Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC Riflescope
If you are looking for the best long-range scope and don’t want to spend too much money, the Nikon Prostaff 5 is the perfect entry-level scope for you. It has a 3.5-14x 40mm scope. Many compare it to the economy version of the Nikon Monarch 3 scope. It has so much technology packed into such a low price.
Why do you need the Best Long Range Scope?
Let’s face it: long-range shooting of any kind is not easy: you need a combination of excellent skill and expensive equipment. With the help of the best long-range scope, you can have an advantage over other equally skilled shooters. However, that advantage comes at a steep cost: money. In the world of rifle scopes, there is no free lunch. You generally receive in quality what you pay for. This is a transparent industry with no tricks and no gimmicks.
The long-range scopes can be anything from a few hundred dollars to several thousands of dollars, depending on the make and brand. Most of the difference in price lies in the quality of the lens: the more expensive lenses can show clear images at both low and high magnifications, which is very useful for reading the wind at your target. Without a side-by-side comparison with the naked eye, it is hard to really put into words the differences. The second best way to ensure you are getting a high-quality lens is simply to purchase from one of the top manufacturers of rifle scopes.
Best Long-Range Scope Reviews
- Nikon Prostaff 5, 3.5-14xx40, BDC Reticle, (Under $500)
- Vortex Optics Viper 6.5-20×50, Dead-Hold BDC Reticle (Under $1000)
- Bushnell Elite Tactical G2, 3.5-21x 50mm, FFP Reticle ERS Riflescope (Under $2000)
- Schmidt Bender PMII, 5-25×56 L/P MTC LT P4Fine MOA Reticle FFP (Over $2000)
Nikon PROSTAFF 5 BDC Riflescope, 3.5-14×40 (Under $500)
If you are looking for the best long-range scope and don’t want to spend too much money, the Nikon Prostaff 5 is the perfect entry-level scope for you. It is a 3.5-14x 40mm scope. Many compare it to the economy version of the Nikon Monarch 3 scope. It has so much technology packed into such a low price.
The Nikon Prostaff 5 has nice and high 95% light transmission for clear images even at low light settings, 4 inches of eye relief which is amazing, a fast focus eyepiece, a nice smooth power ring, spring-loaded instant zero-reset turrets, and an adjustable objective (AO) for parallax adjustments from 50 – 1000 yards to infinity. We think the parallax adjustment is a nice feature for a scope under $500.
The Prostaff 5 features the patented Nikon BDC Reticle (Bullet Drop Compensating Reticle) and has a second focal plane, meaning the reticle stays the same size as you increase or decrease magnification. One advantage of the second focal plane is that at high magnifications for long-range shooting, the reticle will stay relatively thin. With a BDC Reticle, you need to be able to estimate with reason the distance to your target with a laser pointer or just by experience. Then you can dial into the online ballistics calculator the make of your rifle, your ammo specs, and weather specs and it will tell you the distances that correspond to every mark at every magnification. Reticle adjustments are made in ¼ MOA and you can fully feel and hear every click.
All in all, we love this scope and we think it is the best long-range scope if you are budget constrained. It is easy to learn and use, extremely clear, great at gathering light and a nice field of view, and has fantastic accuracy compared to similar scopes in this price range. It is great for hunting and some amateur long-distance shooting.
Vortex Optics Viper, 6.5-20×50 PA Riflescope, Dead-Hold BDC Reticle, MOA Turrets (Under $1000)
Vortex Optics Viper is the best long-range scope if you are looking for a scope priced within the $500-1000 range. In fact, it is generally selling towards the lower end of this range. The Vortex Optics actually comes in a variety of sizes and available reticles, so for this review, we will focus on the 6.5 – 20x 50mm scope. The scope uses premium extra-low dispersion glass and xr fully multi-coated lenses to give you a bright and sharp image.
The scope is built on 30mm OR 1” aluminum tubes and is waterproof and fog-proof. The Vortex Viper has a nice zero reset feature on the turret so when you dial in the elevation and windage you pull out the turret and turn it to zero. The Vortex also has a side parallax adjustment knob which is a nice feature to have for any scope. Additionally, it uses a precision force spring system, which ensures accuracy and repeatability when dialing the scopes repeatedly, and the precision glide erector tube, which provides zero point of impact shift when you change the magnification. It has a nice smooth magnification ring that provides solid turns and grip under the coldest weather.
Finally, it has a fast-focus eyepiece used for quick focusing on the reticle. These are very nice advanced and expensive features that are nice to have on a sub $1000 scope. In terms of the reticle, this particular model has a Dead-Hold BDC reticle, but you can also buy it with Mil-Dot or any reticle of your choice. With the Dead-Hold BDC reticle, there are elevation hash marks to compensate for the bullet’s drop over distance. There are also hash marks on the left and right to help you adjust for crosswinds. You simply dial in parameters in the online ballistic system to set up the proper distances marked for each hash mark. To be fair, we are not a huge fan of this reticle. The lines seem thinner compared to other BDC reticles and we wish there were more hash marks on it.
Overall, the Vortex Viper series is the best long-range scope if you are looking for a sub $1000 scope that performs like a $1000 scope. Although it does have nice clarity at close to mid ranges, the clarity is not as good as we would like it to be in the longer ranges (700-800 yards). But then again, for the price, we can’t really be complaining.
Bushnell Elite Tactical G2 FFP Reticle ERS Riflescope, 3.5-21x 50mm (Under $2000)
With the Bushnell Elite Tactical G2 FFP, you are starting to get into some of the really expensive heavy hitters. It is the best long-range scope if you are looking to spend some cash and want the best scope under $2000. It really is the one and only high-end scope at a mid-range price. Bushnell makes three types of Elite tactics: the DMR, the ERS, and the XRS. The DMR was the most popular scope for precision rifle shooting and is now the older version with 3.5 – 21 and 5 mil locking turrets. Then the ERS came out, which is also 3.5-21 but has 10 mil locking turrets and zero stop.
The XRS is the elite version with 4.5-30 (one of the highest magnifications out there) and 10 mil turrets with zero stop. Currently, both the ERS and the XRS are the next-generation elite tactical. This particular model comes with a G2DMR reticle FFP, which is very nice, useful, and not too cluttered. The reticle has nice windage marks at 0.5 mil increments and 1 mil being the taller line. This is also the same with elevation corrections. In terms of functionality, we loved the fact that there’s a locking windage and elevation knob. It is more common than you think to inadvertently dial the windage and elevation knobs. Now let’s get to the most important part: the image.
The ERS has amazing optics at HD clarity. It has anti-fog technology to keep the lens clear. More importantly, the ERS shines at the 50+ yard range, which is where some of the cheaper scopes fall apart. With the ERS, you are able to still get amazing clarity even at max magnification and your targets in the long range of 500+ yards remain clear and not distorted. Additionally, the ERS has a ridiculously good field of view and eye relief, probably the best we’ve seen yet. Overall, the ERS is the best long-range scope if you are looking to make a serious purchase, but still don’t want to entirely splurge out. You could pay more and get the XRS which has more magnification, but for all intents and purposes, you have to ask yourself whether you need to go to 30x mag or not.
Schmidt Bender PMII 5-25×56 L/P MTC LT P4Fine MOA Reticle FFP 1/4 MOA CCW ( Over $2000)
The Schmidt and Bender PMII is hands down the king of long-range scopes. If you ask any top sniper in the world, they will most likely mention this scope as it still holds the top spot in many competitions. It is really a splurge piece and only if you have an unlimited budget and only want the best of the best. It has a 34mm tube with a 56mm objective and 16 inches of length. The weight is about one kilogram and made in Germany.
This scope is considered pretty huge by most people but given its peak performance and the fact that top-end scopes are all around this huge now, we think it’s quite standard. First and foremost, we can say without a doubt at the Schmidt Bender PMII has the best clarity and resolution of any long-range scope we have ever seen. It is also great at picking up color contrast as it is easy to locate camouflaged objects hidden behind grass, trees, or bushes. This is particularly useful hunting when you are trying to find deer at great distances while they are hidden from plain view. Other control features are also nice but do not justify the price and purchase as much as the image quality. The zero stop is nice and simple to operate and the turrets lock, which is helpful to prevent accidental clicking. The field of view is also pretty amazing with this scope and it has a 90mm eye relief.
There are other features we can talk about like just the front of the eyepiece itself: there is a fast focus eyepiece, a smooth power adjustment ring, and 11 different brightness settings with a brightness control knob. In terms of the elevation knob, it has a full 14 mils of adjustment, which means with a 308 you can fire out to 1100 yards and beyond on a single rotation! Each click is solid and audible and equates to 0.1 MIL. This is the same with the windage knob which has the same firm rotation. The parallax adjustment knob is marked from 10 to 1000 meters and infinity. Just having a top-end scope and being able to adjust and focus all the way down to 10 meters is quite rare. You can buy the PMII with many reticles. This particular model comes with the MOA Reticle FFP. All in all, the Schmidt and Bender PMII is the best long range scope if you want only the top-of-the-line equipment. There is a reason it is the most used scope in competitions.
More Info on the Best Long Range Scope
When trying to find the best long range scope for yourself, you first need to ask yourself what kind of shooter you are. Keep in mind that target shooting and hunting are two very different sports with different skill sets and equipment. For target shooting, you will need some serious crosshairs, or reticles, the preferred industry terminology. This is because long-range shooting is usually at a competitive level and requires precision and accuracy when hitting a small target at long distances.
You also need to account for wind and round drop and other factors. Hunting, on the other hand, is different from long-range shooting because the target is potentially moving and you have to get on target fairly quickly for the second shot if the first doesn’t hit. Your choice of reticle is critical here.
Long-range hunting also requires advanced skill and knowledge that the typical hunter won’t have. It requires you to select the correct long-range scope, caliber, and bullet weight and learn its capabilities and how to use it properly. Additionally, there is an ethical thing to consider when hunting at long distances. You should know as a hunter to always be making a humane killing shot and typically this distance is maxed out at around 300 yards. Remember, hunting is different from shooting. Regardless of the type of long range shooter you are, there is still a slew of other factors to look at when trying to pick the best long range scope.
With lens quality being the most important other factors include but are not limited to reticle choice, scope body, magnification power, objective lens size, adjustment ranges, focal plane, and obviously price. We have taken all of these factors into consideration when picking our top long-range scopes. Also, note that we do not review any sub $200 scopes because we think it is the threshold of acceptable accuracy for long-range shooting. Please see below for our recommendations.