Choosing Your .50 BMG Scope: A Complete Guide

Trijicon ACOG 6x48 | .50 BMG Scope

Our Top Picks

Best Overall

NightForce NXS 8-32×56

NIGHTFORCE NXS 8-32x56mm F2 30mm Tube Durable Precise Black Hunting...

It might hit your wallet a bit hard, but they’re worth it for the features and quality you’re getting.

  • Build Quality: 4.2/5
  • Optics: 4.6/5
  • Battery: 5/5

Best Budget

Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen I 6-24x50 SFP Riflescope - EBR-1 MRAD...

Reliable scope backed by Vortex’s lifetime “no questions asked” warranty.

  • Magnification: 9/10
  • Reticle: 8/10
  • Cost: 10/10


$603.04 Check price on Amazon

Best Illuminated

Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35×56

Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35x56mm M5C3 FFP Side Focus Riflescope, CCH Reticle

The combination of its illuminated reticle and top-quality lenses make the Mark 5HD one of our favorite .50 BMG scopes.

  • Magnification: 10/10
  • Reticle: 9/10
  • Cost: 8/10


$2,299.99 Check price on Amazon

The .50 BMG is a beast of a rifle that demands respect and the right scope to tame it. In this comprehensive guide, we’re going to walk you through the ins and outs of choosing your .50 BMG scope. We’ll explore the nuances of ballistic reticles, the importance of rugged construction, and the secrets of optimal magnification specifically for the .50 BMG. Whether you’re a seasoned sharpshooter or a beginner looking to make your mark, this guide is packed with everything you need to know to make an informed decision. So, buckle up and get ready to give your .50 BMG the companion it deserves!

How To Choose Your .50 BMG Scope

Features NightForce NXS 8-32×56 Vortex Viper PSTLeupold Mark 5HD Trijicon ACOG EOTech VuduCategory Average
Overall Score3.
Build Quality4.24.54.554.54.6


The .50 BMG is known for its long-range capabilities, so your scope’s magnification must match this prowess. Look for riflescopes with wide and high magnification ranges, but remember, more isn’t always better. Consider the distances you typically shoot at and choose a scope that offers clear, crisp images without overcompensation.

Lens Quality

Lens Quality

When selecting your .50 BMG scope, the quality of the lens is one of the most critical factors to consider. 

The type of glass used in the lens impacts the clarity and sharpness of the image. High-quality glass, such as extra-low dispersion (ED) or high-definition (HD) glass, minimizes chromatic aberration (color fringing) and ensures clearer, sharper images, which is crucial for long-range accuracy.

Look for scopes with multi-coated lenses as they offer reduced glare and reflection, increased light transmission, and better contrast. This means they perform well in various lighting conditions, from bright daylight to low-light scenarios.

Lenses should also be durable and treated for additional protection. Features like scratch-resistant coatings and reinforced construction help protect the lens from damage. Additionally, some scopes have hydrophobic coatings that repel water and fog, ensuring clear vision in adverse weather conditions.


Scope Reticles

The reticle, or crosshair, is essential for precise aiming, and its choice is often personal. For the .50 BMG, consider reticles that offer holdover points or range estimation features, as these are incredibly useful for long-range shooting.

It’s also important to consider the clarity and complexity of the reticle. A reticle that is too cluttered can be distracting and difficult to use, especially under stress or in rapidly changing conditions. On the other hand, a reticle that is too simplistic might not provide the level of detail required for precise long-range shooting. Find the balance between your shooting style and level of experience.

Related article: Best 1000-yard scope

Material Construction and Durability

Barrett M82 | .50 BMG scope

Durability is non-negotiable – your scope should be as robust as the rifle it sits on. The .50 BMG generates significant recoil, so your scope must be built to withstand it. Opt for scopes made from high-quality materials like aircraft-grade aluminum and ensure they are properly sealed and nitrogen or argon purged for fog and waterproofing. 

Adjustment Knobs

Precision adjustments are key for fine-tuning your shots at various distances. Look for scopes with reliable and tactile windage and elevation knobs. They should offer a consistent and repeatable adjustment, allowing you to dial in your shots accurately, especially under varying environmental conditions.

5 Best .50 BMG Scopes

Best Overall: NightForce NXS 8-32×56

FactorNightForce NXS 8-32×56Category Average
Build Quality4.2

The MOAR reticle in the NightForce NXS 8-32×56 is designed for precision and ease of use, especially in long-range shooting scenarios. It’s intuitive and less cluttered than many mil-dot reticles. It has a floating center crosshair for unobstructed target viewing, complemented by MOA-based hash marks on the vertical and horizontal crosshairs. These markings are spaced at 1 MOA intervals, with additional thicker bars at wider intervals for quick reference. This design allows for precise holdover, windage, and ranging calculations. 

What makes the NXS stand out as a .50 BMG scope is its ZeroStop mechanism. This feature allows the shooter to set a stop-point at their chosen zero. Once set, this feature enables the shooter to quickly dial back to the exact zero point without looking, even after making multiple elevation adjustments for different ranges. However, such features come with a high price.


  • ZeroStop feature
  • Wide magnification range
  • Adequate battery life (720 hours)
  • Long eye relief (3.9 in)
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Waterproof and fog proof


  • Heaviest pick (34 oz)
  • Expensive


Ergonomics Score – 1/5

Very intuitive!

Build Quality Score – 4.2/5

It is heavy, but that’s how you know it’s tough.

Optics Score – 4.6/5

You’ll get nothing but crisp and bright images.

Battery Score – 5/5

Battery life is enough for a few sessions at the range.

Value Score – 1/5

Very expensive but you get what you pay for.

Overall Score – 3.16/5

What Customers Say

So far so good. It’s my second Nightforce now and my other is 5 years going strong. They always see better than my eye naturally can. I’m red/green colored blind and can see colors so much easier through these. High price that I wish Nightforce would drop some, but always worth it.

Samuel Isaac Walley

Best Budget: Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50

The Viper PST (Precision Shooting Tactical) 6-24×50 includes options for either MOA or MRAD reticles with hash marks, which can be used for holdover and windage corrections.

This riflescope is constructed with aircraft-grade aluminum. It’s also O-ring sealed and argon purged for waterproofing and fog-proofing. You can also rely on this scope’s exposed tactical-style turrets for easy and quick adjustments. The knobs also offer a precise, repeatable, and audible click, so making accurate adjustments for windage and elevation is easy peasy.


  • Affordable
  • Long eye relief (4 inches)
  • Shockproof, waterproof, fog proof
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Lighter than most brands


  • Only 24x max magnification 
  • No illumination
  • Heavy (21.6 oz oz)


Ergonomics Score – 1.1/5

Making accurate adjustments for windage and elevation is easy peasy.

Build Quality Score – 4.5/5

Aircraft-grade aluminum and lifetime warranty? What a steal!

Optics Score – 4.6/5

Reliable lens as expected of Vortex.

Battery Score – 3/5

Value Score – 2/5

Fairly audible clicks.

Overall Score – 3.04/5

What Customers Say

Excellent clarity, even at higher magnification though the exit pupil is very small at maximum magnification. The lit reticle is very nice but I do not use it often as the 50mm aperture provides plenty of light and the reticle visibility is excellent.

Unsullied Spy

Best Illuminated: Leupold Mark 5HD 7-35×56

The combination of its illuminated reticle and top-quality lenses make the Mark 5HD one of our favorite .50 BMG scopes. Built with high-grade materials, it’s rugged and capable of withstanding the significant recoil of the .50 BMG. It’s also waterproof, fog-proof, and shockproof, so it can handle harsh field conditions.

Its turrets provide precise and repeatable adjustments, which is essential for dialing in shots at various distances, especially with our high-caliber rifle. However, the Mark 5HD comes with a high price tag, which might not be suitable for all budgets. 


  • Generous eye relief (3.8 inches)
  • Illuminated reticle
  • Waterproof, fog proof, shockproof
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Reliable adjustment turrets
  • Wide magnification range
  • Solid build


  • Heavy and bulky (33 oz)
  • Expensive


Ergonomics Score – 1/5

Perfect for close to long-range use.

Lens Quality Score – 4.5/5

No distortion on the edges so you know the lens is top-grade.

Reticle Score – 4.5/5

The illuminated reticle won our hearts.

Material Construction & Durability Score – 4.5/5

It’s a Leupold. Period.

Adjustment Knobs Score – 4.5/5

Repeatable adjustments for the win.

Overall Score – 4.6/5

What Customers Say

Mounted this scope on my 300 PRC rifle. Zeroed at 100 yards, been shooting 1,000 yards every week since. Sure makes shooting 1,000 yards easy.

John C

Trijicon ACOG 6×48

FactorTrijicon ACOGCategory Average
Lens Quality54.6
Material Construction & Durability54.6
Adjustment Knobs4.54.3

The Trijicon ACOG comes with a Chevron reticle that features a unique inverted “V” shape, or chevron, at the center, which serves as the primary aiming point. The tip of the chevron allows for precise aiming, as it provides a clear, fine point that can be used for exact target placement, particularly at longer distances.

For us, the ACOG’s fixed magnification is a strength in terms of simplicity and reliability. Since there are no moving parts associated with zoom, it’s more durable and maintains zero more effectively. On the other hand, the fixed magnification limits the ability to shoot at varying distances.

The ACOG also features a fiber optic system paired with its tritium-illuminated reticle. This provides natural light illumination during the day and low-light illumination at night without the need for batteries.

Quick Specs:

  • Weight: 36.9 oz
  • Overall length: 9 in
  • Eye relief: 2.7 in
  • Reticle: Chevron


  • Battery-free illumination
  • Automatic brightness adjustment
  • Compact
  • Rugged design
  • Shock-resistant, fogproof, and waterproof


  • Heavy and bulky
  • Expensive


Magnification Score – 3/5

Fixed magnification, so limited use, too.

Lens Quality Score – 5/5

Military-grade lens.

Reticle Score – 4.5/5

They had us at “battery-free.”

Material Construction & Durability Score – 5/5

It’s combat-proven.

Adjustment Knobs Score – 4.5/5

Minimal adjustments needed.

Overall Score – 4.4/5

What Customers Say

This is a beautiful optic, always illuminates at all times. I have put this on my SCAR 17s for longer range shooting. It’s an amazing piece, I highly recommend.


EOTech Vudu 8-32×50

FactorEOTech Vudu 8-32×50Category Average
Lens Quality4.54.6
Material Construction & Durability4.54.6
Adjustment Knobs44.3

The best thing about the EOTech Vudu is its XC high-density glass. This feature enhances resolution and color fidelity, so you have excellent image clarity across your entire field of view. With its aircraft-grade aluminum construction, the Vudu is designed to withstand heavy recoil and daily use.

Another feature worth noting is the side-focus parallax adjustment that’s a huge help in correcting parallax. Plus its reliable and tactile elevation and windage adjustment turrets guarantee precise shot placement every time.

Quick Specs:

  • Weight: 32.8 oz
  • Overall length: 15.4 in
  • Eye relief: 3.5 in
  • Reticle: HC2


  • Wide magnification range
  • Waterproof, shock-resistant, and fog proof
  • Well-calibrated turrets
  • Long eye relief
  • Costs less than our other picks


  • Heavy
  • No illumination


Magnification Score – 5/5

Suitable for close to long-range use.

Lens Quality Score – 4.5/5

High-density glass.

Reticle Score – 4/5

Perfect for benchrest shooting.

Material Construction & Durability Score – 4.5/5

Affordable but extremely durable.

Adjustment Knobs Score – 4/5

Tactile windage and elevation turrets.

Overall Score – 4.4/5

What Customers Say

Very clear, turrets are excellent, tracking and repeatability are excellent.



What is the .50 BMG?

.50 BMG scope
Barrett M107 (Image source: PEO Soldier)

The .50 Browning Machine Gun (.50 BMG) is a large caliber firearm cartridge developed for the Browning .50 caliber machine gun in the late 1910s. It’s widely known for its long-range, high-velocity, and high-power characteristics. The .50 BMG is used in a variety of platforms, including machine guns and sniper rifles, and is popular among civilian shooters for long-range target shooting and hunting.

What scope does the military use on .50 BMG rifles?

The specific scopes used by the military on .50 BMG rifles can vary depending on the branch and specific needs of the operation. Common choices include high-powered, durable, and reliable scopes. Brands like Leupold, NightForce, and Trijicon are often preferred. The scopes typically have high magnification, robust construction, and features like a BDC reticle or first focal plane reticle.

What is the range of a .50 BMG rifle?

M82A3 .50-caliber special application scoped rifle (Official United States Marine Corps. photo by Lance Cpl. Kevin M. Knallay)

According to 33rd Square, for trained operators, the maximum effective range of .50 BMG rifles extends out to a remarkable 1600-2000+ yards (approximately 1463-1829+ meters). In skilled hands, the .50 BMG has been accurate out past 2000 yards, and in F-Class competitions, marksmen have hit targets at 3600 yards (3292 meters).

Is a .50 BMG used for hunting?

While not common, the .50 BMG can be used for hunting, particularly for large or dangerous game where its long range and high power are advantageous. However, due to its size, recoil, and over-penetration risks, it’s not the most practical choice for most hunting situations. It’s more frequently used for long-range target shooting and in military or law enforcement scenarios.

Each of these topics provides a glimpse into the diverse uses and capabilities of the .50 BMG and the scopes that can enhance its performance. The choice of scope for a .50 BMG rifle depends on the intended use, whether for military operations, long-range shooting, or hunting, and requires careful consideration of factors like magnification, durability, and reticle type.

Summary: Choosing Your .50 BMG Scope

We understand the thrill of precision and the joy of hitting that long-range target. But without the right gear, specifically the perfect scope, it’s like trying to hit a bullseye in the dark.

Picking the perfect .50 BMG scope is all about compatibility and trust. Whether you’re eyeing the precision of a Leupold Mark 5HD, the versatility of a NightForce NXS, or the affordability of a Vortex Viper PST, remember that the right scope will unlock the true potential of your .50 BMG. So, take your time, choose wisely, and get ready to make every shot with your .50 BMG a moment to remember!

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Last update on 2024-07-15 / Images from Amazon Product API