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Want to help educate me on scopes?

shawn1172shawn1172 Senior MemberPosts: 588 Senior Member
I'm just getting started shopping for a scope for an AR I plan to build (5.56mm). I have one AR now with a red dot but the next one will be for more long range shooting, out to 600 yards. I might hunt coyote with it but it will mainly be a target rifle.
I've hunted with scoped rifles all my life but no high powered scopes or any fancy features. I'm seeing mention of reticles being on the first or second focal plane but don't know what this means, which is better and why.
Then there's the reticle. Tons of them out there. My first thought is a mil dot but I'm open to suggestions.
How important is a side focus? And target turrets? Not even really sure what those are.
Also unsure of what power range would be right. This rifle will be mainly for target shooting at distances anywhere from 100 to 600 yards. I don't have experience shooting that far but want to learn, especially transitioning between different distances. I was thinking of a 6-18 power but am open to advice.
What features should I be looking for? Anything I should avoid? As for a price range, I'm hoping to keep it under $500.
Thanks guys.

Replies

  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 22,210 Senior Member
    First focal plane scopes have reticles whose size changes with magnification, so the "size" of the reticle stays the same in relation to the target irregardless of what magnification you use.
    With second focal plane scopes, the size of the reticle doesn't change, so when you crank up the magnification, the target appears to get bigger, and the reticle does not.

    Target turrets are the taller turrets, that have "knobs" so you can turn them with your fingers instead of needing a coin or screwdriver. They're a lot easier if you're going to be dialing in for different ranges.

    Which reticle is mostly a matter of personal preference though intended use plays a small role.

    Side focus & adjustable objective both serve the same purpose of removing parallax for the distance you're shooting.

    Power, somewhere in the 6-18x, 6-24x range should handle the jobs you're describing.

    Since you're thinking Mil-Dot, I'd look HARD at this Sightron, it also falls within your price range
    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/696191/sightron-sii-rifle-scope-6-24x-42mm-adjustable-objective-mil-dot-reticle-matte
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,812 Senior Member
    I just bought a Nikon Buckmark 6-18x40 with side focus and BDC reticle for my AR with 20" heavy barrel - haven't got to test it yet. I was using a Nikon ProStaff 3-9x40 BDC, and it worked just fine, but I'm trying to become as comfortable with the 300 yard shot as I am at 100 yards, for hunting purposes. I know the side focus helps me to quickly transition from one shooting distance to another, and the increased power will likely help me on the longer shots. I don't need it so much at 300, but I may want to stretch it out even more, eventually. Besides, with a good 18x scope, you don't need a spotting scope at 300 yards.

    I personally like the BDC reticle, because it is pretty simple, compared to the mil-dot, but I'm sure the mil-dot is not that hard once you become familiar with it. The BDC has circles that supposedly are correct in increments of 100 yards, depending on what trajectory your chosen rifle shoots. Nikon has a program that you can download and input your ballistic info, to find out what range your particular rifle will be zeroed for the circles. My .223 is correct for the circles, within 5-10 yards, and I don't shoot well enough to notice the difference those few yards make. For all practical purposes, they are dead-on at the first two 100 yard increments.

    As for the target turrets, I just like them - don't really need them because I am not yet comfortable with moving the crosshairs for a specific shot. I generally sight in at 100 yards and don't move them. But, I'm still learning stuff, and I may want to experiment with that.

    I personally like Nikon because they have excellent optics and cost less than a lot of scopes that seem not to be superior to them, in any way that matters to me. But there are other good values out there, too.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    shawn1172 wrote: »
    I'm just getting started shopping for a scope for an AR I plan to build (5.56mm). I have one AR now with a red dot but the next one will be for more long range shooting, out to 600 yards. I might hunt coyote with it but it will mainly be a target rifle.
    I've hunted with scoped rifles all my life but no high powered scopes or any fancy features. I'm seeing mention of reticles being on the first or second focal plane but don't know what this means, which is better and why.
    Then there's the reticle. Tons of them out there. My first thought is a mil dot but I'm open to suggestions.
    How important is a side focus? And target turrets? Not even really sure what those are.
    Also unsure of what power range would be right. This rifle will be mainly for target shooting at distances anywhere from 100 to 600 yards. I don't have experience shooting that far but want to learn, especially transitioning between different distances. I was thinking of a 6-18 power but am open to advice.
    What features should I be looking for? Anything I should avoid? As for a price range, I'm hoping to keep it under $500.
    Thanks guys.

    One word of caution about target turrets. You have to be careful. In my opinion they are not desireable for hunting situations, especially when you're walking through brush and moving around. About 25 years ago I had a couple of Weaver target scopes. One day while hunting I looked down at my .308 Win. Ruger 77 with a T-6 Weaver and noticed the turret had turned about 180 degrees. So which way to go, right or left? So I set it up on the edge of the blind for a rest and with the bolt out looked down the barrel and then through the scope. Then I proceeded to turn the turret until a highline pole was dead in the middle of the bore and reticle dead on the pole. I did have the knobs on zero so when I was lined up both through the bore and on the reticle, I knew I was back on. But I never used either of those T-Scopes for hunting again.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 22,210 Senior Member
    Most current scopes with target turrets I'm aware of have caps over the turrets now. So they're as safe and secure as any other scope these days.
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,812 Senior Member
    The Nikon I just purchased has target turrets with caps, and comes with oversized turret knobs that can be easily switched back and forth, according to your needs.
  • shawn1172shawn1172 Senior Member Posts: 588 Senior Member
    Would it be sort of redundant to have a mildot reticle with target turrets? Since the mildots would be for adjusting holdover for distances (similar to a BDC reticle) wouldn't they become useless on a scope that can be simply dialed for distance with the target turrets? The mildots on the horizintal axis could still be usefull when adjusting for wind but, aside from that, would there be any reason for having both? If you are taking multiple shots at targets at varying distances.... say I have targets set up at several spots anywhere from 100 to 600 yards, is one better than the other for quickly switching from one target to another?

    And I'm still a little confused about first and second focal plane reticles. What each one is was explained above but what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Those of you who do a lot of distance shooting- which do you prefer? Is one more suited to hunting and one better for target shooting? I just don't get the point between the two of them.

    And thanks again for all your input!
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,812 Senior Member
    I can only give a 'novice' opinion on the value of target turrets. I have only been interested in target shooting with a centerfire rifle for a couple of years, but I've found that they are just convenient for making minor adjustments, such as switching ammo, etc. Also, I like to sight in by firing a shot (or a group) and then adjust the reticle to the hole, while sighting on the bulls eye. Unless you have a helper, this is easier with turrets. I expect to get around to trying them for adjusting for a specific range, and maybe even windage, but even without that, they are handy, and I've not found a downside to having them, for any use I intend.

    There are many others here that can answer from a greater depth of experience, so stay tuned.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    knitepoet wrote: »
    Most current scopes with target turrets I'm aware of have caps over the turrets now. So they're as safe and secure as any other scope these days.

    Well, I'm bad about having a bad experience and not going back to where I had it. So I have not even paid any attention to them since. I actually have Three Nikon Buckmasters that came with them and they are in my drawer here. I'll take them out of the package and check them out to see of the caps I have will fit over them. Other than the problem I had with them I did like the concept.

    I think this would be a good case (Excuse) for getting a decent range finder.

    Looks like Shawn isn't the only one getting a little scope education.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • bowserbbowserb Member Posts: 277 Member
    Take a look at Nikon. The P223 line is two scopes--a 3x and a 3-9x--designed for the AR.
    "We are fast approaching the stage of the ultimate inversion: the stage where the government is free to do anything it pleases, while the citizens may act only by permission; which is the stage of the darkest periods of human history." - Ayn Rand
  • jbohiojbohio Senior Member Posts: 5,600 Senior Member
    In general, you want fine crosshairs. Most BDC reticles are designed for hunting, and they don't have fine crosshairs. I have two Nikon BDC scopes that I purchased for hunting, but the crosshairs are so big, they limit the accuracy.
    Otherwise, you'll want adjustable parallax, and side focus is much easier. Target turrets, for sure. 6-18 power or more would be fine. Honestly, for the same money, I'd get a better quality 6-18 than a lesser quality 6-20 or 6-24.
    For the price range you've mentioned, I'd look real hard at a Leupold VXII 6-18x40 AO T. I have one, it came highly recommended by some highly regarded shooters around here. I can't say if the rifle it's on is the most accurate one I have, but I sure can shoot the best groups when looking through that scope. Sub .25".
    FWIW, the Sightron that Paul mentioned would be great, too. Sightron makes great glass.
  • shotgunshooter3shotgunshooter3 Senior Member Posts: 5,884 Senior Member
    The Nikon M-223 series is a good option IMO. The similar Buckmaster is my go-to riflescope.

    http://www.nikonhunting.com/products/riflescopes/m-223
    - I am a rifleman with a poorly chosen screen name. -
    "Slow is smooth, smooth is fast, and speed is the economy of motion" - Scott Jedlinski
  • bruchibruchi Senior Member Posts: 2,581 Senior Member
    Another vote for Nikon, also the Vortex PST series seem to be the best deal for the money.
    If this post is non welcomed, I can always give you a recipe for making "tostones".
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    I'm not real big on target turrets on hunting rifle scopes anyway. It's just me, but other than doing something like shooting prairie dogs or something where you're set up and plan on shooting 400-500 rounds or more and you have opportunity to chase a few shots around to get dead on at extreme range, I get uneasy adjusting a scope while hunting game animals where I probably only have one shot. I try to have my scope and rifle set to hit dead on center at 200 yards and hold over for long range. Also I don't mind using Kentucky windage either. I know it's just me, but when I'm hunting wild game, cranking on my scope doesn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

    However, having said all that, punching paper is a totally different matter. I have been known to crank on my scope in the middle of a bench rest shoot. But I usually have a spotter target and can shoot without penalty at it. You don't have such luxury while hunting.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    bruchi, I have a Vortex Diamond Back that I love. It was reasonably priced, has a lot of light transmission and holds zero. For the money it's right up there with the Nikon Prostaff and almost with the Nikon Buckmaster.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • shawn1172shawn1172 Senior Member Posts: 588 Senior Member
    I've been checking out the Leupold Mark AR in 6-18. Mildot and target turrets. Retails about $550, pushing my price limit. Anyone have one? Opinions on it? I've just seen them online, not in person yet. I'll get to the lgs to look through some different ones but want to have a few options in mind to look for. I'll look for Sightrons too and Vortex. The Nikon P223 doesn't have the power I want. I'm thinking at least 15x.
  • bruchibruchi Senior Member Posts: 2,581 Senior Member
    snake284 wrote: »
    bruchi, I have a Vortex Diamond Back that I love. It was reasonably priced, has a lot of light transmission and holds zero. For the money it's right up there with the Nikon Prostaff and almost with the Nikon Buckmaster.

    I got a Vortex Diamondback on the PRT-91, a 3.5x10X job I think is no longer made and that was incredibly affordable, $130 on ebay! I get just a tad under 1 MOA from the bench with bulk Venezuelan 40 year old ammo and for a "battle rifle" that is not bad!
    If this post is non welcomed, I can always give you a recipe for making "tostones".
  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,429 Senior Member
    bruchi wrote: »
    I got a Vortex Diamondback on the PRT-91, a 3.5x10X job I think is no longer made and that was incredibly affordable, $130 on ebay! I get just a tad under 1 MOA from the bench with bulk Venezuelan 40 year old ammo and for a "battle rifle" that is not bad!

    When I first got my Diamond Back I didn't like it too much. It seemed like a cheap imitation of a Nikon. But after hunting with it and seeing how clear it actually is, I love it.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • Ernie BishopErnie Bishop Senior Member Posts: 7,866 Senior Member
    FFP-means you can use either a MIL or MOA reticle on any power and the distance/measurement/subtension in between the lines or dots remains the same. Sort of idiot proof.
    SFP-means you can only use your reticle on the one specific power setting (set by the scope company) if you want to use your reticle to shoot off of or reticle range a target.
    FFP scopes cost more for the same quality of optics than SFP scopes do.
    You are not going to find a good FFP scope for under $500

    What type(s) of shooting do you intend to do? Bench, field, roving, etc.?
    A FFP Vortex PST in 4-16 would be about the best quality close to your price range.

    I prefer MOA reticle over MIL reticles myself. It is easier for me to think in MOA, and it is a finer measurement/subtension as well.
    Don't be afraid of a scope with target turrets. Most all of mine have them.
    There are several ways you can use a scope to adjust for distance.
    How about you PM me and I will give you my phone number and I can explain some things to over the phone?
    I can talk a lot faster than I can type.
    shawn1172 wrote: »
    Would it be sort of redundant to have a mildot reticle with target turrets? Since the mildots would be for adjusting holdover for distances (similar to a BDC reticle) wouldn't they become useless on a scope that can be simply dialed for distance with the target turrets? The mildots on the horizintal axis could still be usefull when adjusting for wind but, aside from that, would there be any reason for having both? If you are taking multiple shots at targets at varying distances.... say I have targets set up at several spots anywhere from 100 to 600 yards, is one better than the other for quickly switching from one target to another?

    And I'm still a little confused about first and second focal plane reticles. What each one is was explained above but what are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Those of you who do a lot of distance shooting- which do you prefer? Is one more suited to hunting and one better for target shooting? I just don't get the point between the two of them.

    And thanks again for all your input!
    Ernie

    "The Un-Tactical"
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