Scope Recommendations for a .223 Bolt Action


September 11, 2006, 01:22 AM
Hi all,

I just picked up my first rifle and I need some information/recommendations for a scope to put on it. It's a Savage 12FVSS chambered in .223. I really plan on only using it for target shooting 100-200 yards. I've only begun the search for a scope and so far it seems there's alot of perks and gadgets that I don't need. I really just need something like a simple sturdy 3x9x40 to start me off with. I'll be shooting in broad daylight or in a lighted indoor range so I won't be looking for high quality lenses, I'll probably be shooting from the bench so I don't expect to use parallax adjustments and etc. I really need help cutting through all the fat, but not far enough that I'd have to re-zero every time. Other than that, my requirements aren't stringent. I will more than likely upgrade the scope later on and retire the old one to a rimfire rifle (which I will purchase later on..). Also, what are the consequences of buying used scopes? I realize that rifles wear out, but do scopes suffer the same situation?

On a second note, are there serious differences between scope rings and scope mounts? I bought a Leopold STD scope mount just because it was convenient during the time of purchase, but haven't bought scope rings yet.
Thx in advance.

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September 11, 2006, 01:28 AM
Not exactly what you're asking for, but related:

Objective lens: front end of scope, i.e., what you "point" at the target.

Objective diameter: the size in mm of the front glass.

Exit pupil: circular beam of light that comes out of the eyepiece of the optics. If you hold your optic at arms length and look at the eyepiece, you will see a bright circle of light on the eyepiece. The diameter of that circle of light is the exit pupil.

The human pupil can dilate to about 7mm -- so any exit pupil larger than 7mm is wasted. An exit pupil smaller than 7mm, on the other hand, will not be good for dim light conditions.

To calculate exit pupil, divide the diameter of the objective lens (front glass) by the magnification. For instance, a 10 X 50-mm scope setting has a 5 mm exit pupil.
(50 mm 10 = 5mm).

If you had a 20 power scope, and a 40mm objective lens, the exit pupil would be 2mm in diameter. If the objective lens were 80mm, the exit pupil would be 4mm. And so on.

A small exit pupil means the scope (or other optical instrument) will be less than effective in dim light -- when the pupils of your eyes are dilated.

Other factors -- such as glass quality, coatings, and so on -- can affect light transmission. But all other things being equal, an exit pupil of 7mm gives all you the light you can handle. If that's what you want. But most people don't do any target shooting at twilight.

For most purposes, a smaller magnification is the solution to the problem. For example, if you have a 3X9X32 scope, you can use the 9X setting during the day, and turn it down to 4X or so for twilight shooting.

Optics and brightness are secondary in importance in a scope. Normally, you use binoculars or a spotting scope to FIND your target, . In those instruments, clarity, brightness, and so on are paramount. You use them sometimes for hours at a time -- and tiny flaws can create headaches.

The riflescope comes into play only when you find game, so ultra high quality optics aren't that critical.

What IS critical in a riflescope is reliability. It has to stand up to rough handling and not lose its zero.

Most target shooting is done during the brighter portions of the day and the scopes ability to gather light isn't as critical. Under hunting conditions, at first or last light, is when this becomes critical (or at night if you are a tactical type of shooter). Most hunters prefer a variable and this is one of the good reasons for it, the increased field of view another.

If you have a 4-16X56 scope you can use the 16X during the bright day and back it down to 8 during twilight and still maintain a 8mm exit pupil, ensuring that your eye has as much of the light that comes out of the scope that it can use. Then you can back it down to 4X to increase the field of view when you are moving and more likely to get a quick shot and have to find your target very quickly.

Note that a larger exit pupil will allow coarser eye to optics alignment. This is not of much importance when plinking or target shooting, but if you are trying to acquire a sight picture in a hurry on that once-in-a-lifetime critter under less than optimum conditions, having a larger exit pupil can more than make up for the added expense and weight of a larger objective.

For those who would argue the parallax issue, if the critter is so close that you are taking a snap shot, parallax will be negligible. In fact, for large critters parallax is negligible at all ethical hunting ranges. See

BTW, buy the best scope you can possibly afford. I wouldn't "trade up, later." I'd go ahead and take the plunge on the better scope, now.

September 11, 2006, 04:06 AM
A 3-9x isn't much of a target scope, if that's your desired purpose.

I'd go for a good varmint/target scope in the 24-32x range and try to get as good glass as you can possibly afford, if making tiny groups is your goal. The Bushnell Elite series are a good scope for the $$, so are the Nikon and the Super Sniper scopes. Used, they're even a better deal.

September 11, 2006, 09:26 AM
Low end suggestions for a 223

Weaver V16 is good value and totally adequate for punching paper out 200 and even 300 yards. I would not say the V24 because it seems to be milky when the power is above 20X.

Moving up price wise with an increase in quality
Sightron has some nice scopes in 4-16/6-24, and the same can be said for Bushnell 4200 series scopes.

Moving up in price and not necessarily in quality
The Leupold VX3 scopes 6.5-20 would be great!

Get good mounts, Warne makes a great mount with in mounts to match!

Have fun!

September 11, 2006, 09:33 AM
I put an NCstar 6-24x50mm that I got from gunbroker for $99. Lighted reticle, pretty bright optics for price, but not as good as my leupold.


September 11, 2006, 09:43 AM
We put a Leupold vxII 3-9x40 on my wifes Ruger .223. She loves it, there isnt a whistle pig inside of 200 yards she can't blast.

If you watch eBay or used in your local gun store you can find them good deals. We paid <$200.00 for hers.

September 11, 2006, 10:12 AM
I really haven't decided either in 30 years! On a Rem. Brown Precision Urban sniper I had a 6x40 S&B, a 8x56 Kahleswith German #2 that I actually won a regional practical rifle throphy in 1984 with, a 12x Leupold Target which was great for Varmints and pin point in good light, and finally a 3-10 Varix3 Illumnated Leupold which I was preparing for a Randy Cain practical rifle class with. Seems the later was more in line with what a .223 "Urban Sniper" can do. I save the 6-24 for 22-250 ect. for truly long range tiny targets!;)

September 11, 2006, 10:45 AM

I bought a Mueller 8.5-2544AO after reading good reviews at SavageShooters. Wasn't disappointed at all. Glass is much clearer than the Simmons AETEC I used before. Only problem I have with it so far is that the target turret has the tendency of coming loose.

September 11, 2006, 11:07 AM
I'll probably be shooting from the bench so I don't expect to use parallax adjustments

For target work regardless of how you shoot I would suggest a scope that can be adjusted to eliminate parallax. Having a scope that is parallax free at any given range eliminates one of the variables that can affect accuracy.

On my own Savage .223 12BVSS I have a Weaver V16 at the moment which is actually borrowed from my Shilen barreled Ruger 10/22. It is a decent scope and I fired my best targets with the Savage yesterday.

September 11, 2006, 02:44 PM
This may be pure heresy, but I use a BSA Platinum 6-24X target scope on my Savage .223 Urban Tactical model, and it's just great. The glass is clear and bright, and the clicks do just what they're supposed to. The scope was on the gun when I got it, and at first I figured I'd soon replace it with something more expensive, but 500 rounds of consistent performance have convinced me otherwise. At this level of recoil and use -- purely range shooting out to 200 yards, no slamming around -- the BSA seems very capable indeed.

Whatever brand you go for, I think you'll be better off with a target scope than a hunting-style model. For one thing, having high magnification in your scope means you don't also need a spotting scope to see your hits.

September 11, 2006, 06:33 PM
Pardon my ignorance on the subject, but does clarity really affect your aim? I can understand if the image was blurred, but when I looked through a $400 scope and a $150 scope the only difference I could see was a bit more brightness in the $400 scope. The difference was not significant however, I can understand in low light conditions or at a huge distance how the more expensive scope may prevail, but for shooting in broad daylight to 200 yards it seems unnecessary. Granted I can afford the more expensive scope, I am just trying to gather information as to what differs between the two to justify the purchase. For example, I was at a store the other day trying to figure the difference between a Bushnell Banner and a Bushnell 3200 Elite. At the same price, the Banner had higher magnification and a larger field of view than the Bushnell 3200 Elite, the rep at the counter really couldn't tell me much more than that the Bushnell 3200 Elite was a "better" series. I'm not trying to be cheap or anything, but it just made me feel uneasy to take a leap of faith and buy a scope costing $200 more because it was $200 better :D . Call me nitpicky but I just wanted to be an educated consumer for once...:)

September 11, 2006, 11:35 PM
An Elite 3200 is "better" than a Banner because, while its lenses are probably more finely finished, its mounting/adjusting hardware is almost certainly more carefully calibrated and robustly made. Lens technology has advanced to the point where the differences between $50 and $500 worth of glass can be quite subtle, but a mechanism that'll work perfectly 5000 times is still more expensive to manufacture and assemble than one that'll start failing at 500 (or 50). That's how the cost/quality business works in scopes.

September 11, 2006, 11:48 PM
Stop and think how precise the machining has to be in order for an adjustment on a scope to move the impact of a bullet 1/4" at 100 yards, consistently, repeatably and across the full range of magnification the scope offers. And then stop and think about how precise the glass must be ground for the lenses to be clear and in focus in the entire field of view. And how important it is for the lens coating to be properly selected and evenly applied. And then stop and think about how precise the tube has to be made, and how precise the lenses have to be mounted in the tube and how important it is for the whole affair to be gas tight to prevent fogging. And then stop wondering what the difference is between a $100 scope, a $300 scope and a $1,000 scope.

September 12, 2006, 12:28 AM
I have a Burris fixed 10x on my 223 ground hog shooter. works great at all practical ranges. plus you can get more glass for the money since fixed power scopes don't have as many internal workings. If looking at the target is an issue buy a good spotting scope you'll like it better than trying to use your scope

September 12, 2006, 01:15 PM
Ok, thx for the advice. It does make sense that there's differences in the mechanics as well as the glass. I think I've narrowed down the view a little here. However, I've read some articles that recommend getting as high magnification as you can for target shooting. With that in mind should I get a good 3x9x40 or for the same price get a 4x12x42/6x18x50/etc. being that they're both the same price? So generally, do I buy the highest magnification (with mediocre quality) I can afford or the best quality scope I can afford. I won't be picking at the cheapest stuff in plastic cases, so I assume they're reputable scopes.

September 12, 2006, 09:44 PM
Think the Bushnell 3200 10x is the finest scope value for the $$. You can mail order one from places like Midway or Natchez ect., ALOT cheaper!

September 12, 2006, 10:52 PM
I am loving the Super Sniper 10x rear focus so far , I am realtively new to shoot with a scope , and after trying a few diff ones , this works the best for me so far. I plan on gettnig a 20x for whichever bolt gun I decide to go with. the SS 10x is mounted on my AR.

September 12, 2006, 11:14 PM
After I spent enough money repeatedly on lower quality scopes I came to realize that having good glass is like have a good rifle.

And once you get good and spoiled by a nice high quality scope you will be glad you spent the money.

I used to use a 1 - 4 X 20 on my .223 The reason for that is that the rifle just won't shoot super long distances. I never shot much over 200 yards but at that distance the 4 power was just fine.

However, if I were in your shoes I would go for one of the good 3-9 X 40's that you can get from Leupold or Bushnell in the $250 to $300 range. And I would not hesitate to look on ebay as there are some good deals on used Leupolds there fairly frequently. They are guaranteed for life regardless of who owns it so if something actually goes wrong you can ship it to the factory for repair.

The 3-9 magnification is a great hunting scope and its as much as you will need for a .223. The problem with the higher magnification scopes is that it is difficult to hold one still enough to use the 24 power unless you are on a bench. If you are shooting somthing that is running you will not use the higher power anyway because tracking something at 24 power is nearly impossible.

I have a couple of Leupolds and a Bausch and Lomb (which is now Bushnell). Two of mine are 3-9X40's and one of the Leupolds is a 1-4X20.

The only other thing I would toss in is to suggest that you get good steel rings and bases. They will cost you around $80 new but they absolutely affect the stability of the zero on the scope!

September 13, 2006, 12:57 AM
I have a Savage Model 12FV in .223 myself. I would strongly suggest that you get the best glass you can afford up front. I have multiple scopes in the closet from where I upgraded. Get something that you will be happy with from now on.

Another thing I would suggest is to get an AO (Adjustable Objective) scope. I didn't do that at first and I regretted it very quickly. Invariably, you will eventually find yourself wanting/needing to shoot at a different distance than the 100yds the non AO scope is calibrated for. When this happens, and it will, you will lose the sharp focus you once had and will begin looking for a better scope and wishing you had bought one with that feature the first time.

Specifically, I would look at 3-9X40 AO or 4-12X40 AO scopes to mount on that rifle. Bushnell is what I have on mine and I am very happy with it. It seems to be a good product and a good price point.

Good Luck and Happy Shooting!

September 13, 2006, 01:34 PM
Hi all,

I stopped by Walmart on the way home yesterday and just bought the largest scope they had with AO, a Bushnell Banner 6x18x50. Apparently Walmart doesn't have much pickings in the way of scopes, go figure :o . It was sort of an impulse buy, I was there to get a gun case. It kind of reminds me how I went to a store to look for ammo and bought a rifle...Anyways, was this a bad decision? I have no clue about the Banner series and there's no negative reviews that I can find online.

September 13, 2006, 04:13 PM
since it is light recoiling, and you are going to target shoot. then get the highest power you can stand. i use a tasco 6.24.42 varmint. it is about 100 bucks, and with it i can read the fine print on my targets at 100 yds.
there are better target scopes out there, it depends on what you want to spend on it. proly the best target scopes out there right now, are the shepperd scopes, and the best is the new David Tubb scope. But they are monster bucks.

September 13, 2006, 07:18 PM
I've enjoyed the World Class Tasco 3X9 with mil-dot reticle. It"s mounted on a Howa 1500.

frank c
September 13, 2006, 08:07 PM
B&L elite 3200 or 4200,weaver grandslam,burris fullfield,or signature series and mueller optics.:) I have all of the above scopes on many rifles,shotguns,and muzzleloaders,all have performed flawless.:D

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