Riflescopes: Under $2000

 

Updated in February, 2018

Many of my choices have not changed much in the last year, but this price range is seeing a lot of activity right now, so I may need to do a mid year update around August or thereabouts.

Low range variable scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

SFP: Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 went on a diet and Gen 2E 1-6×24 is several ounces lighter while being just as superb as it was before.

FFP: For the time being, Burris XTR II 1-8×24 is still my recommendation, but there are new entrants to this category.  I will be looking at the more expensive Nightforce NX8 and GPOTAC 1-8×24 soon.


Compact fixed power scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

This is a category I keep looking at, but Elcan Specter OS 4×32 is still my favourite (so much so, that I own one).  I bought the lighter Specter OS 3x for my brother, and it similarly very good.

Honorable mention: Leupold HAMR 4×24.  I was surprised with how good this lightweight sight it and it has an adjustable eyepiece which comes in handy if you are no longer 18.

Low-range variable scope for hunting use (think DGR):

Meopta MeoStar R2 1-6×24 is still a good choice, although the reduced weight Vortex Razor Gen 2 1-6×24 is now a compelling option for hunters.

Honorable mention: Minox ZEi 1-5×24 is a really nice scope, but I just havn’t spent enough time with it.

All-round hunting use:

Most scopes of this type that I really liked over the years are either re-priced out of reach or discontinued.

My favourite general purpose hunting scope for $2k or less is Leica Visus (rebranded ERi) 2.5-10×42.  It is not as impressive as some others on paper, but it is an absolutely superb design.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Low Light:

In this category, I am very partial to Meopta Meostar R1 3-12×56 and Meostar R2 2.5-15×56

I have a bit less mileage with it, but Minox SEi 3-15×56 is absolutely superb as well

 

Allround tactical use:

For this category I like scopes with no more than 4x on the low end.

Steiner T5Xi 3-15×50  is probably the best alround scope in this price class, but there are several good options available (Bushnell LRHS comes to mind)..

 

Long range tactical use:

Steiner T5Xi 5-25×56.  Steiner’s T-series had a little bit of a rough start, but I like what I see.  I started testing Delta Optical’s Stryker HD 4.5-30×56 and I really like what I see.  Same for the 56mm Athlon Cronus.

Honorable mention: SWFA SS HD 5-20×50  This scope has every feature other than a zerostop and costs a lot less than the Steiner.  I tested several of these and never had any issues.


Updated in January, 2016

 

Low range variable scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

If a few extra ounces do not scare you and you are OK with a SFP reticle, Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 1-6×24 is superb.

Honorable mention: Kahles K15i is lighter and optically spectacular, but a bit more expensive.  I prefer the reticle in the Razor Gen II though

 

Compact fixed power scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

I am still finishing my survey of this category, but so far Elcan Specter OS 4×32 is my favourite (so much so, that I own one)

Honorable mention: Leupold HAMR 4×24.  I was surprised with how good this lightweight sight it and it is the onle one in this category to have an adjustable eyepiece.

 

Low-range variable scope for hunting use (think DGR):

Meopta MeoStar R2 1-6×24 is an excellent design with superb optics and reticle illumination.  If you do not believe me, put side by side with Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 and tell me what you think.

Honorable mention: Kahles Helia 5 1-5×24.  I have been pretty impressed with recent Kahles designs and this scope is similar to K15i except with hunting reticles.

 

All-round hunting use:

Most scopes of this type that I really liked over the year are either re-priced out of reach or discontinued.

My favourite general purpose hunting scopes these days are from Kahles and Leica (I own both)

If you want a 1″ tube, Kahles 3.5-10×50  is an excellent design with an illuminated reticle which is not too common for 1″ scopes.

With 30mm tube designs, my favourite is the Leica ERi 2.5-10×42

 

Low Light:

In this category, I am very partial to Meopta Meostar R1 3-12×56 and Meostar R2 2.5-15×56

I have a bit less mileage with it, bu Minox SE5 3-15×56 is absoutely superb as well

 

 

Tactical scope disclaimer: I prefer FFP reticles in scopes of this type which rules out many otherwise excellent designs.

 

Allround tactical use:

For this category I like scopes with no more than 4x on the low end.

Steiner T5Xi 3-15×50  There was an early turret issue that is now resolved.  I am impressed with this scope.

Honorable mention goes to Sig Tactical Tango 6 3-18×44, but I need to finish testing it before I can be certain.

 

Long range tactical use:

Steiner T5Xi 5-25×56.  Steiner’s T-series had a little bit of a rough start, but I like what I see

Honorable mention: SWFA SS 5-20×50.  This scope has every feature other than a zerostop and costs a lot less than the Steiner.  I tested several of these and never had any issues.

 

Updated in May, 2015

There is a huge price difference between the “under $1000” and “under $2000” categories and if I wanted to be really precise I could comfortably split it up into a couple of segments.  However, I do not think that is warrantied.

This price range has been neglected a little bit int eh last few years, but recently I all of a sudden found myself staring at a significant number of options.

At the top of the heap are Zeiss, Shmidt and Bender, Swarovski, Leica and Kahles.  Minox ZEi scopes are in that range as well, but I have limited exposure to them.

Leupold makes several riflescopes in the $1000 to $2000 range, most notably some of the new VX-6 models (which I like) and some of the older Mark 4 designs (which I am not crazy about).

IOR, Nightforce and Vortex all have some assortment of products in this broad price category as well.

To top it off, Meopta joisne the group with their new MeoStar R2.

 

So how do they all stack up?

Here are some fairly arbitrary categories with my picks in them.

 

Low range variable scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

If a few extra ounces do not scare you and you are OK with a SFP reticle, Vortex Razor HD Gen 2 1-6×24 is superb.

Honorable mention: Kahles K15i is lighter and optically spectacular, but a bit more expensive.  I may upgrade it after a thorough test.  So far, I have seen it, but not tested it properly

 

Compact fixed power scope for tactical use (think AR-15 or similar):

I am still finishing my survey of this category, but so far Elcan Specter OS 4×32 is my favourite (so much so, that I own one)

Honorable mention: Leupold HAMR 4×24.  I was surprised with how good this lightweight sight it and it is the onle one in this category to have an adjustable eyepiece.

 

Low-range variable scope for hunting use (think DGR):

Meopta MeoStar R2 1-6×24 is an excellent design with superb optics and reticle illumination.  If you do not believe me, put side by side with Swarovski Z6 1-6×24 and tell me what you think.

Honorable mention: Kahles Helia 5 1-5×24.  I have been pretty impressed with recent Kahles designs and this scope is similar to K15i except with hunting reticles.

 

All-round hunting use:

Most scopes of this type that I really liked over the year are either re-priced out of reach or discontinued.

My favourite general purpose hunting scopes these days are from Kahles and Leica (I own both)

If you want a 1″ tube, Kahles 3.5-10×50  is an excellent design with an illuminated reticle which is not too common for 1″ scopes.

With 30mm tube designs, my favourite is the Leica ERi 2.5-10×42, although some new Kahles designs are also looking good and I will likely test.

 

Low Light:

To my suprise there wern’t all that many dedicated low light designs in this category that had a properly designed illuminated reticle.  Fortunately, the rather excellent Meopta Meostar R1 3-12×56 is in this group.  Technically, the newer  Meopta R2 2.5-15×56 might be a touch better, but I would prefer a scope that goes up to 15x to have parallax compensation.  Hence I stick with the R1

 

Tactical scope disclaimer: I prefer FFP reticles in scopes of this type which rules out many otherwise excellent designs.

 

Allround tactical use:

I am still working on this one.  There are several designs in this price range that look promising, but I have not yet converged on something I can wholeheartedly recommend.

 

Long range tactical use:

This comes down to two options.

First generation Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 has been updated with 10 mrad turrets and a few optical improvements.  Since the Gen 2 has been introduced, this scope dropped in price and represents an escellent bargain.

Honorable mention: SWFA SSHD 5-20×50.  In most ways it is fully equal to the Razor HD, except for the lack of a ZeroStop, which keeps it as an honorable mention.

 Posted by at 12:58 am