TESTING ... TESTING
The editor recruits a super-serious FT competitor to test the very latest scope
The editor passes the testing buck to an FT expert - a new scope from Kahles
Field Target competition is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of airgun shooting because it combines the most difficult shots with the cutting- edge of technological solutions. It’s the Formula One of our sport and, because of this, some of the most prestigious scope manufacturers have designed and produced models not only to compete, but also to win the ultimate prize - The World FT Championships.
For several years, Austrian optical giants, Kahles, have been showing us prototypes of their entry, but we’ve been made to wait until now to get our hands on a finished production item. It’s clear from the start that they’ve ticked all the boxes with a 10-50 x 56 specification. This allows the shooter to rangefind with the parallax adjuster, as with all its competitors. However, this adjuster is placed on the elevation turret, rather than on the left side of the saddle. I asked why and was told, “Try it for yourself,” which is what I almost did – almost. Well, I have to confess that competition isn’t my cup of tea, so I called one of my closest friends, who has shot FT at a very high level, and asked him to take a look.
Like all ‘good gear’ freaks, he fell on it like a hawk and within minutes had it mounted on his extremely customised Walther Dominator competition rifle. He knows the rifle intimately, so the test would only be about the scope. He usually uses a Schmidt & Bender - Kahles’ most obvious competitor - so I thought it was perfect. First impressions for us both were good. The build- quality was first- class, but on a scope costing around £ 2500, I felt that was a given.
“He usually uses a Schmidt & Bender, Kahles’ most obvious competitor, which I thought was perfect”
Next, the weight and feel of all the adjusters was considered. They have just the right degree of drag without any noticeable loose or tight spots, but again, just what we have a right to expect at this level.
Any scope wanting to compete at the top must offer the brightest and clearest image, and I knew before I opened the box that Kahles would be right up there with the best. Much of their business is in producing world- class, hunting scopes for people who travel to the most challenging environments to seek their quarry. Their reputation for making excellent optics that can take the punishment in the field, in the very worst conditions, is the envy of any scope maker
FT scopes need very fine yet clearly defined reticles, and this one was spot- on. It has a fine centre dot, and mil- dot-style hash marks along the stadia wires on all four axes. In reality, it’s only the horizontal ones that will be used, to judge the amount of hold off that the shooter chooses to compensate for the wind effect on the pellet’s flight. All vertical correction is ‘dialled’ with the elevation adjuster.
Like all scopes of this kind, the K 1050i FT uses a 30mm body tube, and this was easily carried by some strong and reliable Sportsmatch mounts to sit on Nige’s Walther. It took only minutes to get the combination zeroed, from where some serious shooting and testing could be done. What would usually be the side wheel is in this case a top wheel, or ‘space ship’, as Nige called it. It does look very Star Trek. I was keen to see how this would affect the ergonomics of rangefinding, so I said nothing, and watched.
I’ve seen FT competitors rotate the side wheel with extended fingers, to rangefind from the standing or kneeling positions, but I couldn’t see how this could be done with the ‘side wheel’ being on top. My concerns were correct, but as it turned out, unimportant, because it seems that the technique for ranging works like this; as your two minutes start, you sit, rangefind both targets, and then stand or kneel as required, so no ranging is done from awkward positions anyway. That took care of that worry.
Nige, like me, has eyes that are feeling the effects of age, so I assumed that he’d need to tape the side/top wheel and mark it for each distance, but surprisingly, he found the factory markings to be dead- on! I’ve never seen that before and it will be interesting to know if other competitors find the same thing, or if it was just chance that Nige’s eyes matched the factory settings.
The adjusters returned to zero with total reliability, and Nige had complete confidence that he could compete with the Kahles, which speaks volumes. These competitive types are normally highly reluctant to change anything, but he said he’d enter the very next competition with it on, without concern.
The one weakness from which FT scopes suffer is a change in rangefinding as the temperature varies, but during the time we had the scope it varied no more than 10 degrees. Because of this, we’re unable to know if it holds any advantage over its competitors in this vital area.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this new scope is right up there with the very best, and only time will tell if it has advantages, but for now I’m sure that the new kid on the block is ready to take the fight to the others, so they’d better watch out.
“Nige had complete confidence that he could compete with the Kahles, which speaks volumes”
Main: The 50mm objective lens and top quality lenses made for an ultra- bright image Right: The spec chosen is perfect for the serious FT competitor Left: Ranging from sitting was no different from a side wheel scope