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

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by dbrown, Jun 9, 2012.

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  1. dbrown

    dbrown Member

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    I am going to be shooting at 400 yards and was wondering what kind of magnification i would need.
     
  2. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    what kind of shooting?
     
  3. dbrown

    dbrown Member

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    Target shooting.
     
  4. snakeman

    snakeman Member

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    I typically like a 12x for hunting but for target shooting a 24x would be my top pick.
     
  5. Robert

    Robert Moderator Staff Member

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    I use 4x out to 600, but that is really pushing it. And that is on steel, not for tiny groups.
     
  6. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    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.
     
  7. Welding Rod

    Welding Rod Member

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    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.
     
  8. ole farmerbuck

    ole farmerbuck Member

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    Wow! I set my scopes on 16x or so for 100 yds. But thats on 3/8" dots.
     
  9. HOOfan_1

    HOOfan_1 Member

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    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.
     
  10. LAK

    LAK Member

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    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.
     
  11. joed

    joed Member

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    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.
     
  12. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    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.
     
  13. MCMXI

    MCMXI Member

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    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.
     
  14. Tempest 455

    Tempest 455 Member

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    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.
     
  15. Loosedhorse

    Loosedhorse member

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    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.
     
  16. jr_roosa

    jr_roosa Member

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    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.
     
  17. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    This >
    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.
     
  18. MechAg94

    MechAg94 Member

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    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.
     
  19. proven

    proven Member

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    i would suggest that quality of glass is more important than magnification.
     
  20. JPG19

    JPG19 Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  21. browningguy

    browningguy Member

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    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.
     
  22. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    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.
     
  23. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    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.
     
  24. 303tom

    303tom member

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    It was under 50 bucks, I can count the hairs on a gnats butt at 400 yds. & it has never failed me..............
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2013
  25. redneck2

    redneck2 Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2012
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