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Higher Power Lightweight Scopes

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And the search commenced!

I was looking for a light weight scope with a magnification that would match the maximum effective range of my .308. 

There is a pretty wide selection in the 1 X 6 range, but things get really interesting if you are looking for something 10X or above.

The "old school" general rule of thumb was that you went up 1X for every 100 yards.  So a 5X scope would fit a 500 yard platform  Actually, there is also "old, old school", that says men use iron sights, and scopes don't belong on a field rifle, but I won't go there.  Scopes have come a long way since the old days, and a good scope won't take a dump in a stiff wind. 

More power is certainly nice, up to a point.  The higher up you go, the less your field of view, any shake or movement of the rifle is magnified, and of course, the weight goes way up.  But, a decent powered scope can be used as a field expedient spotting scope and to more clearly identify targets,

So what do I need for a .308?  My starting point was something a tad over 10X, with a low enough bottom range to allow for a decent FOV and quicker shots at closer targets.  And if I ever wanted to push the limit of a .308 in the face of say, a rampaging prairie dog platoon, I would not be missing the higher power.

4X is about the highest low I felt comfortable with.  Under that would be a plus. 

It is pretty easy to add an additional 2.5 to 3 pounds to your rifle with a scope in this range.  That is not what I wanted.  My target was something under 20 ounces.  In case you didn't know, rifles GAIN weight in the mountains.  About 7 years ago, I was in Alaska and I noticed that the weight gain of the rifle is directly proportionate to the distamce walked times the average slope during the trek.  I began with a 9.5 pound .416 Rigby, and after a 12 mile day where the slope average over those 10 miles was "vertical", my rifle weighed 78 pounds at the end of the day.  Thank goodness that after the rifle rested overnight, it dropped back down to 9.5 pounds.

Back on topic.  The scope would have to be durable, waterproof and shock proof.  Figure that the amount you get banged around on a trip is equally borne by your rifle.  And the last thng you need when you are many miles from a road, and several zip codes away from a shop, is to have a scope go from working to not working.  BUIS are great for backups, but I personally would not rely on them for a money shot at a distance beyond about 70 yards. 

The tube would need to be 30mm.  You can save a lot of weight going to a 1" tube, but you give up the ability to make full use of the windage and elevation adjustments at longer ranges.  Plus, a 30mm tube is sturdier than a 1" tube.  You will not pick up light gathering ability with a 30mm versus a 1" tube.  That is a function of the objective diameter and of course, the glass.

And onto the glass.  When it comes right down to it, it is all about the glass.  Unfortunately, the better glass is usually on higher priced scopes.  Here, though, you do get what you pay for.  So after bracketing in on the basic requirements, Great glass was a must.  So we are looking at manufacturers like S&B, Zeiss, Leica, Nightforce, US Optics and others in that class (Yes Hensoldt is great, but not $1000 more great). 

As mentioned before, there are a lot of options at there n the 2 pound plus range.  So just what adds that weight?  Well, the bigger the tube, the more weight.  So I stuck with the 30mm tube rather than going to a 34mm one.  Illuminated reticle.  Illuminated reticles are great.  However, they add weight.  A "nice to have" option, but something I would be willing to part with.

Then there is the objective diameter.  A 28mm objective will be lighter than a 56mm one (and a 56mm less than a 72mm "hubbel").  Of course, the bigger the objective the better the light gathering ability.  I could stay with a smaller objective WITH illuminated reticle, but if I wanted more light, I could go to a higher ojective and lose the illumnation.  Illiminated reticles take batteries, and it is another part that can fail on a field rifle.  The decision was to lose the illumination, trading up for a decent sized objective.

Decent sized?  Something North of 35mm but below the 50 plus uber range that begins to seem to exponentially add weight to the scope.  Sizes commonly available in that range are 37mm, 42mm and 44mm.  For hunting, most game seems to move at sunrise and sunset.  NOTE:  The game I have hunted can tell time, and subscribe to legal shooting tables for each state's game commission.  At least with a higher objective, I can see them giving me the hoof or the paw as they pop out right after legal shooting time. 

I ended up zeroing in on a Leica ER 3.5-14x42 Model 51022 .


It seems that until just recently, Leica did not make scopes.  They were not even on my radar when I started my search. 

18 OZ with tactical turrets (adds a whopping 2 oz versus the stock turrets), eye relief at a shade under 4", their "ballistic reticle" (I like to use holdover when there is a need for speed rather than making elevation adjustments to the scope), nice low profile, 30mm tube, and side parallax adjustment. 

And for once, my timing was good.  Leica just dropped the prices on these by $400 or more due to the economy.  The model I chose came in at about $600 less (Alex at Euro Optics). 

No, it is not tacticool.  No it does not have a Horus reticle designed to confuse even air traffic controllers.  No, it does not have official military sounding knobs.  It is just a mechanically sound, reliable, durable, crystal clear scope.  In the future, if I choose to employ a spotter calling wind, range, slope, elevation, etc., I might gi with a different model.  But for now, this is the ticket I am going with. 

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I took a look online at the leica scope you selected. It looks like a very nice scope. Your going to have to give us a review of it once you've got it mounted and taken it to the range. I also have been looking around for a good optic to mount on My Kaiser .308. I find myself overwhelmed with all the different scopes out there, and I've never spent the kind of money for a scope that these name brand optics are going for. I have had a chance to try out a S&B, a Nightforce, a nice Nikon, and an IOR. The ones that get all the attention seem to be the ones out of my price range (S&B, US Optics) The Nightforce has a good reputation but it's pretty heavy. I'm still having a hard time dealing with the idea of spending + 1K for a scope, but that seems to be the norm. I also hate the idea of going to great lengths to build a light gun just to add 2+ lbs to it with the glass. I also am not sure what magnification I should go for. I understand all of the negatives associated with the higher magnification (higher price, weight and smaller FOV) But I'd really like to see what the gun is capable of accuracywise, and think that the higher magnification will be better for that, if not for real world use. I think may have to educate myself about scopes the hard way, by buying the wrong power or lower quality first and learn from my mistakes.

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