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Old June 29, 2020, 05:51 PM   #1
Swifty Morgan
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Max Magnification for Precision Rifle Scope?

I posted a thread about a Leupold scope that took a dump this weekend during my first precision rifle class. I got some good suggestions.

Now I have another subject. My instructor strongly suggested I get a Vortex Viper PST Gen II FFP scope. He said it wasn't as clear as a Nightforce, but other than that, I would be satisfied.

Now I could use suggestions regarding maximum magnification and scope rings.

My Leupold maxes out at 20x, and it seemed fine at 1000 yards. One of my instructors said he shoots 16x. The other one loves high magnification.

Is there any consensus on magnification for long range shooting? I expect to stop fighting the herd and get a bolt gun in 6.5 Creedmoor. I don't actually know how far I'll end up trying to shoot. I know I'll get to 1000, though.

I may also get a cheaper Mil-dot scope for my AR-15.
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Old June 29, 2020, 05:58 PM   #2
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There are people who shoot 1000 with iron sights. Granted they have large targets to reference against their front post. It just depends on what your eyes need to see the targets you are shooting at that distance. all in all, personal preference. As far as brand, I have a Vortex Diamondback 4-12. I am not overly impressed. I have never been disappointed with a Leupold.
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Old June 29, 2020, 06:09 PM   #3
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If I want to take my teacher's advice, I believe I'm looking at 16 or 25. I don't think I need 25, but I can't help wanting to avoid going to a lower-powered scope than the 20x Leupold.

I also have a Vortex Diamondback 4-12, which I got not long before taking the class. Of course, it's not suitable for the methods I learned, so it will have to come off the AR-15.
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Old June 29, 2020, 06:14 PM   #4
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its going on an AR platform? Whats the primary use? target, hunting, or self defernse. I'm guessing you have a standard reticle not moa in the diamondback? I have been looking at the primary arms 4-16 with FFP.
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Old June 29, 2020, 06:15 PM   #5
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I've never shot at 1000, but have done 600 a few times. I didn't feel handicapped with a fixed 6X scope at 600. I've seen others shoot some 3/4 MOA groups at 600 with 6X scopes.

With clear glass and fine crosshairs 1X per 100 yards is certainly doable and I don't see the need for any more than 2X per 100. IMO scope quality is more important than the number of X's.

Above 10X and you do start running into some negatives. And the more magnification you have the more expensive the scope is going to be. Assuming equal quality.
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Old June 29, 2020, 06:21 PM   #6
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I shouldn't have mentioned the AR. It confused things.

I showed up at the class with a somewhat inappropriate gun, so now I want to get something like a Ruger RPR or a Savage BA Stealth. The scope is for a gun I haven't bought yet.

The Diamondback on the AR-15 was basically for fooling around at 100 yards in my cow pasture. I just grabbed a scope and bought it.
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Old June 29, 2020, 09:06 PM   #7
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There's buying a scope for a rifle...and then there's buying a rifle for a scope. If you're working with the same instructor--might as well get what they recommend.
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Old June 29, 2020, 10:33 PM   #8
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I think 25 is a lot for 1000 but I've only ever used a 10x at that range. Haven't gotten to try my 15x yet. That being said you could learn to stretch your rifle, especially in 6.5 creed farther than 1000 and then you might want the extra magnification... but that's conjecture on my part I don't have experience with that kind of magnification.
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Old June 29, 2020, 10:41 PM   #9
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At the 1000 yard .50 cal matches I’ve participated in, the majority of scopes are:

~6 - 25x
Retail for $1500-$3k
Are Ultra clear optically
Have very fine reticle lines (vs coarse reticle lines)

When I took the 1 mile shooting course we were all using supplied rifles with the clearest optics I’ve ever seen. Clarity was clearly more important than mega-magnification.
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Old June 29, 2020, 11:28 PM   #10
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Environmental conditions will be the main factor on how much magnification you can use on any given day. The weather and temperature will cause problems at high power's.

Scope quality will also dictate how high you can twist the magnification ring on a scope. Most scopes under $800 will have poor clarity,resolution,and chromatic aberration at high magnification because of the lens quality,and coatings used,as well as just the build quality itself. They also don't track as well,since the internal components aren't made as exact or as strong to be truly used regularly.

The sweet spot price wise today in high powered long range scopes is the $1500 - $2500 range optics. Past that,you are not gaining much in optical quality,but you do get better made and more robust scopes once you pay more than $2500.

You have to pay to play if you want a scope that will work for you.

My choices for a lower end high powered scope would include the Sightron SIII, Vortex Viper PST, Athlon Ares BTR & ETR, Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR II & LRTS, and the Burris XTR II.

From there you get into the $1300 - $2500 range that includes the Athlon Cronus BTR, Delta Stryker HD, Tract Toric UHD, Steiner T5xi, Nightforce NSX, Leupold MK 4 & 5, Vortex Razor HD Gen 2.

Past that you are in the cream of the crop scopes like Nightforce ATACR, Kahles, S&B, Minox ZP5, March, ZCO, Tangent Theta.

Most of the time if conditions are right,I don't use over 15x - 18x magnification to shoot 1K yards to a mile. If the mirage is bad,sometimes your lucky to use 10x.

If you've never looked through or used a top end scope,Don't! It will ruin you for life,and you will search for ways to buy one. I know from experience,it all started shooting a gun with a Swarovski PH scope on it,and I've been broke buying optics ever since.
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Old June 30, 2020, 04:30 AM   #11
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Being a recreational LR shooter and having gone through a similar ordeal, here is what I ended up with in both rifle and scope:

My long range rifle ended up being the RPR in 6.5 CM. It gives amazing growth potential if you decide to get into your own barrel swapping and trying out different calibers. With an AR wrench, Torque wrench and clamps/vice to hold I can go from a 308 to 6.5 CM to a 6CM and really anything that uses the same bolt face in a matter of 15 minutes ( Go/NoGo Gauges required) The platform is stable, great even if you don't customize/trigger swap etc and just flat out shoots.
The scope I ended up with on it was the NightForce SHV that tops out at 14x and has a 56mm Objective lens and 30mm tube. I have not once had any issue seeing my target clearly nor felt I was underpowered up to 1200. Great value for the money and tracks like a champ.

So many great choices and my new up and coming contender that is growing on my realllllly fast is my Arken. I picked this up for $549 and thought " budget optic with nice features for my Grendel Bolt build" and I am SERIOUSLY considering putting it on my RPR now.
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Old June 30, 2020, 08:40 AM   #12
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I decided to get exactly what my instructor recommended. Now I'm looking at the RPR and the Savage BA Stealth. The RPR seems to be the Glock of PRS; very common, lots of support, and no surprises. I do like Savages, though, and the Savage is lighter and cheaper.

Planning to get a Primary Arms scope for the AR15.
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Old June 30, 2020, 10:12 AM   #13
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If best image quality is first on your 'must have' list, get a fixed power scope. Both camera and scope sight optics produce best image quality at focus plane (reticle or film) fixed at one focal length. Both work the same optically. Zoom versions are compromises sacrificing a little image quality for not needing several of each producing different image sizes.

If elevation and windage adjustment quality and reliability are first on that list, get a fixed power scope. Variables have two lenses that are subject to misalignment as they move back and forth (each different amounts) changing power. They're also inverting the upside down first image to be right side up in the second/rear focal plane the eyepiece focuses on. If you're willing to accept a tenth to twentieth MOA slop in image position on the reticle at the back of the scope, get a variable. Both lenses are not adjusted in fixed power scopes with the front objective lens twisted for range focus.

All of which are why I think Weaver fixed power T scopes are the best compromise. Too bad they just went out of business. The T20 may still be on dealer shelves.

Last edited by Bart B.; June 30, 2020 at 10:32 AM.
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Old June 30, 2020, 10:27 AM   #14
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Thanks for that information. I don't think I'm ready to worry about a tenth of one MOA just yet. If I keep going in the hobby, I'll know I need to think about it in the future.
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Old June 30, 2020, 11:49 AM   #15
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You''ll be fine. That said, my Mark 5 HD 7 x 35 x 56 by a long shot is the sweetest scope I've ever had.
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Old June 30, 2020, 01:11 PM   #16
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All of which are why I think Weaver fixed power T scopes are the best compromise.
I have several SWFA fixed magnification scopes and they are a bargain at their price IMO--side focus makes them quite versatile even for fairly close shots, I'd put the glass quality pretty close to that of vortex's.
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Old June 30, 2020, 01:50 PM   #17
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I've also just started to get into PRS and have the exact setup you're looking at. I'm running a Savage BA Stealth in 6.5CM with a Vortex Viper PST in 6-25x50. I've repeatedly been able to hit the 1000-1100 yard targets and the scope tracks very well across all ranges. I don't think you will be disappointed. The only down side to the stealth is during the bipod stage as it natively doesn't have the bipod mount. You can add that on though pretty easily. Good luck with your purchase.

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Old June 30, 2020, 02:22 PM   #18
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That looks great. What kind of bipod is that? My bipod is too tall. I have a Magpul bipod on another gun, and it might work.
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Old June 30, 2020, 02:28 PM   #19
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It's a Harris bipod and it works pretty good. Most people I was shooting with used Atlas though and I've been considering moving in that direction as well. Expensive though.
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Old June 30, 2020, 03:36 PM   #20
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I guess it would get me started. I'm pretty sure the bipod I used this weekend is a Harris, but I can't remember buying it, and it has no markings. It worked fine except for being way too tall.
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Old June 30, 2020, 03:56 PM   #21
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I looked at the Savages as well but as you said the support for the RPR was just better. And the barrel swapping is so easy I have 308, 6mm CM and 6.5 CM barrels and can swap them in 15 min now depending on mood. Peek at the Tika's. Slightly higher price but dang nice and smooth/refined actions.
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Old June 30, 2020, 05:45 PM   #22
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Maybe I'll wish I had gotten the Tikka, but I have to get started somewhere, so I feel like it's best to go for a known quantity and upgrade later.
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Old July 1, 2020, 10:18 AM   #23
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Check out What The Pros Use from the Precision Rifle Blog. That'll give you an idea of what the top competitors are using. It definitely isn't what you have to use for magnification but it'll give you an idea.
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Old July 1, 2020, 10:24 AM   #24
stagpanther
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Can't remember where I saw it (unfortunately) but there was an article someplace on what the top 10 champions used in their matches (I suspect the choices vary significantly depending on the type of match) but Leupold was among the most frequent choice.
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Old July 1, 2020, 09:54 PM   #25
reynolds357
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swifty Morgan View Post
I posted a thread about a Leupold scope that took a dump this weekend during my first precision rifle class. I got some good suggestions.

Now I have another subject. My instructor strongly suggested I get a Vortex Viper PST Gen II FFP scope. He said it wasn't as clear as a Nightforce, but other than that, I would be satisfied.

Now I could use suggestions regarding maximum magnification and scope rings.

My Leupold maxes out at 20x, and it seemed fine at 1000 yards. One of my instructors said he shoots 16x. The other one loves high magnification.

Is there any consensus on magnification for long range shooting? I expect to stop fighting the herd and get a bolt gun in 6.5 Creedmoor. I don't actually know how far I'll end up trying to shoot. I know I'll get to 1000, though.

I may also get a cheaper Mil-dot scope for my AR-15.
The answer depends on one thing, mirage. Many shooters back power down or go lower power due to mirage. Some use high power despite mirage. I usually dial down power to deal with it.
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