Recommended Rifle Scopes
Premier Reticle 5-25x56 - This particular scope is
not longer in production since Tangent Theta purchased Premier Reticle
LTD. However, a similar scope with engineering modifications is
being produced by the new company. We have not acquired one of the
new scopes and therefore cannot perform an evaluation.
Vortex Razor HD 5-20x50 - We have recently acquired a Vortex Razor HD 5-20 x 50 rifle scope
for a new project. The reasons this scope
was selected were 1) the EBR-2B reticle appeared to be highly
useful, similar to the Premier Reticle Gen II Mildot; and, 2) the scope
has 36 Mil
total reticle elevation. This scope is ultimately destined for an
ultra-long range test rifle and it is anticipated that the entire
reticle adjustment range will be required. This scope had the
greatest vertical adjustment that we could find that also came with a
"Gen II" type reticle.
Repairs: We had an issue with the scope after it arrived: we
could not zero the windage knob. Apparently a small divot had been
created on the windage spindle. We move the knob 0.3 Mils to
zero out the windage, loosened the screws on the outer cap, set the cap
to zero, but as we tightened the cap screws, one would find the divot
and turned the cap back to its original position. We spoke to
Scott, the resident scope guru at Vortex, who explained what had
happened. He arranged for an immediate FedEx return of
the scope, repaired it, and send it back via FedEx. We were amazed by the service. And note: Scott didn't know
us from Adam. This apparently is just normal Vortex customer service.
We have used the scope in a few long range practice sessions
shooting from 200 to 1000 yards. We like this scope. It does
not have all the bells and whistles as the Premier Reticle scope but it
is lighter, has a smaller silhouette, and is 2/3's the cost of the
Heritage. For the money, this is an excellent scope. About
the only shortcoming we found was on the upper extension of the reticle.
The Premier Reticle Gen 2X reticle has 5 Mil hash marks on all reticle
extensions beyond the main part of the reticle. You may not think
much of that, but consider this: one way to check whether the scope has
been mounted squarely on the rifle is to level the rifle with an
anti-cant level and then to shoot groups as you dial the scope up.
All of the groups should be track vertically. If you do not have
the luxury of having a range that will allow that kind of testing, you
can achieve the same result by dialing up the scope and holding down on
the reticle. On the Heritage scope with its 5 Mil hash marks you
can dial up 15 or 20 Mils, hold down that same amount and shoot a target
at 100 yards. The bullet should hit right at point of aim if the
reticle is tracking exactly vertically.
The Razor HD has a very useable reticle with hash marks up to 8 Mils
above center. The reticle continues above the 8 Mil mark with a thin
line, which is a good thing, but there are no further hash marks so
effectively the most that you can dial up and hold down is 8 Mils.
For some cartridges, that is plenty. But it sure would be nice if
the hash marks continued on the extension with marks at each 5 Mils for another
15 or 20 Mils.
There is another benefit to being able to dial up and hold down:
after calibrating the scope you can check your work by shooting it.
If you think that the click value is a little under or above what it
should be and if the difference will show up in 8 Mils, then when you
dial up 8 Mils and then hold down 8 Mils, the resulting bullet hole
should be below or above the point of aim by the amount of the error.
For example, let's say you calibrate your scope and it comes out at
0.099 Mils/click. At 8 Mils, the actual elevation dialed will
equal 80 x 0.099, or 7.92 Mil. You will have lost a click.
If you dial up 8 Mils and then hold down on the 8 Mil hash mark and
shoot, the bullet hole should be 0.1 Mil low. If it is, then you
have confirmed your calibration. If it isn't then you have to
start looking for a reason why. How careful were you in getting
the data? With first focal plane scopes it is not difficult to be
a 1/4" off here and 1/4" off there since the reticle grows as you
increase the power. One thing is for certain, shooting what you
dial, assuming you and the rifle can shoot small groups at 100
yards/meters, is a good way to check your work both as to click value
and how square you have mounted the scope.
[Update] After about 5 months of use and testing, one negative that has become apparent is that the
reticle horizontal and vertical element lines are too thick. They
are 0.06 Mil thick which doesn't sound like much but when using the
scope on small targets the lines do cover a considerable amount of real
estate. In contrast, Premier Reticle in its Gen2 XR reticle uses a
main element thickness of 0.02 Mil and this seems about right.
While the thicker element may be justified in low light situations, in
normal daylight use, they are unnecessarily heavy and intrusive,
particularly for small targets at range. However, this may be a
personal matter and someone else may not find the reticle thickness
bothersome. For me and my purpose, however, it made the scope
difficult to use.
In addition, there is the matter of backlash. On the scope I
have there is a 0.1 Mil backlash which means that if I dial up to an
elevation and then move down 0.1 Mil (one click), the reticle doesn't
move at all. In order to deal with that, whenever I have to reduce
the elevation, I dial all the way to the stop and then dial up to the
required value. It is a small thing, but it is annoying - at least
Nevertheless, on balance, if you need a quality scope with significant
elevation, and a decent (if not slightly heavy) reticle, the Vortex Razor HD is worth a look.
[Sept. 2014 Update] We understand that a
new Gen II of this scope has been released that apparently resolves some
of my issues with reticle thickness. A review is available at