Review: Leica Magnus 83634

Review: Leica Magnus
The new Magnus non-illuminated series offers excellent glass and chops a few hundred bucks off the price tag relative to the illuminated-reticle models.

Leica is a well-respected name in the European optics market, and it's back in the riflescope business with three lines of hunting scopes. One of those is the Magnus, a scope built on a 30mm tube and available in illuminated (the iMagnus) and the relatively new non-illuminated versions. I borrowed a non-illuminated 1.5-10x42mm model for evaluation.

Before getting into more boring specs, let me say right up front this scope produces one of the sharpest images I've ever seen. The Magnus promises 91 percent light transmission, and the exit pupil- the determining factor in how much light reaches your eye- ranges from 4.2mm to 12.4mm, depending on power.

To put that in perspective, the size of your pupil is 7mm in low light, and the closer a scope's exit pupil is to that figure, the brighter images will appear early and late in the day. (However, you can't make use of more exit pupil light than your eye is able to accommodate, so anything over 7mm doesn't help.) Field of view at 100 meters is 4.4 yards at 10X and a whopping 28.4 yards at 1.5X.

The exterior lenses are treated to a hydrophobic coating called AquaDura that does an excellent job of getting water droplets to slide right off the lenses. It fights dust as well.

The Magnus is not a light scope at 21.9 ounces, but it is relatively compact at 12.5 inches. Some shooters will have an issue with the mountable tube length, which is just 4.75 inches. The scope would not, for example, fit on a good ol' Model 700 .30-06 with a standard two-base mounting setup. However, in this day and age, receivers with enclosed tops and/or continuous top rails are much more common than they used to be, and mountable tube length isn't an issue with these.

As I do every time I review a scope of this kind, I'm going to gripe about the adjustments. I hate the Zeiss-style turrets, which turn in the opposite direction Americans are used to. My wife rolls her eyes when I bitch about this, telling me to just look at the directions on the turret caps. I do- then still turn them the wrong way. Too many years of cranking scopes and iron sights in smallbore matches and zeroing deer rifles with "normal" scopes, I guess.

Gripe No. 2: The adjustments are in centimeters. Sorry, but here in America all our wind dopes, ballistic tables, vital zone measurements are in inches (or mils if you're so inclined). Having to do the math to convert centimeters to inches is a pain in the butt, although I do understand that for a company like Leica it would make little sense to produce a strictly American version of a scope intended for worldwide sale.

At least the firm was kind enough to indicate on the turret caps that one click equals 0.36 inch at 100 yards. Even better, it has a nifty method of resetting the turrets: With the caps removed, simply push in on the top of the turret and you can spin the numbered scale to reset it to zero.

The Magnus offers a decent adjustment range: 285 centimeters (112 inches at 100 yards). Adjustment integrity was good but not perfect. A box test revealed a deviation in elevation of nearly half a minute in one particular six-inch travel segment.

The 4a reticle is in the second focal plane, and it features thicker crosswire sections at three, six and nine o'clock- but not at 12 o'clock as you would find on the common plex. And there's a lot more real estate between the crosshair's intersection and the thicker portions than you'll see in most plex-style reticles.

The crosshair's center section lacks any stadia lines and is very fine, and it would make an excellent reticle for daytime varmint shooting. It's not the style I would choose for big game hunting because I think you would lose the fine crosshair against a dark animal in low light. The illuminated version of this reticle (in the iMagnus) or one of Leica's other reticle options would be more suitable.

The scope is nitrogen-filled and waterproof to 13 feet. I don't have a pool, so dunking the scope in a bucket of water had to suffice; there were no bubbles to indicate a leaking seal.

The power ring is rubber-armored and features a nicely sized projection to make power changes easy. The ring turns with just the right amount of tension, and moving the power ring from 1.5X to 10X doesn't cause big changes in eye relief, which is something I really appreciate.

Suggested retail for the Magnus 1.5-10x42 starts at $1,799, with some reticle options boosting the price. That's not cheap, but if you want really good glass like you'll find in the Magnus, you're going to have to pony up.

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