The sniper scope is not your everyday, basic hunting model glass sighting system. Even though few readers become snipers or police sharpshooters. What can be learned here is that the best long-range rifle shooting is accomplished when using the very best equipment.
Here, I will not set aside price because the best costs lots of money. Truth can be found in the statement, "You get what you pay for!"
Schmidt & Bender. 3-20-5- PM II
Tract Toric UHD
Vortex Viper PST
Bushnell Elite Tactical G2
Vortex Optics VHS
Burris Optics XTR II 5-25 X 50 mm
Leupold Mark IV
Nikon Black FX1000
1. Schmidt-Bender 3-20x50 PM II
Schmidt & Bender is a German-built and marketed product. Every year at the great American Shot Show, I stop and look over the complete line presented by this company. This optical system is considered top shelf in terms of offering snipers the very best in long-range glass sights.
The German lens material is high quality. They know how to manufacture to very tight tolerances and use only the very best material available on the planet. Schmidt & Bender scopes are nothing less than world-class products on a sniper rifle.
Their reticle choice is a single one--the H2CMR MOA reticle with MRAD locking. These are military specifications.
The user needs to know how to weaponize mathematics, judge distance or operate complicated range equipment. They must pay attention to a spotter's orders and own a gut level feel for the shot. When that all happens, the German scope system delivers the mail in grand fashion.
This scope carries a very large 50mm forward objective lens bell housing. The base main tube diameter is 34mm to house all the advanced turret parts necessary for gaining ultra-long-range abilities in terms of elevation and windage requirements.
The scope is illuminated in red and carries a 90mm eye relief. This is workable for 50 BMG type rounds and rifles. I shoot the Germain Style HS-50. This scope does the deed. The turret carries adjustable clicks to 84 marks with a 0.25 MOA value between full one-minute clicks.
All scope elements about this military-grade product (mil-spec) make this scope unquestionably one of the best in the world.
2. Tract Toric UHD
If the TRACT scope costs $1000, it is actually worth $2000. The middleman has been kicked out of the equation.
I am not advising the purchase of a TRACT scope just because of the dollar value, but rather the value of the complete product in a police officer's hands. It all comes down to one lawman and his rifle if he gets the green light to shoot.
This sniper scope offers the Christmas tree style long-range reticle (sub-tensions) and uses floating center dot 2 MRAD windage correction hold points.
The lens glass in this scope is the TRACT Ultra High Definition (UHD) optics design including the industry-leading SCHOTT high transmission HT glass.
The shooting I have done with this scope indicates that it is totally repeatable even when shooting targets up to 800 yards during basic testing. The clicks are positive. The zero-stop system is spot on.
In fact, I like the system used on this scope very much because it is as simple as field dirt to use and provides very accurate turret adjusted placement.
When used in real-time, hands-on test firing, the quality glass on this scope provides clear images at long distances. The side focus knob system is easy to use. It is very accurate. It could almost be used as a range finder to at least the point of infinity.
The three systems I have in use today have been subjected to high recoil delivered by the new 300 PRC by Hornady, the 300 Win Mag as applied to a hunting weight rifle CZ American Custom Shop Special, and a light rifle chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor.
Not a single hitch has been noted with any of these three test scope systems.
These scopes are built by a high-end company in Japan. Sniper grade scope glass today comes from Europe or Japan. Junk glass and even plastic lenses come from other sources.
3. Vortex Viper PST
Vortex is not generally associated with military sniper activities. However, it is associated with civilian shooting events.
This does not mean that the scope cannot fill the needs of a sniper. But, it must be understood that brands that are sniper rated have spent years in the field proving themselves in combat situations.
If you are an occasional hunter or marksman, you might consider the higher-priced scope. This helps you stretch your shots into the next zip code.
As a second option, small police departments that can’t afford $4000 in glass sights per rifle need to look at this scope brand as a real possible task filling toolset.
The Vortex Viper Gen II riflescope includes 14 different options in size, power range, and added controls to meet specific tasks in the field. It is a really wide choice product.
I have gone straight to this model because it is designed for ultra-accurate bullet placement, withstands massive field stress, and features a tactical design right down to the last screw in the turret system.
Currently at Ballistics Research & Development no less than two of these scopes are on test rifles. Why? Because I can’t mess around with problem glass that takes up time and energy when time is always the enemy of a hands-on product tester within the firearms industry.
This Scope features a 2-10X32 objective lens size and is set up for light rifles or AR-10 class weapons. The smaller size and more compact system make it great for urban sniper scenarios. This is an FFP, first focal plane scope, just like the big guys.
That means a shooter can pull a target in close range with his sub-tension keeping up with the magnification range seen through the scope.
This scope has open tactical turrets and allows fast dialing in when changes in the range are encountered from the scope's zero. Dial and shoot is the rule here. Windage is also taken into consideration.
Sharp, snappy clicks provide solid MOA graduation. The zero stop system works like a Swiss watch.
The lighted reticle uses 10 intensity levels. The extra-low dispersion glass increases viewing resolution and color fidelity. The waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof scope features “O” ring sealed mechanisms making this a working scope even in hard environments.
4. Bushnell Elite Tactical G2
This Bushnell tactical scope is an entry-level scope for the individual training for long-range shooting applications. It is not classed as a sniper scope, but a starter system that keeps the budget alive and provides all the necessary tools of the trade.
This scope uses the ultra-wideband multicoated lens for good light transmission, rain guard HD for outstanding anti-fog technology, and carries 6-24X magnification level.
The GRDMR features mil-hash marks in its first focal plane (FFP) design. The scope carries a large 30 mm tube construction giving way to a high elevation and windage figure when turning up the range or fighting off a stiff crosswind.
Priced at $ 641.78, the scope is a good value for 100-yard training applications. Shooters appreciate its high-level accuracy for training and development.
5. Vortex Optics VHS
The Vortex Optics Viper HS series of long-range precision scopes is a value-packed system in that retails for $899 on Amazon. This scope features good glass, open corrections, and an XLR reticle with MOA mark graduations (sub-tensions).
This scope uses the Vortex Zero stop system (CRS). The lens provides extra time during low light conditions due to its advanced light transmission.
Powered by a 6-24 X50, this scope has ample high magnification for pushing bullets well into the advanced distance common to long-range shooters. For this group,1000 yards is just warming up!
This scope is an excellent choice for big rifle shooting police departments, individual operators, or target shooters. This scope is not military rated at this time.
Currently, I shoot several of the Vortex brand glass sights and have found them to be very dependable and easy to use in the field.
6. Burris Optics XTR II 5-25 X 50 mm
This scope is sniper central in terms of its ability to get the job done. Not cheap, but no mission-specific sniper scope is or ever will be in the budget rated class of rifle glass.
The Burris glass is in my stable of optical systems. Right now, it is paying its keep on a .224 Valkyrie that is going into the whitetail woods within 72 hours of this review's completion.
Shooting this rifle all summer using Hornady 88 grain ELD Match ammunition, the scope has delivered positive results on rock chucks, prairie dogs, and a single coyote to date.
This Burris is not military rated, but rest assured, I would not want anyone doping the elevation on me even to one mile given the correct cartridge was being used.
This scope features ample clicks for 2000-yard work with the aid of a 20 MOA rail. The scope can be used with click elevation adjustments on the open turrets and also sub-tensions in the reticle system of the glass.
Tack on both systems and you are home free to 1,800 yards in the 300 PRC or 2,000 yards with the 338 Lapua.
The click graduations are crisp and stay put. The zero stop is accurate when returning to a proper zero setting. The lens holds light well and is clear and bright even in an old guy's eyes like mine. Glass systems like this allow me to shoot without glasses at a 20/20 level downrange.
This scope features a one-piece 30mm tube construction. The turrets are low mounted and very wide. I would have to say this scope is in a very tight race against the Night Force lines of sniper scopes. (That is going out on a limb a bit for sure.!)
7. Primary Arms
Primary Arms makes a lot of scopes. But, none of them are long-range quality and I am very sure not “Sniper Grade.” The best of the best that the company builds is this model in a sniper scope priced out a $1499.99.
This scope includes an illuminated reticle, advanced Japanese glass in the lens system, and a large 34mm main tube that uses a pile of well-made core turret and lens parts.
This scope uses a CR2032 battery, retains a click value on its turrets of ¼ MOA, and has a field of view at 100 yards of 16.60 ft. high mag-3.30 feet.
The scope is night vision compatible and features a very massive 56mm objective lens. This scope is light grabbing son of a gun that does a great job in low light conditions. It also includes sub tensions in MOA graduations.
The turret housing elevates lacking MOA bases to 95 MOA with windage correction to 45MOA. The scope's total weight is 38.2 oz.
The scope features convenient side focus adjustment knobs and easy access to controls. No military mil-spec designation can be found for the product. Buyers seem satisfied with this scope's performance; however, I have not used this product in my research and review work.
8. NightForce Beast
After the film American Sniper, the NightForce optics were sealed as the go-to glass of the wannabe snipers. Even the best-known shooter on earth wanted a NightForce scope.
The NightForce Beast is the upper limit of the company's offering for a sniper specific glass sight. I have used the scope as part of an evaluation of a new sniper file built by Ithaca. My findings were published with Gun Digests two years ago.
The scope uses a massive tube diameter of 34mm. This scope also features a massive turret that will do more than most shooters will ever need. This scope has ample elevation and windage settings that are set up in MRADS (military). The 5-25X56 magnification and reticle size (bell housing) pull light like little else on the market.
The scope is named the BEAST because it stands for “Best Example Of Advanced Scope Technology.”
This quality scope cuts fine point impact placement down to a hair at long range, adjusts to perfection in terms of its ability to offer a clear target and extended ranges (one mile) and maintains accuracy even in some very harsh field conditions.
My testing of the glass took place in the dead of a Dakota winter at temperatures below zero on several occasions.
9. Leupold Mark IV
Leupold offers some of the best sniper scopes built today. Its MARK IV offers three reticle types. This American company also installs others at the buyer's request.
The scope uses the zero-lock system. Zero return is included for those that want to match with other scope glass. This scope uses the Leupold Twilight Max HD light management system.
The scope includes an illuminated reticle which is very workable for low light shooting conditions.
The Impact 29-MOA in terms of a reticle is recommended as a sniper long-range reticle. Others are fine but are set up more for hunting big game. Reticle selection should be based on the scope's use. Leupold gives you several options.
Even though this quality scope is not mil-spec, the sight is very workable for law enforcement and operator sharpshooting requirements without question. This scope is an advanced design in every respect.
10. Nikon Black FX1000
The 6-24X50M in MRADS is an excellent entry scope for the long-range shooter/sniper in training. This scope is mounted on my Ruger Hawkeye in 300 WIN MAG. With its MRAD sub-tensions, you are talking military right out of the box.
This glass is not a budget-priced option. However, It is affordable for the average guy trying to pay the bills at home and still do some shooting.
This scope is so darn good that I would recommend it for small police departments, target shooters that want to go way downrange, and training folks looking at making sniper school someday.
This glass has a dead solid zero stop system. It features a side focus that is crisp and clear to the correct indicated range settings. The scope handles light like a pro. All the correct tools are included for under a grand. This is hard to even get your head around.
Nikon sent me this scope two years ago. Because I am a professional in the industry, my rifle sees shooting all year long. At this point, I have not noted a single failure with this system.
The only problem is that other scope makers may get a little nervous with this 1000 Black hanging around the rifle range.
The scope has a 30mm main tube like the other big guys and uses exposed high-speed turrets for advancing range/ elevation or windage.
If the question is have we covered all the good glass for sniper work? The answer is not even close. We could spend several more thousand words reviewing good sniper glass.
I have checked out some of the best scope brands built in Canada and Europe that do not ever come up on the retail listings. I call it the “Black Arts” glassworks program.