If you want a quality long-range scope for 500 yards or more, then you’ve stumbled upon the right article. Many gun owners are in need of optical sighting devices for their hunting, sniping, military training, target practice, and self-protection needs. Riflescopes are essentially telescopes you can mount on your gun so that you can magnify your target and shoot it down better.
They’re better than open sights because you don’t have to line up the sight near you and the sight at the nose of your rifle perfectly before shooting. You can even adjust for elevation and windage easier with a riflescope because every scope nowadays has these knobs included in the middle of the device. Essentially, 500-yards-and-above scopes can adjust for gravity, MOA, strong winds, and other elements that could ruin the accuracy of your shot from far away.
Reviewing Different 500-Yard Long-Range Scopes
Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD: Speaking of excessive magnification, the Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD variable riflescope does indeed showcase excessiveness with its 5x to 20x magnification capabilities over a 50 millimeter objective lens. In general, 3x to 9x magnification is enough to handle all your scope needs, and 9x has enough magnifying capabilities to allow for sniper-grade, long-shot hits you’re clamoring for (and indeed, Vortex is one of the best in the business).
However, although too much magnification can sap you of available light and diminish exit pupil size, this is still an article for the 500-yarder riflescopes. You specifically pay for $2,200 for a Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD because of the added magnification and bigger tendency for the parallax effect (so make sure to keep your fingers near that parallax adjustment dial). The main caveat here is that you better have marksman-like skills to compensate for the detriments.
Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot: If you’re searching for precision at long range shoots that won’t do a number on your wallet, then the Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot is the budget deal you’ve been looking for because it costs $550 or a quarter of what a Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD costs. In short, you can buy four Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot scopes for every one Vortex Razor HD scope you get, which equals huge savings for a relatively decent product (although you can buy eight Nikon Buckmasters for the same price).
In regards to whether it’s worth the extra $275 compared to a Nikon Buckmaster, always remember that Leupold is the company that first came up with the nitrogen-filled fog-free scope. If you’re afraid of the Leupold Mark AR being cheap because it’s a lower-grade scope, thus it lacks many of the long-range, 500-yarder features that make the Vortex Razor HD great, then you should view things in terms of cost-effectiveness. Do you need that extra 2x magnification or the extra 10 millimeters on your objective lens? If not, go with the Leupold Mark AR.
Nightforce NXS 5.5-22x50mm MOAR: Here’s what the Nightforce NXS brings to the table. Priced at $1,770 and offering 5.5x to 22x magnification with 50 millimeter objective lens size, it’s the budget version of the $2,200 Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 EBR-3 MRAD that actually offers a bit more than its more expensive counterpart (an extra 2x magnification). It really does offer MOAR (more) bang for your buck or more value for your investment!
It is $430 cheaper than Vortex yet offers additional specs. What’s not to like? Again, every additional magnification level will require you to have better marksmanship ability, but once your skill matches the scope specs, you’ll be practically unstoppable at 500 yards and above. It also offers superior image clarity, low-light utility, a 50 millimeter objective lens, and high-speed turrets to boot. Spec for spec, Nightforce can compete with Vortex in terms of superior offerings at a better price.
Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5-21×50 G2DMR: The Bushnell Elite Tactical is more of a middle ground between the excessive specs and pricing of the Vortex Razor HD and the reduced capabilities yet cost-effective offerings of the Leupold Mark AR. In fact, with its $1,400 value, the Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5-21×50 G2DMR offers a good argument for having better value than either scope for your long-range shooting needs.
It’s really all about perspective. At 500 yards, having a more powerful scope is actually detrimental to novice gun enthusiasts because the specs call for more adjustments and considerations. Having a mid-range magnification does make all the difference, plus Bushnell even comes with parallax safeguards and an Eye of Horus kind of reticle or crosshair. It’s great value for your money that’s only beaten by the likes of a $2,500 scope.
Nikon Buckmasters 6-18x40mm Mildot: No long-range riflescope is complete without the budget offerings of Nikon. It’s priced at $275, which is more than just a bargain but an outright steal for anyone who’s ever used the high-spec, high-quality scope offerings of the Nikon brand. It’s more or less half the price of the $550 Leupold Mark AR 6-18x40mm Mildot yet offers essentially the same specs. If you can’t afford a Leupold, the Nikon won’t let you down.
The fascinating thing about Nikon Buckmasters is that it isn’t cheap. You’re offered Nikon’s weight in gold in terms of specs, from the ever-reliable mildot reticle (this is the reticle you use for distance calculation, which is perfect for 500-yard snipe-grade long shots) to its MOA turet adjustments. Only the best lenses and glasses are included in a Nikon, which again makes it so amazing that it’s the cheapest (as in affordable) long-range scope in this list.
Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm Mildot: While the Nikon Buckmasters 6-18x40mm Mildot offers such a huge value for your money, you’d swear you’re buying it secondhand due to its low, low price of $275, if you have a $1,000-1,500 budget, cost-effectiveness suddenly has a whole different meaning for you. The Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm Mildot outdoes the Nikon Buckmasters at every turn and in every way possible.
It’s also superior to its Leupold Mark AR 6 counterpart in terms of glass improvements, its high standalone value, increased elevation adjustment range, a 50-millimeter objective lens as seen in Bushnell Elite Tactical and Nightforce NXS (both more expensive scopes), and it’s ultimately $1,300 value. It also features the same mildot reticle that is a main selling point of the $275 Nikon Buckmasters 6-18x40mm Mildot.
Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56mm: As for this iteration of Nightforce, it’s $100 more expensive than Vortex Razor HD at $2,200 and $530 more expensive than the Nightforce NXS. The reasoning behind this price jump is the added 3x-5x of magnification (again, watch out for that parallax phenomenon) and the additional 6 millimeters of objective lens sizing to compensate for the added magnification (you need more light for every additional magnification).
The Nightforce ATACR 5-25x56mm also has a 34-millimeter tube body that houses bigger lens and offers 4 millimeters more space than the NXS’s 30-millimeter tube body. The price jump from the NXS to the ATACR is more than justified because the Nightforce ATACR is worth every additional penny due to the added specs that really does outdo the Nightforce NXS at every turn. If you believe the extra money for the extra specs is worth it, then go ahead and add that additional $100 to $530 to your riflescope fund.
Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 P4 Fine: Last but not least is the Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 P4 Fine. If the Nikon Buckmasters is beer then the Schmidt & Bender PMII is fine wine. Burgundy, even. The Schmidt & Bender PMII is leaps and bounds better than all the 500-yarder riflescopes featured in this review. It has everything, including eye relief, the best glass, good contrast, MOA adjustments, incredible sharpness, and so forth. This is the epitome of high-class, high-end scopes.
What’s more, relatively speaking, it is penny-for-penny as cost-effective as Nikon Buckmasters with its $3,700 cost that proportionately matches the more-value-for-your-money offerings of Nikon in its extensive specs. It doesn’t only have the parallax adjustment; it probably has the best parallax adjustment in the business. It doesn’t only have superior magnification and objective lens specs; it makes full use of these details to give you the best accuracy possible for all pro marksmen out there.
The main things you should be wary of when dealing with long-range scopes are the parallax effect (where objects move optically even though they’re not moving in real life because the primary image is formed in front or behind the reticle), the difficulty of taking close shots from the low end of a high magnification scope, and the pitfalls of excessive magnification (which includes induced low lighting from the image, reduced ability to shoot up close, and limited specific usage). With that said, every one of these offerings is good for whatever budget you might have. If you can afford more, buy the absolute best scope you can get, which is the Schmidt & Bender PMII 5-25×56 P4 Fine. If you can only spare $300, Nikon brings the most bang for your buck.