Paging varminterror or other long range shooters: top optics?

Discussion in 'Long Gun Accessories and Optics' started by 1KPerDay, Aug 18, 2022.

  1. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    I don’t know much about LR optics. Looking for trustworthy recommendations for today’s top 5 (or top three or whatever you want) choices for long range shooting optics. I could google it but I trust you guys more.

    specific features you like about specific models would be welcome. I’d also love a “best bang for the buck” or best LR scope on a budget to consider. TIA
     
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  2. powermad

    powermad Member

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    The best bang for the buck is the Arken SH4 4-16x50 or the SH5 6-24x50.
    I have the 4-16 and for the money it's pretty hard to beat.

    For top end scopes I've been pretty happy with Nightforce and NF mounts.
     
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  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    @Varminterror :cool:
     
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  4. rabid wombat

    rabid wombat Member

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  5. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Member

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    What's your budget?
    There's several good scope's in the $850+ range, some great scopes in the $1500+ range, then you step up to the Alpha tier scopes at the $3000+ range.
    I don't consider most cheaper priced scopes worth wasting money on if you are really wanting to shoot long range.
     
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  6. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    One top pick from each price range would be great. I'm still shopping/checking the couch cushions
     
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  7. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    The hot optic in PRS has been the Tangent Theta TT525p Gen3 XR for a couple of years now. The Kahles K525i DLR and Zero Compromise ZC527 are top performers. Don’t see many Schmidt & Bender PMII’s, but they’re out there.

    The Vortex Razor Gen3 has hit the market hard and fast, with the Gen2 before it holding substantial prevalence in the game. The Gen3 raised in price considerably over the Gen2 - although, of course, nobody is paying retail price for Vortex (or almost any of these others, for that matter). We see boatloads of Vortex optics around, in part because they’re good optics, but also because they are typically fantastic supporters of the sport and put certs and products on prize tables all over the country.

    Naturally, the Nightforce ATACR 5-25x and 7-35x have been dominant as well, with the occasional NX8 here and there. The Leupold Mk5 HD’s have a loyal following as well.

    Stepping down in price, I personally favor the Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II/III and XRS II/III. The Burris XTR III Pro made a huge leap in performance and features over the XTRII’s - probably fair for me to admit the III Pro’s have a better feature set than the Bushnells I use - although I find the image a bit more “blue” in the Burris and with a bit more grit, so I favor the look of the Bushnells. I’ve generally gotten my DMR II/Pro’s and XRS for under $1000, and having the same reticle across a lot of rifles sure doesn’t hurt.

    We see some Tract Toric’s, a lot of Vortex Viper PST’s and here and there Strike Eagles and Venoms, the odd Athlon or Arken, very infrequent SigSauer Tango4/6’s. Seems most of the oddballs here are typically dependent upon area - I’ve seen a lot of Colorado/Wyoming guys using Burris XTR’s, Missouri guys using Bushnells, then some clubs will have a hot Athlon seller who owns a range and the entry level guys will be running all Athlons…

    With my money on the line, Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR III’s would my go-to affordable optic, then Leupold Mk5HD a step above, Nightforce ATACR again above, and finally Tangent Theta at the pinnacle. I do love my Kahles, and wish all of my scopes had left-side windage and top parallax - I can see everything from behind the scope, but the TT has a bit more generous eyebox and is a little cleaner at 25x.

    Features I find valuable (or invaluable) for PRS or other field-shooting:

    • First Focal Plane
    • Zero Stop
    • Rev Indicator
    • mil/mil turrets & reticle
    • .2-.25 mil windage marks on the reticle*
    • Open dot center
    • Christmas tree reticle
    • Reliable tracking
    • Great clarity, resolution, and low/no CA

    * I’ll forgive the .2-.25mil windage and use 1/2mil windage marks for better glass in a lower cost optic.

    What I would want and would use for fixed distance, KD square range competition would be different.
     
  8. stillquietvoice
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    stillquietvoice Contributing Member

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    @1KPerDay yhere is a sticky in the rifle sub forum on this exact subject matter. It's a pretty good read
     
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  9. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Thanks a lot, fellers!:cool:
     
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  10. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Many thanks for taking the time to respond. Couple questions:
    1. what's the advantage of top parallax? Left side windage? Is that so you can dial windage with your shooting hand on the gun? Do people do that?
    2. You say "What I would want and would use for fixed distance, KD square range competition would be different."
    How would your choices differ? No need for horus/christmas tree? Open center reticle, etc? What would your top three choices be in that case?

    Thanks again. Greatly appreciated.
     
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  11. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I can SEE the windage adjustment behind the rifle, and more readily as I approach the line. So if and when I DO dial for windage (which I have started doing more regularly), I can more naturally confirm my windage before a stage starts and even during the stage. The only way things could be better for visibility for me would be if my rifle were a left port. I can see my data card, windage, elevation, level, and parallax all without breaking my cheekweld. I’ll reach over the top to adjust my windage on the clock if I need to - or adjust with my left hand while moving with or placing the rifle. But typically, I don’t adjust on the clock.

    Different tools for different tasks. Shooting Benchrest or F-class, 1/8moa adjustments are extremely useful. I MIGHT still want an open dot, but that certainly depends upon the target being used. Don’t really need or want a Christmas tree when you’re NEVER changing target distance. A fine center duplex is sufficient there too.

    To be clear, I don’t really like the Horus or TReMoR reticles - the wall of reticle is just too much. Christmas trees have enough open space to retain better visibility when I recoil up and in so I can spot my splash behind or beside the tree.

    I shot 600/1000 BR for a short time in college, and tried F-class even more briefly at a local range, but it simply isn’t my game, and wasn’t then - so I’m not hip on what is the best optic to chase for those games today. I’d be looking for a fine reticle, SFP, either a floating center dot or an ultra fine stadia with a slightly larger center dot. I MIGHT want to keep some indicator hashes, depending upon the shape and scale of targets used, but I think that’s largely because I’m forever tainted (I was raised on mil-dots, and now I almost exclusively shoot Christmas trees).

    I used to love the NF BR line, I had an 8-32x for a while, really fantastic scope. That would probably be my starting point if I went back to LR BR or F-Class, assuming it received the blessing from guys more current in the sport like @South Prairie Jim, @Walkalong, or @Nature Boy . I just don’t shoot those games, so can’t say what’s winning. But I’d chase what’s winning, otherwise I’d be buying twice, and that’s not cheap.
     
  12. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Thanks again. One more noob question: @Varminterror Is the Horus or Tremor reticle not considered a christmas tree? Are they really two types of ranging/hold off reticles?
     
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  13. Nature Boy
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    Nature Boy Contributing Member

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    If your objective is to focus on shooting for score in a Bench rest of F Class type format you’ll want as much magnification as you can get, 1/8 MOA, SFP with an uncluttered reticle. With that said, you can make due with a MIL, FFP and less magnification scope. I made high master in F-TR with a 6-24x56 Kahles that was MIL and FFP.

    When I decided to have a custom F Open rifle built I switched to MOA and went with a Kahles 10-50x56. A scope like this would absolutely suck in any kind of practical shooting discipline so the different features don’t translate equally

    Not being to clear on where your goals are leading you I’d say go with a FFP MIL with a reticle you like as this would be the most versatile.

    @Varminterror has done a great job breaking down which brands and models to consider and I can’t add anything to it
     
  14. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    The Horus and TReMoR reticles are kinda beasts of their own breed. They share some attributes with a Christmas Tree, but they have more features and more hashes, so they simply have more MORE in front of your eye. The H59 and TReMoR are more like “high rise buildings” than “Christmas Trees.” I call them “wall reticles,” as there’s a major wall of reticle with wind dots and both minor and major windage lines, measuring devices, lead lines, etc:

    914758D4-E331-46CB-8B06-877188D9C807.png
    5C6A5293-C0B6-4B03-A335-672CC494A308.jpeg

    The Nightforce Mil-XT is right on the edge, as it has the intermediate wind dots and the wider of these others, but uses smaller dots rather than stadia lines for the hashes:
    31DCB6BF-A9A6-42EC-997F-4EB8CAE8C3CC.jpeg

    Whereas most “Christmas tree” reticles are simpler, with less noise obscuring your target - so it’s much easier to see splash through these reticles if/when we miss targets:

    58070ECD-7444-409D-AC36-C49ACD469BB7.png
    2271AE48-C66D-4256-BE68-F50117938D2B.jpeg
    60ECB793-F5EB-4068-881B-F4E05C0A7DEE.jpeg
     
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  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    What do you want to, or expect to, use it for? PRS? 600 F-Class? 1K Benchrest? Playing at the range?

    @Nature Boy made a very good point, which scope will depend a lot on that, and when you pony up big cash for a really nice scope.........well, you want it to work as you expected for what you intended..
     
  16. South Prairie Jim

    South Prairie Jim Member

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    The most important aspect in my line of work( 1000 yard Benchrest) is a scope that is mechanically sound, tracks perfect and holds point of impact, I currently use this scope with the floating dot hash mark moa reticle https://vortexoptics.com/vortex-golden-eagle-hd.html
    With a Sightron 8-32x56 2 moa reticle as a back up.
    Added : I did not and would not pay the price now listed for GE /HD glass, the newer Nightforce comp with ED and March high master has superED glass is in the > $2400 category
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2022
  17. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    i prefer the mil-r style. it's cleaner and gaps in the reticle are way easier to use and obscure less of the target than hashes, but at least hashes that are only on one side of the line are better than hashes that go all the way through. And I really have to be pressed for time to hold instead of dial, depending on the target size. (i'm comfortable holding large targets, but really like to dial when i'm shooting .5 to 1 moa targets.) The place a christmas tree really shines is when you have two sets of movers, say 300 and 500 yards and you have to alternate between them, but you won't see that more than 1 stage per match.
    MIL-R_F1.png
     
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  18. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Excellent input thank you. So when you say you dial are you dialing just elevation and holding for windage, or do you dial for wind mid stage as well?
     
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  19. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Most likely 800-1000+, bench or prone bipod shooting on stationary targets and not on the clock. But I do want to learn about options for PRS as well.
     
  20. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    super helpful. Thank you. I owe you a beverage of your choice.
     
  21. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    If you’re shooting itty bitty groups on targets at those distances, and not transitioning between distances within a given string, then an SFP with a fine crosshair and 1/8moa adjustments makes sense.

    If you’ll be going belly down with your phone beside your rifle and playing, “bang—-ting! Awesome, shot! Now see if you can hit that IPSC at 967!” with targets at varying distances, then FFP with a Christmas tree.
     
  22. lightman

    lightman Member

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    Your scope choice kind of depends on what type of shooting you plan to do. And what distance and your budget.

    Its been a few years since I've competed in long range shooting but when I did I used a March 10-60 with a fine crosshair and 1/8th inch adjustments. At the time it was a $2500 scope. It was Crystal clear, tracked perfectly and held zero. For that price it should. I would see a mix of Nightforce Benchrest, high end Bushnel, Vortex and even a few fixed 36 power Leupolds and Weavers on the firing line. Sightron makes some good scopes at fairly modest prices and are "a good bang for the buck". The March is the most expensive scope that I have owned.

    I have Nightforce on my varmint rifles and either have the old fashion Mil-Dot or something like Taliv pictured in post #17. I've learned to range with the Mil-Dot reticule and I'm comfortable with it. I usually dial these scopes. Personally I don't like a "busy" reticule like Varminterror pictured in post #14. But to each his own. On my hunting rifles I like a duplex reticule like Leupold uses and I zero the scope and never touch the dials.
     
  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I just bought a Tract scope for my NRL-22 rifle, I chose the 30MM PRS LR over their full blown 34MM PRS scope because 20X will be plenty and I like the less busy, especially the vertical, reticle.

    30MM 4-20 PRS LR
    tract-toric-4-20x50-mrad-prs-reticle-1976.png


    34MM 4.5X30 PRS ELR
    mrad_elr_reticle.png
     
  24. taliv

    taliv Moderator Staff Member

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    distance has almost nothing to do with spec'ing out a scope, which is why it's so annoying that so many people create threads in this forum that start with "what scope for x distance?"

    here's basically what drives choices

    tube size, objective size - size and weight. if you are humping the rifle up mountains, the lighter the better. otherwise, larger means more light, more travel for the adjustments, etc.

    adj obj parallax vs side focus parallax - obj is better but not as ergonomic as side focus

    magnification range - imho
    1x is for when hundredths of a second count, and you've got a daylight bright dot and very large close targets
    2-3x helps when target is obscured or lighting conditions suck (target in shade for example) or PID is needed at short range
    4-8x is great for shooting large targets really fast out to mid range
    10-20x is best for a mix of speed, situational awareness, and 1moa or larger targets and moving targets
    20-25x is best for sniping small targets. like, real one shot precision shooting of a single stationary target.
    25-40x is great for very small targets at mid range. past midrange, your trace will be out the top of your FOV so you'll need a spotter or people in the pits pulling targets


    depth of field - almost nobody talks about this but it's tremendously important for some types of shooting. sometimes it's very handy, being able to have a sharp image from 300-600 yards so you can catch trace and see your target. other times, it's handy to be able to look at mirage at a particular distance

    other misc considerations
    - some illuminated reticles only light the center and others light the entire reticle, meaning your tree may not be visible if it's not illum
    - USO to my knowledge is the only one that offers an internal bubble level, which is a dang handy feature
    - NF, despite their many pros, has one huge con, which is the entire ocular housing turns when you change magnification. that makes everything from lens covers to video capture a giant PITA
    - some scopes are made to have a cat tail or lever for quick changing magnification. others can be damaged by this.


    i've probably dialed for wind ten times in the past ten years. i've ordered a number of scopes with capped windage. i usually don't even zero the knob, and just cover it.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Yes, my Zeiss 5-25X56 has excellent depth of field. My Crimson Trace 5-25X56 has a poor one.

    My Meopta B1 15X binoculars have an excellent depth of field.
     
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