I use a 5.5-22x56. I shoot to 1000yds and hunt out to 500 or so. 22x works well for me, so I have not gone higher mag. I have read reports of mirage issues in higher mag, but have no practical experience (other than on the "wrong" day it can be plenty bad even at 22x).
whoops! i will edit that.
Also, i have a stop sign exactly 997 yards from my porch, so i can kinda test reticle thickness and magnification range and see for my eyes what i would need to make precision shots at that distance.
I'm 18 "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." ~George Washington
"The only advantage a light rifle has is weight, all other advantages go to the heavy rifle."
~ JE Custom
What's your max magnification you use for long range hunting? Distances from 600-1000 yard shots. Is a 20x power plus scope necessary?
This can be a tough question to answer. 20X should be sufficient for shooting 10" targets or larger up to the 1000 yard mark. Each person may prefer different tastes for power settings at various ranges and a 20X should serve you and most just fine. For me, I generally will shoot both for practice and hunting on the highest power the scope will offer with a gun that is supported both forearm and rear stock and under situations that do not require a quick shot. If my variable scope is 42X I will shoot 42X if it’s practical, if its 22X I will shoot 22X if its practical regardless of the range. Why I shoot the highest power if practical? Movement. I prefer to see how much I am moving in comparison to the size of the target. For example. I use ½" dots to shoot at 100 yards while developing loads. Shouldn’t one of the main purposes of load development be determining how precise and accurate the load/gun/shooter combination is? That’s why were in this game. Maximum scope power settings gives me a better indication of how much I am moving inside the ½" dot. If my movement is taking up 1/8th of the circle or more, I tell myself to calm down or make adjustments until I can squeeze a shot well inside this parameter. A 20X or 42X are way more than sufficient magnification for this example but I hope you get my point. I do the same while big game hunting if practical with a best guess of ¼ MOA movement or less or I readjust and/or tell myself to calm down.
Scope settings or powers too low at longer ranges may not give you the "tell" on how much movement you have on the target while squeezing the trigger or timing your shot for the perfect break.
I would recommend looking at purchasing the highest power scope you can afford, you can always drop back the power if needed, but there are other considerations you should consider when shopping. But to a long answer, "I posted my thoughts just because you asked what’s your maximum magnification," a 20X minimum should serve you just fine. Good luck and good shopping.
Big game hunting, I rearly use more then 11-12x and its PLENTY even for 1000 yard hunting on big game if your using a quality scope. Most of my shot opportunities are first and last 30 minutes of light so the really high power scopes are not as useful to me or needed in my opinion.
Varmint hunting, yes, higher power scopes in the 20x range are great and often needed.
I have taken three rockchucks at ranges over 2000 yards including one at 2370 yards which was the 2007 Varmint Hunters Longest Shot of the Year shot. All of these were made with a NF NXS 3.5-15x 50mm scope set on 15x. Was it PLENTY of mag power... It worked. At these ranges, on this size target is was marginal for sure but for big game at 1000 yards, it would have been MORE then enough.
I think we often get to caught up on high mag scopes and often if optical quality is good, you do not need as much mag power.
Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.