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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 to me.

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 Snipershide.