December 2021

How To Choose A Long Range Shooting Scope

“Hey Derrick, what’s the best long range shooting scope?” This may be one of the most popular questions I answer day in and day out. I honestly feel like it is the hardest possible questions to answer because I really do not feel that there is a good answer.

Optics are very personal. What one shooter likes, another hates. What is right for the benchrest shooter is not what is right for the sheep hunter. To me, there’s not some magic formula of this tube and this turret and this reticle. It is 100% about features relative to need.

When I’m selecting a long range shooting scope, there are seven main factors I consider:

1. Budget

When I work with people to select the best scope for them, I first try and get an idea on budget. You may want the best scope in the world but sometimes it’s just not practical. You want to max out the best that you can get for the money. If I have the budget, I prefer first focal plane scopes, they cost more money but I think they are better for me.

2. Tube Size

I want a 30 mm tube, and not just for light transmission. Many people overlook the fact that the diameter of the scope tube dictates the amount of travel up and down and side to side a scope will have. In my opinion, a 1” scope tube does not give you the adjustment to really reach out and touch something.

3. Turrets

There are a lot of turret systems out there. I look for a zero stop, good crisp audible clicks, and the option for a CDS dial if available.

4. Side Parallax Adjustment

Some people call this side focus. Whatever you want to call it, you need it.

5. Power

Personally, the more power the better. I really like a 4.5-24 power range. At minimum, I personally am going with a 6.5-20x.

6. Reticle

I want a reticle with some type of grid system so that I can make wind adjustments and elevation holds without having to adjust the turrets if needed.

7. Feel

Last but not least – and this is the hardest one for me to describe – to me, when I pick up a scope I should feel like the reticle is immediately part of my eye. I don’t want to feel like I am looking through a tube at the reticle. From my experience scopes that have the “tube” feeling do not work well in low light and are hard for fast target acquisition.

My Top Picks:

Just off the cuff, the long range shooting scopes I personally like for the money in various categories are Leupold scopes and Athlon scopes. The Leupold Mark 4 is an excellent higher-end long range scope and, as more of a price point scope, the Athlon Midas and Cronos scopes are great for the price.

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