5 Best Rifle Scope Reticles for Long-Range Shooting in 2024– Expert Comparison

best rifle scope reticles

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The best rifle scope reticles for long range shooting allow you to make the windage and elevation for shooting conditions right where you are. This is not the same as adjusting the turrets.

Additionally, the best reticle scopes for long range shooting mean you look through the scope at the hash marks and then move the gun and crosshairs to line up your shot. In other words, using this method means your crosshairs are not dead center on the target.

In this article, we’re going to examine a list of the five best rifle scope reticles for long-range shooting. 

What exactly is a rifle scope reticle?

A rifle scope reticle is the pattern of lines you see when you look through the scope. Almost every reticle starts with a horizontal line and a vertical line. Both reach from one side of the scope to the other.

Additional marks on those lines are called hash marks. They are measured in Minutes of Angle (MOA) or Milliradians (MRAD or MIL). An MOA is about 1 inch at 100 yards. An MRAD is about 3.6 inches at 100 yards.

At 1,000 yards, an MOA is 10 inches. The MRAD at 1,000 yards is 36 inches.

MOA or MRAD

So, which is better for long range shooting, MOA or MRAD? The answer is whichever one you are comfortable with. The same rifle, ammo and shooter will be just as accurate with an MOA scope as with an MRAD scope.

While the scope adjustments are marked differently, each click on the turret covers the same distance in an MOA scope and an MRAD scope. Depending on the scope, you get ¼ or ⅛ of an inch change at 100 yards per click.

The 5 Best Rifle Scope Reticles to Buy in 2024

Long range reticle scopes have hash marks on the crosshairs, allowing you to move the gun to line your shot up.

This is important, especially when you have your eye on a target that is well camouflaged. If you take your eye off the target to adjust the turrets, you may lose the target. Instead, you can shift the gun slightly. That keeps your eye on the target.

In this section, we’ll examine the 

IMAGE PRODUCT
  • Huge in-scope adjustment capabilities
  • First focal plane
  • Illuminated
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  • Numbered marks
  • Leupold warranty
  • Costs less than a custom precision rifle
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  • Vortex warranty
  • MOA or MRAD selection
  • Good for hunting
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  • Reasonably priced scope
  • Illuminated
  • Nightforce warranty
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  • Inexpensive
  • Simple
  • Beginner reticle
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1. Best Overall – SCHMIDT and BENDER GR2ID

Schmidt & Bender 5-45x56 PM II High Power Rifle Scope, 34 mm Tube, First Focal 666-911-532-I1-H5

Schmidt and Bender has the best long range shooting reticle around. The Tremor3 reticle in this scope takes a Christmas tree and improves it. In addition to hash marks, you get dots that also help you mark the target. 

Magnified view of the Tremor3

Magnified view of the Tremor3.

If you shoot and miss, note where the bullet hits. Compare this to the grid.

Keep your eye on that spot in the scope where the bullet hit. Now put that grid point on the target and take your second shot. You should be spot on if you did your part. Schmidt and Bender calls this Second Shot Correction™. You can do this with other reticles, but the Tremor reticle makes it so much easier.

Specifications: 

  • The main hash marks are 1 MIL apart. As you zoom in, you see smaller hash marks that are .2 MILs apart. That is precision!
  • The hash marks extend the full length of both lines in the scope.
  • If you are shooting at close range, the upper elevation line will get you on target. Say you sight in at 1,000 yards. With this reticle, you can still take a 75-yard shot and be on target. If you hunt, that is extremely useful. You may be expected to see something like an elk or speed goat at 750 yards. One may step out at 110 yards. You have a significant hold under in that case.
  • In addition to the MIL measurements, this scope has a moving target estimator for up to 600 yards. The reticle lets you accurately track something moving at up to 60 miles per hour.
  • If you are shooting to a mile, 2,000 yards or more, this reticle will let you dial in. 
  • Because the marks are so small in places, the first focal plane is a great help. At the same time, it means you do lose the bottom of the Christmas tree so your ability to move the gun based on the hash marks is limited.
  • The “rapid range bars” let you get a rough idea of the distance to the target if you know the target size. You find the target and zoom in until the target is between the bars. Better still, you do not need a battery to make this work.
  • When the target fills the space between the range bars, if it will, you have a good idea of the distance using the scope’s information. If you go really long range, you probably cannot use the bars to gauge distance because the target will remain too small for a useful estimation.

Pros

  • Huge in-scope adjustment capabilities
  • Schmidt and Bender warranty
  • 4 full-length elevation lines at low magnification
  • First focal plane
  • Illuminated
  • Easy second shot capability
  • Range estimator does not need a battery
  • Good for hunting

Cons

  • The scope price is as much as a custom long-range precision rifle
  • Not caliber specific
  • Lighted dots can be big enough to hide long distance target

Summary: If you have big money on the line, put big money into your scope, rifle and ammo. Just remember the scope is only part of the equation.

Schmidt & Bender 5-45x56 PM II High Power Rifle Scope, 34 mm Tube, First Focal 666-911-532-I1-H5

SCHMIDT and BENDER GR2ID

The price of SCHMIDT and BENDER GR2ID varies, so check the latest price at

2. Best for Long-rage Daytime Shooting – Leupold H59

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm Riflescope

Horus Vision, the same company that developed the Tremor 3, makes the H59 found in Leupold Mark 5HD scopes. You can get the reticle in several different Leupold scopes.

Leupold H59

This is not a true Christmas tree reticle. It starts out that way but then switches to a straight column instead of continuing to spread out. Because these scopes are a first focal plane, that does make some sense. As you zoom in, the bottom of the reticle disappears from sight as the reticle enlarges.

It also does not have an upper elevation line. Once you get this one sighted in, say, 500 yards, then making shots at 100 yards becomes an issue. Unless you spend a lot of time shooting and know your target’s size to the inch, finding the hold over is very hard. You do not have an upper elevation line with hash marks to line up the shot.

Specifications: 

  • The non-lit reticle and lack of a vertical line above the windage makes this a scope strictly for long range daytime shooting. 
  • It is an MRAD scope.
  • The marks are numbered, so you do not have to remember what lines you are looking at. You can be on target with the reticle well past 1,000 yards.
  • You can also take your shot with this one and have a second shot if needed. If you can see the bullet impact through the scope, then you can use the detailed reticle to move your gun so that the reticle is properly placed. 
  • The range bars will also help you put an educated guess on a target’s distance if you know the size of the target. This is not as accurate as a range finder, but it does work. 

Pros

  • Leupold warranty
  • Costs less than a custom precision rifle
  • Numbered marks
  • Tiny dots between hash marks
  • Perfect for tournament shooting

Cons

  • Not caliber specific
  • Not illuminated
  • No guide to get you on target
  • No upper elevation line
  • Not ideal for hunting

Summary: This is an excellent reticle choice for someone who is punching paper at 1,000 or more yards. I say the minimum range is 500 yards, but you can zero even closer. That will make 1,000 yard shots that much harder.

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56mm Riflescope

Leupold H59

The price of Leupold H59 varies, so check the latest price at

3. Best for Hunting – VORTEX XLR MOA

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescope - XLR Reticle (MOA)

The Vortex XLR MOA reticle is found in several Vortex scopes, such as the HS LR 6-24×50. This is a true Christmas Tree reticle that makes getting a precise shot easy once you learn your gun and the bullet ballistics.

A view of the Vortex reticle with explanations of the marks

A view of the Vortex reticle with explanations of the marks.

What sets this apart from the other Christmas tree reticles is the upper elevation line which is also hash marked. If you sight your rifle in at 750 yards, then you have a hold under if you need to shoot at 400 yards. The upper elevation line doesn’t go all the way to the end of the line.

The Christmas tree here does not offer quite as much information and sighting ability as the Schmidt and Bender above. It still has a wealth of marks to help you get on target.

Specifications: 

  • You have to invisibly connect the lines on windage to the dots in the elevation drop section.
  • If you need a hold under, use the upper elevation hash mark. You will know where to hold the gun to get the shot on target.
  • A hold under is critical when your gun is sighted in at long distances, especially for hunters. If you sight in at 750 yards, then the center of your crosshairs is high at 100 yards.
  • You need those hold under hash marks on the upper elevation line to get on target. You do not want to take a shot at a true wall hanger and have the bullet zip right over his back.
  • This scope is a first focal plane. The lack of a center dot that gets bigger as you zoom in means more of the target is visible. At that, seeing small details past 1,000 yards is just not going to happen.
  • When zoomed all the way out, you see the windage and elevation lines look like a duplex reticle until you reach the Christmas tree. The lines also have a small gap between the thick lines and where the thin ones start.
  • You can get this reticle in MRAD or MOA in any of the scopes Vortex offers with this setup. The reticle is illuminated as well.

Pros

  • Christmas tree design makes windage easy to dial in
  • Easy to have a hold-under for close shots
  • Vortex warranty
  • Price
  • MOA or MRAD selection
  • Good for hunting

Cons

  • Not caliber specific
  • Less information than the Horus reticles 
  • Requires shooter to be precise in lining up shots using hash marks for windage
  • Dots only on elevation to either side
  • Hash marks not numbered

Summary: I am slowly replacing most of my scopes with Vortex because of the price and the glass quality. However, I generally do not shoot anything past 500 yards. My .50 BMG, which does shoot 1,000 yards, is getting a different scope.

Vortex Optics Viper HS LR 6-24x50 First Focal Plane Riflescope - XLR Reticle (MOA)

VORTEX XLR MOA

The price of VORTEX XLR MOA varies, so check the latest price at

4. NightForce NX8 2.5-20x50mm Rifle Scope

NIGHTFORCE NX8 2.5-20x50mm 8X Zoom Range F1 Illuminated Moar Reticle Black Matte Ultra-Compact Rugged Hunting Scope (C622)

The Nightforce MIL-XT™ is found in several lines of Nightforce scopes, such as the NightForce NX8 2.5-20x50mm. This is a modified Christmas tree reticle, as once you get so far down, the lines and marks stop extending out.

Enlarged view of the Nightforce MIL-XT

Enlarged view of the Nightforce MIL-XT.

The marks also extend out evenly for several rows and then jump to the next row, which extends a bit more. The hold under line is also short and does not extend to the top of the scope.

It is a first focal plane scope. Since you lose the lower windage lines as you zoom in, you can say an extended line is not needed. A big advantage is the elevation and windage marks are numbered in whole MRADs. This is especially helpful on the windage line. Smaller hash marks are between the full MRADs. The smaller marks are .2 MRADs or about .72 inches at 100 yards.

That is not quite as precise as a 1 MOA, about a half inch, at 100 yards, as found in some other long range scopes.

Someone who is used to popping paper at 1,000 yards or more can split the difference on the .2 MRAD and get down less than a ¼ MOA (to mix the measurements) if needed.

Specifications: 

  • The center dot is floating, meaning it is not connected to the rest of the reticle in any way. It is also tiny and should not affect centering on a reasonable target at 1,0000 yards.
  • The hash marks are MRAD and fractions of an MRAD. 
  • It is illuminated.
  • The top elevation line does not extend to the top. It gives you a lot of the information you need to make shots closer than what you are sighted in at.
  • If you are zeroed at 1,000 yards, taking a 500 yard shot means a hold under and the hash marks will let you get on target. 
  • However, if you need a 100 yard shot with a 1,000 yard zero, that upper elevation line may not be enough, depending on your bullet drop. You can compensate for that by sighting in at less than 1,000 yards. That does mean those 1,000 yard shots need a holdover.
  • Nightforce is used by military snipers and holds many international world records for accuracy and group size.

Pros

  • Reasonably priced scope
  • Illuminated
  • Nightforce warranty
  • Mark numbering
  • Hold-under range
  • Hash marks are numbered
  • Good for hunting

Cons

  • Not caliber specific
  • Limited lower windage lines
  • Lining up windage dots and hash marks takes practice

Summary: Nightforce is the preferred scope for snipers. Chris Kyle preferred it. The reticle is part of the reason. It also stands up to the punishment of guns like the SCAR and the .50 BMG.

NIGHTFORCE NX8 2.5-20x50mm 8X Zoom Range F1 Illuminated Moar Reticle Black Matte Ultra-Compact Rugged Hunting Scope (C622)

NightForce NX8 2.5-20x50mm Rifle Scope

The price of NightForce NX8 2.5-20x50mm Rifle Scope varies, so check the latest price at

5. Most Affordable – Bushnell Deploy

Bushnell Engage 6-24x50mm Riflescope, Fully Multi Coated Optics with Deploy™ MOA Reticle Hunting Riflescope

The Deploy by Bushnell reticle is their version of the long range reticle inside the long range scope, the Engage.

The Deploy reticle has the bare minimum information on the reticle to be a long-range scope. This is not a Christmas tree. The hash marks on the lines are not marked with additional information. Most of the time, I am a great fan of the second focal plane scope. When it comes to reaching 1000 yards, I am less of a fan. That reticle needs to enlarge so I can better line up my shot. On the other hand, this is a good scope and will not make you wonder about making your next mortgage payment. 

Specifications: 

  • This scope will not enlarge the reticle. As you zoom in, it stays the same size. The hash marks are 1 MOA.
  • The reticle is not illuminated. Lighting up the reticle makes twilight shots easier because you can clearly see the reticle in the scope.
  • Adjusting the rifle position for holdover or hold under and windage becomes more difficult as you move farther away from the center of the reticle. You have to put an educated guess on where the hash marks would cross if they extended out that far.
  • It has minimal hash marks on the upper elevation line. You do not have enough hash marks to sight in at 1,000 yards and get an ideal shooting solution for 125 yards. 
  • If you zero at 500 yards, you do have enough for the hold over. For most hunters, that is enough.
  • Bushnell is good enough for use in all but the magnum calibers. I use Bushnell on some of my deer rifles and they have never let me down.
  • If you are learning about long range shooting and do not have a big budget, this is an ideal starter reticle and scope. It will help you learn how to figure out wind deflection and bullet drop.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Simple
  • Beginner reticle
  • Good for hunting.

Cons

  • Very simple
  • Not caliber specific
  • Second focal plane
  • Not illuminated
  • Hash marks not numbered
  • Hard to line up shots with a lot of holdover and windage

Summary: If you are just learning about long range shooting, this is a great reticle to use. It makes you learn the basics of wind, bullet drop and other important factors. When you upgrade to another scope, those lessons will stay with you.

With the upgrade, you can use what you learned to be even more accurate with the new scope’s detailed information.

Bushnell Engage 6-24x50mm Riflescope, Fully Multi Coated Optics with Deploy™ MOA Reticle Hunting Riflescope

Bushnell Deploy

The price of Bushnell Deploy varies, so check the latest price at

Buying Guide

A reticle is only part of the reason you buy a rifle scope. Other factors are durability and cost. The scope has to stand up to the recoil your rifle generates. It also has to fit your budget. 

We have other articles that discuss those options. This article is just about the best rifle scope reticles and rifle scope reticles explained.

So, the best rifle scope reticles are the ones that meet your shooting needs.

Tournaments

If you are serious about tournament shooting and winning big money, then you need a scope and reticle that will let you do that. Win a few of those tournaments, and you can pay for a Schmidt and Bender!

The shooters have everything from their grandpa’s deer rifle to custom guns of more than $5,000. Scopes also range from deer hunting optics to the very best the optics world has to offer.

Plinking

Some people just like to shoot long range and do not enter tournaments. If plinking is your thing, you do not need to spend a huge amount. You can get all the scope you need for about the price of a good off-the-shelf long range rifle.

A modified Christmas tree reticle is good enough for this. Part of the fun of plinking is working the scope’s reticle.

Hunting

The reticle you need for hunting depends on your hunting conditions. Most of my shots at deer are under 100 yards, so a simple duplex reticle is enough.

When I go to other places where long distance shots are required, I need a reticle that lets me make immediate adjustments for elevation and wind. A full Christmas tree is what I want in this case.

Get a lighted reticle too. Those twilight shots are easier to make when you are not looking for the reticle as well as your target.

Use the red light. Red does not affect your night vision. The pupil in your eye stays open. At twilight, you need your eye to gather as much light as possible.

For Everything

If you are one of those shooters who wants one gun to rule them all and shoot everything, you need a reticle that provides a lot of information through the scope tube. 

A full Christmas tree reticle with numbers and information will suit you best. You also need a tall upper elevation line with hash marks.

FAQs 

What is the most popular reticle for hunting?

A simple duplex reticle is the most popular for hunting. A duplex with limited hash marks is No. 2 on the list.

What is the most powerful rifle scope?

The most powerful rifle scope in terms of magnification is the March Tactical 8-80x. It did not make the top 5 reticle list because the reticle is woefully weak for something with such high magnification and a high price.

What reticle do snipers use?

Most snipers use a Christmas tree or modified Christmas tree reticle with MRAD adjustments and marks. MRAD is more exact than MOA. 1/10th of an MRAD is equal to 1 centimeter at 100 meters.

Conclusion

As noted, I will be putting a Nightforce on my .50 BMG. This is because of recoil. The Nightforce is simply the toughest scope you can buy today.

If I was shooting another gun with less recoil and reaching 1,000 or more yards regularly, I would get the Leupold. I do not shoot enough big-money tournaments to justify the cost of the Schimdt and Bender. 

If I was shooting big-money tournaments regularly, I would get the Schmidt and Bender.

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