IWA 2015 Scopes and other Optics
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- Last updated: 19/12/2016
New offerings from Aimpoint this year include the Carbine Optic (ACO) and upgraded Micro H-2 and T-2 red-dor sights. The ACO is designed for use on the AR15 platform, features a 30mm aluminium alloy tube with a fixed height mount that co-witnesses with AR backup iron sights, a 2-MOA red-dot front and rear flip- up covers, and an anti-reflection filter (ARD). The H-2 and T-2, meanwhile, have a new housing that accommodates flip- up covers and ARDs and gives additional protection to its adjustment turrets, plus ruggedised electronics, an upgraded front lens for improved performance with a magnifier, and compatibility with Micro T-1 mounts. The T-2 also features low-intensity setting for use with NV.
New this year was the latest version of the Drone Pro digital NV riflescope, which has a fixed 10x objective lens (previous 10x units used a doubler) and two new Cipher digital add-on units.
The Cipher digital frontmounted add-on offers comparable performance to the Drone Pro and is workable to 12x magnification. It can be mounted either to the scope’s objective bell or to an extended rail and is powered by a separate rechargeable battery pack with a rubberised Picatinny rail mount.
The Cipher Remora, meanwhile, is a digital rearmounted add-on, and in my opinion, the only unit to date to do the job right; by which I mean that the specific advantage of a digital system should be that it can be made short enough to fit within the 3 inches or so of normal eye relief for the day scope, thereby enabling the shooter to maintain a constant head position with and without the NV device fitted. Only the Cipher has achieved this.
At ATN’s X-Sight, is a digital dayand- low-light sight with several unique ‘smart’ features, including a colour 1080p HD sensor, GPS, Compass, accelerometer, altimeter, data card slot, image stabilisation, constant recording and Wi-Fi connectivity. With good IR illumination the X-Sight offers more-than-passable night-time performance too, and comes in at a very competitive £649 for the 3x-12x and £780 for the 5x-18x version.
Guide Infrared have produced the compact but potent IR517 thermal monocular. Outwardly resembling the earlier IR510, it boasts a high-resolution 640x480 thermal core, a 1280x960 display, a 50Hz refresh rate, W/H, B/H and three red-hot polarity options, a 2x-4x digital zoom, a 6+ hour run time, and switchable lenses (35mm as standard, with 19mm and 65mm lenses available separately). Tripod mountable, it also has a built-in rechargeable Li-Ion battery, a video-out port and Wi-Fi connectivity. A Pro version also has on-board recording, audio, and remote-control functions.
This year Kahles has added a BDC turret option for the Helia range. The finger-adjustable turrets with their coin-resettable dials are nice enough, if nothing out of the ordinary, but their flip-up alloy covers – in a choice of black or gold- neatly combine style, convenience and protection, whilst allowing you to read the turret setting though a slot in the rear face.
March Scope’s 5-40x56 FFP models are truly top-flight target and tactical scopes and no other FFP scope offers such a high (8X) zoom factor. They boast extra-low dispersion (ED) lenses and 34mm main tubes, and come in both metric (MRAD) and MoA versions, each with either standard or illuminated reticles. Variants are available with either standard or fine clicks: 1/4 vs. 1/8 MoA or 0.10 vs. 0.05 (0.5cm @ 100 metres) MRAD. Their reticles don’t obscure the target at full magnification yet remain distinct at minimum magnification. Elevation and windage turrets have re-zeroable dials, and give a total of 138 and 66 MoA respectively. There’s also an elevation zero set function, plus a side parallax turret with a focusing range from 10 metres to infinity. Reticle illumination is digital and there are interchangeable standard and low illumination switch modules, each with four intensity levels.
Minox’s ZP and ZE TAC tactical scopes really impress. There are three scopes in the ZP range: the 5-25x56 ZP5, 3-15x50 Z5 and the 1-8x24 ZP8. All show cutting-edge design, high-end glass, and high-tech coatings to ensure excellent image quality. Other features include: a 34mm one-piece main tube; 3.5 inch eye-relief; a lockable quick-focus eye-piece; a fully-rubberised zoom ring with a tall, fullwidth thumb ridge for positive operation; and an illuminated FFP reticle with an auto shut off.
The 5-25x56 and 3-15x50 ZP5 ZP5 models offer a choice of three reticles: MR5, MR2 and Mildot. The MR5 and MR2 are multi-stadia reticles with rangefinding graticles. The former has fully-illuminated stadia whilst the latter illuminates only the central cross.
The 1-8x24 ZP8 has a unique sight picture that combines a FFP reticle with a daylight illuminated SFP reticle that is activated only between 1X-2.5X. Thus, as you dial down for closer targets, the scope effectively converts itself to a red-dot. All scopes in the ZP TAC range cost a very reasonable £1899.
If this is more than you need, however, take a look at the ZE range, which gives you most of the features of the ZP range but without the locking eye-piece and with a standard Mildot reticle. The 1-5x24 model has different spec, however, featuring an SFP reticle, a lighter 30mm main tube, and a MR-10E reticle, which shows a 3/4 duplex with a mil-stadia core and an illuminated ring at the centre.
Also new from Minox are a pair of compact prismatic spotting scopes, the MD-60Z and MD-80Z, which are available with 12X-40X or 20X-60X eye-pieces, and finally, Minox’s range of trail cameras now includes a SMS/GPRS model and the DTC 400 super-slimline model with a camo finish. Minox offer a great 30 year warranty on all their optics.
Two new additions to Nightforce’s top-end ATACR tactical series are the first-focal-plane MRAD or MoA scopes in 5-25x56 and 4-16x42 formats. They have PowerThrow posts that screwin to the zoom ring for positive adjustment when wearing gloves, digital illumination, a choice of MIL-R, MOAR, Horus H59 or TReMoR3 reticles, side parallax, locking turrets with ZeroStop or ZeroHold referencing, 34mm tubes and ED glass. Elevation (in 0.1 MRAD or ¼ MoA clicks) is a massive 34.9 MRAD / 120 MoA (4 turns) with 23.7 MRAD / 80 MoA of windage in the 5-25x56 and 26/89 E plus 18/60 W for the 4-16x42. Nightforce know that not everyone wants or needs a full-spec tactical scope, however, and the 3-10x42 SHV will fit the general hunter very well indeed.
Schmidt’s 2.5-10x50mm T96 Polar has a claimed light transmission factor of 96%, making it ‘the brightest x10 lowlight hunting scope in the world’. Its lens coatings give optimal performance with ‘night-relevant’ wavelengths to give a lighttransmission figure in low-light of 93.5%: purportedly putting it 5% ahead of its competitors at last light. It has a 34mm main tube with side parallax and locking elevation and windage turrets, and options include customised BDC dials, and a choice of FFP, SFP, illuminated and non-illuminated reticules. 3-12x and 4-16x T96 models may also be on their way.
SIG’s new Electro Optics range includes riflescopes, prismatic sights, red dot sights, rangefinders, binoculars, and spotting scopes, all with a transferable lifetime warranty. Product lines are named after letters of the phonetic alphabet. Riflescopes are either SFP ‘Whiskey’ (hunting) or FFP ‘Tango’ (tactical). Prismatic sights are ‘Bravo’ and red-dots are ‘Romeo’. Spotting, observation and rangefinding are taken care of by the ‘Kilo’ (rangefinder), ‘Victor’ (spotting scope line) and ‘Zulu’ (binocular) series.
Oriented towards the Mil/LE sector, Spuhr optics mounts have a design that marries practicality, premium materials, precision machining and a perfect finish; but, understandably, they are not cheap. Steiner Steiner entered the scope market with some high-end offerings, but now they’ve extended their range in a more affordable direction with the Ranger series. It comprises four models in 1-4x24, 2-8x42 3-12x56 and 4-16x56 and formats. All have 30mm main tubes, side-mounted rheostat giving six night-time and five daytime illumination settings and finger-adjustable turrets. Reticles are of the 4A type with an illuminated centre dot and are in the second focal plane.
Also new from Steiner is the Micro Reflex Sight (MRS), a neat little three MoA Docter-style red-dot sight.
Swarovski unveiled a new series of scopes this year. Called the X5 due to their zoom factor, they come in three formats (3.5-18x50, 5-25x50, 5-25x56), each in illuminated and nonilluminated versions. They have 30mm main tubes, erector tubes dampened by a sprung lever, side parallax from 50 metres, a fast-focus eye-piece, a choice of three different rangefinding/ drop-compensating reticles in the second focal plane, and tall, uncapped turrets calibrated in ¼ MoA clicks. The elevation turret offers almost six complete 20 MoA turns for a total of 116 MoA and shows the turn number in a window at the turret base.
Also untraditional is the STR80 spotting scope, which features a built-in, illuminated reticle in either MoA or MRAD that is compatible with 20X-50X wide-angle and 20X-60X eyepieces. The reticule is projected in the FFP, so that switching it off leaves an unobstructed image and consistent measurements regardless of magnification. UK prices TBC.
The name may be unfamiliar, but this Canadian firm was started by Andy Webber of Armament Technology, supplier of ELCAN military and civilian optics, acquired the assets of Premier Reticles, and counts talent from ELCAN, Leica, Schmidt & Bender, Zeiss, and other premium brands among its employees. TT makes just three models: the 5-25x56 TT525P, the 3-15x50 TT315 and the 3-15x50 TT315M, in a choice of MoA or MRAD versions, but each has been designed and specified to do just what’s needed as intuitively, reliably and as well as it possibly can be; price no object!
The EagleEye Gunscope from Torrey Pines Logic is a scope adapter for GoPro’s Hero3 miniature video camera. It enables the Hero to record exactly what the riflescopes sees while – crucially and uniquely – you shoot normally. What’s more, it lets you view the image remotely and in real time via the Hero3’s WiFi or cable HDTV output, an interface that also permits the camera to be remotely controlled from a smartphone or tablet. The EagleEye comes in at £980 + VAT, as supplied by March Scopes UK.
For thermal fans there was the Pulsar Core, a sensor, control and display module that can be adapted for use as a monocular, as a dedicated weapon mounted scope, or mounted to the front of a day riflescope to give it a thermal capability. It’s small, light and easy to operate, partly thanks to a wireless remote. Delivery is still a fair way off, but keep an eye out for the Core and for the forthcoming Quantum XD series, and for a 6.5x50 version of the Photon XT digital riflescope!
Conventional ‘tubed’ NV devices haven’t been forgotten, of course, and the new Argus LRF Gen 2+ 4x60 has a lot to offer. The Argus enhances its G2+ tube with an integrated 500 metre laser rangefinder, smart technology, a digital reticle system, and a wireless remote control. Also on show was the Forward DN55. A cousin of the more familiar DFA75 frontmounted digital NV riflescope adapter, the DN55 accepts an eye-piece that allows it to be used as a monocular too. Yukon’s Jaeger series of daylight riflescopes offer a bright, sharp image and are all impressive, but the biggest surprise is how affordable they are. Four models are offered: a 1-4x24, a 1.5-6x42, a 3-9x40, and a 3-12x56. All have 30mm tubes, wide, rubberised zoom rings with full-width thumb tabs, Duplex or 3/4 Duplex reticles (the 3-12x56 model also offers BDC ‘Christmas Tree’ and Mildot options, the latter scaled to read true at 12x), each with an illuminated floating centre dot in the second focal plane. Lens coatings and objective bells are optimised for use with forward mounted night vision.
Aimpoint: www.aimpoint.com; (UK) Edgar Brothers Ltd: shootingsports.edgarbrothers.com; T: 01625 613 177
Armasight: www.armasight.com; (UK) www.nightvisiongear.co.uk; T: 02830 263 235
ATN International: www.atn-int.com; T: 0747 3858 835
Guide Infrared: www.guide-infrared.com;
Pulsar: www.pulsar-nv.com; (UK) Thomas Jacks Ltd: www.thomasjacks.co.uk; T: 01789 264 100
Kahles: www.kahles.at; (UK) RUAG Ammotec UK Ltd: www.ruag.co.uk; T: 01579 362 319
March Scopes UK: www.marchscopes.co.uk; T: 01293 606 901
Minox: www.minox.com; (UK) Minox GB Ltd: T: 01582 434 383
Nightforce: nightforceoptics.com; (UK) The Sportsman Gun Centre: www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk; T: 01392 354 854
Schmidt & Bender: www.schmidtundbender.de; (UK) several, including: The Sportsman Gun Centre: www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk; T: 01392 354 854
SIG Sauer Electro Optics: www.sigsauer.com; (UK)
Garlands: www.garlands.uk.com; T: 01827 383 300
Spuhr: www.spuhr.biz; (UK) Sporting Services Ltd: www.sportingservices.co.uk; T: 01342 716 427
Steiner-Optik: www.steiner.de; (UK) GMK Ltd. www.gmk.co.uk; T: 01489 587 500
Swarovski Optik: uk.swarovskioptik.com
Tangent Theta: www.tangenttheta.com; (UK) Shield Firearms & Sights Ltd: www.shieldfirearmssights.com; T: 01297 678 233
Torrey Pines Logic: http://tplogic.com; (UK) March
Scopes UK: www.marchscopes.co.uk; T: 01293 606 901