.223 / 5.56 Bolt-Action Rifle Optics Choices - Page 2

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  1. #11
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    Had some free time Friday afternoon to wander around Gander Mountain, where I actually found two of the scopes on my list:

    Leupold VX-2 2-7x 33mm CDS did not appear much different than the VX-3 in optical quality although I prefer the eyepiece design of the VX-3. I was under the impression that all Leupold scopes had stiff turrets but this model was noticeably easier to turn than the others I handled; both the CDS and standard dials. Again I did not notice slop and but the adjustments were definitely easier to feel.

    Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x 42mm is a very nice scope but on the heavy side. Surprisingly this scope was not too difficult to keep both eyes open at close range. Until I looked at this scope, I failed to realize the Monarch BDC reticle is not the M-223 BDC-600 reticle. The Monarch BDC reticle has a resemblance to the German #4 design with three small open circles located below the horizontal; indeed much simpler than the BDC-600.


    Thoughts on ballistic-specific dial systems:

    Short answer - Nikon Monarch seems to have the most options.

    Leupold charges $90 for a single CDS turret to be added or upgraded. Additional dials in other calibrations are available for $60 each. The Leupold CDS dials have a zero stop except for the generic dial included for setup purposes.

    Nikon Spot-On dials replace the stock dials at the cost $100 each. Nikon also offers taller target dials at $65 for a single and $100 for a pair. I have not been able to determine if any of these do or do not have a zero stop. Note that the scope does not need to be sent to Nikon for these changes which means the design/layout can be changed at any time.


    Removing two from the final list:

    Nikon M-223: After looking at several models in different stores, I came to the conclusion the turret knobs are a bit larger than I prefer and I will not be using the eyepiece cap. Yes this decision is based upon aesthetics only. If I intended to shoot a lot wearing heavy gloves this would be the scope to have.

    Weaver Grand Slam: I have yet to see any Weaver optics after visiting four different stores. Yes I could order one and then return it but I would need something to compare side-by-side.


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  3. #12
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    While the end of July passed, I have not yet made a decision. Fortunately my indecision has a benefit: Nikon will begin a $30 rebate program on BDC equipped scopes in a few weeks (August 19th I think).


    Leupold VX-3 series uses a twin bias spring erector system where as the VX-2 is a single spring system. Thus the explaination of why the VX-2 did not feel as stiff as the VX-3. I'm taking the VX-2 off the list as the VX-3 is a more durable product.

    Another statement I have seen frequently about the Leupold VX-3 is variable eye relief; eye relief becomes shorter as the magnification is increased. This is of concern because I want the ability to change magnification without repositioning my head. At this point the Leupold VX-3 remains on the list because of build quality and overal weight.


    At this point I'm still comparing offerings from Leupold, Nikon, Vortex, and Zeiss. The rifle arrived this week so I will be taking some measurements to see if any physical dimensions will help the selection.

  4. #13
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    I know a few folks are following this thread, so an update is due:


    Variable Eye Relief on Leupold Scopes:

    Variable eye relief exists on almost every riflescope in production. On better quality optics the eye relief varies about 0.2" to 0.3" across the range of magnification; which most people will find hard to detect. Searching the internet for a while leads to test data to support these figures.

    Leupold publishes a maximum obtainable eye relief for the lowest and highest magnifications. They also publish instructions stating to locate and mount the riflescope when set on the highest magnification. From what I was able to verify in stores, if the eye relief is set for the highest magnification then the picture is also quite good at the lowest magnification. There is a wider range for eye relief at the lowest magnification that allows for this to occur.


    Measure, Measure, and Measure Some More:

    After figuring out the eye relief non-issue with Leupold riflescopes I was close to a decision. While not on my original list, I found the Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36 offered very good build quality, optical quality, overall weight, and price although with a slightly smaller field-of-view.

    I printed the Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36 dimensions sheet to compare against my rifle. Unfortunately the rifle dovetail location and stock shape combined with my preferred head position do not allow this riflescope to be mounted far enough aft (towards butt). Even the extreme case of having the forward mounting ring located at the arc where objective bell begins would not work. Adding a rail that attaches to the rifle dovetails will create an issue with the riflescope having clearance to the rail because it extends forward.

    Leupold, Vortex, and Zeiss publish several important riflescope dimensions on their respective websites but Nikon does not. I was able to get rough dimensions of the Nikon 2.5-10x42 when visiting a local store. Comparing measurements of the rifle dovetail locations with respect to my preferred head position against the riflescope manufacturer dimensions has created a different list of possibilities. At this point, the only riflescope from my original list having ideal length dimensions is the Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x42 but the larger ocular diamter will create an issue with bolt clearance.


    Redefining Requirements:

    I need to take a step back and reconsider my original requirements. While many people have told me to use a 3-9x40 riflescope I am not sure this is the direction I want to go.

  5. #14
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    An updated list of what should fit well:


    new_list.jpg
    (click to enlarge)

  6. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by XTRazzer View Post
    I also didn't realize this BDC is only accurate when used at max magnification.
    Unless you're spending the money on a first-focal-plane (FFP) scope, the markings on the reticle will typically only be as-documented at max magnification.

    You can always go and figure out what they mean at minimum or somewhere in the middle, but tiny zoom mis-adjustments will make any sort of long-range work difficult.

    I have a VX-2 3-9x40 that I used for a while on my SCARs while I was deciding on better glass, and it served me just fine. No issues holding zero through thousands of rounds. The Leupold site documents the exact BDC MOA values for their various reticles, so you can reverse calculate your ranging zero based on those values if you want. 2.19 and 4.80 MOA for the two dots on my LR Duplex model.

    http://www.leupold.com/wp-content/up...y12.pdf?9d7bd4

  7. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by XTRazzer View Post
    An updated list of what should fit well:


    new_list.jpg
    (click to enlarge)
    XT, there is no way I could ever describe my thoughts on scopes to the capacity that you've posted in this thread. Well done.

    All the evidence gathered (so far) looks to be one of the Vortexs. I've used em' regularly and for the money you can't beat em'. Good glass and holds zero. 2-7 version fits all the requirements I believe. Also, the additional 15 feet FOV is valuable in my book.
    Hunters never die... they just go deeper into the woods.

  8. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by McCrapper View Post
    XT, there is no way I could ever describe my thoughts on scopes to the capacity that you've posted in this thread. Well done.

    All the evidence gathered (so far) looks to be one of the Vortexs. I've used em' regularly and for the money you can't beat em'. Good glass and holds zero. 2-7 version fits all the requirements I believe. Also, the additional 15 feet FOV is valuable in my book.
    Thanks for the kind words. I'm not a genius nor do I play one on TV. I'm just a guy that didn't know a lot about optics and had to start learning. Because of interest from members, I used this thread as my notepad.

    You are correct that the Vortex scopes are a good choice.

  9. #18
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    A few days back I was able to look at the Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10x44 with Dead-Hold BDC reticle.

    The 30mm main tube looks massive when compared to riflescopes with a 1" main tube. The eye piece (ocular) has a nice exterior profile and maintains this profile through the focus ring. By contrast, the Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 has a similar sized exterior but the rubber focus ring is noticeably larger diameter. Contrary to a prior observation, this time the Vortex eye piece appeared to have a smaller exterior diameter than the Nikon Monarch.

    The magnification adjuster ring could use some improvement; as I did not like how stiff it was to turn and I did not care for the rubberized insert. To be fair, I do like how the adjuster ring design has power markings that are easily visible from the shooting position.

    The turrets turn easily and with positive feel. Nearest comparison for feel and size would be the Nikon Monarch and Leupold VX-2 turrets. The Leupold VX-3 and Zeiss turrets are noticeably stiffer to turn. As with the Nikon Monarch, the turret caps on the Vortex could be made smaller (shorter).

    Looking through this riflescope, the eye-box is quite forgiving; in terms of not needing to be exactly aligned. Eye relief varied over the magnification range from about 3.75" at the highest magnification to about 4" at the lowest magnification. My previous findings with how Leupold recommends to setup the riflescope apply here as well.

    Unfortunately due to the layout of this store I could not figure out a good method to compare field-of-view.

    This BDC reticle has very fine lines and markings such that my eyes had trouble identifying the markings at any magnification setting. I am not sure if the reticle has changed over the years and I was looking at an older model. However, this does pose a question if this BDC reticle would prove useful.
    Last edited by XTRazzer; 08-25-2012 at 11:57 AM.

  10. #19
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    Random Thoughts:

    With the current rebate, the Leupold VX-3 3.5-10x40 CDS is quite tempting. This requires a compromise on lowest magnification setting and more so on field-of-view. However the overall design of the VX-3 series is very nice.

    Between the Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x42 and Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10x44, I leaning towards Vortex. What I dislike about the magnification adjuster ring on both of these can be fixed with an MGM SwitchView Throw Lever. The slimmer eye piece on the Vortex helps with the high lift bolt handle of the CZ 527 rifle. From reading various comments online the Customer Service and Warranty from Vortex far exceeds that of Nikon.

    The Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40 is very good optically. Here again is a compromise on lowest magnification setting and field-of-view. The plastic turret caps are not a deal breaker and are better profiled than Nikon or Vortex. The turret knobs are my least favorite as these do not have a numerical scale but rather a series of hash marks covering at most 2/3 of the diameter and feel the roughest on finger tips.

    I have not seen the Vortex Viper 2-7x32 and I am not sure I want to do a "blind" purchase.

  11. #20
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    Going back to the idea of measuring, I made a layout of important riflescope length dimensions versus the rifle. The length dimensions are scaled to the nearest 1/8" and the diameters are not to scale. While I made this layout in Microsoft Excel the same could be done with 1/8" graph paper.

    The reason for this layout was to determine which riflescope best fit the dovetail locations and my preferred head position. The rifle muzzle is to the left, dovetails are shown in black, bolt travel area is shown in blue, and eye position is shown in red.

    Riflescopes in order shown:
    Zeiss Conquest 3-9x40
    Leupold VX-3 3.5-10x40
    Leupold VX-3 2.5-8x36
    Vortex Viper HS 2.5-10x44
    Vortex Viper 2-7x32
    Nikon Monarch 2.5-10x42 (Nikon does not publish detailed dimensions for their products so I had to make a few assumptions)
    Sightron SII Big Sky 3-9x42

    (click to enlarge)
    Layout.jpg

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