Need for "tactical" scopes

Discussion in 'Long Range Scopes and Other Optics' started by craigp40, Mar 2, 2005.

  1. craigp40

    craigp40 Well-Known Member

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    Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    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.
     
  2. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    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.
     
  3. craigp40

    craigp40 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    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.
     
  4. Glock119

    Glock119 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    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.

    Hope this has helped

    Thanks,
    Ben
     
  5. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    Ben,
    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.
     
  6. craigp40

    craigp40 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    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?
     
  7. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    40,
    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.
     
  8. Glock119

    Glock119 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    [ QUOTE ]
    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?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Were you trying to sneak in a question? That is two questions. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/blush.gif

    Craig for me it was 2 fold. First were I live getting out past a few hundred yards means I have to take a trip north to shoot at those longer ranges during hunting season. And The closest 1000 yrd ranges either north or south of me is N - 2.5 and S - 3.5 hrs away. So for me when I made my purchases I wanted a scope that I could use both short and longrange. This was the only way I could justify the cost was to get something I could use anywhere both local or away on any hunting trip I might ever do.

    Second was personal choice. On my 300 weatherby I had bought a 8-25x50 and although I could use it for a spotting scope and look through the windows of a home about a mile away up on the hill, I found it very hard to keep it steady enough at that high of power. So when I bought another rifle I had tried the 4.5-14 and found that perfect for me at least for the ranges I planned on using it for, anywhere from 50 up to 1000 yds. I got the 3.5-10 for a hunting rig that I wanted to be able to use it at 25 - 500yds and have found this to work for me perfectly. And when we go to where we can shoot father it still works.

    Basically you will have to decide what you really want to do with the rifle and scope, which means you might say well realistically I will only ever shoot out to 600yrds based on where I live or the type of hunting I want to do and then buy a scope and rifle that fills those needs.

    I have in the past bought to much gun and to much scope for anything I would have ever wanted to use it for, well thats not really true as what I wanted to do and what I could really do is two different things, anyway I found that I just never really used it. Whats the point of having it if your never going to use it? If you want to waste money buy the biggest scope they make and the biggest rifle you can have built, then let it sit in a case in the corner until that one day you get your chance to go shoot at 2 miles or whatever. See that would be no fun, But if you buy something that allows you to always play were ever and when ever you want and also allows you to play out to 1000yrds it is a whole lot easyer to justifie the cost. Do you see what I'm trying to say?

    Good luck with whatever you decide. Just make sure it is something you will be able to use and enjoy. Remember you can always upgrade. /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif

    Ben
     
  9. Brien

    Brien Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    i have one concern about hunting with the MK4.. it may or may not be a reasonable concern cuz i have never hunted with one...
    with the knobs exposed how do you know you havent rubbed against something with the knobs on your back or pack and have changed POI .. do they just not move while manuvering in the field or do you constantly look at the zero (i know they turn maybe alittle harder than standard knobs just dont know about accidently) i had one recently and had excellent clarity and movement in the knobs but i never fielded it for myself. with the need for a bigger scope for competition (needed to be able to see bullet holes at 500yds) i traded it off (probably a big mistake). i was just curious cuz i may end up getting another one with the mildot later on so i can shoot unknown distance competitions and hunt with it on a lighter weight sporter rifle..
    Brien
     
  10. ds

    ds Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    It is worth paying for reliabilty and repeatability the rest is icing on the cake. The hard part is once you know your price range and an idea of the features that suit you is getting the best option from a number of choices.

    An example I have a S&B PM2 and a Nightforce NXS 12-42 x 56 R2. For paper punching the NXS is excellent, even for most of the "tactical" competions where I live it has advantages over the S&B, like not needing a spotter out to 200m. The reticle is finer but still visible so allowes for a finer aim. If you dont want all the magnification you can turn it down.

    The S&B has some advantages also it has better depth of field, slightly better optics and seems easier to use at night (even without a lit reticle). What I am trying to say is that it depends on what you want to do. For LR shooting if you look at publications like PS magazine Nightforce or Leupold seem popular. I guess with good reason.

    I would give thought to things like first or second plain reticle. turret adjustments, in relation to reticle choice. A mildot or MLR reticle suits 1cm adjustments (milrad reticle and .1 milrad adjustments)or an NPR2 type reticle (MOA based)with 1/4 MOA turret adjustments ( the Nightforce BR series has 1/8 MOA adjustments). Again "tactical" scopes may offer course adjustments 1/2 or 1 MOA per click but for LR paper or varmints it is hard to see the need and easy to see disadvantages. Parallax adjustment is a must, front or side, take your choice they both work with minor advantages or disadvantages over the other. Elevation adjustment, if you are this side of 1000m then 65 or so MOA seems more than enough with a 20MOA decline base so a 30mm tube should be fine. Much seems to be written on optical quality and this or that glass but good lens coatings seem to make the difference small. Just some thoughts.

    If it helps a little I am happy, if it adds to the confussion I am sorry.

    David.

    Ps. If you want sell something, make it black and call it Tactical.
     
  11. Ian M

    Ian M Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    Very simple, large turrets like the MK4 etc. do not move unless they are manually clicked. Use them for a while and you totally disregard the possibility of accidental unwanted movement because it doesn't happen. At least it has never occured during my use. Plus the turrets are "slipped" or zeroed so you could easily tell if it moved from zero at a glance.
     
  12. Brent

    Brent Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    Ditto what Ian said.
     
  13. Glock119

    Glock119 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    Like Ian said there is no need for concern. And if you have had one or have at least seen a tactical scope any brand you will have noticed they are marked and turrets can be zeroed and at a glance you can see weather it has been moved.

    I doubt you will ever see the thing move unless you do it manually like Ian said but should it ever happen you will know instantly.

    Also like Dave said, figure out where your budget will let you spend, as every decision revolves around money. Then just find the scope with all the features you want or need in your scope. Just don't get hung up on a name or brand, But with that said remember that for the most parts you get what you pay for, at least with the higher end tactical scopes.

    Good Luck,
    Ben
     
  14. craigp40

    craigp40 Well-Known Member

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    Re: Need for \"tactical\" scopes

    Thanks guys. You've certainly given me some good information to make a wise decision. I think I have this solved as far as what I want in the scope. Now I just need to determine who's I can afford. The NF is a great scope, but a little more than what I was hoping to pay for it. Maybe an upgrade down the road, but for now I'll have to settle for a mid-priced version.