4.5-14 Zeiss conquest with side focus (standard). These scope are much brighter and clearer than a leupold VX3, I own both. The 44mm onjective is the perfect compromise between a 40 and 50mm. You can find them for just over 5 bills.
I'd use a Nikon Monarch 3.3-10X44 AO or 4-12X40 AO. No side parallax; it has the adjustable objective but very nice scopes for the price. That would put you well under your $700 price cap. I don't think you'll need a 30mm tube for that range. Just look at a ballistic chart and see how many MOA it will take you to go from 100-500 yards and make sure the scope has more than that much adjustment. If your not using tapered bases, try to get a scope that has twice the MOA internal adjustment you need and you should be ok. Good luck with you choice.
I may be the odd man out here. I prefer fixed power scopes. I spend my time trying to reduce variation in my shooting. Variable power scopes meet most shooters' needs, but they have more moving parts to rattle loose, and some do not repeat as well as I like when they have been adjusted up or down in power. For hunting at the distances you mention, I would look at a fixed 6 or 10 power scope. They are getting harder to find now, and it seems that the all of the manufacturers have jumped on the variable power bandwagon.
I have three scopes that I swap around with rail mounts and Leupold QRW rings. One 6X Nikon, and one each 10X and 16X Super Sniper. I worked up a chart for each scope for each rifle and each load. I drop the scope on, dial in the adjustments from my chart, and off I go hunting. Works well for me, and I don't spend a grand to top every rifle I own. The best part is that I spent less on the three scopes than I would have on one MK4 Leupold. It could be argued that I don't have Leupold quality either, but my results in the field and on the range tell me a I made the best choice for me.
I liked the exposed target knobs and didn't want a cap either. That was, until I found that my pack was rubbing against the large knobs and readjusting my scope with every stride I took. Now those covers look pretty good. You always have the option of taking them off if you don't want them. Putting them on a scope that never had them, however…………
I like the 30mm tubes. They usually offer more elevation adjustment than the 1" tubes do.
I won't own another scope without target knobs. Given the time, I zero my scope for the shot I'm taking. Target knobs are the only way to do that in a hunting situation.
Any ticked reticle that you can learn to shoot with will be fine. I prefer the Mil-dot, but I would gladly use the others as well.
Mike in NC,
I have tried to make the same decision as
you several times,in my opinion (and I'm sure
plenty will disagree that's fine)but I love
the Leupold 4.5x14x40 for coyote hunting,the
reason is because with a 6.5x20 your field of
view for close up work is too small and 14 is
still enough for the long shot's.I have
several of these scope's but my favorite is
the new LR with the 30mmtube it might be a
consideration because of more elevation
ajustment for a 223. the new low profile
knob's are sweet as well.
I'm putting together a lightweight "walking" varminter rifle. The base rifle will be a Tikka T3 Lite Stainless in .223 Rem. It has a fast (1-in-8) twist, so I am going to try shooting it out to 500 yds. with some of the heavy 80 gr. Sierra Match kings. I also plan to use it for hunting coyotes, prairie dogs, ground hogs and other miscellaneous varmints.
I'm trying to decide what scope to put on it, and I can't make up my mind. I think it will need to be a variable in order to follow moving targets and still have decent magnification at longer ranges. I currently use a 6.5-20x40 Leupold Vari-X III EFR scope for shooting my heavy barrel .308 at 600 and 1000 yards, and it works well. I think a 3.5-10 would be my lowest power and 6.5-20 would be my highest. I probably will go with a Leupold. I like their scopes, and they are about the best I can afford. My limit will be around $700. I would consider other premium scopes as long as they are in the same price range with the features I need, but Leupold is the only one I have ever lived with so I have confidence in them. That narrows it down to 3.5-10x40, 4.5-14x40 and 6.5-20x40. I am thinking the Long Range series with the 30mm tube (do I need the 30mm or will 1" work OK?) and side parallax adjustment.
My other question is what reticle. I think I would like a ranging reticle like a mil-dot or the new Leupold Varminter or Boone & Crocket reticle. Currently, I use a fine duplex and use the target knobs to come-up for range with most of my shooting done at known ranges or using "point blank ranging". I'm not sure if I would like a ranging reticle or not; however, it seems like having a way to do a quick hold-off would be better for hunting. Also, the target knobs stick way up there and make noise when you adjust them. The IOR MP8 reticle looks interesting, but it looks like it could be too cluttered.
I would really appreciate the advice of some of you experienced hunters.
Again, the questions ...
<UL TYPE=SQUARE>What power?
30 mm ?
IOR valdada tactical 6-24x would be a great choice to complete that rig. Tactical turrets,..MP8 reticle (.5moa marks) and the new 35mm tube. They also have a rings and scope package deal.
The reticle has proven to be very user friendly and non-intrusive.
If you are using a scope that you "click" to the target,.then you are obviously far enough away that the turret clicks won't alert the game. If you are shooting in the woods,..then a 4x rig is all you need.
I have just put the Nikon Monarch 6.5-20 X 44 Mil-dot on my Browning .223 Varmint stalker and it is excellent for this round. The scope is clear, bright and light, and Jon at the Optic Zone had a few available for an excellent price in the last couple weeks.
I'm with BrianB . I have a VX 111 with the varmint hunter reticle and find it works well once you fine tune the power setting for the trajectory of your given load . 6.5 -20X is too much for really fast target acquisition though so I would go 4.5 -14X as Brian suggests .
Mike, I put together a light walking varminter myself this summer, and had some of the same considerations you have. I have also used IOR scopes with the MP8 reticle for many years. Great reticle, great scopes, but IMO their models larger than their 2.5-10 are just too big and heavy for a light rifle. For my use, on a Kimber Montana in .243, I chose the Zeiss Conquest in a 4.5-14. It is light, relatively compact, and in a side to side comparison with the Leuy, I thought it to have crisper image quality. The turrets are easily manipulated by hand, resettable, and guaranteed waterproof without the caps on. I've used it to shoot grouse at 10 paces, a running coyote at 30, and marmots at 274 yards so far and have found the 4.5-14 magnification range to be ideal for this rifle. I believe the 1" tube allows enough elevation to easily get a .223 out to 500 yds. I'm replacing an IOR 4.5-14 MP8 with a Conquest 6.5-20 this winter on my .22-250, which I have been shooting out to 650 yds. According to the spec's, I think I can get out to 700 yds or more before I run out of adjustment. Hey, if you want a deal on an IOR 4.5-14...