The 7 Best Sniper Scopes Reviewed [2020 Guide]- Top Optics


Long-range target shooting has been taken to unbelievable heights in recent times. The advancements in rifle scope technology has been astonishing. Identifying the right scope for your needs is a much more detailed process, now that innovation has a firm grip on the industry. 

Sniper scopes are making targeting of 2000 yards and greater commonplace. 

steiner sniper scope review

Elements of an Ideal Sniper Scope 

When selecting your scope, it is always best to determine what the end purpose will be. Long-range targeting situations, bench rest competition, or big game hunting.

By every definition, experts consider a rifle scope with magnification higher than 20X, a sniper. 

sniper scope on a rifle

Factors to Consider When Buying A Sniper Scope


Your first consideration is always your shooting style. Where are you going to be using the scope? Are you going to be hunting or targeting? If this is the first time choosing a scope, making sure you get the right one can be tricky!

gun and scope Safety

Consider the following:

Magnification

Typical hunting situations call for targeting in the 200 to 500-yard range with a 10X scope suitable for these distances. Landing shots up to 1000 yards also depends on the rifle and the caliber of your ammunition. 

 

Scopes with greater than 20X magnification have restricted peripheral vision. This limitation makes bullet impact very restrictive for fast moving targets. Optic technologies have improved the exit-pupil to generate stunning target images. 

 

Success with big-game hunting, with distances greater than 1000 yards is dependent, in most cases, on a stationary target. 

Glass Coatings

At higher magnification, a scope must gather in all available light to offer the most precise and brightest image possible.


The best long distance scopes provide outstanding glass quality and exceptional coatings to eliminate glare. 

 

Scope manufactures have placed a great deal of their research and development money on the advancement of glass and coatings. No other component is critical to scope performance than its optics. 

Fist or Second Focal Plane

First focal plane scopes have reticles or its crosshairs placed in front of the magnification lens assembly. This means, as magnification is increased or decreased, the image increases or decreases in size and moves with the magnification setting. 

 

Second focal plane scopes have the reticle placed behind the magnification lens. Or closer to the ocular lens assembly and your eyeball. The image remains constant throughout the magnification range. SFP scopes have been the standard configuration of most scope builders for decades. 

 

FFP is the choice for long-range targeting because of the variability associated with the scopes magnification setting. 

Reticles MOA/Mil-Dot

No other component in long-range targeting has advanced as much as the reticle. These small glass aiming points or crosshairs have developed into sophisticated, ranging frameworks. Scope builders have paired reticles with turret systems that provide precise accuracy for shooters. 

 

Reticles can be MOA based or Mil-Dot. MOA is an angular measurement and represents 1/60th of a degree or 1.047 inches. High-end rifle scopes are calibrated at, one click of the turret equals ¼ MOA.


 Depending on the rifle, scope, and conditions a single click of an elevation turret adjusts bullet impact by as much as one to four inches at 100 yards. 

 

Mil-Dot reticles are used in military and tactical weapon situations.


Scope builders have brought the Mil-Dot technology to sophisticated competitive shooting. Looking through the ocular lens, the shooter sees a pattern of duplex crosshairs. 

 

There are usually a series of 0.25 mil-dots along each horizontal and vertical axis. Distance between each dot on the reticle equals one mil or 3.6 inches at 100 yards. 

Each Of The Following Scopes have Excellent Characteristics


Scope Image

Scope

Price

Steiner T5Xi 5-25x 56mm Riflescope SCR Reticle

Steiner T5Xi 5-25x 56mm Riflescope, w/SCR Reticle

Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56

Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50 Riflescope

Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50

Burris Optics XTR II Riflescope 8-40x50mm

Burris Optics XTR II FFP 8-40x50mm

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II Second Focal Plane Riflescopes-1000yd scope

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II SFP

Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope

Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS

Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24X50


The 5 Best Sniper Scopes Are: 


1. Steiner T5Xi 5-25x 56mm Riflescope 

Steiner T5Xi 5-25x 56mm Riflescope SCR Reticle

Prized by sportsmen and available in over 65 countries, Steiner Optics offers a full line of precision-built firearm scopes.

The T5Xi is a true long-range capable rifle scope with a 34mm tube with an etched glass SCR. (Special Competition Reticle) Competition turrets with patented Never-Lost technology for positive non-slip adjustment.

The Steiner scope works well in any hunting situation, and exceptionally well in a long-distance shooting competition. Magnification quality allows the shooter to move from precise short distance targeting to long-range focus effortlessly.

The Steiner features a huge 56mm objective lens. The T5Xi is extremely durable, being completely waterproof, fog-proof, and submersible to 33 feet.

Steiner offers the FFP scope in either MOA or Mil-Dot, and the reticle features a second rotation indicator. Every Mil of elevation adjustment is seen on the reticle, through the indication window.

Steiner T5Xi Technologies:

  • Easy grip elevation/windage/parallax turrets
  • Waterproof and fog-proof durable construction
  • SCR (Special Competition Reticle) extended illumination

Specs:

  • Magnification – 5-25x
  • Field of View -68-14 ft/100 m 
  • Weight – 33 oz.

Final Opinion

Steiner Optics is a world-class optics company that started in battle hardened Germany. The company represents the very best in rifle glass with multiple coatings technology.


If the shooter wants the very best rifle scope money can buy the T5Xi is my choice. From the one-piece tube construction to patented turret technology, this is the scope to have.

PROS

  • Unrivaled quality and world-class optics 
  • Resettable turrets and a locking diopter 
  • Lifetime Warranty 

CONS

  • Expensive

2. Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56

Vortex Optics Razor HD Gen II First Focal Plane Riflescopes

Vortex Nation is a one-stop destination for avid military and sports outfitters from around the world. The Razor HD Gen ll is a next-generation technology rifle scope.

Vortex designed the first focal plane Razor for extreme long-distance targeting in harsh environments. A single piece of aircraft-grade aluminum makes the Razor durable beyond compare. Vortex is known for its world-class optic technology, offering shooters deadly accuracy.

Several features make the Razor HD Gen ll suitable for any competition or big-game hunting applications.

Vortex Razor Technologies:

  • 56 mm Objective lens diameter
  • MOA and MRAD adjustment technologies
  • Plasma technology coating processes
  • L-Tec Turrets prevent accidental adjustments 

Specs:

  • Magnification – 3-18x
  • Field of View -25.3-4.4 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -3.7 in 
  • Weight – 48.5 oz.

Final Opinion

Vortex is an excellent company and makes an excellent product overall. Their support of the military and law enforcement is exceptional.

However, some of their rifle scopes have flaws that should have been picked up by quality control. 


This is not an indication of the overall quality of the product.

PROS

CONS

  • Can get a little heavy

3. Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50

Trijicon TR23 AccuPoint 5-20x50 Riflescope

Since 1981, the company has created technologically advanced aiming systems for firearm enthusiasts around the world. Most recently, Trijicon has been supplying components to the US Marine Corps, including state and local law enforcement.

The AccuPoint TR23 is a top of the line model for this impressive series. Long-range precision and expansive magnification range make the AccuPoint excellent for big game hunting and competitive shooting.

Multi-coated, anti-reflective glass gives the Trijicon Scope unparalleled performance in a variety of situations. Choose from an assortment of options in the TR23 line-up.

TR23 offers an enormous amount of technology at a reasonable price. This scope is perfect for law enforcement sniper situations and low-light big-game hunting because of its advanced reticle design.


The bright aiming point speeds target acquisition in all available shooting situations. 

Trijicon TR23 Technologies:

  • Triangle post reticle with illuminated Tritium / Fiber Optics
  • Mil-dot crosshair with amber dot
    SFP with MRAD ranging crosshair
  • SFP with MOA crosshair

Specs:

  • Magnification – 5-20x
  • Field of View -19.4-5.2 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -3.8-4.1 in 
  • Weight – 26.9 oz.

Final Opinion

The Trijicon TR23 is a good, not great, rifle scope for the price. Technology and feature set are impressive, especially optics and different advanced reticles available.


Within each scope series, Trijicon offers about seven different models to choose from.

However, after reading plenty of verified purchaser reviews, there are several faults.


The Trijicon TR23 is a fine scope with plenty of technology and impressive optics. Money could be better spent with a Vortex, Leupold, or Nightforce.

PROS

  • Clear even glass quality with any magnification
  • Lots of reticle options 
  • Quick speed focus assembly and target acquisition
  • Lifetime warranty

CONS

  • Light pull at low-light situations could be better

4. Burris Optics XTR II FFP 8-40x50mm

For the money, it is the best long-distance scope on the market.

Burris Optics XTR II Riflescope 8-40x50mm

Burris is a world-renowned brand offering a wide range of scope, spotting scopes, and interconnected devices. Fifty years of engineering has placed Burris at the forefront of optical advancements.

If you wish to do a little varmint shooting in the next county, the XTR is the rifle scope you need. Long-range targeting capabilities of this rear focal plane scope are amazing.


The XTR is built primarily for bench rest competition and extreme fixed position shooting.

The Burris XTR uses an illuminated F-class reticle, an aiming point explicitly designed for long-distance competition.


It features a massive 58 mm objective lens with the XTR, bringing in all available light. A 44.25 mm ocular lens helps the shooter gain quick access to the target.

The massive size of the the objective lens will require a set of high profile mounts to clear the barrel.


Eye relief is a generous 3.25 to 4.25 inches, making the XTR suitable for large magnum cartridges. It is vital to to take the time and sight-in this beast properly. A zero at 300 yards is a good starting distance.

Burris has built a true extreme distance scope with elevation adjustments to 70 MOA and windage to 30 MOA.

Burris XTR Technologies:

  • Each turret click is 1/8 MOA
  • Index-matched Hi-Lume® multi-coating glass 
  • 11 brightness settings
  • The reticle has a secondary horizontal crosshair and reticle grid to provide 20 MOA of additional adjustment 

Specs:

  • Magnification – 8-40x
  • Field of View -13.2-2.8 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -3.5-4.25 in 
  • Weight – 31.4 oz.

Final Opinion

Burris is a world-class outfitter that has built excellent equipment for decades. The XTR follows in that path. If you love to see a bullet impact at 2000 yards or better, then this is the scope for you.

If hunting for whitetail in dense woods is your primary need, don't; bother with the XTR, it is way too much scope. I am impressed with everything the Burris XTR provides.


For the money, it is the best long-distance scope on the market.

PROS

  • More scope than most shooters need
  • Affordable for the amount of scope
  • Lifetime warranty transferred to future owners 
  • Parallax adjustment 50 yards to infinity 

CONS

  • Some users are having focus troubles

5. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II SFP 1-6x24

vortex viper pst gen II 1-6x24

The company does its homework in finding the right price points and products for a wide range of markets. Vortex offers products from high-end competitive rifle scopes to entry-level spotting scopes with everything in between.

The Viper PST can handle just about any shooting or hunting need. The broad range of magnification is quick and easy to adjust.


Very generous eye relief of 3.8 inches allows for high-powered cartridges.

Vortex offers an advanced reticle design that is intuitive and deadly accurate. Turret adjustments provide for extreme distance and short-range accuracy.


Turret click adjustment is ½ MOA, with an incredible 160 MOA max elevation and windage adjustment.

Viper PST Technologies:

  • Low dispersion glass increases resolution and eliminates glare
  • Patented XR with multi-coated lenses
  • SFP reticle
  • Quick reticle focusing
  • MRAD or MOA turrets

Specs:

  • Magnification – 1-6x
  • Field of View -112.5-18.8 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -3.8 in 
  • Weight – 22.7 oz.

Final Opinion

Vortex Optics is a force in manufacturing rifle scopes and associated gear. Their line-up of scopes offer every type of hunting and shooting from big-game to competitive targeting.


Optics are the name of the game with quality scopes, and Vortex glass is unmatched in the industry.

They have engineered Vortex glass for all types of environments. Its multi-coating technology is patented to eliminate glare and provide amazing clarity.


For the money, the Vortex PST is a great product and a perfect all-around scope.

PROS

  • Glass clarity is crisp from edge to edge
  • Great price for the quality of the product
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • Turrets are a little stiff

6. Nightforce Optics 5.5-22×56 NXS

Nightforce Optics 5.5-22x56 NXS Riflescope

The company has dedicated its considerable resources to design and build a technologically advanced rifle scope. From the tube to its reticles, Nightforce provides next-generation rifle and spotting scopes.

The NXS offers everything needed to give the shooter deadly accuracy. A 56mm objective lens provides clarity in any environment.


Short-range to competitive bench rest shooting competitions, Nightforce NXS has the technology.

The NXS is a second focal plane scope with ¼ MOA adjustments and a full 100 MOA elevation and 60 MOA windage. A 3.9 eye relief is excellent for magnum cartridges, shooting big game or bench rest competitions.


The scope comes with a patented Nightforce MOAR reticle and tactical turrets.

Nightforce has built a full range of competition and hunting reticles for any shooting situation. The CTR and DDR series reticles are precision-based, non-illuminated aiming points.


Foreceplex reticles feature bold horizontal, vertical lines, drawing the eye directly on target.

Nightforce NXS Technologies:

  • Patented Zero-Stop Turrets (zero-stop is a hard stop setting)
  • Advanced reticle design and digital illumination technology 
  • Nightforce analog reticle illumination 
  • Extreme magnification for long-range targeting 

Specs:

  • Magnification – 5.5-22x
  • Field of View -17.5-4.7 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -3.9 in 
  • Weight – 32 oz.

Final Opinion

There is no better rifle scope company on the planet than Nightforce Optics. Every scope they build features extreme technology along with unmatched durability.

The NXS was explicitly designed for long-distance targeting, and each review of the product gives glowing recommendations.


1000 yards is a commonplace distance for this scope. If money is not an object, the NXS is the perfect scope for any target and hunting environment.

PROS

  • Extreme long-distance target tracking
  • Selection of reticles are outstanding
  • Heavy-durable product 
  • Images and reticle are better than the Nikon Monarch or Leupold

CONS

  • High-profile rings will be needed for clearance

7. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24X50

Vortex Optics Viper HS-T Second Focal Plane Riflescopes

The company offers more than just spotting and rifle scopes. Vortex prides itself on instructional videos, wild game recipes, and hunting tips. Vortex Nation wants to be a complete outdoor gear company.

The Viper HS-T is a powerful scope built from aircraft-grade aluminum fashioned into a durable 30mm tube.


The HS-T provides one of the highest eye-relief distances available at 4.0 inches and a sizeable objective lens at 50mm.

They build turret systems for durable, repeatable performance. Each click is ¼ MOA, and MAX adjustment is 65 MOA for both elevation and windage.

The second focal plane Viper, features an advanced VMR-1 reticle as a precise aiming point. The reticle is perfect for long-distance targeting and accurate holdovers.

HS-T 6-24X50 is just one in the outstanding series of precision scopes.

Viper HS-T Technologies:

  • Low dispersion glass produces crisp, precise imaging
  • Fast focus eyepiece for quick targeting
  • Customizable Rotational Stop returns to correct elevation
  • Scratch-resistant outside coating for durability
  • Waterproof/Fog-proof/Shockproof

Specs:

  • Magnification – 6-24x
  • Field of View -17.8-5.1 ft/100 yds
  • Eye Relief -4 in 
  • Weight – 22.2 oz.

Final Opinion

Vortex is one of the best rifle scope companies in the world. Their glass, reticles, and overall technology are exceptional. However, the HS-T exhibits issues that Vortex should fix.


Sighting-in problems should never happen on quality scopes. Reticles should remain in place no matter the conditions or lighting environments.


There are plenty of outstanding features about this series, but the quality of this scope seems to be lacking in certain areas.

Even with the quality issues, The Viper is an outstanding scope.

PROS

  • Affordable for the quality of the product
  • Eye-relief allows for any magnum cartridge
  • Perfect and distinct MOA adjustments
  • Best glass for the money

CONS

  • Fuzzy around the edges at full magnification

Buyer's Guide

 When searching, money should be a secondary consideration. Remember, there are dozens of affordable quality products on the market with more entering all the time.

vortex scope on ar10

Consider These Specific Features to Help You Choose

Any scope under $500 is still one great scope! They are more standard features and capabilities but will all have that protective coating or material to resist tough settings. Many of them are waterproof, shockproof, and fog proof, so no worries there!

  • Target Visualization is a primary consideration, meaning you need to specifically determine your type of hunting or shooting. If your target is long-range, your magnification needs to be somewhere in the 12x to 20x range.
  • Shorter distances can be less than 10x with supported positions. Magnification is another essential consideration. Magnification power corresponds to the range you intend to shoot.
  • Eye Relief is the distance between your sensitive eye socket and the end of your scope. Your eye relief should be a significant consideration if you are using higher loads and bigger calibers. A hard recoil to the eye can ruin a day of good hunting. The bare minimum eye relief for any sniper scope should be 3 to 3.5 inches. You should avoid scope eye at all costs, which is a recoil on the shooter's face.
  • Understanding a Reticle and The Focal Plane are essential to hunters and shooters success. 

For high-powered calibers and loads, you should opt for a second focal plane scope. With a second focal plane, the reticle will not increase in size at longer distances. For lower calibers and loads, choose a single plane scope. With single plane scopes, as your magnification increases the size of the reticle also increase. A single focal plane scope is not designed for extended range shooting.

Another option for higher-end scopes is the available and variety of reticles available for each scope. An extremely handy feature is the Illuminated reticle which comes in handy when hunting in low-light situations around dusk or dawn.

Clarity is important aspect of a quality scope. Glass etched reticles are far superior to wire reticles. Coated lenses and purging systems keep optics clear in humid conditions. Consider the accidental dropping of your scope in water and shock proofing in the event of inclement weather.

  • An objective lens allows light to enter the scope for a more precise definition of the target. The larger the objective lens, the more light is allowed to enter. Keep this in mind when deciding on your hunting or tactical conditions, whether it is in bright morning light or low-light evening situations.
  • Choose a scope with quality tube size and grade of aluminum. Optics, connections, and O-rings should be material that will hold up to harsh conditions. 

Conclusion

The market for quality rifle scopes has exploded in recent years. Advancements in optic quality and precision-based manufacturing processes have strategically improved the industry.

Multi-coated glass and precision reticles have given long-distance competitive shooting a boost in the arm. One mile shots are now commonplace with the most basic quality scopes on the market. Two and three-mile bullet impacts are taking place with world-class shooters. 

  • The Steiner T5XI is my choice for the best long-distance scope. German engineered glass is considered the best in the world by a wide margin. The companies long-term commitment to quality and its lifetime support is a big plus.

Steiner has proven its toughness in military conditions and in the toughest hunting environments. There is no better competitive shooting rifle scope than the Steiner T5Xi.

The thrill of seeing a shot made at extreme distances is like no other. The scopes above have the technologies to make competitive shooting and big game hunting a pure joy. Choosing the best product for your needs will be delightfully confusing.