Hey all, just received my cheap scope for my AR-15. I bought it from Valhalla Armory (3-9X42 Ultimate AR-15 Scope
Why did I buy a scope that I knew was cheap? Well, for 3 reasons, actually.
First, I had a budget of $200. Now, I know decent quality scopes can be found in this price range, but none that really wowed my socks off.
Second, I really wanted a variable power scope and 90% of the scopes in my price range weren't.
Third, Valhalla Armory has a no hassle return policy! "What if I purchase this scope and don't like it? > No problem? Just let us know and we'll send you a return label and give you a full refund! No questions asked and no hassle!"
This isn't really one scope, but rather a package Valhalla puts together. It's an NCStar Mark III 3-9x42 illuminating reticle scope with an AIM-brand Red Dot and an NCStar aluminum red dot mount. Now I've heard people who love their NCStar scopes and people who bash them to hell. I'm an adventurous type so I figured I'll give 'em a fair shot (ok, Valhalla's return policy went a long way to making me adventurous).
The scope's not terribly made but you can tell just by the finish that it's a $135 scope. The mount is surprisingly solid, and has a quick release lever which doesn't release quite as quickly as I would have liked - flip it and you'll still have to see-saw the scope off a bit. But not too bad. I like the way it looks on the gun as well. It's kind of got a Fakeog look to it, but one of the reasons I liked it was that it didn't try too hard to imitate, and kept the lines relatively simple and clean. The red dot seems to have a slightly better finish and seems solid.
The scope and red dot both came with covers, nothing spectacular but nice that I don't have to try and find some Wal-mart specials to cover it with. Both scope and red dot came spare batteries (which is good because the red dot was almost dead). The red dot mount that was supplied with this set was a little perplexing - it has 2 mounting rails, but having the second rail interferes with the ability to adjust the power on the scope. I would have rather had the single rail mount displayed on Valhalla's site (they also display the 2 rail version in some pictures so I kind of figured it was a toss-up which one I'd get).
The reticle in the scope illuminates either green or red and is surprisingly bright - the pics only kind of capture it. I am almost thinking it may be too bright and cover up too much of the target... but the light can be shut off and the simple black mil-dot reticle remains. The optics aren't bad - not foggy but not as crisp as the Leupolds or Nikons I've used.
The red dot's window seems to be well done, it's clear and gives a crisp dot. The whole unit (scope, mount, dot) SEEMS to be sturdy enough to handle .223 recoil. I wouldn't be as confident if I were mounting it on a .308 though. The biggest complaint I've heard about NCStar scopes is that they don't hold a zero during fire. Whether this is because some idiot mounted one to his .30-06 and expected it to perform like a $1000 scope ... I can't say.
I'm hitting the range this weekend and will be shooting out to 50 yards - I'll report back with how this scope performs. The 100 yard test will come if/when I decide to keep the scope.
Yes, I know it's a cheap scope. I admitted it in the beginning. Yes, I know it's not going to hold up like an Eotech, Aimpoint, or Trijicon.
No, I don't plan on going to war or participating in urban combat any time soon.
I plan on putting an Eotech+3x magnifier on this rifle if it turns out to be a decent shooter. Then this scope will likely go live on a rimfire, for which it should be more than adequate.