A rifle scope is a telescopic sighting system for a firearm that magnifies the target image by one or more times. Historically, magnified lenses have been used for observation and reconnaissance. With an aiming reticle or crosshair, the rifle scope increases the accurate range of the rifle and marksman.
At 1,000 yards, a man-size target is barely visible without optical enhancement. In an iron-sighted system, the front sight may obscure the target entirely at half that distance.
A rifle scope suitable for long-range shooting will typically have a larger diameter objective lens than optics designed for close- to medium-range engagements. This is because the diameter of the objective lens determines how much light it collects and transmits.
You may need to balance the elements of your rifle scope against your intended application, your use of accessories, and your rifle platform. For example, powerful rifle scopes tend to be heavier and bulkier than models designed for comparatively close-range targets.
You should also consider the durability of the rifle scope. The best examples use a single-piece machined tube made from lightweight, yet impact-resistant, aluminum — typically 6000 series. In addition, scratch-resistant lens coatings and recoil testing improve the long-term functionality of your optic under adverse weather and rough handling conditions.
Best Rifle Scopes for 1,000 Yards
Leupold Mark 5HD 5–25×56mm MOA Riflescope
Leupold is a world-famous manufacturer of rifle scopes, and the quality of its optics is among the best. Featuring up to 25× magnification, the Mark 5HD provides a powerful zoom.
The Twilight Max Light Management System provides up to 30 minutes of additional light for shooting. Combined with the 56mm objective lens, the Leupold Mark 5HD provides industry-leading light transmission. This is further enhanced by the company’s multi-coated lenses, reducing glare significantly.
The Mark 5HD is a highly versatile optical system, thanks to Leupold’s recoil-simulation machine, affectionately named “The Punisher.” Every Leupold scope must survive 5,000 impacts in the Punisher, each equivalent to three times the recoil of a .308 rifle. As a result, if you want to mount the Leupold on a powerful magnum or heavy-caliber rifle — up to and including .50 BMG — the Mark 5HD is more than capable of handling it.
Housed in a durable single-piece 6061-T6 aluminum-alloy tube, the Mark 5HD is fogproof and waterproof, ensuring that your optic will continue to perform under a variety of adverse weather conditions.
Weighing between 30 and 32 oz., depending on the variant, the Mark 5 HD is relatively lightweight for a rifle scope in its class and is available with or without illumination.
Vortex Crossfire II 6–24×50mm AO Riflescope
Vortex offers a less expensive alternative for the budget-conscious shooter. The Crossfire II provides a magnification range of 6–24× with a 50mm objective lens. While the smaller objective lens will not collect and transmit the same degree of light, it still excels at delivering a high-quality target image. Vortex applies anti-reflective multi-coatings to every lens that contacts the air, reducing glare. This is important for optimal contrast and clarity.
The Vortex Crossfire II uses a second focal plane (SFP) reticle in which the reticle remains the same size as you adjust the magnification.
Durably manufactured using aircraft-grade aluminum, the Crossfire II’s tube is nitrogen purged and sealed with an O-ring to protect it from the ingress of moisture. The tube is also hard-coat anodized for additional wear resistance.
At only 23.6 oz., the Vortex Crossfire II is one of the lightest rifle scopes on the list.
EOTech Vudu 5–25×50 FFP Riflescope
EOTech, best known for producing holographic sighting systems for military combat rifles and civilian sporting weapons, also manufactures variable-magnification rifle scopes suitable for long-range shooting. One such example is the Vudu, a first focal plane rifle scope with a 50mm objective lens and a variable magnification of 5–25×.
Despite its wide lens diameter, the scope is relatively compact at only 11.2” in length. This short profile saves rail space for mounting additional equipment, such as night-vision and thermal-imaging devices. These clip-on devices allow you to maintain your scope’s zero and use your preferred reticle while enabling you to see your target under low-light conditions.
The company’s EZ Chek Zero Stop allows you to adjust the turrets easily and return the assembly to zero.
Using the XC High-Density Glass, the Vudu delivers a high degree of light transmission and crystal-clear image clarity. Powered by CR2032 lithium batteries, the Vudu has a battery life of approximately 500 hours at a brightness setting of 5 with a 2-hour auto shut-off.
At 29.5 oz., the Vudu is comparable in weight to the Mark 5HD.
Meopta Optika6 3–18×56mm Rifle Scope
Meopta is an international optics manufacturing company with facilities in the United States and Czechia (the Czech Republic). Producing optical systems for industrial, hunting, and tactical applications, Meopta’s Optika6 is a reasonably priced and feature-rich rifle scope that should satisfy the most demanding riflemen. Available with 50 and 56mm objective lenses, the 56mm variant offers the most significant degree of light collection and transmission.
The Optika6 is available with either first or second focal plane reticles. FFP models use exposed zero-stop locking elevation turrets and capped windage turrets. In SFP models, both the windage and elevation adjustment turrets are capped. The non-MIL reticles have turret click values of ¼ MOA. MIL reticles have turret click values corresponding to 0.1 milliradians.
Meopta rifle scopes feature two types of proprietary lens coating. The first, MeoBright, is an ion-assisted, anti-reflective multi-coating that the company applies to air-to-glass lens surfaces to eliminate glare. This multi-coating ensures that the Optika6 maximizes light transmission per lens surface — a competitive 99.8%, according to the manufacturer.
In addition to the light-transmitting and anti-glare MeoBright, Meopta also applies the aptly named MeoShield ion-assisted multi-coating to external lens surfaces. This protects against abrasion under harsh environmental conditions, meeting military standards for durability and ensuring that the Optika6 is ready for anything.
If you choose an Optika6 variant that includes the RD Illuminated Reticle System, you’ll have a third turret for selecting one of seven intensity, or brightness, settings for the illuminated red dot. Between each brightness setting is an intermediate “off” position so that you can select your preferred brightness setting immediately.
At 30.5 oz., the Optika6 weighs roughly the same as other optics in its class.
Before you buy an expensive glass sight and mount it on your rifle, you need to consider what you’ll need to achieve accurate hits at 1,000 yards or more. These include the following:
● Your choice of rifle
Everything about your weapon must be consistent, from how its bolt locks into the receiver to the composition of the barrel. Free-floating barrels — i.e., those that don’t contact the receiver — are ideal. Anything that contacts the barrel can disrupt the vibrations during firing, shifting the point of impact. Wooden stocks, which can swell or warp, are notorious for having this effect when they become wet.
Gas-operated rifles, such as the AR-10/15, that use a gas block or gas cylinder pinned to the barrel are not genuinely free floating; however, the use of handguards that do not contact the barrel are considered free floating for practical purposes.
All these factors contribute to the accuracy of your rifle.
● Your choice of ammunition
You can have the most inherently accurate rifle in the world, but if you feed it cheap military surplus ammunition, your groups will not reflect the quality of your weapon. For the best results, select a match-grade load. Match-grade ammunition is held to a higher standard regarding component consistency.
● Your marksmanship skills
An accurate rifle loaded with correct ammunition will not improve your shooting performance if you don’t apply the fundamentals of marksmanship consistently. Your equipment enhances your skill set — it’s not a substitute for it.
The fundamentals of marksmanship comprise of the following:
● Steady position
Assume a stable firing position. This consists of applying, first, several elements to steady the rifle. Next, place the butt of the rifle firmly in the pocket of your firing shoulder with your non-firing hand either supporting the fore-end or the toe of the stock.
Next, place your cheek on the top of the stock, called the comb, to achieve a proper stock weld. The position of your cheek on the stock determines the eye relief and should be consistent from one shot to another. Find a stable position for your elbows and rely on the support of your bone structure. This will allow your muscles to relax.
Steady firing positions include crouching, sitting, kneeling, and prone. Standing positions are the least stable for long-range shooting; however, you can increase the stability and, thus, accuracy by using a shooting sling.
In an iron-sighted system, aiming consists of aligning your front and rear sights and placing the aligned sights on a target. When using a rifle scope, place the reticle or crosshairs — your aiming point — on the target and look through it. Eye relief, the distance between your dominant eye and the rear sight or ocular lens, determines how you perceive the sight picture. This should be consistent from shot to shot.
Your choice of reticle should provide a highly visible reference point that doesn’t obscure the target. Illuminated reticles provided by tritium, ambient light, or a battery-powered LED are standard options.
● Trigger control
Pressing the trigger to fire the rifle without disturbing your sight picture is essential for accurate shooting. You should apply gradual rearward pressure to the trigger face with the pad or first joint of your index finger until the trigger “breaks” — i.e., releases the hammer or striker. If you lose your sight picture or need to re-align the sighting system with the target, you can interrupt your trigger press.
● Breath control
Breath control consists of regulating your breathing to avoid disturbing your sight picture and the position of the barrel. As you breathe in and out, your chest expands and contracts. When you breathe out, there’s typically a delay of 2–3 seconds before you breathe in again. This is called the “natural respiratory pause.”
To minimize the effect of breathing on your accuracy, you should fire your rifle during this pause. If you’re in reasonably good health, you should be able to extend this pause for up to eight seconds comfortably.
● Follow through
Follow through is applying the fundamentals of marksmanship consistently throughout the firing cycle, from trigger release, through recoil, and when the sights re-settle on the target. Failure to apply this last principle can disturb the rifle and interfere with accuracy.
There are a variety of rifle scopes suitable for long-range shooting. The priority is light transmission and image clarity, as you’ll be aiming at a target of 1,000 yards or more. Some shooters prefer illuminated reticles, although these are not strictly necessary. At these distances, a reticle with thin inner lines is ideal — they’re less likely to obscure the target. A high degree of magnification may be necessary, depending on your visual acuity and ambient lighting conditions. Don’t neglect environmental factors, such as humidity and mirage. The use of wind meters, ballistic calculator apps, and laser rangefinders can help you estimate weather conditions and distance, improving your capabilities.