Scope power question


July 27, 2012, 08:21 AM
This is a follow up question to my other post on rifle selection. I think I have my rifle choice narrowed down but need help with scope selection. Going to be getting a .308 probably a savage 11 or 16. The primary use will be target shooting between 100-300 yards but I may shoot 500-800 yards on occasion as only one range has this distance available. There is also a chance of taking it on an Elk,moose, or hog hunt if I ever get the chance to go. I hunt deer in Indiana but are not allowed to use rifle cartridges.

So is a 3-9x 40 with bullet drop compensator scope that comes with some of the savages adequate or do I need a higher powered and or different scope?


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July 27, 2012, 08:37 AM
A "quality" 3-9X40 scope is more than adequate for your shooting needs. I question the quality of any of the scopes that come as part of a package deal on new rifles. It is generally better to save the $20 or so on the package gun and buy one without a factory mounted scope and use that money toward a better scope and mount.

July 27, 2012, 08:42 AM
I have a 3.5-10 BSA ( on a .30-06. Before that it served on top of my 10/22. So far its been a great scope for the money. As for magnification, I find that 6x is the sweet spot for FOV and target acquisition out to 200 yards. As a bonus, it tracks well for less than a hundred bucks.

July 27, 2012, 11:34 AM
A 3X9 scope is fine on a hunting and occasional target rifle. Anything more is overkill. As ranges increase you'll find that wind and mirage are much more a factor than lack of magnification. In fact, increased magnification can be detrimental insofar as introducing a mirage effect is concerned. As highorder mentioned, you'll probably find a magnification that works well for you and seldom if ever change the setting.

Art Eatman
July 27, 2012, 12:21 PM
I've never shot beyond 500 yards. I've mostly used 3x9x40s. 3X when I'm hunting, for the wider field of view. 9X for load testing, sight-in and casual target shooting.

July 27, 2012, 12:39 PM
For hunting, a 9X or 10X top end is usually more than enough, with some being more than comfortable with a 7X. Target shooting is a whole different matter.

Of course, it depends on your definition of target shooting. If you are shooting for group size or at small targets (smaller than MOA), I'd get as much magnification as I can without sacrificing too much in other areas. For me, this usually means something in the 22-24X range.

As for bullet drop compensated scopes, I never liked them much. Unless close is good enough, they aren't precise enough for me and depend greatly on bullet weight and velocity. I'd go with a scope that has something in the flavor of a reticle with graduations in mils or minutes of angle.

July 27, 2012, 01:33 PM
Mount a 3x9 on one of your rimfire rifles and shoot at 300 yards. Hitting doesn't count, just check out how well the scope works for you. You said target work was number one use, it's just a guess but you may want more than 9x.

July 27, 2012, 06:52 PM
For target shooting in particular I would go higher than 3-9 (which would be fine if it was a primarily hunting rifle). A 4-12 or 4-16 would be decent for the distances mentioned. At a minimum you'll want something of the quality of a Bushnell 3200, Burris FFII or Leopold VX1. Anything less will be a severe disadvantage for target shooting at 300 yards.

July 28, 2012, 01:22 PM
another part of that equation is how good your eyes are. having much less than perfect eyes myself, i understand this. for hunting, i am a big fan of 3-9 powered scopes. for target work, i like more magnification. i have a 4-12 on my 300 win mag and 223. the win mag is on open country hunt gun, and the 223 is for varmints. both serve dual purpose as target guns. actually, all of my guns serve that, since that is where 90% of all the shooting happens. i find the extra magnification helps accuracy at the range. i can also verify the mirage aspect as well. but most of my shooting happens in the morning, before there is a lot of heat.

July 28, 2012, 02:51 PM
I believe my Savage .308 came with a Burris scope. It's been fine between 100 and 300 yards and has caused me no issue. Although I will put a nice scope on it sometime in the future. It's the only rifle I have at the moment that doesn't have a really nice scope on it, probably because it came with one and just isn't on my top 10 list of things to get right now.

July 28, 2012, 03:17 PM
I hunt deer in Indiana but are not allowed to use rifle cartridges.
I hunt deer in Indiana with an AR in .358 WSSM (custom upper). My friend took a 163 class off our farm with a .44 mag rifle last fall. .458 SOCOM, .450 Bushmaster, and most all the bigger pistol calibers in a rifle are legal. Might want to look at the regulations again.

Anyway, I've got a Leupold VX-R 4.5x14x40 on my deer rifle and a 4.5x14x40 VX-3 on my .22 rimfire. There's virtually no difference between a 3x and 4x in the field, but a significant difference in 9x vs 14x. Guys get all nutty because "you don't gotta have 14x!!!!!". Uh, OK. Turn it down.

Depends on your target size at 800 yards, but I'd look thru a 9x at that range before I'd buy it for target. Most guys that shoot prairie dogs at 800 yards + use something in the 20x or higher. 9x at 800 yards is the same as iron sights at 90 yards.

July 28, 2012, 10:37 PM
Most target scopes are about 20X to 24X. I shoot small bore prone with a 16X, see everything with its wide field of view.

Too much magnification can be bad for a hunting rifle, sometimes bad for a target rifle. People cross fire all the time because their field is view is small with high power scopes and they are looking at the wrong X ring.

I have shot out to 1000 yards with a fixed 6X power scope. Actually shot a 194 with the thing, saw all the mirage and held off.

July 28, 2012, 10:41 PM
I second the 3-9X-40. This is enough on the long end to do what you want it to while still retaining a good wide field of view on the lower end. I actually have a 2-8X that serves most of my needs. Now if you want to step out to 1000+ yards and are highly interested in long distance shooting or benchrest shooting then by all means go for more power but just remember a high power scope usually has very limited usability.

July 29, 2012, 01:28 AM
Newguy, how much money do you want to spend or are willing to spend. Like I said, for hunting, 9X or 10X is usually enough. For target shooting most go for something around a 22X and up, depending on the discipline that they are shooting in.

What surprises me is that in this thread and many others, opinions seem to reflect some very old school thinking. 3-9X for hunting and get something bigger for target shooting; but the fact is that these days there are compromises that won't leave to wanting for much more, if that's the route that you choose to go.

Vortex has the Viper PST in 3-15X and is an excellent scope at around $650 or so. Then there is the Nightforce 3-15X which can be had new for around $1800 and used for around $1300 (for the SFP model). There is the Swarovski Z5 (excellent glass and build) in 3.5-18X. If you look around you can find some deals on them. Swaro just increased their prices, but the last one that I bought, I got on sale for $1200 with the BRX reticle.

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