What is a real tactical scope?

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by straightshooter, Aug 24, 2010.

  1. straightshooter

    straightshooter Well-Known Member

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    I bought a new rifle so it is scope time again. As I have been looking over scopes, I have realized that there are a lot of so called tactical scopes on the market. This brings up the question, what does it take to be called a tactical scope. If it has a mil-dot reticle is it a tactical scope? How about tactical turrets? On the other end, does the scope have to cost $1000.00 to be a real tactical scope. So please help me pic a new scope.

    What the scope will be used for is target shooting out to 1000 yards and hunting long range if need be. What I need is great mechanics, and variable power. Quality of glass is important but a lot of cheaper scopes have great glass now a days. I would like a 30mm tube for the extra adjustment, but the main importance is mechanics. This scope will be put on to a budget rifle build so I am looking for the best bang for the buck, not top of the line. Any suggestions?
     
  2. straightshooter

    straightshooter Well-Known Member

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    I guess I was a little vague on this post. I was in a hurry, sorry. What I am asking is if there is anyone that can help me find information on the internal construction of the scopes on the market? Like does the Leupold vx-II have the same internal construction as the vx3 models etc. The only company that seems to post any info on construction that I have found is Burris, but even they don't say if all the models are put together with the same construction. What mechanics are needed to make for strong repeatable tracking? What companies just put on a tactical feature and call the scope tactical? Do companies that are knocked on the internet like millet actually have a good product, but just have bad quality control, or are they just junk that won't last?

    I am currently looking at Weaver tactical, Wotac variable, Hawke sidewinder, Burris elite 6500, Leupold vx3. Any input would be appreciated!!!
     
  3. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    Most time what makes a tactical scope is its construction. Usually tactical scopes are currently employed on rifles being fielded by the armed services right now and in the past. Original sniper optics were nothing more than hunting scopes and specialty target scopes called Unertl scopes(Google Image Result for http://img410.imageshack.us/img410/3541/unertltargetscopeal6.jpg). These scopes actually hung within brackets that adjust with turning knobs that actually moved the scope body instead of the reticule. At some point during and after Vietnam, they started producing optics specifically for military application that housed the internals in a sturdy construction protecting the scope adjustments from the weather.

    As any military personnel can confirm, things get beat up when in the field. The "Tactical" scope is essentially a scope built to withstand much more abuse than a normal hunting scope. Just as an example: A hunting scope may have some plastic components or lesser quality metals, and weigh much more. A "Tactical" scope will be more robust, and have higher quality glass. The new trend is larger scope bodies and better ranging reticules. You will find this in Schmidt & Bender, U.S. Optics, Nightforce, Trijicon ACOG's, Burris Full Field II, and Leupold MKIV's (I'm sure there are some I am missing). These have specifically designed to withstand the abuse and necessary qualities looked for by military contractors to save their lives.

    As far as cost? Well some just advertise it due to appearance and being a hot ticket to sell. Some are no more "Tactical" than a hunting scope. Some call it that due to its large knobs to adjust. Some of the "Tactical" may come with side focus, when their normal line have adjustment on their objective lens. So unless you purchase one of the currently used scopes being used by the armed forces, it is a glorified hunting scope (IMHO).

    Hope this adds some clarity,
    Tank
     
  4. BobbyL

    BobbyL Well-Known Member

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    Nothing beats a nightforce for the money..... Yes they are expensive but you will love the scope and they are the toughest scope on the planet. If it does fail which i have hardly ever seen it happen they are a great group of guys that will take extremely good care of ya. Its worth the extra cost.
     
  5. straightshooter

    straightshooter Well-Known Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I am not against a top of the line scope. If I had the money every rifle I owed would have a Nghtforce or S&B on it. I am just wondering what manufacturers use better construction in their tactical scopes, and where I can find this info.
     
  6. jonoMT

    jonoMT Well-Known Member

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    Much the same can be said of other vendors, such as Premier, Hensoldt (Zeiss), S&B & USO. Vortex also has a couple offerings - their highest end being the Razor HD.

    There are plenty of vendors offering so-called tactical scopes and some of them are downright fraudulent, e.g. CounterSniper. Others come close but don't quite get it, e.g. Weaver's mismatched reticles and turrets. IMO, the most versatile tactical scope is something in the 2.5/4-12/18 magnification range. That scope should have turrets clicks that match the reticle, whether MOA/MOA or mil/mil...whatever you prefer. And it should be FFP (first focal plane).

    Why these specs? Even if you don't range with the reticle (hard to do and not recommended on game animals vs. using a good LRF) you might need to take a follow-up shot. If you saw that your first shot was .3 mils low and .1 mil right you could either adjust your aim through the scope or dial it in with the turrets without calculating any correction. As for using an FFP scope, you aren't stuck with one ranging power. The reticle's size stays constant with the target's size.

    I hunt with both a NF 2.5-10x32, which is not FFP and has mismatched turrets and a Premier 3-15x50, which is mil/mil and FFP. That little NF is a gem and I range with it at 10X so am not too bothered by it being SFP since it's ranging power is not to high. I wish the turrets matched and having used a Super Sniper 3-9X42 for a little while I am probably going to sell off the NF if SWFA gets a version out with more high end (anything 10X and above) or I may get one of the Vortex PST 4-16s when the kinks are ironed out.

    As for the Premier, I will only sell it if I am down to my last dime. That is the best scope I've ever used. It ain't perfect, but it's close. Great design, thoughtful features and it is very easy to operate. Bottom line, don't make the mistake of cutting of low-end magnification too high so that you lose too much field of view. You don't need more than 15X to comfortably shoot out to 1000.
     
  7. BobbyL

    BobbyL Well-Known Member

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    I have nothing bad to say about the falcon i own. It works great i just wished they offered more reticles but the mil dot one it has is ok. It tracks nicely and has great optics for around or under 500$. Its still tough to beat the NF's though. Its a 5-25 with a 50mm objective and side parrallax adjustment. You want a cheaper tough scope this will work great for ya.
     
  8. straightshooter

    straightshooter Well-Known Member

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    jonoMT,

    I am amazed that I haven't heard more about those Premier scopes. They look and sound like they are top notch! I want one!! Wish I didn't have a budget. This is a good way to explain what I am looking for. I need something to get me shooting while saving for the Nightforce. I have a swfa ss 10x now, and it is a great scope mechanically, but a fixed 10x. I need a variable for hunting. I also agree with your power range suggestions. A 3 or 3.5 to 15 would be perfect. Since this scope will be a long range deal, parallax adjustment is also necessary. Once I get shooting then almost everything will be upgraded one step at a time. I'm just worried about buying a lower cost scope incase I get stuck with it for a couple years!
     
  9. MTBULLET

    MTBULLET Well-Known Member

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    IMHO, tactical means: "If the scope fails in the field, somebody that should die don't, OR somebody that should NOT die (you and your's) does" If this isn't your situation, you don't need a "tactical" scope. just buy the best glass you can afford and learn to use it.
     
  10. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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  11. load

    load Well-Known Member

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  12. RMulhern

    RMulhern Well-Known Member

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    SS418577

    If I were making a top of the line scope....do you think I'd tell you my trade secrets??

    Get the NF brochure and read it! That's all you need to know....or you can buy twice!!
     
  13. straightshooter

    straightshooter Well-Known Member

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    Sharpsman,

    What trade secret can be kept? If I was a competitor, all I have to do is buy your scope and take it apart, no more secrets. That is why corporations protect themselves with paton rights. As a consumer, if I could get this info, it just might get me to choose their product. If a manufacturer does not have the confidence to share this info, I just feel they may have an inferior product. For example, Burris shows an internal view of at least one line of their scope products, and then go on to tell us that they use two springs instead of one. This is a feature that they obviously think is superior to many other scope manufacturers. Then they back their product with a great warranty. Before I even check the internet for any reviews, I would have the first impression that they have a strong product.

    I could wait probably 3 or 4 years saving up to buy a Nightforce, and boy would I love one of those, but for the life of me, I just can't stop shooting that long waiting for a Nightforce, when I could buy a lower line of Leupold, Burris, Bushnell, etc, and get out shooting tomorrow!
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  14. MTBULLET

    MTBULLET Well-Known Member

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    most people don't need the nightforce or us optic durability, they just fall for the "hype" and "wow" of "tactical". How tactical is hunting pdogs ? deer? elk ? The scopes you listed, (leupole/burris/etc.) are excellent choices for hunters and 99.9% of the "long range" shooters here. How many night force scopes do you see at bench rest events ?