VER­SA­TILE RI­FLE­SCOPES

Outdoor Life - - GEAR -

EDIT E OD RI’ T SO RC’ H SO ICC HE O ICE

SIG Sauer Whiskey5 GREAT BUY • 3–15x52 • $1,200 With its Whiskey5, SIG has a cross­over hit on its hands. The com­pany has cor­rectly read the mar­ket, un­der­stand­ing that pre­ci­sion shoot­ers re­quire ex­tremely tac­tile tur­rets tuned to ret­i­cles with abun­dant ref­er­ences, but that hunters want a sec­ond-plane ret­i­cle and a mod­est mag­ni­fi­ca­tion range. The Whiskey5 de­liv­ers at­tributes for both groups, en­abling a shooter to use their scope for hunt­ing and for hunters to not feel dis­ad­van­taged at a long-range steel match. The tur­ret ad­just­ments are very good, and the zero stop, anti-cant in­di­ca­tor, and im­pres­sive 72 MOA of el­e­va­tion ad­just­ment in­side the 30mm tube are fea­tures bor­rowed from the pre­ci­sion ri­fle­scope mar­ket. The odd­ball ob­jec­tive di­am­e­ter (52mm) has a pur­pose. It al­lows the scope to be mounted close to the bore with medium-height rings, a ben­e­fit that’s not achiev­able with 56mm ob­jec­tive lenses, which gen­er­ally re­quire high rings. The com­pact di­men­sions—it’s only 12 inches long—make it a great choice for a car­bine. The Moa-based Milling Hunter ret­i­cle is de­cep­tively sim­ple, fea­tur­ing an il­lu­mi­nated sta­dia with 2-MOA hashes on both the windage and el­e­va­tion axes, and nu­meric des­ig­na­tions at each 10-MOA mark. You aren’t go­ing to use this ret­i­cle for rang­ing or brack­et­ing mov­ing tar­gets, but it’s quick, pre­cise, and cov­ers a wide range of shoot­ing sit­u­a­tions. If you pre­fer to dial, the ex­posed el­e­va­tion tur­ret locks at zero but gives two rev­o­lu­tions of ad­just­ment; the windage knob is capped. SIG also pro­vides the op­tion to or­der a custom el­e­va­tion tur­ret that’s tuned to spe­cific loads. We had only two gripes. The first is that the glass, while ad­e­quate, isn’t on par with other scopes in its price range. And we found that the tube di­men­sions are so stingy that we couldn’t mount the Whiskey5 to a stan­dard full-length ac­tion with two-piece bases. With a long ac­tion, you’ll want to mount it to a rail to get the best out of this oth­er­wise very ver­sa­tile ri­fle­scope.

GREAT BUY

Nikon Prostaff 5 • 4–16x42 • $330 It’s been hard to keep track of Nikon’s up­dates to the ca­pa­ble Prostaff line the last few years, but the Prostaff 5 checks nearly all the boxes we’d ex­pect for a cross­over hunt­ing and tar­get scope. It keeps its heft down—it weighs 17.3 ounces but feels even lighter—by uti­liz­ing a slim 1-inch tube, and by es­chew­ing ret­i­cle il­lu­mi­na­tion, and the req­ui­site weight and space con­sid­er­a­tions of a bat­tery. The MOA hash ret­i­cle in the sec­ond fo­cal plane is ser­vice­able on its own, but to milk all the ca­pa­bil­ity out of the basic ret­i­cle, ei­ther or­der a free custom tur­ret or use Nikon’s ex­cel­lent Spo­ton on­line bal­lis­tics cal­cu­la­tor to es­tab­lish holdover at any mag­ni­fi­ca­tion for your spe­cific load. While the Nikon’s ret­i­cle may limit some long-range pre­ci­sion, it’s un­clut­tered for fast aim­ing. The Prostaff 5 fea­tures capped tur­rets with a to­tal of 40 MOA of in­ter­nal ad­just­ment. That’s ad­e­quate, but not on par with scopes built on a 30mm or 34mm tube. Testers also wanted a lit­tle more mag­ni­fi­ca­tion at the high end. Im­age qual­ity and low-light per­for­mance were in the up­per half of the field, which was a win con­sid­er­ing the ex­tremely fair price of the scope. “This is a great value for a scope that I’d hunt with any day,” said ed­i­torin-chief Alex Robin­son. That’s the idea of both our Ver­sa­tile Ri­fle­scope cat­e­gory as well as our Great Buy award.

Zeiss Con­quest V4

• 4–16x50 • $1,000 We’ve seen this scope be­fore: The in­au­gu­ral V4 was a run­nerup to last year’s Great Buy award. But this new con­fig­u­ra­tion im­proves on the plat­form. The il­lu­mi­nated MOA tur­ret is use­ful for hunt­ing or tar­get shoot­ing, the 4X–16X mag­ni­fi­ca­tion range cov­ers most uses, and the glass is bright and crisp. Plus, with 80 MOA of el­e­va­tion ad­just­ment in­side the 30mm tube, you can dial the ex­posed tur­ret to your heart’s con­tent. Hap­pily, the clicks are tighter than on last year’s V4.

Maven RS.2

• 2–10x38 • $550 It says a lot about a scope when testers use it as an ex­cuse to buy new ri­fles to put it on. That was the case with this sweet­heart of a backcountr­y op­tic. Weigh­ing only 12.4 ounces, the RS.2 is a sim­ple, func­tional gem. Our sam­ple came with the good sec­ond-plane SHR holdover ret­i­cle; you can also choose a stan­dard du­plex. The mag­ni­fi­ca­tion range suits most pur­poses, which testers insisted must in­clude sheep hunt­ing, if only to fur­ther jus­tify their pend­ing pur­chases of ul­tra­light ri­fles on which to mount the Maven.

Swarovski ds

• 5–25x52 • $4,500 We were skep­ti­cal of the mer­its of this ex­trav­a­gantly ex­pen­sive rangefind­ing ri­fle­scope. Then we tested it. It is a func­tional, ca­pa­ble con­flu­ence of op­ti­cal and elec­tronic en­gi­neer­ing. Once you feed the specifics of your load into a mo­bile app and then into the scope’s brain, hitting tar­gets out to 1,000 yards is as sim­ple as push­ing the rangefind­ing but­ton, plac­ing the il­lu­mi­nated holdover on your tar­get, and shoot­ing. On the down­side, the scope has a bulky 40mm tube and re­quires mad­den­ingly tiny tools for ze­ro­ing.

Bush­nell Ni­tro

• 4–16x44 • $600 A test-team fa­vorite for its do-ev­ery­thing ca­pa­bil­ity, the 30mm Ni­tro has a first-plane Moa-based Christ­mas-treestyle ret­i­cle that makes hold­ing for dis­tance and wind a breeze. Or you can re­move the tur­ret caps and dial the shoot­ing solution with sharp, pos­i­tive ad­just­ments. While the glass is only aver­age and field of view seemed nar­row, testers noted that the Ni­tro splits its ca­pa­bil­i­ties evenly be­tween hunt­ing and tar­get shoot­ing, the very essence of a ver­sa­tile ri­fle­scope.

Konus Konus­pro EL-30

• 4–16x44 • $400 We’re fea­tur­ing the Konus not for its im­age clar­ity (dis­ap­point­ing) or its de­sign (clunky), but rather for its in­ge­nious ret­i­cle sys­tem. The heart of the 30mm Konus­pro is a sec­ond-plane ret­i­cle that has 10 it­er­a­tions, rang­ing from du­plex to milling ret­i­cles to vari­a­tions on the cen­ter dot that you select by tog­gling through a menu. The liq­uid-crys­tal ret­i­cles share a sin­gle cen­ter aim­ing point; bul­let drop ref­er­ences de­pend on mag­ni­fi­ca­tion. We hope the glass matches the tech­nol­ogy in fu­ture it­er­a­tions of this smart idea.

Le­upold Mark 5HD

• 3.6–18x44 • $2,340 Le­upold in­tro­duced the Mark 5HD line last year and took the pre­ci­sion-shoot­ing world by storm. This new it­er­a­tion con­tin­ues the low-pro­file push-to-turn (and re-ze­roable) el­e­va­tion tur­ret and capped windage con­trols, but in an ap­peal to hunters as well as steel-ringers, this is an Moabased scope. The ex­cel­lent first-plane PR1 non-il­lu­mi­nated ret­i­cle pairs well with very pos­i­tive tur­rets, which de­liver a whop­ping 100 MOA of el­e­va­tion ad­just­ment in the 35mm tube. We loved the weight—26 ounces—and the 12-inch length for mount­ing on a va­ri­ety of plat­forms.

Steiner M7XI

• 4–28x56 • $3,900 If the price is a turnoff, con­sider that Steiner didn’t re­ally build this pow­er­ful, smart 34mm ri­fle­scope for you. It’s a mil­i­tary sniper’s op­tic with a few nods to civil­ian shoot­ers. This is ev­i­denced by the ex­cel­lent first-plane ret­i­cle: the MSR2, or Mul­tipur­pose Sniper Ret­i­cle, with a bonus ret­i­cle in the im­age plane that’s used to range dis­tant tar­gets. But the tur­rets are among the best in the test, the cen­ter-cross il­lu­mi­na­tion is per­fect, and the light weight (33 ounces) boosts the Steiner’s ver­sa­til­ity rat­ing.

Bur­ris XTR III

• 3.3–18x50 • $2,040 The third gen­er­a­tion in Bur­ris’ ven­er­a­ble XTR line, this model would have com­peted well in our Ver­sa­tile cat­e­gory. It has gen­er­ous mount­ing di­men­sions along its 34mm tube, a very tac­tile el­e­va­tion tur­ret (our sam­ple had the ex­cel­lent SCR2 MRAD ret­i­cle) with .1 MRAD clicks, and an am­ple 35 mils (120 MOA) of el­e­va­tion ad­just­ment. We wanted more vis­i­ble in­dex­ing on the con­trols, and the “dragon scale” knobs are un­com­fort­ably sharp. But the optics are crisp, and the price is com­pet­i­tive.

Ri­ton RT-S Mod7

• 4–32x56 • $1,300 Once we came to terms with the bul­bous off-axis tur­ret ar­range­ment, this big 34mm scope from a rel­a­tive new­comer to the optics trade per­formed well. The guts are pur­pose­built for long-dis­tance shoot­ing: an il­lu­mi­nated first-plane Christ­mas-tree-style ret­i­cle with mil­li­ra­dian ref­er­ences, ex­posed low-pro­file tur­rets with ad­e­quate zero stops, and a power lever to as­sist quick mag­ni­fi­ca­tion changes. The glass is good, it has a lifetime guar­an­tee, and the price should ap­peal to Pro­duc­tion Class PRS shoot­ers.

Sight­mark Lat­i­tude PRS

• 6.25–25x56 • $700 The most en­cour­ag­ing trend in pre­ci­sion scopes this year is the emer­gence of af­ford­able optics. This Sight­mark, along with the Meopta Op­tika6 and a de­cent ef­fort from Crim­son Trace, re­tail for well un­der $1,000. The Lat­i­tude PRS brings very good over­size con­trols, an il­lu­mi­nated first-plane PRS ret­i­cle with gen­er­ous windage ref­er­ences, and abun­dant windage and el­e­va­tion ad­just­ment, but only pass­able glass. It’s a ser­vice­able choice for shoot­ers look­ing to break into pre­ci­sion-shoot­ing matches.

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