4 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes [2021 Update]

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Today I’m going to show you the best long range rifle scope.

In fact:

I’ve hand-tested over 10 scopes alone for this review.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need the best extreme long range rifle scope, you’ll find it here.

Let’s dive in!

Why should you trust me? 

I’ve reviewed hundreds of optics at this point.

In fact, my optic reviews have appeared on some of the largest gun industry sites including:

  • The National Interest
  • American Shooting Journal 
  • SOFREP
  • And more

I bought every long range rifle scope from my own money. I paid the same price as any other customer. 

I received no reviewer products or discounts (and never will accept them). I also never accept outside financial contributions from scope manufacturers.

What you’re about to read below is my fully unbiased review of each optic. 

Read Before You Buy 

Let me ask you a question:

What is the best long range scope? If you knew, you wouldn’t be here.

So to save you time and money, here’s what you need to know about choosing the right long range rifle scope.

The Long Range Scope ‘Magnification Myth’

How much magnification do you need for long range?

If you’re like most people, you’ll say: 

“More is better.” 

The Germans snipers from World War 2 would disagree. 

They used a 4X riflescope (called the ZF 39) — a common magnification used in the best AR-15 scopes and optics — on their rifles. 

German Sniper with 4X ZF 39 Scope

The snipers were easily able to hit 500+ yard targets with ease. And there’s even a confirmed kill at 1,200 yards by a German sniper. 

This range was even reproduced recently by Youtuber 9-Hole Reviews using the ZF 39 setup…in only 4 shots: 

Which leads us to a clear conclusion:

You don’t need much magnification to hit long-range targets.

Besides, you’re not hitting targets 2,000+ yards away like American sniper, Chris Kyle.

You’re more realistically going to be hitting targets from one of these…

Long Range SHOOTING DISTANCES

These are the 2 most common long-range distances:

  • Long Range: 300-350 Yards
  • Extreme Long Range: 400+ Yards

What range should you choose? Let’s break it down, starting with…

Long Range

Most big game hunters shoot at this range or lower. 

The reason is simple:

This is where most hunting cartridge’s maximum point blank range (MPBR) of 300-350 yards ends. 

This includes:

  • .300 Magnums
  • .257 Weatherby
  • .270 Winchester
  • .264 Win. Magnum
  • .308 Winchester (covered in my best scope for AR-10 guide)

Why is this important? 

This means you can hit your target accurately before bullet drop starts screwing up your aim. 

When that happens, you’ve got to start crunching numbers to compensate for bullet drop:

To prevent that, you’ll need:

  • Magnification: 3-10x

Alternatively, if you do open country big game hunting you can go with a fixed 6x riflescope. This gives you a brighter image and a lighter scope.

Extreme Long Range

This is mostly used by competitive long range shooters.  

This depends on your use, but my general recommendation is:

  • Magnification: 12x+ 

If you’re using a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, I highly recommend you read my best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor guide.

But What About Dangerous Game?

If you’re hunting one of the following:

  • Big Cats
  • Bears
  • Bovine

I’d recommend going with a low powered variable optic with the following:

  • Magnification: 1-4x

Alternatively, you can use a 2.5x fixed scope, the best holographic sight plus magnifier or the best red dot sight paired with a magnifier. This will give you the fastest target acquisition. 

Why so low magnification? 

Many hunting experts recommend hunting big predators between the ranges of 50-150 yards for greatest accuracy. 

(For close range pistol encounters, I recommend reading my best pistol red dot sights guide.)

The Bottom Line on Magnification

If there’s one takeaway from this guide, it’s this:

You don’t need much magnification.

What you need is to determine your distance and use. The rest will take care of itself. 

Added bonus tip: 

If you shoot from more than one distance, use a variable powered scope. It allows you to shoot from a variety of ranges. This is what I recommend in my best scopes for 308 long range guide.

With all that said, I believe you’re now ready to choose the best long range rifle scope for your needs. 

Let’s begin!

The 4 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best long range rifle scopes:

  1. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40: Best for Hunting
  2. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8×24: Best Rifle Scope For Long Range Shooting
  3. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50: Best Extreme Long Range Rifle Scope
  4. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40: Best Long Range Rifle Scope For The Money

1. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40: Best for Hunting

If I had to recommend one scope for hunting, it’d be the Leupold VX-3i.

In fact:

I just went hog hunting last night and guess how many of those suckers I brought down?

I’ll reveal that number at the end.

For now, let me show you why the VX-3i is my go-to scope for hunting.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

This scope offers crystal clear glass and a nice, bright image.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 lens

I’ve compared this scope to others I’ve owned in the $1000 price range and the Leupold VX-3i had the clearest image and best edge-to-edge crispness and picture quality.

Also, Leupold uses their signature Twilight Max coating, which helps to pull in any ambient light. This means that you’ll get better visibility in low light conditions

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40lens

I do the majority of my hunting at dawn or dusk and the Leupold VX-3i gives an extra twenty minutes or so of visibility during those hours.

On top of that, this scope comes with a fast focus eyepiece. This allows you to get on target fast, which is greater when you’re hunting smaller, faster prey.

For hog and varmint hunting, this even works great as a 17 HMR scope.

The thing I love the most about this scope is the Duplex reticle.

The bolder edges and finer crosshairs towards the center make for quick and easy target acquisition. Plus, it’s simple and leaves you with an uncluttered view.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is 4.4 – 3.6 inches.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 sight

I find this generous eye relief to be one of the main advantages to this scope.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40scope (2)

The eye relief does get a little tighter when you get to the highest magnification though. However, for those long distance shots, I’m usually taking my time and getting a solid cheek weld, so I haven’t found it to be a problem.


Durability

Leupold scopes are very durable and can handle anything you throw at them. The VX-3i is no different.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 scope (2)

It’s made of aircraft grade aluminum, that’s not only lightweight, but can also take a beating.

Plus, it’s waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof. And it uses a twin bias erector spring, which helps to lengthen the life of the components.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 lens (2)

I can attest to its excellent durability. I’ve dropped mine in a puddle and banged it on my truck and trees while out hunting. It still functions perfectly and hasn’t failed me yet.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 objective bell

If that’s not enough, Leupold has scratch resistant lenses and comes with a lifetime guarantee.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage turrets are ¼ MOA click adjustments.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40turrets

The turrets themselves have a very tactile click. They’re not mushy at all, like a lot of others on scopes I’ve used in the past.

And as for zeroing, it was practically dead on right out of the box. I had it zeroed in three shots.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40scope

Like I said, this is my go-to hunting scope and I have yet to readjust zero. It’s held perfectly.

I also got the ZeroLock Custom Dial System on mine, which I love. It allows you to have repeatable and easy elevation adjustments for those longer range shots.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification is 3.5-10x, which is perfect for short to mid-range shooting.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40sight

It can definitely make some long distance shots as well, especially if you’re a more experienced shooter. I’ve tagged a deer at 800 yards with this scope using 10x magnification.

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 sight (2)

For me, it easily covers the usual range for anything that I hunt.

Parallax is fixed on this scope and I haven’t noticed any aberrations while shooting at any magnification so far.


Mounting & Rings

This scope doesn’t come with a mount or rings, so you’ll need to purchase those separately.

I bought the Leupold weaver-style rings and they’re perfect for my setup.

It does come with a bikini style cover, but I prefer a flip up lens. So I bought a Leupold Alumina cover.

Leupold Alumina Flip Back Lens Cover Kit - 40mm & Standard EP
  • Model #62990 - Alumina flip back lens cover kit in size 40mm and standard EP

Is the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40 worth it?

This scope has the perfect lighting and magnification needed for hunting small to large game.

It features:

  • Duplex reticle
  • Edge-to-edge clarity
  • Compact and durable
  • Precision, tactile turrets
  • Twilight Max light management
  • Variable short to long range magnification

In short, it’s the perfect scope for any hunter. So if you’re looking for the best hunting scope around, try the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40. You’ll be happy you did.

P.S. I shot 18 hogs last night. You should see me when I’m in the chopper.


2. Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8×24: Best Rifle Scope For Long Range Shooting

There are a few things I’m looking for when I’m choosing a long range optic. Versatility, durability, and ease of use are top of the list.

That’s why I love the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle 1-8×24:

It’s got all of these and more. In fact, I think it’s the best rifle scope around for long range shooting.

Here’s why:


Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass on the Strike Eagle is fantastic.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 sight

The image is really clear and crisp, even in low light conditions. Vortex fully coated every surface of the lenses for superior light transmission.

A clear sight picture is extra important for long range shooting, and this scope delivers. I can clearly pick out the details on my targets even at 600+ yards.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 lens

Now let’s talk about one of the Strike Eagle’s best features: the reticle.

This scope uses an illuminated BDC3 reticle.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 objective

The ranging lines at the top help take the guesswork out of determining the distance to your target, which is fantastic for hunting. And the windage lines at 5mp per line let me adjust for changing wind conditions on the fly, which is a necessity for long range shooting.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 turrets (2)

Plus, the center dot and horseshoe are illuminated, which quickly draws my eye in to center.

There are 11 brightness settings to choose from. I was quickly able to find the best settings for both daytime and dark shooting. And, it’s compatible with night vision.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief on the 1-8x is right at 3.5 inches.

This is plenty of space to avoid scope bite, even on higher powered rifles.

The eyebox is pretty generous too, although it does tighten up a little on the highest magnification.


Durability

Generally, products tend to follow the rule of Fancy Equals Fragile.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 scope

Not so with the Strike Eagle. Despite all it’s fancy features, it’s built like a tank!

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 turrets (3)

The tube is made from a single piece of aircraft grade aluminum, so it’s tough and lightweight. In fact, the whole thing only weighs 17.6 ounces, which is pretty good for a long range optic.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 tube

Plus, the tube is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed, so it’s waterproof and fogproof.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets on the Vortex Strike Eagle are easy to use and reliable.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 turrets

The capped, low-profile turrets are hand adjustable (which is always a plus!) and produce nice, solid clicks when turned.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 turret (2)

And, since they adjust at a rate of ½ MOA per click, I was able to dial in a very precise zero for long range shooting.


Magnification & Parallax

This model of Strike Eagle gives you variable 1-8x zoom.

VORTEX OPTICS STRIKE EAGLE 1-8X24 sight (2)

I love this range of magnification. It’s incredibly versatile.

The lowest setting is a true 1x, which allows me to use this optic like a traditional red dot at close range.

At 8x, I can easily nail targets at 650 yards and beyond. This makes it a great scope for a variety of uses, whether you’re target shooting, hunting, or defending the homestead.

And, the side parallax adjustment knob lets you correct any scope wobble that you may encounter.


Mounting & Rings

Unfortunately, the Strike Eagle doesn’t include any rings or mounts out of the box.

I recommend the Vortex Optics Tactical 30mm Riflescope Rings, size Medium. They fit the Strike Eagle’s tube perfectly and won’t break the bank, either.

This optic does ship with flip caps, though, which is a nice addition. Plus, it comes with a battery and a lens cleaning cloth.


Is the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 worth it?

All in all, the Vortex Strike Eagle is a fantastic, versatile rifle scope that excels at long range shooting.

It’s got:

  • Included flip caps
  • Crystal clear glass
  • Versatile 1-8x zoom
  • Hand adjustable turrets
  • Parallax adjustment knob
  • Illuminated BDC3 reticle with 11 brightness settings

And if all that wasn’t enough, the whole thing is covered by Vortex’s Lifetime VIP Warranty.

So if you’re looking for a high-quality rifle scope for long range shooting, look no further than the Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24. You won’t be disappointed.

Looking for the best 10/22 scope? Check out my guide for the top choices.


3. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50: Best Extreme Long Range Rifle Scope

Looking for the best extreme long range scope? Then take a hard look at the Razor HD.

In fact:

I’ve been able to hit targets out to 3,000 yards consistently.

How? Shooting fundamentals and using a Razor HD.

Assuming you’ve nailed the first portion, here’s why the Razor HD is my go-to optic for extreme long range.


Glass Clarity & Reticle

When I tested this scope, I noticed that my sight picture was extra sharp through the entire range of the optic’s magnification.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 sight

The picture stays crisp and the colors stay true from edge-to-edge. In lower quality lenses, the image gets darker as you look around the edges of the scope. That’s not the case with the Vortex Razor.

Why is my sight picture so clear?

Because this optic is made from high density, extra low-dispersion glass. This means that the glass is top-of-the-line.

It’s engineered to provide great color fidelity, and image sharpness.

The lenses are also fully multi-coated, including anti-reflective XR Plus coatings. These coatings improve light transmission so that more light reaches my eye instead of bouncing off the glass.

This gives the Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 an exceptionally bright picture–especially at the highest magnification levels.

This optic has a first focal plane reticle that’s etched right onto the glass.

Because the reticle is on the first focal plane, it changes size as I move through the magnification range. At lower powers, the reticle lines will be finer and smaller. At the higher powers, the lines will be heavier and the reticle will appear larger.

Why would I want this?

Because my holdovers for bullet drop, elevation, and windage will stay consistent throughout the entire range of the optic. Trust me, this takes a lot of guesswork out of those extra long shots.

The EBR-7C reticle has hashing for elevation, windage, and bullet drop. This MOA reticle is also illuminated. I could see it clearly in any light setting.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is 3.7 inches and the eyebox was pretty forgiving.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 objective

I had plenty of space behind the optic–even on my hardest hitting rifles.


Durability

This scope is super durable.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 scope

Its o-ring sealed and nitrogen purged. In my tests, it didn’t fog up in the cold. It can handle a dunk in the drink just fine–but I won’t recommend an extended submersion.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 scope (3)

I have used this scope through my sniper school training, where it’s been dunked, knocked, dragged through the mud and abused. It’s held up like a champ.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 scope (4)

I’ve hardly scratched the hard anodized coating and the lens’s AmorTek coating repels dirt, grime, and fingerprints.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

I found the elevation and windage knobs to be reliable and easy to manipulate–even with gloves on.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 turret

The turrets have a tactile click that I can both hear and feel–so I know exactly when I have made an adjustment.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 turret (2)

L-Tec turret locks keep the turrets from accidentally turning.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 turret

I found the External Rotation Indicator on the elevation turret to be very helpful. In a quick glance, I can get a reference for my settings so I can make quick adjustments on the fly.


Parallax & Magnification

This scope has a magnification range of 3-18 times, making this a great all-around scope.

VORTEX OPTICS RAZOR HD GEN 2 3-18X50 scope (5)

I use the lower magnification for mid range shots — like deer hunting. (Speaking of mid range shooting, if you need a .22LR scope, read my best rimfire scopes for .22LR guide).

With the upper magnification powers paired with the superb glass quality, I can easily ring 6 inch steel plates from over 2000 yards.

The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50 has a side parallax knob so I can lockdown the parallax from 25 yards to infinity. The side parallax adjustment knob is also home to the illumination controls.

I enjoyed how Vortex streamlined the controls on this optic.


Mounting & Rings

This scope has a 34 mm tube. So I used 34mm TAC rings.

They’re pretty affordable and work well on picatinny rails.


Is the Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50 worth it?

The Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50 is an awesome scope for extreme long-range shooting. It has all the features you need to get an exceptional view over long distances:

  • Laser etched reticle
  • Extra durable construction
  • ArmorTek and XR Plus lens coatings
  • Micro Zero Adjustment so I can zero between clicks

To put simply: The Vortex Razor HD is the only scope you need to take your long range shooting to the next level.


4. Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40: Best Long Range Rifle Scope For The Money

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a good long-range scope.

In fact:

You can get one that’s comparable in quality for only $200.

Enter: Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40.

Just like you, I was hesitant to buy this budget scope. But after testing it, let’s just say I was more than pleased. Here’s why:


Glass Clarity & Reticle

Whether in daylight or the dim view after dusk, the view through the scope is amazing and doesn’t disappoint.

The glass is fully-multicoated. This results in a clear picture that, even at night, will give you a bright view.

The reticle surprised me a bit, but works like a charm.

It’s a second focal-plane BDC reticle, which takes a moment to get used to. It doesn’t zoom with the rest of the optics, so it’s best to use it only at full magnification. As such, pinpoint accuracy is achievable with every shot.


Eye Relief & Eye Box

I mounted this scope comfortably forward on my rifle, and the view was spectacular while keeping my brow safely back from the eyepiece.

From low to high magnification, the eye relief varies from 3.4 to 3.1 inches, so there was no need to adjust my cheek weld, and I always had a clear picture.


Durability

The Diamondback is one tough little cookie, just like it’s namesake.

Aside from some road rash from a hit on solid concrete (totally my fault), it held together and kept zero just fine.

I’ve come to expect this from Vortex tube bodies. They’re always solid.


Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets aren’t anything to write home about, but they do their job well.

I tend to like a little louder click to make everything feel solid, but these are definitely quiet enough not to disturb your quarry.

They are also finger adjustable, so you don’t need tools or spare change to dial in your adjustments. They’ve also been really good about returning to zero securely.

Overall, the Diamondback has some pretty solid capped turrets.


Parallax & Magnification

The magnification for this scope is about perfect for a hunting rifle.

4x allows comfortable shooting out to a couple hundred rounds for me, and when I want to be precise at that range or farther, 12x almost feels like overkill, and that’s a good thing.

There is no parallax adjustment, but as a long-time shooter, I’ve learned a good cheek rest and that has never really been an issue for me.

Even if it was, it isn’t bad enough to miss a tin can at 100 yards, so your kill shots should be safe to take.


Mounting & Rings

I mounted it on Vortex Pro-Series Rings with a high profile.

Vortex Optics Pro Series Riflescope Rings
  • The finishing touch to your rifle and optic combination. Pro Series rings combine rock-solid reliability and strength with high quality machining to ensure ultimate accuracy and consistency.
  • Streamlined, lightweight and durable, these rings use four T-25 Torx-style socket cap screws for secure mounting.
  • Fits Weaver and Picatinny Rails.

Why? Because they’re lightweight and extremely durable. They’re also one of the best scope rings on the market.

There were some soft lens covers in the box, but I would recommend getting some Vortex flip caps that will hold more securely and offer better lens protection.

Vortex Optics Defender Flip Cap Set - Eyepiece E-10 (41.5-46mm) & Objective Lens Cover O-24 (28-31 mm)
  • Virtually indestructible, the Defender flip caps are the most versatile and durable on the market, these are the last flip caps you'll ever need. Made in the USA.
  • A stainless steel spring flips the Eyepiece into multiple stop positions: vertical, 45 degrees and 90 degrees. The vertical position is for inserting your dope disk in to have easy access to while...
  • The E-10 fits all Vortex Riflescopes EXCEPT the 1-inch tube Viper model VPR-M-01BDC, VPR-M-04BDC and VPR-M-03BDC. Outside diameter: 41.5-46 mm | 1.6-1.8 inches

Also, if you shoot in sunny bright conditions, I highly recommend investing in a Sunshade. This will help prevent glare and improve your accuracy.

It also looks badass 🙂


Is the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 worth it?

The Diamondback has everything I could want for the price.

  • Nice eye relief
  • Rugged housing
  • Crystal clear glass
  • Decent turrets that hold zero

For the price, the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40 is probably the best optic in its class, and will satisfy any hunter that mounts it on their deer rifle.

It also comes with a lifetime warranty. So if your scope ever breaks on you (which it shouldn’t), Vortex has you covered.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) with Baseball Hat, Black, DBK-04-BDC & Hat
  • The Diamondback 4-12x40 scope is one of multiple configurations in the Diamondback lineup and is ideal for big game and long-range applications. Vortex Optics hat included, hat color may vary
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over would be a concern
  • Lenses are fully multi-coated for crystal clear, bright images from dawn till dusk The fast focus eyepiece allows for quick and easy reticle focusing

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best long range rifle scope guide.

So as a recap:

If you’re looking for the best rifle scope for hunting, get the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×40.

Looking for the best long range rifle scope? The Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 is for you.

What if you’re shooting really far out (extreme long range)? Then pick the Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 3-18×50.

Finally, if you’re on a budget, I’d recommend the Vortex Diamondback 4-12×40.

Vortex Optics Diamondback 4-12x40 Second Focal Plane Riflescope - Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (MOA) with Baseball Hat, Black, DBK-04-BDC & Hat
  • The Diamondback 4-12x40 scope is one of multiple configurations in the Diamondback lineup and is ideal for big game and long-range applications. Vortex Optics hat included, hat color may vary
  • Dead-Hold BDC reticle is good for any hunting or shooting at varying ranges where estimating hold-over would be a concern
  • Lenses are fully multi-coated for crystal clear, bright images from dawn till dusk The fast focus eyepiece allows for quick and easy reticle focusing

That said, you can’t go wrong with any of these options. All 4 scopes passed my exhaustive testing, and proved to be reliable. Additionally, they all have lifetime warranties. Just pick one based on your need and budget.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which scope will you pick for your long range rifle?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

1 thought on “4 Best Long Range Rifle Scopes [2021 Update]”

  1. Good article, nice comparison of features. But…

    The Vortex Viper (Gen II) is better than the Strike Eagle. Although the SE has some new features which marginally improve function, there’s just no comparison in the quality of the glass, which is the primary measure by which a scope must be judged.

    Reply

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