Whether you are a hunter or just a sport shooter, sometimes a longer range than normal. That means its time to go telescopic. The fun and challenge of taking shots hundreds or thousands of yards out is hard to describe. It’s truly a step that every shooter need to take. If you are ready, we can help you find the best long range rifle scope for the money!
- What Exactly is a Long Range Scope?
- Rifle Scope Considerations
- Best Long Range Rifle Scope Reviews 2021 - Comparison Table
- Top 12 Best Long Range Scopes on the Market Review
- 1 Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II
- 2 Nightforce Optics NXS
- 3 Nightforce Optics 5-20x56 SHV Riflescope
- 4 Vortex Optics Viper PST FFP
- 5 Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle Riflescope
- 6 Nikon Black X1000
- 7 Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
- 8 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
- 9 Vortex Optics Diamondback
- 10 Athlon Optics Vargos
- 11 Leupold VX 2
- 12 Nikon Buckmaster II
- Long Range Rifle Scope Tips
- Popular Long Range Scope Brands
- How To Adjust A Scope For Long-Range Shooting
- How To Shoot Long Range With A Scope
What Exactly is a Long Range Scope?
When we think of distance shooting, what exactly is a long range? Is it 50 yards? That would be long range for a .22 rifle. Is it 100, 150, 200 yards? At those ranges, a scope helps, but should we actually consider them long range? Maybe it is 500 yards. Many calibers start to lose their effectiveness at that range.
As you can probably tell, there is not an exact definition for long range. Still we will need some definition to limit the scopes in this article. I think the best way of defining long range as follows. Long range is when standard iron sights become ineffective. Yes, Marines shoot through iron sights at 500 yards. But making those shots takes a dedication, preparation, and skill.
The 300-yard mark is high limit of a normal range. All but a few experts will struggle to hit anything without help at that distance. I consider 300 yards the start of long range marksmanship. If you want to shoot beyond this point, you will need to consider long range scopes. There really isn't a maximum limit to our range. At some point you will begin to get into extreme ranges. The scopes then may be a little different, but any scope that will hit at a thousand yards will hit at 300 yards.
So what is a long range shooting scope? It should be able to hit at a minimum of 300 yards consistently. It should also hit longer shots as well. If you want to shoot extremely long distances, you will need a few extra features.
No matter your distance, you need these features in your long range scope:
- At least 10 power.
- Good optics with parallax focus.
- Turret adjustments and a BDC reticle.
The above features are the military's standard for long range sniper scopes. Anything other than these are extra.
In a hurry? Don't have time for details? Take a look on our top 12 rifle scope for long range shooting:
1. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes
2. Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope
3. Nightforce Optics 5-20x56 SHV Riflescope
1. Vortex Optics Viper PST First Focal Plane Riflescopes
2. Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle Riflescope (6-24x50-mm)
3. Nikon Black X1000
4. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
5. Leupold VX-2 4-12x40mm Compact Waterproof Fogproof Riflescope, Duplex Reticle, Matte Finish, Black (114396)
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II Adjustable Objective, 30mm Tube, Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
2. Vortex Optics Diamondback HP Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
3. Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope
4. Nikon Buckmasters II, 4-12x40mm, BDC, Riflescope
When looking for a rifle scope, your primary consideration will likely be magnification levels. It is very common for novice long range shooters to pick a scope that is far more powerful than they need. Learning to moderate your desire for the most magnification possible is important. Magnification is not the only scope feature that affects your shooting accuracy.
Some scopes have fixed power and others have variable. A fixed power scope may be written as 10x35mm. This means that the scope is a 10 power scope and it will magnify the image 10 times. You will see 5-15x30mm on a variable power scope. This means the magnification can be anywhere from 5 times to 15 times.
When picking the maximum power of your scope, you will need to consider its intended use. Remember that most military scopes are only 10 power. You don't need much magnification if you only plan on hunting. The more the scope is magnified, the smaller the area or Field of View. This can make spotting targets difficult.
Some people opt to use very high power scopes for .22 competitions because the targets are so small. Some of these scopes may be greater than 30x. Such a high magnification works well for the target range. You just don't want to hunt with it.
Consider these extremes and pick what suits you best.
When you saw the 10x35mm label above, you may have wondered what the second number meant. It is the size of the objective lens. The objective lens sits opposite where you put your eye. The larger this lens, the more light allowed to enter the scope. Thus, the image will be brighter.
An overly large objective lens can actually be a setback. It will have to be mounted higher on the rifle. That can cause issues with accuracy. Plus your neck may get sore from having to keep your head so high above the stock.
All else being equal, a larger objective lens will have a larger field of view. Its image will be clearer and brighter. But these are not the only considerations. In the end, the quality of the glass in the scope will be just as important as the objective lens if not more so.
Lens coatings are chemical treatments that help correct for things like glare and mirage. Ultimately, they make the image clearer and easier to see. Some lens coatings will even filter light so that the image appears brighter and crisper.
There are four main levels of lens coating:
- Coated lenses have a single chemical coating on the objective lens.
- Fully Coated lenses have all outside optical surfaces coated with a single chemical.
- Multi-Coated lenses have a cocktail of chemicals or multiple layers of chemicals applied to the objective len.
- Finally, fully multi-coated lenses have the many layers of chemicals applied to all the glass in the scope.
Each of these levels represents an increase in the quality of the image. Better image quality will increase the price as well. This tradeoff is often worthwhile. Good quality optics can actually make images appear brighter and clearer than they would with the naked eye.
Occasionally you may encounter an optic that uses multi-coat of full multi-coat as a sales gimmick. If the glass is bad, no coating is going to make it better. Be cautious about purchasing optics that are less expensive but claim advanced coating levels.
There are a large variety of reticles available in rifle scopes. Each one has distinct advantages and uses. Picking the correct reticle can be a huge challenge. Let's simplify this for the beginner by dividing each into three classifications. The classifications will expand as you get more familiar with the technology.
Standard crosshairs are a simple cross. They allow you to align your shot with your target. These are often the easiest to learn. They are most commonly used by hunters or those shooting shorter ranges.
Target Crosshairs differ very little from Standard crosshairs. Target crosshairs have a dot or circle in the center rather than a simple cross. These are often used in lower-powered optics or those intended for low light. They can be problematic at long range. The dot can obscure the target.
Measuring crosshairs have measured markings on the reticle to help you determine distance. Learning to use these correctly can take time, but they are very rewarding. Novice beware. A very busy reticle like these can be a distraction.
Eye relief is the distance you can hold your eye away from the eyepiece and still get the full field of view. A short eye relief risks the scope hit your eye when you shoot. Some scopes come with specifically longer eye relief for use on high-powered magnum rifles. Otherwise, most scopes can be used with standard powered rifles.
If you wear glasses, opt for a scope with longer eye relief. This will compensate for the extra space you will need because of the glasses.
A good scope is quite an investment and keeping it protected is important. You will be taking this finely-tuned piece of equipment into the field where it may get wet or dirty. It could be subjected to very hot or cold temperatures. Clearly it needs to be protected from these issues.
In addition to weatherproofing or waterproofing, many scopes will be nitrogen or argon purged. This prevents them from the formation of fog or condensation on the inside of the lenses. Nitrogen or argon purging is an ideal feature in a scope.
Before you make your decision, check out this survey. It shows the most popular models on the market:
Best Long Range Rifle Scope Reviews 2021 - Comparison Table
|Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Nightforce Optics NXS||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Nightforce Optics SHV||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Vortex Optics Viper PST FFP||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Nikon Black X1000||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Vortex Viper HS-T||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Vortex Optics Crossfire II||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Vortex Optics Diamondback||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Athlon Optics Vargos||VIEW ON AMAZON → VIEW ON OpticsPlanet →|
|Leupod VX 2||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
|Nikon Buckmaster II||VIEW ON AMAZON →|
Top 12 Best Long Range Scopes on the Market Review
1 Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II
Vortex makes a number of scopes but people don't know that quality varies by model. The brand offers three ranges of optics of increasing quality. Of the three, their Razor series is by far the best. Razors are more durable, optically superior, and have much better quality control.
The specific Razor we are interested in for long range shooting is the HD Gen II that is a 4.5-27. Vortex does offer this scope in a variety of powers. Some are capable of being accurate at extremely long range, past 1000 yards in many cases. It isn’t only the power that makes their range possible. The amazing ED Prime glass plays a big role as well. It is as clear as is possible with glass. To further the image quality, the lenses get a full multi-coat treatment that includes Vortex's scratch-resistant Armorteck finish.
The reticles on the Razor series are all a version of MOA or Mill Radian. These are ideal for hitting the target at long distances. The reticles combine with Vortex's locking L-TEC turret system to allow your shot to be precise. The combination of these features is perfect for the long range shooter. The Razors are becoming one of the favored scopes for hobbyist and professionals alike.
If you are a serious shooter, durability features will be essential. The Razor has all you could want. It is sealed and dry argon-purged to prevent water intrusion and fog. It is shock-resistant up to a .50 caliber. The exterior is hard-coat anodized over a single piece scope tube. This adds durability, rigidity, and keeps everything properly aligned. If you are after the best, this Razor is the product to try.
2 Nightforce Optics NXS
Much like the Vortex, Nightforce that makes no compromises. This is especially true of any scope in their premium NXS series. They are actually made in the same shop in Japan as the high-end Vortex optics. They are at least as good as those high-end products. Any differences would be so minimal that they didn't matter.
The NXS comes in a different few models and powers. I think that the 5.5-22x version with the MOAR reticle is best for long range shooting. Nightforce offers premium glass with their own multi-coat technology. Therefore, you get an optically perfect scope. The lenses are also scratch resistant and fully anti-glare.
To help you get to long range, the illuminated MOAR reticle has MOA markings that correspond to the turret adjustments. The turrets themselves have zero-reset. They make a very nice, solid click. Those features are good, but the truly amazing thing is that this scope has 100 MOA of internal travel. You have over 80 feet of adjustment at 1000 yards. Anyone looking for a decent long-range scope with turrets should try the Nightforce Optics NXS.
On durability, Nightforce is second to none. Their scope walls are thicker, the hard-coat is harder. And their warranty is better. Everything is water, shock, and Fogproof and sealed against dust and debris. Breaking a Nightforce scope would take effort. It isn’t something you do by accident. And if you do, the company will probably still replace it.
3 Nightforce Optics 5-20x56 SHV Riflescope
Try the second-tier Nightforce Scope--the SHV--if you like the brand, but want a more budget-friendly option. It has much in common with the more expensive NXS model. Your dollars will by saved by a few changes. Don’t think that this is an inferior scope because it isn’t Nightforce’s top line. It will still beat almost every other optic out there.
Like the NXS, we are going to go with the MOAR reticle option. This time it has been changed to a second focal plane scope. The power has decreased slightly as well. The SHV comes as a 5-20x scope. It has nearly the same optical quality as the NXS. The multi-coat is identical and the lenses are very, very close. Unless you spend a lot of your time behind a scope, you are unlikely to tell the difference.
The turrets on the SHV match the reticle. They have the same zero reset feature. They may have a little less internal travel but it will be enough to get you to 800 yards with most caliber rifles. The reticle is illuminated at the center point for low light shooting. It has MOA hash-marks for getting perfect shot placement.
When it comes to durability, you may get a little less out of the mid-range Nightforce scopes. They don’t have the thicker walls and quality control as the NXS. If there is a problem, this still has the amazing Nightforce warranty. It just isn’t as convenient. The scope has all of the same shock and weatherproofing as well. This scope is as tough as you would ever need. Plus, you can save a little by giving up a few of the extras.
4 Vortex Optics Viper PST FFP
For those seeking the best, there are a lot of expensive options. Many can run multiple thousands of dollars. Yet, there are always ways to spend less. The best solution is to go with an optic from Viper. This company is renowned for offering some of the highest quality scopes at a fraction of the cost.
Take the Viper PST for example. This scope has super clear low dispersion glass that is fully multi-coated. It is so bright and crisp, it’s hard to tell you are even looking through an optic at all. There are few scopes that manage to achieve this level of brightness. Even with a 50mm objective lens cannot compare. When it comes to pure optical quality, the Viper can’t be beat!
All of Vortex’s optics are waterproof and argon purged to keep the lenses clear of fog and condensation. Many scopes provide this feature, but none do it at such a low cost. The features you get would run you $3000.00 or more with other products. Try to find a scope that combines a first focal plane illuminated reticle, parallax focus, quick adjustment turrets, and a hard anodized finish for the same price.
If you want quality, you want the Vortex Viper. For high powered or magnum rounds, this is the go-to choice. It is an ideal scope for 300 win mag long range hunting.
5 Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle Riflescope
Bushnell has long been one of the most trusted names in rifle scopes. They make all kinds covering a wide variety of applications and distances. You should give the Elite Tactical FFP Reticle Riflescope a try. To start, this scope is pretty awesome. It has a large objective measuring 50mm. You get a good amount of land coverage with that objective. Look through the scope and you’ll see what we mean.
The field of view is wide, clear, and will certainly give you a lot to look at. And, of course, the reticle allows for quick target acquisition and sharp, accurate shooting. Yes, it’s a pretty good long-distance scope. Just how far are we talking here? On a really good day, you can effectively nail a big game target at about 500 yards out. If you’re using paper targets or clay pigeons, you can probably get away with a bit farther.
Bushnell proves yet again why they are one of the best names in scopes. Their commitment to reliability shows with this scope. Once you have this sighted in and ready to go, your hit probability is going to go up. This is especially true if you intend to land kill shot after kill shot on your hunting targets. If you are using this scope for target practice or competition, it will allow you to get as close to the bullseye as possible.
Bushnell has increased the quality by using a high-quality aluminum body. It will not be thrown off or damaged due to recoil-based shock, bad weather, or other environmental elements. This scope will make adjustments easier and convenient while providing accurate, precise shooting at some pretty awesome distances. You should give the Bushnell Elite Tactical a try today.
6 Nikon Black X1000
Nikon is a well-known name in the world of rifle optics. They have decades of experience putting decent optics on hunter and target shooter rifles. Decent is no longer good enough in the marketplace. Now Nikon has upped their game to produce a premium quality scope. With the Black series, they definitely succeeded. It far surpasses any other scope they have released.
When it comes to the basics, the X1000 is a powerful 6-20x scope with premium glass. The lenses themselves are the best that has ever been used by Nikon. They are on par with the best glass used by many higher-end brands. Like all Nikons, the X1000 is multi-coated on all air-to-glass surfaces. The coating greatly improves the color and contrast of the scope image.
The reticle in the X1000 comes in either MOA or Mill Radian. Turrets are only available in MOA. You are probably better off to get matching reticles and turrets. Parallax adjustment is on the erector for adjustment without losing your sight picture. This handy feature is one of the X1000’s greatest changes.
The scope is fully waterproof, shockproof, and rugged enough for any mission. Lenses are sealed and the interior is purged for fog-free performance. This is a tough scope but not as tough as scopes designed for military use. Still, there are some police departments who have adopted the X1000. It has proven useful and can easily hold a place in most arsenals.
7 Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes
As we move into the mid-tier of Vortex optics, amazingly the quality stays high. Though it isn’t as good as the Razor or Viper PS-T, the HS-T is still a very good scope. It can be bought for half the price of any of the higher-end Vortex models. You will still get quality and the accuracy you need for long shots. You just may miss out on a little of the polish of the higher-end products.
The HS-T is an amazingly powerful 6-24x. It has the optical quality you need to get to extremely long ranges with accuracy. The multi-coat is exactly the same as on the high-end models. If there is a difference in the lenses, it’s very hard to tell. When combined with parallax adjustment, which is necessary with this scope, longer shots are possible up to distances of 800+yards.
For this optic, a straight MOA reticle is by far the best bet. The MOA reticle matches with the turrets. The adjustment levels may not be the same. However, the turrets do have a lot to offer. They feature a zero-stop and zero-reset feature. The reticle is glass etched on the second focal plane.
For durability, this is a tough scope. It has the same warranty as any Vortex model. The interior is sealed and argon-purged to keep out water and fog. Everything is stable and shockproof. While it may lack over some of features of the higher end models, it doesn’t lack in toughness. This is one of the best scopes you can get for the money.
8 Vortex Optics Crossfire II
While we are on the topic of Vortex, we should probably discuss another of their budget options. The Crossfire II are a far cry from the astonishingly good Razor series. They are also a little below the Viper series in terms of quality. However, they are without a doubt the best in their price range. They are more durable, better quality, and have more features than any other scope for this price.
For power, you have a few different options in the Crossfire II. The best for distance would be the 6-24x. Other scopes fail when reaching for this level of power at a low price. Not Vortex! Their Crossfire is optically superior with good lenses and a world-class multi-coat. These scopes are bright, clear, and crisp.
Where you start to lose some of the high-end features is the reticle and adjustments. The reticle comes in two varieties, a duplex and a dead hold BDC. Neither of these are perfect for extreme ranges. I'd recommend the dead hold. The adjustments are MOA and can be adjusted by hand. But they are not made to use on the fly. They are capped and intended to stay that way after zero. All that said, you should still be able to get 400-600 yards out of this optic.
For durability, very little has changed from any of the other Vortex scopes. The walls of the tube are thick and ridged and have the same scratch-resistant multi-coat. The lenses are also scratch-resistant. The Crossfire is manufactured the same way as the Viper so it is fully sealed and purged. If you are after a great scope that will last for years but need to save a few bucks, this is a strong choice.
9 Vortex Optics Diamondback
I could almost guarantee that you could never find an optic better than Vortex. Their quality is up there with some of the best optics on the planet. And their price is low enough to comfortably fit in anyone’s budget. How they manage it is a mystery. All I know is that they have taken the shooting world by storm.
All Vortex scopes are fully multi-coated. They have a special recipe of coatings that give all of their glass unparalleled light transmission and clarity. The Diamondback is the best of the already amazing optical quality that Vortex offers. You combine that with the large 40mm objective lens and you have a scope that will shoot great even in the low light. Believe me when I say you want a Vortex scope for long range shooting. Even the more than adequate 4x to 16x magnification will allow you to achieve a long range.
Not only is this scope waterproof but it is also argon purged and sealed to remain forever free of fog and condensation. Never doubt that this is one of the finest long range scopes in its price range. It will probably outperform optics that cost many times more. If you are looking for a long range rifle scope under 500 bucks, you have to look at this product.
10 Athlon Optics Vargos
Following a similar recipe for success as Vortex Optics, Athlon has made a huge name for themselves for the past few years. Their line of extreme long range rifle scopes are unmatched. The features this scope offers are unlike any you could find under $1000.
So, what makes the Athlon Vargos so great? Well, firstly the glass is on par with some of the best in rifle scopes today. You can get better but at nowhere near this price. The fully multi-coated lenses and a massive 56mm objective lens create a scopt that is clear, bright, and crisp. There are no problems with glare. All around, this is an amazing optical tool.
Another important consideration is that the Vargos one of the best affordable long-range scopes. If you’re looking for a long-range scope on a budget, odds are the Athlon Optics Vargos is your best possible choice.
Of course, you have to have some protection on any scope. You may consider a fully waterproof and purged, fog-proof scope tube that is shock resistant. The Vargos is as durable as any scope on the market. But none of that really matters if you can’t shoot your target. Thankfully that is not a concern with the Vargos’ max 34x magnification. The magnification and other features create a product ideal for 1000 yard + shots.
Even more, this scope is a rare first focal plane optic. This means that no matter the zoom, your shots are going to be accurate. With the mil-dot reticle you have one of those sought-after long range rifle scopes with rangefinder capabilities. You would be hard-pressed to find any other long range scope under 500 bucks that offered these features. In fact, this might even be the best 1000 yard rifle scope on the list.
11 Leupold VX 2
Oh, the glory that is Leupold. They are one of the most respected and beloved makers of long range hunting scopes ever. There are few companies that can compete in either quality or reputation. All the fame is very well deserved. If you have never had the opportunity to look through Leupold glass, you need to check one out as soon as possible.
Sure, this isn’t the most powerful scope on the list. It has a max of 12x and the lenses aren’t even fully multi-coated. Believe me, that doesn’t matter. The quality of Leupold’s glass and the multi-coat recipe will blow away other products. Even with a 40mm objective lens, the VX2 is one of the brightest scopes in its price range. The image is even crisper and clearer than a hunter needs.
All Leupold scopes are waterproof and purged to get the best fog proofing around. The VX 2 is also shockproof and beyond rugged. This is a lifetime scope that just needs little care and maintenance. If you want a long distance hunting scope or a long range scope for 308, 30-06, 270 or other calibers, this is one of the most popular choices for hunters.
12 Nikon Buckmaster II
Much like Leupold, Nikon has been producing quality optics for generations. Their Buckmaster series has probably been on more hunting rifles than probably any other thanks. The Buckmaster series has outstanding quality and a very comfortable price. This may not be the most powerful optic, but it is a solid choice that provides everything most long range shooters need.
Why is Nikon so popular? Well their glass is superb quality. In fact, their Monarch series is one of the best selling ever. The only reason the Buckmaster beats it out today is the increased durability. The tube is reinforced, which provides excellent ruggedness. Also, the glass is seated so that it is shock proofed. Purged with nitrogen and sealed, this scope is both rain and fog proof for life.
Like Nikon's best-selling scopes, the Buckmaster series has phenomenal brightness and clarity. The quality glass and Nikon’s industry leading multi-coat technology ensure the clarity. These scopes are bright and the view is absolutely top-notch.
This may not be the most powerful scope on the list. Still its durability and reputation would make this a fine optic for powerful magnum rounds or as a long range scope for 6.5 Creedmoor or .338 Lapua. If your fundamentals are good, this scope should be able to get your shot past 500 yards.
Learn to Shoot Without It
To get a truly great shot with a scope first you must nail down your fundamentals. The best way to do that is to learn to shoot without the scope first. Completely tuning in to your target means you may forget trigger discipline and jerk your shots.
Start small and work your way up. The time invested in learning a strong foundation for marksmanship pays off in spades. Even the greatest snipers in history started off without their optic. They only moved up to the longest range shots when they had proven they were good at smaller distances.
Be Mindful of the Sun
Just as a magnifying glass can be used to start a fire, light magnified through a scope can be very intense. Be mindful of glare. Light colored objects can also reflect bright light into your scope. Protect your vision. Otherwise even the best optic on the planet won’t be able to help you.
If you have to take a shot towards the sun, a good long-range scope with a sunshade can help. You may also consider laying your hat so that the bill sticks out past the top edge of the objective lens. This isn’t a perfect solution but it will help.
Practice Proper Scope Care
As with all firearms or other fine tools, an optic needs care and attention. Keep the lenses clean and use covers any time the optic is stored. These practices will avoid scratches on your very fine glass. Use a dry and clean microfiber cloth that to wipe down your lenses. If they become smudged, a drop of vinegar and water wiped gently across the lens will usually take care of the problem.
Use caution when storing your rifles in a gun safe. Inadvertent banging and pressure can cause issues with a scope. It could eventually even knock the lenses out of alignment. You have invested in a good scope, make sure it’s taken care of.
Shoot from a Stable Position
Most people use a scope from a tripod but sandbags or a shooters vice will also work. These provide you with a stable base that can greatly improve your accuracy at a long range. Attempting to shoot a scoped rifle from an unsupported position is almost impossible unless you are using it at very close range.
Part of the proper use of a scope is learning how to stabilize it. You want to prevent the crosshairs from drifting off the target when you pull the trigger. Practice as much as you can and opt for sandbags whenever possible. They’re more reliable than other support methods.
Even if you have someone sight in your scope to a perfect zero for you, you will eventually need to do it yourself. It is a universal truth that no scope holds its zero forever.
Temperature changes, bumps and bangs, and just natural settling can cause it to drift off. The better the scope, the less drift is an issue. However, all scopes will need adjustment. Sighting in a scope should be the first thing you do when you get ready to shoot. Unless you have a constant companion, you are going to have to zero the rifle yourself eventually.
Give your Eyes a Rest
Using a scope for long periods of time can cause a lot of eye strain. That strain can leave you with a blinding headache. Shooting is always fun. It is even more fun with a quality scope. But, you still need to give your eyes a break every now and then.
This is especially true if you spend a long time looking through the scope between shots. Anything more than about five minutes can cause discomfort and strain.
The above chart shows the most popular long-range scope brands from 2014 to 2016. As you can probably tell, the Vortex Optics brand stays in the top spot for these years. Their placement at the top of the list is no accident. That’s because they are known making scopes that are second-to-none in terms of durability. Also, their scopes have top quality optics. Shockingly enough, Nikon is not on the above list. That does not stop them from being the one scope brand that can challenge Vortex when it comes to optics.
One of the brands that witnessed a major jump from 2014 to 2016 is Kahles. While none of the Kahles scopes are on our list, their noticeable jump between 2014 and 2016 should not go unnoticed. Unfortunately, some established brands like Bushnell fell in popularity. As evident from the chart, Bushnell was the third most popular scope brand in 2014. At that time it was within striking distance with Vortex. Yet, it traveled down to the bottom five by 2016. The question is how did this happen? One of the chief complaints among users isn’t so much the overall quality of Bushnell scopes. It’s more or less an issue of price. Bushnell is considered one of the higher end scopes on the market. Their price tag is as high as the quality.
One notable brand that we've discussed already is Leupold. Like Vortex, they are known for making the best scopes in terms of durability. However, their popularity increase is clearly anemic. One of the reasons why Leupold hasn't become more popular is their price. Despite its superior durability and lifetime warranty, the Leupold brand is far from being one that is associated with affordable long range scopes.
How To Adjust A Scope For Long-Range Shooting
Adjusting a scope for long range shooting might be a difficult task. If you don't know how to do it. This handy guide will show you how to perform this task step-by-step. Whether you’re planning to hit targets from 500 yards, 1000 yards, or beyond, making sure that the scope is adjusted properlys key. Here’s how you get started:
- Always start by checking that your rifle is clear. Check the magwell to see that no magazine is inserted. The chamber should also be checked. Once you have the all clear, you can move forward to the next step.
- If you haven’t mounted your scope yet, do so at this point.
- Once you've mounted the scope, sight it in. After the scope is sighted in you can head out to a nearby outdoor range.
- To begin, you’ll need to sight and zero in your scope. Start from the short distances and work your way further out. For example, you’ll need to start at 25 yards and then work your way up to your desired distance (i.e.--500 yards). Keep in mind that not doing short distances correctly are a problem for long distances.
- Start off by shooting rounds with a target situated at 25 yards. The likelihood of hitting a bulls-eye at this distance will be guaranteed (barring anything catastrophic). Once you are able to consistently hit shots in the bullseye at 25 yards, move back to 100 yards. Likewise, if you hit bullseyes at 100 yards, you’ll be clear to sight in at much farther distances. It’s pretty much rinse and repeat until you’re able to reach your desired distance.
- Don’t forget to measure your shooting groups once you’re sighting in from 100 yards on. If the groups are tight, then you’re on the right track. You can also do a second measurement just to make sure. It may sound tedious, but this is exactly what you need to do to ensure that your scope is reliable.
How To Shoot Long Range With A Scope
Long range shooting is an impressive task. It takes patience, skill, and a whole lot of practice. Hitting targets at 1000 yards away with consistent accuracy is not as easy as shooting targets at 100 yards. In order to get good at it, you definitely need to put in the work. Here are a few tips that can sharpen your long-range shooting ability:
- Be data saavy: By that we mean collecting all kinds of data. Wind conditions, how well the scope performs in bad weather, bullet drop, shot groupings. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming, but get just enough data to cover shooting in various conditions.
- Don’t worry about cleaning it: OK, we’re not telling you to forget about cleaning your rifle altogether. But sometimes a dirty rifle is a long-range shooter’s best friend. We’re not sure why, but somehow it can do better when dirty.
- Breathe in, breathe out, pause, squeeze trigger, BANG: A favorite trick is to breath in, breath out, and then hold the breath for a couple seconds. During that two to three second pause is when you should take your shots.
- Always follow through: You should pull the trigger nice and slow. Don’t be hasty and jerky with your reactions either. Once the shot is off, slowly release the trigger.
- Zero-in: Zeroing in your scope is what makes the entire process work.
- Blend-in: How many long-range shooters do you see in full sight? The answer is none. In some applications, you don't want to be easily detected. Use the environment to your advantage. That will help you be stealthy and out of sight.
- Pay attention to the wind: Wind directions always change. So might your shooting trajectory. If you know the wind speed and direction, you know how to adjust your shot to work with the wind (or even against it).
- Your bullet measurement/weight should matter: Not every long range bullet will be the same. Some will be more inaccurate than others due to factors like shape and weight. Choose wisely.
- Use recoil as your learning tool: The recoil is a pretty good indicator of what you’re doing wrong. You should consider why your rifle might be recoiling. The stock should fall right back to you. The scope should stay aligned with the target.
- Dial it up (if you must): This might not be necessary if you’re shooting targets at 500 yards. But if you’re situated at 1000 yards, then dial it in with the right adjustments.
Long range shooting is a very exciting hobby full of challenges. This is even more true of long range hunting. You may think it a quality scope starts it all. That's not necessarily true. Nothing beats strong shooting fundamentals when attempting those really long shots. With a decent scope, anything under 300 yards is fairly easy. If you want to stretch past 500 or even 1000 yards everything you do preparing for the shot needs to be perfect.
Once you have a strong shooting technique, its time to add a good optic. It’s alright to plan ahead. If you want to keep shooting exciting, go ahead an make your purchase. Just don’t use it as a crutch to make up for any lack of accuracy on your part.
Remember even the best long range rifle scope can never be better than your skill level.
My name is Dakota Potts. I am a gunsmith and machinist, and I have a firearms dedicated website which I run and write content for.
I love writing about firearms, competition shooting, gunsmithing, the second amendment, and more. I have been writing professionally since I was 14, and I put this experience to use with my love of firearms content.
You can find more of his writings at pottsprecision.com.