My first statement holds. After using BipodEXT in competition and supplying selected students with it I can’t speak highly enough of it. You can see me using it in competition below. The day was as filled with challenges as it could be. I was using new ammo, a new BDC scope, a .223Rem in high wind conditions and transitioning targets under time pressure.
This round (Stage 7) I’m shooting from just over 200yrds to 500yrds using the BDC reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their brilliant ACSS HUD/DMR reticle on his Mossberg MVP with the BXT40X3 model BipodExt from Accuracy Solutions. The BipodExt bipod extender pulled every bit of wiggle out of my holds. It was like shooting from a machine rest. The thing didn’t slow me down either. Transitions between targets were just as fast as without it. My best .223 score at that match was a 22 of 50 in mild wind. My best score with the .223 in strong winds was 15 of 50 until this match. I scored 20 of 50 this time with strong winds up to 30mph. I attribute this score to the combination of stability from the BipodExt and the integrated wind hold-offs in the reticle on the Primary Arms 4-14x optic I was using. The 5 shots I picked up over my previous record could be split up 80/20 for accounting purposes favoring the BipodEXT as the causal factor. How can you tell?
You’ll notice that I’m calling my own shots throughout Stage 7. Part of that is the low recoil of a .223 but I’m calling those shots at close and far targets with a .223. Far is no big deal for the most part since you have time to recover from recoil. Close means recoil cannot have affected you enough to pull the target out of the scope view during recoil. Kinda rare even with a .223 unless recoil control is really given more weight than it normally deserves. The long lever length provided by the BipodEXT gets rid of muzzle rise even if you fail to load the bipod like you otherwise might.
Stage 5 above has me perched a little higher than is optimal due to the way the ground lays but that didn’t add any instability because my rifle was being rested so far from me, any wiggle I put in is not as effective at pulling the rifle off target. It takes quite a bit more input force to move the rifle around a sufficient distance. In a conventionally placed bipod arrangement the effective attachment point or fulcrum is about 20 inches from the shoulder and about 10-20 inches behind the muzzle toward the action. With the BipodEXT you can have an effective fulcrum 30-50 inches from your shoulder and up to several inches in front of the muzzle. What’s that matter?
Well it’s a little like the effect of altitude over the target for a long range shot. If you’re 100 feet above the target at a distance of 100 feet then the angle is 45 degrees. If you’re 100 feet above your target at a distance of 1000 feet then the angle is about 5.7 degrees. MASSIVE DIFFERENCE. What the inventors have created is a way to get that effective distance to grow without making the weapon system unwieldy.
Stage 6 you can see something that I’m normally very bad at being done really excellently, follow-through. I’m staying on the optic and keeping that trigger back much better than normal. I attribute that to the sensation I got of watching a show on TV instead of through a magnified optic. The great glass in the Primary Arms optic helped but the stability from the bipod extender getting rid of all the jitter also got rid of my bloody near instinctive habit of slapping the trigger and coming off the scope too damned soon. It seems the jitter doesn’t play well with my brain and I am prone to taking subconscious steps to deal with that which are exactly counter productive. Add BipodEXT and I turn into a really sparkly good shooter with much improved execution on the fundamentals.
So what about the extra bulk and weight and all that. Well, my rifle still fits in my drag bag and there’s no extra weight to speak of thanks to carbon fibre and aluminum construction. It’s quick detachable so the idea that that’s something to legitimately gripe about is laughable. The cost is pretty tall but you have to come to grips with the fact that good kit costs good money. Sorry, no freebies in this world.
What I didn’t cover at all above is the amazing versatility of the BipodEXT. Turn that forward section 90deg and brace your bipod against a window opening or a barricade or a fence post for PRS and similar action shooting matches. Put a long and short bipod on it if you want for rough country hunting to go from prone to kneeling to sitting to whatever rapidly. For police and military and those few that hunt mountain goats and sheep and such where extremely high angle shots are frequently the only shots to be had, you can stand up comfortably behind your rifle, set the bipod up in front of your muzzle and keep your spout out of the dirt, be ridiculously stable (tried this with great results), minimize fatigue and increase first round hit probability. For cops on top of skyscrapers and in the rafters at sporting events overwatching us with their sniper rifles stuck in tripods and hog saddles, they could be just as precise and more flexible and have an easier time concealing their position if they didn’t have to be so high up to use a tripod. Lower fatigue means improved interdiction and lower chance of collateral casualties or damage.
Any way you can get your bipod farther from your face will increase your ability to be stable and make precision shots rapidly. Yes you’ll lose some compactness and decimal points of speed/agility. Isn’t the decimal point loss in agility worth the orders of magnitude increase in endurance and precision? I think so. I won’t shoot a match without a BipodEXT again if I can possibly help it.
For a direct comparison, here’s the same gun, same shooter, same range just without the BDC scope and without the BipodEXT. In the beginning at stage 7 you’ll be able to see the side to side and vertical wiggle at my muzzle during firing and the much more dramatic appearing recoil and me missing more than I should be despite having massively more magnification (16x fixed instead of the 10x I was actually using on the Primary Arms 4-14x) and dialing precise DOPE instead of holding off. If I’d used the 16x SWFA optic along with the BipodEXT I probably would have picked up a few more targets.
The difference made by the BipodEXT at my last match was probably me picking up 3-5 targets I would have certainly missed regardless of the optic and because I was using a BDC at long range it was probably responsible for me not blowing that completely. The BDC was easy to use but very sensitive to cant and user error. It was really easy to avoid those two conditions with the bipod extender. Thanks to Accuracy Solutions for the loan of this amazing kit. I’ll have to buy one now, not so much because they’re excellent but because of the two I have for use by students, I’m never giving one of them back 😉 .
Dan, Seth and company. You guys really knocked this out of the park. I knew when I saw it at RX17 that it was going to really change my game and I think it’s going to change a lot of games. Keep these badass ideas coming!
Have you ever looked at something and said, “Man, that’s just more expensive than it’s worth.”? Well, you might have that reaction to Vectronix products. Vectronix is one arm of Leica which is world renowned for the quality and precision of their optics. Vectronix takes that a little further biasing toward the military end of the market. The military’s of the world don’t have the kind of budget concerns that we mere mortals do so they often use kit that’s got price tags that look like serial numbers. That also means they have some of the most awesome and rugged bits and bobs to be had in their inventory and the manufacturers that sell to them will mostly sell the same stuff to civilians. So, if you’re in the rare air of long range precision shooting and you need serious kit, check out the military suppliers and the stuff they make.
For example some people shoot to several hundred yards and they might get away with a golfers laser rangefinder. Some people shoot to over one thousand yards and they really need something like a Terrapin or a Sig Kilo2200MR or Leica 1200 and so on. Those are much more expensive. Then there are cretins like David Tubb and Charlie Melton and George Banke that make extreme range shots just for the seeming sake of making sure the rest of us know we’re not that good. They shoot well over 2000 yards and often quite a bit further. There’s nothing short of military level kit that’s going to do that reliably. This is why distance costs so much money. It’s an order of magnitude.
Look at Kilo2200MR’s, they’re like 400 bucks. No big. Vectronix Terrapins are 1800 bucks used and they don’t make them anymore. If you want something equally capable then you’re looking at stuff like PLRF15 and similar and the prices go way way way way up into multiple thousands of dollars immediately.
What if you need to lase a field of grass 12km away? Well here’s what you’d use. I personally ranged a dry grass hillside with the sun facing me at 10km. I couldn’t get farther because there’s nothing farther from me. 10km is about as far as you can see anything here, especially now with all the wildfires polluting the air. I lased a cow at 5km, a house at 11km, and on and on.
What’s the downside? Well, I picked this set up for about $8,000 and it weighs an absolute ton. We’re talking over 5lbs of optics with a heart stopping price tag.
How about the optics? The glass is as clear as any top shelf rifle scope, if not better. It’s stupid clear and the reticle in the view just helps that much more.
You can connect a data cable to military GPS units to it, mount it to a tripod and use it for ultra precise work at the extreme distance it’s capable of. It takes 6volt Lithium Ion batteries in pairs which seem to keep it working forever.
The 10x magnifier attachment screws right on and off and even seals so you don’t get water vapor or dirt between the magnifier and the binocular unit. The capabilities are just stunning too. It has a compass so it knows what direction you’re pointed. It also knows what elevation it’s pointed at so it can do a nifty thing. You can lase one target, then another and it’ll give you the slope distance between the two. You can range a target relative to another asset on the ground. Talk about sniper fuel.
From here on I’m going to leave you with some curiosity and a few pictures. Keep in mind that the unit I tested is actually the property of one of my long range students, not mine. I’m not that wealthy or that determined.
Retail price of something like a Vector 21 Nite is around $18,000-20,000 after all is said and done and there are export restrictions up the wazoo.
You know me. I have a longstanding disdain for BDC (bullet drop compensating) reticles. Most of that disdain is drawn from the unending habit of people that don’t know any better to try and use them for things they’re not meant for. BDC’s are for making super fast shots with greater accuracy than a guess and less accuracy than a ballistic firing solution. They’re wildly fast to use but lose a lot of precision to that speed. When I say “a lot” what I mean is that last fraction of a miliradian or minute of angle. Worst case, maybe 1 minute at the longest possible ranges and negligible amounts at closer distances.
So let’s twist the discussion a little bit. At what point can you as a shooter say to yourself, “The level of precision I need for this is totally BDC territory. I don’t need pinpoint accuracy. Combat effectiveness will suffice.”? You might think that while hunting as a generic selection. You might think 3-gun competition. You might think actual combat is the territory of a BDC. You might be a smart ass and say it’s at conversational distances. The truth is more complicated. Whatever your target is and what you’re shooting at it dictate the answer.
If your gun shoots flat enough to land inside the lethal zone even if you misjudged or mis-held for the range despite you messing up, you can use a BDC there. In combat you just want to put metal on meat so the enemy’s people are spent treating his wounds and not fighting you. For hunting you’re looking to be as nice about killing that animal as possible. You want quick and clean kills with no suffering. For PRS competition you need fast and accurate. For screwing around shooting pop cans and eggs at long range you don’t “need” anything. That’s a completely optional activity and nobody’s keeping score.
Stage 5 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:
Stage 6 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tactical Rifle Match:
Stage 7 from October’s Long Range Precision & Tacical Rifle Match:
I recently decided to try out a Primary Arms 4-14×44 FFP scope with their nifty ACSS HUD/DMR reticle in it at my monthly long range precision tactical prone match. I did this because I was curious not because I’m a glutton for punishment. As it turns out I put in my 2nd best score ever with a .223 (within 2 hits of my best score) and I crushed my previous best high wind .223 score by 5 hits. The weather was mild but winds were from 5-35mph and constantly changing directions.
I started out on stage 1 by counting mil-dots and calculating DOPE for the 600-1000yrd shots. Bad idea. That’s not how this scope works and it showed. I only hit the targets that I used the BDC on. That’s fine, over 600yrds right out of the gate and scoring any hits at all, I was happy to do it. Stage 2 I was still calculating based on MV and mil-dots but I was also comparing my real hit locations to the point of aim and the BDC. By stage 3 I gave up the calculating bit and just shot by the BDC and while I wasn’t hitting on stage 3 I was only missing on wind holds. The rest of the 8 stages I did ok on. Stage 4 was ok but while it started well it went right to hell on shot 3. By stage 5 I’d found my stride and started trusting the reticle with really good results. We went from stage 5 to stage 8 and then back to stage 6 and then stage 7 because some shooters are ridiculously, infuriatingly, heart rending slow (Byron, I’m looking at you particularly).
At the end of the day I’d posted a great .223 score landing me in the middle of the pack of everyone else who were shooting 6mm/6.5mm/7.62mm stuff from much bigger cases. Nobody ran the course clean, like always. The reason for my success? Wind holds and drops are on and it’s easy to use. 5mph or 10mph or in between or over or under… no worries. I had little problem doing it once I actually started doing it. Drops are really easy to use and against a man size target, boy I mean the bad guy is in a world of hurt. My misses were measurable in fractions of an inch mostly with the occasional several feet as well. In a military context I’d have one of these reticles on every battle rifle and triple the engagement range of my grunts. See how the bad guys like an army of designated marksman equipped with machine guns.
Oh yeah! “How about the scope itself?” I hear you saying. Well, simply: Great glass. Superb glass. You really won’t expect it to be that nice and you’ll be surprised. Good glass comes with weight and it’s not as light as you might think. Turret feel is plain ol’ shit. They’re rubbery as hell and vague and uncapped turrets aren’t necessary with a BDC. Tracking is actually ok. Wouldn’t rely on the tracking but it was accurate as hell for zero’ing. Eye box is really tight and unforgiving. Zoom and focus and parallax is all great. All in all I’d expect to pay a bit more. If they put more into the turret feel then I see a price twice as high coming with it. Leave the turrets for zero’ing and use the reticle for everything else and the scope is still a real bargain. Seriously, the glass is exceptional. As for durability? Well, I hauled it around a mountain all day, dropped it repeatedly on the ground and shot a match with it. Zero problems. So, not saying it’s battle ready but it’s certainly field conditions resistant.
I have to thank Dimitri and all the guys over at Primary Arms (http://primaryarms.com) for letting me use one of these amazing little scopes. The guys at the match started out with a little light hearted ribbing and by the end of the match they were plumb out of humorous jabs and were instead astonished at how well I was able to do without ever spinning a turret while surrounded with multi-thousand-dollar custom match rifles with multi-thousand-dollar scopes on top. There were a lot of compliments by the end of the day. Next I’m going to try it on my .308. Betcha I clean up.
Talk about a home run. Vortex really nailed it with these. The package comes with a 4″ sunshade and tools all in fitted foam and a nice looking if understated box. The scope itself caught me off guard in a number of ways.
First, the price. Given the full feature set: Japanese made bona fide’s, amazing glass, locking turrets, illumination, zero stop, etc… and the perfection that they’ve all been implemented with the price is easily 1000 bucks under many contenders. How they’re able to do that I don’t know but I’m going to assume that they’re making up on margins with volume. From the ratio of Razor’s to competitive scopes I see at matches I’m going to venture to guess that such a strategy is at least a component of the resultant low price.
I was actually at a match when I bought my first Razor II, a 3-18x50mm. Another competitor had some of his scopes on the swap-meet table at the match and I bellied up to the bar and took a peek. His Vortex Viper PST’s were not really interesting to me but the Razor, that was an attention grabber. They’re so popular with so many top shooters that I couldn’t help but covet it a bit.
Apart from the substantial heft (more on that later) the entire thing impressed me. Optically it was brilliant, the reticle design was great, turret feel and features were exactly what I’ve always thought of as perfect. The owner told me he got the 3-18x because no 4.5-27x’s were available at the time and he had matches to shoot. Once he got his 4.5-27x there was no need for the 3-18x and so I got it for a song.
As soon as I had one, I started to look at my US Optics scopes and considered how much more modern and comparatively well executed the Razors are and decided to move to Razor II’s for some of my match rifles. So, I went out and swapped my ER-25 from USO for a 4.5-27×56 Razor II and some accessories. It immediately fixed the balance issues I had from the ultra long ER-25 as the Razor is much much shorter in length. The rifle feels a lot better for positional shooting now and there’s no tunneling or vignetting like with the USO variables I’d had on top.
The heft is substantial. No joke but, also not unexpected with a top shelf optic. A 4.5-27x is right over 3lbs once you slap rings on it. The weight is excitingly evenly distributed along the length giving a nicely balanced feel to the thing. Not having the weight biased helps with rifle balance on my guns with their long heavy barrels. The mass of the optic helps shift that weight bias of the weapon system back toward the rear.
Turrets are locking .1mrad with zero stops. Clicks are extremely positive but not difficult and there’s no accidentally landing between clicks. It’s in one notch or the other. The zero stop and re-settable turrets are fairly easy to deal with and allows for a little dial-under below your zero which is nice. The parallax knob is well placed, well sized and has just the right amount of resistance with an amazingly close minimum setting. The illumination control being housed inside the parallax knob helps to keep the package compact and doesn’t interfere with bolt handles like a lot of ocular bell mounted illumination controls. The illumination rheostat has off positions between every lit position meaning you don’t have to spin a bunch on the knob to turn it off.
The reticle is the christmas tree style EBR-2C reticle in MRAD. The hole in the center of the reticle is great and doesn’t obscure small targets. I have been loathe to accept the new tree reticles that have taken over the world but after getting into long range shooting that isn’t done from the prone position and where there are multiple shots and time limits that it’s actually super helpful especially when there’s variable wind in the mix.
All in all it’s exactly what you’d expect from a tier 1 optic. Amazing glass, flawless implementation of every feature and well thought out ergonomics in a compact package that’s superbly capable of doing what it’s advertised to be able to do. A rarity in optics.
I did have one problem setting it up that turned out to be my fault and a quick call to their support line had the instructions I needed to verify a diagnosis and to take corrective action.
Well if you were looking for the biggest and heaviest bit of glass you could top a rifle with, this is it. If I recall correctly from Precision Rifle Blog’s it’s in fact the longest and heaviest of the huge lineup they tested. Street price varies. Some vendors appear to be going below MAP and selling them on E-bay for $2400-ish bucks but those are the standard SKU’s and you don’t get to customize. If you want custom then you’re probably going to pay full price unless you can find one of those angels that has the hookup and can do custom orders.
Like all US Optics scopes, it’s a heavy beast. Like all US Optics scopes it’s not exactly brimming with the most modern specs, it’s still a 5x zoom range and it’s still heavy as neutronium and there’s no true zero stop, no more tactile clicks and it’s a multi-piece scope (meaning the main tube and objective bell are not one homogeneous piece but 2 of them screwed together). What it does have going for it above all other scopes in its class is dead nuts rugged durability. If you’re planning on falling out of a helicopter 30ft onto the ground while (stupidly) still holding onto your rifle, this is the scope you want. It’ll probably live through that if you don’t actually smash the glass and good luck doing that.
Not only is it heavy but the length is almost comical and adding a 4-inch sunshade/ERD to it only exacerbates the issue, somewhat dramatically. Mounting it on my .308 Savage 10FPSR looks pretty silly. That’s fine, it’s not meant to be there forever. I have another USO scope, an SN-3 35mm 3.5-22×44 ERGO, that is meant to go on the .308. I just wanted to take my ER-25 out for a match and there isn’t one that I wanted to shoot my 7mag at anywhere close enough. I also have still to finish load development on those 7mags. There’s more in there, I know it. But, I digress.
My particular scope came out of the box with a now rare but, all too familiar to longtime watchers of USO, immediate RMA. The image was perfect except for at the top of the FOV and it was big enough for me to be annoyed by and the turrets were being inconsistent and something in the turrets felt like it might be wrong. This is not what you expect of 3 grand worth of scope. I got it back from RMA and went shooting and found that something was still buggered in the erector and it wouldn’t pull clicks out reliably when at certain extreme combinations of wind and elevation. It wasn’t that it was at its limits, it’s that the limits were inconsistent… felt like a return spring was busted or a detent slipped. Since I only really shoot in extreme conditions (judging by empirical data) I wanted that fixed. I sent it back again and it’s just been returned. I’ve get it mounted and will get it zero’d soon enough and if the stars align we’ll see how it does mid-next month on some match work. If everything is fine then I’ll also use it for an upcoming special video I’m doing. If not, then the .223 and the USO ST-10 will be the star of the show.
Optical quality from any USO is pretty darned good by any standard. Some will argue but I’ve not been any more impressed by any other manufacturer than I have been with USO. Their coatings might not be as advanced as S&B or Zeiss but I don’t know anyone that can tell the difference, certainly not me. There is tunneling at the lower powers because USO doesn’t use a mask. A mask effectively cuts off some of the image to eliminate tunneling but at a cost. The parallax knob has markings which are in my experience, meaningless except at 50m and infinity.
Where the ER-25 normally shines is in dead nuts precise click values and I experienced that within the central 15mils but outside that my specific scope had some trouble, that’s what got it sent back for repair. My ST-10 which is USO’s cheapest (if you can call it that) scope has the same turret setup and is disturbingly accurate and repeatable. Every independent test, review and anecdote I’ve ever heard or read about USO’s click values is, they’re always accurate. Clicks are not hugely tactile but they are at just the right audible level to be heard without being loud like Vortex and some others seem to me to be.
I got the ER-25 because they no longer made the SN-3 ERGO models and because I had the money, US Optics is my preferred scope vendor and I really wanted one. I’m satisfied with the purchase and with the support so far.
The process to get warranty work is super easy:
1. Have a US Optics scope. This is key.
2. If you have a problem call them and explain.
3. Send it back with the RMA number they give you.
4. Wait a month.
5. Receive your scope back and check it out.
6. Repeat if necessary.
Hey, I said it was easy, not that it was not operated by humans. On the upside, I’ve spend time with a good number of ER-25’s in the last year and mine is the only one anyone reported any problem at all with so I’m going to chalk this one up to the curse of Tahquiz. Don’t take this as a rip on USO or the ER-25. I’ve looked through enough of them to know they’re a rock star optic and optically this one is no exception. I just happened to get the one that needed immediate repair put into it and that sorta happens with manufactured goods. It’s custom, not bespoke.
In the tradition of Burris’ excellent Signature Series rings come the XTR line. They’re designed for tactical applications and built tough and you can tell right out of the box. The Pos-Align inserts that users of the Burris Signature Series Zee rings are used to are there but no longer made of the slick polymer used in their 1″ and 30mm Zee rings. Instead the inserts appear to be a fibre reinforced polymer of much duller sheen. Possibly meant to provide greater friction against the scope tubes of the giant scopes normally mounted in 34mm tactical rings.
They’re packaged in a water tight case reminiscent of those from Pelican that’s made by Plano. It’s a hell of a lot of case for a set of rings that are more or less impervious to water in the first place but whatever makes the little cars go round and round right. If nothing else it provided me with a neat little case to keep all the tools and parts for my optics in my normal match kit.
A cross bar lug machined into the bottom and made to slot into a Picatinny rail and six screws holding down top halves mean your scope won’t be shifting in the rings and the rings won’t be shifting in your mounting base.
These rings are designed for use with bases having a Picatinny slot size. That’s necessary to accommodate the lug. I haven’t tried to fit it in a conventional Weaver base and I’m not going to either. The fibre reinforced ring inserts being clamped down by 6 torx head screws means even the largest and heaviest scopes will be very securely set against the forces of recoil. My rings are hugging a US Optics ER-25 which is one of the heaviest tactical scopes you could possibly find to hang on a rifle so I’m glad for the holding power. The inserts also help prevent damage to the scope finish or pinching of the tube but this by no means is meant to assert that extreme care should not be taken while mounting the scope in the rings. You have to do it evenly and consistently and be careful to not over-tighten them.
Thick and tall, thick and tall. I went with a taller ring than I should have which means either replacing them with a shorter set of raising the comb on my rifle. Guess which one won out in the short term. Hey, at over a c-note a set, it’s non-trivial to keep lashing out greenies. That is what will happen though in the end. The ring caps are pretty thick on their own though and on my ER-25 with it’s relatively short back half of the main tube and super low profile EREK elevation knob means that I can’t see squat of my knob settings (elevation or windage) without having to come slightly off the rifle. It does break up my position which means I have to rebuild the position. It’s right here where MTC and a proper zero stop on the ER-25 would be good. With something like a Vortex Razor with taller knobs the thickness of the ring shouldn’t matter as much. They’re also kinda heavy for aluminum. I didn’t toss them on a scale but they’re certainly not light other than perhaps being light for their size if you’re familiar with the weight of steel rings.
Each ring set includes one set of the +/- 0 MOA concentric, one set each of the +/-5 MOA and +/-10 MOA, and two sets of the +/-20 MOA. With these inserts, it is possible to make 0, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 or 40 MOA of cant in the scope mount without a canted base. This means 2-piece bases are a possibility which can allow lower mounting of the scope relative to the bore but they’d have to have Picatinny slot size to work. All of the 2-piece slot-type bases I’ve seen are on the similar but very slightly different Weaver pattern which has slots that are too narrow to accommodate the recoil lugs on things meant for use with Mil-Std-1913 rails and mounts.
Cost is not heartwarming but not heart stopping unlike the cost of, say, US Optics rings. The Burris XTR Signature Series are over $100 on the street. Mine were $134 + shipping. I only use Burris Signature rings on my rifles for a reason. They’re top quality and they don’t mess up my scope finish which helps to retain value on my pricey optics. If you have room in your weight budget and you’re using any scope without an EREK knob then you’ll probably love them. Definitely get your scope in your hands with your rifle and base before ordering your rings and then measure 3x and order 1x.
Normally I review scopes I own or get loaned to me by the manufacturer for the purpose of reviewing. I don’t like to write about those that I don’t have long term access to. I find that the proper way to do things is to get an initial impression and then refine that through longer term use. This is especially true, and largely because of the fact that I end up buying all these optics and that stuff is occasionally heart thumpingly expensive.
Some background on this particular scope review: My coach is an old school shooter and likes his scopes second focal plane with a small dot and fine crosshair reticles with insane magnification levels and 1/8 MOA clicks. These are fantastic for target work at known distances and where you’re not spinning a lot of DOPE each time. His total used adjustment range on the old Nikon was 14MOA and distances were maxed out at 500m. Well, PRS type work gets out a lot further and the targets are scattered randomly in their distances everywhere from 200m to 1000m so you’re constantly dialing up and down and holding off and he needed turrets that were meant to take a little more constant use.
Well finally, after a year of shooting with me and seeing the things I’m able to do with a scaled reticle in FFP and fixed power scopes and how easy it looks and how good the glass I use is and how well the turrets track (particularly for the price I pay) he decided to make the jump and get a high quality FFP MIL/MIL optic. Part of the reason for the jump was that in prepping for a long range precision match a couple months ago we found out his Nikon target scope was busted and wouldn’t dial any windage and he was way out of elevation for hitting the 900m target. Fast forward to last week and he’d ordered a new Vortex Viper PST FFP 6-24x with EBR-1 reticle.
Now this new Vortex optic is mounted on a 6.5mm BR single shot bolt action Rem 700 based metallic silhouette race gun. The thing is meant exactly for doing 5-10 shots rapid fire at long range… the hard way. Standing up. Using it for PRS style work was actually really successful the first time out despite it being unable to dial wind since it’s nasty accurate, wind bucking and low recoiling. Still, the busted fine hair and small dot Nikon scope was only helping drop his score. This new scope is sure to help his scores in PRS type matches. How it’ll do long term in metallic silhouette has a lot to do with how long it takes him to become friends with his new scope. His skills are wicked sharp anyway so if he takes to it rapidly it could be dramatic. If it isn’t so quick for him to pick up his scores will still rise but not quite as fast.
Anyway, I digress a bit. As soon as the new Vortex Viper arrived he ran over to my place and I popped a set of my 30mm Burris Signature Series rings on the scope with 20MOA of cant dialed with the eccentric inserts. We got it mounted and took to bore sighting at yesterdays match. The scope was within 2MRAD of dead nuts right there. Looks like they’re definitely set up from the factory for a 20MOA mount.
There’s a lot of stuff going on in the EBR-1 reticle compared to his old target dot (but nothing near as much as in the EBR-2 tree style) and in silhouette there’s a saying that every change in weapon/scope/spotter takes a year to overcome. Busy reticles can be hard to deal with when trying to hold 2MOA offhand. Apart from the newness and differentness for my coach, we just slapped a tactical oriented scope on a custom made race gun built specifically for metallic silhouette and not so much for tactical. Just how will this look? Just fine as it turns out. Quite a number of shooters in the silhouette game have gone to SWFA and Vortex optics with scaled reticles. Partly because of price and partly because these sorts of tactical scopes have a reputation for accurate click values so shooters can use computed shooting solutions instead of having to establish actual data on previous engagements (DOPE) in a little notebook. That means less ammo spent verifying data before a match and all the benefits that burning less ammo brings along with some extra time in our pre-match schedules to make sure we’re fed, warm, hydrated, head in the game, etc…
So far it looks like this change didn’t take very long at all for him to deal with. He picked up 3 targets more than he has in the past 4 matches with that rifle with the new scope and we’d only just zero’d it right before the match started. First time behind the new combo and he was making 1″ 3-shot offhand groups at 200m during our pre-match practicing.
In the set-up and zero and practice time I had some time behind his rifle with the newest Viper PST and I gotta say that while there are several design/feature elements that I really don’t dig on, the overall quality and especially the glass was extremely nice. Bright and clear as hell all the way to the edges even on 24x and while there is a bit of a preference for greens and browns in the color rendition it’s everything I’d expect from about 800 bucks.
Yeah, yeah. I can hear you grumbling. Asking yourself, “What the hell is it that he doesn’t like if it’s so great?”
Ok, here’s a list:
5MRAD per turn turrets.
Pinch screw turret cap attachment system.
Visible gap between objective bell and sunshade when so equipped.
Illumination rheostat location.
Non-intuitive direction of rotation for side parallax and small numbering there.
Side parallax knob is too low profile and not knurled.
Turret labeling and the little window thing on the elevation turret is really busy and can be hard to read quickly.
As you can see. Not a single one of my complaints has anything to do with the ability of the scope to perform reliably or accurately or even exactly as you’d expect. They’re as close to first world problems as you can get but they do affect the speed and ease of use which are important criteria to me.
The thing they got really right: The tactile feel of the clicks. There’s no mistaking that your turning it but they’re not too clakkity that they force the rifle to move when you make an adjustment.
All in all it’s a fantastic scope. I’d hope for 800 bucks they could do a 10mil per rotation turret but beggars can’t be choosers and if that’s the biggest gripe I have for 800 bucks, that’s pretty damned good.
Vortex’s warranty is as bullet proof as any in the industry and they go to great lengths to prove it. Given the quality and performance I could only recommend this if it’s in your budget window and the feature set is appropriate to your game.