Long-distance is one of the hottest trends in shooting today. With the introduction of a new series of 6 and 6.5 mm rounds, punching targets 10 football fields away no longer requires shoulder-punishing rounds like the 300 magnum series, or the expense of the .50 BMG, .338 Lapua or .408 Cheytac, to name a few.
Technically, you don't need a rifle scope to hit targets that far. The venerable .45-70 is an iron sights rifle capable of reaching 1,000 yards. The 1879 Sandy Hook trials saw the shooter hitting his target at 2,500 yards. Reality says you will perform better with a quality scope.
Objective Lens Diameter
5 - 25 x
NightForce NXS Tactical Scope
Trijicon Tenmile 5-50X56
Primary Arms SLx FFP
Zeiss Victory V8
Burris Optics XTR II
Vortex Viper PST Rifle Scope
Mueller Target Rifle Scope
Best 1000 Yard Scopes
Before you buy
Before you head out to buy a 1,000-yard rifle scope, keep a few things in mind.
- You need high scope mounts. These scopes generally come with a big objective bell that has to be lifted off the rifle barrel. Also, you want that elevation when dialing in your scope.
- Get quality rings. If you spend more than $1,000 on a scope and buy a set of $15 rings, don't be surprised when the scope slips.
- Know how to mount your scope. Get a scope mounting kit. Primary Arms has a tutorial for mounting a scope to an AR-15. The process is the same for mounting to a long-range rifle.
- Buy quality. A good rule of thumb is to spend as much, or more, on your scope than you spend on the rifle.
- Buy from an authorized dealer. You can buy "Leupold" rifle scopes from places like Wish.com. These are cheap Chinese knockoffs and not the real deal.
Need more help wading through the jargon? Primary Arms has a buyer's guide blog to explain terms.
In The Lord of the Rings, there is one ring to rule them all. In long-distance shooting, Nightforce rules them all. Look at any group of long-distance shooting tournaments and the majority of shooters have a one of these scopes on their rifle. The manufacturer also offers a lifetime warranty.
This optic is especially preferred in the big-caliber crowd that uses muzzle brakes on their rifles. These scopes are specifically designed to handle the rearward recoil of every rifle and the forward recoil stress the muzzle brake puts on the gun and optics.
Most scopes simply cannot deal with the forward recoil created by the gasses escaping through the muzzle brake ports, pushing the gun forward to reduce felt recoil.
Nightforce's scope torture testing is the stuff of legends.
Precision glass, on a par with the best German and Swiss scopes, guarantees the best sight picture at distance you can get. All the tubes are 30 or 34 mm, which means rings are not as common as 1-inch. Parallax adjustment is among the best of any scope here.
1. Nightforce ATACR
For the distance shooter, Nightforce ATACR are the scopes of choice. All these scopes have .250 minute of angle adjustments. The target shooting series has four scopes.
The 5-25X56 F1 has six reticle options and a 4.9 foot field of view at 100 yards. For the distance shooter, this is an upper- not a top-level scope. It will do the job no matter the field conditions and, for most shooters, this scope is better than they are.
The 5-25X56 F2 has three reticle choices but weighs in two ounces heavier. On the range, those ounces won't matter. Spend a while carrying a gun in the field, across broken terrain, and ounces do matter.
In long-range shooting, elevation is everything. Those reaching past 1,000 yards to 2 miles and more have custom-made mounts that increase elevation. For the 1K-yard crowd, that is not necessary, but built-in elevation does matter.
The 7-35X56 F1 delivers 100 MOA of elevation travel. It has six reticle choices and a 3.4-foot field of view at 100 yards.
is the pinnacle of long-distance scopes. It comes with a spirit-level integral to the scope for exacting alignment. It has two reticle choices and a 3.4-foot field of view at 100 yards. This is the top choice for the most serious 1,000-yard shooter.
2. Nightforce 5.5-22X56
The 5.5-22X56 is a top-seller for this company. It has less magnification and fewer features than the ATACR series. It has three reticle choices and a 5.5-foot field of view at 100 yards. The price tag is correspondingly lower, making this more attractive to many shooters.
This scope does not compromise quality or durability as NF puts these through the same paces as all other scopes. Plenty of shooters win tournaments with this scope. At 1,000 yards, any shooter is hard-pressed to tell the difference between this optic and the ACATR series.
Reaching to 2,500 yards and more, the higher magnification will make some difference. At short ranges, the 5.5 magnification can be an issue. This is a 30mm tube.
3. Trijicon Tenmile 5-50X56
Reach out and touch something with the Trijicon Tenmile.
This 34mm tube offers 100 MOA of elevation adjustment and an impressive 50 MOA of windage adjustment. The clicks are 1/8 MOA, giving this scope the second most precise adjustments of any optic in this list.
The parallax adjustment is an equally impressive 10 feet to infinity. Most long-range scopes won't get that close. The field of view is a super tight 2.1-feet at 100 yards at max magnification.
The sole drawback is this scope will likely not take the punishment of a .50 BMG. For those who shoot without muzzle brakes, this is a top choice. Trijicon offers a lifetime warranty to the original owner. Trijicon puts an MSRP of $2,700 on these scopes. Retailers often sell them for under $2,000.
4. Primary Arms SLx 4-14X44mm FFP
Primary Arms is a well-respected manufacturing company. It recently (or recent in terms of rifle optics, anyway), jumped into this field.
This scope enters the list at No. 4 because of the price. At $230, you can get into long-range shooting with a quality optic and learn about the sport. Once you get past the basics, you can upgrade to a scope with more features.
The SLx comes in with nearly 60 MOA of elevation adjustment. For most rifles at 1,000 yards, this is enough. Reaching out to 2,000 or more, you may need more depending on the gun.
It has a 44mm objective bell. Ideally, this should be larger, but when shooting daylight competitions, it has plenty of light gathering capability. It has a mil-dot reticle. Parallax adjustment starts at 15 yards.
5. Steiner T5Xi 5-25X56
German engineering meets American know-how in the Steiner T5Xi 5-25X56. It comes with a lifetime warranty, no matter who the current owner is.
With 1/4 MOA clicks, the adjustment is not as precise as other picks. It still breaks the top 5 because of the quality of the optic. If you are interested in going beyond 1,000 yards, into the 1 and 2-mile shoots, this is a scope you should consider.
You have a choice of two reticles. It posts a 4.3-foot field of view at 100 yards. At 90 MOA elevation adjustment, you have plenty of room to adjust for bullet drop at distance. Parallax adjustment starts at 25 yards.
This scope will also stand up to the punishment of the .50 BMG. It can be seen sometimes at the FIfty Caliber World Championships in Utah every year. It has a 34mm tube.
6. Leupold VX-6 7-42X56mm
American-made. Lifetime warranty. One of the most counterfeited scopes around, so be sure you buy from an authorized retailer. Leupold has so many issues with knockoffs, they have a warning about counterfeits on the website as well as a way to check to see if you have a legit Leupold or a fake.
The VX-6 clocks in at No. 6 as a no-frills long-range scope. With a 2.7-foot field of view at 100 yards, this scope offers some of the best magnification. It slides in at No. 5 because of the 55 MOA elevation adjustment, which is on the low end for serious long-range shooters. Ideally, this should be more.
Windage is an acceptable 45 MOA. Parallax adjustment is almost on a par with the Nightforce and takes second in this list. It is a 34mm tube
The Leupold VX series will handle the dual recoil of the .50 BMG and other big bores with muzzle breaks. This scope is also a contender each year at the .50 BMG world championships.
7. Zeiss Victory V8 2.8-20X56
We return to German engineering in the Zeiss Victory V8 2.8-20X56. The company says, despite claims in the media otherwise, that these scopes are not made in China. Zeiss has twice revolutionized the rifle scope industry and continues to produce top optics for the hunter and shooter.
This V8 is not the maximum magnification for the line. That goes to the 4.8-35. This version is better for the 1,000-yard shooter because of the short end on the magnification. Sometimes competitions will vary distances and having too much zoom at short distances can be a major hindrance.
For 1K shooters, the 20X is about the minimum needed. Where this scope really excels is in the light-gather capability. Zeiss reports 92% of the light reaches the shooter's eye, making this scope a top pick for low light conditions.
Zeiss is another company that shock-tests its scopes. The scope is rated up to a .460 Weatherby Mag. It is not rated for the .50 BMG and other big bores with muzzle brakes, which pushes it down the list a bit. Another bump down is the 36mm tube.
Rings are even harder to find than for the 34mm. It is rated to -40 F, one of the lowest temperatures of the scopes in this list, and fully waterproof. The company says it delivers parallax adjustment at all ranges. Your mileage may vary.
8. Burris Optics XTR II
With some retail outlets offering this scope under $1,000, this is an excellent choice for a mid-range price scope. You can get into long-range shooting and find out if you really want to be serious about the sport without completely killing your wallet.
The XTR II has four options that vary in magnification. The widest is 3-15 and the far end is a whopping 8-40.
With six reticle choices, Burris leads the field for what's inside your scope for finding your target. Five models come with an astounding 1/10th MOA click and one model has a quarter-MOA click. It also comes in a choice of black, sand or camo sand pattern. The XTR II is company-rated for the .50 BMG.
Burris offers a lifetime warranty that follows the scope. As the company says, leave it to your kids and the warranty is still there.
So why does it come in No. 8 instead of higher up? Parallax adjustment starts at 50 yards, and it has a 34mm tube.
9. Vortex Viper PST 6-24X50 Rifle Scope
Vortex bills this scope as multi-purpose, equally at home on the side of a mountain drawing down on a goat or trying to find the exact center of the target 10 football fields away. The field of view at 100 yards is 5.1 feet, making this comparable to other scopes in the list.
Don't confuse this one with the HST scope. The HST has a single reticle style and leaves a lot of the in-field adjustments to the shooter's math abilities. The PST has a reticle making in-scope adjustments easier than the HST.
Vortex describes its reticle as BR-1 (Enhanced Battle Reticle) with etched MOA lines for in-scope adjustments on the fly.
The fairly high magnification, 6X on the low end, makes this one of the tightest view scopes in the list. Parallax adjustment begins at 50 yards. It has a 30mm tube, making rings pretty common.
Retail prices range from $600 to just under $900. Gotta love that transferrable lifetime warranty too. The tube is 30mm.
10. Mueller Target Rifle Scope 8-32X44mm
This ties for the least expensive scope on the list, running about $250. It sits on a 30mm tube, which means finding rings is easier than for the 34mm tubes above.
Parallax focus starts at 10 yards, one of the closest in this group.
Adjustments are 1/8 MOA. At 25 feet, the field of view is 2.5 feet. You get 400 inches of elevation at 1,000 yards.
Certainly other companies produce scopes capable of reaching 1,000 yards and more, at least for a while. The problem with many of these scopes, some which sell for under $100, is they will not hold up. Shoot a few times and they are knocked out of zero.
While competition shooters are used to sighting-in scopes, having your optics break down in the middle of a shoot is not an option. You need to buy a scope you know will hold up in cold and hot weather, being moved from place to place, and that will last for years.
If you are really serious about competition shooting, you should replace your barrel before you replace the scope. With a few companies that offer transferable lifetime warranties, you should never have to buy a new scope.
One more word about warranties. Some of us who've been shooting all our life remember Tasco. When the company changed hands, the company refused to honor the warranty on old scopes. Think about that before buying any scope with a lifetime warranty. The companies above have a proven track record.