Top 10 Best Long Range Scopes (Jan. 2020) : Review & Buyer’s Guide
- Erik Himmel
As a beginner sport shooter, I didn’t understand why people bothered shooting at long range. I really believed that being close to the target was more exciting. That was until I tried a long range scope for the first time. After that initial try, it became apparent to me that my shooting practice was going to go down another path. I didn’t know until I tried, but taking shots from 100 or even 1000 yards away is so rewarding. Now, I’m experienced with long range scopes and they’re my favorite type of scope to use. Whether you’re looking for your first long range scope or you’re wanting to upgrade an existing scope, our best long range scope review will certainly help you out.
What You Will Get Here
What Exactly is a Long Range Scope?
What do we think of when we use the words “long range”? Do we mean 50 yards? 100 yards? What about 500 yards?
In order to understand what we mean by long range, we need to think about what type of scopes we’re referring to. It’s probably best to judge a scope on the distance when the iron sights are no longer effective when shooting. Most experts consider 300 yards to be the distance point when we begin to talk about long range scopes. As for the maximum? You can’t really put a number on it like you can do on a golf range finder, but there are some long range scopes that will reach 1000 yards.
So, a long range scope, therefore, is one that can hit a target of at least 300 yards well but you should also be able to go further than that. For a scope to be effective at distances like these, it will need some extra features.
As a minimum, a long range scope should have 10 power at least with good optics and parallax focus. It should also have a BDC reticle and turret adjustments.
How Much Should I Spend on a Rifle Scope?
Some would argue that you need to spend the same amount as you did when buying your rifle! However, there are so many things to consider when choosing a long-range scope and scope quality is increasing all the time and prices are much more reasonable than they used to be. Instead, it’s advisable to just buy the best long range rifle scope that you can afford. The best long range scopes really do vary in price. Remember, you can always transfer your scope to a new rifle so consider it just as much an investment as you would your actual rifle.
Things to Consider When Buying a Long Range Scope
The first thing you’ll probably be considering will be the magnification of your scope. It is often tempting to choose something more powerful than you need so don’t go overboard!
2. Fixed or Variable Magnification
Long range rifle scopes are either variable power or fixed power. One that is fixed will be written like 10x35mm. This means it is a 10 power scope so what you see is 10 times larger through the scope. A scope that has variable power will be written like 5-15x30mm. This means that the magnification will be between 5 and 15 times larger.
3. Objective Lens
When we look at the power, the second number refers to the size of the lens on the end (not the one you look through). When a lens is bigger, it will let more light enter the scope and so you will have a brighter image.
4. Reticle Type – First or Second Focal Plane and More
The different reticle types have different uses and advantages. It can be hard to decide on a preference. With a First Focal Plane reticle, the reticle size appears to change when the magnification changes. With a Second Focal Plane reticle, the reticle will be the same size no matter the magnification.
5. BDC Reticles
A BDC reticle has hash marks at the positing marking 6 o’clock on the reticle. This helps the shooter to gauge where their shot will land after a certain distance. The hash marks are sometimes circles, likes or chevrons.
6. Adjustments: Clicky Clicks and Turny Turns
Riflescopes mainly use adjustments that measure ¼ minutes of angle (MOA). One Minute of Angle is the equivalent to 1/60th of a degree. With a scope with ¼ MOA adjustments, the bullet impact with move ¼ inch at a distance of 100 yards with one click.
The adjustments are usually in turret form. Usually, there are 2 or 3 turrets and each adjusts a different setting.
If your scope has variable power, there will be an adjustment called the power ring. This is typically found on the front of the ocular bell.
7. Tubes: Length, Construction, Purge, Etc
The center of the scope is often referred to as the “erector tube” or “main body tube” and it usually has a diameter of one inch. With a larger tube, you will have a heavier scope.
Tubes are often manufactured using aluminum that is resistant to corrosion. When a tube is purged, it means that is has been completely sealed using O-rings and has been completely emptied and filled with a special gas like argon or nitrogen. A purged tube is essential as it keeps moisture out.
8. Lens coatings
There is usually one single chemical that coats objective lenses. All exposed optical surfaces will have been coated with a single chemical. A lens that is multi-coated, will have seen a large number of chemicals.
9. Eye Relief
A scope’s eye relief measures the distance of your eye from the eyepiece while you’re still able to see everything. Wearers of glasses should choose a scope that has a longer eye relief.
10.Mil or MOA?
Whether your scope measures in MILS (Metric Milliradians) or MOA (Minutes of Angle), it doesn’t really matter. The difference is simply that MOA is an imperial measurement whereas MILS is a metric measurement.
11. Weather Protection
It is important to protect your scope from the elements. Many scopes are purged to prevent fogging and condensation on the lenses
How Did We Pick the Best?
As I said earlier, at first I didn’t see the appeal of a long range scope and was happy with my previous scopes. But, now, though, I’m hooked on trying out lots of different long range scopes. In order to produce this buyers’ guide, it was necessary to enlist the help and support of some rifle shooting volunteers. The first phase of the research for this article was to read about the items we were considering reviewing. By reading a lot, we were able to determine what people were looking for in a long range scope. We analyzed a lot of different products before coming up with this list.
With a shortlist, we carried out further research and got a general idea and feel about the products that were on offer. We then asked our volunteers for their thoughts on the scopes and combined their feedback with the information we had already gathered from the web.
With all of the compiled data through our research and product reading, we were able to choose our shortlist to a Top 20 and then a Top 10. So without further ado, here are our findings.
Our Top 10 Product List
Our top picks have been put into different categories, which depends on their type and their basic factors (like we talked about in the ‘what to look for…’ section. This will help you to pick the best product for your individual needs as well as finances.
Long Range Scopes Under $500
Despite it being one of the cheapest in our Top Ten, this scope is incredible value for money and has lots of premium features. It will certainly exceed all expectations from what you would expect for a cheaper scope. This scope has a longer eye-relief and a fast-focus eyepiece as well as a resettable MOA turret that is improved in both design and functionality. It also has multi-coated lenses.
It is fabricated from a single piece of aluminum tube that is nitrogen purged. It is both fog-proof and waterproof. The eyepiece has a fast focus and there are MOA turrets that are resettable.
- The scope measures 14.5 x 2 x 1.7 inches and weighs 2.2lbs. Its power is 6-18x44 and is, therefore, adjustable. There is a BDC reticle making this scope good for shooting and hunting at a variety of ranges.
- It has a fast-focus eyepiece with an eye box that is really forgiving and long eye relief. These features mean you can easily sight your picture.
- The reset turrets can be adjusted easily with your fingertips and have MOA clicks that are resettable to zero once you have sighted in.
Despite being under $500, this scope took our number one spot because you can’t fault its value for money. It’s clear that other users love it too. It has a rating of 4.6 out of 5 on Amazon coming from almost 1500 reviews. What’s more, 78% of all reviews give it five stars. These figures speak for themselves!
The CVLIFE Hunting Rifle Scope is such an impressive find that it made it into our second spot. It has a magnification of 6-24x50mm and a field of view of 28 feet and 100 yards making it an ideal scope for those on a budget. We couldn’t believe how great this scope was for its price. What we really loved about this scope was that it didn’t go blurry for short distance (i.e. less than 20 yards) as do many cheaper scopes that have fixed parallax distances of around 50 yards. The scope comes with a battery included as well as a lens cover and 2 scope mounts for a 20mm weaver dovetail rail.
- 6-24x magnification
- 50mm objective diameter
- 28-foot field of view (at 100 yards)
- 1/8” click value (at 100 yards)
- Red and green illuminated
- 2lbs in weight (approximately)
- Takes a CR 2032 battery (included in the purchase)
With over 2000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.2 out of 5, it’s clear to see that this item is certainly a popular one. Not only that, but those who are buying this scope clearly love it too. What’s more, it’s so cheap that if you really don’t like it, then you haven’t spent a lot of money. However, we think you’ll love this product and so placed it in our second spot.
The Simmons Truplex .22 Mag Riflescope is a game-changer. It is such an innovative scope that you can really see it as a great piece of kit for your rifle. It has a Quick Target Acquisition (QTA) eyepiece that has lots of eye relief. I really liked how easy this scope was to adjust too. The SureGrip adjustments were great when I was shooting in colder weather and my fingers were chilly!
In terms of features, it has been constructed with one piece, meaning it is stronger and more durable. What’s more, the optical glass is fully coated so the images are sharp and bright and have excellent contrast. Finally, it is fog proof waterproof and shockproof – excellent characteristics for all weathers and users!
- 3-9x32 in size
- Matte color
- Dovetail mounting rings (3/8”)
- Field of view (100 yards) = 31.4
- 75” eye relief
- .25 click value
- Adjustment range of 60
Once again, this is a great scope for the money and is really good value for what you spend. The vast majority of reviews online on Amazon are positive. In fact, this product has over 1500 reviews on Amazon with 63% of them being 5-star reviews. The overall average score is 4.2 out of 4, which is excellent. So, if you’re looking for a reasonably-priced, yet high-quality scope, our number three is a good find.
For those wanting to use their long range rifle scope both during the day and after dark, the ATN X-Sight II HD is an excellent choice. No matter the lighting conditions, your photos will be crystal clear. What was even more exciting for us was the ability to film your shoots in HD with RAV (Recoil Activated Video). This is something that, personally, I could spend hours poring over!
Another great aspect of this long range hunting scope is the rangefinder because it makes things so simple when trying to range a target. This scope calculates the distance for you so that you have the most accurate shot every time. It also has a ballistic calculator so you don’t need to look at charts. It’s a great piece of kit!
- 22 hours of battery life with 20000mAh battery
- 240ft field of view (at 1000 yards)
- 1/8” adjustment per pixel
- Measures 11.6 x 3.4 x 3.1 inches
- Weight – 2.15 pounds
- Magnification 3-14x
If you really want to playback your shooting, this is a great scope. We loved being able to test this at nighttime as well as during the day and the quality is still excellent no matter the light level. It’s important to note however that this scope won’t work if you don’t have power so for some, this might be off-putting. We still love it though and thought that the pros definitely
Long Range Scopes Between $500 to $1000
We’ve listed this long range hunting scope in our next category as it is more expensive. However, you can really see the improvement in quality with this product. This is a great scope for those who want to shoot at close and medium range. The turrets are etched by laser and are easy to use. There is also a rotation indication which helps you to keep track of your turret's position too.
The Vortex Optics Viper PST also has an intuitive reticle that has ten levels of intensity. It is also equipped with a red dot sight for your convenience.
The lenses are multi-coated, which helps to increase light transmission. What’s more, this scope is both fog proof and waterproof as well as durable. It has a rugged construction that is shockproof and made from a single piece of aluminum.
- Measurements 1 x 1 x 1 inches
- Weight 1.42 pounds
- Available with lots of different magnifications
- Available in first focal plane and second focal plane types
Overall, this is a great product. The reviews online are overwhelmingly positive and back up our thoughts on this product. Over 87% of all of the reviews on Amazon give this product 5 stars and we have to agree. If, however, you just want a scope that you can zero at one-inch-high from 100 yards away, this isn’t the scope for you as you will be paying for features that you don’t use.
The Vortex Optics Viper HS-T is a great scope for those who want an accurate hold at an extended range. This is certainly a high-quality product and has multi-coated lenses that are able to give enhanced light gathering. The turrets are well designed and easy to use with clicks. This is a versatile long range shooting scope that is great for all types of shooting whether it’s at home, out hunting or target shooting and tactical application. It is manufactured using a single piece of aluminum, which makes it strong and durable.
- VMR-1 reticle (great for use with moving targets and wind)
- Hashmark second focal plane reticle
- Fiber optic turret rotation
- Airplane-grade aluminum
- Dimensions: 19.8 x 4.2 x 4.5”
- Weighs 2.65 pounds
- 1/4” MOA
Over 255 people have reviewed this product on Amazon and an amazing 79% of them have given this product 5 out of 5 stars. We certainly agreed with their opinions on this one. This is a great scope for its money and has great glass considering its price. We found it easy to relax and fire consistently. One final thing that impressed us is the fact that Vortex offers a lifetime warranty. This so something you that definitely can’t be beaten!
This scope was developed alongside military experts and law enforcement and you can certainly tell! We found this scope to be really reliable. What’s more, it was really precise. You can really see how good the quality control is.
The Bushnell Tactical has adjustable power and a 50mm objective lens. The illuminated Mil-Dot reticle is a great piece of kit and is multi-coated so its images are clear and well lit. We tried this long range shooting scope in heavy rain and the lens remained clear thanks to its RainGuard anti-fog technology and its argon-purged waterproofing. Finally, it has a blacked-out finish so that you can blend into the background.
The illuminated Mil-Dot reticle meant that we were able to test this product in low-light conditions. The target turrets and one Mil click value meant that we could acquire the target quickly and precisely too. To help with low lighting, the ultra-wideband coating helps the transmission of light and boosts the brightness of the shot at dusk and dawn. This product also has a limited lifetime warranty, which we think is great!
- Weight: 27oz
- Magnification: 6-24x
- Lens size: 50mm
- Field of view: 17.5’ (at 6x, 100 yards), 4.5’ (at 24x, 100 yards)
- Eye relief: 4”
- Length: 13.5”
- Finish: Matte
- Exit pupil: 7.5mm (at 6x), 2.1mm (at 21x)
- Mounting length: 6”
The Bushnell Tactical was popular amongst our testers and we certainly found it to have a clear and precise view. One of the great things about this product is that it has a limited lifetime warranty so you can rest at ease with spending so much money for a scope. What’s more, as this scope holds its value, even if you don’t get on with it or want to upgrade in the future, it’s a great item for trade or resale.
Long Range Scopes Over $1000
This scope has an excellent image. Its 384x288 sensor is perfect for shooting during the dark as it detects heat rather than light. This means that even in complete darkness, you get a good image of what you’re shooting. We tried this in pitch-black darkness and we have to say that we found this to be a really exciting piece of kit! The ballistic calculator means that you can calculate your bullet’s trajectory and so you can hit your target more precisely.
Another thing that we loved about this scope was its zoom and the built-in hunting rangefinder. Unlike many scopes that have a step zoom system, with this scope, you get a smooth zoom and you never lose what is in your field of vision.
The cost of this scope is obviously going to be a factor for many but we found that you really get a lot for your money. The HD video and photos were really good quality. This scope also has RAV (Recoil Activated Video) as well as Wi-Fi streaming so you can really take a close look at all of your shots. You can also use a phone or a tablet
- Size: 10 x 6 x 6 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- 384x288 heat energy sensor
- Recoil Activated Video
- 1080p HD video and images
- ATN Ballistic calculator
- Built-in rangefinder
- Smooth zoom
- Requires 4x AA batteries
This is a more expensive choice of scope and with that, you get some of the latest technology. It is a great entry-level thermal camera but it is much better at shorter distances than anything over 100 yards. We also found it difficult to zero on things that weren’t a “hot” target. The image does become pretty pixelated when zooming at 5x but overall, for the price of this scope, it is a pretty good find for a thermal scope.
The first thing that struck me about this scope is just how clear the glass is! When you compare this to other high-end scopes with a similar magnification, it really holds its own.
The body has a large diameter and is really robust without losing its tactile feel. The knobs are precise and crisp and also look high quality.
In terms of brightness, the lens is great and, with the larger tube, you don’t lose any of the light.
Accuracy-wise, it was really easy to zero and the scope performed exactly as the spec says it will for each adjustment made. It was almost perfect every time and had a perfect zero return. It can easily cope with large ranges to 1000 yards and beyond.
It is certainly worth the money and you can rest assured with the unconditional warranty it comes with.
- Size: 20 x 5 x 5 inches
- Weight: 2.2 pounds
- Magnification: 8-40x
- Lens: 50mm
- MOA illuminated reticle
- Main tube: 34mm
- Front focal pane
- Zero click stop adjustment knobs
The only off-putting thing about this scope is its cost. However, you do get what you pay for. As soon as you take this out of the box it is clear that it is a high-quality product that has been well designed and well manufactured to the highest specifications. We certainly enjoyed experimenting with this scope and seeing what it was capable of! If you have the money to spend and want to invest, this is a really good find.
The Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope is an excellent scope. The objective lens is simply outstanding and gives maximum resolution and clarity even to its longest ranges. This is clearly one of the most advanced scopes available and its magnification is so wide that it sets it apart from its rivals. It is just as good at shooting at 5.5x as it is at 22x. Our testers found it to be fast and accurate in every situation. It is obvious that great care has been taken over this design and the execution of it. You can really tell that it has undergone rigorous testing too.
However, this is a top of the range scope that costs in excess of $2000. Unless you’re a professional, shoot for a living, or a serious enthusiast, you do not need to spend a sum like this to get a great scope.
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Adjustments: 100 MOA internal adjustment
- Magnification: 5.5-22x
- Lens: 56mm
- Zero stop turrets
- Tube size: 30mm
- Illuminated MOAR Reticle
- Finish: Matte black
- Material: 6061-T6 aluminum (aircraft grade)
- Battery: 1 x lithium-ion (included)
This scope is exceptional in all aspects. It certainly meets all your scope needs for every situation. However, the off-putting thing about this scope is its price. Retailing at the $2000 mark, it is a serious scope for serious shooters. Of course, this scope is worth it, but there are many more reasonably priced scopes that do a great job for half the price or less.
A List of Other Products We Tested
- 01CVLIFE 2.5-10x40e Red & Green Illuminated Scope with 20mm Mount
- 02CVLIFE 3-9x40 / 3-9x40 AO Optics R4 Reticle Crosshair Scope with 20mm Free Mounts
- 03Emarth 20-60x60AE Waterproof Spotting Scope with Zoom 39-19m/1000m
- 04Roxant Authentic Blackbird HD Spotting Scope with Lifetime Replacement
- 05Vortex Optics Diamondback Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
- 06Vortex Optics Crossfire II Second Focal Plane, 30mm Tube Riflescopes
- 07Pinty Red Green Illuminated Mil-dot Tactical Rifle Scope with Red Laser
- 08Nikon Buckmasters II 3-9x40mm BDC 1in Waterproof Matte Riflescope
- 09BARSKA Varmint Mil-Dot Riflescope
- 10Sniper 6-24x50mm Scope W Front AO Adjustment. Red/Blue/Green mil-dot Reticle
- 11BARSKA AC11876 4x32 IR Contour Riflescope
- 12Twod Tactical Rifle Scope with Red/Green Illuminated Crosshair
- 13Monstrum S330P 3X Prism Scope
- 14Hunting Rifle Scope Combo C4-16x50EG Dual Illuminated with Multi-color Laser sight
- 15Beileshi AOEG Optics Hunting Rifle Scope Red/Green Illuminated Crosshair
In our search to find the best scopes, we came across a vast array of great products. What surprised us most was just how many online reviews scopes get. Obviously, reviews aren’t the be-all and end-all in our conclusions about the best scopes but we found that, for the most part during our experiences of the products, we agreed with what we read online. A product’s popularity certainly adds weight to the decision when deciding which scopes to put into the Top Ten Best Scopes.
There are so many different scopes available and there is really something for everyone, regardless of budget. Of course, manufacturers know that buyers have different requirements and tastes, which is why there are so many different products.
We hope that with our long range scope reviews we’ve succeeded in helping you make your decision about which scope to buy, or at least helped you narrow down your choices! If you’re struggling to make your decision, our Number 1 product won’t disappoint.