In 2007, Hornady introduced a new rifle cartridge to the world – the 6.5mm Creedmoor.
Back then, no one could have predicted just how big of a hit this round would be in a decade’s time. After all, not only was it derived from an older and more popular round (the .308 Winchester), but the 6.5 Creedmoor was, ballistically, old news. As in, Civil War-era old. It mimics the 6.5x55mm Swedish Mauser, developed in 1894.
Add to that a rival round with a ten-year head start, the .260 Remington, and it’s no wonder the 6.5 Creedmoor struggled at first.
But, the .260 Rem had a problem – 6.5mm bullets were being made longer and more slender. Over time, it became obvious that the .260 Rem couldn’t keep up, whereas the 6.5 Creedmoor was designed with long and mid-range-capable bullets in mind. And, as precision rifles became more affordable (and widespread), so did the 6.5 Creedmoor.
Finding the Best Scope for 6.5 Creedmoor Rounds
Today, the 6.5 Creedmoor is a versatile and highly popular round. Its accuracy over long ranges and low recoil have made it “the King” of long-range target shooting. Recently, hunters have also caught on and begun using it.
However, that accuracy calls for a scope that’s just as accurate. To help you out, we put together a list of our favorite precision rifle scopes, ideal for 6.5 Creedmoor rounds. We will also cover the pros and cons of each so that you can decide which scope is ideal for you.
1. Leupold VX-1 3-9×40 Riflescope
When I hear “Leupold,” the first word that comes to mind is “quality.”
I’ve long associated Leupold’s name with the highest-grade rifle scopes and sights on the market. And, since we’re talking about a scope for a precision rifle, bullets with a high ballistic coefficient and a mid-to-long range round like the 6.5 Creedmoor, precision is what the doctor ordered. But, does the VX-1 deliver?
Right from the get-go, Leupold’s talents shine – literally. The VX-1 boasts outstanding contrast, incredible edge-to-edge clarity, and a supremely bright sight picture. That’s all courtesy of Leupold’s so-called Multi-Coat 4 lens system.
I’ve heard other customers compare the VX-1 to night vision goggles. While I wouldn’t go quite that far, I will say that the VX-1 is very handy for nighttime (and other low-light conditions).
The generous 3.7’ eye relief isn’t necessary because of the 6.5 Creedmoor’s low recoil. But, it will still bring a smile to most people’s faces, and it does allow for mildly faster targeting.
The VX-1 boasts a 3:1 zoom ratio, which is impressive in how versatile it is. That said, you may find this scope to be less useful at close range (which we will get to shortly).
Another area where Leupold has always excelled is in making their products rugged and reliable. Luckily, the VX-1 doesn’t disappoint here. Made out of a 6061-T6 aluminum alloy, it’s one of the most durable rifle scopes out there. It’s also, of course, nitrogen-sealed and fully waterproof and fogproof.
Unsurprisingly, the VX-1 doesn’t have many cons to talk about.
Its most notable con is that, at closer ranges, it can get a little blurry. That is, without Leupold’s adapter lens, which you can buy separately. That’s not a major problem, as 6.5 Creedmoor rounds are, of course, meant for mid-to-long ranges, but it’s still worth mentioning here.
While it will certainly prevent cuts to your eye from recoil and other accidents, the long eye relief can make it a little hard to find the right distance from your eye to the lens. In other words, it can take a bit of getting used to, but it shouldn’t be too much of a problem after a while.
However, the VX-1 is a little iffy in its ¼ MOA finger click adjustments. Often, they just don’t feel as crisp as you would expect from, say, a Nikon scope.
Despite a few small drawbacks, the Leupold VX-1 is a safe bet for 6.5 Creedmoor rounds. It’s robust, clear as day (even when it’s night out!), precise and versatile.
It’s not as effective at close ranges, but with an adapter lens, it can still be used for that. Its only notable flaw is its slightly less-than-perfect finger click adjustments. But, aside from that, if you’re looking for a 6.5 Creedmoor scope, you won’t go wrong with the Leupold VX-1.
2. Athlon Optics Argos BTR Riflescope 6-24x50mm
The biggest hurdle to entering PRS (Precision Rifle Series)-type sports and competitions, for most of us, is the cost of it all. Granted, it’s far less taxing on our wallets today than it was in the past. Nowadays, with Ruger’s low-cost precision rifles and affordable rounds like the 6.5 Creedmoor, it’s easier than ever before to get onto the long ranges.
That said, rifle scopes are still fairly pricey, and they’re just too important to skimp on. Thankfully, the Athlon Optics Argos BTR 6-24×50 scope delivers most of the features you would expect of premium-tier ones from Leupold and Vortex – but at a much lower price.
Front and center with the Argos BTR 6-24×50 scope are its bright and crisp optics, impressive contrast and surprisingly clear glass. The glass isn’t about to give a $1000 (or more) scope from Leupold or Vortex a run for its money, but it’s better than most scopes at this price range. The optics stay clear and crisp, even at high mag.
The turrets feel sturdy and click well, while the etched reticle shines (again, quite literally). Granted, it falls just short of being daylight visible, but it’s still bright enough for most low-light conditions.
The windage and elevation adjustments are precise, crisp and better than what you will find on many of Leupold’s budget scopes. The parallax adjustments are also dead-on.
However, the standout feature is the First Focal Plane (FFP) design. What FFP means, basically, is that the reticle is in the first focal plane. That makes it look as if the reticle grows on higher mag settings. Thus, it offers more detail than a reticle in the second focal plane, which wouldn’t grow or shrink.
A taste of the effort Athlon Optics is willing to put in is the argon purging done for all of the scopes in this line. Argon purging removes moisture, which helps keep the scope water- and fogproof.
As far as part quality goes, this scope impresses. It’s made out of a one-piece 6061-T6 aluminum alloy tube and is heat-treated for extra ruggedness. It may not be quite as robust as some far pricier scopes out there, but if you aren’t prone to abusing your rifle scopes, it should last you.
A minor con of the Argos BTR 6-24×50 scope is its so-so glass. But, at this price point, it’s doubtful you will find anything better.
However, a more serious problem is that, at higher mag settings, the sight picture can start to lose clarity. However, at the same time, with its FFP reticle, it isn’t necessary for you to use a very high magnification setting. Still, it’s worth mentioning here.
Athlon Optics has shaken up the market a little with its stunningly affordable and functional line of rifle scopes. Value-wise, it’s hard to question the Argos BTR 6-24×50 as the best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor rounds. Simply put, no other scope delivers as much for as little.
3. Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 6-24×50 SFP Scope (Best for Long Ranges)
Over the past ten or so years, Vortex Optics has become a household name for hunters, plinkers, and enthusiasts because of its premium-tier wear. But, strangely enough, it’s never made much of an inroad into the budget scopes market. Arguably, Vortex hasn’t really tried very hard either.
With the Viper HS-T line, however, we may finally have a budget scope that’s worth caring about. The HS-T 6-24×50 has the most value out of all of Vortex’s mid-range scopes.
But, how does it perform next to the other two “value” scopes we looked at? Is it just a throwaway from Vortex to try and bait us into buying their higher-end hardware or is it a real effort on their part?
Out of the box, it’s clear the Viper HS-T isn’t just your average budget rifle scope. For one, Vortex didn’t skimp on any of the little details. The turrets are clicky, crisp and feel very responsive and robust. A very nice touch is that the turrets can be shimmed, so it’s easier and quicker to zero in (if you were curious why the Viper HS-T comes with a bag of shims, that’s why). Once you’ve zeroed in, you can shim the turret so that it stops where your zero is at (or at least near it).
The turrets are also exposed, which is sure to please a lot of prospective buyers.
Little details like that all add up to make the Viper HS-T one of the most versatile and feature-rich rifle scopes under $1000.
The 4’’ of eye relief should be ideal for most people, but we will touch on that more in a bit. With the Viper HS-T, you get 65’ (minutes) of adjustment for both the windage and elevation and a parallax setting of “50 yards to infinity” (as Vortex puts it).
It stays fairly clear from 6 all the way up to the low 20s in mag power, but it does get a little fuzzy around the edges at 24. Not too bad of a performance given this scope’s price tag. The reticle is in the second focal plane (SFP), which a few of you may actually prefer to FFP. It’s really just a matter of personal preference at the end of the day.
Where the Viper HS-T truly excels is in the sight picture clarity, as well as in the brightness and the crispness of the glass. They’re all light years ahead of what most other scopes in this price range have to offer.
The few cons we could find are all minor.
The crosshairs can be a little tough to see at times and could stand to be a bit thicker. Adjusting the mag power requires a bit more force than it ideally should, but that’s a small drawback. Thankfully, the other turrets are almost perfectly balanced.
The Viper HS-T’s most notable flaw is that the sight picture can get a little fuzzy at 24 mag. Also, finding the ideal eye relief may be a process of trial and error at first.
Overall, while we wouldn’t recommend the Vortex Optics Viper HS-T for hunting, it will suffice for the ranges and plinking.
Price-wise, it’s only a little bit pricier than the Athlon Optics Argos BTR series. You can decide which you prefer since the two are very close in terms of pros and cons. Would also be a good fit for Scar 17.
It’s hard to pick which is the best scope for 6.5 Creedmoor rounds out of these three. They’re very evenly matched and even come with similar price tags.
The Leupold VX-1 is the most affordable, and it boasts outstanding build quality (for the most part) and possibly the clearest and brightest optics overall. Its only weaknesses are that, at closer ranges, it isn’t as usable, while the turrets feel a little too flimsy for a Leupold scope.
The Athlon Optics Argos BTR series of scopes has it all: great optics, responsive turrets, precise parallax settings, ruggedness, and durability, as well as a generous price tag to boot. While its clarity at higher mags is suspect, using a high mag setting probably won’t be necessary because of the FFP reticle.
Lastly, despite being the priciest, the Vortex Optics Viper HS-T doesn’t offer as much as the other two. It offers a lot of features you can expect from a $1000-and-up scope, but so do its competitors.
With all of that in mind, your mileage may vary. For us, the Athlon Optics Argos BTR seems to bring the most to the table at a more-than-fair price. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will have an easier time finding the right 6.5 Creedmoor scope for you.
You can also check our guides on 300 blackout scopes.