Low Power Variable Optics are the best bet for shooters wanting a single scope to do it all. LPVOs function like an all-purpose scope as they work well for engaging both short- and long-range targets. On a low power setting, they work much like an illuminated red dot. While on high, sometimes cranked up to as much as 10x, they assist shooters to engage targets up to a few hundred yards away.
Like many others, I personally prefer an LPVO on my AR rifles and carbines. Yet, knowing what to look for and why gets trickier with more and more options available. Without having to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars, I want to walk you through the process of finding the right LPVO for you.
How much magnification do you need?
Range is at the heart of the matter. It’s easy enough to say get the most that you can, but you should first consider the tradeoffs. Optics capable of higher magnification generally weigh more than ones with less. Increased magnification may come in handy, but not if the weight is burdensome.
The discussion about the ratio of range and weight spills into purpose: hunting, personal protection, competition, or recreation. The question about finding the right LPVO for that purpose, though, will always come down to personal preference. Whatever you find most comfortable for the period of time in which you need to carry and use it is best.
Next, consider the capabilities of your weapon system. This subject is less flexible than the former. If you’re like me shooting mostly modern sporting rifles chambered in .223 Remington, the platform is effective up to about 650 yards. Yet, I primarily engage targets at much shorter distances. Therefore, the ideal LPVO would be capable of, at the very least, effectively reaching those shorter ranges.
Lastly, consider the limitations of the shooter as well. If you have poor or diminishing eye sight, higher magnification will make target acquisition easier. So, then, the question becomes about realworld use. If I can comfortable reach targets near and far with a 4x than 4x is the one for me.
The more accustomed you get with LVPOs, the more comfortable you will likely get with advanced features. Still, when looking through the scope, the reticle should appear clean and clear. If it’s extremely busy than it can be cumbersome to use.
New users may prefer something as simple as old fashioned crosshairs while experienced competitive shooters may want a more complex reticle capable of longer shots and range estimation. The point is start simple and work your way up, if necessary.
Illumination comes standard with most LPVOs. If you’re like me, I prefer the reticle to illuminate only at the zeroing point instead of lighting it up as a whole.
LVPO to Fit Everyone
Selections for LPVOs were not always so plentiful. Now you can choose from a wide variety and find a price point that does not break the bank. Getting into specifics, casual shooters may want to consider LPVOs by Primary Arms or the Vortex Diamondback line. More experienced shooters without LPVO experience may want something a little more feature-rich. They should consider brands like US Optics, Nightforce, and Leupold. Brand aside, understand that, like with most things, you get what you pay for. When the price goes up, so does the glass quality and capability.