A little over a year ago I asked TTAG for a decent, low cost scope to use for rifle reviews. I’d gotten pretty tired of pulling scopes off of my own rifles for one review after the next every week. TTAG furnished me with a new Atibal Nomad 3-12 Second Focal Plane rifle scope. That low cost scope has now been used on dozens of rifles, across a wide variety of platforms and cartridges. I’ve leaned on it pretty heavily, and it’s become the budget scope I can absolutely count on every singe time.
The Nomad is a traditional second focal plane scope. That means the reticle doesn’t change size as you change the magnification. Consequently, all ranging should be done at the highest magnification.
That the ranging must be done only at one magnification is the downside of second focal plane scopes. That’s not much of a downside as it’s usually done at the highest magnification possible anyway. The benefit is that second focal plane scopes are usually lower priced and usually have a sharper reticle, within a particular price point.
In the case of the Nomad, that reticle is their V-Plex BDC (bullet drop compensator). If there was a BDC reticle I liked for non-military use — and there isn’t — this would be the one. There’s nothing on it that attempts to tell you the yardage or windage for a particular round.
The windage hash marks are simply every 2MOA. The elevation hashes are at 1.5, 4.5, 7.5, and 11MOA. It’s up to you as the shooter to determine where that is for the particular round you’re shooting.
As an example, the 7.5MOA hash lines up at 400 yards with the 77gr OTM Mk262 5.56NATO round out of 20″ barreled AR15. Or the 11MOA hash mark lines up at 375 yards with my 300 grain dangerous game load from my Ruger No. 1 in .375 H&H Magnum.
The reticle gives me all the information I need, as long as I apply a little forethought, while remaining extremely flexible across platforms and loads.
When it comes to the ability to withstand recoil, this sub $300 optic has proven itself in spades. For over a year I have put this scope on everything from an integrally suppressed M&P 15/22 to that previously mentioned Ruger No.1 in .375 H&H Magnum. It’s also been atop my .458 SOCOM SBR when I’ve pushed loads beyond what many, including myself, consider safe pressures. That one’s a thumper.
Beyond that, it’s been on and off a different gun every single week. It’s been mounted with multiple different systems, including two-piece traditional rings, Weaver style rings, QD mounts and cantilever mounts of all types.
Through it all, unless I turned the turrets, the reticle never budged.
The glass quality of the Nomad is a little above the other scopes in this price range. The tree in the image above is at about 500 yards, with the scope on the 12X setting. The time is right at sunset.
Note the quality is good enough to reasonably take game at this distance, and maybe another hundred yards beyond. Past that, I don’t have the clarity to reliably take a good shot, or really even differentiate between something like a doe or a spike deer.
With the Schmidt & Bender PMII High Power I have the clarity to make out the same details several hundred yards farther under the same magnification. Of course, the S&B costs 15 times as much as the Atibal Nomad.
The Nomad includes an illuminated reticle with two colors, red and green, and five brightness levels for each color. There is no “off” between each setting, which is a disappointment. None of the settings were low enough to be used with night vision optics…they all washed out the image.
The tall capped turrets are exposed, but lock on and off with a pull. The hash marks are large and easy to see.
I was disappointed with the feel of the clicks when moving the turrets. There isn’t much of a clear start and stop, and it’s easy to move too quickly and add clicks. Of course, you shouldn’t be counting clicks, it’s too easy to make a mistake. Those hash marks on the turrets are there for a reason, and you should be using them.
The parallax adjustment could use some work. As it is, it moves too quickly, or maybe just not enough. The shown graduations are 50, 100, 200, and infinity. In a 12X scope I would have expected more, as well as more space between the ranges. As it is, it’s pretty difficult to get the parallax right around the 300 yard mark, where a lot of shooting occurs.
The magnification dial has been done very well. It’s easy to get a grip on, and moves quickly while still staying in place once it’s set. I had no trouble reaching up with one hand and working the dial while keeping my eye locked on target.
No scope review of this type would be complete without some form of box test. A proper box test would require a pretty large target at 100 yards if it were to encompass the full 60 Minutes of Angle of travel this scope is capable of, so I limited it to 15″ of travel.
Even so, that’s a lot of clicks, plenty to see if it the scope will track. I shot a round, dialed 60 clicks right, shot a round, 60 clicks up, shot a round, 60 clicks left, shot a round, 60 clicks down, and shot a round. I ended up with a 15-inch square, with the variation within the margin of error for the rifle.
I also just shot, counted the clicks all the way to the end of one direction, then turned the same number of clicks back and shot again. Hole in a hole. The turrets track.
Finally, I just shot a full magazine in slow fire, with the scope mounted in a Warne X-Skel Cantilever mount. The results are impressive.
For all of that testing, I used a Colt Competition AR-15 in a bagged Caldwell Stinger shooter rest with IWI’s 77gr OTM round. This is a combination that has proven to shoot 3/4 MOA with a very small standard deviation in group size.
Beyond the glass, the reliability, and the features, Atibal features an exceptional lifetime warranty. “If your Atibal product becomes defective, broken, or is no longer working we will get it repaired or replaced. It’s that simple.” I like simple.
Specifications: Atibal Nomad 3-12×44 with V-Plex BDC Reticle Second Focal Plane
Objective Lens Diameter: 44mm
Eye Relief: 4 inches
Field of View: 33.6-8.2 ft
Tube Size: 1″
Turret Style: Target turret
Adjustment Per Click: 1/4 MOA
Max Elevation Adjustment: 60 MOA
Max Windage Adjustment: 60 MOA
Weight: 21.8 ounces with no mount
Made of 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum
Overall * * * *
The Atibal Nomad 3-12×44 has a lot of features, but isn’t overly complex. Atibal gets the basics right. They’ve made an absolutely bombproof scope that tracks right, is easy to manipulate, and intuitive to use. Their V-Plex BDC includes enough information for the shooter to develop a good DOPE card for the rifle and load, without getting cluttered or confusing. Like most scopes in this price range, the glass is OK, but doesn’t compare to much more expensive models. The incredible durability and versatility is what earns them that extra star above an average score.