Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
Travis Pike for TTAG
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Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
Travis Pike for TTAG

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.

Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24 reticle
Courtesy Althlon Optics

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.

Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
The 11 illumination settings are just enough (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
The reticle in action (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
The Argos BTR Gen2 proved to be a close-range contender (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

Argos BTR Gen2 1-8x24
This little guy had a rough day (Travis Pike for TTAG)

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.

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  1. That looks OK…been exploring low power variable optics for a long time. And I’m getting a gubmint check. Soooo many to choose from! Any insight TTAG cognoscenti?

    • I own a few LVPOs. I have had two PA 1-6x scopes that were pretty good. I also have a Trijicon Accupoint 1-4x. The Trijicon has the triangle and acts more like a red dot at 1x and ACOG without the BDC at 4x. It will be going on my Geissele URG-I upper. That scope is twice the price of a PA. Also the Vortex options are pretty nice in the budget range. While I don’t have one myself, I know of a few people that run them, and they work well. I’ve never used, nor even seen an Athlon scope to know how it compares to a PA or Vortex.

    • I have a Primary Arms 1-8 with the BCS reticle (for 5.56) , and like it quite well. It works great at 300 yards, but I need to try it out at further ranges. It is about the same price as this rig (around $399).

      Also, my opinion on scopes is of somewhat limited value. I haven’t used scopes much. The other ones I’ve owned have been sub $100 Bushnell types.

      If you are looking in the $300-400 price range, the Primary Arms 1-6 and 1-8 are definitely worth considering.

    • I have a vortex strike eagle 1-6×24 on my ar. I absolutely love it. I had a burris 1-4 that was pretty good, but wanted a 6x.
      I have an Athlon Helos 6-24×50 on my remington 700 pcr. I can honestly say it’s better than anything else in its price range, and even some that are more expensive. A couple of friends bought Athlon scopes as well, and have had zero issues with them. They will be my go to for optics from now on.

    • Well, it’s a 30mm tube, those and 1″ diameter are the two most common, so there should be lots of options for mounts out there. What are you going to put it on?

      Me, I love Aero Precision single piece mounts in general for the light weight, but the tube clamps can rotate the ‘scope just ever so lightly as you tighten it down. So I don’t try to work with those until I’m feeling particularly patient…

  2. As someone who uses the lower-power adjustable for Service Rifle matches, I can say that Athlon is probably the next Vortex in terms of bang-for-the-buck (for now…). This is a 5-star company and comparing apples to apples in terms of price-point, if the 8x is anywhere close to the 4x in terms of quality, it easily achieves 5-stars across the board in your categories of reticle, ergo, overall, and clarity.

    Compared to the NF, Leupold, USO, etc. I use on my bolt guns in those categories… I’d still be hard-pressed to give it less than 4.5 anywhere. The 3 mm pupil of the 8×24 mag. may be a slight problem but that’s about it.

    The 4x variable I’m using does just fine at 25 yards and 600 yds and I would give it 5 stars across the board.

    The rating system on this site obviously omits a few things I’d like to see; namely, durability and accuracy of adjustments. The former will likely never be put to the test by me, however the latter is spot-on for this scope. No horizontal shift when adjusting elevation, or vice versa. It’s just great all-around.

  3. Is it made in China?
    F the ChiComs.
    Many companies are owned by the PLA/CCP through front companies.
    Don’t buy anything made in China anymore.
    Enough is Enough.
    America First!

    • Not sure, but don’t assume so simply because it’s priced lower. For example some cheaper quality optics are made in Japan. While that may upset your grandfather, today Japan is a very solid ally and supporter of the US.

      • My gramps was in the Pacific and he didn’t seem to have anything against ” the Japs” as he called them. He enjoyed their motorcycles coming up to speed with the American bikes and so on. He did however hate seeing bearings and other car parts getting stamped with made in mex or China and lasting not as long. In the last 70 years Japan has been pretty solid to the world while China has shown us time and time again why commies can’t be trusted.

    • The company says its based in Kansas and its products are made in Japan and China….. so China with a bunch of salad dressing.

  4. Never heard of Argos till now. It was just a city in Greece to me. Thanks for the introduction.

    I just ordered one from Bushnell yesterday. It even came with a carry case.

  5. I was looking at Athlon optics late last year but I couldn’t find many reviews that I’ve ever heard of that tested them and there seemed to be an influx of veteran owned optic companies.
    They all seemed similar leading me to believe it was the same manufacturer branded for these companies.
    None would list where they were manufactured, so I could only assume it is China.

  6. I’ve switched to using mostly LPVO scopes on my rifles. Burris MTAC 1-4 x 24 with CQB reticle and Nikon M-223 1-4x20mm with Point Blank Reticle. Both of these are great scopes for relatively low prices. The Burris costs a bit more than the Nikon these days, but it comes with a lighted, etched CQB reticle and a 30mm tube. The Nikon M-223 has a 1″ tube and its reticle isn’t lighted. Both are great for the short distances that I shoot (100 yard targets), and can also be dialed back to 1x and used like almost like a reflex sight in case they’re needed for HD (although the Nikon scope has no red dot, its reticle is clear and sharp at 1x or at 4x). The main advantage to the Nikon M-223 is its price, formerly $289 but now $149 because from what I’ve read, Nikon is getting out of the rifle scope business so they’re doing clearance sales on all their scopes at Natchez and elswhere. The main advantage to the Burris MTAC is its lighted reticle is as quick as a red dot, and it has hash marks for longer distances (which I don’t need for 100yd targets).

  7. Okay, I hate to be “that guy” (I’m always “that guy”…we are who we are).

    Am I the only person on the planet who hates these ACSS/BDC/HUD reticles? Can’t we just get a nice simple illuminated duplex (firedot duplex as Leupold calls it) or an illuminated German #4?

    Let’s be honest, under pressure, we’re not going to remember what the dope is for which dots at an undetermined range to target. We’re going to point/shoot & if need be, walk our shots to the intended target. A less busy, clean reticle makes a lot more sense for that purpose.

    Standard internet disclaimer. JMHO YMMV.

    • Yeah, I’d say you are. My optic of choice was the Primary Arms Platinum 1-8x with the M2 Raptor reticle and it worked great across a variety of ranges, targets, and with multiple rounds (mainly .308 and 5.56.) With that optic I could make first round hits on 2 MOA targets out to 800 yards. Now, I can also make first round hits at 1500 yards with a bolt action and a Christmas tree reticle, but I can tell you with some certainty that the versatility, usability, and most importantly, speed of these reticles is second to none, with one caveat. I can’t speak about a lot of those other reticle, but being able to range estimated in the reticle itself like I can with the ACSS makes it a fairly easy proposition. If the reticle lacks that, I can see your point.

      That being said, I can say quite unequivocally that you will not be as effective with a duplex, dot, or post across multiple unknown ranges and unknown target sizes. At the very least you’d need a hash marked reticle to be even remotely as good.

  8. Just ordered my second Argos gen 2 ,I must say i was very impressed with it for the $259 price tag versus the quality and that excellent reticle for 3 gun competition, super clear and compact.

  9. Hello,

    A question came to me if this reticle is able to be used (more or less) with the M193 55gr also or there will be a big difference in bullet drop versus the dots on the reticle? from 100 over to 600yd
    The M193 is the only ammo I can afford now in my country (Brasil).


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