Ask Foghorn: Best Hog Hunting Scope

Chase asks:

I read your articles about building an AR. I built a 6.8 with 16″ barrel. I am new to building guns and the 6.8 round. Do you think you could recommend a scope with the best value, I would want to use it to hog hunting and then just target shooting.

I think I can help, especially if it encourages more hunting of this delicious pest species . . .

There’s a difference between “cheap” and “value” especially in scopes, and sometimes it pays to spend a little more on a scope. I know, I can’t believe I’m saying it either. But while I’m happy to cheap out on many things scopes definitely aren’t one. Let me outline some things you’ll want for your hunting scope and then I’ll give some recommendations, but naturally you’re free to be as cheap of a bastard as you feel like.

When I think hunting with an AR-15, I think of distances between 20 and 200 yards. Anything beyond that I just don’t feel comfortable about making a humane kill unless I have a bolt action rifle. But what we lose in accuracy with the semi-auto we gain in speed, meaning faster follow-up shots and possibly more hogs out of a pack being served as dinner instead of terrorizing the local wildlife.

As with everything in firearms, scope choice is a balance between speed and accuracy. A scope designed for accuracy will allow you to put rounds precisely on target, but will limit your rate of fire. A scope designed for speed will let you sling lead as fast as you can pull the trigger but you will have to accept a less accurate shot placement.

The way we get around this issue is by using a variable power scope, which allows us to choose whether we want to be quick or accurate. Zooming in will give us a better view of the target and increase accuracy, and zooming out will allow us to re-aquire the target (or targets) faster while not making as precise shots as before. The shooter can adjust the optic depending on the situation to give the best performance for their current scenario.

The other consideration when choosing an optic is the reticle — the image you see when you look through the scope that indicates where the round will go. For hunting as well as competition shooting I like to keep my reticle as clean as possible, meaning no range markings or anything but the crosshair itself. This provides a clean field of view and allows me to focus on exactly what I’m doing without overwhelming me with information I probably don’t need at that moment. That’s the reason I prefer the “glowing green triangle” reticle Trijicon usually uses in its scopes.

The last consideration is weight. Heavy optics are great for precision long range shots, but they are tough to carry around all day. Every ounce counts — a lesson I’ve learned the hard way many times over. For that reason I like to make my hunting and competition rifles as slim and lightweight as I can get away with.

So, in summary, the factors you need to consider when buying a scope for hunting are:

  • Distance to target
  • Accuracy versus speed
  • Reticle choice
  • Weight

In my experience (limited as it may be) the Trijicon 1-4x scope I reviewed not too long ago with the green triangle reticle is absolutely perfect. The 1-4x magnification provides all the precision you would need out to 200 yards and all the speed you could ask for at 50 while keeping the overall weight of the rifle down. I prefer the lower magnification mainly due to the weight savings, but there are other options (Trijicon also has a very nice 3-9×40 scope with the same reticle) and other manufacturers. The scope costs around $800, but I find that it’s worth the price.

If you really want to be a cheap bastard then I highly suggest you forget about the whole variable magnification thing. The mechanisms required add to the cost of the scope, so fixed power scopes will be a better value for the dollar than the variable power versions. The Konus 4×32 scope works just fine for me for $70, and is exactly what I used to take down my first four animals.

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