How to Choose the Best Long Range Scope
All long-range scopes aren't built equal.
When looking for a long-range rifle scope, you want one that can deliver adequate eye relief for a comfortable shooting experience.
You're better off with a rifle scope that can provide more light for your eyes and an excellent resolution for long-range shots.
If your budget allows, go for a high-end long-range scope. While you can still find good scopes on the cheap, most low-cost long-range rifle scopes aren't solid enough to handle the rigors of shooting targets at extreme distances.
To help you get value for your money, we've broken down 6 of the most important considerations when choosing a long-range rifle scope. We'll also tell you why each element is crucial when deciding which scope works best for your needs.
By the tail end of this post, you should be able to pinpoint the best long-range scope for your rifle.
Let's get cracking;
You're looking for a long-range shooting scope, so you'll want one that offers sufficient magnification to enable you to hit a target 1,000 yards away.
We're talking about magnification power that allows you to zoom targets as far as 1,000 years to appear as close as 100 yards. Pick a long-range scope with a magnification of at least 10X.
While magnification is crucial, you don't want incredibly low or super high magnification. Ensure your rifle scope offers a magnification range of 4X to 6X on the lower end for optimal performance.
Remember, even though you're looking for a hunting scope designed for long-distance shots, you may want to shoot over short distances too. So choose a unit that offers the best of both worlds.
Scopes with a reasonable magnification range allow you to do more with your rifle. A scope with a magnification factor of six, for instance, gives a zoom range spanning from 3-18X, 4-24X, or 5-30X.
With such a rifle scope, you can use 3-18X for low-end precision range and 4-24X or 5-30X for high magnification.
While you're at it, make sure the hunting scope of your choice comes with a magnification throw lever to let you zoom in and out quickly and smoothly.
For starters, parallax occurs when your rifle's reticle and the target focus are inconsistent within the scope.
Rifle scopes that don't offer parallax adjustment have a parallax set anywhere from 50 to 175 yards. While it is fine for short ranges, it doesn't work for long-range shooting.
An incorrectly set parallax can cause flaws in the head positioning behind your rifle scope. Further, this can change the position of the reticle and, by extension, affect your ability to take accurate shots.
So, when scouting for a long-range scope, you want to make sure it offers parallax adjustment. Pick one whose parallax knob sits on the adjustment turret saddle instead of the objective bell. Why is this essential? …because it's easy to access and use the parallax knob when positioned that way.
Any long-range scopes worth your attention should come with either a first focal plane reticle or a second focal plane.
With the first focal plane scope, your rifle's reticle enlarges with your target as you increase magnification. This implies that if the scope has a graduated long-range reticle, a 10 minute-of-angle (MOA) at 5X magnification maintains the same MOA at 10X.
A first focal plane reticle offers several benefits for long-range shooters and hunters, including:
- Consistent subtension
- Crosshairs are more visible at high magnification
The reticle doesn't magnify with the target with a second focal plane scope. This means that a reticle if a reticle has a graduated mark subtending, a 10 MOA at 5X magnification will subtend to 20 MOA at 10X.
Second focal plane scopes offer an excellent resolution, making them ideal for longer-range shots. Still, they aren't preferred for long-range shooting primarily because graduation marks and sub-tensions for windage and elevation adjustments differ with magnification ranges.
The best long-range scopes come with high-quality reticles. The most important thing to note is to choose a rifle scope that suits your needs.
Some "simple" scopes have graduations on the horizontal or vertical wires. Others are relatively complex, with several extra aiming points to the right, left, center, and below. Of course, the more complicated a long-range shooting scope is, the harder it is to take clean long-distance shots.
Because long-range hunting is meant to be fun, you want a rifle scope that is as easy to use as possible. You'll want, therefore, to choose a scope whose graduation marks correspond to your scope adjustments.
If you're using a rifle scope with MOA adjustment, you're better off with a reticle with MOA graduations and (milliradians) MILs. That way, you can transition from a hold-over to dial adjustment and vice-versa smoothly and rapidly.
When looking for a good long-range scope, you want one with MIL or MOA. Does it matter which rifle scope you choose? Not really. While the two scopes are significantly different, both move the reticle at a pre-defined range.
Some users prefer using scopes with MILs for long-range targets primarily because they feature graduations of 10. Other shooters find MILs too complicated for long-range shootings because they're marked in inches.
Even though the choice between a MIL or MOA rifle scope depends on personal preference, it would be best to learn how to use both long-range scopes. Think of it as a strategy to become an accomplished long-range shooter or hunter.
Whether you choose a MIL or MOA long-range rifle scope, make sure it comes with a zero stop. That way, you make elevation adjustments easily. On top of that, it ensures that you don't spin adjustment knobs past your rifle's zero.
Some long-range rifle scopes also feature one turn of elevation and vertical adjustment. These offer corrections for extreme long-range distances of 700+ yards.
You can also choose a scope whose elevation adjustment allows elevation adjustment to support more than two rotations of click stop adjustment knobs.
Bases and Rings
When looking for an extreme long-range scope, you want a unit that offers robust mounting, so consider the bases and rings.
More specifically, pick a long-range scope whose mounting offers a vertical offset. That way, you can leverage the reticle's movement range within the scope.
For this, you'll need a rifle scope with a base of 20 MOA offset or more. Hunting scopes with a 20 MOA base are most popular for long-range target shooting because they offer an additional 20 MOA elevation adjustment.
The other reason you'll want to choose a long-range scope with a 20 MOA base is that the offset will place the reticle closer to the rifle's optical center when you dial it to hit targets at extreme long-range distances. Besides, this mechanism offers a clear sight picture with better glass clarity.
Choosing the Best Long Range Scope FAQs
Before we wrap up this post, let's look at a few questions most hunters and shooters ask when looking for the best long-range scopes.
What scope should I use for long-range shooting?
First, you want a scope capable of giving you variable magnification when it comes to long-distance shooting. Extreme long-range scopes with a magnification of 3X to 12X will get the job done depending on the distance.
You also want to pick a long-range rifle scope with an eye relief of 3.6 to 4.4 inches.
The Stealth Vision Scope 56 mm model with 34 mm aircraft grade aluminum tube and a 16.89 to 22.15-inch objective lens diameter is one of the best long-range rifle scopes for the money.
Designed for long-range hunting, it features breakthrough technology to enable you to hit targets 1,000+ yards away.
On top of that, it offers
- Stellar glass quality and edge-to-edge clarity for extreme long-range shooting
- Variable magnification for short and longer distances
- Superior light transmission and management
Which is better: MOA or MRAD?
Long-range rifle scopes use either MOA or MRAD measurement systems.
When sighting your rifle scope, you must use the turrets and reticle together to achieve the best long-range accuracy possible.
Even with the best long-range shooting scope, if you don't sight it in with MOA or MRAD, you'll not achieve much.
So, which one is better? The truth is, neither. It all depends on your target shooting preferences. If you prefer the metric system (yards or inches), you're better off with an MOA reticle. If you think in meters or centimeters, pick a long-range rifle scope that uses the MRAD system.
The Bottom Line
The market is inundated with long-range scopes, each promising to offer the best target shooting experience.
You can easily spend your money on the wrong long-range optic if you don't know where to start and all the features to consider.
Armed with the factors highlighted in this post, however, you should have a problem pinpointing the best long-range rifle scope with excellent resolution optics for your needs.
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