Around April 14th, I’ll begin a massive field test focused on high-end tactical rifle scopes. A lot of companies have entered this space in the past 2-3 years, and I’ve assembled 18 of the most popular models in the $1500 and up price range. Here is the line-up:
- 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 3-24×52 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
Why didn’t you include …
- Premier – Sad news, you can no longer buy Premier scopes. PremierReticles.com says “The assets of Premier Reticles Ltd. were purchased by Tangent Theta Incorporated in early 2013. Tangent Theta’s products will replace a majority of the Premier line with a new series of professional rifle scopes.” Andrew Webber, President of Tangent Theta, told me they have no plans to continue making any of the Premier scopes (but they are working on a new line that has my attention).
- Tangent Theta – I hoped to include the Tangent Theta 5-25×56 scope, but unfortunately they are still in pre-production. They’ve been working on a new line of scopes for 2 years, and are committed to ensuring it is perfect before releasing it. This scope includes fresh designs, and because they bought the intellectual property from Premier and brought on some of Premier’s brightest engineers … I’m very interested to get my hands on one of these. They hope to have some available for evaluation in about 3 months, and I plan to run it through these same exact tests at that point, so it can be compared to this original set of scopes.
- Vortex Razor HD Gen II 4.5-27×56 – Similar story here … Vortex is still making some last minute touches on this design, and are hoping to start production on it this summer. They just weren’t comfortable sending a model for testing yet, and I can respect that. I hope to get my hands on one as soon as possible, and run it through these same exact tests so it can be compared to this original set of scopes.
- SWFA Super Sniper – I know a lot of people who swear by these scopes, and I’m sure they’re great. But most models are below the $1500 price limit. In fact, there is only one model that is exactly $1500. I plan to do another round of field tests in the fall that specifically focused on scopes in the $500 to $1500 price range, and I hope to include a couple SWFA Super Sniper scopes then. I do plan to run the same exact tests on that second round of scopes, so you should be able to directly compare results between this original set and that later set.
- Huskemaw Optics – Similar story to the SWFA Super Sniper, in that virtually all of their scopes are under $1500, and I’ll likely include one in the $500 to $1500 scope tests. There is a Huskemaw Tactical Blue Diamond 5-30×56 scope that is well above $1500, but I’ve never heard of anyone using it and neither had anyone on the forums I asked. It simply isn’t as popular as the others included here.
- Swarovski – No tactical reticles (i.e. has evenly spaced hash marks on the vertical and horizontal axis)
- Counter Sniper – You’re kidding, right? 😉
- My favorite scope – It either isn’t available with a tactical reticle (i.e. has evenly spaced hash marks on the vertical and horizontal axis), isn’t in the $1500+ price range, doesn’t have at least 6x zoom on the low end and at least 18x on the high end, 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.
I Need Your Input
Although I’ve spent an absurd amount of time thinking through the tests I plan to run on these scopes, I don’t claim to be an optics expert. I’m an OCD engineer and a passionate shooter, and while I may know more about optics than the average Joe … there are some of you that know way more than me. So I’ve typed up all the tests I plan to run and all the stuff I plan to do to mitigate biased results, and I’m asking for your feedback on what could be improved BEFORE I START TESTING. If you know of a tweak to one of the tests that would make it more reliable or meaningful, please tell me. If you know of a different approach that would be more repeatable or less error prone, please tell me. The way I see it, this is a massive undertaking and I’m going to spend a ridiculous amount of time in the field testing all these anyway. So if anyone has a way to get more value out of that time … I’m all ears.
Guidelines for Feedback:
- Can’t require buying more than $100 in equipment (unless you’re also sending me a check). I’m doing this all on my dollar, and I’ve already spent hundreds on this test … so I’m on a budget.
- Can’t require a ridiculous amount of additional time to setup or conduct
- Can’t require an elaborate test environment
- Can’t require more than 5 people to conduct