I'm starting to get more serious about long range shooting, and as such, have decided to get Chris Matthews to build me a rifle (he's working on it right now). However, as I look at the different optics out there, I see many of you guys buying the "tactical" scopes now available. My question is, aside from looking more cool, is it really worth spending nearly twice as much in some cases for a tactical scope? For example, I can get a Nikon Monarch 3.5-10x50 Illuminated Mildot for a little over $400. The Nikon tactical 2.5-10x44 Mildot runs a liitle over $800. Aside from the side parallax adjustment and I imagine a little better resistance to elements/shock, am I really getting a scope that is $400 better? I'm leaning towards the 6.5-20x44 Nikon Monarch for my new rig, but I'm wondering if I'm overlooking something great about the tactical line of scopes since I have never used one.
Can you get by without it? Yes. Did so for many years but, now I'll never go back when it comes to a dedicated LR rifle. Nikon makes a good scope, no doubt, my Son has my old Monarch 4-12x40, which I had before I went to Nightforce and the R2, which I'll probably never walk away from now.
Best thing to do is look through the scopes at LR to compare, not inside a store at 30 yards, know what you are sacrificing and decide if it's something you can live without...
If I were you, which I'm not, but if I was I'd spend at least that and have a scope on my rig that I'd be sacrificing nothing I wanted. Grin and bear it and get what you like. For me that was the NF R2.
Brent, thanks for the response. Can you elaborate on what you like about the tactical type scopes? I did have the opportunity once to look through a guy's NF scope. Yep, you are right. A complete joy. But I really attributed the clear, crisp optics to the maker and not the style. I'm sure the high end Swars, Zeiss, etc also have great optics that can compare. I guess what I'm getting at, manufacturer aside, is why should I go with a tactical style scope instead of a regular scope of comparable power with mildot reticle? Granted, NF has some really useful reticles, but is that why you prefer it over a regular scope? Are the features that make a scope "tactical" really that much better than the regular scopes? Just trying to understand the benefits.
craig, If you don't mind my thoughts - I will us the Leupold line as my reference only because that is what I use and have had many.
First if you look through a VXlll and a Mark 4 you will find the optics appear slightly brighter in the Mark 4. Also I have found the large positive click turrets that allow me to adjust in major amounts of MOA to allow for windage and elevation to be one of the largest factors with going with the tactical style. Another item that the standard scopes don't have is the side Parallax focus. shooting out past 500 to 600 yds the parallax may start to become a problem in unadjustable units. Also eye relief seems to be better on the tactical models.
A new feature this year for Leupold but not so new for other brands is the reticle in the front focal plan. Thus if you use the mil dot system and have an adjustable power scope you can now range at any power setting. You most liky will not find this feature on a non tactical model.
I have a Mark 4 LR/T 4.5-14x50 and a Mark 4 LR/T 3.5-10x40 both with the duplex rather than the mil dot. I have found it much more simple to just dial in the windage (which you cannot do easily) with most scopes as well as major amounts of elevation for those shots at extended ranges.
If I may ask, if you needed to compasate for wind and elevation with just a standard scope how might you acuratly adjust for changing conditions consistantly? I just look at my range card and click in adjustments and point and shoot with no real thought to worrying if I am holding off to the left or right or even high enough. (Just a thought)
If I was to try to compare a VXlll to the Mark 4 their would no comparison as to noticeable quality.
For me a standard scope is nolonger an option for my rifles and I am thinking of doing changes to my shotguns and muzzle loader scopes at this point as well.
For me, I feel a tactical scope with all its features gives me more consistency and accuracy than I ever had without them. I believe that once you try one and realize the benefits you too will never be without.
Excellent response to an interesting question. I completely agree, and would expand slightly by mentioning that the MK4 turret is more accurate as well as more ruggedly built. When I run my Leupold target turrets to the top I get a bit of windage change, when I do that with my MK4 turrets I do not get windage in the movement. Sometimes at really long distance we use most of the available elevation so this can cause misses. Also the tactical turrets usually offer more elevation and windage adjustment, sometimes double what the target or hunting turrets allow.
Do hunters need tactical scopes? If you are shooting long or might have to use the equipment under rugged circumstances they are definitely superior. Are they essential - not really, but owning and using them is part of the sport we enjoy. Until we bite the bullet and spend the money we cannot appreciate what a MK4, Nightforce NXS, Nikon Tactical, S&B, IOR, USO can do.
On this forum we read about a lot of excellent shots being made by fellows who are not shooting tactical scopes. Some guys cannot afford or justify the cost of the big-dollar scopes, but that does not mean we cannot shoot well at long range. I have shot my Bushnell 3200 10x Tactical scope that cost under 200 U.S. at very long distances with excellent accuracy and repeatability. Also have a Burris with turrets that work great, even tho the number of clicks per revolution does not agree with the markings on the outside of the turrets.
If you can afford the tactical you will not regret purchasing it.
Ben, Ian, thanks so much for the added insight. It really helps hearing it from folks who have actually used both types. Not sure what brand I'll go with, but you have convinced me to go the tactical route.
One last question. Why do many LR shooters settle on the mid-power optics? Wouldn't you want as much power as you can get when taking shots at 600+ yds?
I find that 15-16 is about optimum for field shooting - gets too difficult with higher magnification because of mirage. Also tougher to hold on target, given that we are not shooting from benches. Plus the field of view goes way smaller, and usually the eyerelief shrinks as your crank up the power.
Matter of fact you can do very well with ten power, even out to 1000 yards.
Good luck, you are going to have fun.