Best Long Range Scopes Guide

You’re going to need a proper long range scope for that long range target. You could say that the whole game changes when you extend the range on your rifle.  Long range scopes generally have more quality advanced optics, working parts, and greater magnification, as well as advanced reticle systems.

They can help you push your shooting distance and increase your accuracy. Unless you can pay over $3000 for a scope, you’re going to have to make some trade-offs between the features.

Here are some of the most important qualities that you ought to look for in long range scopes. This list might help you choose a scope based on your personal needs.

Features to look for in long range scopes

1. High quality glass

The importance of high quality glass in a good long range scope cannot be overlooked if you want to have a quality hunting experience. The quality of glass is the biggest difference between scopes of different price ranges. High end glass produces a clear and sharp vision which allows for easy targeting, even at high magnification. This is also important while reading mirage, as the wind may vary between you and your target’s location in case of long range shooting.

You might want to do a side-by-side comparison in-person to get the best one, but if you’re not able to do so then just go with the manufactures that are known to produce scopes with high quality glass such as Schmidt & Bender, U.S. Optics, Nightforce, Premier Reticles, Leupold, and higher end Zeiss scopes. Many of the glass (and often the entire scopes) from these manufacturers comes from Japan, due to the finer grain sand naturally occurring in those parts of the world.

2. Elevation adjustment range

Long range scopes provide a higher elevation adjustment range, which is important for long range shooting. In fact, the greater the adjustment range of elevation, the better. Adjustments are either in Minutes of Angle (MOA) or Milli-radian, or MilRad. Most competition shooters favor MilRad adjustments, but often you can get scopes that can be outfitted with either, or even custom adjustments.

3. High end reticle

The reticle should have evenly spaced measurements along both axes. There are two ways to assess a reticle: dialing for elevation, and holding for wind. ‘Dial for elevation’ means that you measure the target distance, estimate the drop, and rotate the turrets according to the calculated drop, so that the target lies on the dead center. People also ‘hold for wind’ when the wind is too fast for them to turn the turrets and fire the shot on time. This is also called holdover. Popular reticles on long range scopes will have either Mildot or MOA markings on them for elevation and holdover.

For long range shooting, experts prefer the Mildot and Nightforce MOAR reticles over the Standard target and Bullet Drop Compensation.

4. Magnification

Scopes with at least 18x zoom capacity are preferred for long range shooting. The more magnification, the more precise a shot placement can be. However, at longer ranges, one must compensate for bullet drop, windage, and other factors that require much more skill than just placing a scope on target. In addition, at higher magnifications, the objective diameter must be large enough to let in enough light, especially in low light situations, and Field of View becomes more and more important, so that you can re-acquire a target that may have moved out of sight, or to assess the area around your shot.

5. Objective diameter

A large objective lens with greater objective diameter will allow more light in, which is always a good thing. This is crucial during hunting in very low-light conditions. So, you might want to look into a long range scope with an objective diameter of  up to 50mm. Beyond 50mm and you’ll have diminishing returns in performance, in exchange for a bulkier scope that weighs more.

6. Adjustable Objective

You should read our article on parallax adjustments. It explains parallax, and how it can affect your shots. Without adjusting for parallax, you need to maintain an exact cheek weld in order to be accurate, but adjusting for parallax at the distance you’re shooting will always be the way to go. Many scopes that have AO features have an adjustable ring at the front of the scope, around the objective lens, but most long range scopes feature a side adjustment, just due to the length and bulk of the scope.

Here are a few recommendations as to what we think are the best long rage scopes, in order to give you an idea of what you should look for while buying.

Nikon Buckmasters Series

Nikon long range scopes have been around a while, but their price points are wooing over hunters and those looking for the best scope for long range shooting in droves. You will not find a better long range scope at this price point. They have good quality glass, a mildot reticle, MOA turret adjustments, and a 40mm objective lens.

Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x40 Riflescope (SF Matte, BDC)

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Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC Riflescopes

Nikon long range scopes are excellent high power scope products. These are great models at affordable prices with many different flavors of magnification. They feature high end glass and magnification, adjustable BDC reticle, quick target acquisition, and weather-resistance. As well as products from Leupold, Nikon makes what one may consider to be the best long range hunting scope.

Nikon ProStaff 3-9 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (Nikoplex)

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$155.75 $179.95

Nikon ProStaff 4-12 x 40 Black Matte Riflescope (BDC)

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Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot

This model features a 1 inch scope tube, 40mm objective and a mildot reticle. For a Leupold scope with better glass quality, go for the Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm Mildot. The later model has greater elevation adjustment range and a 50mm objective. These are considered by many hunters to be some of the best long range hunting scopes, although many are warming up to Nikon due to its cheaper price points.

Leupold 115390 Mark AR MOD 1 Riflescope with Mil Dot Reticle, 3-9x40-Millimeter,...

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$314.90 $611.00

Leupold 115387 Mark AR MOD 1 Rifle Scope with 1.5 to 4X...

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$406.55 $705.00

Leupold 115394 Mark AR MOD 1 Rifle

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$495.00 $958.00

Nightforce ATACR F1 Series

These premium long range scopes have a first focal plane and are suited for semi-automatic rifles. They have high-end ED optics glass and comes with different reticles. Its salient features are 5-25x magnification, up to 56mm objective, and 3.35-3.54 inches eye relief.

NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm Riflescope,34mm,Zerostop,.25 MOA,Digillum MOAR-T Reticle

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$2,619.00

NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm F1 ZeroStop .1 Mil-Radian PTL TReMoR3, Black, 34mm

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$3,258.00 $3,400.00

NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm Riflescope 34mm,Zerostop,.25 MOA,MOAR Digillum Reticle

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$2,619.00

NightForce ATACR 5-25x56mm F1 ZeroStop .1 Mil-Radian DigIllum PTL Mil-R, Black, 34mm

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$2,999.00

Conclusion

For long range shooting, you cannot do without a good quality long range scope. There are tons of models available in an affordable price range of $500-$1000. If money’s no object, there are also lots of good choices in the $3000 range. Hopefully, if you’re asking yourself, “What is a good long range scope?” we were able to give you a little more info as you make your decision.

Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x40 Riflescope, Nikon

 
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Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x40 SF BDC Review Test

In this video I review a Nikon 4.5-14x40mm bullet drop compensator reticle rifle scope. I demonstrate the use of the reticle on steel plates at different ranges.