Shooting Accuracy: How to Choose a Scope for Long Range Shooting

Do you desire the art of long-range shooting? If the answer is yes, as you gather your arsenal, then the best long range rifle scopes are definitely on your mind. Even with an excellent shooting rifle, you need a superb link from where you are to where the bullet is supposed to hit.

That means if you are looking forward to being successful at hitting your targets, quality of the scope, how you mount and installation on the rifle are some of the main objectives that you will want to fulfill.

At times, choosing a suitable rifle scope even troubles those in the military sniper departments so, don’t think you will get it right by just walking to a store and selecting one. Before you land on your ultimate choice, you need to know what kind of long distance you want to practice.

If you are heading for the 1000+ yards shooting range, then you need a high-end scope that surpasses the military or long range shooting specifications. That is why rifle scopes are designated for specific jobs.

The only problem is that you will be using one scope for various shooting ranges. You will always make the best out of it, but you will never maximize the original objectives.

Considerations to Make As You Choose the Best Long-Range Shooting Scope

Now, as you’re selecting a scope for 6.5 Creedmoor, AR 15 or any other rifle for long range shooting, here are some points to register back in your mind to help you make your choice better.  

Light Transmission and Eye Relief

Light varies from bright scenarios to low light instances. That is why you need an exit pupil that can obey what nature is providing at the moment.

If you want to know the size of the exit pupil that your scope has, take the objective lens diameter and divide it by the magnification of the scope.

For example, if your instrument says that it’s an 8 x 40 chassis, then your exit pupil is 5mm.

For better performance, the exit pupil should be above 4 millimeters if you are experiencing low light. That way, your eye gets an adequate amount of light after dilating to keep up with the little light.

When it’s bright, your eyes have a narrow pupil opening which means you need a smaller exit pupil.

Now, as you look through the exit pupil, there is a distance between your eye and the rear of the lens. That is what the scope enthusiasts call the eye relief. The measurement is delivered in inches, and most long-range shooting scopes will have it between 3-4 inches.

The distance affects the magnification so, always consider it too. As for the rifles, you only need a scope with a bigger eye relief if it has a massive recoiling specification. If the opposite is the case, then you need the shortest eye relief there can be. Those who wear glasses will attest to that.

Magnification Range

Before you mount a scope on your rifle, it is essential to consider if you need a variable or fixed magnification. As for the fixed, you get only one zoom level, and that’s it.

They will not offer versatility when it comes to choosing your distance, but you can select a location based on the fixed distance. Since they don’t need too much protocol, most people will prefer them due to such simplicity.

The variable magnification scopes are better for those who desire to choose their distance and location. They come with a minimum and maximum magnification levels that allow you to change within the values. This implies that you can use them for both short and long range shooting experiments or ventures.

If you have a scope that says 3x-9x, for example, you will be able to adjust between 3 times and nine times magnification. One thing you need to note though is that although the magnification power gets better when higher, you still need to consider the minimum magnification that the scope can achieve.


You need to make sure that you have the best point on target when preventing a relative view from your scope. When hunting whitetail deer or practicing to aim with the help of your rifle and scope, at times, there is a need to hit the target once without having to create room for adjustment and taking another shot.

That is why a tactical rifle scope will accommodate a parallax adjustment either as a side knob or on the objective. Since it is hard to regulate, if you are always changing the distance, always go for a scope that has a side knob.

For scopes that don’t have such a specification, it’s much better if you avoided them for the best shooting results.

Objective Lens size and Tube Diameter

First, the objective lens is the ‘screen’ you see in the front part of the scope. It is a common saying among the long-range shooters that bigger objectives will gather more light for you.

While we can put it that way, the objective lens is supposed to allow light to pass through so a larger objective lens will accommodate more light as opposed to ‘gathering more light.’

Now, the ability to allow more light is critical since the best hunting times are during dusk or at dawn. During both times, the view is never clear. You need to note that a bigger objective does not mean better magnification since such will require a higher mounting position.

Between the objective lens and the turrets, and from the turrets to the eyepiece, there is a cylindrical tube that connects everything. The diameter of that tube is measured in millimeters, and if it measures 25mm, then that is equal to one inch.

Wider tubes will allow more light to pass, but you will have a heavier scope. Currently, brands are offering 30mm and 40mm tube specification so, check what you need in your area and whether you will manage the weight involved.

Lenses and Coatings

Scopes are mostly designed to achieve waterproof and fog proof features. That is why they will specify on coating the glasses and the layering is expensive which prompts them to vary in type.

While it is common to see a single coated lens outdoing a multiple coated lens, coatings are there to reduce the glare and loss of light from reflection effects. More layers imply better light transmission, sharp contrast and also resistant to scratch.

Optics include a coating to prevent water from staying on the glass. There are two aspects involved. The hydrophobic coatings make the water beads on the glass while the hydrophilic coatings allow the water to appear as a sheet.

Both mechanisms allow for a clear view in misty or rainy conditions without having to wipe the objective lens from time to time.

The accepted norms when it comes to coating will involve coating, full coating, multi-coating, and full multi-coating features.

Field of View

You will see it on your scope specifications indicated in [email protected] yds (feet at 100 yards) or [email protected] (meters at 100m). Commonly abbreviated as FOV, it signifies the amount of view that your scope allows you to see given the distance. It is calculated from the eyepiece’s internal construction.

The reason why it is important to consider is that a wider field of view will aid you in tracking movements in case the target is on the move. You will also be able to spot multiple targets from one area and go ahead to track how they are moving.


This is for the high-end scopes and not the cheap models. If you want a scope that offers repeatability, then you need it to allow you to adjust the elevation and windage dials for impact points under one setting, move them around as you shoot various points, then go back to the original position and the impact point does not change.

A proper scope with such feature should also allow you to move the impact point by adjusting the dials without settling in prompts. So, if you are elevating up to three inches, for example, your impact point should coincide with that without further adjustments. As for the cheap models, you have to shoot several times before settling in the internal modifications.

Turret Adjustments and Minute of Angle (MOA)

It would help if you remembered that choosing a scope is choosing a precision tool. When it comes to the rifle types, they have an extreme way of précising which involves regulating the adjustments using MOA (Minute of angle) or mil/mrad (a thousandths radiant fraction). Acquiring such a level of accuracy implies that you have to be very precise with what you are aiming.

Even with the calculation knowledge, some of the MOA scopes, and that includes some of the high-end ones will give you the wrong calibration which means something is wrong with the scope and not your calculation.

The reason behind such an issue is that the click that signifies an adjustment did not produce the intended changing value in the scope. It is also possible for a click adjustment not to record any change.

Now, if that is the case, you might not notice anything when shooting short ranges, but you will be missing the target everytime you increase the distance.

To verify if your scope has the click adjustment problem, first make sure that your scope is zeroed. Follow by fully rotating the elevation turret up and down a number of times before zeroing it again.

Now, shoot while aiming at a target. If the bullet does not hit the target, then you have lost some clicks. If you have a high-end scope, then check if it has a warranty so that you can return it since that is not allowed after spending a chunk of money on it.

Bullet Drop Compensators

Lastly, you may have heard of BDC scopes that let you aim a target and shoot without having to worry about the gravitational pull and other conditions that affect the bullet’s trajectory.

While some of us will think that it is just a specification for gimmicks, those who know what it can do benefit largely from them.

Bullet Drop Compensation (BDC) works by utilizing the reticle pattern that shows you how the bullet will drop after traveling specific distances.

The illustration is composed of various aiming points from the central crosshair point, going down on the vertical line on the crosshair.

What they mean is that when you zero the scope at a particular range (100 yards) the points, you see below depict where the bullet will hit after traveling longer ranges.

For the centrefire scopes, the incremental range is by 100 yards while the rimfire substitutes use the 50 yards pace.

BDC helps you to shoot longer distances without having to overthink about it. If you are aiming 500 yards away, all you need is to point using the reticle and pull the trigger. Not having to worry about the elevation angle makes such scopes useful when hunting or long distance shooting competitions.

Also, since you will be changing the distances, you will not be guessing around and make some wrong conclusions in the course of aiming. That is why you will see hunters with such a specification on their rifle scopes.

Wrapping up

Now that you have a guideline to help you choose a suitable long range shooting rifle scope, the essential thing is to understand the points we have discussed and use them in the final decision making.

Some specifications are useful to all while others depend on the long-range shooting practice you need to engage.

With that, take your time to see what you need since they also don’t come cheap and the last thing you need is the wrong scope since you did not consider all the possibilities and limitations.

Leave a Comment:

Jenni Samual says January 20, 2020

Great review !!! I am looking for a scope for a long-range. There is a wide range of scope. Scopes vary in size, quality, and features.
Therefore, I am a bit confused about choosing the best scope for long-range. You have given some important points while choosing the best scope for long-range. The information provided is really useful for me. I will keep in mind the points mentioned in your article while selecting the scope for long-range

Mark says February 14, 2020

Thanks for your guidelines. You mentioned the most important features when considering a scope for long range shooting. Key adjustment and parallax knob are also 2 more important features to look for. But all the above mentioned are the most important one. Thanks again.

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