For many experienced hunters, the scopes under a thousand dollars are often seen as models for beginners or the very budget-oriented people. Still, there are a few exceptions in that price range that are good enough for seasoned shooters. One of those exceptions is the model I am going to talk about now in this Athlon Optics Ares BTR review. It isn’t something extraordinary yet it is everything you’d expect out of a scope for that price. This is why I decided to include it on my list when I picked 6 of the best scopes for 308 rifles.
The “Ares” rifle scope is as close you can get to the complete package of features when it comes to rifle optics. The only notable downside to it is that it simply isn’t cheap no matter your experience as a hunter. Some people would rather spend their money on a better rifle or other accessories but for those that want to spend a little extra on a scope with excellent clarity, good adjustments, a good first focal plane reticle, and sturdy construction – this is a proper choice.
Athlon Ares BTR Features
Some of the best features that stand out the most about this scope are its magnification, the crystal clear view out of it, and the way it performs out in the open. Let’s start with the most important of those now.
The range on this scope is amazing and is what I consider one of the most versatile on the market. Having a scope that can go from 4.5x to 27x is something often overlooked. It basically gives you capabilities of shooting close-range targets as well as ones more than 700-800 yards away from you. Unlike other scopes in this class, it handles adjustments pretty well and tracks accurately even at the longest distances.
This isn’t going to come into play when you are out hunting, of course, but it shows how versatile the model is, as it can be used both by hunters and shooters in general.
To complement the magnification there also is a fast-focus eyepiece here. These diopter settings allow people with glasses to shoot without them by doing the corrections in the eyepiece itself. A few other things make shooting with the “Ares” easy, such as its detailed reticle and the clarity of the lenses…
This scope utilizes the latest Athlon Optics mil reticle in the face of the Athlon Ares BTR First focal plane illuminated reticle or APLR3 FFP IR MOA. Like any other first focal plane riflescope reticle, it shrinks and grows throughout the magnification range with the target you have locked in.
The illuminated reticle feature means that you will be able to take this scope for some night hunting. You can learn how to hunt coyotes at night by reading my article on that topic in Jack’s Hunting Tips section of the site!
There are 1 MOA hash mark increments, complimented with drop-lines in 5 MOA increments down all the way to 40 MOA. Both of these features allow you to lock in your target and set the holdover positions.
The illuminated part of the reticle is a cross with 2 MOA span. That extends to 40 MOA on both directions (horizontal and vertical). As a whole, I personally love these reticles when it comes to long-range shots.
Head over to my special article to get a better understanding of what is MOA and how to use it when aiming.
Adjustability & Set-Up
In terms of adjustability, this scope is sort of in the middle. Some people would hate the way the turrets turn as they are certainly on the mushy side and the clicks have little to no resistance. This means that it will be easy to dial but you will almost always miss your desired click, at least until you get used to the feeling. There is also no locking mechanism nor caps meaning that you will have to be careful not to bump around the scope in your clothes or other hunting gear as it will change your settings.
On the other hand, the high precision zero stop system on these turrets is absolutely marvelous. You can turn all the way up and back as many times as you want, the zero won’t move a bit. This great repeatability is what many people are after when shooting on ranges or at varying distances.
To zero it up you will have to put in some work, though, as you will have to unscrew the top plate and then put it back in. That is a little bit harder than other, more expensive scopes such as the Steiner Optics T-Series SCR but after you’ve done it, it is quite reliable. As a matter of fact, no other scope in this price bracket has a true zero stopping system.
The high precision erector system in the one-piece tube really makes the controls feel premium and smooth when being adjusted and is definitely something you rarely see at this price.
Pro Tip: You can open up the turret and do an easy fix for the mushy feeling by wiping off the excess grease on the o-ring under the turret cap.
The Athlon Ares also has parallax adjustability from 20 yards to infinity which is great for such a long-range scope.
Users who have bought the newer Ares models have mentioned that the issue with the adjustment is now fixed by the company and the older scopes can be taken in and fixed without any additional payments.
Unlike other similarly priced scopes, this one doesn’t come with some good stuff out of the bag. For instance, the only included item is the medium rings. There is no sunshade nor flip-caps on one side.
This usually would make you think that the company doesn’t really care about its customers but Athlon Optics has good warranties and almost always takes care of their products no matter if you still have warranty or not. The Athlon Ares BTR gets a lifetime warranty which in my opinion adds great value to the overall purchase.
Something that might fall into the “construction” category but is also very important to mention here is that you get a special “HD Glass” feature on your “Ares” scope. It really spikes up the contrast, makes for great light transmission, and sharpens the image you are getting from your optic.
Pro Tip: If you want a sturdier way to attach this to your rifle, get a mount corresponding in size to the 30mm tube. The rings do the job but many people stay away from them, especially in more dynamic situations.
This company also provides excellent customer service to its owners and depending on where you get the scope from it will most likely have free shipping. Great customer service is something rare these days and is an ideal solution if you can’t figure something out about the scope.
Materials & Construction
When it comes to the construction of this scope, it isn’t something special but that can be something rather good as most scopes come at a high price giving you a sub-par quality. This scope delivers exactly what you are paying for and is as sturdy as they get. The objective lens is spectacular for this price class and along with the exit pupil and the other lenses are fully multi-coated. Along with that USA, customers get free shipping.
The body is made of a single piece tube made of aircraft-grade 6061-t6 aluminum. It is a 30mm tube and it is sealed which makes it entirely waterproof, as well as dust-proof and shock-proof. All the moving parts seem sturdy in your hand, and are very easy to control, although a bit mushy in feel, as I already pointed out.
Athlon Optics Ares BTR VS. Bushnell Engage Rifle Scope
One fairly cheaper alternative to the Athlon Ares BTR is the Bushnell Engage scope. It is around 200 dollars cheaper and features similar characteristics with a few exceptions.
The first major difference is that the Ares packs way more magnification power and better parallax, windage, and elevation adjustments. Furthermore, this particular Bushnell scope doesn’t have the same lens clarity and contrast the Ares brings to the table. Still, those are sacrifices that are bound to come with the price difference between those two.
My verdict is that if you want a good all-around scope that will last you some time and will have all the adjustability your hunting will require, go with the Ares. If you want to save a few bucks while not losing that many features – go with the Bushnell Engage scope. They are both well-made scopes and are ideal for any beginner or intermediate shooter or hunter.
Advantages & Disadvantages
- Good all-around scope
- Durable 30mm tube
- Great eye relief distance
- Great level of adjustability
- The BTR 4.5-27×50 has a superb magnification range
- Tracks well
- Has a fast-focus eyepiece
- Crystal clear view out of it
- Excellent for snow hunting
- Turrets feel mushy when being adjusted
- Zeroing can take some time
- Doesn’t come with a sunshade or other additional items
Where are Athlon Optics Scopes made?
Right now most of their models are made in China. Only their range-topping model, the Cronus BTR, is manufactured in Japan.
What does BTR stand for in Athlon Scopes?
The BTR is an internal acronym they use for their reticles meaning “Bright Reticle”.
Conclusion & Rating
If you are out looking for a scope that checks almost all the boxes then I hope that this Athlon Optics Ares BTR review has shown you that this is possible even in the sub-thousand dollar price bracket. It has a wide magnification range, excellent build quality, great view out of it and a reticle that allows you to shoot at any distance you want. Its only potential issue is with its turrets but it still has a large amount of adjustability and handles well-enough on the shooting range, as well as the forest. I chose to give it a four and a half out of five stars rating.