Recommendation for first rifle scope

  • I stumbled upon this forum after reading through the Rifle Sighting Systems articles on Primal Rights, and am looking for some help. The articles were exceptionally well written, and definitely gave me the best overall explanation on the intricacies of rifle scopes. But having zero experience with distance shooting, I'm still second guessing my decisions.

    I'm slowly building my first precision rifle style AR15 in 5.56, and am in the market for a scope. I started by looking at $300 scopes, and that has snowballed into under $1k scopes (funny how that works). My intent is to shoot between 100 and 600 yards (maybe one day longer) either prone, or on a bench; primarily as a fun range gun. If somehow I get bit by the competition-shooting bug, I'd like to use it for that as well. I'm shying away from the cheaper scopes, as I intend to one day put the scope on a higher caliber, match grade rifle, so I'm justifying this as a long term investment.

    After much deliberation, I'm really liking the Vortex Viper PST 6-24x50 FFP EBR-1 (MRAD) Reticle 30mm Tube, mainly for the FFP and Mil/Mil features, which seem to be hard to come by for under $1K. Some have recommended SWFA, NightForce, Leupold, Burris... but all have mixed reviews. Seems like everyone who has ever owned a Vortex, loves them. So here are my questions:

    1. What do you think about the magnification levels for 100-600 yards?
    2. Is an illuminated reticle advised if I plan to shot mostly in broad daylight?
    3. Do you guys have a better recommendation for scope?

    Thank you for the help!

  • I don't have a recommendation because I am really short on first hand knowledge with the sub $1000 scopes. I will say this however...I have seen many people on the forums have to send their PST back for work. It always seems that they are still happy with the scope because the customer service is great...but you won't have to look very hard to find a PST with problems.

  • @gordonam said:

    What do you think about the magnification levels for 100-600 yards?

    Magnification requirements are decided by target size as well as distance. If shooting large targets, 24x is significant overkill. If small targets (1moa) then the magnification is appreciated. Too much magnification can also be difficult for a rookie shooter to conquer. The high detail allows you to see every little wiggle you do, and the instinct is to fight it... when the correct response is to relax into it. However, you can always dial the magnification ring down. You can't get more than max if you find it to little.

    @gordonam said:

    Is an illuminated reticle advised if I plan to shot mostly in broad daylight?

    Illumination is nice for low light instances, but most do not require it from a learning/target/competition setup.

    @gordonam said:

    Do you guys have a better recommendation for scope?

    Yes. The PST's I have experienced have a VERY high failure rate. Consider the burris XTR II's instead.

    Welcome to Gunhive!

  • The Burris XTRII Is rather large however.

    I am also looking at scopes for an AR, in the 3-15 area, and there's not a lot of choices in the cheaper around $1,000 area.

    It's frustrating, ideally a 3-15x40(44, or 42) with a 30mm tube, exposed elevation capped or locking windage, parallax adjustment ideally down to 25 yards, illumination would be a nice bonus, lighter in weight would be nice as well.

    As far as I can find that scope doesn't exist. I may end up saving for a Tangent Theta 315M it would be about the closest, but but it's costly and will take a lot of time for me.

    I dunno I guess there's no demand for a scope like that.

    I do have an older PST 4-16 SFP scope and hate it, it's really more like a 4-12 ish scope it gets really dark and blurry in the higher power. It seems like when I make an adjustment the first shot is off then the next few will settle in, the clicks are a bit mushy as well. I need to update it then toss it in the trash.

  • Your looking at 3 scopes pretty much that are going to fit your budget and fufill most of your needs. Understand that while $1000 is a lot of money, its still not the best of the best when it comes to optics. Being a new shooter, you'll be easily impressed with what you get, but down the road, you'll find out the flaws and compromises made.

    In order I'd look at these 3 scopes...

    1. The Burris XTR II, yes its a little big for an AR, and its the most money, but it is the best scope in this price range right now.

    2. The Viper PST. Yes they can have issues, the great thing is Vortex does stand behind their product. It can be frustrating buying a new scope and having issues, and if that is really going to piss you off, then get the Burris. If your not worried about it knowing they'll fix it, then go for it.

    3. The SWFA 3-15 FFP. Great for AR's, 22lr's and budget builds, but again its the lowest power and cheapest scope.

    I personally have a 6-24x50 Viper HSLR. Very happy with it for my needs and budget. But I also don't expect it to be the quality of a $2500 scope either. The 6-24 power Vipers don't seem to have the glass issue that the 4-16's have that Rhyno is talking about.

  • @rhyno said:

    The Burris XTRII Is rather large however.

    What are you talking about? They have several different designs. Some fit AR's perfectly.

  • @orkan said:

    @rhyno said:

    The Burris XTRII Is rather large however.

    What are you talking about? They have several different designs. Some fit AR's perfectly.

    Really? The ones I've held have all been quite large as I recall the 3-15 and the 8-40. Unless I read the wrong.

    Guess I haven't been around all of them though.

  • You know... a trip to their website would save you all of this speculation, and others the pain of possibly being led down the wrong path when they read your posts.

    Look in the column to the left. Quite a few models bearing the xtr-II line.

    In any event, the 3-15 XTR-II is not a bulky scope by any stretch of the imagination. It is no larger than PST's, or any of the other scopes in that class. Tube diameter does not equate to any "bulk" which can be noticed when operating the rifle.

  • I certainly apologize if that's happened. But the OP was looking at the 6-24 PST, I assumed he would look at similar XTRii, and I remember them being fairly large.

    Though I did not have them on a rifle.

    Anyways I'll bow out now, what I said about the PST was relevant at least.

  • You're right in that the XTRII's in equal magnification ranges aren't appreciably larger than the PST's. However there are several DFP and FFP XTRII's that are pretty tiny and light weight as well.

  • Don't even consider a Leupold.
    I have a VX -3 6.5-20 EFR and it is a decent $650 scope as far as glass quality compared to a PST but it is a 30 year old design. No turret stop, Adjustable Objective rather than side focus. I have it on my CZ 22. It may go on my Colt HBAR for a short time for load development and then get taken off.

  • 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.