A long range scope is a necessity for any hunter who wants to go after long distance targets once in a while. You’ll want a scope that’s accurate and durable, and will help you hit your targets. A cheap one will seldom do that, so in the quest for the best long range scope, you’ll want to be prepared to spend a bit of money.
The problem here is that even if you’re ready to make a significant investment in a long range scope, not all of them are worth it. There are hundreds of choices, if not more, making things difficult for people who don’t really know what they’re looking for. To make things even worse, many companies often resort to marketing features you don’t really need, just to put a higher price tag. Those features are things you’ll seldom use or are completely useless on a rifle scope, but they’ll sell them to you as a “must have”.
If you’d rather stay away from all this, we’ll try to make things a bit easier for you. Regardless of whether you’re buying your first long range scope, or just looking to expand the collection, we have a list of scopes. These are some of the best long range scopes on the market. There are some more budget-oriented options, as well as others that are truly high end. Since not all of these scopes are perfect for everyone, it is up to you to choose. To help with that, we also have a fairly extensive buyers’ guide right after the products. We’ll dive deep into the features to let you know what’s really worth spending your money on.
Without wasting any more of your time, let’s take a look at the best long range scope options money can buy, and which one to go for!
1. Barska 10-40x50mm
At a Glance
The first scope we’ll discuss today is a somewhat budget-oriented option. It comes from Barska, a brand that’s well known for its budget options. We aren’t only discussing scopes – they also have binoculars, night vision devices, rifle scopes, and quite a lot of models for each category. What we’re looking at today is their 10-40x50mm long range scope. It’s undeniably one of their best products, both in terms of optical performance, and in build quality. If you set your expectations in line with the asking price of the scope, you find that it performs admirably in just about any category. The 10-40x50mm is Barska’s second generation scope from the Sniper Series lineup, and it improves on many of the shortcomings of the first generation. If you’re interested, read on as we take a detailed look.
We’ll start things off with the internals. Even though this is meant to be a budget option, Barska did their best not to cut any corners. You get the choice between a red and a green reticle, both of which are illuminated, Mil-Dot reticles. In some situations, you’ll find that an illuminated reticle is very handy. Also, the red reticle works much better in low light, whereas the green reticle excels during the day. Whichever one you go for, you get five brightness settings for you to choose from, depending on the amount of available light. The reticle is situated on the second focal plane, but we’ll discuss that in details later on. Barska also included multi-coated options, as well as an angled sunshade to reduce glare even further.
Moving on to the outside, the scope is made from a single-piece tube, and the width is the fairly common 30mm option. It’s an impact resistant construction, so repeated firing won’t loosen the lenses over time. This also makes sure that the scope doesn’t lose its zero if you drop it or bump it. The scope is 17.5” long, and the matte black finish gives it a very sleek and stylish look. Weather resistance is excellent, as expected. Complete waterproofing is guaranteed, and you’ll also find that the Barska is purged with dry nitrogen and sealed with O-rings. Regardless of the weather, you won’t have water, or internal fogging, with the scope. When you aren’t using it, you can use the set of rings and protective scope cap to make sure the lenses don’t scratch. Barska’s Limited Lifetime Warranty does back it up as well, for extra peace of mind.
Let’s talk numbers for a minute. The scope comes with a variable magnification factor of 10x to 40x. The field of view at 100 yards is 9.94 feet at 10x, and 2.4 feet at 40x. Even though the zoom range may be too limiting for some, it actually works very well for long range hunting. You also have a 50mm objective lens diameter, which is very respectable in regards to the zoom range.
Now, even though we had a lot of good things to say about the Barska 10-40x50mm, we have to be honest that it’s far from the best long range scope. For example, a glaring downside is a fact that even though the reticle is a Mil-Dot reticle, the adjustments are MOA. Having two measurement units on a single scope is confusing, to say the least. Optical performance is also “good” at best, with nothing exceptional about it. However, if one was to consider the build quality, feature set, and overall performance, you’ll find that the Barska is actually a very compelling long range scope. If you can look past the adjustments and don’t really need the “best of the best” optical performance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better long range scope.
2. Burris Fullfield E1 4.5-14x42mm
At a Glance
Next on our list is an option by Burris. It’s the second iteration of their Fullfield scopes, the E1. When the first generation was brought to market, it had a much wider field of view than the competition and came with features that only high end, expensive scopes had at the time. The knob construction, for example, was steel-on-steel and was more or less indestructible. The reticles they used had bullet drop compensation, something that you still can’t find on scopes at a similar price point nowadays. The E1 improves on a few key things, such as the reticles which are even better tuned. If you’re looking at the best long range scope, it’s definitely a serious contender. Let’s dive into the details;
Like with the Barska, we’ll start things off on the inside. For starters, there’s a double internal spring tension mechanism. Even when faced with heavy vibrations and recoil, the scope will hold zero. Not having to adjust it again before you take a shot is very welcome, and not a common sight with scopes at this price point. Lenses make use of a high-grade optical glass, and they’re coated with Hi-Lume index-matched multicoating. The combination makes sure there’s little to no glare, and low light performance is excellent. To help with the light transmission is the 42mm lens, which lets in plenty of light. The magnification of the Burris goes from 4.5x to 14x, which is a good range. You have a fairly wide field of view at 4.5x, while 14x allows you to get close to your target.
Burris also includes their Long Range MOA reticle in the scope, which gives you quite a bit of detail when shooting.
Moving on to the outside, the first thing that you’ll notice is how good the scope is built. Its target audience is enthusiasts, after all, specifically ones that want a simple scope that will remain reliable for years to come. You have a single piece tube which easily withstands your rifle’s shock and vibrations, regardless of which caliber your rifle uses. If you’re looking at also getting a mount for the Burris, look for a 1” mount – that’s the tube diameter. Like the original Fullfield, the E1 also has steel-on-steel adjustments, which ensures they’re rock solid and last a good while before they show any signs of wear.
The turrets are all low-profile and finger-adjustable. They work admirably, and also give the scope a really slick profile. You have indications on the turrets that will reflect changes in the point of impact, something that severely helps with accuracy. To avoid accidental bumps while your rifle is hanging from your shoulder, the turrets are capped. You can easily remove the caps if you don’t need them, though. Thanks to the separated eyepiece and power ring, you can also opt or flip-up lens covers.
To wrap up the build of the Burris Fullfield E1, you have complete waterproofing. This can come in handy if you ever get caught out in the rain. The tube has also been filled with nitrogen and completely sealed, so you can rest assured that significant and sudden temperature changes won’t cause any internal fogging. This is something that many manufacturers overlook, but it actually makes a lot of difference.
So, what’s the conclusion of our review? The Burris Fullfield E1 is honestly one of the best long range rifle scope options on the market nowadays. Sure, you might find other high-end scopes that have all the features the Burris has, and even more, but will they come at the same price? That’s the last benefit of the Fullfield, and one you’ll notice quite a bit. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. If you’re after a rifle scope that’s a bit better than the Barska we kicked our list off with, and don’t mind spending a touch more, the Burris Fullfield should be right up your alley.
3. Maven RS.1 2.5-15x44mm
At a Glance
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Maven RS.1 is the second most expensive scope we’ll be talking about. If the NightForce we’ll be discussing, later on, is out of your price range, the Maven should be the next thing you’re looking at. It’s absolutely excellent in just about every regard, from build quality to performance. It also manages to look great on just about any rifle, which is always an added bonus. Is it worth the (fairly high) asking price? We think it is, but read on and decide for yourself.
Just like with all the other scopes so far, we’ll start on the inside. Inside the Maven, you’ll find Kamakura glass. Kamakura is a Japanese brand that has been producing some of the highest quality optics in the world and is a supplier for some very well known brands in the optics industry. If you don’t know the name, you should know that it’s among the 10 best manufacturers of optics, worldwide. While Maven’s binoculars and spotting scopes are often tested and assembled in Kamakura’s San Diego facility, the Maven is finished in Japan.
The optics are ED glass, which is among the highest end types of glass you’ll find in a scope. The optics are fully multi-coated, which allows for 89% light transmission, as well as a bright and crisp image. Clarity and sharpness are both on point, and optically, this is one of the best long range rifle scope options on the market today.
There is one thing that we feel we absolutely must mention specifically about the Maven, and it’s the reticle. While you may think it won’t make a lot of difference, the glass-etched reticle you’re getting with it is absolutely top notch. It’s in the first focal plane, which means that it will hold its value, regardless of what magnification factor you’re at. You’re also getting 110 MOA vertically and 70 MOA horizontally in terms of adjustment, in a product where a wide adjustment range is more than welcome.
Here is also where the first (and only) downside of the scope comes from. The turrets are fairly easy to adjust, very likely easier than you would like. Dialing a few clicks when you really need only one is more common than you’d think, which may be an issue for some. We found that it’s just a matter of getting used to, though.
On the outside, there’s absolutely nothing negative we could say about the Maven. It is completely waterproof, purged with nitrogen and sealed with O-Rings, so weather resistance is as good as it gets. Maven’s warranty also ensures that if you happen to have issues with it, you’re most likely getting a new one, which is reassuring, to say the least. The magnification range, as its name suggests, is from 2.5x to 15x, which adds quite a bit of versatility. At 100 feet, you have a 41.7 field of view at 2.5x, and 7 feet at 15x. The precision machined knob allows for quick, and extremely smooth zoom adjustment, as well as good grip on the knob itself. There’s basically nothing to complain about with the Maven.
If the price is out of the equation, the NightForce we’ll discuss next is the best long range scope on our list. But if you add price back to that equation, the value proposition leans strongly towards the Maven RS.1. Sure, it’s still expensive, but you must consider everything you’re getting with it. For starters, the glass is as good as it gets, resulting in amazing optical performance. The build quality leaves us with nothing to complain about, and the smooth zoom is unparalleled. The only thing that may be a problem is how easy the turrets turn, but many would call this nitpicking, and rightly so. Now, it is certainly not for everyone. But if you’re an experienced hunter who knows what they’re looking for, and doesn’t mind paying for it, the Maven RS.1 is an absolute champ.
For a more in-depth analysis on the Maven RS.1 check out our full review here.
4. NightForce ATACR F1 7-35x56mm
At a Glance
The NightForce ATACR F1 7-35x56mm is the absolute highest end scope on our list today. Even people who can afford any scope they want sometimes come to a point where they simply don’t know which one to choose, and this is our recommendation for them. It makes absolutely no compromises in any area, and the price is a good indicator of that philosophy. If you want the crème de la crème of long range scopes, read on for our full review.
We’ll start on the inside. The NightForce ATACR makes use of multi-coated ED extra-low dispersion glass all around. There’s nothing better than this, and the optical performance lives up to the expectations. Near or far, and at all magnification options, the image is clear and crisp. Even at 35x magnification, there is absolutely no chromatic aberration or visual distortion on any of the targets. Speaking of magnification, you get a range from 7 to 35x, which is extremely versatile. The field of view at 100 yards is 15 feet at 7x and 3.4 feet at 35x.
The ATACR is one of the easiest scopes for zeroing. The ZeroStop system makes sure that the zero doesn’t shift no matter what, and day-to-day bumps and hits won’t do anything to negate this. With the ATACR, you also get their excellent Digillum illuminated reticle that’s on the first focal plane. All things considered, there’s nothing lacking in the internals of the rifle scope.
Moving on to the outside, at first look, the scope looks simple, yet expensive. There’s something about the matte black finish that gives it a truly premium look. There’s plenty of adjustment – 100 MOA elevation and 60 MOA windage. You also get a 10m to infinity parallax adjustment. The tube has a diameter of 1.34”, or 34mm. This isn’t one of the common tube sizes, which might make finding a mount a bit difficult. The scope is completely waterproof and fog proof, so getting caught out in the rain won’t mean that you must unmount it and throw it in your bag.
At the end of the day, the NightForce ATACR F1 has consistently been one of the best long range scope options money can buy for the past few years. It has everything – from an impeccable build, to perfect optical performance, but you will be paying for that pleasure. If, however, you can afford it, there’s simply no way you could make a mistake by buying the ATACR.
5. Eagle Eye Saxon 10-40x50mm
At a Glance
Going back to our budget-oriented options, we have a rifle scope that’s even cheaper than the budget-oriented Barska we spoke about earlier. That doesn’t make it worse – on the contrary, it’s an excellent model for people who are either getting into long range hunting or ones that just want a spare scope to throw in their backpack. We’re talking about the Eagle Eye Saxon 10-40x50mm. If the magnification range is something that you could use, read on as we take a closer look at this budget rifle scope.
Inside, the scope is actually fairly similar to the Barska. You get an illuminated Mil-Dot reticle. You also get the choice between a red reticle or a green one. The optics are fully multi-coated, so light transmission won’t be an issue. If you want numbers, you get 91% light transmission. We have seen some high-end scopes go up to 98% with that number. But the difference in price is much more than that 7 %. Magnification, as the name suggests, is 10-40x. It’s a wide range, making this a versatile long range scope. At the low end, the field of view at 100 yards is 9.94 feet. At 40x, that narrows down to 2.5 feet. Similarly to the Barska, the Mil-Dot reticle is paired to MOA adjustments. This is something people will complain about, and rightly so.
Moving on to the outside, the Saxon is built from a single tube. The width is the fairly common 30mm size. An interesting thing is what you find in the box. Eagle Eye has included two mounts. One of them is an 11mm Dovetail mount, and the other is a 21mm Weaver mount. Out of the box, you have two options for mounting, without buying anything extra. Eagle Eye advertise the Saxon as an impact resistant scope. However, at this price, and from what we saw, we wouldn’t risk it. Using it with high caliber rifles may damage it easily. You’ll be without a scope before you know it, so be careful with it.
There’s also claims of waterproofing and fog resistance. Waterproofing isn’t something we would try, to be honest. If you get caught out in the rain, play it safe. Remove it from your rifle and throw it in your backpack.
On the other hand, we noticed no internal fogging. This means that the nitrogen purging and complete sealing claims may be true. The adjustments on the outside are excellent, especially considering the price. There are windage and elevation adjustments that work very well. You get a focus knob that’s extremely smooth and very precise. Making fine adjustments on the fly is a piece of cake with the Saxon.
Even though you might come across the Saxon and never hear of the Barska, we can’t help but compare them. They’re fairly similar in a lot of aspects. The magnification factor, the objective lens diameter, the 30mm one-piece tube, they’re all things they have in common. Yet, there’s a difference in price, in favor of the Saxon. Note, though, that the difference comes from the build quality. The Barska is built significantly better. Unless you’re going to baby the scope, we’d recommend going for the Barska instead. If, however, you watch over your belongings and do your best not to damage them, you won’t have anything to worry about with the Eagle Eye Saxon.
6. Monstrum Tactical 2-7x32mm AO
At a Glance
While we’re discussing budget oriented rifle scopes, we must mention the Monstrum Tactical. It’s far from the most versatile scope on the list. It’s also far from the one with the highest magnification. However, if you want to spend a bit of money and get a versatile beginner’s scope, this may be a good option. Sure, you can’t use it with a large caliber rifle at over 1000 yards. The magnification and the build quality wouldn’t be able to withstand that. However, if you need a “one scope for everything” solution, do give it a shot.
Starting things off on the inside, you get a somewhat mediocre glass. Monstrum Tactical also haven’t mentioned any kind of anti-reflective coatings, which is somewhat expected at the price point. Optical performance is nothing to write home about, but it works well if there’s enough natural light.
Here comes the first potential issue – the magnification. Even though we’re discussing long range scopes, the magnification is 2-7x. Many of the other options actually start at 10x – this one doesn’t even reach that. However, we feel that keeping the magnification this low is actually a benefit. The glass and the build of the scope, wouldn’t be able to handle anymore, honestly. We always prefer lower magnification and higher quality. Going 10x or 15x with this glass would give you a really bad image, with fringing, sharpness loss, and many other issues. You’ll honestly be inclined to throw it away and never use it. By keeping the magnification no more than 7x, you don’t have those issues. You get a bright, crisp image, and it has quite a bit of contrast.
The reticle that Monstrum Tactical has included is an illuminated rangefinder article that performs great. Depending on what kind of situation you’re hunting in, you have the choice between a red or a green reticle. Turn off the illumination, and you have a black etched reticle for daytime use.
Moving on to the outside. We feel like Monstrum Tactical has made an excellent choice by opting to use 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum. It’s a one-piece design and comes with a lightweight 1” tube. The diameter shouldn’t matter though. The rifle scope comes with mounting rings in the box. You can throw it on a rail immediately, no further purchases required. The entire scope is 9.5” long and comes in at only 12oz. Unfortunately, Monstrum Tactical did cut some corners in the build quality. Touch the turrets, and you’ll notice it immediately. They are very flimsy and actually move rather easy. Unless you’re extremely careful, you’ll find yourself readjusting the scope and zeroing in more often than you’d like. The zoom ring is another thing that could’ve been done better. It’s not as smooth as we’d like, making precise adjustments somewhat difficult to get right.
The rifle scope also isn’t completely waterproof – it’s instead just water resistant. We would recommend that you put it in a backpack or other sealed place if you get caught out in the rain. To add insult to injury, moving from a warm to a very cold area causes internal fogging. The scope isn’t fog proof either, which leaves you no choice but to wait until it goes away.
If you’re an experienced hunter or competition shooter, chances are you haven’t read this far anyway. However, if you’re getting into hunting and don’t want to spend too much, the scope might be just right for you. It does give you more than the 4x zoom of short-range scopes, and optical performance is decent. You’ll want to make sure you don’t hit it on anything, and certainly, don’t use it when it is raining outside. If this is something you can do, by all means, give it a chance.
7. Secozoom 4-50x75mm
At a Glance
Another scope we can discuss have a behemoth to talk about. It’s the Secozoom 4-50x75mm, which is one of the largest rifle scopes we’ve seen. It also comes with the best magnification range too, something that’s always welcome. If you want a single rifle scope to use for everything, and don’t mind having a heavy piece of optics on your rifle, read on. This might be perfect for you.
For starters, we should address the elephant in the room – the zoom range. 4x is wide enough, you get a 26.7 feet field of view at 100 yards. On the other end of the zoom spectrum, you get a 2.3 feet field of view. This gives you a lot of options. You can target an animal that’s close by, or you can target one that’s far away. Wasting time on dialing in and finding your target won’t be a problem here.
In order to achieve this enormous zoom range, a few things needed to be different from what you saw so far on our list. To begin with, you’ll want good glass in order not to lose out on image quality throughout the range. The Secozoom comes with ED (extra-low dispersion) glass that gives it excellent quality and great color reproduction. If you’re getting a long range scope, that’s where you want to be for the best image. You’ll also want a big lens at the front.
That’s why you have a 75mm objective lens diameter, and why the Secozoom is as big as it is. Last but not least, there’s the need for a big tube to host all that quality optics. In this case, it’s a 35mm tube, which might cause issues with mounting. Accuracy and reliability won’t be an issue since it’s a one-piece tube, made of aircraft-grade aluminum.
Back to the internals, you have an either red, green or blue illuminated Mil-Dot reticle. If you turn off the illumination, you have a black etched reticle for daylight use. The scope would’ve been perfect, but the adjustments are in MOA, which isn’t really recommended for a Mil-Dot reticle.
At the end of the day, the Secozoom 4-50×75 is a very versatile giant. However, the size is a necessity when you need all that zoom, so it’s a sacrifice you’ll have to make. It does perform admirably, both in terms of optical performance, and accuracy, so if you need all that zoom, don’t waste any time and get it.
8. Primary Arms 4-14x44mm FFP
At a Glance
Up next we have another option by Primary Arms. If you look at the specs and price, it’s sort of the bigger brother to the Monstrum Tactical scope we discussed earlier. Fortunately, the performance is a bit better, but so is the price. If you want something that’s still budget oriented, but a bit better, read on.
On the inside, you have things that are great, and others that are quite frankly, bad. The magnification isn’t really impressive, as it’s only 4-14x. If you only need it for distances of up to 500 yards, it more than does the job. You have a 27.2 field of view at 4x, and 7.85 feet at 14x, at 100 yards. If you think you could make do with this magnification range, the rest of the scope is decent. The reticle is an excellent example – the ACSS H.U.D. reticle is very advanced and works very well. It’s at the front focal plane, so it remains the same in size throughout the range. It also allows for easy wind and elevation adjustments, giving you one less thing to think about.
On the outside, the scope is fairly heavy. The magnification adjustment is smooth and accurate and has a good, wide grip area. The turrets have very well defined clicks, which is much better than what we’re used to with budget scopes. However, it’s a major problem that you’ll need a good cantilever mount in order for the scope to hold zero. A weak mount will require constant readjustments after every shot, and nobody wants that. The rest of the build is amazing – full waterproofing and nitrogen purging round out the scope.
At the end of the day, the entire scope is somewhat of a mixed bag. The reticle is amazing and the build quality is decent, with great turrets and adjustments, but the glass is mediocre and the magnification range is just average. It’s obvious that corners were cut, but at this price, could you blame Primary Arms? It’s still one of the best long range scope options if you can stay below the 500 yards limit.
We took a look at some long range scope options, but some might still be confused as to which one to choose. That misleading advertising can really end up as a costly mistake, so avoiding that is a priority. In the buyers’ guide, we’ll discuss things such as magnification, focal planes, reticles, as well as build quality features such as the lenses and glass used.
Before you start reading the guide, there’s one thing you should do. Unless you’re working with an unlimited budget, make sure you’re aware of just how much you’re willing to spend on a long range scope. There’s always going to be that “a tiny bit better” scope for just $30 or $50 more, but that’s actually an endless money pit you best avoid. Take a look at the features you need, and look for a good scope that has them all. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at our guide.
Magnification and Lens Diameter
Even though you’ll often hear the “bigger is better” motto often in terms of magnification and lens diameter, that’s far from always being true. It actually depends on where you’ll be hunting, and how you’ll be using your scope. Now sure, a larger lens diameter lets in more light. But a larger diameter also results in a substantially heavier scope, so it’s a matter of compromise.
Let’s discuss magnification first. The magnification of a scope is denoted by the first number in a scope’s name (10x, 24x). You’ll also find options that have a variable magnification, i.e. zoom scopes, such as 10-40x. The magnification will tell you how much closer your subject will appear when looking through the scope. For competition shooting at long ranges, you might want to get a higher magnification scope. Even something that only has fixed zoom will work here, as you’re shooting at more or less the same distance every time. For hunting, however, maybe a zoom scope will add a bit of versatility to your arsenal.
Objective lens diameter often varies together with the magnification. A higher magnification requires more light in order to work well, and a larger objective lens lets in more light. The downside is that a larger objective lens also weighs quite a bit more. The optimal choice would be to get a diameter that lets in just enough light for the magnification factor, but there’s another thing here that you should know. A larger objective lens diameter makes the entire scope larger. To mount it, you’ll need a high ring, or a high single piece mount, which would lift the entire scope higher. This, in turn, reduces the accuracy of your rifle. If you want to avoid this, play it safe and get something that’s between 42mm and 50mm.
Good glass is often just as important as magnification and objective lens diameter. With things such as a long range scope, even a tiny issue with the lens can lead to you missing your target. If the optics you’re using are bad, you won’t be able to see the grass move at a distance – and you’ll need to see it if you want to figure out windage at more than a thousand yards. Manufacturers often use this to emphasize that light transmission is the key to glass quality. However, that’s not the case. The only way to see which scope lets in more light is to test it side by side with its competitor.
Since this isn’t always an option, many people who can afford it tend to get a high-end scope. Manufacturers such as Nikon, Zeiss or Leupold don’t use low quality glass in their high- end scopes, so getting one should guarantee you’re getting good optics. Nikon, for example, makes use of ED (extra-low dispersion) glass, which is some of the best glass you’ll find in sport optics. If you can’t afford such a high-end long range scope, though, you should check out some of the other manufacturers we mentioned above. There are a couple of them that actually do use quality glass, yet don’t cost nearly as much as popular brands’ options.
The other thing that matters with the glass is the coating. Coatings are added in order to reduce the amount of light that gets lost in the lens, as well as to reduce reflection and light scattering. A good coating will allow for as much light as possible to get through the lens and to your eyes. The end result is higher contrast, better colors and a much, much sharper image overall.
So, what options do you have for coatings? For starters, you’ll have just “coated” optics. This indicates that a single, or multiple surfaces are coated, but nothing more. “Fully coated” optics shows that at least a single layer of coating has been added on all surfaces that are glass-to-air. “Multi-coated” optics have one, or more lenses coated with multiple layers. This is the least you should go for – anything less and you might have issues at long ranges. The final, and highest quality option, are “fully multi-coated” optics. All air-to-glass surfaces have been coated with multiple layers of coating, which ensures the best possible light transmission. A high-end scope will almost certainly have this, and it’s very well worth investing in.
A long-range scope will give you two options in terms of focal planes. You can have the reticle behind the scope’s zoom, on the second focal plane, or on the front focal plane, in front of the zoom. Which one you go for is a matter of personal choice, and both can have an advantage in certain situations.
To begin with, when you have the reticle behind the zoom, the reticle doesn’t change the size when you zoom in or out. The reticle is always easy to see, and it won’t get in the way when you’re trying to look at the target. Note, however, that there are mil dot markings on the scope. These will only be accurate at one zoom setting, which gives you an extra thing to think about before you take the shot. This is why often people prefer having the reticle on the front focal plane.
If you opt for a front focal plane reticle, it looks like the reticle is changing its size. It becomes smaller as you zoom out and larger as you zoom in. At the highest zoom setting, the reticle may become too thick for you to be able to see the target clearly. On the opposite end, it becomes too thin and is very hard to see. This is certainly a disadvantage, but you don’t have the issue with the mil dot markings. The dots will remain 1 mil apart at whichever zoom setting you choose, so you don’t have to think about that before you pull the trigger.
The Reticle and Aiming Points
The dots on a rifle scope are often evenly spaced out in milliradians or MOA, depending on the model. When you have a short range or mid-range scope, you only need them on the vertical axis. This allows you to adjust for elevation. However, at the distances you would be using a long range rifle scope, you’ll need to calculate the wind before you take the shot.
So, how do you adjust for wind? For starters, you should know that the wind changes really fast, so adjusting the turrets constantly isn’t really an option. The solution is to adjust your scope to account for the vertical drop, and then move your aim slightly to the left or the right. For this, you need mil dots on the horizontal axis to be able to remain accurate. When you’re looking for the best long range scope, you should stay clear of a standard target reticle, or a bullet drop compensation one.
There’s one tricky thing that you might want to consider before you buy. There are some manufacturers that use different measurement systems on one scope. For example, you’ll find MOA adjustments on a mil dot scope, or the other way around. When you’re shooting at a closer range, even if you do forget this for a second, it might not be such a problem. But with long ranges, you want as little things to think about as possible, and this adds to the list. Try to get a scope that works with a single measurement system, and get used to that one. These things do take some time, but essentially, they’re all made to adjust for wind and elevation, so you should get the hang of it pretty quickly.
You will also come across illuminated reticles, some manufacturers seem to add them to many of their models. Even though this is certainly of great help when you’re hunting in low light, make sure you don’t get one if you can’t adjust the brightness. A reticle that’s too bright or too dark will actually get in the way and be more of a problem than a solution.
A long-range scope, just like any other hunting product, is made to be used outdoors. Bad build quality can easily mean that you’d be throwing it in the trash after a month, and nobody wants to do that with an expensive scope. When you’re looking at the best long range scope, you’ll want it to be not just durable, but also precise. Bad choices of material can harm accuracy, so look for something that’s made of quality materials, such as aircraft-grade aluminum.
The accuracy is also impacted by the design, where the best possible option is a single-piece design. When the tube is made of a single piece, there’s no room for error in accuracy, and you’ll get added durability, too. Most long range scope options, especially the higher end ones, are made like this.
Weather and water resistance should be seriously considered, too. In terms of weather resistance, your main enemy is internal fogging. When there’s a significant change in temperature and/or humidity, you get fogging on the inside of the lens, something you can’t get rid of easily. A rifle scope that is purged with argon or nitrogen doesn’t have this kind of problem. Argon has larger molecules and is more effective, while nitrogen costs a bit less but still does the job fairly well.
Last but not least, you should absolutely invest in a water resistant rifle scope. There’s a very high chance that you’ll get caught out in the rain once or twice when hunting. Not having to worry whether your scope survives or not gives you peace of mind. Also, if you have clothes that are water resistant, you might as well continue hunting in the rain. It can be a very interesting experience.
The on the fly adjustments on a long range scope is more useful than you’d ever think. The fact that you also need to adjust wind, not just elevation, makes this a necessity. Compared to short range shooting, a long range rifle scope must have plenty of adjustment range. For example, a .308 round drops a bit over 50 inches on a distance of 500 yards. However, 500 yards isn’t really long range – that’s 1000 yards or more. If you only think about how much that round would drop at that distance, you find that an adjustment of 50 MOA doesn’t cut it. Make the minimum 100 MOA or mil, and you can adjust for long range shooting.
So, what can you conclude from all the above? What is the best long range scope for your use? As you see, there are a lot of factors to consider. Many of those factors will come down to personal choices, and whether or not you can find the exact thing you need in the scope you want to buy.
If you want to make a smart purchase decision, we would recommend that you set a budget, and make a list of priorities. Do you need a variable magnification? Do you need 40x zoom, or is 24x enough? Make sure you have these things clear with yourself before you buy.
Once you know what you need, and how much you can afford to pay for it, you can go through the list one more time. We have suggestions to fit just about anyone’s needs, it just a matter of finding the right one for you. Hopefully, we’ve answered any potential questions you had in regards to buying the best long rifle scope, and you can now buy what works for you best!
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