A Quality, Affordable Scope Perfect For The
Modern Sporting Rifle.
I’ve been looking for a versatile sight for my Stagarms rifle, something suitable for everything from 3-gun competition to prairie dog shooting. Redfield’s new Battlezone scope has everything I need except the name. The only “battles” I fight are with excess calories.
The Battlezone is a 3-9×42 variable. As with all new scopes the first step was a half-hour soak in warm water followed by a refreshing night in the deep freeze. No leaks, no fogging, and after it had warmed up and the frost was gone, the scope looked like new.
Focus is with a fast-twist eyepiece. Movement is smooth, but stiff enough it is unlikely to be moved unintentionally. Personally I can’t say I care one way or another how a scope focuses as long as I can set it to suit my vision. For a scope which may be used by several shooters, a police department for example, fast focus for individual eyesight is a worthwhile feature.
The scope comes with turrets allowing quick adjustment for range and windage. The elevation turret is similar in concept to the Leupold CDS (custom dial system). Rather than having the Leupold custom shop mark the dial for your specific load, the Battlezone comes with two custom elevation dials.
One is matched to the trajectory of the .223 Rem, 55-grain FMJ load at 3,100 fps. It can be easily replaced with the second, which is matched to the trajectory of the popular .308 Win load using a 168-grain at 2,650 fps. For my purposes, primarily varmint shooting, I wanted to use expanding bullets in a .223.
Cold and snowy, but a rare day with virtually no wind (above). The Black Hills loads with 50-grain Hornady V-Max bullet have a trajectory curve almost identical to the .223 dial for 55-grain FMJ at 3,100 fps load on the Redfield Battlezone scope. It was a simple procedure to laser a target, spin the elevation turret, and make first-shot hits. The Redfield Battlezone was mounted on a Stagarms 5.56mm rifle (below), using high Weaver rings. High rings worked just right to attach the Battlezone scope to the Picatinny rail on the rifle. Adjustment turrets are knurled, large enough for fast and easy adjustments, and clearly marked with information on yardage, direction, and click values. Finish is a low-luster matte, a nice match for the rifle.
A very accurate load in the Stagarms rifle is from Black Hills, the 50-grain Hornady V-Max rated at 3,300 fps. The ballistic coefficient of this bullet (0.242) is fairly close to the BC of most 55-grain FMJ bullets. Hornady’s 55-grain FMJBT, for example, has a BC of 0.243.
Factory velocity of the Black Hills 50-grain V-Max load is taken in 24-inch barrels and in the 16-inch barrel of my rifle average close to 3,100 fps over the Oehler 35P chronograph.
In theory the trajectory of these loads should match up well with the .223 dial. I was pleased to find what worked in theory also worked in practice. After carefully sighting to hit center at 100 yards, I reset the turrets so the windage read zero, the elevation turret 100. The longest range with a dial marking is 500 yards but if you don’t mind counting clicks you can engage targets at longer ranges.
Resetting is simple, just lift the turret, turn it to the desired setting and push down. From the shooting bench I lasered a couple of 8-inch steel targets at 245 and 425 yards. There wasn’t a 500-yard target visible due to snow, but I found a black stump sticking up from a snow-covered hillside at 505 yards.
Then using the elevation turret I went from target to target: 100, 245, 425, 505, back to 100, going around five times until the 20-shot magazine ran dry. The good news? Every shot was a hit. More good news? The 5-shot group on paper was about 1.2 inches, just slightly larger than the original 5-shot, sighting-in group.
The bad news? Actually there is no bad news. The scope performed exactly as it was supposed to, its optics are bright and crisp, all adjustments operated with smooth precision. Frankly it is astounding Redfield can provide such quality and utility for such a modest price.
Incidentally just because you may prefer a different load with somewhat different trajectory doesn’t mean the Battlezone can’t be made to work. If using a different load I’d carefully sight in at 500 yards and set the turret to read 500. Then shoot at 100, 200, 300, and 400 yards with the turret set for those ranges. Point-of-impact will likely be close enough for practical purposes, while you’ll still have maximum precision out where it is needed.
The TAC MOA reticle has hash marks spaced at 2-MOA intervals along the vertical and horizontal crosswires. These are useful for fast adjustments for wind or elevation if there isn’t the time or inclination to use the turrets, and if target size is known, can be used for range estimation. MOA hashmarks are what you want if you have MOA turrets.
The Redfield Battlezone 3-9×42 scope (above) has a fast-focus eyepiece. Movement is smooth, but stiff enough it is unlikely to be moved unintentionally. Turrets on the Redfield Battezone (below) are “just right” sized, big enough for easy adjustment, not so big as to be vulnerable to damage. The elevation turret shows the trajectory of the bullet/velocity for which it is matched. A second turret matched to the .308 Win using a 168-grain match bullet at 2,650 fps is provided and readily interchanged.
Personally I think laser rangefinders are so superior it has largely become a waste of time to learn ranging using MOA or Mil-Dots. It’s kind of like learning to use a slide rule after electronic calculators became available, or learning film processing and enlarger printing in an era of digital photography.
The remaining question is durability. Top-line tactical scopes can easily cost five or 10 times as much as the Battlezone. Common sense says their overall construction and adjustments have to be tougher and more durable.
I don’t know how long the Battlezone adjustment system will last. I do know (1) adjustments on the test scope are accurate, and (2) Redfield has enough confidence in the scope to provide what they call a “no excuses” warranty: to quote, “If you have a problem with your Redfield product, we will make it right. No hassles, no excuses.”
Realistically I doubt Redfield expects the Battlezone to be adopted by the military. It isn’t expensive enough for one thing, plus the military prefers mil dots/mil adjustment turrets. I can see it being of interest to city police and county sheriff offices, always concerned about budget, and looking for quality and value.
For my purposes—plinking, informal target shooting, varmint shooting, 3-gun competition—the Battlezone scope matches up beautifully with an AR rifle. It is a pleasure to use and an exceptionally good buy.
By Dave Anderson
515 John Downey Dr., New Britain, CT 06051