Choosing my Own AR Optic
So, I promised how I picked my last AR scope. First I watch NutNFancy’s video on AR-15 scopes.
First, the gun is a self built AR-15 with a 17″ A2 profile rifle gas barrel, rifle quad tube, Vltor EMOD, etc. So, I wanted a scope which would show me max accuracy on 100yd paper (I thought 10x), but would still be quick into use for some informal 3 gun or rifle match(<2x plus good eyebox plus lightweight). I also think of this gun being accurate out to 500 yards for a coyote or something similar(thinking BDC reticle). So, my spec list:
Magnification – 2-8x, 2-7x, 2.5-10x, 2.5-8x
Exit pupil – Want 5 at max power so, 40, 35, 50, 40 objective sizes. Wow! 40 – 50 obj is not light.
Weight – Want 12 oz. . .Better look small or Leupold. . .maybe Nikon Monarch with smaller obj
Lens coatings – Fully Multi-coated is a minimum for me. Since I’m looking at smaller obj’s, I had better be thinking Nikon Monarch 3, Leupold VX3, Zeiss, or better! The better lines of Leupold and Nikon and Burris all have great matched lens coatings, IMO from looking through them in the store.
Eye Box – Better go to the store for testing.
Optics Tip #3 – In store testing how to. . .First, get the scope on the fake stock at an eye relief that you can full view quick. Then aim at flat wall 25 – 100 yards away with nothing on it. Focus the reticle with the eye piece focus perfectly. Perfect is judged by lower slightly, blink and then snap the scope up and ask if the reticle is clear. Good. Then set the side focus(if required) to 150 yds. Then look at objects near a light. OK? How is the light affecting your view, the objects color, etc. Then look at the picture on the far wall or outside. Really scrutinize it. The guy has brown hair. Is it the way it was when you saw it up close or less texture, less color, too much color, etc. Ask if they have an optics chart or target on a wall. If so, how do the lines look? Are the straight, distinct, etc. Also, how did things look at the edge for all targets? Then, pick a 25 yd target. How quick can you pull up and trigger a shot? Maybe try again at 50 yds. This pull up and shoot is all about eyebox. Poor eye box on similar scopes will show up as feeling slow, or worse eye tired.
Cost – Well, this thing is going on an AR, so you have to leave room for the $150 + mount! Uh, let’s see, $300 +/- $100 for the scope.
Burris 2-7×35 Fullfield E1 -
Pros – Was on sale for $130, BDC has wind scale, power ring has GREAT feel, Burris coatings always render color well to my eye, eye box was good.
Cons – at $130 are the coatings good enough in the real world?, it was sold out the day I went for final selection.
Nikon 2-8×34 Monarch 3
Pros – .5 MOA adjustments, 12 mo same as cash(buy now, sell old scope later), $300, $20 off coupon, eye box was best of group, edge clarity best of all, color and contrast best of all.
Cons – Seemed a hair dim on 8x(hard to be sure), Not sure if it is better than the Burris(now at $200), zoom hard to grasp well. . .Needs a switchview likely at $60.
Pros – It is a Leupold, weight 11oz, B&C reticle
Cons – Yellowish cast like many Leupold coatings, B&C reticle seems unfinished, $479 ($200 over spec), edge clarity not as good as Nikon, didn’t handle a target near a bright light well
Pros – It is a Zeiss(coatings, mechanics, brightness,etc), very bright and clear, $350
Cons – Edge clarity poor, reticle huge. . .a deer might hide behind it at 300 yards, not BDC,
So, I chose the Nikon 2-8×36 Monarch 3.
I guess what I’m saying is that I felt your show didn’t clearly tell me a better way to buy this scope. . .or frankly as good of a way to select this scope. I think listeners don’t need to hear the old spend more get better, glass costs as much or more than the rifle, etc.
Frankly, if I would have said AR glass for $1000, I think I would be looking at that scope and Burris XTR 1.5-6×40, IOR Valdada 2.5-10×42 hunting, Leupold 2.5-8×36 tactical, etc. Those scope all have 1 thing in common near 20 oz weight! They have better glass, but can I even use it in this scenario? Also, who knows about eye box on these as it is an order and see what you get kind of deal.
Anyways, just trying to give you another viewpoint on selecting AR optics, mainly riflescopes. I hope this was at least worth reading to you.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Ryan Hey Guys! Love the podcast! I\’m glad there\’s finally an informative show about everything AR on the scene. However,… Your recent podcast on optics was cursory at best and simply uninformed at various points. Most of the topics you covered were not explained sufficiently at all(!) After years of shooting, reloading, competing and tinkering with rifles and endlessly squeezing the utmost amount of accuracy I can out of rifles, I\’ve come to believe that if there is ONE thing a shooter should seriously invest in, it\’s optics. Of the two major components in a rifle-system; the rifle itself, and the optics,… the majority of the investment should be put into the optics. After all, a great optic can be moved from weapon to weapon and utilized on each.
Here are some comments, and corrections, on what you discussed:
Shooting Dirty: definitely true,… making sure that your bore has reached copper equilibrium is a key to consistent, predictable POI. This is a great (p)ossible (f)uture (s)how (t)opic (PFST), as cleaning the barrel is sooooo overdone by most shooters and in general, hurts accuracy.
Eye-relief: in general, the higher the magnification, the closer the shooters eye needs to be to the ocular lens, and the smaller the \’window\’ in which the eye can see a clear eye-picture.
FOCUS: Great opportunity to talk about the difference between the \’ocular\’ focus i.e. the adjustment found on the ocular lense that is used to bring the reticle into focus, and \’parallax\’ adjustment, which is found on either the bell or the objective lens or more typically in recent years, on the left-hand side of the turret housing, and is used to adjust the depth-of-field or focal depth of the optic.
1st vs 2nd focal-plane: MIL-RADIAN is an \”ANGULAR\” form of measure, just like a DEGREE is an angular measurement, as is a Minute-of-Angle (MOA)…(PFST). A 2nd focal-plane scope means that the reticle is \’fixed\’ and does not change in dimension throughout the range of magnification i.e. when you dial the power up/down, the reticle remains the same size throughout. In a 1st focal-plane scope, reticle changes size in direct relationship to the magnification i.e. the reticle \’grows\’ when increasing magnification and \’shrinks\’ when decreasing magnification,… the important point of which is that the reticle, and all its\’ corresponding hash-marks (hold-overs), remain constant throughout the magnification range.(PFST)
Parallax: this is simply the depth of field or focal depth of the optic. Optics cannot maintain perfect focus on everything, no matter the distance, especially with high-magnification optics. Think of it as a focus-range for the optic i.e. out of the 1000-yards of range you\’re looking at through your scope, your only able to get a crisp focus on 50-yards of it,… and you use the parallax adjustment to dial-in, and out, at what distance that range will be.
Reticles (PFST): MIL-RAD, MOA, BDC,… these are the major \’types\’ of reticle and deserve more attention,… in conjunction with this is the adjustments of the optic, i.e. 0.1 MIL-RAD /click, or 1/4 MOA/click,…etc. Matching the Reticle to the Adjustments,…etc. The pros and cons of going with a BDC reticle or BDC turrets,… Again,… (PFST)
Tube Diameter: 1-inch, 30mm, 34mm, 35mm. Has very LITTLE to do with the amount of light-transmission,… that\’s primarily linked to the objective diameter – after all that is where the light is gathered and transmitted down the tube. However, tube diameter is probably still the more important feature in that it is directly linked to the erector housing\’s ability to travel up/down i.e. the amount of MILRAD\’s, or MOA adjustment the optic can travel,… This also brings in the topic of canted bases and why they\’re a good idea for long range shooters, as well as how to properly calculate the amount of travel the erector has,…(PFST).
LIGHT – great opportunity to talk about the coatings on the lenses and that THAT is the MAJOR feature of great glass.
TURRETS – Again, 0.1 MIL-RAD /click, or 1/4 MOA/click, and matching the reticle…etc. (PFST)
FIXED POWER vs. VARIABLE POWER: durability, focal-plane, cost, features,…etc.
Bad purchases vs. good purchases,… talk to ME! My hope is to at least convince you that of ANYTHING you purchase, weapon/optic,… the OPTIC is the more important of the two. (PFST)
RETICLE: Duplex, Varmint, BDC, Mil-Dot, MILRAD-based, MOA-based, HORUS, Combo-Hybrid-Designer. In addition to providing hold-overs to the shooter, it can also serve as a great means of range estimation i.e. being able to utilize the reticle to \’range\’ a target at an unknown distance.(PFST)
BRANDS: based on my own experience:
Burris – eh,… get what you pay for
Redfield – eh,… get what you pay for
SWFA – fair,… adjustments are mushy, but the \’features\’ are well-thought out in general.
Leupold – everything from OK, good, to FANTASTIC! One of the widest range of optics available. You get what you pay for.
Nikon – OK,… good hunting scopes, but not really rugged.
Swarovski – GREAT glass, but limited reticles
Weaver – Good, solid, affordable scope.
Nightforce – generally, great: rugged, heavy-duty, accurate, featureful… High-end models are top-tier.
Vortex – Great designs. Everything from good (PST) to great (Razor) line of scopes
USOptics – HIGHLY customizable, HIGH quality, LOTS of options.
PREMIER Reticle – FANTASTIC,… ULTRA rugged, and featureful, Well thought out. Get what you pay for. Top tier
Khales – Top tier, GREAT stuff,… but you pay for it.
Schmidt & Bender – the optic by which ALL others– are judged,… The summit,…AWESOME!(PFST)
Again, durability, reliability, repeatability,… not to mention quality of glass, adjustment/reticle combos. A scope, is an investment well worth making cautiously,… and is entirely based on the intended use of the scope. Maybe you only intend to put the scope on an AR15 shooting 62gr Green Tips,… at which point, a fixed ACOG NSN-TA01 with a BDC reticle would be appropriate,… or you\’re looking to throw a good optic on an AR15 chambered in 6.5 Grendel, at which point I\’d look at a variable 4-16×50 Vortex with a MIL-RAD based FFP reticle,… etc. (PFST)
There are a TON of topics that you could easily fill an hour with on this topic,… Let me know (PFST) .
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