Do you remember when optics were pretty much divided into either cheap crap or very expensive, high performing glass? Thank God for the powers of free market capitalism that have brought us a happy middle ground in the world of optics.
Companies like Athlon Optics are producing high-quality optics at great prices, scopes like the new Argos BTR Gen2 1-8×24 LPVO. I’m just dipping my toes into the world of low powered variable optics, but optics like the Argos BTR Gen2 are appealing for someone like me who doesn’t want to sink almost a grand into something like a Trijicon AccuPoint.
The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 line of optics is expansive and includes the 1-8X model we have here, as well as variable optics in the 6-24x, 8-34x, and 10-40x magnification ranges. They are available as first focal plane and second focal plane models. The 1-8×24 is SFP only.
The Argos has 11 brightness settings and features the Argos ATSR5 reticle. This reticle is designed for 3-Gun competition and the 5.56 NATO cartridge, specifically 68/69 grain rounds from a 16-inch barrel. The reticle is made up of a large illuminated half circle with illuminated drop points.
The center point is configured for 50 to 200-yard performance, and the dots below coordinate with bullet drop at 300, 400, 500, and 600 yards. The dots placed to the left and right of each illuminated drop point coordinate with wind calls at 5 and 10 MPH.
The reticle has a lot going on, but doesn’t feel cluttered or complicated when you are looking downrange.
Going the Distance
Zeroing was easy, and I started at the 50-yard line and went at it. The scope turrets are fingertip adjustable, but capped to ensure nothing gets bumped on those rockier roads and rougher days. The Argos turrets are audible and tactile, but not very much so.
You have to pay a lot of attention to feel the clicks, and without electronic ear protection, you won’t hear it on the range. Zeroing was quick. I fired groups of three and used nine rounds with three rounds to confirm.
I received this optic in January, prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, and I was lucky enough to hit a public range with a 300-yard max distance. A 1-8X magnification range allows you to go a good bit beyond 300 yards, but it’s unlikely I’ll ever shoot something beyond that range with a AR-15.
I confirmed my zero at 200 yards and moved to the 300-yard line with a ten-inch rifle gong as my target of choice.
At this range, steel targets are a lot more fun to shoot and the ding gives you a lot more feedback than a paper target. I maxed out the magnification at 8X, took my spot in the prone, and started dropping lead.
I used the 300-yard holdover with 62-grain Federal ammo, and it seemed to work just fine. It’s made for heavier ammo, but the difference in drop seems minimal.
I’m a fan of bullet drop compensators, and it’s quite satisfying to just sit back and let the optic do the work for you. I was striking that gong at 300 yards with ease in the prone. Moving to the sitting position was a challenge, and by challenge, I mean, I need to shoot at this range more often.
What About Clarity?
I live in Florida, so it’s always bright and shiny, so that may help, but the Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 is quite clear. I could see the bright green gong easily at this range. The small 1.4 MOA dot is unobtrusive and doesn’t cover so much of the target to make it hard to see.
The little dot is crisp and clear and easy to spot against the target with or without illumination.
The Athlon Argos BTR Gen2’s glass is quite clear and suitable for early morning and late evening shooting, like those situations most commonly found when hunting. A lot of people get wrapped around the axle of clarity, and if that’s your position on things, then maybe a Leupold or Nightforce is better suited for you.
For most shooters — especially in the civilian world — the Argos BTR Gen2 is perfectly clear and suitable for 500-yard engagements against man-sized targets. I was shooting a steel USPSA torso at 500 in the prone, and the drop point also seemed dead-on.
I admittedly need more practice at this range, but I was hitting more than I was missing, especially after I found my groove.
Realistically 300 yards is a better range for this optic. At 300 yards, I can shoot a target as well as establish positive identification of a threat. With the 8X magnification, I can spot the finer details of a man-sized target. If I had a Caldwell Lead Sled I could have gotten better results.
Most people who’ve ever taken a shot at me did it from behind cover, and the 8X zoom would allow you to zoom in and see whatever part of the bad guy is exposed.
The Argos BTR Gen2 at Close Range
One of the main draws to an LPVO is the ability to dial it back to 1X and use it as a close quarters optic. As someone dipping their toes into the LPVO world, I wanted to start dropping rounds inside of 15 to 25 yards.
With height over bore being a thing, I took a few admin shots to figure out the proper holdover. It turns out that the second dot is the perfect holdover for close-range shooting.
With that set, I grabbed a timer and practiced my snapshots, failure-to-stop drills, and box drills.
I was slow at the beginning of the snap drills. I was averaging 1.5 seconds in the first few shots. After a little practice, I was getting sub-1 second snapshots to the head of my target. I was good and warmed up and moved to more complicated drills.
My failure-to-stop drill was under 1.5 seconds, and my fastest box drill was 3 seconds flat. The Argos BTR Gen2 proved to be pretty fast at close range, maybe not red dot fast, but fast enough to be acceptable.
The big half-circle reticle design makes getting body shots easy, and then when I slow down for the final headshot, the clear and crisp dots are perfect for precision.
One complaint I have is the optic’s illumination brightness level. It’s bright enough to see, but during a Florida high noon the only setting that matters is 11. Even on 11, it feels a bit dim on an extremely bright day.
I’m getting sold on the LPVO as a serious use optic on rifles and the Argos BTR Gen2 is a perfect pairing with most AR-15 carbines. While it might not be the optic to jump out of planes and invade countries with, it’s a damn fine mid-priced LPVO.
Specifications: Athlon Argos BTR Gen2 1-8×24
Length: 9.8 inches
Weight: 16.1 ounces
Magnification Range: 1-8X
Tube Diameter: 30mm
Objective Lens Diameter: 24mm
Eye Relief: 3.4 inches
MSRP: $474.99 (street price about $379)
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Clarity * * * 1/2
At this price point, I believe the glass is as clear as you will get. While you can hit targets at 500 yards, you might not be able to easily determine if they have firearms or are a threat. At 300 yards you can hit your target and be sure it’s a threat.
Reticle * * * *
The Argos BTR Gen2 reticle is fantastic. Its holdover points are dead on, and the addition of windage points are fantastic for calling shots. The big half-circle reticle is excellent for close-range shooting. My only complaint is that I’d wish the illumination was brighter in daylight.
Ergonomics * * * *
The turrets are easy to turn, precise, and give you some feedback. Some feedback is not a lot, though, and I wish it was a little louder and a little more tactile. The optic is light and short, and I appreciate that on my rifle scopes.
Overall * * * *
With optics, you typically get what you pay for, but the Althlon Optics Argo BTR Gen2 gives you a little bit more. A good optic can make an average day of shooting more fun. The ability to go between 300 to 500 yards down to 15 yards with the same optic makes me feel like I have an optic as versatile as my rifle.