Best 3-9x40 hunting scope for $300ish?


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Red State
January 4, 2010, 03:37 PM
Just like the title says, I am looking for a good scope for my bolt action 30.06. I use this gun for everything - deer, elk, pigs - and at all ranges.

I don't need target turrets or AO, but I do want quality and I do want some kind of ranging/holdover reticle.

So for this price range, what would you get? Here is what I am looking at:

-Nikon Team Primos 3-9x40 with BDC reticle $250 at Midway
-Sightron SII 3-9x42 with hunter holdover $262 at Midway
-Bushnell Elite 3200 3-9x40 with DOA reticle $300 at Midway
-Nikon Monarch 2-8x36 with BDC reticle $300 at Midway
-Vortex Viper 3-9x40 with dead-hold BDC $300 at Midway
-Sightron SII Big Sky 3-9x42 with hunter holdover $330 at Midway (clearance price for factory sample)

Thank you in advance for your thoughts. I know that I left some good brands off the list (Burris, Leupold), but right now I am only interested in the scopes listed above.

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ArmedBear
January 4, 2010, 03:57 PM
I have a .30-06 with a holdover reticle (Burris Fullfield II). It is designed to be sighted in at 100 yards, with marks at 200, 300, 400 and 500.

I would not buy it again. The reticle is distracting, and 100 yards is too close for the .30-06, with a potential +/-3" MPBR between 260 and 285 yards. When I shoulder the rifle quickly, my eye doesn't naturally go to the center of the crosshair, where it should. After shooting it a bunch, my eye naturally looks at the tick marks instead.

So, I know nothing about the scopes you list, specifically, but I will say this: if the holdover system of a scope requires you to sight it in for 100-yards in the middle of the crosshair, DO NOT buy it. With a .30-06, you should be able to point and shoot to at least 220 yards, without having to overthink. Hunting game at closer ranges doesn't usually give you a lot of time to ponder.

Leupold's holdover system wants a standard 200-yard sight-in for .30-06, and the dots for 300, 400 and 500 are not obtrusive. I'd at least LOOK at the VX-II before plunking down the money for another -- just so you know what to look for. That's the kind of holdover system I'd buy, or one very similar to it, and NO OTHERS, for hunting purposes, IF I GET ANY AT ALL.

I just bought and scoped another .30-06. It has a simple duplex reticle, and I sighted it in at 200 yards. I can learn my holdover without a special reticle, much more easily than I can aim instinctively and quickly with a bunch of lines to distract me. I don't want any extra crap in my field of vision any more, for a 0-400 yard general-purpose rifle -- BTW I got a 2-7x33mm, too. It's lighter, mounts lower for a better cheek weld, doesn't make the rifle top-heavy, and I found out (the hard way) that I want 2X for close shots.

Food for thought, is all.:)

I'm not trying to sell you on any particular scope, just passing on what I've paid to learn in cash and lost deer while hunting on foot.

HGUNHNTR
January 4, 2010, 03:58 PM
Nikon Monarch I like the plex reticle myself, getting a deer to stand broadside to use the BDC is sometimes difficult:) Not to mention it clutters up the image.

1 piece tube vs. Leupolds 2 piece.

Fully Multicoated lenses.

Superb durability and performance.

257WM_CDL-SF
January 4, 2010, 04:04 PM
Definatly look t the Sightrons.I got a Big Sky and it ws wy clearer to me than the Leupold and Nikon its on par with the Ziess Conquest in optics

Badkharma
January 4, 2010, 04:08 PM
At what range did you get your last deer with that .30-06? Just curious.

cal74
January 4, 2010, 04:32 PM
I don't own a Burris Fullfield II, but have a few friends with them and I think they're a very good scope for the money. Myself I like the LR duplex they offer, but can see why some people would think it would be to cluttered.

Personally I'd just pick up a used VXII or VX-II Leupold 3-9 for the 180-210 range that they go for and call it a day. Lifetime warranty, great optics for the money.

Keep an eye out on feebay or one of these hunting forums classifieds sections, or just make a post saying what your looking for.

Boba Fett
January 4, 2010, 05:13 PM
Mueller scope Tac II, 3-10x44mm, made in Japan. I know it isn't on your list, but I've found that it often gets overlooked. If you've already looked at it and decided against it, from your list, I've had good luck with Nikon scopes in the past.

http://swfa.com/Mueller-3-10x44-Tac-II-Riflescope-P9137.aspx

You can get it for less if you shop around and find a place with a coupon or a sale. Find a few sites that have the scope and check RetailMeNot.com to see if there are any coupon codes for that site which would apply for use with your scope purchase.


Read the review over at Sniper Central:
http://www.snipercentral.com/muellertac2.htm

I even ordered the "tactical" knobs from Mel at Sniper Central. I don't know if he has anymore of them, but if you get the scope and want some nicer knobs, send him an email. Don't get me wrong, the standard knobs are nice and will work for most people's applications...I just wanted the bigger / more tactile knobs.


The scope has been good to me so far. Put it on my Savage 10FCP and I can do 0.5 MOA or better with the setup.

http://www.muelleroptics.com/
Scope:
http://www.snipercentral.com/images/reviews/mueller-tac2b.jpg
http://swfa.com/images/mtac31044.jpg

Factory knobs:
http://www.snipercentral.com/images/reviews/mueller-tac2a.jpg

Knobs from Sniper Central:
http://www.snipercentral.com/images/products/mueller1.jpg

ArmedBear
January 4, 2010, 05:19 PM
For the record, I would get a drop reticle for a dedicated long-range antelope rifle or something, with two requirements.

1. It would have to be a FLAT-shooting round, so my initial sight-in would be 300 yards (e.g., Leupold's BDC with a .257 Weatherby Magnum). If I KNOW the rifle is primarily for 400+ yards, I don't want to sight it in at 100 or 200, and I want to walk around with it set to low magnification, knowing that I can point-and-shoot out past 300 yards if I see game. (Drop reticles generally require the scope to be cranked up all the way.)
2. I'd want the drop marks to be unobtrusive, so that the scope doesn't become a PITA for closer shots on running game.

Here's what happened to me this year, after I got a nasty flu for most of mule deer season, after I pulled a controlled tag:

I went out, still not feeling all that great, with only a couple of days to spare, in nasty weather and heavy wind. Thank god for the ATV hunters, because they drove all the deer into sheltered canyons, and the ATV guys don't go where they can't drive.:D

So, I climbed to the tallest peak in the area, waited for the sun to start coming up, and started glassing. I found deer in the bottom of a canyon. I hiked around to see how close I could get, but the walls were too steep and covered with shale hidden under sparse vegetation. The best spot I could reach safely was 289 yards by laser to the deer. So I got into position on a boulder and tried to steady the rifle against the gusts.

Problem #1. To use the drop reticle, I had to crank the scope to 9X. To make a 289-yard shot at about a 30 degree angle downward, with a .30-06 sighted in at 200, you just hold a few inches high, if that, and shoot. You can set the scope however you want. But with the BPLEX, the primary crosshair is sighted in at 100 yards. That means I pretty much HAD to use the drop reticle for an effective 250 yard shot, since the drop is around 10", not the 3" or so it would be on a rifle sighted in at 200. That's right: a shot well within the .30-06 MPBR capabilities, and I had to use the stupid reticle because the gun had to be sighted in at 100 yards. Dumb.

Problem #2. The wind was really blowing, so I chose not to take the shot. I also figured that, if I couldn't climb down, I could never get that deer anyway if I hit it. So, I took my bearings, hiked back down to my Jeep, drove around the hill, and found a spot where I could try to climb up from the other side. I was still not feeling all that well, but I wanted to hunt, so my head was probably not quite clear. As I was hiking in, I jumped a deer at 20 yards or less. Before I could shoulder the rifle, it was gone. So I followed it up the canyon. Sure enough, I got another chance, so I shouldered the rifle and #$%^ if it the !@#$ thing wasn't set to 9X with that stupid bunch of lines in it! No time to do anything, so I took a premature shot, and missed. Worked the bolt, shot again, missed.

Having practiced a lot out to 325 yards with the drop reticle, my eye naturally went to the 300 yard marker, and between that and nervously trying to find the !@#$ deer in the 9X scope at 50 yards, I flat-out missed. Again.

Would that have happened if I were feeling 100% instead of getting over the flu and running on sudafed? Maybe not. NEXT TIME I sure will remember to carry the rifle at 2X or 3X. Without the BPLEX in the gun, I probably would never have had it on 9X to start with, though... And with a more standard 200-yard zero, I would never have had to fool with anything at all.

Again, food for thought.:)

Grassman
January 4, 2010, 05:51 PM
I just got a Leupold VX-1 3.9X40 at Academy for $239.00. I like it.

homers
January 4, 2010, 07:36 PM
Bushnell 4200 3-9X40 MATTE for $235 at Brono Shooters Supply

http://www.brunoshooters.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=CTGY&Store_Code=BSS&Category_Code=35BS-4200

chas08
January 4, 2010, 07:41 PM
I would personally spend a little more and buy a Leupold VX II. But of the ones you have listed I would pick the Nikon Monarch.

Uncle Mike
January 4, 2010, 07:45 PM
WEAVER....Can't beat them for the money. They have been good sellers for us, with no problems.

Red State
January 4, 2010, 08:39 PM
Thank you all for your responses.

Nothing against Leupold or Weaver, they just dont have exactly what I am looking for at this price point.

AKElroy
January 4, 2010, 08:47 PM
Save few bucks & look at the Nikon Prostaff 3X9X40 BDC. I just picked up my second for $149.00 on ebay, no tax, no shipping. I cannot tell the difference between the monarch & prostaff other than prestige & price. Brilliant scope for the money.

hometheaterman
January 4, 2010, 08:50 PM
I have a Burris Fullfield II and unlike the poster above I love mine. I normally sight in for 100 yards as that's just what works for me. The little dots under the crosshair doesn't distract me and I really like them as they do help you if you are taking longer shots. It's the clearest scope I've used and quite a bit clearer looking to me than the Leupold VX-I I have. It's also the best I've used in low light situations too. Overall, I love it and would highly recommend it.

The others you listed are supposed to be great too I just have no personal experience with them.

benzy2
January 4, 2010, 08:53 PM
SWFA has a lot of the scopes, shipped, for a bit less than you have listed. Good reputation, just call first to see if the model you want is in stock before ordering, it isn't realtime stock status. Those are all good scopes.

Wirenut1212
January 4, 2010, 09:56 PM
I have a Burris on my tikka in 7 mag and love it top line at 200 yards rest fall in at 100 yards each, they don't distract me in the least. Have taken Arkansas whitetail out far enough to make my hunting buddy say gezz after going to pick up the deer and looking back at my stand. But I think a scope is like a gun confort and trust are the two main things if you like it and believe in the set up you will shoot better or atleast I do.

Maverick223
January 4, 2010, 10:20 PM
My vote is for the Nikon Team Primos or the Bushnell Elite 3200, both are equally good; IMO Bushnell has better CS, and the Nikon costs a little less, take your pick. FWIW, none of your choices are at all bad.

:)

Redneck with a 40
January 4, 2010, 10:32 PM
I also have a Burris Fullfield II on my mini-14 and I love it. Bright and clear, good low light performance, best scope around for $200 in my opinion, performs as well as some scopes that cost twice as much.

I have a Nikon Pro-Staff on my .308, its good, but the Burris beats it for a little more money, its noticeably brighter and the image more crisp.

rangerruck
January 4, 2010, 10:51 PM
I was gonna say leupold mk IV, or the nikon team primos, but the big sky
by Sightron is proly too good to pass up.

Uncle Mike
January 5, 2010, 01:02 AM
well if the Leupold and weaver are not what your after, then I would have to agree with ranger and say look at the Sightron SII

Victor1Echo
January 5, 2010, 08:31 AM
Save few bucks & look at the Nikon Prostaff 3X9X40 BDC. I just picked up my second for $149.00 on ebay, no tax, no shipping. I cannot tell the difference between the monarch & prostaff other than prestige & price. Brilliant scope for the money.
I noticed that the Monarchs and Buckamasters were sleeker looking, and I think they have knobs to grab,rather than using a dime for elevation. Great scopes! Be sure to check em out, I think you will be surprised.

ArmedBear
January 5, 2010, 10:55 AM
If I hunted from a stand, and laser ranging points along all possible shooting lanes was a good way to ease the boredom while waiting for a deer, a scope with a 100 yard zero and tick marks for 200, 300, etc. probably wouldn't bother me. It does work great for reactive targets that don't run away, too. It's fun for popping faraway balloons.

However, for hunting on foot, in the open West, a 100 yard zero, a distracting reticle, and the requirement that the scope is cranked to maximum power to determine the drop, are all significant downsides IMO. Like I said, some of the scopes in question use a 200 yard zero for .30-06 and their drop reticles. If you're convinced you want the extra tick marks, at least make sure you're not limited to a 100 yard zero -- unless you only hunt from a stand, in which case you can be a lot less picky about your rig in general.

Uncle Mike
January 5, 2010, 11:24 AM
Seems like there are a truck load of fancy pants reticles to be had nowadays.
So let's see, hmmm...the average high power rifle round, we'll pick the 30-06, it is pretty popular....

Launching say a ....165gr SST, at 2800FPS, and all things equal, you will drop off a whole 3.4" at 200y..... 13" at 300y..... 29 or so at 400y and so on.

Can you tell what 3" is on the side of a deer? If at 300y hold at the top of the back...it gets trickier at 400y and on, but instead of all that reticle clutter why not use some good ol' kentucky windage?

CoRoMo
January 5, 2010, 11:26 AM
+1 on ebay. I got a couple Leupolds for 25% under retail, and recently got a Buckmasters for $91, brand new.

Out of the options given in the OP, I'd go with either of the Nikons. Good stuff.

berettashotgun
January 5, 2010, 11:52 AM
I'm really partial to the elite models, something about my glass rating system - USA, Germany, Japan for quality vs. price.
The older Bausch & Lomb scopes I use have performed perfectly.

ArmedBear
January 5, 2010, 11:57 AM
Launching say a ....165gr SST, at 2800FPS, and all things equal, you will drop off a whole 3.4" at 200y..... 13" at 300y..... 29 or so at 400y and so on.

Can you tell what 3" is on the side of a deer? If at 300y hold at the top of the back...it gets trickier at 400y and on, but instead of all that reticle clutter why not use some good ol' kentucky windage?

True. However, what I'm saying is that having to hold over 13" at 300 yards with a .30-06 and standard weight bullets is, itself, a waste of a perfectly good caliber. Sight in at 200 yards and you can ignore range out to maybe 250, and you only have to hold over 7" at 300 yards -- much easier than 13" to guesstimate well enough, and fast (7" translates to "hold on the target, but a little high" to me, vs. 13", which can be "hold over the deer's back"). I don't care for a fancy reticle that FORCES me to sight in at 100 yards if I want to use it, because around here, people sighted in a .30-06 at 200 yards even 60-70 years back when bullets and powders weren't as good.

berettashotgun
January 5, 2010, 12:00 PM
Second the ArmedBear sighting in method, had a BDC Nikon and hated it for hunting - too much going on before I squeezed the trigger. Still had good glass in the Nikon.

TexasPatriot.308
January 5, 2010, 01:17 PM
for that price range Bushnell Elite 3200 or 4200. cant beat them.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
January 5, 2010, 01:21 PM
Although I definitely like you short list, the correct answer is not on it.

For a big boomer like .30-06 and above, I like the insane eye relief of the Nikon OMEGA 3-9x40mm, which is even better than the Team Primos, as the same or less price. Better because of the better eye relief, and otherwise identical or nearly so. If you're shooting heavy loads and/or have a lot of thick hunting clothing on, you will definitely appreciate the eye relief on the Omega.

But pretty much all your choices are good. The Sightron SII (regular) would be my second choice.

Another plus one on ditching the BDC - try to find the Omega withOUT the BDC -not only will you probably like it better in the long run, the other day Natchezz had these on clearance for $135 plus shipping - you might check to see if they still do.

I was initially enamoured with BDCs, too, but have come to realize that they're just not needed and add to the clutter and complication.

True. However, what I'm saying is that having to hold over 13" at 300 yards with a .30-06 and standard weight bullets is, itself, a waste of a perfectly good caliber. Sight in at 200 yards and you only have to hold over 7" at 300 yards -- much easier than 13" to guesstimate well enough, and fast (7" translates to "hold on the target, but a little high" to me, vs. 13", which can be "hold over the deer's back"). I don't care for a fancy reticle that FORCES me to sight in at 100 yards if I want to use it, because around here, people sighted in a .30-06 at 200 yards even 60-70 years back when bullets and powders weren't as good.

Once again, AB speaks wisely.

Red State
January 5, 2010, 02:46 PM
Dr. Winslow,

What is the parallax setting on the Omega? Aren't most blackpowder scopes set for 75 yards?

I have seen the Omega in person and it is good glass. Side by side, the clarity seemed almost identical to the Burris FFII.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
January 5, 2010, 02:54 PM
Red State, yes I believe that it is (unfortunately) set at 75 yards, instead of 100 like most scopes or 150 like most Leupolds.

However, in my understanding and belief of how parallax error works, the difference in actual parallax error induced at most any hunting range past 100 yards, between a 75 yard setting and 100 yard setting, is fairly miniscule. For example, at 300 yards, neither setting is going to help MUCH if your head is not centered and error thus introduced.

And less than 75 yards, where many if not most shots are taken, the 75 is slightly superior in this department. Between 75 and 100, again where many shots are taken, it's a wash essentially.

jmr40
January 5, 2010, 03:36 PM
Leupold VX II for me at that price

Maverick223
January 5, 2010, 04:11 PM
What is the parallax setting on the Omega? Aren't most blackpowder scopes set for 75 yards?If anything I consider that an advantage, like Doc. said few shots are taken at longer range that about 100yds.

:)

AKElroy
January 5, 2010, 06:02 PM
I agree on seeing really no utility for the BDC. That said, for the Nikon, I just don't care for the Nikoplex, and with or without the BDC, the rest of the BDC reticle is close to a german #4 which I like a lot. If Nikon offered a #4 in the Prostaff, I would be all over it. Until then, the circles don't distract me at all.

Maverick223
January 5, 2010, 06:09 PM
I too like the German No. 4 reticle because it offers faster target acquisition, honestly I don't know why it isn't more popular.

:)

Tuckerp229
January 5, 2010, 06:46 PM
I will put in a good word for the Nikon Buckmaster 3x9 with BDC. In a word amazing. I have owned a Leupold straight 4 power for 30 years. It is perhaps not fair but the Nikon is really a light gathering marvel. I had a late shot at a buck this year and tagged him. Right after I shot I tried to find him with my small binoc's. I thought someone had turned the lights out. I switched back to the scope and was amazed to be able to see clearly in the low light. Really, Nikon has done extensive work in the coating department of their lenses. Give them a look see at the store and head for a poorly lit area of the store.

ArmedBear
January 5, 2010, 08:45 PM
Really, Nikon has done extensive work in the coating department of their lenses.

I have a Nikon, and I like it. I'd recommend it, but not the BDC, especially if it requires a 100 yard zero. However, Leupold has also done a little work on their lenses over the past 30 years... I have a couple of those, too, one new and one a bit older, and they are also fine scopes.:)

Red State
January 6, 2010, 08:14 PM
Thank you all for your responses.

I purchased the Sightron SII Big Sky. The midway price dropped yesterday and I just couldn't resist. Once I applied one of their current coupons, I got it for $267 delivered. It was just too good a deal to pass up.

Dr. Winslow, I do like the Omega specifically and Nikons in general. Before the SII dropped in price, I was leaning towards the Primos or Monarch.

Armed Bear, your input was usefull and I understand your frustration with your previous ballistic reticle. I have had 5 or 6 previous scopes over the years and none of them had the ballistic reticles and I found myself desiring one. Hopefully I am not making a mistake. If I am, I can always transfer this to a different caliber gun that might be better suited for the specific ranging of the Sightron Hunter Holdover reticle.

If I remember, I will provide everyone here with an update regarding this scope. Guys that I shoot with have the Burris FFII and the Nikon Omega and the Bushnell Elite 3200 and I will try do some quick comparasons at the range.

lost river rat
January 6, 2010, 08:24 PM
The answer to this question is very easy and there is only one answer: the American made Leupold. In the price range, it would be the VX1 series. A lot of old "standbyes" are now made in china and are no longer as good as as the scopes yesterday.

I have bought a lot of chinese, tiwaneses, etc made scopes and some for as much as a Leupold. When I had problems with the cheap ones, I just through them away. I threw away a lot of scopes. When I had a problems with one of the expensive japanese scopes, the manufacture would not warrenty it, so I called one of the premier custom scope companies. They told me not to bother shipping it. They would only work on Leupolds, the steel Weavers, Steel Lymans, and the Euro models. Too many of the other scopes would not stay fixed so they stopped working on them. That did it for me. American made Leupolds or $100 cheapos for my 22LRs

TexasPatriot.308
January 6, 2010, 09:05 PM
are the lower price Leupolds still made in America?? I think they are farmed out, correct me if I am wrong.

Maverick223
January 6, 2010, 11:11 PM
are the lower price Leupolds still made in America?? I think they are farmed out, correct me if I am wrong.I believe they are made in Asia (not China...but I forget where exactly), all of the lenses are made in Japan to the best of my knowledge (for scopes, some other products are made in China).

:)

madcratebuilder
January 7, 2010, 07:28 AM
The Mueller TAC II is near the top of that price range, is a mil-dot and has exceptionally clear optics. Better optics than any other in that price range (Nikon, Bushnell, Pentax) that I have looked through, IMHO. I have been using one on a M1A for over two years and it has repeatability and has handled the recoil of just under 1k rounds.

Uncle Mike
January 7, 2010, 01:06 PM
You want a good foreign made scope....Nikko Stirling.

The 'Nighteater' series along with the 'Diamond' series.

mshootnit
January 7, 2010, 01:41 PM
I apologize for not reading all posts in advance... I would go with the Weaver Grand Slam 4.5X14. 95% light transmission, excellent reticle, and with an excellent adjustable objective/ long tube design. Also has the quick adjust eyepiece, and finger adjustable deluxe knobs. I shot a prairie dog at well over 400 yards with mine. It would be brighter than a VXII with higher power and adjustable objective. Downside is it's a little heavier.

Red State
January 7, 2010, 02:16 PM
I have shot quite a bit with the Nikko Stirlings. They seem to hold their zero just fine on range guns.

But the glass quality on the Nighteater leaves a lot to be desired. It is nowhere near the clarity and brightness of a Burris FFII or Bushnell Elite or Nikon Prostaff. Not even close.

ArmedBear
January 7, 2010, 02:57 PM
Also, the Nikko scopes seem to be really heavy, to me, for a given size and power.

Uncle Mike
January 7, 2010, 07:21 PM
I'll agree...Nikko needs to revamp their line of scopes.
Back in the day, they were good, but like Red says, they do not favorably compare with the Burris FFII or some of the others.
And yes, they are heavy!

I would stick to the Weaver stuff.

257WM_CDL-SF
January 7, 2010, 07:32 PM
Red State how do you like your Sightron SII Big Sky? I love mine.Best optics I have saw for the price

elkhunter101
January 10, 2010, 04:54 PM
i have a leupold 3 by 9 on my 300 winchester and it does fine

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