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BigJimFish
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Posted: 1/23/2009 11:34:33 AM
[Last Edit: 10/1/2014 1:30:47 AM by BigJimFish]
NOTE - PLEASE HEED THE REQUESTS OF THE OP BELOW. Off-topic posts will be removed. This thread is the catch-all for low(er) power scopes.

What should be covered in this thread:
  • Optics reviews
  • Relevant questions about topics in this post
  • Useful information for people looking for purchase info.
What I DON'T want to see:
  • "Tags"
  • "This topic should be tacked" - it's tacked in the FAQ already.
  • Ordering information
  • Who has what in stock and at what price.
  • Anything not directly pertaining to info about the optics in question.
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The purpose of this thread is to air opinions on a class of optics that, for the all-around AR, is the most versatile and, consequently, most appropriate for most users. To qualify, an optic must have a low power setting of 1x or true 1x which is ~1.1x. This can be confusing since many makers classify their optics by the actual perceived magnification, rather than the calculated magnification using focal lengths, etc. (more on this later). The optic’s magnified setting must be 2.9x or greater. All scopes reviewed here must also be illuminated. Buying a 1-(n) power scope because it is such a versatile instrument would not make much sense if you could only use it 12 hours of the day and outdoors. This is especially true since much close quarters use is indoors and low light. Also, it is common knowledge that zombies are more active at night.

I have also made the executive decision to exclude cheap fly-by-night glass brands from this thread. It seems like every day a new Chinese-made optic shows up on the market and often disappears soon after. I suspect that many are the same optics with new boxes. Branding seems to have a little different meaning in China than in the U.S. If you notice that I have failed to add an appropriate optic to the chart, please call it to my attention. Despite my regular updating of the chart this is still a hobby and I am bound to overlook things. Please add only opinions of optics you have used. No speculation or hearsay.

Background: I believe variable 1-(n) power scopes to be the best all-around sighting solution for the modern assault rifle. The true 1x (1.1x) setting combined with illumination allows them to be comfortably used in close quarters situations while moving and with both eyes open in a manner typically associated with Aimpoints and EOTechs. The 3,4,6,8, or 10-power setting coupled with the proper reticle makes them viable out to the full 800-yard maximum range of the assault rifle, much like the ACOG. The fact that these scopes have true etched glass reticles that are functional without illumination gives a significant advantage over Aimpoints or EOTechs that are dependent on batteries for function. The only downside I see to this class of optics is the weight. All of these scopes weigh more than an ACOG or red dot, though I expect many weigh a bit less than a red dot + magnifier.

I have arranged the scopes in a table at the bottom of this post with their vital statistics to help in comparing and choosing an optic. I have included all the statistics I could find and even called up a few of the makers to flesh it out. My apologies for the several vacancies in the table. Some makers do not publish much technical information regarding their scopes. I will continue to do my best to complete the table, adding scopes and information as I come across them. Feel free to PM me with any additional info. Many of the statistics such as price, magnification, and weight are self-explanatory. Some statistics require a bit more illumination.

About "True 1x" operation with both eyes open -

I am often asked: Which of these scopes are "true 1x" and will appear unmagnified at the lowest setting allowing them to function just like a holographic sight? I blame Leupold for this since their 1-4x shotgun scope is actually 1.25x at the low end. Ostensibly all the scopes in my table claim to offer a low end that will appear unmagnified to the user when looking at targets that more than a few meters from the observer, i.e., the guy across the room won't appear magnified but if your front sight is in your field of view, it will be fuzzy and too big. There is much confusion about this point in that 1-4x scopes are true optics that bend light rather than just transparent pieces of glass with dots projected on them. Even at 1x they are bending light and so they can be off a little bit due to oversight on the part of the manufacturer or because the target is too close. The assumption of magnified optics is that the object is far enough away that all paths of light from the object to the optic are essentially parallel. When objects get too close, this is substantially not the case and the object will appear to be too large. As Molon has noted: if you hold a ruler a few feet from any 1-(n) power scope it appears to be to big for this reason. This is not really a problem as we are not shooting at rulers a few feet from our scope.

Furthermore, 1-(n)x scopes can be confusing because some are labeled as having a 1x low end whereas others are labeled as having a 1.1x. If you were to do the magnification equations involving the focal lengths of various lenses in the array, you would find that a magnification of 1x mathematically would produce an image that looked a little too small and 1.1x would look about right. This is because the thin lens optical equations used in calculating magnification are idealized equations that assume a lens thickness of zero. Obviously, in reality lenses have thickness. Hence, some of the scope companies designate their scope as 1.1-(n)power. This is mathematically correct but confusing to the consumer. These scopes will appear unmagnified to the user when using them at their lowest setting. It is confusing that some of the companies say 1.1-(n)x and other 1-(n)x when speaking of a scope that appears to the user to be 1x at the low range but is mathematically 1.1x.

Finally, because these scopes are true optics that bend light, they can have other optical problems that effect how well they work on 1x. For instance, some scopes can appear fish-eyed when looking through them. This can cause problems when using them at 1x since both eyes are not seeing substantially similar images. Other scopes have the problem of being fuzzy near the edges of the image. Because of all the idiosyncrasies of true optics as well as the differences between one man's eye and another, it is not really possible to say that yes, this optic is a true 1x and will appear so to everyone in every situation. This is, of course, a very long way of saying that all the scopes in the table are trying to appear unmagnified at their 1x setting with varying degrees of success. Using the scope is the best way to know if you think they have succeeded. Reading detailed reviews is the next best. Hence, this thread.

Illumination technology - This section used too contain details of the battery type. This is such a compelling topic that scope makers often don't even publish information on it. Almost everyone uses CR2032's. Because of this I decided to go a different direction and list the illumination technology used. I did this because I am constantly getting asked if a particular scope has "daytime visible" illumination. While this is a totally subjective thing it usually boils down to what illumination technology the scope maker uses. Reflected illumination technology is typically not perceived as daytime visible whereas fiber and beam splitter technologies are. Incidentally, and despite this, fiber and beam splitter also usually have battery lives somewhere around an order of magnitude longer than reflected. Lately there have been a few scopes, the Trijicon VCOG, and Leupold MK6's and MK8's that have a different illumination tech still. I talk about this in the VCOG Shot blurb if you are interested. I have listed this new tech as other. It is perceived daytime bright as well though in the earliest incarnation, the Leupold's, it has a little issue with eyebox size which you can read about in the Leupold reviews. In later incarnations, the VCOG and Burris XTR II's, not eyebox issue is present. I should note here that illumination technologies are not something that optics makers report and therefore what is listed in the table is my guess regarding what they use based on what I have seen or heard. I am very probably wrong in some instances.

General disclaimer - Speaking of wrong: At the time of this writing there are 72 scopes in this ever growing table. If there are less than 72 errors I will feel like I am on the winning side of this. I make no guarantees regarding the accuracy of any of the information in this table. I quite simply ganked it off of websites and did not validate it with anyone. I know, with vetting like that I could probably write for (insert the New York Times or Fox News depending on your political bent here.) If you catch an error feel free to send me a PM and I will fix it with the next update. Errors aside, the purpose of this table is to help direct you to scopes in your price range you might be interested in and to serve as an index for reviews. Your on your own to verify the details of any scope you intend to purchase.

Eye Relief - The distance between the eyepiece and your eye for optimum results. On some scopes this changes with magnification. In such cases, the higher the power setting the closer the eye relief. Provided eye relief is sufficient to keep the rifle from recoiling the scope into your eye, no particular eye relief is most desirable. It is a matter of personal preference. Obviously, an eye relief that changes as little as possible with a change in power is best.

Field of View - This refers to how wide a swath you can see with the scope at 100 yards. Obviously, you want to see as much as possible. This is particularly true at 1x since your target, yourself, or both are likely to be moving when you have the scope set to no magnification. You do not want to lose your target; so more field is better.

Exit Pupil and Eyebox Discussion - The exit pupil is the size of the disc of light at the point at which it is focused for your eye. Assuming you are using this scope for close quarters work and you are moving about, your head will not be completely stationary regardless of how good your cheek weld is. A larger exit pupil will allow you to keep view of the object through the scope despite your movement, though it is notable that due to parallax error the reticle will not be exactly where it should be when your head is far off center. People refer to the range through which your eye can move about and still get a good image as the "eyebox". Obviously, exit pupil is a very important, perhaps the most important, specification on 1-(n) power scopes. Mathematically, the largest an exit pupil can be is the diameter of the objective lens / the magnification. I have noticed a trend for scope manufacturers and optics websites to simply list the results of this mathematical formula as their exit pupil. Roughly half of the scopes in the table had done this and, dollars to donuts, it was incorrect on every one of them. Exit pupil can be roughly tested by placing a brightly illuminated object at some distance from the optic and measuring the disc of light transmitted through the scope at its smallest point. After doing this for several scopes (details may be found in my Vortex Razor review on pg 17.) I found that my measurements agreed well with manufacturers whose published numbers were not ideal but rather plausible, did not agree at all with idealized "perfect" numbers, and corresponded quite well to my experiences testing the scopes by bobbing my head around a bit. This has led me to put my own measured numbers in red for scopes I have tested, leave in black numbers for scopes I have not tested but for which I have plausible numbers, and omit all idealized numbers since it is very unlikely any were accurate and therefore gave a false impression to my readers..

Bullet Drop Reticle – The primary point of having a magnified optic on the AR is quite simply to shoot at targets that are further away than would be possible with an unmagnified optic or with iron sights. Secondarily, a magnified optic is also very helpful for target identification. In order to reliably hit a target that is beyond about 300 yards out, even a large, man-sized target, the user must accurately range the target and compensate for bullet drop. Many scopes of this class offer reticles that include ranging and bullet drop elements. Scopes with ranging elements may be of scale type such as mil or MOA dot or ladder reticles or of stadia type such as the GRSC or Trijicon reticles. I believe that all scopes in this class should offer a ranging reticle of some variety. For this reason I have included a column in my table with some information to that end. I also believe that users owe it to themselves to research and understand different ranging methods and different types of ranging reticles. For that reason I have authored and article on the subject.
Thoughts on Scale vs. Stadia Based Ranging

Focal Plane - It has been requested that I include the focal plane location of the reticle in the scope data in the table. Since the meaning of this piece of technical data may be a bit opaque to some readers, and also since it is a point over which much argument is had, I will here explain. In a rifle scope there are two places where a reticle may be placed. These are designated as the front, or first, focal plane and rear, or second, focal plane. In my table, ffp and 2fp, respectively.

The difference in function is that an ffp location places the reticle in front of magnifying elements. The reticle retains the same relative size to the target regardless of what power setting the scope is on. Consequently, as the scope's power is increased, the reticle and the target both appear larger. Thus, ffp reticles have the advantageous feature of being usable for range estimation and bullet drop compensation at any power. However, ffp reticles suffer from having the reticle appear small and thin at low power and thick and bulky at high power. This is precisely the opposite of what is ideal since one wants a thick, noticeable, bulky, and therefore fast reticle at low power and a thin, wispy, and precise reticle at high power. Some reticles have used clever features such as the GRSC horseshoe to attenuate this inherent difficulty. Also, ffp reticles are more difficult to illuminate brightly than their 2fp brethren; though some scope makers have found ways around this. Finally, ffp configurations are more expensive to manufacture than 2nd focal plane so will not often appear on less expensive scopes.

Second focal plane reticles are located aft of the magnifying elements and therefore appear the same size to the user regardless of the power setting the scope is on. Because of this, they have the disadvantage that they can only be used for ranging and bullet drop at one magnification setting since the size of the reticle relative to the target is different at every magnification. The magnification used for ranging the target is usually the highest magnification, though I have a Zeiss 4.5-14x that is inexplicably calibrated for 10x ranging. 2fp scopes have the advantage that, relative to the target, the reticle appears bulkier and faster at low power and thinner and more precise at high power. 2fp reticles can also be more easily brightly illuminated, though often the illumination knob and battery housing stick off the eyepiece like an unsightly wart.

Lately, ffp scopes have come into vogue with many shooters. As a result, more and more new scopes are released in this configuration regardless of the scope's designed purpose. For my part, in general, I prefer 2fp to ffp for 1-(n) power scopes and ffp to 2fp for long range sniper scopes. All that being said, reticle design is more important than where it is placed focal plane wise. I would advise against ruling scopes out of your potential purchases based on focal plane location of the reticle.

The scopes to be commented on, arranged from least to most expensive (those without mount are assumed to be getting a $200 Larue SPR for the purposes of order in the list), are:



The final column of the table lists pages on which I found valuable reviews of each scope. Thank you to all the folks who took time to add quality informative reviews to this thread. Scopes grayed out have been discontinued. Reviews I have done myself are highlighted in red. I have done several reviews at the request of scope companies at this point. If you are a scope maker interested in my services, you may e-mail me about having a review done. You are also welcome to post a review of your scope yourself.

Since many of you are also interested in what mount to use, I am placing a link to an excellent page on one piece mounts assembled by MaxIcon. Many of you folks have probably seen this page as it is no secret around these parts, but if you have not, be sure to check it out here.

Thank you all for your input!

BigJimFish

Lester (Jim) Fischer
BigJimFish
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Posted: 1/23/2009 11:51:10 AM
[Last Edit: 6/22/2011 1:56:15 AM by BigJimFish]
Leupold CQ/T review:

In light of my further experiences with some other 1-4x scopes as well as some further ponderances I have had I have decided to rewrite my review of the CQ/T. I originally wrote my review to be useful to someone who had seen the numbers on the CQ/T online but had not had the opportunity to use it and wanted to know the feel. In hindsight I do not believe this to be the purpose of this thread. Instead I will now review it relative not to its own numbers but rather relative to how well it fulfills the ultimate purpose of scopes in this class. That purpose being to provide high hit probability quickly from 0-600+ yards. The full range of the AR weapons platform.

Durability - In light of my recent experiences with the IOR Pitbull I think it is fair to start this review with a word on durability. Although this may not be as important to some target shooters and perhaps 3 gun competitors I think that it is safe to assume most folks looking for a scope in this class are looking for something that will take the abuses of combat. Many of us are law enforcement, or military, but I think the majority is just a bit SHTF paranoid (or perhaps prepared.) In any case the CQ/T is certainly amongst the toughest scopes in this class. It utilizes a ridiculously thick aluminum housing and shields the objective lenses far from end of the tube. The adjustments are likewise heavily shielded by the housing. I have obviously not had a problem with durability on mine and likewise I have seen many CQ/T’s return from the sandbox with the crap kicked out of them still working fine. Following my experience with IOR I now inclined not to trust my life to many scopes. Certainly the CQ/T makes the grade.

Clarity - The key to understanding the clarity of the CQ/T is to understand it's small objective lens. I have had this scope for almost a decade now and have used it as a reference scope in 7 other reviews. I have been alternately satisfied, unimpressed, or impressed with its clarity. The reason for this schizophrenic appraisal is lighting. Most of the scopes in this class have a 24mm objective lense whereas the CQ/T has a 14mm lens. The difference in area between these two lens sizes is almost 3 times. Because of this the CQ/T is significantly less clear than most competitive optics when an abundance of light is not present even when those optics are of a demonstratabley lower grade. On a bright enough day though the CQ/T can hold its own with scopes in its price range. It takes a clear sunny day for this though. Overcast, rainy, dawn, or dusk and the clarity of the CQ/T fades quickly. This is especially true at 3x. On the bright side I have never observed the CQ/T to have problems washing out from glare. Leupold seems to have glare beat with almost all their products. The CQ/T shows noticeable curvature of field at 3x. This means that the edges of the image appear less clear than the center. I feel it is important to note that while this is not desirable it is still better to have more field of view at high power with a bit of haze than less field of view. Some optics manufacturers limit the field of view in order to produce smaller and therefore more uniform appearing image. Given the large filed of view the Leupold displays relative to most competitors it is safe to say Leupold did not do this. Though I would like less curvature of field I would not trade field of view for it.

Weight - This optic has bee widely criticized for weight but for this class of optics it is light (I think it is actually the lightest when mounted). Nevertheless at 496g it is still a bit heavy. This class of optics is heavy compared to red dots or fixed magnification ACOGS. I think the functionality is worth the weight.

Field of view - Good, one of the best fields of view for this class of optic. Yes it came at the expense of eye relief but the .223 has negligible kick so I think it was worth the trade.

Illumination - The illumination of the CQ/T is one of the least bright of the scopes I have tested. I am not convinced it suffers a loss of usefulness due to this though. Most 1-4x scopes are simply not bright enough to use illuminated on a sunny day. Conversely, all are bright enough to use indoor or at night. The adjustable rheostat allows good control of the brightness very quickly on the CQ/T since you turn it instead of pushing a bunch of eotech like buttons. I also feel it quite notable that the CQ/T does not have a problem with internal reflection of the illumination such as some scopes do. Only the reticle is illuminated. There are no clouds of ambient internal glare. I expect the same technology Leupold uses to eliminate glare may be at play here. Perhaps the best feature of the CQ/Ts illumination is the AA battery. It is the most common battery in the world making availability in SHTF a virtual guarantee. Every time I think about the AA battery I get a warm fuzzy feeling inside because I can find them everywhere and they are dirt cheap. This battery life is rated to 600 hours under medium illumination. This is better even than many red dots and almost all scopes in this class. Battery replacement is also tool less and quick with the CQ/T. I use a Lithium Ion battery in mine to eliminate worries of acid leakage but even for those who do not Leupold's engineers have thought things through. The battery is housed in a caddy that protects the scope from any leakage and is inexpensively replaced or easily cleaned.

Adjustments - The Adjustments on the CQ/T are low to the scope body and have a wide flat cap protecting them. It would be near impossible to mess up the turrets by dropping or bumping the scope. It is, however, notable that these adjustments require a coin to use. This is important since it makes it very difficult to use them for windage compensation or drop compensation for range. In order to test the adjustments of this scope I have set the scope up on my Lothar Walther barreled Spikes .22lr upper. This seems to give me the data desired without the time and expense of making up match .223 hand loads. In the first target you will see a simple box test. For those of you not familiar with it, the principle of a box test is to zero the scope and shoot the first group. For the second group, you move your adjustments a specified distance to the right, but you still aim at the original point. For the next group, you move the adjustments the same distance down, but again shoot at the original aim point. You then adjust back left to shoot and finally back up for the final group. The result should be a square box on the target with the last group on top of the first. This test will determine not only if your scope properly returns to zero but also if it's adjustments (right/left and up/down) operate independently of each other (i.e. adjusting left does not also adjust slightly down or up). I also used this test to asses whether the adjustments were moving the point of aim the amount that they claimed to be (i.e. 1/4 MOA adjustments move the point of aim 1/4 MOA and not 3/8 or some other amount). The target below was fired at 50 yards with the scope set to 3x. The point of aim for all groups is marked. The box test was performed such that each group should maintain the same placement relative to the four boxes on the target provided the adjustments are true.



Everything is as it should be on this box test. The adjustments on the CQ/T appear to be an accurate 1/2 MOA, Independent of each other, and return properly to the original zero following the test.

This next target is a power adjustment target. On the target the group in proximity to each of the upper two boxes represents a group fired at one of the two power extremes of the scope. No changes are made to the scope's adjustments when firing these groups. Each group is fired using the upper left corner of the respective boxes as the point of aim. A properly performing scope should show the same relative position of the center of each group to its target box. A scope whose point of impact shifts when the power is changed will show a corresponding shift in the group relative to the aim point.



As desired I notice no shift in the CQ/T's point of impact when the power is changed. I am very pleased with this target as I was very worried the size of the 1x group would make any judgments impossible. at 1x the dot in the center of the CQ/T's reticle covers 4.5" at 50 yards. This makes aiming at a precise point rather challenging.

Eye relief - Pretty short on 3x, one of the shortest eye reliefs for this class of optics. I have not found it uncomfortable or problematic. In fact I kind of like the short eye relief. The .223 really doesn’t kick enough for the short eye relief to be a problem and for some reason I find it comfortable.

Close range use - I find it comfortable and fast. I can easily walk around with both eyes open without loosing the reticle in my field of view. The true 1x must be pretty close because it does not bother me to keep both eyes open for extended periods. I also do not loose the reticle when firing while moving so I believe the exit pupil must be sufficient. The CQ/T only comes in one reticle: That being the circle dot. This reticle excels for close quarter use. The CQ/T is quite strong in this department.

Extended range use- I shoot consistently slightly sub 1 moa at 100 yards off the bench (at 3x.) This proves the optics are up to the challenge of delivering hits at 600 yards and beyond clarity wise. Unfortunately you are very unlikely to hit anything at that range. The reason for this is that this scope has a complete lack of mechanisms for range estimation, drop compensation, or windage compensation. I cannot over emphasize the problem this poses. In a class of optics the purpose of which is to provide high hit probability 0-600+ yards this scope realistically will not do that beyond 300 yards because its reticle and adjustments will not allow it. In truth that limits the CQ/T’s functionality to that of a red dot and magnifier. Leupold needs at the very least a reticle update especially considering our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are fighting an often long range desert and mountain war.

Appearance – I know we all shouldn’t be concerned with how things look. However, since half the ACOG users bought it because it looks cool I’m going to address the concern. I think the CQ/T is Tacti-cool looking. Some people think its ugly. Decide for yourself.

Conclusion – The CQ/T is a very worthwhile scope for use not exceeding 300 yards. I would even recommend it despite its below average optical clarity. It is remarkably durable, has a unique and desirable illumination system, and is fast at close range. It also has internals that track true and do not shift point of impact when the power changes. Conversely, if you want an optic that will satisfy the full potential of this class providing the skilled shooter high hit probability quickly from 0-600+ yards the CQ/T is not the ticket. It lacks any ranging, windage, and drop compensation mechanisms. This is an awful shame as with as little as a reticle update it could deliver 300+ more yards of usefulness.


Profile picture of the scope mounted

1x indoor no illumination

1x indoor max illumination

Sub MOA groups are entirely possible with only 3x magnification using the CQ/T
kmanoni
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Posted: 1/23/2009 2:06:49 PM
[Last Edit: 12/30/2010 5:27:56 PM by Zhukov]
<Off-topic posts removed - Z>
DoctorNo
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Posted: 1/23/2009 2:25:01 PM
[Last Edit: 1/23/2009 2:26:11 PM by DoctorNo]
I'm sure USMC04 will weigh in with a S&B review, but here is mine. I've been running one on my patrol carbine for the better part of a year and a half now. My previous sight of choice was an Eotech.

What brought me to switch? Sitting with my dick in my hands in the middle of the night while on a perimeter of a barricaded subject with a gun. My eotech, when turned up bright enough for house entry was too bright for sitting out in the dark. I had no magnification, and so being 25-40y away from the target I had no way of observing anything going on.

I picked up the short dot on others recommendations, and this has been my thoughts so far:

Pros: The 1.1x doesn't bug me at all. All my shooting up close is *fast*. You cannot see BUIS through it, but the etched reticle allows for a "backup" in case your batteries fail. Very easy to pick up a target even if the dot gets washed out. I noticed my split times on shots increased as well - I think this may have more to do with the additional weight of the sight keeping the rifle steadier.

Adjustability of 1-4x allows for multiple situations and solutions to problems. At a recent carbine match, I started several COF's in 2x mode and moved to 4x while moving to longer targets. The POI does not change no matter what magnification you are at. I have made standing shots at 300y on steel targets with great clarity.

Reliable. I have not had a single problem with it moving on me. I bang it around in my floorboard, patrol work, competition, etc.

Great eye relief, very easy to pick up and comfortable to shoot with. You can still see the etched reticle even if you do not have a clear sight picture, which is great for quick snap shots. HUGE field of view. You barely realize you're looking through a long tube.

Spare battery included in scope adjustment cap. THANK YOU. It's not easy to carry a spare 2032 around.

Cons: Heavy. At 1.25 lbs it is a bit of a beast on top of a carbine.

The sight has 1-5 settings for "NVD" devices, which are useless to me. Even with a NOD it would be difficult to get behind the sight. I wish the 7-11 settings were brighter for "oh god the day star won't go away" days.

Price, duh.

Doesn't fit easily in a rifle rack. Because the sight is so long, even with an adjustable rack, I have trouble finding a way to get the rifle to fit.

––––––––––––––––––––––––––

Overall, I have noticed overall that (as an instructor once told me) my lethal capabilities are greatly increased by running this rig. Short or long, I can hit fast and accurate. I am a true believer in the short range adjustable scopes.

Doc
BigJimFish
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Posted: 1/24/2009 11:49:34 AM
3 more scopes models added.
Ando
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Posted: 1/24/2009 2:48:33 PM
Trijicon should be listed as TR24, not TR23.
Midway is mistakenly listing it as the TR23.

Nikon has a new Monarch African 1x-4x on the way that may fit in this catagory.
Nikon Monarch African
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Posted: 1/25/2009 8:34:55 AM
[Last Edit: 1/25/2009 8:36:05 AM by Jacketch]
Meopta K-Dot 1-4x22 Illuminated Scope
I bought mine from LaRue along with the mount. No discount but the service and freebies make it worthwhile.

The glass in this scope is very good both in light transmission and resolution from edge to edge. The controls are easy to use especially the half click on/off for the illumination settings. The illuminated dot is easily seen even on light targets in bright daylight and with this feature turned off, the black t-dot reticle is easy to see.

The scope is a bit long with the built in lens shade but not overly so and though on the heavy side it isn't a brick. Eye relief is good and sight adjustment click stops are very positive. Field of view is very good.

My biggest gripe is the battery cap on the illumination setting knob which will loosen if you turn the knob too far.

The Meostar 1-4x22 K-Dot riflescope features true 1x power for quick and easy target acquisition with both eyes open.
Illuminated dot with 7 levels of intensity. Half-click on/off positioning ensures a quick return to your previously used illumination setting.
A true 30mm premium grade optics assembly fitted in a lightweight, one piece aircraft grade aluminum alloy 30mm main tube
Premium MB-550 Ion Assisted fully multi-coated lenses that deliver light transmission of 99.8 % lens transmission.
Ergonomic positive grip power change ring and quick focus eyepiece.
Covered by Meopta's Lifetime Transferable Warranty.


Meostar 1-4x22 K-Dot
Field of View @ 100 yards [ft.]103 - 24 / 111 - 25.8
Eye Relief [in.] 3.1 / 3.1
Weight [oz.] 16.9 / 18.7
Overall Length [in.] 11.8 / 12
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!

Free Plaxico Burress
Jacketch
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Posted: 1/25/2009 8:47:35 AM
[Last Edit: 1/25/2009 8:49:25 AM by Jacketch]
Weaver 1-3x20 Classic V3 Rifle scope

The V3 is an excellent inexpensive scope for those who want a true 1x on a low power scope but don't want to spend a bundle. I purchased mine at SWFA for use on a 3gun carbine and it has seen considerable use.

The glass in this scope is amazingly good for the price range and the zoom control works as smooth as some more expensive scopes. The dual-x reticle is easy to use and the weight of the scope is down in the red dot territory. Mine has held zero after much use.

I really don't have anything bad to say about this scope except no illumination.

specifications
Weight (oz): 8.5
Length (in):9.125
Eye Relief (in): 3.12 - 3.12
Field of View @ 100yds (ft): 87 - 30.75
Exit Pupil (mm): 15 - 6.6
MOA: 1/4
Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
Warranty: Limited Lifetime
How smart a lash that speech doth give my conscience!

Free Plaxico Burress
dcalloway
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Posted: 1/26/2009 10:27:17 PM
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SamD
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DevL
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Posted: 1/27/2009 6:52:38 AM
[Last Edit: 1/28/2009 6:56:43 AM by DevL]
Originally Posted By BigJimFish:
The purpose of this thread is to air opinions on a class of optics that, for the all around AR, is my favorite. To qualify an optic must have a low power setting of 1x or true 1x which is ~1.1x.

No, 1.1X is not a true 1X. Only 1X is 1X and even then its not always exactly 1X like in the case of the SN-4 due to other factors... primarily the fact the SN-4 blocks FOV to reduce curvature of field below 1.5X and requires the diopter set all the way to one side (and thus set incorrectly) to get a 1X setting.


The optics magnified setting must be 3x or greater. Illumination is required because otherwise it would not work well for close quarters both eyes open use.

Again, not true. Illumination may be prefered and it may be needed for very low light use but it no way is REQUIRED to work well in close quarters. A thick unilluminated reticle is great. Likewise a daytime bright small, thin illuminated reticle would be great. Only a thin or small unilluminated reticle is REQUIRED to be illuminated and even then you are looking at maybe 4 or 5 optics that have daytime illumination capability. Irons have worked well for CQB for many years and are not illuminated.

I am only interested in decent glass. No, ncstar crap. To have an optic added to this first post please pm me I'm sure I forgot something. Please add only opinions of optics you have used. No speculation or hearsay.

Background: Variable power illuminated true 1-6x / true 1-4x / true 1-3x scopes are my favorite solution to all around AR needs. The true 1x (1.1x) setting combined with illumination makes them viable close quarters scopes competitive with aimpoints and eotechs. The 3 or 4x setting makes them viable medium range scopes competitive with acogs. The fact that they have true etched glass reticules which are functional without illumination beats the hell out of an aimpoint or eo tech + magnifier combo.

OK lets look at the Meopta... my scope and personal favorite for the money. Battery life of the optic at max setting is about 4 days. Aimpoint is practically unlimited (years) at the same intensity. The fact the reticle is etched means the loss of the unlimited eye relief, the parallax free capability, etc. The reticle being etched is a negative vs an Aimpoint. The Aimpoints dot is like 20X easier to see than a dead Meopta's reticle. The Aimpoint, being paralax free is easier to use in odd positions. I cant find ANY reason the etched reticle is better other than better precision of the reticle due to astigmatism or other optical issues. The only one is a dead battery which is not likely AT ALL on an Aimpoint.


The only downside I see to this class of optics is the weight. All of these weigh more than an acog or red dot. I expect most weigh a bit less than a red dot + magnifier.

actually most weight slightly more than a full sized Aimpoint plus magnifier and even more than a T1 plus magnifier. In fact the only one thats lighter than a full sized Aimpoint plus magnifier will be the TR24... that I know of anyway. This is totalling mounts, optics etc.


The scopes to be commented on Arranged from least to most expensive (those without mount are assumed to be getting a $200 Larue spr for the purposes of order in the list) are:

Millett DMS 1-4x around $200 + mount
Leupold CQ/T 1-3x around $750 includes mount
Burris XTR 1-4x24mm $659 + mount
Trijicon TR24 1-4x around $750 + mount - new not available for a couple months but shows promise
Mepota k-dot 1-4x around $800 + mount
U.S. Optics SN4-400 (illuminated option) 1-4x around $1,300 includes mount
IOR Valada 1 or 4 x 32mm - price unknown brand new not available for a couple months
IOR Valdada 1-4x26 around $1,100 + mount
Ellis Optics MK-7 Omega 1-6x around $1,150 + mount - new, not available for a couple months
Nightforce NXS 1-4x24 around $1,200 + mount
Zeiss victory varipont 1-4x24 T around $1.900 + mount
Swarovski 1-6x24 Z6i around $2,200 + mount
Schmidt and Bender Short Dot 1-4x around $2500 + mount

Thank you all for your input if we get some good reviews going maybe we'll even get tacked.


Note the red sections above. I think some of your basic given premises are a bit off IMO.

You need to add the Elcan DR 1X/4X. It is pretty amazing at 1X and is fairly equivalent to an ACOG at 4X.

Here are some things to consider.

Do you shoot over 300 yards with this rifle? I dont mean once every couple years either.
Do you currently actually use a ranging reticle on a regular basis to range targets? I would if SHTF does not count. I tried it once to see how it worked cmpared to the laser range finder does not count either.

If you do both, a built in ranging BDC in the reticle is needed. If not, you dont need it. If you shoot long range but use a laser range finder you only need a finger adjustable elevation knob.

Daytime illumiation is not needed but is BETTER. Meopta, TR24, Elcan DR, Swarovski and S&B all qualify.

More important than most realise due to the exceptionally short battery life of this class of optic is auto off from a timer. Only the TR24 does not need it because of no batts and the Elcan has a minimum 600 hours battery life. S&B and Swarovski have it. I dont think any others do. If you have plenty of batteries you wont just end up with a dead reticle on a Meopta because its illumintion gets progressively worse with age... you will have about 24-48 hours notice you ned to change batteries. In contrast the SN4 if accidentally left on full power will die in 12 hours according to US optics. So its not just battery life or lack of it, but the likelyhood your illumination will just not be there when you ned it or the need for spare batteries and a LONG lead time to know it needs to be replaced.

IMO larger exit pupil at 1X makes the optic FAR easier to use in odd positions. The Elcan is king there. Its REALLY hard to get so far off axis you lose FOV.

Important for shooting groups is the precison of the Aiming point of the reticle. A dot of 1.5 MOA at 4X like the Meopta combined with its necessary illumination the blooming illumination brings, creates an optic that easily allows 200 yard head shots but will be unsuitable for shooting little sub MOA groups on paper. You want as much magnification as possible and a thin, crosshair type reticle that is unilluminated for doing super precise shooting.
Baldmonk
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Posted: 1/27/2009 9:34:26 AM
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jerz_subbie
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Posted: 1/27/2009 1:08:05 PM
Originally Posted By BigJimFish:
Millett DMS 1-4x around $200 + mount
Leupold CQ/T 1-3x around $750 includes mount
Burris XTR 1-4x24mm $659 + mount
Trijicon TR24 1-4x around $750 + mount - new not available for a couple months but shows promise
Mepota k-dot 1-4x around $800 + mount
U.S. Optics SN4-400 (illuminated option) 1-4x around $1,300 includes mount
IOR Valada 1 or 4 x 32mm - price unknown brand new not available for a couple months
IOR Valdada 1-4x26 around $1,100 + mount
Ellis Optics MK-7 Omega 1-6x around $1,150 + mount - new, not available for a couple months
Nightforce NXS 1-4x24 around $1,200 + mount
Zeiss victory varipont 1-4x24 T around $1.900 + mount
Elcan Specter DR 1x/4x around $1990.00 includes mount
Swarovski 1-6x24 Z6i around $2,200 + mount
Schmidt and Bender Short Dot 1-4x around $2500 + mount

Thank you all for your input if we get some good reviews going maybe we'll even get tacked.


The price you have listed for the Burris XTR-14 @ swfa is incorrect. It is only $589.
Also, it can be had w/ XTR rings & FastFire @ SWFA for $765. <–– This is what I use and will provide a review soon.
asiparks
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Posted: 1/31/2009 3:44:45 AM
ior 1.1-4..
I have a slightly earlier version, with a slightly different CQB reticule and a different battery cover, but I believe the scope is fundementally the same...

first off, it's big, here it is with my TA 33:


and mounted:


and it's built like something eskimos would chase seal pups with. It really is very solid feeling.

I'm sorry I don't have much to compare it with optically, it's very sharp and very bright, way more so than my DMS, sharper than my CRS and a bit brighter, equally sharp as the TA 33, but a bit brighter.
Although it's a 1.1 not a true 1X, when using it with both eyes open at targets over 5 yards away, I really can't tell.

here's some reticule shots. they're crap I'm afraid, and don't give an accurate impression of actally looking through the scope...



the illumination is pretty good, but certainly not daytime bright. In this shot it was at #4 of 7.



All the controls, the zoom ring, adjustment knobs etc all work smoothly and precisely. When i first got the scope i did a 12 click each way box test, no problems there and none about 4000 rounds later, about another 1000 with it on my FAL.

I got this particular one used a couple of years ago on the EE here when they could be had for around $450 - $500. I think they ran around $750 new which made them good value. Is it worth the nearly $1100 price now ? Can't say but if someone in the PDX area has a Trijicon 1-4, Meopta, NF etc andwants to compare I'm happy to.

cheers




Belmont31R
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Posted: 1/31/2009 5:02:13 AM
[Last Edit: 1/31/2009 5:02:57 AM by Belmont31R]
Schmidt and Bender Short-Dot Gen 1 w/ CQB reticle:


Overall I like this scope very much. Like other variable power optics in this class it is meant to provide an optic from CQB to medium length distances. Since it does the job of multiple optics (Aimpoint, ACOG, et cetera) you are going to have to give up something somewhere. In this case the optics tend to be hefty, and larger than either an Aimpoint or ACOG.


On 1.1X the scope works very well for CQB but not as good as an Aimpoint in my opinion but not by much at all. The Short-Dot is an optic you have to get used to, and have to practice with to get used to the 1.1X setting. The dot does not wash out against light backgrounds even with a white light present. In bright day light the dot has enough power to stay very visible and illuminated. I routinely shoot out under the Texas sun, and have never had a single issue with being able to see the dot.

At 4X the scope has a fine enough reticle you can make fairly precise shots, and has several hash marks along the reticle that you can use to make rough range estimations, and you can also use them as a BDC although they are not marked like those on the ACOG. You just have to figure out which line to use for what distance. You can also use the turret which is calibrated for a basic load. The Gen 1 Short-Dot comes with 4 interchangable cams: M855, Mk262, M118LR, and .300WM. I have found the M855 cam to be accurate using XM193 out of a 16" barrel.

The optical clarity is simply amazing, and so is the low light transmission. During the day it has a slight tint, and works well to reduce glare but still provide a bright and colorful sight picture. At dusk you can see into the shadows, and the #6 power setting works well on pitch black nights. Setting the focus is very easy. Eye relief is very generous, and very easy to stay on target- meaning your eye does not have to be PERFECTLY centered behind the tube to see anything. In other optics its easy to lose the sight picture during rapid shooting exercises and movements. Not so with the Short-Dot.

The negatives to this scope are the price, bulk, and battery life. Its not cheap by any means, and you have to factor the cost of the mount into the cost. I run mine with a LaRue SPR1.93 as I find it easier to get on target when coming up from the low ready, and with the SPR-M4 or SPR-E I found I have to jam my cheek into the stock. The SPR1.93 allows me to get on target very fast. The scope does weigh a ton but is built like a tank as most European optics are. I have taken mine on numerous car rides in a simple soft case, its been banged around at the range, been around the country with me, and I have yet to encounter a loss of zero at all. I have heard of no zero or other mechanical issues with those who have taken them over to Iraq or Afghanistan. The Short-Dot is not nearly as good as an Aimpoint in regards to battery life but it doesnt toally blow either. Ive had mine for almost a year now, and gone through 3 batteries so far. The good news is they are easily obtainable, and not spendy. I bought 4 2-packs of them at Lowe's for about 20 dollars, and keep a pack in several places.

I have owned or have used several other brands of optics including Aimpoint, EOTech, Leupold, Trijicon, MARS, Weaver, Swarovski, Leica, and a few others Im missing. I am 100% sure the Short-Dot is the best of the bunch all things considered. It may not be the best in every category but its right up there in all of them, and at the top in most. One of the issues pointed out by another posted is that even for a CQB dedicated gun you may be on a 30YRD+ perimeter around the building for hours before making entry, and its nice to have the extra magnification to peer into windows, or for the soldier checking a suspicious object or person out while still having a gun ready. Binoculars mean your gun is not ready and in your hands. ACOG's work well for this purpose, too, but are not nearly as capable at CQB. Aimpoints are the fastest optic out there for CQB but offer no magnification unless you buy a magnifier. The ACOG with the RDS becomes almost as expensive as a good used Short-Dot, and with the RDS sitting so high up you are most assuredly not going to have a good cheek weld at all, and your cheek weld will change between using the ACOG and the RDS. Id also say the dot in the Aimpoint is much more sensitive to the enviromental light conditions. For instance the lowest "normal" setting on the Short-Dot is the #7, and it works ok during the day, and is still usuable at night in an urban area. With an Aimpoint you would need to crank the power up and down multiple times to avoid blooming the dot out, and getting the "halo" around the edges of the field of view. The EOTech is the worst out of the 3. To the ACOG's credit the scope works well in all lighting conditions but some people do think the reticle becomes too bright during sunny days, and will put a peice of tape over the fiber optic tube. I have not felt the need to do this even in Iraq, but it can bother some.

Overall the Short-Dot is an awesome optic, and if you can afford to buy one I would not hesitate in the least. If I ever get the itch to consolidate my AR's down to a couple "sets" Ill be buying a 2nd Short-Dot to have a clone back up. So far there is too much I want to get still....
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -Benjamin Franklin 1759

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BigJimFish
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Posted: 2/4/2009 2:57:34 PM
Still looking for reviews on:
burris
us optics
nightforce
zeiss
elican
swarovski
and, of course, all the scopes that haven't been released yet.

Thanks to those who have reviewed, some excellent thoughts and experiences.
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Posted: 2/8/2009 1:03:09 PM
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phanatic
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Posted: 2/21/2009 11:18:21 AM
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Posted: 2/21/2009 1:00:25 PM
Originally Posted By Ando:
Trijicon should be listed as TR24, not TR23.
Midway is mistakenly listing it as the TR23.

Nikon has a new Monarch African 1x-4x on the way that may fit in this catagory.
Nikon Monarch African


Nice option to consider. Actually, they have three versions of this scope on their website; 2 non-illuminated versions, either a 1" or 30mm tube, and a 30mm illuminated version. All use the German reticule, the illuminated version just adds a dot at the crosshair junction.

BigJimFish
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Posted: 2/23/2009 9:00:15 PM
I finally found that illuminated Nikon on their site. Thanks to all of you who called my attention to it. It has been added to the master list.
Derek45
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Posted: 2/23/2009 9:17:03 PM
Scopes I've owned.....

WEAVER V3 excellent scope. true 1x, great for 3-gun.

MILLETT DMS chinese junk. defective out of box, Betty Millett made it right with a replacement.
heavy and mine was very fish-eye at 1x.

TRIJICON TR21R almost perfect, except for the 5.5" eye relief. I shoot nose to chearging handle, and even
with the excellent Larue SPR-E, it was impossible for me. no batteries required and the illuminated reticle
was always perfect.

BURRIS XTR 1-4x My current favorite. better glass than my NIKON Monarch. great reticle. true 1X



WEAVER


MILLETT


TR21R


BURRIS


NRA Life Member
USPSA-IPSC


"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

- Benjamin Franklin
BigJimFish
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Posted: 3/9/2009 3:37:35 PM
Bump with change to the order of the scopes. Through further research I found out the price of the US Optics scope did not include mount. It is now ordered in the list accordingly.
DoctorNo
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Posted: 3/9/2009 5:07:21 PM
Another interesting note to add to these would be weight. I looked up a few:

(all scope w/out mount)
S&B : 20oz
Burris XTR : 17oz
Leopold CQT: 17.5oz
Trijicon TR24: 14.4oz
Mepota K-dot: 16.9oz
Nikon: 16.9 oz

you can search on the others. These are all manufacturer stated weights.

Anyone with a scale that could weigh a larue SPR-E or SPR mount too?

Doc
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Posted: 3/22/2009 10:12:31 AM
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itschris
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Posted: 3/22/2009 10:31:42 AM
This is a great thread as the 1x4's may/could be the perfect compromise. So far, the Burris seems to be the top dog from this post and others. I'd like to hear about any direct comparisons between the Burris and the K-dot.

Do any of these come in the different ret colors? Specifically green? I thinik you can the Trij Accupoint in the green ret. I'm wondering how that compares as well.
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Posted: 3/23/2009 1:02:46 PM
I have been using a Nikon Monarch Gold 30mm 1.5-6x on my AR15 midlength. I am of the opinion that for a general purpose sight, I'd rather have one of these than the Aimpoint. At close range, the field of view is wide enough I can cover more than a standard 30 in. door at 8 or 10 feet, so I would feel confident with it at close quarters, plus I am very automatic on moving targets with a conventional scope due to years of hunting and thousands of rounds of practice. The only scope I have that compares with this one in low light brightness is a Zeiss Conquest. I also like to use the AR15 for hunting and the 6x gives me plenty of power for 1 MOA groups and it can be used at fairly long range on coyotes, etc.
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