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Discussion Starter #1
I am starting some research into what optic i will be purchasing once i graduate in a month and hopefully start making some real money. The purpose of this scope is a SHTF all around RUGGED scope to go onto my 22" loaded M1A to be used at any distance from 25 to possibly 700 + yards given my local terrain. I want something that goes to at least 6x preferrably and has a low (around 1-2x for magnification) limit

I have been seriously looking at the NF compact scopes in either:
1-4x (although i am not a huge fan of the reticles for that magnification)
or 2.5-10x (i like the reticles but 2.5 is a bit high for a low end magnification)

Also i am thinking of spending the extra bucks to get the new US optics SR-8 1-8x magnification scope with the CR2 reticle:
http://www.usoptics.com/scope/product/viewlargeimage/id/1017
i really like the reticle and the fact that it sits in the FFP

I do not want to go over $2k on the price, and am looking for feedback regarding either or both brands (i.e. glass quality, durability, low light performance, customer service ETC.)

Also if you have any other suggestions for any scopes or brands offering something around 1-10x that are of high quality that also comes with illuminated reticle let me know because all quality scopes are an option at this point.

Thanks for any input
 

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Hard to beat NF or USO. I was settled on a 2.5-10 for a Scout, but ended up with a SOCOM first. Putting a Nikon 2.5-8 scout scope on it.

The 1-8x sounds like the best bet for what you're looking for imo.
 

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Check out the ELCAN Specter DR 1.5-6X. It uses a throw lever that makes a quick switch from 1.5 to 6x, no in between. I believe the 1.5-6X can be found with a reticle ballistically matched to the NATO 7.62mm round. It's right about the 2K mark. I have the 1-4X model, and the more I use it, the more I believe that ELCAN designed something really special. If you want a book on why I think it's the best thing going, shoot me a PM and I'll start working on it.

In short:
1. ergonomically it's very easy to switch from low to high mag- i.e. easy to go from a CQB pop-up threat magnification to a "I've got a an extra second to make a long range shot" higher mag setting with your left thumb. How often do people use the intermediate magnifications on their scopes? How much time does the switch between powers take on a conventional scope?

2. Second Focal Plane Etched reticle: Reticle doesn't cover too much of the target at high mag, but is big enough to see at low mag (1.5 MOA dot at 4x on mine, 6 MOA at 1x)

3. Reticle ballistically matched to your (likely) load/rifle combo. Graduated for 100, 300, 400, 500, 600, meters with open circle holdovers for 700, 800, 900, and 1000 meters. Open circles intended for MG use. Stadia lines equate to shoulder width of average person (in high mag) at the respective distances. Bottom left has a ranging portion for waist to head distance for average humans at respective distances.

4. Reticle visible without batteries (etched glass). Choice of Center dot or Full reticle (no center) illumination. The no center illum on full reticle is great because it doesn't wash out/cover target in low light conditions.

5. User selectable illum intensity. No problem shooting from a dark location into a bright location. This could be an issue with an auto intensity adjustment or tritium illuminated sight with fiber optic because the dark environment fools the sensor into dimming or doesn't provide enough light to the fiber optic. Not an issue with the Elcan, as mentioned. Illum goes from very dim to really, really bright.

6. As rugged as an ACOG.

7. Debatable, but I consider it a strength: Battery powered. I don't have to send it in for servicing like I would for tritium when it dims. Etched reticle still works in day light without a battery.


Reticle pictures with a couple of different illum settings can be seen here.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150329713119609&set=o.161583763906452&type=3&theater

Company Data sheet: http://www.elcansightingsystems.com/Main/pdf/SpecterDR1.5x6.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #4
That elcan 1.5-6x with the throw lever looks like a fine piece of work. A bit on the expensive side, but something i will keep in mind during my optics search over the next few weeks.
 

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Yes, it looks like they've gone up a couple hundred bucks since I bought mine. I've shot the ACOG TA31 Rifle Combat Optic and the Elcan 1-4x on the M4, and if the Marine Corps gave me the choice, I'd take the Elcan in a heartbeat. There are some complaints on the internet about the Elcan zero changing between magnifications, but based on things the complainers have said, I believe that the issue is with the shooter not understanding ballistics or not understanding how to set things up correctly. I've had no issues with mine, and wouldn't hesitate to bet my life on it. I really like it for shooting on the move. The field of view at 1X is HUGE, and with both eyes open, it's like just having a red dot in front of your eyeball where the bullets are going to go. Almost no loss of peripheral vision/ situational awareness.
 

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In my humble I think id go with a 2.5x10 of your flavor. The 2.5 would be a little much on the low side but I think the 10 would more then make up for it. Iv shot out to 850 with my 3x9 swfa ss and more power would have been helpful. But one more manufacture you might be interested in is March but they are spendy so good luck.
 

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Check out the ELCAN Specter DR 1.5-6X. It uses a throw lever that makes a quick switch from 1.5 to 6x, no in between. I believe the 1.5-6X can be found with a reticle ballistically matched to the NATO 7.62mm round. It's right about the 2K mark. I have the 1-4X model, and the more I use it, the more I believe that ELCAN designed something really special. If you want a book on why I think it's the best thing going, shoot me a PM and I'll start working on it.

In short:
1. ergonomically it's very easy to switch from low to high mag- i.e. easy to go from a CQB pop-up threat magnification to a "I've got a an extra second to make a long range shot" higher mag setting with your left thumb. How often do people use the intermediate magnifications on their scopes? How much time does the switch between powers take on a conventional scope?

2. Second Focal Plane Etched reticle: Reticle doesn't cover too much of the target at high mag, but is big enough to see at low mag (1.5 MOA dot at 4x on mine, 6 MOA at 1x)

3. Reticle ballistically matched to your (likely) load/rifle combo. Graduated for 100, 300, 400, 500, 600, meters with open circle holdovers for 700, 800, 900, and 1000 meters. Open circles intended for MG use. Stadia lines equate to shoulder width of average person (in high mag) at the respective distances. Bottom left has a ranging portion for waist to head distance for average humans at respective distances.

4. Reticle visible without batteries (etched glass). Choice of Center dot or Full reticle (no center) illumination. The no center illum on full reticle is great because it doesn't wash out/cover target in low light conditions.

5. User selectable illum intensity. No problem shooting from a dark location into a bright location. This could be an issue with an auto intensity adjustment or tritium illuminated sight with fiber optic because the dark environment fools the sensor into dimming or doesn't provide enough light to the fiber optic. Not an issue with the Elcan, as mentioned. Illum goes from very dim to really, really bright.

6. As rugged as an ACOG.

7. Debatable, but I consider it a strength: Battery powered. I don't have to send it in for servicing like I would for tritium when it dims. Etched reticle still works in day light without a battery.
How is the glass? It seems really nice, and I am figuring out which scopes I want to get, in which order, for some things, so I am definitely interested. The scope seems nice, but is the glass really clear like USO or NF?
 

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I think 2.5x will be better then you think it will be for quick shots. I have a fixed 3x on my ar and i find things are either point and shoot close, both dyes open close, or stop and control breathing distance.

Its a little slower i suppose then a red dot, but i honostly think its more then fast enough. Just something to consider.
 

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How is the glass? It seems really nice, and I am figuring out which scopes I want to get, in which order, for some things, so I am definitely interested. The scope seems nice, but is the glass really clear like USO or NF?
I wish I could give you a side by side comparison, but the Specter is the only glass I have mounted on any of my rifles, and I haven't been out with it when somebody else has had a high dollar optic I could compare it to.

Without the killflash on it, the brightness is pretty impressive. At my old house I would turn on the back patio light at night (your pretty standard patio light, not really spotlighting the treeline, but throwing some light out towards it) and look into the tree line about 40-50 meters behind the house. I could see a few feet into the treeline, and trees on the edge of the tree line were clearly discernible. With the kill flash on, light transmission is reduced a little bit but is, in my opinion, still superior to the TA31 ACOG with killflash. Clarity/acuity and color seems to be very good. Seriously, when I look through it, I think "wow". There's a forum post somewhere on the internet where a camera lens guru measured light transmission, clarity, eye relief, etc. and the Specter came out on top against other 4x or less glass it was compared to. It did not compare it to higher magnification conventional rifle scopes, as I recall, and I can't find the post/article at the moment. I'll link it if I can find it later.

Graduating? No job lined up in this economy? Stick with irons...
I think an optic adds some capability, but the above quote has something worth considering. I once did a side by side competition between my M4 with optic and a 95 year old P14 with iron sights at 100 yards from the prone. The M4 was about 50% faster for the 20 round string (I did not have stripper clips for the P14), but the P14 was notably more accurate (roughly 2 MOA group vs 1 MOA group). Sure, the M4 with optic was probably more precise that it would have been with irons, but it reinforced the point that training with irons is important, and if given the choice between using a fixed 4x optic and irons, I would pick the irons. It was the 1x and 4x ability of the Specter that convinced me to mount it. Anyways, I think an optic can be faster and an advantage for ID'ing possible targets or against partially obscured targets, but a trained shooter with iron sights isn't at any great disadvantage.

Edit: Not the link I was looking for, but a couple of reviews that, based on my experience, seem pretty accurate. I have not experienced the "wagging" reticle discussed in the opticsthoughts review.
http://opticsthoughts.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=142:review-of-the-elcan-specter-dr-14x-combat-sight&catid=4:rifle-scope-reviews&Itemid=4

The reader comments from "Dave" and "Murph" at the end of this review pretty much sum it up, I think.
http://thepackingrat.net/2010/02/09/elcan-specterdr-an-overview/
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Graduating? No job lined up in this economy? Stick with irons..
I agree 100% that a shooter needs to be proficient with his iron sights and have been practicing the last few months with this specific set (i have become fairly comfortable hitting steel at 300 or so yards). I am looking into other options that could make me a more effective shooter at longer distance if need be. I am mounting to a sadlak scope mount to retain the iron sight option should the need arrise.

I'll probably hear some responses from those more experienced than me who have shot their irons past 800 yards before, but I do not have that kind of skill currently and don't have the best eyes to do it with (I have a decently strong contact prescription)

This thread was solely to discuss quality scope options for low to medium magnification, and not start the iron vs optics argument which can be found all over the internet. Sorry if this respond seemed a bit harsh to your post, i just didn't want people to think i'm completely ignoring the importance of training with my irons.

As for a job i have already had some offers located near large cities, but i do not want to live in that environment. I feel my odds are pretty good with multiple interviews and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering to get a decent paying job in a location i will enjoy (hopefully). Again i don't mean to be rude but i was just looking for good optics suggestions i can research that may fit my needs.
 

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I agree 100% that a shooter needs to be proficient with his iron sights and have been practicing the last few months with this specific set (i have become fairly comfortable hitting steel at 300 or so yards). I am looking into other options that could make me a more effective shooter at longer distance if need be. I am mounting to a sadlak scope mount to retain the iron sight option should the need arrise.

I'll probably hear some responses from those more experienced than me who have shot their irons past 800 yards before, but I do not have that kind of skill currently and don't have the best eyes to do it with (I have a decently strong contact prescription)

This thread was solely to discuss quality scope options for low to medium magnification, and not start the iron vs optics argument which can be found all over the internet. Sorry if this respond seemed a bit harsh to your post, i just didn't want people to think i'm completely ignoring the importance of training with my irons.

As for a job i have already had some offers located near large cities, but i do not want to live in that environment. I feel my odds are pretty good with multiple interviews and a B.S. in Electrical Engineering to get a decent paying job in a location i will enjoy (hopefully). Again i don't mean to be rude but i was just looking for good optics suggestions i can research that may fit my needs.
No insult taken. I'm not arguing you should only shoot irons...ever. Your title asks which is more practical. I'm giving you the best optics choice given your current economic condition. 2K on optics + a mount + rings when you don't have a job lined up is well...a purchase I would not make, nor would I suggest someone make that purchase.

Look, I have a Vortex Viper PST 4-16 FFP on my loaded, and I'm thinking it's more scope than I really need on an auto-loader. It's a great scope in the mid-price range (I paid $900 for mine) though. I believe they make a 2.5-10 in that line as well. However, it does not have the FFP. Customer service is excellent.

I've seen it posted in many other "best optic" threads you have to get NF or US Optics or you'll never hit anything. Do you really need top of the line for a 1-4 or 2.5-10 scope? I don't think so. I think you can get away with things far cheaper and...practical.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
2K on optics + a mount + rings when you don't have a job lined up is well...a purchase I would not make, nor would I suggest someone make that purchase.
Agreed, it is a lot of money hence why I am waiting for a solid job offer until any high dollar purchases are made in the scope area. I do have funds in my account that would cover such a purchase but knowing the importance of financial responsibility I will not do so until a line of income is secured, so for now research is all i am doing.

I currently have a cheap Bushnell 3-9 i recieved for free with another gun purchase a while back i plan to mount to see how i like that magnification level on the m1a. I just want a scope i will be able to trust to take a few smacks against rocks or trees in an un-ideal situation without breaking, and the bushnell doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence in this region.

I have heard nothing but good things about the Vortex name and just out of curiosity does it seem as though it could take a few hard impacts before anything would break on it.

Also how much does the 4x slow down your CQ snapshots compared to a lower magnification such as 2x (obviously practice with the scope always makes the difference in this skill set)
 

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Agreed, it is a lot of money hence why I am waiting for a solid job offer until any high dollar purchases are made in the scope area. I do have funds in my account that would cover such a purchase but knowing the importance of financial responsibility I will not do so until a line of income is secured, so for now research is all i am doing.
Good to hear. I research a lot as well, and I can't blame you for doing your homework. Don't forget to add a cheek riser to the list of parts needed when adding a scope.

I have heard nothing but good things about the Vortex name and just out of curiosity does it seem as though it could take a few hard impacts before anything would break on it.
Vortex has a great warrantee program, so I'm not too concerned if it does break. I can't attest that it can be thrown around and will hold up. The research I compiled for M1A optics lead me to the Vortex, as other members here had no major malfunctions, the price to quality ratio was somewhat reasonable, and it has many features the high dollar stuff has...if they had any problems, Vortex took care of them. I'm sure the high dollar stuff would do the same.

Also how much does the 4x slow down your CQ snapshots compared to a lower magnification such as 2x (obviously practice with the scope always makes the difference in this skill set)
The main purpose for my loaded is a hunting application. Deer and pronghorn mostly....an occasional coyote if the opportunity presents itself. I have other BIG guns for elk and bear. I set the rifle up for >100 yd targets. If the target is <100 yds, it definitely would not be optimal to have my setup, but 4x has worked for me in the past. If you're going to do a lot of CQ shooting, you'll want the true 1X.

You mentioned you wanted to be capable 25-700+ yards. Just some thoughts...
You could buy something in the power range that I have, get some QD rings and go back to irons for your short range encounters. Or, if you want to stay with glass, have a 1-4 and a long range scope to meet both needs. Both with QD rings. The latter would be really expensive though.

I think you're on the right track with 2.5-10. This would probably be the best compromise for a "shoot at any range" scope and keep you cost relatively low.

Overall, don't think I'm trying to steer you away from the super high end stuff. However, there are other options out there that are easier on the wallet. If I was competing, or on a long range sniper team, I probably would look to the high end stuff to gain any possible edge. I am neither a sniper nor a competitor, I'm a hunter...I've taken plenty of game in the 400-600 yd mark with scopes far cheaper than even a Vortex...

What will be the rifle's main use? Hunting, targets, match shooting, all the above?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
The main purpose behind this build is to be an all around rifle. For now it will see more range time than anything else, but i do plan on testing it out hunting next year for deer and possible even while i'm chasing those sneaky mountain lions around instead of my bolt guns or lever actions (which i do love). The hunting i do is mostly in hilly areas with possible shots never really exceeding 500 yards due to the terrain (longest i've ever shot at large game at to date was about 300 yds).

However this will probably be the gun i grab in a SHTF bug out scenario before i run to the hills for cover, which i why i am currently researching scopes that can take a decent beating and still operate.

Thanks again for your input, and any other scopes suggestions that i can spend some time "investigating" are appreciated.
 

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Well if you want a few more suggestions I can vouch for swfa 3x9. The scope is ffp mill mill and the one I have tracks perfectly. The glass I think is good enough for the price and I have never missed cause of the glass. Another one to look at is the vortex pst 2.5x10x32 it's brand new and from what I've heard has new glass. It also comes with a zero stop which I find handy so hope this helps.
 
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