Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Guest Post: Lower-Cost Scope Comparison and Review

by George Groot
George is a member of our Facebook Group and has written for us before.

A few years back, the competition rules for the service rifle were changed to allow a “maximum of 4.5 power with 35mm objective lens” optic on AR-15 type rifles. This was done mainly to make the sport more accessible to people who didn’t want to have to learn all the intricacies of iron sight shooting at distance, and to make it easier on older shooters who have eyes that just aren’t as good as they were when they were younger.

Because of this change, I have been able to test a number of optics, and here is a review of the less expensive competition scopes for preppers.


Bushnell Banner 1.5-4.5x32
This is a non-illuminated budget scope manufactured for Bushnell by Su Optics of South Korea. At 1.5 power there is some obvious spherical distortion around the edge of the sight picture, but that really clears up at 4.5 power. The light gathering of this scope is very good, and while the elevation and windage adjustments are finger adjustable and have graduated lines, they are small and this scope was really meant to be a “set it and forget it” type hunting scope. For around $90, this is a pretty good option for a .30-30 or an AR-pattern rifle. Turret adjustments are one-quarter MOA, and the “multi-X” reticle is easy to use to get centered on your target.


Nikon P-223
This optic is made in the Philippines and has very clear glass, no noticeable spherical distortion at the edges, and a bullet drop compensator (BDC) reticle combined with uncapped tactical turrets. It is the most compact scope here, and for $140 you get excellent Nikon glass and adjustments. The downside is that you have no ability to drop it down to a lower magnification for rapid snap shots, but out of all the scopes in this review this is the best one for a dedicated long-range option, as you can use the BDC for quick shots or dial in each shot using the half-MOA turrets.

This is the only scope reviewed here that has stadia lines to let you know which revolution your windage and elevation knobs are on, which is a really useful feature for long-range shooting. This scope would really be at home on a “ranch rifle” setup where snap shots at predators from the top of a quad could happen fairly regularly.


Vortex Crossfire II 1-4x24
This is a solid entry level “me too” optic by Vortex. The regular reticle version is a standard Duplex and works fine for hunting or competing in daylight hours, and is about 10 dollars cheaper than the illuminated version. The illuminated version is worth the extra money because if you should need to make quick snap shots in low light the red center dot on the reticle gives you that option, but if the illumination fails (the battery dies, for example) you still have a decent scope.

Zeroing the scope is the same as any other, and you just need an hex key to adjust the knobs to zero. After multiple high-power matches, the adjustments have so far proved repeatable from my 200 yard zero out to 600 yards. Adjustment clicks are graduated in half MOA adjustments, although they a little “mushy” so I like to see where I stop the knob.

Mounting Options
For mounting these scopes I have used the Vortex Cantilever 30mm, a Burris P.E.P.R 30mm, and a CCOP 30mm and 1” version. The Vortex and Burris options are solid, but the CCOP is essentially a clone of the P.E.P.R and sells for $30 less. Only the Nikon P-223 3x32 is too small to fit inside the CCOP 1” mount, and needs a set of medium or high rings to attach it to the rail.

Final Thoughts
There are many other scopes out there in this price range, and if I didn’t mention them it is only because I have no experience with them. Having handled the scopes reviewed here, I can say that the Vortex illuminated gets the most use from me as it is the scope that sits on my primary competition rifle. What I like least about the Vortex is that the illumination control knob sits on the ocular bell which is less convenient to me than if it were placed opposite the windage knob, and also there is not an “off” selection between brightness options. But neither of these are dealbreakers for me, and so the Vortex continues to be my primary go-to scope.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The Fine Print

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License

Erin Palette is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.