Budget LPVO: Athlon Midas BTR 1-6×24 // Gear Review

Here’s my honest opinion of this scope. I haven’t had it for a long time, but I have put it through what I would consider a rigorous 2 day trial-by-fire, aka: Desert Brutality 2019. I’ve also shot a shooting challenge with it and used it to test the efficacy of scopes vs red dots. I’ve put in a decent amount of dry fire with it and feel familiar with it enough to speak about it.

One-Line Review:

Solid LVPO option, at a surprisingly affordable price.

In-Depth Review

This is a Class III optic according to the Everyday Marksman Optic Classification System. I find this system to be easy to understand and just as useful, so I’ll be using it for the foreseeable future.

Specs

Pretty standard feature set. The reticle is etched and in the second focal plane (SFC). This specific model came with graduated hash marks in MoA increments (which I prefer), though mils are available as are BDCs.

The magnification range is from near-1x to 6x, falling squarely into the LVPO designation. Some people prefer the 1-4x range, but I feel that the 1-6x range gives me that little extra something. The 1-8x’s and the 1-10x’s seem like a little much for me, for a non-precision or non-Recce/DMR, though. I admit that these delineations are very arbitrary The magnification is adjusted via a magnification ring around the occular lens, as is the industry standard.

The magnification ring has a built-in nub for easier adjustment.

Adjustments are made in 1/2 MoA increments and the dials are protected by screw-on caps. While I would never buy a true precision scope with such a coarse adjustment, this still allows me to get within 1/4 MoA of my point of impact. When we’re talking about a gun that I’ve only been able to squeeze 1 to 1.5 MoA out of, the scope’s adjustments are accurate enough.

Why Did I Buy This?

Time & money. I had planned and saved up for a Viper PST II 1-6x, but when the time came I had to split my available funds and didn’t have time to save up again. I took what I had left and bought the Midas BTR. I got it in, zeroed it, and shot Desert Brutality in the course of about 2 weeks.

For the record, I do not recommend this! It was an act of desperation, though it has worked out fine for me.

I’ll admit, it is a little long & heavy for my taste as a home defense rifle.

Pros

Price. I paid just under $300 after shipping for this piece. It was on sale, and that was almost a year ago, but this will forever be a budget option. It really gives you a lot for that much money. The value, or scope-for-your-dollar, with this optic is crazy high.

Magnification range. For some reason, I can’t bring myself to buy a 1-4x. There’s something about that extra magnification in a 1-6x that my reptile brain doesn’t want to give up. I know that it’s illogical, that there’s probably very little gained by that last little bit of power on the high end, and that I theoretically would get better quality out of a 1-4x for the same money, but that “6” just gives me a marm and fuzzy feeling that a “4” just doesn’t give. I fully admit that I’m being irrational, it just makes me feel good.

The illumination dial. The dial for the reticle illumination has an “off” position between each brightness setting. I didn’t know it had this when I bought it, and hadn’t really considered it before, but now that I have it I really like it. The ability to turn the illumination on right where you left it last time is very convenient.

Capped turrets. Externally adjustable windage and elevation turrets would be a sign of someone having no idea how this product is going to be used. There would be no use for such features on an LPVO, their absence is a good thing.

Durability. This scope has not been babied. This thing has been beat like a rented mule, and from day 1. I have noticed no breakages, spots on the lens, fogging, or really anything beyond some superficial scratching. It may not survive a 200-foot fall from a helicopter, but you don’t have to treat it like it’s made of glass. …even though it kind of is.

Pictured: A real battle-worn finish. Color is “local mud”.

Cons

Weight. The darn thing is heavy for an optic, and all the weight is above the bore line. When you hold it, the center of gravity is either in-line with your support hand or even above it. It almost acts like what I call an ‘inverted pendulum’, where the mass is above the pivot point (your hands). The lighter the gun you bolt this onto, the greater this effect will be. On my rifle it’s not really detrimental, but noticable. This isn’t really a model-specific issue, but a critique of the type of optic. This is also one of the reasons that 1-4x scopes still hang on, and they are universally lighter than 1-6x scopes. If you are looking into a 1-8x (or 1-10x!) this weight will only become more of an issue.

Price. You can’t really ‘flex on the poors’ with a sub-$300 scope.

The reticle. When I bought this scope I was under the impression that a hash-marked reticle in MoA is the ultimate, end-all-be-all reticle, and that BDC reticles were for people who didn’t know any better. It’s starting to look like I was mistaken. This type of scope would really benefit from having a BDC, or some other speed-focused reticle. The use case of a LPVO just doesn’t compliment the slower, more precision-focused has mark reticle my Midas BTR contains. The Midas BTR comes with a BDC that I almost got on accident. I kinda wish I hadn’t caught my mistake in time.

Also, the reticle is second focal plane, meaning that the hashmarks are only valid @ 6x. Anything else and they are either double value (@ 3x) triple value (@ 2x) or just mere decoration. At the time of purchase, there were no good first focal plane options in my price range.

Etched reticles don’t require power to be usable
…but the illumination is a nice feature.

…meh

The illumination. It works in dim-to-low light, but it’s basically unseeable in daylight. That may be useful in a hunting situation or even a home defense situation, but but for range work and non-nighttime competitions it’s useless. I have a hard time saying that this a ‘con’ because the reticle it lights up is etched. The crosshairs are very visible in bright daylight, and the illumination lights them up a very bright red in dimmer conditions. It would be a pro if that bright, eye-catching red was visible in daylight as it would help the scope’s speed at 1x, but I don’t feel it’s enough of a downside to put in the ‘cons’ collumn.

This is on the highest setting (6). The eyebox made this photo faily difficult to capture without some scope shadow.

Eyebox. This thing has much more restrictive head placement requirements than a red dot, obviously, but it doesn’t seem overly restrictive. It’s pretty fast & loose at 1x, though it does tighten up the closer you get to 6x. I think a higher scope mount (1.93″ or 2.04″) would help put your eye at a faster and more natural position. This is more a type & mount issue than a scope issue, hence its inclusion in the ‘meh’ section.

Conclusions

At first I didn’t think I’d like it. Now that I have it and I’ve actually used it, I think it’s a great value. I did get it on a super sale ($250 + shipping) so for that price I’d highly recommend it, unless you will never buy Chinese glass, which I totally understand. I have a $300 6-24×50 scope I’ve had for years and told myself that I’d never buy cheap glass again. I was placed in a tough spot and forced to make a decision when I purchased Athlon’s Midas BTR, and I’m glad I did. I still think a more expensive scope would be better, but I do have a much improved opinion of budget options, and Athlon optics as a whole.

If you see an Athlon scope on sale, and it’s in your budget, I’d recommend trying one out. I don’t extend that to all budget scopes as I’ve only played with the Athlon, and only with this one example. Keep that in mind before you spend money based on my account.

-Keep an open mind, and I’ll see you next Friday. -S_S

7 thoughts on “Budget LPVO: Athlon Midas BTR 1-6×24 // Gear Review

    1. Yeah, an LPVO isn’t going to have the turrets spun. Or, at least it shouldn’t! Screw-on turret caps are the only way to go for this kind of optic. You could say that the MoA hash marks make up that capability, but I don’t really see this optic being intended for that kind of use anyway.

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  1. Sort of late to the party here, but I thought I’d add my 2 cents anyway. I bought one of these on sale about the same time you did (from Camera Land NY – great people to deal with) but I got the ATSR1 reticle. I don’t shoot competitively, but this has proved to be a fine scope for hunting feral hogs with my AR. Shot distances in the woods I hunt rarely reach anywhere close to 100 yards, so I haven’t needed the BDC feature in the reticle. Still, the glass is good, the eye box (where I leave it at @ 2x most of the time) is more than adequate for fast shots, and the illumination works quite well in low light and against dark backgrounds. I’ve considered upgrading to a “better” scope, but can’t honestly justify doing so. This scope already gets the job done, so what’s the point? Like you said, it’s a darn good value.

    My experience with other Athlon optics has been good too. I had one of their RD sights on another AR and only replaced it to get something smaller and lighter; it performed well otherwise. I also have a Gen I Ares BTR 2.5-15×50 I bought on close-out for $390.00 that I believe, with the exception of turret feel, is every bit as good as a Vortex PST II. My Ares ED 10×42 binos are another very nice optic. I’m probably coming across like an Athlon fan boy at this point, but they just seem to have a knack for providing really good performance at their particular price point.

    Anyway, enjoyed your write-up, and will be reading through more of your articles.

    Liked by 1 person

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