Now we can talk about the optics I’m thinking of putting on whatever rifle I finally choose for Boomershoot 2020. To start with, I looked at this article, which lists the most popular scopes used by the majority of serious long-distance competitive shooters. To spoil the surprise, I’ll tell you that pretty much all of them (e.g. Kahles) cost more than $3,000 — which, given my budget, makes them unreachable. Back to Square 1, more or less.
I know a bit about scopes (admittedly, while not that up to date on the most recent developments), but having struggled with scopes at Boomershoots passim, I know a couple of features that are must-haves:
- at least 20x magnification (25x would be even better)
- a front aperture (“bell”) of at least 50mm diameter
- preferably, an illuminated reticle for when the weather clouds over, or it gets towards evening — understanding that this feature typically adds about $300 – $400 to the price
- and of course I’d be looking at scopes priced in the $900 – $1,300 range
I’m also unimpressed by a fiddly reticle requiring a laptop to make calculations, because it would just take me time to get to work the things properly. I know my way around scopes, pretty much, and Boomershoot is not a “precision” competition which would require such things anyway.
So with that in mind, I looked around at various online outlets which specialize in these things (SWFA, Europtics etc.) and came up with a shortlist (in no specific order, prices approximate):
1) Sightron 6-24×50 SIII 30mm (illuminated MOA-2, side focus, 1/4 MOA, zero stop) $1,300
It’s an excellent scope, even though it’s at the very upper end of the price range. The 6-32x model with the identical reticle is a couple hundred bucks cheaper.
2) Minox 5-25×56 ZX5i 30mm (matte, illuminated plex, side focus) $800
Minox is my favorite mid-range scope, but this one suffers by having no mil-dots or gradations. But the price means I could afford a better rifle…
3) Sig Sauer 5-25×52 WHISKEY5 30mm (illuminated MOA-2, quad plex, side focus, 0.25 MOA adjustment)
I’ve never shot a SIG scope before, but this one has had some good reviews. Likewise, no mil-dots etc.
4) Zeiss 6-24×50 Conquest V4 30mm (illuminated #93, side focus, ext. elevation turret)
Right now, the Zeiss would get my vote. Without the red-dot it’s $200 cheaper.
5) Steiner 4-20×50 GS3 30mm (Plex S1, Side Focus, 2/p)
This Steiner doesn’t have an illuminated reticle, but nobody I know who shoots this brand has ever had any bad words about the quality. There’s another one at the same price, with a different reticle.
6) Nikon Black FX1000 6-24×50 30mm (illuminated, side focus, FX-MOA FFP) $800
If all else failed and the budget fell apart, I’d go with this one. I just don’t know whether the Nikon scopes have the consistent quality of the others above — there’s a reason why their sales have tanked over the years –and I can’t take the risk.
7) Sightron 10-50×60 SIII 30mm (wide duplex, side focus, 1/8 MOA target knobs) $1,100
The upper end of the “regular” (i.e. crosshair) scopes, this would not ordinarily excite me except for that 50x magnification and massive 60mm bell (!). That said, Sightron makes the same model with mil-dots, for a few bucks more.
These, so far, are my top seven choices.
(For those who are wondering “Where the Leupolds at?” should know that the combination of illumination + >20x magnification puts most Leupolds outside the price range, as seen here and here, for example. It’s a pity because I love the brand, but there ya go. Ditto Nightforce here and here, also Leica; and as for Swarovski… fergeddabahdit.)
All experiences with any of the above scopes, or any I may perhaps have missed, should be shared in Comments.