This is the executive summary and overall scores from an epic scope field test focused on long-range, tactical rifle scopes in the $1,500+ price range. This represents an unprecedented, data-driven approach to evaluating the best scopes money can buy. Over 400 hours have gone into this research, and the line-up and tests are built on advice from some of the most respected experts in the industry. My goal with this project was to equip fellow long-range shooters with as much hard data as I could reasonably gather, so they could see what they’re paying for.
I’ve published ridiculously exhaustive details, which you’re invited to read … but I’ll try to sum it up in this post.
- Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR 3.5-21×50
- Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS 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 Tactical 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 Tactical 4-28×50
- Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50
- Zeiss Victory FL Diavari 6–24×56
All scopes met these guidelines:
- Sells for more than $1,500 (had to draw the line somewhere to keep the number of scopes manageable)
- Variable magnification with at least 6x on the low end and 18x on the high end
- Available with a tactical/milling reticle (i.e. evenly spaced marks on both vertical and horizontal axis)
Why Didn’t You Include …
- Premier – They’re no longer in business.
- Tangent Theta 5-25×56 – Tangent Theta was still in pre-production on this scope when I started these tests, and couldn’t send me a test scope.
- Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 – Vortex hadn’t started production on this scope when I started these tests, and couldn’t send me a test scope.
- SWFA Super Sniper – Most models are below the $1500 price limit. In fact, there is only one model that is exactly $1500.
- Counter Sniper – You’re kidding, right? 😉
- My Favorite Scope – It either doesn’t match the guidelines above, isn’t one of the most popular models in this market segment, or is represented well by one of the 18 scopes already in the test.
About The Tests
DON’T TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED! The bottom line is to deal in absolute fundamentals, measure them, and remove all the assumptions. Don’t ever assume that something is what it says without measuring it. – Bryan Litz, Applied Ballistics for Long-Range Shooting
Bryan Litz’s quote above exemplifies my philosophy. I’ve tried to find an objective approach to quantify as many features and as much performance as I could. Keep in mind this is a field test, not a laboratory test … and I’m not claiming it’s flawless. I did put my best effort into this being as objective, precise, and unbiased as practically possible using the equipment I could afford.
There was an intense, 4 week peer-review for this project, where I solicited feedback on what scopes should be included, and asked for critiques on the detailed tests I planned to conduct. That feedback honestly took this project to another level. I listed out a few of those who helped in a previous post, but thanks again to all the optics engineers, industry experts, scope companies, and individual readers that donated time and effort to help with this.
This test included $70,000 worth of optics. But for the most part, that only consisted of one test scope per model and many of those were loaned from the manufacturers directly (see where each came from). Ideally, I’d have gathered 5+ test scopes for each model from random retail shelves throughout the world … but that would’ve totaled $350,000. Not only am I not comfortable borrowing $350k of glass (as if retailers were lining up to send me scopes), it took me 400+ hours to test 18 scopes and analyze and publish the data. I realize that’s ridiculous. But testing 90 scopes in this in-depth fashion is ludicrous, and virtually impossible.
While this field test is absolutely an original, valuable tool for evaluating scopes, people shouldn’t take this as gospel. It’s just another tool in your toolbox when researching scopes. I recommend a balanced approach by reading other reviews (like those by ILya Koshkin and BigJimFish), talking to shooters with hands-on experience with the equipment, looking at what the experts are using, and considering a company’s reputation and longevity.
As a full disclaimer, my goal isn’t to make money off this website. At this point, I’m still in the red (i.e. it’s cost WAY more than it’s paid). I’ve been approached by several manufacturers (including some of these scope manufacturers) with offers to sponsor this website. I’ve declined everyone to date. I want to stay independent, so you guys can trust my content to be unbiased. While I’m very passionate about long-range shooting, it’s just a hobby for me. Honestly, I have a great job that I love in a completely different industry. I’m content with my pay there, so fortunately I’m in a spot where I can afford to be an idealist! Ultimately, I believe the shooting sports world needs an independent voice that can’t be bought and is willing to tell it like it is, so I’m trying to be that. I’m not out to get any manufacturers, but I’m not interested in getting in bed with any either. I don’t want to feel like I have to pull punches if I see flaws in their products. This may sound foreign or hard to believe, but it’s the way it is.
Overview of Tests
I took a fresh approach to quantifying optical performance. Instead of getting caught up in technical aspects like coatings or HD glass, I focused on the end result: overall image quality perceived by the user. This was the only part of my field test that wasn’t directly measurable, so I went to extreme lengths to mitigate human bias. These were double-blind tests (nobody knew which scope they were looking through), and I averaged the results over 6 people of various ages, most of whom were “disinterested parties.”
The optical clarity tests were all conducted in an indoor, controlled environment using eye exam charts and other standardized optics charts at 100 yards. The eye exam charts were similar to what an eye doctor would use to test visual acuity, and I scored the size of letters and accuracy testers could read through each scope.
I also measured the actual field of view. With the help of many optics experts, I devised a way to set the apparent magnification of each scope to exactly 18x (instead of trusting the marks on the magnification ring). That allowed the measured field of view to be directly comparable across all the scopes.
I also came up with a method to determine the maximum magnification (as perceived by the shooter), and calculated the zoom ratio based on that measurement. The photo below is a quick illustration of my approach, but I provide more details on all these tests in the Optical Performance Posts.
Mechanical performance is critically important, but has been largely neglected by the shooting press. Here is what Dennis Sammut, Founder/President of Horus Vision, has to say on the subject:
Yearly, a virtual mountain of written information is spewed forth from the word processor of gun writers. … When the subject is “riflescopes,” the writer’s primary focus is on external looks, dimensions, weight, reticle, image resolution, power range, and similar physical characteristics. It is impossible to find an article that evaluates a particular riflescope or runs a test on a group of a riflescope’s ability to accurately respond to elevation and windage knob adjustments.
I put a lot of energy into this part of the tests, because I feel like it is part of my original contribution to the shooting community. I ran a lot of tests, but a major one was analyzing how precisely calibrated a scope’s mechanical adjustments were from 5 to 20 mils. Many experts suggest you check how well your scope tracks, and after this test, I realize why they’re so adamant … even these top tier scopes don’t track as well as you might expect. I was able to quantify the amount of mechanical error in each scope, which was enlightening. After I published the mechanical results, many were inspired to test their own scope, and I’ve been contacted by several who’ve said their results were virtually identical to these published results.
I also tested for reticle cant, and actually discovered a measurable amount in a few of the scopes. I measured the max elevation travel in each scope, compared the amount of elevation travel per revolution, and conducted a live-fire box test with a magnum rifle.
I published a lot of information on the experience of using the scope that simply isn’t available anywhere else. It helps compare some of the things you’d notice if you had a chance to get behind the scope and use it for a few days. I hit obvious topics like weight and size, but also dive into eye relief, turret design, how easy are the knobs to operate, how easy is it to read the numbers on the turret, how tightly packed are the clicks on the turret, and other items. I even go scope by scope, listing notable features and things to keep in mind. Plus, I provide a video of the scope in use from the shooter’s perspective, and a high-res gallery with photos from every angle.
Rifle scope innovation seems to have found a new gear lately, which has led to a mountain of new features. It can be confusing to figure out which scope has which features, because of a lack of information (or confusing info) from the manufacturers, or the info is poorly organized on their website or buried in a manual. To make matters worse, the names of these features can vary by manufacturer. So I sorted through all that stuff, and presented it in a clear-cut way that is easy to compare.
For long-range shooters, the most important of these features is the reticle, so I compiled a comprehensive gallery of the tactical reticles available in each model. I also researched which scopes included features like zero stop, locking turrets, illumination, turret direction, double turn turret designs, more tactile clicks (MTC), toolfree zero reset, one-piece tubes, mil-spec anodizing, and others. And I compared First Focal Plane (FFP) and Second Focal Plane (SFP) models. Lastly, I compared the warranty terms of each scope. My intent with this area was to give you an idea of how many of these advanced features each scope offers, and also make comparison easier for items that are notoriously hard to find or difficult to compare side-by-side.
Before I started publishing any of the results, I surveyed 700+ readers to establish what the shooting community felt were the most important features for a long-range, tactical scope. For example, is optical clarity or mechanical precision more important? This feedback helped me determine how to weight the various aspects in my overall score. This ensures the overall scores reflect what’s most important to the precision rifle community, instead of being based on one person’s opinion. Here are the results of the survey:
As you can see, shooters thought mechanical performance (precisely calibrated clicks and internal adjustment range) was most important, and ranked it slightly more important than optical performance (resolution, contrast, field of view, and zoom ratio). Trailing those, was what I’ve grouped as “Advanced Features,” which includes reticle options, locking turrets, zero stop, illumination, etc. And right behind that was Ergonomics, which is the size and weight of the scope, as well as the overall experience operating the scope (i.e. how easy is the scope to use).
Based on that survey, and lots of conversations with long-range shooters, I’ve developed a very detailed benchmark for tactical scopes. I used this benchmark to calculate the overall scores for the 18 scopes I tested.
Best Tactical Scope
Drum roll, please … here are your overall results for the field test based on the tests and weights described above:
The Schmidt and Bender PMII 5-25×56 ended up on top, which may not be a shocker, but it just confirms why most of the top shooters use them (see data on what the pros use). It is a proven design, and while the S&B 5-25×56 wasn’t the top performer in any one category … it always seem to be in the top 5, and that well-rounded consistency is what earned it the top spot. Among the specific scopes I tested, the optical clarity of the Zeiss and the Schmidt and Bender 5-25×56 scopes were in a class above the rest (see the optical post for more details on that). It also had one of the largest field of views. The design and overall feel of Schmidt and Bender’s DT turret was a favorite among many of the testers.
Close on its heels, and coming in at #2 overall, is the Nightforce BEAST 5-25×56. The BEAST was released by Nightforce in 2013, and contains many innovative features. It is the only First Focal Plane (FFP) Nightforce scope in this test (the only other FFP they offer is an older design 3.5-15×50 model). The BEAST features a Double Turn turret design (a first for Nightforce) with an incredibly massive amount of travel per revolution. Not everyone was a fan of the unique ½ click elevation switch in this design, because it is just one more thing to double-check before you pull the trigger. That switch combined with the locking turret knob, also made the BEAST an unusually tall scope. But obviously, there were enough great things about the Nightforce BEAST to earn its way to the #2 spot.
After those two scopes, the race gets really tight. There were only 1.4 points separating #3 from #8, and only 3.5 points separating #3 from #11! That’s just a 4% difference in overall score from the 16th percentile to the 61st percentile! However, even though the overall scores were close, there was a lot of variance in how each one got there. Some performed outstanding in one aspect, only to fall short in another, and other scopes were more consistent with moderate performance all around.
Coming in at #3 is the Kahles K 6-24×56. Kahles is the tactical sister company of Swarovski. They’re a well-known brand in Europe, and making a strong reentry into the US. Kahles has a rich history, manufacturing their first scope in 1899! The Kahles 6-24×56 proved to be a strong contender. The glass on the test scope I received didn’t perform as well as the others that ended up in the top half, but an absolute flawless performance in the mechanical calibration tests made up a lot of the difference. It was also the lightest scope among those finishing in the top half, and had the widest field of view of any scope tested. The Kahles scope did have one of the smallest zoom ratios (i.e. magnification adjustment range) among this group of scopes. One unusual design element is the parallax adjustment is a ring around the elevation turret instead of a side knob, but testers didn’t mind the change. Overall, the Kahles scope is impressive, and since it sells for less than any scope in the top 7, it looks to be a great value as well.
That brings us to the most interesting of our scopes, at #4, the Hensoldt ZF 3.5-26×56. Hensoldt engineers cleary broke the mold with this scope. The Hensoldt scope was an extremist! It was a perennial outlier that found its way to the very top or the very bottom of every list. The Hensoldt 3.5-26×56 was flawless in the mechanical calibration tests, finished 3rd overall in image quality, and has one of the largest zoom ratios of any scope available. Its unique double-turn design makes it virtually impossible to lose track of what revolution you’re on (see a demo video in the Ergonomics Part 2 post). The clicks on the turret were very crisp. But it was also the heaviest scope by far, and the most bulky in this group. And the Hensoldt 3.5-26×56 only comes in one reticle (hope you like it).
The US Optics ER-25 5-25×58 came in at #5 with solid all-around performance. It’s the best value among scopes in the $3,000-4,200 price range (most performance per dollar). It was 1 of 3 scopes that performed flawlessly on both the mechanical calibration and reticle cant tests, and it did well optically too. US Optics also offers more reticle choices than any other company, and a lot of other customization features as well that aren’t available through other manufacturers (Cerakote color, illumination color, eyepiece options including one with an internal level, 10+ standard reticle choices or the option for them to build a reticle to your own specifications). You could almost call them a custom scope company. It also has an very useful feature that allows you to make use of more of the elevation travel, which I cover in more detail in Mechanical Performance Part 2. One downside with the US Optics 5-25×58 was that it is 1.6 inches longer than any other scope tested, which makes it feel less maneuverable. Clicks on the EREK turret weren’t as crisp as other scopes in the top 5, although that had no effect on mechanical precision. It also only has numbers marked on the turret for the 1st rotation, and with 11 mils per revolution, it can get confusing what adjustment you’re on during the 2nd and 3rd revolution. The USO 5-25×58 is a great all around scope, purpose-built for extreme range shooting.
The Leupold Mark 8 3.5-25×56 came in at #6, with very well-rounded performance. The Mark 8 performed near-perfect mechanically, and boasted one of the largest zoom ratios (i.e. magnification adjustment ranges) in this group. There are a couple neat features about the Pinch & Turn turret, but overall it felt very mushy compared to the crisp, positive clicks on other scopes in this class. However, the Mark 8 is also available with a ZeroLock turret, which some testers preferred. The Leupold Mark 8 scope performed above average in just about every category and test, which is how it landed at #6.
Valdada claimed the #7 spot overall with the Valdada IOR RECON Tactical 4-28×50. It features the 2nd largest field of view in this group, and a huge zoom ratio (i.e. magnification adjustment range), which makes it very flexible. The parallax adjustment is a ring on the objective side of the tube instead of the standard side-knob, which some testers found awkward to adjust from prone. It had an absurd amount of elevation travel (38.0 mils total), and the mechanics tracked perfectly both the mechanical calibration and reticle cant tests (only 3 of 18 scopes accomplished that). One major downside is there is only one reticle, but maybe you’ll like it. It was also one of the heaviest scopes in the tests, and featured a proprietary 40mm tube. There are some other innovative features packed into this scope that you can read more about in the Ergonomics Part 3 post.
Leupold claimed two spots in the top 50%, including the compact Leupold Mark 6 3-18×44 in the #8 spot. It’s one of the lightest scopes in this group, at almost 1/2 the weight of some of the heavier models. Also, at just under 12” long, it was the most compact of this group. There was a lot to like about the Mark 6, including its near-perfect mechanical calibration. The scope I tested didn’t provide great optical clarity. The ZeroLock turret only provides 20 mils of elevation adjustment, which was the second least of the 18 scopes tested. It was surprising to see how well the compact Leupold Mark 6 could compete with more full-sized scopes. Leupold certainly packed a ton of performance per ounce.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical DMR 3.5-21×50 edged into the top 50% at #9. The value this scope provides is shocking, with it outperforming scopes that cost 6 times as much! This scope is very compact, at just 13.3” long, which is one of the shortest of this group. It had generous elevation travel, mechanical calibration was about average, and image quality was just below average. However, when you consider price, Bushnell Elite Tactical 3.5-21×50 offers the most bang for your buck when compared to any scope on this list. It’s a killer value.
Rounding out the top 10, is the Nightforce ATACR 5-25×56. The Nightforce ATACR was ranked as the best value among scopes in the $2,000-3,000 price range (most performance per dollar). It proved to have some impressive glass with a 4th place finish in image quality. It provides a huge amount of elevation travel at 38.4 mils, which was the 2nd largest range in this test. There are only 3 reticles to choose from, but there are some good designs to pick from. The biggest downside is that the Nightforce ATACR is a 2nd Focal Plane design, and most long-range shooters prefer a 1st Focal Plane (FFP) scope. (Note: 80% of scopes in this test were FFP)
The biggest surprise in this whole project was the new Schmidt and Bender PMII 3-27×56 High Power. I conducted a pre-test vote to see what scope people thought would end up on top, and I personally voted for this one … but I was wrong. The Schmidt and Bender 3-27×56 does provide one of the largest zoom ratios (i.e. wide range of magnification) of this group, but the test scope I had failed to live up to the performance Schmidt and Bender is known for. It performed slightly below average in the optical clarity tests, and had one of the narrowest field of views. Schmidt and Bender requested that I send this scope to them for evaluation, and they found at least one defect that could account for the poor image quality. However, it also didn’t track well mechanically. It was off by a 1/2 click at 5 mils and a full click at 10, 15, and 20 mils, which is hard to compensate for with a correction factor. Perhaps I got a lemon, but at over $6,000, you’d hope those wouldn’t make it to the customer. After extensive hands-on experience with the proven Schmidt and Bender PMII 5-25×56, I’m confident the Schmidt and Bender engineers will work out all the kinks with this newer design, and when they do this scope may jump to the top of the list.
The Nightforce NXS 5.5-22×50 is another scope providing an enormous amount of performance for the price. The Nightforce NXS shocked a few people with its 5th place finish in optical clarity. It had impressive image quality and brightness, even compared to some of these big name scopes with larger objectives. It also tracked well mechanically. A major drawback of the NXS is it’s a 2nd Focal Plane design (80% of scopes in this test were FFP). It did have one of the smallest zoom ratios (i.e. magnification adjustment range) of this group of scopes, which is what you’d expect from an older (but proven) design.
Coming in at #13 was the innovative Steiner Military 5-25×56. This scope has a very unique turret design, which completely fixes the problem of accidentally being on the wrong revolution. It had good, but not great, performance mechanically and optically. The Steiner 5-25×56 scope only has two reticle choices, but one of them is the very popular MSR reticle. The MSR reticle is the most popular reticle about top precision rifle shooters (see the data) … so you might just need one. It was a well-rounded scope, rarely at the bottom of any list. This scope felt like it was built like a tank, but it’s worth mentioning that Steiner includes an exceptional “no questions asked” warranty.
The Vortex Razor HD 5-20×50 landed at #14. It features the most elevation travel of any scope, at just over 40 mils. If you need more than that, you’re probably launching missiles! Yet it had one of the narrowest field of views, and smallest zoom ratios (i.e. range of magnification). The Vortex Razor HD had 1.1% of mechanical error, although Vortex did say they would gladly repair any scope that a customer found having that much error. Vortex does provide one of the most absurdly generous warranties in the business, as well as the fastest turnaround-time.
At #15 is the Valdada IOR 3.5-18×50. It had good optical clarity, finishing in the middle of the pack, but above some names like Schmidt and Bender, Kahles, March, and Leupold. Its mechanical calibration was about average, with an average error of 0.5%. The Valdada 3.5-18×50 only provides 20 mils of elevation travel, which was one of the weakest of this group (especially compared to the Valdada 4-28×50, which had almost double that). One major downside is there is only one reticle, and unfortunately, some testers didn’t like it.
The Bushnell Elite Tactical XRS 4.5-30×50 ended up at the #16 spot. The scope I tested performed poorly in the optical clarity tests, finishing dead last (keep in mind I only had one scope to test). In the grand scheme of things, all of these scopes are 8s, 9s, and 10s in terms of optical clarity. So just because it was the worse of this group, doesn’t mean that it is a disaster. It performed identical to the Schmidt and Bender 3-27×56 in the mechanical calibration test, but unfortunately that meant it had 0.8% of error. That isn’t a train wreck, but isn’t good either. The Bushnell Elite Tactical 4.5-30×50 scope provides 20 mils of elevation travel, which was one of the smallest. You only have 3 reticle choices on this scope, but all 3 are great ones, including the G2DMR reticle designed by GAP and the two most popular Horus reticles, so you’re likely to find one you like.
The March Scopes representative in these tests, the March Tactical 3-24×42 FFP, had underwhelming performance mechanically, which was the main cause of it dropping to #17. I tested two different scopes (one MOA, one mil), and they both had over 2% error mechanically. When this was published, it triggered other shooters to test their March Scopes, and multiple people have said their scope performed virtually identical to my results. I believe the March scope is the only one of this group that uses mils based on the NATO standard (1/6400), instead of true mathematical mils (1/6284) (learn about mil standards). The March Scope also failed to impress optically, finishing towards the bottom of the list in image quality. It had one of the narrowest field of views. There are limited reticle choices, although some testers liked the designs. On the upside, it provides the largest zoom ratio (i.e. magnification range) of all the scopes in this list, and was the most lightweight. March is an innovative company, and they’re currently working on scopes with 10x zoom ratios (e.g. 5-50x), but I’m hoping they address the issues that seem to be present in their current line.
Rounding out our list is the Zeiss Victory FL Diavari 6-24×56 at #18. It was a heartbreaker. I started by testing optical clarity, and there wasn’t a single scope better than the Zeiss. It was #1 in terms of image quality. When I first took it out the box and glanced through it … I knew it’d be a contender. But it was all downhill from there. First, it’s a SFP scope and most shooters prefer a FFP scope when given the choice (80% of scopes in this test were FFP). The Zeiss Victory scope had one of the smallest zoom ratios of this group. For a long-range scope, it was definitely lacking in elevation travel, with the equivalent of 16 mils overall. That is almost half what the average was for the other 17 scopes. The units on the turret were ¼” clicks at 100 yards (i.e. Shooter’s MOA), but it had a mildot reticle, and those mixed units can make adjustments and corrections confusing. Zeiss’s target audience is hunters, but this scope is so close to a tactical scope. They nailed the hard part by providing A+ glass, but several simple design issues may keep tactical shooters from seeing Zeiss Victory Diavari 6-24×56 as a viable option. In the future, I hope Zeiss decides to serve the growing world of long-range, tactical shooting, and they address some of the design issues with a new line of scopes. If they did, they could become a serious competitor very quickly.
Some writers publish watered-down results by simply providing a summarized A, B, C rating. It’s like they don’t think we’re smart enough to interpret the data for ourselves (or perhaps their results aren’t based on data at all). I have a very different approach, and am committed to 100% transparency. I’ve already posted the detailed scores and breakdown in each area, as well as all of the underlying data.
So before anyone throws a fit about this not being the “right” breakdown … remember, I’ve published the details for every single piece of data this is based on, so feel free to calculate your own score based on whatever factors you’d like. I feel like this is a great scoring system, and provides a high-level overview for the guys who aren’t interested in diving into the details.
If you are a detailed guy, here are links to the scores and summary pages for each of the areas:
- Mechanical Performance Summary & Scores
- Optical Performance Summary & Scores
- Advanced Features Summary & Scores
- Ergonomics Summary & Scores
Best Rifle Scope For The Money
The overall score was purely based on performance, acting like all scopes cost the same amount … but we all know that isn’t the case. Here is the breakdown of the price ranges of each scope, including the model that I tested. The chart is in the order of overall finish, with #1 on top and #18 at the bottom. (Note: Scopes with the same magnification range and objective size within the same basic line of scopes were considered the same model.)
So now let’s compare prices and to the overall score. The chart below shows the average street price alongside the overall score. Where you see a blue line towering above the green line, that pattern screams value. It indicates the scope scored very well in my benchmark compared to its price point. Likewise, when the blue and green lines are near each other, the scope is less of a value. If the green line is well above the blue line, that means the scope didn’t perform as well as it might should have with respect to its price.
If nothing else, this visualization makes it clear that there are a lot of remarkable scopes out there for the money. Manufacturers are aggressively competing in this space, and as a result, they’re turning out incredible products. No one could have anticipated the giant leap we’ve made in optics over the past 20 years!
The chart below shows another way to visualize performance and price by looking at the price you pay per point of performance. It is essentially what each point cost in US dollars. It’s grouped in bands of prices, and each group is sorted with the highest value (i.e. the lowest price per point) on top. This chart also helps you see the diminishing rate of return as you move up in price, which simply means it costs substantially more dollars for incremental increases in performance.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all “right” answer for which scope you should buy. It is highly dependent both how you plan to use it and your discretionary income. The decision comes down to striking the right balance between multiple competing characteristics such as design, features, performance, and price all with respect to your intended use.
Like I mentioned before, I spent 400+ hours on this project simply to help fellow shooters who were in my same shoes … trying to decide which scope to invest in. When you’re dropping this much money on a scope, you want to make the right decision, so I hope this field test armed you with some good data so you can make an informed decision.
I’m also hoping promote transparent, data-driven product comparisons like this one, and possibly inspire others to apply this same approach to other areas. It’s certainly a lot of work, but I’m hoping it catches on. I realize some of these results have been controversial, but I saw one forum member who said “in the end I think a measure of good scope or the accepted level from end user has just gone up one step.” I couldn’t agree more. These types of data-driven comparisons will move the industry forward, and we’ll all benefit from it.
If you’ve found this info helpful, please share it on Facebook, your favorite forum, or tell other shooters next time you’re at the range.
Other Post in this Series
This is just one of a whole series of posts related to this high-end tactical scope field test. Here are links to the others:
- Field Test Overview & Rifle Scope Line-Up Overview of how I came up with the tests, what scopes were included, and where each scope came from.
- Optical Performance Results
- Ergonomics & Experience Behind the Scope
- Part 1: Side-by-side comparisons on topics like weight, size, eye relief, and how easy turrets are to use and read
- Part 2 & Part 3: Goes through each scope highlighting the unique features, provides a demo video from the shooter’s perspective, and includes a photo gallery with shots from every angle.
- Summary: Provides overall scores related to ergonomics and explains what those are based on.
- Advanced Features
- Reticles: See every tactical reticle offered on each scope.
- Misc Features: Covers features like illumination, focal plane, zero stop, locking turrets, MTC, mil-spec anodozing, one-piece tubes
- Warranty & Where They’re Made: Shows where each scope is made, and covers the details of the warranty terms and where the work is performed.
- Summary: Overall scores related to advanced features and how those were calculated.
- Mechanical Performance
- Summary & Overall Scores: Provides summary and overall score for entire field test.