Our guide to finding the best long range scope for the money…
At the beginning of the 20th century, long range rifle shooting meant anything over 2-300 yards. Today, over 100 years later, it is a different story. Today’s shooters are equipped with advanced ammunition and rifles that can easily push brass, steel and lead out to, and well past 1000 yards. A solid rifle when combined with the best long range scope allows a shooter to achieve results downrange. Indeed a modern long distance rifle scope can be the difference between striking your target at 1000 yards, and missing completely.
Multiple features, which should you look out for?
Today’s long range scope is not your Grandfather’s Weaver he used for deer. Some of the most advanced scopes on the market are chock full of new features that greatly add in delivering tight groups at great distance. Many feature illuminated reticles and low light technology allowing shooters and hunters to extend their time in the field or at the range. Some scopes now feature built in Ballistics calculators that help, you adjust for every single round on target. Parallax adjustment, instant zero reset turrets, and even night vision are just a few of the different features and options available to long distance shooters.
All of these options, features, and technological innovations can make purchasing a new scope for long range marksmanship a little daunting. My purpose in writing this article, is to break down the choice for you. I will list some of the top optics companies in the world as well as the best long range scopes, and their features. Some of the optics I list will be more geared towards tactical shooting & a few of the scopes are built with the long range hunter in mind. No matter your sport or profession, there is a long range scope out there for you and your rifle.
Best long range rifle scope brands
Leupold: Leupold has a high dedication to quality that few companies have today, as well as a very big American fan base. The US Military, law enforcement, shooters, and hunters have all trusted Leupold for decades. All Leupold scopes are proudly made in the USA and have been for 5 generations.
Burris: Based in Colorado, USA; Burris has been making quality scopes for military, law enforcement and civilian shooters. Its founder, Don Burris, started the company after being fully dissatisfied with the current rifle scopes on the market. Today Burris has built a solid reputation with long distance shooters and hunters.
Nikon: Nikon has been producing rifle scopes for a long time, in addition to cameras, binoculars and a plethora of other products. Their scopes have an excellent reputation among civilian shooters and hunters. An advantage of many Nikon scopes over their competitors is their reasonable price point.
Swarovski: Owned by the same group that produces expensive jewelry, Swarovski produces equally expensive and high-end optics. If you are going to spend large amounts of cash on a scope of extremely high quality and workmanship that you will pass down for generations, a Swarovski is a fine choice.
Trijicon: Trijicon builds high quality optics for many armed forces across the globe, including the US Army and US Marine Corps. The company also builds quality optics of the highest standard for the civilian market. Known for their ACOG rifle scopes built for military small arms, Trijicon also produces quality long range rifle optics
Carl Zeiss: Zeiss has been producing cameras, binoculars and rifle scopes since the 1800s. Zeiss produces all of their scopes in either Germany or the United States. They have a strong reputation for craftsmanship with military, law enforcement and hunters across North America and Europe.
Best long range rifle scope for the money
Best scope for $2000: At a price point of $2000, an excellent choice for a long range scope would be the Leupold MK 4 ER/T (Extended Range/Tactical). The ER/T is designed for tactical environments, and so is constructed with abuse in mind. The scope is equipped with Leupold’s new Xtended Twilight Lens System that increases shooting and range time, or can aid hunters in those dim light conditions during early and late hunting hours. Instant Zero Reset turrets and parallax adjustment is included with every Mk 4. Purchase the Leupold MK 4 ER/T and you can be assured that well after you are dust, your great grandchildren will still be shooting tight groups at 1000 yards.
Best scope for $1200: One of the most advanced scopes on the planet currently is the Burris Eliminator III. Equipped with an onboard ballistic calculator and 1200 yard laser range finder, the scope calculates the trajectory, speed and ballistic coefficient of your particular ammunition (after you enter the data at the range), taking much of the mathematics out of the equation. For the shooter who loves to drill penny sized holes in a target, or plans on hunting Prairie Dogs at long distance, you may want to consider an Eliminator III. There is a slight learning curve to operating the scope, but by the end of a session at the range you should be good to go.
Best scope for $500: Our choice for the long range shooter at a price most can afford, is the Nikon Prostaff 5. Equipped with spring loaded instant zero reset turrets and a comfortable and convenient quick focus eyepiece, this scope has everything needed for beginner and budget conscious long distance marksman. The Prostaff scope has been a top choice for American hunters who routinely take long range shots over 500 yards. If you are heading off in pursuit of Pronghorn, or climbing the Rocky Mountains to take a Bighorn, this is a solid choice for you.
Best cheap long range rifle scope
Best scope for under $500: The Bushnell Elite Series offers shooters on a limited budget the opportunity to start long distance shooting. The Elite is well constructed, and holds zero well. That said you would sacrifice some of the features that you will find on higher end optics, such as instant zero reset turrets, and low light technology. Overall the Elite series has gained a reputation for quality and reliability.
Best Scope for a .308 Long Range Tactical Rifle
The Trijicon TARs has served with the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a dependable choice for a .308/7.62x51mm tactical rifle. The US Military routinely mounts this optic on its M14 variants used by designated marksmen. However the price of $3000 can be more than most shooters can afford. As expensive as this scope is, it is one of the top choices for shooters to mount on a .308 platform such as an M1A/ or AR-10.
Best Scope for Long Range Hunters
The Zeiss Victory FL Diavari series of rifle scopes are built with hunters in mind. The scope weighs in at around 26 ounces, and its overall length is less than 14 inches. The scope is uniquely parallax-free at 55 yards up to infinity. Illuminated reticles are available to shooters at extra cost. Each scope is well constructed for over a lifetime of shooting and hunting.