Best Tactical Scope on the Market


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blackops
February 5, 2011, 12:37 AM
Pretty simple, in your opinion, what tactical scope is the best on the market? Tied in a pool to give a visual reference and make things interesting. I have to admit, I personally haven't had the luxury of utilizing every scope myself. If you guys have any personal preferences, would like to mention a specific model or any reasoning for your choice, please elaborate. If I left out a scope that should have been considered, it's okay to give me a bad time about it! :)

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Birddog1911
February 5, 2011, 10:51 AM
You've got some nice ones up there. I have a Nightforce, because that was the best that I could afford. S&B are probably tops, though.

I looked through a USO, and honestly, to my eye I wasn't as impressed with it as the others you have up there. Leupold just isn't the tops, anymore.

taliv
February 5, 2011, 11:36 AM
you probably should have included hensoldt which sports many of the features/quality of the others in a significantly more compact package

i have had the USO SN3 T-PAL and NF and Leupolds for several years and the S&B PMII for 1 year, and shot them all in many matches.

NF is currently on my $#%@ list and the only NF i would even consider would be the 12-42x benchrest model. Leupold isn't in the same league as the others and lost their minds on pricing. it's a toss up between the S&B and the USO. I dislike much about the P4F reticle in the S&B but i like the clickiness and their knobs a little better, though they are much taller compared to the lo-profile EREK on the USO. The illumination on both could use some work. The USO has a choice of several very functional reticles. It would be the only way to go if you want to work in minutes instead of mils.

If I could only have one, I really don't know which I would pick.

blackops
February 5, 2011, 02:38 PM
If I could only have one, I really don't know which I would pick.

Come on taliv, if you had to pick one, day in day out everyday use. I think most prefer mils, but that's besides the point. Which ever system you utilize and are most effective with will obviously swing your decision. Ultimately, which scope fits your personal needs best and best all around scope for you?

Birddog1911
February 5, 2011, 03:28 PM
Taliv, I'd like an expansion on why NF is on your !@&^@ list. I just got one, and it's the finest scope I've owned.

BlkHawk73
February 5, 2011, 03:30 PM
Gotta ask...what makes a scope "tactical" exactly? I know in this case, it can't be the color black and since scopes marketed as target models have the longer adjustment turrets it can't be that either. So just what feature makes the average run-of-the-mill scope "tactical"?

taliv
February 5, 2011, 03:47 PM
Come on taliv, if you had to pick one, day in day out everyday use.

heh, ok. prob the USO

birddog, had a bad experience with their 1-4x NXS.

what makes a scope "tactical" exactly?
reticle you can use for hold over and range estimation
illuminated reticle
side focus/parallax instead of adj obj
knobs that are quick and easy to use when it's dark, cold, wet, that keep you from getting lost in the turns, and can go back to zero
waterproof and sturdy
usually, a low end of the variable magnification that is very low for wide field of view for moving targets

redneck2
February 5, 2011, 03:52 PM
Taliv...you ever use Burris Black Diamond?? Or don't they fit the definition?

Whiskey11
February 5, 2011, 04:04 PM
Not sure I believe that an illuminated reticle is necessary for a tactical scope... my mark 4 lr/t is non-illuminated but is known as a tactical scope, especially with the m1 turrets.

As for the poll, I won't comment, I have very little experience with scopes beyond my mark 4. I would say that you wouldn't be disappointed with any of those in that list.

taliv
February 5, 2011, 04:09 PM
redneck, no experience with that burris and don't even know the specs, but there are tons of other reasonably priced well regarded scopes like the bushnell elite series.

whiskey, i agree it's not necessary. heck, lots of military folks were issued a fixed 10 power scope over the past 30 yrs. still, features that make it easier and faster to use are a good thing

blackops
February 5, 2011, 04:21 PM
taliv,seems like you use the s&b primarily. Why the USO?

taliv
February 5, 2011, 04:43 PM
i wouldn't say that. I use my new favorite long range rifle primarily (260AI) which happens to have the S&B on it. My USO happens to be mounted on a gas gun.

One of the differences is the entire reticle on the USO lights up, whereas only a tiny crosshair in the center of the S&B lights up. That means you can't do any holdover or range estimation at night with the S&B. That was the difference in my vote though they are really close. On the other hand, the S&B illumination is a little fainter so you can see the target a little better at night. The USO illumination can really only be used at the lowest setting, and that's still a little bright. Using the medium to high settings is like shining a spotlight in your eye. Rumor has it you can adjust it down somehow, but I haven't figured out how to do that

btw, i'm not exactly an expert or anything. I'm just giving my opinion here. 1500 rnds of experience with the S&B in 6 months is decent, but there are lots of people with years of experience with these scopes and whose opinions are prob worth a lot more. I know zak likes the S&B and has several of both models. I think he likes their reticles better too. :)

blackops
February 5, 2011, 10:50 PM
Wish I could shoot at night. Not allowed here. Yeah, zak needs to weigh in here. That guy is never around these days.

henschman
February 7, 2011, 01:09 AM
I guess it would depend on what kind of "tactics" you are implementing with your tactical scope. For a battle rifle, I like a Trijicon ACOG. For more long-range precision, I think it would be hard to beat a Schmidt and Bender.

1858
February 7, 2011, 01:23 AM
I voted for Premier Reticles. I have a PRH 3-15x50mm and a PRH 5-25x56mm both with double turn MTC turrets and the Gen2 XR reticle. They have front focal plane illuminated reticles, mil/mil adjustments, zero stops, tactile second turn indicators and superb glass. It's my understanding that the Marine Corps selected the 3-15x50mm for the SR-25. Honestly, I don't know why anyone would buy a S&B if they've had any experience with Premier. Heck, a bunch of the S&B engineers work with Premier now. I have eight Leupold Mark 4 scopes of various types and they're no slouch either.

1858
February 7, 2011, 01:26 AM
For the record, NF only has one FFP scope model which is kind of a requirement for a serious "tactical" scope. NF rules the KD shooting world with numerous world records because of their excellent adjustments. They certainly don't own the "tactical" UKD shooting world ... not yet anyway. That distinction probably goes to S&B at present, and to a lesser extent USO, but it's changing.

blackops
February 7, 2011, 02:08 AM
I have eight Leupold Mark 4 scopes of various types and they're no slouch either.

8 Mark 4's and a couple PR's? :eek: Dang, if ever need to get rid of one of them let me know. :)

BrocLuno
February 8, 2011, 02:26 PM
I know they are not in the same quality league as the ones presented here, but Vector Optics offers an LE/Mil spec'd FFP with lighted reticle that I hope someone actually tries out?

They sell to LE's & Mil all around the world and are not Chinese junk scopes. Retail is in the $500 to $1K range for their better stuff which is about 1/2 or a 1/3 of some of these listed. I'm not pushing them at all. I just want to know if any real serious shooters have tried one?

And my vote goes for USO :)

Sheepdog1968
February 9, 2011, 06:52 PM
With Leupold, they always make a very good product and they stand behind what they make. At this point, if I need a scope, I want a Leupold. If I need an inexpensive scope I go for their Redfield line. Are they the best? I don't know but they are definately good enough to get the job done.

Geno
February 9, 2011, 07:26 PM
In terms of speaking in an informed way, I only address the merits of the Nightforce scopes. I purchased the NF scopes, because they have the following qualities: excellent glass, excellent durability and repeatability. In fact, they jokingly have been rumored to be vulnerable only to a tank attack. I especially appreciate that both the ranging and adjustments are in inches, not mils. I used the NP-R1 reticle. The zero-stop feature also was a selling point.

Admittedly, the closest I've come to a "tactical application" has been during my Walter Mitty fantasies, in which I play sniper on the local woodchucks. But, these ain't no ordinary woodchucks...they's zombie-chucks! :eek:

I do know some shootists who own Leupold Mark 4s. They asked to test out my NF turrets. Mygodamighty...they ran the turrets up and down, left and right like a child with a serious obsessive compulsive disorder!! It was actually pretty durned funny. The one fella grinned as he did so and retorted, "From what I heard, these will return the zero no problems!" After he finished tinkering with the turrets, he reset them to my zero. I benched the rifle, and placed 3 shots dead-center into the X at 100 yards...and that was after literally a couple minutes of wild-turret-twists. The fella's parting comment was that he has to get rid of his Mark 4 and get a Nightforce.

Are there other "tactical" scopes that are better then Nightforce? I have no clue...perhaps. Then again, I like my SWFA 10X scope about 99% as much as I like my NF scopes...and it cost a mere $299. Don't rightly figgur, does it?! :o

Geno

blackops
February 10, 2011, 12:28 AM
Leupold in 2nd? hmmmmm....

Silverado6x6
February 10, 2011, 06:26 AM
Leatherwood

vaupet
February 10, 2011, 06:48 AM
a vote from europe for our S&B

Taliv sums it up great, and I only would clarify that the reticle must be FFP.

O, and you forgot the Zeiss/Hensold line (is it available on your side of the atlantic?)

greetz

peter

blackops
February 11, 2011, 01:04 AM
O, and you forgot the Zeiss/Hensold line (is it available on your side of the atlantic?)

Yes, I did and yes they are.

BsChoy
February 11, 2011, 03:03 PM
Right now my dream scope for my in progress 30-06 target gun is the USO fixed 10x scope with mil/mil adjustments...simple and built like a truck

Zak Smith
March 18, 2011, 02:48 AM
I shoot S&B. Have tested Leupold, NF, USO, Premier, IOR, Hensoldt, etc...

Sorry for not being around lately-- I have some responsibilities and commitments that don't allow reading every thread. Don't hesitate to send me an email if you have a question or there's a thread that could use my input.

best,
Zak

dubbleA
March 18, 2011, 03:35 AM
Right now my dream scope for my in progress 30-06 target gun is the USO fixed 10x scope with mil/mil adjustments...simple and built like a truck

More like a tank!!! lol:D

Compare the wall thickness in the tube between the USO and Loopy MK IV

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f268/dubbleA/Scopes%20and%20Things/USOObjective.jpg

http://i49.photobucket.com/albums/f268/dubbleA/Scopes%20and%20Things/MKIVObjective.jpg

blackops
March 18, 2011, 01:08 PM
dubble, what is the difference in weight though? Loopys have always been a lighter scope, but they are durable considering the wall thickness.

1858
March 18, 2011, 03:34 PM
blackops, the US Optics scopes are heavy, but so are the Premier Reticles scopes. I have a Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm that weighs 22.5oz. My PRH 5-25x56mm weighs 39.0oz ... that's almost twice as much. The SN-3 T-PAL 5-25x58mm weighs 40.0oz and it has a 30mm tube compared to the PRH's 34mm tube.

I should make a point about optics and spending lots of money. Let's say you spend $2,000 on a rifle today and $2,000 on an optic. In ten years, which one is more likely to be performing exactly as it did the day you bought it? This is my biggest concern about optics. Any good gunsmith can chamber and fit a new barrel on an action, or make repairs as necessary, but optics need to go back to the manufacturer if issues arise. I hope that Premier Reticles is still around in ten years. I also hope that optics don't advance significantly over the next ten years thereby making all of my Leupolds and Premiers redundant. Most, if not all optics, have inert gas in the tubes, but the seals will fail over time, particularly if the optic is subjected to large temperature changes. Just a thought.

blackops
March 18, 2011, 08:26 PM
1858, is the PRH that much more of an advantage over the MK4? Would you say that the PRH will put you on target consistently more than the MK4 would? Is the optic quality that much more superior that you can be more precise with each shot? I have no experience with PRH so I'm just wondering. I'm trying to understand how the difference in cost is justified by the difference in accuracy.

1858
March 18, 2011, 09:39 PM
1858, is the PRH that much more of an advantage over the MK4? Would you say that the PRH will put you on target consistently more than the MK4 would? Is the optic quality that much more superior that you can be more precise with each shot? I have no experience with PRH so I'm just wondering. I'm trying to understand how the difference in cost is justified by the difference in accuracy.

The PRH is a front focal scope with an illuminated milrad reticle and MTC adjustments. It has a 34mm tube, a 56mm objective lens, excellent glass, a zero stop, single or double turn elevation adjustment, a tactile second turn indicator, an "off" setting between each reticle illumination level and innovative cams to lock the adjustments in place. These features alone make it a step up from the "equivalent" Leupold scopes, and in my opinion, make it a better value than the S&B scopes. But that wasn't really your question. Your question is whether or not a PRH scope will translate into more accurate and precise shooting. For known distance shooting ... I'd have to say no. I don't think there are many good shooters who would be limited by a Mark 4 scope for known distance shooting.

Zak Smith
March 18, 2011, 10:43 PM
If you put a 3.5-10x40 or a 4.5-14x50mm Leupold next to a S&B 3-12x50 (or a PR), you will immediately notice a difference in eye box tolerance and field of view (which together I put in the optics usability). If you then compare the qualitative features in the context of what is easier, faster, and less error-prone to operate, there are also clear differences.

1858
March 18, 2011, 10:50 PM
If you put a 3.5-10x40 or a 4.5-14x50mm Leupold next to a S&B 3-12x50 (or a PR), you will immediately notice a difference in eye box tolerance and field of view (which together I put in the optics usability). If you then compare the qualitative features in the context of what is easier, faster, and less error-prone to operate, there are also clear differences.

True, but none of that matters to someone shooting at the range, benchrest or F-Class or any other "static" known distance type of shooting. The S&B, USO and PRH optics excel just as you noted above ... but those features cost more and aren't required by everyone.

Zak Smith
March 18, 2011, 10:57 PM
Well, I disagree to some extent. A 1000-yard shooter doesn't need a zero-stop knob with tactile indication of the "turn", sure -- but on the other hand, a more flexible eye box helps all the time. A wider field of view, everything else equal, can help prevent cross-fires too.

1858
March 18, 2011, 11:05 PM
This thread/poll is titled "Best tactical scope on the market" so as far as I'm concerned, as a minimum, the scope should be front focal plane, have an illuminated reticle and have the same "units" for the reticle and adjustments. These features simply aren't a requirement for known distance shooting disciplines. I don't have any problem with the eye box with any of my Leupolds or my PRHs shooting F-Class. However, the Mark 4 1.5-5X on my POF is definitely a concern for 3-gun matches and rapid target acquisition.

blackops
March 20, 2011, 06:23 PM
The PRH is a front focal scope with an illuminated milrad reticle and MTC adjustments. It has a 34mm tube, a 56mm objective lens, excellent glass, a zero stop, single or double turn elevation adjustment, a tactile second turn indicator, an "off" setting between each reticle illumination level and innovative cams to lock the adjustments in place. These features alone make it a step up from the "equivalent" Leupold scopes, and in my opinion, make it a better value than the S&B scopes. But that wasn't really your question. Your question is whether or not a PRH scope will translate into more accurate and precise shooting. For known distance shooting ... I'd have to say no. I don't think there are many good shooters who would be limited by a Mark 4 scope for known distance shooting.

1858, thanks for the insight on that comparison. I didn't even realize all the options PR offers either. My next question would be (assuming you have experience with Nightforce) how would the Mark 4 match up to a Nightforce?

1858
March 20, 2011, 10:34 PM
blackops, I don't think there's much difference optically based on the four Nightforce scopes I've used and the eight Mark 4s that I own. However, Nightforce is known for the accuracy and repeatability of their ajustments, so they're a better choice over a Mark 4 for many shooters. I'd choose the NXS 3.5-15x50mm F1 over a Mark 4, but I'd choose the PRH 3-15x50mm over the Nightforce.

Zak Smith
March 20, 2011, 10:45 PM
I did some optical testing here
http://demigodllc.com/articles/hensoldt-4-16x56-mm-scope-how-does-it-stack-up/?p=3

Didn't have a MK4 in the bunch though

1858
March 20, 2011, 10:53 PM
Didn't have a MK4 in the bunch though

Zak, I think it would have ranked with the Nightforce in terms of the criteria listed below. I'm basing that comment on having used four Nightforce scopes, and owning and using eight Mark 4 scopes. Mark 4 scopes are very good, but simply not in the same league as S&B or Premier. But they cost 50% or less so what do you expect?

"With regard to overall least edge to edge distortion and best linearity, the results were unanimous: the Hensoldt had the least distortion when considered over the entire magnification range. The Premier 3-15x50 mm was second in this regard. The differences were only apparent at the edge of the image. The clarity of the majority of the image, other than just the image edge, was the same amongst the Hensoldt, S&B, and Premier. When considered at only maximum power, the Hensoldt, Premier, and S&B 3-12x50 mm PMII were all even with regard to edge distortions: they had none at maximum magnification. The edge distortion of the Nightforce and the US Optics was markedly worse than the other three scopes."

SentinelStrategic
March 21, 2011, 02:10 AM
I'm amazed how many people have voted for NightForce and Leupold. Really? They're great scopes, but I would have thought that this would be a two-way race between Schmidt&Bender and Premier Reticles (since Hensoldt was omitted, in which case it'd be a three-way race with Hensoldt leading).

esheato
March 21, 2011, 02:24 AM
I think it's a name recognition/familiarity issue. Most people know those names and have seen those scopes at the range...maybe they've looked through them and while they're leaps and bounds above occasional shooters glass, they're not top of the line.

If you took this poll and stuck it in a long range/tactical forum whose users are familiar with all these manufacturers, I guarantee you it would be different, well.....correct.

hawk45
March 21, 2011, 04:43 PM
Of what you have listed
S&B has pretty much everything (durability, optics, features)
Nightforce would be the best bang for the buck though.

Of what is not listed:
Hensoldt - everything the S&B has but with better glass.

To me durability is #1 over optics and features. If it doesn't work.. who cares how clear the glass is. As far as warrenty.. I want an optic that never needs it.

pdd614
March 21, 2011, 08:04 PM
Sorry Hawk, but the hensoldt's don't have everything the s&b's offer. They don't even have everything vortex razor's and nightforce f1's have to offer.
Zero stops are huge for a long range ukd type scope, and s&b offers more reticle choices as well. By the way, I'm not saying my razor is the best. Just that it has some nice features and, as it turns out, is quite alot of scope for 18-1900 dollars.

blackops
March 21, 2011, 08:14 PM
More people use NF, that's why it's in the lead. I think it's common knowledge S&B, PR, and USO are all a level above NF.

pdd614
March 21, 2011, 08:21 PM
Having used and owned the pr 3-15, I wouldn't rate it anywhere near s&b. I actually like my vortex razor better than the premier. At least it has worked consistently. And I wouldn't rate uso over a nighforce f1. Since nightforce has released the high speed f1, they are right up there with the best in my book. Nightforce has plenty enough glass for any ukd shooting inside of 12-1400 yards. And nightforce has always been known for repeatable adjustments and durability. What more could you ask for?

1858
March 21, 2011, 08:46 PM
I actually like my vortex razor better than the premier. At least it has worked consistently.

Good luck with that Vortex Razor ... they've been problematic according to Scott at Liberty Optics. He sees very few issues with the Premier scopes but has seen quite a few problems with the Razor. Both of my PRHs have been perfect so far. As for the F1 from Nightforce. One of my shooting buddies has a very impressive collection of rifles and optics. He bought a PRH 3-15x50mm after he used mine. He then bought an F1 and regretted it. His next scope will be another PRH and he has a couple of S&B PMIIs as do a bunch of fellow shooters. I've used S&B, PRH and Leupold at over 800 yards, and for you to say that PRH doesn't rate anywhere near S&B tells me you can't separate your personal experience from objective analysis.

taliv
March 21, 2011, 08:59 PM
he said, she said

sample size

pdd614
March 21, 2011, 09:00 PM
1858, as usual you are correct. Premier left a very sour taste in my mouth after they refused to fix my scope. I have a knack for breaking scopes. Keeping my fingers crossed that the Razor will continue to hold up, and the warranty will be there to fix it when it does let go. One thing I have learned through the last few years of ukd shooting. Always have a backup scope ready to go, because scopes really are the weak link in this game.

SentinelStrategic
March 21, 2011, 09:14 PM
How long ago did you guys have Premiers and have your issues? My understanding was that they've gotten a lot better in recent years due to new leadership.

pdd614
March 21, 2011, 09:21 PM
Had and broke my premier in 09. If s&b's illumination knob wasn't directly in the way of my lefty bolt, I would have had a s&b a long time ago.

1858
March 21, 2011, 09:25 PM
Other than the issue with pdd614's scope, I'm only aware of one other scope that had a problem. A friend of mine has a KAC SR-25 and mounted a PRH 3-15x50mm using the KAC one-piece base. I had to machine the web on the base to clear the scope, but shortly after he began using it, the parallax knob started to work erratically. He sent the scope back and Premier said that it was a known issue (related to ring spacing) and made the necessary updates to the scope which has been fine ever since. He bought another PRH after that so it didn't seem to bother him.

1858
March 21, 2011, 09:29 PM
Premier has made some subtle changes to their scopes over the last couple of years. One change is the "clickers" inside the adjustments. They're using a harder steel now and have changed the angle so that the 0.1 milrad clicks are more positive. They also changed the cam locks for the turrets. They gave me a set of the new "clickers" and cam locks for my 3-15x50mm at no charge.

pdd614
March 21, 2011, 09:38 PM
I also had the parallax issue with my premier, and the scope would fog up more than any other scope I have ever had. Missed a couple pigs due to that fogging. But the big issue still remained in the adjustments. Here's to hoping my Premier was just a early/bad apple.

SentinelStrategic
March 21, 2011, 09:40 PM
It sounds like it got better. That's good at least. I'm waiting for the Light Tactical to come out. That's the scope that's going on my AI.

redbullitt
March 21, 2011, 10:42 PM
For the cost I am liking the nightforce. BUT if cost is not a concern, then SB or a premier Hensoldt is where I would go.

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