Choosing a scope for distance shooting can feel like a daunting task. Whether you’re looking for a scope for long range target shooting or scope for shooting long range hunting shots, there’s plenty of features to consider before making your purchase. In this product round up, we’ll first consider the best design features for a scope for long range shooting, and then take a look at our top 10 scopes for long range shots available now from ScopeUout. Our round up will focus on scopes that offer versatile magnification ranges suitable for your application, parallax adjustment and the best quality glass for money.
What is Long-Distance?
In every day life, what is classed as a long distance is quite a subjective number, with some people thinking that walking 100m might be far, and others thinking that a 5km walk is nothing. When it comes to rifles and scopes, these terms are much more clear cut, with rifles being grouped in to long-range scopes and extreme long-range scopes. Ultimately, which bracket your rifle falls in to depends on its maximum point blank range (MPBR). That is, how far can your shoot with your rifle before the bullet rises or falls more than an acceptable distance resulting in you being completely off target or an unethical kill?
Let’s first look at the different types of rifles on the market in the different distance brackets to establish exactly how far certain ones can shoot.
Long range rifles:
In the hunting world, big game hunters with a long range rifle will typically be able to shoot out to around 300-350 yards. Rifles in this bracket include:
- .264 Win. Magnum
- .308 Winchester
- .300 Magnums
- .257 Weatherby
- .270 Winchester
Extreme long range rifles:
Usually used by competitive long range target shooters, this group of precision rifles include those used at the range, or for extremely long range hunting shots. Rifles in this group can accurately shoot over 400yds and include but aren’t limited to:
- 6.5 Creedmoor
- Ruger Hawkeye Long Range Target Rifle
- Savage Model 10/110 FCP HS Precision
- Remington 700
- Savage Model 10 BA Stealth
- Tikka T3x Tac A1 Rifle
- Bergara B14 HMR
- Ruger Precision Rifle
Whether you have a long range or an extreme long-range rifle, you’ll need a suitable long distance scope to a-top it. But which long range shooting scope is best for different rifles and shooting at different distances? Check out our rifle and scope distance chart below:
|How far can the rifle shoot?
|How much magnification will work best?
|12x plus but best up to at least 25x
Long-Distance Scope Features You Should Consider
Let’s take a look at the important features that you need to consider when purchasing either a long distance, or extreme long distance rifle scope for hunting or target shooting. If you leave this article with one key take away, we want it to be this - magnification isn’t everything. We’ll discuss this in more detail below. So if it’s not all about magnification when choosing a long range scope, then what factors do we need to consider? We’ll consider each below. If you want to broaden your understanding of riflescopes in general then we’d advise checking out our other blogs where we’ve got rifle scopes explained.
First up, magnification. It’s a common misconception that scopes for long range shooting should have a high magnification, however in reality, scopes for long range hunting shots can have what we’d class as a medium magnification range of between 3-16x. Long range scopes for more extreme distances such as 400yds plus, should have a magnification range which includes at least a 12x magnification. When it comes to scopes for extremely long distance shots at the range then much higher magnifications are beneficial and a scope with a magnification range that goes to at least 25x is recommended. The important factor to note, is that unless you’re target shooting at long distances, then long distance hunting shots etc don’t actually require a scope with huge magnification as it’s likely your rifle simply won’t be able to hit a target at such distances.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again - when it comes to scopes, their glass quality has a huge impact on performance. The glass used to construct a scope, and the coatings applied to that glass can be the difference between a riflescope that produces bright, clear, crisp images, even in low light situations and one that you can hardly see anything through. We always advise opting for a scope of as high a quality as you can afford, from a good brand, that has lenses that are fully multicoated. In addition, if you can choose a scope with some sort of lens protection to prevent water and dirt sticking on them then that’s great. Choosing good glass coatings is important regardless of your application.
The reticle you choose for a long distance scope depends greatly on your application. As discussed, long distance scopes are generally grouped in to two brackets, long distance for hunting and extreme long distance for target shooting. These two applications require completely different reticles. In short, for hunting at long distances we’d suggest a second focal plane reticle in either a trusty duplex reticle with simple cross hairs, or a bullet drop compensated (BDC) reticle that kind of works as a scope distance calculator, allowing you to do some simple sums to calculate where your bullet will hit at certain distances. For target shooting with extreme long range scopes, a more complex reticle such as a mil-dot or other MRAD style reticle which also has markings below the horizontal posts will offer even more accurate adjustments. A first focal plane (FFP) reticle will be an added benefit as it will change in size as you move through the magnification ranges so won’t obscure your target at very high magnifications.
When it comes to shooting at long distances where pin point accuracy is essential, it’s vital that your scope can maintain zero, no matter what you do to it. It’s also essential that you're confident that every turn you make of your scope turrets is going to adjust your scope by exactly the same MOA or MIL adjustment every time, and that you’re going to be able to feel and hear those changes thanks to tactile turrets. Assessing a scopes reliability, repeatability and tracking ability is hard on paper as this isn’t something that can be easily quantified in a number on a specification sheet. In this case, research is key and also asking other long distance shooters what they’d recommend.
When it comes to shooting at long distances parallax can become a problem. To compensate for this, most scopes that have a magnification range that spans past around 16x will have parallax compensation in the form of either a side focus knob or an adjustable objective. If a scope doesn’t have parallax adjustment it’s because it’s parallax as been fixed at a set distance and when shooting at those distances it’s considered unlikely that the parallax will effect your shots. When you’re looking for an extreme long range scope, you should expect that it will have parallax adjustment and question why if it doesn’t.
The tube size of a riflescope effects the level of light that can pass through the scope, and more importantly how much internal adjustment can be made to the point of impact of the scope by using the turrets. A scope with a larger tube will usually have more internal adjustment (in MOA or MIL) than a scope will a smaller tube diameter.
For long range scopes, most riflescopes will have either a 1 inch or 30mm riflescope tube. At long range distances or better 300 and 350 yards, the size of the tube isn’t hugely important, however for extreme long range distances, we’d recommend a scope with at least a 30mm tube. If you’re opting for a scope with a typical extreme magnification range of around 2-25x then that is typically paired with a 30mm tube anyway, but it’s something to look out for.
When it comes to optics, you get what you pay for, so where possible it’s important to spend as much as you can on your scope and to choose one that matches the quality of your rifle. That said, some very expensive scopes may not offer as much value for money as a less priced scope. We’ve put together a list of great options that offer quality and value for money.
5 Best Scopes for Long-Distance Shooting
Check out our top picks for the best long distance scopes for hunting in NZ (read on for extreme long distance scopes).
We formulated our suggestions based on the following factors:
- Magnification range of somewhere between 3-16x
- BDC or duplex second focal plane reticle
- Parallax adjustment
- Quality optics
- Accurate and reliable turrets
- Value for money
Our top picks a glance:
- Vortex Viper HST 4-16x44 Riflescope (VMR-1 MOA or MRAD Reticle)
- Vortex Crossfire II 4-16x50 AO Riflescope with Dead-Hold BDC Reticle
- Zeiss Conquest V4 4-16x44 Riflescope (ZBi #68 Reticle, Capped or Exposed Turrets)
- Vixen VI Series 4-16x44 SF Riflescope (Duplex Reticle)
- Bushnell Elite 4500 4X 4-16x50 Riflescope (Multi-X Reticle)
This awesome scope from the Vortex Viper line offers a good sized lens for low light use, alongside a versatile 4-16x magnification range. The second focal plane reticle is available in MOA or MRAD with clean and accurate hash marked posts making it easy to get on target. A 30mm tube allows for a maximum of 75 MOA / 21 MRAD of internal adjustment and the exposed tactical-style turrets provide fast adjustments. Extra low dispersion glass makes this scope super bright and clear for those evening hunting shots. Waterproof, fog proof and shockproof so you can rely on it in the field. A mid range price bracket makes this quality scope easily accessible without breaking the bank. Backed by the incredible Vortex warranty.
Offering a slightly different design to many other 4-16 models on the market, with a larger, 50mm lens, the Crossfire II from Vortex also has an adjustable objective to adjust for parallax rather than a side focus knob. This feature will suit those who like this configuration of scope and prefer a larger adjustment area. This scope is technically one of Vortex’s more entry level scopes, however it’s a great option for long range hunters who want a 30mm tube, bright clear optics, a quality BDC reticle and a fantastic warranty without spending the earth.
Arguably the best in its class, the 44mm V4 scope from Zeiss was redesigned in 2020 to offer a top of the line mid and long range scope that’s suitable for long range hunters with varying needs thanks for the different turret configuration available. The illuminated MOA tree-style reticle is highly intuitive and offers a very refined centre point of aim, with only the very centre illuminating. The 1 minute of angle (MOA) hash marks allow for easy aiming and corrective aiming in windy conditions. The capped turret model is great for long range hunters who plan on shooting at roughly the same distance for their entire hunt and don’t want any knocks to accidentally adjust the windage or elevation turrets. There’s a part capped, part exposed option for those who need easier access to the elevation turret, and there’s a model with both turrets exposed for easy and rapid adjustments. Models with exposed adjustable and external locking turrets, offer tactile and perfectly audible clicks to provide additional reassurance and indicate any change in elevation and windage. Built with incredibly clear fully multicoated glass it’s also incredibly reliable in the field thanks for being waterproof and shockproof.
This scope is one of a kind. Unlike virtually any scope in its price bracket, it’s designed and made in one of the main powerhouses for optics; Japan. The nicely sized 44mm lens offers a compromise between company form and light gathering ability. The second focal plane duplex reticle is easy to use and a side focus allows for parallax compensation. The only possible draw back of this scope is that it has a 1 inch tube rather than some of its counterparts, however for the price you really can’t go wrong.
Offering a brand new design for 2022, this well loved line of scopes from Bushnell had a complete overhaul and were redesigned from the ground up to offer a long range hunting scope option that has extended eye relief and a super light weight design despite having a large, 50mm lens and 30mm tube. The multi X reticle is crisp and clean and the capped turrets avoid unwanted adjustments in the field. You can trust this fantastic scope to perform even in the toughest of environments. Its aluminium construction can take no end of abuse, it’s built to withstand the highest of magnums and it’s waterproof and fog-proof. If you want a really easy to use and simple reticle and you plan on shooting in low light conditions then this is a fantastic option thanks to the large lens and second focal plane duplex reticle.
6 Best Scopes for Extreme Long-Distance Shooting
Our list of the best extreme long distance scopes are ideal for competitive target shooting.
We formulated our suggestions based on the following factors:
- Magnification range of somewhere up to at least 25x
- MIL or MRAD dot or hash first focal plane reticle
- Parallax adjustment
- Quality optics
- Accurate and reliable turrets with high precision
- Value for money
Our top picks a glance:
- Vortex Venom 5-25x56 FFP Riflescope (EBR-7C MOA or MRAD Reticle)
- Vortex Viper PST GEN II 5-25x50 FFP Riflescope (EBR-7C MOA or MRAD Reticle)
- Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56 FFP Riflescope (Illuminated MOAR, Mil-R, Mil-C, H59, TReMoR3)
- Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 FFP Riflescope (EBR-7C or Horus H-59, Tremor3 Reticle)
- Rudolph Optics Optical Precision OPS 5-30x56 SF FFP Riflescope (T9 IR Reticle)
- Delta Optical Stryker HD 4.5-30x56 FFP Riflescope (Illuminated LRD-1T, LRD-1P, DLR-1 Reticle)
This relatively new model from Vortex offers extreme long range shooting features at an incredibly low, entry level price, allowing those with fewer funds to get into the long distance target shooting game. A very popular model for those getting started, the Venom offers a 34mm tube, huge, 56mm lens and a first focal plane reticle that has constant subtensions for accurate holdover and ranging at all magnifications. Exposed tactical-style turrets provide fast, accurate and easily read elevation and windage adjustments. Despite the price, Vortex haven’t scrimped on any of the usual additional features, including ArmorTek ® ultra-hard, scratch-resistant lens coatings, and included magnification throw lever. The lens quality will of course be less superior to other higher quality scopes, however for the price and also the Vortex warranty that it’s covered by, it’s an awesome option for those on a budget.
The Viper PST generation two scope from Vortex is a great option if you’re looking for a 5x optical zoom system with a slightly more compact objective lens than some other 5-25x models. It’s a step or two up from the Venom line and you can tell in everything about it. One of its main selling features is the inclusion of high definition, ED glass which makes for pin sharp, bright, clear images even in low light. Add in the illuminated FFP reticle and you have a great scope for extreme long distance shots even on cloudy days. The tactical exposed turrets have zero stop and crisp, audible clicks. Parallax is controlled by a side focus knob. This scope will easily allow skilled shooters to go after shots at 1000yds plus.
Next up, it’s another Vortex model. And that’s not by accident. Due to their broad range of of lines at varying qualities, Vortex have a range of scopes suitable for extreme long distance shots that all come in at different quality points. This Razor scope offers the best of the best as far as quality goes from Vortex. Literally packed with professional-grade features, it has a 6x zoom range, huge, 34mm tube for even more adjustment range, HD lenses, a range of quality glass coatings for image quality and lens protection… we could go on! One of the key selling points that makes us love it even more is its first focal plane, illuminated reticle options that are ideal for serious precision shooters. Crisp, clear Christmas tree style reticles that aren’t too thick, thin or cluttered; just right. Vortex use their L-Tec turrets and zero stop to ensure that the elevation and windage is easy to adjust without the worry of accidentally adjusting it. Just enough resistance, audible, tactile clicks and tracks exactly where it should do.
Retailing at over $7000 and generally available only by special order, this scope comes with a price tag that often only the most demanding long range competitive target shooters are willing to stretch to. But it’s totally worth it. Great for long range shots out to and beyond 1000yds at the range, the ATACR comes with a range of reticle options to suit your preference. A large 34mm tube offer plenty of adjustment and the exposed turrets offer audible clicks that are incredibly reliable and accurate. We really can’t fault this scopes performance. They only drawbacks are that it’s pretty heavy but for use on a bipod at the range that’s not hugely important.
Top of the Rudolph Optics line, this scope features Japanese ED glass and a large 56mm lens which offers bright, clear images. Offering a magnification right up to 30x, this scope is ideal for competitive extreme long range shooting at the range. A 34mm tube offer heaps of internal adjustment and the exposed turrets are easy to use with audible clicks. The illuminated MRAD reticle has a hash mark configuration and the illumination setting is easy to adjust and can be turned off in-between each setting. Unlike some of the other scopes in its class, this scope is air rifle rated.
Offering similar features as the Rudolph scope, the Delta Stryker is made in Japan from extra low dispersion glass. Air rifle rated, it is ideal for extreme long range target shooting. We find the FFP reticle easy and accurate to use and the exposed tactical turrets offer easy and accurate adjustments.
Need a hand choosing the best scope for your long range needs? Get in touch and we'll be happy to help.