Low Priced Long Range Scopes
By Ian McMurchy
Long range shooting is my passion. I have accumulated a nice selection of incredible rifles and long range scopes for this specialized challenge. Scopes like Leupold’s Mark 4, Nightforce NXS, U.S. Optics and Schmidt and Bender tend to spoil a person. They are superb optically and their turrets are completely accurate and repeatable. But – not everyone can justify tying-up one to two thousand dollars in a long range scope. Add another two hundred and fifty or more for mounts plus Butler Creek pop-up caps or a Scope Coat and the scope investment starts to approach the cost of a very good rifle.
Fortunately, there are a couple of reasonably priced long range scopes that work well for long range shooting. Call them “entry level” or “low-end” long range scopes, they just plain work. The first scope I would like to review is one I call “the sleeper” of the scope industry. This little scope is simply amazing. It sells for about one hundred and seventy five dollars and performs remarkably well for long range precision shooting.
Bushnell Long Range Scopes
The Bushnell Elite 3200 10x Tactical is a simple, rugged, reliable long range scope that has proven itself time and again on our long range rifles. How long range – I have shot one of the little Bushnell scopes on an incredibly accurate Barrett .50 BMG down in Montana out past one thousand yards. The .50 caliber Browning Machine Gun cartridge is nasty on scopes but the Bushnell scope has withstood a lot of shooting. As a matter of fact Barrett factory-mounts this scope on one of their bolt action M-99 LE packages.
The Bushnell 3200 ten-power long range scope has a one-inch tube, forty millimeter objective and a serious set of turrets. Optically, this little scope is sharp and bright. Not tack-sharp nor the brightest in the scope world, but still capable of good performance. I have used over a dozen of these long range scopes and have seen a slight variation in resolution from scope to scope. Some are slightly better than others. But they are all good enough to enable consistent holding on small targets at 1000 yards.
Next to optical qualities and ruggedness, turret performance makes or breaks a scope when long range precision is required. The 3200 Elite scope has good reliable, repeatable turrets. Since my friends and I started buying the little Bushnell scopes we have shot thousands of rounds through a wide range of rifles. We use the 3200 scope on varminters and long range tactical style rigs. Cartridges run the gamut from the .204 Ruger to .308’s, .300 Winchester magnums and the previously mentioned .50 BMG.The Elite 3200 scope has a Mildot reticle, eyepiece focusing, moisture beading Rainguard coating on the outer scope lenses, nearly 100 minutes of turret adjustment with 1/4 minutes clicks, ten minutes per revolution, a one-piece body and Bushnell’s Bullet-Proof warranty. How can long range scopes sell for less than two-hundred dollars. Simple – this is a no-frills unit – no variable magnification or parallax adjustment. Just a good set of scope lenses in a well-constructed body with strong turrets.
I just finished my 3rd complete hunting season using Huskemaw scopes. I like the Huskemaw optical quality, the light weight and the ease of "getting on" the game at the right yardage so quickly with the Huskemaw scopes. As you can imagine, I can use any brand of scopes at any price point on my personal hunts. I choose Huskemaw scopes because Huskemaw scopes work!Super Sniper Long Range Scopes
-- Len Backus --Publisher of LRH
The second long range scope I want to discuss is exclusively available from a great scope dealer in Texas called SWFA. If you have not heard of SWFA you should get on the internet and check their website. Let’s just say that SWFA sets the standard for scope deals – period. SWFA offers a line of tactical long range scopes called he Super Sniper scope. Essentially the Super Sniper is a grown-up version of the Elite 3200 scope. Instead of a one-inch scope tube the larger 30mm tube is used. Super Snipers offer a parallax adjustment and focusing eyepiece to sharpen both the target and the Mildot crosshairs. This long range scope also comes with an excellent sunshade which offers protection to the objective lenses.
Again, I will not say that the optical qualities of the Super Sniper scope beat the 1000-dollar tactical long range scopes. But – they are very good, particularly considering the SS10x42 scope I am shooting sells for under 300 dollars! I have used the scope in a wide variety of light and am impressed with brightness and resolution. Again, holding fine on small targets at 1000 yards is completely doable with this scope.
I recently setup an interesting group of steel targets at 500, 600 and 700 yards to test the repeatability of the Super Sniper long range scopes. Very simply, we established scope zeroes at each distance with an incredibly accurate Mike Rock barreled Remington M-700 in .308 Winchester. We shot handloaded ammo with 168 Hornady A-Max bullets. I had two small reactive targets from LV Steeltargets at 500 yards. At 600 I put up two targets from a company called Metal Spinning Targets. The target was a ten-inch steel gong on a two-foot high stand. This makes calling misses more difficult than when a target is placed directly on the ground. The second target at 600 was a life-sized whitetail buck with the heart and lungs cut out and replaced with articulating steel organs. When a bullet hits the lungs the steel cut-out swings 90 degrees and then returns to position. Same thing happens when the heart is hit. The steel organs are life-sized so this is one tough target at 600 yards.
At 700 yards I had three reactive targets from LV Steel Targets. These targets rock backwards when hit, then return to vertical. LV Steel Targets are tough, simple and reliable. They disassemble for transportation and they are tough enough to take serious pounding without a dimple. With my buddy shooting I called wind and noted hits and misses for over two hours of shooting. We let the barrel cool down a couple of times but managed to fire over 125 rounds during this long range scope test. Essentially I yelled out a distance, a scope elevation setting and a wind-call. My buddy applied the elevation and wind and shot the assigned target. Typically we would go something like this: “Take the left target at 700, put on 19 minutes of elevation and 4 1/2 left wind.” Bang-clang. “Now go to the right target at 500 yards. Go down to 11 minutes and cut the wind back to two minutes.” Bang-clang. Now go to the deer, I want a heart-shot. Put on fifteen minutes and a half more windage, that will be two and one half minutes.” Bang-clang. “Now go back to 500, that will need 11 minutes and hit each target as fast as you can. Take off a half or favor a bit to the right…”
We fired over six boxes of hand-loaded 168 grain bullets and the Super Sniper long range scope tracked perfectly. During the shooting we would also take shots at 100 and 300 yards so the scope turrets got a lot of work. Tracking and return was perfect. When we finished my friend simply cranked the scope down to the 100 yard zero, fired a shot to confirm the point of aim coincided with the point of impact at 100 yards and set the rifle aside to cool. We have shot the scope many times since this test with similar results.
All Super Snipers scopes have etched Mildot reticles. There are two Super Sniper models, the basic scope that I am using which comes in fixed ten, sixteen and twenty power. There is also a second ten-power scope featuring a third turret for parallax adjustment. This model is called the SS10x42M and it costs anadditional one hundred dollars.
I have followed a lot of chat about Super Snipers long range scopes on the internet. Bottom line, you get what you pay for. In my opinion the Super Sniper scopes rate as an excellent value for the dollar. The turrets are working as well as the turrets on any of my high-dollar scopes. Resolution and brightness are more than adequate for long shooting. The turrets have great “feel” as far as their “clickyness”. There is lots of adjustment – about 120 minutes per turret with 15 minutes per revolution. Markings on the turrets are easily read. The Super Sniper scopes have a unique pebbly finish that is attractive and rugged.
The Bushnell Elite 3200 10X and the SWFA Super Sniper long range scopes are remarkably good scopes considering their price. I have had more than my share of disappointments with low-priced scopes than satisfaction. These scopes are definitely exceptions to that rule. Anyone considering setting up a rifle for longer shooting would do well with either the Bushnell Elite 3200 or the Super Sniper scopes. Matter of fact, you can buy either of them direct from SWFA.
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