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Steve133

Bargain-Bin Optics

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So, I think I might actually have stumbled across a use case for all of those cheap optics that everyone (including myself) always tells newer shooters not to buy.

 

I've got a .22 upper that I use for a decent amount of rifle training. It started out as a way to practice quickly building positions - my local range has a rimfire-only line with a bunch of pretty small NRA smallbore steel targets out to 100 yards or so, so I threw an old fixed 3x optic that I had lying around on the .22 upper, threw the .22 upper on my match rifle lower, and had a pretty good way to train on quickly getting into a position and breaking the first shot at a small-ish target.

 

Recently, I've run into some issues trying to schedule range time around work, and now about the only practice time that I can get involves time frames when all the rifle lines at my local range are closed except for a rimfire-only bay with a bunch of steel targets. Applying similar principles to the positional drills that I'd been working on, I figured that I could train some offhand rifle drills that similarly didn't involve any elements of recoil control or multiple shots - first round on target from low-ready or port arms, transitioning from one target to another and breaking a single shot, position entry/exit, that kind of thing. When I built the .22 upper, I went out of my way to make sure that it was as close as possible to my match upper in terms of weight, dimensions, ergonomics, balance, etc., so it "feels" pretty similar, other than the obvious lack of recoil. The 3x optic wasn't really much use for that, so I started swapping back and forth between that and a cheap red dot that I also had lying around.

 

Here's the issue with that: since there's not really an eyebox to consider with a red dot, I caught myself getting a little bit lazy, and when I swapped back to the match upper with a 1-6 on it, I noticed that when I brought the rifle up out of a starting position, I tended to land with head alignment that wasn't quite good enough for a magnified optic on 1x, but was fine in a red dot.

 

So, I think the solution is an upgrade... but frankly it doesn't make sense to do too much of an upgrade. I've found a cheap-ish mount that matches the height of the mount I have on my match rifle now. With that taken care of, I think basically any LVPO would be close enough to provide decent training value. Being something that will experience virtually no recoil, will not be chucked into any dump barrels or banged around during a course of fire, and will only be used between 10 and MAYBE 100 yards, the cheap 1-4x that everyone has to get talked out of buying when they start shooting would probably actually work in this application. Poor optical quality and a narrow eyebox don't concern me that much, and might actually be a benefit, since it would make training conditions more difficult than match conditions. 

 

As an admitted glass snob, I actually don't have much experience with the entry-level optics. Anyone have any suggestions? I normally run a Vortex Razor 1-6 with the JM-1 reticle, and while I obviously don't need anything identical, something vaguely close would be nice - a general crosshair-ish reticle (so, I've ruled out, for example, the Primary Arms rimfire 1-6, since the horseshoe/chevron reticle is probably a tad faster/easier to use on large targets than just the dot I'd be using on the Razor); an illuminated center dot and BDC (or BDC-like) hash marks would be bonus features. Since this is a trainer optic that will only ever be used for plinking in controlled range environments, I'd like to keep cost down - $200 or less, ideally.

 

I'm currently going back and forth between the Vortex Crossfire 1-4x, the Bushnell AR Optics 1-4x, and the Atibal Striiker 1-4x. Anyone have any experience with any of those, or any other suggestions for "lower-tier" optics that aren't complete garbage?

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Oh, that's a really good suggestion. I've heard pretty good things about Athlon optics from PRS guys who use them on their rimfire trainers. I'll have to add that to the list for consideration, thanks. 

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I've tried all 3 of those.  They work ok, because they don't have to go to a high mag. On the lower end lines of even the major mfg's, the higher end of mag really fails/is practically useless.

 

But again, those budget companies are ok at 1-4x 1-6x.

 

If you want past that... I wouldn't recommend on their budget lines.

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10 hours ago, blueorison said:

I've tried all 3 of those.  They work ok, because they don't have to go to a high mag. On the lower end lines of even the major mfg's, the higher end of mag really fails/is practically useless.

 

But again, those budget companies are ok at 1-4x 1-6x.

 

If you want past that... I wouldn't recommend on their budget lines.

 

Yeah, that all makes sense. Like I said, I don't plan on using one of these in a match or anything, just training with a rimfire upper on a bunch of stuff inside of 100 yards. I could honestly run everything at 1x and be fine.

 

You said you used all 3 of the ones I listed - which is your favorite? Why? Are there things about any of them that stand out as being especially good or bad? 

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3 hours ago, Steve133 said:

 

Yeah, that all makes sense. Like I said, I don't plan on using one of these in a match or anything, just training with a rimfire upper on a bunch of stuff inside of 100 yards. I could honestly run everything at 1x and be fine.

 

You said you used all 3 of the ones I listed - which is your favorite? Why? Are there things about any of them that stand out as being especially good or bad? 

 

Their reticles take precedent over other characteristics, for me. This also applies to high end scopes.

 

Since pretty much all bdc reticles do not perfectly line up, I especially prefer to dial when using a scope on a non-competition rifle/not under pressure of a timer, so my preference would be, in your use case for a .22 at the range, for the Vortex Crossfire 1-4x. I also prefer dots over crosses. Out to 100yds and even perhaps 200yds, you'll have enough dial range for a .22LR.

 

Hope that helps.

 

Edited by blueorison
spelling error

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That's useful information. One more question: since the reticle was the deciding factor for you, is it safe to assume that you didn't see any major difference between them in terms of general optical quality (clarity, brightness, etc.)? I'm especially interested in the performance at 1x, since it'll be staying there a decent amount of the time. Were any of them substantially more or less distorted on the low end?

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21 minutes ago, Steve133 said:

That's useful information. One more question: since the reticle was the deciding factor for you, is it safe to assume that you didn't see any major difference between them in terms of general optical quality (clarity, brightness, etc.)? I'm especially interested in the performance at 1x, since it'll be staying there a decent amount of the time. Were any of them substantially more or less distorted on the low end?

 

Parallax/edge quality for the price point, at the low (4x) max mag ranges were acceptable (for a .22LR plinking).

 

At 1x, I cannot (with integrity), tell you which was better, as they were not side by side. I can guess at memory; and it would be Vortex/Atibal, Bushnell 2nd.

 

I would look up videos on youtube of each scope and take notes on the 1x end, but honestly, as I mentioned before, IMHO (because most of them are "good enough" for budget scopes at 1x), I would prioritize the reticle/how accurate the turrets track (this is important).

 

Hope that helps.

 

Edited by blueorison

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Thanks for all of the input. My use case isn't exactly the same as yours, so I won't have all of the same priorities, but the information that you've supplied is very useful. I am doing my homework and researching each option, but the head-to-head direct comparisons are a little difficult to find, so first-hand knowledge of more than one of the possibilities is great to hear about.

Edited by Steve133

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the Athon 1-6 above is not a bad choice especially at the price linked. Put one a a back up gun and it is heads and shoulders above the the strike eagle I have in brightness and clarity (not saying much) Have only used it about 3 times but it has been solid so far.

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I have the bushnell 1-4. It isn’t a true 1x at the bottom, if that bothers you. That scope lives on a 22 LR for reasons similar to yours. 

 

The eyebox is a bit narrow but very useable for offhand and prone both. 

 

Glass is clearer than the Primary Arms 22 scope it replaced. 

 

I think i paid about $125 for it on sale from Natchez or MidSouth. It works well for a 22 trainer. 

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On 2/24/2019 at 9:29 AM, practical_man said:

I have the bushnell 1-4. It isn’t a true 1x at the bottom, if that bothers you. That scope lives on a 22 LR for reasons similar to yours. 

 

The eyebox is a bit narrow but very useable for offhand and prone both. 

 

Glass is clearer than the Primary Arms 22 scope it replaced. 

 

I think i paid about $125 for it on sale from Natchez or MidSouth. It works well for a 22 trainer. 

 

Thanks, the direct comparison between options is really useful. I'll definitely keep an eye peeled for good deals on them.

 

But having said that....

 

On 2/23/2019 at 4:14 PM, Chip3 said:

the Athon 1-6 above is not a bad choice especially at the price linked. Put one a a back up gun and it is heads and shoulders above the the strike eagle I have in brightness and clarity (not saying much) Have only used it about 3 times but it has been solid so far.

 

I think I am actually leaning towards the Athlon at this point, if only because the price from that vendor linked above is crazy-good (I think that model might have been discontinued or something?). It seems like the option that's the closest in look/feel to the Razor that I typically use in matches, which is reinforced by your feedback data on it....

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Think the blow out price on the Athlon Midas BTR 1-6 is because a new version, Gen 2, is coming out.

Makes the budget scope choice even more difficult 😲

Gonna stick with my Burris RT-6 till something is out that is significantly better at less than twice its price.

 

Mark

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