Need a Scope but need some help

damble44

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So I just finished a budget AR10 build in .308 and I’m in need of an optic.

I have roughly $400 into it, most of which was the barrel and BCG. The upper and lower were given to me and started out as 80%. As much as I’d love to see sub MOA, I’m more interested in how accurate the rifle and I can become.

Id love to take it out to 1000yds but I currently only have a 200yd range to work with. Who knows when I’ll be able to stretch it’s legs, but I will eventually get out to 1000yds. It will most likely be a bench rest rifle to improve my practically non existent skills as I’m new to precision shooting. Competition probably isn’t going to happen, at least for a while and even then I’d build a bolt gun and get a dedicated optic. I already went down the rabbit hole of MOA/MILs, SFP vs FFP, country of manufacture, reticle, etc and now I’m more undecided than ever.

So far I have looked at SWFAs, Vortex Viper PST Gen 1/2, Nikon FX1000, Vortex Diamondback Tactical, Athlon, etc.

I like to buy the best my money can afford but I have no idea what would suit me best in regards to SFP bs FFP, magnification range, reticle, illumination, etc. So I’d like to stay under $1000, ideally not that much because a $1000 optic on a $400 rifle wouldn’t really be “budget” if I’m going off the cost of the rifle.

Any help would be appreciated!
 

long range sponge

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I'd much rather have a $1000 optic on a $400 gun than vice versa. There are LOADS of options in that range, especially if you search the PX. I now understand what people were talking about when they told me "You will probably go through a few scopes before you find what you like." If at all possible, get behind a few at your local range.

As far as suggestions, you can find used Bushnell LRHS/LRTS or DMRii in that range. NF 4-14 F1, PSTs, Athlon Ares and Midas Tac. ( I have no experience with Athlon) Others will chime in that have more knowledge than I but you have come to the right place.
 
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HogsLife

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If you’re trying to keep the cost low, maybe a Bushnell 4200 series Elite Tactical 6-24x50 MIL/MIL would work for you. Also a SWFA SS 10x50 for sub $500.

You left it pretty open. There’s a plethora of scopes that would suit you for 200 yd shooting and there would be no need for a FFP at that range.

If you will be shooting extended ranges and using you reticle for hold overs / windage an FFP is what you want.

If that’s not going to be in your future, and you don’t plan on using your reticle for hold overs (ie F-Class / Bench Rest type shooting) than an SFP will be fine.

Typically with SFP scopes, your reticle scale will only be accurate at your scopes highest magnification. If you plan on shooting extended ranges then shooting with you magnification maxed out at 20-25x isn’t really an issue, and your reticle will be to scale, but very few people shoot on the max magnification of their scope because their FOV is very limited.

You will really limit the quality and features the scope you have if your price point is $500 IMO. Get into the $1000 range of scopes and your options really start to take off. What you’re gonna be stuck with if you go the route of a $500 scope something of low quality that doesn’t end up working for you, and you won’t be able to sell. Then you’ll be stuck with a $500 scope and you’ll end up buying the scope you should have bought in the first place, but now you’ve spent an additional $500 you didn’t have to. Buy once Cry Once Brotha.

SWFA SS 5-20x50 FFP MIL/MIL may be a good option for the 1k Range.
 
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GIXXER2000

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I use a Vortex PST 4X16 on my Sig 716 and shoot out to 1000 yards or so. Will a 16 in barrel the 175 smk i load start to drop off about 800 but i am able to still hit targets in the 1000 yards range. You can get the 6x24 PST for under $1000. They only thing I dont like is the PST is a 30mm tube. If I were to going to do it again I would get something with a 34mm . Its brighter and you have more range in your turret. You will definitely want a 20 moa 1 piece base as AR's have no moa in there top rail. Warner make a nice cantilever 20 moa base in both 30mm and 34mm ring size.
 

dirthead1

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I just got an Athlon Midas Tac 6-24 from CamerlandNY, and it is a very nice optic for the price. The glass is very clear and crisp and the turrets have extremely positive clicks. So far, it tracks great and seems to be a quality built optic. The price is also very reasonable.
 
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damble44

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As far as magnification goes, would a x15,16, or 18 on the high end be enough? I know prices can jump when you go even high in magnification. I’m totally okay picking up a used optic in the $6-800 range like a PST or SWFA 3-15.

So far I’ve handled a Viper PST Gen 2 6-24 and a FX1000 6-24. The Nikon was noticeably lighter and the glass seemed a touch clearer and crisp and Max magnification. But the reticle was thicker than the Viper.

I’m torn between spending a good amount of money and hoping to get really involved/improve my skills and have access to 1000yds soon vs spending a little less and focusing more on skills rather than equipment. At this point a $500 scope will most likely outshoot me for a while...
 

Culpeper

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Anything like that I like the Leupold Rifleman 3-9x w/rifleman reticle used as instructed
 

HogsLife

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If you’re trying to keep the cost low, maybe a Bushnell 4200 series Elite Tactical 6-24x50 MIL/MIL would work for you.

You left it pretty open. There’s a plethora of scopes that would suit you for 200 yd shooting and there would be no need for a FFP at that range.

If you will be shooting extended ranges and using you reticle for hold overs / windage an FFP is what you want.

If that’s not going to be in your future, and you don’t plan on using your reticle for hold overs (ie F-Class / Bench Rest type shooting) than an SFP will be fine.

Typically with SFP scopes, your reticle scale will only be accurate at your scopes highest magnification. If you plan on shooting extended ranges then shooting with you magnification maxed out at 20-25x isn’t really an issue, and your reticle will be to scale, but very few people shoot on the max magnification of their scope because their FOV is very limited.

You will really limit the quality of scope you have if your price point is $500 IMO. Get into the $1000 range of scopes and your options really start to take off. What you’re gonna be stuck with if you go the route of a $500 scope something of low quality that doesn’t end up working for you, and you won’t be able to sell. Then you’ll be stuck with a $500 scope and you’ll end up buying the scope you should have bought in the first place, but now you’ve spent an additional $500 you didn’t have to. Buy once Cry Once Brotha.

SWFA SS 5-20x50 FFP MIL/MIL may be a good option.
Yes, my bad. I’ve looked at so many in the past week that I forget some of the details
 

damble44

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I’m also trying to be realistic with things, do I need a $1000+ scope to do what I want? Do I need FFP? Do I need 24x mag? In reality I’ll probably be punching paper with it at 200yds for the next few years at least until I move out of MD. Realistically, will I ever actually compete or have the need for all the fancy high end things? My gut is leaning more on the “probably not” side.
 
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damble44

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I understand MOA a lot more than MILs, is that a big deal?
 

HogsLife

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I’m also trying to be realistic with things, do I need a $1000+ scope to do what I want? Do I need FFP? Do I need 24x mag? In reality I’ll probably be punching paper with it at 200yds for the next few years at least until I move out of MD. Realistically, will I ever actually compete or have the need for all the fancy high end things? My gut is leaning more on the “probably not” side.
Well then get a SWFA 10x42 for $300 and call it good....

I ran that scope on a Factory Rem 700 VS in 308 for years and did fine for me until I built my first custom rig. All together I had $700 in that setup.
 
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Strykervet

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Personally, I feel most of these guys go with too much magnification. Lower magnification will give you wider FOV and I prefer the midrange scopes out to 1k. Too much magnification can make it difficult for newer shooters and just like the image is magnified, so is motion. Call your shots and mark the call and the impact, that'll give you data for later and help you "learn the rifle" and shoot it to it's limit.

If you want a new scope, Vortex makes decent stuff that isn't too expensive (but some of their newer stuff is). I'd go used. On here. Someone is always upgrading to something else. USO is actually a really nice scope and you can find them for good deals on here. Also, getting a lower mag will also allow you to get more scope in that range.

There's a $900 Nightforce 4-14x SHV on there right now and another for $1200. These high end scopes have warranties that follow the product for life. That's why I get most of mine used. If it has a problem, I just send it back.

Try to get as nice an optic as you can. The optic is generally more important and it's totally common to have a scope or optic setup worth quite a bit more than the rifle.
 

HogsLife

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I understand MOA a lot more than MILs, is that a big deal?
When MILs first came out in scopes, we all understood MOA better than MILS.

To answer your question, as long as your reticle matches your turret adjustments youll be fine. MILS is easy to learn. If I found a scope like the link I posted above for the price I was looking for I’d snatch it up. You’ll pick up on MILs without a problem.
 

damble44

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Well then get a SWFA 10x42 for $300 and call it good....

I ran that scope on a Factory Rem 700 VS in 308 for years and did fine for me until I built my first custom rig. All together I had $700 in that setup.
Well that’s where I’m also torn, I do have intentions of building a much nicer bolt gun in the future and I’d definitely get some high end glass for that.

This rifle is budget as budget gets. I milled the lower myself on a Bridgeport. I’m a welder by trade and have machining experience, but is a precise machine job? Probably not. The trigger is an ALG ACT trigger. The barrel is a 24” 416R Match grade barrel. I got it from a local shop that buys overruns from “a very well known high quality and reputable barrel manufacturer”. They wouldn’t tell me the name of the company but they said they’d stand behind it in achieving sub MOA. They headspaced it with an Aero Precision BCG. I have my doubts but that’s the point of this rifle, to really see how well it and myself perform on low end stuff. Also to try and prove a point to myself that you don’t need a $3000 setup to be practical and accurate.
 
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HogsLife

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Well that’s where I’m also torn, I do have intentions of building a much nicer bolt gun in the future and I’d definitely get some high end glass for that.

This rifle is budget as budget gets. I milled the lower myself on a Bridgeport. I’m a welder by trade and have machining experience, but is a precise machine job? Probably not. The trigger is an ALG ACT trigger. The barrel is a 24” 416R Match grade barrel. I got it from a local shop that buys overruns from “a very well known high quality and reputable barrel manufacturer”. They wouldn’t tell me the name of the company but they said they’d stand behind it in achieving sub MOA. They headspaced it with an Aero Precision BCG. I have my doubts but that’s the point of this rifle, to really see how well it and myself perform on low end stuff. Also to try and prove a point to myself that you don’t need a $3000 setup to be practical and accurate.
Only you can decide what you want man, but you don’t need a 3K rifle to be accurate or competitive. Like I said, I ran a $700 setup in my first couple matches and was competitive. That being said, the higher end stuff definetly has its advantages.

Go with what you can afford and move up from there.
 

patriot07

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I would normally recommend the SWFA fixed power, but my hangup is that it can be tough to see holes on paper at 100 with a 10x. I had the 16x for a long time and it was fine, but that would be a little odd on an AR platform.

I'd probably look for a used PST Gen 2 3-15 and call it a day. Hopefully in the $600 range. It's a really nice scope that would be at home on an AR or a mid-range precision rig.
 
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damble44

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I would normally recommend the SWFA fixed power, but my hangup is that it can be tough to see holes on paper at 100 with a 10x. I had the 16x for a long time and it was fine, but that would be a little odd on an AR platform.

I'd probably look for a used PST Gen 2 3-15 and call it a day. Hopefully in the $600 range. It's a really nice scope that would be at home on an AR or a mid-range precision rig.
Anyone have experience with a gen 2 PST vs a FX1000? The FX1000 just felt a little better to me and looked crisper than the PST I handled next to it.
 

patriot07

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FX1000 is better than a Gen 1 PST and worse than a Gen 2 PST. In fact, I'd say it's about halfway in between for glass quality. I think the PST Gen 2 has significantly better reticle and turrets and a no-hassle warranty. So I'd have a hard time picking the FX1000 in place of it unless for purely budgetary reasons.
 
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damble44

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FX1000 is better than a Gen 1 PST and worse than a Gen 2 PST. In fact, I'd say it's about halfway in between for glass quality. I think the PST Gen 2 has significantly better reticle and turrets and a no-hassle warranty. So I'd have a hard time picking the FX1000 in place of it unless for purely budgetary reasons.
Where would the SWFA 3-15 fall in with them?
 

patriot07

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Behind the PST Gen 2 and FX1000 in glass quality, ahead of them all in build quality. In the ballpark of the PST Gen 1 for glass quality.
 

damble44

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Also, I probably should have mentioned this will be my first scope ever. With that being said, would I even notice small differences say between the Gen 1 vs the Gen 2 or the FX1000, SWFA, etc?
 

patriot07

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I think the PST Gen 2 is noticeably better than the rest. FX1000 is only slightly better than the PST Gen 1 & SWFA. You probably wouldn't notice much of a difference between those 3.
 

long range sponge

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Would you notice small differences? Probably not unless you had them to compare side by side. None of those scopes will be to blame for a miss unless there's a defect. But if we are picking out of the 3 you're mentioning, PST Gen 2.
 

long range sponge

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Full disclosure... I should have been up front and said that I have had minimal time with any of them (looked through them on other folks rifles at the range) so @patriot07 would probably have more wisdom than I. Never even seen an FX1000. The SWFA and GEN2 PST seemed to be well built. I didn't like the SWFA reticle.
 

patriot07

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I've got less time with the FX1000 than the rest of them, but at least some time with each (by far the most with the Gen 2 PST and the SWFA).

Nothing wrong with any of them, but I'd take the PST if my budget could handle it. If it's your first scope, I think you could go for a long time before really needing an upgrade.

I'd also consider the 5-25 if you found the right deal on it. The 5-25 is really in its sweet spot in the 12x-20x range and makes for a nice mid-range scope even though it has some extra mag.
 

scwhit

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You could even take a look at primary arms 1-8 and 1-6 with the ACSS Raptor reticle. I know it is on the lower end of magnification for a .308 but it is just a thought.
 
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Gohring65

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What about the Athlon Ares BTR?
I just picked one up for 600$ on sale.
I’m impressed, as soon as you get it, take those o-rings off of the turret and fling them at your cat. I’m my opinion, it hangs with all of the 1000$ optics at its retail price of 850$. But at 600$!, it definitely will out class other options in that price range.
 

vortexyz

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I just ordered the pst gen 2 5-25 with the 2d reticle and am very happy with it. The only thing holding me back before was the open center reticle, but now they're offering the new one and I had to give it a try. Some really good deals on them right now if you look around a bit.
 

damble44

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I just picked one up for 600$ on sale.
I’m impressed, as soon as you get it, take those o-rings off of the turret and fling them at your cat. I’m my opinion, it hangs with all of the 1000$ optics at its retail price of 850$. But at 600$!, it definitely will out class other options in that price range.
Yeah that $600 price tag seems hard to beat for a BNIB scope...
 
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Mr. Zick

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Part of me wants to go cheap and really see how bad/good I can perform with it lol
If that’s the case, Athlon Midas Tac/Vortex Diamondback Tac both offer passable glass, turrets, higher mag range, and first focal plane. To your door for under $400. There’s a bunch of guys putting these on their rimfire trainers because they want the features without the cost of their top tier glass. You might put these options in the “new Toyota Carolla” class. It will do what you want it to do reliably, pretty well, but your friends with new BMWs might give you shit. Just call @gr8fuldoug at cameraland. He will hold your hand through the process and you will buy with a smile.
 

damble44

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I’ll shoot him a message. Thanks for all the information so far, definitely appreciate it and has helped tremendously.
 

fdkay

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This is an excellent, entry level option, made in Japan:

Another viable, entry level option is the Athlon Midas Tac 4-16 (see cameralandny and speak with Doug).
The features are better on the Athlon, the glass is better on the Weaver.

This will leave you enough money for a quality mounting system and still come in under your budget.
Folks frequently forget about the cost of attaching the scope to the rifle.

The PST 2 is a viable option, but I am leery due to the history of fragility.
I would much rather have the XTR II, they are VERY robust.
The glass in the PST is generally much better.
 

damble44

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So I handled a Diamondback Tactical FFP today side by side with a PST gen 1 and 2 as well as a Burris XTR. I could definitely tell a difference between the Chinese glass and the Philippine glass but I couldn’t honestly tell a difference between the PST generations. So I think that determined that I want to stick to the Philippines at least. The Burris was very nice but I had a hard time telling a difference between it and the PSTs
 

flyer

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First, save some of your budget for a mount.

I just bought a couple clearance priced Leupold Mark 4 IMS two piece mounts (base and ring insert bought separately) from Midway USA for around $67.

They came in last night and look very good for the price but be prepared to spend closer to $150 or more for a quality mount at full price. I think the IMS base is now out of stock.

For scopes, I have been buying mid-tier to upper mid-tier with some lower end stuff thrown in.

All of it will work for 200 yards and even 600 yards, maybe longer.

The better stuff I have will work at 1,000+.

If 1,000 yards is not something you will do often, I would tell you to look in the $300 range for a basic scope with good glass, SFP, probably duplex reticle, not illuminated.

For $1,000 if you want to shoot long range, maybe a Sig BDX setup. I'm waiting to try mine because my BDX LRF was back ordered but it will display a firing solution out to 800 yards standard and ~unlimited range with my Kestrel doing the ballistics calculations (the reticle, rifle ballistics and LRF performance will all limit the maximum effective range of the BDX system but when set up properly it should be able to go long).
 

Greg Langelius *

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Try one of these until your ship comes in...

I bought one several years back, intending to give a wringing out, and hanging onto it until I could cough up for the top shelf items.

But it stood up like a trooper, and now I own three. I love them. If I do end up with the high priced items, I'll still have three very serviceable backup scopes that I know can go the distance when called upon. They are especially appreciated among RF match shooters, but mine ride .308 and .260 C/F's.

I agree that there can be such a thing as too much magnification, especially at extreme range. But having it and not needing it could well be better than needing it and not having it, especially when it's this affordable.

I also think, as well, that some forget that those mags can be useful at shorter distances, where less/no mirage allows for razor sharp sight picture resolution. Combine it with a side mounted focus/parallax adjustment, and sighting error can be virtually eliminated.

Greg
 
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flyer

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I believe those are bottom of the barrel stuff.

When I look, I generally go to companies that can produce top shelf optics and then look at their budget and value lines.

One of the better deals I got was a Nitrex TR2 3-15x42 scope. It was essentially a re-branded Weaver Super Slam, made in Japan on close out at Natchez for somewhere under $300.

I'm not sure what is going on with Weaver lately but they had several LOW made Japanese scopes years ago like the Classic Extreme line which now are much less expensive and probably made somewhere else.

I probably wouldn't go the same way today but back then I got a good mid-end scope for budget scope money. It would have no trouble at 1,000 yards