We will be taking a look at long-range rifle scopes. But first, we need to understand what makes a good long-range rifle scope. Durability and glass quality is of utmost quality, of course. But what separates a good scope from an excellent scope is in the magnification power and reticle. For long-range shooting, you want to have as much information at hand as possible to help you nail that shot. So, the reticle needs to provide estimations for bullet drop range.
Long-range scopes can be expensive thanks to their powerful magnification and glass. So, you want to make your purchase count, but there are so many scopes on the market that you would likely buy the wrong scope the first few times.
Some people would swear by the principle of “buy once, cry once”, meaning that it’s always better to splurge on an expensive scope that lasts you a lifetime rather than a few bad ones which total cost outweighs the one expensive scope anyway. And I’m inclined to agree with this sentiment.
Today, I will give you my top 5 recommendations and you can decide which one of these suits your needs.
Table of Contents
The Vortex Strike Eagle is my top pick as a budget scope. Granted, it’s still a few hundred bucks, but it’s definitely one of the best at this price point. Since it is a budget scope, don’t expect too much from it.
Starting with the glass, it’s a high-quality glass. The multi-coated lens, coupled with the large 50mm objective lens, result in excellent light transmission and a clear and crisp image. The EBR-4 reticle is set in the second focal plane, so you get the same image size no matter what magnification level you are on. The reticle provides various estimations for range, windage, and more. Furthermore, the reticle is illuminated, but it is also etched into the glass. So, you do not have to waste precious battery life in a bright environment to use this scope.
The eye relief is at 3.5”, which is adequate. Though both the eye box and eye relief get a bit tighter when you are zoomed all the way in. At that point, you might notice a slight blur at the edges, but I wouldn’t complain about it. It is a very affordable scope, so I don’t expect much from it.
The scope is surprisingly tough. At this price point, I did not expect Vortex to make this scope using aircraft-grade aluminum, O-ring seal, and nitrogen purged, all that good stuff. So, it holds up well regardless of the external condition.
The assorted tactical-style knobs and turrets are accurate and reliable. The turrets produce clicks though I find them not as sharp as I like. Other than that, they lock in place as a safety mechanism to prevent accidental bumps that would throw off your adjustment. The turrets also have marked indicators for fine adjustments.
As the name suggests, the magnification ranges from 4x-24x, so you have plenty of magnification power to work with. The zoom knobs can be harsh on your hands, though. If that is a problem, consider investing in a throw lever.
The Argos is one of the most value-packed scopes out there. It fares fairly well compared to other scopes thrice its price. So what are you getting from this one?
The multi-coated lens and the 50mm objective lens ensure that you are getting a clear and bright image. The APMR MIL reticle is illuminated and set in the first focal plane, which is good for long-range shooting as the subtension values are consistent no matter what magnification level you are on. Though the reticle is illuminated, you don’t need to turn it on in bright daylight as the reticle is etched into the glass.
The eye relief is narrower at 3.3”, which might seem narrow, but you can change your setup a bit to accommodate. The scope provides 6x-24x magnification, so you can shoot at much shorter ranges if you want. Parallax shouldn’t be a problem, though if it does, there is a parallax adjustment knob you can use to adjust.
Speaking of knobs, we have to talk about the build quality. It uses aircraft-grade aluminum and the one-piece tube is heat-treated. That means, the scope has an impressive shock and recoil resistance, not to mention fog-proof and waterproof.
The turrets and assorted knobs are also pretty good. They are exposed for a quick reset to zero, though they feel a bit mushy and they move too easily with a slight touch, which can throw off your adjustment.
Though pricey for some people, the Vortex Viper PST is an excellent long-range rifle scope on the market.
Again, the multi-coated lens and 50mm objective lens provides maximum light transmission and therefore excellent image clarity. The scope uses an EBR 2C MRAD reticle, set in the first focal plane. The reticle itself contains various estimations for range, bullet drop, etc. The fact that it is set in the first focal place means that the size of the reticle changes based on the magnification, so their size is just right even if you are zoomed all the way in. Did I mention that the reticle is illuminated?
Speaking of zoom level, you have from 5x-25x. Parallax won’t be a problem as this scope comes with a parallax adjustment knob, so you can wind your worries away.
On to the assorted knobs and turrets, they are reliable and produce an audible and crisp click so you know that the scope is adjusting as you turn them. They won’t slide around easily so a few bumps won’t throw off your adjustments.
The scope comes with Rapid Zero Return, which basically stops you from zeroing below your sight-in, which is very valuable for long-range shooting. Speaking of zero, the scope holds its zero very well.
Overall, the build quality is very impressive. It is built from aircraft-grade aluminum and the lenses got a healthy ArmorTek coating. So the scope can withstand pretty much everything other than a direct nuclear blast.
For those out there that love to nail shots at extreme ranges, look no further than this scope. It is a pricey investment, sure, but this is probably the only investment you have to make for your entire lifetime. Let me explain.
First, let’s talk about the glass. You just have to see it to believe it. To say that it is top-tier glass would be doing it an injustice. The image clarity is crisp and crystal clear. Leupold achieved all of this thanks to their Twilight Max HD Light Management System.
In simpler terms, that means the scope allows you to shoot in low-light conditions with various low-light settings with a stronger contrast, high definition details, and all that good stuff. For hunters, that means you get about 30 minutes of shooting light, which can be invaluable as you can stay out for longer.
When it comes to the reticle, there are a few options to choose from. No matter what your pick is, all reticles are set in the first focal plane. That means, the reticle remains clear and moves with the magnification, so your rangefinder always works no matter what zoom level you are in.
If I really have to nitpick this scope, I would say that the lines for the reticle can get pretty big when you are at higher magnification levels. The center dot is still small, so nothing is really in your way.
While we’re on the topic of magnification, what do you have to work with? 5x-25x magnification and parallax adjustment. So the versatility of the scope extends to even short-range shooting, though you should get a cheaper scope if you just want to shoot things at short to medium range.
The eye box is set at 1.76 and the eye relief at 3.58-3.82. Nothing notable here. Your eyes should be safe even when you are firing high-recoil rounds, but I recommend wearing eye protection just in case.
The build quality is out of this world, as expected for a scope at this price point. It is waterproof, shockproof, fog-proof, able to work in various climates, and can withstand impact. So, really, this scope can quite literally last you a lifetime. Even with all of that durability features, the scope is still relatively light at 30 oz.
Most scope manufacturers I have seen so far either make their turrets so slippery that they’ll turn if you sneeze on them, or make them so tight that you need a hand clamp to turn them. For Leupold, I am happy to report that they managed to find that perfect balance.
The knobs produce a crisp and audible click as you turn them. They glide smoothly, but a few bumps won’t throw your adjustments off course. The single-turn CDSS-ZL dial only locks at zero and you can crank up the elevation by pressing a button. The elevation adjustment itself has the range of 120 MOA. The turrets are low-profile and come with 30 Mils of adjustments within 3 revolutions. With each revolution, the turrets move up so you know exactly where you are rather than just starting from zero when you miscount.
Another scope from Leupold, but this one is much more affordable. Of course, that means that you won’t be getting the quality of the 5HD, but this is still a very decent scope. So, what does it have going for it?
First of all, the glass produces a crisp and clear image, although image brightness might be an issue at higher magnification. Its reticle is set in the second focal plane and comes with various estimations, usable regardless of magnification level.
The eye relief comes at 5.3 in low and 3.7 at high magnification. Remember that I said the image brightness is an issue? The eye box makes it worse since it is not very forgiving. Your eyes might become fatigued at high magnification, so keep that in mind when you are zeroing or tracking your target.
Speaking of magnification, you get from 8.5x-25x, so it’s not as versatile. It won’t be of much help if you ever fancy shooting at close-range targets. The magnification ring comes with an integrated throw lever for ease of adjustment, which is a nice touch.
The turrets and knobs are a bit too generous in terms of travel distance. You have to turn it a fair bit before it registers a mil of adjustment. They produce audible clicks and they glide nicely. The windage knob is capped, which is a pain since you can’t make adjustments on the fly. Then again, it also protects your zero in case you bump into anything, so I can’t really complain there.
On to the subject of parallax, you don’t have to worry about hash marks. Personally, I like to have numbers since I would know exactly where I am, but this scope comes with dots of different sizes. It’s not the best, but not the worst either.
What about the build quality? Leupold does not make poorly-built scopes and this one is no exception. It feels pretty solid and is pretty light despite its various features and form factor. It can withstand some abuse and still work like a charm. And there you have it, folks. I’m certain that you find one of these scopes useful for your particular needs.