Long-range rifle scopes have come a long way inÂ history. From brass tubes as long as the rifle withÂ low magnificationÂ and little adjustments, even the best budget long-range scope now comes with updated sighting technology and high-quality materials for durability and resistance to weather conditions.
Picking the best long-range scope for the money requires consideration of your needs and familiarity with long-range shooting. We’ve compiled some reviews of what we think are the best long-range rifle scopes on a budget, and later, we’ll let you know what we think is the best budget long-range scope.
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Summary of the Best Long Range Scopes
|Vortex Optics 4-24x50 Strike Eagle|| ||$319 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x40|| ||$500 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18x50 EBR-7C Riflescope|| ||$1700 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Vortex Diamondback 4-12x40|| ||$200 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56 F1|| ||$3850 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25x56 Illuminated Dot Riflescope|| ||$3200 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Sig Sierra 6 BDX 3-18x44 Scope|| ||$1030 Shop NowClick to read my review|
|Zeiss LRP S5 5-25x56|| ||$3800 Shop NowClick to read my review|
What is Long-Range Shooting?
According to the National Rifle Association, a thousand yards is considered long range. The 600-yard mark is considered to be the midrange. The sport of long-range shooting attracts people with a wide range of interests. Competitiveness is a major motivator for long-range enthusiasts.
Some people are interested in plinking or shooting at a fixed distance to hit a gong or steel target. No matter your route, you’ll face obstacles, the most significant of which is the wind. The challenge of long-range shooting is when shooters must estimate how far a certain wind speed will blow a bullet and adjust accordingly.
Types of Long-Range Shooting
This kind pushes precision to a new level. Benched shooters at 600 and 1000 yards aim for the lowest possible group sizes and highest possible scores by repeatedly hitting the center of the target. Benchrest shooters are the ones who do the testing and development for the rest of the shooting community.
Precision Rifle Shooting
Precision shooters add the element of speed to the game. They use steel targets in various sizes and forms and fire them at varying distances.
Competitors will require a ballistic calculator or software to establish the proper elevation and windage for shooting at various targets. The objective is to hit your target and to interact with all of the targets as quickly as possible. A maximum time limit, or “par time,” must not be exceeded. Even if you have more targets to go, you stop shooting when you hit the par time.
Extreme Long-Range Shooting
ELR shooters push the limits of what is considered a long shot, often firing at targets exceeding 1000 yards away. Math and ballistics are essential for determining what adjustments to make to the gun’s scope or sights to hit the target.
This approach factors in bullet drop, load data, and the surrounding environment. Even if the shooter has great marksmanship, equipment significantly determines how far they can go in a competition.
The 8 Best Long-Range Scopes
Vortex Optics 4-24×50 Strike Eagle: Best affordable long-range scope
The Vortex Strike Eagle riflescope is loaded with features despite its small size, trim profile, and sturdy construction. Built on a sturdy foundation, it allows you to take images close up and far away. Because of its low price, it’s a good choice for novices who want to get some long-range shooting practice.
The typical eye relief is 3.5 inches, so you shouldn’t have any problems unless you’re using the largest caliber ammunition. The magnification ring was beautiful and smooth, but it was also heavy. As a result, don’t expect to switch magnifications quickly.
The downside is that there is slight distortion at greater magnifications. If you zoom all the way in, you’ll notice that the edges are distorted. Additionally, it features a lighted reticle. However, the scale has no OFF locations between 0 and 11.
Overall, the Vortex Strike Eagle has good glass for an affordable long-range scope. It offers some of the highest quality optics at reasonable prices. There is also a lifetime warranty that you may pass on to new owners. This scope is a fantastic option if you’re starting and don’t want to spend too much.
- Multi-coated lenses with XD optical system
- Aircraft-grade aluminum body
- Waterproof and fog proof
- Gets distorted at higher magnifications
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40: Best long-range scope for hunting
A Leupold scope is built to last and withstand even the harshest conditions — this also applies to the VX-3i. It is made of lightweight, waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof aircraft-grade aluminum. It has a dual bias erector spring, extending the component’s life.
With this sight, you’ll be able to see clearly and brightly. As a bonus, it has a quick-focus eyepiece that will help you quickly zero in on your target, which is very helpful when pursuing a smaller, more evasive game. Leupold offers a lifetime warranty and features lenses that can withstand scratches.
The Duplex reticle is the best feature of this scope, in my opinion. Quickly and easily lock on to your intended target with the larger outside rings and smaller central reticles of the crosshairs. It’s easy to use and has a clean interface.
The range of eye relief is from 4.40 to 3.60 inches. When you zoom all the way in, things get a little cramped. In terms of magnification, it ranges from 3.5x to 10x, making it ideal for close to medium-range shooting. You’ll need to buy a mount and rings separately if you want to use this scope.
As for zeroing, it was remarkably accurate right out of the box. If you’re a hunter, this is the best scope you could ask for. The Leupold VX-3i 3.5-1040 is the greatest hunting scope currently available. Do it, and you’ll be glad you did.
- Made of aircraft-grade aluminum that’s built to last
- Accurate right out of the box
- Quick and easy to lock on to the target
- Things get distorted at higher magnifications
- Mount and rings are bought separately
Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50 EBR-7C Riflescope: Best sharp long-range scope
The Vortex Razor HD Gen II riflescope is as tough as a tank has cutting-edge optics, and is incredibly precise. There is no blurring or distortion, and the colors are accurate across the entire display. This optic is constructed from premium-grade materials, including high-density, exceptionally low-dispersion glass. It’s built specifically to deliver vivid colors and crisp images.
Both the eye box and the eye relief measure in at 3.7 inches. Also, the lenses have anti-reflective XR Plus coatings and are fully multi-coated. These coatings increase the light that passes through to the eye rather than reflecting off the glass. This MOA reticle is also illuminated — I could see it easily in any lighting condition. The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 remains extraordinarily bright even at the maximum magnification levels.
- Multi-coated lenses with a fast-focus eyepiece
- Aircraft-grade aluminum housing
- Waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof
- ArmorTek scratch-resistant coating
- Micro zero adjustments that allow you to zero between clicks
Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40: Best value long-range scope
The Vortex Diamondback 4-1240 features clear, completely multi-coated glass. As a result, you get a crisp, clear picture that’s easy to see in the dark. The eye relief changes from 3.4 inches at low magnification to 3.1 inches at high magnification, so the cheek weld is never compromised, and the image is always crisp and clear.
It has a sturdy construction and maintains zero perfectly. You may also easily adjust it with your fingers, eliminating the need for tools or spare coins. Remember that no parallax adjustment is available. Sunshades are also worth the investment if you frequently shoot in harsh sunlight. Your aim will be more steady, and this will cut down on glare.
- Excellent eye relief
- Crystal-clear glass components
- Rugged and lightweight housing
- Turrets hold zero well
- Lifetime warranty
- No parallax adjustment
Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1: Best tough long-range scope
The Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 F1 features an optic tube that is 34 millimeters in diameter and has a zoom throw lever. It also has exposed turrets that allow for adjustments in increments of 0.25 MOA/0.1 MRAD and a parallax adjustment knob with a minimum adjustment distance of 11 yards. It has an extensive reticle selection, including two lighted Horus options and a zero reset system.
The eye relief can be harsh when used with rifles that aren’t ideally suited to the user. Other drawbacks of this scope are its size, heft, and price. However, in terms of effectiveness, dependability, toughness, quality, and value, the most potent ATACR F1 among them all lives up to the Nightforce brand.
- Excellent value and performance
- 11-yard minimum parallax adjustment
- Wide reticle selection
- Included Power Throw Lever (PTL) and flip-caps
- May be bulky
Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56 Illuminated Dot Riflescope: Best flexible long-range scope
The Leupold Mark 8 3.5-2556 has a remarkable zoom range of 3.5 to 25 power, making it incredibly versatile. This powerful scope has exposed elevation and windage turrets with 0.25 MOA/0.1 MRAD adjustment increments (depending on the reticle), a zero-reset mechanism, and a minimum parallax adjustment of 50 yards.
Its optic comes with a wide variety of reticles, including mil-radian, minute-of-angle, lighted, and grid patterns that should please any shooter. Many shooters will appreciate its sharp, clear, brilliant picture and precision mechanical tracking. The locking elevation turret is a push-button design, which is the only real drawback. This Leupold is well worth the hefty price tag for shooters who want to do it all.
- Precise mechanical tracking
- Bright and clear picture quality
- Excellent range of elevation and windage adjustment
- Wide reticle selection
- Awkward locking push-button elevation turret
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Sig Sierra 6 BDX 3-18×44 Scope: Best smart long-range scope
This BDX-driven scope’s digital-plane reticle is only one of many ground-breaking features. It’s a conventional duplex in the second focal plane, but the holdover references vary with magnification, so you don’t have to use the maximum magnification setting to get reticle subtensions.
The Sig Sierra 6 BDX 3-18×44 is a high-tech scope with Bluetooth connectivity that integrates several different features. If you keep the crosshairs on your target and squeeze the trigger, you will make perfect, one-shot hits. Connect your rangefinder and BDX-enabled sight to your phone, and then load your bullet specifications. A blue dot will illuminate the reticle’s vertical stadia to indicate the holdover value when you range a target.
The reticle also features many hold-off references calibrated to a broad range of wind speeds. It has clear glass, and the clicks on the MOA turret are solid.
- Smart BDX-powered aiming suite
- May connect with a phone app and provide a solution that fits their needs
- Allows you to set up your scope with any increment you want
- Batteries may die with use and cold weather
Zeiss LRP S5 5-25×56: Best long-range scope for competition use
When it comes to optics, Zeiss is synonymous with high quality and a hefty price tag. But you can tell that quality by how it performs and how the mechanics feel. This scope’s turrets and side focus include large, easily read markings, boosting its accuracy, so you can also use it as a tracking scope. There are large, huge turrets that serve as clear, large references.
A long-range champion, this scope features a 5-25x magnification range, a big 56mm aperture, a fat 34mm tube, an FFP lighted reticle, and the full suite of Zeiss optics. It provides clear, crisp images, thanks to the combination of Schott glass, fluoride lenses, T* coatings, LotuTec coatings, and a rapid focus eyepiece.
The new LRP S5 rifle sight is tailor-made for precision shooters, and it has the potential to alter the playing field for PRS/NRL competitors completely. It has everything you need, including a throw lever, positive zero stop, and a turret you can lock for windage adjustment. Competitive shooters and long-range hunters can benefit from it.
- Illuminated reticle and clear optics
- Locking turrets
- Precise mechanical integrity
- Available in MRAD and MOA models
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Long-Range Scopes
Remember that a rifle scope’s basic, functional quality is the sum of all the work, components, and materials that go into making it. If you want better-than-average results from your scope, you’ll need better-than-average quality. Here, we provided a buyer’s guide outlining the characteristics you should look for.
You must do some research to determine the reliability of a certain scope. No scope metric or manufacturer jargon can tell you how an optic will function at 800, 1,200, or 1,500 meters. Therefore it’s important to ask questions and listen to experienced distance shooters.
Also, zero retention is a must-have feature. It’s the scope’s resistance to all forms of misuse, so it always returns zero value. Drop it off the back of your tailgate, and it’ll hit the mark every time.
The quality of a scope’s turrets is measured by how well they track or how accurately they can be adjusted. Scopes that are not top of the line or expensive sometimes have a less than precise adjustment range of 0.1 MIL / 0.1 MOA every click.
Without proper magnification, shooting at steel becomes an exercise in blind luck. The magnification or zoom range is the most intuitive aspect of a scope.
Long-range shooting typically requires a scope with at least 10x magnification, though most go as high as 15x or 20x. Scopes designed at extreme distances typically have magnification levels of 25x, 35x, or even greater.
Try to get a high-quality optic with glass and lens coatings to match. Only a handful of companies produce scope glass, and the quality of the final products varies from one scope manufacturer to the next. The better the glass and lens coatings on a scope, the higher the price.
Lens coatings can prevent scratches, repel water, and significantly reduce reflections. Four distinct coating types are available for scopes: coated, fully coated, multi-coated, and fully multi-coated. Some optics have one or more coatings on at least one lens, known as coated or multi-coated optics. Fully multi-coated refers to a scope with one or more coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces.
Reticles that “move” in response to the shooter’s head movements indicate the presence of parallax, which you may adjust with the diopter or parallax adjustment knob found on a quality scope. Getting rid of parallax improves a scope’s sight picture, increasing accuracy.
There is a huge selection of reticle patterns to choose from, and frequently, a single-sight design will come packaged with more than one reticle alternative. Metric markers such as milliradians (mil), milliradians (MRAD), and mils are commonly used in long-range reticles. Others, nevertheless, prefer to utilize MOA notations.
Depending on your needs, it’s also important to consider whether the reticle should be on the first or second focus. The ability to range targets precisely and make fine-tuned adjustments to windage and elevation depends on an appropriately sized reticle.
Cost and Warranty
The higher the scope’s quality, the higher the price, and the longer the warranty. If you’re shooting at a long range, you probably care about making clean kills or small groups in the competition. Consider how serious you are about your shooting applications when deciding how much you are willing to pay. Also, safeguard your scope with a guarantee backed by a reliable company.
FAQ About the Best Long Range Scopes
How much magnification does the average long-range shooter need?
There is no definitive answer to this question since it depends on several factors, such as the type of terrain you’ll be shooting in, the size of your target, and your personal preferences. However, most long-range shooters agree that a scope with at least 10x magnification is necessary for accurate shots at long distances.
How do long-range scopes work?
Long-range scopes work by magnifying the image of your target, making it appear larger and closer. This lets you see your target more clearly and make more accurate shots.
What long-range scope does the military use?
The Trijicon TA31RCO ACOG is a 32mm objective lens, 4x magnification, used by the Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps. Ballistic compensating fiber optic reticles and tritium lighted round out its unique design.
Additionally, the Mark 5HD riflescope is the optic for the PSR (Precision Sniper Rifle) program of the United States Army.
Long-range shots need a lot of effort. We mostly rely on optical aids, including spotting scopes, binoculars, and laser rangefinders. Are you prepared to put in the time and effort necessary to become an expert long-range marksman? A high-quality optic isn’t going to transform you into a master shot magically, but it will help you get there much faster.
With practice, you’ll be consistently making shots that make your buddies question whether you’re using some voodoo magic or if you’re just really good.