Of all shooting disciplines, ultra-long range shooting requires the most concentration, dedication and practice.It also requires specialist equipment. Choosing the best scope for 1000 yard shooting will require specific things. You need to know exactly what you need and want from your equipment. Some people like scopes that zoom. Others prefer scopes with fixed magnification. Some want target turrets to adjust their scopes. Others would prefer BDC reticles or mil dots. The choice is up to you.
1000 yard target shooting has its roots in military competitions like the Wimbledon Cup. The highlight of that event is the 1000 yard high-powered rifle competition. It encourages excellent marksmanship through competition. The sport is gaining in popularity among recreational shooters. Clubs and associations are being established all the time to provide more opportunities for 1000 yard shooting.
In a hurry? Don't have time for the details? Here are our best picks for muzzleloader scopes:
- Picking a Calibre For 1000 Yard Shooting.
History of Long Range Shooting
You don't need cartridges like the .338 lapua magnum and .408 CheyTac to make ultra-long shots. Even those these cartridges are specifically intended for long range shooting, they are not essential. Modern developments in ammunition are a great boon to long distance shooters. It’s still important not to forget the possibilities offered by more traditional calibres and cartridges.
The equipment and methods associated with long range shooting have been pioneered by the military. Even top lists of the longest range sniper kills in history include kills from the later 1800’s. One from the Civil War used a muzzle-loading Whitworth rifle. It was made at over 1300 meters.
In 1967, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock of the United States Marine Corps made a kill at 2500 yards. He didn't use a state-of-the-art-sniper rifle. Instead, he shot a .50 calibre Browning machine gun. He had built a special scope mount for it and fitted it with an 8 power unertl scope. In fact it was Hathcock’s use of the Browning machine gun and its .50 calibre round for sniping that inspired the later development of .50 calibre precision rifles such as the Barret M82.
The M82 was originally developed in the 80’s. It was designed as an anti-material rifle. Today it is used for anti-personal sniping. They were first sold to the Swedish Army in 1989 before being adopted more widely by other nations. Today they are used by many armed forces including the USA and Canada.
Picking a Calibre For 1000 Yard Shooting.
Newcomers to the sport of long range shooting may think that massive magnum calibres and specialist cartridges like the .338 and .50 calibre are essential. In fact, you don’t need a hugely expensive CheyTac intervention system. There are plenty calibres suitable for long range shooting that are much more affordable. They are also more comfortable to shoot than the hard recoiling rifles designed for extreme long ranges. The ubiquitous .308 is a fantastic 1000 yard cartridge. The .30-06, the American Military's sniper round of choice in both World Wars, is another favorite.
One of the very best options is the 6.5mm Creedmoor. It was designed specifically for 1000 yard shooting. Ammunition makers Hornady and Creedmoor sports produced it in collaboration with each other. Dave Emery, a ballistics scientist working for Hornady, and Dennis DeMille, the vice president of product development for Creedmoor Sports, developed the round.
The round was released in 2007. It had been designed to shoot long distances as comfortably as possible. It isn't a massive cartridge like the larger magnums the 48.8mm. Instead, it can be accommodated in short action bolt guns and AR platforms. This makes the round much cheaper than the larger calibres. The US Special Operations Command, after extensive testing, decided to adopt the 6.5 Creedmoor. They use it in their semi-automatic sniper platforms, such as the M110 and H&K G28. It is also used as an alternative to the 7.62x51mm NATO (.308) cartridge. Rifles chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor are due to be phased in in 2020.
As well as outperforming the .308 and .260, the Creedmoor doubles your chances of hitting a target at 1000 yards. It increases your effective range by half, recoils less, and rides wind better than the 7.62 round. The Creedmoor takes advantage of its long slender 6.5 mm bullets. This shape of bullet has been very popular for many years in cartridges such as the 6.5x55mm and 6.5x284. Another advantage of the 6.5 Creedmoor is that it doesn’t recoil hard enough to put off beginners.
Yes, you need a good cartridge and rifle combination for your 1000 yard shooting rig. You also need a high-quality scope for the best results.
Choose a Scope
Whatever calibre and accessories you choose for your 1000 yard shooting rig you will need a high quality scope. There is not other way to hit targets at long range let alone compete against other shooters.
Specialist optics for long range shooting is invariably expensive. There are, however, some more affordable options. If you are serious about tight groups at 1000 yards you really do need to consider the high-end specialist scopes. Look for products by manufacturers such as Shmidt & Bender and Nightforce Optics.
There are two categories to group long range shooting scopes: dedicated target shooting optics and multi-purpose optics. Dedicated target optics will often have fixed magnification. They generally won’t feature complicated "BDC," Bullet Drop Calculator, reticles. When shooting at a fixed range those extra aim points won’t be all that useful. BDC reticles are more useful if you are engaging targets quickly in multiple ranges. Consider BDC reticles more for 3 gun competition or practical rifle shooting. BDC reticles are also most commonly made for combat calibres such as .300 blackout, 5.56mm (.223) and 7.62mm (.308). These calibres are not all that useful for 1000 yard shooting. The .308 is the expection. It is a very capable long range round.
Other than the reticle, you need to consider a few other features. This will likely be a super expensive purchase. You want to make sure you choose the right scope for long range schooting.
Magnification isn’t necessarily the most important feature of scopes for 1000 yard shooting. It does help, however, when it comes to aiming at small targets or trying to build groups at long range. A fixed power scope might be appropriate for shooting at fixed distances. Because of the increased versatility, a variable power scope may be better.
Beware cheaper scopes with very high magnification. The only way to get clear images at high magnification is with excellent glass. Cheap options will not have the quality needed for the best light transmission and clear images. You may see scopes with magnification up to 40x. 20x is normally adequate for most purposes.
Bright, clear images through your scope are dependent on the light transmission. Larger objective lenses help improve light transmission. They are particularly important for shooting at 1000 yards in tactical or hunting scenarios. Larger objective lenses, up to 56mm, are popular on scopes for long range shooting. Just remember that larger objective lenses require higher scope mounts to be properly mounted. These high mounts require you to find a rifle with a stock designed for target shooting. You may also want an adjustable comb and cheek piece to bring your eye up to the right level.
These are essential for shooting at extreme ranges. They are also ideal for engaging targets at multiple ranges. If you are setting up a rifle and scope combination for 1000 yard shooting on the range only, these might not matter. If, on the other hand, your rifle is zeroed for a shorter range, you need tart turrets. Otherwise you might have to aim so high that you wouldn’t even see your target. Hitting in that scenerio would be a matter of luck. Being able to adjust the point of aim using target turrets makes extreme long range shots possible. They also allow you to easily return your scope to its original zero.
Yes, low profile turrets
Top 5 Best Scopes for 1000 Yard Shooting on the Market Reviews
NightForce Optics 5.5-22x50 NXS Riflescope
Nightforce optics are some of the most ruggedly-built scopes on the planet. They aren’t afraid to test their products to the absolute limit. Their product tests are absolutely brutal. At the end there is no doubt that the products are rugged. These scopes will put up with the most severe conditions in the field.
Their rugged, bomb-proof build quality makes these scopes perfect for tactical long range shooting and hunting. They can also put up with the brutal recoil of magnum calibres and specialist long range rifles.
The NXS model features adjustable zoom. It goes from a modest 4.5x for spotting and scanning to a very respectable 22x for maximum precision. A 50mm objective lens gathers plenty of light even at dusk and dawn. The target turrets allow you to make necessary adjustments for range and wind. The reticle is NightForces own NXS MOAR. It provides extra points of aim and aids in calculating range and windage adjustments. These allow you to make final last minute adjustments. Whether gusting wind or a target that has moved, you can adjust for it.
Another shooting aid in low light is the illuminated reticle. In addition to the 50mm objective it increases your ability to shoot at dusk and dawn.
Schmidt and Bender PM II High Power 5-45x56mm (34mm tube)
Schmidt & Bender might just be the best scope manufacturer in the world. They produce truly world-class optics for hunters and tactical marksmen. Their PM II High Power may well be the ultimate scope for long range shooting.
It was developed according to US Special Operations Command requirements for tactical long range shooting. These products cost a lot of money. They really do provide fantastic performance and quality.
This model features target turrets just like the NightForce NXS. Unlike the NightForce, these are deliberately low profile. They won't snag on clothing, equipment, and undergrowth. You never have to worry about getting tangled up or knocking your scope out of zero. In tactical scenerios, the risk of snagging you rifle as you move through undergrowth is very real. The low profile turrets don't completely stop the issue. They certainly make things easier, however.
The 45x magnification provides pin-point precision even when shooting at extreme range. The magnification combined with the oversized 56mm objective and 34 mm tube provide excellent light gathering characteristics. The scope will perform fantastically even in the worst light conditions. The 34mm tube also adds extra strength to this very rugged scope.
Leupold mark 8 3.5-25x56
I have been using Leupold scopes for years for hunting. I am absolutely delighted with them. They make some of the very best scopes for less money than the top Schmidt & Benders.
I have nothing bad to say about Leupold scopes. The vast range of products they offer are suitable for a variety of occupations. Whether mounting on the .243 that I use for hunting deer or anything else, they work. The features of this "Mark 8" by Leupold read like a wish list of perfect features for a target shooting optic. The adjustable magnification allows you to scan for targets. You can also shoot at closer range in low power and zoom in for very precise shooting on longer range targets.
Choosing this scope isn’t as simple as picking one off a shelf. You also have options when it comes to the style of reticle. Many high end scopes offer multiple reticle options. This allows you to choose the very best style of reticle for your style of shooting.
Burris XTR II 5-25x50 (40mm tube)
Burris offers a fantastic package with this XTR II. The entire scope comes at a very competitive price as well. You’ll struggle to find really fantastic optics for 1000 yard shooting for much less. This scope is far more affordable than some over-engineered options. It is also designed to meet military requirements for ruggedness.
Its 50mm objective lens coupled with a 40mm tube provides excellent light transmission. You can shoot in low light conditions easily. Despite its massive objective lens, the rest of the scope is still compact. Its small size increases its maneuverability. As well as target turrets it also features a side-mounted focus and adjustable magnification.
Burris also provides a lifetime warranty. Their commitment proves that they stand by their product. The warranty should give you a lot of confidence.
Vortex Optics Golden Eagle HD 15-60x52
Vortex Optics are a growing force in the optics industry. They were founded in 2004. This means they don’t have the pedigree of some other manufacturers. In the last few years, however, they have been building a fantastic reputation among shooters. The Golden Eagle HD is specifically designed for competition shooting. It is particularly made for disciplines such as bench rest and F-class, where shots are taken from a rested position.
The 1/8-inch MOA adjustments are far better than the traditional ¼-inch adjustments at 100 yards. No other scope on this list offers 60x magnification. But, the potential problem with such high magnification is that you need a lot of light transmission. Thus, the objective lens is a full 52mm. The lenses are also made to the highest possible tolerances. They have anti-reflective coatings to allow maximum light gathering and transmission.
There have never been more options for the 1000 yard target shooter. All the choices can get a bit overwhelming. These five options are some of the best on the market. Any one of them would serve you well for shooting at 1000 yards. Some even have the flexibility and versatility to be useful for shooting at all ranges. You may even be able to use them for ranges beyond 1000 yards. A few of the products reviews are better for fixed, known distances.
Scope is only part of the battle. You will need to invest a lot of time and energy at the range to be successful shooting at 1000 yards. Get out there and do some shooting.