input wanted on scope for a hunting rifle

Macintosh

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Jul 10, 2018
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Hi all--wondering about getting some input on scopes I should be looking at for a hunting rifle. I am a casual precision rifle shooter, by no means an expert, but I have gotten a bit spoiled by my nicer scopes on my heavier rifles and want to put a good scope on a hunting rifle. I have found this crowd to be pretty hard on scopes so I am interested in feedback. Details are below, but the kicker is I'd like the ability to dial for longer shots but since so much of its use is at point blank range it has to be a reliably locking turret that wont get spun accidentally when carrying and handling, and needs a reliable return to zero and a very clean reticle. So far the closest I have found to what I'm looking for is the leupold VX6 2-12 CDS, but also the vx5 2-10 cds or 3-15cds, or the vortex light hunter 3-15--however I have heard people badmouth tracking on these scopes as well as long term durability, and I dont like the reticle options on the vortex. What other scopes should I be looking at? Any other feedback?
Thanks in advance

  • What is the platform for the scope? it's a lightweight bolt action hunting rifle, it currently has a leupold vx3 3.5-10 which I cant really dial at longer ranges and the field of view at lowest power is narrower than I'd like.
  • What cartridge are you shooting? 7mm-08
  • What is your intended use for the scope? used mainly for deer-sized game, 80% in northern new england big woods (short range is the rule) and 20% in open ag country or the rockies and west where longer shots are possible.
  • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? daylight, but also with typical shooting conditions being pretty dark in the woods just around legal shooting light
  • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? hunting, 90% at point-blank-ish range, but some use to 400 yards, very rarely out to 500; but the ability to practice at ranges out to 600-800 is helpful. I only need about 6-7 mils of travel max and most of its shooting longer than point-blank would be in the 1-3.5mil range.
  • Are there any specific specifications you would like? must be SFP with a very clean reticle, must have a very wide field of view--really dont want anything more than 3x on the low end, and 2x would be better--most of its use is at lowest-power in an extremely noisy background (eastern woods) and often very fast reactive shots at unexpected directions; good low-light optics are important, durability and reliability is very important, weight is relatively important. Want to be able to dial elevation for longer shots, but without the risk of a turret accidentally spinning. I prefer mils over moa but can do both. I'm approaching 50 years old and my eyes are going, so having a bit more magnification than I used to need would be nice, but definitely dont need more than 12-15x.
  • What is the price range you can afford? I'd rather spend as little as I need to to get a reliable scope I'll be happy with in the long term, I'm kind of fishing for what that number needs to be to get something that'll keep me happy long term. At this point I'm looking between $500-$1200+ and just not sure where I need to land. If I absolutely need to spend more I'll just wait a year or two Not looking to spend over $2k regardless--do I need to for a second focal plane scope?
 
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346ci

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    Burris RT-15 if on a budget, the 3.3x18 XTR3 if you want a nice fov. I hunt with my XTR3 and like the SCR2 reticle.
     

    XTREM HTR16

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    @gr8fuldoug at Cameraland would be able to help you, he's always steered me right.

    One other that I've heard tracks pretty well is the Zeiss Z4 - that's SPF and might fit the bill
     
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    Hickswr

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    Vortex LHT HD 3-15 and there isn’t a close second for what you described you are looking for.

    Please link the reports of the Vortex not tracking.

    I can point you to numerous threads of Leupold VX-5s and VX-6s not tracking reliably.
     

    jamieschulz

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    Schmidt and bender 3-21 exos is what's on my hunting rifle, it's sfp, capped windage, locking elevation turret, cross hair with dot reticle, top notch glass,
    Might be worth a look, it's a really nice scope
     

    Macintosh

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    Hickswr—sorry if that was garbled, its the leupolds with a rep for not tracking, I actually havent heard anything at all about the vortex in question. Vortex isnt perfect but the vortex scope I own tracks fine. My comment on the vortex was only that I dont like the reticle options on the light hunter model--honestly if I'm going to be at point blank range or dial at relatively moderate ranges a simple duplex-type reticle is way more intuitive and faster for me. Hoping to get feedback from folks that have first-hand experience with other similar models I should check out.
     
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    mrmarklin

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    I have personally used S&B 3-12x50 for many years in Wyoming on antelope and deer. Personally, I don't think you need anything more than 6x on any big game rifle. My Wyoming guide only ever uses fixed 6x, but for eastern hunting a 1.5-6x would probably be preferable.
    It's incredibly rare that even in wide open country one must take a 400+ yard shot. In over 40 years of hunting in Wyo, this only happened to me once. One is almost always able to get closer than that. It's where true hunting skills come into play.
    For spot and stalk hunting that is typically done in Wyoming, dialling would be a rare event also. What game stays in place that long??
     
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    WB300

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    There is a S&B Zenith 2.5-10x56 in the Demo section at Eurooptic. Please buy it before I do!
     
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    Rancid Coolaid

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    I have the vortex LH 3-15, it is a good scope but I don't love mine. Most of my pure hunting rifles wear older Swaro (AV and AH), glass is superb, I don't need to dial at reasonable shot ranges and targets.

    If you have to dial, the Vortex is a good option. I don't like the eye box on mine and love the Swaros for that reason. If it is quick shots, you need to be very comfortable with the image you get quickly. My vortex has tracked true, but the image isn't amazing, and in low light is lacks...

    I don't buy Leupold products, so won't address that at all.
     

    Texaslongshot

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    I have personally used S&B 3-12x50 for many years in Wyoming on antelope and deer. Personally, I don't think you need anything more than 6x on any big game rifle. My Wyoming guide only ever uses fixed 6x, but for eastern hunting a 1.5-6x would probably be preferable.
    It's incredibly rare that even in wide open country one must take a 400+ yard shot. In over 40 years of hunting in Wyo, this only happened to me once. One is almost always able to get closer than that. It's where true hunting skills come into play.
    For spot and stalk hunting that is typically done in Wyoming, dialling would be a rare event also. What game stays in place that long??

    Here are a bunch of animals that stayed in place long enough to dial and get shot.....


     

    Macintosh

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    Thanks for the suggestions, I will check these out and if any others come along those as well. I appreciate the responses.

    re: dialing and magnification--In the big woods around me, and even elk hunting near treeline, most of the shots I have taken were well under 100 yards, which is the reason I'm adamant that the low magnification must be under 3x. I used to favor a 1-4.5 or 1.5-5x scope, but as my eyes have aged I've found some additional magnification at the upper end is really helpful at times. I have hunted antelope in wyoming a little, and depending on the unit the terrain varies quite a bit. In the units I have hunted there were enough ravines and little hills that we were able to easily get 100-200 yard shots, so all point blank for the most part. Elsewhere I have hunted or scouted for both antelope and deer there is a lot less terrain and long belly crawls followed by longer shots are much more common, either that or there's a lot more terrain and it's not uncommon to make wall-to-wall shots in narrow gullies or canyons. It's also nice in ag areas or big clearcuts, burned areas and meadows where you might sit at dusk as deer filter out into the open. I agree dialing is not the norm and I dont think it's "necessary" either, but I've personally done it enough times while hunting that it's what I'm looking for in a scope. Plus, it's just fun when practicing on steel at longer ranges.
     
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    carbonbased

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    I know you want SFP and more than 10x, but heck, I can't promise you anything but glance at the Razor 1-10 Gen III. Nuclear daylight bright illumination, like a red dot, makes FFP totally usable in trees. Capped elev/windage. 21.5 oz but $2k. The thing is remarkable.

    A biggish question is how it is in low light. Remember, just glance that way-ish, like at that super-hot chick in the bus. Maybe it'll work? Maybe not?

    I'm mainly a small varmint shooter, but I own this scope. The kicker is I haven't taken it out coyote hunting yet (something I'm attempting to branch out on, eventually). That's why I said I can't promise you anything.

    First, I have to find land that I can hunt coyotes on! Got a scope to help with that?
     
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    Wagonhouse

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    I was in a similar situation and was choosing between the Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15 or a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10. Felt I didn’t need the extra features of the Nightforce and Midway was running a great deal on the Vortex I couldn’t pass up plus it checked all of my boxes. Been pleased with it so far though I’ve only had it for 3 months thus far so can’t report on longevity.
     

    Rancid Coolaid

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    Here are a bunch of animals that stayed in place long enough to dial and get shot.....


    As a longtime hunter with some measure of success, I can say with a slight bit of authority that Best of the West can suck my balls, as can their piece of shit scope that they market as turning every shooter into a long range hunter. I have hunted with too many guys that had way more confidence than skill. For every video you find where they nut the animal, there are countless more of morons wounding animals. They have one specific video, I don't care enough to go find it, where you clearly see several pieces of brass on the shooting mat before the guy finally make contact with the animal.
    I give zero fucks who you are, long range hunting is unethical; it invariably leads to an animal paying a high price for your tomfuckery.

    So, have a wonderful Friday...
     

    Rancid Coolaid

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    I was in a similar situation and was choosing between the Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15 or a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10. Felt I didn’t need the extra features of the Nightforce and Midway was running a great deal on the Vortex I couldn’t pass up plus it checked all of my boxes. Been pleased with it so far though I’ve only had it for 3 months thus far so can’t report on longevity.
    I own both, I like both, the Nightforce is in a different league, and with the accompanying cost difference. Both are good all-arounders, neither is great in low light.
     

    Wagonhouse

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    I agree. I felt the Vortex met all my personal needs as a hunting scope within my ethical hunting range of max 200 yards. At the same time had some long range features that would allow me to fool around with some long range shooting at steel for fun. This upcoming hunting season will be its first time out in low light conditions. Looking forward to see how it does.
     

    TexasHunter90

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    I have 2 vx5 3-15 windplex. I, and about six different discerning eyes think they are the best bang for your buck on a quick light hunting setup!
     

    Macintosh

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    “just glance that way-ish, like at that super-hot chick in the bus.”

    the bus? :)

    (but I know what you mean!! Thanks)
     

    GreenMushroom

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    I was in a similar situation and was choosing between the Vortex Razor HD LHT 3-15 or a Nightforce NXS 2.5-10. Felt I didn’t need the extra features of the Nightforce and Midway was running a great deal on the Vortex I couldn’t pass up plus it checked all of my boxes. Been pleased with it so far though I’ve only had it for 3 months thus far so can’t report on longevity.

    The LHT is a nice scope and you mentioned an important feature....that it goes on sale a lot. Mine was 800 and it's a great scope for that price. If there's no sales running and your looking at 1k+ the competition gets a lot stiffer.
     

    Macintosh

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    So, whats the word on the swarovski BT turrets? The z5 scopes look about perfect...Do they track?
     

    david walter

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    The answer is still SWFA 6x MQ for hunting.

    Keeps you from dicking around with the power knobs when you should be putting rounds down range. And all the info you need to land shots down range to 1,000 yards or so with a 7-08 is on the reticle.

    If you have to have power adjustments, the SWFA 1-6, 3-9 or 3-15 are more than serviceable.
     
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    Macintosh

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    The answer is still SWFA 6x MQ for hunting.

    Keeps you from dicking around with the power knobs when you should be putting rounds down range. And all the info you need to land shots down range to 1,000 yards or so with a 7-08 is on the reticle.

    If you have to have power adjustments, the SWFA 1-6, 3-9 or 3-15 are more than serviceable.
    Thank you, but yes I have to have power adjustments as I previously stated. Do these come in a SFP in the 3-15? May have missed it on their website when I looked just now, but as far as I can see these are not available in sfp except a few fixed power models that are well outside my must-have power requirements.
     

    W54/XM-388

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    The new Vortex Razor HD-LHT 4.5-22 x50
    Should probably be at the top of your list for consideration if you don't have the budget for a $3k scope

    For the price Scott at Liberty Optics can do for you, it's hard for anything to touch it.
     

    Macintosh

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    David Walter, I’ll look around and see if I can check one out, thank you.

    W54, thats not the scope Im looking for.

    Anyone with input on the Swarovski tracking Id love to hear.
     

    jakelly

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    As a longtime hunter with some measure of success, I can say with a slight bit of authority that Best of the West can suck my balls, as can their piece of shit scope that they market as turning every shooter into a long range hunter. I have hunted with too many guys that had way more confidence than skill. For every video you find where they nut the animal, there are countless more of morons wounding animals. They have one specific video, I don't care enough to go find it, where you clearly see several pieces of brass on the shooting mat before the guy finally make contact with the animal.
    I give zero fucks who you are, long range hunting is unethical; it invariably leads to an animal paying a high price for your tomfuckery.

    So, have a wonderful Friday...
    Yeah! And you know what else is unethical… bow hunting! And muzzleloader hunting! And open sights! And match bullets! And CNS shots! And killing something you won’t eat! And two way radios! And…

    Give me a break.
     

    HousePlant

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    I'm in the same boat as you are, I think I've settled on the VX-5 3-15 hopefully with the windplex reticle, problem now is that I cant find one.

    I have one of those with the Windplex. It's... well... I guess I had higher hopes?

    Honestly, for something that you will dial with because its use case is as a long range hunting scope for sure, I'm not impressed by the tactiles (kind of mushy and you don't really feel the clicks with cold weather gloves on as much as you want to, plus that little button to unlock the elevation knob is hard to press successfully with thick gloves on). Additionally, the real life eye relief and getting into and staying in the eyebox isn't what I thought it'd be per the specs and general Leupold reputation. I purchased a scope that had on the spec sheet as much eye relief as I could get without spending myself into bankruptcy because it the 300 Weatherby Magnum has violent recoil. I have to get my eye closer to the Leupold scope than my Nightforce SHV on my 300 WSM and my Sightron SIII on my 300 Winchester Magnum and both of those scopes were less expensive.

    The light gathering is excellent, though. And it's nice to have the ability to buy adjustment dials specific to your ammuniation, but... nothing you can't just write down based upon the conditions you'll be in anyway.
     
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    david walter

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    This is it, a SWFA 3-15 SFP, for sale, time now.

     
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    CaptArab

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    This is it, a SWFA 3-15 SFP, for sale, time now.

    Good seller he's on here too, same handle.
     

    Macintosh

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    Bump. Still looking. Checking out some of the top shelf euro brands (s&b etc) but most seem to be ffp. That s&b exos mentioned above looks great but $3700 is beyond what Im willing to spend.

    The SWFA Scope linked above i missed, it could be an option but Im still not crazy about buying a used scope without a return option without ever having laid eyes on one.

    Still looking for reliability feedback (airline travel and backpack hunting) on swarovski scopes as well, either with BT turrets or capped.

    Does nightforce make any scopes with plainer reticles anymore? I looked at several (including the 2.5-10 mentioned here) and it appears they no longer have any reticle options other than their mil-r and moa-r, which look really busy to me for a hunting scope??

    So, if this is a unicorn Im looking for (i.e. doesnt exist), what reliable 2- or 3- x 12+ power variable scope with great glass do folks recommend for a hunting rifle?
     
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    Guns&WhiteWater

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    Would you be opposed to mounting an offset red dot onto a scope? It might open up more scope options for you by taking care of the low end.
     

    XTREM HTR16

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    For my 7mm08 I went with the S&B Precision Hunter 3-12x42. P3 mildot reticle is a very good hunting reticle. Two things you won’t like, but I didn’t see an issue with:
    1. FFP
    2. Elevation dial only gets you 3.2 mils.

    3.2 mils gets me about 550-600 yards with this rifle. Which is all the farther I’m going to take it. However if you wish to go farther, the P3 mildot has 5 mils of elevation in the reticle.

    Cow elk, 370 yards, factory Nosler 140 E-tip ammo. Complete pass-through. Bullet is still out there in Wyoming somewhere….

    2764565E-8F95-4BE6-B13F-726550890049.jpeg
     
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    Macintosh

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    That March scope looks about right-I dont really need an 8x zoom and I definitely didnt plan on a $2600 price tag, but that's awfully close to what I'm looking for.

    Xtreme Hntr, that's also pretty much exactly what I'm looking for, minus the ffp, at least until I could get a peek through one. I'm finishing up my last couple boxes of barnes ttsx 120gr, but have several years worth of factory nosler etip 140's as well, our dope is close--3.2mils gets me to a hair under 550, realistically that still allows me to practice at double the range that 98% of my hunting happens. 7mils would get me past 800, but that's really practice for me and not as big of a deal. I suppose I can use a rail with some built-in elevation if I felt I needed to turn it up to 11. I will see if I can get a look at one of those reticles somewhere, although not sure where that would be realistically. I have some small experience shooting casual PRS competition, but of the scopes I see there I have yet to find any ffp reticle that I could possibly use for hunting--95% of the time there I power down to find a target and power up to 12-15x or so to use the reticle, while in a hunting scope much of the time I shoot at low power because there's not time to adjust. A lot of the hunting I do is in eastern big woods, with very fast close range shooting at a moving target in an extremely noisy background being pretty normal--so I have to be able to quickly use the reticle at lowest-power and I'm very leery of relying entirely on a lighted reticle to be able to see it at all. I assume in a lower powered scope meant for hunting the reticle is a bit easier to use at lowest power? How have you found that reticle in very thick brush/low light?

    And despite all that, yeah, I think an offset red dot is not the direction I want to go either...this is way too fuddy of a gun for that! :)
     

    DetroitRearView

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    Bump...anyone used one and have feedback?
    I ran a Swarovski Z8i with the mil flex turret. Tracks perfectly, enough to get me to 900 plus yards with my 300 win 190 lrx.

    I used it in in Alaska this last September [email protected]; goat @804; wolverine 100 or so. Rarely do I use more than 6-8X in Wyoming and 1x is fabulous for heavy deep timber and the flex circle dot illumination is perfection.

     
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    Macintosh

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    That 2-16z8i with the flex turret looks perfect as well, although the swaro website does not seem to indicate whether that is sfp or ffp? Regardless, unfortunately thats a $4000 scope when you include the turret, which is roughly double the maximum Im able to spend. Any experience with tracking on the z5 scopes? I have heard people say they dont track in the long-term and have seen them lose zero, but its really hard for me to separate fact from fiction on these things, this being the interweb.
     

    fdkay

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    Bump. Still looking. Checking out some of the top shelf euro brands (s&b etc) but most seem to be ffp. That s&b exos mentioned above looks great but $3700 is beyond what Im willing to spend.

    The SWFA Scope linked above i missed, it could be an option but Im still not crazy about buying a used scope without a return option without ever having laid eyes on one.

    Still looking for reliability feedback (airline travel and backpack hunting) on swarovski scopes as well, either with BT turrets or capped.

    Does nightforce make any scopes with plainer reticles anymore? I looked at several (including the 2.5-10 mentioned here) and it appears they no longer have any reticle options other than their mil-r and moa-r, which look really busy to me for a hunting scope??

    So, if this is a unicorn Im looking for (i.e. doesnt exist), what reliable 2- or 3- x 12+ power variable scope with great glass do folks recommend for a hunting rifle?
    This scope has a very wide FOV, they also have a 56mm obj lens version with an even wider FOV, but I'm not a fan of 56mm on a 30mm tube.
    Ticks all of your boxes, including price.
     

    phlegm

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    I've been using a NF NX8 2.5-20x50F1 for this type of hunting, and enjoying it. SFP is also available, but still at the top of your price range.

    fdkay's suggestion of that Trijicon Credo looks like it fits your criteria nicely.
     

    Dawhit

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    I have a 4-24 VX 6 HD, tracks true, but that is a sample of one.
    Son has a Trij 5-50 Accupower, predecessor of the Tenmile.

    Compared my VX 6HD, the Accupower, and my SWFA SSHD 5-20 at dusk on 20x on a dark brown target under heavy overcast conditions. The Leupy was the best at being able to see the reticle, you could make a shot on a dark target after shooting light expired without illumination. The Trij was next best.

    I like the green illumination option on the Trij, suits my eye better than red on my Leupy.

    Son knocked his gun over and bent the elevation turret, sent it in for repair and Trij sent a brand new scope, no charge.

    The Trij might do well for your criteria and needs.
     

    Macintosh

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    I really know nothing about Trijicon quality and have never seen one in person--are they comparable to the nightforce, s&B, March, etc scopes others have suggested?
    Regardless, I do not like the reticles in the NX8 or the NXS 2.5-10 compact, or the trijicon scope, they are quite busy to my eye for hunting. A simple crosshair or a much more subtle mil-dot type reticle is a must for me--the P3 mildot reticle on the s&B precision hunter scope mentioned above is about as busy as I'll go with.

    Never heard of UTG either--based on the "Amazon.com $135, free returns" pricetag I'm assuming this is a sleeper that punches in the same weight class as the very best optics that sit atop the rifles used by the worlds best airsoft competitors?
     

    fdkay

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    I really know nothing about Trijicon quality and have never seen one in person--are they comparable to the nightforce, s&B, March, etc scopes others have suggested?
    Regardless, I do not like the reticles in the NX8 or the NXS 2.5-10 compact, or the trijicon scope, they are quite busy to my eye for hunting. A simple crosshair or a much more subtle mil-dot type reticle is a must for me--the P3 mildot reticle on the s&B precision hunter scope mentioned above is about as busy as I'll go with.

    Never heard of UTG either--based on the "Amazon.com $135, free returns" pricetag I'm assuming this is a sleeper that punches in the same weight class as the very best optics that sit atop the rifles used by the worlds best airsoft competitors?
    Well, since the March, S&B and NF scopes are well over 2000 dollars, and in some cases, well over 3000, no, they aren't the equal.
    The Credo scope line is manufactured in Japan, they are a very good quality scope.
    The UTG recommendation was from a troll trying to fuck you.
    Don't overthink the reticle. The one in the Credo is pretty simple.
     
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    davsco

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    Jan 1, 2014
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    ugh, just like in calibers and gun models, there are tons of choices!

    i like the vortex lht 3-15, but i bought a super lightly used one that was a special run in 3-15x50 with a mil reticle. their 3-15 now is only offered in 42mm unless you go with a bdc reticle (ugh). i like ffp and not sfp because i like to hold vs dial, but at distances where i would be holding chances are i'd be up at 15x anyways.

    i just bought today from cstactical (sponsor on here) the vortex 4.5-22x50 (demo $1300 OTD). i really don't need much if anything over 15x and wish it went down to 3x or so, but other than that it checks all my boxes (50mm, ffp, light, moa). i think they make in sfp also. the ffp reticle will be tiny at 4.5x but hopefully the illumination will offset that and make it very usable, like that on my NF f1 nx8 2.5-20.
     

    DetroitRearView

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    That 2-16z8i with the flex turret looks perfect as well, although the swaro website does not seem to indicate whether that is sfp or ffp? Regardless, unfortunately thats a $4000 scope when you include the turret, which is roughly double the maximum Im able to spend. Any experience with tracking on the z5 scopes? I have heard people say they dont track in the long-term and have seen them lose zero, but its really hard for me to separate fact from fiction on these things, this being the interweb.
    SFP.
    The Z8i’s track well. cant speak to the Z5
     
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