Best Scopes for .338 Lapua (2021 Review)

.338 Lapua Magnum is a dominant round in the long-range shooting world.

It was used by military snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan, which has led to it gaining popularity among civilians as well. Civilians favor the round for long-range target shooting and big game hunting.

Our Best Scopes for .338 Lapua

  1. Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP Riflescope (Our Top Pick)
  2. Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Riflescope (Best Budget)
  3. Steiner T5Xi 5-25X56 Riflescope (Best High End)
  4. Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm FFP Riflescope
  5. NightForce SHV 5-20×56 Riflescope

And when we say “long-range,” we do mean long. .338 Lapua is considered to have an effective range of about 1,500 meters.

Of course, a long-range rifle needs a long-range scope. That’s why we’ve rounded up our picks for the best rifle scopes for .338 Lapua.

We’ll get to our recommendations in a moment, but first, let’s go over some background info. If you’re impatient, you can go ahead and take a look at our list below.

What Are Scopes for .338 Lapua?

There are a few features to look for to make sure you’re choosing the right scope for your .388 Lapua rifle. These will make sure that your scope is not just a good quality scope, but also suited for the ins and outs of .338 in particular.

Powerful Magnification

A decent shooter can generally hit a human-sized target with a 3-9x scope at 1000 yards.

With that said, having higher magnification definitely makes long-range shots easier. .338 Lapua can also handle well beyond 1000 yards, so we recommend something more powerful. After all, maximum magnification is the upper limit, but you don’t have to use it for every, or even most, shots.

In our opinion, the upper end of your scope’s magnification range should be at least about 10x. The scopes on our list all have a maximum magnification of at least 15x.

The minimum magnification is less important, but you should probably shoot for one of no more than 5x.

Long Eye Relief

As a magnum round, .338 has some heavy recoil.

To avoid your scope hitting in you in the eye or browbone after you take a shot, you’ll want a scope with an eye relief of at least about 3.5 inches.

What does that mean? Well, eye relief is the distance from your scope to your eye at which you get a full sight picture. Long eye relief means there’s more distance between the scope and your eye, so there’s more room for the scope to kick without hitting you in the face.

Long eye relief also allows you to mount the scope further forward on your rifle and makes it more comfortable to shoot in general.


You also want a scope with a reticle that helps you get the highest possible accuracy.

Look for something with an SCR reticle (special competition reticle), a BDC (bullet drop compensation) reticle, or a mil-dot reticle. These reticles have hash marks or dots along the crosshairs in various configurations. These marks provide you with information, in either MOA or MIL, that allows you to determine holdover and windspeed compensation.

What Are The Different Types of Scopes for .338 Lapua?

.338 Lapua is primarily a sniper round. Among civilians, however, .338 Lapua is typically used for target shooting or hunting. Scopes are often optimized for one or the other of these purposes.

The main difference between hunting and target scopes is the magnification level. Targets tend to be smaller than the sort of game you’d use .338 Lapua to hunt, so target scopes will often have a higher level of magnification.

Hunting scopes also tend to have second focal plane reticles, while target scopes may have first or second focal plane reticles. (We’ll talk about the difference in the next section.)

How Do Scopes for .338 Lapua Work?

Most scopes work more or less the same.

Light enters the scope through the objective lens, which is the lens at the front of the scope. The objective lens also focuses the light down for travel through the other lenses and may filter out certain wavelengths of light for a better sight picture without glare.

Next, the light travels through the erector system, which contains the reticle and magnification lens.

The position of the magnification lens is what determines the level of magnification of the scope. As the shooter increases the level of magnification, the magnification lens moves forward. As the shooter decreases magnification, the lens moves backward.

The reticle may be in front of the magnification lens or behind it.

If it’s in front, it’s called a first or front focal plane (FFP) reticle. This position causes the target and reticle to stay the same size relative to one another as magnification is changed. In other words, as you increase magnification, both the reticle and your target appear larger. As you decrease magnification, both appear smaller.

If the reticle is behind the magnification lens, it’s a second focal plane (SFP) or rear focal plane (RFP) reticle. This position means that the reticle appears to stay the same as magnification is changed, even as the apparent size of the objects in your sight picture changes.

What Do You Look For In The Best Scopes for .338 Lapua?

We covered most of the important things above, but there are also a couple of other features that you should look for in a high-quality scope:

Image Clarity

Your scope also needs to provide a crisp, clear sight picture.

Lenses shouldn’t have any kind of warp and should have a scratch-resistant coating. They should transmit plenty of light, but should also have a glare-resistant coating. Despite the coatings, they shouldn’t have any obvious tint to them.


A scope is an investment, so you want it to last as long as possible. At the same time, scopes tend to take a beating just from absorbing energy every time a round is fired. This is especially the case for .338 Lapua scopes since the round has so much recoil.

A scope for .338 Lapua absolutely must be shockproof to help it handle that kind of energy. It should also be waterproof and fog proof to stand up to wet weather conditions.

Look for scopes with single piece scope bodies made from durable materials like aircraft-grade aluminum. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for other durability features like nitrogen or argon purging, waterproof o-ring seals, scratch-proof lens coating, and hard-coat anodized finishes.

Easy Adjustment

For the most precise long-distance shooting, you’ll need to make parallax, windage, and elevation adjustments.

You’ll want adjustment turrets that are easy to manipulate but won’t move if you accidentally bump them. They should also be nice and tactile so it’s obvious when a change in settings has been made.

Best Scopes for .338 Lapua Reviewed

Now that the background’s out of the way, let’s take a look at our scope recommendations.

Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP Riflescope (Our Top Pick)

Our top pick is the Vortex Optics Viper PST FFP scope.

It’s a first focal plane scope with Vortex’s EBR-2C MOA reticle. This reticle hash marks to allow for windage and elevation correction.

The scope was tactical-style turrets for windage and elevation adjustment, as well as a side focus knob for parallax adjustment.

The lenses are fully multicoated to increase light transmission while also removing glare. There’s also an ArmorTek lens coating on the external glass surfaces to keep them safe from damage.


  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Fast focus eyepiece
  • Matte black hard-coat anodized finish


  • We wish the eye relief was a touch longer.

Buy The Vortex Optics Viper PST Gen II 5-25×50 FFP Riflescope Here

Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Riflescope (Best Budget)

You can still get a good scope even with a limited price range.

The Leupold VX-5HD is lower magnification than the other scopes on this list, which helps keep the price — and weight — down. At the same time, the 15x maximum magnification is still more than satisfactory for most civilian shooters in most situations.

The scope also has plenty of premium features, despite its lower cost. It has generous eye relief and a fast focus eyepiece. The Twilight Max HD Light Management system allows for excellent performance in low light conditions.


  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Rear focal plane
  • Five reticle options


  • The illuminated reticle button can be a bit temperamental with the illuminated FireDot Duplex Reticle
  • Relatively low magnification

Buy The Leupold VX-5HD 3-15x44mm Riflescope Here

Steiner T5Xi 5-25X56 Riflescope (Best High End)

At the opposite price point is the Steiner T5Xi.

This scope is designed for the utmost precision. It’s a front focal plane scope with an illuminated special competition reticle. The reticle’s hash marks indicate an interval of just 1/10 mil.

The turrets are large and have a nice click to them. They may take a little getting used to, though.

All in all, this scope is great for hunting, target, and tactical use.


  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Side focus knob for parallax adjustment
  • Long eye relief


  • High cost

Buy The Steiner T5Xi 5-25X56 Riflescope Here

Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm FFP Riflescope

Next up is the Primary Arms PLx.

Primary Arms is known for its high-quality optics, and this scope is no exception.

The Primary Arms PLx has the highest maximum magnification of any scope on our list at 30x. This is great for precision shooting but does come at the cost of higher weight.

In addition, this scope has a first focal plane DEKA MIL illuminated reticle. It’s also night vision compatible.


  • High magnification strength
  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Matte black hard-coat anodized finish


  • Several ounces heavier than our other recommendations

Buy The Primary Arms PLx 6-30x56mm FFP Riflescope Here

NightForce SHV 5-20×56 Riflescope

Our last pick is the NightForce SHV.

It’s a second focal plane riflescope with NightForce’s own MOAR reticle. The reticle has .125 MOA hash marks for easy windage and elevation correction.

The tactile MOA turrets and side parallax adjustment allow for even more accuracy corrections. The turrets you NightForce’s ZeroStop technology to make it easy to set your zero and return to it when you have to make adjustments.


  • Waterproof, fog proof, and shockproof
  • Excellent light transmission
  • Highly durable construction


  • Reticle can be difficult to use at higher magnifications

Buy The NightForce SHV 5-20×56 Riflescope Here

Final Thoughts On Scopes for .338 Lapua

That wraps things up on the best scopes for .338 Lapua Magnum.

If we’ve done our job right, you now shouldn’t have any trouble choosing a .338 Lapua scope for yourself.

Regardless of which scope your choose, all of our recommendations are great choices that will serve you well. Just go with the one that best fits your price range and needs.

Then go out there and get shooting!