How much magnification for 1000 yds?

SDGator

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I'm sure this question comes up alot, but for some reason I haven't seen anything real definitive for how high a magnification you want to go.

I know you "can" shoot 1000 yds with 16X or 18X, but do you just end up wanting to get a 24X or higher scope later? What's a comfortable magnification, verses a doable one?

Or do the answers to this change based on what price range you are at? On a $500 budget, are you better off with better glass at a 18X, or lesser glass at 24X? What about at a $1000 budget?
 
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M8541Reaper

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I've run 12x and 10x at 1,000yds during qualifications without issue, but that's also all we had available. Would bumping it up to 14x or 16x be better? Depends on what works for you.

On non-qual/personal days, I've run 16x at 800yds and 900yds but have also run 10x and 12x at 1200yds and it definitely leaves some room for wanting more. Currently the highest magnification optic I have is a 16x MK6 and have never used anything higher than that.

End of the day, ALWAYS go with quality glass over magnification. I'd rather have a 3-12x with excellent glass over a 5-25x with garbage glass. Quality glass and reliable adjustments are what make the optic. Hell, a fixed 10x with quality glass will out perform an optic with subpar glass and unreliable adjustments...shooter & ammo dependent.

If your budget is between $500 and $1000, then I'd grab a used MK4 Leupold. Either a fixed 10x or a 2.5-10x. That will get you out to 1,000yds all day long and keep you within budget. Also, if you're comfortable with being near the top end of $1,000 and only want a new optic, then look at the Vortex PST gen 2 3-15x FFP. If you're going to get a variable power, make sure it is FFP.

Just my opinion based on my limited experience (mil/contracting/recreation) and have not yet had the chance to get into PRS.

EDIT: Qual shooting experience is with a spotter and done on steel and KD paper backers with pit pullers/markers. Personal experience has been on steel from 100-1200yds and paper from 100-800yds (father out you need to either make sure you have the ability to go down and check impacts or use the large shoot and see targets, that way you can use your spotting scope to see impacts... if the mirage that day allows you to do so). But as for actually hitting targets out to 1,200yds, fixed 10x and 12x can allow you to do it.
 
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Milo 2.5

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It'd help if you told us the usage of the scope, if steel, 18 power may work, if 1K BR, aint gonna fly. The above poster on glass quality spot on, you can see more with clear glass on low power, than crappy glass on high.
Giving us your exact budget would help too. There are butt ton of used scopes for sale, and with new ones coming out weekly, prices can only drop.
 

SDGator

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I'm putting together a cheap rifle build. I've got a Howa 1500 heavy barrelled action on order in 6.5 CM. In a few month's I'll have the funds to order an Oryx chassis to put it in. And then a few months after that I should be able to get some glass for it.

I'll use it some for hunting, but mostly at the range and start trying out comps as I get better with it. Since I'm just starting out, I don't really know about steel vs BR.

Budget-wise, I'm probably looking at around $500, but I can go up to $1000 if I can stay patient waiting for funds. I'm eyeing that Primary Arms scope at $500, the 3-18x50mm. The 3x works for the hunting but I'm worried that 18x isn't going to be enough for long range. There are other scopes out there that are 4-24x50mm I'm considering, but I'm worried that the glass quality will be lower for the higher magnifications if I keep the budget the same.

Of course, by the time I'm ready to buy the available scopes will be different, so I'm trying to keep this a general question rather than concrete scope recommendations. What is the step-down in glass quality at those price ranges between 18x and 24x and higher?
 

Milo 2.5

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I'm putting together a cheap rifle build. I've got a Howa 1500 heavy barrelled action on order in 6.5 CM. In a few month's I'll have the funds to order an Oryx chassis to put it in. And then a few months after that I should be able to get some glass for it.

I'll use it some for hunting, but mostly at the range and start trying out comps as I get better with it. Since I'm just starting out, I don't really know about steel vs BR.

Budget-wise, I'm probably looking at around $500, but I can go up to $1000 if I can stay patient waiting for funds. I'm eyeing that Primary Arms scope at $500, the 3-18x50mm. The 3x works for the hunting but I'm worried that 18x isn't going to be enough for long range. There are other scopes out there that are 4-24x50mm I'm considering, but I'm worried that the glass quality will be lower for the higher magnifications if I keep the budget the same.

Of course, by the time I'm ready to buy the available scopes will be different, so I'm trying to keep this a general question rather than concrete scope recommendations. What is the step-down in glass quality at those price ranges between 18x and 24x and higher?
My advice would be to keep looking and listening then, you have time, time changes things, IMO, a good used scope may be best. Let someone else eat the depreciation on it, guys on here get woody's over a reticle change, buy new, dump lower grade or scopes they no longer have use for.
 

Gunfighter14e2

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Distance means nothing. Target size vs cross hair subtention does. Are you using the glass as a spotting scope as well? If you can quarter a target with the ret you have enough mag at the distance.
 
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C_R_Slacker

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16-18x is plenty to shoot 1,000 if you're just trying to hit a decent sized steel target. As someone said above, probably not going to be competitive in a benchrest or f-class type match with that mag range.

General recommendations for new scopes at $1,000 or less tend to be vortex, burris, swfa, sig, bushnell, athlon. Might be forgetting a couple.
 
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PlinkIt

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If you are trying to have one gun for hunting and shooting steel keep FOV in mind

Lower magnification usually has a larger field of view making it easier to get the cross on what you want to shoot

I believe 3-15 to be plenty to shoot steel with

Example below at 15x (forgive image quality but I'm using a cell phone trying to take the picture) about 1.5mil right is a sihoullete Target at 1k yards and about 2mil left on top side of the line is a 10 or 12 inch plate at 1k yards Right above the sihoullete Target that's at 950

IMG_20190209_101104.jpg
IMG_20190209_102028.jpg

If I miss it's prolly my fault, not my lack of magnification... 3x on bottom end with a decent FOV still does well for hunting

If you were shooting only fixed paper targets at long range, I'd say switch to 40+ magnification and don't look back though.

I'll add again you will be impressed how much clearer a Target is through a high end scope on low magnification vs a cheaper scope with higher magnification... It's just a bigger blur
 

SDGator

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Distance means nothing. Target size vs cross hair subtention does. Are you using the glass as a spotting scope as well? If you can quarter a target with the ret you have enough mag at the distance.
That is a pretty good way to think about it. And yeah, at this point I'll be using the glass as a spotting scope as well. It'll be a while before that can get added to the arsenal.

If you are trying to have one gun for hunting and shooting steel keep FOV in mind

Lower magnification usually has a larger field of view making it easier to get the cross on what you want to shoot

I believe 3-15 to be plenty to shoot steel with

Example below at 15x (forgive image quality but I'm using a cell phone trying to take the picture) about 1.5mil right is a sihoullete Target at 1k yards and about 2mil left on top side of the line is a 10 or 12 inch plate at 1k yards Right above the sihoullete Target that's at 950

View attachment 7021126
View attachment 7021129

If I miss it's prolly my fault, not my lack of magnification... 3x on bottom end with a decent FOV still does well for hunting

If you were shooting only fixed paper targets at long range, I'd say switch to 40+ magnification and don't look back though.

I'll add again you will be impressed how much clearer a Target is through a high end scope on low magnification vs a cheaper scope with higher magnification... It's just a bigger blur
Wow, that's an awesome example. What kind of scope are those pictures with?
 

Rocketvapor

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A few things mentioned in the previous several posts sort of mix up an evaluation of a scope.
(not picking on anyone)
Tracking, adjustment stability have no effect on clarity or field of view.
Fantastic optics and crappy mechanicals won't work.
Fantastic mechanicals and crappy optics might.
Fantastic everything is best, but costs.
The Steiner M5Xi shown is a little out of your stated budget (mine also :) )

Low power will always be clearer than high power.
A 10X fixed will be clearer than a 6-24X @ 24.
@ 10x the fixed will be clearer because of glass surface count.
@ 24X the 10X will- - oh wait, the 10X can't go there :)

Field of view is power dependent and usually listed in scope specs.
For example, the 3 to 15 image shown earlier will have a wider field of view at 3 than the 10X fixed, and less @ 15.
For 1000yds count the mils left and right in that image @ 15X.
Even a 6-24X at max power will still be able to view both the Ford parked in front of the Chevy @ 1000YDS.
The magnified view @15X through the phone is also a little misleading if you are looking at it on a computer screen.
The image shown is a little larger than what you will see with your eye at the range.

Single use rifles can live with a fixed power scope. A real good shooter can live with less than optimum magnification for target size/range.

Want to shoot close and far, paper, steel, or someone sitting in that Ford, then variable power gives you flexibility.
Pick up a super cheap variable at your local big box store or second hand, something like a Simpson or Banner with a 4 to 1 mag range like 4-16X, 6-24, and evaluate magnifications, field of view, and exit pupil (depends on Objective divided by power).
That's subpar glass and unreliable adjustments .
Crap image but will give you an idea of the mag range you want to spend money on.
Then you can start on your quest for the perfect reticle :)
 
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acudaowner

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maybe 24x's is good if just hitting steel or if that is as much as you need to see the precise spot your impacts hit at i don't know i like more mag as long as its clear and easy to see and enjoy having more than i need rather than less so if i can get more for an fordable price i like that idea a lot. being able to see my impacts and spot my own shots is a nice thing .
 

whatsupdoc

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If shooting steel at 1K you want to be able to recover from recoil and be able to see your hits or misses, I run 12x to 16x.
At higher magnifications the FOV is lower so it is more difficult to find the target.
 

DarinC

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Last couple times out to a grand I found myself running in the 12ish range on two different setups that both go over 20. If spotting for someone though, the additional power really helps.
 

JT1178

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I have a 1000 yd target on my place sometimes I use 12-15 power sometimes I use 24. Just depends on mirage to me. The more magnification the more mirage.

I also use a cheap Athlon Argos 6x24. Went budget on my first setup savage 12fv from cabelas (you know the cheap gun everybody bought last year).
 

Nickdev47

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in my personal experience, I would have at a minimum of 12x but if you have the $ get something in the 20+x to help with visibility of following traces
 

clcustom1911

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9 years ago or so, my first "precision setup" (😋) was the SWFA SS 10x42m with the USMC mil dot reticle and MOA turrets. With my loads on my super Gucci gear Lee Precision reloading equipment 😁 (Lapua Brass, 175 Sierra Matchking, IMR 4064) and rifle (the awesome and highly revered Savage 10FP 26" 308). 37.5 MOA @ 1050 yards .

That was before I had a chrono, before Kestrel, before laser rangefinder. I had Strelok... the free version... I wasn't about to pay $$$ LOLL.

I just made ammo, went out, set steel at whatever distance, got back to shooting position, mil target in reticle multiple times to get distance, shoot, crank elevation and shoot until I got center hits. Documented the center hits for my DOPE.

A year later, with a borrowed magnetospeed I did finally chrono that load and it was 2750, SD 8, ES 19 or so.

++Moral of the story++ after years of slowly upgrading my calibers, equipment (laser rangefinders, kestrel, optics, etc) I am very thankful for starting off with what many would classify as "sub-par" equipment. Lots and lots of rounds down range with that equipment helped me with getting my fundamentals going well.

Everyone has their way of skinning the cat.
 

GIXXER2000

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Vortex 6-24 its a good do all scope and the last time i looked its about $1000. I shoot local 1000 yard matches and i have my scope set at 20,21 power most of the time unless the mirage get bad then back off 18 power.
 

JSchell1309

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Also, if you're comfortable with being near the top end of $1,000 and only want a new optic, then look at the Vortex PST gen 2 3-15x FFP. If you're going to get a variable power, make sure it is FFP.
Midway has them on sale for $675 if you are ok with a slightly modified Christmas tree reticle

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/347211/vortex-optics-viper-pst-gen-ii-rifle-scope-30mm-tube-3-15x-44mm-1-10-mil-adjustments-rzr-zero-stop-side-focus-first-focal-illuminated-ebr-2d-mrad-reticle-matte

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/704631/vortex-optics-viper-pst-gen-ii-rifle-scope-30mm-tube-3-15x-44mm-rzr-zero-stop-side-focus-first-focal-illuminated-ebr-2d-moa-reticle-matte
 

Kickin45

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Glass over magnification every time.
I have mostly 25x power scopes and I generally end up in the 15-18x range. The higher magnification compounds your breathing and heartbeats. In other words, your more susceptible to seeing your flaws, which makes you anxious about them, which brings your breathing and heart rate up, which creates more scope wobble etc etc.
It’s great to have 25x or more and I do use it often, but if I had to choose glass quality over magnification, glass 10/10
 

clcustom1911

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In other words, your more susceptible to seeing your flaws, which makes you anxious about them, which brings your breathing and heart rate up, which creates more scope wobble etc etc.
Absolutely brilliant statement on the "mental" part of marksmanship. Bravo.

This is what I refer to as "snippets of gold".
 
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TIMMYTOY

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If just target shooting higher the better in my opinion I shoot at 32x if mirage allows it.
 
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Kickin45

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Thanks clcustom. All info I’ve absorbed from other shooters over the years. We all just steal info from one another lol
 
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b6graham

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buy an athlon and get good glass and good magnification

that being said. yardage x 1-2
400 yards 8xish, 700 10-14x depending on number of targets and locations. 1200, 12x-18x again target/stage dependent

dont think ive ever been above 18x on my razor gen2 on a stage, and maybe even ever
 

Sig Marine

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Like most of the replies above, I stay between 10 and 15 power for my shooting. This is enough for me to see 1 MOA targets out to 1200 yards.
 

Rocketvapor

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I shoot a lot of 35mm. Man, that's a BIG round :)
Camera lens are known to fall off at max magnification. It's like the designers said "This lens design will be great up to 300mm" and the advertising department said "can you make it go to 400mm?"
"sure, but it won't be as sharp there"

Pretty much the same with rifle scopes.
My 10X fixed is much sharper and brighter than your 10-50X.
OR
Too much mag and you can't find your target.
The 1000yd field of view of my cheapo Athlon 8-34
is 125 ft @ 8X, but ONLY 30 ft @ 34X.

and yes, it is sharper at less than full mag, but that's where I'm usually at when shooting small targets.
 

ShadowBear

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9 years ago or so, my first "precision setup" (😋) was the SWFA SS 10x42m with the USMC mil dot reticle and MOA turrets. With my loads on my super Gucci gear Lee Precision reloading equipment 😁 (Lapua Brass, 175 Sierra Matchking, IMR 4064) and rifle (the awesome and highly revered Savage 10FP 26" 308). 37.5 MOA @ 1050 yards .

That was before I had a chrono, before Kestrel, before laser rangefinder. I had Strelok... the free version... I wasn't about to pay $$$ LOLL.

I just made ammo, went out, set steel at whatever distance, got back to shooting position, mil target in reticle multiple times to get distance, shoot, crank elevation and shoot until I got center hits. Documented the center hits for my DOPE.

A year later, with a borrowed magnetospeed I did finally chrono that load and it was 2750, SD 8, ES 19 or so.

++Moral of the story++ after years of slowly upgrading my calibers, equipment (laser rangefinders, kestrel, optics, etc) I am very thankful for starting off with what many would classify as "sub-par" equipment. Lots and lots of rounds down range with that equipment helped me with getting my fundamentals going well.

Everyone has their way of skinning the cat.
Beahan's Maxim- there are many ways to skin a cat, but if step one isn't 'kill the cat', the resulting steps will be largely unproductive and wholly unsatisfying..
 

plidenbrock

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JMHO, but I'm with clcustom1911. I can get to a mile with a straight 10x. The reticle at 0.05mil works out to roughly 1/6th the width of full size IPSC steel at that range. At 1,000yds, 0.05mil reticle works out to roughly 1/10th the width.

Sufficient.

Of course, it depends on a good spotting scope and also what your real goals are. I find some satisfaction in accomplishing these things with basic gear, as you have to make up for it with knowledge and skill, as clcustom1911 noted. The humble super chicken is FAR from Prada, but it gets the bullets there...
 

Dthomas3523

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As with anything in life “it depends.”

I can’t speak for benchrest, except knowing you need more magnification.

If you’re going to run PRS style comps, there are some things to consider.

15-18x max power can and will do fine more most any and all targets/stages. I move between 10x - 18x depending. Like most everyone, I started using 25x all the time as I wasn’t comfortable shootinf magnification. As time goes on and I progress, I’ve shifted to rarely using 25x.

The only time I move to 25x is:

Zeroing at 100

Some kyl stages

1k or beyond when I don’t have to scan far/at all for another target after. Even then, if the wind is funny, I’ll back off power to help spot.

Also depends on the backstop. With lots of vegetation, I might crank power up a little in hopes of seeing something move. Then back power down before moving to next target.


Long story short, 15-18x is fine, but having 25x optional is nice (not required). Anything more than 25x in PRS starts with a large amount of diminishing returns in terms of practicality (no offense 7-35 fans).
 

AK Sgt Maj

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If you are going to be using your rifle/scope setup for hunting, you do not want a FFP. With your power down to the minimum setting, how most carry a hunting rifle, you can hardly see the crosshairs. A long time ago all of the variables were like that and only varmint hunters used them. With a 2nd focal plane scope, the reticle stays the same size, so if you want to use it for ranging things (that you know the size of) you have to have the power set to where the reticle requires, usually at the highest power, but not always. The info on the scope will tell you what power that is. I have a Vortex Viper that has a detent and a red fiber at the power to use. I like at least a variable that goes to 20 power, but my 1000 yard rifles wear scopes that go to 24/25 power, as the smaller you can see on a target, the smaller your groups will be. I have had an Army Sniper tell me after a shoot that they taught them to shot at the center of mass, not like the head shots that I was making. I like Leupold scopes the best.
 

b6graham

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If you are going to be using your rifle/scope setup for hunting, you do not want a FFP. With your power down to the minimum setting, how most carry a hunting rifle, you can hardly see the crosshairs. A long time ago all of the variables were like that and only varmint hunters used them. With a 2nd focal plane scope, the reticle stays the same size, so if you want to use it for ranging things (that you know the size of) you have to have the power set to where the reticle requires, usually at the highest power, but not always. The info on the scope will tell you what power that is. I have a Vortex Viper that has a detent and a red fiber at the power to use. I like at least a variable that goes to 20 power, but my 1000 yard rifles wear scopes that go to 24/25 power, as the smaller you can see on a target, the smaller your groups will be. I have had an Army Sniper tell me after a shoot that they taught them to shot at the center of mass, not like the head shots that I was making. I like Leupold scopes the best.
tons and tons of people use FFP for hunting, and do it quite well. any sort of ranging a SFP basically fucks you. full power is a no go and msotly useless, and finding the 1/2 and 1/4 parts is a pain.

most good reticles are completely usable at low power. if you're on 3x, theres enough there to make a point blank shot and you wont be holding. any sort of zoom for a 2-300+ yard target and you benefit again from FFP
 

Dthomas3523

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tons and tons of people use FFP for hunting, and do it quite well. any sort of ranging a SFP basically fucks you. full power is a no go and msotly useless, and finding the 1/2 and 1/4 parts is a pain.

most good reticles are completely usable at low power. if you're on 3x, theres enough there to make a point blank shot and you wont be holding. any sort of zoom for a 2-300+ yard target and you benefit again from FFP
But......an “army sniper” told him something.
 
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Gunfighter14e2

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any sort of ranging a SFP basically fucks you. full power is a no go and msotly useless, and finding the 1/2 and 1/4 parts is a pain.
All that is true assuming you don't have experience an don;t know your gear, an are not capable of building a power ring double'r stop.
 

TacticalDillhole

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If you are trying to have one gun for hunting and shooting steel keep FOV in mind

Lower magnification usually has a larger field of view making it easier to get the cross on what you want to shoot

I believe 3-15 to be plenty to shoot steel with

Example below at 15x (forgive image quality but I'm using a cell phone trying to take the picture) about 1.5mil right is a sihoullete Target at 1k yards and about 2mil left on top side of the line is a 10 or 12 inch plate at 1k yards Right above the sihoullete Target that's at 950

View attachment 7021126
View attachment 7021129

If I miss it's prolly my fault, not my lack of magnification... 3x on bottom end with a decent FOV still does well for hunting

If you were shooting only fixed paper targets at long range, I'd say switch to 40+ magnification and don't look back though.

I'll add again you will be impressed how much clearer a Target is through a high end scope on low magnification vs a cheaper scope with higher magnification... It's just a bigger blur
I recognize that range.........
 

b6graham

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All that is true assuming you don't have experience an don;t know your gear, an are not capable of building a power ring double'r stop.
but why i guess is my question. does it really have much of a advantage over ffp?
unless we're talking like treestand 10-30y max woods hunting when then most of what we use is way overkill for that too
 

Gunfighter14e2

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but why i guess is my question. does it really have much of a advantage over ffp?
unless we're talking like treestand 10-30y max woods hunting when then most of what we use is way overkill for that too
Depending skill level, end game,... yes an no. Some people use one set up for everything an in that box depending skill level a strong case can be made for SFP.
 

scwhit

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I shoot most of the time 600-700 yards with a fixed 10x, I know that is not 1000 but I do not feel under powered or limited. I just recently ordered a NF 4-16 as I think that range covers a lot of ground and different uses. I guess it comes down to your specific use for the scope.
 

Erud

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Have you considered trying shooting with iron sights and a sling? Not as popular as just laying next to the rifle on a bipod, but you’d be surprised at the level of accuracy that is possible when you learn how to do it. There are NRA Long Range Matches all over the country where people do this every weekend.
 

8pointer

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If shooting steel at 1K you want to be able to recover from recoil and be able to see your hits or misses, I run 12x to 16x.
At higher magnifications the FOV is lower so it is more difficult to find the target.
Please don't laugh, but I've never shot beyond 550. All that is going to change soon with a new facility opening and finally going slim my decision tree down from a few different 224 models and get off the bench. I have a 10x SWFA I really like and can see impacts at that range. *if* recoil management is assumed is it possible for someone to go shoot solo w/o a spotter and see hits on steel at 1000? I hadn't considered it until I got on the search function to look into spotting scopes. Is that a fools errant to try and spot steel hits at 1k with a 10x by yourself?
 

Dthomas3523

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Jan 31, 2018
3,922
3,585
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South Texas
Please don't laugh, but I've never shot beyond 550. All that is going to change soon with a new facility opening and finally going slim my decision tree down from a few different 224 models and get off the bench. I have a 10x SWFA I really like and can see impacts at that range. *if* recoil management is assumed is it possible for someone to go shoot solo w/o a spotter and see hits on steel at 1000? I hadn't considered it until I got on the search function to look into spotting scopes. Is that a fools errant to try and spot steel hits at 1k with a 10x by yourself?
Depends on the environment(mirage and such) and the bullet.

A 6mm might be hard to spot on 10x if it hits center plate or your steel doesn’t move much in general.

A .308 will be easier to see.
 
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8pointer

Sergeant of the Hide
Belligerents
Minuteman
Nov 20, 2018
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Ok so....dang. If I envision shooting by myself a lot help me walk this out. Can a single shooter shoot then you just go over to spotting scope and look for impact? Or hope conditions are right AND you have the right caliber? Sounds like a spotting scope is 100% the only way to go for me using wittle 224?
 

Dthomas3523

Flasher clearly not working
Hessian
Online Training Access
Belligerents
Jan 31, 2018
3,922
3,585
119
South Texas
Ok so....dang. If I envision shooting by myself a lot help me walk this out. Can a single shooter shoot then you just go over to spotting scope and look for impact? Or hope conditions are right AND you have the right caliber? Sounds like a spotting scope is 100% the only way to go for me using wittle 224?
If the steel is painted. You can see it.

If not, it won’t matter.