|Putting substandard glass on a good gun is a recipe for mediocrity. But with all the offerings in the optics market, where does a shooter start?
With optics, you really get what you pay for. You'll notice the differences between value-priced scopes and top-of-the-line models during extreme conditions. When lighting conditions are bad, betters scopes really shine.
Reaching Way Out With Nikon
Monarch long-range riflescopes come standard with a locking side-focus parallax adjustment. The easy-to-reach dials let you quickly focus while in shooting position. In addition to enhanced ring spacing, the new riflescope includes the Monarch Eye Box, with its impressive 4-time zoom range and 4 inches of eye relief, which remains constant throughout the power range without sacrificing field of view.
The Monarch's massive ocular lens also delivers a large high-resolution sight picture and the maximum field of view corresponding to each power setting.
Monarch riflescopes use Nikon's precise, repeatable, hand-turn reticle adjustments and feature the Interchangeable Turret Technology system, which lets you switch out turret knobs and caps for convenience and versatility.
The BDC reticle goes in every Monarch riflescope to let you hold dead on at ranges farther than those previously thought possible. Nikon's Nikoplex reticle is also available.
The scopes retain the popular 1-inch diameter main body tube. Nikon also uses lead-and-arsenic-free Eco-Glass lenses and Ultra ClearCoat anti-reflective multicoatings. Nikon Sport Optics:
Leupold's new Golden Ring UltimateSlam scopes feature a new reticle system to enhance accuracy for muzzleloader and shotgun hunters.
UltimateSlam's Sabot Ballistics Reticle has precise hold points in 50-yard increments to help you make accurate shots up to 300 yards. Precalculated markings on the magnification selector lets the reticle remain accurate for two- and three-pellet muzzleloader loads, as well as most popular 12- and 20-gauge sabot slug loads. The reticle has a range-estimation feature that instantly tells you if a deer is within 200 yards.
The scopes are available in 2-7×33 and 3-9×40 models. They have 1-inch main tubes and come in matte black or silver finish. Filled with bone-dry nitrogen, the UltimateSlam scopes have 1/4-minute-of-angle finger-click adjustments and are fog-, shock- and waterproof. They also feature Leupold's multicoat lens system for superior low-light performance. Leupold: (800) 538-7653
Sightron Goes Big, Small at Same Time
SII Big Sky scopes are built from a rugged one-piece aircraft-quality aluminum tube. They feature Sightron's unique Exactrack system for precise no-drift windage and elevation adjustments. The fully coated precision-ground lenses use Sightron's ZACT-7 Revcoat seven-layer multicoating throughout to provide high light transmission.
Sightron Scopes are waterproof, nitrogen-filled and provide a lifetime of internal fog protection. SII Big Sky models have climate-control coatings on the exterior lens surfaces to provide additional protection in bad weather. Sightron Inc
Burris Takes on Tactical
Vortex Won't Break the Bank
The new Vortex Crossfire packs much of the quality and performance of premium optics into a rugged, affordable riflescope. The Crossfire has fully multicoated optics that deliver 90 percent light transmission and a solid one-piece tube turned from aircraft-grade aluminum alloy. It's fog- and waterproof, has a choice of four reticles and is dry-nitrogen purged to prevent fogging and corrosion.
The Crossfire comes in 10 variable-zoom models, from 1.5-4×32 for brush hunting to a high-powered 6-24×50 AO for long-rage varmint and target shooting.
There's also a compact 2×20 mm model for handguns. Reticle styles include V-Plex (on most models), V-Brite (on select models), Fine Cross-hair (on the target model) and mil-dot (on long-range target and varmint models). Vortex
Alpen Expands Pro Series
The Pro model has a sleek ergonomic grip for slip-free comfort in wet conditions. It also offers superb optical clarity, color fidelity and brightness in a camouflage body.
The Pro provides great optical performance, with fully multicoated optics, BAK 4 high-refractive phase correction-coated prisms and a long eye-relief eyepiece for comfort while wearing glasses.
Big Eyes From Vortex
With fog-, shock- and waterproof construction, the Vipers feature nonslip rubber armor, multi-position tapered eyecups and an easy-to-adjust diopter ring. Every Viper binocular is built with Vortex's advanced X-Factor Vision system, a combination of XD (extra-low dispersion) glass ‹ fully multicoated with Vortex's XR scratch-resistant coatings ‹ and premium, phase-corrected BaK4 roof prisms for brightness, image detail and high resolution. The Vortexes are built on a rugged, lightweight chassis. Vortex
Fully multicoated lenses capture and transmit light for maximum clarity, and silver-coated internal prisms further maximize optical performance.
Twist-up eyecups are a convenience to eyeglass wearers, and Signature Series binoculars are waterproof, impact-resistant and designed with excellent ergonomics.
Optics and sighing systems on a fighting rifle require the kind of quality you can bet your life on. A couple of announcements for 2008 will make professionals happy and bring tactical benefits to the hunting community.
ACOG Goes Public
The ACOG features forged, 7075-T6 aluminum alloy housing, providing durability. A hard anodized coating protects against corrosion and chemicals.
Fully multilayer lens coating, per MIL-C-14806A, provides maximum optical performance in any light. Also, the 4×32 ACOG offers improved engineering of the external adjustment system (two clicks per inch at 100 yards). The system provides faster adjustment in the field and a waterproof design even when the caps are removed. The scope is nitrogen-filled to eliminate fogging.
Schmidt & Bender ŒMarine' Scope
The 3-12×50 PM II Military includes a specially designed double-turn counter-clockwise elevation knob with more tactile clicks every 10 cm. It has a ring-style indicator on the elevation turret that rises after the first full rotation of the elevation knob. There's a total of 220 cm — 22 mils, or 79.2 inches — of elevation adjustment.
The Gen 2 Mil-Dot reticle, developed and patented by Premier Reticles Ltd., is standard. It offers more accurate range-finding capabilities on more target sizes than ordinary mil-dot reticles. The Gen 2 is offered in an illuminated version for low light. Eleven precise click stops in a separate turret give you full control. Parallax adjustment, from 50 meters to infinity, is also in a separate turret.
The 3-12×50 PM II Military features the same extraordinary light transmission capabilities that distinguish Schmidt & Bender scopes.
ATN Cuts Darkness
Hunters don't need to sight in the dark, but some shooters do. American Technologies Network Corp. has them covered with the ATN MARS series of night-vision weapon sights: the MARS 4X-3P and MARS 6X-3P, featuring a new ATN feature — two-color manual brightness of the aiming reticle. That lets you choose red or amber for the projected reticle, depending on preference and light.
The sights use third-generation ITT Pinnacle Image Intensifier tubes, which provide superior performance in high light or light-polluted areas while minimizing halo effects.
MARS night-vision riflescopes are CNC milled from a solid aluminum billet and fitted with titanium inserts. Their one-piece construction makes them compact, light and rugged.
Using top quality multicoated glass optics with a mil-dot reticle, the MARS 4X-3P and MARS 6X-3P provide powerful 4X and 6X magnification, respectively.
The sights are nitrogen-purged for internal fogging resistance and feature an automatic brightness control. Windage and elevation can be easily adjusted.
MARS sights feature a tactical rail that lets you mount an IR illuminator or IR laser, and includes a mount for a Picatinny, Weaver-style rail or AK-style weapon. ATN
Something Really Cool
After sighting in the rifle, you can set the ZeroStop to any of the 400 elevation clicks on a Nightforce scope (clicks are 1/4 MOA or 1/10 mm).
Return to zero is quick and positive, with no need for visual reference.
ZeroStop technology was previously available only on Nightforce military and law-enforcement models. Nightforce USA Inc.:
Kevin Michalowski is the associate editor of Gun Digest the Magazine.
Editor's note: Want more information on optics? Check out Dave Morellis feature, Optics Necessities.