Rifle Scopes Scope selection process?

warp_foo

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Good morning all,

I'm starting this post to discuss what others have done when looking to invest in a new optic. There are a number of options in the price range I have below, so I'm not asking whether or not a specific scope is 'best', but what have others done to help whittle the list down to a final selection.

Challenges:
there are a number of threads with a lot of subjective responses
I'm not going to have access to anything to look through prior to purchase
I don't have much previous experience to fall back on
  • What is the platform for the scope? Bolt & Semi-Auto (mostly bolt...)
  • What cartridge are you shooting? 6ARC, 6GT
  • What is your intended use for the scope? Benchrest, Target, Steel, F-Class, ELR
  • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? Daylight, Lowlight
  • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? 1000+ yds, 600-1,000 yds, 300-600 yds
  • Are there any specific specifications you would like? FFP/SFP, 34mm tube, 56mm objective, mil or moa
  • What is the price range you can afford? $2000-$3500
Is it reasonable to assume that, at a certain price point, I can just 'pick the reticle I like' and call it a day?

My short list so far: (Updated)

March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
Leica PRS 5-30x56
Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

My AR has a Vortex PST II 5-25. Works ok, but that's really the only scope I have any time behind. I expect that any of the options above are going to be a decent upgrade. I have a Burris XTRIII coming for one of my other ARs, but I will be starting my build for the 6GT soon, and wanted to get some feedback from others.

Thank You
 
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Birddog6424

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    Good choices..

    The March is the top of the heap. And I suspect the most expensive of your choices. If it meets your needs its a great option.

    I'm not a fan of the Tract, its my least favorite scope from LOW. The Leica has very nice glass, good scope. I've never looked through the Maven. The XTR PRO edges out the MK5 in glass clarity, features, and FOV for about the same price.
     

    db2000

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    ZCO seem to hold resale value very well. If you like one of the reticles they offer you’ll have a hard time beating that scope for the money. You can pick one up in the PX used and resale it for a couple hundred less if you don’t like it, which you will so…
     

    warp_foo

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    Good choices..

    The March is the top of the heap. And I suspect the most expensive of your choices. If it meets your needs its a great option.

    I'm not a fan of the Tract, its my least favorite scope from LOW. The Leica has very nice glass, good scope. I've never looked through the Maven. The XTR PRO edges out the MK5 in glass clarity, features, and FOV for about the same price.
    Thanks for the reply.

    My understanding is that the Tract and Maven are nearly identical. I don't have any insight into the optics business, but I expect that the base mechanicals and the optical formula are the same (or nearly so), with the retailer tweaking some of the specifications within a reasonable set of criteria. Coatings, turrets, maybe choice of glass...

    That said - 'least favorite' in what regard, if you don't mind my asking? I ask because if the Tract and Maven are kissing cousins, maybe that would have an impact on my list.

    m
     

    warp_foo

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    ZCO seem to hold resale value very well. If you like one of the reticles they offer you’ll have a hard time beating that scope for the money. You can pick one up in the PX used and resale it for a couple hundred less if you don’t like it, which you will so…
    I've looked at a few ZCOs in the PX. I'll keep my eyes open for those and any TTs.

    m
     

    HousePlant

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    Tract and Maven are so close in specs you might as well just call them the same. And both have a lacking FOV in my opinion (the same on each). The Tract is a great value and likely to have a resale value to it. The Maven... I personally wouldn't pay premium used pricing for one even if it is the same more or less as the Tract. The brand just isn't commanding that and I wouldn't put myself in a low resale position if I wanted to sell it.

    I have a Mark 5HD and while I would not buy one again, the glass on mine is great (good as I'll ever need), the eyebox is as forgiving as I expect from a scope of that MSRP (very good), and the turret operation (weight of turn, tactiles, clicks) is great and arguable uniquely "not clunky".

    I went to an optics store called Kenzie's Optics that actually has the Leica PRS PRB reticle in stock for me to look through and I loved it... except the reticle. It was the best glass I've ever looked through. It was really a great design! I couldn't truly test the eyebox and eye relief because it wasn't on an rifle (just pulled from a box in my hand) but it notably better in the hand than my Kahles 624i is in-hand (which I brought with me because the eye relief claim is effectively the same 3.5" but on my 624i I have to get weirdly close to it to avoid scope shadow). Their PRB reticle, though... it made me think twice about buying it. If it had something more like a Nightforce Mil-XT, the AMR reticle in my Kahles 624i (which is close-ish to PRB reticle if you think about it), or something like Vortex's tree reticles with .2 mil ticks, I likely would have bought it. If it had a dot instead of an open circle for the aiming point, I could have been swayed with a deal despite the reticle etching being a bit too light (just a bit) for my taste and I really hate numbers along the main vertical crosshair even though you'll likely never need to holdover where they are. The little math equation symbols didn't bother my like I thought. I actually can envision them being quite useful in practice... you'll have to do less orienting where you are.

    I've looked through a Burris XTRIII on a rifle and really didn't have complaints. I'd imagine the XTR Pro (other than the red accents) is a winner.

    Never had a chance to experience a March scope. I've gotten to look through a TT and ZCO but only for a few seconds so... no help there.
     

    Russ257

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    Are scopes not on the list ruled out? the new Razor III and the NF ATACR are popular choices that seem to fit in your qualifications.
     

    Birddog6424

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    Thanks for the reply.

    My understanding is that the Tract and Maven are nearly identical. I don't have any insight into the optics business, but I expect that the base mechanicals and the optical formula are the same (or nearly so), with the retailer tweaking some of the specifications within a reasonable set of criteria. Coatings, turrets, maybe choice of glass...

    That said - 'least favorite' in what regard, if you don't mind my asking? I ask because if the Tract and Maven are kissing cousins, maybe that would have an impact on my list.

    m
    The Tract Toric, and Delta Stryker are pretty much identical mechanically. Only cosmetic changes. The Maven may differ slightly as its 5 ozs lighter than the 41ozs of the aforementioned optics. These scopes are designed, owned, and produced by LOW with the requesting companies name on it. The only one of these I've seen in the wild is the Tract, and I dont like the eyebox or tight field of view. Cosmetically, those towering turrets are also a turn off....

    If I were buying a LOW scope I would pick the new XRS or a Gen II or III Razor.
     

    r.tenorio671

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    ...speaking for MYSELF, the reticle is the 1st consideration for me, how I can interpret that reticle and apply it. One won't always have the luxury of "time" to spin dials so the reticle is what one has to rely on. Additional features are welcomed, but not at the expense of durability. Clarity is a given, but even that is subjective to the individual.
     

    warp_foo

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    Are scopes not on the list ruled out? the new Razor III and the NF ATACR are popular choices that seem to fit in your qualifications.
    Nothing is ruled out. NF crowds the top of my price range. To be honest, I avoided NF a bit because of the over the top fanboy-ism... As lame as this may sound, I'm just not a fan of the goldish-bronzy color of Vortex. I suppose I could send it off to get cerakoted.

    m
     

    Russ257

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    Nothing is ruled out. NF crowds the top of my price range. To be honest, I avoided NF a bit because of the over the top fanboy-ism... As lame as this may sound, I'm just not a fan of the goldish-bronzy color of Vortex. I suppose I could send it off to get cerakoted.

    m
    I was not interested in the vortex either due to the color. Then I ended up ordering the razor on a sale after reading the reviews and the high praise it was getting. I can just wrap it with black sport tape which most people do anyway for protection. The Burris Pro also had some great reviews if the red parts don’t bother you and you can find one that may be an attractive option.
     

    warp_foo

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    After some feedback, I've updated my list:

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    I'm leaning March...
     

    Big Timber

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    After some feedback, I've updated my list:

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    I'm leaning March...

    I've had the mk5 7-35 and the ATACR 7-35 side by side. I purchased the ATACR and it wasn't even close even considering the price difference. The ATACR glass is minutely better than my xtr3 and I like the turrets better on the ATACR. The thing I don't like about the Nightforce is the rotating ocular, but I built a rifle using the Terminus Zues just for this problem. I've purchased the xtrPRO. I probably won't by another ATACR because the glass and turret difference isn't worth the price difference.
     
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    Birddog6424

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    After some feedback, I've updated my list:

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    I'm leaning March...
    Adding the XTR Pro versus the XTRIII changes it up.

    The glass on the Pro is a little north of the MK5 and surprisingly close to the ATACR. But with much better FOV in the Burris. That's at $2k instead of $3k. I know a lot of guys really like the ATACR, but all the ones I've looked through just don't seem like much of an upgrade from some of the $2k optics.

    And the March is definitely still a great choice.
     

    John Glidewell

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    I have ZCO, MK5 and Vortex Gen3. They are all nice scopes. I prefer the Vortex on my match rig as it does everything I need it to and the reticle is a smidge bigger, which makes it easier on my aging eyes. Plus our matches do not go past 1k, so I will save the ZCO for another rig. The other reason I like the Vortex is the VIP pricing, very hard to beat at that price. I like the MK5s too but they do not resolve like the other 2, but again, hard to beat them on VIP pricing. I am also a fan of the PR2 reticle.

    So if you can get VIP pricing from Vortex, that would be my choice, prob the best bang for the buck in that class. If not, and you want the better glass, then you have some choices their too. I do not have any personal time behind a March so I cannot compare that scope.
     

    sleeplz

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    Contact liberty optics for pricing on gen 3. It makes it a no brainer after that. Be careful with the guys pushing Burris, they’re generally sponsored. Best thing to do is go to a match and look at glass from competitors.

     

    Chickentoast

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    ^I didn't know @Birddog6424 worked for Burris when I bought my XTR3, but loved it and bought a 2nd one. Absolutely on the Burris XTR3/3i/Pro train. That said, I also just bought a 2nd Razor G3. It is 60-70% of the way between the old XTR3 and ZCO 527. For me, it's glass first, then reticle and FOV. However, being a fair weather hobby shooter, I also have areas where I simply don't need the extra quality that ZCO offers, because I generally don't shoot in tough conditions.
     
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    Birddog6424

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    Contact liberty optics for pricing on gen 3. It makes it a no brainer after that. Be careful with the guys pushing Burris, they’re generally sponsored. Best thing to do is go to a match and look at glass from competitors.

    Obviously sponsored. I've been on the Burris shooting team for eight years now. The big Burris logo is the dead giveaway.

    But sponsored doesn't equal dishonest. You'll be hard put to find any statements from me that aren't corroborated by other "non-sponsored" Burris owners or Hide posters. I dont think anyone needs any protection from me 😉
     
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    Big Timber

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    I'm not sponsored. I have to pay for everything I have, so that's why I always question if the juice is worth the squeeze. I have not played with the razor gen3 (also was not on the list) and have not seen the xtrPRO yet (hope to see it in the next 2 weeks), but with the new (lower) prices for Burris I think the xtr3i will be very hard to beat when paying for it with your own money.
     
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    DeathBeforeDismount

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    Contact liberty optics for pricing on gen 3. It makes it a no brainer after that. Be careful with the guys pushing Burris, they’re generally sponsored. Best thing to do is go to a match and look at glass from competitors.

    And the G3 is a turd so far. Terrible QC and variation from scope to scope. Some with abysmal turrets, some with decent turrets. Lots of people have already had to send them in for fixing. Having to find a weird sized oring or make a shim so your turret doesn't lock when spinning it on the clock is a deal breaker.

    Anyone looking at a G3 razor should grab something else and wait for them to work out the bugs and get their production/QC fixed.
     
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    DeathBeforeDismount

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    Nothing is ruled out. NF crowds the top of my price range. To be honest, I avoided NF a bit because of the over the top fanboy-ism... As lame as this may sound, I'm just not a fan of the goldish-bronzy color of Vortex. I suppose I could send it off to get cerakoted.

    m
    Skip NF. Nothing they make is worth buying at the price it goes for. Underwhelming features and glass until you get the the 7-35 ATACR and at that point, just buy a ZCO. Its in a whole different class.
     

    sleeplz

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    Obviously sponsored. I've been on the Burris shooting team for eight years now. The big Burris logo is the dead giveaway.

    But sponsored doesn't equal dishonest. You'll be hard put to find any statements from me that aren't corroborated by other "non-sponsored" Burris owners or Hide posters. I dont think anyone needs any protection from me 😉
    Would it be fair to say he should go to a match and look at glass first hand before deciding to buy?
     

    sleeplz

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    The Tract Toric, and Delta Stryker are pretty much identical mechanically. Only cosmetic changes. The Maven may differ slightly as its 5 ozs lighter than the 41ozs of the aforementioned optics. These scopes are designed, owned, and produced by LOW with the requesting companies name on it. The only one of these I've seen in the wild is the Tract, and I dont like the eyebox or tight field of view. Cosmetically, those towering turrets are also a turn off....

    If I were buying a LOW scope I would pick the new XRS or a Gen II or III Razor.
    Is Burris considered LOW now on the xtr3 since production is going overseas?
     
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    Franko

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    I'd like to suggest the March 4.5-28x52. It's not as high magnification as the 5-40 but the lower erector ratio offers other advantages. I also think that the Razor G3 belongs on that list.
     

    Birddog6424

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    Would it be fair to say he should go to a match and look at glass first hand before deciding to buy?
    I think that's absolutely fair. It's very difficult these days unless you're a pretty avid competitor surrounded by bunches of brands at matches. But if the opportunity is there, no doubt about it.

    A mistake that many people make is they draw their definitive opinion from 5 minutes of bouncing back and forth between one optic or another. Those optics aren't set up for them, neither the diopter nor the rifle set up is theirs. I've seen people draw the conclusion that eyeboxes are tight and clarity is poor from scopes not set up for them. And that's what they say about that optic every time they talk about it.

    Experienced reviewers like @koshkin and @Glassaholic spend days and weeks fiddling and tinkering with a scope under a variety of conditions. Because thats truly the best method of understanding optical strengths and weaknesses.

    The point of all that being is its important that people understand that even peeking through someone else's optic may not give you a true idea of its qualities. But I do it agree with you that it's far better than not at all.
    Is Burris considered LOW now on the xtr3 since production is going overseas?
    The new XTR3i isn't being made by LOW, it's being made in the same Phillipines plant that they have used for many years now for the XTRII, Veracity, and other models.

    The specs are the same, the glass is sourced from the same location, but its assembled in the Phillipines.

    Quality control will be checked stateside at Greeley on every single unit before it leaves the facility.
     

    ma smith

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    Dont buy optics based on IQ, buy them based on functionality of the unit as a sighting system.

    You're not gonna see see anything interesting on 90 seconds ringing steel in a PRS context.

    Your goal is simply to SEE the target, sight the shot, and execute fire control sequence in 9 seconds.

    How wide is your FOV
    How fast is the focus?
    How good is DOF to skip hassle?

    How solid is your RTZ over days/weeks?
    How solid is your tracking 1-10 mils (100 clicks)

    How fast can you dial dead nuts to the .1
    Can you see the turrets
    Can you read the turrets
    Is the reticle great?
    Is the reticle a PITA?

    Etc
     
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    ma smith

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    Dont buy bad glass, tho. Point us to consider what helps you hit. Target acquisition, sighting, fire control etc

    Those are process driven steps, that a good optic can help or hinder.

    Target acquistion:
    Fov/DOF/ light/ image contrast
    maybe...resolution...maybe color

    Sighting:
    reticle, resolution, maybe...illumination

    Fire control
    Dials, RTZ, tracking,
    Maybe...readability
    Just $.02 👍
     

    warp_foo

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    Dont buy bad glass, tho. Point us to consider what helps you hit. Target acquisition, sighting, fire control etc

    Those are process driven steps, that a good optic can help or hinder.

    Target acquistion:
    Fov/DOF/ light/ image contrast
    maybe...resolution...maybe color

    Sighting:
    reticle, resolution, maybe...illumination

    Fire control
    Dials, RTZ, tracking,
    Maybe...readability
    Just $.02 👍
    I don't think I'll be doing PRS. Local varmint matches, 300+ yd target competitions, and F class. There is at least one 1000yd range not too far from me. I'm also interested in going to long range classes, and eventually ELR.

    All of my optics exposure is from photography - I have a number of Canon L lenses, if anyone here is familiar with those. So, lack of distortions, aberrations, and edge to edge quality are qualities think I'd find useful.

    Along with good optical quality, Canon L series lenses are built like tanks. I even use a decent number of older Nikon AI series lenses with adapters. Nothing better than solid mechanical controls.

    That being said, I'm not likely to go the ZCO/TT route because I'm unlikely to squeeze the Nth degree of performance out of that level of glass. So, if the Burris XTR Pro is... 95% (or better) of that level of performance for less than half the price, that seems like a pretty darned good goal. (I'd expect the March to be much closer than 95%...)

    Not sure if using 95% means a great deal in this context. Consider it an all around multi-variable average of all of the qualities.

    Does that help narrow my criteria down wrt to rifle scopes any?
     

    ma smith

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    My bad, i was reading into some other comments. And seeing tactical type scopes in your shortlist.

    So the difference with shooting Bench or F class etc is going to relax the workflow.

    You might even be ok with target type optics, hence a march now makes more sense.

    Of the tactical types, 7-35 atacr will do everything, but i agree you might find a happy medium with a different setup.

    IMHO also consider used PM2 5-25. Still very classy, and capable out to ELR.
     

    sleeplz

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    I think that's absolutely fair. It's very difficult these days unless you're a pretty avid competitor surrounded by bunches of brands at matches. But if the opportunity is there, no doubt about it.

    A mistake that many people make is they draw their definitive opinion from 5 minutes of bouncing back and forth between one optic or another. Those optics aren't set up for them, neither the diopter nor the rifle set up is theirs. I've seen people draw the conclusion that eyeboxes are tight and clarity is poor from scopes not set up for them. And that's what they say about that optic every time they talk about it.

    Experienced reviewers like @koshkin and @Glassaholic spend days and weeks fiddling and tinkering with a scope under a variety of conditions. Because thats truly the best method of understanding optical strengths and weaknesses.

    The point of all that being is its important that people understand that even peeking through someone else's optic may not give you a true idea of its qualities. But I do it agree with you that it's far better than not at all.

    The new XTR3i isn't being made by LOW, it's being made in the same Phillipines plant that they have used for many years now for the XTRII, Veracity, and other models.

    The specs are the same, the glass is sourced from the same location, but its assembled in the Phillipines.

    Quality control will be checked stateside at Greeley on every single unit before it leaves the facility.
    Has the pro been sent to the two reviewers yet? How do you think the gen 3 razor stacks against Burris xtr pro. The pro on the website is 2500ish last time I checked. Liberty optics gen 3 pricing beats that a little. I don’t know what the street price of the pro is but I haven’t seen any in depth reviews other then the glass is an upgrade from xtr3.
     

    warp_foo

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    My bad, i was reading into some other comments. And seeing tactical type scopes in your shortlist.

    So the difference with shooting Bench or F class etc is going to relax the workflow.

    You might even be ok with target type optics, hence a march now makes more sense.

    Of the tactical types, 7-35 atacr will do everything, but i agree you might find a happy medium with a different setup.

    IMHO also consider used PM2 5-25. Still very classy, and capable out to ELR.
    I have contacted S&B about a mil discount. No reply yet. I looked at the 3-27x56 and the 12-50x56.

    One thing I'm not sure I understand is why the 12-50 is so much less spendy than the other S&B scopes. Is the design that different, or that much older?

    ETA: It does look like it's a ~12yo design. Not sure if that's 'old' wrt to product refreshes or not.

    ETA2: Is it worth stretching a budget to try and get into S&B, or is it the same diminishing returns going with ZCO?

    m
     
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    Birddog6424

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    Has the pro been sent to the two reviewers yet? How do you think the gen 3 razor stacks against Burris xtr pro. The pro on the website is 2500ish last time I checked. Liberty optics gen 3 pricing beats that a little. I don’t know what the street price of the pro is but I haven’t seen any in depth reviews other then the glass is an upgrade from xtr3.
    Ilya has seen it, and believes it could be a very nice optic. But for the reasons I posted above, doesn't go beyond that with his thoughts. I'm sure he'll share his thoughts here after he gets some time with it.

    I'm not sure how it will stack up against the Razor. Vortex has put more money into that optic, and they're off to a bit of a rough start, but I'm sure they will get it squared away. There are always speed bumps when releasing a new design. The Pro will probably see an initial hiccup or two.

    Judging by the quality of the Pro glass against other optics, I think it will be close. If the Razor is a hair nicer that's OK. The Burris brings a very strong feature set to the table, none of which (except FOV) were available on the XTRIII, with red or green illumination, three reticle choices, toolless zero, quick swap turrets, and the largest FOV of its peers. MAP is $2200, so its realistic to believe at some point we will see these going at $2k or a hair under. Right now, demand is very high, so pricing will reflect that.

    It's true peer is pretty much the MK5. Both are American made with Japanese glass at a very close price point. But the glass has the little better clarity than the MK5, and it has the above listed features, including illumination at no added cost. And a much better FOV.

    These are trickling out. I'm sure we will start seeing feedback any day now.
     
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    fdkay

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    After some feedback, I've updated my list:

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    I'm leaning March...
    The Sightron 5-40 is also worth a look.
    Reports are seriously good glass, lots of adjustment range, good reticle, checks all the boxes.
     

    Chickentoast

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    I think the old XTR3 was already better than the MK5. The only thing the MK5 had on the XTR3 was color/contrast. But resolution was equivalent and FOV was/is night and day in favor of Burris. SCR2 vs PR2, subjective I guess, but I like thin and 0.2 rather than 0.25.
     
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    mi650

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    After some feedback, I've updated my list:

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    I'm leaning March...
    Not to muddy up the waters, but I'd say to add the Trijicon Tenmile 4.5-30 to your list. I'm really not sure why they don't get much respect.

    I have no experience with March or that Burris. I've had both the MK5 and ATACR, but both were 5-25. I sold them both. The ATACR was a great scope, I just couldn't get past the diopter turning with the power ring. A few years ago, I was looking to buy a new scope, so I did a low light comparison between the Leupold, a Sig Tango6, and a Trijicon. I ending selling the Leupold and bought another Trijicon. To my eye, The Leupold lost handily.

    As much as guys grumble about the Leica, I have 3 and another ordered. Personally, I like the center circle over a dot for shooting groups.
     

    Glassaholic

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    Good morning all,

    I'm starting this post to discuss what others have done when looking to invest in a new optic. There are a number of options in the price range I have below, so I'm not asking whether or not a specific scope is 'best', but what have others done to help whittle the list down to a final selection.

    Challenges:
    there are a number of threads with a lot of subjective responses
    I'm not going to have access to anything to look through prior to purchase
    I don't have much previous experience to fall back on
    • What is the platform for the scope? Bolt & Semi-Auto (mostly bolt...)
    • What cartridge are you shooting? 6ARC, 6GT
    • What is your intended use for the scope? Benchrest, Target, Steel, F-Class, ELR
    • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? Daylight, Lowlight
    • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? 1000+ yds, 600-1,000 yds, 300-600 yds
    • Are there any specific specifications you would like? FFP/SFP, 34mm tube, 56mm objective, mil or moa
    • What is the price range you can afford? $2000-$3500
    Is it reasonable to assume that, at a certain price point, I can just 'pick the reticle I like' and call it a day?

    My short list so far: (Updated)

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    My AR has a Vortex PST II 5-25. Works ok, but that's really the only scope I have any time behind. I expect that any of the options above are going to be a decent upgrade. I have a Burris XTRIII coming for one of my other ARs, but I will be starting my build for the 6GT soon, and wanted to get some feedback from others.

    Thank You
    Well, you've already ruled out what I was going to recommend for help to "whittle the list down", that was going to be get some time behind each scope. Every review (mine included) is subjective and dependent on the reviewers eyes, condition, setup, etc. You just won't know for sure until you see for yourself.

    I have five scopes I'm comparing to the Vortex Gen III 6-36x56 in an upcoming review, one of those is the March 5-40x56 Gen II and one is the Burris XTR III 5.5-30x56 (not the Pro). Ask me something specific and I'd be happy to share.

    Are you concerned about "weight" at all?

    All of the scopes you mention are going to be "better" than your current PST II 5-25 (great scope by the way, use to have one but was replaced by the XTR III 5.5-30 for my rimfire trainer).

    If you want to stay price conscious then go with the Burris XTR Pro, it will be the cheapest of the bunch and offers excellent FOV and unless Burris really botched it, it will have excellent edge to edge sharpness (important so you can actually use the full extent of the FOV). Essentially the Pro uses the same "spec" as the XTR III but with higher grade glass and new turrets, the XTR III already punches above its class with IQ so I expect the Pro to do even better. The NF ATACR 7-35 always gets high praise but it is your most expensive scope in the list, at this price I'd highly recommend you look at ZCO 5-27 as it is not much more than a ATACR 7-35. IMHO you do NOT need more than 25x for ELR, it is a common fallacy to think that higher magnification gets you further distance, but unless you shoot in a climate controlled tunnel you're going to deal with atmospherics and magnification makes a mess out of things like mirage, plenty of ELR shooters use Tangent 5-25 scopes with Charlie Tarac's to great effect at distances beyond 2.5 miles.
     
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    warp_foo

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    Well, you've already ruled out what I was going to recommend for help to "whittle the list down", that was going to be get some time behind each scope. Every review (mine included) is subjective and dependent on the reviewers eyes, condition, setup, etc. You just won't know for sure until you see for yourself.

    I have five scopes I'm comparing to the Vortex Gen III 6-36x56 in an upcoming review, one of those is the March 5-40x56 Gen II and one is the Burris XTR III 5.5-30x56 (not the Pro). Ask me something specific and I'd be happy to share.

    Are you concerned about "weight" at all?

    All of the scopes you mention are going to be "better" than your current PST II 5-25 (great scope by the way, use to have one but was replaced by the XTR III 5.5-30 for my rimfire trainer).

    If you want to stay price conscious then go with the Burris XTR Pro, it will be the cheapest of the bunch and offers excellent FOV and unless Burris really botched it, it will have excellent edge to edge sharpness (important so you can actually use the full extent of the FOV). Essentially the Pro uses the same "spec" as the XTR III but with higher grade glass and new turrets, the XTR III already punches above its class with IQ so I expect the Pro to do even better. The NF ATACR 7-35 always gets high praise but it is your most expensive scope in the list, at this price I'd highly recommend you look at ZCO 5-27 as it is not much more than a ATACR 7-35. IMHO you do NOT need more than 25x for ELR, it is a common fallacy to think that higher magnification gets you further distance, but unless you shoot in a climate controlled tunnel you're going to deal with atmospherics and magnification makes a mess out of things like mirage, plenty of ELR shooters use Tangent 5-25 scopes with Charlie Tarac's to great effect at distances beyond 2.5 miles.
    Thanks for the reply.

    I've been to a few matches around here. So far, other than mine and a friends Vortex PST IIs, the only high end scope I've seen is a Nightforce - I don't know which one. If there is a large regional match coming up, I'll see about going, maybe something interesting will show that I can check out.

    I'm not overly concerned about weight. My two current gas guns both tip the scales over 10-12lbs. (Both were converted from NRA HP, and were never originally built to be light.)

    As for budget, yes, I'd like to keep it from getting out of hand. I can get mil discounts on a number of optics, but not all vendors offer them. I don't believe I'm supposed to get into pricing, but ZCO and TT fall into the non-discount class.

    S&B has options in my budget... some well within, but the 3-27 is not in that group. It falls a bit north, and if it's worth it, I can shave dollars elsewhere. However, as I stated a few posts ago, if a particular model hits the price performance sweet spot, that seems like the better option.

    m
     
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    Chickentoast

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    G3 or XTR Pro. I've tried almost everything, including TT, ZCO, NX8, MK5, XRS3, Cronus, Ares, HDMR2, etc. Check my back posts to see if my criteria fits for you.
     

    Glassaholic

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    Thanks for the reply.

    I've been to a few matches around here. So far, other than mine and a friends Vortex PST IIs, the only high end scope I've seen is a Nightforce - I don't know which one. If there is a large regional match coming up, I'll see about going, maybe something interesting will show that I can check out.

    I'm not overly concerned about weight. My two current gas guns both tip the scales over 10-12lbs. (Both were converted from NRA HP, and were never originally built to be light.)
    If that's the case then I'd highly recommend checking out the Gen III 6-36x56, it is quite impressive optically and hangs in there with Schmidt and Benders best - 5-25x56 and is slightly better than the Schmidt 3-27x56 (which also comes in slightly under their 5-25), I know I'll catch a lot of flak for that but it is what my eyes see looking multiple days at resolution charts and judging contrast, CA and other parameters. That being said, I am not a fan of heavy scopes on AR platform, but that is just my own preference, you're welcome to put whatever you like on one :LOL:
    As for budget, yes, I'd like to keep it from getting out of hand. I can get mil discounts on a number of optics, but not all vendors offer them. I don't believe I'm supposed to get into pricing, but ZCO and TT fall into the non-discount class.
    The XTR III (and assume better glassed XTR Pro) really impress with everything except CA, if the XTR Pro corrects that and improves on resolution and contrast then it will be the best deal of the bunch. I'd love to get my hands on an XTR Pro but that won't happen for a bit.
    S&B has options in my budget... some well within, but the 3-27 is not in that group. It falls a bit north, and if it's worth it, I can shave dollars elsewhere. However, as I stated a few posts ago, if a particular model hits the price performance sweet spot, that seems like the better option.
    Personally, I do not think the Schmidt 3-27 is worth the cost of admission. Sure, it is absolutely impressive for a 9x erector, but falls short somewhat on the optical front. Since you can get mil pricing stick with NF; however, you may be in for a bit of a wait but the cost of the ATACR 7-35 is more than it ought to be, you are paying a lot for the NF on the side (which some feel is worth it). You are correct, not much discount on ZCO and TT; however, if you contact the Hide vendors personally you'll probably be surprised. If you go the Vortex route, contact Scott at Liberty Optics, no one can beat his prices and he's often lower than mil discount but depends on item.
     

    Paul1262

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    I have a NF ATACR 5-25x56 SFP on my MPA PMR PRO 6.5cm and I think it's great.
     

    warp_foo

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    I'd like to suggest the March 4.5-28x52. It's not as high magnification as the 5-40 but the lower erector ratio offers other advantages. I also think that the Razor G3 belongs on that list.
    @Franko - I had meant to ask what the advantages are for the lower adjustment range erector. Based on what I've read so far, the erector adjusts by altering the angle of the erector to the optical center of the main lenses. Or, that's how I understand it, at least. (This would be similar to how a photographic tilt/shift lens works.)

    So, I would think the advantages are optical quality related since the erector maintains a relationship more central to the optics, where the resolution is highest and distortion lowest? Are there other advantages I'm not thinking of?

    Cool subject!

    Thank you,

    m
     

    Glassaholic

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    @Franko - I had meant to ask what the advantages are for the lower adjustment range erector. Based on what I've read so far, the erector adjusts by altering the angle of the erector to the optical center of the main lenses. Or, that's how I understand it, at least. (This would be similar to how a photographic tilt/shift lens works.)

    So, I would think the advantages are optical quality related since the erector maintains a relationship more central to the optics, where the resolution is highest and distortion lowest? Are there other advantages I'm not thinking of?

    Cool subject!

    Thank you,

    m
    Since you are familiar with photography let me provide an example, you are photographing a subject and someone hands you a 24-200 f/4-6.3 lens and they also hand you a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. For many people they naturally think "the 24-200 gives me wider range of focal lengths so this would be the best choice"; however, in order to get such a high magnification range (think erector assembly) there are going to be compromises made, also, you are sacrificing fast aperture for the huge magnification range and in this case you are also sacrificing overall image quality. This is why most pro's will have a 70-200 f/2.8 in their bag and probably not a 24-200, at least not for professional shooting.

    So back to scopes, when you put a high erector in a scope you are going to have optical compromises, when you make a scope short you are going to have optical compromises. Yes, one could argue that every scope made has compromises, but the more you push the limits the more you have to correct for optical aberrations introduced by the optical formula. So what are some of the issues that high erector/short bodied scopes have to overcome - tight DOF, finicky parallax and finicky eyebox are a few examples. I have had experience with a number of March scopes, but if we compare the 3-24 and the 4.5-28, one has an 8x erector and the other has a 6.22x erector and while the 4.5-28 is a "shorter" scope than the 3-24 (which is already pretty short) the 4.5-28 is more forgiving in the above areas. The 5-40 is a "longer" design and is somewhat more forgiving than the 3-24 IMO and the Gen II version with the locking turrets (excellent turrets that I can confidently put in the same sentence with Schmidt DT II+, Kahles and dare I say even Tangent Theta) and the new FML-PDKi reticle is a nice package. It's also interesting that the March 5-42x56 HM scope is one of their newer scopes, but they made this scope even shorter than the 5-40 and increased the erector slightly and even though it has high master glass it is a bit more finicky than the 5-40 design and edge distortion is quite a bit more. Sometimes pushing the limit of how high of an erector can you use and how short can you make a scope just isn't worth the compromises you have to make especially if you're trying to meet a particular price point. Schmidt and Bender has the 3-27 but it is a pretty long scope, but does very well for having a 9x erector, Hensoldt has a very short 3.5-26x56 but this scope is well renowned for insane IQ and forgiving eyebox - so how did Hensoldt get by these shortcomings mentioned above, look at the price of this scope as well as the Schmidt, these are not cheap scopes, in fact they are some of the most expensive scopes made today.
     

    DownhillFromHere

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    Since you are familiar with photography let me provide an example, you are photographing a subject and someone hands you a 24-200 f/4-6.3 lens and they also hand you a 70-200 f/2.8 lens. For many people they naturally think "the 24-200 gives me wider range of focal lengths so this would be the best choice"; however, in order to get such a high magnification range (think erector assembly) there are going to be compromises made, also, you are sacrificing fast aperture for the huge magnification range and in this case you are also sacrificing overall image quality. This is why most pro's will have a 70-200 f/2.8 in their bag and probably not a 24-200, at least not for professional shooting.
    ^^^ THIS. I also come from a photography background - Nikon guy since the '70s.

    To expand a bit more on the fixed-vs-variable-aperture example above: current manufacturing processes have given optics consumers a lot more capability for a lot less money over the last several years. I bought a Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 some years ago for well under $2k; BH Photo shows them now at ~$1400. Comparing eagles-in-flight images from it with those from a buddy using a $7000 Nikon 200-400mm f4 (both on D750 bodies), it would take a pro to tell the difference. Is the 200-400 better? Of course it is, in a number of respects - but those "better" factors are of no practical benefit to me for my use cases. A few years ago, I "shot" a rabbit crouched in a front-yard flower bed with the 200-500; after cropping (maybe 35%), its feet were at the bottom of the frame and top of its ears at the top. Zooming in, I could clearly see my and my neighbor's houses reflected in its eye. That's plenty good enough for me.

    With that said - I've owned a Vortex Viper PST 5-25x50. I currently own two Razor Gen2 4.5-27x56s, a Gen3 6-36x56, and a ZCO 5-25x56. As outlined about 9 pages into the Razor Gen3 thread here, I found the Gen3 glass to be very close to the ZCO. With the military discount at EuroOptic, the Gen3 Razor is 60% of the ZCO price. I plan to upgrade one of my Gen2s to a Gen3. It's worth mentioning that I got the ZCO during the free-Spuhr-mount special early on. I really like it - but, I won't buy another one unless I could get it at a major discount. The Gen3 Razor offers most of the goodness at a fraction of the price.

    And yes, I have sent mine back for correction of stiff turrets, and yes, there has been a lot of variability in turret feel in the early-shipped units. But, as you know from camera experience, good glass is a long-term investment. If you can get L-lens quality at kit-lens pricing at risk of maybe sending it back for a week, would you do it? As others have written, Vortex will correct this issue; maybe already have.

    My $0.02. Good luck.
     
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    Convex

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    I'm in the "same boat" as the other photographers who've commented here.

    "To expand a bit more on the fixed-vs-variable-aperture example above: current manufacturing processes have given optics consumers a lot more capability for a lot less money over the last several years. I bought a Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 some years ago for well under $2k; BH Photo shows them now at ~$1400. Comparing eagles-in-flight images from it with those from a buddy using a $7000 Nikon 200-400mm f4 (both on D750 bodies), it would take a pro to tell the difference. Is the 200-400 better? Of course it is, in a number of respects - but those "better" factors are of no practical benefit to me for my use cases. A few years ago, I "shot" a rabbit crouched in a front-yard flower bed with the 200-500; after cropping (maybe 35%), its feet were at the bottom of the frame and top of its ears at the top. Zooming in, I could clearly see my and my neighbor's houses reflected in its eye. That's plenty good enough for me"..........


    Your lens and the difference between it and the 7 grand Nikon glass sounds familiar to me. Whatever you call your lens in terms of IQ vs the other lens, most folks probably haven't come close to "wringing out" the full potential of your lens let alone the 7 grand Nikon. That's not a "slap" at anybody, there are folks who can't get what you get out of your lens.

    I've got a Carl Zeiss 120mm Makro which is a dynamite lens, and a fabulous performer to this day, but to get the full performance of this optic, particularly shooting close up, I slap 30 pounds of sandbags on the tripod/use a fast shutter/a cable release.

    It seems to me some of the same issues apply to scopes, you've either got the skill sets or you've got to develop them to get the best out of a scope, particularly the more expensive scopes.

    I may change direction, but at this point, I'm doing what I've advised the new photographers who've asked me, which is if they're not sure about how serious they want to get into photography, I suggest they get less expensive gear, and just have fun, and if it doesn't work out, they don't have a fortune in gear to have to sell.

    The folks that tell me something like, "this is in my blood, I'm doing this until the day I die", I suggest that they buy gear they can "grow into" where once they develop the skills sets necessary to get the most out of the best gear, they don't have to buy new gear to take advantage of those new skills.

    I'm serious enough about this kind of shooting to where I've just bought a "grow into" scope for myself, and I'll see where that takes me.

    It's a March High Master 4.5-28X52, which is still @ customs, but it's on the way.
     
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    tlsmith22

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    I have ran or currently running the ATACR, Gen 2 razor, ZCO, Mark 5 and the Tangents. On my comp rifle I still run 2 Tangents, both with JTAC reticles. My hunting rifles all have ATACRs and my 22 has the Mark 5. I have spent a little bit of time behind the Gen 3 razor and I really like it and think its a great optic for what you pay for it. If I was listing them in order without cost as a consideration, this would be my list:

    1. TT
    2. ZCO
    3. Gen 3 Razor
    4. ATACR
    5. Mark 5
    6. Gen 2 Razor

    Granted these are all great optics and I wish I had some time behind the Burris because its on the list to try But I cant comment at this point.
     

    MarkyMark007

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    Good morning all,

    I'm starting this post to discuss what others have done when looking to invest in a new optic. There are a number of options in the price range I have below, so I'm not asking whether or not a specific scope is 'best', but what have others done to help whittle the list down to a final selection.

    Challenges:
    there are a number of threads with a lot of subjective responses
    I'm not going to have access to anything to look through prior to purchase
    I don't have much previous experience to fall back on
    • What is the platform for the scope? Bolt & Semi-Auto (mostly bolt...)
    • What cartridge are you shooting? 6ARC, 6GT
    • What is your intended use for the scope? Benchrest, Target, Steel, F-Class, ELR
    • What type of conditions will you typically shoot in? Daylight, Lowlight
    • What are the typical distances you intend to shoot? 1000+ yds, 600-1,000 yds, 300-600 yds
    • Are there any specific specifications you would like? FFP/SFP, 34mm tube, 56mm objective, mil or moa
    • What is the price range you can afford? $2000-$3500
    Is it reasonable to assume that, at a certain price point, I can just 'pick the reticle I like' and call it a day?

    My short list so far: (Updated)

    March FX Tactical Gen II 5-40x56
    Nightforce ATACR 7-35 F1
    Leupold MK5HD 7-35x56
    Leica PRS 5-30x56
    Burris XTR Pro 5.5-30x56

    My AR has a Vortex PST II 5-25. Works ok, but that's really the only scope I have any time behind. I expect that any of the options above are going to be a decent upgrade. I have a Burris XTRIII coming for one of my other ARs, but I will be starting my build for the 6GT soon, and wanted to get some feedback from others.

    Thank You

    just yesterday I did a research of the most universal scope, if I want to have it only one. for tactical and precise bolt action rifle.

    and it should be 0.05MIL clicks (because of fine increments for precise, and MIL for tactical (US people can maybe use 1/4 MOA clicks because you are use to it)), FFP for tactical, high magnification, good glass, good reticle.

    and it came to only to 2 good options:
    Schmidt & bendtner 5-45x56 [0.05MIL], but reticle not for everyone,
    and march FX G1 & G2 5-40x56 [0.05MIL], with better reticle - PDKI is a little thick but should be ok for precise shooting.

    there are some other scopes with 0.05MIL clicks like March Genesis 4-40 & 6-60 and S&B PM2 3-36x56 FFP.

    so yes, I would take march G2.
     

    warp_foo

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    Thanks for the replies everyone!

    I'm basically down to three options now:

    Vortex 6-36 GIII
    March FX 5-40 GII
    Burris 5.5-30 XTR Pro

    While I would like to consider TT, ZCO, and S&B - the reality is that getting any of those basically just eats into the budget for any other components. Think about it, by going with a Burris I can get a skookum (AvE!) scope mount, MDT SCS stock, and an Atlas bipod - while being within the budget of the ZCO. (Or the March, mount, and bipod - for less than a ZCO...)

    After some of the more recent posts, I've decided that the Razor GIII deserves a look.

    m
     
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