The Top 5 Rifle Scopes for Long-Range Hunting

The fundamental proposition of a long-range rifle scope is clear-cut. Its primary objective is to consistently and precisely position a small projectile at a specific location, often across considerable distances.

While optical clarity is a valuable additional feature, precision scopes also serve as observation instruments; their primary function revolves around ensuring accurate bullet delivery. 

Factors contributing to this task—detailed reticles, turrets that move with certainty and accuracy, magnification, focus, and illumination controls—generally outweigh considerations like low-light brightness and optical perfection. 

We evaluate these attributes in a prioritized sequence: precision and practicality take precedence, with optics following closely behind.

How did the rifles change over the years?

Precision scopes’ advanced capabilities and effectiveness have become commonplace in recent years. It’s difficult to fathom that a mere decade ago, locating a target scope with a practical first-plane reticle, dependable controls, and the durability required for dynamic precision rifle competition rigors was challenging. 

Today, precise and efficient competition scopes are available for under $500. The top-tier offerings in this category combine world-class optics with precise gearing, designed to function seamlessly on a high-recoil rifle amidst the challenges of competition settings—enduring grit, wind, stress, and the overall chaos of the environment.

How do experts grade rifles?

Experts’ assessment of long-range rifle scopes involves a comprehensive 100-point evaluation, resulting in a total numeric score, which we then translate into grades for each submission. 

The optical grade depends on how well it sees in different conditions. The aiming system grade looks at how well it helps you aim accurately. Design grade considers its build, innovation, flexibility, and toughness. Lastly, the price/value grade shows our view of its worth.

To receive an “excellent” grade, the average score in a category must be nine or higher, a challenging standard to meet. An average score of 7 to 9 earns an “excellent” grade, while a score of 5 to 7 merits a “good” grade. 

A “fair” grade corresponds to a score of 3 to 5; anything under three is labeled “poor.”

What are our top picks?

Based on the general considerations for long-range hunting rifle scopes, some reputable options were well-regarded.

1. Leica PRS 5-30x56i

The rifle scope boasts a powerful 30-power magnification and features a sturdy 34mm tube, contributing to its robust build. Its precision is further enhanced by a 32 MRAD adjustment for elevation and an 18 MRAD adjustment for windage. 

Including a MIL-based PRS-illuminated reticle in the first plane ensures accurate aiming and target acquisition. Notably, the scope offers toolless turret removal, providing convenience for in-field adjustments. 

The zero-stop tools are also cleverly stowed under the turret cap, adding a practical touch. The parallax correction, spanning from 22 yards to infinity, underscores the scope’s versatility and suitability for various shooting scenarios.

The Leica PRS scope has amazed experts by outperforming new competitors. While hunting and rifle enthusiasts have appreciated its European precision since its 2020 launch, they were surprised to see it surpass rivals like Vortex, Steiner, Nightforce, and Zeiss.

These brands have all released new and highly capable precision scopes in the three years since Leica introduced its PRS. Fortunately, the Leica scope held its ground against these challengers and did so with style and precise performance.

The Leica precision scope stands out, much like its other optics, due to its beautiful design and responsive mechanics. Everything in this scope indicates its quality. 

2. Bushnell Match Pro ED

This rifle scope features ED glass in the objective lens, ensuring high-quality image clarity, and is equipped with pull-to-turn turrets for user-friendly adjustments. The 34-mm tube enhances its durability and stability. A turret revolution indicator aids in keeping track of adjustments, providing a visual cue for the user. 

The first-plane DM2 reticle makes aiming precise and especially useful for various shooting scenarios. With an 11-step illumination feature, the scope offers adaptability to different lighting conditions. 

The parallax adjustment ranges from 15 yards to infinity, contributing to its versatility. Notably, the scope provides a 30 MRAD elevation adjustment and a 14.5 MRAD windage adjustment, further solidifying its precise and accurate shooting capabilities.

While the optics of the Match Pro ED riflescope may not leave a lasting impression, despite the inclusion of extra-low-dispersion glass in the objective lens, its appeal lies in other notable features, earning it the title of our Great Buy in the precision riflescope category. 

The turret components are average, with some mushy responses observed during adjustments. However, the scope offers low-profile, well-indexed turrets featuring a convenient red button that emerges on the second revolution. 

The DM2 reticle for Deploy Mil 2 is highly visible in low-light conditions, a crucial factor for making precise shots in dim settings. With a range of adjustments suitable for rimfire competitions and potentially excelling in long-range steel competitions, the Match Pro ED is recommended for shooters on a budget. 

The reticle is designed with even-numbered holds in a huge font and odd-numbered holds in a smaller font, balancing visibility and maintaining target clarity. Bushnell’s reliable warranty further enhances the appeal, making this precision scope a valuable choice for those entering long-range and rimfire competitions.

3. Wraith Mini 2-16×35 Thermal Rifle Scope

One great option for long-range hunting is the Sightmark Riflescopes collection, which offers a wide range of accurate and durable scopes suitable for various hunting conditions. 

The Wraith Mini 2-16×35 rifle scope is rugged and versatile. It has thermal imaging, clear images, and customizable features. You can use it in different lighting and for various animals. 

It has a built-in camera, a 1,440-yard detection range, and 2X optical magnification. It works well in different weather conditions, with a battery life of 3.5 hours. Perfect for predator hunters.

4. Vortex Razor HD Gen III 6-36×56

The core of Vortex’s turret update is its L-TEC+ zero system, allowing users to make quick and precise adjustments by loosening a single set screw. This system permits zero settings between the turrets’ 0.1 MRAD click, eliminating the need to settle for a half click above or below the actual zero. 

This is especially beneficial for long-range shooting. While the operation may take some getting used to, an exciting discovery at the rifle range was that the caterpillar-like structure emerging from the turret’s base is not a chrysalis but a smart revolution indicator. It appears entirely on the third full rotation of the elevation turret.

5. Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56

Nightforce is expanding its market reach beyond the MRAD system by introducing an MOA version of the ATACR. This move aims to appeal to shooters who have hesitated to adopt mils. 

The centerpiece of this new Nightforce offering is the MOA-XT reticle, featuring an MOA-based Horus-style grid. This reticle design offers shooters fast and efficiently discernible aiming points, catering to those who prefer the MOA system over mils.

The reticle is about as good as an MOA-based reticle for dynamic long-range shooting,” stated one tester, who typically favors MIL measurements. Although the MOA-XT reticle may initially resemble MRAD values, a closer examination reveals the characteristic granularity associated with MOA-based reticles. 

The reticle includes a central aiming point of 0.16 MOA and a 1 MOA mark on the main stadia. Numeric labels are present every 2 MOA, and bold dots are placed every 4 MOA on the horizontal stadia. Besides the innovative reticle, the ATACR meets expectations with exceptional glass quality, providing best-in-class edge clarity.

The turrets are highly responsive, tuned to .25 MOA click values, and the scope includes a clever push-to-activate illumination system. The 34mm tube’s mounting dimensions are excellent, and the platform’s durability has been proven over a decade in competitions and battlefields.

Choose Wisely

Precision matters in long-range hunting, and your choice of rifle scope can define your success. The rifle scopes that made it to this list represent innovation and reliability. 

Whether you seek cutting-edge technology, rugged durability, or optical brilliance, these top picks cater to diverse preferences. Ramp up your long-range hunting experience with the assurance that each scope on this list is crafted to deliver the precision and clarity seasoned hunters demand. 

Choose wisely, aim true, and may your shots always find their mark.

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