.

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm

Best Overall

The Mark 5HD is designed for the long-range shooter, thanks to its superior glass quality and build features. 

Kicking things off is this fantastic scope from Leupold.

Everything about this scope is crafted to perfection, so whether you’re shooting at mid or long distances, you can find and hit your target quickly and efficiently. In fact, the only potential downside of this scope is that it’s a professional grade sniper scope designed to be used only with the best long range rifles. So, if you don’t have a suitable rifle, you can’t get the most out of this product. 

Although this scope has a high price tag, it’s much more rugged and dependable than most other models available. Overall, it’s a fantastic piece of equipment. 

Pros

Excellent glass clarity

Added visibility with Twilight Max HD System

Fast-focus eyepiece

Waterproof and fog proof housing

Expert precision with windage and elevation knobs

Cons

Very expensive compared to other long-range scopes

Glass Clarity and Reticle

Part of the reason I chose this scope as the best for long-range shooting is that it has the best glass. Leupold is a cut above the rest because it machines the lenses to fit precisely into the housing so it doesn’t move.

Glass and reticle of Leupold MARK 5HD

Other manufacturers simply glue the piece in place meaning with time they become loose and eventually fail.

Another reason I love the glass of this scope is that it comes with the Twilight Max HD Light Management System. This system allows you to see better in low-light conditions, and that means you can stretch out your time and get the most out of your sessions by reducing 90% of the glare, giving you roughly 30 minutes more shooting time, according to the manufacturer. More shooting time means, well, more time to do what you love.

When I tested it, I clocked about 23 more minutes. Not bad. 

Leupold MARK 5HD 5-25x56mm in an outdoor setting

It also blows its competitors out of the water with its 20.4ft field of view at 100 yards. The runner-up on this list has 16.6ft at 100 yards, 19% less. 

More field of view means you have a much better chance of seeing what it is you’re shooting at, as the image is literally 19% larger.

The good thing about the reticle on this scope is that there are several options to choose from. Whether you like using MOA or MIL reticles, you can find the right one for your preferences. 

Eye Relief and Eye Box

Leupold MARK 5HD mounted on a rifle and grassy area in the background

The eye relief for this scope is around 3.6 inches, which is standard for long-distance shooting. As long as you have the best long range rifle, you should be able to rest your head and not worry about losing the image in the scope. 

Durability

Another reason I chose the Mark 5HD as the best long range rifle scope is that it’s built solid.

Leupold tests it with 5,000 impacts, so you know that it can handle anything you throw at it in the field. 

All that means to you is you can abuse this thing, and it will keep coming back for more.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Elevation and windage knobs of Leupold MARK 5HD

Leupold uses ¼ MOA adjustments for elevation and windage, which is what I’m used to. So, switching to this from a mid-range scope is very easy and I don’t struggle with calculating my ranges. 

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax can throw a lot of inexperienced shooters for a loop when they’re aiming at long distances. But Leupold helps alleviate this problem with a side knob that allows you to compensate for parallax at any distance. 

Trees at 200 yards seen through the lens of the Leupold MARK 5HD

Plus, this scope comes with a fast-focus eyepiece, so you can recalibrate the reticle much faster than you would with another model. 

As far as magnification, 5-25x is perfect for virtually all long-distance shooting. Even at the shorter end of the range, you can still pinpoint your target faster than most other scopes. 

Mounting and Rings

Mount and rings attached to a Leupold MARK 5HD scope

This scope doesn’t come with mounting hardware or rings, so you have to buy them yourself. The main tube is 35mm, while the maximum diameter is 56mm, which is larger than other scopes in this class. 

Is It Worth It?

The short answer is yes, the Leupold Mark 5HD is one of the best long range scopes on the market. It rivals most military sniper scopes, so it’s built to be high-quality. That said, if you’re not serious about long-range shooting, the price point is enough to likely turn you off. 

Leupold Mark 5HD product reviews

We’re actually such big fans of the Mark 5HD, that we also included it in our guide to the best scopes for 1,000 yards or more.

Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30x56mm

Runner Up

Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30X56mm Product Image

PA offers a high-quality long range scope at a more reasonable price point compared to the Leupold Mark 5HD

If you’re on a bit tighter of a budget but still want something high-quality, the PLX series scope from Primary Arms is an excellent second choice.

It costs a bit less than the Leupold, but the quality is comparable. 

I won’t say that the glass and durability of this scope are at the same level as Leupold, but you get what you pay for.

The glass on this model is fantastic, and it should hold up to any bumps or scrapes you encounter in the field. 

Pros

High-quality Japanese glass

Higher distance range

Ideal for extreme long-range shots

Compatible with night vision

Lightweight and durable housing

Cons

Windage and elevation turret does not lock

Glass Clarity and Reticle

Man aiming at a long-distance target using a rifle with a mounted scope 

Reticle types can vary widely from one scope to the next, so picking the “best” one is often a matter of preference. That said, I like the ACSS Athena BPR Mil reticle because it makes it easier to compensate for bullet drop, as the wide-open “Christmas tree” gives you lots of space to see the target along with the super clear chevron in the middle. 

We got very accurate shots from various shooters of differing experience levels, which goes to show the reticle’s precision and user-friendliness. 

Primary Arms PLX Series 6-30X56mm mounted on a rifle and grassy area in the background

When targeting at longer distances, having such a detailed reticle helps immensely. Plus, the glass clarity is fantastic at all ranges, so I haven’t had any problems finding my target. 

The reticle is also illuminated, and this scope is compatible with night vision. While I don’t often go long-range shooting at night, it’s nice to know I have the option. 

Eye Relief and Eye Box

Man aiming the rifle with a mounted Primary Arms PLX scope 

The range of eye relief for this scope is 3.3 inches to 4 inches, which is ideal for most shooters.

I find that 3.5 inches fits almost everyone when they’re shooting longer distances. Having a bit of flexibility on either side ensures that everyone can take advantage of this scope.

Durability

Although this scope isn’t machined as expertly as the Leupold Mark 5HD, it’s still pretty rugged. The housing is remarkably lightweight for the size of the scope, but it doesn’t feel cheap or breakable. 

I tested this with various firearms out to a mile and it held up well even with the .338 Lapua Magnum’s recoil. 

I also weighed it at 38.2 ounces, making it one of the heavier scopes on the list. The Leupold is 32 ounces by comparison, which is to be expected as it has the most zoom. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Elevation and windage knobs of Primary Arms PLX scope

Unlike most other long-range scopes, this model uses milliradian adjustments for the windage and elevation turret. So, if you’re a fan of MIL adjustments, you’ll appreciate this scope compared to everything else on this list. 

What’s more, the turrets move easily and make a nice click. 

One gripe I have about this model is that the knobs don’t lock in place. While they don’t bounce around very easily, that seems like an oversight on the part of Primary Arms. If I go through the trouble of calibrating my scope, I want to know it won’t move once I zero it out. 

Parallax & Magnification

What helps separate this scope from the others on this list is the extended magnification range. Some shooters may not need an additional 5x magnification, while others may not be able to do without it. 

It’s also very clear and extremely accurate. I tested the light transmission at nearly 95% and was constantly getting groupings of under 2 MOA at 1000 yards. All that means for you is more bullseyes.

Target view seen through the lens of a scope

This scope also has a parallax adjustment knob on the side, allowing you to compensate for parallax at any distance. 

Mounting and Rings

The PLx scope doesn’t come with mounting hardware or rings. The max diameter is 56 mm and the central tube is 34mm, so be sure to get the correct size and height for the rings.

Is It Worth It?

Primary Arms PLX scope mounted on a rifle in an outdoor setting

Yes, if you’re striving to hit long range targets more accurately, I would recommend this scope. It’s not super expensive (compared to other high-end models), and the features more than compensate for what you pay. 

The scope also offers exceptional image quality even at higher magnifications, making it an incredible value for the money. 

That said, the fact that the turrets don’t lock is a bit annoying, although it doesn’t usually affect your shot. Overall, this is a near-perfect runner-up, but it’s not quite good enough to be in the top spot. 

You can see more on the PA PLX Series in our guide to the best 6.5 Creedmoor scope options on the market today.

Monstrum G2 6-24x50mm FFP

Best Budget Scope

G2 6-24x50 FFP Rifle Scope product image

The G2 is a great budget pick where you’re getting 80% of the value at 10% of the price of the other scopes on the list.

Typically, if you want the best long-range scope, you need to be willing to spend a pretty penny on it. However, as G2 proves, you don’t have to break the bank to see your target from a long distance. 

While the G2 scope isn’t “as good” as something like the Leupold or Primary Arms scope, it gets the job done. Plus, at such a low price point, you can use it to practice your long-distance shooting skills before upgrading to something better. 

That’s not to say that this scope is bad. The glass is remarkably clear, and the durability is better than I was expecting. I also appreciate the little details, like the branded flag and lens cloth they included in the box, showing attention to detail and customer care. 

Pros

Adjustable objective lens

Multi-coated glass for better visibility

Durable aircraft-grade aluminum

Rings provided

Highly affordable

Illuminated reticle

Adjustable parallax 

Lifetime warranty 

Cons

Heavier than other scopes of its size

Glass Clarity and Reticle

If you were to look through this scope and then through the Leupold, it would be obvious that the Leupold is much better. However, the clarity of this glass is pretty good, especially for the price point. 

While I’m not sure I would trust it at dusk or when it’s overcast, it works well for daytime conditions. 

Man holding a rifle with a mounted G2 6-24x50 scope

We did some extensive range testing with heavy caliber rounds, including a .50 caliber rifle, firing hundreds of rounds. It held up well and stayed accurate, and I found the glass clear, which made shooting very enjoyable. 

The reticle is a standard rangefinder, meaning there are dashes to help pinpoint your target and compensate for bullet drop. Not the most sophisticated reticle available, but it works well and is easy to master. 

Eye Relief and Eye Box

Rifle with scope on top of a wooden table

The eye relief of this scope is 4-4.5 inches, which is a bit long compared to the other scopes on this list. That said, it’s not so long that you have to crane your neck to see through the scope. 

However, if you’re used to a shorter eye relief, it will take some adjustment to make this scope comfortable. 

Durability

G2 6-24x50 FFP mounted on a rifle and sky in the background

As with most scopes, this model uses aircraft-grade aluminum with anodized paint. It’s also much heavier than other scopes, weighing nearly two pounds (I weighed 29.1 ounces, to be exact).

That makes this one of the lighter scopes on the list, with the Leupold and PA above both coming in over 30 ounces. 

Since long-range rifles are often pretty burly, the weight shouldn’t throw off your shot (especially if you use a bipod). But if you’re looking for lighter scopes, there are other options for you later in the article. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Elevation and windage knobs of G2 6-24x50 FFP scope

The G2 scope uses ¼ MOA adjustments, with the largest adjustment range of 80 MOA. That’s plenty.

The knobs are also nice and big, and I was able to make adjustments easily with gloves on. I tested out the knobs extensively on the range, shooting at 900 yards with a 20-mile-per-hour crosswind, hand loading my rounds to ensure consistency. Long story short, I was extremely impressed with the results. 

The downside is that these knobs are not as durable as other scopes in this class. So, you may have to recalibrate your shot more frequently, especially if you bump the scope by accident. 

Parallax & Magnification

Magnified target view seen through the lens of a scope

I like that this scope comes with a parallax adjustment knob to adjust the reticle at all magnifications. Since this scope ranges from 6x to 24x, you can cover a lot of ground with it. However, as with the windage and elevation turret, the knob doesn’t hold as well as other scopes like the Leupold. 

Mounting and Rings

Mount and rings attached to a G2 scope

Few scopes come with their own mounting hardware, but the G2 comes with rings. So, you don’t have to purchase these separately, making this an even more cost-saving product. 

Is It Worth It?

As I mentioned, there are some issues with this scope, so I wouldn’t recommend it if you need something high-quality for competitive shooting. However, given the low price point and reliability of this scope, it’s worth the money. They also back it up with a full lifetime warranty, which is mind-boggling as it costs 10% of the Leupold.

Again, you can use this scope to practice your long-range shooting before upgrading to something more costly. Or, you can use it on a mid-range rifle to help you pinpoint your target more easily. Overall, there are many ways to use this scope, making it a worthwhile investment. 

Zero Tech Vengeance 4.5-18x40mm PHR

Best SFP Long Range Scope

Zero Tech Vengeance 4.5-18x40mm PHR Product Image

Overall, this is an excellent budget scope that can work for both mid and long-range shooting or shooting.

While the G2 Scope was the best budget pick, this model from Zero Tech is also pretty affordable. Plus, it has a few features that make it a step above the G2, so you get more bang for your buck

That said, this scope has a more limited range than others on this list, so I don’t necessarily recommend it for extreme long-range shooting. It stands out more for me as a hunting scope.

Also, it uses a second focal plane, the only one on the list. So, if you want SFP, this is the one for you. 

I can say confidently it is one of the best hunting scope options on the market today.

Pros

Simple and easy-to-use reticle

Waterproof and fog proof housing

Turrets hold zero well

Excellent clarity for the price point

Cons

Relatively heavy at 1.4 pounds

Glass Clarity and Reticle

The reticle is quite minimalist, which I enjoyed. I prefer FFP for long-range shooting, but I still got good groupings at 500-800 yards consistently. 

Fortunately, this scope comes with a PHR reticle to alleviate that issue. It also has basic bullet drop compensation marks to help you zero your shot more efficiently. 

Glass and reticle view of Zero Tech Vengeance scope

This glass works well for daylight environments, but it’s not necessarily ideal for low-light conditions. 

Eye Relief and Eye Box

The eye relief of this scope is right where it should be, at around 3.5 inches. So, you shouldn’t have any issues seeing your target without straining your neck or head. 

Durability

Man aiming the rifle with a mounted scope

As with the G2 scope, this model is heavy and built tough. At 23.2 ounces, you’ll still feel it when aiming the rifle, so make sure to have a bipod or something similar handy. 

That said, it is by far the lightest scope on the list, making it the best option if you want a lighter setup. 

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Elevation and windage knobs of the Zero Tech Vengeance scope

The knobs on this scope are easy to zero out with an Allen wrench. It uses ¼ MOA adjustments, so it’s easy to pinpoint your target. The maximum MOA setting is only 70, though, thanks to the shorter magnification. 

They’re quite a bit smaller than the other turrets I tested, and it was definitely more difficult to use with gloves on. 

Parallax & Magnification

Zero Tech Vengeance 4.5-18X40mm scope on top of a table

The parallax adjustment knob allows you to steady the reticle as you zoom into your target. This scope has a maximum zoom of 18x, which is perfect for up to 1,500 yards

Mounting and Rings

As with other long-range scope models, this unit doesn’t come with mounting hardware. However, the objective diameter is only 40mm, so make sure to buy rings small enough to hold it. 

Is It Worth It?

Rifle with a mounted Zero Tech Vengeance scope

If you like shooting at long distances with an SFP reticle, you should definitely get this scope. This is also the one for you if you’re looking for a lightweight optic, as it’s about half the weight of the heaviest optic on this list. 

This is also a great pick if you want an affordable long-range scope that makes it easy to calibrate and zero out your shot. Overall, for the price, this is one of the better values I’ve seen. 

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50mm

Best Long Range Scope for Beginners

The Viper PST is a no thrills long range scope that anyone can appreciate

This final long-range scope from Vortex Optics is an excellent choice for those who want to master long-distance shooting without breaking the bank. This model is much more expensive than the G2 or Zero Tech scopes but much less than the Leupold and PA scopes.

I have an appreciation for Vortex Optics scopes already, but I gotta say the Viper PST Gen II does come with some pretty impressive features. Even if you’re a veteran long-distance shooter, you’ll appreciate these components. 

Pros

Fully multi-coated lens

Scratch-resistant glass

Rugged and lightweight design

Minimalist reticle for easier targeting

Limited lifetime warranty

Cons

Relatively short battery life

Glass Clarity and Reticle

Vortex Optics has some pretty amazing glass, all thanks to how it’s coated. This model comes with a fully multi-coated lens to provide excellent visibility, scratch resistance, and fog resistance. It was clear at 1000 yards, only beat in terms of clarity by the much more expensive scopes on this list. 

Glass and reticle of a Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II scope 

Plus, since the EBR-7C reticle is illuminated, it’s easy to spot your target at any distance. I really like the reticle because it’s unobtrusive and easy to learn. Even if you’re not familiar with long-range shooting, you should be able to master it relatively fast. 

Eye Relief and Eye Box

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50mm scope mounted on a rifle and a cap on the side

The eye relief of this scope is perfect, measuring 3.4 inches, which is comparable with all the other optics on the list. I can’t imagine most shooters would have a problem with that distance, even if they’re on the shorter side of the spectrum. 

Durability

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II scope on top of a wooden table

The scope weighs in at 31.2 ounces. I’m surprised by how lightweight this scope is, given how rugged and durable it is. As you may have noticed, cheaper scopes use thicker, heavier materials, while high-quality scopes are lightweight without sacrificing reliability. 

It held up really well even after a few hundred rounds on both .308 and 6.5 Creedmoor rifles.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Elevation and windage knobs of Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II scope

As with most other long-range scopes, this model uses ¼ MOA. The knobs lock into place and are very easy to zero out, so you shouldn’t have to recalibrate very often (if at all). 

The turrets go up to 70 MOA on elevation and 35 MOA on windage, and it has a zero stop, which I appreciated. 

Parallax & Magnification

Target view seen through the lens of a Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II

This scope uses an etched glass reticle, so parallax is much less of an issue. The magnification range is 5-25x, which is more than enough for long-range or even extreme long-range shooting. 

Mounting and Rings

Rings attached to a Vortex Optics scope

Unfortunately, this scope does not come with mounting hardware. The maximum diameter is 50mm, and the center of the tube is only 30mm. 

Is It Worth It?

If you want a mid-budget long-range scope, I highly recommend the Viper PST Gen II. This model has everything you need to become a long-range master, and it’s built to last a long time. 

It also has a lifetime warranty and comes with a very nice reticle and finish.

That said, this scope may not be the best option for competitive shooting, but that’s my only major complaint. 

Best Long Range Scope Comparison Table

NameMagnificationFocal PlaneKnob Adjustment
Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope5-25xFirst Focal PlaneMOA
Primary Arms PLX Series6-30xFirst Focal PlaneMIL
G2 6-24×50 FFP Rifle Scope6-24xFirst Focal PlaneMOA
Zero Tech Vengeance4.5-18xSecond Focal PlaneMOA
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25x50mm5-25xFirst Focal PlaneMOA

How We Tested These Scopes

Long-range shooting requires more patience and practice than mid or close-quarters shooting. While you can work quickly with a red dot scope, you have to calibrate a long-range model much more carefully. 

So, when testing these long-range scopes, I made sure to pay attention to the details that would actually matter in the field. 

Main Criteria

Scope on top of a rifle in an outdoor setting

Although I’ll cover all the various features and specs to pay attention to, here are the main criteria I focused on when comparing these scopes. 

Calibration – Accuracy can be affected by many factors when taking a shot over 1000 yards away. So, I wanted long-range rifle scopes that allowed me to compensate for these variables easily. 
Durability – Not only does your scope have to handle any bumps and scrapes, but it must also absorb the shock of your shot. If you have to recalibrate your scope after each round, it’s not worth the money. 
Price – Long-range rifle scopes can sometimes be pretty cheap, but they’re often more than $1,000. So, I wanted to offer a variety of price points so shooters of different means can still get decent long-range action. 

Why You Should Trust This Review

Scope mounted on a rifle and trees in the background

Long-range shooting is a favorite hobby of mine, and I always enjoy seeing how well I can hit a target from 1,000 or 2,000+ yards out. So, I’ve tried a lot of scopes over the years and know a thing or two about how well they work. 

I also understand that each shooter has their own preferences, so I made sure to keep an open mind. While I wouldn’t necessarily equip each of these long-range scopes to my rifle, I know that some shooters would prefer a model that I may not. 

Overall, I tried to stay as objective as possible and focused on the details that mattered.

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

Just so you know, all scopes in this article have been included for their merits only. We did not accept any money or free items in exchange for featuring a product. Rest assured, all of these optics are extremely high quality.

How We Compared These Scopes

Although the main criteria for comparing these scopes were calibration, durability, and price, I also paid attention to other features. These are the elements you should look at when comparing scopes before making a final purchase. 

Glass

Glass clarity is crucial when firing at long ranges. If the glass is too blurry or the reticle too wide, you’ll likely miss your shot. 

Target view seen through the lens of a scope

I looked at lenses that came with coatings to resist scratching, fogging, and glare. Sometimes you might be shooting in different environmental conditions, so you won’t want a scope that will crap out once you’re in position. 

Magnification Range

As you may have noticed, the magnification range of these scopes is around 25x. I find that any more than that is too much – unless you’re a military sniper. However, with civilian rifles, 25x should be more than sufficient for all of your long-range needs. 

Reticle Type

As a rule, the best reticles for long-range shooting will help you compensate for bullet drops. Standard crosshairs are inaccurate, even if you adjust the windage and elevation knobs accordingly. 

Target at 500 yards seen through a 14x magnified scope

I like the ACSS Athena Reticle from Primary Arms, as well as the PHR reticle on the Zero Tech Scope. However, any kind of BDC reticle should work well as long as you know how to use it correctly. 

Elevation and Windage

Some shooters prefer milliradian scopes, while others prefer minute of angle adjustment (MOA) models. I tend to lean toward the latter, but I can also appreciate the precision of a MIL scope. 

Fingers turning the elevation knob of a scope

What matters, though, is the ability to zero out your scope at longer distances. Once you have your numbers set, you don’t want to have to recalibrate all the time. So, scopes with locking mechanisms are better than those that could get knocked out of whack with a single bump. 

Durability

Long-range rifles pack more of a punch than short-range ones because they need to send the bullet further. The power and recoil in a shot are enough to scramble most scopes, meaning you have to readjust your shot after each round. 

Scope mounted on a rifle

So, I looked for scopes that could handle hundreds of shots without recalibration. While not all of the models on this list are equally durable, they are as rugged as can be for their price point. 

How Much Magnification Do You Actually Need for a Long-Range Scope?

The amount of magnification you need for a long-range scope depends on the type of rifle you’re shooting. For example, you could stick a long-range scope on an AR-15, but you wouldn’t be able to hit a target accurately past 600 yards or so.

As a general rule, 15x is a decent minimum for long-range rifle scopes. However, as you’ve seen, most of the models on this list are 25x or higher. 

Hunting rifle with a mounted scope and grassy area in the background

At this range, you could technically consider 25x an extreme long-range scope, as you could theoretically pinpoint a target over 1,500 yards. 

So, is it necessary to have scopes with such high magnification ranges? Not necessarily. However, I like to compensate for long distances by zooming in on my target. This way, I can calibrate my shot more easily since I can see my target more clearly. 

How to Choose a Long Range Rifle Scope

I’ve covered a lot of the variables that make a good long-range rifle scope. However, here’s a complete list of everything you should look at when comparing different models. 

MOA or MRAD/MIL

If you’re familiar with rifle scopes, you’re likely a fan of MOA knobs. Minute of angle adjustment is highly accurate and relatively easy to calculate, especially at long distances. 

Elevation and windage knobs of a scope

However, some shooters swear by milliradians, thanks to its standardized form of measurement. I personally prefer MOA, but I’ve shot with both, and they’re both accurate enough for my needs. 

That said, MOA seems to be the standard, so if you prefer MIL adjustments, you may have a more limited choice of scopes. 

FFP vs SFP

One of the major differences between rifle scopes is whether they use a first focal plane (FFP) or a second focal plane (SFP). 

Typically, SFP scopes are ideal for close and mid-range shooting because the reticle doesn’t change. However, for longer distances, FFP scopes are often preferred. Because the reticle size adjusts based on the magnification, it’s easier to pinpoint your target at longer ranges. 

Hand holding a scope

As you can see, almost all of the scopes on my list use FFP, and if you’re serious about long-range shooting, I would recommend it. That’s not to say an SFP scope doesn’t work for longer distances, only that it’s not as good as an FFP model. 

Reticle

As I mentioned, any reticle that comes with bullet drop compensation should work well for long-range shooting. I also recommend illuminated reticles, as it can be hard to differentiate the reticle from the background at times.  

Cost

If you’re serious about long-range shooting, I would recommend investing at least $1,000 to $2,000 in a scope.

Scope mounted on a rifle

Alternatively, if you want to practice shooting at longer ranges, a budget model like the G2 could be an excellent first scope. Once you get the hang of that, you can upgrade to something more substantial like the Primary Arms PLx or Leupold Mark 5HD. 

Scope Tracking

Scope tracking is when the scope moves the reticle according to the settings on your elevation and windage knobs. Ideally, the tracking movements will be precise, meaning there’s no difference between a bullseye in the reticle and on your target. 

However, low-quality long-range rifle scopes may have poor tracking, particularly at longer distances. Typically, if you notice a difference between the reticle and your adjustments, you should return the scope and get a new one. 

Since scope tracking isn’t something you can just “fix” on your own, I recommend swapping scopes. Although you could compensate for the difference, there’s no reason to settle for something that isn’t as accurate as it should be. 

Turrets

Hand turning the windage knob of a scope

Because accuracy and precision are critical for long-distance shooting, you need turrets that are easy to use and won’t move by accident. 

I prefer turrets that deliver a solid “click” when I make an adjustment. This tells me where I am in the adjustment, and it should indicate that the turret will hold, even after I take a shot. 

By comparison, if the turret moves really easily and you don’t hear any clicking, you may have trouble calibrating the scope. Also, if the turret doesn’t hold fast when firing, you’ll have to recalibrate after each shot, which gets really annoying. 

Glass

Glass quality matters a lot in long-range scopes because you need to be able to see your target clearly at any distance. As a rule, coated lenses help reduce glare and provide decent contrast, particularly when zooming into your target. 

Hunting rifle with a mounted scope on top of a wooden table

Some lenses have HD coatings, which help in low-light conditions. So, if you’re shooting at dusk, you’ll need something that lets in as much light as possible. Otherwise, you’ll basically be shooting blind, and what’s the point of that? 

Elevation and Parallax Adjustments

Parallax can greatly affect your shot at longer distances if you don’t compensate for it. Because the reticle can “move” around your target, it’s much harder to make adjustments for elevation, wind, and bullet drop. 

So, I prefer a long-range rifle scope that makes it easy to adjust the parallax as I need it. This way, I can maintain accuracy at any distance, even if I move my head around when searching for my target. 

Lens Diameter

Scope with lens cap on a rifle

The wider the lens, the wider the field of view, and the more light comes into the scope. As a rule, long-distance scopes should have a lens diameter of around 50mm, although some may be bigger (i.e., 56mm) or smaller (i.e., 40mm). 

If you’re not sure how much light you need, 50mm is a great place to start. However, if you’re trying to err on the side of caution, I would recommend getting a wider scope than a narrower one, just in case. 

Eye Relief, Exit Pupil, & Field of View

Shooting at long distances means you’ll have your eye to the scope for extended periods. Because you have to calibrate the elevation, windage, and parallax, you need to keep your head close to the eyepiece for a while. 

For this reason, the best long-range scopes typically have a relatively short eye relief of about 3.5 inches. This way, you can rest your head and not strain to see your target.

Scope with mount and rings on top of a rifle

The exit pupil refers to the width of light coming out of the scope and hitting your eye. The wider the number (measured in millimeters), the easier it is to see in low-light conditions. 

As a rule, 2.2 mm is ideal for bright, sunny days, but you’ll need something in the 8mm range for dusk. Otherwise, it’ll be much harder to see your target, even if the reticle is illuminated. 

Finally, the field of view refers to how much space you’re seeing at a specific distance. As you can imagine, the shorter the magnification, the wider the field of view. I prefer a rifle scope with a decent FOV at maximum range. This way, I have some flexibility when finding my target, particularly if it’s moving.

Warranties

As with any other product, the best long-range scopes come with warranties. I like lifetime warranties, as that tells me the brand feels confident in its product. 

While a lifetime warranty doesn’t cover everything, it does mean you don’t have to worry about manufacturer defects. 

With all things considered, if you’re comparing scopes and one has a lifetime warranty and the other one doesn’t, pick the former. 

For more reading, see our article on the best AR-10 scope money can buy.

Our Top Pick: Leupold MARK 5HD 5-25x56mm

Leupold MARK 5HD 5-25x56mm in an outdoor setting

FAQs

What is long-range shooting?

Long-range shooting is when you’re shooting at long enough distances to have to calibrate your scope to hit your target accurately. I would argue that long-range shooting is anything over 600 yards (548.6 meters), but that’s not a hard and fast rule. 

What is the best scope for extreme long range shooting?

The best scope for extreme long-range shooting is the Primary Arms PLx Scope. Because this model reaches up to 30x magnification, you can pinpoint your target at a greater distance. That said, you need to have a suitable extreme long range rifle to hit your target. 

What is the best scope for long distance viewing?

The best scope for long distance viewing is the Leupold Mark 5HD. Because this scope has excellent glass quality and low-light visibility, it works well for viewing at long distances virtually any time of day. 


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