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Riflescope Round Up

Riflescope Round Up
Today's optics are a complex lot. Here's a look at this year's innovations.

Nightforce 5.5-22x50 NXS.

There may be more riflescope companies today than there were riflescope models in my youth. A few current names represent old European optics houses, and Leupold alone among U.S. makers pre-dates World War II. Since Japanese riflescopes hit the scene in the 1960s, the Far East has produced the bulk of scopes sold here. Many new brands get their completed product from Pacific Rim factories, geared up to build anything you want--and able to offer surprisingly good quality for the price.

In Sweden, one of every 10 moose hunters using optical sights totes an Aimpoint. All 1X models boast unlimited eye relief. Models with magnification have generous eye relief. All Aimpoints wear a front doublet that corrects for parallax by projecting the dot in a line parallel with the sight's optical axis, so you hit where you see the dot--even when your eye is not on the sight's optical axis.

The newest Aimpoints feature battery life to 50,000 hours. Some of the most compact models weigh as little as 6.5 ounces. Windage and elevation dials move point of impact 13mm per click at 100 meters.

This Colorado firm was the first with a simple graduated stadia ladder on its plex reticle. I used a Burris Ballisic Plex to make one of the longest shots I've taken at game. New for 2008 are Fullfield II LRS and Fullfield 30 scopes, with olive finish standard. The LRS's lighted reticle employs a battery housing on the turret. A new, low-priced Timberline series includes a 4x20, a 2-7x26, a 3-9x32 and a 4.5-14x32.

For 2008 Bushnell fields its new Elite 6500-series riflescopes. The 2.5-16x42, 2.5-16x50 and 4.5-30x50 all feature a black matte finish on 30mm tubes. The nearly seven-times magnification range is the broadest in the industry.

Each model offers a choice of fine multi-X or mil dot reticle. Weight is 17 ounces for the 2.5-16x42, 21 ounces for the others. A turret-mounted parallax adjustment is standard, and the Rainguard coatings let you see through lens moisture.

This year may also be the first you'll see a Bushnell laser rangefinding scope afield. The 4-12x42 weighs only 24 ounces, boasts 31/2 inches of eye relief and gives you spot-on range readings to 800 yards. A mil dot reticle helps you compensate for drop and wind

A high-end "premium" Alaskan Guide trio is new. The 3-9x, 4-12 AO and 6.5-20 AO all have 40mm objectives and modest prices (under $360). Cabela's Rangefinding Alaskan Guide scopes incorporate no laser rangefinder; instead they have rangefinding, range-compensating reticles. Available in 3.5-10x42 and 4.5-14x42 versions, both have side-mounted parallax dials. They list for $350 and $400. The $200 4X Alaskan Guide scope on my CZ 550 withstands the recoil of the 9.3x62 cartridge and gives me as bright an image as much more costly scopes.

Merkel USA is now Docter's U.S. importer. Riflescopes with the Docter label include one-inch 6x42 and 8x56 fixed-power Classic models, and four 30mm variables: 1-4x24, 1.5-6x42, 2.5-8x48 and 3-12x56. They boast features such as fast-focus eyepiece, resettable dials and lighted reticles. The electronically controlled Unipoint dot is of constant size, while a first-plane main reticle varies in dimension with power. Docter Sport variables, designed for the U.S. market, have one-inch tubes and reticles in the rear focal plane. Choose a 3-9x40, 3-10x40, 4.5-14x40 AO or 8-25x50 AO.

Meopta Meostar 4-16x44.

Kahles catalogs the Helia C line (one-inch fixed-power and 30mm variable and fixed versions) with reticles in the first focal plane. Helia CT scopes--2-7x36, 3-9x42 and 3-10x50--feature one-inch tubes with second-plane reticles.

CBX models, 1.1-4x24 to 12x56, have 30mm tubes and lighted reticles with digital controls. Like the CBX, the CS (30mm) and CL (one-inch) variables have reticles in the second focal plane. The optional Multizero turret allows you to preset (and return to) as many as five zeros for different ranges or loads.


The newest line, the KX, includes 3-9x42, 3.5-10x50 and 4-12x50 models with one-inch tubes.

Leupold has announced a line of Mark 2 tactical scopes with one-inch tubes. (Read a review of the 6-18x42 in the tactical rifle guide in this issue.) Half-height target knobs feature half-minute clicks for fast run-up to long zeros. There's a 1.5-4x20, a 3-9x40, (with your choice of standard or tactical knobs), and a 4-12x40 and 6-18x40 (the latter with quarter-minute clicks) with adjustable objectives.

Also new, the VX-7L combines the optical quality of VX-7 glass with the "three-quarter-moon" objective of the VX-L. Pick a 3.5-14x56 or a 4.5-18x56. VX-7 scopes boast quick-focus eyepieces and "lift and lock" windage and elevation dials. Power selector rings are keyed to a Ballistic Aiming System. Argon/Krypton gas has replaced nitrogen inside.

Also new is the FX-III 1x14mm Prismatic Sight, with a generous eye relief, wide field and low profile ideal for AR-15-style carbines. A magnification module can be added. The FX-III Prismatic has fully multicoated optics and a bold circle-dot reticle option.

At the top of 2008 offerings from Meopta is the R1 4-16x44 Long Range Target Scope. It features low-profile target knobs and a front-end adjustable objective, with second-plane plex or mil dot reticle and a 30mm tube.

When testing its NXS scopes, this northcentral Idaho firm submerses them in 100 feet of water for 24 hours, freezes them at minus 80 degrees F, and then heats them to 250 degrees. Every scope is slammed with 1,250 Gs of force both ways. These 30mm scopes have main tubes of lightweight bronze alloy. Four-times magnification is standard: 3.5-15x50 and 3.5-15x56, 5.5-22x50 and 5.5-22x56, 8-32x56 and 12-42x56. Compact scopes for hunting (a 1-4x24 and a 2.5-10x24) round out the Nightforce line.

All NXS scopes have parallax control on the turret--except for two benchrest scopes, an 8-32x56 and a 12-42x56, with front AO rings. Nightforce accessories include mil-radian knobs so you can click in mils (.1 mil per click, five per revolution). New for 2008 is a Zerostop turret, with an elevation dial that can be set to return to

any of 400 detents. There's also a rail-mounted device to show shot angle.

The Monarch riflescope line has three new entries for 2008. The 8-32x50ED SF has 1/8-minute adjustments and a turret dial to refine focus and zero-out parallax-interchangeable turrets. The 4-16x50SF is more versatile. Most practical for mobile hunters is the 13-ounce 2-8x32.

In addition, Nikon unveiled a Monarch X series with 30mm tubes, turret parallax dials and mil dot reticle options. The new IRT 4-12x42 scope has a laser rangefinder that yields one-yard accuracy to 400 steps (reflective objects to 800). This 26-ounce scope provides continuous reads on moving game. The BDC reticle helps with holdover.

Its scopes include a 1.5-5x32, a 3-9x42, a 3-10x50 and a 6-20x50 AO that weigh 12.7, 14.4, 18.4 and 24 ounces, respectively. The 3-9x42 I've used has plenty of free tube for easy mounting, the integrity of its adjustments is good, and images are bright and sharp, with negligible color fringing. The generous eye relief does not seem to change from low power to high. Optically and mechanically, this is certainly worth the $300 list price.

Trijicon 1.25-4x24 AccuPoint.

Schmidt & Bender
This 50-year-old German firm is renowned for superb riflescopes. The 6x42 in my rack has no peer as an open-country big game sight. For 2008, the firm is courting American hunters with a new one-inch variable scope, a 2.5-10x40 with second-plane reticle for about $1,400.

A Shepherd scope has two reticles, one in the front focal plane and one in the rear. One doesn't change size with power changes; the other does. Superimposed, they appear as one. The range-finding (front) reticle comprises a series of circles of decreasing diameter, top to bottom, to match target size. Just match a deer-size target with one of the circles (they subtend 18 inches).

Three range-finding reticles fit trajectories of popular cartridges. Vertical and horizontal wires are marked in minutes of angle. The new 6-18x M556 is specially designed for AR-style rifles and varmint shooting.

A recent addition under the Big Sky umbrella is a Dangerous Game 1.25-5x20 sight with more than six inches of clean tube for mounting. The SII Big Sky line now has 4.5-14x40 and 6.5-20x50 listings. A dot reticle is available in these and in new 36x42, 5-20x42 and 6-24x42 SII target scopes. A SIII SS Long Range 30mm series features target knobs and turret parallax dials. Choose a 3.5-10x44 or 3.5-10x56 (illuminated reticle), a 6-24x50 or 8-32x56.

Last year Swarovski trotted out the Z6 with six-times magnification. The Ballistic Turret follows, cleverly designed to hold several zero settings. Once set, the elevation dial can be quickly returned to that color-coded spot on the dial. The Ballistic Turret is an option on 4-12x50 and 6-18x50 AV scopes. For distance shooters there is Swarovski's Ballistic Reticle, with 10 hash marks on the six o'clock wire. The BR reticle will appear in three AV scopes, plus the Z6 1.7-10 and 2-12x50.

Its ACOG wildly successful in the military, Trijicon now offers it to civilians (a 4x32 with bullet drop compensation). Also new is a 6x48 ACOG. AccuPoint scopes--illuminated by tritium and exposed fiber-optic filament--are available this year with a plex and crosswire-and-dot reticles, joining the delta-on-post. I've used the delta on elk in heavy cover and found it very fast; the new reticles should excel in open country. An adjustable cover lets you trim light from the fiber-optic coil.

Known for its tritium and fiber-optic sight inserts, TruGlo also makes 1X and 2X red-dot sights that fit any Weaver-style mount and offer unlimited eye relief. An 11-station rheostat controls brightness of the five-minute dot. Multicoated lenses and click-stop windage/elevation adjustments are standard; tubes range from one inch to 45mm.

New dual-color models feature four reticles, each of which can be illuminated in red or green. TruGlo also fields two lines of rifle-scopes: XLE in 1.5-6x44, 3-9x44 and 3.5-10x50, Infinity in 4-16x44 and 6-24, both with front-sleeve adjustable objective. There's also a 4x32 scope for rimfires and shotguns and an illuminated series in 4x32, 1.5-5x32, 2-7x32 and 3-9x44.

Schmidt & Bender Zenith 1.5-6x42.

Bill Weaver's Depression-era 330 gave shooters a reliable scope at a value price. So do its progeny. New Classic Extreme sights include 1.5-4.5x24, 2.5-10x50 and 2.5-10x56 models with 30mm tubes, fast-focus eyepieces and a lighted dot-in-plex and German No. 4 reticles. They have resettable windage and elevation dials; the 2.5-10x models carry turret-mounted parallax dials.

The 2.5-10x50 Victory Diarange has reached hunting camps. The rangefinder reads reflective objects to 1,000 yards a half-second after you press a button. At 32 ounces, it's a bit trimmer than its 56mm predecessor. Both sights operate on a single three-volt battery and offer a choice of seven reticles, including several range-finding configurations.

Also, some of the Conquest line now feature the sophisticated Rapid-Z reticle. And this year the Diavari is getting fluorite glass and hydrophobic LotuTec lens coatings.

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Quick-Reference Chart By Price*:

TruGlo XLE 1.5-6x44, 3-9x44,3.5-10x50 $100- $150
Infinity 4-16x44, 6-24x44 $175- $200
A versatile selection of inexpensive optics.
Burris Timberline 4x20, 2-7x26, 3-9, 4.5-14x32 $169-$260
Fullfield TAC 30 3-9x40, 3.5-10x50, 4.5-14x42 $295-$465
Fullfield II LRS 3.5-10x50, 3-9x40, 4.5-14x42 $362-$498
Good looking, high performance scopes with reasonable prices.
ATK Nitrex 1.5-5x32, 3-9x42, 3-10x50 $300- $330
6-20x50 $400
Bright, sharp optics with generous eye relief, well worth the price.
Cabela's Alaskan Guide 3-9x, 4-12xAO, 6.5-20AO Under $360
Rangefinding AG 3.5-10x42, 4.5-14x42 $350-$400
Featuring bright images and modern design with an excellent warranty.
Aimpoint 9000 1x or 2x $390- $450
Lightweight, durable fast-action optics.
Nikon Monarch 8-32x50ED, 4-16x50, 2-8x32
Monarch X 2.5-10x44, 4-16x50 $300-$700
A broad range of versatile optics.
Sightron SII 4.5-14x42, 6.5-20x42 $317- $602
SIII 3.5-10x44, 3.5-10x56, 6-24x50, 8-32x56 $918- $1,072
Featuring target knobs and turret-mounted parallax adjustment.
Weaver Classic Extreme 1.5-4.5x24, 2.5-10x50, 2.5-10x56 $440-$600
Reliable scopes at value prices since the Great Depression.
Leupold Mark 2 Tactical 1.5-4x20, 3-9, 4-12, 6-18x40 $385- $620
FX-III 1x14 $500
VX-7L 3.5-14x56, 4.5-18x56 $1,900- $2,000
100 years of experience, building cutting-edge optics. What more need we say?
Trijicon Reflex 42mm sight $425
AccuPoint 1.25-4x24, 3-9x40, 2.5-10x56 $595-$810
RCOG 6x48 sight $1,600
This company's top-notch optics cover a broader range of use then any other's.
Doctor Classic 6x42, 8x56 $600
Fast-focus eyepieces, resettable dials, and lighted reticles.
Bushnell Elite 6500 2.5-16x42, 2.5-16, 4.5-30x50 $699- $899
The 6500's nearly seven-times magnification range is the biggest in the industry.
Kahles KX 3-9x42, 3.5-10x50, 4-12x50 $650-$839
Helia CT 2-7x36, 3-9x42, 3-10x50 $1,380
CBX 7, 2.5-10x50, 8x56,3-12x5


30mm tubes, lighted reticles and digital controls...this ain't your daddy's gear.
Shepherd M556 6-18x40 $761
Innovative long-range reticle with integrated hold-overs.
Meopta Meostar R1 LR Target 4-16x44 $800
Low profile target knobs and second plane reticles in a 30mm tube.
Zeiss Conquest 4x32, 2.5-8x32, 1.8-5.5x38 $399-$529
Victory Diavari 6-24x72 T FL (fluoride) $3,699
Victory Diarange 2.5-10x50 $3,949
Old-world glass with ultra-modern abilty.
Nightforce NXS (Compact) 1-4x32, 2.5-10x24 $1,215-$1,436
NXS (Benchrest) 8-32.65, 12-42x56 $1,275-$1,375
NXS (Tactical) 3.5-15, 5.5-22x50, 3.5-15x56, 5.5-22x56, 8-32, 12-42x56 $1,500-$1,925
Ultra high performance optics built in the USA.
Schmidt & Bender Zenith 2.5-10x42 $1,400
Now 50 years old, S&B is renown for superb rilfescopes.
Swarovski Z6 1-6x24, 1.7-10x50, 2-12x50 $1,530-$2,219
Featuring a six-times magnification zoom on legendary glass.
* Price ranking based on average for all items listed.

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