Nov 162018

I am kicking off another comparison since it sorta got my interest.  While I am not a target shooter, I have some peripheral interest in high magnification scopes and they are interesting from an optical standpoint.  For a little while now, if you really wanted a high mag scope and you had some money to spend, you got a March.  March seems to have been administering a (maybe well deserved) beating to Leupold and Nightforce despite their occasional attempts to fight back.

Some folks in Europe, however, are apparently using IORs a lot, which I find odd since my recent experience with IORs has not been great.  I live in the US, so for a lot of people here the IOR experience has been somewhat influenced by a rather colorful importer, so I will ignore IOR for now.

There is always S&B Field Target scopes and Kahles 10-50×56 Competition that looks to have been designed to compete against it.

I am, however, very interested in who can challenge March for less money, which led me to Delta Stryker HD 5-50×56, Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60×52 and Sightron SV 10-50×60.

In the future, I might expand this to other scopes, but now I am looking at these three.  Still, I am kinda curious about Leupold’s 7-42×56 VX-6.

Here is teh spec table for some of them, with the threes copes I have on hand right now in bold.  I will make a few videos on the subject with the first one below the spec table.

Vortex Golden Eagle 15-60×52 Sightron SV 10-50×60 Delta Stryker HD 5-50×56 S&B

FT II 12.5-50×56

Kahles Comp 10-50×56 Nightforce Comp 15-55×52 March 8-80×56 March HM 10-60×56
Length, in 16.1 16.9 14.3 16.9 16.9 16.2 15.74 16.25
Weight, oz 29.7 41.8 38.9 42 31.4 27.8 29.63 32.6
Main Tube Diameter 30mm 34mm 34mm 34mm 30mm 30mm 34mm 34mm
Eye Relief, in 3.9 3.8 – 4.5 3.5 – 3.9 2.75 3.74 3.15 3.4 -3.7 3.5 – 4
FOV, ft@100yards 6.3 – 1.7

5.1 @ 20x

9.6 – 2.2

5.5 @ 20x

21.2 – 0.72

5.37 @ 20x

12.6 – 3.3

7.38 @ 20x

8.7 – 1.8

4.5 @ 20x

6.91 – 1.83

5.03 @ 20x

13.2 – 1.3

5.2 @ 20x

10.5 – 1.7

5.1 @ 20x

Exit Pupil 3.22 – 0.87 5.24 – 1.2 7.2 – 1.1 4.55 – 1.18 5.4 – 1.12 3.54 – 0.93 7 – 0.7 4.11 – 0.94
Click Value ⅛ MOA 0.05 mrad 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad or

⅛ or ¼ MOA

Adjustment per turn 10 MOA 5 mrad 10 mrad
Adjustment range E: 55 MOA

W: 45 MOA

E: 20.4 mrad

(70 MOA)

W: 17.5 mrad

E: 30 mrad

(100 MOA)

W: 15 mrad

E: 65 MOA

W: 32 MOA

E: 55 MOA

W: 45 MOA

E: 55 MOA

W: 50 MOA

E: 60 MOA

W: 40 MOA

E: 60 MOA

W: 40 MOA

Close focus 15 yards 13 yards 10 meters 7.7 yards 8 yards 25 yards 10 yards 10 yards
Zero Stop No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Reticle Illumination No Optional Yes Yes No No Optional Yes
Price $1500 $2000 $1690 $3400 $2750 $2350 $2970 – $3400 $3500



 Posted by at 10:31 am
Nov 132018

This is the type of scope I have a lot of interest in.

Thanks largely to Light Optics Works (LOW) being a pretty decent Japanese OEM, the quality of a long range scope you can get under $2k has really exploded in recent times.  It seemed like nearly every brand was getting something made by LOW.  Naturally, other OEMs started getting into the game and offering increasingly good product at competitive prices.  Now, I can get a full featured scope that is reasonably decent anywhere from $600 to $1700.  There are obvious differences within that price range and that is one of the things I am looking to explore.

In the past, SWFA had this segment largely to itself, thanks to the success of their 3-9×42 SS HD, 3-15×42 SS Classic and 5-20×50 SS HD.  Frankly, I still use these and the 3-9×42 is one of my all time favourite scopes due to its simplicity and ruggedness.  If you are looking for track record, it is hard to do better than these.  That having been said, the new players are more full featured designs with more modern reticles.  I fully expect SWFA to not take it lying down, but in the meantime, I figured I should make an overview of what is out there.  In the video below I talk a little bit about three of the contenders: Athlon Ares ETR 4.5-30×56, Vortex Viper PST Gen 2 5-25×50 and Delta Stryker HD 4.5-30×56.

I also have a lot of mileage with much less expensive, but very decent Athlon Ares BTR 4.5-27×50, so as I go through this review, I will talk about it as applicable.

 Posted by at 2:09 pm
Nov 122018

I am pretty open with the fact that I am Jewish and unlike majority of Jews in America, I have never voted for a left wing candidate and do not expect to any time soon.

I grew in the Soviet Union, so I have a very dim view of the left wingers’ paradise.  I grew up in one.

I want Jews to be armed and capable of preventing the next Holocaust.  I sure would have preferred if it did not take a massacre to get American Jews to open their eyes, but apparently they are hard to shake from their slumber.

 Posted by at 4:59 pm
Oct 262018

I have built a good number of AR15s over the years both for myself and for others, so I have developed a healthy set of preferences.  Recently, someone asked me about the build for a very specific AR15 that I had in a picture, so I figured I should explain a little more why I built it the way I did.  In general, I have talked a little about basic component choices for ARs here.

Here is a picture of the specific build in question:

Before I get into the specifics, let me walk you through my reasoning for this build.

This is my take on a general purpose 5.56 AR-15.  It is not optimized for any one thing, but I want it to do everything an AR-15 carbine is supposed to do in a pinch, from CQB to long(ish) range engagement.  For a 5.56 long(ish) range is out to 600 yards or thereabouts.

What his means is the rifle has to be light enough for speed and balanced well enough for speed while still maintaining reasonable accuracy for longer distances.  What was also an important consideration for me was that the barrel maintains consistent POI even as it gets a little warm.  I put links with a bunch of components I like at the very bottom of this post, rather than embed links everywhere through the text, so if you want to see how much all these things cost, just scroll down.

For the barrel to be consistent, it should not be a pencil barrel.  I have seen plenty of ultralight barrels that are quite accurate, but they do warm up quickly, so I decided to go with a medium weight design.  This one is from AR-15 Performance.  They offer a good bang for the buck and I can buy their improved bolt already matched to the barrel.

They change the configurations they offer, so the specific barrel I used is no longer on their webpage.  Here is what it is:

-16″ length: I am OK loosing a little speed for maneuvaribilty

-Diameters: 0.8″ under the handguard, 0.75″ gas block, 0.718″ in front of the gas block.  Basically a simple mid-weight/SPR type profile

-5/8-24 barrel threading leaves a little more metal at the muzzle.  I do not know if this makes any difference, but I see no downside.  I use a 30cal muzzle device and it seems to work fine.  When I move to a free state and start buying suppressors a thread-on can for my 308 will also work on this barrel if need be
-Wylde chamber for best results with both 223 and 5.56 ammo.
-4150 Chrome Moly with melanite treatment all over the place.  Supposedly, it lasts longer than stainless, but I do not think I am in danger of shooting either one out any time soon.
-Mid-length gas system: I tend to go with the longest gas system I can get in a barrel.  Most carbine length gas systems I have seen appear grossly overgassed, so with those I prefer adjustable gas blocks.  With most mid-length gas system barrels I get proper gas volume with simple non-adjustable gas blocks.
AR15 Performance makes good barrels, but they are not the only game in town.  Given all the excellent options out there, I generally use AR barrels that are in the sub-$300 range and aside from ARP, I have been quite impressed with Faxon match barrels for the money, same fro Criterion Hybrid barrels.  It hatd to go wrong with either one of these.  For a little more money, Rainier Ultramatch is also very good (and a little prettier to look at).  Basically, for this type of a build any 16″ barrel with a diameter in the 0.75″ – 0.80″ is fine.

Speaking of gas blocks, this particular build has a simple set screw version that happened to fit this barrel very tightly.  Generally, I prefer clamp on gas blocks like those from Daniel Defense and a few others.
For ultimate precision or if the system is overgassed, there are many nice adjustable gas blocks out there, like those from Superlative Arms and a few others, but given a choice I use simple non-adjustable ones when I can.
The handguard is a carbon fiber weaver from Brigand Arms.  Since I do a lot of shooting off hand and I did not use an ultralight barrel, I wanted to use the lightest possible handguard to keep the balance point from moving forward too much.  Brigand handguards are the lightest available and very strong.  The only downside is that if you manage to stick your figner through the weave and touch a smoldering hot gas tube, you will not enjoy it.  Ask me how I know…
The bolt is from ARP, but the carriers I like are single piece ones from Voodoo.  You can either buy just the carrier or the entire BCG.  Aside from being one piece, they are also coated with something that makes them slick and easy to clean.  All my builds going forward will be using these.  They offer both standard and lightweight carriers.  Use standard weight with non-adjustable gas block.  If you are going with an adjustable gas block, go for the lightweight carrier.
The charging handle is an ambidextrous affair from Radian called the Raptor.  Being able to work the charging handle with either hand is important for me.
The upper receiver is a standard Aero Precision piece.  You can get exotic with these, but I usually do not.
The lower receiver is from VC Defense which gives me ambidextrous bolt release.  I often shoot with a sling, which keeps my support hand occupied.  After a mag change, being able to drop the bolt back with the shooting hand is useful.
LPK and trigger are from Geissele. It is SSA-E trigger in this case which is a very good option for general purpose use.
The stock is the Ultralight from Ace which uses a rifle extension.  This part is important since a rifle extension/buffer/spring seems to shoot notably softer than the carbine one.  It is also very light, which helps me keep the balance point right under the magwell.  This design also allows me to rotate the buttpad slightly which help with the precision side of things.
Spring and buffer are absolutely standard.
I live in California, so I have to use a finned grip, which is stupid, but must be done to comply with our crazy laws.
The ambidextrous safety, like the charging handle is from Radian Weapons and it has two modes: 90 deg and 45 deg.  I use a 45 degree set-up since that makes for a better thumbrest (California stinks).

 Posted by at 10:38 am
Sep 292018

I usually do not post info on various sales and things like that, but when I see a major discount on a product I recommend anyway, I figured it is worthwhile.

It looks like there is a major sale on Vortex Razor HD LH scopes with G4 BDC reticle that I helped design.  These are excellent hunting scopes and at current prices, they are an absolutely screaming deal.

3-15×42 for $550

2-10×40 for $500

1.5-8×32 for $500



 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Sep 162018

I was busy trying to wrap up my article on 8x erector ratio low power scopes, when I got an e-mail from Geoff from Burris saying something along the lines of “we’ve got this whole Burris blog thing going, do you have any interest in writing a guest post on what to look for in a low powered optic?  In return we will say thank you and link back to your website”.  I asked what I can say and what I can’t if I agree to put something together and he came back with what effectively amounts to “you can say whatever you want, but I would really appreciate not getting fired over this”.

In general, I have to commend Burris folks like Geoff and Sky for still talking to me after all the crap I’ve given them over the years.  They are good people and I have a lot of appreciation for their ability to take criticism and use it to make better products (or it might simply be masochism; they are not fessing up to the details).

That having been said, I think Burris gets a few things wrong and a lot of things right with LPVOs (low power variable optics) being a category really get right.  That mostly goes for Steiner too, so I threw a couple of references in there for Steiner P4Xi, assuming that is not enough to get Geoff fired.

Here is a link to the Burris blog post in question.

I like ARs and I like sorta “general purpose” scopes.  In the past, a general purpose scope was something along the lines of a 3-9×42, since everyone always assumed that a “general purpose” scope meant a medium magnification variable on a hunting rifle.  I bet that ARs of all sorts are outselling traditional botl action hunting rifles by a good ratio right now, which is forcing a re-definition of what a general purpose scope really is.  As the available erector ratios go up, scopes like the the 1-8×24 and similar are becoming the new norm for general purpose use.  Still, they have their limitations and I am extremely curious how it is going to develop further.


 Posted by at 11:09 am
Sep 112018

The new Tangent Theta reticle is finally out and it seems to be a really well conceived design.  I saw a couple of versions of it earlier on, wasn’t allowed to talk about it.

Tangent Theta got a lot of criticism in recent years for persistently staying with the reticle designs they had.  I am not quite onboard with that criticism since I am pretty happy with their original reticles, but the new Gen3 XR is, undoubtedly, a more modern design.

It seems to offer meaningfully more additional features, without being overly busy, so I expect it to do well.  All of this, of course, is pending actual test with the reticle in the scope.  So far, I’ve only seen the drawings.


Once you step away from the small floating dot in the center, you get 0.2 mrad hashes that are all of different length, so you always know where you are.  At every 1 mrad you have another dot, which will work well for those of us coming from Mil-Dot, Gem 2 MD and Gen2 XR.

Also, note the 0.5 mrad dots below center and below 1 mrad line.  That is where they are most useful.  I applaud Tangent Theta for resisting the urge to plaster extra dots everywhere.

All in all, I like what I see.

 Posted by at 3:18 pm
Aug 282018

One of the nice things about the whole gun and optics world is that you get to meet a large variety of people who are exceedingly good at what they do.  That is a great thing for people like me who are always trying to figure something out.

Some years ago I ran into David Tubb at SHOT Show and he was careless enough to give me he contact info.  I try to avoid abusing it, but I do reach out every once in a while when I have a question about guns, precision, etc.  If you do not know who David Tubb is, here is a link to his brief biography.  He forgot more about precision shooting than I will ever know and as soon as I can figure out how to convince my wife, there is a Tubb Adaptive Target Rifle in my future.  That is an exceedingly clever design.

A little while back, I decided to ask him about all the different weirdly constructed barrels out there.  We see all sorts of carbon fiber barrels out there and I use one of those made by Proof Research (and it works exceedingly well).

However, now there are all sorts of other designs out there.  Tacom has their structured barrel, for example.  So, I called David to pick his brain a little and see if he has any wisdom to share.

He mentioned that the “straightjacket” method originally used by Teludyne looks very promising.  I did some research and figured that a company called Dracos (part of Falkor Defense) is selling AR barrels, while Teludyne converts existing boltguns barrels to their straight jacket technology.

Best I can tell, this is a new take on a tensioned barrel, where you turn down the actual steel barrel to a very thin wall thickness, center it in a much larger diameter aluminum tube and fill the empty space between with some sort of a non-metallic (I think) material.  I am not sure what the material is, but sounds like some sort of a concrete-like substance.

End result is a very thick barrel (close to 1.5″ OD) that is incredibly stiff, comparatively light, and supposedly long lasting.  Apparently, some third party testing determined that the chamber stays a lot colder with a straightjacket barrel than it does with a conventional design.

That seemed like an interesting idea to me, so I figured this is worth doing an article on.  I went on Dracos website and discovered that the barrel runs close to $900 which is a bit out of my “just playing with it” price range.  However, they have blemished (cosmetically) barrels on there that still carry the full warranty.  Since I have just de-comissioned my LR-308, I figured I can pick up a 6mm Creed barrel and install it in the same upper.  The twist in that barrel is a little on the slow side for the caliber: 1 in 9″, but I live in California where we can no longer order ammo online.  I can, however, reload with whatever bullet I want.  With that in mind, I sent them an e-mail asking about bullet recommendations.  Basically, I was looking for the heaviest bullet they could stabilize in that barrel.  That was mostly me being cautious.  The best bullets on the market I know of are made by Badlands Precision and both of their 6mm offerings work in the 1-9″ twist, with the 84gr ICBM being of most interest to me.  Still, I figured they must have tested their barrels with a good range of bullets out there.

That is when they dropped a bomb on me: “using handloads voids your warranty”.  While in principle I understand why they have that policy.  In practice, for calibers like 6mm Creedmoor, is there anyone out there who only uses factory loads?

Anyway, the customer service people at Dracos were exceedingly nice and polite.  They cancelled my order and I am generally walking away from this experience with an overall good impression of the company.

The only centerfire caliber where I shoot almost exclusively factory ammo is 5.56, so I’ll keep an eye on their website and next time they have a 223 Wylde blemished barrel, I’ll pick one up and do some experimentation.

It will be very interesting to see if with a barrel this stiff I can lean against stuff with the barrel without changing POI.

 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Aug 252018

I have been playing with the plex version of this scope for a little bit now and have published a first look article a while back.

Now, the good people from SWFA sent me a prototype with the BDC reticle to play with.  The specific reticle in this scope is not quite the same as what will go into production models, but it is extremely close and the subtensions will not change.  The tree in the reticle is designed around the 55gr M193 5.56×45 load, so I took it to the range and spent some quality time shooting at plates out to 500 yards.

Here is what the reticle in this scope looks like (left) next to the original plex reticle:

BDC Reticle

Plex Reticle





I have not yet had a chance to try them side by side in low light, but I suspect that the BDC reticle will do really well, given that I had no problems whatsoever with the thinner plex version.  In the picture with the BDC reticle, the plates you see are at 300 and 400 yards and it was a rather warm and hazy day at the range.  Still, I could see the plates well enough to hit pretty much everything I aimed at out to 500 yards using MEN and IMI 55gr ammo.  For the record, the berm int he picture with the plex reticle is 100 yards away.

I did some off hand shooting with the BDC reticle, with the scope set on 2.5x.  The thick lines really help with quick target acquisition and the eye is naturally drawn to the primary aiming point.

There are a couple of features that this BDC reticle has that are not going to make it into production scopes.  Here is a close up, so that you can see what I am talking about:

The “M193” on the top left is not going to be there.  Also, the small numbers “5” and “10” on the bottom right of the tree are not going to be there.  It is sorta self explanatory once you read the manual that wind hashmarks are for 5 and 10 mph winds.  Also, I am kinda conflicted on whether I like the numbers 200, 300 and 400 next to the tree.  I wonder if it would be better to just use 2, 3 and 4 instead.

The hashmarks worked pretty well.  The shooting range where I was testing the scope is in a narrow valley, wit frequent wind gusts that can change direction.  The wind changed from almost nothing to around 8mph during my time there and the hashes seemed to be accurate (or at least they matched my read of the wind well enough to hit plates).

I sighted the scope in to be dead on at 200 yards and the holdover worked nicely.  The two hashmarks on the horizontal line are 2MOA away from center and the thick bars start 6MOA away from center, so there are reasonable lead references there.  All my shooting using the tree was done at 10x.

While the scope with the BDC reticle on it is on my AR, the scope with the plex has been moved to a heavily butchered Mosin Nagant to see if the eye relief gives  me any trouble or if the zero shifts.  So far, it is stayign zeroed and despite shooting from variety of unorthodox shooting positions, I have not gotten hit by the scope.

It is too early to make any profound conclusions, but so far I like this little scope.  I think it is a good match for plinking ARs, walking varminters and micro action boltguns (CZ527 et al).

I’ll leave the plex reticle scope on the Mosin for a bit to see how it does, but now I am kinda curious how it will do a 458SOCOM.  Perhaps, I will try it there afterwards.


 Posted by at 10:19 pm
Aug 202018

August 20, 2018

Sig being sorta new (still) to the optics world, I take my sweet time before I publish publish reviews of their products.  I spend a significant amount of time using the optics I review and the newer the brand the longer I take.  I am sure the guys at Sig do not like it, but I think a little extra diligence is worth my time.

I’ve been doing sort of a market overview of different 4x prism sights and I think Sig is the last one I needed to cover for it to be fairly complete.  Check out the video below and then the spec table and some additional commentary immediately after.

First of all, I just noticed that I made a mistake on Elcan FOV in the video.  It is 6.5 degrees, not 7.  The spec table below is correct:


Sig EO

Bravo4 4×30


ACOG 4×32


Specter OS 4×32



4×24 (discont’ed)


ZO 4x30i

Browe 4×32
Length, in 6.25 5.8 6 5.7 5.47 6.3
Weight, oz 18.5 9.9 (w/o mount)

14 with mount


with mount

14.8 2


Eye Relief, in 2.2 1.5 2.75 2.8 2.56 1.5
FOV, ft@100 yards 53 (10 deg) 36.8 (7 deg) 34.2 (6.5 deg) 31.5 (6 deg) 42 (8 deg) 36.8 (7 deg)
Click Value 0.5 MOA 0.5 MOA 0.5 MOA 1 MOA 0.2 mrad 0.5 MOA
Price $800 $1000 $1250 $1299 $1395 $1100


Most of the comparison was between Sig and Elcan, but I also had the Leupold HAMR on had for a little bit, so I had them side by side.  Optical quality was similar, but Sig is definitely the larger sight.  I do not talk much about Browe, but it is effectively a re-hash of Trijicon 4×32 with a bit more clever electronic integration and the things I do not like about the 4×32 ACOG carry over to the Browe optic.

I think the only 4x prism sight I have not messed with yet is the newish Bushnell Accelerate which really competes in a different price bracket.  I will try to get my hands on one before I move to 3x or 5x prism scopes that seem to be getting somewhat numerous.

One of the reasons I like sights like this is the balance. In the picture below, Bravo4 is next to Burris RT-6 which is one of my favourite inexpensive 1-6×24 scopes.  There may not be all that much of a difference in weight, but the weight of a prism scope is further back, so it effects the balance less.

In a nutshell, I liked the Bravo4 a lot.  It does a lot of things well and very few things badly, but the outstanding feature I keep on coming back is that enormous immersive field of view.  If this is the type of scope you like, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

It is not replacing Elcan on my rifle yet, largely because I really like to shoot pretty far out with it and Elcan is a better precison scope between the two.  I also like the dual mode illumination system of the Elcan, where with a bright center dot I can use it the Byndon aiming concept and with dim full reticle illuminatoin I can easily use the whole reticle at night.  That having been said, I already have the Elcan.  I’ve had it for a number of years and I have a lot of trust in it based on experience.  If I were just starting out now and given that Bravo4 is around $400 less, this would have been a very difficult choice.

I will, however, take the Sig over the 4×32 ACOG.  Wide FOV and comparative ease of getting behind it, really give Bravo4 an edge.  In all fairness, it is a newer design, so it better have something on its primary competitor.

An accurate, but lightweight AR is probably the best platform for a scope like the BRavo4, Spectre OS or ACOG.  This AR is set-up with an utlralight Brigand Arms handguard so that the balance point would be right at the back of the magazine well:

I am very curious to see what kind of aftermarket support Bravo4 will get, but I already see a beefier dual lever mount out there and I am sure more accessories will come.  I would really like to see a lower red dot mount.

With all that, my criticism of Bravo4 is really minimal.  I like this sight a lot and it easily earns my recommendation.

 Posted by at 9:47 pm