Excellent points all around. There's a big difference between hunting optics and long range optics. Also a big difference between a 500 and 1000 yard scope.
As my eyes have gotten older, I have steadily replaced all my hunting glass with glass in the $300-800 range. I don't actually pay that amount, but I know what an $800 hunting scope looks like (a Japanese glass Weaver Grand Slam 3-12x50mm, for instance, or a Zeiss Conquest 2-10). Look for sales. Find them on clearance. Get them for a fraction of their value.
I only need good glass for hunting and for it to hold its zero. I hunt inside 300 yards. No turret manipulation required. I've been thoroughly underwhelmed with Vortex scopes.
I know that long range target shooting is a different animal. I bought a cheap Athlon and realized my mistake. Terrible glass, terrible mistake. Had the chance to get a 4.5-27 Athlon Ares and it was a different ballgame. That's Athlon's answer to the Viper, but I think it's executed better. Actually seems like useable glass
I think I've settled on what will have to be my truth: I'm a hunter. While I'd like to get into long-range hunting, there's few places for me to do it. If I can do 500+ I'll be happy. Later on, when I can afford it, I'll get a higher end scope.
I settled on a Hi-Lux Pentalux 4-20x50mm FFP MOA scope. It's another $800 range scope I found for $380. It's not perfect, but it's good enough for my needs for now. No locking turrets, no zero stops. But MIL dot and MIL turrets, supposedly good glass (I've yet to see it), and tactile turrets.
With luck, the Athlon Ares on my Savage 110 Tactical will do the job well enough if I can ever get out to do the 1k course. Otherwise, maybe I'll wait until the next gun scare and sell off a rifle to fund a better scope.