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Choosing Your Rifle Scope

 

There are a few things to consider when purchasing a long range rifle scope:

 

Budget

 

Many web sites, Facebook Groups, bloggers and mates tell you to spend twice as much on your scope as your rifle. This is something that may have been true ten years ago but definitely is not the case today, there are plenty of great scopes for under the 1k mark and I use them.

 

Magnification

 

You need to look at a scope of at least 20x power in order to acquire and focus on targets out beyond 400 yards. I use scopes that have 24, 25 and 30x power, more than 30x and you start to loose the ability to dial enough elevation to stretch your lead far enough. Most scopes work on 4x for a magnification, i.e. 6-24 (4x6 being 24) but as you go up in value they can work on 5x (5-25) or 6x (5-30). As stated be wary of magnifications over 30x, you do not need very high mags for long range shooting, you need light transmission and the ability to dial enough elevation which you lose if you go too high for mag.

 

Milliradian or MoA

 

Most shooters have traditionally used  Minutes of Angle (MoA) but as optics and long range shooting and extreme long range has developed more scope manufacturers have moved towards Milliradians. To clarify, MoA is and inch (lets not split hairs) for every hundred yards i.e. 1" @ 100 yards, 2" @ 200 yards, 3" @ 300 yards and so on a so forth. milliradians are 10cm @ 100 meters, 20cm at 200 meters, you get the picture. Knowing these measurements is idea for dialling for distance and wind but if you use firing solution software this will work it out for you and if you use First Focal Plane then the actual measurement is irrelevant, you use your reticle to make adjustments.

 

Tube Diameter

 

All the scopes listed on this site are either 30mm or 34mm tube diameter. Contrary to popular belief these DO NOT let more light in, the erector tubes inside the scope are the same size, the tube that the light is transmitted through, but the tube diameter allows for more elevation to be dialled, the wider the tube the more elevation (and wind in most cases). My rifle out to 1000 yards have 30mm tubes but me ELR rifles have 34mm tubes to provide more elevation. You could use 34mm on all rifles but these tend to cost more along with the rings and can you justify the additional expense?

 

First or Second Focal Plane

 

This refers to the plane that the reticle is on, second focal plane is where no matter which magnification you are on the reticle stays the same size. In my opinion this makes the scope more difficult to use for long and extreme long range as in order to use the reticle for adjustments the magnification needs to be at a certain point, no good on a hot day if you need to back the mag off to see the target clearly due to haze. First focal plane is where the reticle changes size at the same proportion at the image, it is not a fixed size. This makes using your reticle for elevation and windage adjustments much more useable as it will always read correctly no matter which magnification you are on. I use first focal plane FFP on all of my long distance and extreme long distance rifles.

 

Brand

 

Who cares! Not strictly true, we only deal with optics from reputable brands such as Vortex, Element, Nikko Stirling & Hawke. We do not use spurious manufacturers that no one has heard of as we believe that your optics should be backed up by a robust warranty and a company that will be around to honour it if called upon. I've have shot next to guys with optics on their rifles worth more than my entire setup, they didn't hit anymore targets let me tell you. The most important factor is to understand your optics, not which badge is on the windage turret!

 

Vortex Optics Element Optics Hawke Optics Nikko Stirling Long Range Diamond

 

There are many brands of optics available, many manufactured in the same factories! We have chosen the four above as they offer great performance, great value and great backup service (if required). This does not mean that we are against other brands, just against spending four figures on a scope to sling some lead down range. I use the Hawke Frontier FFP 5-25x50 and it's clarity is incredible and will dial as much as I need from my 6.5 and I use a Nikko Stirling Long Range Diamond FFP 34mm for extreme range shooting which isn't quite as bright but it is clear enough to shoot steels a long way off.

 

The next scope that I am going to test is the Element Titan 34mm FFP 5-25x56, this looks excellent value for money.

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