The following is the end-point I've arrived at after going through all of the above. A practical
long-range rifle shooter who wants to shoot MOR, sniper, tactical, and field matches should pick a
scope with the following features:
Variable magnification in the 3-18x range. Low power is useful in low light, on close targets,
and on movers. Higher magnification helps for target ID and sight picture at long range. Scope
must have parallax and focus adjustment.
- Knob "clicks" no more coarse than 0.5 MOA. The standard clicks of 0.25 MOA or 0.1 MIL are great.
0.1MIL is about 1/3 MOA. Clicks in this range are fine enough to allow precise specification of
elevation for small targets.
- The elevation knob should have a zero-stop set up to allow either no clicks below "0" or up to a
couple MOA "below" 0. The zero stop helps to prevent the shooter from being a full knob-turn
revolution off from where he intends to be, and is easier to check settings in low light
- Elevation knob should be of the "big, many-click" type, so the shooter can get to 1000 yards
with a .308 in less than 80% of one turn.
- The reticle must be of a first focal plane configuration. The FFP reticle allows use of reticle
features at any magnification setting, which is useful for target location, tracking of moving
targets, fast engagements, spotting, and low-light.
- The reticle should have angular features in units useful for both hold-over/under and windage
hold-off. Typical units would be 1/2 MOA hash marks, or 0.2 or 0.5 MIL hash marks. The Horus H25
reticle appears busy, but is ideal for rapid engagements of multiple targets at different
Schmidt & Bender and US Optics are the only manufacturers who currently make top-quality scopes with
the right features for practical long-range rifle shooting.
- The angular units of the reticle features must match the angular units of the knobs' "click"
values. There is no reason to have two different "systems" in use on the same scope. If the
clicks are in MOA, the reticle features should be in MOA. If the reticle is in mils (e.g. Horus
or Mil-dot), the knob clicks should be in mil units.
- Field-adjustable illuminated reticle. The illuminated reticle dramatically improves sight
picture in some low light environments. The ability to adjust the brightness in the field is
critical to prevent wash-out with a super bright reticle setting. The downside of an illuminated
reticle is that it can indicate the presence of the shooter.
- Objective size. A good compromise point is a 44-50mm objective provided that the scope has very
high quality lenses, such as those from Schmidt & Bender or US Optics. A larger objective size in
a scope with lower quality lenses may be less bright than a smaller objective with high quality
Here are the current high-end scopes on the market that satisfy - or partially satisfy - those
3 barrels $1800
15,000 reloads $6000
CONSUMABLE COST -> $7800
Schmidt & Bender PMII, 3-12, 4-16, or 5-25, again with matching angular units in the reticle and
on the knobs.
- Premier Heritage 3-15x50mm. All features. Excellent price $2000-2500. Best performance
- US Optics SN-3 3.2-17x, preferrably with reticle features that match the knob clicks (mil/mil,
4-16x56 mm (read full article here).
- Nightforce First Focal 3.5-15x50mm with zero stop and high-speed adjustment knob.
2010 Update! NF's new "High Speed Adjustment" knob is a many-click, few-turn configuration 20 moa
of adjustment in a single turn.
- Leupold Mark 4 "FF", with caveats. The M1 version of this scope has no zero stop. The M3 version of
this scope has a zero stop, but coarse 1 MOA clicks. There is a new M2 version of this scope with 0.5 MOA elevation clicks
which should be a good choice. The matching reticle/knob options are extremely limited
lacks proper big, many-click elevation knob
This comparison doesn't even include the cost of formal training, match fees and travel costs. If
you plan on shooting regularly to achieve a superior level of proficiency, it makes sense
to buy the best rifle and scope you possibly can.
Proceed to PRACTICAL LONG RANGE
RIFLE SHOOTING - PART III: SHOOTING