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A Tale of Three Scopes...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: July/07/2017 at 08:30
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It was the best of scopes (of a particular genre), it was the worst of scopes (of the same genre)…

First, these are not high-dollar… in fact, low-dollar to high low-dollar.  They are on ARs, not my favorite rifles, but I have less hatred of ARs than I used to.  I've spent way more time working on ARs than I ever wanted, learned more about them than I thought they deserved, have more respect for them than they probably deserve.  I spent many years hating them… now I just don't like them very much… (one exception I've encountered so far… NEMO Omen in 300Winchester Magnum… not really an AR, just looks like one)

Some requirements definition:

Optical clarity… hard to define for everyone, because it is subjective.  For me, means everything in view must be clean and crisp, well defined edges, little spherochromatism.  I like a wide FOV, not much tunneling (some is OK, but don't want to think I'm looking down a toilet paper tube inside a paper towel tube).  I want to see a clean reticle and no blurring if image at range.  Even low-dollar optics can be clear and not have fuzzy colors at the edges.
Mechanicals - for this application, not a whole lot of adjustment range is required.  Just enough to get a 300 yard zero.  I generally start with a "battle sight zero", then confirm at 300.  I don't use the standard 25 yard/meter BSZ, I calculate the ballistics of the round for 300 yards, then zero at the initial zero point (generally 18-28 yards, depending on round)… then I check it at 300, 100, 200, and 500, correcting for zero at 300.  For all the scopes in this review, there was more than enough adjustment range to perform all these functions.  MOA adjustment perferred, but not required.  Reticle that is consistent with adjustment values.  I've never minded a scope's weight as long as it does not overbalance the rifle These are all pretty short and light, respectively.
Nikon P-300 2-7, Swift 1.5-4.5 Premier, Leupold VX-1 1-4 Hog Plex.  They placed pretty much in that order.

The Leupold is OK.  It placed lower than I expected, even though I never have great expectations for a Leupold scope.  Though rated at 1-4 power, it is actually 1.4-4 why don't they just say so???  The reticle is a little "fuzzy" at all powers (perhaps that is why it was traded in on the Samplelist where I got it a "B" grade everything else seems to be OK so far, but the adjustments were maxed out UP and RIGHT when it arrived.  So far, no other issues with the scope reticle is "irritating"), but even so, I like the reticle a little better than the Swift reticle.  They are very similiar, but the Pig Plex reticle on the Leupold has holdover points absent from the Swift reticle.  Adjustments on this scope are OK, not too mushy, and plenty of adjustment range about 96 MOA.  It is sitting on .458 SOCOM, so I don't think I'll ever have need of all that adjustment range.  Overall, the scope gets an "OK", it is useable, but I don't care for it much.  Glass is not as good as the Swift or the Nikon, fuzziness of the reticle sucks.  Don't know if that is a "feature" of this scope type or a result of paying less it is useable, currently, and I don't let minor BS bother my shooting.

The Swift is the "cheapest" of the three and one of the best values around.  I've had this scope on most of my heavy bangers and it has performed extremely well.  Adjustment range is just adequate (designed for "set and forget"), the reticle I would certainly like better if there were more stadia lines for ranging, but the clarity of the glass is exceptional, far superior to the Leupold.  I've shot to 500 yards with numerous rifles wearing this scope and it is all I need would prefer it to be illuminated, but can't have everything for right at $100.00.  Need vs want I got it off the samplelist, as well.  Right now, it sits on 5.56.

The Nikon P-300 is new, purchased specifically for a 300BLK shooting subsonic ammo, suppressed.  The glass is as good or slightly better than the Swift much cleaner than the Leupold.  Adjustments are MOA, which I prefer, clean, crisp, tactile and audible, but will probably always be used as "set and forget" unless there is some pressing need.  It also has a nifty "zero reset" feature if one wants to "twist the knobs".  The stadia lines are quite useful for my purposes.  With Nikon's "Spot-0n" software, it can easily be changed from subsonic to supersonic ammo if required.  I've got all the dope on the supersonic stuff I have and it is not too difficult a leap.  

All three of these scopes are acceptable for getting quickly on "center of mass" and for target-type shooting at reasonable ranges.  I don't have a feel for longevity for any but the Swift it has taken some pounding and still performs as required.  So far, the Nikon is great.  The Leupold is a bit of a disappointment, but I've never actually expected much of them anyway.  To be fair, I've used a pretty good Mark 4 and like the Mark 6 and Mark 8 lines.  Leupold is stepping into the 20th Century with both feet.  I consider the VX-1 an antique, acceptable for what I need it for, but not optimal.  As Urimaginaryfrnd once scolded me for saying "it was cheap".  
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