With the increased popularity of long-range shooting across the USA and the international scenes, a good deal of attention has been placed on the development and design of better quality, more efficient long-range rifle scopes.
Riflescope use can be divided into two categories today. The first group are shooters living east of the Mississippi River which cuts the country in half, and the second group are the plains and mountain states shooters who can send bullets for almost ever down range.
Here I will offer some suggestions as to the best possible options based on price and quality.
ADE Advanced Optics
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
Night Force NXS
Vortex optics Razor HD Gen II
Steiner Optics M-Series
Vortex Viper PST Gen II
Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR
Burris Veracity Riflescope
Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR
Schmidt-Bender PM II LP
Nikon Black FX 1000
Leupold VX-3i LRP Side Focus 30mm
My selections are by no means the final solution as there are many options available to today’s shooter regarding high-quality glass sights. But this series of offerings would be based on my years of experience.
13 Best Rifle Scope for the Money (Reviewed)
1. ADE 6-25x56 35mm Mildot Reticle - Budget Long Range Scope
This optic retains a ¼MOA click turret that retains a total of 140 moa adjustment graduations. Built on a 35mm tube, the scope allows a turret click selection that offers an increase in elevation adjustment that is much required when adjusting the scope’s sights for ultra-long-range shots.
The locking windage and elevation turrets make getting back to zero after running elevation up or making bullet wind drift changes a snap. The scope has been well thought-out and is a lower-end copy of the very high-end long-range optics used by both professional shooters and the American, British, Canadian, and Australian military.
This scope could be considered a good start when checking out the world of long-range shooting while not getting tied up in a house payment or two when buying a first-time scope sight.
Equipped with mounting rings and sunshade, the scope is sold as a complete package.
My friends who have used this also replied me with good comments.
I can say that I started my quest for the ultimate long-range optic about 60 years ago and bought a very low-end optic that lasted a solid 20 years before it bit the dust. As a single FFP 10X tube, it served me well on military converted “A3-03” 30-06 Springfields of the day.
2. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 3-15X44
Vortex Optics is fast becoming a major big-league player in the long-range rifle scope business. I own several of these tubes, and I can say that the scopes measure up to a high standard of quality. The Viper is the scope sight that got the company rolling toward some major industry and buyer recognition within the past few years.
This Viper scope as a second-generation optic is a class act all around. The scope retains quality tactical features that make it a professional shooter’s choice.
These include 3-14x44 second focal plane optics which means the crosshairs and mil-dot etched into the reticle will increase in size as the power settings on the scope are changed. The second focal plane is often preferred by long-distance shooters because of this feature.
Shooters can dial their turrets for bullet drop and wind drift. The scope makes use of laser-etched turrets, adjustable parallax, and the RZR zero stop system when returning to the correct base zero after advancing for windage or elevation.
This rifle scope is designed to react well at ultra-long-range targets that require a high grade of optical glass. Max range in this case when utilizing 40 more canted MOA bases is one mile.
Remember, you can’t hit what you can't see, but this Vortex system will get your bullet all the way to the target while you watch it splash upon impact.
MOA etched reticle that works as a hunting model and also ultra-long-range applications for steel target or sniper work.
3. Night Force 5.5-22X56 NXS Illuminated MOA reticle - Best Long Range Scope
The Night Force NXS, the best long-range scope is turret capable of elevation adjustments to .250 clicks. Night Force builds these scopes to be used for the sniper work, as well as in the civilian marketplace by long-range mountain-to-mountain big game hunters.
I call this optic Night Force's “Beast” as it retains many pro-level features.
This high power rifle scope makes use of a 56mm objective lens and provides maximum clarity and resolution that is required of a long-distance optic. Anything less won't get the job done, and it is hard to learn that lesson when you’re sighting down range at 1000 yards, and everything goes fuzzy on the edges.
Because I shoot many different ultra-long-range optics, and after writing three books on the subject, I can say that among the best of the best, Night Force fits right into a very selected group of optical systems.
And it retains a full lifetime warranty as well.
4. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27X56
This high power scope is the first focal plane and is set up in MRADS versus M.O.A graduations. MRADS adjust 5.6 inches per click at 100 yards, then compounded for every additional 100 yards. By comparison, MOA clicks adjust for elevation to one inch per graduation click at 100 yards.
This is a pure as fresh snow sniper scope and designed for very advanced ultra-long-range shooting. The one-mile shot, for example, is not an issue with this system. A point in fact is that this scope could be pushed regarding range extension to a much greater range limit.
Built for dialing in long-range precision shots, the L-TEC turret system features a locking system that prevents any accidental elevation adjustment shifting.
A built-in visual rotation indicator helps the shooter keep track of the exact number of turret rotations completed prior to making the shot, so returning to base zero is much easier.
Optics in this scope are very clear and hold back negative light sources for a clear image even at very long-range limits.
Why the price is high? After shooting a target at 1000 yards, it takes about $100.00 per each additional 100 yards in equipment upgrade to stay in the game regarding ultra-long-range target applications. The scope is only one part of a very complex puzzle. In effect, you get what you pay for.
5. Vortex Viper PST Gen II 5-25X50
This Viper PST is much like a previous Vortex optic in this price range, but with a change in power settings.
Vortex has moved up in both quality and selection so that it can offer a $3000.00 and change masterpiece for professional work or this mid-range and lower-priced system for general long-range use.
Owning this system is far less stress on the family budget, but still returns great results in the field. All the features of the better grade Vortex scopes are built into this glass sight.
6. Steiner Optics M-Series Rifle Scope
I run two of these scopes, one on 300 Win Mag and the other one on 6.5 Creedmoor, with a switch to a Savage 110 in 338 Lapua upon occasion. This scope is the top-of-the-line at Steiner and is German Army-qualified for snipers. The glass is nothing less than outstanding, sub tensions clean and easy to read when shooting ¾ mile on a 12X12 steel plate.
With very precise windage and elevation clicks on this first focal plane scope, long-range targets are easy to dope in correctly. This best scope retains an illumination control feature and parallax adjusts on a side focus combined turret and light control.
Of note is that I have found that it is necessary to zero for each range used, as power settings will change bullet impact from 100 yards to an extended range limit. This is common with some scopes built in the FFP.
As target shooters and sniper shoot per set DOPE cards, this has been no issue with me. My scopes are in MRAD settings (military), and I have set up DOPE cards for both optical units.
I believe that some shooters that buy these sniper-based tools don't understand how to use them. Again the Steiner M- Series is military based, and a finely-tuned piece of ultra-long-range shooting equipment.
And it retains a full lifetime warranty as well.
7. Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II-I 3.5-21X50
I selected the DMR 3.5-21X50 G3 because it fit my needs, and I am sure it would fit yours as well. Within a week’s time shooting the glass sight, IO had jumped my effective range from 1400 yards to one mile. (1,760 yards fence-to-fence on a section of ranch land.)
Sub tensions are both offered in MRADS and MOA etched crosshairs.
The large turret retains ample rotations for ultra-long-range work as at full sub tension levels and completely bottomed out the turret on the scope will push 338 Lapua bullets at 300 grains to over 2,300 yards. Now install the TACO periscope system, and this range instantly jumps to 5000 yards. Yes, that is just under three miles down range. Optic quality on this scope is outstanding.
8. Millett 6-25X56 LRS Mil-Dot Reticle
This is an entry-level scope by Millett. I have included it because I have in the past and currently own Millett glass and have found it to be quite workable in the field. Clear optical glass with little or no distortion on the lens edges in bright light, and solid repeatable turret adjustments.
Based on the price, I would assume this scope to be a middle-of-the-road optic, but very workable for getting a shooter started in the long-range game without missing a bank payment on the house.
This rifle scope has been indicated to be ideal for the “tactical operator.” In effect I don't think so, but very workable for shooting steel targets that don't shoot back. Tactical operators that I know personally are well beyond this optical system. When your life is hanging in the balance, scope glass is a far better investment than a tombstone.
That stated, the Millett 6-25x56 LRS carries some of the options that make it a workable glass sight. The scope carries repeatable windage and elevation adjustments, a one-piece 35mm base tube that means lots of elevation clicks on a large turret. (140 MOA to be exact)
With a mil-dot bar reticle, the shooter can use the sub-tensions of the reticle and also crank elevation from the turret. This is called “halving” and means you pulling elevation from both systems on the scope tube when stretching bullet drop numbers at ranges exceeding 1000 yards. (All this is dependent on the exact rifle and bullet employed.)
9. Bushnell Elite Tactical G2DMR FFP Reticle 6-24x50mm
Bushnell is advancing like a rocket rail on rails. The company has made a 360 turn-about in design and production and as a result of this change via the new Vista corp, Bushnell is not your daddy’s scope builder anymore.
I shoot a variant of this rifle scope applied to my Model 1999 Montana 338 Lapua against steel targets to one-mile all summer long. Having my current settings with my MILRAD reticle, (not available on the model illustrated) I can accurately factor my computer-generated drop figures to with inches at the above indicated range limits. In effect, Bushnell delivers the mail in spades, my friends. You can bank on it.
This illustrated scope is about in the middle of the upper-end market. This scope retains all the features regarding water protection, surface metal treatment, and carries a MOA with marked sub-tensions for elevation correction on long shots.
This optic is very workable to 1000-1400 yards, and over one mile with proper weather and light conditions. You get this performance without paying three times the money that is required in some cases.
The personal model I shoot in the Bushnell long-range optic is the Elite Tactical DMR, 3.5-21x50mm MRAD sub tensions.
10. Burris Veracity Riflescope
The Burris Veracity series is a group of optics that fit the needs of the hunter as well as the long-range shooter. I own and have used the Veracity on a Ruger Precision 338 Lapua as applied to ultra-long-range work out to 1500 yards.
The optical quality of this scope is solid and trouble-free. Set up in MOA clicks, the large turret on the 30 mm housing allows ample amounts of elevation adjustment for shooting inside one mile. I like the system at 1000 yards the best, and it has proven to be a quality optical system overall.
The scope retains side focus parallax adjustment, and zero stop turret adjustment that is easy to use.
The optical quality is outstanding with no distortion at the lens edges and clean images at long distance.
The scope uses a sub tension reticle that makes use of very fine hashmark adjustments for competition target shooting at long distance. I have switched this scope off onto 300 Win Mag rifles (Ruger Hawkeye Target).
11. Schmidt-Bender 5-25x56 PM II LP
While I have never owned a Schmidt, if I was being shot at across a mountain ridge by an insurgent, I will assure you that the Schmidt would be considered as a real option for counter sniper applications.
With its 34mm one-piece scope tube, large high-value turret elevation adjustments, and some of the best-in-the-world German optical glass installed, this scope is state-of-the-art, but with a price tag that would allow you to buy a nice used Harley Sportster for about the same cost.
If you’re a professional operator, considering this scope would not be the worst idea you ever came up with.
12. Nikon Black FX 1000
This scope is a wonder. The “wonder” story is how can they build this for what the asking price is. I have this scope mounted on a 300 Win Mag Ruger Hawkeye long- range rifle. The scope is nothing short of outstanding. Shooting Sierra 168 grain MK's to 1400 yards all day long without a single hitch.
The Nikon Black FX retains an etched ranging reticle located at the first focal plane. Like all long-range optics, the scope retains a left-side turret knob for parallax adjustments, and turret clicks are at a high count considering the need for multiple numbers for increased elevation settings. The scope retains a 30mm tube and zero stop settings on the turrets.
The price of Nikon Black FX 1000 varies, so check the latest price at Amazon.
13. Leupold VX-3i LRP Side Focus 6.5-20x50mm 30mm
I shoot Leupold on two different Creedmoor rifles (6.5 and 6mm). This scope is outstanding at a affordable price if you’re going to hang in on the long-range shooting game.
The Twilight Max light management system ensures sharper images in low light conditions. The scope is offered in both first and second focal plane (MOA & MILS) This is unique but be advised that Leupold will custom install your style of the reticle. I have the Horus custom installed in my Leupold Mark V, making it best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor system as applied to the Browning A-Bolt heavy long- range target rifle.
With the 30mm tube, this scope can make use of big high revolution long-range turrets and maintains great internal large American well-built parts and glass optics.
The reader should keep in mind that there are a vast number of good quality scopes that have not been included here. Time, space, and seller inventory all play into the picture here.
Try and remember that a scope with clear optics, the ability to stretch elevation and windage settings, by way of good sub tension settings installed is critical. The standard deer hunting style glass is NOT going to work out well for the shooter pushing bullets much beyond about 400 yards.
It is a bit like this: Upgrade or don't play the game at all.