Shooting the Breeze
Picking the right scope

Contributed photoDale Valade poses with a buck he shot with his .30-06.

Editor’s note: Shooting the Breeze is a new weekly outdoors column from three local Grant County writers. Dale Valade, Rod Carpenter and Marc LeQuieu are all avid sportsmen and shooters. Their friendship and mutual passion for the outdoors led to this exciting collaboration.

Their columns will focus mostly on hunting, shooting and the outdoors, including archery, blackpowder, handguns, handloading and fishing.

The main goal of their writing is not only to inform and entertain existing shooters but to encourage and support those who are interested in these sports. Mentoring interested parties not only ensures proper firearms training and safety practices but lays the groundwork for securing a future for hunters and shooters.

Be sure to catch up each week in print and online for the latest and greatest in the outdoor world. Have feedback for these writers? Send them an email at


We live in a time where the marketplace for guns and related accessories is literally inundated with good quality products. No, I have not personally tested all of the various brands and product lines, but from what I’ve used and personally witnessed, it’s hard to go wrong when you open your wallet after doing some homework.

Most of the readers here undoubtedly have favorite products for various reasons. My grandfather prefers the old school fixed 4x Weaver scopes. He bought one new in the 1960s, and it has been working just fine on his favorite rifle ever since. Don’t fix it if it isn’t broke.

I am and have always been primarily a fan of the Leupold variable power scopes. For the working man’s dollar, I’m not sure you can ask for more. Made here in Oregon, they carry an unconditional lifetime guarantee. And their product line is so vast they carry something for everyone. Most of my hunting and shooting experience has been with this brand. However, I have used Nightforce, Swarovski, Schmidt and Bender, Vortex, Redfield, Bushnell, Tasco, Weaver, Simmons and many others as well. Big name brand scopes are not inexpensive, though, and for someone on a tight budget that can be a buzzkill.

From here, there are two ways you could go: save up and get the scope you want, or get something a bit lower grade that is still a serviceable product. Even some of the more economical scopes can and will take care of most hunters’ needs.

Leupold isn’t the only one with a lifetime guarantee. Other manufacturers have long ago jumped on that boat. Vortex for example costs roughly 60 percent of the price of a new Leupold, and they seem to be comparable in quality in the basic models I have owned, though they are not made in the USA.

Several factors need to be considered besides price and brand name. What application is it to be used for primarily? If you hunt brushier areas, a fixed or low-power variable range, such as 2-7, may be perfect. If you hunt and shoot wide open areas a higher range, such as 3-9 or 4-12, may be necessary. Perhaps you’re outfitting for a target rifle or 1,000 -yard long-range match; even greater magnification may be needed for such a setup.

Reticle choice too is important. For years, basic crosshairs or the duplex reticle seemed to fit most hunters’ needs. However, I increasingly see more of the BDC (bullet drop compensator) reticles in the field. These are very nice for longer shots if the shooter has taken the range time to discover the calibration of the holdover points. These take the guesswork out of making those shots.

Some of these reticles are super-engineered and can be confusing, so make sure you know what you’re getting into before buying. It goes without saying that a good quality range finder should be factored into whichever setup you choose.

You can buy scopes with custom reticles, illuminated reticles, dial turrets, extended or intermediate eye relief, adjustable objectives, first or second focal plane and more. This is why doing some research is so important. Don’t let a crafty salesman pull the wool over your eyes.

The scopes we can buy are as diverse as the various applications they are used for. I tend to recommend that simple is best, as there are fewer things to go wrong. But again, an honest self examination combined with homework will be a better guide in choosing the right scope for you!

A co-worker of mine nailed a coyote at 845 yards last week with his setup. Seems like he knows what he has!

Have a favorite scope to brag on? Write us and tell all about it at

Dale Valade is a local country gent with a deep love for handloading, hunting and shooting.

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