I shot my deer this year at about 75 yards and about 110 yards. Both were shot at 5x's magnification with the same as above scope. I didn't have any problems seeing the reticle or dropping the two deer.
If I could do it again, I'd spend more money to buy quality up front. Buy once cry once. That being said I would also look at forums for used higher end scopes. You're not going to get a S&B PM II for $1,000 but you can get a little more features and quality for your money if you are willing to wait for the right deal.
Another vote for the XTR IIs. I got the 5-25 SCR-mil and I love everything on it, clarity, turrets, reticle, reticle illumination, it's a really nice scope. Plus, when using splatter targets, I can see the holes @ 300 yds.
I know this is a zombie thread but I like the topic and wanted to add my 2 cents. I've got no experience with high end optics, only what one might consider entry level optics. My best scope, the best I've ever owned, is a Zeiss Conquest 3-9x42 that I have on my win 70 supergrade. When I bought it I looked at Nikon Monarch, Leupold III and a few other similar priced optics and found the Zeiss to be much nicer in terms of glass, eye box, etc. I've handled since some Zeiss terra which is their newer low end and these are also very nice.
I have two millet scopes, an lrs 1 and a buck gold both are nice glass, but more sensitive to eye relief. The rest of my scopes are all old redfield and weaver 4x and one redfield 2 - 7 all of which are excellent but old usa made steel tube scopes. Finally two BSA's waiting to be put on 22 LR rifles for target shooting.
Based on my experience the Zeiss is as good as it gets in this price range but I haven't owned a vortex.
18 on the top end is a little low compared to some others in that class, and the 44mm objective is smaller. But it would save on size and weight for maybe a good scope for a DMR rifle or a hunting rifle.