There are many elements that make a scope a contender to be one of the best premium long range shooting scopes on the market. The quality of the glass, magnification range, field of view, how well its constructed and many other factors that need to be considered in the ever-advancing field of premium optics.
The shortlist below narrows down the eight best scopes available in 2023 to long range target shooters. The list will be updated throughout the year as new optics become available. We also have a separate list for the 8 Best Scopes Under $1000 and the 8 Best Hunting Scopes Available in 2023.
Schmidt & Bender PM II 6-36×56
The team at Schmidt & Bender have released new updates to the well-known Police and Military (PM) II series. The long-time favourite has been updated in late 2022 with the illumination dial being integrated into parallax dial. Traditionally the PM series have had larger/taller elevation turrets than most high-end optics on the market, but S&B have redesigned this version of the PM II to be much more slim line. The revised versions lower profile turrets are more in line with other tactical turret systems available from other manufacturers. The ridges on the magnification ring have also been enlarged to assist magnification changes without using a throw lever.
Quick Stats: Schmidt & Bender PM II
Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56
The Nightforce B.E.A.S.T would have been here to represent Nightforce but it has been marked as discontinued, so the next best thing from Nightforce takes its place, the ATACR. The rugged and reliable Nightforce ATACR has proven itself to be one of the most popular long range optics in the world. It’s unlikely you will attend a precision rifle match in 2023 without seeing a Nightforce ATACR. The variety of reticles, incredibly tough construction and amazing reputation make this a popular choice for the long range shooter.
Quick Stats: Nightforce ATACR
Vortex Razor Gen III 6-36×56
Introduced in early 2022 from Vortex Optics, the long awaited Gen III variant of the Razor series has arrived. The Gen III has a higher magnification range than its predecessor and makes it easier for the user to change the zero-stop with only one set screw to undo in the elevation turret. The Gen II Razor from Vortex made a name for itself in the target shooting community with its professional grade features and good price point. I am glad to see Vortex continued to develop the Razor series of optics as they achieved a great balance of price and quality. More information on the Razor Gen III is available here.
Quick Stats: Vortex Razor Gen III
Zero Compromise ZC840 8-40×56
The company is relatively new being founded in 2018 but is gaining traction around the world amongst sporting shooters and hunters looking for high quality glass and bomb proof construction. Zero Compromise optics feature a very robust construction and are known to use high quality glass with high light transmission in their scopes. The company has produced a solid contender for one of the best premium long range shooting scopes available. More information on the Zero Compromise is available here.
Quick Stats: Zero Compromise ZC840
Zero Compromise ZC840 8-40×56
Kahles K525i DLR 5-25×56
The Kahles K525i Dynamic Long Range (DLR) optic is one of the most innovative scopes on the market today. Kahles is part of the prestigious Swarovski group of companies and have produced some impressive optics. Kahles have a good reputation for producing high quality scopes with well thought out features. Depending on your preference, the optic can be ordered with the windage turret located on the left or right side. Unlike its competitors, the parallax adjustment dial is located underneath the top elevation turret, making parallax adjustments more accessible. Full review available here.
Quick Stats: Kahles K525i
Steiner M7Xi 4-28×56
Steiner are known to produce high quality optics that are built to survive tough conditions. The slightly lower magnification range in comparison to the other scopes shouldn’t stop you from considering the Steiner. The reticles on offer from Steiner are some of my favourite tactical styles and offer a good selection to target shooters and MIL/LE users. The elevation turret on the M7Xi features a small revolution indicator that pops out of the top or the turret on the second lap. The glass quality, features and solid construction in the M7Xi truly make it one of the best premium long range shooting scopes available.
Quick Stats: Steiner M7Xi
Leupold Mark 5 HD 7-35×56
The Leupold Mark 5HD line of scopes are a popular choice in both the long range and tactical shooting worlds. Leupold have added a button on the elevation turret that when pressed, unlocks the turret and lets the elevation setting change. The button is easy to use and fantastic feature for a rifle that gets heavy field use. The zero mark for windage is also not in a traditional place, the zero is located offset above the normal spot on an optic.
This gives the user an easier way to see the zero location for windage when behind the scope. The optic is a great choice for shooters looking for a long-range scope that is reliable and built for field use. For long range hunting, the weight and simple reticle options make the Mark 5HD difficult to pass up. Full review available here.
Quick Stats: Leupold Mark 5 HD
Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm
The Theta is popular amongst precision rifle competitors in the US due to its wide field of view and high-quality glass. The Tangent Theta also has arguably the most satisfying turrets of all the premium scopes on the market. A unique feature of the Theta is how the scope is zeroed. Traditionally the scopes zerostop is set by unscrewing the turret and moving it to the zero position. The top center of the Theta turret turns, allowing you to set your zero and lock it back down. It’s a handy way of setting zero without any tools required. Like the Schmidt & Bender PM II, the turret also has a pop-up revolution indicator.
Quick Stats: Tangent Theta
Tangent Theta 5-25x56mm
Things to Look For in a Long Range Optic
You will no doubt have specific features you are chasing in an optic, whether its magnification range, long eye relief or a specific price point. The tables below list out common specifications that are important to users when selecting an optic.
There are some substantial differences in prices of these scopes. The Vortex Razor is at least 2,000USD cheaper than the Schmidt & Bender PM II. It might not have the quality of glass as the PM II but the Razor is still a very capable premium optic.
|Schmidt & Bender PM II 6-36×56||5,500+ USD|
|Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56||3,000+ USD|
|Vortex Razor Gen III 6-36×56||2,999 USD|
|Zero Compromise ZC840 8-40×56||4,000+ USD|
|Kahles K525i DLR 5-25×56||3,499+ USD|
|Steiner M7Xi 4-28×56||3,600+ USD|
|Leupold Mark 5 HD 7-35×56||2,600+ USD|
|Tangent Theta 5-25×56||5,000+ USD|
The table below shows where each scopes glass is manufactured. Most buyers of premium optics put a lot of weight into the manufacturing origin of the glass. These premium scopes have made the list because of their exceptional glass quality which is reflected by the established reputation of all the countries below. The German and Austrian glass is some of the best in the world but is reflected in the large jump in price as seen in the table above.
|Schmidt & Bender PM II||Germany|
|Vortex Razor Gen III||Japan|
|Zero Compromise ZC840||Austria|
|Kahles K525i DLR||Austria|
|Leupold Mark 5||USA|
All the scopes on offer have a large objective lens of 56mm which captures a lot of light and allows for a super crisp image. The magnification ranges vary between manufacturers however each optic on offer is capable of reaching out past 1000 yards and truly are long range scopes.
|Schmidt & Bender PM II||6-36×56|
|Vortex Razor Gen III||6-36×56|
|Zero Compromise ZC840||8-40×56|
|Kahles K525i DLR||5-25×56|
|Leupold Mark 5||7-35×56|
There is a spread of weights between the scopes with the Vortex Razor III being the heaviest and the Mark 5 the lightest. The weight of an optic becomes very important if you are spending a lot of time on foot where the weight of the rifle combined with the weight of the bipod and the optic can become a burden. Choose an optic with a weight that combined with your rifle will suit your style of shooting.
|Schmidt & Bender PM II||995g/35.1oz|
|Vortex Razor Gen III||1278g/45.1oz|
|Zero Compromise ZC840||1148g/40.5oz|
|Kahles K525i DLR||992g/35.0oz|
|Leupold Mark 5||935g/33oz|
Most of the optics have a very similar eye relief with only the Kahles and Leupold standing out from the pack with larger ranges. If you wear glasses you may be suited to an optic with a little more eye relief.
|Schmidt & Bender PM II||90mm/3.54in|
|Vortex Razor Gen III||89mm/ 3.5in|
|Zero Compromise ZC840||89mm/3.54in|
|Kahles K525i DLR||94mm/3.74in|
|Leupold Mark 5||96mm/3.8in|