The 2014 High-End Rifle Scope Field Test is officially underway, and I’ve already collected pages of data. Here is a photo from Day 1 of testing at the range. The quality of glass on that bench is striking. This could be the finest collection of rifle scopes ever assembled. The 18 scopes in the pic total up to about $60,000 worth of optics!
Thanks so much to everyone for the feedback on the tests! I got a ton of great tips that will make these field tests even more reliable, objective, and useful. There were a few people I wanted to thank specifically (in no particular order):
- Sean Murphy, Drew Vedenhaupt, and the Nightforce Engineering Team – Nightforce has hardcore in-house testing, so these guys gave me a lot of great tips and answered many of my more technical optics questions.
- Andy Webber & the Tangent Theta Engineering Team – Although they weren’t able to include their new scope in this round of tests, the guys at Tangent Theta definitely saw value in an independent party conducting objective tests on rifle scopes. So they spent a considerable amount of time talking over my proposed tests, and giving me some great feedback.
- ILya Koshkin – ILya seems to be an optics expert among experts. He has a ton of great content on his website OpticsThoughts.com, which really helped educate me. His Riflescopes Fundamentals article is the best I’ve read on the subject (out of probably 20+ that I’ve read), and he wrote a very thorough review on a few “Heavyweight” scopes, including some of the models in these field tests. I highly recommend that read also. ILya was kind enough to take the time to read through my tests and give me some very practical feedback that I was able to integrate.
- Jeff Huber of Kahles – Jeff is a veteran in the optics industry, and is a wealth of information. He worked for Nightforce for quite a while, but more recently Jeff started a company that is the US Importer of Kahles scopes. Kahles is huge in European precision rifles, but has just re-entered the US market. Jeff helped me think through a lot of my tests while I was still in the “brainstorming phase.”
- Jason at EuroOptic.com – Jason has performed some similar tests in the past, and gave me some great tips. EuroOptic.com also helped me get a few scopes to test that I wasn’t able to wrangle from the manufacturer directly. It really helped me round out the lineup. Great guys over there.
- George Syrengelas and the US Optics Engineers – These guys read through my proposed tests and gave me their vote of confidence, which means a lot. In fact, after reading through it they offered to send me other models to have them represented as well … that tells me they have confidence in their product.
- BigJimFish from SnipersHide.com – I’ve read a bunch of Jim’s optics reviews, and we seem to have a similar, straight-forward, engineer’s approach. He gave me some good tips, and Jim has an amazing idea for an objective way to test scope durability that hopefully we’ll all benefit from at some point in the future. I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m definitely looking forward to it.
- Frank (aka Lowlight) from SnipersHide.com – Frank has a very practical view of things, which I can really appreciate. He gave me a few good tips. It was actually his suggestion that pushed me over the top on making all the optical quality tests blind (i.e. covering all the scopes so the testers can’t see what brand or model any of them are). I had considered that, but was having trouble coming up with a way for testers to still be able to adjust the side focus if it was blind. But after Frank’s suggestion, I thought more about it and came up with a way to make it work. I think that will end up being a critical piece to this.
- TimK from SnipersHide.com – I read a post Tim wrote that had some good ideas for ways to objectively test scopes. He also had some good tips for things I needed to really watch during my tests for them to be truly objective, and one good refinement to make the vertical tracking test results even more useful.
- The Vision Engineers at Edmund Optics – Wow, these guys know a lot about optics. Although I had questions that caused them to bump me up to more senior engineers a few times, they were always able to find the answer. Definitely the professionals in this industry.
There were many, many others on SnipersHide.com and OpticsTalk.com forums that gave me feedback, and other manufacturers as well … and I apologize if I forgot to mention you. I just had a hard time keeping track of everyone. I’ve also learned a lot from the stacks of articles I’ve read on how other people test scopes, like those written by FinnAccuracy. Most of those people I haven’t met … but I’m building on top of their hard work.
I sincerely appreciate how willing everyone was to help me refine this field test … and how patient everyone was with my insistent questions. You guys helped me take these tests to a whole different level.
I’ll leave you with pic I took of the full line-up. It’s a pretty cool side-by-side perspective. I’ll have a lot more high-res photos like this in the results, but this is a teaser I’ll leave you guys with. This should also help satisfy any remaining skeptics out there that were doubting I’d be able to gather all of these. There were some concerns about the availability of a few … but the stars must have aligned, because they all made it!
- Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5-21×50
- Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30×50
- Hensoldt ZF 3.5-26×56
- Kahles K 6-24×56
- Leupold Mark 6 3-18×44
- Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56
- March 3-24×42 FFP
- Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×50
- Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56
- Nightforce BEAST 5-25×56
- Schmidt and Bender PMII 5-25×56
- Schmidt and Bender PMII 3-27×56
- Steiner Military 5-25×56
- US Optics ER25 5-25×58
- Valdada IOR 3.5-18×50
- Valdada IOR RECON 4-28×50
- Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50
- Zeiss Victory FL Diavari 6–24×56