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SJ
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sighting in varible scopes

Do you zero them in at full power or mid power or at it's lowest power?

WesternHunter's picture
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sighting in varible scopes

Zero it at the power you plan to hunt with. Find a setting you are comfortable with and just leave it set to that power. No need to keep adjusting the magnification on a scope. On both my 3-9X and 2-7X I just leave them set at 5X.

That's why I'm fast becoming a big advocate of the fixed power scopes.

SJ
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sighting in varible scopes
WesternHunter wrote:
Zero it at the power you plan to hunt with. Find a setting you are comfortable with and just leave it set to that power. No need to keep adjusting the magnification on a scope. On both my 3-9X and 2-7X I just leave them set at 5X.

That's why I'm fast becoming a big advocate of the fixed power scopes.

My concern with that would be if you are deer hunting in an area that dictates short more brushy shots and then later your hunting for elk with the same rifle where you will need to take fairly long open shots. You wouldn't want your scope set at 9x in thick brush for shots under 100yds or at 3X power trying to make an accurate shot placement in open terrain at 400 yds would you? I know there is an exact critique for zeroing in varible power scopes, I just don't know the tried and true, correct way to do it.

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sighting in varible scopes

If I am sighting in my rifle @ 100 yards, I'm at 9X with my 3-9 scope, I want the crosshairs exactly where I want the shot to go, not close. I find it next to impossible to hold the crosshairs in the centre of a small square at the lower powers.
When I am zeroed in, I put my bore sighter on and check every power range with it. There should be no inconsistancies at any power.
I always leave my scope on 3 Power and if Ihave a shot at at entended range I have ample time to choose a higher setting.
At a lower magnifiation( 3 X ) you have a wider field of view for quicker shots and the maximum light gathering capacity for low light conditions.

SJ
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sighting in varible scopes

Thanks Hammer. Since this seems to work good for you I will try this method. Thumbs up

WesternHunter's picture
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sighting in varible scopes

You are going to find that your zero will move with various magnification setting. This is a phenomenon that happens with all variable powered scopes, regardless of what Leupold says, and I'm a big Leupold fan. Trust me, for hunting purposes you will never need magnification greater than 6X. In fact for most target shooting you will not need more than 6X. I check my zero twice per year and never have a problem placing my crosshairs on center a paper target. My scopes never leave the 5X mark either. I can put all my bullets exactly where I want them at that 5X magnification setting.

For those 400 yrd shots? They can in fact, and have been made by many many hunters both in the past and currently with either a 2X, 3X, or 4X fixed power scope. Those 400 yrd shots are determined by how good and accurate of a shooter you yourself are, not how powerful the magnification of your scope is. Just make sure that you are capable of accurately making that shot into the vital area of an animal from all shooting positions at that distance, not from a bench. Realistically you should never have to take shots on a game animal past 200 to 300 yrds.

SJ
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sighting in varible scopes

That was what was worrying me WesternHunter. I had a 3x9 Simmons Aetec on a Rem. 700 ML and everytime I changed power levels on the scope the gun would seem to go off zero. I was hoping by switching to a better grade scope that wouldn't happen. I have a 3x9 Nikon Monarch on my Rem 700/300saum now. What good are varible maginification scopes if your rifle shoots off zero everytime you change power levels?

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sighting in varible scopes

Exactly!! Like I said before, this is a problem with ALL variable power scopes. Though the more higher quality scopes have minimized this problem, it still exists to some extent. I've seen it with Zeiss, Leupold, Schmidt & Bender, Swarofski, Kahles, Nikon, Bushnell, Weaver, Redfield. Doesn't matter how expensive or high quality the scope is.

You asked for a tried and true technique to zeroing variable power scopes. Well my advise may not be what you want to hear and may be hard for some to swallow, but my advise is based on years of experience. I'm not saying that you need to go out and buy a new fixed powered scope. What I am saying is that the best way to zero your variable is to chose a lower power setting and leave it there. Todays variable power scopes are very good and reliable, but that does not mean you have to constantly be changing your power setting. All you will end up doing is chasing your zero everywhere. You don't need that frustration. This is also the reason why you should zero your rifle with the same ammunition too, and not change brands or bullet weights. This is why I reload all my own rifle rounds, because I can load to the exact same consistancy, specs, and ballistic performance every time.

Higher magnification really does not give you any advantage in hunting, and in fact there are a lot of disadvantages to higher magnification. I realize that there is so so much hype out there being used by scope manufacturers to make you buy their high powered variable scopes, and a huge trend among todays younger shooters towards very high magnification. That's all it is, HYPE. You can sell dog poop to any one if you market it and hype it up the right way. Don't get brain washed by marketing and advertisement hype. You need to find what works best and stick with it. Take the advise of experienced hunters and shooter, they know what works.

Not sure what experience level you have hunting and shooting. You will see that as you gain experience in hunting and shooting you'll find that a lower powered scope offers many more advantages than higher magnification ones. This is why I've really leaned towards the lower magnification fixed powered scopes, such as the 4X and 6X. These have been used for decades with real true success, even at distances of 400+ yards. I really discourage shots at those distances on a game animal though.

SJ
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sighting in varible scopes

Well I have hunted most of my 56 years but am just now getting into center fire rifle hunting as where I was borne and raised you could only use shotguns with slugs or ML's for deer during firearms seasons. I had always hunted in brushy areas where a 4x was all you ever needed or could even use for that matter. 9x scopes are a very new thing to me even with all my years of hunting as I never really did the out west thing up to now. I really don't want to take a shot at 400 yds but I do want to be capable of it if a situation for that kind of shot ever came up. Seems like a higher magnification would definitely help with determining where to place your shot for a good shot placement at a significantly long yardage shot.

WesternHunter's picture
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sighting in varible scopes

You beat me in hunting experience. Let me guess, you've hunted in the eastern U.S. right? I hear that back in some easter states you can't hunt biggame with a centerfire rifle.

Something you may want to consider, and it will be complicated, but if you really want to use various setting on your scope just do this: Note at 50 yrd increments out to 400 yrds where your bullet groups hit when your scope is set with 3X, 6X, and 9X. That comes out to 24 different zeroes you have to keep track of, even more if you consider all the power settings. It's definitley not something I would want to do, but it's one way to sight in your variable powered scope if you want to take full advantage of the various power setting on your scope. It's just that hunting with a scoped centerfire rifle does not need to be that complicated. I think that you can now understand why I favor one power setting on a scope. Think

It may seem like a higher magnification setting will be better at longer ranges, but this is not really the case on deer or elk sized targets. A high powered setting is usefull when varmit hunting such a small rodent sized target. On big game higher magnification will only narrow your field of view making it a bit more difficult to find your game in your scope, especially inside of a 200 yrd area. Just keep in mind that the best military snipers from WWII and Korea were able to make kills on a relatively small human sized target out to 600+ yrds using a 4X fixed powered scope. That should tell you something.

Who knows? That Nikon Monarch may not change it's zero all that much at various power setting beyond 100 yrds. Though it's likely that it will. But, if it doesn't then you've got nothing to worry about, you're set.

Personally I like to keep it simple. I use one magnification setting, one consistant type of ammunition (my own hand loaded rounds), and have that puppy sighted-in for maximum point blank range for my particular caliber/cartridge (just slightly under 300 yrds). From muzzle out 300 yrds all I have to do is place my cross hairs on the vital area and do my part and my shots will hit in an area from 3" high to 3" low. That's a 6" circle at 300 yrds and plenty tight with the vital area on deer and elk. No math or trajectory thinking involved.

This is just my advise based on 22 years of consistant hunting and long range target shooting experience with various centerfire rifles and calibers. Not telling you what you should do or trying persuade you to adopt my method. In the end it really come down to you doing what you are comfortable with. Good luck with that new scope.

SJ
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sighting in varible scopes

Not quite eastern but close, midwest / Indiana. I appreciate all the great info you have provided. It will defitnitely give me a starting point and also an idea on what I can expect to encounter. If at all possible I will keep it simple. Thanks

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