My review of a new optic

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Dec 27, 2002
Tampa, FL
Review of Mueller Close-Quarters Scope

Optics ? over the years, I have noticed that this very word evokes passionate debate on internet message boards. A new shooter (or even old veterans) will ask a simple question such as ?What is the best scope for me to use for ?x? purpose? or ?I can?t spend more than ?$? and want the best scope to use for (insert use here).? Then come a steady stream of board members, some with a LOT of experience, some without. Everyone has an opinion based on their own experiences or what they might have read somewhere. And, of course, there are always what I call the ?optics snobs? who, without justifying their position, automatically belittle anyone who doesn?t buy a certain expensive brand-name optic.

My own optics quest has taken me to low valleys and high mountains (not literally, but figuratively.) For many years I owned what many people would consider JUNK. Cheap Chinese made scopes like BSA, Leapers, NC Star, Barska, Kalinka and others that most people have never heard of before and will never hear of again. At the time, money and ignorance played a large part in my decisions. I figured one 6-24x56 scope was just like every other one, but the cost differences (and my budget) were enough to cause me to buy the least expensive ones. I was a casual shooter at best, and my eyesight was such that I really at first didn?t know if I could tell a difference in the higher-priced optics. Of course, most of the time spent at the range for me was spent plinking and shooting at targets 100 yards or less away.

One day, however, I had an optical epiphany. I got a great deal on a rifle, and it came with a top-of-the-line Leupold scope ? this was a $850 scope! I couldn?t believe how much it cost (I technically got it for free, but that?s another story.) I don?t think in my 18 years of shooting (at that time) I had spent more than $400 total for ALL my many scopes combined. So I went to the range and let?s just say that day was an ?eye-opening? experience. From that point on, I was determined to learn more about scopes, try many out, and try and match my needs with the best value optically. That didn?t mean I would automatically buy the most expensive all the time, but I did want quality and value for my money.

I have owned Leupold, Nikon (Monarch, Tactical), Weaver, Zeiss, Burris (Signature, Fullfield 2, Black Diamond), Springfield Armory 3rd Gen, IOR Valdada, Swarovski, and the gaggle of inexpensive ones as well. I have had great and not-so-great experiences with many of them. Some had optical clarity and resolution that were incredible, but for my applications their design, reticles, performance in other areas, etc. made them unsuitable for my purposes. Others had all the features I desired, but optically they weren?t up to par. I still own many of these (two Zeiss scopes, a Weaver, even some new ones I haven?t tried like a Fujinon and Swift.)

Enter into the fray a few short years ago a new company called Mueller Honestly when I first saw an advertisement for the company?s products I thought, ?Oh, great, another no-name company that won?t be around for more than a year or two, trying to get into the market with an unproven product.? However, a funny thing happened. The longer I posted and researched on various internet message boards, the more and more positive things I heard about the company. I started to take notice. Here are some things I discovered about Mueller:

1. They are a small company based out of MI
2. They have a unique global approach to designing and building their scopes that involves finding the best value parts from different countries (i.e. glass from Japan, lens coatings from Germany) and then having them assembled in a modern optical manufacturing plant in China. However, this new scope being designed and manufactured is all done in Japan.
3. Their business model and advertising is done without the vast sums of money that larger companies spend ? mostly it is word of mouth, a few internet dealers, etc.
4. They offer a full lifetime warranty, transferable to other owners as long as they have a copy of the original sales receipt. And from what I?ve heard on the internet at other message boards (I?ve never had to send one back) the service is fast .

These approaches have enabled them to offer scopes that are in the league of $300-$500 scopes, at less than half the price.

So, I decided after reading all the glowing reviews on many websites and even in a few respected shooting magazines, to bite the bullet and try one. I figured if I ended up with a crappy scope, I could at least turn around and put it on Ebay or something. I decided to order their least expensive scope, a 2-7x32 lighted reticle ?Shotgun? scope called the Multi-shot. I was toying with an idea of having a low magnification scope on my AR-15 for general purpose and extended range 3-gun use. I had an IOR Valdada 1.1-4x26 lighted reticle already, but didn?t care for the weak dot, and it was expensive (and I really needed to sell it for some other projects). Well, I really liked the Mueller scope I got, and while it didn?t exactly serve my purposes for a 3-gun scope, it did end up on my 10-22 Pocket Rifle where it does a great job at the ranges I am shooting at with that gun.

I began to email Rich, the owner of Mueller, with some thoughts, ideas, and suggestions regarding some of his other scopes that eventually bought. I got a 8.5-25x scope for varmint shooting, and a 4-16x50 scope for ?tactical? shooting, with an illuminated mildot. That was the scope that originally got me emailing Rich, as I thought that with a few modifications it would be ?perfect?. Over the next few months an idea began to form in my head. I found myself thinking back to why I originally bought the Multi-shot scope. A 3-gun/CQB style optic, that had magnification, has always been a desire of mine. And unless I wanted to spend a LOT of money (U.S. Optics, IOR, Schmidt and Bender, Leupold) I would just have to make due with either my Eotech or Aimpoint, or bite the bullet and get a fixed 4x ACOG. But maybe there was another way. Now, when I say ?3-gun/CQB style optic?, I?m not talking about one that can take the abuse of real combat. I realize the ACOG, S&B, Aimpoint, are designed for very rough use. However, to get a variable 1-4x scope that can also be used for close quarters shooting and with all the features I wanted, it would cost a pretty penny. Most AR-15 shooters do NOT need that type of optic. Many of us go to the range a few times a month (if we?re lucky!) and blast off a few mags at paper or reactive targets. The chances of us ever being in real combat are next to nil. And of course there are people who compete in 3-gun matches where they may engage targets from 25 yards up to 300 yards or more. These people, not the U.S. military, are the types of customers that Mueller is interested in.

And so, without further ado, I present to you Mueller?s answer to my dilemma, born of my desire (and the desire of others) have a fast-reaction tactical optic that can serve as a close-range red-dot optic, and also have the versatility of extra magnification for those long shots that might be required at 300+ yards. I was asked by Rich at Mueller to provide a detailed review of this prototype scope, and then pass it along to a couple of other members of for their input as well. One of the reviewers is a weapons expert and range master with the NYPD, and he will be letting some tactical shooters on the department try out the optic as well. The other reviewer is a very experienced 3-gun match competitor, who also lives near a good friend of his who is active duty US Army Special Forces, and just got back from a tour in Afghanistan.

First, a caveat. The scope that I was sent is NOT the final scope that will be sold to the general public (if it is made, that is.) There are a few features (like the magnification ring) that are not yet on it, and most importantly the RETICLE is not the one that will be on it. The one on this scope is a duplex German #4 reticle with a simple red dot that illuminates (more on that in a moment.) The eventual reticle is a unique, patented design that is in final developmental stages.

When I took the scope out of the box, I was immediately struck by how . . . . different it was. Different from most any other scope I?ve ever seen or used.

It actually bears a passing resemblance to the Trijicon Accupoint

Here are the technical specs of the scope:

Power: 1x-4x (variable) ? note that the 1x is a TRUE 1x
Objective aperture: 24mm
Tube dia.: 1.00"
FOV @ 100 meters: 93.5 feet at 1x ? 26.25 feet at 4x
Eye-relief: 3.30"
Maximum Adjust.: Up/Down 70/70--- Right/Left 70/70 MOA
Adjustments: 1/4"
Number of lenses: 12
Over-all Length: 10.40"
Weight: 13.5oz per my scale (factory says 12.7oz)
Reticle focus: Fast focus "with" lock ring
Illumination: 11 total brightness settings, the 3 lowest being for night
vision and not visible to the naked eye.

It has a nice matte finish with white lettering and marks on all areas that are numbered. The turrets are low and have very positive feeling and sounding clicks. Now, some people might wonder why there aren?t target turrets or finger adjustable turrets (these are the standard ?insert coin or screwdriver? hunting turrets). The more I thought about it, the more I actually thought that this is a good thing for this type of scope. We aren?t talking a 6-25x varmint scope here. This scope isn?t going to be used at ranges that require those types of constant and fast adjustments to windage and elevation. Once you get this scope sighted in at 100 yards, there should be any need to ever have to mess with the turrets again unless you swap it out on to another weapon. The posts are not centered between the mag ring and the objective, sort of like the older Burris Signature scopes. From my recollections of why Burris did this, this actually has the effect of increasing the size of the internal lenses (akin to the same size that they would be on a 30mm tube style scope.) The one thing I did have an issue with was the magnification ring. It needs a raised post for your finger to push against when making adjustments from 1x to 4x and back. I was told by Rich that the final version will have this. I also felt like the travel needed to go from 1x to 4x was excessive ? this scope takes about 210° of travel ? say from 12 o?clock noon on a clock to about 7 or 8 o?clock. I feel that is too much travel for such a small change in magnification.

After mounting the scope to my AR (16? M-4 configuration, flat top, no front sight post) with Leupold QRW rings, I was ready to start looking through the scope. Since I didn?t have any High rings (and they were needed ? even though the tube is 1? and the front objective lens is 24mm, the rear ocular lens is quite large (due to the illuminated reticle mechanism stored there), I had to use Medium rings and a riser mount. And it actually worked very well ? I like a low mount anyway, as I snug my cheek in very close. But using the medium rings and the riser put the optic at the perfect height for me.

I wanted to view the scope with and without the illumination on, and at various magnifications and at various targets, in different lighting conditions. One of the first things that struck me is that the eye relief is pretty generous. I?m sort of odd in that I like long eye relief on my AR optics. I push my cheek far forward when I throw a rifle to my shoulder. I have long arms, and tend to get in close on the stock. I?ve also had scopes in the past that if you weren?t EXACTLY where you needed to be with regards to your eye and the ocular lens, then you saw black. Not the case here, which was nice. The 1x setting really does appear to be 1x. As for clarity of the glass . . . . well, my eyesight isn?t the best in the world, even with corrective lenses (which SUCK, by the way ? too many dings, scratches, etc. in my plastic lenses ? I really need corrective surgery or new glasses, but that?s another story), but I saw no hint of chromatic aberrations, and the lenses appear clear almost to the edges. As with any lens on almost any scope (except the VERY expensive ones) there will always be some bend and slight refraction at the very edges of the lens, and this scope was no exception. However, the most important part of any scope is the 80-90% of the lens from the center out, and this was very clear and had good contrast. No hint of any odd colors, either, like in some cheap glass (or in scopes with . . . shudder . . . PLASTIC lenses.)

The objective was interesting in that the last lens in the scope was still quite far back from the end of the tube ? this acts almost like a built-in sunshade. It also lessens the chances of something scratching the lens. Throw a Butler Creek flip up on it and you are set. The ocular lens end of the scope is . . . . BIG. But it allowed me the generous eye relief and also was a little more forgiving when it comes to lining up my shot. Now, one thing I have noticed with a lot of red dot style scopes is that the dot is rather squirrely. Many are either too bright or not bright enough. Some are grainy. Others (many, actually) suffer from tube glow and refraction issues. However, this new scope takes advantage of a break-through in illumination design. Supposedly, the manufacturer discovered a way to allow for a regular glass-etched reticle (the black part of the reticle) to be made independent of the illuminated reticle. The new illumination system allows you to have a completely separate illuminated reticle. With a glass-etched reticle, you can only illuminate part or all of the reticle that?s already there. This new system works completely differently.

The new system basically has a holographic style illumination system that?s inside a standard variable power scope (new technology at its best). This allows you to have 2 totally separate reticles and they track with each other when adjusted for windage and elevation. They made them so they mesh with each other because the non-illumination reticle will always be there. This new system also allows the illuminated portion to be much brighter with "no" tube glow whatsoever, unlike a glass etched reticle. This could possibly make glass etched reticles obsolete because you can make the illuminated portion so bright, it can still be seen when looking almost directly into the sun. Try that with a glass etched reticle. And you know what? It works ? I took the scope out on a nice, bright sunny day and on setting 4 through 11 the reticle was crisp, clear, and did not get washed out by bright light. Settings 1-3 are not visible to the naked eye, since those are the NV settings.

The other feature I really liked was the diopter ring that also has a locking ring in place so that once you find the right resolution for your eyesight, you can lock it in. A nice feature there. So, now that I?ve described all the physical and operating characteristics of this scope, all that is left to do is test it at the range!


It was a beautiful day for shooting. 65°-70°, a light 5 mph wind coming right at me, and hardly anyone at the range. I had targets set at 50 yards and 100 yards for sighting in and fast target shooting. I was using my AR-15 with M-4 configuration barrel, 1:7 twist, standard flash suppressor. It has a flat top with no front sight post, free-float YHM hand guards, and a front grip, as well as a VLTOR clubfoot non-adjustable stock. Grip is a FOBUS G-27. OK, enough of the equipment list.

Now, first, some pictures of the set-up:


I sighted in at 50 yards, noting that the click adjustments were spot-on. Took me a few rounds to get it sighted, but nothing weird there. I was shooting off a rest as well. My ammo of choice today was (don?t laugh) ? WOLF! Hey, it?s cheap, easy to find, and I had a lot of it. 55 grain, FMJ ? what most of use, even if we won?t admit it on J

I started off shooting with the illumination off. I wanted to see what it was like with the standard reticle.


As you can see, it is a modified German #4 reticle, heavy duplex at the West, East, and South portions. As much as I like this design for hunting scopes in the 3-9x range, I feel it is too busy and limiting for a CQB style optic. I do NOT like having these heavy lines interfering with my field of view. Luckily, this is not the reticle design that this scope will have in its final stage. More on that in a moment. (Note ? I did NOT take the pictures of the views through the scope ? my camera doesn?t do that very well, so these pics come courtesy of Rich at Mueller ? also note that I am jealous of Rich for having a shooting range in his back yard.)

I was pretty impressed with the clarity and accuracy I achieved when sighting in. Here is a pic of my sight-in target. Keep in mind my eyesight sucks, I shake too much when I shoot, I haven?t shot in a while, I?ve never claimed to be an incredible shot, and I was shooting a regular barreled AR-15 with no match trigger, using Wolf ammo.


Not too shabby, eh? So, now I?m ready to turn on the dot. I must say, I was a little skeptical. Fine crosshairs are supposed to be the ?shiz-nit? for accurate shooting. Dots cover up the target, right? Well, here is a picture of the view through the scope with the dot on:


Another one with the brightness turned down:

Now, I will tell you something that surprised me ? I?m used to red dot sights being a little grainy, having some tube glow, or not being bright enough and clear enough to make much use of in bright lighting conditions. This was NOT the case here. It is hard to see unless you are actually looking through it, but there was NO tube glow, no graininess, and the dot was very pleasant and easy to look at, and had wonderful contrast and clarity. I found that setting 7 and 8 were the best for me. Settings 1-3 were invisible as they are for NV. I could tell that setting 4 would be ideal for very low light conditions, though.

So, how did I shoot with the dot on? I was a little concerned at first since I would be covering up the center of the target. But guess what happened? Because I couldn?t see the fine crosshair center, I wasn?t seeing the minute changes that come from my breathing and jerking the gun in anticipation of the recoil or trying too hard to center it. I relaxed, and a funny thing happened:


Yeah, that?s right ? holy crap! Cheap ammo, cheap AR, cheap shooter (ask my wife), and I still manage to put them in at about 1.25? center-to-center.
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So, now it was on to doing some fast-acquisition CQB-style shooting. I stood for those, fired at 100 yards, relatively fast, on 1x magnification.


I don’t know about you, but I think that equals “dead bad-guy.” It was easy to acquire a sight picture, since the FOV (field of view) is, to put it mildly, AMAZING – I have never seen a 1-4x scope that has this much FOV – and that is a good thing. True, it takes a split second longer to acquire a sight picture with this scope than my EOTECH, Aimpoint, or Trijicon Tri-power, but those guys don’t have 4x magnification.

One last test I did – I had invited my co-worker, SigSauerP228 from along, and he showed up later – something about a late night begging for “pie”. He stopped by at WallyWorld to pick up some ammo, which was a good thing because I had run out. Now, a funny thing about Nicholas – he’s been on for a few months (I told him about the site one day and he’s been drooling about getting an AR ever since.) Now Nicholas is a pistol shooter. And until today I never realized that he’s never shot an AR-15 before. So, I thought this would be a neat experiment. I handed him the AR, and told him to have fun. He quickly took to the scope, noting how easy it was to acquire a sight picture and that it was nice and clear. He then began shooting. Now, I’m not one to criticize someone too much on his first try, and I must say he did a pretty good job. He had a little bit of a flinch, and tended to push his shoulder up some and pull to the left with his hand on the front grip, but here is what he shot:


I must say, I was DAMN impressed. And he really liked the scope, especially with the dot turned on. He commented favorably as well regarding the clarity and brightness of the dot.

He was also able to take some pictures of me shooting – since I’ve had so many requests for pictures of my handsome mug from the ladies here, I figured I’d better have my best side facing towards the camera:

Note the new haircut, new $600 Fujinon spotting scope, and extra 20 pounds brought on by my bourbon fetish.

After the test we had some fun with my new 9mm AR – it is an SBR, cut to 8.5”, with a Magpul stock, SOCOM magblock to accept Sten mags, and an EOTECH holosight on top. A WHOLE lot of fun. It is slated for a suppressor as well. At 50 yards it can do pretty damn well (4” groups with cheap 115 grain ammo). One thing I realized is that for ranges of around 50-75 yards, I really do prefer the EOTECH. No eye relief issues, very fast, love the reticle. However, I started to miss the 4x magnification of the Mueller.

Speaking of reticles – I mentioned at the beginning of my review that the reticle of the scope I was testing is NOT the final design. However, I have some pictures of one of the candidates for the final reticle design, as well as a description. Rich at Mueller wanted something simple, yet effective. A reticle that will allow for close-in shooting and fast target acquisition, but also will allow for ranging and bullet drop up to 500 yards using standard 55 grain FMJ .223 ammo. And he didn’t want something that was too busy. Here is the reticle that is garnering the most attention and consideration:


The one on the left is what you would see when the illumination system is off. The dot is 1 MOA and is zeroed at 100 yards. The top of the post is 200 yards, and the three hash marks below it are 300, 400, and 500 yards compensated for the bullet drop of a 55 grain FMJ round. Also, the width of the 300, 400, and 500 yard hash marks correspond to a 16” torso width, so it acts as a range-finding reticle against human sized targets. The reticle on the right is what you would see when the illumination system is on. The circle from top to bottom is equivalent to 32” at 1x at 100 yards. About the size of a human torso vertically from waist to top of head. This illuminated reticle is similar to the EOTECH reticle which I love so much. I like this reticle design because it is simple, not “busy” or cluttered, and has some nice extras like the ranging torso hash marks as well as the bullet drop hash marks. Simply, effective, and does not interfere with the field of view.

My final impressions: Overall I am very satisfied and happy with this design. Sure, it needs a few changes to make it “perfect” in my book – the raised post for the magnification ring, the smaller travel on said ring for going from 1x to 4x, and inclusion of the new CQB reticle. But I feel that Meuller is very close to producing an optic that many casual (read: non-combat users) shooters will enjoy immensely. As for pricing – Rich hopes to know by the end of the week what the expected MSRP will be. I can tell you that it will definitely be a LOT less than the US Optics, S&B, Leupold, and IOR offerings out there that are similar to this optic. However, it is worthy to note that none of those optics has the new illumination system that the Mueller will have.

Feel free to comment, email me with questions, or post them here. I’ve already boxed up the scope to send to a fellow member (he is a NYPD officer who is a weapons expert, range officer, and lady-killer extraordinaire (his words, not mine) who will do a review next week, and will also get NYPD SWAT members to run it through it’s paces. Then it is off to another member who is a 3-gun competitor and who will also be testing it with a good friend of his who is US Army Special Forces and just returned from Afghanistan.

Oh, just got an email from Rich at Mueller – he’s been testing the longevity of the battery on the #4 illumination setting and so far he’s at 57 hours and going strong.
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Greywolf - this is more than interesting! Very good to hear of what would seem to be a great home-grown product. Many thx for all your write-up effort.

I notice the image bucket pics are not showing - but the URL's seem incomplete! They will need an http:// in front, or http://www. to make the software ''fetch them'' - Check that and edit if you can - or I will for you - pics would be good to see.
Well done! All there now except the one-too-many in first post - sadly five pics per post is limit - that one was with IIRC reticle dot turned down (I like!) .......


Pics help enormously - and this has all piqued my interest no end. I am lucky to have two or three Leupolds but they were not new - tho still pricey. I also have boatloads of cheapies - my eyesight sucks too - but that's old age.

Excellent info. Thx.

I like the old reticule pattern! The little dot's and lines are too busy for real world CQB and resemble Russian "CQB" scopes(losers!). I would buy one with the old heavy pattern if the cost was under $300.
I've been impressed with what I've seen of Mueller optics. I nearly won an Ebay auction for a 4 dot size reddot "turkey" sight ( that could have been great for CQB and longer range stuff with its variable dot sizes.

I'm glad to see that Mueller is bringing stuff like this out, especially at the prices quoted.
Outstanding review. This is what I come to THR for and what the internet does best. I doubt I'll ever hear of this company from a gun rag because of their marketing philosophy - no ads = no reviews.


Greywolf, I mentioned this to you before, but as A. a 3gun nut, and B. a dealer. I'm very interested in these.
This sounds like exactly what I've been looking for. Mueller's website doesn't list any 1-4x scopes for sale currently. Any word on when they will be available for purchase?
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Appx. 90 days ETA - final reticle and production/test models in the pipeline. They want to make sure they have all the bugs worked out before they ramp up.
Thanks for keeping after this- it's a VERY interesting piece of glass. I like the second reticle much better, never have understood the (lack of) logic in putting a heavy line UNDER the aiming point with a light line above- no one is going to be holding under that much, for Pete's sake...

Update - most of the development and news on this was going on over at, but since I got banned over there last month I'll have to give updates here for you guys.

Still a little ways out, and I just developed an interesting addition that I need to patent that I've never seen on a scope before, but which I think will be a very neat thing for a CQB optic with regards to going from 1x to 4x quickly.

Final price to be in the $295-$325 range.

Here are some pics, and the last is the view through the final reticle:

Muellertest001.jpg .
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