TESTED: The Sub-$500 Optic That Does It All

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From super-fast CQB target acquisition to impressive long-range BDC work, this “black” optic gets it done.

by the ShootingDaily staff; promoted by Vortex Optics

Black rifle enthusiasts ask more and more from their firearms these days. After exploring the many facets of the tactical platform—from CQB-only intent to long-range SPR action and everything in-between—many of us want a one-and-done gun to comfortably settle on. In short, we want a capable door-kicker to sit in the corner or stow in the truck that will still knock steel or drop varmints off in the distance. Getting a rifle so-configured isn’t a difficult task but finding that one broad skill-set optic…that can be a challenge.

We may have found that elusive optic in the form of the Vortex Optics Strike Eagle in 1-8x24mm trim.

Initially, we set out to find an optic suitable for our recent AKM build. Since we built (or rebuilt) the Mod 63 chambered in 7.62x39mm, long-range precision was never on the menu. We wanted a “truck gun” that could withstand hard living, be mobile enough to serve SHTF duty, yet stand ready to hunt deer or hogs, or to deploy as a pest-control unit. For all of this, the Strike Eagle spoke to us.


Measuring 10 inches in length, the Strike Eagle, affixed to the Vortex Sport Cantilever 30mm mount, proved just the right size for the AKM. The side rail mount system, however, combined with the Sport Cantilever mount meant a “chin weld” instead of the infinitely more desirable cheek weld (such is the struggle of the AKM shooter). In other words, the scope-to-bore height on our configuration was downright stratospheric. Challenging? Yes, but nothing insurmountable. Still, ten-ring dinging at 500 yards was not what we were looking to accomplish. Like a growing number of “been there, done that” tactical rifle shooters, we wanted close-up to mid-range accuracy combined with lightning-quick target acquisition. And that is what the Strike Eagle is all about.

The Strike Eagle is available in four models: 4-24×50, 3-18×44, 1-8×24, and 1-6×24. For the black rifle crowd, the latter two models fill the bill nicely. These feature a true 1X low setting that is ideal for super-fast, close-quarter target acquisition. Both come with a dedicated AR bullet drop compensating reticle design—the AR-BDC for the 1-6×24 or the AR-BDC2 for the 1-8×24. The reticles are glass-etched on the second focal plane, so the durability is there and the subtensions don’t obliterate the target when you ramp up magnification.


As you can see, the AR-BDC2’s center target dot is 1 MOA and is surrounded by a halo ring. At close ranges and at low magnification, the scope essentially acts as a “quick-on” red dot or holo sight. That’s exactly what we want for the CQB side of the equation.


The AR-BDC2 subtends for the 5.56mm and .223 cartridges, but the operation manual also lays out the corresponding bullet drop compensation for the 7.62mm/.308 WIN. Pick your flavor, the Strike Eagle has you covered. Zero is 50/200 yards and 30/200 yards, respectively. This gives you a center dot and sub-crosshairs to engage targets from point-blank out to 600 yards. That’s ample coverage for any black gun intended for CQB to medium-range work. For 3-gun competition, the Strike Eagle stands ready for the most challenging courses. If these don’t work for your rounds, Vortex has their online LBRC (Long Range Ballistics Calculator) that lets you correlate your bullet drop to the AR-BDC2 reticle.

Should you prefer to dial-in your bullet drop or wind drift, the re-set elevation and windage turrets offer simple adjustment once the scope has been zeroed. An indexing slot allows you to set the dial to zero once you’re sighted in. The clicks are scaled to 1/2 MOA, so merely rotate the knobs to set your drop and wind drift and make the shot. To return the scope to zero, count back the clicks or align the turret’s “0” index to the reference dot on the turret base. Simple.


Built on a single-piece aircraft-grade 30mm aluminum tube platform, the Strike Eagle includes multiple anti-reflective coatings on all air-to-glass surfaces and features fully multi-coated lenses. It’s O-ring-sealed and nitrogen gas-purged to keep the scope dry and dust-free on the inside, and the shockproof construction dressed in a hard-anodized black matte finish checks “robust and durable” off the must-have list.

Of course, should things should get too rough in the Jeep or in the field and the scope is damaged, we take comfort in the fact that it’s covered under the industry best Vortex VIP Warranty. No-fault, no charge, no receipt, no warranty card…no problem. Vortex will repair or replace this or any damaged or defective product under their transferable VIP Warranty.


Although we’re going to have to address our elevated scope-to-bore height with a lower side rail/mount configuration rather soon, that did not prevent the Strike Eagle from validating our optic choice. For close-quarter, multi-target steel work, the scope set at 1X was a high-five all around. Getting on target proved quick, and the combination target dot and halo ring gives the kind of “intuitive centering” we’ve always appreciated in our holo tactical sights. When stretching out the distance, the Strike Eagle’s performance far exceeds our AKM’s accuracy potential. (In this regard, we could better challenge the Strike Eagle’s capabilities were we to shift it over to one of our AR-15s.) That said, the 1 MOA target dot is a big assist when shooting in the 100 yards-plus range.


Another feature we appreciate in a multi-role optic such as this is reticle illumination, and the Strike Eagle has it. The adjustment knob is located on the left and includes 11 illumination settings to match most ambient light/target conditions. This will come in especially handy once we hit the hog fields. Also, a spare-battery slot is in the windage turret cap, so we’ll never be without power.

Having been knocking the AKM around the range with open sights for the last several months to get the rifle comfortably worn in and to prove its reliability, a multi-scenario optic was the next logical upgrade. So far, the Strike Eagle is fulfilling its mission.


If you, too, have been considering an optic that covers both CQB and long-range shooting—and does it in a hurry—we recommend you give the Strike Eagle 1-8×24 a close look.

Vortex Strike Eagle 1-8×24 Specs

  • Magnification: 1-8 x
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 24 mm
  • Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
  • Field of View: 116.6-14.4 feet/100 yards
  • Tube Size: 30 mm
  • Turret Style: Capped
  • Adjustment Graduation: 1/2 MOA
  • Travel per Rotation: 44 MOA
  • Max Elevation Adjustment: 100 MOA
  • Max Windage Adjustment: 100 MOA
  • Parallax Setting: 100 yards
  • Length: 10 inches
  • Weight: 16.5 ounces



Vortex Optics


article copyright © 2018 ShootingDaily.com; promoted by Vortex Optics

Although Vortex Optics is one of our sponsors, the views expressed in this article are those of the author. ShootingDaily.com receives compensation from Vortex Optics in various forms to help promote their products.