Athlon Neos Rifle Scope Review

Athlon Neos Rifle Scope Review

I’ve been pretty busy for about a week so it’s taken me a little longer than what I would have liked to finish this Athlon Neos Review.

After this review, I’m going to start going over a couple of other brands. If you didn’t know already, we are not officially selling Vortex and Leupold, which adds to our line of high quality optics. Very excited and honored to be selling such incredible brands!

The Neos is the smallest scope I’ve reviewed so far, and I ran into the same types of challenges with it’s tests that I ran into with the Talos BTR and the Midas HMR. The objective lens is much smaller than anything I’ve reviewed thus far (40mm), the magnification is low, and it doesn’t have a complicated reticle.

I honestly liked the change of pace though. For those of you who like hunting scopes, it’s a very good and albeit inexpensive buy, this model coming in just over $100.

For shooters more like me who aren’t as much into the hunting sport but still love to shoot, it’s a good scope for range plinking and putting on a smaller gun for short range groups practice. I’m actually going to put it on a 22 I’m buying this summer and use it for that purpose.

We end up selling quite a few during the fall as it comes on hunting season, and for good reason. The scope held up pretty well under our tests.

But why take my word for it? Let’s get started with the Athlon Neos Review!

The Athlon Neos Rifle Scope

The Neos is part of Athlon’s low cost hunting line. It was designed with a decent amount of features, but nothing unnecessary so the cost didn’t go up too much.

And as far as scopes go, it is the least expensive one Athlon offers. Depending on the magnification and the reticle you select, the Neos you get can cost anywhere from $89.99 to $159.99.

Which makes it the least expensive scope we’ve reviewed, by far! The Talos BTR was $299.99 and the closest contender.

You can get the Neos in 3 different magnifications:

  • 3-9×40
  • 4-12×40
  • 6-18×44

 

And 3 different reticles:

  • BDC 500 IR
  • Center X
  • BDC 22 Rimfire

Which gives it more selection than a lot of the models we’ve been looking at.

Now given the price point, we can’t be expecting Razor HD or ETR quality here. That being said, we’re still going to run it through the battery of tests we normally put scopes through.

In the Optical Quality test, we performed the same tests we performed on the Midas HMR, adjusting the scoring and test to reflect the lower magnification setting (the model I used was the 4-12x40mm Center X).

This was to ensure it got a fair scoring by both not punishing it for not being able to zoom as far (i.e. true glass quality) and by weighing against it this same factor.

One thing I was really impressed with was the turrets. I actually went over that in this video below when comparing it to the Vortex Crossfire II (see the full article here):

Incredibly crisp and clear. If you notice the difference between that and the Vortex, it’s almost night and day!

Now with that said, let’s get into the thick of it.

 

Features Score

Now it’s no surprise the Neos did not stack up neck and neck with the Vortex Razor HD Gen II, which is the benchmark we are using to judge the score of a rifle scope’s features quality.

We do this because the Razor HD Gen II has just about every feature you would want on a scope. And it’s my opinion that if a scope has every single one of those feature, it would also have everything you want, thus a 100% score.

I have to say that I’m very impressed with the Neos. For a scope that costs $90 – $160 dollars, it scored pretty well!

The Neos has the capability of having an illuminated reticle, which is part of what brings up the quality of the features score. But that’s not all.

The Neos comes with a side focus parallax adjustment, fully multi-coated optics, water proofing, fog proofing and don’t forget that Lifetime Warranty!

And for a cheap scope, the multi-coated optics paid off. As you’ll see in the Optical Quality score, the glass is pretty good!

That being said, the Neos only comes in an SFP which for it’s core user is going to be fine. That being said, for extreme long range FFP will be more sufficient.

The Neos also comes with multiple Etched Glass reticle selections, which is really important especially in a hunting scope like this. I may prefer a BDC reticle, you may prefer a Center X. It just depends on the situation.

(Note: the scope I used in this tracking was the 4-12x40mm Center X)

 

Tracking Score

I was pretty impressed with the Neos tracking score and it’s turrets. The clicks are crisp and very defined (not the case on the Crossfire ii) and tracking was pretty spot on.

That being said, this specific Neos is fairly old and has been used (by me) pretty regularly over the last year. Over that time, I will say the turrets have lost a little bit of their crispness.

In fact they ended up getting a little mushy, and it wasn’t always clear which hash mark I was lined up on.

That being said, the tracking score proved it to be above average when it came to tracking. For a $140 scope, this is pretty good!

 

Optical Quality Score

Last but not least, the Optical Quality score. The Neos performed very very well for a scope with an objective lens of 40mm.

The multi-coated optics helped with this I think. If you don’t know already, what multi-coated optics do is reduce the amount of light that bounces off the glass, allowing more of the light to pass through.

The more light that passes through, the clearer the image. Well, for a cheap scope, the Neos had a very clear image!

As you can see, the Neos got a 146/181, which is an 81%.

Now we used the same scoring mechanism for the Neos that we did with the Midas HMR Review. All we did was adjust the spreadsheet to make sure that we graded on the fact that the Neos has a lower magnification capacity, both positively and negatively affecting the score.

Overall I think this fairly represents the scope’s capacity to provide a clear image at various distances. A B is still far ahead of a lot of scopes out there!

 

Conclusion

The Athlon Neos Rifle Scope is a high quality line of hunting scopes by Athlon Optics. Yet again, the company has done an excellent job at providing high quality optics for an affordable price.

The Neos got a final score of 287.62/355, which is an 81%. Considering this is comparing the scope up next to A sopes like the Vortex Razor HD Gen II, I’m very impressed.

I think this score reflects the caliber of not only the features, but of the quality of the features. Remember, the Neos got a great tracking score and a great Optical Quality score, making this a very high quality optic, and generating good bang for your buck.

For hunters not wanting to drop a ton of cash, any one of these will be a good fit for you. You have your choice of reticle and magnification, now all you gotta do is decide what works for your situation.

If you’re ready to buy, we do 12% off all first time orders. Check out the shop and get one now.

What did you like the most about the Neos? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Athlon Talos BTR Review

Athlon Talos BTR Review

Speaking of low cost and high quality hunting scopes, this article features the full Athlon Talos BTR Review.

Like last week’s Argos BTR Review, this week we’re taking a look at some of Athlon’s scopes that are more for the budget minded. This fits perfectly with our theme with the budget build.

What’s also interesting about the Talos BTR is that it was designed with the hunter in mind, like the Midas HMR that we reviewed a while back. That being said, there are some differences between the two.

One of the biggest differences though is the illuminated reticle. If you remember, the this was one of the main disadvantages of the Midas HMR.

Now, none of this is to say that you can’t use the Talos BTR to shoot long range. You definitely can.

However, it will not be practical to use this scope for 1000 yards +. Even going beyond 500 yards will be more for the experienced shooter.

That being said, Athlon has made a pretty nice scope here, and I was really excited to put it through out rounds of testing.

In addition to the regular testing we do on these scopes, I’m going to be making notes about how this is different than the Midas HMR throughout the review. One is higher quality than the other, but we’ll leave that until later to ascertain.

So let’s get into the Athlon Talos BTR review.

Athlon Talos BTR

Like I mentioned above, the Talos BTR is designed more with the hunter rather than the long range shooter in mind.

Per their website and product description:

“…it would be wise to design a scope to excel in early-morning and late-evening light. With the Talos BTR scope with Athlon Advanced multi-coated lenses for clarity and brightness in low light…”

Multi-coated lenses are really important when it comes to a rifle scope, or optics of any kind. We talked about this in article on ED Glass.

When light passes through any medium, including glass, it risks reflecting a percentage of the light off of every medium it comes into contact with.

Rifle scopes are not as susceptible to these effects as a spotting scope is, since spotting scopes have prisms in addition to lenses. But they do risk losing a high percentage of light by the time it reaches your eye.

This is what the Athlon website is alluding to when it talks about “Athlon Advanced multi-coated lenses.” Advanced multi-coated lenses have special coatings that limit this light refraction, so more light gets to your eye.

This is important in a hunting scope because the more light that gets to your eye, the better you see. And the longer you can stay out hunting, because the scope isn’t as affected by the low light of morning and evening as it would normally be.

Another feature for hunters (which the Midas actually doesn’t have) is and illuminated reticle. This lets you set your reticle to appear as a red outline with varying degrees of intensity depending on your setting.

So that black reticle that you usually use which is prone to getting lost in the background bush will now stand out a lot better! Again, this is a feature the HMR didn’t have, which is one of the times the Talos overcomes the Midas.

One area it does not live up to the Midas standards is the glass. The Talos BTR does not feature ED or HD glass (see here for the difference between the two).

Considering the scope is priced under $300, it’s not surprising. I haven’t come across an ED glass scope for under $300 yet.

So bear in mind that although the Talos BTR is very clear for the price, it won’t be Midas clear.

But let’s take a look at the Features score before we get too in depth into that kind of comparison.

Features Score

For a scope priced the way the Talos BTR is, I am very impressed with how the features score played out.

It’s hampered a bit by the smaller objective lens, non ED Glass, and the Edge To Edge clarity. That being said, most scopes around the same price do not feature parallax adjustment and illuminated reticles. These features tend to cost you more.

The fully multicoated optics helps make up for the lack of ED glass. As we’re going to see in the optical clarity test, the Talos BTR actually scores pretty well.

That being said, the lower magnification hinders it in this area as well. But before we get into that, let’s look at the tracking tests.

Tracking Score

I really don’t know what Athlon is doing, but the tracking on their scopes is just incredible. I’ve yet to review a scope of there’s that doesn’t score at least a B in tracking.

The Talos BTR scored well under the 1% average miss percentage, taken over 5 rounds of manual tracking data. For a scope under $300, that’s pretty good.

Overall, it scored an 86% after the manual test and the shot group tracking. Pretty good!

Optical Quality Score

For optical quality, we have to use the same caveat as we did with the Midas HMR. If you recall, we had to adjust the points in the test to reflect the fact that the scope has a lower magnification.

However, we also need to consider this as a factor that weighs against the scope, as a lower magnification means less visibility, which means lower quality.

We used the exact same approach to scoring as we did with the Midas HMR. Check out the review of the HMR to see how we did that.

The results are below:

Not crazy amazing, but not bad. A solid 78%, which again for a scope under $300 is pretty good.

Final Score And Conclusion

Overall, the Talos BTR got 375.09 points out of 464 total, giving it an 81.01%. For a scope under $300, this is a very very good score.

The biggest thing weighing against it was the optical score. However, this is mostly because of it’s limit in magnification. Based on how well it performed on the lower magnifications, we have reason to believe that the higher magnifications would perform well too.

That being said, those things need to be taken into consideration when scoring a scope, because you want to make sure you’re getting enough magnification for your needs.

The tracking was phenomenal and the features for a scope of this price was great too.

Overall, if you’re in the budget build market or are looking for a good hunting scope, the Talos BTR is definitely a good buy and I recommend it.

Comments and questions? Drop them below. Also first time customers get 12% off their order, so head to the store if you’re looking to get something.

Athlon Ares ETR Review

Athlon Ares ETR Review

Last week, we started off our review series by taking a look at the Athlon Ares BTR. This week, we’re going to apply those same principles and do an Athlon Ares ETR review.

 

We got great feedback on the Ares BTR Review, and by great I mean both things people liked to see and also things people said we could improve on.

 

I didn’t have a chance to incorporate all these changes, as some are going to take some time to do. For example, we’re currently investing in a calibration machine that is going to make it possible to do a much more controlled tracking test.

 

What we’re currently doing to test tracking is putting the scope through a tall target test without the shooting part. Meaning we’re putting a tall target (like the one below) at 100 yards and moving the reticle up various Mil and MOA values then measuring how off it lands compared to where it should be.

This works better than just shooting a gun because

1) we’re not relying on how good my groups are that day and

2) factors like wind and gravity won’t have an effect on the result.

 

For now, I think what we’re doing is working pretty well. But we did make a couple changes to the features scoring and the features quality scoring.

See the full video below then feel free to read through as well to get a full idea about what the scope is like. As always, I appreciate any and all feedback, both positive and negative.

Let’s check out the background on the Athlon Ares ETR.

 

About The Athlon Ares ETR

Athlon came out with the Ares ETR in July of 2018. It was a follow on to the incredibly popular Ares BTR, but with some upgrades based on feedback they got from customers who used the Ares BTR.

 

From what I can tell, they were wanting to improve on the Ares BTR without jacking the price up to what the Cronus BTR runs which is $1799.99 (the Ares BTR is $849.99). Remember, Athlon’s specialty is making these high quality scopes affordable for the average shooter.

 

By far the biggest improvement is the turrets. Holy smokes folks, this scope tracks incredibly well, and if you watched the video you can hear how clear and pronounced the clicks are.

 

Then there’s the 34mm tube, giving you 32 Mil (110 MOA) of total adjustment, versus the Ares BTR  which was 24 Mil (80 MOA). And the 56mm Objective Lens which ups the clarity on the scope by taking in more light.

It’s almost like they were trying to put as many of the features from the Cronus BTR they could on the Ares without jacking the price up to $1800. Of course, whenever companies try an approach like this quality is the first thing that should be scrutinized.

 

Which is what we will be scrutinizing heavily in this review. The ETR comes in at $1199.99, so it’s not like this is just pocket change.

Still, these kinds of features usually come with a price tag of almost double what the ETR is coming in at. This has made the ETR incredibly popular. In fact, we regularly sell out of the Black Mils (MPN 212100) and the wait list can sometimes be as long as a month because Athlon just can’t make them fast enough.

 

But is this just hype? Or are we actually dealing with a revolutionary optic?

 

To answer these questions, we’re going into 5 different testing categories which have a total amount of points possible each. We’ll give the scope a total amount of point earned in each category, and at the end we’ll total it up to give a final number of points out of points possible. This will also give us a solid letter grade to work with.

 

So no fluff here folks! This is the hard data. None of this is my pure opinion of the scope (although I do have one), it’s all backed up by results.

 

Let’s start with the first test:

Features Score

Some of the feedback we got from the last review was that it was too long, and I agree.

 

One of the areas I decided we could shorten it with was the Features Score. What I did here was move the Features Quality and Durability Scores into the Features Score.

 

And we also made this more objective by stacking the scope in question up with a market leader – The Vortex Razor HD Gen II, a scope that runs around $1999.99.

 

I gave the Vortex a “perfect” score on all the features, and determined a perfect score was 2. Some features had multiple features within it, and for that I gave it a 4 for a max score.

 

I then scored the Ares ETR based on whether 1) it had the feature and 2) whether this feaure lived up to the advertisement. If it missed either of these, it missed a point.

 

Here are the results:

The only thing it missed was the Edge To Edge Clarity. The ETR does get a little fuzzy at 30x.

 

But it ended up beating the Vortex when it came to elevation and windage adjustment. The ETR has 32 Mil total for both of these adjustments.

 

For that, I gave it an extra point, so 3/2. This gave it an overall features score of 44/44.

Tracking Test

We did the same tracking test as last time (only this time with Mil instead of MOA) and measured how far off the reticle was when we adjusted for 2, 4, 6 and 8 Mil, then back to zero.

 

We also added (by request) a tracking test of shooting groups at paper. 

 

For this I used my Ruger American Standard with 308 Win 150 grain (Winchester Brand) ammunition. This reliably will shoot under 0.8 Mil at 50 yards for me when I give myself 5 seconds per round.

 

This is not using a lead sled or anything, so mind you that I much prefer the machine testing. But you all wanted to see what this looks like when we shoot groups, so we shot some groups, I’m not complaining!

 

I have a set of targets that have 0.8 Mil boxes all 1 Mil from each other and basically moved turret accordingly while still mainting the center dot on the center box. I did 5 rounds,, gave myself 10 seconds to adjust the turret and aim, and I missed a point every time the round landed outside the box.

 

The results for this and the machine test are below:

We get a total of 89%, or 116.08/130.

I will say this: I think that this scope is probably the benchmark in terms of tracking and the curve setter. This test is like my physics 221 exam from college: everyone and their dog got a D, then there was that one dude who showed up having barely studied the night before and got an 89% and that was the highest grade in the class. The Ares ETR is that dude.

I want to find a better way to grade tracking, as with the current system it would be nearly impossible to get an A. That being said, this is the unobstructed data so you can see for yourself.

 

Optical Quality Test

We didn’t change anything from this test and the ETR performed miraculously, as was expected.

 

It was hard to beat the BTR in the first place, which came in with a score of 313/335 total points. But the ETR stepped up it’s game and came in with 318/335, giving it a total score of 95%, a solid A.

 

Again for this we used both the USAF 1951 Exam, and the Snelle Eye Chart to measure both resolution and practicality.

 

Conclusion

Bottom line – this is a bomb a** scope, no doubt about it. If you can stomach the $1199.99 price tag, you’re going to be very happy with the results you get.

Overall score (when weighted accordingly) was a 580.12/615, giving it a solid A.

(Note: We multiplied the features score by 2 and the tracking score by 1.5 to make it more weighted in the final score)

 

This might still be a little out of your price range, and if you’re still new to the game, then something like the Midas TAC or the Ares BTR might be more up your alley.

 

Still, if you can swing the ETR, I highly recommend getting it for your next gun build.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? I’ll take them all! Leave them below, let me know what you’re thinking and I’ll get back to you as well.

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.

The Different Athlon Spotting Scopes

The Different Athlon Spotting Scopes

This article goes into detail about different Athlon Spotting Scopes. We get questions about them all the time, and for good reason.

 

Athlon is pretty new to the game, when you compare them to a company like Vortex, Leupold or Bushnell. But with hits like the Ares ETR, Cronus BTR and Argos BTR, they’re making a pretty big name for themselves.

 

The company prides itself on it’s supply chain innovation, which drops the cost of producing high performing optics (as they claim on their website). Still, whenever you see a scope with the features of the Ares (Spotting Scope and Rifle Scope), you tend to get a little skeptical when you see the price point.

For instance, there’s plenty of reviews out there (our full review is coming soon, join our member list so you get updated) and a couple compare it to the Vortex Razor, which is twice the price!

 

What I wanted to do was not necessarily review the Ares Spotting Scope (that’s coming later) or any of the other ones, but rather take a look at some of the products they’re known for. I’m going to analyze them as just Spotting Scopes, and compare what they feature to what makes a spotting scope good.

 

This is going to make you more knowledgeable. So when you decide to buy one, borrow one, use one, whatever you want to do you will know what you’re dealing with, and can make a good decision.

Here is a full video about the article, and it goes into extensive detail about what we talk about in the article, except you get to see the different spotting scopes in action.

Let’s start with the basics.

 

What Is A Spotting Scope?

 

Let’s start with what a Spotting Scope is. Once you understand how it’s built, you can start to determine what might make the scope well built. From there, you’ll be better equipped to know what you’re looking at when you use one, or when considering buying one.

A Spotting Scope is basically a mini telescope. We call it a Spotting Scope because it’s used to “Spot” rounds, wildlife, game, etc.

 

Like we talked about in our article “What Is A Spotting Scope,” the picture on the right is probably well known to you. I mean, just turn on Shooter and you see Marky Mark as a Marine Sniper with his buddy spotting targets (aka the unlucky dudes driving in the jeeps down the road).

A Spotter spots rounds. The Shooter calls the round, and the Spotter spots where the round lands.

 

Why is this useful? Because it’s harder for you as the Shooter to spot where the round lands as you’re focused on the mechanics of making the good shot.

 

Plus as humans we can suffer from Cognitive Bias, which is a mistake made by holding onto personal beliefs, etc. And when you are performing at anything, this is huge!

 

Having someone there watching the rounds gives you two advantages:

 1) They have an outsider’s perspective of what’s going on (i.e. how you’re shooting) and can be more objective

2) They can give you corrections based on where they saw the shot land and where you called your shot to land

Now, you don’t have to have a Spotter to use a Spotting scope. I use mine by myself when I go shooting all the time. I personally like shooting alone, as it’s my time to work on something I want to get a lot better at.

 

So if you use it alone, you just point it at the target and after you make your shot, observe where it actually hit. Then do the math and make your corrections

 

What Makes A Good Spotting Scope?

 

Again, you might find it useful to know what makes for a good Spotting Scope, because then you can make decisions based on what you see and not waste money.

 

Before we determine what’s “good” or not though, let’s look at how a Spotting Scope is made.

 

Components Of A Spotting Scope

A Spotting Scope is actually multiple different parts with different functions that combine to give you the image you’re looking at. This is why they tend to be a little pricey.

The diagram below is a great representation of the different components:

It starts with the Objective Lens, which is the glass at the front of the scope. This is where light comes in.

 

For a high quality Spotting Scope, this lens is made up of ED Glass (see this article for details on ED Glass). This is important for Spotting Scopes because you want the target you’re spotting to be crystal, and I truly mean, crystal clear.

 

Imagine trying to spot a round at 1000 yards with a fuzzy image. You might miss the bullet hole!

 

That light passes through a focusing lens (usually, some models don’t have this) and then passes through a set of prisms.

 

Prisms are useful because when light enters the objective lens, it is presented inverted. What a prism does (like a Porro Prism, which is used in the Athlon Ares) is erect this image so it appears the correct way when you view it.

 

The final piece is the Ocular Lens, which takes the light from the prism assembly and presents it to your eye.

 

Good Spotting Scopes

A good Spotting Scope at a minimum will have ED Glass (Edge to Edge), the ability to focus your image, and a reticle for adjustments.

 

A reticle is helpful because, as I mentioned above, the Spotting Scope’s purpose is to help you make adjustments as you are shooting. Well a reticle inside the lens is going to help with that, don’t you think?

 

The magnification is also important. However, the magnification that will be best for you will be based on how you’re usually using it.

 

Finally, durability is extremely important.

 

The Different Athlon Spotting Scopes

Cronus Tactical

The newest one is the Cronus Tactical, which literally just came out a couple of days ago.

 

Athlon really went all out on this one, which is why it’s a bit pricey. But we’ve been using it personally out at various ranges and it is feature rich.

 

The reticle is a much appreciated new addition to the different Spotting Scopes Athlon makes. In fact this was one of the only downsides of The Ares.

This Cronus (yes there are two different types of Cronus Spotting Scopes) also has an advantage because of it’s ability to adapt to tactical accessories a it features an Embedded Picatinny Rail.

 

The only real downside to the Cronus Tactical is the price. Coming it at $1199.99, it’s double the cost of the Ares 15-45x (my own Spotting Scope). Still, it’s less than the other Cronus.

 

For those of you who love the Ares ETR, this is the spotting scope version of it!

The Ares

Boy, did they get this one right.

 

The Ares is pretty much everything you want in a spotting scope, without the insane price points most of them come with.

  • ED Glass gives you an image with little or no chromatic fringe so the final result brings an ultimate clearest and sharpest image to your eyes

 

  • ESP Dielectric Coating is a multi layer prism coating that reflects over 99% of the light to your eyes bringing you a clear, bright image that displays accurate color reproduction.

     

  • Aluminum Central Chassis

     

  • XPL Coating gives you an extra protection on the exterior lenses from dirt, oil and scratches

     

  • Bak-4 glass prisms reflect more light to your eyes which will give you brighter and sharper image.

     

  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated Lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.

     

  • Argon Purging uses the inertia gas with bigger size molecules to purge any moisture out of  the tube giving you better waterproofing and thermal stability .

It’s also built like a tank. The Ares comes with an aluminum central chassis making it virtually indestructible. You would have to really try hard to damage it.

And even if you did, Athlon’s lifetime warranty covers it.

The Talos

This is Athlon’s cheapest option in the Spotting Scope world. However, don’t let the low price make you that skeptical.

 

I mean I can’t blame anyone who does. They recently went on sale for about $150, and that’s probably less than the price of your Rifle Scope.

But still they come with a pretty sweet set of features:

  • Silver Coated K9 Prisms – all you glass snobs are gonna moan at this, I just know it. No, sadly, no Bak4 prisms, or BK7 for that matter. But for those of you that just want the job to get done, these prisms do the job just fine.
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses – remember, Spotting Scopes can lose up to 50% of the light that passes through them. Fully multi-coated glass is essential to preventing this.
  • Nitrogen Purged – gas purging is useful for making optics waterproof. Not as effective as Argon purging, but Nitrogen seals the seals (haha) and gives you a tight, waterproof optic.
  • Rotating Ring – not necessary, but handy. Makes the world of using it more comfortable than if it was just stuck in one place.
  • 20-60x80mm – a good magnification range, and a large Objective lens. This is going to let in a lot more of the outside light than the smaller Objective Lens sizes

 

And for $150, this ain’t bad! It’s missing the Bak4 prisms, the ED glass and the Argon purging of the other Athlon Spotting Scopes. But if you’re looking for that kind of quality, you better bring more than 150 bucks!

 

I own one of these myself, and I personally really like it. It’s clear at the distances I need to be clear at, and the features hold up pretty well.

The Cronus

The Cronus is different than the Cronus tactical in a few ways. For starters, it isn’t set up with a Picatinny Rail mount, rather it looks more like The Ares.

 

That and the missing reticle are the only disadvantages the Cronus has to the Cronus tactical though. It comes stock loaded with features:

  • Apochromatic Lens System Apochromatic lense system gives you the result of images which have greater contrast, sharpness and color definition

     

  • ED Glass gives you an image with little or no chromatic fringe so the final result brings an ultimate clearest and sharpest image to your eyes

     

  • ESP Dielectric Coating is a multi layer prism coating that reflects over 99% of the light to your eyes bringing you a clear, bright image that displays accurate color reproduction.

     

  • Magnesium Chassis give you the strength of a metal chassis while reducing the weight as much as 30%

     

  • XPL Coating gives you an extra protection on the exterior lenses from dirt, oil and scratches

     

  • Bak4 Prism reflect more light to your eyes which will give you brighter and sharper image.

     

  • Advanced Fully Multi-Coated Lenses gives you better light transmission to bring optimum brightness and true color across the entire light spectrum.

     

  • Argon Purging uses the inertia gas with bigger size molecules to purge any moisture out of  the tube giving you better waterproofing and thermal stability .

     

  • Dual focus has dual speed focus knobs that offer both faster and finer focus adjustment

     

  • Rotating Ring allows you to rotate the scope around tripod supporting ring into the most comfortable and convenient angle for observation

 

ESP Dielectric Coating is Athlon’s multi-layer prism coating. This is very effective for color reproduction, because it reflects up to 99% of the light coming through the lens. This combines with Bak4 prisms, making this a very effective optic.

 

Finally, the Magnesium Chassis is very welcome to a lot of hunters, as it provides the same protection a metal Chassis does but with way less weight.

 

Wrap Up

I’m more impressed with Athlon’s optics every time I use them. The Ares is comparable to the Vortex Razor, and it’s half the price.

 

They must be doing something right with the supply chain innovation they keep talking about, because it’s difficult to manufacture these puppies for the cost they do.

 

I always recommend Athlon for people who aren’t looking to spend a ton of money but want to get a good optic.

Now  I want to know: which one do YOU like? I personally own the Ares and the Talos. But who would consider the Cronus?

 

Let me know in the comments below!

SFP Vs FFP – An Objective Opinion

SFP Vs FFP – An Objective Opinion

The SFP vs FFP discussion is not like the discussion of Mil vs MOA. These two systems are built from entirely different eras in shooting, and serve two completely different purposes.SFP has been around since, basically, scopes have been around. But FFP has recently been getting hype as long range shooting has started to grow in popularity (it started in Europe, then moved here. Imagine that).Now there are a lot of folks out there who prefer SFP and buy it every time. And that’s fine.But then there are those of us who don’t like the way the reticle doesn’t adjust, and other various factors.And it’s important in the SFP vs FFP discussion to discern what is going to be your scope of choice. Why? 
 Because FFP scopes will cost more than SFP. Usually, anyways.FFP scopes are harder to manufacture. And any time you make something harder to manufacture, you make it more expensive to manufacture as well.So is it really worth the extra money to get an FFP scope? And by extra money, I mean that is sometimes doubles the price of the scope!I’m going to say something decently radical here – yes, yes it is worth the extra money.I’m not going to leave you like that though. I have my reasons, and I back up all my opinions with data not dogma.Full disclosure – I 100% prefer an FFP scope over an SFP scope (at least for long distances). But I have my reasons and this article will show you why.Without further adieu, let’s get into the thick of it.

What’s the difference between FFP and SFP?

Let’s begin to understand what the difference is between the two systems before I begin to convince you that FFP is by far the best way to go.FFP stands for First Focal Plane and SFP stands for Second Focal Plane.When dealing with an assembly like a Rifle Scope, you will have 2 different Focal Planes. Why is this?Imagine the diagram below:

This is a visual representation of what happens when light waves enter in the optical assembly.

 

When you observe any source of light, you are observing a “point source of light.” This point source of light then disperses (represented by the two different lines above, it’s not just 2 lines it’s many different lines) and these dispersions are then captured by the lens, in our case the Objective Lens.

 

What our lens does is it focuses that point source of light and the waves coming from it behind the lens. And where this cone of light converges is called the Focal Plane.

 

FFP

FFP is First Focal Plane. The First Focal Plane is the Focal Plane right behind the Objective Lens.

 

It’s called the First Focal Plane because it is the First Focal Plane in the entire Rifle Scope Assembly.

First Focal Plane Scopes are called so because the lens with the reticle on it is on the First Focal Plane.

 

What does this mean?

 

Well if you see the diagram below, you’ll see that the First Focal Plane is in front of the magnification adjustment. This means that the reticle size will get bigger whenever you adjust the magnification.

 

SFP

SFP is Second Focal Plane. It gets it’s name the same way FFP gets its name: the reticle is placed on the Second Focal Plane of the assembly.

 

And this is what makes all the difference.

 

The Second Focal Plane is between the Ocular lens of the Rifle Scope and the magnification assembly. If the reticle is placed here, what’s going to happen to the reticle as you adjust the magnification?

 

That’s right, nothing. The reticle stays the exact same size, regardless of the adjustment in magnification.

 

What this difference really means.

This is in fact not a cool feature (in long range shooting) for one main reason which gives way to many other reasons: your measurements for Mil or MOA change every time you change magnification.

 

Now this is not some subjective preference, this is the truth: when your reticle doesn’t change size with the target as you increase/decrease magnification, you lose what the original Mil/MOA was and have to recalculate.

 

So the question becomes: what the f*** is the point of having variable magnification at all then?

 

I mean I guess you can just make the commitment to not change the variable magnification if you’re confident the current magnification will be good for your uses. But how do you know it will be?

 

And again I say: what’s the point of having variable magnification?

 

Let’s look at a real world example of this:

This target is at 100 yards (we’ll keep it simple). You know 1 Mil equals 3.6 inches at 100 yards right?

 

Nope. Zoom in a bit. The picture on the right this time.

 

1 Mil is still 1/1000th of any distance, so it’s 3.6 inches. But your reticle measurements have changed! Using a reticle as an aide has almost no use in this scenario now.

 

You can’t use the reticle to measure the targets length, unless you keep it at the original magnification. When you adjust it down, you then need to calculate all over again what each hash mark represents.

What really matters in a long range shot?

But none of this matters, if it doesn’t matter in a long range shot right?

 

Well what matters in a long range shot above all is the ability to be consistent. And using an SFP scope goes against this, literally every time you use it.

 

Good long range shooters are able to take the human element out of the shot. The more you have to add in human factors, the more risk you run into when making mistakes.

 

And if you have to calculate the different Mils and MOAs at different magnifications, you just amplify that factor.

 

Whereas when using an FFP scope, you literally have none of this risk. 1 Mil/1 MOA is the same regardless of the magnification adjustment you have set.

 

For tactical uses and hunting uses this has so many more advantages than an SFP scope. True, you may not need to adjust magnification every single time, especially in shorter range shots.

 

But accuracy depends on consistency first and foremost, and SFP scopes are inconsistent just by their own design.

 

Reticle Subtensions

Complex reticle design is a huge innovation for long range shooting.

 

Observe the reticle below:

This is what’s called a Christmas Tree reticle. We can use it to easily calculate holdovers for wind. Really useful at long range!

 

What’s even more useful is the subtensions these reticles come with. By that I mean the various hash marks have constant differences between them, like 0.5 Mil, 1 MOA, etc.

 

All you do is memorize what that is for your reticle, and you’re set when going out and shooting. SFP reticles don’t have this, and aren’t really that helpful for making calculations like this.

 

Applications Where SFP Is Beneficial

In short, SFP is usually advantageous at short range, and at low magnifications.

And I consider anything from 1-6 to be a low magnification setting.

Scopes like this are usually used for tactical applications, and don’t come with the advanced reticles we use in long range shooting. For this, having consistent measurements between the hash marks on the reticle isn’t as necessary.

 

And it could be more beneficial to not have the reticle get bigger at these short distances. When it gets bigger like this, it can obscure the target.

 

For tactical shooting this could be an issue. In long range applications, we like to see the target of course but it’s more about the adjustments we make on the turrets rather than seeing every detail of the target.

 

We don’t even have to make sure the reticle is even on the target with a long range shot, as long as the adjustments were made correctly. In tactical shooting, this isn’t the case.

 

What’s your say?

Objectively speaking, FFP is the better choice in a long range shot. And by long range, I mean any time you’re going over 100 yards.

 

Some might prefer the SFP because the reticle doesn’t obscure the target or because it’s cheaper. But again, these qualities are only really beneficial in a tactical shot.

 

Anytime you go over 6 magnification, FFP should be what you’re using.

 

Leave a comment below: which do you prefer, and why? What’s your biggest reason for not choosing the other?