When the subject is long range shooting and the optical systems that need to go with a long range rifle. The whole selection process narrows down very quickly to an increase in price over standard deer hunting or plinking rifle glass and the systems used to hit a target from 600 yards through a mile or more down range.
As a secondary element to this discussion when moving into long range scopes, the need quickly changes in terms-of glass quality, available natural light control and the ability of the scope to hold an image as the range extends to a distance of plus 600 yards or more.
Believe me when I tell you that I have looked through one pile of rifle glass over some 50 years of sending bullet in the next zip code. And I am here to tell you that even some heavy hitting brand named glass will start ot fall apart when the target is small and the range is out beyond the distances most shooters tend to use a rifle.
Here in lies the problem. Manufacture tend to think in terms of the back yard shooter or midwestern bush gunner that never sees a deer or what ever much beyond 100 yards. As such most scopes are not built to push the range to the required distances that are common among the modern long range riflemen. Shooting ranges have jumped massively over the past decade. As such long range scope quality has needed to be advanced right along with the task of hitting targets at unbelievable distances today.
The following are some examples of workable rifle scopes as presented through Amazon.com, that will meet the needs of most shooters that are pushing bullets to 1000 yards or more, and are require some major accuracy when doing so.
Best Long Range Scopes
1 Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm
Leupold offers this better grade glass sight with an option of varied reticles that display an assortment of sub-tension choices. This scope as listed by Amazon is set up with the fine Duplex CDS reticle. The scope is in a matt finish and water proof as would be expected. It also has features like zero lock, meaning you can return to zero intently after gaining a correct zero when spinning the turret adjustments. The turrets allow the shooter to zero for his or her performance ammunition and then reset at once to the base line zero settings, thereby always knowing if the turret knobs have moved off zero through rough field use or activities.
This is an advantage when shooting long range because your always working off known DOPE. (Data on previous engagement ) As presented however the scope is not displaying any sub-tension system through the lens. This is common as a shooting aid with many Leupold glass sights. I shoot a MARK IV and V that retain sub -tensions in MRADS. This is ideal because you have both the turret settings and also through the lens sub-tension settings. Snipers call this system “ halfing” because if they turn the turrets all the way up but still need more elevation, they can also use the hash marks or dots for additional elevation that are etched into the glass as sub-tension figures. This scope as presented by Amazon is not set up that way and as such would be reduced somewhat regarding its maximum effective range on target.
Point of information here. DOPE cards are made up using ballistics programs that read out the exact drop of bullets at long range. I am talking here of 1000, 1500 yards and one mile shooting. This scope has the ability to allow the shooter to dial in the exact drop and drift numbers that will put a bullet on target even to extreme range limits. A range of 1000 yards should not present an issue for this glass sight as its setup is currently being offered. Also be advised that Leupold will change out any and all glass to a different reticle design requested by the owner.
2 Leupold MARK 5HD 5-25x56mm
This Leupold scope is designed for the modern ultra long range shooter. The scope retains massive turret knobs that hold ample amounts of elevation and windage adjustment for very long range shooting. The MK 5 is another scope I use here at Ballistics Research & Development for testing new high BC bullets at very long distances. The glass on this scope is of a very high quality, you are getting exactly what your paying for here. Image quality is outstanding, a total lack of distortion or image fade, and the MC53 turrets are calibrated for 1/10 mil correction per click, with 30 mils of correction before going into the scopes sub-tension lens display for added elevation (halfing.) The buyer has a choice of up to eight different sub-tension displays. That is a very professional trademark of Leupold optics.
Offered in FFP, and with those varied types of sub-tension displayed through the lens (etched glass), this scope is a mile long distance shooters dream. While several scopes built by Leupold are military classified and not for civilian sales, this model comes very close to the MK 4 and others used by the current American snipers in combat.
A little known fact is that Leupold is the only company that I know of that is not glueing the glass lens to the main housing of the scope. All Leupold lenses are micro fitting to the tube by hand.
This scope under review is offered in five different VX models. All of them will handle 1000 yard long range work. Some of these selected scopes with sub-tension displays through the lends will push bullet further to be sure.
The scope uses a 30mm tube and that means large strong internal parts. The turret setting here will carry enough elevation and windage graduations to get bullets fired from high powered rifle cartridge to the 1000 yard mark or even further.
This scope has a side focus adjustment ( left) at the turret. The glass retains light management qualities, even at extreme ranges the target fade is minimal to none. This scope will display a clear image out to the edges of the lens and zero rainbow effect or flat images will appear at the side of the lens.
3 Leupold VX-3i LRP 6.5-20x50 mm Side focus.
This Leupold rifle scope is the LRP model or Long Range Precision series. That means built for the long range shooter and no corners are cut at all. Designed in the FFP, which says the shooter sees his sub-tension system increase or decrease in size with the varied power settings, that means getting precision impact on targets a long way down range.
I shoot this scope as applied to my Browning A Bolt 6.5 Creedmoor. The scope has custom Leupold factory sub-tension in MRADS, versus the MOA this scope has installed. The reticle is etched and designed as an ample elevation producing system. The turret settings will deliver a full 60 MOA of elevation and add the sub-tensions seen through the glass ( halfing ), you have a one mile system that will drop a bullet into a target from an elevated hight of a two story building.
This scope retains the side focus adjustments on the left side of the turret, a large 30 mm main tube, three complete turns on the turret settings for ample sighting adjustments, a quality light management system that will bring a target image into view clear at even very long ranges. This is a solid choice for ultra long range work from 1000 yards through1760 yards ( one mile down range )
4 Bushnell Elite Tactical riflescope
This scope is the king of the pack in terms of Bushnell rifle scope production. I shoot this glass as applied to my 1999 Montana 338 Lapua, it is my only go to one mile rifle and glass combination save for some shootig with a 50 BMG when I want to punish myself a bit.
This scope is a class act, I half my elevation to 19.3 MRADS at one mile by turning up all my turret clicks and then tack on three sub-tension hash marks through the cross hair etched dots. At that point I adjust for wind drift Corvallis effect ( earths rotation ) with a shot north to south and send it ( the bullet ) down range.
This DMR II 3.5-21x50 illum reticle is a true tactical gunning system. Sniper grade and set up for ultra long range work. The scope retains Bushnell’s EXO Barrier Protection lens, controls light, distortion and target fade at very long range well and it's so tough that it can withstand 30 minutes under three feet of water.
Built on the FFP, the magnification increased in cross hair size as power settings move up. This system is preferred by long range shooters for the most part. Built with massive tube dimensions as in a large turret ring that hold ample levels of elevation and windage adjustment, this scope is rated as a real contender for a high end long range shooting system.
If you are not at all interested in a lighted reticle this scope is also offered in a DMR model that is a bit older, but is still as effective as the new model. Some even like the old one better and the best news here as it is still available through Amazon.
5 Syeiner T5xi
Here we have a scope with German glass that hits on models used by the German army snipers. Steiner makes very good glass sights, and again here at BR&D we use two of them for ballistics performance testing, and long range steel target applications with large ultra high velocity weapons.
With the 54 mm objective lens and a massive 34 mm main one piece tube, this scope is a beast to say the least. Tack this onto a Barrett 50 cal or a Montana 338 Lapua, and the riflemen owns the whole darn valley.
Adjustments regarding the exact number of clicks is massive to say the least. The system uses a second rotation indicator on the elevation knob so the shooter will not get lost in the number of rotations used when elevating the scopes cross hairs for the long shot. The primary turret click will number 120 making this a deadly sight system to say the least.
The glass on this sight is priceless as well. Clear and very sharp image displays even out to one mile or more is common. Target I can’t even start to count the number of times I have set a new model scope that is listed as a long range system into the sand bags only to sight down range beyond say 500 yards and see the target just fade into a dull gray background. Target fade is not a part of this equation at all. These are professional grade sniper scopes and in real world settings could mean a mans life if they failed. Be advise, they will not do that to be sure. These scopes can be obtained in MRAD setups meaning 5.3 inches per each click graduation on the turret at 100 yards. ( My scopes ) Multiply this every additional 100 yards and you can see that the scope will push elevation quickly with a minimum number of turret clicks. The scope listed by Amazon is set up in MOA graduations ( one inch at 100 yards per click). This system is common among civilian shooters as it is an easy count being set up at one even inch per click.
6 Swarovski DS 5-25x52 4A-1
Swarovski optics are known for some of the best glass in the world and it shows in their optical systems. This scope is different in that it is a “ smart” scope and will calculate range and bullet drop automatic regarding Blue Tooth systems when the aiming dot at the center of the cross hair is pointed at the intended target.
Will this system work? Yes as I have used this on several of our prototype and production scopes offered by other manufactures. Program in the data reload type, velocity and related info, the scope will think out the correct hold over . Mark the spot on the vertical center line of the scopes sub-tensions that the scope show you and it is one shot job done.
Using this type of system I have sat back in a hide and gunned mountain marmots at 600 yards with a .223 Remington while never missing a single target. The system I was testing made the .223 Rem into a precision shooting system in an instant.
Be advise however that these scopes require some advanced programing etc. Also they work on a battery power source. Loose power and it is game over.
The Swarovski dS 5-25×52 P is massive as the main tube measures a full 45 mm, this means spacial rings and bases to accommodate such a monster of a system. Why the size, Core parts and technology system built into the scope? Because all that technology takes up space.
7 Zeiss Conquest V4 6-24x50
As a final scope to be reviewed here we turn to the Zeiss, people and the development of the Conquest series of glass sights. These scopes are outstanding in terms of glass quality, finish and their sub-tension installation.
The main tube on this scope is 30mm in size, built in the second focal plane SFF, this scope retains a tactical style MOA turret.
Currently I am shooting this scope as applied to a 308 Winchester Mossberg Scout rifle and the results are quite good out to 600 yards, being the range I have been using for my review work. The scope can reach out further, using the turret setting and also the sub-tension hashmarks the 1000 yard through about 1400 yards is not issue with this scope sight system.
Turrets adjustments are set to sharp solid clicks, the glass is ultra high quality and lacks distortion and target fade at long range. This scope is German engineered and it shows up in some major ways. Well made, great finish, and positive function over the receiver of a rifle makes, this scope again another offering in terms of meeting he needs of the long range shooter.