Sighting System Choices
From the present last Grendel forum, it seems like sighting system choices have been the most discussed technical / mechanical issue. The type of sighting system a shooter chooses is always an interesting discussion point.
So, when looking at a sighting system, what features do you guys look for and how do you balance out cost in terms of your final decision?
Sure, this will be very specific in terms of the shooting sport or occupation for those who are in various Law Enforcement agencies. Even for guys who are allowed to buy an optic for deployment.
So, go ahead and give your advice and lessons learned.
Thank you LR for starting off this topic. I urge all those who have an opinion in this area to participate.
I find that my selection of sighting system leans towards an optic but I evolve in my selection as time goes on. I find that BDC's have a place based upon lazyness in low magnification scopes but that I step to a simple mildot in anything else. That said I am finding I am using scopes with less magnification than I have in years based upon the practicality of moving targets and find myself looking at red dots for anything out to 300. Equally I become more concerned with the ability to hit than the ability to print tiny groups.
I note that the Horus reticle is becoming the desired system for military requirements but cannot currently justify the complexity of the grid with the lack of clarity until the magnification levels become what I view to be impractical.
I think sights are like slings. I have an idea of where I want to be but am never satified with the result when I am there.
I use a Leupold 8.5-25x50 LR on my Grendel and a Nightforce 12-42x56 on my Remmy 700 .223 bolt rifle. Both have turret adjustments and target dots. I primarily shoot at 600 yards and the target X-Ring is only 3". I usually keep the NF dialed back to around 30 on sunny days as the mirage at those ranges make more magnification almost useless. I subscribe to the old adage of "I would rather have a $1000 scope on a $300 rifle than a $300 scope on a $1000 rifle". The better scopes give you a crisper sight picture.
Bill, I agree on the BDC scopes, but they try to sell them as a "one size fits all" answer (yeah, I had one). But the drop of a bullet at 300 yards from a .300 Win Mag is not the same as a .243. So, I don't have any faith in the BDC reticles. But other might.
Bill / Guys:
Originally Posted by Bill Alexander
This is pretty interesting as I have followed a very similar path in terms of military applications. I haven't hunted in years but I also believe Bill's comments are sound for hunting purposes.
The problem with magnification is evident. The higher you go, the less field of view and more you see your own movement. This gets to be a problem mostly because your attention becomes focused on the wrong things such as how much a guy really moves that rifle when he is pointing it. Cluttered reticles tend to distract attentional focus which is why guys either love the Horus design or hate it. It is great if you are stationary and your target is stationary. If you miss with the first shot, my bets are that you won't with the second. Start moving it around with a moving target and things become more complex. We can argue the thought process of the military and never figure it out but my guess is that guys are more likely to pass a sniper course using the Horus reticle than the mil dot because it is more precise in terms of estimating range and wind holds. Look through one for any amount of time and your eyes get fried from all those lines. So, there is more to it than just a good idea.
I am not real fond of BDC's either but they serve what I view as an auxiliary purpose in terms of military applications. They allow a guy to put a decent elevation on a rifle if he has the time and can actually read the elevation dial. Otherwise, most guys use holds via the TMR or Mil Dot reticle. The problem with holds and mil dots or the TMR is that once you start getting into holds over one mil both in elevation and windage, it becomes pretty hard for a guy to see the hold precisely enough.
I have tended towards viewing a vari-X up to 10 power as a pretty good choice for military applications. This is because I believe guys are more able to push the limits of the issued systems now than five or ten plus years ago.
I have also tended towards non magnified dots as opposed to magnified optics over irons and fully believe that a 68 sight is pretty much ideal for military purposes to 300 and with some confidence can put decent fire onto something at 500. Either way, the dot sights are way better than irons. Why? Easy -- you don't have to attend to sight alignment or what I now consider a misdirected attention on a front sight post at the expense of seeing the target.
Speed vs precision becomes a major training focus for confident military marksmen and guys who get involved in sports like Three Gun or IPSC. Note the word 'confident'. My observations over the years are that this level of shooter already trusts a-lot of things he is doing so doesn't have to pay attention to them anymore and can focus on shooting as quickly as he knows he can be effective. Big difference between that and guys who shoot conventional High Power. In the more conventional shooting sports, you know how much time you will have and can pace yourself accordingly. Two different sets of conditions requiring attention on different things to be effective.
As for slings. I simply have not found one that I believe is ideal for military purposes. They are generally a PITA that are very specific to one application. Mostly, they get in the way. If adjusted right -- they do a decent job of stabilizing a rifle or carbine. Of all of them I think the V Tac sling is about the best for stand up type of blasting because you can get into a position and quickly tension the sling without a lot of screwing around.
Well yesterday I had one of my inexpensive pentax scope seem to lose ability to track.
It is either that or I cannot shoot anymore, which is highly doubtful.
The rifle is a really good one, COLT Match Target lower, all colt lower components, tuned trigger, the upper is a colt, it has all colt running gear, it also has a Templar Fast Rail, a virtually unobtainable Colt bbl, and WCI brake.
I am using Warne Maxima rings on a riser, the rounds were handloaded Hornady 75grain OTM, using H322 powder.
I was the shooter and off a bag prone, every time I adjusted it would put one round dead center and the rest would go off either to the 10' o'clock or to the 4'clock after much adjustment.
My conclusion is that it would not track anymore.
I have two of these scopes and one is rock solid and this one seems to have become garbage, I will check everything and shoot once more before pitching it or giving it to a kid for an airsoft.
My go to scope for long range is a Leupold VariXIII 6.5-20x40mm EFR AO, it has a fine duplex reticle which does not obscure a small or distant target.
My other scopes for hunting are believe it or not are mildot Tasco varmint scopes, 2.5-10x and have never failed, these are older ones from the early 90's and have Japanese glass.
I used one of these this year on my hunting rifle to get a 465yd first round hit on a deer, right in the heart, my exact point of aim using my mildots as holdover.
I have shot that scope so many times that I do not really consciously calculate the holdover under 500yds.
It has been banged around, used in all sorts of crappy conditions and works fine.
I looked at a Vortex scope the 2.5-10x PST and I was amazed to see how well built it was and how clear the glass was outdoors even at the edges. it was very overcast and dark (late afternoon in winter) it was bright and clear, the lit reticle was able to be turned down really low so as to not obscure my vision.
The knobs are solid, they have a zero stop and the scope has features you would expect on their scopes that are over $1000.
To me this scope is good for the market as I see other manufacturers getting off their behinds and offering these types of features.
I am going to get this scope as a replacement.
As a side note I can save enough on this purchase to also but a red dot from them, it comes with a 2x magnifier.
If I had unlimited funds I would for the vortex top of the line or a S&B, everything in between is a waste of money IMHO.
To me the best power range for a optic is and always will be 2.5-10 for versatility, left at 2.5x it is ready for all fast moving targets presenting themselves for a very brief time-span.
From a military standpoint, I would choose whatever optic will be the most likely to be useful for the environment I anticipate getting into. We had both ACOG's and EoTech's. Each has advantages and drawbacks. If I'm doing stuff in a big village, I would prefer the EoTech. If we are doing recon out in the mountains, I would prefer the ACOG. My personal AR optic is a NF 1-4. IMHO, it's the best of both worlds. I bought my Grendel as a practical long range rifle, primarily for hunting and competition. For that I got a USO 3.2-17. The FFP reticle is great for holding and you don't have to worry about what power you are on. (I rarely use full power) Unfortunately I am a recruiter now, but after my 3 years is up and I go back to a real unit, those are the 2 optics I will bring with me on a deployment.
I recently pick up a MARS unit w/IR laser. With the PVS14 it is deadly for predator control on my ranch. With a 3x Eotech magnifier it works fine for daylight shots out to 300 yards for coyotes and hogs.
Expensive; but deadly for what I use it for. I guess the proof is in the pudding.
Pappy42, do you have a link?
A non-military casual shooter opinion:
Decide what rifle is used for, go from there. On my Grendel, that I decided is a 600 yard rifle, I put a Bushnell Elite 6500. 2.5x16 mildot, I usually shoot at 10 power where the dots are calibrated for. Clear(enough for 600), has tracked well, and serves me good. I tend to like mil dots or plex crosshairs. For a non "professional" the other reticules get too complicated.
Varmint/Target more magnification and crosshairs you like, on my P-dog rifle. Most shootin is 80-300 yards. I have a Sightron SII on it. Hey, its a 204 Ruger, not a 1k target gun. It has an HHR cross hairs, almost usless since it has target nobs. And most shooting 98% or more is 300 yards or less.
My hunting rifle, a Monarch 3-12SF with BDC. I highly doubt I will shoot over 400 yards at game. A 7mm SAUM, I purchased this rifle used last summer and worked up a quick load that was mag length and shot under 1 MOA, barely. The BDC will work with practice, but at one magnification for 400 yards. The Problem, I usually hunt at lower power, but calibrate the BDC at 10 power. Have to keep that in mind when hunting and have targets over 300 yards, I'm basically point blank on deer(or larger) game to 300 yards.
I find it easier at range to shoot at 400-600 yards than hunt at 300-400. I think simplicity in the field and know your limits, I have about 4-5 people I hunt with, most others I've tried to hunt with don't the second rule. Plus, my life doesn't depend on hitting my target. I hope it always stays that way. Almost forgot, my coyote rifle is a 16" AR with Aimpoint, great sight for 0-200 yards. Ranting over, I'm no expert. But the above seems to work for me. Hope to try my luck at 1k soon.