Reliable tactical hunting scope under $1500, impossible or not?

DartonJager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
805
I think you can stop reading so much now. What does your experience say? You have used some nice scopes on hard kickers and they still work. Better, nicer, or more expensive scopes wont do any good if you get skunked on that high doller hunt anyway. Yeah its nice to stack the deck in your favor but its hunting. Success isn't guaranteed and spending more money isnt the end all solution. To directly answer your question. I have been happy with how my $900-1000 scopes have dialed and have been happy with how my $2500 scopes dialed. The $2500 scopes do have much better glass but that has honestly never stopped my from killing deer where I hunt.
Very well said.
If there is one equipment item in hunting where the terms "You get what you pay for" and "Buy1x cry 1x" no item is more deserving than optics and most of all your rifle scope. Having said that:
My issue is there is no way I can justify spending much over $1300 on a scope all things considered and what current and future financial responsibilities I must tend to. Can I choke up $2500 in cash for a scope? yes undoubtedly I can, but my true legit need for it can not possibly justify the use of my limited funds as I am not independently wealthy and have limited funds for any use. With two sons heading off to collage VERY soon (started a family rather late) I must be financially prudent if I still wish to retire per my wishes. Not whining or bemoaning just being frank and stating a financial reality.
I have zero first hand experience with tactical scopes and no one I know even has or uses them. So my choices are to research by way of forums at websites like this one and we all know getting unbiased, truthful and accurate Infor F2F from people you know can be difficult, all bets are off dealing with the utterly anonymous world of cyber space.

The one great advantage to sites like this one that aren't available else where is the instant call BS factor members here will do if they see someone making statements a novice such as myself might not know enough to recognize as less than accurate or truthful.

Unfortunately I know precisely what I want in a rifle scope it's the affording part I have trouble with.
Now how to come up with almost 3x my budget.

This would be my ultimate hunting rifle scope:
 

Hard rock

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Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
724
Location
Tomball Texas 77377
I had a Meopta once. Nice glass, but too heavy for me. Also, it had the Parallax adjustment on the bell. I found better scopes for me with more features and less weight.

Not nocking Meopta because I have their binoculars and they are as good as it gets.
lLook at their new optica 6 scopes side parralex adj 30 mil tube 50 mill objectice or 44 mil objective 1st or second focal plane 3x18 / 2.5 14 / 4.5 x27 they have someting pretty much for everyone the dealer I use went from his main line of scopes from Leopold to Meopta really a good value european glass
 

Hard rock

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Joined
Dec 20, 2020
Messages
724
Location
Tomball Texas 77377
lLook at their new optica 6 scopes side parralex adj 30 mil tube 50 mill objectice or 44 mil objective 1st or second focal plane 3x18 / 2.5 14 / 4.5 x27 they have someting pretty much for everyone the dealer I use went from his main line of scopes from Leopold to Meopta really a good value european glass
Correction 2.5 x 15 not 2.5 x14 on one of the optica 6 scopes
 

300whisper

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LRH Team Member
Joined
May 15, 2012
Messages
4,359
Location
Macon, Georgia
Bushnell DMRII ~ 850
Bushnell LRHS / LRTS ~850
SWFA HD 5-20x50 ~1100-1500
SWFA 3-15x42 ~ 699
Arken ~ 500 (I have no experience with this scope only read great reviews)
Athlon Cronus ~1300
Burris XTR II ~ 900
NF SHV F1 ill ~ 1400

We are in the time of the greatest development in scopes, scope optimization, and price that we have ever seen. Compare an NXS and it’s features to any given ~750 scope on the market today. The ~750 scope and its features will blow it out of the water.
 

Bullmark

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Joined
Feb 1, 2020
Messages
548
Location
Roanoke Va
Let me start by saying that everyone has different opinions and priorities. And my advice is given from 30yrs of experience but that doesn’t make it any more valid than the next guy’s.
My binocs and scopes are the two things that I won’t compromise. I’ve owned the cheapest possible products and some of the budget wreckers.
I believe many who endorse more moderately priced glass are being honest, but they’ve likely never used the top tier technology for any meaningful length of time.
I’ve bought and sold quite a few nice rifles over the years and am in the process of acquiring one now. I haven’t tried every top shelf scope out there but I have owned many. For me, I’m using Swarovski Z8i’s, Schmidt & Bender Exos, Leica Magnus, and March Compact. I’ve owned a Nightforce Atacr and the ONLY reason I sold it was the weight. The glass was great and you could use it in a bar fight and not worry about damaging it.
Before you punt the idea of spending so much on a scope, please know that I bought all four of the ones listed above for much less than MSRP.
If you are not In a hurry and can take 30-60 days to look, you’ll likely find one either on sale, used for sale, or a demo for sale.
I saved around $700 on the March and $1000 on the Exos by finding them for sale as “shot show demos”. These scopes do not wear out.....ring marks and cosmetic scratches do not impact their performance.
Anyone that states they get the same clarity, edge to edge distortion performance, brightness, durability, and tracking, out of a $700 U-name-it scope, as from the short list above, is sadly mistaken.
So cut your corners elsewhere....your glass is too important. Unless you’re filthy rich, wait and look, and look some more until u find a top tier scope available at a sizable discount over msrp and then u can feel good about it....and I Promise, you will never look back or go back.
Lastly, obviously there are some fine glass makers not on my list.....Zeiss Victory, Tangent Theta, etc.
Good luck.
 

longgun505

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2020
Messages
77
Location
kalispell, MT
I have been beating my brains out for well over two years now researching and trying to chose and buy a tactical capable scope designed specifically for a big game hunting application and keep the cost to as close to between $1300 and preferably $1k. And I have read seemingly COUNTLESS threads and postings now, that scopes that dial that fall in the sub $1500 range equipped with target turrets, zero stop elevation and with reticles either designed specifically for or can also be used for big game hunting costing it would seam under $1500 simply are either not durable enough or not reliable enough to consistently dial accurately and consistently return to zero to be worth buying, especially not on a limited entry big game unit hunt that usually takes years if not over a decade of building PBs to get drawn for.

So is the bitter truth of the matter that simply stated tactical hunting scopes in the $1k to $1500 price point can not be made to be 95%-100% as reliable as those costing $1800- $2k and above? I have read COUNTLESS posting by persons claiming to have owned or owned tactical scopes made by major top players in the rifle scope and optics industries all in the under $2k price range being just not reliable enough to be trusted on a high $$$ guided hunt or a hunt you just used up closer to 20-24 than 15 years worth of BP/PP's getting drawn for.

What's the real reality of tactical style hunting scopes or tactical designed scopes that can also be used for big game hunting?
Is it really must buy March, S&B, Kahles, NF, US Optics etc and spend $1800-$2.5k+++ to get close to the same level of reliability in a tactical dialing scope as in a set-it-and-forget-it scope costing 1/3rd to 1/5th the $$$?
I own seven SIAFI scopes three Vari-XII's, one VX3, a WGS and a two 4200 Elite that all sit atop VERY hard recoiling rifles and turkey guns that each as seen countless hundreds and in the case of my belted magnums and smokeless ML if not well over a 1000 rounds of very harsh recoil and 20+ hard hunting seasons and not one of them has ever (knock on wood) given me so much as a shift in POI of any significance.
Do I really have to spend $1800-$2k to get that level of durability and reliability in a tactical hunting scope? If that's the truth then I just want to know. Not at all complaining just more of a matter of wanting to be properly educated.
Without going into great detail to explain my experience in optics testing and evaluation, I can say I’ve shot just about the hardest recoiling weapons I’ve ever heard of, with a multitude of glass riding them. I was also part of fixture fire evaluations of the same groups of glass to eliminate operator error and recoil mitigation. To state the obvious, we also broke/rendered inoperable quite a few through recoil events, all in the search for durable, repeatable, and long life cycle optics for US Army sniper systems. From 50cal down thru the exotic cal’s, to the short range and mundane, to include offerings of vendors from all over the world. That said, after retirement I’ve settled on what I’ve witnessed to be the best proverbial bang for MY buck in glass. That’s not to say this particular brand has not failed before, but certainly less than some other glass you can spend more on! I even went so far as to purchased a knowingly damaged rifle scope of this brand off eBay for the sole purpose of returning it to the parent company for free repair/restoration. All my rifles but two wear Leupold MK 4’s and above. The exception is only on our gas guns which have 3-9 patrols on them. I can not justify the cost, or weight in some cases of other optic brands. The clarity and real field observation by myself and others have convinced me of my choices. Now this thread is sure to rub someone’s pelt the wrong way, so in advance let me apologize by saying ‘MY CHOICE’ is for the Lepold’s. They’re like owning a Rolex. They may not be the newest high speed low drag (HSLD) bullet guiders on the circuit today, but they have always delivered my meat hammers to their precise destinations with consistency. You can spend more money on glass, easily. But I’m not remotely convinced your target will know. My petite little ‘Huntress’ wife would agree. The attached groups were fired by her from Rock Creek barreled gas guns on a measured 600yd range, sighted with Leupold 3-9x patrol’s. My advice is get quality glass with a GREAT warranty, a good system with quality ammo, practice,and enjoy the performance🙌🇺🇸
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D3C4F498-CB4C-4364-95AA-2D690DBB2D9B.jpeg
 

Chase723

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 22, 2009
Messages
571
Very well said.
If there is one equipment item in hunting where the terms "You get what you pay for" and "Buy1x cry 1x" no item is more deserving than optics and most of all your rifle scope. Having said that:
My issue is there is no way I can justify spending much over $1300 on a scope all things considered and what current and future financial responsibilities I must tend to. Can I choke up $2500 in cash for a scope? yes undoubtedly I can, but my true legit need for it can not possibly justify the use of my limited funds as I am not independently wealthy and have limited funds for any use. With two sons heading off to collage VERY soon (started a family rather late) I must be financially prudent if I still wish to retire per my wishes. Not whining or bemoaning just being frank and stating a financial reality.
I have zero first hand experience with tactical scopes and no one I know even has or uses them. So my choices are to research by way of forums at websites like this one and we all know getting unbiased, truthful and accurate Infor F2F from people you know can be difficult, all bets are off dealing with the utterly anonymous world of cyber space.

The one great advantage to sites like this one that aren't available else where is the instant call BS factor members here will do if they see someone making statements a novice such as myself might not know enough to recognize as less than accurate or truthful.

Unfortunately I know precisely what I want in a rifle scope it's the affording part I have trouble with.
Now how to come up with almost 3x my budget.

This would be my ultimate hunting rifle scope:

If you look around enough, or post a WTB, you can find some good deals. They are out there, it just takes a little patience, persistence, knowing what you want and being able to commit. Case in point, I bought a Steiner M5xi 3-15 w/ MSR2 reticle AND a Spuhr mount for $1750 shipped literally 2 days ago. I consider that a great deal. It’s not the penultimate alpha class optic, but it’s stepping into the alpha class, and it has a lifetime transferable warranty. Yes, it took me scrounging and looking and posting WTB adds but I found one.

Also, it depends on how you shoot and what your expectations for optical quality are (for hunting, weight is also a small consideration). If you are only shooting 500 yards then there are several less expensive options that will work just fine. If you shoot or are going to shoot 750-1000 or 1000+ yards then spend the extra money. That’s where you literally see the difference between scopes. To the point that if a target is shot up and in the shade, you might not even see it with one scope and it, and the impacts on it, will be easily visible through another.
 

DartonJager

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Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
805
Good deals can often be found on high end used glass, that often has either a lifetime warranty or decades of warranty remaining. That said, if you’ve been looking for 2 years then hopefully you’ve been able to put away a little extra to up your budget to say $1500-1750...opens up several more options.
Essentially what I have spent the last year doing. I let a great deal on a V4 and V6 get away. at Red Hawk Rifles
Besides here, and the FS optics forums at Snipers, Sniper Central and discount sellers like Hide Red Hawk Rifles where are the places you go to to find great deals on new, demo or used rifle scopes?
 

DartonJager

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 1, 2016
Messages
805
I’ve used the Bushnell LRHS, the LRHSi, and the LRTSi. All have been outstanding, tracking reliably and retaining zero perfectly. They are well within your price range and are outstanding hunting scopes.

John
John your experienced based input please.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical scopes you own and use are FFP. I have very great concerns about being able to see the cross hairs of a FFP scope at minimal power in low light hunting situations as they are quite small at lowest power and have been avoiding buying one based on my having looked thorough several felt the cross hairs would more than likely be to small to see clearly to aim and make a precise shot but never actually used one.
Have you while actually hunting looked through your Bushnell Elites while set at 3x or 4.5x during minimal legal hunting light conditions and were 100% confident you would have had no issues making a good clean shot on a deer or other big game animal?
 
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