Long range optics that can moonlight as a deer hunting optic

Jay Ell Gee

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What is the platform for the scope?

Howa Mini Action
  • What cartridge are you shooting?
6.5 Grendel
  • What is your intended use for the scope?
Fun gun for long range plinking, light recoiling rifle to loan to friends, suppressed deer hunting rifle from a box blind
  • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in?
Daylight for range use, lowlight will be common during deer season
  • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot?
Want to be able to utilize the rifle to it’s supersonic range capabilities (maybe a bit more), deer hunting range from 50-350 yards

Are there any specific specifications you would like?

FFP with an illuminated reticle that can allow the use of the scope in deep woods even on low power is preferable. Mil/mil, solid tracking, reasonable size profile for a mini action rifle. Will go SFP if necessary.
  • What is the price range you can afford?
As reasonably as possible, hopefully PST Gen II range. Not afraid of going used.

Hey everyone. I’ve been searching threads and looking at options for a while, but I’m ready to ask for a bit of input.

I picked up a Howa Mini Action in 6.5 Grendel from the Brownell’s sale last month. 20” heavy barrel, threaded. My plan is to use it with my Sandman S for a hunting rifle (south Louisiana) but also have it usable as a long range fun gun for my wife/friends or when I just want a change of pace from my Tikkas. I just picked up one of the Howa mini chassis setups on the PX for it.

Seeing as the profile of this rifle is fairly small/compact, I was hoping to stay true to that for the optic. FFP would be ideal, but it would basically force me to use the illumination feature to utilize the reticle in the deep woods on low power, especially in low light (when you see the most deer.)

I am not against going SFP, but if I do, I wouldn’t want to go over something like a 15-16x due to needing it topped out for reticle use.

I originally thought about finding a Leupold VX-R patrol 4-12 on the used market, as I love the fire dot for hunting. However, they seem to lack parallax adjustment and the reticle is fairly thick for longer range shooting. I absolutely love the size and form factor of these scopes.

This led me to possibly consider the PST Gen II 3-15, 2-10, or possibly even a gen 1 PST... I just dislike how tall the knobs are on the PST gen 1 and I’m not 100% sure that I want to go back to one of those.

I understand that I will have to compromise somewhere here, especially in the reasonable price range that I’m trying to stick with. I have higher end optics on my LR guns, but I’m trying to avoid that cost range here.

Thanks in advance for any input. I’m looking forward to brainstorming with you guys and hopefully finding something that will do it all well enough to enjoy this little rifle to the fullest.
 
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XLR308

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The Bushnell LRTSi or LRHSi have all of the attributes you are looking for and more.
Appropriately sized for a smaller rifle, great reticle, good mag range for both target and hunting, very good glass quality, excellent warranty and can be found used lately for very good prices.
 

D2junky

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Nightforce 4-14 f1 ended up on mine. Same Howa action and the Brownells version of the MDT stock. It’s pretty handy and served me well in some extremely low light.

Have the light barreled version in a McMillan Edge and had a pst genii that I swapped out for a HD LH.
 
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stello1001

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There's so many options. I myself am like you and use my fun rifle for hunting so whenever I'm shopping for optics I keep that in mind.

Tract toric 4-20
Tango6 3-18 or 4-20 (I have the 4-20 with MRAD milling reticle)
Weaver tactical 3-15 ( I had this & regret selling)
Vortex AMG
viper PST 2nd Gen 3-15
Leupold Mark 5 3-18
Bushnell LRHS or LRTS (I have lrhs in 4.5-18)

And there's a million more. I usually pick a clean reticle that isn't too cluttered cuz I go for pigs at night time and when I light up my illumination, I don't want a lot of light to be picked up by my eye and I don't want a for example a Christmas tree blocking the pigs silhouette.

IMG_20181205_153557_892.jpg
 

Burdy

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The reason the Bushy LRHS is so popular is not only because of its great glass, features and relatively lightweight, but its the dang G2H reticle. I have yet to see another First Focal Plane reticle in the package of the LRHS, that is as good for hunting, specifically for moving game. Until someone else incorporates a FFP reticle that is easily visible and shootable at the lowest end of its magnification range, the Bushy will be king for this use case. Most all other reticles that are actually useful, in the wind, at distance with holdovers...disappear at low power in the woods.
If the option moves to SFP reticles, it opens up many more options. I would have no issue with a dual role SFP optic if the top end stayed around 12x.
 

Jay Ell Gee

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The Bushnell LRTSi or LRHSi have all of the attributes you are looking for and more.
Appropriately sized for a smaller rifle, great reticle, good mag range for both target and hunting, very good glass quality, excellent warranty and can be found used lately for very good prices.
Easiest scenario ever, 3-12 Bushy LRHSi. Next!
It has been said but I will add Bushnell LRHSi. I have a couple 4.5-18 and they have a great reticle and illumination
The reason the Bushy LRHS is so popular is not only because of its great glass, features and relatively lightweight, but its the dang G2H reticle. I have yet to see another First Focal Plane reticle in the package of the LRHS, that is as good for hunting, specifically for moving game. Until someone else incorporates a FFP reticle that is easily visible and shootable at the lowest end of its magnification range, the Bushy will be king for this use case. Most all other reticles that are actually useful, in the wind, at distance with holdovers...disappear at low power in the woods.
If the option moves to SFP reticles, it opens up many more options. I would have no issue with a dual role SFP optic if the top end stayed around 12x.
So, I actually own a G3 reticle Bushnell and have another arriving tomorrow. I decided to dig I to the G2H reticle and that thing is pretty cool. Like others mentioned, finding that little reticle in the deep woods is my biggest concern. Something like the 3-15 PST2 would pretty much have to stay on illumination full time where I hunt. Otherwise, I like the idea of a lower power SFP, but it would be less preferable to me than FFP for uses outside of hunting.

Thanks for this.
 

PhOnEpHrEaK

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So, I actually own a G3 reticle Bushnell and have another arriving tomorrow. I decided to dig I to the G2H reticle and that thing is pretty cool. Like others mentioned, finding that little reticle in the deep woods is my biggest concern. Something like the 3-15 PST2 would pretty much have to stay on illumination full time where I hunt. Otherwise, I like the idea of a lower power SFP, but it would be less preferable to me than FFP for uses outside of hunting.

Thanks for this.
I have a Tango 6 30mm tube 3-18 that lived on my Grendel for coyote hunting. Switched to a 4-24 for range use. So if you’re interested shoot me a PM.
 

Jay Ell Gee

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Nightforce 4-14 f1 ended up on mine. Same Howa action and the Brownells version of the MDT stock. It’s pretty handy and served me well in some extremely low light.

Have the light barreled version in a McMillan Edge and had a pst genii that I swapped out for a HD LH.
Thanks, I’ll read up on them. How does yours shoot? Any factory stuff that it prefers or feedback on bullet selection when hunting?
 

Jay Ell Gee

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Apr 11, 2011
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There's so many options. I myself am like you and use my fun rifle for hunting so whenever I'm shopping for optics I keep that in mind.

Tract toric 4-20
Tango6 3-18 or 4-20 (I have the 4-20 with MRAD milling reticle)
Weaver tactical 3-15 ( I had this & regret selling)
Vortex AMG
viper PST 2nd Gen 3-15
Leupold Mark 5 3-18
Bushnell LRHS or LRTS (I have lrhs in 4.5-18)

And there's a million more. I usually pick a clean reticle that isn't too cluttered cuz I go for pigs at night time and when I light up my illumination, I don't want a lot of light to be picked up by my eye and I don't want a for example a Christmas tree blocking the pigs silhouette.

View attachment 7092651
Thanks, it’s quite a list to read up on. Great photo, by the way. Is that a Grendel as well? I’m new to the cartridge, but my 6.5 Creed has served me well on deer, so I’m hoping that the baby Creed will also do fairly well on our small deer. Do you recommend any particular projectile for hunting use?
 
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koshkin

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Since you mentioned it, PST Gen 2 3-15x44 should be at the to of your list.

Used LRHSi 4.5-18x44 with G2H is a very good option.

Right now, you can get 4.5-18x44 LRTSi with G3 reticle for $1050 which is a pretty good deal.

It really depends on what magnification you need on the low end.

ILya
 

stello1001

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Thanks, it’s quite a list to read up on. Great photo, by the way. Is that a Grendel as well? I’m new to the cartridge, but my 6.5 Creed has served me well on deer, so I’m hoping that the baby Creed will also do fairly well on our small deer. Do you recommend any particular projectile for hunting use?
Mine's actually a creedmoor. I wish I could give you a solid recommendation on the projectile but truth is, I haven't shot many living things with many different projectiles. I know 140 grain hollow point boat tail by hornady has worked really really well for me. I've been very curious to try the extreme point by Winchester but have not been able to. It's is a 125 grain bullet with an advertiser BC around . 540 if I'm not mistaken. A cousin of mine uses that ammo and claims to have very good success with it.
 
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Jay Ell Gee

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Mine's actually a creedmoor. I wish I could give you a solid recommendation on the projectile but truth is, I haven't shot many living things with many different projectiles. I know 140 grain hollow point boat tail by hornady has worked really really well for me. I've been very curious to try the extreme point by Winchester but have not been able to. It's is a 125 grain bullet with an advertiser BC around . 540 if I'm not mistaken. A cousin of mine uses that ammo and claims to have very good success with it.
Thanks. Like you, I have only shot deer with one load, a Berger VLD hunting load by Choice Ammunition. Very effective stuff.
 
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hlee

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I've got a 6.5 Grendel AR15 with a vortex viper pst (gen1) 6-24x scope that I built up for PRS style competitions. It's good out to 950 there. I've also taken it to our box blind for some deer hunting. 6x is a bit high for 50 yards, but it is usable. I'd go with 3x or 4x on the low end, and as high as possible on the high end. As this is a dual use gun, you may want more magnification when stretching it out at the range.
 

nathan.s.

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As far as the projectile goes, there was recently a thread over in the Hunting & Fishing section that addressed 6.5 bullets.

 
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XLR308

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One of my favorite hunting scopes all though many around here detest them is an IOR in 3-18x42 SFP with illuminated MP-8 reticle.
It has been a great scope for me and just can't bring myself to part with it especially if I would take a beating on the resale.
 

hlee

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Hornady had a match load for the Grendel, loaded a bit hotter than their black load. My son took a nice Texas whitetail buck with that, loaded with 123 Amax bullets. DRT, though the range was less than 100y.
 

Hondo64d

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The Bushnell LRTSi or LRHSi have all of the attributes you are looking for and more.
Appropriately sized for a smaller rifle, great reticle, good mag range for both target and hunting, very good glass quality, excellent warranty and can be found used lately for very good prices.
No need to look any farther than this.

John
 

Jay Ell Gee

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As far as the projectile goes, there was recently a thread over in the Hunting & Fishing section that addressed 6.5 bullets.

Thank you. I’m going to read up on that.
 

CNJarvis

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Since you mentioned it, PST Gen 2 3-15x44 should be at the to of your list.

ILya
Ilya conned 😜 me into this exact scope over on optics talk and I’m not disappointed in the slightest. I built an AR in 260 Rem. for shooting and hunting to around 600 yds.
 

Burdy

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Thanks for that. That was a good read.
You are welcome. I ran across that guys website a few years ago, not sure if he is known on here or not, but being a hunter, I was so impressed by the volume and level of detail of his work in cartridge terminal affects that I had to send him a small donation. He has killed over 8,000 big game animal with various cartridges and treats each kill like a research project. The amount of work involved in the data he puts out is nothing short of impressive. He is from New Zealand and he happened to finally attend his first SHOT SHOW two years ago and I made it a point to find him and shake his hand. Literally his lifes work is analyzing terminal affects on game.

If you go to his website (https://www.ballisticstudies.com/Knowledgebase.html) and search the tab "Cartridge Research" you will find info for most calibers and his recorded kills. He often takes game at well over 1k yards which can be see on youtube. I did also buy his book, "The Practical Guide to Longe Range Shooting" which interestingly enough has many points in it that run counter to what you will see now days, and often he will be firm in his dismissals of some of today's techniques. I am not saying he is right or wrong, but I loved absorbing a book with so many counterpoints and trying both ways out myself. When a guy has spent his entire life taking game, recording it every aspect of each kill and making shots on sheep at 1500y+, I figure hes worth a listen.
 

rth1800

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I use mine to shoot in moonlight predator control. Lot depends on eyes I suppose.
 

koshkin

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Ilya conned 😜 me into this exact scope over on optics talk and I’m not disappointed in the slightest. I built an AR in 260 Rem. for shooting and hunting to around 600 yds.
It is a slippery slope. Keep listening to me and next step is Tangent Theta... followed by sleeping on the couch for a couple years.

ILya
 

Healy

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The wife has no idea secretary’s paid well to keep her mouth shut
 

CNJarvis

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It is a slippery slope. Keep listening to me and next step is Tangent Theta... followed by sleeping on the couch for a couple years.

ILya
The wife has no idea secretary’s paid well to keep her mouth shut
Yeah, you’re a bad influence Ilya. I’ll claim the Dark Lord of Optics made me do it...

Healy, I do the same. “Expensive” stuff delivers to work. The receptionist doesn’t ask questions.
 
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Sheep_HunterAK

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The Super Sniper 3-15 has been very good for me. It's light and it dials nicely.
I've done a lot of hunting myself with the SWFA scopes here in AK. Sheep, Caribou, Blacktails, mountain goats, love the SWFA 3-9, I have a 3-15 on the way as well.
 
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koshkin

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Yeah, you’re a bad influence Ilya. I’ll claim the Dark Lord of Optics made me do it...

Healy, I do the same. “Expensive” stuff delivers to work. The receptionist doesn’t ask questions.
I can only imagine how that conversation goes.: "Honey, it is the dark lord's fault..." They'll send you to an exorcist before you know it.

ILya
 
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Cotay

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The Bushnell LRTSi or LRHSi have all of the attributes you are looking for and more.
Appropriately sized for a smaller rifle, great reticle, good mag range for both target and hunting, very good glass quality, excellent warranty and can be found used lately for very good prices.
This. Of my two Mini Action Grendels, my #6 heavy contour in an MDT BRN-1 chassis has an 4.5-18 LRHSi.
 

Simia Dei

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I had a NF 4-16x which pulled dual duties but I ended up moving it along because the T3 reticle was a bit busy for my liking. I now run a S&B 3-20x with an MSR reticle on my hunting/backup long range plinker. That 4-16x though had solid low light performance, I was impressed with it and its x42 objective. One with a Mil-R or Mil-C reticle would fit your wants well
 

lou400a

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My LRHS 3-12 does better job in low light than 4.5-18, but I've been pretty happy with P4Xi 4-16x56. About same length and slightly heavier than LRHSi 4.5-18, but for $800 new from Doug is really hard to beat
 

Burdy

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My LRHS 3-12 does better job in low light than 4.5-18, but I've been pretty happy with P4Xi 4-16x56. About same length and slightly heavier than LRHSi 4.5-18, but for $800 new from Doug is really hard to beat
I need to pick up a 3-12 LRHS at some point to go with my 4.5-18
 

beetroot

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I really like the Leupold VX5/6 3-15/18 for a dual purpose scope.
Unfortunately the only way to get Mil is through the custom shop and FFP is not possible.
The TMOA reticle is a good compromise for long range it's not too thick and the open centre helps, and in low light and close range it's thick enough to still make out, but it's not available in the VX5hd.

So I'd likely stick with the PST 3-15 like others have mentioned.
The LRHS seems to be popular, but I don't like the limited zoom range and the PST has a much wider FOV.

The PST will suffer in low light being FFP, but the illumination makes up for that.
 

want2ride

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I got a Steiner P4Xi 4-16 for that exact purpose... It might be a little heavy for what you want, but I really like my Burris Veracity 4-20. The Veracity is more of a hunting scope that can go long range. I haven't yet dialed more than 1 MIL for a 300 yard target, so I really can't comment on the tracking yet.. but otherwise I love it. Nice BDC reticle, FFP.
I got the add on MOA turret. yeah I know it isn't MIL.