Long Range Rifle Scopes Don’t Come Cheap
If you are looking for the best long range scope for the money, you can get your hands on a long sniper scope for as little as $100, however, based on our experience these optics are not constructed with quality glass and will not provide a clear image. You want to stay within the $300-500 range.
Don’t be surprised by sniper scopes and other long range optics with price tags over $500 at the lower end in this category, and they can go up to several thousand dollars.
Are you on a Budget?
Finding the best long distance scopes on a budget can be hard. If you want a good long range rifle scope, you’re usually expected to spend some money, but there’s a few options out there that might be worth it.
Budget scopes range from $100-$500 and it’s definitely possible to find the best long range scope under 500, and expect to spend somewhere in the 100-300 range for a budget long range scope. Let’s go over a few things to determine if buying a budget scope for long range shooting is right for you.
Looking for Quality While On A Budget
If you’re on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice quality. Yes, you will get more quality and features when spending more money on your rifle scope, but if you don’t care about all of the extra features and you just want a budget option, there are options for you.
But to be honest, whatever your budget is for your next scope, there really isn’t a good long range optic at the $100 price point. So having a ‘low budget’ for a range optic is going to be around the $200-$500 mark.
Let’s Define Long Range When considering Budget
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s quickly define long distance, since a there could be different ideas between each person about what long range shooting means.
For now, let’s set the definition for long range at 300 yards and above. This is a limit that was set with the idea of someone shooting on a budget who is also on a budget for ammunition and getting a budget rifle.
If you want a 1000 yard scope on a budget, you are likely going to be spending more money on a good rifle scope. The best 1000 yard scopes don’t come cheap so expecting to get a good long range scope for the money at this range, isn’t likely. Usually the best 1000 yard scopes can be found in scopes costing $300 or more.
If you’re looking for a 500 yard scope, you’re getting closer to budget long range scope. You could probably find some of the best 500 yard scope between the $100-$300 range.
It really just depends on how far you want to shoot. 500 yards is pretty far but it’s much easier to get a good scope under 500 yards for a better price if you’re on a budget.
And then if you’re looking for a 300 yard scope, you won’t have to invest nearly as much into the best 300 yard scope as you would the others. You can find some scopes under $200.
Features You Cannot Give Up On
Since you aren’t looking to get the best of the best when it comes to scopes for longer ranges, you aren’t going to have every feature. But if you’re looking for the best long range shooting scope for the money while on a budget, there are also some features that are completely necessary.
These features are a must for an accurate long range optic. Usually when it comes to the cost of a range optic, it’s determined by the amount of features and the quality of the material that was used to make the scope.
Now when you are shopping for a budget long range optic, you want to make sure that the important necessary features are there over the other extra features that are made mostly for convenience.
So what are these features you can’t give up on for your long rang scope on a budget?
- Ability to Hold Zero
- Adjustment Range and Turret Consistency
- Power 10 or Better
Ability To Hold Zero
You’ve probably read reviews of people who have bought low quality rifle scopes and have found that these poor quality scopes have a ‘wandering’ zero. This wandering zero is not that apparent because it is very slight. Especially at short and medium ranges.
But when it comes to long distance shooting, even a slight reticle movement can throw your shot off by a ton!
This is where the low budget rifle scopes fail, the scopes that are in the $50-$100 range.
A wandering zero can be caused be a number of different factors:
- The scope by just be a bad scope. So stick to well known brands.
- You must get the right scope for your caliber.
Yes, the well know brands can fail too. But the well know brands such as Bushnell, Leupold, or Nixon have systems in place and customer service personnel available to fix an optic.
Good well know brands also have a huge user base and consistently produce quality optics at tiered pricing. For example, you can find a $200 and above models to be very good quality, even if they are basic and lack the extra features, just because of how big their user base is and how many scopes they are producing!
Having the right caliber matters because if the scope is designed around the low recoiling 5.56 round it may not last when thrown at a 30-06 Springfield round.
Have recoil can ruin the internal of scopes not rated to handle the recoil and cause your scope’s zero to wander or be out of adjustment.
While aiming at targets that are more than 200 yards, clarity and light transmission play a huge role. You want to be able to see all of the details of the target.
For example, long range hunters rely on optical quality to determine if a deer is legal to shoot by looking at its antlers. But if you have a poor quality scope that lacks the ability to see the fine details on a large target, you’re in trouble.
When it comes to small targets, optical clarity is even more important to actually see the target.
The glass on the scope is also something to consider. If the glass is made well, is can assist you with the right wind call. Top line glass is made by companies like Swarovski, and that glass is accompanied by a hefty price tag.
Since you are on a budget, you don’t need the top of the line glass, but you still need good quality glass.
The next time you are at the gun store, ask if you can take the rifle optic outside and look at something at a distance. At that moment you will be able to have a realistic use of the scope, with typical daylight conditions. Compare a couple of them. Grab the $100 optic and the $300 optic and you’ll see an obvious difference.
Adjustment Range and Turret Consistency
Adjustment range is the amount of adjustments you can make in both MIL and MOA. These adjustments can vary by quite a bit. What you will need is to have a big enough adjustment range to be able to compensate for some of the more serious bullet drop at longer ranges.
I advise a minimum of 50 MOA in terms of adjustments but 50 is the lowest that you should go. Ideally you will want 100 MOA if your budget allows.
Turret consistency is what you focus on when it comes to the adjustments and how they correlate with the reticle. If you use a MOA reticle, then you need to have MOA adjustments. If you have a MIL dot reticle, that you’ll need turrets that make MIL adjustments.
Power 10 or Better
If you are using and adjustable or variable optic, then will you need at least 10 power. Anywhere between 10 to 18 power is enough power to be accurate when shooting long range shots.
There is no need for your optic to have 40 power or anything like crazy if you are looking for the best scope for long range shooting on a budget. Typically, to have a clear and consistent high powered optic, you cannot get a cheap high powered scope as it is not something that I would trust to last.
Features To Not Waste Money On
There are a lot of features that you don’t really need if your are looking for the best scope for the money and on a budget. Some of these features mostly just add cost without adding a lot of benefit in return. Actually, some of these features can potentially hurt optic performance. Some of these features include:
- Overly Powerful Magnification
- Illuminated Reticles
- Military Grade Durability
Overly Powerful Magnification
When it comes to magnification power, an incredibly powerful optic that is high quality is expensive, and a powerful optic that is cheap is typically just … junk.
If you are going to get a scope that has too much power than what you are going to use, is is not necessary and can be too much zoom if you are using a second focal plan scope where the reticle is only the appropriate size when at the maximum magnification.
The magnification may be too much to use accurately, reliably, or swiftly.
You don’t need illuminated reticles for your long range optic. Illuminated reticles should be kept to the tactical market because they are often too bright, and just wash out your target.
Using illuminated reticles makes it difficult to see your target and place and accurate shot.
Military Grade Durability
I know it sounds great, but if you are on the hunt for a scope on a budget, you don’t need military grade durability.
As a matter of fact, if you aren’t taking a sniper hide in some place around the world, preparing to be in position for days at a time and providing overwatch for patrolling troops as they do in the military, then you don’t need an optic with military grade durability.
Now if you can afford it, by all means, get it as military grade durability will guarantee that your scope remains in good shape through harsh conditions for a long long time, but it drives the cost of an optic up.
For example, the Trijicon makes some really amazing rifle scopes, like the Trijicon Elcan SpecterDR, but its bullet proof nature adds to its thousand dollar price tag.
The average shooter is never going to need something that can keep up with the Army Special Forces or the Navy SEAL team.
Other Long Range Details
Long distance scopes are typically mounted on high caliber rifles such as a .300 Win Mag or even a .50 BMG, however some target shooters and hunters mount them on their .30-06 or 7mm Remington Magnum chambered rifles. If you buy a LRS, make sure to mount it with proper scope rings as you want to make sure the accuracy will be repeatable and consistent.
Quality manufacturers making the best long range rifle scopes include Millett, Nikon, Vortex, Leupold, and Nightforce however there are some manufacturers that make lower end scopes such as CVLIFE and FSI Sniper.
In addition to purchasing the a good long range scope for your rifle, you should also look at buying a good spotting scope for hunting and shooting. These are used to magnify your target to improve your view, but also are heavily used on the shooting range to help sight in your scope. With a good spotting scope, you can see where the bullet is entering the target at 500 yards so you can adjust your rifle scope.
Reviews of the Best Scope for Long Range Shooting
1. Vortex Viper 6.5-20×50 PA Mil Dot Rifle Scope Review – Best Long Range Scope in 2023
The Vortex Viper PA Riflescope has incredible performance and features 95% light transmission, fully multi-coated optics which gives the shooter the ability to differentiate color even at the top end of the magnification range. This scope, combined with the right ammunition and rifle, will allow you to punch groupings at 1000 yards.
I love the Mil Dot reticle for long range shooting and the clarity on this scope is fantastic. Even in low light conditions at dusk or dawn, I can shoot a ground hog at 300 yards with this guy on my 338 Lapua. Anyone that does their research will know that Vortex builds quality optics.
2. Millett 6-25 X 56 LRS-1 Illuminated Side Focus Tactical Riflescope Review – Best Long Range Tactical Scope
Millet builds quality long range scopes (LRS) and tactical rifle scopes (TRS) with superior brightness and large field of views. On another note, check out Millet’s awesome shooting tips.
The Millet LRS tactical riflescope is a massive, 1 piece 35mm tube and 56mm objective lens with a 3″ eye relief. It also features an illuminated Mil-DotBar reticle which uses the same math as the standard Mil-Dot. The magnification is excellent and the clarity of the glass is comparable to Leupold.
Although not specifically a long range shooter, I have the Millet 6-25x56mm mounted on my .308 and let me tell you, it is fun! The size and weight of the combo, and because I am getting old, mean that this setup is limited to the range or in my truck.
This is one of the best tactical long range scopes on the market and definitely worth the money.
3. Leupold VX-2 Long Range Shooting Scopes Review – Best Long Range Scope Under 500
Leupold is generally on the expensive end, but you can find a high quality scope on a budget even with them!
The Leupold VX-2 4-12×40 gives users an excellent amount of options for long range shooting. The VX-2 comes in a variety of magnifications from 1 to 4 power to 6 to 18 power but with cost in mind. you can read my review on the Leupold VX series of scopes here.
When using the VX-2, shots out to 600 yards are more than within this scope’s performance range. The reticle is Leupold’s Long Range Duplex, and this model offers a universal bullet drop reticle that allow consistent holdovers for long range shooting.
This is a great optic for the money that makes wind calls simple and precise. The VX-2 has a very clear glass and gives your target and the area around it a brilliant clarity. The VX-2 is also very strong and is built very well with waterproof, argon purged and shockproof features.
The Leupold VX-2 offers a generous eyebox which gives a clear sight picture that is fast for users to get behind. The eyebox gives long range shooters a lot of felxibility for making their shots.
The VX-2 also uses finger adjustable turrets for easy manipulations. These adjustments are also tactile and audible so the use of hearing protection will not limit your adjustment perception.
Leupold makes quality rifle scopes at every price range, so you can count on the quality to be there with this scope, but when it’s also combined with being in the same ballpark as other budget long range hunting scopes, the Leupold VX-2 sets itself apart from the rest.
Another great line in Leupold’s VX series is their VX-2 scopes, more specifically; we love their Leupold 4-12X40 scope in this range. It’s brilliantly designed and mechanically sound, which makes it a great riflescope that’ll easily deliver a lifetime of trustworthy service.
This is definitely the best long range scope under 500, but not the only scope under 500 that I’d recommend.
4. Nikon MONARCH 3 Rifle Scope Review – Best Long Range Scope for the Money
From cameras to scopes, Nikon is a huge company and they make every type of optic it seems. In regards to rifle scopes. Nikon makes very high quality scopes. The Nikon Monarch is no different.
The Nikon Monarch 3 4-16×50 is the exact model that I would choose if I were looking for the best budget long range rifle scope. There are lots of other great Nikon scopes with more magnification, but those Nikon scopes are priced closer to a $1,000 dollars.
With the Nikon Monarch 3, you get the same high quality that’s in the thousand dollar optic, but with less magnification power, making it much more affordable since most don’t need all that extra power.
The Monarch uses the Nikoplex reticle that’s so thin that is makes it possible to maintain a view of your target at long ranges.
It also uses fingertip adjustable turrets but with quarter MOA adjustments. The turrets are also spring loaded and easy to zero-reset.
These turrets make adjustments very simple and allow shooters who are looking for a long distance optic on a budget or new long range shooter to easily adjust rifles on target. You also get 70 MOA with of adjustments with the optic.
The eyebox allows users to use powerful long range calibers due to the ability for users to maintain some distance from the scope. This prevents getting a bad case of black eye from the scope.
The Nikon Monarch 3 scope is rated for magnum caliber weapons and will maintain zero even after eating the abuse of these powerful rifles.
What’s nice about this long range riflescope is that it’s very versatile and you aren’t limited to long range shooting alone. You can use the scope for short and medium range shooting.
That’s what makes this Nikon have so much value. Not only does it come with great features but it’s one of the most affordable long range scopes and affordable long range scopes are hard to come by.
The Nikon MONARCH 3 4-16×50 is long range rifle scope that I would choose if I were looking for value while on a budget. Not only are the features above worth for the price point, but it also has a clear coat that also aids in 95% light transmission and a very clear sight picture. Don’t hesitate to give the Nikon MONARCH a chance before you purchase another long range riflescope.
Best Long Range Scopes For The Money Reviews in 2023
Budget long range rifle scopes aren’t hard to find, but knowing which ones are the best value for the money are difficult to filter through unless you can review them. Here are a few more scopes if you’re on a budget.
1. Monstrum Tactical 3-12×42 AO Rifle Scope Review – Best Long Range Scope on a Budget
The Monstrum Tactical 3-12×42 is an adjustable scope, made at 3-12 times magnification, for targeting out to 500 yards and beyond.
It also has an adjustable reticle illumination with 5 brightness levels in both red and green, allowing for better reticle visibility at night or in low light environments
The scope uses a MIL dot reticle for both elevation and windage corrections on the fly. Using a MIL dot reticle is one of the best options for long range corrections, especially when wind is involved.
It’s one of the best scope for long range shooting at its price point. Their business model is to cut out the middle man and it makes it so Monstrum scopes can be high quality but remain at a lower price point and still remain profitable. This helps for shooters looking for a scope on a budget.
It’s extremely durable with made with aircraft grade 6061 aluminum scope body and a sealed, nitrogen-charged tube for resistance to water and fog.
It also has an adjustable objective lens – or AO – that allows for sharper focus of the target image, elimination of parallax, and range estimation
This really is a great rifle scope if looking for a long range scope on a budget
2. Ledsniper Rifle Scope 6-24×50 Mil-dot Review – Most Affordable Long Range Scope
The Led sniper riflescope is a low cost, however surprisingly decent long range optic for the money. I wasn’t sure that it would be any good however when it arrived I was impressed. I mounted it on my .223 and was impressed with the quality of the zoom and clarity of the glass. I haven’t had the scope long enough or put enough rounds through it to comment on quality, but the mechanics of it are solid.
Don’t expect to mount this on your 50 bmg and don’t expect this scope to allow you to shoot 100 yards. For the price, it looks cool and is functional. I would classify the Ledsniper as a great bench gun for the range. Great bang for your buck.
3. FSI Sniper 6-24x50mm Scope Review
The FSI Sniper is an entry level long range rifle scope that features an adjustable objective and comes with an extended sunshade and a heavy duty ring mount. Its durable as it is built out of aircraft grade material and has adjustable windage and elevation knobs with locking rings.
I was skeptical at first due its price however figured I could always find use for it on a .22 lr if it didn’t work on my 30-06 and did I mention that it looks cool! The sunshade makes it look very tactical. I sighted it in at the range using 180 grain and once I got it grouping I put 20 rounds through it to see if it would handle the recoil. I was shocked when it didn’t explode and was pleasantly surprised hitting bullseye time after time.
Now this isn’t my number one long distance optic and I don’t expect it to allow me to shoot anything over 500 yards accurately but I do recommed the FSI sniper for anyone looking for a fun beginner long range rifle scope for hunting or shooting at the range.
The CVLIFE 6-24x50mm has a lot of bells and whistles that aren’t typically found on long range rifle scopes for under $100. It has an illuminated red and green reticle and comes with free mounts. It is fairly clear throughout the magnification range and is built to withstand normal wear and tear.
I tested this rifle scope on a .22-250 and it performed as advertised. It offered a great field of view and decent eye relief and held zero with the 50 rounds that I put in it. After getting used to it and sighting the scope in, I was grouping within 2″ at 250 yards.
For the price, you can’t go wrong with this CVLIFE optic. It offers a ton of features which are pretty cool and it makes any rifle look pretty rugged which is why this scope is one of the most popular long range rifle scopes on Amazon.
Final Thoughts – Long Distance Scopes
Long range hunting scopes are going to cost you more than the average rifle scope however they will give you a lot more magnification which makes target shooting more fun and hunting easier. Most guys will be a cheap long range rifle scope for varmint however the higher priced scopes are designed for sport shooting and hunting bigger game.
After all of the reviews of the best range hunting scopes, my number one recommendation is the Vortex Viper. Now, it is more expensive than the rest however it is a great long distance optic for the money. It is a quality scope that will allow you to shoot 1000 yards with the right rifle and ammo combination. You will definitely have more confidence shooting at longer distances and be a more successful hunter.
Now I realize that not everyone has the wallet for the Vortex Viper and if that is the case, buy the FSI Sniper 6-24x50mm. It has a solid review and is one of the best long range scopes for the money.
Hopefully you have a pretty good idea of what you need if you are a shooter on a budget looking for the best rifle scope for the money. With so many rifle scopes out there, it’s hard to know which scopes are the best.
Stay safe and happy shooting!