I’ve had a popular first focal plane 4-16 optic on my rifle for a few years now. Anyone not living under a rock knows that FFP scopes are all the rage right now. But are they right for you? Well, maybe, maybe not. In my case, I’ve found the reticle just a little on the faint side when used at 4x. Since the reticle is in front of the glass elements that move inside of the tube, the reticle changes size in proportion to the magnification of the scope. At higher magnification settings this is most certainly not an issue-- the reticle is clear and bright and all of the reticle’s features are visible and usable. But what I’ve discovered while shooting and hunting is at 4X and in lower light conditions common to our thick Ozark woods, I just can’t find the reticle as fast as I’d like.
When shooting in brighter conditions, or if this scope had an illuminated reticle, maybe this wouldn’t be a problem. But as it is, this scope, while performing well, is just not proving to be the end-all optic I had hoped it would be. But it just so happens that in the time since I purchased the FFP scope, Axeon Optics released the 4-16X50 Dog Soldier Predator Scope.
Is Second or First Focal Plane Right for You?
The Dog Soldier Scope uses the traditional Second Focal Plane mil-dot style reticle. This sized-just-right reticle is illuminated in either red or green and has six power settings for each color. Of course its also perfectly usable without any illumination, which works just fine for me in nearly any situation. What would I be missing out on by switching to the Dog Soldier scope? As it turns out, not much actually. In all truth I don’t really shoot beyond 300 yards. The longest range available to me is 300 yards. There's really no need to range and not much in hold-over that needs to be accounted for at these sub-300 yards ranges common to this region. Yes, there is some drop that needs to be accounted for, but I am only going to be shooting at certain things: medium or large game and steel targets. My steel targets aren’t growing and I’ll not be shooting at deer, hogs, or coyotes outside of 100 yards, so the appeal of an FFP optic is a bit diminished for me in the capacity of a hunting optic. Your mileage may vary, as the old saying goes.
Experience with my FFP scope has proved to me that it is something I can live without for general purpose shooting and hunting in the close woods of the Ozark Mountains. Practical use in my environment makes an optic like the Dog Soldier Predator Scope a better choice for my 18” AR platform rifle. With all this in mind, I recently loosened the caps on my Rock River one piece scope mount to remove the FFP scope and install the Axeon Dog Soldier Predator scope.
What about the Scope’s Reticle
The reticle used in the Dog Soldier Predator Scope is a modified mil-dot style reticle. At 10X the space between each dot is 1 MIL or 3.6 MOA. There are hashes between each dot that split the difference to make a .5 MIL or 1.8 MOA increment. With this knowledge you can use the reticle to range and assist with hold-overs for extended shooting. The easiest way to range with this SFP optic is to set the magnification to 10X. At this magnification, the subtensions in the reticle are spot on for ranging. You can range at other magnification settings, but there is a little math involved. To make the math as simple as possible, head to 5X and double the figure of the 10X subtension settings mentioned above.. In this case, 1 MIL (3.6 MOA) becomes .5 MIL or 1.8 MOA. If shooting at 16X, divide by 1.6 (1/1.6) to get .625 MIL or 2.25 MOA.
The Rifle Scopes Side by Side
That’s all well and good, but how does it compare to the other scope? The Dog Soldier scope is about the same weight but it is about ¾” shorter. Honestly, on the rifle I couldn’t tell a difference in the way it felt or mounted so I would mark this up as nothing lost or gained. The objective lens of the Dog Soldier scope is 6mm larger, so this does figure into a slightly larger exit pupil (objective lens size/scope magnification setting=XX mm circle that the light is passing through). The eye relief is virtually identical so there was no need to move the mount from its location on the optics rail. Once again the basic parameters between the two scopes are very similar. Where the Dog Soldier Scope really shines is for hunting and shooting close range and out to intermediate distances, especially in adverse lighting conditions.
I’ve noticed how much easier it is to get on the reticle with the Dog Soldier scope. The reticle just jumps out, but does so without getting in the way. Even without turning the illumination the reticle is easy to pick up at dusk or daybreak. But since the illumination is there, I might as well use it! All that is needed is the lower power settings to make the reticle really pop in lower light.
Transitioning to this optic has been easy. I honestly thought that I would miss the FFP scope, but I have not, especially since I hardly ever take the magnification setting off of 4X when hunting. The glass is clear and bright with good contrast, at least as good if not better than that of the scope I just replaced. Take a closer look at the Dog Soldier 4-16X50 scope and see if it might just be the right choice for your hunting rifle or range blaster.
Mark Davis, avid outdoorsman, family man, and outdoors writer is the social media specialist for Axeon Optics.