This super long-range rifle was designed for warfare. Over time it melted into the general shooting population as an outstanding steel target long-range rifle, the 338 Lapua requires special glass to handle the extreme distance involved in shooting this heavy-hitting rifle.
When you're shooting a rifle that prices bullets at almost $150 per box, you can bet that not only is the rifle a costly venture, but the best rifle scopes are equally ranked in the upper price bracket as well.
The following are the top picks of some good scopes that tend to work when you consider the exact ranges.
Because the 338 Lapua is one of my very favorite rifles calibers, I own two of these long-range shooting systems. I can add some expert advice when the subject turns to scope sights tied onto this long-range cartridge/rifle.
Vortex Viper PST
BUSHNELL Elite Tactical XRS II
Vortex Optics Razor HD
Nikon Black 1000
Tract Toric UHD
Leupold MARK 5HD
1. Vortex Viper PST
The Vortex PST is a scope system that works well with the big Lapua round. The glass on this system comes in several magnification ranges. The shooter should select as much magnification as possible due to the extreme rangeability when shooting this platform.
I used Vortex glass on several long-range rifle systems including 6.5 Creedmoor and .224 Valkyrie. The scopes are good. Even though this is a younger company, the basic scope is staying right with the other major brand names. In some cases, it moves past several models.
The Vortex Viper Gen II is a $1000 scope that is a first focal plane system, uses a 30 mm main tube with large turrets to allow for a full range of elevation and windage control, and is built army tank tough.
The scopes hang together in rough conditions, feature good light transmission with no loss at the edges due to color prism effect, and provide a good focus out to longer ranges.
In terms of the 338 Lapua, this glass system holds the elevation (19 MOA) out to one mile downrange. Add a “Second Zero” (TACO) to the 50 mm bell housing unit and the scope pushes out to well over 2000 yards.
This scope uses etched reticle crosshairs and hash marks. It is available in six different power level configurations.
If you're not thinking in these terms, you don’t need a 338 Lapua. If you're working toward these distances in shooting, you have found a home. This Vortex scope provides good glass and makes a great team when paired with the cartridge.
2. BUSHNELL Elite Tactical XRS II
This Bushnell is used on my best long-distance rifle, Montana 1999. Bushnell went the whole nine yards on this optical system. I have made headshots and heart shots on full-body combat targets at one mile with the system.
When set up in MRADS, the scope returns 10 mils per revolution of the elevation turret. This turret returns to the zero stop dead on every time. This class of rifle scope needs to be built well above the common deer hunters closer range models.
The shooter is constantly moving those elevation and windage knobs as different range targets are encountered in a training drill or during a long-range target shooting event.
The glass on this scope is high quality across the board. My scope picks up a white painted rock the size of a softball at one mile. It can be used for side to side wind adjustments on targets at the indicated range.
This professional-quality scope can be used by the military and police (snipers). This scope loaded with features sells for a figure that is about half of the going rate for everything this optical system offers the shooter. In effect, this scope is a great buy for the money spent.
This scope is equipped with a “Throw Hammer.” This is a lever that provides fast magnification changes. The lens directs high contrast objects in almost any lighting condition. I can attest to this because I have used this scope when shooting steel targets at one mile.
This scope is 14.5 inches long with a weight of 37.8 ounces. While this scope is not designed for lightweight rifles, it provides good eye relief to take care of excessive recoil like that produced by the 338 Lapua Magnum.
3. Vortex Optics Razor HD
The Vortex Optics Razor is the choice of military and law enforcement for long range target shooting. Vortex Optics Razor is designed to be used among the new order of long-range shooters currently climbing to number one in the list of advancing sports shooting events.
This scope is offered in 12 different configurations that range from a 3-18 X 50 EBR-2C MOA through the 4.5-27X56 EBR MRAD models. Anything the shooter is looking for can be found in the middle of these two illustrated scopes.
The scope uses the Vortex L-TEC turret system that features a locking system that prevents any accidental adjustment during operation.
The Horus H59 is a system that I use in all of my long-range glass. It features an etched reticle crosshair system that works with the military-style MRAD units versus MOA graduations. The scope has a windage tree in the lower quadrants for fast wind/ elevation corrections.
The numbers on the lower stadia have been moved outside the windage dots for less obstruction around the vertical stadia.
The APO optical system delivers stunning image quality through the premium high-density optical glass. This is a high-grade scope with high-end components.
4. Nightforce Beast
This scope is a 5-25X56 Fa ZS model. This is the only Night Force scope I have used in industry product testing over the past 10 years. It is new and provides excellent performance; however, it costs a good bit of money.
It is deadly perfect for the 300 PRC, 338 Lapua, or any rifle like the Ruger Precision chassis rifle systems such as my Montana Model 1999.
This tube controls target images to one mile and more. It uses the MRAD system. This works when boxing in a target in the next zip code.
I shot this scope when reviewing the T/C sniper rifle for Gun Digest two years ago. The weather was cold and nasty, but the scope pulled through very well. This scope is a professional glass system for military-grade applications or other professional work.
Nightforce has indicated that the “Beast” is called that because nothing like it has ever been created before. However, that's not so true. The British, Canadian military, and Germany have some monster sniper engineered optical systems.
I have seen them, used a few, and handled a dozen or so over at the great American Shot Show held each year. Some are complicated and actually switch from MRADs to MOA with a flick of a knob. That's one example of what these systems can do in the field.
At the price of $4,500, this scope does not lack a darn thing. It features the best glass, an etched reticle, a massive range of elevation and windage cranks on the turret knobs, and top of the line parts.
The scope has an illuminated reticle, parallax adjustment to 45 yards through infinity. This scope is in the first focal plane (FFP). The scope is built like a Russian tank.
5. Nikon Black 1000
This scope is one I have currently mounted on a Ruger Hawkeye Long-Range rifle in 300 Win Mag. It has seen time on the 338 Lapua Ruger Precision as well.
This scope was loaned to me two years ago by Nikon. It never went back because I found a real home for it right here at Ballistics Research & Development.
This Nikon is about as much scope for the buck as you are ever going to see. When the price range is as low as this unit, you might expect to find some flaws in the system. Well, that's not the case with this scope.
I have been live-fire testing the optical system for two years to date. This scope has digested about 70 rounds of 338 Lapua and at least a case of 300 Win Mag. As of this date, not a single glitch has been noted.
Priced at half the going rate of a lower-priced long-range scope, the Nikon Black carries a 4-16X50 mm objective lens or a 6-24 X50.
This scope features an etched glass bdc reticle and is not junk vision killer material. It also has a very positive functioning zero stop on the turret.
The scope has a side focus, lighted reticle control found only on some high-priced glass systems. The system is set up in a sniper's first focal plane (FFP).
The main tube size is a full military standard 30mm. You can be sure the parts are large and tough inside this pipe.
This reticle can be used to estimate range and produce the correct holdover in MRADS or MOA’s. This system is a buyer's choice.
However, when used with the 338 Lapua, I would consider the MRAD (Horus) system ahead of any others. You need big jumps in elevation at 1500 to 2000 yard targets.
I can tell you this in complete honesty. If you can find a better scope for the money, don’t waste a minute of your time. Buy it!
6. Steiner T5Xi
Currently, I have been shooting a pair of Steiner scopes just like the one illustrated here on a 300 Wn Mag and a 6.5 Creedmoor. The first Steiner got its start on a 338 Lapua built by CZ Arms during a gun review of that rifle several years ago.
This scope is military all the way and used by the German Army as a sniper optic unit level glass sight.
This scope is offered in the first focal plane and is equipped with the Horus etched reticle system. This scope is in first place when it comes to pushing the bullet into the next zip code with a 338 Lapua rifle.
This scope is available with a special competition reticle that brackets 1/10 graduations for precision and accuracy at long-range target shooting events.
This scope retains a second rotation indicator for ultra-long-range work that illustrates to the shooter when 120 (first revolution) clicks have been exceeded. The turret is on the second rotation level.
Unless you have shot long-range, you will have a hard time appreciating this system. However, it is nice to have the scope turret on board.
This scope is a 3-15 X 50 mm. Notice that the power stays in the lower range. Snipers do not require massive magnification ranges and prefer to work in the 10X mag range or setting.
7. Tract Toric UHD
This scope is a newer breed of long-range glass and comes from a young company that has been somewhat of a break away from the old school standards. This scope is built on a 30mm main tube and is offered in MRAD military sniper units for ultra-long-range applications.
Like other scopes listed here, I shoot several Tract scopes on three different long-range rifles. I just finished a major test on the Hornady 300 PRC Ruger Precision. The Tract Toric did an excellent job of shooting up to 1,500 yards.
With well-designed zero stop settings on the large easy to read and use turret, the Tract is a joy to use. This scope carries double the quality indicated by the final price tag.
This scope is offered in the professional first focal plane which is the standard for both military and police sniper/sharpshooter units. Believe me, it is nice to move up the sub-tensions along with general magnification of a target when it is a mile away.
The optical quality of this glass is outstanding. Shadows open up showing hidden targets that only appear as dull shapes or nothing at all with other scopes.
This glass is clear at long range.
8. Leupold MARK 5HD
Leupold offers a number of rifle scopes that adapt well to the 338 Lapua. The whole issue here is price. Except for that element, this scope gets the job done.
I have selected the MARK V because it is what I shoot on a Browning A-Bolt in 6.5 Creedmoor. However, be advised that a quick change to a 338 Lapua would pose no issue.
This scope retains a first focal plane system that fits sniper and police sharpshooters needs. The scope also works well for target games at long range or shorter courses of fire.
This scope uses the M5C3 turret which is a low profile 1/10 mil per click that provides 30 mils of elevation adjustment in three revolutions of the turret.
The system uses Leupold's Twilight Max HD light management system and tacks on up to 30 extra minutes of light each day. This scope is built to military standards (milspec,) and features a tough, waterproof exterior matte finish.
The scope is designed and machined in the USA.
9. Swarovski DS
The Swarovski DS app for Apple and Android devices provides a way for the shooter to input ballistic data and calculates the ballistics trajectory curve. Information is transmitted directly to the dS via Bluetooth wireless technology.
This scope computes your ballistics requirements and gives the correct aiming point at a ranged distance.
This system calculates air pressure, temperature, altitude, distance and angle of the shot. The high res heads up display (HUD) in the main tube viewer returns the information to the shooter.
The scope's main tube is 40mm. Every element designed into this scope is built for long-range applications.
While shooting an event in South Dakota with Charlie Sisk Rifles, I was totally impressed with the performance of scopes by Swarovski. This new bad boy is for the guy that has it all.
However, my take on these and other systems like them is that the riflemen are not that at all. Instead, they are technicians that use data to make a hit as a direct, imported process.
If the system shorts out and the riflemen must turn to basic sighting methods, everything may fall apart. This manufacturer also builds other models that use the Horus etched reticle and a matching spotting scope. This is a deadly spotter shooter combination.
Every element of this scope is totally grade one with the very best in glass optics. All elements of light control, edge distortion control, and light gathering ability have been addressed. All of this company's products are top of the line. This scope is a safe buy.
I have covered a wide range of optical systems in this review. All of them cost money. The more the scope tends to do, the higher the cost. Some of these systems focus on advancing lens quality and hitting the necessary controls required by long-range riflemen.
When you shop for long-range glass, pay attention to what you're paying for. To be sure you're not going to get into this league of rifle glass without spending some money. My advice is to look hard at Tract and Nikon when starting your search for the right scope.