Choosing a rifle scope or a red dot may seem complicated at first glance, especially given the very wide range of optical manufacturers. In this article we will help you choose the right glasses for the use you want to make of them.
We will therefore distinguish four different uses: Shooting between 50 and 300m, shooting between 300 and 1000m, Beating, stalking and approach hunting.
As usual we will bring you tips for shooting while presenting you with quality equipment.
Scope for sport shooting from 50 to 300m
This situation concerns almost all sports shooters in France.
The good news here is that you don’t have to spend a fortune on a scope to have good gear . The saying that puts a price as high in the scope as in the rifle is completely false and is only advanced by gunsmiths who have an interest in selling high-yield products or by those who do not know. nothing. A Tikka t3 is worth between 1300 and 1600 euros on average, fitting a telescope at the same price is totally absurd.
To put it simply, the only element to take into consideration for shots between 50m and 300m is the scope’s ability to withstand many shots. The brightness and the image quality are not important criteria at this distance, the multilayer treatment of all surfaces of the lenses is more than sufficient in terms of light input, so do not focus on the lens diameter or the type of glass and its manufacturing methods. A diameter of 40mm will do perfectly well, a larger diameter greater than 44mm will be more expensive and uninteresting.
On the zoom side, a magnification of x10 is more than sufficient even for a target located at 300m . Be aware that Marines snipers use fixed x10 magnification scopes to engage targets up to 1000m . They have been fitted with the SWFA SS fixed magnification 10x42mm telescope since 1993 (unfortunately not available in France). The SWFA SS is only worth $ 300, the USMC certainly did not choose it for lack of means, it is simply a rustic and reliable American product. So a high zoom greater than x16 will not bring you anything more and will be much more expensive.
The savings in zoom and lens diameter therefore allow you to choose more robust and reliable glasses . Indeed you can get a 4-12x40mm bezel resistant to magnum calibers while at the same price, a 4-16x56mm bezel will not offer you resistance to magnum calibers. Even if you don’t use a magnum caliber, this will allow your scope to withstand a lot of shots. A telescope that can no longer keep its zero is good to throw away .
Another element that can tip the scales is the existence of long-term guarantees . In these times of planned obsolescence, it is a reliable indicator of quality. Bushnell offers a 30 year warranty on most of its scopes and Vortex offers a lifetime warranty on all of its riflescopes.
We have selected for you two glasses from the Bushnell brand which offers the best glasses in this range and specifications. The American firm Bushnell has finally established itself in the shooting glasses market thanks to these entry and mid-range models at very good value for money and adapted to the expectations of shooters. For my part, I have a particular attachment to this brand because my very first telescope was a Bushnell (bought € 350 at the time) and after years and several hundred shots at 270win and 308win, my zero has never moved. .
So we present to you the Trophy 4-12x40mm, the Engage 2.5-10x44mm and the Engage 3-12x42mm.
Bushnell Trophy 4-12x40mm & 3-9x40mm: Reliability and robustness at a low price
The Bushnell Trophy is a perfect scope for novice shooters using calibers from 22lr to 308win included. However, it will not be suitable for magnum calibers. This telescope is already exceptional for its price and it would be inflated to ask it to hold large calibers!
The elevation and windage adjustment turrets are located under screw caps and can be adjusted by hand . A parallax adjustment ring is also present. Finally, the Bushnell Trophy is waterproof, anti-fog and shockproof.
The only thing one could blame it for is its lack of a cue mechanism to “lock” the zero. The more high-end scopes allow you to unscrew the turret in order to replace the zero of this one so as to make coincide the adjustment which you obtained after shots for example at 100m, you thus know that when your turret displays 0, your scope is set to hit the center of the target at 100m. In the absence of this function you will therefore have to note somewhere the setting corresponds to your zero at 100m.
The absence of this feature will not be a problem for the practice of shooting between 100 and 300m. It is indeed useful for longer distances where the number of correction clicks is important. From 100m to 300m you will hardly need more than twenty clicks to perform depending of course on the bullet drop which varies from one caliber to another and from one ammunition to another. For my part from 100m to 300m at 308win with 147gr ammunition, I have to make a correction of 5.5 MOA or 22 clicks on my turrets in 1/4 MOA.
It is truly the glasses that we recommend with eyes closed to all beginners .
Bushnell Engage 2.5-10x44mm and 3-12x42mm: User comfort and robustness
Here are two Bushnell riflescopes from the Engage series. They are designed to withstand all calibers, even magnums.
In addition to their more robust construction than the Trophy, they have additional features. They have on the one hand exterior turrets equipped with a zeroing system as discussed above. Here the very big advantage of the Engage series compared to its competitors is that this zero locking mechanism is done by hand by simply unscrewing the upper part of the turret . In fact, in a large majority of these zero locking systems, the top of the turret can only be unscrewed with very small tools such as allen wrenches and the first unscrewing is often laborious. The problem you will understand is that there is a risk of damaging the screw heads and ending up with an unusable zero locking.
The second very big advantage of the Engage series at Bushnell is the 30 year warranty . We are very far from the 2 years imposed by law that other manufacturers apply with reluctance. This type of guarantee is not a bogus marketing argument, the best brands of optical equipment end up offering it when their know-how and the manufacturing quality that they acquire over time allow them to offer reliable equipment. Bushnell France’s after-sales service is also very well known in terms of speed and satisfaction. Of course, the warranty concerns hidden defects and not abnormal wear or damage caused by the user.
these two Engages also have a MOA-1 reticle, these marks in MOA are useful in particular for hunting and firing at longer distance where you manage to perceive the place of impact of the projectile. This makes it possible, in the event of a poor estimate of the distance, to quickly chain a second shot using the reference points, or to allow a correction via the turrets. For example you actually shot at 500m thinking you were shooting closer and noticed that your shot was 3 notches (3MOA) lower on your reticle. You can therefore withdraw by taking the 3rd notch as a center where you saw your bullet drop, or correct your elevation turret by about 12 clicks if it is in quarter MOA (1 MOA is worth 5 times 2.9 cm at 500m or 14.5 We have 3MAO to correct depending on the reticle, therefore 43.5cm to fill.
Be careful, however, because this is a second focal plane telescope, i.e. the reticle is placed in the telescope before zooming, so it will remain unchanged in size regardless of the zoom applied. The guides should be used at the zoom intended by the manufacturer where they coincide. For this type of telescope, the marks are designed to be used either at x10 or at maximum zoom.
The MOA reticle also allows you to calculate the distance to your target if you know its size through a simple calculation of trigonometry. This can be especially useful if you are hunting at long distances and know the average size of the game you are hunting. The other solution is to get a laser rangefinder but they are not free unlike the MOA reticle that comes with your scope. In addition, the laser of the range finder can be bent and moved from the point that you aim in particular because of the mirages and give you a false measurement.
Finally, these two glasses feature the patented Bushnell Exo Barrier Protection technology which protects the lenses from external aggressions that could dirty or scratch them such as oil or sand. They are obviously waterproof and the glasses are hydrophobic.
They will allow you to be comfortable for shots from at least 600 to 700 meters.
The 2.5-10x44mm version is around € 450 and the 3-12x42mm version is around € 500.
Scope for sport shooting from 300m to 1000m
We have seen previously that a x10 zoom is more than enough to reach targets up to 700 meters. However, some can shoot at greater distances or simply wish for reasons of vision problems and eye fatigue to benefit from a magnification making them more comfortable. You can refer to the photos of reticles according to the zooms to get an idea of the rendering (located at the beginning of the article).
Thus a magnification up to x16 will bring a little more comfort of aiming. Remember that zooming necessarily increases the price of the scope . For the same price a high magnification scope cannot be of the same quality as a lower magnification scope. Its build quality will be inferior and potentially have less functionality.
If you plan to shoot targets up to 1000 meters then we advise you to bring a rifle scope with a maximum zoom between 14 and 16. The quality of the glass can also be appreciable without being absolutely compulsory, in particular that of glasses with ED mention (Extra low dispersion, we talk about it in more detail in our spotting scopes article). They thus allow more sharpness and protect against chromatic aberrations .
We will not expand on the subject because this article is primarily intended for beginners who are interested in the practice of long distance shooting. Learning is long and difficult and you will all have time to experiment with riflescopes and discover your preferences. So a zoom scope between x14 and x16, possibly with ED lenses, is a good start to get started in long distance shooting.
For this we offer two glasses, the Engage version in x16 version and the Vortex Viper PST Gen II.
Bushnell Engage 4-16x44mm
This Engage is of the same caliber as these little sisters in x10 and x12 zoom but brings a maximum zoom of x16 . It is therefore slightly more expensive at a little less than 100 euros. Its functionality, features and accessories are the same, so it offers more zoom for a reasonable price increase. Its warranty is also 30 years .
It is priced around 600 €.
Vortex Viper PST Gen II 3-15x44mm
Here is the Viper PST Gen II, a rifle scope between the mid and high range. It also exists in a 5-25x50mm version for an additional hundred euros but we recommend it to people with sight problems or eye fatigue.
It stands out on the Engage series thanks firstly to its ED (Extra low dispersion) lenses which increase the sharpness of the rendering and reduce the effects of chromatic aberrations. Another interesting element is its surface treatments of XR and ArmorTek lenses (patented) . They provide maximum brightness while protecting the lenses from dirt and scratches.
Like the Engage series, this goggle is waterproof, hydrophobic, anti-fog and shockproof.
Its reticle exists in EBR-4, EBR-2C and EBR-4C, so it has marks in MOA or MRAD and will allow several uses as explained above. Furthermore, this reticle is illuminated and facilitates its use, in particular for hunting .
Unfortunately unlike the Engage its zero locking mechanism can only be done with an allen key . In truth, you don’t change your zero every day, but this kind of comfort is always appreciable, especially when you forget your Allen key at home.
Vortex is a safe bet and also offers a lifetime warranty on its shooting glasses. It is priced around 900 €. For more technical information on This rifle scope you can refer to our article dedicated to the Viper PST .
1000m shooting for only $ 500
Here’s an illustrative video of what to expect from qualified entry-level hardware. There is an American practice of reaching 1000 yards with the cheapest configuration possible. In this video, an amateur shooter hits the center of his target at 1000yards or 914 meters with a configuration at 500 dollars: A stevens 200 in 308win from savage (200dollars) and a 4-14x44mm scope from Primary Arms with a value of 279 dollars which would sell for around 400 € in France. The shots in the first part of the video were made entirely with manufactured ammunition. The saying “telescope price = gun price” is true here, but not in the sense usually given to it in France …
Riflescope for stalking and approach hunting
Both stalking and approach hunting are individual hunting which can be practiced around dawn and dusk. These are therefore times of the day when the light is low . You can therefore forget the glasses with small lens diameter since they will be difficult to use in these conditions. We prefer lens diameters between 44mm and 56mm.
Brightness and twilight factor
In terms of brightness, we don’t just look at the lens size. The twilight factor sometimes given in the technical description by the manufacturer must be determined . The twilight factor is obtained by multiplying the maximum zoom by the objective diameter, then by the square root of the product. For example a telescope with a maximum zoom of 10 and a diameter of 50mm will have a twilight factor of 22.3. The higher this number, the greater the brightness of the bezel will be when you are in low light conditions.
It is also necessary to look at the quality of the treatment of the glasses, this criterion is as important as the twilight factor. Indeed the treatment of the glasses makes it possible to eliminate the natural effect of reflection of the light by the glass. Low-end glasses have poor treatment, even if the twilight factor is high, the result will be poor.
Mounting height and precision
The objective diameter will potentially change your shooting position . Indeed a large diameter of objective can oblige you according to the base and the thunder of the barrel to use “high” mounting collars (it is often the case). When a configuration uses high collars the chin moves away from the butt of the rifle. It can be annoying for medium and long range shots while sitting or lying down. Indeed, the contraction of the muscles of the back and the neck to keep you in front of the glasses will create parasitic movements and tremors will tire you and will necessarily affect your point of impact.
When we speak of the use of the cheek piece while sitting or lying down we mean full support of the head on the cheek piece. Many shooters ignore this, but where the cheek rest is most effective is when you fully rest the weight of your head on it.Indeed this provides two important advantages. First, the position becomes much more comfortable and can be maintained for a longer time. Secondly, the muscles of the neck and back are no longer used to maintain the position, this leads to the suppression of all parasitic movements. Finally, know that a cheek piece is all the more effective when it is associated with a support located under the butt, such as a sandbag. Cheek rest, sandbag, torso and shoulders thus form a guide for the recoil of the weapon which will allow an always identical and constant recoil trajectory between shots and therefore increased precision.
Take the test yourself , try it with and without a cheek piece / sandbag. This is even true when using a bipod or bag as a front mount, zero your scope using a bag as a front mount and then try a few shots with bipods as a front mount. You will notice that the groupings will be different, the only thing having changed being your firing position and therefore the recoil trajectory as well as the vibratory harmony of the rifle. The key word in shooting is the consistency of the parameters.
The distance from your chin to the butt will be increased even more if you use a rifle designed for standing fire (the butt is lower than the barrel line). The solution is to equip yourself with a cheek piece to bridge the distance and allow you to use the stock for precise shots. A bandolier cheek rest will do just fine. Sometimes the distance is such that a cheek piece is not enough and it is better to use glasses with smaller lens diameters like 44mm and 50mm instead of 56mm.
The beginning of a solution exists and consists in taking glasses with 30mm tubes instead of 25mm to raise the output objective which would interfere with the base (the Engage and the Viper have 30mm tubes). In fact, the intermediate distance between “high” and “medium” collars can sometimes be high and vary depending on the manufacturer. So a 30mm tube raises the scope by 2.5mm compared to a 25mm tube, but sometimes this is the distance just necessary so that the lens no longer touches the base or the thunder of the barrel. If you want to focus on the lowest possible mounting for lying or sitting shooting, equip yourself with a caliper and check your measurements carefully before purchasing your collars.
In all cases, a cheek piece is a very useful accessory because in addition to the aiming aid it provides when sitting and lying down, it allows faster and more stable playing when standing . The cheek piece is therefore in our opinion an essential element for shooting and hunting, especially for beginners.
Mounting height VS Brightness
If the height of your assembly is for you a more important criterion than the brightness we all simply recommend The Bushnell Engage 2.5-10x44mm presented above .
If brightness is your main criteria, then we offer you these three scopes: the Vortex Crossfire II 3-12x56mm, the Bushnell Prime 6-18x50mm and the Bushnell Forge 3-18x50mm. The Vortex Viper PST Gen II which we have already talked about is also an excellent choice because its twilight factor is 25.6 and its multilayer treatment is superior since it is the patented Vortex XR treatment which only equips the best glasses of this Mark.
Vortex Crossfire II 3-12x56mm
We chose the Vortex Crossfire II over another for its excellent value for money. Just like the other Vortex models, it is guaranteed for life . You will find more details on the Crossfire II in our dedicated article .
Its price is particularly interesting because Vortex has chosen to reduce the costs of the functionalities to preserve the quality of the lenses, in particular the multilayer treatment and add a more expensive 56mm lens. Indeed it is equipped with turrets with unscrewable caps as well as an adjustable parallax at the level of the objective (rather than lateral) . These two elements are less expensive to manufacture and thus make it possible to produce an affordable telescope with a large lens, with a good surface treatment and resistant to magnum calibers.
Of course, it remains waterproof, anti-shock and anti-fog.
It will therefore be perfect for hunting on approach and on the lookout in low light conditions. It can be found at prices around 350 €.
Bushnell Prime 6-18x50mm
The Bushnell Prime Series riflescopes are specifically designed for low light hunting . Bushnell’s goal with the Prime series is to offer quality hunting scopes at a reasonable price, they are of the same level of range as the Engage series designed for sport shooting. Its x18 zoom may be of interest to hunters who no longer have the same view of their youth.
Like the Engage, it has a lateral parallax adjustment. Its elevation turret is exterior, its drift turret is hooded .
The Prime series is also guaranteed for 30 years.
Its treatment of multilayer glasses of good quality added to a twilight factor of 30 provide excellent luminosity.
It is obviously waterproof. Its lenses are anti-fog, anti-scratch, anti-fouling and hydrophobic thanks to the patented Bushnell EXO Barrier Protection technology .
It can be found at prices around € 400.
Bushnell Forge 3-18x50mm
This is the glasses to choose when looking for the best in terms of brightness and comfort of use.
In terms of accessories and functions, it offers everything one would expect from a rifle scope of this range. The turrets are both exterior and have a zero locking mechanism. The parallax adjustment is lateral. Its zoom is even equipped with a lever so that it can be used quickly and precisely without taking your eyes off the game.
Like the Prime, it is waterproof and shockproof. It also has the patented EXO Barrier Protection treatment making it hydrophobic, anti-fog, anti-scratch and anti-dirt.
Finally the marks of its reticle are in MOA and therefore allow the calculation of distances as well as the compensation of shots in elevation and drift.
It has the same twilight factor as the Prime (30) but its surface treatment is of superior quality (Ultra-Wide Band Coating). It will offer the hunter on the lookout and approaching optimal light.
This high-end glasses is obviously guaranteed for 30 years. It is sold at prices around 1000 €.
Red dot for driven hunting
When it comes to beaten hunting we do not recommend classic shooting glasses or even supposedly made for beaten glasses.
Firstly, battue shooting is a shooting which must be carried out quickly , the aiming on a sighting device must be fast and a telescope necessarily has an eye relief distance to be respected. Even if you have a cheek rest, you will necessarily have to adjust the position of your eye and you will potentially lose precious seconds.
The second problem with a classic or “special beaten” rifle scope is the reduced field of view. The “special beaten” glasses have a very slightly increased field of vision compared to conventional glasses, barely a few meters. This poses a problem in terms of anticipation and safety of other hunters and dogs during the hunt. A bullet in a coworker is the kind of thing that ruins the day.
Regarding the special beaten glasses, they can only be used for the beaten-up because their very small objective diameter cannot be used for individual hunting on the lookout or on approach which are practiced in low light conditions.
Weight is also an important element to take into account for standing aiming, it is more difficult to aim with a heavy weapon and even “special battered” riflescopes weigh around half a kilo.
Battue glasses are mainly products resulting from marketing, allowing products to be sold at high prices on the European market where battue is widely practiced.
We strongly recommend the use of red dots, very light they do not suffer from any loss of field of vision and do not require eye relief (unlimited eye relief). The red dots almost all have a brightness adjustment to shoot in low light conditions or on the contrary when the weather is very sunny or the terrain is covered with snow. They can therefore be used even for the approach .
For this we recommend two red dots from Bushnell at really attractive prices: The Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 red dot and the Bushnell AR Optic Incinerate red dot .
Red Dot Bushnell Trophy TRS-25mm
Here is the Bushnell Trophy TRS 25 red dot, a low budget 113 gram red dot but whose functionality is not sacrificed.
It has 11 levels of light intensity that will allow you to always see your red point depending on the ambient light, whether it is low for lack of sun or on the contrary high in sunny weather or because of snow.
Bushnell also put the package in terms of treatment of the glasses, since it is about the patented multilayer treatment Amber-Bright which makes it possible at the same time to bring light and to create a strong contrast to correctly distinguish the game from the surrounding vegetation .
It is also waterproof, anti-fog and shockproof .
Zero is set using small, 1MOA-per-click, twist-off cap turrets. It is used with CR2032 batteries.
We can blame it for two faults, it is not part of Bushnell’s 30-year warranty , so you will only benefit from the 2-year legal warranty. His second flaw is that he doesn’t really like magnum calibers . We can easily forgive this defect because of its very low price.
For that price, you will never be able to find such a high quality rifle scope, especially in terms of brightness and contrast. The TRS 25 is priced around € 150 and the TRS 26 around € 250.
Red Dot Bushnell AR Optic Incinerate
The Red Dot AR Optic Incinerate from Bushnell is a range above the TRS-25 and similar to the TRS-26 .
It has 8 levels of brightness, its multilayer treatment is also an asset in terms of brightness.
It is resistant to magnum calibres, it is shockproof, anti-fog and waterproof. Its weight is only 60 grams!
It has a nice feature which is its hand screw for quick and tool-free disassembly . This is an appreciable comfort, in particular for those who also practice hunting on the lookout and approach and who also have a telescopic sight.
It turns off automatically when the protective caps are fitted , so no bad surprises of empty batteries at the next hunting session if you forgot to turn it off. In any case, this red point consumes little energy since it can last more than two weeks on at level 4 …
The AR Optic range also benefits from the 30-year warranty from Bushnell. It can be found at prices around € 250.
Versatile solutions for all 3 types of hunting
The most versatile and economical solution is to get a red dot for hunting days and a rifle scope for stalking and approaching. You can also equip yourself with quick-release rings for your scope so that you can remove it from your base by hand and without tools. To keep your zero, all you need to do is mount your front stop rings in your base as well as use a marker marked with a felt-tip in the base notches.
So with a budget between 480 € and 630 € (Vortex Crossfire + TRS 25 or AR optic Incinerate / TRS26 + Bushnell Prime) you get the best for each type of hunt.
About “hunting” reticles
A final clarification for hunters who would be seduced by “hunting” reticles offered by certain manufacturers. These reticles have marks indicating not MOA but directly distances, so you only have to aim from these marks if you feel the distance is good.
These benchmarks are absolutely unreliable . Each ammunition in the same caliber has its own trajectory depending on its weight, powder charge, aerodynamic profile, barrel length, scratch pitch etc. Thus in the same caliber there can be noticeable differences in drop.
Knowing that these reticle marks are sometimes even calculated from cumulative averages of several different calibers with similar trajectories , we arrive at increasingly theoretical data and the result no longer really makes sense.
With regard to American manufacturers, the ballistic data of hunting reticles comes from the most popular calibers in the United States. Some calibers that we use in France are rarely used in the USA and vice versa. If you want to get a hunting reticle, check the manufacturer’s website beforehand for which calibers the reticle is intended for. If your caliber matches the manufacturer’s data then be sure to choose a very common ammunition model as well. Either way, don’t expect miracles.