still don't understand why less magnification is better

Walter Haas

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I wish there was some clarity on the theory behind using less magnification being better. I can see that less magnification means less wobble and therefore less "chasing the wobble" if you're "trying to aim". As my new instructor says, "you don't need to practice aiming". That after 3 million years of hurling projectiles accurately we already know how to aim, in fact "trying to aim" only interferes with the shot. The dry firing is training the old animal brain to feel the shot and keep our modern mind out of the way.
Anyway, given all that, I still don't see why you would ever want less magnification, such that as you hear a lot of people say, that shooting at 1000 yards is better done at lower powers like 10X even if you have a 25X scope. I see wobble at 25X, so what, I expect my subconscious to time it all out. Just like when I used to shoot archery we did this, I only practiced shooting a bail of hay in my garage every day and then when we went to the field I was hitting bullseyes all over the place even though there was tons of wobble in the sight picture. Trusting the "feel" of my body and releasing on rhythm instead of "aim", it was magic.

Any thoughts on this?
 

C_R_Slacker

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Mirage, field of view, more forgiving eye box/parallax. You don't have to choose between 10x and 25x with a ffp scope. Anything in between works and i think that's the sweet spot you'll find most shooting at. If more is automatically better, why don't you see 40x or more power scopes at prs or nrl competitions?
 

acudaowner

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what mag you use is up to you i just never liked paying for more and having less if you buy a scope with 5x50 and your mirage is too much the little lever goes two ways up and down its free to use it . but if you only have 5x25 x mag once you hit that point that is all you are going to see . You can lower your power but not increase mean while the person with the 5x50 has another 25x mag to use .
 

Landon4

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At 1000 I usually set mine anywhere from 15-18x, I have a razor gen 2 that goes to 27 and I will use it on 27x mainly at 100yds when I want to see holes in paper. I like the field of view at lower magnification, and like others stated mirage can get bad at full mag.
 

nn8734

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I wish there was some clarity on the theory behind using less magnification being better. I can see that less magnification means less wobble and therefore less "chasing the wobble" if you're "trying to aim". As my new instructor says, "you don't need to practice aiming". That after 3 million years of hurling projectiles accurately we already know how to aim, in fact "trying to aim" only interferes with the shot. The dry firing is training the old animal brain to feel the shot and keep our modern mind out of the way.
Anyway, given all that, I still don't see why you would ever want less magnification, such that as you hear a lot of people say, that shooting at 1000 yards is better done at lower powers like 10X even if you have a 25X scope. I see wobble at 25X, so what, I expect my subconscious to time it all out. Just like when I used to shoot archery we did this, I only practiced shooting a bail of hay in my garage every day and then when we went to the field I was hitting bullseyes all over the place even though there was tons of wobble in the sight picture. Trusting the "feel" of my body and releasing on rhythm instead of "aim", it was magic.

Any thoughts on this?
Mirage begins to wash out the target once you go beyond ~16x most of the time. Higher mag helps in a few respects:

1) PID of target
2) Shooting at very small targets at distance for groups (provided your glass is up to the task and only to a certain extent)
3) Close examination of miraging patterns in the immediate vicinity of the target

Beyond that, it’s really not needed. For example, I regularly shoot at a 12” diameter steel plate at 1000 on 10-12x (Sb 5-25x56 / SB 4-16x42 / SB 3-12x50). Have no problem seeing/hitting target when I do my part.

Buying Quality glass (high light transmission, contrast, etc) is much more important.
 
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big4x42u

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I will be discussing this tomorrow with some newer shooters. I typically don't go past 20x unless I am looking for more detail. On hot days mirage is the biggest reason to reduce magnification. The field of view is also another advantage to spot your hits or misses to make self correction.
 

Walter Haas

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Mirage begins to wash out the target once you go beyond ~16x most of the time. Higher mag helps in a few respects:

1) PID of target
2) Shooting at very small targets at distance for groups (provided your glass is up to the task and only to a certain extent)
3) Close examination of miraging patterns in the immediate vicinity of the target

Beyond that, it’s really not needed. For example, I regularly shoot at a 12” diameter steel plate at 1000 on 10-12x (Sb 5-25x56 / SB 4-16x42 / SB 3-12x50). Have no problem seeing/hitting target when I do my part.

Buying Quality glass (high light transmission, contrast, etc) is much more important.
what’s PID?
 

wade2big

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If you want to spot your shot, you better be dialed down.

Here are a few photos showing the mirage that us guys with the gulf coast humidity deal with. I have posted these before.

500 yards on 20x
F8F42084-566F-45E2-940F-D04281F1917A.jpeg


500 yards on 10x
DA5EA166-1ABA-450F-A85D-85AD3FE12CD7.jpeg

750 yards on 20x (you can’t see my plates)
2E767B46-2266-45B1-9645-D3AE2596E291.jpeg

750 yards on 10x794E2376-F291-4107-A817-7FFA3A214C8A.jpeg

Could you imagine making a shot on 20x at this relatively close range (750yds) much less any further or with more magnification. These are still images of course. In realtime, the only way to know you hit the plate is because of the sound but there isn’t really anything to shoot at. I won’t bother squeezing the trigger when its like this I limit to 500 yards.
 

nn8734

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As my new instructor says, "you don't need to practice aiming". That after 3 million years of hurling projectiles accurately we already know how to aim, in fact "trying to aim" only interferes with the shot. The dry firing is training the old animal brain to feel the shot and keep our modern mind out of the way.
. Trusting the "feel" of my body and releasing on rhythm instead of "aim", it was magic.
Is he comparing hurling projectiles by hand (like spears , knives or other manually projected weapons) to precision rifle shooting or a more dynamic shooting discipline, like carbine or handgun CQB/CSF? Curious to know more context around that part of the discussion.

For my part, I liken dynamic shooting to fast paced sports like tennis and basketball or hockey while Precison shooting has more parallels with golf.
 

Diver160651

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For what it’s worth, you have to put the mirage and ”shake” into contact.

Bench shooters can get away with much higher modification than prone shooters when the ground to the target is relatively flat. Just a couple of feet change the optical experience. Many of the guys on here are certainly shooting prone.

Improvised positions like PRS/NRL bring wobble, not shake to the game. Again, not something one will experience if their primary shooting is done prone or from a bench. We turn down the scope to change the wobble into a manageable ”shake” like a bench shooter might experience using much higher magnification.

And finally FOV as others have said also keeps us on the target even if the gun bumps back more than expected, and let's us find targets faster as we move from position to position..
 

Walter Haas

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Mirage begins to wash out the target once you go beyond ~16x most of the time. Higher mag helps in a few respects:

1) PID of target
2) Shooting at very small targets at distance for groups (provided your glass is up to the task and only to a certain extent)
3) Close examination of miraging patterns in the immediate vicinity of the target

Beyond that, it’s really not needed. For example, I regularly shoot at a 12” diameter steel plate at 1000 on 10-12x (Sb 5-25x56 / SB 4-16x42 / SB 3-12x50). Have no problem seeing/hitting target when I do my part.

Buying Quality glass (high light transmission, contrast, etc) is much more important.
what are the miraging patterns telling you?
 

Walter Haas

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For what it’s worth, you have to put the mirage and ”shake” into contact.

Bench shooters can get away with much higher modification than prone shooters when the ground to the target is relatively flat. Just a couple of feet change the optical experience. Many of the guys on here are certainly shooting prone.

Improvised positions like PRS/NRL bring wobble, not shake to the game. Again, not something one will experience if their primary shooting is done prone or from a bench. We turn down the scope to change the wobble into a manageable ”shake” like a bench shooter might experience using much higher magnification.

And finally FOV as others have said also keeps us on the target even if the gun bumps back more than expected, and let's us find targets faster as we move from position to position..
A lot more mirage shooting prone, that makes sense. Haven’t shot prone yet, it sounds uncomfortable. 🙂 When I got into this I didn’t know dirt was in my future.
 
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Walter Haas

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For what it’s worth, you have to put the mirage and ”shake” into contact.

Bench shooters can get away with much higher modification than prone shooters when the ground to the target is relatively flat. Just a couple of feet change the optical experience. Many of the guys on here are certainly shooting prone.

Improvised positions like PRS/NRL bring wobble, not shake to the game. Again, not something one will experience if their primary shooting is done prone or from a bench. We turn down the scope to change the wobble into a manageable ”shake” like a bench shooter might experience using much higher magnification.

And finally FOV as others have said also keeps us on the target even if the gun bumps back more than expected, and let's us find targets faster as we move from position to position..
Does that mean bench and prone shooters don’t generally cross over? I had thought I would learn bench first then expand into other valuable things to know but it seems like the world of firearms is a collection of specialties, some without as much crossover as you would first think.
 

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Does that mean bench and prone shooters don’t generally cross over? I had thought I would learn bench first then expand into other valuable things to know but it seems like the world of firearms is a collection of specialties, some without as much crossover as you would first think.
Prone...prone....prone
 

nn8734

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@Walter Haas
Is he comparing hurling projectiles by hand (like spears , knives or other manually projected weapons) to precision rifle shooting or a more dynamic shooting discipline, like carbine or handgun CQB/CSF? Curious to know more context around that part of the discussion.

For my part, I liken dynamic shooting to fast paced sports like tennis and basketball or hockey while Precison shooting has more parallels with golf.
 

Diver160651

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A lot more mirage shooting prone, that makes sense. Haven’t shot prone yet, it sounds uncomfortable. 🙂 When I got into this I didn’t know dirt was in my future.
We have it pretty good in terms of mirage. Our moisture content isn’t crazy and most of the ranges near where you are shooting do not have drastic thermal differences between the ground and air. We are kinda in the “Goldilocks zone” not to much mirage to be horrible and just enough to read wind.

When you move out to the desert or desert like regions of CA, and travel; you find mirage has another gear.

Most bench shooters have one of three ways they seem to approach their body positions.

-Benchrest people turn almost sideways and free-recoil. they do not ever need to see the moment of impact.

-Casual shooters and most hunters who do not practice much, tend also to be very turned and are generally not aware of the value of seeing your impact.

- People who are aware of the proper fundamentals needed to ensure self-spotting with a blend of accuracy and precision; can indeed use positions and fundamentals that are easily transferred to prone.
 
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I'll say it, in most cases the best motivation and rationalization for "lower power" is simply so guys can simply save $ and feel good about doing it. If the 7-35x Nightforce ATACR cost the same as the 4-16x, almost no one would by the 4-16x, period. Some LEO/MIL maybe and perhaps hunters that might need a snap shot under 100 yards. There's only 6oz of weight between them, and no weight weenie is putting a 34oz scope on anyway.

You can always turn a 7-35x scope down to 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30x for conditions, field of view, eyebox, etc. but you can never turn a 16x scope up to 18, 20, 25, 30, 35x if conditions allow its use.

So you have to ask, do you think you'll do more of your shooting between 4-7x or between 16-35x, and if you are shooting longer range do you want the better optical quality being in the middle of the zoom range or worse quality at the max. The kicker is that extra magnification costs $$$.
 

wade2big

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I'll say it, in most cases the best motivation and rationalization for "lower power" is simply so guys can simply save $ and feel good about doing it. If the 7-35x Nightforce ATACR cost the same as the 4-16x, almost no one would by the 4-16x, period. Some LEO/MIL maybe and perhaps hunters that might need a snap shot under 100 yards. There's only 6oz of weight between them, and no weight weenie is putting a 34oz scope on anyway.

You can always turn a 7-35x scope down to 7, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30x for conditions, field of view, eyebox, etc. but you can never turn a 16x scope up to 18, 20, 25, 30, 35x if conditions allow its use.

So you have to ask, do you think you'll do more of your shooting between 4-7x or between 16-35x, and if you are shooting longer range do you want the better optical quality being in the middle of the zoom range or worse quality at the max. The kicker is that extra magnification costs $$$.
I will disagree with you. I can buy whatever I want (and I do). I have a mix of everything for very different reasons. I have SFP, FFP, high mag, low mag, thick duplex reticles, thin mil reticles, heavy scopes, light scopes, etc. Each has a place and there are different price points available in any combination of the above that you can think of.

Price is a factor to consider but not as you put it.
 

Matches Malone

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I’ve noticed more of the argument coming from shooters with a bench rest background. There’s a difference in long range shooting, and long range bench shooting (like 1000y bench). Most field shooting, be it ELR specific competition, PRS, hunting long range, etc, have the a similar interest which is to make a first round impact at distance.

Bench shooting is not about this, it’s about using your spotting shots to get you bullet on the target then shooting the smallest group you can. In this case, sure, having the exact same aiming point is important if trying to do so.

If trying to make a hit at long to extreme distance, there are more benefits to using less magnification, especially in games like PRS where you might have multiple targets at multiple distance under time. This goes with field of view. You only NEED to be able to put your reticle on the target. You don’t need to see the pimple on a gnats ass at 2300 yards away.
As others said, mirage can wash away you target as well. While bench shooters have a similar problem, again, there’s spotting shots. Etc etc
 
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ToddM

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So what will the 4-16x ATACR do the 7-35x won't and how many shots do you think guys on average are taking between 4-6x compared to 16-35x in that use case? Of course other scopes sell, guys change scopes monthly just because they can, doesn't mean there's any rational reason behind it.

You're honestly saying if I set a 4-16x and 7-35x ATACR's on the table for the same price, you'd take the 4-16?

Not only that, but in most zoom scopes the BEST optical quality is in the middle of the zoom range, the same model 7-35x scope is likely to be optically better at 16x than a 4-16x at max zoom, and it's likely to have a better eyebox.

Mirage.....sure better at lower powers, but if it's so bad you can't see the target at 7x, 5x probably isn't going to save the day.

Field of view, sure 4x is better than 7x, significantly so, and if you need it, that's a good reason. I don't know a lot of guys dialing under 7x though.

I'm happy to try the experiment though price 4-16x ATACR's the same as 7-35x see how many sell.
 
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wade2big

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So what will the 4-16x ATACR do the 7-35x won't and how many shots do you think guys on average are taking between 4-6x compared to 16-35x in that use case? Of course other scopes sell, guys change scopes monthly just because they can, doesn't mean there's any rational reason behind it.

You're honestly saying if I set a 4-16x and 7-35x ATACR's on the table for the same price, you'd take the 4-16?

Not only that, but in most zoom scopes the BEST optical quality is in the middle of the zoom range, the same model 7-35x scope is likely to be optically better at 16x than a 4-16x at max zoom, and it's likely to have a better eyebox.
I would take the 7-35 Atacr. Sell it NIB in the exchange. Pick up a Razor for $1500 at the same time and pocket the rest. But thats me.

In all seriousness, I would take the 7-35 if it were going on a long range target rifle. Depending on the use, neither may be ideal.
 

nn8734

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So what will the 4-16x ATACR do the 7-35x won't and how many shots do you think guys on average are taking between 4-6x compared to 16-35x in that use case? Of course other scopes sell, guys change scopes monthly just because they can, doesn't mean there's any rational reason behind it.

You're honestly saying if I set a 4-16x and 7-35x ATACR's on the table for the same price, you'd take the 4-16?

Not only that, but in most zoom scopes the BEST optical quality is in the middle of the zoom range, the same model 7-35x scope is likely to be optically better at 16x than a 4-16x at max zoom, and it's likely to have a better eyebox.
Not sure the argument was to buy scopes with lesser mag but when engaging a target, use lesser mag regardless of the max available on the scope in use.

Premium glass will allow you to use higher mag before it starts to dim/wash out vs budget shit. I tell people to buy once and spend to the max
 
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ToddM

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I would take the 7-35 Atacr. Sell it NIB in the exchange. Pick up a Razor for $1500 at the same time and pocket the rest. But thats me.
Now that's a plan I can agree with! :) I'd pocket $1500 for the difference between 27-35x, but I fully admit my optics options are impacted by my budget or lack of.
 
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Diver160651

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So what will the 4-16x ATACR do the 7-35x won't and how many shots do you think guys on average are taking between 4-6x compared to 16-35x in that use case? Of course other scopes sell, guys change scopes monthly just because they can, doesn't mean there's any rational reason behind it.

You're honestly saying if I set a 4-16x and 7-35x ATACR's on the table for the same price, you'd take the 4-16?

Not only that, but in most zoom scopes the BEST optical quality is in the middle of the zoom range, the same model 7-35x scope is likely to be optically better at 16x than a 4-16x at max zoom, and it's likely to have a better eyebox.
I think we all, including myself drive into the weeds on most things.

I would absolutely take the 4-16 ATACR if it was for a purpose were I might want a large FOV.. even then it is nowhere near a wide as it should be at 4x. I have 3-15s with a 40’ FOV AT 100, on most hunting guns but 5-25- class on my match guns. I could use either, for either, but like they way they work for their intended use.
 
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magtech

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The short answer: less mag is better because optics companies can't make an optic that is clear throughout the mag range . A 3-18 will look better at 12 than 18. Optics go to shit above 3/4 of their mag range and plenty are garbage on the top end. THAT IS WHY

People will come in and say mirage and fov and eyebox and everything else, but the fact is if you pick up a scope and go to the high end of the mag range the vast majority of optics suck dick to shoot at on the top end. PERIOD.

Maybe someone can stop copying designs and make one that works perfectly throughout... But I won't hold my breath 🙄.
 

nn8734

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The short answer: less mag is better because optics companies can't make an optic that is clear throughout the mag range....

Maybe someone can stop copying designs and make one that works perfectly throughout... But I won't hold my breath 🙄.
You ever look through a hensoldt ZF 3.5-26x56 at 26x?

I haven’t but if there was one scope out there that should look every bit as bright, crisp, clear and resolute at max magnification as it does at mid or low mag that would be it.

TT, Schmidt and Premier come close...all feature the same general design by the guy/team at Optronika.
 
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You ever look through a hensoldt ZF 3.5-26x56 at 26x?

I haven’t but if there was one scope out there that should look every bit as bright, crisp, clear and resolute at max magnification as it does at mid or low mag that would be it.

TT, Schmidt and Premier come close...all feature the same general design by the guy/team at Optronika.
The henny 4x16 is pretty amazing at full power.
 

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For me the only time I zoom in is to set parallax then I go back to what I need. Sometimes it's hard to set parallax on minimum magnification. And as other have mentioned already, mirage is mitigated at lower magnification and it opens up the field of view. The only place I could see big magnification being a benefit is f-class. Where shooters set and forget so they can spot their shots.
 

C_R_Slacker

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Yeah, my minox zp5 5-25 looks outstanding at 25x...when conditions allow. They rarely do where i shoot, so i tend to dial back a little.

Even if conditions consistently allowed for shooting with a 35x scope, i would probably still never do it. I just don't ever see the need for what i do. Only reason i could think of is it would help you see hits on fresh paint or paper better.
 
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Eostech

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The idea that all scope suffer lower image quality at max magnification is ridiculous.

@koshkin could explain it better but I believe the best image quality is where ever the manufacturer wants it to be and the scope design accomplishes this.

As for the 3.5-26 Hensoldt, there is a lot going on with that optic and I would not be surprised if image quality was compromised.
Maybe look at a TT, a long ass 5-25 is surely not as complex as a short ass 3.5-26.
 

chevy_man

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The short answer: less mag is better because optics companies can't make an optic that is clear throughout the mag range . A 3-18 will look better at 12 than 18. Optics go to shit above 3/4 of their mag range and plenty are garbage on the top end. THAT IS WHY

People will come in and say mirage and fov and eyebox and everything else, but the fact is if you pick up a scope and go to the high end of the mag range the vast majority of optics suck dick to shoot at on the top end. PERIOD.

Maybe someone can stop copying designs and make one that works perfectly throughout... But I won't hold my breath 🙄.


What kind of crap are you looking through?

All the new "latest greatest" super short designs make compromises to cut the weight and size.

Go with a traditional design and you'll rarely see those issues show up on a quality scope.


I have the luxury of little to no mirage most of the year. I leave my Mark 5 sitting on 25x 99% of the time. I'd have a 7-35 if it was out when I bought mine, and it would live on 35x when mirage allowed.
 

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The only time I would take a lower power scope would purpose driven. If my limitation were due to weight or size restrictions. The flexibility provided by the few extra dollars keeps me constantly digging deeper and deeper... When I started this game 1000 yards seemed undoable and now I'm pushing 2k so better equipment is a little more future proof in that sense.
 
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Diver160651

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The short answer: less mag is better because optics companies can't make an optic that is clear throughout the mag range . A 3-18 will look better at 12 than 18. Optics go to shit above 3/4 of their mag range and plenty are garbage on the top end. THAT IS WHY

People will come in and say mirage and fov and eyebox and everything else, but the fact is if you pick up a scope and go to the high end of the mag range the vast majority of optics suck dick to shoot at on the top end. PERIOD.

Maybe someone can stop copying designs and make one that works perfectly throughout... But I won't hold my breath 🙄.
Dang you are dark..

My high-end scopes seem bright and clear at max.

There are only the reasons stated earlier that I take my ZCO off max and shoot around 12x. Glass quality has zero to do with it..

My Swaro ATX spotter, and I do not how many top tier brands I’ve had or have, all look great at max power.. Yet, I still dial them back as needed.

Guys running 8-10k PRS rigs are not dialing back because their scopes are junk. Maybe somebody with cheap ass scopes are, but that's not the majority; nor where the idea of backing out for FOV, recoil and easier sight picture under wobble are coming from.

Get a better scope.
 
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natdscott

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@Walter Haas

Dunno. I’ve shot under 1/2 Minute with post irons enough times for it to count, and it surely ain’t some rarified air I’m breathing.

Been WAYYYY down under 1/4 Minute with 4x as well. Pretty sure I can’t do that with irons, but some can.

High mag is also good. I enjoy it a lot.

But I don’t have to have it to shoot pretty okay. You probably don’t either.
 

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Behind enemy lines Northern Commiefornia
"Better" for field of view when moving between, finding, and engaging multiple targets quickly and or spotting misses. It doesnt really make the mirage any less more so than it shrinks the effect in a bigger picture.

If you're on a bench shooting at paper it doesnt matter and you want to make the target appear as large as possible.

I'm a habitual max zoomer. Im trying to quit but seeing a target up close and personal is simply irresistible.
 

wade2big

Knowing just enough to be dangerous
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Sep 16, 2017
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It all boils down to what is desired and personal preference. If staying in the scope matters (No spotter while shooting targets, hunting dense locations, etc) then the mag should be turned down enough to accomplish that. Rifle weight, smaller cartridge, and brake allows a higher magnification to be used and still get this done. Look at the prs rigs ots of guys on this site focus on. Its an extreme but proves the point.

If site picture after the shot doesn’t matter (having a spotter, shooting paper, etc) or you just prefer it then all means crank it up. Just remember magnification does not make you a better shot.
 

BJames

Pewer’s gonna pew
Online Training Access
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Jan 20, 2014
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Late to the gig here but, alternate positions. Get off the bench, become an across the course shooter.
 

shoot 51

Private
Hessian
Minuteman
Nov 21, 2019
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Oregon
what mag you use is up to you i just never liked paying for more and having less if you buy a scope with 5x50 and your mirage is too much the little lever goes two ways up and down its free to use it . but if you only have 5x25 x mag once you hit that point that is all you are going to see . You can lower your power but not increase mean while the person with the 5x50 has another 25x mag to use .
I have a K10-50 and I love it. There are a lot of times I can’t crank it up but when I can-love
 
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SRPowah

Gunny Sergeant
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Feb 13, 2017
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So what will the 4-16x ATACR do the 7-35x won't.
Gives me room to mount a clip-on infront of my topic without running out of rail. You sound kind of ignorant with your argument. Sure, the vast majority of shooters would take the 7-35 over the 4-16 if we all had to line up and shoot 1000 yards with the same rifle and that was it. In the real world though, the 7-35 has some trade offs and cost isn't the only one.
 
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