Beginner's Questions


Feb 7, 2004
Beginner\'s Questions

As a beginner at long-range shooting, I've found it very difficult to pick out my first high-powered rifle scope. I've always just been the average 200yd deer hunter with a .270 and Leupold 3-9x40, but have recently thrown some money together and will be purchasing a whole new setup soon. I am on a budget, and can't afford the likes of a Nightforce, but will be dishing out a few hundred for a decent piece of glass. Although I have done some research and have a basic idea of what I'm looking for, there are still a few things that have me stumped.

Let me start off by describing what exactly the scope will be used for. I hunt in Texas, and will be using this rifle for everything from coyote to deer to wild hogs, and everything in between. Shots could range anywhere from 25 to 700yds, so I need a fairly versatile power range. I thought a 4-16 would be a good choice, but am open to any suggestions. Dawn and dusk are prime time around here, so I also need something that will gather a good amount of light. Ring height isn't really a factor, as I will probably pick up a comb-raising kit for the rifle, so a 50mm objective would also be preferred... No smaller than 40mm for sure. An illuminated reticle is also a possiblility, but not a big factor. Side-focus or an adjustable objective is a must have.

Now, before we go any further, I did have a couple questions regarding a couple common terms. The two big ones are field of view and windage and elevation adjustments. Of course, I know what they both are, but the math behind the two is a little fuzzy to me. Let's start with field of view (FOV).

Most scopes of the same power, tube, and objective size will have close to the same FOV, but some vary more than others. Let's say one model has a FOV (100yds) of 28ft at 4x and 7ft at 16x. A different model, of the same basic specifications, has a wider FOV of 32ft at 4x and 9ft at 16x. What exactly does this mean? For example: Let's say you put a toilet paper tube over one eye. Your eye can't "zoom in" any further than normal, but your FOV is greatly narrowed. Is this the same effect in scopes, or are there other internal variations that would make the difference?

Now, picking a reticle has also been a little difficult for me. The basic choices are a plex, mil-dot, or trajectory compensating styles. I don't want to trust a Burris Ballistic Plex type of system, since there are too many variables, so that leaves mil-dot and plex. I think the mil-dot could be helpful in certain situations, but it would take a lot of practice for me to get the system down, and it isn't available in several scopes. I liked the idea of spending less money on a standard duplex, then using my windage and elevation adjustments, coupled with a rangefinder, to connect on those long shots. The problem is, after reading some of the threads from this forum, it seems a little more complicated than that. Let me give an example:

Say I'm shooting 155gr MatchKings with a ballisic coefficient of .455 out of a .308 Winchester. The muzzle velocity is 2950fps, and I have the rifle zeroed at 200yds. At 500yds, the bullet will drop about 40in. Now, on my scope elevation with 1/4 MOA adjustments, how far up will four clicks get me in inches? I always thought one inch, plain and simple, but after reading some posts from much more experienced shooters, I'm a little confused. Would I have to teach myself to think "outside the inch" to get exact measurements?

I apologize for rambling on for so long, but if someone could help put all this into "stupid terms" for me, it would really make things a lot easier. I'm also open to any suggestions, and would like your ideas as to what scope would work the best for me, within a reasonable (under $700-$800) price range. Again, I really appreciate your help, and compliments on a great looking site... I'll certainly be sticking around.

Re: Beginner\'s Questions

welcome to the forums-lets start with adjustsments or clicks on 1/4in. click equals 1/4in at 1/4 click at 200yds. equals 1/ 1/4 at 300yds. equals 3/4in, so on and so on.field of view or "FOV"is just one of those things that will vary from scope to scope,they are all made differently. as far as bullet drop goes you need to learn to think in terms of "moa"or minute of angle,thats how target or tactical turrets are set up.[1 moa equals 1.047ins.per 100 yds.]so your "moa" value at 500yds is actually 5.24.[5x1.047=5.24] .one 1/4in. click at 500yds equals 1.25ins. on the load you described you were right,the drop would be 40.30ins. but that translates into 7.7moa[which equals 31 clicks-according to my ballisics program],so you simply turn the turrets 7 and 3/4 moa. or the 31 easy way to figure it out is by using a do this you take 40.30 divided by 1.25-which gives you-32.24[which is your click value.].or take 40.30 and divide it 5.25[your "moa" value] which equals 7.69 moa[or the 7.70 that program is giving me] .another example would be to go out and shoot a given load at a known distance -say 400yds,your drop would or should then be around 20ins.,so if 1 click equals 1in. at 400yds. you would make 20 clicks or a 5moa correction. using the calculator gets you close to the real numbers. but is not as good as just buying a ballistics program for your computer and making a printout[it just makes it easier and its fun to play with],and then going out to shoot see how the numbers on your program compare to "real life"use the numbers you get as a "guide" whether they are off of a ballistics program or just using a calculator,then if they arent totally correct,make the necessary corrections,and then WRITE THEM DOWN[write down everything- like conditions,wind,temp. load used,etc.] for future far as picking a scope and reticle,ill leave that up to you,as it is more of personal preference "thing".i hope i havent been confusing in the answer to this post[im really tired right now]dont hesitate to ask more questions if i have confused you-my-2-dave
Re: Beginner\'s Questions

6br pretty much took care of everything you need. the thing to remember is clicks are for 100yds. 40" of drop doesnt mean 40" worth of clicks, its how many clicks you need in height at 100yd to comp for 40" of drop at XXXyds. there's charts to plug your info in to, but even doing so, you might be off a bit. the best thing to do is use those calcs as a starting basis, then actually shoot at 400yds and see how you are. i found most time calcs are real close, but where it calls for 5.25inches at a given range i might need 5.5in. 300yds further it might be 12.5, where i actually only need 12.25. use the calcs to get close, then build your own custom drop chart. as far as glass, you mentioned around 6-7 hundred. leupold's lr scopes are right around there and will probably do what you're looking for. 50mm lens, with a 30mm tube and side focus. i have both the 20 and 25x, and would put another one on the next rig i get.

Re: Beginner\'s Questions

I think that about cleared everything up, although I'm still a little fuzzy on the inches/clicks/MOA conversions. Based on your suggestions though, I will pick up a good ballistics program to go with my books, so I should be able to figure everything out once I see the numbers on paper.

As for scopes, the VX-III Long-Range scopes were on my list, as well as a couple Zeiss, Burris, and Pentax in that price range. I was interested in hearing some thoughts on Springfield Armory scopes too. You never really hear hunters talk about them, I suppose because they designed for tactical use, but I was wondering what quality of glass was in them? I talked one of their customer service agents that claimed a very high light transmission, but I personally have never looked through one. I also liked a couple Bushnell 4200 and Sightron SII models, which I have heard great things about and would much easier on my pocket book.

Again, thanks for the quick and helpful responses guys... I now have a better idea of what to look for.
Re: Beginner\'s Questions

I would encourage you to consider IOR scopes too.

A tacticle model wont set you back NEAR as much as a S&B, Zeiss, or a high end Loopie.
And you wont miss a thing!!..sakofan..
Re: Beginner\'s Questions

Brad, is that scope a hunting version or tacticle with side focus??..sakofan..

The new MP8 reticle?? Front focal plane or rear?? TIA...

[ 02-10-2004: Message edited by: sakofan ]
Re: Beginner\'s Questions

I'll second sakofans' vote for IOR. I've used their scopes and bino's for nearly a decade. Check out their web site. If you are interested, I have one of their 4x14 with MP8 reticle that, aside from slight ring marks, is like new in the original box with all literature, etc. $700. email me at [email protected] if you are interested.
Re: Beginner\'s Questions

Not sure which part of Texas you are in but check with A.J.C. SPORTS SHOP in Clute has been selling the Nikon Tacticals 2.5x10 for $825.00 with the lit reticle.
Re: Beginner\'s Questions


Just sent you an email with a document which might help you out with the Inches/MOA/Clicks concept.


Re: Beginner\'s Questions

Here's my inexpensive set up. Savage 10fple2a .308 w/ Bushnell 10x40 mildot.(total less than $900)
Scope is very good and holds zero. Used it to mil-range my steel plate the other day at three random spots.

First spot using the Mildot Master was 300yds,2nd 500yds, 3rd was 800yds. I couldn't believe I picked three random spots and the range I measured was so uniform. Well I went back later with a Bushnell rangefinder and found that the 1st spot was 288yds, 2nd was 508 yds and 3rd was 804yds.
Summary: My equiptment though inexpensive, is very reliable and accurate.

By the way I shot 3 shot group on the steel plate that measured less than 2.5" @500 yds. Not to many people can do that even with their $2000+ rigs.

Take a look at this sight to help you with ballistics
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