The Best Long Range Rifle Scopes

Want to hit targets at 1,000 yards or more?

You’ll need a quality rifle, premium ammo, a serious scope.

What does a serious scope cost? Some are as much as your rifle (at least) – but given that in recent years optics have benefit from advances in machining technology, there are a number of high-performing scopes available these days for ½ of what a match-grade scope used to cost.

Buy the best scope you can afford. 

Nearly all of the scopes in this category offer premium optical quality (and were featured in our guide to the best rifle scopes for any budget) but some also offer price points driven by the falling costs of precision optical manufacturing. For anyone interested in taking their distance shooting to the next level (and dropping a serious portion of their paycheck on a new scope), rest assured – there are many options and price points to peruse.

To come up with these expert picks we considered use-cases, features, construction, materials and overall value. 

If there’s a long-range rifle scope you love that we haven’t mentioned, drop us a line and we’ll do our best to review it when we update this guide.

Quick List: The Best Long Range Rifle Scopes

Our Top Pick (Best Overall):

While not our most affordable option, the Vortex Optics Razor HD II is a serious shooter’s scope. It’s a great choice if you need a full-featured, long-distance rifle scope that’s proven and allows for nearly unlimited tweaks to any variable – from windage, graduation, travel per rotation, infinite zero and more.

The Vortex Optics Razor HD II isn’t small, but if you have aspirations (and the rifle) to hit a target at 1,500 yards the Vortex is tough to beat. 

Plus there’s the Vortex lifetime warranty – which is fully transferable.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Vortex Optics Razor HD II won our testers over with its unbelievably clear glass and amazingly versatile EBR-7C reticle.

The EBR-7C has a ton of applications – from distance shooters, hunters, and as well as military & law enforcement. The EBR-7C uses a center dot to give you a clear zero, the top of the horizontal axis is marked with two-tenths MIL marks for precise wind hold adjustments, while the bottom of the axis gives you half MIL marks which are easier to use with moving targets.

We found the Vortex useful at 4.5 magnification and, being a first-focal plane scope, the reticle maintains accuracy throughout the entire zoom range. You get a lot of information very quickly from the reticle – and we found it easy to use for follow-up shot adjustments as well. 

Eye Box & Relief

Eye relief is listed at 4.5 inches, which felt just about perfect with our test unit, and the eyebox is pretty flexible and we didn’t struggle to get everything in focus regardless of the magnification. 

Elevation & Windage Adjustments

The turrets on the Vortex are really, really nice. They’re locking L-Tec turrets, and have clear indicators for all adjustment angles.

There’s also a visual rotation indicator which makes it easy to track full revolutions of the turrets. We also really liked the zero stop, which made returning to zero instant and accommodates over travel for shots below sight-in zero.

The Vortex makes sight adjustments feels like you’re a tank operator dialling in the kill shot. Super impressive. 

Parallax & Magnification

The parallax knob is opposite the windage turret, and adjustments were smooth and precise. The locking illumination dial is integrated into the parallax knob and pops out to offer 11 levels of brightness. You just pop it back in to lock in the brightness setting. 

Overall Fit & Finish

It can be difficult to split hairs with scopes of this quality, but the Vortex hits the sweet spot of premium pricing without being over the top (scopes of this quality can be $4,000 or more) and truly feeling like it’s built like a tank.

Flaws worth noting: Vortex has been known to miss from time to time with their customer service. Once issues are raised they’re quick to resolve them but it can be difficult to get through to them from time to time.

Pros

  • Amazing optical clarity
  • Easily adjustable & configurable
  • Built like a tank
  • Durable material
  • Fog proof, waterproof & shock proof

Cons

  • CS can be difficult to get ahold of
  • MIL discounts put you at the back of the line
  • Heavy

Runner-up:

Who it’s for: Our runner-up long range scope is the Burris Optics XTR II Rifle Scope. The Burris features precision adjustments and long range accuracy in a relatively compact package. It has a 34mm main tube, which yields crisp views of targets at any range, and provides sufficient power to introduce you to 1,000 yard shot ranges.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Burris XTR offers excellent clarity. It feels like it’s in the ballpark of a high-end Vortex or the Nightforce products. Definitely offers some bang for the buck – especially when you consider the price point of the XTR.

Eye Box & Relief

The 3.50 – 4.25 in. inch eye relief is magnification-dependant, but was clear through the full magnification range. The eye box accommodated every shooter’s style and preference without incident. . 

Elevation & Windage Adjustments

The elevation knob was a little harder to turn than either the Nightforce or the Vortex – but was made easier with gloves when zeroing. The feel of the knobs was a little stickier than we liked, especially when with the stiffness.  The zero stop on the turret is great though.

Parallax & Magnification

The Burris offers a 5x zoom system, so target acquisition at longer ranges is quick and prevents unnecessary adjustments as you’re sighting your target. Many of our testers had never shot much over 500 yards but with the Burris a few folks hit 6 for 6 at 800-1000 yards – quality experience.

Overall Fit & Finish

Our testers consistently liked the XTR II scope. It impressed us with its mix of features, capabilities and quality – coupled with MIL and MOA reticles and the transferable forever warranty, it’s a very solid scope that’ll improve your distance shooting.

Pros

  • Clear, premium glass
  • Solidly durable
  • 5x zoom & illuminated reticle 
  • Lighter than other options

Cons

  • Can be fickle without signature Burris mounting rings

Upgrade Pick:

Who it’s for: The NightForce COMPETITION rifle scope is, from a quality perspective, probably the best overall scope we tested. It’s a premium rifle scope that’s truly precise.

The NightForce COMPETITION is tough, superbly clear, and almost shockingly well engineered. 

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The NightForce COMPETITION impressed our testers with how repeatable quality shots were with it thanks to the clarity.

The optics are crystal clear and with ultra high magnification there’s little to no mirroring or mirage issues – even well beyond where you’d have to dial back other scopes.

Eye Box & Relief

The 3.15 inch eye relief is less than others in the higher-end category, but was never too little for our comfort, especially when considering the clarity of the glass made the eye box super forgiving. 

Elevation & Windage Adjustments

Superb knobs – both in terms of knurl and feel – but the real nice bit with the Nightforce turrets is just how clear the markings are.

The base color of the scope body is deep black – and the adjustment markings are bold, white numbers and thick MIL markings made reading and adjusting the Nightforce the easiest of all our test units.

Parallax & Magnification

The 3.15 inch eye relief is less than others in the higher-end category, but was never too little for our comfort, especially when considering the clarity of the glass made the eye box super forgiving. 

Overall Fit & Finish

The Nightforce Competition scope is exactly that – a competition-grade scope that is engineered from the ground-up to give you maximum accuracy over distance in any kind of environment.

Pros

  • Incredibly well-engineered
  • Durable
  • Precise 

Cons

  • Expensive 
  • Non-illuminated reticle

Leupold makes really nice products, and their VX-5HD is a fantastic piece of glass. It’s also not cheap – regularly coming in at over $2,000 (and in comes cases closer to $3,000). What does that premium get you?

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Loads of reticle choices and some of the clearest glass available – plus if you need a reticle that will allow for wind holds and addressing moving targets, the Leupold VX-5HD has you covered (and them some.)

Eye Box & Relief

The 3.6-3.8 inch (25x-5x) isn’t particularly long or short – it’s more or less right in the middle of what you’d expect, and many shooters are happy with 3.5”. The eye box is very flexible and when paired with the big 56mm lens and clear glass was a lot of fun to test. This previous version of the VX-5HD had a 50mm lens, so you’re getting even more light down the tube with this new 2020 version.

Elevation & Windage Adjustments

The turret knobs are smooth and easy to adjust with the right amount of feel – plus all of our testers liked the audible click. The elevation turret is pretty ingenious – it has a wide zero lock button on the turret face and a metal pin at the top of the turret. 

Press the wide lock button to unlock the turret and as you begin to turn the turret the lock button retreats into the turret, rendering it flush with the turret face. Keep rotating the turret and after a full turn the metal pin pops up giving you a simple reference for navigating the 120 MOA of adjustment range the Leupold offers. Brilliant bit of engineering. 

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax was easy to dial in and in our tests was very close across all our shot distances.

Overall Fit & Finish

Despite the larger tube and lens, the Leupold comes in at about 30 ounces, which is a little under 2 lbs. Pretty incredible when you contrast that with some of the other options that can be upwards of 40 ounces.

Feel is super polished, and the touches like the smart elevation knob make this feel like a scope that was built by people who love creating cutting-edge optics.

Pros

  • Very clear glass
  • Well designed 
  • Twilight feature is useful and adds up to 30 minutes more shooting time

Cons

  • Slightly smaller field of view can create slight tunnel-vision

Budget pick:

The wallet-friendly Monstrum G2 gives you the full 24x magnification you’ll need for long ranged shooting, but at a much more budget-conscious price point.

With our tests everything worked—the magnification was smooth and clear, an adjustable objective lens made honing in on down-range targets easy, and focusing was quick and surprisingly accurate at any magnification.

Of course, this is not the scope for serious, competitive, long-range shooting or any application requiring exceptional detail (plus it was far and away the largest scope we tested).

But if you want inexpensive, functional, 50 magnification rifle scope for under $200, this is the scope for you.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Monstrum G2 isn’t as clear as any of the other scopes we put to the tests. It’s functional and offers higher magnification, but there are limitations to what the scope can do. That said, it’s clear and easy to use at distance.

Eye Box & Relief

The 4 – 4.5-inch eye relief was a little long for some of our testers but was reasonably clear through the full magnification range – with the exception of 24x, where there was some fisheye. The eye box was stable and easy to use. 

Elevation & Windage Adjustments

The elevation & windage knobs are a little smaller than many higher-end tactical-style scopes – and are similar in size to a capped turrets on a traditional 1-4 scope. The turret rotations are soft but track fairly accurately and the turret bulge is big enough that rifles with limited space can be difficult to mount. 

Parallax & Magnification

Not the clearest or brightest at full magnification, but the magnification was powerful enough to allow our testers to hit consistent iron at 500 yards.

Overall Fit & Finish

The fit and finish was a little below the more premium options, and needed Loctite to ensure all the screws stayed taught – but for under $200 this is a surprisingly capable bit of glass.

Pros

  • Price
  • Good glass
  • Solidly clear through all magnification ranges
  • AO lens

Cons

  • Very large

How to pick the best long-range scope for you

As we said before – buy as much scope as you can afford (generally referred to as “buy once, cry once”) because your rifle will never be as satisfying to use without a clear, functional scope.

Plus shooting through budget glass is simply not fun.

Also – you can always move your premium scope to a new, improved rifle down the line. Many of our shooting buddies have changed from thinking that they need to buy a scope for their rifle so thinking they need to buy a rifle for their scope.  

Magnification Power: 

While the necessary amount of magnification is absolutely a subjective topic – we recommend a minimum of 5x power. That generally puts you in the range of a 5×25 scope.

This ensures you have a lower-end magnification that’s useful for shorter ranges but still supplies some amount of magnification and a higher-end that will get you to the 1,000-yard mark with relative ease. 

Fixed vs Variable Magnification

You’ll want a variable magnification scope for any kind of long-range shooting.

Simply because a single, fixed magnification won’t give you the flexibility you need to adjust to a variety of ranges or terrains. Also, for my dynamic scenarios – such as hunting – you’ll have much less control over the distance with which you engage a target than at the range.

A variable magnification scope will allow you to adjust to those situations without compromise. All of our recommended scopes offer variable magnification for these reasons.

Objective Lens

The diameter of your scope’s objective lens impacts the amount of light it will transmit to the inner lenses. The bigger the diameter the brighter the scope – and the more you can see when targeting.

Bigger lenses (paired with clear glass) brighten the image and can provide a wider field of view through all magnifications. This is why high-magnification scopes will generally have large objective lenses – the more magnification the more light you need for a clear picture.

In general, the objective lens (the larger of the 2 visible lenses – and the one closest to your target) should be as big as possible (to let in maximal light) and we generally recommend a floor of 50mm.

BDC Reticles

Bullet drop compensation (or BDC) reticles provide a map of potential shot placements based on distance and windage. These points branch out directly beneath the center of your crosshair and are critical for sighting in long-range shots.

They also make quick follow-on shots easier thanks to the visual reference points they provide. 

Once you zero your rifle at 100 yards you can use the BDC reticle to adjust your point of aim to account for elevation, crosswinds, and terrain. These are often spaced at 100 yards, so each point accounts for an additional 100 yards, so if you’re 600 years out from a target you’ll aim up until the 600-yard mark is on your target. Fire, watch for the point of impact, adjust, and shoot again.

Mil vs MOA

Mil (milliradians) and MOA (minute of angle) are terms you’ll see a lot when researching scopes, and while they’re common they are different ways of measuring the same thing – distance.

One mil equals .36 inches at 100 yards, while one MOA equals 1.047 inches at 100 yards. It’s possible to convert from one to the other, but long-range scopes will generally use one or the other (Mil or MOA).

More shooters either grow up using one or the other, or are exposed to one through service. MOA is most common in the US, while other countries (and often military/police organizations) use MIL. The most important thing is to ensure the scope you choose is the measurement system you prefer – MIL or MOA – otherwise you’ll have a hard time adjusting.

Conclusion

Each of these sights offers advantages for a variety of long-distance shooters, but our top pick is the Vortex Optics Razor HD II. It offers the kind of clarity that kept us coming back and made us feel like better shooters all around. It also has all the features that we look for:

  • Clear, high -quality glass
  • Unbelievable stability
  • Fantastic light transmission

There are quite a few options out in this category, but we hope this article steers you in the right direction. If you have any questions or feedback please drop us a line. If you’re in the market for optics check out our scope reviews, guide to the best rifle scopes, tips for selecting the best pistol red dot sight, selection of recommended rimfire scopes, and best budget AR-15 scopes.

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