This write up is the second part of a series that focuses on long-range precision shooting. The series will cover equipment, training, fundamentals and overall concepts. I discussed picking a rifle to suit your needs in the last write up. In this one, we will discuss scope selection. Scope selection in my opinion is the most important aspect of building a precision rifle. The scope is your connection to your intended target. Your success in the long range shooting game is highly dependent on the quality of your scope, scope’s mounts and installation.
There is a saying that you get what you pay for. This is especially true for precision riflescopes. Lower end models will have lower quality glass and most importantly will not hold zero or track very well. Expect to pay around $1500 to $2500 for a good one that will get the job done. Higher end models nearing the $3000 range and over will offer additional features and slightly better glass. Yes, your scope will cost more than your rifle in most cases.
For long range shooting, I recommend at least a 50 mm objective lens and at least a 30 mm tube body. Generally, the larger the front lens, the more light it can bring in thus making your sight picture clearer. Having a 30 mm tube allows for more elevation and windage adjustments. Good for shooting at further distances.
Magnification is not that important but you want enough magnification to adequately see your intended target. Think of being able to see something on the target that you can aim or reference on. For example some targets will have a bolt through the center. You can use this bolt as an aiming point. Aim small miss small right?
I recommend exposed elevation and windage turrets. What I mean is that they are not hidden under some type of screwed in cap. This allows for easier and quicker adjustments for elevation and windage. If you can, examine and turn the turrets before you buy the scope. They should be audible and have a positive feel with each “click”. This is an example of exposed turrets from a Vortex Razor HD Gen 2.
The elevation turret should have a feature that allows you to quickly return to “zero”. In some scopes like the Vortex Viper line, this feature is called a” Zero Stop”. Shooters can turn the elevation turret back down and it stops at their zero. This is good just in case you forget how many “clicks” you have gone up. You can return to zero and readjust without guessing.
Pick a clean ranging type reticle. Ranging type reticles will have hash marks that can be used to measure targets. It is essentially a ruler. These measurements can then be used in a mathematical formula to determine the distance to your intended target. In addition, these hash marks are used as aiming points when you “holdover”. What I mean is that instead of adjusting your turrets, you can use your reticle hash marks to aim compensating for elevation and windage. Below are two examples of reticles. Both are ranging types but one is cleaner and less confusing than the other.
MOA or Milrad? Pick the system you feel comfortable learning and using. As long as your reticle matches your turrets, you really can’t go wrong with either system. What I mean is if your elevation and windage adjustments are in MOA, then your reticle has to be in MOA and vice versa.
To finish up, get good quality beefy aluminum scope rings and pair them up with steel scope bases. Do not skimp on these mounting parts. Think of them like the foundation and framing of a house. How well your scope holds zero, its consistency, dependability and durability relies how well they are mounted on the rifle. We will dive deeper into mounts and bases in subsequent write ups. – Yago