High Power Service Rifle competitors will now be able to mount a 4.5×34 optic on top of their rifle and compete head to head with the folks still using irons as God intended.
I expect that we don’t see massive increases in top scores because of this rule change, what I expect is that the folks who were afraid of competing in High Power because using irons seems like a middle ages black magic will suddenly give it a shot (or 88 shots if their match is across the course). Due to the dwindling numbers of High Power competitors, this rule change is a what I consider a “good thing.”
The new optic rule limits magnification to 4.5 power, and the objective lens size to 34 millimeters.
So with that in mind, here are my recommendations for some low cost optics that your buddy might consider. I’m keeping my recommendations in the lower end of the cost spectrum as while I can totally and without reservation recommend an ACOG, they cost more than most entry level High Power AR-15s.
Burris MTAC 1-4×24. Runs between 300 and 400 bucks, solid optic.
Bushnell AR Optics 1-4×24. Has one tenth millirad adjustments and parralax adjustment. This is the essentially the Burris MTAC cheaper alternative.
Vortex Crossfire II 1-4×24. Can be had for around 180 with a standard reticle, around 200 with illuminated center dot. Comes with 1/2 MOA adjustments, which is perfectly fine for High Power. Lots of 1-4×24 optics coming out of China these days, so the only real difference is the “brand equity” you get with the name stamped on the scope, with Burris or Vortex you get a great warranty to go with the scope.
Nikon P-223 1-4×20. The 20mm objective lens pushes this into the “dimmest” scope category with an exit pupil diameter of 5mm. However it is a Nikon, and costs much less than the Burris MTAC option.
Nikon P-223 3×32. A generous 10.9mm exit pupil diameter makes this scope the hands down “brightest” option for folks who like bright optics. The 3x max magnification isn’t great, but magnification isn’t everything.
Swift 126.96.36.199×32 Premier 648M scope. A “plain Jane” hunting scope with reticle that might be a dealbreaker to some. If you want traditional cross hairs, get the 4×32 668M Swift fixed power hunting scope (or the 1.5-4.5×21 scope), and while it doesn’t come with as nice turrets, it has a traditional style reticle that may be easier for some shooters to use.
The recommendations above cover the 100 to 400 dollar price range. Any of them in good working order will serve you well, and any of them broken will cost you a match.