Long-Range Optics

A quality optic is as important as the reliability of the rifle to which it is attached. After all, what good is accuracy if you cannot discern your target? During the course of my optical preoccupation, I came across some interesting articles and suppliers which, along with details about my own various product choices, are listed here for your convenience.

When choosing a telescope you must be concerned with both resolving power and magnification; merely magnifying an image with poor resolution achieves nothing. Apart from physics, the primary factor determining resolution is the quality of the optical system and its elements. Frankly, up to a point, you can skimp on quality if you're willing to get something with a large aperture -- physics will be your friend. Of course at that certain point, larger equipment starts getting quite expensive in addition to merely heavy. Nobody wants to lug around a massive telescope (let alone mount one on a rifle!), so go ahead and pay for the level of quality that suits your requirements. It will prevent you from wasting your money, even though you'll find that a quality rifle scope can cost as much as a good rifle.


CS Gun Works

Dealer in very high-end optics for your rifle, including US Optics and Schmidtt & Bender.

Optics Planet

Their website is pretty busy, but for the selection that they carry, their prices tend to be quite good.


These guys sell a lot of scopes. They may even have a huge inventory. Tons of people seem to swear by them. But every time I tried to order something from them they didn't have it in stock, so beware.


Long-Range Shooting

A good article covering all the important selection criteria that you should consider about a long-range shooting optic before plunking down >$1000 for one.

S&B 4-16x42

A review of Schmidt & Bender's new Police Marksman scope, a variant of which has recently been selected for a USMC sniper program contract.

Questar Spotting Scope

When target shooting with a high-powered rifle, the matter of determining how well things are going becomes an issue. One doesn't want to walk back and forth hundreds of meters all the time, and very high quality optics are required in order to see performance in line with theoretical resolution limits. Take for instance the 40mm Leupold scope that I use with the SAR48. It is a good quality instrument, and the Rayleigh resolution limit at 100m is about .14 inches. Indeed, at that distance one can see 30-caliber holes in paper with it, but with a maximum magnification of only 10x it's very hard to see every tiny dot, especially at much longer ranges.

A Questar field model telescope fitted with an image erector and TeleVue 8-24mm zoom ocular solves the problem quite nicely, providing both the resolving power and magnification that other shooters can only obtain by walking up to the target. I use a 32mm TeleVue Plössl with the finder for wide-field acquisition, and mount the scope on a Manfrotto Neotec tripod and 501 head. The Neotec is relatively stable for a lightweight tripod and I find that the Questar remains usable all the way down to an 8mm focal length at the ocular, which allows me to fill the field of view with a target at 200m, although that is admittedly pushing the envelope. Everything (minus the assembled tripod, of course) fits nicely in the Questar medium case.

Elcan Specter DR

The Elcan Specter DR bridges the gap between the reflex sight and precision long-range optic (the DR stands for "Dual Role"). Now I have to tell you, I don't believe in the "do-it-all" optic any more than I believe in the "do-it-all" weapon. What intrigued me about this sight is that it truly has dual-role capability. It can be used in 1X mode for close-quarters, it can be used in 4X mode for intermediate-range shooting, and you can switch between the two modes simply by flipping a lever -- the eye relief is the SAME for both modes!

In my opinion, and more importantly in the opinion of US Special Operations Command, this makes the Elcan an excellent choice of optic for a light tactical carbine. A fairly good review of the scope can be found here.

US Optics SN3-2200 3.8-22

I ordered this scope from US Optics, with 1/4 MOA EREK elevation and 1/4 MOA #1 M40-type windage knobs, PCMOA lit reticle, 34mm tube, 58mm adjustable ERGO objective and extended eye relief options. The inches of eye relief make it well suited to use with a very-high-power rifle like my 50BMG, that can produce plenty of punishing recoil that you simply don't want transferred into your eye.

This scope is fitted with an anti-reflective device (ARD) inside a 4" sun shade, a Butler Creek flip-up ocular scope cap and a screw-on objective lens cover (the flip-cap is discontinued for this size). Although shown on the left in ARMS 34mm QD rings, it is currently mounted in my LaRue M107 QD mount with 34mm rings, as seen in the bottom photo on the right.

I liked it so much that I decided to standardize on it as the scope for all my long-range rifles; I ordered another pair, except with 44mm objectives, standard eyepiece and #3 windage knobs with stops.