9 Best Long Range Scopes [2018 Hands On+Video]

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Want to consistently hit targets at 1000 yards plus?

HBH 1000 Known Distance Range
HBH 1000 Known Distance Range

You’re going to need a capable rifle, match ammo,…and then some decent glass.

We’ll start with hands-on covering 9 popular long range scopes.  As I test out more scopes I’ll keep adding to this article.

9 Tested Long Range Scopes
Tested Long Range Scopes

They’ll be view-through images, tracking tests, a lot of subjective stuff, and short videos covering every scope.

Leupold Mark 5HD 25x
Leupold Mark 5HD 25x

By the end you’ll have a great idea of the best long range scope for your budget and purpose.

Table of Contents

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How Much Should I Spend on a Rifle Scope?

Get ready for some firearm sayings…

The old rule of thumb was spend as much on your scope as your rifle.

Oof.

Cash Cannon
Cash Cannon

There’s so many factors like your rifle quality and intended purpose…plus scope quality has risen while prices have dropped.

I’d would instead update the advice to buy the best scope you can afford.

Buy Yourself Something Nice
Buy Yourself Something Nice

If in doubt…I always skew more towards a buy once, cry once mentality since crappy glass is not fun to shoot through…and you can always remount your nice scope onto a better future rifle.

My DTA SRS with Schmidt & Bender 5-25x PMII
My DTA SRS with Schmidt & Bender 5-25x PMII

But I have to warn you…these scopes I’m about to show you are a pretty penny since they are from some of the most reputable scope manufacturers.

Basic Scope Terms

I’ll be using some technical terms so here’s a basic rundown of 8 terms:

1. Eye Relief

The distance from the scope to your eye where you can see the full picture.

You want it far enough(I’d say minimum is 3.5 inches) so if you’re shooting magnums you don’t bash your eye.

You can roughly see how much eye relief each scope has later on by how far I mount each one.

Leupold LRP Mounted
Leupold LRP Mounted

2. Eye Box

The spot behind the scope where you can see everything at all magnifications.

This relates to eye relief but I use this term as how “spot on” you have to be to see everything.  Some scopes are more forgiving than others.

3. Parallax

Scopes are glass lenses at the end of the day…and they can only show a clear image at one set distance.

The parallax knob (usually on the left side) lets you focus for the set distance.

Steiner P4Xi Mounted
Steiner P4Xi Mounted

4. Windage & Elevation

Those knobs you see people crank?

The top is for elevation (up/down) while the right side is for windage (left/right).

Schmidt & Bender PMII Turrets
Schmidt & Bender PMII Turrets

5. MOA vs Mil

Two different units of reticle and adjustment knob setup.

For the most part I like Mil better since it’s what I’m used to…and what my buddies use so it’s easier for us to spot each other.

If you’re just starting out…it’s ok to go with MOA (I did).

Just be sure that the units of the knobs and the reticle match up.

6. Tracking Test

When you use those knobs…it moves the reticle inside the scope to compensate.

A tracking test is shooting at the center of a target but only using the elevation/windage knobs to hit four corners.

EOTech Vudu Tracking Test
EOTech Vudu Tracking Test

7. First Focal Plane and Second Focal Plane

This relates to the reticle…or the crosshairs of the scope.

A second focal plane (SFP) reticle means that the reticle stays the same regardless of magnification.

Strike Eagle 4x
Strike Eagle 24x

However, this means at different magnifications the hashmarks on your scope will mean different distances.

Strike Eagle 24x
Strike Eagle 4x

A first focal plane (FFP) reticle changes with magnification…

EOTech Vudu 5x
EOTech Vudu 5x

But the hashmarks will means the same distance at any magnification.

EOTech Vudu 25x
EOTech Vudu 25x

FFP scopes are typically more expensive…but I like these for longer range shooting since you can make adjustments to your scope windage/elevation knobs at any magnification.

And it’s easier to communicate with a spotter.

8. Long Range Scope

I’m kind of making this up…but I’m considering a long range scope to have magnification of around 5x-25x.

That number sometimes afterwards like 5-25x50 is the objective lens diameter (lens closest to the target).  Bigger number means the scope lets in more light.

This is subjective but I’ve found most people like this range for longer range shooting and better target identification.

I’m also including some lower ranges like 4-16x for those who prefer that instead.

Now…let’s get on to our best long range rifle scopes!

1. Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24×50

My most affordable pick is the Strike Eagle 4-24x.

Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x
Vortex Strike Eagle 4-24x

Vortex’s Strike Eagle line has some of the best bang-for-the-buck optics…like their 1-6x which I used for years in rifle competitions (Best 1-6x Scopes).

Plus there’s the famous Vortex warranty which covers it for a lifetime…and is fully transferable.

Now onto the scope…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Now…it’s pretty hard to get a good picture of the glass and reticle through a camera.  It’s almost always the case that real life is better than my pictures.

And tons of what I’m going to say is subjective.

But the Strike Eagle has decent glass for the price.

Here I am aiming at a 600 yard full-sized IPSC torso target.

600 Yards at Angeles Range
600 Yards at Angeles Range

At 24x magnification.

Strike Eagle 4x
Strike Eagle 24x

It’s a second focal plane (SFP) and the hash marks on the EBR-4 reticle are at a good thickness to be useful at both 4x…and 24x.

Strike Eagle 24x
Strike Eagle 4x

However I don’t like how the has marks start at 4 MOA from the center.  This makes it a little harder to make adjustments on the knobs when you’re off by less than 4 MOA.

EBR-4 Reticle
EBR-4 Reticle

There’s some slight distortion at the sides but it only becomes apparent at max magnification.

A little like the Strike Eagle 1-6x which starts to not look great at 6x.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is at a standard 3.5 inches so you’re ok unless you’re shooting the most magnum of rounds.

Strike Eagle 4-24x Mounted
Strike Eagle 4-24x Mounted

Eye box was ok too…but you’re going to have to be a little more meticulous on getting to it when you’re fully magnified.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Mine was a tester model from Vortex…but wow was the elevation hard to turn!

Strike Eagle Knobs
Strike Eagle Knobs

I had to put on gloves to fully turn then when zeroing since they came in very far off for my setup.

The feel of the knobs?

A little sticky combined with the hardness.  Plus they were a little smaller than I personally like.

Parallax & Magnification

Stiff too…but not like the elevation.

It’s next to the illumination knob so it’s a little hard to turn.

I also prefer numbers or another type of visual indicator for distance…but the Strike Eagle starts off with 20 and then some differently spaced hash marks until infinite.

Strike Eagle Magnification Ring
Strike Eagle Magnification Ring

Magnification ring was nice and smooth but also on the heavier side…you’re not going to be switching magnifications quickly.

Fit & Feel

Overall fit and feel is good.  It’s still a Vortex after all.

Here’s a quick video of me going over the scope:

Mounting

I went with 30mm Warne Extended Mount which were easy to install and held zero even when I was taking the scope on and off a couple times.

Tracking Test

How did it go?

It was one of my first tests so I made sure to reconfirm zero…that’s why there’s two holes in the center.

Strike Eagle Tracking Test
Strike Eagle Tracking Test

This was done at 100 yards with my DTA SRS which is at least a half-MOA rifle (will shoot under 1/2 an inch at 100 yards).

Overall very good…all the shots are within the red squares.

Other Features

Comes with an illuminated reticle…but it goes from 0-11 without OFF positions next to each number.

It works.

Keep in mind that illuminated reticles are not daylight bright…you use them during dusk or dawn.

Summary

Great entry point long range scope with decent glass…despite some side distortion at higher magnifications, stiff knobs, and not my personal favorite reticle.

Most Affordable
Vortex Optics 4-24x50 Strike Eagle

Vortex Optics 4-24x50 Strike Eagle

Prices accurate at time of writing

2. Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The Viper PST II is definitely clearer than the Strike Eagle.

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x
Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x

It’s like when I moved up from the Strike Eagle 1-6x to the PST II 1-6x for my current competition rifle.

F1 Firearms Upper with Vortex PST II
F1 Firearms Upper with Vortex PST II

Let’s start with 5x magnification of its EBR-2C reticle…

Vortex Viper PST II 5x
Vortex Viper PST II 5x

It’s a little thin so you might lose it depending on your target and background.

But since it is first focal plane (FFP)…at 25x the reticle gets grows.

Vortex Viper PST II 25x
Vortex Viper PST II 25x

The reticle is Vortex’s EBR-2C and it’s a little busy for me.

EBR-2C Reticle
EBR-2C Reticle

But I totally get that it’s for holdovers, ranging, and windage corrections.  I’m not there yet in my long range shooting skills so it might very well be the best thing ever.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Vortex Viper PST II Mounted
Vortex Viper PST II Mounted

Eye relief is listed at 3.4 inches but feels better maybe since the glass is more premium.

Eyebox is also more forgiving compared to the Strike Eagle.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Now we’re talking!

I’m a snob for nice knobs.

Viper PST II Knobs
Viper PST II Knobs

And the PST II has got them…crisp clicks with the perfect amount of resistance…and audible too.

There’s zero stop (so you can’t dial it under sight-in zero) and some fiber optic for a more visual confirmation.

Parallax & Magnification

Finally…the PST II has numbers for parallax.  They matched up nicely too with the ranges I shot.  Also smooth to adjust.

Magnification was also easy to adjust with a nice quality feel.

Viper PST II Magnification Ring
Viper PST II Magnification Ring

Fit & Feel

Finish is identical to the Strike Eagle but the PST II is a little longer…plus with all the nicer amenities missing on the Strike Eagle.

Take a look at the nice tactile windage/elevation adjustments.

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x
Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x

Here’s a quick video:

Mounting

I went with a Midwest Industries 30mm Quick Disconnect Mount which might be my favorite so far.

Easy to install and super easy to take on/off…with good zeroing.

My PST II came with Vortex Cantilever Mounts…but it didn’t fit my DTA rails although were fine on my mil-spec AR-15 receivers.

Vortex Cantilever Mounts
Vortex Cantilever Mounts

Tracking Test

I lost track of stuff here…

Vortex PST II Tracking Test
Vortex PST II Tracking Test

So you can see where I goofed with only going halfway to the right direction.

It’s a decent test although I would have liked to see the top two segments be inside the red.

Other Features

Comes with illuminated reticle AND with off buttons next to each level.

Summary

The PST II is what I would have wanted to fix up in the Strike Eagle…and Vortex has done it.

It’s what I used the most at a long range event.

HBH Going Long Distance
HBH Going Long Distance

To hit 1000 and 1250 yards.

HBH 1000 and 1250 Yards
HBH 1000 and 1250 Yards

Of course it’s at more of a premium.

But if you’re ready to seriously go after 1000+ shots you can’t do wrong with the Viper.

Upgraded Pick
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II EBR-2C 5-25x50

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II EBR-2C 5-25x50

3. Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25×50

Boom!  Now we’re onto another well known company in the scope game…Leupold with their LRP 8.5-25x.

Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25x
Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25x

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Clarity is good…

Leupold LRP 8.5x
Leupold LRP 8.5x

Though at higher magnifications it was hard to get a well-lit picture.

Leupold LRP 25x
Leupold LRP 25x

Reticle is second focal plane but very usable at all magnifications.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

I’m really bummed to say it but I didn’t like it as much as even the Strike Eagle (at half the price) in terms of eye relief and eye box.

Eye relief was quite good with 5.3 in at low magnifications and 3.7 at high.  You can see how much more forward it is on my rail.

Leupold LRP Mounted
Leupold LRP Mounted

It was hard to get a well-lit picture since the eye box was not as forgiving.

Especially at high magnification I found my eyes getting fatigued during the zeroing and tracking test.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Leupold LRP Knobs
Leupold LRP Knobs

The clicks are pretty large in terms of travel distance…you’re going to need to turn a lot more for each mil of adjustment.

But they felt nice in squishy but good kind of way.  Audible but not too loud either.

Windage (left to right) is capped on the right side.

I personally don’t like that since it makes it harder to adjust on the fly…but it protects your zero if you’re moving around and most of the time you’re probably holding for wind anyways.

Parallax & Magnification

The parallax knob is a series of different sized dots ending with an infinite sign.  I like numbers better but I’m glad at least there’s a visual confirmation of roughly where you are (instead of just hash marks)

The magnification ring has an integrated throw lever which makes it very easy to change magnifications.

Leupold LRP Magnification Ring
Leupold LRP Magnification Ring

Fit & Feel

Overall it still looks and feels quality and is pretty light for its stats.

Mounting

Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25x
Leupold VX3i LRP 8.5-25x

I used a Leupold cantilever single piece mount which was easy to install but I wish there was a different knob on the base so I could more easily use my torque wrench.

Tracking Test

Leupold LRP Tracking Test
Leupold LRP Tracking Test

This one wasn’t the best one even after taking out that messup at the top left square.

Summary

Not my favorite at the price point.  I would say get the Strike Eagle or up it a little to get the PST II or some of the other ones down the list.

Gave me some eye fatigue due to the eye box despite pretty good eye relief.

4. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56

Redemption!  I really like Leupold’s Mark 5HD scope.

Leupold Mark 5HD
Leupold Mark 5HD

But then again…I might just like nice things.  This is one of Leupold’s newest creations and comes in over $2000.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Great glass clarity at all magnifications.  I got the version with the CCH reticle but there’s plenty of choices.

Leupold CCH Reticle
Leupold CCH Reticle

Here it is at 5x…I like how the three skinny triangles bring your eyes toward the center.  The reticle is a little thin at 5x but if you’re using this…you’re probably zoomed in at least a little.

Leupold Mark 5HD 5x
Leupold Mark 5HD 5x

Here it is at 25x magnification.

Leupold Mark 5HD 25x
Leupold Mark 5HD 25x

It’s a lot of stuff that hunters and military will use for wind and moving target holds.  Plus the CCH reticle is optimized at 12-16x magnification for night vision and thermal attachments.

More than I need for my purposes!

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Listed at 3.6 inch for 25x and 3.8 inch for 5x…so it’s pretty standard.  You can see it’s actually a little closer to my eyes when mounted than other scopes.

Leupold Mark 5HD Mounted
Leupold Mark 5HD Mounted

Eye box is forgiving and a joy to look through when coupled with the great glass and 56mm objective lens that lets in a lot of light compared to the 50mm’s from before.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Leupold Mark 5HD Turrets
Leupold Mark 5HD Turrets

There’s a nice locking button that protrudes out for zero stop.  That mechanism also disappears after one full turn…and then a metal pin on top comes out after 2 full turns.

This is a scope that’s made for low light use when you have to use tactile indicators for zero.

Turning the turret knobs is soft/easy and there’s a good audible click.

Windage is covered which is ok since it’s coupled with the CCH reticle that helps a lot with holdovers.

Mark 5HD Offset Windage
Mark 5HD Offset Windage

The indicator for windage is not centered…but instead more at the top.  It does make it easier to see but is different from almost all other scopes…so it takes some getting used to.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax was very close to the actual distances and I like the numbered graduations.

Leupold Mark 5HD Magnification Ring
Leupold Mark 5HD Magnification Ring

And it comes with an integrated throw lever that makes it easy to transition the entire zoom spectrum.

Fit & Feel

Very quality and actually lighter than I thought for all the features and the bigger tube/objective lens.

Mounting

Leupold Mark 5HD
Leupold Mark 5HD

I used the very high 34mm rings from Leupold which worked better on my DTA SRS.  However one set of the rings had a very sticky screw that needed a little more oomph to manipulate.

I still like going with single piece mounts since I take my scopes on and off a lot and they hold zeros better.

Tracking Test

Tracking was dead on even though the zero shifted a little from taking the rings on and off.

Leupold Mark 5HD Tracking Test
Leupold Mark 5HD Tracking Test

Summary

Overall super clear glass and extra features built into the great windage/elevation knobs.

You might choose a more “normal” reticle like their TMR since the CCH is built for movers and windage holds.

Lives up to the Leupold name.

Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope, 5-25x56mm

Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope, 5-25x56mm

5. Burris XTR II 5-25×50

The Burris XTR II is a pretty good deal for what you get coming in around $1000.

Burris XTR II 5-25x
Burris XTR II 5-25x

Glass Clarity & Reticle

This bad boy comes with very decent glass and one of my favorite reticles…the SCR Mil which is an enhanced “normal” reticle.

Burris SCR Mil
Burris SCR Mil

Check it out at 25x which is very usable and has good graduations for both windage and elevation holds.

Burris XTR II 25x
Burris XTR II 25x

While still being useful at 5x, especially with the 3 thicker lines drawing your eyes into the center.

Burris XTR II 5x
Burris XTR II 5x

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is listed at a good 4.24 and 3.5 inches although the eye box did not feel very forgiving.

Mounted Burris XTR II
Mounted Burris XTR II

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets/knobs were a little stiffer than I would have liked…but were plenty tactile.

Burris XTR II Knobs
Burris XTR II Knobs

And very personal knock…but I don’t like the harder-to-read-than-needed font for the numbers.  And the inclusion of +10 numbers on elevation above the regular numbers makes it very busy.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax is easy to adjust and has numbers.

Plus illumination goes from 1 through 11 with each one next to an off.

Fit & Feel

Overall very nicely built.

Check out the turrets in action:

Mounting

I used the Burris PEPR mount which is great for the money but is heavy.  However it does include Picatinny rails for offset red dots.

Burris XTR II 5-25x
Burris XTR II 5-25x

Tracking Test

Burris XTR II Tracking Test
Burris XTR II Tracking Test

Tracking was ok and somehow I was shooting not that great.

Summary

A good option if you’re trying to stay under $1000 with good glass and can live with the slightly less than ideal eye box and stiff/busy turrets.

6. Steiner PX4i 4-16×56

Let’s get some German glass up in here with the Steiner PX4i.

Steiner P4Xi 4-16x
Steiner P4Xi 4-16x

I love their 1-4x scope and their 4-16x is one of the nicest pieces of glass I’ve had the pleasure to looking through.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Since it’s less magnification, a smaller ratio (4-16x vs 5-25x), 56mm objective lens…AND it’s Steiner…the glass is super clear and bright.

Coupled with their SCR reticle which was developed for precision use…you’ll be ready for any long range task.

Steiner SCR Reticle
Steiner SCR Reticle

Here it is at 16x magnification.  This is definitely one of those cases where the picture does not do the actual optic justice.

Steiner P4Xi 16x
Steiner P4Xi 16x

And at 4x.  Thing but usable especially with the draw-in sides.

Steiner P4Xi 4x
Steiner P4Xi 4x

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is a generous 4 inch and eye box is very forgiving.

Steiner P4Xi Mounted
Steiner P4Xi Mounted

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Great feeling turrets…stiffer in a good way and more tactile than others.  Can definitely be used at night.

Steiner P4Xi Knobs
Steiner P4Xi Knobs

Plus that white circle turns green when you pass one full rotation.

Windage is exposed and is slightly easier to turn but same great quality feeling.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax starts at 50 and uses a volume-like control to denote distance.  Makes sense and I can probably get used to it as opposed to numbers.

Magnification ring feels quality and decently easy to turn with about 2 large cranks to reach min and max.

Fit & Feel

Looks and feels great.  It’s decently short with a thicker tube (34mm) and larger objective lens (56mm).

Mounting

The Steiner mount is kick-ass!

Steiner P4Xi 4-16x
Steiner P4Xi 4-16x

Super quality feeling and comes with a built-in bubble level.

Tracking Test

Pretty consistent here although I would have liked all of them to be on the left edge like the zero-ing shots.

Steiner P4xi Tracking Test
Steiner P4xi Tracking Test

Summary

If you’re looking for a super quality feeling and looking optic that’s battle-tested…you can’t go wrong with this Steiner.

Plus if you’re worried about mirage the 4-16x is perfect.

Super Clear Glass
Steiner Optics P4Xi 4-16x56mm SCR Scope x 40mm

Steiner Optics P4Xi 4-16x56mm SCR Scope x 40mm

7. EOTech Vudu 5-25×56

EOTech’s foray into long distance gives us the Vudu 5-25x.

EOTech Vudu 5-25x
EOTech Vudu 5-25x

We love our EOTech Holographic Sights and this super short scope is perfect if you’re looking to rock night vision or thermal devices on your rifle.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

You’re probably giving something up by going so short…check it out below 4th from the left.

Tested Long Range Scopes
Tested Long Range Scopes

But so far I can’t tell because the glass is great.

It uses a pretty standard MRAD reticle.

EOTech Vudu 25x
EOTech Vudu 25x

That’s great at both 5 and 25x.

EOTech Vudu 5x
EOTech Vudu 5x

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is listed at 3.6 inches so you’re not bashing your eye with magnums.

EOTech Vudu Mounted
EOTech Vudu Mounted

And eye box wasn’t a problem for me to get a nice sight picture at any magnification.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

A nice but also kind of annoying feature is the lock feature on the elevation turret.

EOTech Vudu Knobs
EOTech Vudu Knobs

You’ve got to remember to pull the turret up in order to turn it…and there’s not much of an indicator when it’s on or off.

However turns are nice and solid with an audible quality click.  Windage is capped.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax has numbers which I appreciate and dead-on with my 100 and 600 yard known distances.

EOTech Vudu Magnification Ring
EOTech Vudu Magnification Ring

Magnification is super easy to turn…but it’s the entire rear of the scope so if you have attached scope caps…it’s not going to be fun.  Might be why it comes with clear bungee covers.

Fit & Feel

Feels super quality in its compact form.

Here’s everything in action:

Mounting

Has a 34mm tube and I used my go-to Aero Precision Lightweight mounts to keep everything together.

Tracking Test

Pretty good results here and I’m glad I’m shooting a little better than the previous!

EOTech Vudu Tracking Test
EOTech Vudu Tracking Test

Summary

The go-to if you want something super short and compact.  Either just because or if you need to attach some serious electronics to the end of it.

8. Primary Arms 6-30×56

Wait…PA is on the list?

Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum
Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum

Well turns out they don’t just make very bang-for-the-buck scopes (Best 1-6x Scopes), but also have entered the premium area with their Japanese glass-ed Platinum 6-30x.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Glass is very clear and bright with its 56mm objective lens.

However…I’m not in love with its DEKA Mil reticle.

DEKA Reticle
DEKA Reticle

It’s very usable at 6x.

Primary Arms 6x
Primary Arms 6x

But then becomes kind of big at 30x.

Primary Arms 30x
Primary Arms 30x

If you’re aiming at torso sized targets it’s fine but anything smaller might be hard with those giant futurist hash marks.  The chevron center also takes some getting used to.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief is 3.3 inch to 4 inch so it’s pretty normal.

Primary Arms Platinum 6-30x Mounted
Primary Arms Platinum 6-30x Mounted

I found the eye box to be pretty forgiving too even at the max 30 magnification.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Very nice big knob with quality subdued-sound clicks.

Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum Knobs
Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum Knobs

Windage turrets are slightly stiffer but have the same feel quality.

Parallax & Magnification

Parallax is a little hidden with the illumination knobs (yes, they have an off next to each setting) but has numbers that are graduated nicely.  Also on the dot with my known distances of 100 and 600 yards.

Magnification ring has a smaller integrated fin that helps a lot with adjustment.

Fit & Feel

Good heft and quality finish.  PA is really stepping up their game.

Mounting

Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum
Primary Arms 6-30x Platinum

Again I went with an Aero Precision Lightweight mount but if you purchase from PA you’ll usually get a free mount too.

Tracking Test

Pretty good!

Primary Arms 6-30x Tracking Test
Primary Arms 6-30x Tracking Test

Summary

If you want some quality Japanese glass on a scope that could probably cost 2x what it does now…try the Platinum out.

It has Primary Arms’ lifetime warranty like all their other stuff.

Best Bang-For-The-Buck
Primary Arms Platinum Series 6-30X56mm

Primary Arms Platinum Series 6-30X56mm

9. Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56

Ooh…the big boy S&B PMII is here.

Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x

Almost universally known as the best of the best…it’s used by some of the top police and military units (hence the PM) in the world.

It’s also around $3000.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

Subjectively the best to me and my buddies who rock them.  Closest would be Steiner and US Optics.

There’s also tons of reticles to choose from…I just happen to have the H2CMR which is close to a basic Mil with circles that make it easy to count how much to hold/correct.

H2CMR Reticle
H2CMR Reticle

The first focal plane (FFP) reticle is thin but usable at 5x.

Schmidt & Bender PMII 5x
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5x

But shines at 25x.

Schmidt & Bender PMII 25x
Schmidt & Bender PMII 25x

Normally it’s pretty hard to get a well-lit picture at max magnification…but it was definitely easier with the PMII.

Also no side distortion!

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Schmidt & Bender PMII Mounted
Schmidt & Bender PMII Mounted

Eye relief is average with 3.5 inches but eye box is pretty forgiving even at 25x.  That also helps in getting a nice picture.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

Schmidt & Bender PMII Turrets
Schmidt & Bender PMII Turrets

I’ve cranked on these since 2012 and they are the same since the day I got them…crisp with the perfect amount of resistance.  Also down to .1 mrad per click for refined.

Also the white open rectangles at the top of the elevation ring change to orange after one full rotation.  Oh…and of course zero stop too.

Windage is exposed and has the same feeling as elevation.

Parallax & Magnification

The giant parallax knob is super smooth and uninhibited by an illumination lever since there’s very few times where it’s actually useful.  Also dead on for my known distances.

Magnification ring is smooth and easy to use.  Plus there’s a nice little “sharks-fin” attachment you can get for a better throw.

Schmidt & Bender PMII Magnification
Schmidt & Bender PMII Magnification

Fit & Feel

Tons of use and I’m only starting to see some scuff marks at the edges of the turrets.  If it’s good enough for USMC sniper teams…it’s good enough for me.

Mounting

Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x

I use a Larue OBR mount which has kept within .5 MOA over countless on and off across multiple rifles.  This setup is my go-to for AR-15 accuracy tests so it’s been…around.

Tracking Test

Pretty good…all within the red boxes.  Although I must admit I’m SO DONE with tracking tests.

Schmidt & Bender PMII Tracking Test
Schmidt & Bender PMII Tracking Test

Summary

If you want my personal best of the best…here it is.  Hands-down.

Editor's Pick
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x56 H2CMR

Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x56 H2CMR

What’s your take on the PMII if price were no object?

Readers' Ratings

4.97/5 (133)

Your Rating?

Honorable Mentions

This is only a slice of what’s out there…and I intend to keep testing and updating!

Here’s some of my other favorites I’ve tried but don’t have in hand for a more in-dpeth review:

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 FFP

Most Versatile
Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 FFP

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56 FFP

Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56

Nightforce is another manufacturer known for high-quality glass…and the ATACR is its premier line.  I have and love their NXS line but mine is only 2.5-10x.  I really want to try their 5-25x.

Nightforce 5-25x ATACR

Nightforce 5-25x ATACR

Prices accurate at time of writing

U.S. Optics B-25 5-25x

The U.S. Optics B-25 has a simple, sleek aesthetic, and that simplicity extends to its controls.  

Plus it’s one of the few scopes to rival Schmidt & Bender in glass quality.

U.S. Optics B-25 5-25x

U.S. Optics B-25 5-25x

Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56 M5B2 Illuminated Front Focal

Best Illuminated Reticle Scope
Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25x56 M5B2 Illuminated Front Focal

Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25x56 M5B2 Illuminated Front Focal

Conclusion

BLM Precision Shooting
BLM Precision Shooting

To recap…

My recommended budget optic for those of you entering the long range game is the Strike Eagle 4-24x.

Most Affordable
Vortex Optics 4-24x50 Strike Eagle

Vortex Optics 4-24x50 Strike Eagle

Prices accurate at time of writing

If you want to step it up a little…get the Viper PST II 5-25x.

Upgraded Pick
Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II EBR-2C 5-25x50

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II EBR-2C 5-25x50

If you want to up your game a little more with Leupold…

Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope, 5-25x56mm

Leupold Mark 5HD Rifle Scope, 5-25x56mm

Want super clear German glass and not need the full 5-25x magnification?

Clearest Glass
Steiner Optics P4Xi 4-16x56mm SCR Scope x 40mm

Steiner Optics P4Xi 4-16x56mm SCR Scope x 40mm

Need to go short and add in some night vision or thermal…without losing much in performance?

How about some Japanese glass from the most worth-it optics manufacturer?

Best Bang-For-The-Buck
Primary Arms Platinum Series 6-30X56mm

Primary Arms Platinum Series 6-30X56mm

Or…simply want the best of the best?

Editor's Pick
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x56 H2CMR

Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25x56 H2CMR

That does it for me for now.  Let me know what other scopes I’ve missed so I can try to get them for Round 2!

If you want good performance but don’t have thousands available to spend, there are also plenty of Affordable Optics Options on the market.  Or if you’re looking for something strictly AR-15…our Best AR-15 Optics covers everything imaginable.

A Couple AR-15 Optics
A Couple AR-15 Optics

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John B
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John B

I am definitely not in the SB, Kahles, etc market. I really liked you including Primary Arms, Burris, Strike Eagle, etc. A very crowded segment of the market. A few I would love to get a consistent comparison on: Nikon FX1000, Sig Sauer Tango 4, Althon Ares, and whichever Sightron you would add to the mix. I agree with one of the other posts that adding a SS makes sense as well, I believe their top of the line HD variable is about $1500.

Thanks for another great article.

JB

Ron. S
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Ron. S

The only problem would find someone to do the small morgege to do the financing in order be able to get one of these beautiful scopes. Wow! Too rich for my blood. I guess I’ll have to keep the old crappy iron sites.

Julian
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Julian

How do you think about Bushnell Elite Tactical HDMR 3.5-21X50 ?

jp64
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jp64

Old article but I’ll comment anyways. For value vs performance it’s hard to beat Nikon glass. I’ve gone to them for all of my rifles, spotting scopes and binoc’s.

Andrew Burr
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Andrew Burr

I feel like SWFA is a great scope at a bargain price. I’d like to see your opinion on it. A bargain at $250 vs $1000 scopes.

jp64
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jp64

I’ve seen alot of comments on them both positive and negative. Hard to tell which to believe. I’ve already been taken by buying Osprey Scopes. Total junk.

Andrew Burr
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Andrew Burr

I’ve had mine for about 10 years so I can only comment on mine. I saw lots of positive comments before buying and I havent been disappointed. I know they have come out with HD models in recent years so I cannot give any info on them but the fixed 20x that I have is great and I would say it rivals some much H more expensive scopes.

Maybe that would be a new blog. Budget scopes that really are worth it.