My Rifles Need New Optics:

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by Comancheria, May 14, 2019.


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  1. Comancheria

    Comancheria Member

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    Folks,

    Russ here in deep South Texas.

    I apologize in advance for starting out with such a brutally long post. Although I have been a hunter for nearly 65 years, and although I have never been a long range hunter, I have followed this site closely for a number of years. Thus, I approach all of you as a novice, admittedly seeking your guidance. The good news is that I have an excellent understanding of the principles of marksmanship, reloading, and ballistics. The not-so-good-news is that my learning is almost all academic—I have never shot an animal at over 250 yards! My goal is to expand from our local dog-sized whitetails in heavy bus, and the few mule deer I have harvested (and can you say “Feral Hog?” to Muleys, elk, and pronghorns.

    Currently, I have two excellent hunting rifles—both of which are capable of achieving much longer range shots than I myself am. Both were built by Lex Webernick of Rifles Incorporated in Pleasanton, Texas. Both are built on blueprinted Remington 700 actions with premium barrels and synthetic stocks—and both can put a 180 grain Nosler Partition into 1/2 MOA at 100 yards. They have never been tried at long range.

    I plan to escalate the rounds I lob over the horizon from the 180’s to the Berger 215 grain—because most recently, I have read about half of Jeff’s magnificent, 33-page marathon on his 2012 season. I realize I still have tons of homework to do on my own, but I throw the following out for comment—and don’t worry—I never let pride get in the way of my education.

    My mountain rifle is as follows: .300 Win Mag/with a pencil -thin, 23 inch barrel/muzzle brake with an older Swarovski HABICHT 3-10 X with a 1 inch tube and the BR reticle. This little jewel weighs just a couple of ounces over 6 pounds—fully loaded.

    It’s Big Brother is a .300 RUM/ with a heavy 27 inch barrel/muzzle brake with an older Swarovski HABICHT 3-12X WITH A 30 MM tube and TDS-Plex reticle. It weighs in at 10 1/2 pounds fully loaded.

    I have decided to upgrade the optics on both rifles—along with acquiring adequate range-finding tools and ballistic-calculation software—for long range hunting. But lacking any delusions of grandeur, I have no intention of extending that to ultra-long-range. In fact, I am prepared to swear off taking any shot beyond 1,000 yards—and highly unlikely at that—and ONLY if I find myself capable in practice.

    I live just north of Corpus Christi just 50 mile north of the King Ranch and do not have access to any range or public land which would allow practice out to 1,000 yards. I run cattle on a couple of small pastures I own about a hundred miles away. The longest stretch where I can set up a kinda-sorta “long range”—without bringing in a bulldozer—would be about 650 yards. And I can possibly extend that to maybe 800 yards—with a little help from one of my cousins—and his trusty dozer.

    My main quandary is that for mountain hunting, I am 74 years old with a lot of hard milage on toy ancient wheels. I would love to haul the .300 RUM over hill and dale, but not only am I not the man I used to be—I never was the man I thought I was. But I have not given up on the idea. I have looked long and hard at several alternative setups:


    Alternative #1:
    1. Valdada Recon 2 4.8-30. (But the darned thing weighs 38 ounces without the mounts!)
    Set of 30 MM Talbot Quick-Detach rings for the Valdada

    (2) Bases for these rings—to allow interchanging the scope between rifles.

    Vectronix Terrapin X Range Finder

    Kestrel with ballistic software

    The obvious problems with this setup are as follows:

    First: the scope is just too heavy: On the big rifle, it would increase the already difficult weight of 10 pounds to over twelve. And it would increase the weight of the little mountain jewel to around 8 pounds.

    Even assuming these quick-detach mounts are just as repeatable as all the reviews claim, every time I moved the scope from one rifle to the next, I would have to have previously recorded the exact zero and change it back to that for the new rifle AND reset the zero stop.

    For every shot, I would have to perform the juggling act of finding the critter with my binos, checking range with the Terrapin X, syncing it to the Kestrel, and dialing in the solution on the rifle.

    ——————————————————————————————————————————------------

    Alternative # 2:

    (Here I got really wacky and high tech—but I am beginning to settle down):

    One and only one Swarovski ds—as a one-step do-everything solution with the same

    Quick detach rings to switch from one rifle to the other.

    The negatives here are, not only the high price tag, but even if nothing happened, I would have nightmares, thinking about what the recoil of the little Win Mag and even the heavy ultra-mag would eventually do to the electronics running all over the thing. Might as well be the Star Ship Enterprise!

    ——————————————————————————————————————————----------

    So finally, I have come down to this as a high probability:

    Alternative # 3:

    Switch out my current 8X40 Leica Binos for the Leica Geovid Geovid HD 3,000 for the ballistics—and maybe a Kestrel for wind—but probably not.

    Might even add the yardage-based elevation turrets to both scopes.

    Add a Swaro X5i 3.8-18 X 50 in fixed mounts to the .300 Winnie

    Add a Swaro X5i 5-25 X 56 in fixed mounts to the .300 RUM

    (I don’t really need the illuminated reticles on these scopes, and would love to save the cost they add to the package, but I believe I am correct that Swarovski Optik has discontinued the X5s without illumination.)

    ——————————————————————————————————————————-----------

    I will be happy to get anyone’s input on these plans—but I guarantee you I will keep pestering you all with my questions.

    Thanks and best regards

    Russ
     
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  2. HARPERC

    HARPERC Well-Known Member

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    Welcome! You'll likely get more than you can digest for answers.

    It's a numbers game with cost being a portion of the math.

    You are at 250 yards, and would like to get to 1000 yards.
    I'd exploit what you have first. If the Swaro on your .300 RUM will track well use it up first.
    Range finder required, as well as some kind of atmospheric monitor, and ballistic solver.
    No issues with the Berger 215, but a 180 grain bullet running full speed will get you a long ways down range.
    Most of us away from Texas think of hogs, with that many available, maybe find hunts that require minimal to no walking until you have it sorted out first hand.
     
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  3. Comancheria

    Comancheria Member

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    My thanks, Harper. Absolutely agree that range-finding is of primary importance. Just not sure I have confidence in the accuracy I could attain with the ballistic reticle holdovers. (Though I realize that dialing in with a turret ain't no kind of magic either.) I do plan, before going forward with any re-scoping, to pick up (a) some form of range-finder and (b) the Lab Radar. Then I will develop whatever load I intend to stick with (have been using factory ammo that is pretty good) and set up the 600 yard range I mentioned--shoot paper and a movable 1/2 inch thick 12 inch gong at 200-600 yards and play with the hold over reticles.

    I am leaning HEAVILY toward the Leica RF binds--as they also take angle (none down here near the Mexican border), elevation (200 feet here), and atmospherics into account.

    Thanks again.

    Russ
     
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  4. adam32

    adam32 Well-Known Member

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    If I were you, I'd start off with the Sig BDX system to get your feet wet with a rangefinder and ballistics...then you can decide if you need or want to upgrade to the higher $$$ stuff...
     
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  5. Comancheria

    Comancheria Member

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    Thanks, Adam. I failed to mention that I currently have an older Leica 1200--bought it for a Western Muley hunt and shot my buck at short yardage. I have not used it in years, due to not needing it for the hunting I have done. The other day, I pulled it out and took readings on some hard targets--sides of buildings, cars, and road signs--that sort of thing. It didn't inspire confidence when I measured out 1/10 of a mile from a broken-down travel trailer by the side of the road, still sitting where Hurricane Harvey deposited it. Now, 1/10 of mile is, as we know 176 yards. I parked beside it, set my odometer to zero, and drove until the tenth mile indicator turned over to one. The readings from that point were 226. Not knowing how accurate/inaccurate an odometer is, I suppose I need to get one of those distance rollers used in the construction industry to re-measure. But a difference of nearly 30 percent does not seem likely.

    The other factor making me favor the Geovid solution is, as I say, not having to fiddle with so many tools.

    Thanks again to both of you.

    Russ
     
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  6. djfriesen

    djfriesen Well-Known Member

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    Remember an odometer had no way of knowing what diameter tire it's running. A 30% difference doesn't seem impossible, though I'm not sitting down and doing the math, either.

    A nice order-of-magnitude gut check would be to pace it off.
     
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  7. Comancheria

    Comancheria Member

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    Understood, dj and your point is well-taken. The truck is a brand new Raptor with the stock 37 inch tires, but you could be right. I didn't pace it off that day due to time constraints. But I am going to need one of those rollers anyway, when I set up a 600 yard or longer range.

    Let me add a more specific question to the forum as a whole:

    Unless I am talked out of it, I will almost certainly be going with at least one Swarovski X5i.

    There are two models: the 3.5--18 X 50, and the 5--25 X 56.

    If I were going to end up with only one, what are your opinions of which one I should buy for all-around "long" (but not "ultra long") range hunting--of mule deer, elk, and speed goats?

    Thanks and best regards,

    Russ
     
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  8. adam32

    adam32 Well-Known Member

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    The SIG unit will be just as accurate as the Geovids.
     
  9. djfriesen

    djfriesen Well-Known Member

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    You got me thinking, so I actually went and ran some numbers. My math seems to indicate that 30% discrepancy is highly unlikely, especially if you have stock tires. I stand corrected.

    Is it possible your sensor is not centered and you got a reading off something beyond your target? I'm really just fishing here. My limited experience with leica rangefinders had been good, and I've heard almost all positive reports, but it's always possible you have a faulty unit.
     
  10. graywolf

    graywolf Well-Known Member

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    I have a pair of Leica Geovids (2700 HD B) and they have been excellent. As you said, with RF and ballistic solver built in they simplify things and the optics are outstanding. The 3000s have improved ballistics. If you are planning to shoot at less than 1000 yards, and not bench rest competition, a 12-16x scope is more than adequate imo for hunting deer, antelope, and elk in the mountain west. Swarovski would be great. I’d add the opinion that if you have access to a 650 yard range already you could do a lot of shooting and get comfortable with your dope in that range, which would be a very reasonable goal for hunting. It’s not likely that you I’ll have to pass on a hunting shot where you wouldn’t have an opportunity to stalk closer.
     
  11. 5RWill

    5RWill Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure about the price different but given the two choices, their weight, and application (hunting) i'd go with the 5-25 for the larger objective solely on low light performance. 3-18 is more than enough but i'd take the added benefit in low light. FWIW though both my Kahles 3.5-18 and 5-25 are about equal in low light performance, despite the advantage of the larger objective diameter with the K525i.
     
  12. RockyMtnMT

    RockyMtnMT Official LRH Sponsor

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    I doubt your Leica 1200 is off by more than a yard. I trust it much more than measuring distance with a truck.

    Set your zero on your current scope and go to work with your current equipment. You will get a feel for what you want/need.

    Not a fan of moving a scope from one rifle to another. Certain recipe for error. You will need to re zero each time.
     
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  13. SMK1000plus

    SMK1000plus Well-Known Member

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    Russ, I use a Leica 1200 laser range finder. I've been using it for the last 12 years or so. Mine has been extremely accurate. I have used mine to kill a lot of deer out to 450 yards, several out to 600+ yards and one at 1,002 yards! While hunting, I constantly use it to range various trees/tree lines, fence post/gates, feeders, bolders, and other range indicators, where I feel game may come out, wherever I may be hunting, so that hopefully I'll already know their range when I see them. I have often used my steel 100 yard tape to confirm the range indicated by my Leica 1200 in the past but, with a good battery, it was always witin 2 or 3 yards of what my tape measured, even at 1,000 yards. Now all I do is range several items that I have confirmed in the past, to make sure the Leica 1200 is still good, and go hunting/shooting. YMMV

    Kevin
     
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  14. lancetkenyon

    lancetkenyon Well-Known Member

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    A high quality 3.5-18×50 is PLENTY for taking deer sized game well past 1000 yards. I have used my 3-15×50s for shots well past that, like 1500-1650+. Coyotes @ 1327 @ 16x & 1365 on 17x on other rifles. Plus, wider FOV for closer use than the 5-25.
     
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