The Best Long Range Scopes of 2017 Reviewed

Best scope for 1000 yards

Choosing the best scope for 1000 yards and beyond is one, if not the most important aspect of long range marksmanship.

No other feat will establish the relationship of precision marksmanship better than hitting a target from 1000 yards. Having a quality rifle, a round with a superior ballistic coefficient are crucial factors in making the shot, but you can’t shoot what you can’t see.

Rifle scopes, or telescopic sights, are essentially scaled down refracting telescopes. There are several factors to consider when selecting the proper scope, such as what optical magnification works best for the distance you’ll be shooting from, what type of weapon you’ll be shooting with, and which reticle will work best for you.

Before we discuss the latest and greatest scopes, let’s cover the basics of optical magnification, which zoom works best for what, and objective lenses.

Optical Basics

The first thing you’ll need to know before buying a rifle scope is the magnification. Magnification is essentially an enlargement of a distant object. This process is possible through calculating the angular and linear magnification every time your eye looks through the scope.

Light is gathered from an object the scope’s objective lens is aimed at, the focused light rays reflect off the scopes primary mirror and a high-resolution image is then projected through the exit pupil. Scopes with larger objective lens diameters will capture more light rays from the target, thus producing a brighter, precise image through the eyepiece.

If you take a second and look at the information for a potential rifle scope, you’ll probably see something like “5x50mm,” a scope with “5x” means the scope will project a sight picture with target appearing five times closer to the shooter. The second variable is the diameter of the objective lens, measured in millimeters.

The rule of thumb is 10 times scopes are best suited for shooting off hand at distances of 500 yards or less, scopes with greater than 10 times magnification are best for extremely long-range precision shots.

Variable Zoom Vs. Fixed Zoom

Both variable zoom and fixed zoom scopes both have their individual perks, and both offer their own attributes that the other doesn’t. Variable zoom scopes feature adjustable magnification ranges, allowing for comfortable precision shooting over a wide variety of distances, useful for hunting and completion based person shooting.

Fixed ranged scopes are great because of their simplicity in setting up your shot, and generally better light transition. The only downfall is you’re limited in the distance you can engage a target from, unless you displace your position for a better vantage point.

Reticles

Reticles, or crosshairs, come in dozens of different styles and range in complexity. The most common reticle is the standard crosshair, just a cross with intersecting points in the center of the optic.

Mil Dot is the most common amongst military and law enforcement personnel because each dot in the reticle is a measure of distance, it can account for windage, and horizontal trajectory of the bullet, so the marksman can make fast adjustments without having to look away from the target.

There are countless other reticle patterns and each serve a unique purpose, many manufactures have started introducing their own, unique reticles into the market, but the Mil Dot is by far the preferred aperture for professional marksman due to its simplicity and precision across the board.

Objective Lens

For shoots at 1000 yards or greater, an objective lens with a diameter of 50mm or greater will be ideal. Keep in mind, the smaller the diameter, the less light that will be reflected to the eye of the shooter.

Factors such as clarity and background images will be slightly diminished the smaller the objective lens. If you’re going to be using a variable zoom optic, you’ll want a larger objective lens to accommodate the wide range of distances you’ll be shooting at.

NightForce NXS

The NightForce NXS is a 5.5-22x56mm Rifle scope that’s built to military specifications, it can take a beating to say the least. The first thing I noticed about this optic is its size. Mind you, the NSX is built for military and law enforcement shooting applications, so it’s going to be heavier than its traditional sporting counterparts.

The 6061-T6 aluminum casing and glass lenses are about two to three times thicker than the average sporting scope, so make sure your weapon can accommodate the added size and weight. The finish is a nice, even matte finish that minimizes light reflection.

There are several tools incorporated with the NXS, such as the extended eye relief of four inches to accommodate for minor parallax adjustments, and to give your eye plenty of clearance from the recoil of shooting a large caliber weapon.

Pros

· The NXS is an extremely long-range rifle scope with a maximum magnification of 22X. At that magnification, engaging targets at 1000 yards and beyond with precision with half inch groupings. This high-power optic best compliments rifles .308 caliber and beyond, all the way to .50 caliber BMG.

· The large objective lens allows for high resolution sight pictures and a wide field of vision, even at distances past 1,000 yards. 52mm adds a solid ¼ MOA, which is 2mm more than most standard lens diameters, which really makes a difference at these distances.

· MOA reticle with defined white markings on the adjustment turrets allows the shooter to make easy ballistic adjustments to the magnification power settings. The adjustment turrets use the standard ¼ MOA turn system, and work seamlessly with the reticle for easy ballistic coefficient calculations.

The windage adjustment turret allows for adjustments of up to 60 MOA, and the elevation adjustment turret can be adjusted up to 100 MOA. In addition to easy ballistic adjustments, there are thicker crosshairs for the scopes reticle to make your target more visible in low-light conditions.

Cons

· The only con I can personally think of is the price tag. The NXS’s MSRP is generally expensive.

Leupold Mark 4 Tactical Scope

This is the rifle scope I used when I served on the Special Weapons and Tactics Team at the police department I worked at. The Mark 4 has a 4.5-14x magnification with a 50 mm objective high resolution lens. What I love most about Leupold is the standard 1/10 mil-radian MOA turret settings for making quick adjustments for windage and elevation on the fly.

The adjustment turrets make an audible click so if you’re shooting in low light, or if you can’t stop tracking your target, you can adjust the magnification without looking away from your scope. The front focal plane allows exact spacing of your reticle while you’re adjusting the magnification.

The Mark 4 Tactical scope uses the TMR, or tactical milling reticle, which is essentially a hybrid mil dot reticle, but with larger markings and reference points for faster target acquisition and easier range adjustments.

In my experiences with the Mark 4, I can honestly say it projects a bright, clean, sharp image well beyond 500 yards. I’ve even used this scope as a spotting scope in a pinch.

· Long range turret adjustments allow the shooter to make adjustments and accommodate for bullet drops up to 50 MOA at ranges of to 50 yards. If sighted in correctly, it’s possible to make mil adjustments of up to 100 MOA when taking longer ranged shots.

I have taken 1000 yard shots with a Springfield M1A with the Leupold Mark 4 with a 300 yard zero. The average round will drop about 37 inches at this range, but if you use a magnum load with the Mark 4, the drop is easily compensated.

· Setting up the illuminated reticle is extremely user friendly. Just install the battery and turn the reticles control knob to turn on the reticle. The reticles intensity can be adjusted brighter or dimmer based on the number of clicks on the Mark 4’s illumination turret.

One neat little feature about the illumination setting is there are off switches incorporated in between the variable illumination settings, so the shooter can quickly turn the reticle illumination on and off without adjusting the intensity or brightness of the reticle.

Cons

· I wouldn’t recommend this scope to a shooter who doesn’t have an intimate understanding of the Mil Dot system.

Bushnell Elite Tactical Rifle Scope

Bushnell scopes are known amongst long range precision marksman for their quality construction, clarity, and brightness of target picture. The Bushnell elite series features several of my favorite scopes, such as the Elite 10x Tactical, which, I’ve beat the crap out of to be honest, but it held it’s zero no matter what I threw at it.
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The Elite Tactical is constructed of Mil Spec aluminum, then is purged in Bushnell’s nitrogen immersion treatment that makes the optic waterproof, shockproof, and most importantly, fog proof. The optic uses a second focal plane, which means the mill dots will only be focused at one power setting, which is 6-24x50mm, with the turrets mill dot adjustment, you can adjust the optic up to 24x, which your mil dots will be set at .5 mil, offering more precision and tighter groupings than most single focal plane scopes in this class.

Although the scope can be set to 6x magnification, I wouldn’t recommend it because it will be set at 2 mils per click, still accurate but I wouldn’t bank on it personally. I’ve found that 12x is the sweet spot for a perfect zero with this optic.

Pros

· Smooth adjustment oversized Bushnell turrets knows allow for easy windage and elevation adjustments to accommodate operating in various environments and weather conditions. The audible click ensures your adjustment is made correctly, but is muted enough to maintain stealth. Adjustments are smooth and functional, yet rigid enough to not be knocked out of adjustment when on the move.
· Nitrogen treated mil spec single piece aluminum tube that’s impact resistant, fog proof, and waterproof. The tube diameter is 30mm. The scope also features 5-inch-long sunshade and standard plastic lens covers to keep your lenses safe and free of scratches and debris during transportation and storage.
· The Elite Tactical 50mm objective lens gives the marksman a high-resolution point of view due to the large amount of ambient light that’s absorbed by the lens. I’ve personally noticed the clarity of this lens is substantially more clear than other 6-24x power scopes. The light absorption is so well, taking shots in low light conditions didn’t require the addition of a night scope attachment.

Cons

· Eye relief is only around three inches, so use caution when firing with high powered rifles. I haven’t had any issues but it’s best to err on the side of caution. I did a quick measurement of the eye relief and I got measurements that are well within the parameters of scopes of this magnification.

Vortex Optics 4.5-27×56 Razor HD Gen II Riflescope

When I first shot with the Vortex Optics Razor HD, I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. I have a Vortex scope on one of my .308 rifles and I wasn’t very impressed with it. One of my good friends mounted the Razor HD on his Savage .338 laupa, which had damn near perfect shot placement every time aside from the usual operator error. I was impressed so I thought it was worth taking another look at.

The Razor HD ll features a 4.5-27×56 magnification range with an illuminated EBR-2C reticle, which is very thin compared to most reticles, which goes nicely with the scopes magnification range.

The 56mm objective lens is massive and absorbs an unprecedented amount of ambient lighting and clarity, the HD in the name is no joke to say the least. The eye relief is a comfortable 3.7 inches so there is plenty of wiggle room. The low-profile turrets make up for the weight of the scope, which is a staggering 3lbs 12oz.

The windage and elevation turrets use the MRAD mil system of adjustment, the elevation turret is set at 10 mils per click, 5 mils per click left or right on the windage turret. One feature I absolutely loved about the turrets was how smooth locking and unlocking the turrets were, the clicks were smooth and didn’t feel wiggly or soft.

Pros

· Extremely long-range optic with a 4.5-27 variable zoom and a 56mm objective lens.
· Parallax adjustment turret size is the same as the windage and elevation turrets so the optic is well balanced and aesthetically pleasing, compared to several other Vortex models which featured a smaller parallax adjustment turret, which frankly, drove me crazy.
· Extremely precise EBR-2C illuminated reticle that stays sharp requires of the illumination settings. Each reticle illumination setting features an off switch in between each illumination power for quick On/Off toggling.
· Rugged, durable aluminum construction with high quality glass lenses.

Cons

· Some would say the weight would be an issue for the average user but in my opinion, I don’t think it’s too bad depending on the tactical application of the weapon will be used in.
· Some controls will be out of view for left handed shooters, so lefty’s will have to adjust accordingly.

Steiner M5Xi

The Steiner M5Xi is one of the best rifle scopes on the market right now. Designed based off the feedback of professional military snipers. The magnification range of the optic is a variable 5-25x power with a massive 56mm objective lens, with up to 94% light absorption. The eye relief is set at the standard 3 ½ inches so the scope will feel intuitive with any weapon you mount it on.

The reticle is an illuminated multipurpose sniper reticle set in mrads. 26 mrads for elevation adjustment, and 6 mrads for windage adjustments. The illumination turret is set beside the parallax turret so adjustments are quick and easy to make. This optic is straight up designed for use in combat so the scopes nitrogen filled inner tube renders the optic waterproof, shock resistant, and fog proof. Flawless repeatability and reliability across the board.

Pros

· Extremely durable and resistant to pretty much anything you could think of that could destroy the optic.
· 56mm objective lens allows for up to 94% light transmission from the target to the scope for maximum clarity.
· Multipurpose sniper reticle designed for professional snipers allows for speedy magnifications and corrections for distances over 1000 yards.
· Full lifetime replacement warranty.

Cons

· EXPENSIVE!

Conclusion

Thank you for reading my review of the best scope for 1000 yards. Mind you, the search for the perfect scope for you is a strictly subjective matter, meaning what works best for you may be entirely different for a different shooter. I would personally trust my life with any of the optics on this list. It’s strictly a matter of preference.

My personal selection is the Steiner M5Xi because of its proven battlefield durability and design. This scope has almost every feature a marksman would need, all streamlined into one precision rifle optic. Happy Shooting!