TFB Optics Buying Guide – Spring 2018

by Pete

As we begin to thaw out of our winter dens (keep quiet, Southern States), we start to dust off our gear for the upcoming shooting season. And with the end of hibernation comes the lust for upgrading our guns and gear. While the draw to pickup a new rifle or pistol is always persistent, the appreciation of quality optics can sometimes be forgotten. So we thought we could list out some non iron sight options in TFB’s Optics Buying Guide.

Nothing against iron sights, some of my best friends still use them on their muzzleloaders.

I’ve tried to keep it simple: A variety of optics in different categories of the most popular shooting sports. Yes, some of the below models come with a healthy dose of sticker shock. However, the old adage of “spend as much on your glass as you do your gun” still basically holds true. Good thing manufacturers have stepped up their game in the last few years: in my humble opinion, you can now get more for your money than previously possible.

Most importantly, judge your shooting style and frequency alongside the choices in your buying category. The latest and greatest optic that is waterproof down to 1000 meters with a battery life of two decades may not be the best choice for your stock 10/22. However, I still recommend buying the best glass possible that fits your budget.

My traditional caveats still apply: I don’t consider myself an optics expert and I have not had the chance to use all of the glass listed here. So if you have a suggestion to add or a comment on anything listed below, please speak up. I can totally admit my mistakes or omissions (I remember both times I’ve been wrong in my life).

Editor’s Note: I’ve included affiliate links for each of the products below. Clicking through to Brownells won’t cost you any extra money, but helps keep the the mouse traps in the TFB workroom loaded with the finest peanut butter available. Still, clicking and buying using our links are optional and we promise not to hold it against you if you decide to not partake.

TFB Optics Buying Guide: High End Long Range Optics


Everything you need to make every second count is now available with the extremely versatile Mark 8 riflescopes. With an astonishing 8x magnification range, shooters will no longer sacrifice precision for field of view. The illuminated front focal plane reticles subtend consistently at high and low magnification for the most accurate range estimating and range compensating available with today’s tactical reticle designs. Easily fine-tune your point of impact, while preventing accidental movement, with Auto-Locking Pinch and Turn adjustments. A 34mm or 35mm maintube produces unparalleled windage and elevation adjustment travel, while the ability to bypass the zero-stop in the BDC dial makes zeroing a breeze. From the battlefield to the game fields – you get it all with the Mark 8.

Starting at $4,299.99

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There has never been a riflescope like the B.E.A.S.T.™ Extraordinary light transmission. One-turn, 60 MOA elevation capability that meets or exceeds the effective range of any known cartridge,at extreme ranges. There are plenty of high-magnification variable power riflescopes on the market. But, magnification without extreme resolving power, razor-sharp clarity and superb contrast— even in dismal light—is of no value.

  • XtremeSpeed™ adjustments provide 60 MOA (20 MilRadians) of elevation instantly in a single rotation
  • Unique i4F™ intelligent four-function elevation control
  • DigIllum™ digital illumination-externally controlled
  • Proprietary 360o brake control allows you to instantly secure your elevation adjustments
  • ZeroStop™ standard
  • Available in MOA or Mil-Radian adjustments

The B.E.A.S.T.™ achieves 90%+ light transmission— approaching the maximum limit of what is physically possible.

There is no such thing as 100% light transmission in a riflescope. Only a handful of riflescopes in the world have ever topped the 90% figure, and the human eye can distinguish differences
of approximately 3%. At first or last light, the B.E.A.S.T.™


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The Kahles K624i 6-24×56 MOAK delivers extreme edge-to-edge clarity, a clear image at every magnification level and over 95% light transmission. With its reticle in the front focal plane, the Kahles K624i 6-24×56 MOAK ensures the relation between target- and reticle size remain constant at all magnifications, permitting easy holdover and range estimation.

  • Available with left or right windage turret
  • Parallax adjustment integrated in the elevation turret (patented)
  • Parallax adjustment from 50m to infinity
  • Illuminated reticle in the first focal plane

Available with a left or right hand windage adjustment, the Kahles K624i 6-24×56 MOAK boasts an easy to read elevation turret with pop revolution indicator.


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The new frontrunners in the race for the ultimate precision, long-range optics. The Gen II Razors, designed and engineered for dialing precision long-range shots in extreme environments, have serious precision shooters saying “finally”.


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TFB OPTICS Buying Guide: On-A-Budget Long Range Optics


Designed in the UK, the Endurance 30 IR family provides the shooter a feature-rich scope. The change isn’t just cosmetic for the Endurance family. New low-profile turrets make adjustments easy and repeatable. The standard click-step reticle illumination control has been replaced by a stepless rheostat control that allows for virtually infinite adjustment, ensuring your reticle is visible in almost any light condition. The Endurance 30 IR scopes have been designed with big game hunting, stalking and long range shooting in mind, and the reticle choices bear that out. Classic hunting reticle options such as the 30/30 IR as well as a new LR Dot reticle option. The LR (long range) Dot uses the common ballistic profiles of rounds such as the .30/06, 7mm magnum, and the .300 magnum, to create a composite reticle design that closely replicates multiple common hunting rounds in the .30 caliber family. Fully BRC compatible, the LR Dot is a simple, reliable reticle, any hunter can appreciate. All Hawke Endurance 30 scopes have lenses that are fully multi-coated for the best possible light transmission and management. Waterproof, shockproof, and nitrogen purged to be fog proof.


  • 30mm Mono-tube design – handles heavy recoil
  • Glass etched Red Illuminated 30/30
  • Infinitely adjustable stepless side rheostat
  • Coil erector spring – no shift in zero
  • Fast focus ocular – set the diopter in seconds
  • ¼ M.O.A. positive click low profile fingertip turrets
  • Tactile high performance rubber grip zoom
  • Sunshade compatible – all models supplied with sunshade
  • Waterproof, Shock proof – all caliber rated
  • Nitrogen purged  – fog proof, for use in all conditions


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The variable power, Vortex Optics 5-25X50mm Viper PST Gen II riflescope is engineered to deliver consistent accuracy in every situation – close quarters or long range. Built around a 30mm anodized aluminum tube, the Viper PST II has a glass-etched reticle with intuitive and detailed holdover points, yet the lens remains uncluttered for optimum viewing.

Turrets on the Vortex Optics 5-25X50mm Viper PST Gen II are laser-etched with easy to read elevation and windage adjustment graduations. Illumination adjustment dial is integrated into the side focus knob for easy access and smooth performance.

  • EBR-4 MOA reticle
  • Second focal plane
  • 10 illumination levels
  • 70 MOA elevation, 35 MOA windage adjustments

Sporting a patented RZR zero stop, the Vortex Optics 5-25X50mm Viper PST Gen II riflescope ensures accurate returns to zero while the fiber optic rotation indicator lets you keep track of the turret position with ease.

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With long eye relief, a fast-focus eyepiece, fully multi-coated lenses and resettable MOA turrets, there’s no compromising on the Crossfire II. Clear, tough and bright, this riflescope hands other value-priced riflescopes their hat. The hard anodized single-piece aircraft-grade aluminum tube is nitrogen purged and o-ring sealed for waterproof/fogproof performance.


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Nikon’s BLACK X1000 Illuminated 6-24x50mm Side Focus is a dedicated precision riflescope that offers the precision, the features and the ruggedness serious shooters demand. With an Illuminated X-MRAD reticle, the riflescope delivers 17 total MRAD internal adjustment travel. Its turrets have .1 MRAD click graduations yielding 5 MRAD per revolution. The BLACK X1000 6-24x50SF has the reticle placed in the riflescope’s second focal plane, so all holdover corrections, ranging and other measurements using the indicated reticle sub-tensions, should be done at 18x magnification. Like all Nikon’s BLACK riflescopes, it is built with an aircraft grade aluminum alloy 30mm main body tube.

Full Multilayer Coatings maximize light transmission, brightness and contrast
Glass-etched ranging reticle located in the Second Focal Plane
Side-Focus Parallax Adjustment
4x Zoom
Generous, Consistent Eye Relief
Quick Focus Eyepiece
30mm Main Body Tube
Tall Windage & Elevation Turrets
Spring-Loaded Instant Zero-Reset Turrets


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Every component, feature and performance characteristic of the Razor HD Gen II-E 1-6×24 riflescope is so well thought out and executed, it’s almost scary. And in 2018, its nearly ¼ of a pound lighter. Perfect for the AR platform, the Gen II-E 1-6 is a top-tier optical solution for short to medium-range tactical applications. Optically, it delivers the highest level of clarity, resolution, color accuracy, light transmission, and edge-to-edge sharpness. The ultra-forgiving eyebox with generous eye relief generates a heads-up-display-like sight picture for fast target acquisition and optimal monitoring of the surrounding environment. A true, daylight-bright illuminated center dot gives shooters ultimate close-quarters versatility.

The JM-1 BDC Reticle
Simple, intuitive and fast, the JM-1 BDC reticle is exclusive to Vortex. Designed in collaboration with world-renowned competitive shooter, instructor and gunsmith, Jerry Miculek, the JM-1 reticle facilitates rapid, accurate shooting at distances from point blank to 600 yards. A true daylight-bright illuminated center dot gives shooters red dot sight functionality and ultimate close-quarters versatility. Illumination is accessed and activated via the locking illumination dial positioned cleanly on the left side of the turret housing. Features 11 intensity levels with an off-position between each setting.


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The EOTech Vudu 1-6×24 is a compact, yet fully loaded rifle scope designed to meet – and exceed – the expectations of the 3-Gun competitor and serious hunter. Starting with a rugged, 30mm aluminum tube, the Vudu 1-6×24 is equipped with the EOTech’s AR-coated glass for superb clarity and definition, backed up by a surgically precise turret system to help you make that critical long-range shot.

The EOTech Speed Ring reticle permits fast target engagement at low power, but at higher power provides the resolution and accuracy required to tackle longer shots. This is a first focal plane reticle, so the Vudu 1-6×24 easily delivers split-second ranging at all magnification levels.

Great for CQB to medium-range targeting, the EOTech Vudu 1-6×24 scope is right at home on your favorite AR-15 or even a traditional bolt action. Hunting, 3-gun competition, home defense, or literally bringing home the bacon – the Vudu 1-6×24 gets the job done.

Starting at $1219.00

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Compact, Super-Versatile Scope for Competition, Hunting or Tactical Operations

Trijicon’s 1-8×28 AccuPower with Segmented Circle/Crosshair MIL reticle is a reliable, multi-purpose riflescope that’s perfect for running and gunning, hitting steel, or staring down dangerous game. It offers true 1x to 8x optical zoom for both rapid target engagement and excellent long-range precision.

A First Focal Plane (FFP) ranging reticle maintains true subtensions at any magnification to help you quickly acquire and accurately apply the correct hold. Some of the Trijicon 1-8×28 AccuPower’s other features include:

  • 34mm tube that enables an impressive 29.6 MIL windage/elevation adjustment range in 0.1 MIL clicks
  • Fully multi-coated broadband anti-reflective glass for superior imaging
  • Segmented Circle/Crosshair reticle calibrated in MIL, available in red or green
  • Easy-to-operate brightness adjustment dial with 11 settings and an “off” feature between each setting
  • Powered by a single CR-2032 button cell lithium battery
  • Waterproof to 10 feet


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TFB Optics Buying Guide: Non-Magnified Optics


The all new Micro T-2 redefines everything you thought you knew about compact red dot sights. Instead of merely making improvements to an existing product, we started with a completely new design. Inside the completely new sight housing are advanced optical lenses that takes optical performance to a new level. Cutting edge lens coatings radically improve the shape and clarity of the 2 MOA red dot – especially when used with an accessory magnifier. Compare the Micro T-2 to any other compact optic. The competition doesn’t even come close.

Built to offer the same battle proven ruggedness as other Aimpoint products, the Micro T-2 is able to perform under extreme conditions while remaining user friendly.

  • Advanced optical lenses for even better light transmission.
  • Front Flip-up lens cover is included.
  • Transparent rear Flip-up lens cover is included.
  • Reinforced protection of the turrets for even greater ruggedness.
  • Ideal for rifles, carbines, shotguns, submachine guns and handguns.
  • 1X (non-magnifying) parallax free optic.
  • Compatible will all generations of Night Vision Devices (NVD).
  • 1 Off position, 4 night vision compatible settings and 8 daylight settings of which one extra bright for use with laser protection glasses or in bright desert sunlight.
  • Integral Picatinny-style mount allows easy attachment to any rail.
  • ACET technology allows 50,000 hours (over 5 years) of constant operation from one battery.
  • Available in 2 MOA dot size.
  • Submersible to 25 meters (80 feet).
  • Use as a standalone sight or “piggybacked”on larger magnifying, thermal, or night vision optics.

Starting at $766.00

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Simple—Fast—Effective—Point and Shoot. When you boil it down, those are the advantages of a red dot sight. And that’s what the SPARC AR delivers – all in a durable, lightweight, compact and ultraclean package. Digital rear-facing controls for power and dot brightness offer quick access and are viewable from the shooting position. 2 MOA dot diameter promotes precise point of aim. Automatically returns to last dot intensity used when powered up.

Unlimited eye relief and parallax free, the SPARC AR gets shooters on target fast. Waterproof, fogproof and shockproof for ultimate durability. Unit automatically shuts off after 12 hours to prevent accidental battery rundown and operates using a common AAA battery. Duty rifle – home defense—recreation, the SPARC AR is built to handle all your red dot needs.\

  • Fully Multi-Coated Multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces increase light transmission.
  • Bright Red Dot Display is highly visible in daylight.
  • Brightness Settings 10 Levels
  • Nitrogen Gas Nitrogen gas purging with o-rings-seals delivers fogproof, waterproof performance.
  • Single-Piece Chassis Compact and lightweight.
  • Waterproof O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust and debris from penetrating for reliable performance in all environments.
  • Shockproof Rugged construction withstands recoil and impact.
  • Hard Anodized Finish Highly durable low-glare matte finish.
  • Operating Temperature Rated from -4 degrees to +158 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Multi-Height Mount System Includes a high mount, low mount, and a spacer that can be combined to provide various mounting heights: lower 1/3 co-witness (40 mm), absolute co-witness (37 mm), 21 mm, and 18 mm.
  • Unlimited Eye Relief Non-critical eye relief for rapid target acquisition.
  • Adjustable Dot Intensity Provides ten variable illumination settings—the lowest two settings are night-vision compatible.
  • Battery Life 12-hour auto-shutdown feature maximizes battery life. Typical battery life is 300 hours at maximum brightness and 5,000 hours at minimum brightness setting.


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The Trijicon MRO with Battle Arms Development Lightweight Mount package provides gun owners with a high-quality red-dot optic paired up with a battle-ready mount that is ready to put onto your go-to rifle in seconds.

The Trijicon MRO with B.A.D Lightweight Mount package deal includes the battle-ready MRO red-dot, which is constructed on a forged 7075-T6 aluminum housing that’s waterproof and ruggedly built for use in any environment. The optic features a 2-MOA red dot with six brightness settings and is fully night-vision compatible.

  • Weight: 4.98 ounces
  • Powered by CR2032 battery
  • Battery life: 5 years
  • 1/2 MOA adjustment value

The Trijicon MRO with Battle Arms Development Lightweight Mount package deal also features a high-quality optics mount machined from 7075-T6 aluminum and weighs in at just 0.88 ounce. The mount can be had in either a co-witness setup or a lower-third co-witness mount.


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The Leupold Carbine Optic (LCO) is a dream come true for carbine operators. The compact 1x red dot sight gives you natural, rapid target acquisition. The LCO’s 1-MOA Dot reticle has 16 brightness settings to let you find the exact intensity you need in any conditions. At its highest setting, the dot will shine bright in the middle of the day, and it is night vision compatible on lower settings. The manual push-button on/off switch with integrated brightness control puts all the power at your fingertips. Using a common CR123A 3v Lithium battery, the LCO has a battery life of up to 5 years. The machined aluminum body provides the utmost in durability and the ½ MOA adjustments make sighting in fast and easy. The LCO is built for a lifetime of punishment and is backed by the Leupold Gold Ring Full Lifetime Guarantee.


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With its wider field-of-view and unlimited eye relief, the Steiner R1X reflex red dot sight helps you acquire the target while remaining aware of what’s going on around you. Engineered for patrol rifles and AR platforms, the R1X reduces the “tunnel vision” that often occurs when using iron sights, meaning you get on target quicker and with improved accuracy.

The Steiner R1X can be switched between a single MOA red dot and a 3-dot stadia reticle. The single center dot represents a 50-meter sight-in while the three stadia dots are calibrated for ranges of 10, 7 and 5 meters. Easy access battery compartment means you do not have to remove the sight to change batteries.

  • 1x magnification
  • 7 illumination levels (5 daytime; 2 night vision)
  • Parallax free
  • Waterproof, fog proof, shockproof

The lightweight, compact Steiner R1X is easy to mount, simple to use, and invaluable in the field, especially when engaging moving targets or in rapid fire situations.

Starting at $599.99

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Built from the ground up specifically to maximize the quick-handling performance of AR-platform rifles, Vortex’s new Spitfire AR 1X prism scope delivers incredible optical quality and ultra-fast functionality in a lightweight, streamlined package. The generous, parallax-free, sight picture and forgiving eyebox gets shooters on target effortlessly—even in high-stress scenarios.

Rear facing power and illumination intensity controls are easy to access, simple to operate, stay visually present from the shooting position and are protected from incidental contact. Ten intensity levels let you adjust to perfectly match ambient light conditions. Runs off a single, common, AAA battery. The DRT (Dual Ring Tactical) reticle is etched directly on the prism to assure consistent point-of-aim at all times— regardless of whether or not the illumination is engaged. An additional yardage-marked turret cap (ballistic-matched to the 5.56 cartridge) allows the shooter to swap out the factory-installed cap for rapid dialing of known-distance shots out to 700 yards.

At 11.2 ounces, the lightweight Spitfire AR excels in close to medium range shooting applications where speed is of the essence, making it the ideal choice for AR shooters who needs to get on target fast.

  • Fully Multi-Coated Multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces increase light transmission.
  • Prism-Based Design Delivers sharp optics and allows for unique reticle designs that are visible with or without illumination.
  • Single-Piece Chassis Compact and lightweight.
  • Nitrogen Gas Nitrogen gas purging with o-rings-seals delivers fogproof, waterproof performance.
  • Waterproof O-ring seals prevent moisture, dust and debris from penetrating for reliable performance in all environments.
  • Shockproof Rugged construction withstands recoil and impact.
  • Hard Anodized Finish Highly durable low-glare matte finish.
  • Operating Temperature Rated from -22 degrees to +122 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Mount Height Comes mounted at a lower 1/3 co-witness height of 40.4 mm from the optic center to base surface.
  • Adjustable Brightness Provides five levels of brightness intensity with red and green illumination settings.
  • Red/Green Reticle Option Allows shooters a choice of dot color.
  • Battery Life Typical battery life is 250 hours at maximum brightness and 3,000 hours at minimum brightness setting.


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Leupold’s highly versatile DeltaPoint™ Pro reflex sight is equally effective when mounted on a handgun, shotgun, or tactical rifle. Gives classic intuitive red dot targeting that helps master marksmen and novice shooters alike hit the target with speed and precision. Lightweight aluminum housing is shrouded by spring steel for maximum shock resistance. Non-magnifying aspheric lens gives a wide field-of-view with superb image quality, while Leupold’s Motion Sensor Technology™ immediately detects any movement of the sight and turns it on – no need to fumble with switches. Auto-Brightness sensor immediately adjusts optimal reticle intensity, yet can be overridden if you want manual control. For tactical situations, the built-in light tunnel reduces the light signature caused by the reticle. Tool-less entry to battery compartment makes changing the batteries easy. 60 MOA elevation/windage adjustment in 1 MOA increments, with no need for adjustment lock screws. Includes battery, and protective cover.

Click below for sale price.

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Silencers - Science

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2 of 24 comments
  • Jonp Jonp on Apr 07, 2018

    Nikon fan. Great glass that can't be beat for the price range.

    What? No Barska ;) Strangely enough I have a Barska I bought for ....$35? I can't seem to break the darn thing.

  • Branden shaffer Branden shaffer on Apr 08, 2018

    Holosun 503 with solar power and the circle dot reticle hands down should be on this list.