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500m hunting scope options

30 Jul 2019
@ 12:01 am (GMT)

Hannah Clemen

Greetings all,

I have recently bought Nathan's books and am in the process of developing my skills and working on my Howa .308 to hopefully bring my hunting capabilities out to the 500m mark.

I have been hunting Sambar deer here in northeast Victoria, Australia for just over a year, and have already met with a good degree of success (1 stag, 2 hinds and 2 juvies). The terrain I have been hunting has been pretty much all deep gully bush and forest so distances have topped out at around 100m. I am keen to improve on this though, not only for open High Country hunting here in Oz but also plans to visit NZ to hunt red deer, wapiti and tahr/chamois. I have been blessed in finding a very good local tutor who also knows Nathan's work, and a good local gunsmith to help me with tweaking my rifle.

My question to you all today is to find out opinions regarding rifle scopes. I have sold my Leupold VX5HD which I liked but needed to move away from the duplex reticle. I am hoping to get something with a 50mm objective, reasonably versatile magnification range (e.g. 4-16), illuminated reticle and not too heavy. I am intrigued by the new Nighforce NX8 2.5-20 x 50mm scopes, but the price is a little beyond me right now, they are a tad heavy and I am not sure a FFP design with busy reticle would be the best for me at this stage. Here are the 2 that I am currently considering:

Vixen VIII Series 2.5-15x50 SF Riflescope with Illuminated Mil-Dot Reticle
Trijicon Accupower 4-16 x 50 with either MOA or Mil Dot Reticle

A lot of hunters here use the Vixen but was wondering if anyone has used it out to 500m or so? Vixen are a Japanese company with a strong background in astronomy optics. This scope retails for about $1080 AUD. The Trijicon looks very nice and I like the style of MOA reticle they use, otherwise they have the classic Mil Dot. I have heard the eye relief can be a little unforgiving at higher magnifications though... it retails for around $1600 AUD.

If anyone has any thoughts on these, or other scope options for what I am planning on doing, that would be awesome.

Thanks everyone. :)


31 Jul 2019
@ 08:13 am (GMT)

Nathan Foster

Re: 500m hunting scope options
Hi Hannah, am on the fly at the moment sorry. The following may not be much help, also some bias, please hunt and peck through comments.

The eye relief on the NF is simply terrible. The ring spacing is also fairly bad if you do not have a rail. The overall result is the anti of what I teach.

There was an ideal scope in this range, made by Nikon. For some reason, they took it off the market a few years ago, an utter shame. It was a basic 4-16 tactical, no extras. Nice long eye relief.

The nearest to the Nikon is the Sightron 3-16 S-Tac. I have asked that the reticle be overhauled (made thicker for low light) in the next round of upgrades. Will see what pops, what the board have to say. As it is, it is too thin for bush hunting. I have also asked Sightron if they would be interested in looking into a higher spec SIII 3-16. Not much help for you right now Hannah but other readers may be interested to know that I am still actively trying to get things moving here, cutting and pasting mail and posts such as and including this, to show evidence of where the market is at, what folk want. Otherwise, the budget S-Tac is still proving to be extremely robust and crystal clear, exceeding my expectations of this price range. The 4-20 is an exceptionally good scope, excellent value for money, reticle good to go.

You might also want to look at one of the Sightron SIII 3.5-10 models. I wrote a post a while back, sharing photos of the first model (mildot reticle):
Forum Index > Optics > Sightron SIII 3.5-10x44 LRMD reticle

See also:

If you are considering 20 power, you may want to consider going the whole hog to 24 power. The SIII 24x units are lighter than the NF you were looking at.

Leupold have some good tactical scopes in the 3-18 range. These are however very expensive.

Again, might not be much help sorry Hannah.
31 Jul 2019
@ 03:16 pm (GMT)

Hannah Clemen

Re: 500m hunting scope options
Thanks so much for your reply Nathan, I really appreciate it. Your insights are extremely helpful; I am very happy to hear about the S-TAC 4-20x50, this one might just hit the nail on the head for me. The simple mil-hash reticle with FFP and illumination seem to be a great combo for both low and high range/magnification, and I like its relatively lightweight. I will look into these further and may take this option.

I have also been in touch with Clive and we're talking about making up a stock for my Howa. :)

Thanks again!
01 Aug 2019
@ 02:15 am (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: 500m hunting scope options
Hello, Hannah. After some optics failures, I have changed my hunting and target scopes over to the Sightron line. For years, the Leupold hunters were fine, only because they were my only option to Redfield, Weaver, Simmons, etc. Then Nathan came along and ruined everything. The Sightrons are wonderfully clear, good light and poor. Check your eye relief specs carefully, I have been kissed more than once by a magnum with the wrong scope on it. Being chronologically challenged (ancient, actually), the thicker reticles are nice. Like yourself, most of our hunting is under 100m, but with these scopes I never have to worry about long range performance. I currently use two Sightrons for testing at the range and switch them constantly between rifles. Haven't had a failure yet.
01 Aug 2019
@ 03:07 am (GMT)

Hannah Clemen

Re: 500m hunting scope options
Thanks Paul. Just wondering how you find the Sightron reticles for bush hunting? They seem very fine as Nathan mentioned. The model I am looking at is an FFP as well which could make things even harder with the fine-lined reticle, but it is also illuminated which would help clarify the crosshairs.
01 Aug 2019
@ 10:56 pm (GMT)

Paul Leverman

Re: 500m hunting scope options
The S1H reticle is good for my eyes. I struggle sometimes with the thinner reticles, all depends on the lighting. If we are in dense bush, at dusk, pretty well anything I've used is totally useless, but then, I've never had illuminated reticles.


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