Is a low-power variable the best battle rifle scope?


October 19, 2008, 01:36 AM
Lemme preface this entire thing by saying that the M1A/M14 platform is a true rifleman's rifle and its iron sights are capable of permitting hits out past 500 yards if the user knows what he is doing. I intend to obtain that level of skill with irons through diligent practice, shooting lots and lots of ammo if necessary (Oh darn.) That being said, optics are a great help if not used as a crutch, so I'd like to slap a scope on my M1A in case I ever have to use it for any practical purpose, such as hunting/SHTF/zombies/etc.

I'm thinking of a low-powered variable scope in the 1-4 or 1.5-5 range with an illuminated reticle. To me, this seems like an ideal pairing with a .308 battle rifle like the M1A. At the minimum power setting, the illuminated reticle permits using the Bindon Aiming Concept and the scope acts like a reflex sight. The higher power settings make it easier to see the target, but don't zoom in to the point that you're trying to use the M14 like a long-range precision rifle, which it isn't. If you can hit with irons at 500 yards, maybe a 4x scope would let you make hits out to the point where .308 goes transonic (about 800 yards), which is all that you could practically want.

On the other hand, putting some pretty hefty glass on M14s seems to be the way most people go, so I wonder what I'm missing here. Any thoughts, advice, or correction you could offer would be welcome.

(P.S. I'm most interested in the Leupold VX-III with an illuminated duplex ( The Meopta K-Dot ( is also interesting, but I hear the dot is somewhat coarse.)

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October 19, 2008, 06:00 AM
I think your thought process is solid. May I add another though. How about a fixed powered scope. I had an ACOG on my DMR during my second tour in Iraq. I zeroed it in Kuwait before we went north and it kept its zero the whole time. That rifle got banged around A LOT and the scope never had any problems. They even make them with rudimentary iron sights on top I believe for CQB.

October 19, 2008, 09:18 AM
C-grunt, what ACOG did you have on your M14 DMR?

I am currently looking at the 3x30mm TA33R-9 with a 308 BDC for one of my M14s.

I'm also considering the Mark 4 2.5-8x36mm MR/T M2 with Illuminated Reticle from Leupold.

October 19, 2008, 03:17 PM
your missing nothing here, most peeps want hi power, just to more clearly see target at long distance, or to see the holes on the paper at 100 or evern 200 yds.
I have a remmy with a 6x24 power varmint scope. And I would not hesitate to crank up the power, and take a 1000 yd shot, on paper. but for regular hunting, i leave it on 6 x. Most hunters will tell you, a fixed 6x is really the bee's knees, who made up that saying anyway? So really, i like your idea of a lower power variable, up to no more than 6 , for just the reasons you say.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 19, 2008, 03:37 PM
I think the answer is yes; I completely concur.

I have a 1.5-6x42mm on my Robinson XCR for this reasoning. I also employ to good effect a Leupold 1-4x20mm on a hunting rifle. Also have a Trijicon 1.24-4x24mm and several Bushnell Banner 1.5-4x32s which are great for hunting rimfires.

October 19, 2008, 07:22 PM
Lemme preface this entire thing by saying that the M1A/M14 platform is a true rifleman's rifle and its iron sights are capable of permitting hits out past 500 yards if the user knows what he is doing.

It absolutely is able to make hits at 500 yards. But let me ask you something... would you comfortably make a 500 yard shot on a game animal with its iron sights? I wouldn't. I am not saying game shots is the barometer for the sights, but it does say something about capabilities and limitations that are inherent.

I intend to obtain that level of skill with irons through diligent practice, shooting lots and lots of ammo if necessary (Oh darn.)

Good move with any rifle.

If money isn't a consideration, either the Meopta K-Dot or the Leupold VX-III would be fine. One thing to be aware of with illuminated optic in this type, you will not have the battery life that you'd expect out of something like an Aimpoint (whose battery life is measured in years) or EOTech (which has about 1100 hours of battery life.)

The K-Dot has a battery life of about 80 hours. That's not that bad considering the the $2K S&B Short Dot has a battery life of about 100 hours.

I mention this because you have indicated that this may be a SHTF rifle. Stock up on batteries!

I put a Millet DMS-1 on my AR recently that I am happy with at this time. It meshes with ranges and needs of that rifle perfectly. I will see how well it holds up over use and time. So far, I am impressed with its construction as well. Not bad for a $200 optic. At some point, I may well upgrade the optic. I considered a Trijicon Accupoint, but I haven't committed to that either. And I still haven't ruled out going back to an Aimpoint ML3 with 3X flip magnifier.

For my 308, I put on a Leupold 3.5-10x40 Mark 4 w/ illuminated TMR. Again, it fits what I wanted that rifle to do. In my opinion, a 1-4 at 500 yards is stretching it.

And I stock up on batteries :)

If you are looking at 1-4's, you may want to look at:

Leupold Mark 4 1.5-5 w/ ill. CQB recticle.
Meopta K-Dot
Bushell XTR 1-4x22
Millet DMS-1 (budget consideration)
Trijion Accupoint w/ German #4 recticle

There are others like Horus, but I don't know much about them.

-- John

Coal Dragger
October 19, 2008, 07:41 PM
I like a reasonably sized variable with an illuminated reticle on a general purpose semi-auto, or other general purpose rifle.

If a 1-4X is what you are looking for you can't go wrong with any of the other suggestions here. One that was left out is the Nightforce 1-4X24 NXS, a bit expensive I will grant the last one I looked through was outstanding.

Also worth consideration is the 2.5-10X24 NXS that will have a MOA scale ranging reticle. I was surprised to find one of these able to hold 10X with little trouble in fading evening light while still giving a nice bright image. They also have a 2.5-10X32 but I have not seen one so I can make no comment on it.

As a side note if you do go with a big piece of glass, I love my 3.5-15X50 NXS. Love it.

October 19, 2008, 07:43 PM
+1 Coal Dragger.

I forgot to mention that one-- even though it is a little steep for a 1-4.

-- John

Coal Dragger
October 19, 2008, 08:02 PM
Not arguing that it isn't steep, but it is a really nice piece of glass. Although given the cost I would go with the 2.5-10X24 or the 2.5-10X32 if I decided on the NXS. The reticles available in the higher magnification models are more versatile, and the higher magnification has it's uses too.

October 19, 2008, 10:11 PM
any experience with the Elcan Spectre DR?

Coal Dragger
October 20, 2008, 01:17 AM
Not personally but the Elcan optics that I have seen when I was in the USMC were pretty nice. Mostly Army grunts were using them on SAW's and 240B's. Decent optics, but I think the ACOG is a better piece of glass. Of course I have not seen the Spectre DR which is a variable power so I can't comment.

From the looks of it the Spectre appears to be a bit on the bulky side, and doesn't look to have much mounting flexibility. You either put it on a Picatiny style mount or you don't mount it.

Rifleman 173
October 20, 2008, 02:19 AM
So... Why not have a COUPLE of decent scopes for your rifle? Say one in low power for general use and close range shooting and another for long distance shooting? Metal sights for very close range and as a back-up system to the optical scopes. Don't forget the night sights too.

October 20, 2008, 09:18 AM
personally, IF i wanted a battle rifle, i would want a holographic sight, not a scope. for me, since my battleground is my home (home defense) a short barreled shotgun makes more sence.

October 20, 2008, 09:55 AM
I had a Leupold 1.5-5 and it was the only Leupold scope I wasn't happy with. The optics were great as usual, but Leupold doesn't seem to have it together with the illuminated recticle.

When I looked through one at the store, I noticed a large black spot on the lens about the size of a bb. It looked like a flake of rubber or plastic sticking to the inside. This was the display model so I figured I'd be fine with a new one. Just to be sure, I took it out of the box and looked through it. Everything seemed fine.

I got it home and mounted it. Unfortunately, the recticle isn't bright enough to be seen unless it's pretty dark even on the brightest setting, hence, no bindon aiming.

Later, I noticed that same dark spot on my lens that I noticed on the one at the store. A day later it went away. The next time it came back I tapped the scope a few times and I noticed that it was a small flake of something that was loose in the scope that would occasionally stick to the inside of the lens sometimes right in the middle of the crosshairs. Sometimes, a tap would dislodge it sometimes you couldn't get it to go away and just had to deal with it. I also did some research and noticed that some reviewers (I believe had complained of the same thing. Either way I had a black bear hunt on the Kenai scheduled in a week, so I wasn't going to get a new scope yet.

On the hunt we were walking back from our hunting spot when we bumped two large grizzlies. Although they pretty much ran off, it was enough to get me to shoulder my rifle. After they were out of sight, I decided it would be a good time to turn on the illumination as we were in thick alders and it was getting dark. I turned the dial and nothing happened. I figured I wouldn't mess with it till I got back to camp, thinking I had bumped the switch and killed the battery which is easily done. Turns out that the scope has something like 14 brightness settings and turning the dial to a spot between the detents turns the light off. The detents are not easy to feel when you're under stress, so you have to watch the dial turn.

In a real SHTF situation or simply being in thick alders in grizz country at dusk, you don't want to worry about turning the light on because you don't have time. You also can't leave the light on when you're carrying it because sooner or later you will forget and will have a dead battery when you really need it.

So I returned the scope (thank you Cabelas!!) and got a Trijicon Acupoint 1.25-4. It uses fiber optics so you don't have to worry about batteries. Also a tritium insert lights the recticle in the darkness. Its plenty bright in the daylight for the BAC. The optics seem just as good as leupold. I highly recomend this scope. Only complaint I have is the windage and elevation dials turn a bit too easy and it's easy to overcorrect. Seriously, that's the only problem I can think of.

I can't emphasize this enough get the Trijicon instead!!

October 20, 2008, 10:14 AM

Sightron S1 3-9x40 Mil Dot scope mounted as low as possible on a DSA Stg58.


October 20, 2008, 10:55 AM
sam700, thanks for the feedback on the Leupold 1.5-5; I have been looking at Accupoints, too, and the fact that they don't use batteries is appealing. Of course, it figures that BAC will work with them, seeing as how Trijicon popularized that type of aiming.

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