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Tactical Scopes: Ergonomics Summary

This post provides the overall scores for each scope related to ergonomics and explains what those are based on. Ergonomics Part 1 itemized a ton of measurable aspects of a scopes ergonomics. Then Part 2 & Part 3 took a deep dive into each scope, and highlighted the unique features in terms of ergonomics and overall usability for each. I also included a photo gallery of each scope from just about every angle, and demo the scope from the shooter’s perspective.

Summary of Ergonomics & Overall Experience Behind The Scope

A great scope isn’t just good glass, or even repeatable mechanics … the experience of actually using the scope is a big part of whether you’ll like it or not. My tolerance for poor ergonomics is proportional to the price of the scope. If a scope cost $300, I’m more forgiving, but if it cost $3,000 … I expect it to be near perfect.

Coming up with an overall score for ergonomics proved difficult, because much of this is simply personal preference. So I focused on the basics that most shooters would agree are important. For example, a scope didn’t get more points if it had a wide turret, because although some people might prefer them … not everyone does. We can probably all agree that all else being equal, we’d like a scope that was lighter and more compact. Likewise, every shooter I’ve met likes a turret that has crisp clicks, and is easy to use and read from behind the scope. So there is probably enough we can agree on to come up with a rough score for this. The overall score is simply designed to be a rough indication scopes that struggled in multiple aspects of ergonomics, and scopes that did well in most areas.

Before anyone throws a fit about this not being the “right” breakdown … remember, I’ve published the details for every single piece of data this is based on, so feel free to calculate your own score based on whatever factors you’d like. I believe this is a good general breakdown, so I wanted to accommodate the guys that just want a higher-level overview.

Here is a breakdown of what all played into the overall ergonomic score:

Tactical Scopes - Ergonomics

Overall Ergonomic Score

  • 50% Turret Design – This has to do with the overall feel and usability of the turrets. It’s actually a group of characteristics related to the turrets, and a lot of it is specific to the elevation turret. Many long-range shooters dial for elevation and hold for wind, which means they are touching the elevation turret constantly. If you use a hold-off reticle, this is less important … but for most guys, the elevation turret has a big impact on their experience behind the scope. More on the specifics of what this score includes later.
  • 40% Weight & Size – With scopes, you’re often trying to strike the right balance between optical performance and weight/size. This same tug of war occurs with binoculars, telescopes, and other optics. All other things being equal, we’d all prefer a scope that weighs less and is more compact.
  • 5% Mounting Flexibility – Does the scope have enough mounting length to provide some flexibility to slide it forward or backwards to attain proper eye relief for your natural point of aim. For example, a couple of these scopes only had 1.6” of straight tube on one side of the turret box or the other, so if a scope ring took up 1” of space on the tube, you’d only be able to adjust the scope ±0.3” within the mount. You likely will need to adjust the mount on the rail to achieve proper eye relief. Is it a train wreck? Nope, just a potential compromise in ergonomics. That’s why it’s just 5% of the score.
  • 5% Fits Standard Size Mount – Some of these scopes either had abnormally large turret boxes or a proprietary tube size that will limit the scope mounts you can choose from. That’s a strong compromise to me. I’m extremely picky when it comes to this, because scope mounts aren’t all the same. There is a HUGE difference in scope mounts, and many spend a ton on a custom rifle and a high-end scope … and pick up whatever rings they find at the local gunshop. The mount is the bridge between your optics and your rifle, is that really a place you should compromise? I’m a big fan of Spuhr mounts, because they’re rock solid, CNC’ed one-piece mounts, which means no lapping is necessary. They also have advanced features like a built-in bubble level for cant, and a ton of extensibility points. But, although it seems like there are a billion sizes and options for Spuhr mounts, not all of these scopes accommodate one. In fact, the few with uncommon tube sizes had an extremely limited selection of quality mounts. Once again, is it a train wreck? Nope, just a potential compromise in ergonomics. That’s why it’s just 5% of the score.

Here are the results for the overall score, grouped by the size of the objective lens.

Best Tactical Scope

Turret Design Score

There are a few different aspects that play into the score for turret design:

  • 25% Crisp clicks – Does the scope have positive clicks that seem to snap in place or are the adjustments “mushy”? To quantify this I rated how easily it would be to accidentally stop in between clicks.
  • 25% Easy to tell what revolution you’re on – How easy is it to tell what revolution you’re on? Many shooters miss because they thought they were on a different revolution than what the scope really was set to. Typically, this happens when you engage long-range targets and adjust into the 2nd or 3rd revolution on the scope, and then forget to dial back down to zero before you start engaging your next targets. I’ve done it, and mental errors like that can be frustrating during a hunt or competition. So this aspect quantifies how obvious the revolution indicator is.
  • 20% Easy to read turret (size of numbers) – This is simply how big are the numbers on the turret. No scope received a zero for this, but the scores were calculated as a percentage of the largest numbers tested, which was 3.8mm. So the scope with the 3.8mm numbers received full credit, where a scope with numbers half that big received half credit.
  • 15% Fine Tune (easy to adjust 1 click without overrun) – How easy was it to adjust the scope by a single click without accidentally overrun? Some scopes have stiff clicks that require a lot of torque to adjust, and they can be hard to work with. You can true to adjust by 1 click, but sometimes you over adjust and accidentally spin 3-4 clicks and then have to dial back down. This quantifies how easy it is to fine-tune a scope with a one click adjustment.
  • 15% Overall rating for feel & usability – There is much about the feel of a turret I couldn’t objectively quantify, so I added this generic subjective rating for how the turret felt and how easy it was to use. Some of the other elements played into this rating, including crisp, positive clicks or how much “slop” were in the turrets, the torque required to make adjustments, how intrusive/cumbersome the lock was (if it had one), how tightly packed the clicks were, and a lot of other things. I typically avoid any type of subjective ratings, but it would be very shortsighted to not include some element of feel that can’t be described with numbers alone. I did limit it to just 15% of the Turret Design score (which is just 7.5% of the overall score).

Here are the ratings for each scope for those elements. I thought the Consumer Reports style presentation for this info was the best representation. For more details on any of this, please read through the excruciating details I provided when I went through and described the ergonomics of each scope one-by-one. That can be found in the previous two posts.

Best Tactical Scopes

Here is the same data presented in the form of scores and subscores for these aspects:

Tactical Scope Reviews

Weight & Size Score

I used a few different numbers to calculate the score for weight & size:

  • Weight 50% – Who wants to carry more weight than they absolutely have to?
  • Overall Length 30% – While this isn’t as noticeable as weight, wouldn’t we all prefer to carry one of the newer ultra-short, compact scopes if they offered the same exact performance? All things being equal, more compact is better.
  • Max Height 20% – This describes how high the scope will tower above the rifle, and essentially is the vertical measurement from the bottom of the objective bell to the top of the elevation turret. A tall, bulky scope is less maneuverable and easier to get bumped or snagged on something. All things being equal, more compact is better.

Tactical Scopes - Reviews

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Other Post in this Series

This is just one of a whole series of posts related to this high-end tactical scope field test. Here are links to the others:

  1. Field Test Overview & Rifle Scope Line-Up Overview of how I came up with the tests, what scopes were included, and where each scope came from.
  2. Optical Performance Results
    • Summary & Part 1: Provides summary and overall score for optical performance. Explain optical clarity was measured (i.e. image quality), and provides detailed results for those tests.
    • Part 2: Covers detailed results for measured field of view, max magnification, and zoom ratio.
  3. Ergonomics & Experience Behind the Scope
    • Part 1: Side-by-side comparisons on topics like weight, size, eye relief, and how easy turrets are to use and read
    • Part 2 & Part 3: Goes through each scope highlighting the unique features, provides a demo video from the shooter’s perspective, and includes a photo gallery with shots from every angle.
    • Summary: Provides overall scores related to ergonomics and explains what those are based on.
  4. Advanced Features
    • Reticles: See every tactical reticle offered on each scope.
    • Misc Features: Covers features like illumination, focal plane, zero stop, locking turrets, MTC, mil-spec anodozing, one-piece tubes
    • Warranty & Where They’re Made: Shows where each scope is made, and covers the details of the warranty terms and where the work is performed.
    • Summary: Overall scores related to advanced features and how those were calculated.
  5. Mechanical Performance
    • Part 1: Shows how precisely calibrated the clicks are on each scope.
    • Part 2: Reticle cant, measured elevation travel for each scope, and other mechanical tests
    • Summary: Overall scores related to mechanical performance.
  6. Summary & Overall Scores: Provides summary and overall score for entire field test.

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. His engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and ability to present technical and complex information in a unbiased and straight-forward fashion has quickly caught the attention of the industry. For more info on Cal, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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  1. Johan.loock@bcx.co.za

    Thanks for your effort and in compiling this. Is a great help for us average shooters that are in the market for a good scope. Johan from South Africa.

  2. Eric J. Koechling

    Thank you for this reveiw. Will be in the market here shortly for one of these and this should save me a LOT of confusion

  3. I’m happy to see my Bushnell ERS 3.5 – 21 X 50 scope placing so well in so many categories. Mine has a Horus H59 reticle which now, after some use, I really like. This scope falls into my “Good Buy For My Budget Category” criteria.

    I’ve ordered a Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor to get me started in the PRS competition. It’s another “Good Buy For My Budget Category” item like the above Bushell ERS scope. I think the two will work together very well as long as I do my part.

    If the RPR is as accurate as gun writers’ preliminary fields tests indicate then I can see many more people being able to afford long range competition. I expect Savage to soon have a similar product and likely offer it in the increasingly popular 6 mm Creedmoor cartridge.

    • Hey, Eric. I actually recommended that exact setup to a friend last night. That Ruger Precision Rifle in 6.5 Creedmoor looks like a value for what you get, and the Bushnell Elite Tactical scope is in that same class as well. And I bet other big companies like Savage and even Remington come out with similar products to compete. It is a growing demographic, and when companies compete … we all win.

      Thanks for the feedback,