Finding the right scope for long range competition isn’t as difficult a process as it seems at first. The internet will give you a huge laundry list of features you “need”, often based on features they see in expensive scopes the most elite-level shooters are using and the assumption that anything less just won’t do. Those elite-level scopes have their place and can be of great benefit to you depending on your skill level and application, but there are many optics on the market that are long-range capable and perfectly suited for competition use in just about every budget range. Below are a few of our favorites, ranging from the affordably priced but extremely capable Diamondback Tactical FFP, to the ultra-high-end and feature-packed Razor HD Gen II.
Diamondback Tactical FFP
The Diamondback Tactical FFP (First Focal Plane) has the basic features shooters should look for in a long-range riflescope like 30mm tubes with plenty of room for adjustment, a side-adjustable parallax and quick-dialing exposed turrets that track consistently accurate. A bonus for competition shooters looking to use their reticle frequently for holdovers, spotting shots or ranging, this scope also features FFP EBR-2C reticles with loads of information and Christmas-tree-style windage dots available in either MOA or MRAD. FFP means the reticle will appear to grow and shrink as the image also grows and shrinks with magnification change. This means you’ll be able to use all that extra information on your reticle regardless of magnification, because the reticle is growing and shrinking at the exact same rate as the image, thus maintaining its proper relationship in size. Carrying the Diamondback nameplate, you can expect solid build quality and more than adequate optical performance for finding and seeing your target at a price that will leave you wondering if you should sprint out of the store before someone realizes how much of a steal you got it for. At less than $400 with 4-16×44 and 6-24×50 options to choose from, it’s time to put away that old hunting scope you’ve been trying to dial out too 1,000 and upgrade to something much more capable!
The only SFP-only (Second Focal Plane) scope on the list, the Viper HS-T otherwise retains all the same long-range-essential features mentioned with the Diamondback Tactical FFP, but with an emphasis on the optical quality rather than the additional feature of FFP. For shooters who are not as concerned with frequently using their reticle’s hashmarks and other features across the entire zoom range, but rather dialing all their shots and shooting off the center crosshair, the HS-T is an extremely attractive option. You can still use the hashmarks on 16x in the 4-16×44 or 18x in the 6-24×50, and the center reticle is good to go on any magnification. For a bit more money, but still relatively affordable, the optical quality is a step up from the Diamondback Tactical FFP, which can make all the difference to shooters who spend lots of time behind the glass and place precedence on image quality over all else. Conveniently, the HS-T is also available in either MOA or MRAD depending on which you are most comfortable.
Viper PST Gen II
Moving up to the $1000 ballpark in price, the PST Gen II really starts to add on the features that can make it or break it for more hardcore long-range shooters looking for gear that can maximize their accuracy, speed and efficiency. Better optics with a wide-angle optical system for a big field of view make finding and engaging targets at distance a breeze. Depending on how much your application requires dialing up and down through the adjustment range in the heat of competition, the PST Gen II’s mechanical RZR zero stop in the elevation turret can be the ultimate deciding factor for some shooters. Being able to dial from your zero for a stage with multiple targets at different distances and accurately dial perfectly back to that zero for the next stage without a second thought is a huge time saver and can avoid some serious frustration when speed is key. The illuminated reticle in the PST Gen II can also be beneficial when a black reticle becomes difficult to pick out from a dark or shadowed target. These features plus large zoom ranges, available SFP or FFP and the choice between MOA or MRAD make the PST Gen II a fantastic option for shooters looking to get more elite-level features while still staying within that $1000 ballpark. The 5-25×50 is certainly the most popular for long-range competitors or range-goers but opt for the 3-15×44 for a bit more available adjustment if high magnification isn’t crucial for your application.
Razor HD Gen II
It’s hard to know where to start with the Gen II Razor. If you can imagine a long-range riflescope feature, it probably has it at the ready. The most popular option is the 4.5-27×56 with its extremely versatile magnification range capable of engaging a multitude of targets at varying distances. The 34mm tube means even more available room for adjustment and a large field of view. The turrets are locking, which means you can keep them in their unlocked position to dial a sequence of shots back-to-back or dial your shot and lock them down to prevent any unwanted bumping or adjusting. Optically, you’re getting the best image possible which, as we’ve mentioned before, helps in finding and engaging your target, but also helps greatly in the valuable skill of spotting your own shot after firing or spotting for a shooting partner’s shot through the scope and making accurate corrections. The Razor HD Gen II is indeed the best you can get and the one that the earlier-mentioned internet will tell you that you can’t live without. While we love its premium-level quality and huge list of features, it’s not necessarily the scope we’d recommend for beginners just testing the waters. Learning the fundamentals on a capable scope with less features at a more reasonable price will help you figure out if you even want to pursue the sport of competition long-range shooting further and help improve your basic skills without the aid of any fancy features. You’ll just appreciate them that much more when you graduate to a higher end scope later!