Athlon Ares BTR Review – Blue Line Optics

Athlon Ares BTR Review – Blue Line Optics

This is going to be a completely in depth review of the Athlon Ares BTR. I was looking for the next scope I wanted to review by Athlon, and during the month of March they decided to throw a sale for the Ares BTR by dropping the price $250.

 

Needless to say, a lot of people are taking a look at this scope right now, and for good reason.

 

Athlon did, after all, label Ares as “The Answer” meaning “The Answer to your request for a high quality optic that doesn’t max out your credit card.

 

There’s plenty of 5 star customer reviews out there, but I’ve only ever found those to be sort of helpful when I buy anything, let alone an $850 dollar piece of equipment. You never really know who posted it, and it what mood they were in when they did.

 

What is lacking for a lot of scopes is a very in depth review that goes into the weeds on everything: tracking, glass clarity, durability, features, etc.

 

These are the types of reviews I like to do. It allows me to present you with the three most important things a review needs to have:

1) A recommendation on the product

2) Data to back up the recommendation

3) A clear and concise presentation of the data so you know what you’re looking at.

We did this with the Argos last week, and this week we’re doing it with the Ares. Ready to get started? Let’s get into it!

 

The Review Process

So for the review, I have multiple different criteria I use for the final score and I have multiple tests for these criteria.

 

The two most important factors in a Rifle Scope, in my humble opinion, are:

  • Tracking – when you adjust the turrets, do they go to where you want them to go?

 

  • Clarity – how high quality is the glass? Companies use this as a huge marketing tool, so it’s good to be scrupulous when checking

So we place more weight on their results than the others. The other criteria we’re judging are:

  • Features –  Actual features compared to what you can expect in the top of the line scopes
  • Quality of the features – now that we know the optic has these features, does it deliver on the features? Or do they sacrifice quality?

  • Durability – is it going to hold up out there when you use it?

Okay, that’s the overview, now let’s look at the Ares.

 

Ares BTR – The Answer

Again, it’s called The Answer because Athlon wanted to present a scope that people were demanding: high quality features, but not maxing out your credit card.

 

And it doesn’t disappoint, at all actually. It’s loaded with premium features found on scopes easily twice the price:

 

  • HD Glass
  • Precision Zero Stop
  • First Focal Plane
  • Etched Glass Reticle
  • Illuminated Reticle
  • Advanced multi-coated lenses
  • XPL Coating
  • Argon Purging
  • Parallax Adjustment

 

We’ll grade these on features later but for now just keep in mind what they’re advertising is available if you purchase the Ares BTR.

 

A little more background on the scope: it was released back in 2017 and from what I can see, it was a response to make the Cronus BTR more affordable.


The Cronus BTR is Athlon’s flag ship Rifle Scope, and there is virtually nothing wrong with it. Don’t worry, we’ll review that too.

 

But The Cronus BTR comes with an $1800 price tag – not that many people are willing to cough up that kind of dough. Especially not hobbyists who just like a nice scope to take out to the range for the weekend or out on long range shooting expeditions.

 

But they had also just released the Argos BTR, which was the budget builds dream. You might find it hard to believe, but you can hit 1,000 yards with this scope, and it costs under $400!

 

That being said, the quality of the Argos BTR doesn’t match up with the Cronus BTR, they’re just completely different scopes. So The Ares BTR was designed for the consumer who wanted these higher features (zero stop, higher quality glass, better turret system, etc) but didn’t want to pay $2000 for it!

 

And for those of you that don’t know, this tends to be Athlon’s specialty – releasing high quality optics that people can afford. They tapped into the market of people who just don’t want to pay $5000 for a Rifle Scope, and found out how to do it without sacrificing quality.

 

So let’s get into the review part shall we? We’ll start with the Features Score.

 

Features Score

We mentioned the features up above, but let’s get into them here:

  • HD Glass
  • Precision Zero Stop
  • First Focal Plane
  • Etched Glass Reticle
  • Illuminated Reticle
  • Advanced multi-coated lenses
  • XPL Coating
  • Argon Purging
  • Parallax Adjustment

So we are doing two grades here: the Features Score and the Features Quality Score.

 

The Features Score is purely based on what kind of features does the scope offer. I.e. does it offer the kind of features you would expect for the kind of distance we are shooting for?

 

And the Features Quality Score is simply a score of those features, or how well do they match up to what is being advertised.

 

For the Ares BTR, the type of scope features we are looking for is for a scope that’s meant for long distance shooting. If it does not come with a feature meant for 1000+ yards, it’s getting dinged.

 

Here are the results:

As you can see, my total score for this was 68/70 for both scores. Honestly, the only downside of the features is that the Objective Lens is 50mm instead of 56mm (letting in less light) and the tube diameter is 30mm instead of 34mm (less elevation adjustment).

 

These aren’t huge misses, because 50mm and 30mm are still considered adequate for long range, but they get dinged a point because it could be better.

 

Tracking Score

I honestly think tracking is one of the most important quality of a Rifle Scope. What’s the point of the scope if it’s not going to point where you are shooting?

 

For this, I performed a Tall Target Test, but without shooting groups.

 

I used a mockup of a reticle scaled for a hundred yards, so that every hash mark was 5 MOA apart. I then ran the test 4 times, each time stopping at the 10, 20, 30 and 40 moa marks, then drop back to zero.

 

At all of these I marked how far off the mark the reticle was.

 

The results are below:

Explanation of the data: we of course care about how far off on average the reticle was, that’s what the average column denotes.

 

But that’s not the only thing we care about.

 

We also care about how consistently it was off. For that we calculate standard deviation and the margin of error at a confidence interval of 99%.

 

Without going into too much detail, this gives us a range of 0.304 and 0.759. The difference between these two numbers is 0.492, which represents how much the error might be off at any given time.

 

2 caveats here:

1) This sample size is small, and next time I am doing a much bigger one.

2) Although that difference is 0.492 MOA, if you look at the chart you’ll notice that these differences were pretty consistent at the different MOA

As you can see, my total score for this was 79.82/100.

 

I subtracted a point from 100 for every inch the shot would be off (when using the mean and the STD Error) at 1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50 yards. This ended up being 20.18.

 

A C+/B-. For the final score, I multiplied it by 1.5 to give a final point allowance of 150 so it will weight in higher than what it does at 100 since tracking is important.

 

Optical Quality Score

Optical quality I have to get a little creative. I did multiple different tests, at multiple different distances.

 

Optics naturally get blurrier the higher the magnification, so looking at them through the lowest magnification might now give you the best look at their capabilities.

 

So we want to make sure we accurately look at all magnification settings, then we also want to see how far out you can see with the scope and accurately pick up detail?

 

So I performed a 25 yard, 50 yard, 100 yard and 200 yard clarity test. The Lowest magnification setting I did was 8x, and I did it on the 25 yard and 50 yard. I then did medium (12x) and high (24x) magnification tests on 25 – 200 yards.

 

I did two seperate tests, one where I find the lowest row I can go to on a snellen eye chart. I then score 1 point for every row that we get “right.” Right being defined as “not missing more than two letters within the row.”

 

If we missed more than 2 letters, we missed the point for that row.

 

I then use the USAF 1951 resolution test at all of the distances. The chart already has a resolution scoring system (see to the right) but if we calculate these as totals, the score isn’t weighted as high as the snellen eye chart.

So what I did was multiply the score of the lowest possible observable group by 10 at that magnification.

 

Then, we place the charts out in the field, and starting at 300 yards, move back 50 yards at a time until the 1) the resolution is no longer visible and 2) I cannot accurately determine the top row of letters on the snellen eye chart.

 

The results were as follows:

As you can see, my total score for this was 313/335. What was amazing was that the clarity of the lens did not deteriorate as the magnification increased, which is expected.

 

In fact, the clarity increased which blew my mind.

 

Durability Score

For the durability score, I didn’t do a full on “let’s try and destroy this damn thing” just because most of you (myself included) ar not going to be throwing this scope off the top of a building.

 

What I did was see how much wear and tear it sustains when using it over a period of time. Does it dent? Does it scratch?

 

I placed most of the emphasis here on the fact that Athlon backs the scope with a Lifetime Warranty. Some folks don’t think that’s much of an indicator, and I completely disagree.

 

To have an $849.99 scope out there that could be returned is a huge financial risk for a company. If they didn’t actually believe it could hold up to the conditions you’re putting it through, they’d go bankrupt.

 

For that I give this a perfect durability score. Denting and scratching was not an issue.

 

Overall Score And Recommendation

Final score? 608.73 points out of 665 total possible, which gives us a letter grade of 91.54%. An A-!

 

And that would reflect my honest opinion about the Ares BTR anyways – it’s missing some things that would make it a solid A+, but it’s still a hell of a scope.

 

So buy/not buy recommendation: for long range shooters looking to step up their game but not wanting to spend the extra 350 on the ETR, this is a buy, definitely.

 

The Optical Clarity and Features Scores are heavily in favor of a higher score for it. The only real downside was the tracking. It still tracks better than 90% of scopes out there, but to give it an A+ rating, we would need to see A+ on everything in my opinion.

 

Drop your comments below! What did you like about this review? Anything you liked or didn’t like? I take all feedback seriously.

 

For a full experience I suggest watching the video as well.

Athlon Ares Spotting Scope Review – By Blue Line Optics

Athlon Ares Spotting Scope Review – By Blue Line Optics

Spotting Scopes are pretty important in long range shooting and hunting. So we wanted to do an Athlon Ares Spotting Scope review to investigate one of the rising stars in the industry – Athlon.

Athlon is a bit newer to the game – having only been around for a couple of years. But they keep releasing hits like the Ares ETR and Argos BTR that have definitely put them in the back of everyone’s mind at least.

The company’s claim to fame is their affordable and yet high quality scopes. A lot of them feature ED Glass for half the price of some of the other big brands out there like Vortex.

I personally own an Ares Spotting Scope, and want to take you through a full review of it, just so you can get a taste of it for yourself.

See the video below, and read on to get the full experience!

What Makes A Spotting Scope Good?

The Athlon Ares Spotting Scope

First off, I want to go into the details of the Ares and what it’s advantages/disadvantages are.

Then we’ll go check out what makes for a good spotting scope, going over some of the components.

I really enjoy using it. The clarity is pretty remarkable for the price, even at high magnifications!

And for durability – I’m pretty sure I could throw it off a cliff at the Grand Canyon and it would still be okay to use. And even if this did happen and it broke, Athlon replaces it or fixes it, for free (see their Lifetime Warranty).

Often times, this is enough to convince most the product is worth the money. That being said, what about the features? Let’s take a look at some of them.

 

Features

 

ED Glass

First things first – ED Glass. Yes, The Ares comes with it.

Why is that important? Well, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, ED Glass is treated differently than regular glass.

And this matters because reduces an effect call Chromattic Aberration, which is a complicated way of describing what happens when light waves pass through a medium like glass.

ED Glass is treated in a way that makes these waves arrive at the same focal point, so the image is clearer. I’m not going to go into anymore detail than that, but you can read the full article here. (P.S. if you like the science behind this stuff, like I do, I highly suggest reading it).

Light enters the glass. We want it all to come together at one focal point.

Light enters the glass. We want it all to come together at one focal point.

ESP Dielectric Coating

Next up, how are the prisms coated? Athlon pioneers ESP Dielectric coating, which is just the term for their multi-layered coating for prisms.

We really care about coating on the glass inside optics because as light passes through the different parts of the system, it reflects a certain percentage of light.

In fact, in a optic like a Spotting Scope, as much as 50% of light can be lost by the time it hits your eye! Imagine that.

Uncoated Spotting Scopes can reflect up to 50% of the light that comes through the objective lens before it gets to your eye!

Uncoated Spotting Scopes can reflect up to 50% of the light that comes through the objective lens before it gets to your eye!

So it’s really important that not only are the exterior lenses coated, but also the prisms. And Athlon uses ESP Dielectric Coating for their prisms to minimize this effect. They claim this passes 99% of the light through to your eye.

 

Bak4 Prisms

Bak4 Prisms are used in most high end binoculars. That being said, their use doesn’t necessarily mean the binocular itself is high quality.

Which is something you should keep in mind for the future – binocular and any type of optic’s quality depends on a variety of different things, not just one or two. The Optic is a system, and systems have to work together!

Bak4 stands for BaritleichKron (German for “Barium Crown”) and simply refers to a different type of glass used for the prism inside the scope. Usually, it’s compared to BK7 prisms, of which it has a higher refractive index.

This higher index just means it reflects more light. Some tend to think BK7 makes an optic “cheap” but I haven’t seen much proof in regards to this. Bak4 is higher quality though, just not the thing that puts me over the edge when buying something.

That being said, it usually is associated with a lot of other great features in an optic, because it’s usually used on higher priced optics.

XPL Coating

Fully Multi-Coated, you’ll remember, means that every lens in the optic is coated to provide less reflection of light off the surface of the glass. This is essential, as spotting scopes have the potential to reflect up to 50% of the light they receive by the time they get to your eye!

But what about protection from the elements? Introducing XPL Coating.

XPL Coating is applied to most higher end Athlon products, including the Ares Spotting Scope. It is a coating placed on lenses that face the elements, on the outside facing part of the glass.

This basically adds another layer of protection to the glass from dirt, debris and scratches.

And if you plan on taking this out into the wild with you, you will want to protect your glass.

athlon ares spotting scope xpl coating

Argon Purging

With optics you run the risk of getting moisture inside the optic, which could fog up the glass or worse – create mold!

To prevent this, optics companies remove Oxygen from the barrels of the Spotting Scope and therefore from in between the optics during manufacturing.

This is replaced with either Nitrogen or Argon.

Argon tends to be a higher quality purge, as Argon molecules are bigger than Nitrogen. Without making things complicated, just understand that Argon will keep the seal more sealed than Nitrogen will, so it’s usually featured on higher quality optics.

Which is one reason why The Ares can live up to such a name for itself!

Rotating Ring

Last but not least, this is more of a “fun” feature and not necessarily a make or break feature for me. But I still like it as it makes for an easier time to use the optic.

The Ares Spotting Scope comes with a rotating ring that makes it a little more ergonomical for you. For instance, if you’re spotting rounds yourself, you can rotate the ring like I did below and spot.

Again, this isn’t a huge deal breaker if a Scope doesn’t come with one, but I like it.

athlon ares spotting scope in use

Disadvantages Of The Ares

We know what it features, but does it hold up? Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages.

Now, I am a firm believer that nothing is perfect, so whenever I see a 5 star review I’m a little skeptical.

The Ares is no exception to this rule. Although it’s a slight disadvantage, the Scope does not feature a reticle.

Which makes me wonder why, exactly? True, Etched Glass Reticles do increase the manufacturing cost, but I can’t imagine by that much.

So while using it to spot rounds, you or the spotter won’t be able to give exact MIL or MOA adjustments, rather have to estimate.

It’s not a huge deal, but the idea of the Spotting Scope is to spot rounds, and it’s tough to make that adjustment if you don’t have a reticle to use for reference.

 

Advantages Of The Ares

The main advantage I see with the Ares Spotting Scope is that it’s an ED Glass optics, for under $1000. On a spotting scope, that’s saying something!

Most Spotting Scopes (like the Vortex Razor) with the same features are about twice the price.

And everyone I’ve talked to has been skeptical of this. I mean it just doesn’t seem realistic: ED Glass, Argon Purged and Fully Multi-Coated lenses & prisms at that price? Get real Ryan.

The Razor has all these features, and it comes in at twice the price The Ares does. So it’s not like this is a minor increase in price.

Durability is obviously important. I talked about XPL Coating above, which is great. But the body of the optic is important too.

And The Ares holds up to this. You can feel how durable it is by the construction, and I’m pretty sure I could throw it off the side of a building and it wouldn’t break.

The Chassis is Aluminum, so it’s more lightweight than Metal Chassis, but you save some weight. Not as good as Magnesium, but I haven’t had a problem with the weight since I’ve been using it.

Other than that, every feature I listed above is an advantage as far as I’m concerned. As you can see in the video, I’ve checked every one of them, and it lives up to expectations in the features arena.

Overall

So my overall review of The Ares Spotting Scope? 4.7 out of 5. I dock 0.2 points for the reticle not being present, and 0.1 for featuring an Aluminium Chassis instead of a Magnesium. Small disadvantages, but like I said above, nothing’s perfect.

If you’re in the market, The Ares is a great buy. Plus we do 60 day free returns, and Athlon backs it up with a Lifetime Warranty. You could literally buy it, try it, and return it if you don’t like it.

First time buyer? Take 10% off your order for it. Click below to be taken to the Ares.