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Blue Eyed Devil
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Posted: 1/19/2012 9:21:26 AM EDT
Good stuff, thank you! ^^^

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Posted: 1/19/2012 1:30:07 PM EDT
That Premier looks outstanding. Although the price is pretty dang high.
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Posted: 1/23/2012 11:06:31 PM EDT
The Swarovski booth has a fountain. Yes, that's right with water and everything. I did not notice it on my first visit to the booth because I came in the back way but as I was running across the shot show floor at 4:00pm on Friday trying to get to Boyt to pick up my cases before they closed the place down (actually, after I sort of had to run past the gate attendant) there it was in all its glory. Water cascading in true Vegas fashion over the logo and into a pool at the bottom. I am saddened to have not had time to photograph it. Still, it underlines my next point. Swarovski has some class. Most booths don't have a floor but they had a nice raised wooden platform with tables, chairs, flower, arrangements, and a fountain. Felt like nice cafe on a crisp summer morning. I wonder how they got all the water there. The booth was kind of out in the open so it must have taken quite a long hose. And how did they get rid of it after the show. I'm glad I wasn't left holding the bag...err bucket on that one.
Swarovski treats you right to. I got better service at the Swarovski booth than at any of the Vegas restaurants on my trip. I got my very own sales associate as well as some refreshments. But enough about the booth set up. You are here for the optics and optics you shall get.

Swarovski Z6i next to the GRSC 1-6 reference scope.

This was my first opportunity to examine the Z6i 1-6x24 rifle scope. This was the first of the >4x erector ratio scopes and though originally designed for dangerous game has become a dominant presence in the 3 gun world to the significant surprise of its creators who now have it as one of their fastest selling products. Upon examination of the optic it becomes clear why. The clarity is quite good, significantly better than the reference GRSC 1-6x and the field of view is much more generous. The lens coatings have been improved for this year as have many features on the Swarovski line general. The illumination is quite bright. The scope uses a flash dot type illumination rather than a whole reticle illumination design. This provides for better close quarters speed at the expense of low light ranging capability. The illumination is digital and allows the user to have separate settings for day and night settings separated by a toggle switch, the center position of which is off. Like many digitally illuminated scopes it also features a battery save function that turns the illumination off if the rifle is canted to its side to far or held vertical. This feature can, however, be disabled by the user. Unlike most 1-(n) power scopes the Swarovski's illumination housing is on top of the eye piece leaving the left side of the saddle open. While this may not seem relevant it does allow a greater field of view for the left eye when using the scope both eyes open at 1x and no doubt contributes to the scopes popularity. I can tell you that subjectively I felt very comfortable and quick behind this scope. How exactly the interplay of clarity, field of view, exit pupil, and illumination contributed to this I cannot exactly quantify but it was a good experiance.

Z6i on full illumination at 1x

Z6i on full illumination at 4x

The adjustments on this scope are finger adjustable and capped with a pull up feature allowing the user to set the zero. The caps store spare batteries inside. Adjustment clicks are .15mil and feel very good. Similarly the power ring and diopter turn smoothly and with the resistance one would desire.
For a long time Swarovski did not offer this optic with any kind of ranging or drop compensating reticle. They now offer the BRT reticle in addition to a german #4 and a sort of #4 with circle option. A very complete instruction manual is included with the BRT scopes on how to properly range and compensate for bullet drop using this reticle. Stickers with reference values are even included as well as some extra ones that can be printed upon to match your specific loads and rifle using Swarovski's ballistic resource. The user is also reminded that this is a second focal plane reticle and ranging is therefore only to be performed on 6x. The intent of this reticle seems to be to provide as minimalist and universal drop and windage system as possible. This accomplishes universality and reduces clutter but sets a high bar for competence and training in the user. I expect that this can be a very effective reticle for the 3 gunner who has the practice, patience, and knowledge to supplement the information provided on the reticle with a great deal of information out of his or her head. While reading the literature has given me a bit more appreciation of this reticle than I originally had, My recent time studying and practicing ranging for my article on the subject coupled with my knowledge of the average potential users time and money budget for practice leads me to the conclusion that this reticle is probably only of real benefit to a select group of individuals who are fairly serious about competition in 3 gun.
My overall impression of the Z6i is that it is a very solid design that will continue to have a powerful hold on competitive 3 gunners but that the reticle and adjustment increments, somewhat limit its desirability amongst a larger audience. I also think that this scope will sell better amongst those who have tried it than its features alone would indicate. It is a comfortable optic to use.
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Posted: 1/26/2012 9:02:12 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/7/2012 12:20:03 PM EDT by BigJimFish]
Kahles k16i 1-6x24mm 2012 Shot Show mini review

In 2012 Kahles has decided to enter the American tactical market. Not a bad Idea since it has been my observation that when people buy expensive optics in America whether for hunting, competition, or any other use they tend to buy an optic with tactical features and styling. And why not, having a reticle capable of ranging, illumination, and nice adjustments does not make an optic less effective for hunting or competition. In most cases it makes it at least marginally more effective. The better question is why anyone buying a high dollar optic wouldn't demand this greater degree of functionality.

Kahles is entering the tactical market with two scopes. One is a 6-24x56mm sniper scope called the k624i and the second is a 1-6x24mm known as the k16i. We will be examining the k16i 1-6x24mm. This one is not yet up on their website and was in late prototype stage at the show.

The Scope is second focal plane and has .15mil finger adjustable capped adjustments. These felt a bit soft and not great at the show but I was informed that Kahles likewise did not find them to its liking and that this is the aspect of the scope being changed between the prototype that I handled and the release version. I found the field of view very good in this optic but the clarity did not meet with my expectations. The GRSC I brought with me was a bit better and it is a significantly cheaper optic. I also do not really like the reticle in the k16i. The central, rapid aiming portion of the reticle is a circle dot which is fine but the portion for bullet drop and ranging appears to offer only what I can assume is a vertical mil scale. This portion doesn't really get it done for me. It strikes me as if they were going for mil scale function but weren't happy with that stylistically and wanted to make it look more like a rapid ranging reticle. I don't think the result captures the full functionality of either system. The illumination is pretty bright in this reticle and illuminates only the circle dot portion. Normally I would balk at the elimination of ranging functionality that illuminating only the center section results in but in this case I don't care for the ranging portion and am happier with it unlit.

All in all at $2,722 msrp I just find this scope very expensive for what it delivers. It's light weight advantage just doesn't make up for a less than desirable reticle and optics that are not as clear as they should be at this price. Here are some picks:

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Posted: 1/27/2012 9:13:56 AM EDT
Tag to remind me to review the Leupold Pig Plex VX-R
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Posted: 1/27/2012 1:44:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By FrankSL:
Tag to remind me to review the Leupold Pig Plex VX-R

I'm very interested in reading this!!

Also, and forgive me if I missed it, but has anyone done a review on a Burris XTR 1.5-6x40 with the 7.62 reticle? I can't seem to find any good info on it!
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Posted: 1/27/2012 8:34:44 PM EDT
Shot show 2012 mini review of Leupold's new offerings.

As I approached the Leupold Tactical booth on the first day of shot show this was the was the first display my attention was drawn to. Ridding atop the M2 .50 cal machine gun sits the Leupold Mk 8 CQBSS 1.1-8x24mm rifle scope. The casual observer might see this arrangement as a clever demonstration on the part of Leupold to demonstrate the extreme durability of their product in an, eye catching, comical, and unmistakably convincing way. Behold, a rifle scope that can stand up to .50 BMG.... At 500 rounds per minute. I admit to finding the arrangement comical in appearance. A non sequitur in firearms design. A sniper scope on a belt fed machine gun.
None of this effect was Leupolds intention when designing this display. In fact, they felt offended when I referred to it as striking me as comical in appearance and I felt a little bad for bringing it up. You see, Leupold has a contract with the Marines to produce the CQBSS for the M2 and also MK 19 platforms. The display is no marketing ploy, it is simply an example of the product in use. Marine gunners, particularly in Afghanistan, often engage targets, who appear only marginally different from civilians, at quite exceptional ranges. Having an 8x magnification capability on your vehicle mounted machine gun or grenade launcher is not a bad idea for spotting your. In fact, the record for the longest combat kill at 2,286 yds was held by one Carlos Hathcock from 1967 all the way up until 2002. He accomplished this feat by mounting a 10x Unertl scope on an M2 machine gun and working the trigger in such a way as to fire a single round at a time. The Marines have a long memory. For the record, I still find it comical to mount a sniper scope on an M2. I found it comical when I read it in Hathcock's biography and I bet his fellow Marines found it comical back when he first suggested the idea and then designed the mount to accomplish it.
This Shot was also my first opportunity to handle the CQBSS in person. Now, for most of the other scopes that I have reviews of there is a side by side comparison of the scope being reviewed with my reference GRSC scope as well as a discussion of the comparative optics performance. That is because those manufactures booths do not resemble the front gate of Ohio stadium at the end of a Buckeyes game and so a writer has a place to sit down and do some comparisons. The Leupold Tactical booth will not be winning any awards for booth design I'm afraid. It was not very large, did not have any seating, and given the number of new and interesting products being introduced into the market it was something of a mob scene. What I will tell you is that the CQBSS looked good when I examined it as best could be done in the situation. The unique spring loaded locking pinch turrets seemed to work fine. And the optics were clear and didn't show any obvious optical problems. The Leupold folks did their best to be accommodating in the situation but it was just a pretty busy place.
At this point you are probably thinking that while pontifications on the deployment strategy of the CQBSS are well and good you are much more interested in reading mini reviews on the new Mark 6 and 8 scopes. I'm afraid that while these were at the show and no doubt you have seen and heard about them from others they have an NDA attached to them and are not officially released yet so I can't really comment on them beyond giving you a picture of the CMR-W reticle for the Mark 6 1-6x which oddly is marked for immediate release while the scope is not. Here is an image of the 5.56 M855 version (It also exists in 7.62 M118LR).

The layout of the reticle should already be somewhat familiar to most of my readers since most of the elements have been used in other popular designs before. There is a close quarters circle dot, or more precisely horseshoe dot in the center reminiscent of the Central element of the GRSC scopes. For rapid ranging 18" shoulder width brackets appear below this at corresponding distances in the fashion of an ACOG. Added to this reticle are also windage bars that I and apparently many others had been soliciting. (In fact in early 2010 I sent Leupold a reticle design including many of these features with the intention of improving the CQ/T scope.) For those who prefer calculation ranging what appears to be a mil scale is also included on the upper part of the reticle. Really, a quite complete design allowing the operator great flexibility in ranging methods. It should be interesting to see how it performs in testing.

Both the CQBSS and the Mark 6 1-6x will be getting a formal review from me with the S&B and PR 1-8x scopes and the March 1-10 when the logistics of obtaining all 5 at the same time are feasible. That looks to be pretty likely in early to late spring from what I can gather.

This brings us to the other side of Leupold. As many of you know a few years back Leupold created an autonomous, smaller, and far more mobile tactical division in an attempt to regain a hold on the tactical market that, at that time, was clearly slipping from their grasp. As is evidenced by the plethora of new and relevant products released since then as well as the mob scene at the booth this strategy is clearly paying dividends.

Meanwhile back at the substantially larger (yet still table deficient) Leupold / Redfield booth at the other side of the exhibit hall. A new product has been launched in the form of the VX-6 1-6x. This is a 1-6x scope with a clearly daytime bright flash dot type illumination at a very attractive price point. I was able to sit down and evaluate it next to my reference GRSC 1-6x.

Clarity wise it seemed very on par with the GRSC though it offered a much more generous field of view. The turrets are a capped 1/4th moa variety that feature a finger adjustable mechanism that pulls up to allow user to set the zero. They felt good though not really great. As you may note Leupold has switched to a 30mm tube on this scope as well as the much preferred euro type diopter. Unfortunately the reticles available do not include any ranging features. They are a German #4, a Duplex, and a Circle Dot post. Really, for the user not concerned with ranging this scope will be a very popular item. I cringe though at what it could be with the addition of the ranging capabilities brought about by a better reticle.

Before I leave the VX6 1-6 I should mention its unique illumination system. In addition to being very bright indeed it is a digital mechanism that remembers the users previous setting. It also auto shuts off if left motionless for 5 min but includes a motion sensor to immediately turn of if picked up. A battery saver for all those who have burned though their batteries by accidentally leaving the scope on without the risk associated with automatically shutting off the illumination when it may be needed at a moments notice.

Here are the pics though the VX-6:
1x full illumination:

6x full illumination:

That wraps up Leupold. I think perhaps I will do IOR Valdada next.
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Posted: 1/27/2012 10:07:22 PM EDT
I.O.R. Valdada 1-10x26mm Eliminators Shot show 2012 mini reviews.

For those of you who do not know. IOR is a European optics manufacturer founded in 1936 in Romania that went on to produce some of the advanced sniper scopes used by the U.S.S.R. during the cold war era. Of particular note was IOR's version of the PSO-1 sniper scope. In 1990 IOR optics began to be imported into the U.S. by Valdada. IOR Valdada has shown remarkable speed and agility in designing and bringing new optics to market. It is notable that in an era when many brands put forward optics that are designed and manufactured by third party's and differ very little internally from optics marketed by other competing brands who use the same third party manufacturer, IOR designs and manufactures its own product. Of interest today will be the two new 1-10x power scopes introduced this year. These are the 1-10x26mm Eliminator and the 1-10x26mm Eliminator L.T.S. They sit at $2895 and $2375 respectively.

I have here pictured from top to bottom: The IOR Valdada pitbull, The Eliminator, and the Eliminator L.T.S.

You will note that my reference GRSC 1-6x present as a size and optical comparison in all other articles of this series is not shown in this picture. I was told by Val that I was not to picture that scope next to his and that I was not to use it as an optical comparison as he saw it as unfair to compare a 1-6x scope with 1-10x designs. Similarly, Val told me that, should I do a full review of these scopes as I had planned, I would not be able to compare them to the Leupold, S&B, Premier, and possibly USO 1-8x designs as that would also be an unfair comparison due to the different power ranges. I have had no other scope manufacturer even attempt to make such demands on my reviews and I see little reason to spend my time and energy doing a full review of optics that I cannot compare to other optics which I think my reader might find of interest. This review is all you are going to get from me when it comes to reviews of the IOR 1-10x offerings.

First I will talk about the $2895 Eliminator. To say that this scope is loaded with features is an understatement. To start things off it has a side focus parallax knob. This is the only scope in the 1-(n)x scope class to have an adjustable parallax. Immediately behind this control is a digital dual focal plane illumination control system. In the first focal plane was a green illuminated mil scale reticle in the sample at the booth. I was told though that this is not the normal reticle and that usually this scope will be equipped with the Christmas tree style mil scale reticle shown in the pics of the LTS scope. In the second focal plane is an amber illuminated flash dot. It is worth noting that this dot did not seem as bright that of other (apparently non-competing) scopes and a bit of stray illumination light was visible on the edges. Either plane illumination can be activated on its own or both at once.

The knobs on the Eliminator are likewise quite loaded. The elevation knob is huge and has a zero stop as well as the ability for the user to set the knobs indicator to the users zero (both require use of a set screw.) Interestingly a second zero point indicator also exists on this knob that the user can simply turn into position. This might come in handy for an individual competing at two set ranges and this particular demo scope had been taken off of a competitive 3-gunners rig. Like the elevation, the windage can also be set to the users zero and has an optional zero stop. Both knobs are very large, offer plenty of adjustment range, have good feeling positive clicks, and are in .1mil increments to match the reticle.

Now we get to the tricky part. IOR Valdada was one of the unfortunate companies to have their booth in one of the auxiliary rooms and not in one of the two giant exhibition halls. If I remember correctly, Shot says that this is determined by luck of the draw. Given who was where, I have my suspicions. Given the difference in the foot traffic, I think differential pricing is in order. I also understand that these rooms are actually located in the Venetian and not the Sands. While its all connected, due to confusing maps, it can be difficult to locate these rooms and they seem to be designed as conference rooms or banquet halls. In either case, not as exhibition halls. The lighting is a sort of peachy color in these rooms that appears even more different from the main exhibition hall lighting in person than in the pictures. Without a reference scope to provide a comparison to I am making my best guess on these next observations. I found the field of view small on the eliminator. I likewise found the eyebox on 1 as well as 10 power to be very limited. So small that it was very difficult to line the scope up to get pictures through it. This is expected, dictated by physics in point of fact, at 10x but not at 1x. The clarity was hard to judge for me because of the funky lighting and there is little I can say about it except that it did not wow me. Things looked very muddy, but the lighting was not only less ample than in the exhibition hall but also a bit muddy in color itself so who is really to say. What I can say is that this scope has a lot of features, is very large, and weighs a great deal. Here are the pics through the reticle:

Eliminator at 1x with 2nd focal plane illuminated dot at maximum brightness:

Eliminator at 10x with 1st focal plane illumination at maximum brightness:

In many ways the Eliminator L.T.S. is similar to its more expensive brother. It appears to be built off of the same, or more likely very similar, optical design. and my subjective observations on it optically are the same. The differences between the two are that on the L.T.S. parallax is fixed, the reticle is second focal plane only, illumination is analog, and the windage and elevation knobs are both of the type used for the Eliminator's windage. A notable consequence of these changes is that the illumination on the L.T.S. only lights a dot in the middle of the reticle. Normally this illumination scheme can be problematic because it hinders a scopes ability to range in low light, but when dealing with a 2nd focal plane 10x scope with only a 26mm objective you are not going to be doing any ranging in low light anyway. There will not be enough light to see anything. This can be ameliorated with the first focal plane scope because turning down the power will help with your light problem and you can still range but on the 2nd focal plane, if you turn down the power your reticle is no longer the right size relative to the target and so you are consequently not able to range for a different reason. The bottom line is that if you want to range in low light you need the full rock and roll Eliminator and not the L.T.S. Here are the pics through the L.T.S. keep in mind that this Christmas tree reticle is also the normal reticle option in the Eliminatior.

L.T.S. at 1x with maximum illumination:

L.T.S. at 10x with maximum illumination:

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Posted: 1/27/2012 11:50:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 1/27/2012 11:51:20 PM EDT by 33shooter]
I am very interested in the Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-6.5x24mm FFP! Any chance you saw that?

Your shot coverage is the best so far. Great scopes coming this year. And interesting that SS is releasing a 1-6x24 HD. Seems people are listening.

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Posted: 1/28/2012 1:17:56 AM EDT
I am very interested in the Bushnell Tactical Elite 1-6.5x24mm FFP! Any chance you saw that?

I did.

I have a lot of these mini reviews still to go but I expect they will all be done in the next two weeks and that the table will be updated as well.
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Posted: 1/28/2012 2:15:51 PM EDT
I looked at as many scopes and optics as I could at SHOT because I'll never have the chance to see that much high end stuff in one place again.

The doo doo brown S&B with the HK logo on the side 1.1-8x (i think) was awesome but I think the ELCAN specter DR trumped every 1-4x out there. I had it in my mind to get a NF 1-4 but I feel the elcan is almost as good as an aimpoint and as good as an acog.
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Posted: 1/28/2012 5:29:47 PM EDT
The doo doo brown S&B with the HK logo on the side 1.1-8x (i think) was awesome but I think the ELCAN specter DR trumped every 1-4x out there. I had it in my mind to get a NF 1-4 but I feel the elcan is almost as good as an aimpoint and as good as an acog.

My Elcan review is coming up soon. I have finished writing it but sent it off to have some of the technical facts of the unique optical system double checked. It is definitely different and I think that you are right in that it is every bit as good as an Acog at being and Acog and almost as good as an Aimpoint at being an Aimpoint.
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Posted: 1/28/2012 6:54:30 PM EDT
Steiner 1-4x24mm 2012 Shot show mini review

To be perfectly honest has never been a company that has really excited me. Year after year I have looked through Steiner binoculars at my local shops, as well as this year at Shot, and never found them to be impressive in any regard. They have always seemed to be priced, branded, and advertised as top tier European optics but when I look though them they have always seemed, at best, equivalent to mid range Japanese glass.

My experience this year with their 1-4x24mm Military Tactical rifle scope just about exactly reflected my previous encounters. It is not a bad scope. It is reasonably light, and has a good field of view. It also has good click adjustments that might be a bit on the light side resistance wise but seem acceptable. These adjustments are exposed though fairly small and unobtrusive. This is not a great scope though, and it does not compete at its price point. I expected more out of the scopes clarity. It is, perhaps, slightly less clear than my reference GRSC which, not incidentally, is a $1k Japanese made scope. I should also note that the GRSC is also a first focal plane rifle scope with a 1-6x power range. The Steiner is a second focal plane with only 1-4x range. These factors make it a much easier optic to construct and coupled with its price point at around $2k, (though I understand they will be lowering that this year) I would expect much more from this optic. The only really "bright spot" was its illumination. The illumination is easily daytime bright, though this really isn't that hard to do in a high priced 2nd focal plane optic. There is just not much positive I can say about this Scope. The bottom line is that I think it should be competing at $1k not $2k.

Interestingly, Steiner's sniper scopes do not suffer from the same overconfidence that plagues the rest of the brand yet deliver more. They are priced quite low for ffp European optics and if they drop the price this year, as I hear that they will, they will be equivalent in cost to the FFP Nightforce offerings. All of these sniper scopes have very nicely designed turrets, are mil-mil, and illuminated. This year Steiner added a 5-25x56mm to the lineup and I expect them all to be very competitive.

Here is a picture of the 1-4x24mm lined up next to my reference GRSC. I apologize for the lack of through the scope pictures. I either lost them in my misadventures with my camera or simply forgot to take them.

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Posted: 1/28/2012 8:05:25 PM EDT
Sightron SIII 1-7x24mm Shot show 2012 mini review.

Sightron is a brand I have little personal experience with, but seems to be popular and well thought of in some target shooting crowds. This year they introduced a 1-7x24mm scope as if to one up the flood of 1-6x choices. I had an opportunity to play around a bit with this optic at Shot. The first thing that will strike you about this scope is its length.

Here is the Sightron 1-7x24mm pictured next to the GRSC reference.

The GRSC seems to be about average or perhaps slightly longer than average for the 1-(n)x scope class. The Sightron is quite simply long though if you see this image and are worried about weight be consoled that, at 20oz, it is really pretty light. I am not surprised at the length given the power range and the laws of physics which specify, indirectly, that it is much easier to make a long scope than a short one and the higher the power the longer. I am often a fan of simply giving in to this constraint as it can allow a scope to be better optically, lighter, and cheaper than a shorter version would be. I really care more about former variables than the latter. I would not call the Sightron cheap, at around $800, but it is reasonably light and I found its optics to be pretty clear edge to edge. The only real issue I had with this scope optically is that it has one of the smallest field of views I encountered. Often times scopes with a small field of view are described as making you feel like your looking through a straw. Perhaps not being helped by its distinctly straw like appearance, the Sightron exemplifies this feeling to me.

I think the adjustments on this scope are a very good place to talk about commonality in scopes today. It is well known that most brands do not entirely, or in many cases even partially, make their own scopes. A result of this trend is that a great deal of commonality can be found between brands. The most shared component of all seems to be the particular adjustments that this Sightron has. These are .1mil, (they can also be found in 1/4moa on other scopes) finger adjustable, and capped turrets. They pull up to rotate freely and allow the zero to be set and then push down for use. You can find these exact turrets, sometimes with a slightly differently styled cap, in 1/4moa or .1mil, on at least the following scopes: Sightron SIII 1-7x24mm, GRSC CRS 1-6x24mm, Weaver 1-5x tactical, Bushnell 1-6.5x24 ffp or 2fp, and the Trijicon TR24. I believe that most of these scopes are made by Light Optic of Japan though I do not think they all are. This adjustment system in whole, or in part, seems to be an off the shelf component. I refer to it as the Light Optics adjustment as short hand though it is not in only Light Optics scopes or in all of Light Optics scopes. I do not find it particularly surprising that these adjustments are found on so many scopes. They have a clean and well machined appearance, have positive tactile and audible clicks, and, at least on the GRSC 1-6x, track perfectly. These adjustments are near the top of my list of preferred adjustments for this class of scope.

Here is a close up of this adjustment mechanism (On the GRSC 1-6x):

This brings me to the illumination and reticle. The Sightron is not winning any prizes in these categories. The reticle is a simple 2nd focal plane German #4 design. It is useless for ranging and not particularly good for close quarters. Only the center dot is illuminated which might help it to be fast close quarters but sadly the illumination is not very substantial and so not helpful. Here are the pics through the scope.

The Sightron 1-7x24mm at 7x:

The Sightron 1-7x24mm at 1x:

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Posted: 1/29/2012 9:22:42 PM EDT
Meopta ZD 1-4x22mm Shot show 2012 mini review

Meopta, after IOR Valdada, is the second of the former Soviet block optics manufacturers that I will be reviewing. Like IOR, Meopta was founded in the mid 1930s, though it was then called Optikotechna. Prior to the 2nd world war photography related products, lenses, binoculars, and riflescopes were produced. During the war as well as throughout the Soviet period, with only a brief return to primarily photographic products immediately after the war, production was of primarily military optics. In the post Soviet era Meopta exports optics and optics components widely and is heavily involved in optics research.

The Meopta K-dot has been a popular scope with 3-gunners for many years now. The primary reason for this is because that it was amongst the first daytime bright 1-(n)x scopes. It also features a very minimalist and uncluttered reticle. Reticles of this nature seem to be the most popular choices in the sport. Last year Meopta created a second K-dot scope with very similar optical design to the original but in a shorter, (integral sun shade removed) package with a 5.56mm bdc reticle and attached adjustment caps. This scope is called the ZD Tactic ZD 1-4x22 RD. If this name sounds simultaneously redundant and abbreviated to you, while being wholly distasteful, know that you are not alone. I think a finer example of the misuse of language would be hard to find. This scope retails at about $950, about $100 more than the original K-dot.

The Meopta ZD next to the refrence GRSC 1-6x:

The first thing to mention about the Meopta is that it is very close in price to the reference GRSC 1-6x. When I decided to go to Shot I had to make a choice about what to bring with me. I wanted to be able to make optical assessments on site that had some value and were not purely subjective. The only way to do this was to have a reference optic with me. I had a few choices on hand and decided to go with the 1-6x GRSC scope because, I had one on hand, at $1,000 it is right about the middle of all the optics I would be looking at price wise, I had already compared it to numerous optics from several manufacturers and had a pretty good idea where it stands, it is manufactured by probably the most common Japanese OEM, and I have a generally good opinion of it. All that being said, optics range greatly in price and few are actually within a few hundred dollars of the GRSC. The Meopta is very close indeed so the comparison is particularly poignant.

Compared to the GRSC the Meopta is shorter, about the same mass, has a significantly better field of view, has slightly less clarity, and is much more brightly illuminated. You will also note that it is 2fp and 1-4x not ffp and 1-6x. The Meopta has 1/2MOA adjustments which is within the range of good choices but they do not feel or look great. They appear unfinished, with screws and some sort of bracket visible, this is similar to what you might see in a $350 scope. The feel is just a bit to clicky and not smooth enough for my taste. The power ring and diopter move nicely though. All in all it stacks up to the GRSC like one might expect. It is better in some areas and inferior in others. The choice will very much depend on what the individual thinks is most important in an optic. This would be particularly true reticle wise as they lie on opposite ends of the spectrum with regards to how much stuff they put on it.

Meopta ZD at 1x with maximum illumination:

Meopta ZD at 4x with maximum illumination:

As you can see in the pics the ZD reticle is really not very different from the original K-dot. Basically the bottom vertical line has been replaced with chevrons at 4.58MOA, 7.98MOA, and 12.11MOA (at 4x.) Meopta characterizes this as a 5.56mm reticle but I really don't find these number to line up particularly well with my 100 yard zero m855 table and they have not supplied clarification. I think that given the magnitude of the gaps between the numbers and the numbers themselves it is probably possible to line them up with something 5.56mm or .308 if the chevrons represent 300, 400 and 500 yard aim points though the round would need to drop faster than m855 out of a 14.5" barrel. I think perhaps a 77gr. round of some variety might do the trick. In any case, ranging elements are not present so you have some guesswork on your hands anyway. Probably the better thing to say about this reticle is that it does not loose the flavor of the original k-dot and will probably be popular with the same minimalist favoring crowd. If you like daytime bright minimalist reticles Meopta is still in your court.
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Posted: 1/29/2012 11:16:50 PM EDT
Sightmark 1-6x24mm and Firefield 1-6x Shot show 2012 mini reviews:

I have turned a corner in 2012. I have decided that I am going to review inexpensive Chinese scopes. This has been a concession for me. Like, I imagine, every other reviewer, I am a bit of an optics snob. Deep down inside I lust for the best, brightest, clearest, most expensive pieces of glass and am never truly satisfied without them. This is a sad state since I make below the median American income and can't really afford any of them, though I save up and buy better than I probably should. Being in Vegas with its amazing spectacle of wealth and poverty may have helped point this out to me and push me in the direction of spending more time on optics for the average man. The man like me, but that spends what he ought to on optics instead of what he wants to. Certainly being at Shot and seeing all of the different low priced optics pointed out an even more compelling reason to review the lower price brackets to me. There is a great deal more difference between scopes in the low price brackets than in the high ones (actually the mid range is probably the most mundane of all.) It is not uncommon for a scope at $215 to trounce a scope at $360 even when they are imported by the same company. From the standpoint of a person writing reviews this is the gravy and in the spirit of the turkey who gave you the gravy, I give you two of the optics imported by Sellmark: The Sightmark 1-6x24mm and the Firefield 1-6x30 (it does not have a 30mm objective but rather 30mm tube they just don't know any better.)

The Sightmark 1-6x24mm next to the reference GRSC:

The Sightmark 1-6x24mm will be the foil in this combined review. At $360 msrp it is the vastly more expensive of the two scopes and yet I believe it to be the lesser scope. It's reticle is a sort of circle dot that is far to dimly lit for a 2fp scope. It also has an amazingly small field of view and yet does not seem to reap the edge to edge clarity rewards that typically accompany this sacrifice. In fact, this scope has a view so hazy that I'm sure you will immediately notice it even through the resized pictures. Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this scope is the adjustments. They are very similar to the ones that the infamous Counter Sniper scopes sport if not identical. Now, I do not accuse Sightmark of the gross advertising overstatement of the Counter Sniper scopes, (which I will not be reviewing by the way) but these are not good adjustments. They lock but feel very poor and if the reviews I have read on the Counter Sniper scopes are any indication they are not durable as well. This scope is simply not worth your $360. You could purchase a great deal more with that money from quite a few different makers.

The Sightmark at 1x with full illumination:

The Sightmark at 6x with full illumination:

Speaking of the more your can purchase here is the Firefield 1-6x scope next to the reference GRSC:

To my eyes this scope immediately appeared the better of the two and the finish actually doesn't look bad next to the much more expensive Japanese scope (I assure you that it is not optically it's equal.) The finish and machining on this scope look very good. Its adjustments, which are simple exposed 1/2moa adjustments, also feel ok. The power ring and diopter fell fine as well. I was quite surprised when I looked through the scope and found it to be FFP. Front focal plane scopes are significantly more difficult to construct and get right. There is much debate regarding how worthwhile, or even desirable, this is in a 1-(n)x scope as it is more difficult to illuminate brightly as well as to manufacture. Despite the focal plan difference, illumination on this scope was much brighter than its rival, though it was a bit bloomy in the process. I have no love for the simple mil-hash reticle this scope sports at 1x but provided it is accurate it would offer ranging at 6x. Now, I don't want to make this little $215 scope out to be more than it is. The optics were similar to the above scope, offering a small field of view, insubstantial clarity, and a less then stellar eyebox. It's only $215 though and really, what can you expect in a $215 ffp 1-6x scope that even comes with rings. You can expect less than this scope delivers that is for darn sure.

I thought I might be mistaken about either, or both, of these scopes so I called over the Sellmark folks and asked them if I had these two scopes price points correctly identified. They confirmed that I did. I then asked them if they were aware that the less expensive scope was vastly the superior one. They were apparently not aware of this though it seemed to cause no particular distress and only a little surprise. The sales person than took a look at the sugar and the vinegar I had placed before him and decided to go with the former asking me if I would like to do a full review of the Firefield. I just may take him up on this offer and do a low cost round up later this year.

The Firefield 1-6x at 1x with not quite maximum illumination:

The Firefield 1-6x at 6x with not quite maximum illumination:

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Posted: 1/30/2012 11:13:47 AM EDT
Thank you for doing this. What a wealth of info this has been. This year will should provide great reading as these scopes are put to their paces
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Posted: 1/31/2012 2:43:51 PM EDT
excellent updates, thank you !

All it's doing is making me want the GRSC 1-6 though....
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Posted: 1/31/2012 5:38:10 PM EDT
Konus M-30 1-4x24mm Shot show 2012 mini-review

Shot show was my first opportunity to view the Konus M30 1-4x24mm. Probably the best and worst thing that I can say about this scope is that it is uninteresting. At $369 it enters the market at a point already crowded and it really does nothing to distinguish itself. If you have and love a Konus you would probably buy this one. If not, its not going to convert you to the brand. The reticle does not stand out in the least. It is a 2nd focal plane duplex style that has a central dot illuminated, though not brightly. The field of view is perhaps this scopes most lacking feature. It,s field of view is significantly smaller then the GRSC reference despite the fact that, on a 1-4x 2nd focal plane scope, it is not difficult to have a much larger field of view and most optics, even in this price bracket, do. The clarity of this scope seems about in line with the average clarity at its price point. Turrets are small capped and finger adjustable with 1/2MOA clicks. They are illustrative, in many ways, of the fit and finish of the scope in general: Not terrible but also not great. I greet this scope with a resounding Meh.

The Konus M-30 1-4x24mm next to the GRSC 1-6x reference:

The Konus at 1x with maximum illumination:

The Konus at 4x with maximum illumination:

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Posted: 1/31/2012 7:39:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 3/11/2012 10:56:35 PM EDT by Xanatos903]
Scope got here today. It's my first time reviewing something, so let me know what you think.

Mueller Speed Shot 1-4x24. I was hesitant to pick this up, especially because it's just recently been released, and the Primary Arms 1-4 was also in my price range. I found this on Arf for $130 with the Primary Arms mount and figured, "Fuck it. I can sell it if it doesn't work out." So, I spent the money and it came just in time for my professors to dump work on me so I can't go shoot.

The scope, and weird colored lenses. I've used shooting glasses with this same color before, and they definitely work for making things easier to see. I don't know if I could do it if I'm shooting with both eyes open on 1x though.

I do like having an illuminated reticle. On this scope, 1 is good enough to be picked up against a bright background (inside with lights on, anyway). 11 is overkill, probably in all situations. 1x with the illumination on 1:

4x with illumination on 1:

1x with illumination on 1:

1x with illumination on 11:

Yes, the 11 does "bleed" out a bit. Inside, it's definitely annoying. Outside it probably won't be nearly that bad.

Moar pictars:

I picked up the preproduction model. Mueller says that the only difference between these and the production models is that the white numbering for the magnification is on the front of the ring, rather than the back. You can see how it's positioned in those pictures above. It was stupid to do it like that, but it's not a pain in the ass to raise my head and see how magnified I am if I even care enough to do it.

First impression: It's a high quality scope. The lenses are extremely clear. Maybe not on par with a Leupy, but they're damn good for the price I paid. The turrets give positive clicks (1 click=1/2 inch), and the reticle is easy to pick up. I wish I had something like a BDC reticle though, but I'll be putting a 50 yard zero on it, so it won't be too bad for the ranges I'm shooting at. The magnification ring is also hard to move, and it has a long distance to travel from 1-4. I'll be trying to find a cat-tail that will fit to make it a bit easier.

Both eyes open shooting is probably going to be easy, especially with the illuminated reticle.

I'm very impressed with this scope- even more so with the price I paid for it. If you guys are looking for a cheap 1-4, Mueller is running a sale on their preproduction units (the same that I've got) until they're out for $160, which when the Primary Arms is $115, may not be that good of a deal. I wish I had a Primary Arms to compare side-by-side, but I'm sure I'll eventually get that chance.

Things that don't really fit in anywhere:
It uses standard CR2032 batteries.
Close objects are actually magnified a bit, as you can see in some of the pictures.
Eye relief is ~3.5in.
Having just the dot is strange, but nice. It's easy to pick up, and the field of view is almost entirely clear. Unfortunately, a BDC reticle would probably be much more useful.

We'll see how it holds up to shooting whenever I get around to it.

Edit: Updated links to photos so they stay up.

Shooting it turned out pretty well. The reticle was easily visible in daylight around the 7th setting, and the scope was easily zeroed. The glass was very clear, allowing me to make out small targets at 100 yards easily. I really wish I could do some more extensive testing, but that will come with more use.

Buy with confidence.
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Posted: 2/2/2012 2:58:45 PM EDT
Horus Talon 1-4x24mm Shot show 2012 mini review

The first thing to know about Horus, for those of you who are not familiar with the company, is that they are all about the reticle. I am a proponent of reticles in that I believe them to be a very important part of the scope and not to be overlooked by slapping a duplex in it and calling it good enough. A good reticle is so much more than a simple aiming point. I think there are few reasons better to choose an optic than that you think it has an excellent reticle. Horus reticles can be found not only in their mid-ranged products but also in the much more expensive U.S. Optics and Leupold Tactical lines. Their reticles all have a distinctively Horus appearance to them in that they consist primarily of a large and intricate mil-grid. The idea is to accomplish mil based ranging, windage, and bullet drop all without messing with the adjustments. The grid provides ample information for getting this done. I have read passionate opinions for and against the Horus system. There really doesn't seem to be great deal of middle ground regarding whether the reticles are the greatest design in the history of rifle scopes or to busy, easy to get lost in, and a terrible idea. It you are a fan, or curious enough to lay down some dough to try one, by far the cheapest way to do so is a Horus scope. Horus charges a great deal of money to other companies for use of their reticle. As a result, buying a Leupold or USO with a Horus reticle generally costs about $400 more than with a different reticle though this premium can be greatly reduced by buying on the used market.

Reticle aside, lets have a look at the Horus. When I first gave the Horus a once over its appearance did not impress. The finish and machining does not look great, though I was happy to see an optics company using a good mount to display its optic. When looking through the Horus, and comparing it to my reference, its ratings improve. It is front focal plane, (no surprise with it's reticle) and has the same dim illumination you might expect from a ffp design, but its clarity is almost that of the GRSC, and its field of view is better. Not bad in a $650 optic with a unique reticle. The adjustments are capped and finger adjustable. They are also quite low profile. Despite this small stature they feel ok, certainly good enough given you are not going to be using them for anything but zeroing since you have the Horus reticle. All in all I find the Horus Talon to be a pretty good container for the H50 reticle. Incidentally, it did not escape my attention that in this review my refrence scope and the scope under review are probably the two optics most well known optics, for their reticles, in the industry.

The Horus Talon 1-4x24mm next to the reference GRSC:

The Horus at 1x with maximum illumination:

The Horus at 4x with maximum illumination:

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Posted: 2/3/2012 3:09:16 PM EDT
Hawke Endurance 1-4x24mm 2012 Shot Show mini review

Though Hawke has become an increasingly popular purveyor of optics, Shot Show was my first experience with their products. This is probably not unusual since brick and mortar stores seem to carry less product every year and internet shopping becomes more and more popular. I suppose I should be happy since if everybody could go out and handle all of their perspective choices, I would be a little less important as a reviewer. Still, I have mixed feelings about it all. I fear that brand name and legacy has become too important and that perhaps a great many people end up buying the wrong product for lack of research. Well, you aren't one of those people, so I should probably get back on point and talk about the scope.

The Hawke is a 1-4x24mm second focal plane scope with a German #4 reticle that has only a central dot illuminated. Despite being 2nd focal plane, this dot is not daytime bright, as is clearly apparent in the photos. The adjustments on this scope are 1/4", click, capped, and are finger adjustable (I should probably stop even mentioning finger adjustable in my reviews as coin operated adjustments have become so rare). The adjustments feel pretty good, better than I expect in this price range. They also sport set screws around the top so I expect the zero can be adjusted by the user. Worth mentioning is that these scopes come with screw on scope caps for the objective and eyepiece. These covers do not flip up, though, so I expect you will still use Butler Creek's to save time. The power ring felt smooth, but was a little looser than I would expect. The diopter was simply too loose for my taste and, oddly, had click adjustments. I have not seen click adjustments on a diopter before and I am not sure why anyone would want such a feature.

Overall the optics were not impressive. The field of view was small; smaller than I would expect in a 1-4x 2fp scope at this price point. The clarity was a bit better. It was more along the lines of what I would expect at this price point as well as can be told with only a $1k reference scope. The really problematic part of this optic was not the field of view or clarity but rather an odd effect I noticed at 1x. Every scope bends the image as you move your head off center behind the scope, but on the Hawke this effect was much more pronounced. Usually the viewer does not notice this bending when not specifically trying to look for it, but on the Hawke it stood out to the point that I think anyone would notice it and be annoyed.

The Hawke Endurance 1-4x24mm next to the GRSC reference:

The Hawke at 1x with maximum illumination:

The Hawke at 4x with maximum illumination:

Now, at this point, you might be wondering why I said all that stuff about folks putting too much weight on brand if the new guy I was preparing to write about was not going to be getting a great review. The fact is that Hawke is not a manufacturer: they are a brand name. They market a number of products from different OEMs under the Hawke brand. This means that someone rating things by brand will have difficulty when categorizing Hawke optics as they represent different quality levels under their different lines to a greater extent than, say, Leupold within its American made VX lines (all of which are made by Leupold). This practice of housing products made by more than one OEM under the same brand is becoming more common and, I think, can be difficult for the consumer completely sort out. Almost all of the "American" optics brands are now labels for products made by other companies overseas. The result is that the consumer must judge and shop carefully as the brand has more to do with the warranty service you will get than the actual optic.

My case in point is the Hawke Sapphire compact binoculars. I was not overly impressed with the Endurance 1-4x scope, but these little binoculars looked quite nice. I had brought with me some reference binoculars to go with the scope, so I am not just blowing smoke. If you judged these binoculars based on the scope review you might not have had a look. You would be missing out. They are affordably priced at around $300 but are very good.
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Posted: 2/3/2012 3:55:29 PM EDT
I also made the rounds of the Shot Show and spent a day in just the optics section. We will be putting Aimpoint M-4's on our carbines but will use the Meopta for the SOCOM16's.
Scouts Out
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Posted: 2/3/2012 5:07:07 PM EDT
I was there as well for the whole week, and I had the exact opposite impression of the Steiner 1-4x, and I'm an optics snob too. They said there was a big difference between the 1-4x they had stand-laone, and the one mounted on one of the demo guns. I looked at the one on the demo gun, and it was one of the most impressive 1-4x scopes I have ever seen. The glass clarity reminded me of Swarovski, the illumination was one of the brightest I have seen, it had zero-stop on very low-profile uncapped knobs, one of the smoothest magnification rings-if not the smoothest, and in-between OFF for the illumination rheostat.

I have zero connection with Steiner, and no motivation other than what I saw to make my statements. I do agree that the $1700 price point on their 1-4x will be a big turn-off, since so many 1-6x, 1-8x, and 1-10x scopes are becoming the rage. The exit pupil and eye-relief was very forgiving on the Steiner 1-4x as well.

I was also impressed with Kahles new tactical line of rifle optics, especially the weight and features. I believe they had a 1-6x as well. Maybe it was covered already.
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Posted: 2/5/2012 5:34:30 PM EDT
Leatherwood Hi-Lux CMR and DMR Shot show 2012 mini reviews

I suppose the first thing to highlight in this review is that, as you might have guessed, there is going to be a second 1-4x Leatherwood scope in the near future. My e-mail from their president seems to indicate that this scope will be called the DMR though I had it in my notes from Shot as the CMR 4. This is probably as good a time as any to mention that Leatherwood was the last stop of day 2 for me and I was substantially rushed by the impending closing of Shot for the day. Unfortunately, I never got back and the time crunch, coupled with the elapsed time since, has made my notes and my mind a bit foggy on some details. Nevertheless, I shall tell you what I know. I do not guarantee any perfection or clarity in these little Shot blurbs. They are just that, blurbs, any quality is purely coincidental and will not be repeated.

Externally, the new scope appears very similar to the original CMR. The differences have more to do with functionality than with appearance. Actually, in the below photo of the Leatherwood president holding both optics, I am not totally sure which is which. I think the scope without the add on rail is the old model, but I could be wrong. I do know that the through the scope pictures are of the new optic and you will notice that the illumination scheme is slightly different as well as the reticle itself. Previously, only the horseshoe portion illuminated. On the new scope, the horseshoe and bdc portions illuminate though not brightly. You will also note that a mill ladder now appears below the bdc portion as well as to the left and right of the central portion. I applaud Leatherwoods dual mode, stadia and calculation, ranging system. This has been improved on the DMR and the adjustments have been changed to mil from 1/2 moa.

John Wu, the Hi-Lux president with both the existing CMR and forthcoming DMR scopes:

The new DMR at 1x with illuminaiton at max:

The new DMR at 4x with illumination at max:

Now, you are no doubt thinking, at this point, that a switch from MOA to mil and a few tweaks to the reticle are not enough to justify the $599 msrp on the DMR vs. the $320, with mount, street price on the CMR. I assure you that, despite the similarities in the design of the optical system, they are not made with the same components. The new DMR has significantly improved clarity as well as better adjustments. The clarity is not that of the $1k reference GRSC but is better than the CMR. The turrets actually feel very good on the DMR. They are now capped and slightly smaller than the original CMR but the big difference is that they feel solid instead of a bit soft and squidgey. Both scopes have smooth power and diopter rings and they both have an interesting integrated cat tale that can be installed by the user on the power ring.

When the CMR first hit the market, about a year and a half ago, I expected, based primarily on the reticle, great success. From what the Leatherwood folks have told me this has been the case. Reviews on forums, such as this one, have delivered them something of a word of mouth advertising campaign. I remember following this, with some interest, last year and all of the reviews I have read have been good. Given the number of reviews, this is a very good testament to the durability of the product. Durability is always the primary concern for optics in this price range. While both optics do not over deliver on optical performance, mechanical performance, or illumination relative to other optics at their price ranges they do deliver better reticles and features than most and seem to be, in the case of the CMR, holding up well. I see no reason why the prospective buyer should expect unhappiness from these optics. It is very likely that I will be doing a full review of at least one of the Leatherwood scopes in the near future so stay tuned.

The DMR next to the GRSC reference scope.

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