precision shooting & optics

#1
I listened to big parts of last nights P&S discussion on precision shooting. Based on what I heard most of us looking to stretch out our shooting should start with an AR15 with free floated rail, nice trigger, bipod/shooting sock, and good ammo (especially good ammo). This should get us to a 2 moa rifle which is better than most people think. The big caveat is optics. Although discussed, what should someone be looking at? As the panel discussed, most of the sub $1000 stuff really don't get you there. If you are looking at going out to 500-600 yards/meters depending on the range do you stick with the 1-6s or higher magnification?
 

bkelly47

Newbie
WARLORD
#2
For a precision gun I would look at something like a ffp 3-18, 3-15 or 4-16 something along those lines. The extra power is nice for PID/Observation and being better able to spot your trace and impacts for follow up shot corrections.
 
#3
In the podcast (listening to it currently) they mentioned that the Army generally tried to have 1x per 100 meters. 500-600 yards would be about 6x, to their rule of thumb. That sounds a little low to me personally, so I'd go higher.
 

RICKDAWGGG

Moderator
Moderator
#4
It really boils down to what you want/need to do with it. For mil/LE that extra magnification can be the difference between getting PID or not, but in say a competition or recreational use environment where the target is known, that lower magnification won't be much of an issue.
 

Littlehendrick

Newbie
Network Support I
#5
The need for magnification/ability to identify mainly will come down to the size of targets you are trying to engage. Are you trying for a 6” circle at 600? Or are we shoot E-types at 600?

If you are looking at full size E-types, the 1x per 100 works fine, especially if your targets are freshly painted. If you are looking for grayed out small targets at distance, the higher magnification becomes a useful tool for identification. I have seen 12” circles at 360 yard that were set back in the wood line that were very hard to see, even when the location was known to the shooters (I was RO’ing the stage at a PRS match).

Defining targets and use will help guide optic suggestions for what will fit your situation.
 
#6
i shoot combat rifle competitions with the guard and was at the Winston P wilson this year. most of our shooting was ether 100m and in or 400-500m. we where shooting on fig 11 and e type, scoring rings on both are real small. i was using an 4x RCO (acog). that being said my take away was- while 4x is sooooo much better then irons or a red dot, and is capable, it shined at 200m. past that it worked fine but i was wishing i had a 6x or better. at 500m i would of loved a 8x or 10x
 
#7
Time to join a precision rifle forum. They talk about this all the time.

Good glass matters. Save up, as discount brands won't work so well, especially at dawn and dusk, but you may also see distortion, increased parallax, and chromatic aberation.

Biggest tube you can get. Now this isn't quite universal, but I tend to say a 34mm tube if you can get it. More light goes through it. But see below on size and weight as well. 1" is pretty old fashioned now. I tend to say 30mm is a minimum now.

Mildot, and practice how to use it. Some other ranging reticles work, but hard to pick one as they are all proprietary.

FFP so it works at all magnifications.

Side parallax. Understand it.

Understand eye boxes. How much can you move your eye around and see, at all magnifications. It gets narrow at high mag.

Target turrets (exposed, so you just dial in). With MIL/MRAD clicks.

Zero stop. Man did that stop a lot of sign errors for me!

100 m/yd (depending on your system) zero.

Figure out max range needed, and get the least scope you can for that. How much? Depends on—as mentioned above—need for PID. I think 1x / 100m is a bit low, and run more like 2x that mag typically (e.g. 6x at 300 yds) but that's for quick shots on the range. To find stuff, pick aiming points, to ID what I am looking at, I run more. I have a 4-16x and use fully 16x mostly for c. 1000yd shots, but sometimes to see what I can see. I tend to say: borrow some stuff and try it in typical conditions in your local work environment if you can.

Figure out max range needed (and expected of the system) and could total clicks, then run dope to see how far that gets you. Tilted bases give you more room to dial in longer ranges. But, you may not need it so don't default to it.

Range card, ON THE GUN. Once you know distance, be able to dial in rapidly to hit at that range.

LRF. It is hard to estimate range. You probably need a wide FOV scope anyway, so get a small monocular or binocular rangefinder and keep it around. While finding targets, or surveying the scene, you can get the ranges.

A notebook. To make a range card, but also to keep track of data as you shoot generally, develop loads or techniques, etc. A log book, optionally.

A Kestrel. Wind matters, especially as range climbs and with small bullets.

Software on the phone or a ballistic computer. I use Strelok, others will do. Some Kestrels (mine, though I do not use these features because: mobile phone app) also have ballistic computers.

Clip on. Now I know we're getting well outside the scope of what scope, but worth thinking about. If you need day/night capability, think about the fact you may want to stick a clip on NV (maybe thermal) in front sometime. Do you have the rail space with the rifle configuration? Mine was, as it turns out, a bit marginal because my scope is awful big. If I had planned ahead better, I wouldn't have gotten such a big scope.

Similar: Size and weight? If you are going to hump this, or hold it all day, or sneak into places with it, think about that as well. There's a lot of range in size and weight of these.
 
#8
If you think in inches, feet, miles, yards, get a scope with MOA turrets and an MOA reticle. Unless you are in a team environment with guys who have mil scopes, or you legitimately think in terms of meters already, MOA is where you want to be.

No matter what you get, make sure the reticle and turrets match. If you get a mil reticle with MOA turrets, throw it away and buy a better scope.
 
#9
If you think in inches, feet, miles, yards, get a scope with MOA turrets and an MOA reticle. Unless you are in a team environment with guys who have mil scopes, or you legitimately think in terms of meters already, MOA is where you want to be.
While I agree 100% on matching the turrets and reticle, I must respectfully disagree on "thinking in inches, feet, miles, yards" or non-metric is a match to an MOA setup. You can work in yards just fine with Mils...I also don't think in centimeters either. It really boils down to is what you have experience on (you know holds in MOA or Mil) or what is more visually pleasing to you. With matched reticles and turrets, you're mostly using them for scale...the values are just different.

Absolutely agree that in a team environment you all need to be on the same page. We have one hold-out on our team that is Mil ret/MOA adj and everyone else is Mil/Mil. On our long distance days, he is either on his own to figure shit out, or he's doing 100% holds.

And are we talking true MOA (1.047" at 100y) or IPHY (1" at 100y)? Does the shooter know what their scope maker uses (assuming the scope maker makes this public knowledge)? The farther out you go, the more it matters...assuming we haven't done a tall-target test.

Outside of zeroing a mismatched Mil/MOA scope, I have not seen where the thinking and adjusting "in inches" is relevant to the actual manipulation of the scope as "holding 2.5 inches high or low can be done either way". Rather, after watching scores of guys trying to do the initial zero math in their heads on Aimpoints/EO's (If 1/2 MOA @ 100 = 1/2", then at 25y, one click is 1/8" and I need to come up 3ish inches then.....that's like....fuck it I'll just do 20 clicks and re-assess). Or what's more going out to distance that isn't a round number and have people try to work that out when we're at 736 yards. Does it really matter knowing that one click is 3.68" if I know what my elevation adjustment hold/dial and my wind hold are? In the pre-Mildot era, this was entirely relevant, but we don't live there anymore.

Functionally, it doesn't matter which unit of angular measurement is chosen.
 
#10
At the risk of being contrary I would recommend not spending a ton of money (which is obviously relative to your finances, etc) until you know long distance shooting is something you are going to do a lot of.

Let’s use the analogy of a guy who decides he wants to get into mountain biking. Mr. New Bike Rider doesn’t need an ultralight super strong customized $5,000 bike like sponsored pro racers use. First of all he isn’t sure it won’t end up idle in the garage after one ride. Second he is not good enough for the difference between that and a $500 not crap but basic bike to matter. So Mr. New Bike Rider should buy a basic, but not crap, bike and ride it for awhile. Then down the road if he is sticking with the hobby maybe upgrade.

A $400-600 scope on top of a $400-500 rifle will get you shooting at several hundred yards. Use it for a dozen range trips that focus on distance and a few long distance rifle matches over say a year. At the end of that year you will have a much better idea of what you really want and how serious you are about this. If you aren’t serious then you will have a good all around rifle worth say a grand in the safe. If you are serious about it, after that time, then spend some money.
 
#11
Biggest tube you can get. Now this isn't quite universal, but I tend to say a 34mm tube if you can get it. More light goes through it. But see below on size and weight as well. 1" is pretty old fashioned now. I tend to say 30mm is a minimum now.
That is a common misconception, but it's false. The tube diameter has nothing to do with the amount of light through the scope. The advantage of a larger tube is more adjustment range, to dial dope for longer distance.
 
#12
If you think in inches, feet, miles, yards, get a scope with MOA turrets and an MOA reticle. Unless you are in a team environment with guys who have mil scopes, or you legitimately think in terms of meters already, MOA is where you want to be.
I disagree with this too. Definitely make sure the turret and reticle match, but mil is becoming much more widespread for distance shooting than moa, and it's a very simple system with less math than trying to think of drop or windage in inches. Those who claim it's more complicated, or that it's for metric units, simply don't understand it. If you're just getting in to long range shooting and aren't already well established using MOA scopes, go with a mil/mil scope. Learning to properly use a mil dot reticle is the biggest part of that, and once you learn to use that reticle on one scope, you know how to use it on others too.

To put explain it simply, 1 mil is just an angle that means 1/1,000. It's not yards or meters, or miles or kilometers, it's just 1/1,000. That can be 1 yard at 1,000 yards, or 1 meter at 1,000 meters, or whatever, but the other key is that you don't make up the dope chart in inches or meters, you make it in mil. It's pretty easy to know that your 5.56 drops 1.3 mil at 300 yards, and then either dial that 1.3 mil, or hold over that much on the reticle.
 
#13
That is a common misconception, but it's false. The tube diameter has nothing to do with the amount of light through the scope. The advantage of a larger tube is more adjustment range, to dial dope for longer distance.
I really, really did not know that (adjustment sure, not light) because it seems to correlate, and everything else I work with optically seems to do this also so it made sense.
So... all else being equal, a 50 mm objective will give as much light and as big an eye box with a 1" tube as with a 34???
 
#14
Glad to hear the discussions of MIL + Yards as well. I like to hear I am not automatically a total idiot and doing it wrong :)

FWIW:

I do all mils, and while I am metric (m, km) in the field, for land nav and so on where I am militantly MRGS/USNG/etc, I am yards for range because I am american and civilian. All KD ranges I get to shoot on are in yards, and all friends with land know even their appx ranges in yards, so I just go with it.

The other thing that helps is computers (well: mostly the mobile phone app). I rarely do the math (because I SUCK at head math) and just plug in all numbers. As long as you have your units set up right and are consistent, the computer can handle it.

I do occasionally switch as conditions say so, so carry—for example both cm and inch rulers with me. When zeroing, I will go ahead and measure in cm, then try to adjust MIL/MRAD clicks based on that, instead of converting inches.

Oh, and I try not to confuse myself or anyone. Things where units are not obvious (MRAD turrets = obvious) I label. This photo is from an article I did on sticking cateyes everywhere, but note the huge, clear YARDS label on the (trust me, even though it's dark) LRF, because it just has a number in the display, not units and I'd hate to fuck that up:
 
#15
but mil is becoming much more widespread for distance shooting than moa
Yes and no. There are some disciplines where MOA is just the standard...cause it always has been. Go to F-Class and I think Bench Rest and there will be more if not all MOA. While those are completely different disciplines, there is still some cross-over to other precision shooting. Go to a PRS and ask see what guys are talking about for wind holds...they're going to be talking Mils.

For a long time, if you wanted a "tactical" scope, Mil/Mil was your go to. The corresponding MOA/MOA alternative is still relatively new in the tactical scope lines. Mil is just better established in some institutions and will continue to be indefinitely. The base 1/1000 thing aside, Mil/Mil is still the king for affording a shooter more scope options. Classic example is S&B where if you wanted to run a PMII all MOA, you were shit out of luck until like last year where they now have like one option in a 5-25x56mm.

Some will argue that MOA can offer "finer" and thus more precise adjustments. Comparatively we're talking 1/4 MOA vs 0.1 mil adjustments...which equates to roughly 0.25" vs 0.36" respectively. Outside of the benchrest stuff where the adjustments are 1/8 MOA and 0.05 mil increments, I would like to meet the individual that is good enough to exploit at will that fraction of adjustment.