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What to look for in a long range hunting scope?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 08:57
JimFromTN View Drop Down
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I am a complete newby when it comes to long  range shooting and I am very interested in getting into it.  I have a remington 700 LSS in 300 win mag that I am considering setting up for long range hunting/target shooting.  The range could be anywhere from 20 to 600 yds.  I am wanting a variable power scope and I don't really want to spend much more than $600.  I am thinking that since I will be using it for hunting and there is always the possibility that a deer walks out at 20yds, I don't want to go above 4x for the low end.  Where I hunt, I have had them literally walk out off the end of my barrel so I am reluctant to go any higher than 4x.  I was thinking maybe the BigSky 4-16x42, Monarch 4-16x42, or maybe the Minox 3-15x50.  The Minox 4-20 looks interesting but its out of my price range.  I am open to any suggestions.
 
One question I have, is 15x or 16x going to be good enough to take a 600 yd shot at deer sized game?  I am thinking it is seeing as allot of snipers use 10x but I have never looked thru a 16x scope at a targert 600yds away.
 
Another question is, do I need target turrets or perhaps a mildot reticle or hold over reticle of some kind.  I don't really see how I could make a shot much over 300yds without it even if I zero it at 200yds.  At 600 yds, I think the bullet drop will be around 75 inches.  I really don't want to guess what 75 inches is when I am trying to see the target at 600 yds.  I have not used either but I am more than willing to learn.
 
Any advice on my above questions or perhaps something I have not thought about would be greatly appreciated.
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At that distance you will most likely want to dial in your correct scope adjustment.  BDC scopes are ok but you need to practice with them to see at what distance they are accurate and set for with yoru combination.  Your in the right range for magnification but you can't substitute power of clarity.  Buying better glass and less mag would be beter than more mag and let glass.

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 09:22
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I think you are on the right track.  For shooting that far you would want easily adjustable knobs in my opinion or some kind of reticle like a Zeiss holdover reticle. 

Personally I would try to stay at 3x or lower on the low end.  I hunt with fixed 4x sometimes and while it works okay for close up stuff, 3x works a little better. 

The Big Sky scopes are excellent IMO.  I would possibly look at this one.  http://swfa.com/Sightron-3-12x42-SII-Big-Sky-Riflescope-P9163.aspx  IMO 12x is enough for a possible 600 yard shot, especially since most of your shots will be in closer and it gives you the benefit of the 3x bottom end.  I have been hunting deer and elk for 17 years and have honestly never shoot more than 400 yards and I have always used 3-9x scopes.  The one 400 yard shot I took was on a deer and I got it with one shot. 

Anyway back to the big sky.  That was has covered target turrets which would allow you to dial in distance and windage.  But still be able to have your turrets covered.  The regular big skys have resettable knobs them selves, so you can set your zero on the "0" on the knob and still be able to dial in your shots easily.  The knobs are just not as tall, but that is not always a bad thing.  http://swfa.com/Sightron-3-12x42-SII-Big-Sky-Riflescope-P9162.aspx

Then you could go with one with hold over marks as well.  http://swfa.com/Sightron-3-12x42-SII-Big-Sky-Riflescope-P11090.aspx Realize though if you set up the holdovers at the range on say 10x, they you will only be able to use them correctly at 10x when you are actually shooting at game.  If you try it at 12x it will change everything. 

Hope that helps.


Edited by supertool73 - April/15/2010 at 09:27
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 10:17
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So you are saying that the hold over lines only work at the one power that you set them in at?  Is this true with the mildot as well?  I was comepletely unaware of this. 
 
I have an SII and an SIII so I really like Sightrons but I am not familiar with the BigSky, so please excuse my ignorance.   So with the regular big skys, you can dial it in like a target turrent and then set it back to zero without taking caps off and getting a penny out and the only real difference being that the target turrets are elevated?  Is this correct?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 10:43
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Yes a mildot would be the same way.  Try this with one of your scopes.  When you look through what they call a second focal plane scope, which most scope are.  YOu can be looking at an object on say 3x.  Then while you are still looking through the scope turn up the magnification.  The object you are looking at gets bigger as you turn it up.  But the reticle stays the exact same size.  So if you are using say a mildot.  On 3x lets say you were looking at a deer at 100 yards.  Lets just say the deer from back to bottom of chest fit between the center of the cross hair and the first mil dot below it.  Then you turn your scope up to 9x.  Now all the sudden because the deer got magnified but the reticle did not change in size it now goes from the center of the crosshair to the 4th dot down because the deer grew in size in the scope.  Obviously that is just a very basic example but you get the idea.

Then they have what they call a first focal plane scope.  The reticle itself actually changes sizes as you turn the power up and down in perfect sequence with the magnification.  So at 3x the reticle would appear very small.  At 9x the reticle would be very large.  So that deers back to bottom of chest would always be between the center of the cross hair and that first mil dot.

So if you go to the range with a mil dot or bullet drop reticle of some type with a second focal plane scope (which the Sightrons are) and set your zero at lets just say 100 yards.  Your scope to 10x and lets say you shoot to 300 yards and at 300 yards if you go to the first hold over mark it hits the center of your target.  Now while out hunting you have a shot at 300 yards.  But this time you set your scope at 12x.  Now because the target is actually closer in your scope meaning it got larger but your reticle still stayed the same size it means that first holdover is not longer going to have the same point of impact.

This is the problem with these holdover type scopes.  Most people honestly think they work at any power and don't really have a clue how they work.  They can work well if you know what you are doing and realize the limitations and how they need to be set up.  That is why dialing in will usually be more consistent because to make a 300 yard shot if you need to dial up 2 MOA or in the case of the Big Sky 8 clicks then you can do that at any magnification and you POI will be the same.

The Big Sky fits in between the S2 and S3.  They are great scopes for the money. 

You do need to take the cap off the turrets.  But you do not need a penny to do it.  Once you find your rifles zero then you can pull up on the turret which releases it from moving the reticle and then turn it so it is on the "0" mark.  Then you push it back down.  So if you need to dial up 2 MOA or 8 clicks for a longer shot you just turn it to the 2 on the dial.  Then when you are done instead of having to keep track of how many clicks you moved it you just turn it back to the "0" and your right back to your original sight in.  The windage works the same way. 

WIth the taller target turrets they will just be a little easier to read and get a hold of.  If you plan on moving them a lot and using them all the time, I would get the taller ones.  Nice thing about either of those for a hunting gun is you can put the caps back on them if you don't see the need to move them while shooting and not have to worry about them getting bumped by cases or branches and other gear.   


Edited by supertool73 - April/15/2010 at 10:46
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 12:36
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So how does one use the mildots in combination with the turret adjustments?  Are the mildots used to get it close and the turrets used to fine tune it?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 12:58
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I think AGI or someone has a video on it as well.  I think I need both.
 
After looking at the Big Sky's owner manual, I can't see why a hunter would want the target nobs.  If I read the manual correctly, you have to use an allen wrench to reset to zero where as with the hunter nobs, you just lift up and twist and then push back in.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 14:04
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Originally posted by JimFromTN JimFromTN wrote:

So how does one use the mildots in combination with the turret adjustments?  Are the mildots used to get it close and the turrets used to fine tune it?


No. Here's a couple ways a mil-dot (or MOA reticle) can be used. First of all, a mil-dot reticle is not a BDC reticle, which if you notice have more and more distance between markings. A mil-dot reticle has markings spaced 1 mil apart across its face and, typically, intermediate markings (usually every .5 mils and sometimes .25 or .1 mils). There are similar MOA-based reticles. I won't get into the finer details of how to use one. There are resources for that such as http://mil-dot.com/. It's just enough to say that these reticles measure evenly spaced angles. Using those angular measurements, it is possible to calculate the range to the target.

Another way you can use this style reticle is to hold off for elevation or windage. Usually, you need to know what the range is and consult a ballistic table (e.g. generated card). With an SFP scope you face the same limitation that supertool mentioned: It is really meant to work only on its single ranging magnification. An FFP scope does not have this limitation.

As far as turrets are concerned, it is nicer but not absolutely necessary if they match the reticle gradations, e.g. mil/mil or MOA/MOA. Then, if you really get into this long-range game, and see that your target measures 1.3 mils across you can just dial that in rather than have to convert from mils to MOA. In practice, I have done just fine with a mismatched scope but it meant memorizing my drops from 300-500 yards in MOA. And this scope is SFP so it can only range on its highest power. However, since it tops out at 10X that's fine because I only range on targets far enough away to require that amount of magnification. I will never buy a non-FFP scope again however. My other primary scope is so much more enjoyable and faster to use (a 3-15 FFP mil/mil).

Now, a more general comment: Please do not consider taking a shot on a game animal of any size at distances past 400 yards until you have outgrown a really good 3-9 or 2.5-10 scope like the SS variable. Maybe never. Out past 400 even a light wind becomes a factor. And every error in calculating or estimating a shot is magnified. By all means, learn all you can about ballistics, ranging and wind and go out and shoot as far as you can. Every shot taken at 600 will make a shot taken at 300 easier and a shot at 100 seem effortless.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2010 at 15:29
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My brain hurts.  Seems like you need a degree in engineering to figure this stuff out. 
 
I would never take a 400 plus yd shot on an animal unless I have put hundreds if not thousands of rds down range at that distance and have confidence to take the shot.  I figure most if not all shots at that range will be at paper but if the opportuinity ever arises, I want to know that I can confidently take the shot.
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Originally posted by JimFromTN JimFromTN wrote:

I think AGI or someone has a video on it as well.  I think I need both.
 
After looking at the Big Sky's owner manual, I can't see why a hunter would want the target nobs.  If I read the manual correctly, you have to use an allen wrench to reset to zero where as with the hunter nobs, you just lift up and twist and then push back in.
I think that is just used when you first site your rifle in not when you return to zero after adjusting for range.
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That is correct.  Once you have your zero you can lock them in place with the screws.  No worries about accidentally popping the turret up and screwing it up.  I am sure there is pros and cons to both ways.  Just depends on your needs and uses.
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Originally posted by JimFromTN JimFromTN wrote:

My brain hurts.  Seems like you need a degree in engineering to figure this stuff out. 


Just time, patience and some beer when you're back home.
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Originally posted by JimFromTN JimFromTN wrote:

My brain hurts.  Seems like you need a degree in engineering to figure this stuff out. 
 




Naw, just roll red neck: have someone else (whom you neither know nor trust) bore-site the scope, fire no rounds to confirm zero, then assume you are dead-on at whatever range you happen to be shooting.  Then act genuinely confused when you miss, and blame the ammo manufacturer or claim to have consumed too much caffeine.


You need a mil dot master and a little time to learn how to use it.  It comes with a pretty good booklet explaining correct operation.
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I think a Rapid-Z reticle, or some other quality BDC and a few hundred, errrr thousand rounds is as easy as anything. That's how I started, as it was faster to learn than dialing. Then when I got bored with it, I started to dial shots in, and developing range cards, now I can use the same scope to do either method.
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You've already said the one thing that you need more than the most advanced scope availible. Practice!

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I may be a redneck and you may find a car in my yard when you cut the grass
but I understand the importance of practice.  I imagine I will burn thru a barrel before I feel confident enough to try and hunt at those ranges.
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and not a think wrong with that!

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/17/2010 at 16:27
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alot og guys dont like the bdc scopes and im no fan either but i slapped on a nikon monarch 5-20x44 on a 300 ultramag and zeroed it and was shooting at 400 yds gun shot good and we decided what the hay lets see how the circles work and we were amazed with a 180 gr. nosler the circles were dead on at 500 600 700 took off the scope put it on a 280 ackley we put together zeroed with 140 noslers and it was way off at 400-500-600 for some reason it worked on the 300um it rests on top of a 300 um to this day only down side is that the 180s arent that accurate out of the um 200s and 220 s fly better 
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I would have to lean toward the turret adjustment over the BDC or Mil-dot. Reason being the turret set may be alittle slower but, a rushed shot is never a good option and when you know the turret settings are on for each chosen distance there is less room for error. Especially when coupled with a range finder. Measuring game with BDC or mil is still guess work and better suited for the "well experienced"  distance shooter. As for power 3X for low end is good but, 4X isn't going to cost you a shot at 20yds. 16x may be more than is needed but, it sure is nice to have it on 600+ shots sometimes. I know "overkill" but I like shifting the odds my way when ever possible. On that note why not go with a 50 objective and max you light to pupil ratio. There's nothing worse than a scope not making it to the end of shooting light (good glass is equally important). Your 300 is well suited for your goals and your budget gets you into some decent scopes so like you have asked (What will get you that 20yd. to 600yd. range with confidence?) The turret is the simplest to learn and eliminates alot of guess work. It still requires pratice but, you'll aquire it faster and if you mark the turrets to specific distance you'll enjoy shooting good groups more than focusing on finding that perfect line or dot and remembering which one it is for the distance. That can come later when you've got the shooting beyond 400yds uncertainty under control. Good luck in your search and let us know what you decide.
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Let me list scopes  that I would want to put on a 300 WM set up to hunt out to 600 yds.  Note past 600 you need more internal adjustment than 50 moa but out to 600 you should be good.  My balistics chart for 190 gr SMK at 2900 Fps 300 WM wiht a 100 yd zero shows -25.9 moa at 950 yds  and 50 moa of internal should be about 25 up and 25 down most of the time. So Here are several that I would really consider and a couple may be more than you want to spend but have features worth more.
Trijicon 5-20x50 Accu-Point 30mm Rifle Scope Mil-Dot Crosshair w/ Green Dot Trijicon 5-20x50 Accu-Point 30mm Rifle Scope
Stock # - TR232G
  • Matte
  • Mil-Dot Crosshair w/ Green Dot
  • 30mm
  • Free Sun Shade w/ Purchase
$1,039.95 
Vortex 4-16x50 Viper PST 30mm Rifle Scope Vortex 4-16x50 Viper PST 30mm Rifle Scope
Stock # - PST416S1M
  • Matte
  • EBR-1 Mil Reticle
  • 30mm
  • .10 Mil Adjustments
$699.95
SWFA SS 3-9x42 Tactical Riflescope Mil-Dot SWFA SS 3-9x42 Tactical Riflescope
Stock # - SS39X42
  • Matte
  • First Focal Plane Mil-Dot
  • 30mm
  • OK for .50 cal
  • 0.1 MRAD
$599.95
Sightron 6-24x50 SIII 30mm Riflescope Mil-Dot Sightron 6-24x50 SIII 30mm Riflescope
Stock # - SIIISS624X50LRMD
  • Matte
  • Mil-Dot
  • 30mm
  • Side Focus
  • Target Knobs
$804.95
Leupold 4.5-14x40 Mark 4 LR/T 30mm Riflescope Duplex Leupold 4.5-14x40 Mark 4 LR/T 30mm Riflescope
Stock # - LEU56140
  • Matte
  • Duplex
  • 30mm
  • Long Range
  • Side Focus
  • Target Knobs
$754.95 
Mil-Dot Weaver 4-20x50 Tactical 30mm Rifle Scope
Stock # - 800360
  • Matte
  • Mil-Dot
  • 30mm
  • Side Focus
  • First Focal Plane Reticle
$694.95
Add Weaver 4-20x50 Tactical 30mm Rifle Scope to Cart 
http://www.kentonindustries.com/  custom engraved knobs    Ex this speed dial on the Leupold above is marked in yards 2 = 200 yds   3 = 300 yds etc custom engraved for your caliber and bullet choice. 

Any Leupold VX-II, VX-III, or VX-L equipped w 7/8' tall target knobs
SPEED DIAL
http://www.jbmballistics.com/cgi-bin/jbmtraj-5.0.cgi    balistics charts
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Good line up UMF but I have to suggest keeping the rectile simple. The Leupold duplex is really good for turret adjustment. I suspect the others you listed may have similar options. The less there is to look thru (especially for the less experienced) the less chance of a hasty wrong choice. Sometimes all the options are too much.
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