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Reviewed and Tested Tough: Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 Riflescope

This affordable long-range riflescope hosts impressive features.

Reviewed and Tested Tough: Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 Riflescope
(Photo courtesy of Colton Bagnoli)

With current trends in long-range shooting constantly on the rise, customers are demanding first-focal-plane optics, exposed turrets and milliradian-based reticles at nearly every price point imaginable. Historically, the majority of high-end optics held all the bells and whistles leaving many affordable price point optics with capped turrets and duplex reticles. As demand increased and companies began growing their product lines to meet the shooter’s needs, we are now seeing quality rifle optics with many great features to meet nearly every budget. Sightmark delivered their Presidio 3-18x50 LR2 rifle optic to meet the sub $400 market with some big features at a price many novice and experienced shooters can appreciate.

The Foundation

riflescope tube
(Photo courtesy of Colton Bagnoli)

Every great rifle optics begins with a quality main tube and the Presidio is no different. The engineers at Sightmark started out with a one-piece, aircraft aluminum 30mm main tube to build a robust housing which would also allow the erector to have 26 milliradian or MRADs of adjustment in the turrets. Similar to minutes of angle or MOA, MRADs are an angular unit of measurement based on .10 centimeters per click, rather than the traditional MOA, which is .25 inches per click. This large amount of adjustment in the main tube allows you to reach out to the furthest target at the range. The aluminum tube and all exposed aluminum parts are finished with a hard anodizing to ensure a durable product that will resist scratches and reasonable impacts during normal use. The finish is a matte-black anodizing that will match many of the matte-finished rings available on the market to keep your setup looking sharp. After the finish is applied and assembled, the entire scope tube is sealed and IP67 rated to be waterproof and dust-proof to keep the internal parts running properly.

Glass and Coatings

One of the most important features of a scope is the glass and coatings used to allow maximum color, brightness and image quality. Crisp, clear and bright imaging is key to precision shooting at long range. You can’t shoot what you can’t see. During my evaluation, the Presidio's optical glass and coatings offered good color and brightness for the price point that was similar in quality to rifle scopes with a slightly higher price tag. The multi-coated lenses offer ample light for shooting in early morning and evening, most commonly successful hunting times, without the image being too dark to distinguish the target.

LR2 Reticle

reticle
(Photo courtesy of Sightmark)

The reticle in every modern rifle scope is etched into one of the many lenses found inside the rifle optic. The first-focal-plane reticle is the preferred choice for many precision shooters, as the subtensions or “hash marks” in the reticle are designed to stay the same value regardless of the power magnification. The second-focal-plane reticle doesn’t change size with the magnification meaning the value of each tension changes from low to high power and requires special attention for long-range shooting unless the rifle optic is on the highest magnification allowable for each shot. While both have their place in a variety of applications, most long-range shooting schools require students to have a first-focal-plane (or FFP) to ensure the same instruction reaches each student.

A first-focal-plane reticle allows the shooter to use holdovers and wind holds with the same value regardless of power range. This is most useful when a shooter comes off max power to engage a small target at distance and needs to ensure they follow the trace of the bullet to spot their impact, which can be very difficult on max power depending on the shot distance. Backing off the power will allow the shooter a wider field of view to spot the trace and make a quicker follow-up shot in the event their wind call is off slightly. A second-focal-plane reticle doesn’t offer the same flexibility when using the reticle to do holdovers, hold wind or measure a target with the reticle.

Wind on the Fly

The LR2 reticle in the Presidio optic has .5 MRAD spacings between each hash mark of the horizontal and vertical stadia. Every other hash line is larger in size and designates 1 MRAD for 10 MRAD in elevation for holdovers and 9 MRAD in windage on either side of the reticle for wind holds. The most common practice for long-range shooting is dialing the elevation for your bullets' predicted drop to the target and then holding the wind, most commonly .10 - 1.0 MRAD of wind. When shooting in high, sustained winds requiring 1 MRAD or more, many shooters often will dial 1 MRAD of wind and then hold the remainder in the reticle. For holding less than .5 MRAD, shooters can use the LR2 reticle to bracket or split the hash marks over the target to achieve a .25 MRAD hold. The LR2 reticle has .10 MRAD hash marks on the far ends of the horizontal stadia and on the top of the vertical stadia. These would be the most accurate places to use the reticle for measuring a target to estimate its range.

Illumination

level bubble and turrets
(Photo courtesy of Colton Bagnoli)

The LR2 reticle is illuminated throughout the entire reticle and allows the shooter to select the correct brightness by dialing the knob on the left side of the scope through the parallax adjustment turret. Having the entire reticle illuminated allows the shooter full use of the reticle in low-light conditions or when shooting on a dark-colored target where a standard dark reticle may be difficult to distinguish the reticle against the target. Powered by a single CR 2032 battery, easily installed by removing the cap, the illuminated reticle has a battery life and operating use varying from 150-500 hours depending on the setting the reticle is being used on. The adjustment knob for the illumination has six intensities to select the proper brightness with an off position between each intensity. This makes it nice to find the brightness you like, then go one click off to turn it off instead of rolling the wheel like a Rolodex to turn it off when you're done only to wind it back up to find your sweet spot.

Turret Design and Tracking

The Presidio 3-18 optic features exposed turrets for both elevation and windage to allow the shooter the ability to make adjustments to their point of impact down range in .10 MRAD clicks without removing caps to adjust. With a total of 26 MRAD of vertical adjustment, shooters can easily reach beyond 1,000 yards when shooting an efficient cartridge. Many new shooters wanting to shoot long range often overlook the scopes vertical adjustment range and come up short. The Presidio has plenty of room and I had enough dial to reach out on steel targets at 1,000 yards with a custom rifle chambered in 6.8 Western, shooting Berger 170-grain EOL projectiles in handloaded ammunition. While first focal-plane is a feature long-range shooters seek, a zero stop is also an important feature the long-range shooter wants. The Presidio comes with an internal zero stop.

Scoped rifle on bipod
(Photo courtesy of Colton Bagnoli)

The exposed turrets are held to the internal spindle with three small 1.5 mm Allen screws at the 1.5, 5 and 8 MRAD markers on the turret. Loosening these screws allows the shooter to “slip” the turret to reset the zero after sighting in the rifle. Re-tightening these screws only requires the tension used by holding the Allen screw by the shorter end while using the longer end of the Allen wrench to insert into the Allen screw. Using the Allen wrench in this manner reduces over-torquing the screw as you can only apply so much force by holding onto the short end. The simple turret design is a great way to be introduced to exposed turrets and dialing data for shooting at extended distances. The turret clicks or the tension on the turret between engagements can vary from soft to firm depending on the manufacturer. Too soft and you can accidentally move the turret when you do not want it to move, too firm and you can find it difficult to be deliberate and concise when you're working under pressure. I found the Presidio to be a perfect tension allowing a crisp and firm click between marks, allowing me to be precise with my adjustments without having to take my face off the rifle to look at the turret to make an adjustment. I can simply take a shot and make the correct adjustment based on where the bullet impacted the plate without ever taking my face off the rifle. Being able to feel and count the direct “click” of the turret is a feature to be admired in any rifle optic regardless of price.

Zoom Magnification

zoom range of scope
(Photo courtesy of Colton Bagnoli)

The ocular lens of a rifle scope is the portion of the optic you look through to shoot which houses the zoom magnification adjustment for the variable power. These zoom rings incorporate some form of texture or machining to add grip so the user can easily adjust the power up or down based on what they need at the time of the shot. The Presidio features angled grooves machined into the adjustment wheel which are just enough to adjust the wheel and nothing more. The wheel has a raised portion at the 8x zoom which offers a great position for your index finger to roll the zoom up from 3x up to 18x and your thumb to push the zoom down from 18x back to 3x with ease. These small ergonomic features aren't just by chance, they are purpose-driven additions to positively increase the user's interface with the optic.

Final Thoughts

After several range sessions with the Presidio 3-18, I was pleased with the optics features and overall performance. At first glance, I figured the optic to be in the $800-1,000 price range based on my initial impressions after opening the box and mounting the optic on a rifle, only to find out it held an MSRP price of $400. Sightmark did a great job incorporating high-end features and esthetics into a budget-friendly optic that creates great value for anyone looking to upgrade their optic for hunting and target shooting without breaking the bank while still maintaining key features. So often, companies trying to make budget optics cut out features that shooters really want just so they can make a price point. Sightmark listened to the market and delivered a budget friendly optic, while incorporating in-demand features for the precision shooter and hunter alike.

Sightmark Presidio 3-18x50 LRC Riflescope Technical Specs

  • Magnification: 3-18x
  • Objective Diameter: 50mm
  • Eye Relief: 3.8 Inches
  • Field of View: (ft. @ 100 yards) 36.7 ft. at 3x, 6.1 ft. at 18x
  • Tube Diameter: 30mm
  • Click Adjustment: 1/10th Mrad
  • Windage Adjustment: 26 Mrad
  • Elevation Adjustment Range: 26 Mrad
  • Illuminated Reticle Battery: CR2032
  • Battery Life: 150+ Hours
  • Optic Length: 13 in.
  • Optic Height: 2.93 in.
  • Optic Width: 3.75 in.
  • Optic Weight: 30.8 oz. 
  • Website: www.sightmark.com



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