Best Scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor [2022] Where to Start?

by David Lane

January 13, 2022

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6.5 Creedmoor is a cartridge built for hitting targets at long distances. Able to take big game from over 500 yards and hitting paper or steel targets out to a mile, 6.5 Creedmoor has quickly become a do-all cartridge like none other.

But to get the most out of that, you need the right scope. Maybe this is your first deer rifle, maybe you’re trying your hand at Precision Rifle Series shooting, either way, you need high-quality glass, durable construction, and hopefully to stay on budget.

We have our top picks for the best scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor with special consideration made to maximizing not only your cartridge but yourself as well.

Best Scopes for 6.5 Creedmoor

Best Scopes For 6.5 Creedmoor

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x50
  • Quality at a fair price
  • Beginner Friendly
  • Relatively inexpensive
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Primary Arms SLx 4-14x44
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Great features for the price
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Maven RS.2 2-10x38
  • 12 ounces, super lightweight
  • Amazing glass
  • Shockingly durable
Check Price
Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56
  • Made (mostly) in America!
  • Japanese sourced glass, it’s the best
  • Lots of reticle options
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EOTech Vudu 5-25x56
  • Perfect for compact rifles
  • Extra room for Night vision
  • Most Compact
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Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56
  • Industry-leading lifetime warranty
  • Durable and trusted by competitors
  • Best Warranty
Check Price
Athlon Cronus BTR Gen 2 4.5x29x56
  • Punches way outside of its price class
  • Generation 2 comes with super tactile turrets
Check Price
Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27x56
  • Unbeatable glass quality
  • Super durable construction
  • Everything feels perfect
Check Price
Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56
  • Championship-winning scope
  • Trusted by military, police, and competition shooters
  • Able to withstand absurd abuse
Check Price

Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes Review

Let’s dive into a review of each of these nine scopes. Any of these scopes would be great for your 6.5 Creedmoor, although we need to find the scope that’s great for you and your application. We will look at the good and not so good points of each of these scopes as well as the best price.

1. Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50

Editor's Choice
Vortex Viper PST II 5-25x50

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50

n a niche where the best scopes can run $3,000-$5,000, the Viper PST II delivers the quality you need at a price you can afford.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass B+
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Viper PST II 5-25×50 Specs

  • Magnification Range 5-25x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 31.2 Oz
  • Length 15.79in
  • FoV @ 100y 24.1ft/4.8 ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 70 MOA
  • Tube Size 30mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50 Review 

It’s almost become a running joke in the long range community that all you need to start is a Bergara B-14 and a Viper PST II. Why? Because it’s just that good and that accessible.

I wouldn’t call the Vortex Viper PST II my favorite scope, but it is a reliable all-rounder that can get a lot done without breaking your bank, this is why it’s my editor’s choice.

Offered in MOA and MRAD with multiple reticle styles each, it’s not hard to find what works well for you personally.

Combined with Vortex’s amazing warranty and legendary customer service, this is a very safe bet to spend your money on.

Most long range shooters that want to get further into the sport will end up replacing their Vipers, but this is a great scope to learn on and can easily take you past 1,000 yards.

If you’re looking for a budget-minded scope that won’t let you down and be reliable enough and optically clear enough for you to really start to reach out, I strongly recommend the Viper PST II. Personally, I would get it with the ERB-7C reticle and in MRAD.

Viper PST II 5-25×50 Pros and Cons

  • Very beginner-friendly design and price
  • Quality glass and construction
  • Vortex’s RZR Zero Stop is one of the best
  • Turrets aren’t as “clicky” as I like

Vortex Viper PST II 5-25×50 Deals

2. Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44

Primary Arms SLx 4-14x44

Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44

Coming in as the cheapest scope I can recommend, Primary Arms packs a surprising amount of features into this little guy.

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  • Reliability B+
  • Glass B-
  • Reticle A+
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 Specs

  • Magnification Range 4-14x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 25.2 Oz
  • Length 12.9in
  • FoV @ 100y 27.20ft/7.85ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 60 MOA
  • Tube Size 30mm
  • Zero Stop No

Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 Review

I’ve always been impressed by Primary Arm’s optics. Something that really helps them stand out is that they do a ton of their own research and development and it really shows.

From reticles to construction, they are always pushing the limit.

The SLx isn’t a fancy scope, but it does have some nice features like an amazing reticle and great illumination. 

I like it because it’s a good beater scope. Not every scope needs to be the best or the fanciest. Sometimes, just a good reliable scope is all you need.

For whitetail, boar, or close varmints this is perfect.

You’ll struggle at long range, but if you’re only shooting about 300 yards or less — this is entirely enough.

I haven’t managed to break a PA scope yet but if you do manage it, at least this is cheap enough that it won’t ruin your day.

Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 Pros and Cons

  • Budget-friendly
  • Bright illumination
  • Glass is what you pay for

Primary Arms SLx 4-14×44 Deals

3. Maven RS.2 2-10×38

Maven RS.2 2-10x38

Maven RS.2 2-10×38

One of the lesser-known brands in the world of optics, Maven has some truly amazing gear. From binoculars to scopes, these guys know glass and it shows.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass A
  • Reticle B+
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Maven RS.2 2-10×38 Specs

  • Magnification Range 2-10x
  • Focal Plane SFP
  • Weight 12.4Oz
  • Length 12.44in
  • FoV @ 100y 42.2ft/10.5ft
  • Illuminated No
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 50 MOA
  • Tube Size 1in
  • Zero Stop No

Maven RS.2 2-10×38 Review 

Ultralight scopes are hard to find and most of them aren’t great to use. They all scream the fact that their first and only design consideration is weight and nothing else.

Maven breaks that mold by offering a scope that honestly feels like it is a much larger and a more expensive optic.

Instead, what you have is a $500, 12-ounce optic that is simply amazing.

Wonderful on a mountain rifle or a youth rifle, this is a fine piece of equipment that will leave you wanting more Maven optics.

Personally, I highly recommend their binoculars also.

Maven offers some cool custom options also since they are a direct seller, you won’t find their stuff on store shelves.

Get your optic engraved or in a custom color, why? Because you can. If you’re going to get that 10-point buck you’ve been stalking, you want to look good for that picture with it.

Maven RS.2 2-10×38 Pros and Cons

  • Super lightweight
  • Amazing glass quality
  • Very simple to use
  • Limited by tube size
  • Only 10x

Maven RS.2 2-10×38 Deals

4. Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25x56

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56

While Leupold gets their glass from Japan, they make everything else and assemble the final scope using American workers in an American plant. And it’s an outstanding scope.

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  • Reliability A-
  • Glass A
  • Reticle B+
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value B-

Our Grade

A-

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 Specs

  • Magnification Range 5-25x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 30 Oz
  • Length 15.7in
  • FoV @ 100y 20.4ft/4.2ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 120 MOA
  • Tube Size 35mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 Review

The biggest thing going for the Leupold Mark 5HD is that it is made in America. That might sound like a weak selling point but that almost makes it unique among high-end scopes.

Facts of life are that most optics from the cheap to the new-car money aren’t made in the USA. Leupold sets themselves apart as being one of the only ones that make it happen.

Granted, the glass is from Japan — but that is because you just can’t get glass good enough domestically. 

On top of all of that, the Mark 5HD is simply a great optic. The glass is great, the turrets are nice, the construction is top-notch, and the price is… decent.

My biggest gripe about Leupold is that they like to nickel and dime you. While the Mark 5HD starts at $2,100 MSRP depending on what reticle you want you might be paying as much as $2,900 MSRP.

That is a huge swing in price. Normally we expect to see $200-$300 extra for the fancy Horus reticles, not $800 extra.

If one of the base reticles work for you or you just really want to support American workers, then the price is reasonable.

Otherwise, you might find a better deal with another option.

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 Pros and Cons

  • Lots of reticle options
  • Made in America
  • Leupold has a long history of quality
  • Outstanding glass quality
  • 35mm mounts can be harder to find and more expensive.
  • Upcharging hard for the best reticles

Leupold Mark 5HD 5-25×56 Deals

5. EOTech Vudu 5-25×50

EOTECH VUDU 5-25×50

EOTech Vudu 5-25×50

A compact long range scope isn’t something that many have attempted and even fewer have done well, but EOTech has really hit a home run with the Vudu.

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  • Reliability A
  • Glass A-
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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EOTech Vudu 5-25×50 Specs

  • Magnification Range 5-25x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 29.5 Oz
  • Length 11.2in
  • FoV @ 100y 23.3ft/4.7ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Tube Size 34mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

EOTech Vudu 5-25×50 Review

If you pack your rifle a lot or need more rail space for night vision or thermals, a smaller than average scope can make a huge difference.

Combined with EOTech quality, some great glass, and super-durable construction and this is a class leader.

When most high-end scopes are 13-16 inches long, EOTech offering an 11” option is truly shocking. That’s actually a lot of rail space that the Vudu gives back to you.

For many of us, that isn’t a huge deal, but if you’re using this with night vision or thermals for night hunting then that extra 2 to 5 inches can be a big deal. 

And with the rise in popularity of pistols in rifle calibers or SBRs for hunting, the Vudu can be a perfect fit.

Combine that with EOTech’s outstanding build quality, really durable frame, and some very nice glass and you have a real winner of a scope.

This won’t be the right scope for everyone, honestly, unless you need a compact scope you might be better served with something else, but for those of you that do need it — you’re getting an outstanding scope.

Something to note though is that it is kind of heavy. You’d think saving all those inches would result in more weight savings, but in this case, not so.

The objective lens is only 50mm and in a world where great optics are almost all universally 56mm, losing those 6 mms is kind of a bummer.

EOTech Vudu 5-25×50 Review Pros and Cons

  • Compact design
  • Horus reticles
  • Very firm zero stop
  • Compact, but still heavy
  • No price reduction for the non-Horus reticle
  • 50mm when 56mm should be the standard

EOTech Vudu 5-25×50 Deals

6. Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27x56

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56

One of the most legendary scopes ever made, Vortex Razor HD II is a standard that others are measured by.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 Specs

  • Magnification Range 4.5-27x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 48.5 Oz
  • Length 14.4in
  • FoV @ 100y 25.3ft/4.4ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 113.5 MOA
  • Tube Size 34mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 Review

The Razor HD Gen II has been a gold standard for a long time. If you don’t want to spend $3,500+ on a scope, this is about the best that you can find right now. 

Vortex has won that respect the hard way, by winning matches.

Now we sit years after its release and we can see that the Razor HD Gen II is truly one of the kings.

The glass is warm and wonderful, the construction is solid, and the turrets are some of the best in the industry even to this day. Overall, this is just a really great scope.

While MSRP is still a bit high, you can often find these for a decent sale. For around $1800-1900 this is a huge value.

All of that said… it is getting a little dated at this point. While I’ve heard rumors that a Gen III is coming, I’ve been hearing that for almost 2 years now.

Maybe it is and the old Gen IIs will go on even better sales. Maybe it isn’t and the Gen II will still be one of the best options you can buy.

Vortex Razor HD Gen II Pros and Cons

  • Vortex warranty just can’t be beat
  • Prices can be surprisingly low
  • Minimum parallax is 32 yards
  • Heavy, 48.5 ounces is a beast

Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 Deals

7. Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29×56

Athlon Cronus BTR Gen 2 4.5x29x56

Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29×56

The Conrus is a scope that just punches way, way outside of its price class. Easily on par with the Vortex Razor, the Cronus just doesn’t quit.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A+
  • Value A+

Our Grade

A+

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

B

Based on 1 Reviews

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Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29×56 Specs

  • Magnification Range 4.5-29x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 38.5 Oz
  • Length 14.3in
  • FoV @ 100y 24.8ft/3.83ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 110 MOA
  • Tube Size 34mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29×56 Review

I own two, one on my open class NRL22 rifle and one on my open class PRS rifle. They are really, really good.

I often compare Athlon to Vortex because the parallels are very consistent. Vortex has an industry-leading warranty, Athlon matches it. Vortex has amazing customer service, as does Athlon. 20 years ago Vortex didn’t get the respect their scopes honestly deserved, and today Athlon is in the same boat.

To my eye, the Cronus is absolutely on par with the Razor HD gen II glass quality. I’ve shot 2 full seasons of NRL/PRS with my Cronus with all of the bumps, drops, and bangs that go with that, and both are still running strong.

I’ve traveled thousands of miles with my Cronus in the back of my car also.

Bottom line, this is a great scope.

Now the best part? They’re cheap, relatively speaking. I paid $1,350 for my Gen II and a street price right now of around $1,400-1,500 still puts these hundreds of dollars below the Razor HD gen II.

For a price to quality ratio, the Cronus BTR is unbeatable.

Athlon Cronus BTR Gen II 4.5-29×56 Pros and Cons

  • Insane value to price ratio
  • Turrets are LOUD and clicky
  • Athlon also has a Vortex-like warranty
  • Stock can be very hit and miss
  • Parallax can be very stiff at first, needs break-in.

Athlon Cronus BTR Gen 2 4.5-29×56 Deals

8. Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56

Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56

Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56

I don’t know if we’ll ever be able to see the future, but if we do it will be through ZCO glass.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass A+
  • Reticle A
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value A-

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

C-

Based on 1 Reviews

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Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56 Specs

  • Magnification Range 5-27x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 37.9 Oz
  • Length 15.24in
  • FoV @ 100y 21ft/4.5ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 120 MOA
  • Tube Size 36mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56 Review

The biggest mistake at a match I’ve ever made was looking through a friend’s ZCO527. I’m ruined forever. It feels like nothing will ever compare.

If you can’t afford a ZCO, I understand and I’m right there with you. Do yourself a favor and never take your friend up on their offer to look through one. Once you do, you can never unsee what you saw and you’ll be disappointed going back to whatever scope you do have.

Trust me, it really is that good.

That might sound extreme and you’re thinking that there is no way it’s that good. But it really is.

ZCO is pretty new to the market but they have made huge splashes in the industry by offering an optic that really lives up to the name Zero Compromise.

This is amazing for us the shooter for several reasons. 1, it’s an incredible scope. But 2, it’s forcing the industry to innovate in a way that they got a little lazy on.

Everything about the ZCO looks and feels like it was designed to be perfect. The turrets are huge, the writing is easy to read, the glass is just breathtaking, even the main tube just looks like it was built out of a nuclear submarine. 

The downside… you’re going to pay for it. And pay a lot for it. I wish I grabbed a ZCO when they were two price changes ago, but these days the ZCOs are going for around $4,000 and that is a lot of cheddar.

Any shooter can appreciate how amazing these scopes are, but only the elite will really get their money’s worth.

If money isn’t a factor for you or you’re deeply committed to “buy once, cry once”, then I say full send it on a ZCO of your own.

But if you need to stay on budget or you know that you’re just not a shooter with the skills to warrant a $4,000 scope — maybe pick something else.

Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56 Pros and Cons

  • Unbeatable glass quality
  • Ultra-Durable construction
  • Big beefy turrets
  • Everything about the ZC527 feels super-premium
  • That price tag
  • Availability is very low due to slow production

Zero Compromise ZC527 5-27×56 Deals

9. Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56

Nightforce ATACR 7-35x56 F1

Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56

Nightforce has a long history as being one of the most durable optics manufacturers in the world. Trusted by militaries and adopted by USSOCOM, Nightforce is simply one of the best.

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  • Reliability A+
  • Glass A
  • Reticle A+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Value B

Our Grade

A

Reviewed by David Lane

Reader’s Grade

A+

Based on 1 Reviews

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Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 Specs

  • Magnification Range 7-35x
  • Focal Plane FFP
  • Weight 39.3 Oz
  • Length 16in
  • FoV @ 100y 15ft/3.4ft
  • Illuminated Yes
  • Total Elevation Adjustment 100 MOA
  • Tube Size 34mm
  • Zero Stop Yes

Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 Review

A king in PRS and NRL for years the ATACR is also in service with militaries around the world. Not only is it one of the most durable optics ever made but it’s also just one of the best.

The best glass, the best controls, the best tracking, everything about the ATACR is built to last and built to fight.

If you manage to break one, Nightforce is there to help you out. If you break it.

But again, we run into the problem that the ATACR is getting a little dated now. While not the oldest great option on the market, it isn’t the newest either.

By most metrics, the ZCO is a better optic and is close enough in price that it shouldn’t be a deal breaker.

But what ZCO doesn’t have is a long history of being abused by compeitors, hunters, and specical forces. If you need an optic that you can bet your life on, you want a bit of history to rely on.

For a scope that you need that kind of durability and trust, there really isn’t anything that can beat the ATACR.

Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 Pros and Cons

  • Truly unbeatable durability
  • Reticle options are awesome
  • Nightforce customer service is legendary
  • Very high price
  • Glass quality doesn’t match up with the cost

Nightforce ATACR 7-35×56 Deals

Buyer’s Guide For The Best 6.5 Creedmoor Scopes

There is a lot to think about when shopping for a new scope for your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle and even for an experienced shooter it can be hard to make a final decision. Besides, you don’t want to spend hundreds of extra dollars on something that won’t give you the best use of your rifle. 

Therefore, in this guide I will help you to better understand the specifications of scopes for a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, and how you can better decide which of the options above that I listed will fit your specific needs, and thus help you to make the best decision. 

Why These Exact Scopes For 6.5 Creedmoor?

6.5 Creedmoor is one of the best do-all cartridges ever made. This beast of a cartridge is flatter shooting, has less wind drift, and less recoil than .308 Win while still delivering as much or more lethality. All while still fitting in a short-action rifle.

Commonality with .308 Win bolt face and cartridge size makes magazines easy to get, brass easy to get, and it’s a forgiving caliber to learn handloading on.

It can ethically and legally hunt any game animal in North America (within a reasonable distance, larger game means shorter distance) and it can punch out to over a mile on steel targets with good ammo and a good shooter.

Basically, it can do it all. So you need scopes that can too.

From the little Maven that weighs just 12 ounces to the cutting edge glass quality of Zero Compromise, these scopes cover just about everything you can do with a 6.5 Creedmoor rifle.

Be it a backpacking hunting rifle to a PRS national-level competition shooter, at least one of these scopes will serve you well.

Honestly Consider What You Need Your Scope To Do

First things first, we need to identify what it is you intend to do with your 6.5 Creedmoor gun in order to best figure out which specifications are more important. A lot of shooters want a scope that can do it all and be light as a feather. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way, and sometimes getting the best thing out there, isn’t necessary.

If you need something that is as durable as a tank, expect it to weigh like one. If you need the best glass possible so you can see 2,000 yards, you’ll have to pay top dollar for it.

So, to ensure that you don’t spend money getting the best thing in the market, or buy something that will be ruined under the uses you intend, you need to figure out if you will be using this gun for hunting, or for competition shooting, and whether it is just for regular use. 

In the next section, I will be analyzing the different specs you should pay attention to, and based on the use you intend to use it for, you need to decide which one is more important or not. Otherwise, you may find yourself paying way more than you need to or getting a GREAT scope, but one that isn’t suited to your particular needs. 

What Specs Matter Most

Now that you’ve identified the greatest use of your 6.5 Creedmoor rifle, let’s look at some of the specifications in choosing a scope, and which ones will be more important for your needs. There are things like focal plane, weight, length, illumination, and more. 

Magnification Range: When you look at a scopes specs you’ll see it written as “2-25×50” or “4.5-29×56”. What that is telling you is that the magnification range is 2x to 25x and has a 50mm objective lens or 4.5x to 29x with a 56mm objective lens.

That range in magnification directly means how close an object will appear when looking through the scope. Twice as close to 25 times as close or 4 and a half times as close to 29 times as close.

This is a standardized way of talking about scopes so it will always mean the same thing.

A low minimum magnification is always nice for when you need to see the big picture. Maybe you’re glassing for game, maybe you’re trying to find the next target in competition, a low minimum magnification makes seeing a lot of area a lot easier.

A higher maximum magnification gets you really close to the target but gives you a very small eye box (where your head can be in relation to the scope and still see through it).

Super high magnification is nice for getting the best precision possible, but it leaves you with a very small field of view and can make finding the next target much harder.

Getting into really, really high magnification can also make things like mirage (differences in air temperature that create reflections in the air) much more pronounced and can make seeing your target much harder.

Generally speaking, there really isn’t a “too low” when it comes to minimum magnification, although, there is a “too high” maximum magnification. The vast, vast majority of PRS and NRL shooters rarely go past 20x on their scopes when shooting. Hunting is a little more about personal preference but it’s still uncommon to go past about 15x or so.

I can say personally in the past year of competition shooting, I’ve pushed my magnification ring past 20x maybe twice. 99% of the time I am between 12 and 15x. It doesn’t matter if I’m shooting 80 yards in NRL22 or 600 yards in PRS style matches. 12 to 15x is the sweet spot.

A scope anywhere in the 2x to 30x range will serve you well. 

Less top-end magnification will also normally mean a lighter scope, a less expensive scope, and more light transmission. So if you don’t need 30x, don’t force yourself to get it. 

Don’t fall for the trap of some outlier scopes that offer 40x or even up to 60x. While those scopes do serve a purpose, you really need to be in a small niche of shooters for those to work out for you — like shooting F-Class competitions.

FFP or SFP: For me, the first thing on my mind is First Focal Plane (FFP) or Second Focal Plane (SFP).

An FFP scope has a variable size reticle, which means reticle size changes as you magnify. While an SFP has a reticle that stays the same size as you magnify.

A reticle that changes with your magnification (FFP) will mean that your hash marks are always accurate. If you have a scope with 2 MOA between hash marks, it will always be 2 MOA. This is the same for MRAD or MOA as well.

If your reticle stays the same, it is a Second Focal Plane scope (SFP), your hash marks will only be calibrated for 1 magnification setting — normally the max magnification. 

FFP scopes are commonly preferred by long range target shooters. Whereas SFP is more commonly used by hunters. 

Personally, I only buy FFP because I want my reticle to work for me at any magnification. However, I never hunt anything at close range. If your standard deer shot is 50 or 100 yards, SFP might be better so you can see the reticle in more detail.

After that, it depends on what you need to do with your rifle. To learn more about FFP vs SFP, head over to our article where we deep dive into this topic. 

Weight: If you want to backpack your rifle, or carry it on a hunt, weight is a major concern. But if you’re in a stand or shooting barricade benchrest then the total weight really doesn’t matter much. 

Therefore, if you are looking to hunt, you may want to keep an eye out for the weight of the scope so as to lower the weight you’ll have to carry. Some are made to be lighter, but still pack a punch, but they usually cost a bit more. 

Field of View: Field of view is how far across you can see. If we say 5ft FOV at 24x that means you can see a 5-foot circle at 24x magnification. 

To me, FOV isn’t a big deal normally. While more is always nice, it’s also limited by the objective size and the magnification. While there are outliers, generally speaking, FoV will be about the same between two scopes with equal objectives and magnification.

Illumination: Most good scopes are going to come with illumination, but not all of them do. So why do you care?

Illumination means your reticle lights up. Some scopes sometime only has part of the reticle illuminated, some scopes all of it does, it depends on the exact scope.

This basically gives you guaranteed contrast when shooting. 

While this is a HUGE deal when hunting and you might have cloud cover or you maybe in the early/late hours of the day and you’re trying to shoot an animal that has similar colors to the natural environment that you’re in, an illuminated reticle is invaluable, it can also just be a handy thing to have in the range too.

More than once I’ve found myself trying to shoot a dark grey steel target against a dary grey hill and my black reticle gets totally lost in the shadow. Turn on the illumination and you’re in a whole new world.

However, keep in mind that scopes really aren’t designed to have their light turned on all the time. While your red dot might get 50,000 hours or more, a scope’s illumination might only last 100 to 1,000 hours per battery depending on the scope.

Turn it on when you need it, turn it off when you’re done. And keep a spare battery handy.

Total Elevation Adjustment: Total elevation adjustment is how far top to bottom your scope can adjust. So 110 MOA means that from the mechanical top to the mechanical bottom, the scope has 110 MOA of elevation change possible.

However, while you technically have 110 MOA keep in mind that is the total amount. Realistically speaking, only about half of that is usable with a normal mount. Since your zero is going to be roughly in the middle of that adjustment range, you practically only have about 55 MOA to use when dialing for a long distance shot.

Total elevation adjustments matter for really, really long shots — depending on your cartridge. 

If you’re shooting .22 LR and need 74 MOA to reach 400 yards, you’ll need a LOT of adjustment and likely a canted mount. 

But if you’re shooting 6.5 Creedmoor at 400 yards, you’ll only need about 7 MOA, or around 2 MRAD. But stretch that to 1,000 yards and you’re up to 30 MOA, or around 9 MRAD.

More adjustment range is better, but it might not matter depending on what kind of shooting you do. 

With a standard mount/rings you’ll need a scope with at least 65 MOA total adjustment to dial for 1,000-yard shots using 6.5 Creedmoor.

Generally speaking, the higher quality of scope you get the more adjustment it will have.

Many scopes will list their total elevation values in MRAD instead of MOA or will sometimes list both. If you’re not hip to the difference, take a look at our articles on MOA and MRAD !

Zero Stops: Zero stop, stops the turret of the scope when it gets to a preset point. 

Basically, you zero your scope, set your zero stop to stop at your zero, this can allow you to dial-up for long distance shots and then dial down right back to where your zero is and be confident you’re back to the right place. 

Zero stops are really nice for competition, but less required for hunting. They don’t hurt to have while on a hunt, but you don’t need them.

These are the basic specs to look at, once you have these worked out for what you need the rest are bonuses. 

Don’t forget to look over those spec sheets to see exactly what each scope offers!

You Bought A Scope, Now What?

Once you have that fancy new scope in hand, you’ll want to get it mounted and zeroed.

You can pay a gunsmith to do it, but this is one of those fundamental skills that you really should learn yourself and you should be setting up your rifle and scope to suit you. This task isn’t hard and doesn’t take long to do it properly.

You’ll need some scope rings, a scope base, a torque screwdriver, and a small level or a plumb bob. Trust me — it’s pretty easy once you’ve done it a few times.

This topic should be an entire article on its own, so I’ll let a true expert give you the details. Take a look at our How To Mount A Scope [2022]: 7 Steps To Installing A Riflescope The Right Way!

Once you get it all mounted up, you still won’t hit the broad side of a barn, probably. Your scope and your rifle aren’t going to be shooting at the same place. 

Your scope will give you a point of aim (POA) and your rifle/bullets will give you a point of impact (POI) but those won’t be the same place until you’ve zeroed the rifle.

Zeroing is the process of getting your scope and your rifle to agree. To match your POI with your POA at a set distance, normally 100 yards.

The process of zeroing your rifle is again pretty easy, but it helps if you study up first so you save ammo.

Start close, like 25 or 50 yards, and then back it up to your zero distance which is normally at the 100 yards mark. If you’re not sure on the finer points of adjusting your scope and zeroing your rifle, we got you covered there too.

Take it from the expert on How To Adjust A Rifle Scope [2022] and How To Sight In A Rifle Scope [2022]: Zeroing Made Easy!

Don’t Forget, You Get What You Pay For

That was a lot of information you just read but let me leave you with one last parting thought: quality comes at a cost.

I keep hammering on this but it really is true, mostly.

If you buy a $200 scope, you can’t be shocked when it breaks or when you can’t see at dusk.

Most people won’t be convinced of this fact until they actually use a high dollar scope or they try to use a low dollar scope in less than perfect conditions.

While there are a few optics out there that punch out of their weight class, there isn’t many that do.

I wish I could offer you an easy formula like “spend twice as much on your optic as you did on your rifle” but prices and quality have changed so much in the past 10 years that it doesn’t work like that anymore.

The best advice I can give is to spend as much as you can. I would rather have a $400 rifle and a $1,000 scope than the other way around.

Rifles you are likely to outgrow, but scopes last a long long time and retain a ton of value if you get one of good quality.

This article has a lot of information packed into a small space, so make sure you go back and reread what you need to. If you have questions, ask in the comments!

Mounting Your Scope

Below is a simple visual step by step guide on mounting your rifle scope correctly. If you’re scope was already mounted to your rifle when you bought it, take it off, follow these steps and setup your rifle and your scope to suit you.

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About David Lane

Learning how to shoot at a young age in the Boy Scouts, David now spends most of his time working on or with firearms. Be it shooting, upgrading, building, tinkering, or writing about them -- sharing his passion and knowledge of firearms with others is an everyday occurrence.

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