Best FFP Scope on Sale to use alongside RDS- 18" 6.5G General Purpose

6.5G

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Minuteman
Apr 17, 2020
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Hi All!

I've learned enough about optics from lurking here to know that this budget bracket is almost blasphemous but I am in grad school so I have hard limits.

I've got a 18" Grendel upper which has a theoretical effective range of around 1k. I'd like for the rifle to have an optic setup that covers the cartridge's span of utility. I respect that the more specific one is, the better suggestions one receives. However I would like to ring steel at 1k as my #1 use, do 3-gun, and press the rifle into a defensive role if needed. Remember I am a grad student and most grad students don't have 1 rifle, let alone several that are purpose-built.

I've read advice on magnification for the 6.5G for different uses, and seen folks with red-dots on an offset mount (including SF folks linked to from SH), but rarely have I seen discussions that take offset RDS into account when discussing magnification, especially for 6.5G specifically. I am skeptical of the idea that true 1x LPVO are as forgiving as red-dots under pressure based on experiences with a Strike Eagle, which I know is not a solid basis. But this and having more mag for 1k is why I am more curious about a combo of 2 optics as a system.

There are 3 optics that seem to be in my budget with FFP christmas tree reticles, mil adjustments, and okay glass according to SH (with sparse commentary on option 3). Because of the christmas tree reticle I don't expect to be dialing so slightly mushy turrets are not a problem, and the capped turrents on the Nitro is okay I guess.

I would prefer to go through cameralandny for reasons that most people here know (best prices, best customer service of any company that I know of, site sponsor). Options:

$269- Athlon Argos 6-24 APMR FFP IR MIL [lifetime warranty]
$199- Bushnell Nitro 2.5-10 Deploy MIL (no illumination) [30 year warranty]
$279-309- Primary Arms SLx 4-14 FFP IR R-Grid 2B (not at cameralandny) [3 year warranty]

Any other ideas at or under 300? I've read on SH the vortex offerings at this range do not have better glass. I want a Horus-style reticle and illumination in FFP. Mil-quad SWFA in 3-15 might have better glass, but then again I have heard folks say the Argos is better.

What is the right magnification if you assume the red-dot is carrying some of the load? Will that make 6-24 comfortable thereby putting me at the best value scope in the lineup based on SH opinions? Is all this psycho heavy to put on an AR?

I know Doug bought the entire stock of the Nitros a while back, and when the rebate was available they were selling like hotcakes. I am disappointed that I haven't seen reviews of the optic here when I am guessing a lot of folks have one. It seems so promising. However, I really wish it had illumination.

Thank you for reading!
 

EnsEntium

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Hi All!

I've learned enough about optics from lurking here to know that this budget bracket is almost blasphemous but I am in grad school so I have hard limits.

I've got a 18" Grendel upper which has a theoretical effective range of around 1k. I'd like for the rifle to have an optic setup that covers the cartridge's span of utility. I respect that the more specific one is, the better suggestions one receives. However I would like to ring steel at 1k as my #1 use, do 3-gun, and press the rifle into a defensive role if needed. Remember I am a grad student and most grad students don't have 1 rifle, let alone several that are purpose-built.

I've read advice on magnification for the 6.5G for different uses, and seen folks with red-dots on an offset mount (including SF folks linked to from SH), but rarely have I seen discussions that take offset RDS into account when discussing magnification, especially for 6.5G specifically. I am skeptical of the idea that true 1x LPVO are as forgiving as red-dots under pressure based on experiences with a Strike Eagle, which I know is not a solid basis. But this and having more mag for 1k is why I am more curious about a combo of 2 optics as a system.

There are 3 optics that seem to be in my budget with FFP christmas tree reticles, mil adjustments, and okay glass according to SH (with sparse commentary on option 3). Because of the christmas tree reticle I don't expect to be dialing so slightly mushy turrets are not a problem, and the capped turrents on the Nitro is okay I guess.

I would prefer to go through cameralandny for reasons that most people here know (best prices, best customer service of any company that I know of, site sponsor). Options:

$269- Athlon Argos 6-24 APMR FFP IR MIL [lifetime warranty]
$199- Bushnell Nitro 2.5-10 Deploy MIL (no illumination) [30 year warranty]
$279-309- Primary Arms SLx 4-14 FFP IR R-Grid 2B (not at cameralandny) [3 year warranty]

Any other ideas at or under 300? I've read on SH the vortex offerings at this range do not have better glass. I want a Horus-style reticle and illumination in FFP. Mil-quad SWFA in 3-15 might have better glass, but then again I have heard folks say the Argos is better.

What is the right magnification if you assume the red-dot is carrying some of the load? Will that make 6-24 comfortable thereby putting me at the best value scope in the lineup based on SH opinions? Is all this psycho heavy to put on an AR?

I know Doug bought the entire stock of the Nitros a while back, and when the rebate was available they were selling like hotcakes. I am disappointed that I haven't seen reviews of the optic here when I am guessing a lot of folks have one. It seems so promising. However, I really wish it had illumination.

Thank you for reading!
You might not get much of a response based on your price range. If you'd like to read more about options in a number of price ranges I suggest you go to Optics Thoughts by Ilya (@koshkin) who is respected around here for his opinion on optics:


If you are looking for something reliable to dial look at the SWFA SS 10x or if you can afford it SWFA SS 3-9. The Vortex Diamondback Tactical 4-16 is another option.
 
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koshkin

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You might not get much of a response based on your price range. If you'd like to read more about options in a number of price ranges I suggest you go to Optics Thoughts by Ilya (@koshkin) who is respected around here for his opinion on optics:


If you are looking for something reliable to dial look at the SWFA SS 10x or if you can afford it SWFA SS 3-9. The Vortex Diamondback Tactical 4-16 is another option.
That needs updating.
I'll update the category he is looking for tonight.

Generally, if probably get a fixed SWFA in his situation, unless he find a good deal on a used 3-9x42 SS.

ILya
 

dcmdon

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With most of the Nikon stuff now half off, I was able to pick up one of their "tactical" models for my Kidd .22. Its a mil/mil scope and seems very well made. In a very quick box test at home with a laser bore sighter, the scope appears to return to zero well. The glass is surprisingly clear. It is second focal plane and does not have a zero stop.

Its .$350 at Optics planet but only $200 at Scopelist.

 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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As a lurker at SH for years, I have learned the line, "get a fixed SWFA SS" as I have learned and applied "Miata is Always the Answer" on auto forums.

However, I am wondering whether the conventional wisdom needs an update based on the experiences of folks in this very forum after researching in earnest about what people say in this price range rather than dismissing it and moving on. Similarly, since you bring up Vortex' I think their monopoly on budget reccomendations is old hat:

I have to say that these new turrets on the latest Argos BTR are at a whole nother level, even better than my SWFA 3-15!!!
https://www.snipershide.com/shootin...-ffp-ir-mil-basic-review.6888123/post-7067774

I can say that my Argos BTR scopes have better glass than my SWFA's do/did, I sold most of them.
https://www.snipershide.com/shootin...ical-vs-athlon-argos-btr.6947043/post-7782766

I was really surprised when we were shooting our 22 rimfires at the 400M turkey which was painted black. Argos BTR at 15x vs SWFA 3-15 at 15x. Three of us confirmed, the splats were easier to see with the Argos, same splats were very hard to discern with the SWFA.
https://www.snipershide.com/shootin...ical-vs-athlon-argos-btr.6947043/post-7784466

Had the Vortex DB tactical before the Argos. Dumped the Vortex for the Argoe and am glad I did. Just my opinion.
https://www.snipershide.com/shootin...ical-vs-athlon-argos-btr.6947043/post-7782328

I personally liked the Argos better than the diamondback.. but I feel if your taking a step above diamondback then I would go vortex .. but since you want ffp I think Argos would be a bit better imo.
https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/athlon-argos-vs-vortex-diamondback.6982145/post-8244242

I have both and would buy another Athlon. I am a fan of vortex but the diamond back not so much.
https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/athlon-argos-vs-vortex-diamondback.6982145/post-8244742

Paint me in the minority, but it isn’t 1980.
A fixed 10x HD SWFA is like looking through a straw with a 10’ FOV at 100.
https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/i-hesitate-to-ask-but-here-goes.6924751/post-7501054

At least 20 people on SH I could link have pointed out that the reticles are outdated on SWFA's offerings as well.

The circuit board in the F-35 controlling its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems are made in china. It is US companies who are responsible for China's manufacturing capacity. The Ford Focus, Honda Fit, Buick Envision, and Cadillac CT6 are manufactured in China and imported to the US. What I am saying is that it systematic, rather than heuristic (case-by-case rather than sweeping) thinking about country of origin and quality might be more accurate. SH members with experience across SWFA (Japan), Vortex (Philippines), and Athlon (China) are rating Athlon favorably.

As an aside, there are at least 100 threads with dozens of responses each about budget optics so I am not worried about this not being a topic of interest to a contingent at SH. To quote again:

What's this whole, "I know you guys don't deal with low dollar optics" business? I am 99% sure that 99% of us did not start out our precision rifle shooting with a 3000.00 S&B.
https://www.snipershide.com/shooting/threads/i-hesitate-to-ask-but-here-goes.6924751/post-7500747
 
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6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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EnsEntium,
If you are looking for something reliable to dial look at the SWFA SS 10x
Because of the christmas tree reticle I don't expect to be dialing so slightly mushy turrets are not a problem
dcmdon,
That Nikon is SFP
 

thehun

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I'd grab a Nikon FFP MRAD scope, used to run a SWFA Fixed 10X Mil-Quad side focus on my AI...great optic for the money....

I have no experience with the Bushnell Nitro line...but they are made in Korea...and I have been thoroughly impressed with the LRTS line of optics from Bushnell...
 

gconnoyer

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Go with an SWFA.

The rest have so many features crammed into a shitty low price point that you wont get anything worth wasting the money on.

Dont worry so much about zoom range or cool features because at $250ish range (ESPECIALLY an FFP), the glass wont be good, the turrets and tracking wont be good, the illumination wont work right or will bleed everywhere.
Since you quoted about cars.... would you rather have a $5000 Miata or a $5000 Ferrari..

a 10 or 12x SWFA will be money well spent.

Sincerely,
-someone who started shooting Millets, Barska, BSA, Nikon, Bushnell, you name it.
 

thehun

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^^^ I never had an issue shooting the SWFA 10X from 50yards on...my AI was NOT a hunting rifle...
 

bobke

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Memory tells me that an ELR shooter a year or two ago shot three straight at 1500 yds with a fixed power 10X/HD SWFA and a 7STW cartridge. Hope I have that correct. Know he had to depend on dialing and return to zero reliably to train for and execute those shots. That has to say something for SWFA, and I believe Frank is a proponent of the 5-20x50 as a reliable backup for his training classes. If that’s not good enough, Ilya Koshkin is a pretty reliable source of optic advice here and elsewhere, and has good comments to offer on the SWFA lines.

If you’re insistent on the Athlon, spend your money and move on. I have several SWFA’s and more Bushnell LRTS/LRHS’s on my Grendel’s and they serve well to distance. If you really want to hit and return to zero reliably, best optical quality and turrets will benefit you, as 1k is nearing the practical limit of the Grendel, unless you handload.
 

Sirshredalot

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Jul 7, 2019
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I have been very impressed with my nitro 5-20 for the money...more than my viper hs lr.

I bought it on a black friday sale and have been happy everytime i have looked through it....i do with the turrets where exposed though.

Its no $2k scope, but does the trick very well.

Shred
 

koshkin

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Out of curiosity: you said you are in grad school. What are you studying?

Every once in a while I re-visit the idea of "If I could only have one" which usually converged on a 18" barreled Grendel as a really nice general purpose rifle and that is kinda what you are trying to do. Most of it is a little beyond your budget at the moment, but I go through a lot of my though process there.

Normally, my Grendel has a 3-15x or similar scope on it and an offset red dot, but tight now I am using it to test Vortex' 1-10x24 Razor Gen 3 and it might stay there.

Given that you are trying to do a bunch of different things with the rifle without reconfiguring it all the time, I would suggest not saddling it with something large and unwieldy, like a 24x scope. That is good for shooting off of the bench, but is really detrimental for everything else.

The truth is that to shoot a man size target at 1000 yards, you do not need all that much magnification. You do need it to hold up to general purpose use and stay zeroed. That is one of the reasons SWFA designs get suggested so much. There are newer scopes that have better image quality for similar money, but they do not have the same track record or the same low failure rates. If your budget is $300, reliability and durability are more important than anything else. If you are new at long-ish ranges, you should start out dialing, not holding with the reticle exclusively.

Now, to each his own. Some people come here for advice, take feedback and make their own conclusions. Others, select a couple of things that look appealing to them and come here looking for confirmation for their choices. Some change their mind, based on feedback, but most already have their minds set and go do their own thing. A significant number of those eventually end up changing optics a bunch of times and end up with what the Hide has recommended. It is just a more expensive way to get there.

On LPVOs: good quality LPVOs are approaching the speed of red dot sights, but they are still expensive and require training your presentation. Strike Eagle is not something you want to use as a basis for your opinion on LPVOs. If you did not start talking about 1000yard, I would have recommended Burris RT-6 or SwampFox Arrowhead to something along those lines and a lot of practice.

Depending on where you live, 1000 yard drop with a common 6.5Grendel load (like 123gr Hornady) is between 10.5 and 12 mrad with 200 yard zero. That is more than I like to hold with a reticle and out of the scopes you mentioned, only Deploy Mil has enough of a tree for that.

If I were you, I would either put a SWFA 10x42 Classic on it with an offset red dot or find a used SWFA 3-9x42 and add a red dot to that. I see a lot of scope every year and I can shoot with damn near anything I want. I use Tangent Thetas and Marches and Elcans and you name it. My Grendel has a Gen 3 Razor and if I dig in the back of the safe, I can probably find a ton of stuff in there that I do not remember off the top of my head.

I also have two SWFA SS 3-9x42 scopes. I have had them for a long time. They have never skipped a beat and I have never missed a shot because of them. Size wise, that is pretty much what you should be looking for given what you are looking to do. Maybe go a step bigger if you really want, but no bigger than the PST Gen2 3-15x44.

ILya
 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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bobke,
I'm not insistent on getting the Athlon or any scope of any manufacture. I cited other SH threads because I wanted to demonstrate my insistence on gaining more depth into an ongoing discussion I was abreast of here on the Hide, not start from square one. Also to demonstrate that wise minds differ, and the question itself, the priorities I laid out, and the resources I have, are a constant topic of conversation here and thus are not so crazy.

Koshkin's explanation, addressing the rifle, the setup, applications, and the financial position, is a pedagogical approach that gives the question asker the background required to make a decision within their context. Thank you Koshkin.

One day tech will advance as it does in every sector so that features that are previously inaccessible in a price bracket become easily attainable. It is foolish to believe a tube with some mechanics and glass is out of reach of the same processes that give us a present reality where state-of-the-art US consumer products in the most sophisticated categories are from China and Korea. You are reading this on a device made there right now. Not all factories are created equal in a country.

There is more than one reason the Miata is David to an industry's Goliath, and Ferrari is not the only relevant comparison. Taking a Western design language (British Roadster) and manufacturing over 1,000,000 of them in the East is the ethos that gave us SWFA in the first place, and it's not like there as a moratorium on that trick again. To the point about Bushnell Nitros, no they aren't made in Korea, but KDM now is in the same phase in relation to the US market that JDM was in the early 2000s and is eclipsing manufacturers like Nissan who are dead to enthusiasts. There will come a time when such a thing happens in optics.

The question I was essentially asking is if this time has come, and if I am the right volunteer to find out if there is promise but not certainty. One will never know if they refuse to try something new when the market changes, or they dismiss this question prima facie. If I am a fool for open-minded curiosity about an advancing industry, and asking people who know better to help evaluate the state of the art, sorry to bother. To quote Frank Galli's guide on here, "Do your homework, ask smart questions and don’t let others pick your favorite color for you."

Thank you.
 
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koshkin

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A couple of points: optomechanical stuff is not as affected by the scale of manufacturing and automation as electronics are. There is a lot of manual labor and fitting involved. To be fair some optomechanical things have been commoditized in this way (cell phone camera modules), but riflescopes do not have anywhere near the volume for that. Even with automation, an IPhone's camera module costs somewhere in the $40 range and it is MUCH smaller and simpler than the lens assemblies in a riflescope. In the optomechanics world, up to a certain limit, there is a reasons things cost what they do.

In practical terms, if a Chinese scope like the Argos is sold for around $300, that means the OEM who made it got paid somewhere in the $50-$60 range. That produced enough profit for them to stay in business.

For a scope like SWFA Classic 10x42, since they buy it directly from the factory and sell it directly from the consumer, the cost of manufacturing it is likely more than double of that of Argos, despite being a substantially simpler design from an optical standpoint. That's why it has the mechanics that hold up as well as they do and that is why their return rates are ridiculously low.

There are some really nice scopes coming out of China now, but while cheaper than their Japanese counterparts, they are still not cheap. Chinese scopes have gotten a lot better, but they also moved upmarket because there is no magic. Nice materials and high quality assembly cost money regardless of where the product is made. Chinese engineers also like getting paid. They are much more skilled not than they were 15 years ago, and they get paid accordingly.

You are doing the right thing by collecting information, but first and foremost you have to be really clear about the application.

ILya
 
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6.5G

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Thank you, ILya. Your guidance and blog have been very enlightening. What mounts would you recommend for this application and budget?
 

koshkin

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Thank you, ILya. Your guidance and blog have been very enlightening. What mounts would you recommend for this application and budget?
Mounts are important and kinda personal since different people prefer different heights. I mostly use Aadmounts, but they are difficult to find in stock anywhere. Seekins mounts have worked well for me. The new Burris Signature mount looks promising, but I have not tested it. I like Burris SIgnature rings, so I am going to try the mount at some point. It is priced well. Another inexpensive mount that seems to have worked well for me is GG&G FLT.

For the red dot, it kinda depends on which red dot and how you like to mount it.

ILya
 

bobke

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You might also consider a setup or mount with 20MOA built in, ADM/Nightforce/Aadmount/Bobro all come to mind, but there are other options, as noted. Quality mounts can travel forward as you upgrade over time as long as OD of scope remains same. The Grendel is a great round, but can use the benefit of 20MOA at distance to keep you from being at the perimeter of scope adjustment, whether holding or dialing. Ilya has provided excellent counsel, as expected-good luck with your project. We were all where you are at some point in our shooting careers.
 
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Hellifino32

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With a smaller rifle like this, the swfa 3-15 has to be suggested. It’s as small as the fixed 10x and quite lightweight. Being able to go to low magnification, and keeping an AR light enough to fire standing accurately seem like advantages. I cannot do that well with my 22” 6mm predator with IOR 24ish oz optic and bipod and usually a suppressor weighing too much to do so. The better ranged weapon your AR becomes. . . The less handy it becomes.
 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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Hi all,

As an update, based on the recommendations here, I bought an SWFA 10X42 MRAD and 20 moa base. I've had the scope for 10 days and have adjusted the diopter and that's good.

However, I have been practicing cuncurrent windage and elevation holdovers on stationary and moving targets at different angles often since recieving the scope. I find doing it with moving targete impossible. For consistency's sake this entire time I've been practicing with the same holdover; 2 diamonds right and 4 down, to give me the best chance to see a gain from practice.

There is simply no way to reference 2 points on the reticle and track a point on a target. The best I am doing is what is supposed to make ghost rings easy, which is to judge based on space between the crosshairs and my intended point of aim. But that buffer of space fluctuates a hundred times per second when tracking a slow moving target. A definite point in the scope (crosshair junction, christmas tree dot) to hold onto serves both to grossly orient the rifle to the target, and then when you're ready to fire, as a diagnostic aid for your final alignment. How can one ever get proficient enough to detect these minute changes in space between two targets and points their eyes are not focusing on?
 

FishDr

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How can one ever get proficient enough to detect these minute changes in space between two targets and points their eyes are not focusing on?
PRACTICE..... LOL Seriously, though - that is one situation where a fixed point would benefit. Suggest in that situation to "dial" the elevation (so your holdover is now on the horizontal stadia). That eliminates one variable. Another option is to try both "trapping" and "tracking" the moving target. You will find one to be easier in this case. Not being a smart Alec, but this could be an opportunity for professional instruction.
The mechanical tracking and accurate return to zero (which is needed in this case) is one of the reasons so many have suggested the very robust SWFA scopes over some others in the same price point. Not as "feature rich", but superior mechanical reliability is a great asset.
 
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Hellifino32

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Add the 1” bushnell scopes. They are the older elite tactical line. You will know them by the turrets. These are LOW scopes from Japan. I’ve even seen stupid fixed 10x deals for under 200$. Most are 3-9x. It’s like they made 20,000 of them 20 years ago and just whip them out from time to time. They pop up on samplelist too. Slightly better glass and turrets than the reg swfa line, and craptastic mildot reticle. Obv doesn’t have the adj range or ruggedness, but a lightweight option I could 100% trust at a stupid price.
 
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hlee

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Hi all,

As an update, based on the recommendations here, I bought an SWFA 10X42 MRAD and 20 moa base. I've had the scope for 10 days and have adjusted the diopter and that's good.

However, I have been practicing cuncurrent windage and elevation holdovers on stationary and moving targets at different angles often since recieving the scope. I find doing it with moving targete impossible. For consistency's sake this entire time I've been practicing with the same holdover; 2 diamonds right and 4 down, to give me the best chance to see a gain from practice.

There is simply no way to reference 2 points on the reticle and track a point on a target. The best I am doing is what is supposed to make ghost rings easy, which is to judge based on space between the crosshairs and my intended point of aim. But that buffer of space fluctuates a hundred times per second when tracking a slow moving target. A definite point in the scope (crosshair junction, christmas tree dot) to hold onto serves both to grossly orient the rifle to the target, and then when you're ready to fire, as a diagnostic aid for your final alignment. How can one ever get proficient enough to detect these minute changes in space between two targets and points their eyes are not focusing on?
Instead of trying to smoothly track the target, trap or ambush the target. Calculate the lead you need based on the wind direction and speed and movement direction of the target. Get your reticle in front of the target and touch it off when the target hits that lead.

Second, unless your at some pretty significant attitude, 1000y with the Grendel is more of a hope than anything. Granted that I’m shooting at nearly sea level, but my 18” Grendel is pretty well trans-sonic at 1000 yards- running at a calculated 1100 FPS at that distance.
 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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An update- I am not finding an offset mount that can get a MRDS far enough out of the way to not stare at windage turret on the SWFA SS 10x through the window or ruin my cheek weld. I don't want to do the mod where I hack the turret up and put a rubber cap on it. Dear god is there really no trustworthy alternative at this price with even slightly lower profile or capped turrets?
 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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Otherwise I might cut the mount I found that puts the red-hot closest to out-of-the-way and epoxy it at a more exaggerated angle. I'm just afraid I'll line it up imprecisely even if I cut halfway and bend. I don't want the point of impact to be outside the MRDS adjustability of the mount is out of whack.
 

6.5G

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Apr 17, 2020
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Yeah I made a long-winded post asking about opinions on scope-tube-mounts and different offsets that got no replies. I had a lot of questions about those types of mounts.
 

Tallahassee

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Apr 25, 2020
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Add the 1” bushnell scopes. They are the older elite tactical line. You will know them by the turrets. These are LOW scopes from Japan. I’ve even seen stupid fixed 10x deals for under 200$. Most are 3-9x. It’s like they made 20,000 of them 20 years ago and just whip them out from time to time. They pop up on samplelist too. Slightly better glass and turrets than the reg swfa line, and craptastic mildot reticle. Obv doesn’t have the adj range or ruggedness, but a lightweight option I could 100% trust at a stupid price.
I bought one for $99 on sale years back, fixed 10x. Damn thing keeps going and going.
 

Strykervet

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If you're looking at those, why not a used 3.5-10x Leupold Mk4? I use one on my 20" and it sure gets the job done. They're good solid scopes for the price. One just went for $400 and I'm kicking myself for not finding that one sooner! Maybe I'll get the Hensoldt for $1k though... Fingers crossed I'm first.

Check out the PX here before you buy.