It's time to not just find the best long range scopes, but the best long range scopes for the money!
Finding the best long range scopes is not an easy task, especially since a lot of rifles are defined by the scope that is equipped.
With that being said, we of course went through dozens of scopes to find the greatest long range optics and field tested them just for you.
Top 3 Best Long Range Scopes For The Money
1. SWFA SS 10x42
2. Nikon Monarch 3
3. Leupold VX-2
Best Long Range Scopes For the Money in 2017
Finding the best long range scopes on a budget can be hard, as I'll talk about why a little later. If you want a good long range rifle scope, you're expected to spend some money.
Below we've narrowed the list to the top 3 budget long range scopes, but if you aren't necessarily on a budget, I recommend checking out the top 5 best long range scopes here.
Best Long Range Scopes For the Money
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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 the best long range rifle scope for the money, look no further.
But to be honest, whatever your budget is for your next long range optic, there really isn't a good long range optic at the $100 price point. So having a low budget for a going range optic is going to be around the $300-$500 mark.
Let's Define Long Range
Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's quickly define long range, 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 500 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.
Features You Cannot Give Up On
Since you aren't looking to get the best of the best when it comes to long range scopes, you aren't going to have every feature. But if you're looking for the best 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 rifle 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 range 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 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.
Best Long Range Scopes For The Money Reviews in 2017
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.
1. SWFA SS 10x42 Long Range Scope Review - Best Long Range Scope on a Budget
The SWFA SS 10x42 is a fixed power scope super sniper with a power of 10x and a 42 mm objective lens. With a ten power fixed optic, it reduces some of the optics versatility, but it also prevents issues coming from a second focal plane scope.
The 10x power also reduces the cost of the optic while still retaining high quality. SWFA scopes are generally made of really godo good quality and this SWFA scope is no different. It uses fingertip adjustable turrets with numbers that are huge and easy to read.
The SWFA 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.
The SWFA SS 10x42 fixed power rifle scope is one of the best scopes for the money at its price point. SWFA's business model is to cut out the middle man and it makes it so SWFA 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.
The SWFA super sniper has a very clear sight picture and the MIL dot reticle is laser etched into the glass. This makes it very simple to use.
The SWFA scope has a 4 inch eye relief because it can be used for very powerful rifles. It is a very strong scope and can stay zeroed even when using a powerful 50 BMG round.
As one of the best values for the price, the SWFA SS 10x42 scope is potentially one of the best rifle scopes you can buy. Not only is it extremely strong, but it is powerful enough to shoot at long ranges and maintaining some key features.
- Magnification - 10x
- Objective Lens - 42 mm
- Tube Diameter - 1 inch
- Weight - 21 oz
- Length - 13.8 inches
- Moderately priced
- Very Strong and Durable
- Very clear picture
- Great power for the price
- Not very versatile
2. Leupold VX-2 Long Range Scope 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 4-12x40 gives users an excellent amount of options for long ranger 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 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.
- Magnification - 4-12x
- Objective Lens - 40 mm
- Tube Diameter - 1 inch
- Weight - 11.8 oz
- Length - 13.2 inches
- Objective bell parallax adjustment band correction from 25 yards to infinity
- Click adjustable turrets
- Easy adjustments
- Lead-free lenses offer 94% light transmission
- Enhanced abrasion resistance
- Great contrast and resolution
- 100% waterproof
- Performs well in lowlight conditions
- Minor windage turret errors
- The small (4.9 inch) surface on the main tube makes mounting troublesome for certain rifles.
3. Nikon MONARCH 3 Long Range 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 4-16x50 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 range scope 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 scope 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.
The Nikon MONARCH 3 4-16x50 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 scope.
- Magnification - 4-16x
- Objective Lens - 50 mm
- Tube Diameter - 1 inch
- Weight - 19.2 oz
- Length - 20.1 inches
- Very versatile
- Can use powerful calibers with t he scope
- Will maintain zero even after using magnum caliber rifles
- Can maintain view of target at long ranges
- Very tough, rugged, and durable
- Cross hairs are a little large at long range
Budget Long Range Scope Final Thoughts
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.
Tip: One of the best rifle's to equip a Leupold VX-2 if you're a hunter looking the best long range scope for a .308.