You know you should spend big on a scope for a long-range rifle like today’s Creedmoor 6.5 or 338, especially as you can more or less sell all your other hunting gear if you go for the Creedmoor rig.
If you’re in grizzly country, you’ll need something more substantial, but you need one good Creedmore rifle for pretty much every other piece of North American game you’re going to encounter. One rifle, one scope. So get the best long distance rifle scope you can afford.
It might seem perverse for a gun store to try and slim your collection, but I want to save you money and give you the best arsenal I can. To be honest, Creedmoor 6.5 is the hidden gem when it comes to hunting and you’ll get cleaner, more humane kills on everything from rabbits through to Elk thanks to this fascinating, narrow, light, high-speed cartridge.
So,yes, one hunting rifle and one good optic that can help you make the most of it. So which one?
For a start, don’t bother with Rifle scopes on eBay. If you know what you’re looking for, it’s a treasure trove. if you’re browsing then it’s a minefield of rubbish and I have bought scopes that I know I will never use and I’m too ashamed to sell. eBay is great for rifle scope mounts and the other small parts that can add up, but be careful of buying actual rifle scopes on eBay.
Well if you have got the money, go to town on an amazing optic. But you can get a totally functional piece of glass for less than $1000 that will get the job done.
It won’t have all the bells and whistles, but you really don’t need them. If you get used to a simple site, then you’ll find it’s quicker, easier and more efficient out in the field. If you don’t need all the help, too, then you’re actually the better marksman.
I’m pretty much telling people to hunt with Creedmoor right now. If you’re getting your first game rifle set up then you really need the following and nothing more.
Here are our best long distance rifle scopes for $1000 or less.
1. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II
- Price: $999.99
- Magnification: 5-25
You get a EBR-4 MOA reticle and a scope that works well at a short distance, as well as on the long-range specials.
It’s this scope’s excellence at short distances, just as much as its skills at 1000 meters, that gets it the nod here. The lens is beautifully uncluttered and yet you still get the glass-etched rifle scope reticle.
Laser-etched turrets mean it’s easy to adjust the scope without losing sight of your prey and you can even adjust the illumination, choosing between 10 levels of rifle scope illumination, to make sure you’re taking the most comfortable shot possible. The illumination is worked into the side focus knob, so everything is to hand.
It weighs in at 41oz, it’s a 16-inch tube and everything is slick, simple and it just works. Yes there are more advanced and better scopes, but not for this money.
2. Nikon Monarch 5
- Price: $949.95
- Magnification: 6-30X
That extra five times magnification might seem like small beer, but on the end of a long shot then it can make all the difference between a total miss and a clean kill.
Nikon is obviously famous for its iconic cameras and it knows a few things about glass optics. So the extra low dispersion glass that’s contained in this 15.7″ tube is a work of wonder.
You get Spot On Ballistic Match Technology that helps you locate the exact aiming points and ensure that you have the sight trained to perfection. It’s a distinctive landing strip of stars on the glass, too, which do really help you find your target.
Is it as good as the Vortex and the Leupold? The sales figures say no, but truthfully you’d really struggle to find a flaw in this scope if you put it next to the others in a back-to-back test. For us, that extra 5X magnification is an absolute ace in the hole, too, and for this reason we think this new scope is actually worth it for the long-range shooters out there.
3. Leupold VX-3i 8.5-25x50mm
- Price: $884.99
- Magnification: 8.5-25
Now the list price on the Leupold is almost $900, but we’ve got a trick for you. Second-hand optics can be great and there’s still a roaring trade in vintage camera lenses and rifle scopes that people actually prefer due to the higher quality glass.
So, if you’re smart, you can pick up one of the best rifle scopes here for a lot less. You won’t always find them and eBay has new stock that can go up to and beyond $1000. But shop around and you might get lucky.
25x magnification at the high-end isn’t as good as some of the scopes here, but then think of this as your starter scope.
Put it on your .22 LR to really get your sniper technique down on smaller varmints, then strap it to your Creedmoor and keep your range to within 500 yards. If you can’t pop a moving squirrel in the eye at 50 yards, don’t kid yourself, you’re not ready to take down bigger game.
So think of this as a starter scope in a few ways. If you’re good enough, it’s good enough. If you’re not, it’s a solid scope to get you started.
Do that and you’ve got yourself a devastating White Tail and Boar scope right here, and there’s no reason why you can’t take Elk. You’ve just got to do some of the work with your feet.
Start with a scope like this, use it for training on the 22 with squirrels, then go up to the bigger gun and start going for heart and head shots. Go for instant kills, not just the general area, and build up the distance.
This is a 14.6” scope, there is no illumination and it comes with a side focus. It’s a MOA Reticle scope with good rifle scope levels and the Twilight Max Light Management System and Diamondcoat 2 lens technology. That provides a crisp, clear image and a fast focusing eyepiece. The glass is top quality, but it is limited by design.
You do get a lifetime warranty, though, which includes the toughened, coated glass.
It’s a basic scope and it really won’t go to the full range of the Creedmoor, but it will get you started.
4. LRS Millett Riflescopes
- Price: $449.99
- Magnification: 6-25
It’s another basic scope, this time there is no sale on and this is the actual RRP, so this is a really good budget rifle scope that does the job without shouting about it.
It’s a 56mm optic and a 35mm one-piece tube that creates a very sturdy optic. You get a Mil-DotBar system that works pretty much like the normal Mil-Dot, but it has an additional thin line that really helps with the alignment and range-finding for long distance shots.
That big piece of glass has multiple coatings and this is a low-cost rifle scope that can easily work with a Creedmoor, 338 or 308 hunting rifle. You might want to keep it to 500-600 yards to keep your kills clean and actually practise humane hunting.
It’s a cheap rifle scope that can just about do long distance and that’s what you’re really looking for when you don’t have dollars to spend.
5. Leupold VX-R Patrol
- Price: $499.99
- Magnification 4-12
This is pretty much a perfect scope to make use of the Creedmoor’s mid-range. In essence, you can magnify the target up to 12 times and you get a red dot in the middle. So you don’t get the 25X and more magnification you get with the top end scopes here, but you also don’t get a budget attempt.
This scope offers a shorter effective distance and basically chops some of the range off of a Creedmoor or 338. But if you’re a 400-600 yard hunter, you’ll never miss the extra. Besides, capping your range should make you learn the gun and make the most of it before you turn into some kind of warzone sniper with the 1000-yard stare.
Use a bi-pod, steady yourself and the Creedmoor becomes a precision tool for picking off mid-large game with this mounted on top. You’ll find yourself going beyond a simple kill shot and looking for the channels, where the bullet needs to travel, to drop the animal where it stands.
The Leupold scope is arguable the best mid-range rifle optic for $500 on sale right now.
The company offers a 12-40 magnification range for just $650 and this actually might be the one to go for with the Creedmoor 6.5. If you’re too close, then you might simply have to trust the force, but that additional precision at long distances turn the Creedmoor into a surgical tool at 1000 yards and more.
6. Sightron INC SIII
- Price: $981.99
- Magnification: 10-50
If you want to push your Creedmore 6.5 or long distance rifle to the outer limits, and you’re prepared to sacrifice just a smattering of image quality, you can go for the full 50X magnification for the same price as a better 25X.
Now scopes work a little like Widescreen TVs, you lose a little picture quality if you want a big screen at the right price, and it’s quite often a price worth paying. The ultimate sharpness in the image might not be the most important part for you. You might be more interested in zeroing in for a heart or head shot, in which case a decent picture will do just fine.
Most people prefer a slightly smaller, sharper image. But if you have issues with your eyes, your vision isn’t perfect or even if you don’t clean the glass, then that advantage is already gone. So then you might find that a bigger image works better for you and gives you a chance to pick the channel in the animal where you want the bullet to travel, not just the general area you want to hit.
What hunting rifles do you need?
If you’re just talking straightforward hunting, you need two rifles in your cupboard:
That is it. You don’t need to think about the 308 or the 338 anymore. You just don’t need the hassle. Use the Creedmoor, find the right ammunition and you could literally run a two-rifle set-up from rats right through to Elk.
So, ideally, you need a scope that can handle the 1400-yard skillset of a good Creedmoor. Get that and you can pop rabbits and varmints right at the limits of the rifle’s range.