What is the best scope magnification for shooting a 400 yards?


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dbrown
June 9, 2012, 02:01 PM
I am going to be shooting at 400 yards and was wondering what kind of magnification i would need.

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taliv
June 9, 2012, 02:03 PM
what kind of shooting?

dbrown
June 9, 2012, 02:04 PM
Target shooting.

snakeman
June 9, 2012, 02:14 PM
I typically like a 12x for hunting but for target shooting a 24x would be my top pick.

Robert
June 9, 2012, 02:24 PM
I use 4x out to 600, but that is really pushing it. And that is on steel, not for tiny groups.

jmr40
June 9, 2012, 02:29 PM
My rule of thumb is about 1-1.5X for each 100 yards is plenty. About 4X-6X would be more than enough. I wouldn't have a problem big game hunting with a 1.5X or 2X at 400 yards.

Welding Rod
June 9, 2012, 03:20 PM
For target shooting more magnification is generally better, until mirage becomes an issue.

I have been able to shoot as good as sub 3/4 MOA at 500 yards with 14x, and repeatidly in the 1 MOA range. I would go at least 12 power and maybe something that will go as much as 20 or even the 20 plus range for target shooting at 400 yards if small groups is all you intend to do with the gun.

ole farmerbuck
June 9, 2012, 03:25 PM
Wow! I set my scopes on 16x or so for 100 yds. But thats on 3/8" dots.

HOOfan_1
June 9, 2012, 03:36 PM
I had to dial mine up to 9x to take a deer at 300 yards. I had it set to 6x...but I knew being zeroed at 100 yards I was going to need nearly a foot of holdover...I wanted to be able to pick out an aim point better...so I dialed it up. I was shooting prone though.

I think less magnification is better when shooting offhand, but when you have a good stead hold, more magnification is the way to go.

LAK
June 9, 2012, 04:34 PM
From what I have gleaned from those who claim to know - whatever that means - even the best scope makers (S & B, Zeiss, Leupold etc) will tell you that above something like 15x some optical charactaristics in scopes begin to decline. This is because of the trade-offs in design and engineering versus emphasis of magnification.

joed
June 9, 2012, 06:06 PM
For target shooting I own 18x, 24x and 36x. My favorite all around for target and varmint hunting is the 24x.

I also favor fixed power scopes with the only varible being the 6x18 VXII.

jmr40
June 9, 2012, 06:27 PM
From what I have gleaned from those who claim to know - whatever that means - even the best scope makers (S & B, Zeiss, Leupold etc) will tell you that above something like 15x some optical charactaristics in scopes begin to decline. This is because of the trade-offs in design and engineering versus emphasis of magnification.

Some very knowledgeable long range shooters recommend no more than 9X or 10X even at 1,000 yards, partly because of this.


The quality is more important than the number of X's.

1858
June 9, 2012, 06:48 PM
Target shooting.

What kind of target shooting and what kind of target? It makes a big difference if you have all the time in the world or if you have to shoot a specific number of rounds within a time limit. If you have plenty of time you can wait for the wind and or mirage to change but you don't have that luxury in F-Class type matches. The type of target makes a big difference too. I've made consistent hits on a LaRue reactive target (12"x12" body, 6"x6" head) at 802 yards with my Premier 3-15x50mm with the scope set on 15x but it'd be hard to shoot a good F-Class score with a variable wind at 300, 500 and 600 yards with that scope. For F-Class I like as much magnification as I can get. I'm using a Leupold Mark 4 8.5-25x50mm for mid-range prone and it allows me to clearly see the X, 10, 9 and 8 rings at 300, 500 and 600 yards which is important when holding right/left/over/under.

Tempest 455
June 9, 2012, 07:45 PM
Best my son and I have done at 400 yards is .5 MOA (I did a 1.5" once) and we use 25X for the best groups.

Loosedhorse
June 9, 2012, 07:51 PM
I don't do much shooting at 400; my range has a 300 set-up. For targets, I like 24X, even if I don't "need" it. (If I'm setting up a hunting rifle, I like 9 or 10X for 300).

Great quality 3-9s are a heck of a lot cheaper than great quality 8-24s, I think.

jr_roosa
June 9, 2012, 08:18 PM
Quality is a much bigger issue than magnification as is mentioned above. I have a Kowa 25x spotting scope that has much better resolution than most zoom scopes have at 60x.

If you have the $$$ for a Nightforce or US Optics or other big ticket target scope maker, then go for the high mag especially if you're doing competitive benchrest stuff, but if that's the case, you probably wouldn't be asking for help here. For F-Class TR, "tactical" stuff, or just punching paper or hitting steel, you'd be fine with the lower mag.

Your eye can resolve about 0.5 to 1MOA or so, and that means that you can see two dots as two separate dots if they are about 1/2 to 1 inch apart at 100yds. This also means that you can shoot 1 MOA all day with unmagnified iron sights. A 4x scope will be able to help you resolve down to about 1/4 to 1/8 MOA, and eventually the quality of the optics limit that as you get higher mag, especially with inexpensive scopes. I'd take a bright 4x scope over a dim, blurry, 12x any day of the week.

Also, a 4x will hide your tremor/wobble better and keep you from trying to jerk the trigger when everything is "perfect." I think it's easier to shoot with low mag scopes, as long as I can see the target, I'm happy.

If you want to see bullet holes at 400, then forget that with a rifle scope. You'd need a good spotter and no mirage. I think I could barely see them with my 25x Kowa, but probably only on the white. Even with higher mag, the mirage is the limiting factor for seeing bullet holes that far out.

-J.

243winxb
June 9, 2012, 08:59 PM
This > "For target shooting more magnification is generally better, until mirage becomes an issue."
My fixed power 36X Leupold is not what i would buy now. Get a variable scope. Leupold or the better models of Bushnell, with adjustable objective work well.

MechAg94
June 9, 2012, 09:21 PM
I noticed with a 20X I have, every little vibration and heart beat moves the scope around. I was almost more comfortable dialing back the magnification.

IMO, start out with a cheaper Nikon or Leupold scope at 9X or 12X. You can always go for an expensive target scope later.

proven
June 9, 2012, 10:47 PM
i would suggest that quality of glass is more important than magnification.

JPG19
June 9, 2012, 10:56 PM
Holy crap y'all use some serious magnification! How can you even holy a 24-36x scope steady, even if your prone? 10x seems like it ought to be able to go as far as you'd ever need, but that's just me.

Big second on going for quality glass. It's amazing how much it helps to have a nice, good scope is.

browningguy
June 9, 2012, 11:43 PM
Some very knowledgeable long range shooters recommend no more than 9X or 10X even at 1,000 yards, partly because of this.

I sure haven't met any of these, about the most popular optic I see at 600 and 1000 yard shoots are the Nightforce BR in 8-32 or 12-42. In quality optics the reduction in optical clarity or resolution at high magnifications is not really the problem, it's trying to shoot through mirage at high magnification. You can check the benchrest score on line that give the equipment list used by everyone at these shoots and I don't see any low power (less than about 24) showing up regularly in the winners lists.

For a reasonably priced scope for 400-600 yard target shooting I think the Weaver Grand Slam 6.5-20 is a very good deal, but shooting an 8-32 wouldn't bother me either. You can always dial down the magnification if the mirage is heavy.

ms6852
June 10, 2012, 12:01 AM
Shooting longer distance and on hot days like here in Texas, I find that high magnification may work against you especially with all the heatwaves or mirage. I have a 2.5 -10 x 42 that does fantastic at 500 yds, and I am only dialed in to 6x power. I never go beyond 8x unless I am counting antlers or want to get a better view of the game. Also the higher the magnification the more your flaws are magnified as well as your heartbeat. I also find that fix 10x scopes allow for more internal adjustments than the 24x power scopes.

madcratebuilder
June 10, 2012, 06:08 AM
I have a few 50-80 year old military sniper rifles with 3.5-4X scopes. These work out to 400yards, particularly with man size targets. For new scopes I have always used a 3-9, 4-12 area until last year when I bought a 6.5-20 Vortex Viper. I like the higher magnification if shooting past 300yds. Shooting prone with a bi-pod/mono-pod set up there is zero movement, and 20X well get you past 1k yards.

303tom
June 10, 2012, 09:16 AM
It was under 50 bucks, I can count the hairs on a gnats butt at 400 yds. & it has never failed me..............

redneck2
June 10, 2012, 09:17 AM
These threads always crack me up. If someone suggests a 6 to 24x variable, you get the endless howls of "24x is too much". "Mirage is a problem on hot days at high power..."

Uhhhh...that's why they call it a variable. Just crank it down. I can turn my 6-24 down to 10x, but you can't turn your 3x9 up to 16x.

I've got a 6.5x20x40 VX-III on my Varminter AR and also on my .22 Hornet. 4.5x14x40 VX-3 on my CZ .22. You can only shoot as good as you can see. If you're trying to shoot itty bitty groups, you gotta see itty bitty targets.

Nobody would argue that a 4.5x is too much on a .22, but they go crazy if they see the 14x.

As noted, if you're gonna go with higher power, you may need a better scope. Cheap scopes tend to get cloudy and lose resolution. I'd agree that clarity trumps magnification.

AABEN
June 10, 2012, 11:38 AM
I like the 6x24 with a 40mm not over 44mm for target shooting.

Art Eatman
June 10, 2012, 12:11 PM
I'm a hunter much more than I am any sort of formal target shooter. But I like to mess around "out yonder". I built a 500-yard range at my house. My pet '06 has a Simmons 44Mag 3x10 on it. I had no problem shooting groups of mostly around 0.8 MOA with my usual handloads.

Trent
June 10, 2012, 01:20 PM
I've use 10x out to 1/2 mile with good results. The scope itself was fine; what wasn't was my range of adjustment. I wished I had an inclined base; even maxed out, I had to make my point of aim a branch on a tree.. 16 feet above the target. Wind was blowing that day 30mph from the left, I had to also aim "8 fence posts left".. little trial and error there. Even on the 300 win mag recoil, I'd recovered by the time the bullet arrived, so I could see the puffs of sand where the rounds impacted and call my own adjustments. No spotter required. Was fun. :)

At 400 yards anything will be fine - even no scope. :)

The holes will *probably* be too small to see without a spotting scope unless you're shooting a 50 cal, even if you got a 24x scope. Some of the shorter range guns I shoot, like the 22-250 or 223, I'll use high powered scopes on for 100-300 yard shooting, for the simple fact it lets me avoid taking a trip over to the spotting scope to look for the little .223 holes...

If you plan on hunting an adjustable 2-x+ or 3.5x+ would be good, that way you can dial it down to "look". I was really surprised how "claustrophobic" I felt with a high powered scope while scanning. Not enough field of view!

Walkalong
June 10, 2012, 01:44 PM
For target shooting more magnification is generally better, until mirage becomes an issue.
What kind of target shooting and what kind of target? It makes a big differenceTwo excellent points, although the higher magnification is better for group shooting than just making hits.

ole farmerbuck
June 11, 2012, 12:26 AM
These dots measure .262. Gotta have some magnification to see them.
http://i302.photobucket.com/albums/nn88/farmerbuck/target.jpg

Sniper66
June 11, 2012, 01:12 PM
I don't shoot paper targets at 300, but have shot some prairie dogs at 300+ with a Leupold 4.5-14X. With it set to 14X I get a fairly good sight picture of the dog. but shooting at 400, it would seem to me you should listen to these guys who shoot targets with a 24X.

Jim Watson
June 12, 2012, 02:08 PM
I agree with redneck, that is the advantage of the high range variables; you can set them to what the snipers, hunters, and grandpa use; and then wind them up to where you can actually see what you are doing. I am ok with an 8.5-25X that spends nearly all the time between 20 and 24 depending on the conditions. But that is for F class shooting with a bipod and well defined target. I might crank it down for a field course on irregular targets in the countryside.

I put a straight 36X on a BR50 rifle. That was too much and I would be better off with a 24X at my level of skill.

the count
June 12, 2012, 03:47 PM
Some very knowledgeable long range shooters recommend no more than 9X or 10X even at 1,000 yards, partly because of this.


The quality is more important than the number of X's.
sorry but i can't believe that. at 1000 yards with 10x the crosshairs will totally cover a standard 100 yard bulls eye target.

LAK
June 13, 2012, 01:34 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by jmr40 View Post
Some very knowledgeable long range shooters recommend no more than 9X or 10X even at 1,000 yards, partly because of this.


The quality is more important than the number of X's. endquote.

sorry but i can't believe that. at 1000 yards with 10x the crosshairs will totally cover a standard 100 yard bulls eye target.

This is a good point on the issue of precision versus magnification and aiming points, you do not need nor want a tiny aiming point to shoot accurately at 400 yards, or much farther out. The scope reticle will completely obscure it. A circle, square, diamond shaped aiming point large enough to show enough contrasting area outside of of the reticle will allow you to center your reticle with the aiming point evenly centered. And this is another reason you do not need high powered scopes.

benzy2
June 13, 2012, 02:28 AM
Certainly good groups can be shot without magnification. Look at all the Service Rifle shooters who use irons to shoot matches across the country. They do well. They also have a target that is appropriate for their sights. The size of the target is adjusted for an optimal sight picture.

If on the other hand you place a 4" steel plate at 400 yards and the plate is a similar color to the background, having more magnification as well as a clear image will go a long way and make life a lot easier.

It seems to me that larger targets require less magnification, not because they are easier to hit but because they are easier to see. People have shown that if they can see it they can hit the center of it, again just look at Service Rifle shooters. But, you take that optimal target away and now magnification becomes a huge benefit. If you need to shoot a small target that's hard to distinguish and is stationary, the more the better until mirage gets heavy. If you are shooting a bold, easily identifiable target, such as say a 12"-12" steel plate with a high contrast background, hitting center may take less magnification.

When you look at the stationary paper punchers who get to use any optic they please, most go for high magnification. I can't remember many who have won an open optic class like this with a low powered optic. On the other hand, if I had to shoot steel targets in a timed event from ranges of 25-400 yards I sure wouldn't be running a fixed 36x optic either.

I play a lot with iron sights, mostly on .22lrs. It's amazing what a quality globe and aperture sight set can do on a fitting target. I've gotten groups I thought could only be shot with a high magnification optic. Now, if I toss up a 50 yard benchrest target up using those irons I can't distinguish a single bull from the next and each shot is a total guess. Matching your optic to the target is the key.

TonyAngel
June 14, 2012, 02:43 PM
The longest that I get to shoot most of the time is about 600 yards or so. As a general rule of thumb, for larger game or shooting at targets that simulate larger game and shooting for hits only (not groups) I usually go for a 2.5-10X scope. For target shooting, either for groups or at small targets, I opt for a 5.5-22X.

Really, I believe that a lot of the arguments going on are moot. Even those touting that you don't need a lot of magnification admit that they shoot using a scope with 6X or greater magnification; so what's the difference between going with a 3-15X or a 5.5-22X, except that you can't dial the 15X up to 22X.

I settled on the 5.5-22X for a few reasons. First, at 600 yards, for the types of shooting that I do, I can see all that I need to at 22X. For those times when I'm shooting closer in, I've never found 5.5X to be too much. Second, 22X seems to be the dividing line where you start to sacrifice more that I am willing to in order to get more magnification. For me, the bottom end of the magnification is a bit too high and you start to loose some flexibility in the rig. You also loose a lot of range of adjustment. Lastly, the 22X is usually a good compromise in size.

As has been mentioned, clarity and resolution are more important than magnification. What is equally as important for me is repeatability. I usually dial for elevation, so my scopes being able to return to their zero is important to me.

If you are on a budget, but want good glass and internals, I'd check out the Vortex PST. I believe it is the 6-24X. It's a good scope for the money. I personally think the Nightforce scopes are the best bang for the buck.

slimfitter
June 14, 2012, 06:19 PM
I have hunted in Texas for 40yrs from south Texas to the hill country and hunted in the mountains of Colorado with 4x12 40mm and never needed any more. However I just bought a Burris 4.5x14 40mm for my son and was very impressed with the clarity and it is not that expensive.

steveo452
June 15, 2012, 12:01 AM
Anywhere from 24-36 would be good.

roc1
June 16, 2012, 10:24 AM
The benchrest shooters I shoot with use 36x. One of them shot on the national team that went to France last year. They shoot tiny targets and only shoot 100-200 yards but are trying to put every shot in the same hole. They all use high power scopes for target work to be very effective. Low power scopes you cant see the target. I have tried. I would get at least 20x for serious target shooting. I am planning to upgrade to better magnification myself.
Hope this helps
roc1

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