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Thread: Scope advice for intermediate range precision shooting

  1. #1
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    Scope advice for intermediate range precision shooting

    A few weeks ago I settled on a Viper HS-T 4-16x44 VMR-1 MOA, based on price point and Vortex's reputation, to upgrade my aging Burris hunting scope to something better suited to punching holes in paper out to about 800 yards. After using it a few times, I'm already wanting to upgrade again. Although the turrets feel good, the eye relief is generous, and it feels well built, I'm very underwhelmed by its optical performance. The glass just seems very mediocre to me... I can't make out .30 cal holes on paper at 100 yards, the eyebox at higher magnification is extremely unforgiving, mirage has already been a significant factor, etc. My budget is limited, but I feel like I have little choice but step up to the ~$1,000 mark for anything significantly better than the HS-T. After narrowing down my choices, I keep coming back to these two:

    - Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15x44 FFP EBR-2C MOA
    - Leupold VX-3i LRP 4.5-14x50 FFP Impact 60 MOA

    Reviews on both are overwhelmingly positive, but I found that to be the case with the HS-T prior to purchase also. I'm aware that the Leupold uses "older tech", but I just want something solid and functional that has sharp, bright optics with good, usable MOA turrets and reticle. Please help me avoid future disappointment and chime in if you have experience with either of these.

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    If you expect to spend a lot of time above 10 power I would suggest taking a look at scopes with a higher magnification range.

    You will find that issues with a tight eye box at maximum magnification are not uncommon, especially in low to mid priced optics. Most scopes tend to have better optical performance when used towards the lower end and middle of their magnification range. If you think you'll be mostly shooting on 10-15 power there's no reason not to look at the 5-25 PST instead of the 3-15, as it would still fit within your budget, it will be more comfortable to get behind at 15 power than the 3-15, and you have the option of using 20-25 power if you need it.

    Although if you want to see holes in paper past 100 yards or so you may be better off bringing along a spotting scope.

    The 4-16 gen I PST/HS-T scopes I have seen all were lacking in optical quality compared to the gen 1 6-24s. The new Gen II scopes are (at least the ones I've looked through) noticeably better across the board. I'd say they have better glass than any other scope Vortex has ever sold under the "Viper" name.

    I have no experience with the specific Leupold scope you mention, but the SFP VX-3i scopes I've look through have all had nice glass. I've just been disappointed with Leupold's features vs price for a while and haven't paid a lot of attention to the scopes they have marketed as "Precision Rifle Scopes." The new Mark 5 looks to have changed that, but it is well above your price range.

    The Athlon Ares BTR series scopes seem to be a pretty close second to the Gen II PSTs. I have a 2.5-15 on a rimfire rifle and have been happy with it. The Ares is also available in a 4.5-27x50 and I believe Athlon just upgraded the turret design on the Ares line. I think they sell for about $850 online.
    Last edited by Tx_Aggie; 05-07-18 at 20:50.

  3. #3
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    Burris xtr 2 would be worth trying to look through as well. I looked it better than the viper PST 2

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    Quote Originally Posted by 0uTkAsT View Post
    - Leupold VX-3i LRP 4.5-14x50 FFP Impact 60 MOA

    *** I'm aware that the Leupold uses "older tech", but I just want something solid and functional that has sharp, bright optics with good, usable MOA turrets and reticle. Please help me avoid future disappointment and chime in if you have experience with either of these.
    I have the Leupold Mark 4.5-14x50, which I believe/suspect is optically the same scope. You may want to research that as I'm not 100% certain. Assuming it is, the glass quality of the Mark 4 is fantastic, and leaves nothing to be desired. Glass quality is in fact its best feature, compared to the 1/4 MOA turrets (on a mil-reticle scope), limited zoom range, etc. The TMR reticle is very good - not the best ever, but good enough that there's no issue with it.

    I haven't handled the VX-3i LRP but in product photos the elevation turret looks comically large. I would check that out before buying one.

    I would suggest you also look at the Burris XTRII options and the Bushnell LRHS. If your budget could stretch to about $1250, the Nightforce SHV F1 (FFP) 4-14x50 would be another good option. I'm not certain it's worth the cost, but it's a good option.

    Edit: you prefer MOA? A larger number of top-quality scopes are offered in mil than MOA. However, there are MOA options for all of the scopes I mentioned above.
    Last edited by SomeOtherGuy; 05-09-18 at 21:47.
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  5. #5
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    I looked at as many FFP 14x-25x magnification optics in the $700-$1,250 range I could get my hands on over the last week. I wasn't able to find a Nikon BLACK FX1000 locally, and of course no one stocks the SWFA SS other than SWFA. Those were the only two I had any interest in that I couldn't check out some version of for myself.

    The 3-15x PST Gen II was a very nice scope, but the only thing I felt like I was gaining over the LRP was illumination, at the cost of an extra $100, no integrated throw lever, a huge increase in size and weight, etc... The NF SHV F1 looked optically superior to the PST Gen II with otherwise similar features/size/weight etc, but with a price point $350 above the LRP, I didn't really feel like I it was worth the nearly 40% price increase. I looked at the XTR II despite the fact that I will never buy another Burris regardless of how good it looks. The 34mm tube was a turn-off, otherwise it looked great (as they all do, until they fall apart).

    As a side note, I did look at some SFP scopes and I really loved the Leupold VX-5HD line - they struck such a nice balance of size/weight, phenomenal glass, and useful features for long range shooting, but unfortunately handicapped the whole line by not offering them in FFP configurations with good reticle options for a precision-focused rifle. If I were after a hunting scope, the VX-5HD would've been an easy decision. I also looked at some SFP Bushnells, Trijicons, and others, but easily ruled them out.

    Of what I've been able to directly compare, the SHV was probably the best overall - but the LRP has everything I really need at less than 2/3rds the cost and weight. The big elevation turret is actually very functional, the throw lever and smooth zoom ring are simply awesome to use, I personally like Leupold's non-fast-focus eyepieces better, the size and weight will be so much more appropriate for my particular rifle than a 15" long, 30+ ounce beast of an optic. The FFP Impact reticle was a little busy for my liking and small-ish on lower magnification, but not deal-breakingly so and the glass wasn't quite as bright as some of the others but every bit as sharp and clear. Only the SHV and VX-5HD had better contrast and color fidelity. At the end of the day I don't feel like I'm cheaping out by going with the LRP, it's not perfect but the $350 I'm saving will buy me a lot of range time.

  6. #6
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    Keep using your vortex and save your money to buy a Nightforce 4-16 ATACR. Excellent glass, relatively small footprint, reasonable weight. It’s the best option in its category when considering features and price. Euro Optic, Sport Optic, Mile High...all will give you a decent discount if you ask. You want more, you’ve learned this after buying less. Don’t buy another stopgap “not quite there” solution. Save your money, make due with what you have and buy some good glass when you can afford it. You’ll be much happier in the long run.
    I am affiliated with B&T USA.

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