If only a few cartridges rated as benchmarks in design, they would certainly be the 30-06 Springfield, 308 Winchester, and the popular Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor. This cartridge owns the retail market.
I feel proud that I predicted this movement almost three years ago (from the time of writing this article) during the early birthing stages of the new Hornady fast mover in 6.5 caliber cartridges.
This round is so good as a long-range rifle cartridge that you should only use high-quality glass sights. Anything less and you are not giving this very high-performance envelope a fighting chance.
Because the 6.5 shoots very flat to 1000 yards and will stay supersonic well past that indicated range, two things are mandatory.
First, the scope needs to be of a very good quality so it can pull light and not distortion when sighting at 1000 yards or more. Second, the scope needs to retain the ability to offer the shooter the option to change elevation and windage alignments on the fly.
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Vortex Optics Viper
Vortex Optics Viper
Nikon Black FX1000
Nikon Black FX1000
Bushnell DMR Series
Bushnell DMR Series
Burris FullField E1
Burris FullField E1
Schmidt Bender Zenith
Schmidt Bender Zenith
TRACT Toric UHD
TRACT Toric UHD
Athlon Argos BTR
Athlon Argos BTR
The 10 Best Scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor
In terms of a single cartridge that has taken off like a rocket, and gained both acceptance and market share by leaps and bounds within the shooting sports industry, the 6.5 has just about no equal in terms of current production rifles and cartridges.
I would say that at least once a day I get an e-mail or message on Facebook regarding the 6.5 and the best sight options to think about purchasing. Also, there are those who show off their new rifles after being dressed out in camo patterns, or various paint schemes.
The point here being that this cartridge in 6.5mm configuration is a rifle and cartridge choice to be considered almost above all others currently being sold in the American market.
With the effective range of the 6.5 at or close to 1400 yards and, in general, shot frequently at 1000-yard match events and on general target ranges that carry that kind of ranging distance, selecting a scope for this rifle can be a somewhat confusing situation.
Depending on your use of the cartridge/rifle, the type and price range of the optical system can vary a great deal.
Also, because the Creedmoor is both a very effective big game cartridge and an outstanding long-range target round, the scope that is selected should match the needs of the shooter.
A 1000-yard shooter on targets needs to have a scope that can dial range rapidly and accurately in terms of forecasting bullet drop, and a hunter's rifle in, say, central Wisconsin or Minnesota needs a scope that will be clear and effective to about 300 yards maximum range.
By real time example I shoot a Creedmoor out here in the American west, and as such I have taken deer at 540 yards with my Winchester XPR sporter “pencil pipe” barreled rifle, but mounting a high grade Leupold long-range optical system, which I consider one of the best in the business.
This cartridge is developed around the basic 308 case, makes use of a 6.5 mm bullet that was made legendary among woodland hunters in the mid-west for about 50 years, and was feared by German troops who were caught off guard by Swedish troops (mountain units shooting 6.5 mm Swede).
Because of all of this, Hornady Manufacturing in Nebraska researched the ballistics, developed a very special bullet design called ELD, and the 6.5 was off the long-range shooting race game overnight. Hornady hit on a perfect set of ballistics and both load/bullet balance.
Therefore, the 6.5 makes use of each and every element involved in sending a projectile down range flat and accurately to some very far distances.
While other 6mms have come along as offered by Hornady (6,5PRC, etc), the 6.5 is still a well rounded all weather game and target choice among riflemen. I predict that this cartridge is heading for the 30-06 historical status in years to come. That is to say, revolutionary in design and world class performance regarding acceptance.
I have a philosophy regarding rifle scopes. Unless you're mounting a scope on a shotgun, crossbow, or other very short-range hunting tool, if you buy more than you need at the time you're selecting a scope for a 6.5, you never run out of options in the field, or on the target range.
When the day comes that you find yourself saying, as you sight a nice trophy class mule deer at 400 yards, "I wish I had more scope here," you will understand in spades exactly what I have been saying. You will never find yourself under-powered or dealing with under-performance regarding the glass on your rifle.
The 6.5 is so good that buying as much scope as you can possibly afford is not a bad investment at all. Trust me on this one friends.
A couple of good options by example.
With those requirements in mind, let's look at some possible options in quality glass rifle scopes.
1. Vortex Optics Crossfire II
Not very long ago, Vortex was a name that almost no one had ever heard of. Well crash that thought today, because Vortex is one of the largest displays at the internationally attended Shot Show in Las Vegas each year.
This company has grown by leaps and bound within five to six years, and that is because they are selling bang for the buck in terms of better grade glass sights that get the job done.
The Vortex Crossfire II is a little sister to some of the Vortex glass I have shot on my rifles when pushing bullet well into the next time zone. This scope is a good starter sight, or even the final sight depending on how far the shooter wants to push bullets.
It is a good sight for the 6.5 Creedmoor because it is capable of pushing bullets well beyond 400 yards when required. Mounting up to 50 MOA windage and elevation turret setting graduations in total, if mounted on a 20 through 40mm rail, the scope can push past 1000 yards without very much trouble at all.
The turrets have zero return settings, so you can remember where zero was when you start to crank off the elevation adjustments in MOA dots, and in my experience, the scope stays on zero and tracks well in terms of returning to the correct zero after the turret knobs have been spun around a good deal.
My shooting requires a scope to turn at times at least twice though its zero setting and back again almost every day on the range. Believe me when I say there are all kinds of materials that go into a turret system, and some of them are pure junk if you're not careful regarding your selection of an optical system.
Vortex will back their product and that is worth a great deal.
The main tube on this scope is built from a one-piece block of aluminum, and the tube is tater tight, and fog-proofed as much as technology allows today.
2. Vortex Viper HS-T
Except for deer-hunting rifles for shooting inside 400 yards (and that includes a pile of them), the Vortex Viper HS-T is the next step beyond the general whitetail and mule deer shooting ranges to be considered. Why? Because the scope's design is right on the edge of the next level in longer range optical performance.
If you're not going to push for long-range shooting, you're better off staying with an “06” or 308 Winchester. However, turn to steel targets at ¾mile, or trophy goats or deer beyond 400 yards, and the 6.5 Creedmoor reigns supreme.
Here, a scope like the HS-T Vortex raises the bar to a new level of riflemen craftsmanship. Because the HS-T makes use of open turret settings, the ability to make quick changes in elevation and windage are apparent.
Sharp clicks are the clear advantage, especially when you tack a DOPE card made from a computer ballistic program to the side of your rifle stock and move up in range by the numbers.
Vortex has named this scope the “multiple configuration hunting and tactical shooting system,” which means that this is one system all wrapped up in one scope. For the hunter who+aims for precision target shooting in the off season at 1000 yards or more, this glass will hold up to the task at hand.
Mounting the VMR reticle is perfect for accurate longer distance holds on targets or game. While there is some talk about moving the 6.5 cartridge into the military setting, for now, the discussion will address civilian shooting only.
However, some circles are saying that the cartridge is under test on warm targets out in the sandbox while I write these lines. I have no facts but I'm just saying.
The glass on this scope is multi-coated for light control even in low-light conditions. The lens will enhance clear crisp color and overall high resolution for the shooter.
Turrets are an open type with full access to controls. This adds a key element to the design of this tactical scope and helps when shooting longer distances and adjusting elevation frequently.
The CRS zero stop ensures that the settings will return to the exact zero previous setting after the turrets have been rotated for elevation or windage.
A single knob (left) on the scope's turret controls the parallax adjustments. I have used this scope extensively with the new 22 Creedmoor and a custom Satterlee rifle. This scope was hunted hard during the early spring prior to writing this review.
The scope features a tough finish, retains crisp clicks, and retains a dead-on box test zero when used for testing. The test box means the scope is shot from zero and moved in a box pattern at a one-inch interval back to the correct zero.
Any changes mean there is an error in the repeatability regarding the scope's sub-tensions. These were not observed with the HS-T Vortex.
The Viper 5-24X50 can be obtained in MRAD sub-tensions or in MOA's. This scope's carry weight is 22.6 ounces with a length of 15.5”. The eye relief is 4.0.” The total field of view is 17.8 feet to 5.1 feet at maximum power.
The tube is a 30mm one-piece construction housing made from aircraft grade aluminum. The sub-tensions on this scope carry hash marks that fit the system being used.
I would recommend this as a good scope for the first-time user of the 6.5 Creedmoor if they want to do more than hunt deer a few days in the Fall. This tube is clearly capable of doing far more down range.
3. Leupold VX Series
In terms of Leupold scopes, I used the LRP 6.5-20 and the MARK IV and V. In the testing business, we go through about twenty rifles a year while completing hands-on field-testing on warm or cold targets.
This winter alone on some projects, it took up five different centerfire rifles to complete a total overview of the rifles and the new cartridges to match them (.224 Valkyrie, 22 Creedmoor for example).
For the 6.5 Creedmoor, six rifles have seen field service with each mounting different glass when tested on warm targets and steel plates. I live about 15 minutes from my 1-mile-long target range. Shooting is almost a daily thing around here.
Why do I state these facts? Because I want to make it clear that this material is not a deck top overview when reading some catalog information. Sure, I will reference hard data, but my experiences with these optical systems are priceless. Passing on information about these quality scopes to you is my pleasure.
With that information in mind, let's look at the VX 5HD 3-15X44mm. This scope mounts a fine crosshair for longer distance shooting. Heavy, thick crosshairs tend to blind the shooter to targets making them appear smaller at distance.
Also, be advised that the scope is available from the manufacturer with eight different sub-tension reticle displays. If you can't find it here, you are just about out of luck in that department.
The scope features the “Twilight Max HD" light management system, which reduces glare and controls light in a unique way among Leupold scopes. Side focus parallax adjustments for close and ultra-long-range is easily controlled while looking through the scope.
This scope uses “Guard-on Hydrophobic" lens coating that offers protection to the lens under high-stress field conditions, such as sand, snow, or frost. The 30mm mail tube houses the turret components and settings. This scope is designed to push elevation ranging abilities when used with a cartridge like the 6.5.
Every piece of this optics system is machined and assembled in the USA.
4. Night Force NXS 8-32 X 56mm
Watch American Sniper or Henna Road (Canada) and the N/F logo will appear on the rifle glass. This scope brand is a primary go-to scope among distance shooters, including police, military, and civilian shooters. It is at the upper end of the food chain.
There are several brands of world-class optics across the board that fit the military sniper's role in a combat-centered longer distance optic, and this scope is one of them.
Night Force has been built up as a brand name. Many shooters believe that if it is not Night Force, then it is not a good optical system. While this may be a "stretch of the truth," this shows how a brand name can control an industry.
According to my many hours of shooting with this scope, I can attest to the fact that, yes, it is a great scope and won't let you down. You know the drill if you're military, police, or even a competition shooter.
Good glass is a no option deal. Bad glass just can't be allowed as it will put you in the second best column or possibly even dead.
The NXS is high end. The core of this optical system comes from the upper-end materials used in all high-level glass sights.
This scope makes use of a 6061 T-6 well-built aircraft aluminum 30mm tube and mounts a 56mm objective lens that is set in the second focal plane (SFP). This means that as the power changes the reticle sub-tensions do not advance with the increasing size of the optical image.
This scope makes use of a red color illumination reticle. It retains an eye relief of 3.86 mm, which means it is designed for heavy recoiling large caliber rifles.
This high end scope is shockproof, waterproof, and fog proof. The adjustment range straight off the top of the turret settings in MOA's graduations counts out to 65. This is a generous amount of elevation adjustment.
Considering the MOA dots and the sub-tension, you can to push long-range loads like the 6.5 well down range with accuracy and precision.
Parallax adjustments are set from 50 yards to infinity. The scope measures 15.9 inches and pairs well with the 6.5 cartridge in many different rifle brands. I have tested this model on chassis rifles, wood-stocked sporters, and custom target/bench-rest rifles successfully.
The total weight of this scope is 34 ounces. It features a black finish and is equipped with zero stop turrets. Its field of view measures 3.1-12 ft at 100 yards.
When tested in the field on warm targets, I found that the scope held up well in late day sunlight with minimum distortion. These were sunset shooting conditions that are very common among hunters.
5. Nikon Black FX1000
FX1000 with Second Zero attached to forward bell housing
The FX1000 was unveiled at Shot Show two years ago (from the time of writing this article) . It took another year to see it on the market. This scope is a pile of bang for the buck. Here is why.
The scope uses etched glass sub-tensions that have become well-known among quality optic builders. The power settings on this scope are 4-16X50mm. Testing with live fire says this is very workable to 1500 yards or more, depending on the altitude from which you are shooting.
The test gun, in this case, was the Ruger Hawkeye M-77 in 300 Win Mag. Adapting this to the 6.5 Creedmoor is right in line with the scope's ability to take on big long-range cartridges easily.
The scope is set up in the first focal plane (FFP). This means that the sub-tensions increase in size right along with the advancement of the power settings. My testing of this scope indicates that the zero impact point will not change when you advance the power settings.
This is an issue with FFP scopes in some cases. The problem has not been noted as indicated so far in my reviewing of this glass sight.
The Black 1000 retains the ability to range for the shooter, allow sub-tension MOA or MRAD hold over shooting, and makes use of the side mount illumination control features with 10 intensity settings, as well as parallax adjustments.
The tube is a 30mm zinc that says bigger and better built turret parts as well as more room for glass and light transmission. The turret settings retain the zero stop feature. The high-speed turrets feature sharp positive clicks.
This scope is a steal in terms of what you're getting for your money. I have been using one for two years. I shoot it all the time under test and review of ammunition coming to the market place. To date, I have not had a single issue with this optical system.
I regard this scope as a high end civilian level game, target, and special long-distance application scope for the 6.5 Creedmoor.
6. Bushnell DMR Series Long Range
Most likely, this is one of the best scopes Bushnell makes. Surely, it features the latest design standards. The HDMR retains a massive 34mm tube that's made from one-piece aircraft-grade aluminum. The scope features the ultra-long-range Horus H59 reticle.
This high-quality scope is calibrated in military MRADS. It is a one mil-plus scope, as applied to my 338 Lapua. It was first used on a chassis Ruger Precision 6.5 Creedmoor about the time both the round and rifle came out.
The scope runs a magnification level of 3.5-21. The objective lens size is 50mm, with the reticle being set in the first focal plane. This is not an illuminated scope, but glass quality renders it very effective in terms of controlling light when addressing the surface of a target.
The eye relief on this scope is 3.74 inches. I can say that I have had no issue shooting this by way of a Montana 1999 Mauser on a 338 Lapua Magnum.
As for the 6.5, while the Creedmoor has done more to advance long-distance shooting than any other cartridge, this scope has moved Bushnell right to the cutting edge of industry development in high-quality glass and to a special place in the long-range scopes shooting market.
Adjustment click value is -.1 Mil Rad. The length of this scope is 13.2 inches with a carry weight of 34 ounces. Its color is matte gray/black. Those ho own this scope agree it is a very solid value for the money and tough as nails in the field.
7. Burris Fullfield E1 4.5-14X42mm
Burris optics on Ruger Precision 6.5 Creedmoor
The Fullfield E1 4.5-14X42mm is a workhorse in its own right when used with two of my 6.5 Creedmoor rifles. This scope is a good fit for the weekend prairie dog shooter, steel target gunner, or someone just taking on some big game once or twice a year.
This scope is in a moderate price range, yet is tough enough to allow the shooter to get a whole lot out of the 120- through 140-grain bullets when used on the 6.5 Creedmoor. The tube diameter is one inch. The turret clicks on an open design are 1 MOA for each click in elevation or windage. The turret will display ¼ clicks as well.
The reticle type in this scope is the Burris Ballistics Plex E1, which allows you to range and select correct hold using sub tensions displayed through the lens.
This good quality ground lens assures solid light gathering control down range. Lens protective coatings are Burris-engineered Hi-Lume coatings that stop scratching and other elements that can cut into high-quality lens glass.
Lens sub-tensions are etched for positive life long retention. The scope has a lifetime warranty.
8. Schmidt Bender Zenith 3-12 X 50mm
Schmidt Bender has scopes that run to as much as $5000 with some change. Therefore, I have selected the budget model that you're still going to have to sell the farm to own in most cases.
This scope company builds some of the best rifle glass in the world. Many armies in Europe will attest to how good they are as field tools against counter snipers, overwatch details, and other applications.
Is this level of glass quality required to make the 6.5 Creedmoor complete? No, but if affordable it can greatly upgrade the performance level of the new cartridge as long as the guy or gal behind the rifle can do their part.
This scope makes use of the Bender “Posicon" reticle 7. This sub-tension system will correct using a graphic indication of the reticle position and remaining travel within the range of the scope. This scope is in the second focal plane. Sub-tension reticles remain the same size regardless of the scope's power settings.
Its field of view is 3.2-12.4m to 100m or 100 yards. The twilight factor is 8.5 to 24.5. As you would notice when viewing in low light, the European rifle scopes tend to be designed for lower light conditions.
Much of the hunting in Russia and Germany is done during dark forest cover. I know as I have hunted Russian red boar under these conditions with massive lens systems on the Bender style scopes. Light transmission is a full 90% with a scope tube (housing diameter of 30mm).
Much of the hunting in Russia and Germany was done during dark forest cover. I know as I have hunted Russian red boar under these conditions with massive lens systems on the Bender style scopes. Light transmission a full 90% with a scope tube (housing diameter of 30mm).
Using this scope is like looking through a diamond at your target. It is as clear as subterranean ice crystals.
9. TRACT Toric UHD
As I have indicated in another review article here at Hunting Mark, this scope brand is nothing less than dear to my heart in many ways. The best part of this scope is that if the price is $1000 with change, you can double it regarding materials, product performance, and quality.
I shoot these on 338 Lapuas to 1 mile. When I set up a steel target and counter-sniper scenarios to 800 through 1600 yards, I win with this optics system. There's no second best here at all.
The Toric UHD features a 30mm heavy tube built to fight or play depending on how you bring home the bacon. The 4-20X50 glass in the first focal plane (FFP) and MOA/MRADS. The sub-tensions can do it all.
This scope includes generous elevation and windage adjustment values that ensure the shooter that they will not run out of elevation. I run well inside my turret adjustments to 1000 yards and, depending on elevation and weather, much further at times.
This scope, with the use of both sub-tensions and elevation knobs, is workable to 1 mile or more (2000 yards), depending on the cartridge being dispatched down range. It is a solid candidate for the Second Zero system that can pull additional yards when shooting longer-distance targets.
10. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24X50mm
There are elements to observe when buying a rifle scope as applied to the 6.5 Creedmoor. First is power settings, secondly aperture size, and reticle sub-tent ion designs, and third tube size and the turret housings ability to generate return information to the shooter.
Reduction in any of these elements will result in less ability to extend range, pull in a clear target, or fight off negative low light conditions. The Athion Argos indicates in its advertising that it retains all the elements associated with a longer range optical system.
First of all, this scope is set up in the first focal plane. That means that, as you increase magnification so too will the reticle correspond to the target size. Distance shooters like this because the crosshairs won’t die out as the range increases.
Secondly, this scope makes use of a 50mm bell, and that means it will pull light even when little of it exists down range.
The third positive value is the APMR Mil reticle. The sub-tensions are available in MOA or MILs in terms of hash marks, or dots regarding elevation and windage. Turret adjustment corresponds to the selected settings in the sub-tensions reticle viewing system.
The scope uses the etched glass reticle, which means the sub-tension viewed sight system is cut into the glass directly and not some side deal Rube Goldberg affair. Recoil is not going to knock these crosshairs out, to be sure.
The scope also makes use of the illuminated reticle for very low light shooting conditions. While this at one time was a pure gimmick, today it is almost standard procedure in scope construction.
Based on the scope's price of $289.99, I would not think that the glass is going to carry a great deal of distance sighting ability. In most cases, it takes some very clear mirage-free viewing to get lower grade glass to do the deal. I have not shot this scope and as such cannot make any definitive conclusions here.
How do I base my observations in this case? I have shot Night Force optics at $4000 with change. I have shot and owned military spec and classified Leupold Mark 4s, as well as other related sniper glass. This price range in glass can’t even come close to those examples, and for the price should not be expected to do so.
As an entry level scope and workable for the novas shooter not counting on a hit to stay alive in combat, or win the long-range target shooting nationals, go for it.
All of the scopes reviewed here in an abbreviated fashion are great for the starter distance shooter using the 6.5 Creedmoor, or the Minnesota deer hunter looking over his cut corn field that is a quarter section in size (¼mile square).
Because the Vortex has not got open turret adjustments, I have to say it is still better used by a big game hunter versus a target shooter.
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