The 4 Best 500 Yard Scope [2021 Update]

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In this guide I’m going to show you the best 500 yard scope.

In fact:

These are the same scopes that many optic experts and competitive shooters use.

The best part?

I’ve sorted the scopes by use. So whether you’re on a budget or need a solid rifle scope for 500 yards, you’ll find it here.

Let’s get started!

The 4 Best 500 Yard Scope

If you’re pressed on time, here’s a quick list of the best 500 yard scope:

  1. NightForce SHV 5-20×56: Best Rifle Scope for 500 Yards
  2. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×50: Best 500 Yard AR Scope
  3. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best for the Money
  4. Nikon P-Tactical 3-9×40: Best for the Budget

1. NightForce SHV 5-20×56: Best Rifle Scope for 500 Yards

The NightForce SHV 5-20×56 is a fantastic long range optic.

It’s a well-built and hardy piece that will perform flawlessly, time and time again.

In fact, the SHV is the best scope for any shooter looking to improve their shooting at 500 yards.

Keep reading to find out why.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

I’d use two words to describe the glass on the SHV:

1. Superior

2. Clear

That’s because the lenses are fully multi-coated.

The objective lens measures at 56mm.

That’s a pretty good size view. The large lens provides optimal lighting, a wide field of view, and a really crisp, clean image.

It doesn’t matter the time of day or what type of shooting I’m doing.

The incredible brightness and resolution I get is consistent and performs whether I’m out hunting or long range shooting, from dusk till dawn.

Since this scope is second focal plane, my reticle stays the same, no matter the magnification.

When I’m shooting at 500 yards, I need something consistent and accurate.

The SHV is just that.

NightForce has created two models of the SHV. Both have a floating reticle and the option of having the center crosshair illuminated.

Illuminated reticles have eleven different brightness settings, allowing shooters to set their preferred level of brightness.

The one I have is a MOAR, with a non-illuminated center crosshair.

The other model is the IHR (International Hunting Reticle). It’s less busy than the MOAR in that there are just three lines at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock. No windage or elevation markings.

What I like most about my SHV’s reticle is that it takes out the guesswork for distance shots. It gives me accurate range calculations to my target and immediate windage hold-off.

What’s more, the floating crosshair gives me incredible precision on smaller, tougher to see targets.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

The eye relief is very generous.

It measures from 3.14-3.54 inches. Plenty of room for my AR.

I’ve found the eye box is suitable. My field of view is large.

Plus, I’m not dealing with dark or blurred edges.

The best thing about the eye relief and the eyebox is the fact that I’m not straining my eyes, which is something I usually would be doing with any other long range riflescope.


This scope is incredibly sturdy.

In fact, my piece has endured more ruggedness than I like to admit. It handles it though!

See, it’s made with aircraft grade aluminum, which increases its durability.

It doesn’t end there, though. Inside the tube is a whole other world of protection.

What I mean by that is that the tube is heat treated. It has extra thick layers that improve the scope’s thermal stability. Plus, it’s fogproof and shock proof.

That means it can withstand Mother Nature’s elements and being jostled around in the back of my truck.

Nightforce has a battery of tests they perform to ensure quality of each and every scope they manufacture. Believe it or not, before being shipped out to customers, the scopes undergo anywhere from 70-130 quality control checks.

Neat, huh?

The SHV scope weighs about 30 ounces. It was heavy at first, for me, but after a while I got used to it.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets are clearly marked and quite accurate.

They’re also very audible, which I really like. It lets me know that I’ve adjusted and am ready to go.

The elevation turret is exposed. The windage isn’t. I would prefer that they both be exposed.

Quite honestly, though, this setup is good.

The knobs are chunky, discernible, and allow for plenty of turning room. They certainly get the job done.

The windage knob is capped. I don’t have to worry about accidentally bumping it when I’m out in the thickets.

Plus, it holds zero after multiple shots.

And then, there’s the game changing ZeroSet feature.

ZeroSet is a specific and unique feature to NightForce optics. It prevents me from going past my zero.

It’s easy to set up.

See, once I’ve zeroed my scope, all I need to do is use the given allen key to loosen the screws on the elevation cap. Loosen, but don’t remove the screws.

Then I line the zero on the turret cap up with the witness mark on the turret capsule. Once the zeros are lined up, I push the cap all the way back down, torque the screws, and I’m good to go.

The ZeroSet makes a springy and spongy ending as opposed to a final click when I’m at dead zero.

I don’t have to worry about going past sub zero when resetting my adjustments.

This allows me to make adjustments and reset to zero swiftly, which is helpful for those shots when I need to act fast.

Parallax & Magnification

The magnification power range is 5-20x.

My power adjustment ring was a bit stiff at first, but definitely loosed up the more I used it.

The variable magnification is versatile and ideal no matter if I’m shooting close range or at distances at 500 and up.

The side parallax adjustment ranges from 25 yards to infinity. It comes in handy with my range changes.

Mounting & Rings

Mounts and rings aren’t included.

The manual suggests that if the scope’s used for hunting or any high-recoil situations, it’s best to invest in a durable ring and base combo. Also, anything with a turn-in style or dovetail rail is not recommended.

I use the NightForce UltraLight (low height.) This set is perfect to mount the SHV to any picatinny rail (which is the recommended style, anyway!)

Remember when I said the magnification ring was a little stiff at first?

To be honest, I haven’t had any issues with it now that it loosened up, but you can always add a traction aid. The NightForce Clamp On Throw Lever is a perfect fit.

Is the NightForce SHV 5-20x56worth it?

The Nightforce SHV is a high quality optic. Its performance excels both in close range and distance shooting.

You’ll benefit from:

  • ZeroSet
  • Waterproof
  • Shock resilient
  • Fast focus lens
  • Glass etched reticle
  • Exposed elevation turret
  • Aircraft grade aluminum construction

Still undecided? Perhaps this will help: it’s covered by NightForce’s Limited Lifetime Warranty.

If you’re a serious shooter looking for versatility and reliability along with optimal, consistent performance from your scope, go out and get the NightForce SHV 5-20×56.

NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope,30mm.250 MOA,Moar Non-Illuminated Reticle, C534
47 Reviews
NightForce SHV 5-20x56mm Riflescope,30mm.250 MOA,Moar Non-Illuminated Reticle, C534
  • 56mm Objective lens for maximum light transmission
  • Second focal plane: reticle remaind the same size no matter the magnification
  • Tactical MOA turrets for easy adjustments

Are you a competitive shooter looking for a MCG Reflex Red Dot Sight? Check out these top choices.

2. Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×50: Best 500 Yard AR Scope

If you’re like me and love a good utilitarian design in a riflescope, then you’ll love the Luepold VX-3i.

This variable scope is awesome for hunting with an AR at any range, whether you are in thick brush or hunting out on the plains.

Let’s find out why…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity of this scope is amazing.

The image quality is fantastic, and really shines in the low-light times.

This is due to Leupold’s patented Twilight Max Light Management System. This special treatment of the glass in this scope is built to capture as much light as possible while delivering a clear, no-glare sight picture.

With ultra-clear glass like this, you will be able to hunt during the twilight hours thanks to the improved light gathering.This means that you can get up to an additional hour and a half of shooting time throughout the day.

The VX-3i uses a Duplex reticle.

The bold posts and thin crosshair of this reticle draw your eye directly towards the center of the glass. Once you get used to it, it’s almost subconsciously easy to use and barely even noticeable.

A good simple reticle like this is perfect for hunting game out at 500 yards because it won’t obscure your target.

Eye Relief

The eye relief is generous, ranging from 4.5” to 3.6”.

This range of eye relief distances means that you can use this scope on a high-recoiling rifle without having to worry about scope bite.


This scope is ridiculously tough and long-lasting.

The scope tube is machined from a single block of 6061-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum. Also, every scope that Leupold produces passes through the Punisher, their own personal product stress testing gauntlet, to ensure product quality and durability.

Basically, you can rest assured that your VX-3i can easily take a few drops without any damage.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The turrets of this scope are very high quality.

They feature a low, wide profile with knurled edges for good grip.

Each turret adjusts easily, sliding into the next position with an audible click and feel.

Zeroing this scope is a breeze. I was able to manage a 100-yard zero with less than five rounds.

Plus, since this scope was tested by Leupold’s Punisher, you can rest assured that this optic will hold its zero through hundreds of rounds.

Parallax & Magnification

With the magnification of 3.5-10x, this scope can easily do some long-range shooting out to distances of 1,000 yards.

This is great for hunting with your AR within distances of 300 yards. You won’t be leaving anything up to chance with this level of magnification and accuracy.

Since the parallax is set at 150 yards, you may experience some reticle wobble at very close ranges. Since this baby is tailor-made for longer distances, though, I haven’t found it to be a problem.

If you are looking for a fixed magnification scope for your AR, check out the Burris AR-536.

Mounting & Rings

No rings or mounts are included with this scope.

I recommend Leupold’s Rifleman Scope Rings size 1”

and their Rifleman Scope Base.

Leupold Rifleman Scope Base, Matte, Marlin 336 (55910)
248 Reviews
Leupold Rifleman Scope Base, Matte, Marlin 336 (55910)
  • Bases Are Available For Many Popular Rifle Models
  • Our High-Quality Mounts Are Affordable, Just Like The Rifleman Riflescope
  • Rapid Transition From Iron Sights To A Magnified Optic

This will ensure you get the most out of such a high-quality product while in the field.

Also, just to be safe I would also grab the high-quality Alumina Flip-up Caps for 50mm scopes.

Leupold Alumina 50mm and Standard EP Flip Back Lens Cover Kit
271 Reviews
Leupold Alumina 50mm and Standard EP Flip Back Lens Cover Kit
  • Model #62995 - Alumina Flip Back Lens Cover Kit for 50mm and Standard EP

Is the Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10×50 Worth it?

The Leupold VX-3i is a high-quality, rugged, and simple riflescope.

This is what you are getting:

  • Clear glass
  • 3.5-10x’s magnification
  • Low-profile duplex reticle
  • Tough 6061-T6 aluminum body
  • Abrasion-resistant glass coating

And if that wasn’t enough, this scope is covered under Leupold’s Lifetime Warranty.

If you are looking for a lifetime hunting optic for your AR, the Leupold 3i 3.5-10×50 has got your ticket!

Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Riflescope
136 Reviews
Leupold VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm Riflescope
  • Model #170684 - VX-3i 3.5-10x50mm with Duplex reticle and Matte finish
  • 100% Waterproof, fogproof, and shockproof.
  • DiamondCoat 2 - Ion-assist lens coating for higher light transmission and the greatest level of abrasion resistance

Looking for more? Check out the Vortex Crossfire II 2-7×32

3. Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50: Best for the Money

The Athlon Argos BTR 6 is a reliable, versatile, and slick looking scope that won’t disappoint.

Want to know something else?

It’s affordable. In fact, I’d say it’s the best variable scope you can get for the money.

Keep reading to learn more.

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass clarity is great.

To be honest, the glass quality and clarity is much better than I expected for a piece in this price range. In fact, the glass is fully multicoated, so it transmits a good amount of light.

This clarity, paired with the large 50mm lens, means that I can see my targets clearly and brightly, even in lower lighting.

What’s just as impressive is the reticle.

For one thing, it’s illuminated and has eleven brightness settings. I’ve found this particularly beneficial at night. All I have to do is turn the brightness knob to adjust the lighting.

If I don’t need the illumination, I can just click the knob to “0’, which shuts it off.

Plus, it comes with a CR2032 3V battery that I haven’t had to change yet.

The reticle is set in the first focal plane, so it grows when I zoom in and shrinks when I zoom out. I really like this, because the reticle stays nice and simple at lower ranges, and gives me holdover lines when I zoom in.

Eye Relief & Eye Box

Eye relief for the Argos BTR is right at 3.3 inches.

This is plenty of room, even on higher-recoiling rifles. I’ve had no problems with scope bite using this optic.

The eye box isn’t bad either. It’s not too tight, even at higher settings. As long as I keep a good cheek weld, I’m good to go!


The price may be low, but there is nothing cheap about this scope. It’s as durable as they come.

The BTR is waterproof and fogproof, and it’s been heat treated and argon purged. No need to worry about any moisture getting in there!

It’s constructed with aircraft grade aluminum, and the glass-etched reticle helps make the scope totally shockproof.

I prefer glass etched because I don’t have to worry about it breaking, falling out on me, or getting damaged like I would with a wire reticle.

What’s more, the lenses have Athlon’s unique XPL coating which has kept my glass free of scratches and dirt.

The scope weighs a little over 29 ounces. That may be a little heavy for some, but it didn’t take me long to get used to. If you’re looking for a good lightweight optic, check out this list of the top choices.

Elevation & Windage Knobs

The elevation and windage turrets on the Argos BTR are reliable and take all the guesswork out of adjustments.

They’re pretty crisp, and produce a nice audible click. I love this, because I always know for sure when I’ve made an adjustment.

Believe me when I say, whether you are an experienced shooter or someone new to the game, you won’t have any trouble zeroing. The Argos BTR makes it straightforward and easy.

Parallax & Magnification

This optic packs some good power, offering 6-24x variable magnification.

The ring turns smoothly, too.

Whether I’m long range shooting, hunting, or plinking, it’s so easy to adjust my magnification to meet my needs. I just turn the magnification ring to the power I want, and fire away.

Talk about versatility. In fact, the ability to easily switch between long and mid-range makes this an ideal scope to take out hog hunting.

One issue that I found is that when I increase the magnification to anything over 18x, especially in lower light, the image clarity is lessened slightly. It’s a little less bright too.

Deal breaker?

Nope. Because at this price, the magnification quality is more than good enough for what I need.

Plus, there’s a side parallax knob too. This makes it really easy to fix my parallax if I see my reticle start to wobble.

Mounting & Rings

The mounts and rings aren’t included.

I use the Aero Precision Ultralight scope mount for my AR. The installation and set up was straightforward.

Aero Precision Ultralight 30mm Scope Mount, Standard, Anodized Black
386 Reviews
Aero Precision Ultralight 30mm Scope Mount, Standard, Anodized Black
  • 6061 T6 extruded aluminum construction
  • MIL-A-Type 3 black hard-coat anodize
  • Ridged and lightweight

That said, it’s best to look into mounts and rings that are most compatible with your type and brand of firearm.

Is the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 worth it?

This optic is loaded with all the bells and whistles you expect to see on a high end scope, but at a budget price.

You’ll benefit from it’s tremendous features, including:

  • Waterproof
  • Battery included
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Glass etched reticle
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Aircraft grade aluminum build

And if that’s not enough, the whole thing is covered by Athlon’s Unlimited Lifetime Warranty. You don’t even need to keep the receipt!

So whether you’re just starting out or have been at this for a while, I’m confident that the versatility, performance, and price of the Athlon Argos BTR 6-24×50 make it a top choice for any firearm owner.

Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle,
533 Reviews
Athlon Optics , Argos BTR, Riflescope, 6-24 x 50 First Focal Plane (FFP) 30 mm Tube, Illuminated APMR MIL Reticle,
  • First focal plane reticle stays valid at all power settings allowing you to fully utilize the specially designed reticle that shrinks or grows along with your target as you zoom in or out.
  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.
  • Reticle etched on the glass that provides excellent backing support for complex reticle design and offers great durability and much higher shock resistance to recoil

4. Nikon P-Tactical 3-9×40: Best for the Budget

The Nikon P-Tactical is a fantastic riflescope at a great price.

In fact, this bad boy holds it’s own against more expensive competitors. It’s the best budget scope on the market.

If you want to learn more about this great piece of equipment, keep on reading…

Glass Clarity & Reticle

The glass quality is fantastic for this scope.

This is because the glass is fully multi-coated and allows for great light transmission.

I did notice that once it gets to the highest magnification, the image can be a little blurry. It’s certainly not terrible and is very manageable. Just make sure to be careful at longer distances.

I went with the MOA reticle and it has been great so far. I even got a Dead Hold BDC to measure the bullet drop rate. I’ve got it calibrated for a .223 caliber rifle, and it’s really helped me with my long-range shooting.

Also, the reticle is set on the second focal plane. This just means that when zoomed, the crosshairs forming the middle get bigger. I like this, because it scales up the holdover lines on the higher magnifications, when I need them the most.

Eye Relief And Eye Box

The eye relief is incredibly forgiving.

It’s listed between 3.5 to 4.5 inches. I am usually able to keep about 4 inches of space between my eyes and the scope without much blur.

Plus, the eye box is pretty generous too. You could even run this scope on a target pistol if you really wanted to.


The Nikon is one tough optic.

It’s waterproof, fogproof, and even shockproof. The waterproofing comes from good o-rings sealing the product together. High grade aluminum gives the Nikon P-Tactical it’s sturdy foundation.

I have yet to see scratches on the glass. I’ve even dropped it while cleaning and nothing has been damaged.

Solid durability like this means that you can take this scope into any conditions, and not have to worry about it’s performance.

Elevation And Windage Knobs

In order to adjust for distance, the Nikon comes with spring loaded knobs for easy tuning. All I needed to do was pull up gently and twist. Each turn is ¼ inch.

Accuracy was fantastic. I was able to zero on my target with ease. I was able to adjust my crosshairs so the point of my aim was almost perfect with the bullet impact.

Varied magnification did not seem to affect the accuracy.

The only drawback with these knobs is going over rough terrain. The knobs can pop up and twist on their own. This only happened a couple times and was easily rectified.

Parallax And Magnification

The P-Tactical gives you variable 3x to 9x magnification.

I love the variable magnification and smooth zoom. With little to no blur at most ranges, it’s really increased my ability to reach out and touch distant targets.

There is no parallax adjustment knob on this scope.

That said, parallax is actually much less of an issue than I would have thought. The only major time I noticed was for close range shooting under 25 yards.


Sadly, the Nikon did not come with mounts. I ended up buying 1 inch high Vortex Hunter rings to get this guy going. These rings will allow you to mount the P-Tactical to any picatinny rail.

Instead of using the caps that came with the scope, I got the Butler Creek flip-open covers. I went with their size 14 and they work well with a snug fit.

Butler Creek Flip Open Scope Cover Black 1 MO30010
156 Reviews
Butler Creek Flip Open Scope Cover Black 1 MO30010
  • Truly ambidextrous silent spring hinges won't spook game
  • Instant action lids pop open at the touch of a thumb
  • Performs from 40 to 120 Degrees F and weighs less than an ounce

Is The Nikon P-Tactical 3-9×40 Worth It?

The Nikon P-Tactical is a high quality optic for mid to long range shooting.

Here’s why. It’s got:

  • Weatherproofing
  • Fantastic Zeroing
  • Great Glass Quality
  • Incredible Durability
  • Variable Magnification

It even has a lifetime warranty from Nikon.

So if you’re looking for an accurate, solid, high-quality riflescope, that won’t break the bank, the Nikon P-Tactical 3-9×40 is the right fit for you.

Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9x40 Matte BDC600
413 Reviews
Nikon P-Tactical .223 3-9x40 Matte BDC600
  • The BDC 600 reticle offers Shooters unique open circle aiming points and hash marks from 100 to 600 yards
  • One inch body tube
  • Spring loaded instant zero resets turrets

Looking for a magnifier for your EOTech Holosight? Check out this list of the top choices.

Now It’s Your Turn

I hope you enjoyed my best 500 yard scope guide.

Now I want to turn it over to you:

Which scope will you pick for your rifle?

Let me know by leaving a quick comment down below.

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