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.

[Email your firearms-related questions to “Ask Foghorn” via guntruth@me.com. Click here to browse previous posts]

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

30 Responses to Ask Foghorn: Best Hog Hunting Scope

  1. avatarAPBTFan says:

    I just built an AR as well and the scope I’m pinching pennies to buy is a Nikon Monarch African. It’s a 1-4x with a German #4 reticle which I’m a big fan of. I imagine it would be great for poppin’ piggies. The best part is it’s only $279.

    http://www.midwayusa.com/product/956124/nikon-monarch-african-series-rifle-scope-1-4x-20mm-german-4-reticle-matte

  2. avatarWade says:

    Is it just me, or are hogs the #1 excuse for buying ARs nowadays? I know a few dozen people that have bought or built guns for “hog hunting”, but only two or three have ever even been within a few hundred yards of one….

    • Have you ever had bacon?

      Imagine an endless supply of bacon…

      • avatarMoonshine7102 says:

        A wild animal, made of bacon. How the fvck are these not extinct?!

        • avatarcaffeinated says:

          They breed faster than rabbits and are more destructive than a field full of dillos.

          ETA: The bacon kind of sucks on the leaner wild hogs.

    • avatarjustin says:

      I use mine for Coyotes too.
      But here in Texas, at least before last years drought Pigs were extremely plentiful. I recall reading that years ago, it was estimated that Texas has roughly 50% of the feral hog population in the US. At that time the pop was estimated to be 4 million nation wide.

      Plus the main virtue of the AR platform for pig hunting is that pigs are seldom solitary animals and you can engage multiple pigs with a semiauto or reengage the one you were shooting at.
      I had a hunter on my lease that shot a 400lbs pig twice with a .300 weatherby Magnum, 4 rounds 9mm and hit it with a Jeep and had the pig escape.

  3. avatarDubya Bee says:

    “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. ”

    Nick, how is it that I have put 15 of my 20 shots in the 12″ 10-ring (and five of those in the 6″ X-ring) with my .223, from 600 yards?

    Some semi-automatics may lack inherent accuracy, but the AR platform is not one of them. Based on my observations at matches, many of the High Masters shoot AR-based semi-automatic rifles. Don’t be dissin’ my AR!!

    • avatarMadDawg J says:

      Hitting a target and making a humane kill are no where near one and the same. IMHO Nick is not “dissin” the AR, Nick is a fan of the AR, he is advocating humane hunting.

    • avatarSebastian says:

      I’d venture to argue that there are inherent differences between benchrest shooting an AR at an immobile target and taking 600 yard shots at a mobile target that, if you don’t hit it perfectly, will run off bleeding and die a miserable, wasteful death.

      Just because you can take a shot in theory doesn’t mean it should translate into practice. Not dissing your ARs accuracy at all.

      • avatarPatrick Carrube says:

        Obviously there is a different between benchrest/F-class shooting and hunting, but is there anything inherently different between hunting with a semi-auto or bolt-gun at “ethical” hunting distances? I think what Dubya Bee was saying was that Nick’s estimation on the effective accuracy and range of an AR really isn’t much different (if any) than most bolt-guns used for hunting!

        • avatarDubya Bee says:

          Who’s talking benchrest? Anyway, my point was indeed that semi-automatic does not mean less inherent accuracy, compared to bolt actions.

  4. avatarMadDawg J says:

    Chase (the OP),
    Check out 68forums.com. Besides having more info than you could ever need on the 6.8 there is also a large group of hog hunters that have done great reviews on scopes and setups for hog hunting with the 6.8.

  5. avatarRalph says:

    I like to keep my reticle as clean as possible, meaning no range markings or anything but the crosshair itself

    You’re singing my song, Nick. It may be old school, but an uncluttered reticle works best at the relatively short distances you’re talking about. Much more than the crosshairs would be unnecessary and distracting.

  6. avatarTom says:

    Keep it simple. For the most part I have found about a 4X scope is plenty. Agree with plain recticles.

  7. avatarI_Like_Pie says:

    Ultradot 30mm works nicely for me.

  8. avatarScuba Steve says:

    I respectfully disagree with the approach in this article. If you are only using the AR set up for hog hunting, then yes, a 1×4 reticle will be just fine. I use a .308 AR10 for varmint hunting to include hogs, coyotes, and perhaps a praire dog. The same purpose for my AR15. Since I may have to make a shot at a range beyond 200 yards, I prefer a longer range type of scope – say 4.5 x 14x; although, my eyesight sucks and I need the higher magnification. For close range shots, I have been using an Eotech with a daniel defense side mount that allows me to cant the weapon for close ranges shots. I set it for a 50 yard zero and away I go. I plan on trying the Dueck Defense sights that are off set to replace the Eotech system. To me, this approach gives me more versatility to make the short, medium, and even a longer range shot without limiting myself regarding scope magnification. Just my opinion.

  9. avatarJ in Ga says:

    Leupold makes some great 1-4x scopes. I’ve got two and they seem to be a step up from my Nikon’s and toe to toe with my Zeiss.

    Also, if you’re keeping the range less than 100 yards or so, a nice quality Aimpoint red dot or similar is awesome.

  10. avatarcaffeinated says:

    The Eotech is great for FL swamps where distance shots are limited unless you are hunting pine stands and there is plenty of water and mud.

  11. avatarMcCaveman says:

    I picked up a 1-4x leupold shotgun scope for my 45-70(hog gun) and I like it so much I got 2 more, one for my AUG and one for my AR. Less than 200$ and its very clear and sharp and can take a beating.

    Maybe someone could comment why they are sold as shotgun scopes.

    • avatarAccur81 says:

      I put a Leupold Ultimate Slam 2-7x on my Marlin .45-70 XLR. It’s done very well, and helped me get two good – sized whitetail deer with the 325 Hornady ammo. A good scope is a good scope, so why not use the one that works for you.

    • avatarPrirat says:

      Leupold shotgun scope: parallax set for 75 yards. Other scopes are normally set for 100 yards.

  12. avatarAgitator says:

    I use a Hi-Lux/Leatherwood CMR 1-4×24 on my 6.8mm 16″ hunting rifle. Fantastic price, good clear optics, positive adjustments, and usable illumination are all a big plus. Only downside is it’s a bit heavy, and the reticle is a little weird (look it up and you’ll see what I mean).

  13. avatarAccur81 says:

    If your upper can handle 6.8 SPC Spec II, check out Silver State Armory and Wilson Combat ammo. It’s pricey, but great stuff.

    • avatarcaffeinated says:

      Might be a little overkill on hogs. Wolf Performance Ammo has yet to let me down on hogs. It’s cheap and is plenty for close range hog hunts. Most of the old timers use 38 spl revolvers with 158gr LRN or a 22lr pistol after the bay dogs get them cornered.

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