I have been using a quality red dot sight for many years on my AR-15 platform. But I've found that although this style of sight allows me a fast target acquisition for close-quarter battle (CQB), I lose the ability for precision shooting past 100 yards when using it. My red dot sight has a 4-MOA dot, meaning it covers about 4 inches at 100 yards, or 8 inches at 200 yards and so on. My AR platform will consistently shoot better than 1 minute-of-angle (MOA), meaning it could shoot within an inch or less at 100 yards. It is difficult to maintain that precision when your sight covers a 4-inch circle at 100 yards.
So I was always disappointed with the compromise of the speed of target acquisition vs. target precision. I even considered building a second rifle for the longer shot potential. But who wants to carry two patrol rifles?
Then I was browsing the Web for a quality scope for one of my hunting rifles when I found the Phantom series tactical scope from Shepherd Scopes. I was immediately intrigued with what I saw. I had used a Shepherd scope before, and I have long been impressed with the quality of the optics in these sighting systems.
I called Shepherd Scopes and spoke with Patrick Bass, VP, and he provided me with everything that I needed to know concerning the Phantom T2 and Shepherd's proprietary tactical cradle mount, which he suggested I use. Two days later the scope and mount were delivered to my door.
Shepherd's Phantom 1-6X24 T2 tactical scope was designed to be fast and versatile. The illuminated first focal plane reticle gives you the speed of a halo sight at 1 power and a variable power magnification adjustment up to 6 power. This scope allows you to choose the sight/optics system that will provide a lighted halo for CQB, and a crosshair-style reticle at higher magnification levels to identify and engage the longer-range targets. The benefits of the higher magnification are many, including scouting, intelligence gathering, and target acquisition. Observing the distant subject to determine if the target in question is armed or not will provide the correct information for the shoot-don't-shoot decision. Past 30 yards it is sometimes difficult to see small objects or weapons with the naked eye.
Like the Shepherd Scopes that I have used before, the Phantom T2 includes the one-step range finding and bullet drop compensation system (BDC) The reticle features a series of circles spaced vertically below the horizontal crosshair. The circles vary correctly in size for 18 inches of subtension at increasing, corresponding range distances. These circles are spaced in accordance with the trajectory (drop) of the specific bullet fired. In the case of the Phantom T2, the trajectory is tuned for the .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO. The circles and the target are viewed in the same (first) focal plane, so the ranging system size does not change when the magnification is changed.
This is how simple the ranging/targeting system works. The weapon system is zeroed dead-on at 100 yards. Let's say for example, your target (18-inch area) fits inside the 400-yard circle, you not only have the range, but you are ready to squeeze the trigger, since that circle is also used for aiming at that distance. For reference, a standard NRA B-29 silhouette qualification target has a 21-inch width. From the center of the head to the center of the target (eyes to the X ring) is 17 inches. There are 1 MOA-style markings on both the horizontal and vertical stadia to use for windage compensation and measuring the size of distant targets.
The Phantom T2 rifle scope is well suited for use on AR-15, AR-10, M4, and AK-47 weapon platforms because its T2 BDC matches well with the 5.56 NATO, 7.62 NATO, .223 and .308 ballistics. If you are using hand-loads with ballistics that differ from the published charts simply change your zero at 100 yards to compensate for the change in drop. You should check your downrange performance to ensure your point of impact.
I was impressed with the quality of this scope. The machining and fit and finish were indicative of superior quality. The focus ring or the ocular lens adjustment is smooth and enables operators with corrective lenses to clearly see the reticles with or without visual aids. The power adjusting ring turns smoothly throughout all magnification power levels with no drag or perceived resistance. The power ring has a machined "nub" that is ergonomically positioned so you can "feel" the position and selection of the variable magnification from 1 through 6 power without actually looking at the ring.
Shepherd Scopes' tactical cradle mount fit perfectly to the flat top rail on my Colt A-3. The front top rings are secured with six screws and the rear uses four screws to hold the 30mm tube of the scope. Eye relief is ideal for a forward mounted "scout" style scope.
And when properly installed the mount is guaranteed to hold your zero, within 0.5 MOA when you take your scope off and put it back on your rifle. An anti-cant bubble level is built into the base of the one-piece mount. The mount is covered by Shepherd's no B.S. lifetime warranty; no receipt, no original owner registration required. If it fails send it back. (I doubt you will never need to do so.)
After a quick bore sighting and a few shots at 25 yards, I was soon able to zero the scope with the 0.5 MOA turret windage and elevation adjustment knobs. The final zero was at 100 yards. The knobs turn easily and have the feel for each click so you know exactly when they move. The knobs are pop-up style turret so you can set and return to your zero each time you change the scope's adjustment.
I fired a few rounds at each of the six magnification powers and found the scope to be parallax free out to 100 yards. At close range in the lower magnifications provided the scope was true and fast. The impact was predictably lower at 50 yards mimicking the trajectory charts for the 55-grain .223 ammo that I was using.
The "square test" was next. This is accomplished by adjusting the elevation and windage a specific number of clicks to create a square by holding on the center but causing the impact of the rounds to hit each of the four corners of the target. Repeating each adjustment and shooting one round for each corner, tests the runout of the internals. The resulting size of each group is indicative of the reliability of the scope's adjustment.
Finally, I waited until evening and ran the weapon system through some limited/diminished light drills. The light-gathering capability of the glass was better than I expected for a 24mm objective lens. And when I switched on the illuminated sight, I found the scope's performance to be awesome. The red ring found the target faster than I could have with open sights. The illumination of the crosshairs and reticle ranging circles provided an effective sight picture at 6 power as well. The illumination is powered by a CR2032 lithium Ion battery that has a life of up to 8,000 hours. The illumination has a variety of power levels with an "off" position between each level. The switch is built into the side turret.
Sharp and Clear
Shepherd Scopes are constructed with 6061 T-6 anodized aluminum 30mm tubes and PVD multi-layer coated HD optics. The Phantom T2 scope delivers quality, sharp, clear images through all magnifications and fields of view. The published specifications show a field of view of 90 feet at 1x and 15.7 feet at 6x through the 24mm objective lens.
The Phantom series scopes are built to the same high quality standards as are all of the Shepherd's line of optics. The lenses and scopes are American made and assembled in Florida. Shepherd Scopes has a complete line of optics and accessories for law enforcement, military, and sporting applications.
The addition of the Phantom T2 to my AR was fast and simple. It compliments my patrol and shooting style. I now have the benefit of an illuminated ghost ring for close encounters and downrange capabilities by hundreds of yards. The price point is in line with an optic of this quality and features.
Douglas Fishel is a veteran police officer working in south central Pennsylvania. He has served in law enforcement for more than 25 years and is an avid shooter and hunter.