Now that I have decided on a rifle and that I desire to get back in to hunting I am forced to consider my optical arrangement.
Parallax this and Field of View that I will be the first to tell you that optics are far beyond my scope of expertise. I just now that I need to see what I’m shooting at. The little bit I know regarding optics could be placed in a thimble with room left over. I know what seems to work and what I desire my optics to do. Thus I am on a quest for finding something that will work for me that I can afford.
It does me no good to have a “great” rifle if I put a poor quality optic on it. While the poor quality optic may get the job done it may not too. It has been said that one should buy the best quality optic they can afford and that it should range in price from one third to one half of the rifle cost. It has also been said that the optical device should cost as much as the rifle. I have looked through some “good” glass and I will tell you that at a certain point I can’t distinguish a difference between good and great. Maybe if I was someone that shot daily and really used his equipment to it’s maximum potential I would be able to notice a difference between good and great but that’s not so right now.
In my searching for an optic I was looking for an “all around” type of optic that would meet most of my needs without making me sell a kidney. I tried cheap, if one considers $42 for a scope to be cheap. I do. That scope went once with me to the Range and then I started looking for better. The $42 scope is good to keep around as a loaner in case someone needs to borrow a scope for whatever reason but if one can afford better I think they are ahead of the game. That is not to say that I think one needs to spend as much as a new car on optics either. Between those two extremes, cheap and the cost of a new car, I figured I’d be able to find something that might work for me.
Seeing as how my hunting area is in the desert and long shots are the norm here I also knew I was going to need some sort of rangefinder. If you ask me how far away something is from past experience I know I will undershoot the estimation by a good margin. I also know that the more I move around, setting the binoculars down to pick up the rangefinder, then setting the rangefinder down to pick up the rifle, gives me more opportunities to be seen by my quarry and cause me to get busted. It is often movement that alerts us to the game animal we seek and also that which alerts them to us.
In the past I have used a 4x scope and it has worked fine for me at known distance ranges. The problems tend to arise when the distance is unknown or when the shot is longer than I prefer. It has been said that one should consider each x on the magnification scale as being good for 100 Yards. Thus a 4x scope is good out to 400 Yards. In some respects I find this to be fairly true but not quite verbatim. I like 4x at 100 Yards. Knowing that, liking 4x at 100 Yards, I realized that I would want more magnification than 4x at 400 Yards. Lots of folks were suggesting a 3 - 9 variable and I think this has merit.
Being that I am looking for an “all around” scope set up for my “all around” rifle, and knowing that I would need a rangefinder led me to considering a scope with range finding capabilities. If I already had a rangefinder I doubt I would be looking for a scope that had this feature. Since I didn’t already have a rangefinder I decided to combine the two features. This is when I got my first taste of sticker shock.
I will say up front that they aren’t cheap. They seem to be the “new age” rage in rifle scopes. Being an old stick in the mud that has recently come to accept the M4 as a halfway decent rifle after using them for the past twenty years in my working applications one would think I would shun newer untested stuff. Usually this would be true here as well but I was feeling adventurous that week. I had also learned the positive qualities of the Red Dot Sight so that had me less hesitant to trying something new.
One thing about these range finding scopes is that they are heavy. That’s great for soaking up recoil but not so great when one is carrying the rifle all day. Seeing that these scopes mount to a rail or bases that resemble a rail means that I wouldn’t have to worry about making sure the scope was level. Being that I’m not the handiest guy with tools I consider this a good thing as I was going to mount this scope myself and forego the services of a professional Gunsmith. I’m doing this as a learning experience and if I get it wrong I will not only learn something I hope but can blame nobody but myself as well.
One should consider where they plan to hunt, terrain, distance of likely shots, and what game they intend to pursue. Those things should, in my opinion, be taken in to consideration when selecting a scope. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the choices and quite frankly I think I was. I just decided to look carefully at the various factors and then make the best choice I could. What I would select for dangerous game in close brush is vastly different than what I would select for making a head shot at a known distance.
Talking with trusted people and other hunters will help to lead one to what may work very well for them. If all you can afford is a cheap $42 scope it will be better than nothing but the $3,000 scope may be a bit much as well. I have learned in the past that decent and acceptable performance doesn’t always have to cost the most but to a certain degree one does get what they pay for. I wouldn’t put retreads on my racing motorcycle but then again I wouldn’t put racing tires on my street bike either. Between those two variables is a working compromise.
I suggest that one ask around, and if given the opportunity, shoot as many scopes as one can before placing their hard earned cash down on the counter. Also look at what others in your situation are using and what they recommend. One fellow was using a scope that he didn’t recommend and after he explained why he wouldn’t recommend it I came to the same conclusion after trying his rifle and scope combination.
Good luck in your search for a rifle scope that meets your needs and expectations. Now that the LokTite has cured I’m off to the Range to sight in.