ILya

Sep 162018
 

I was busy trying to wrap up my article on 8x erector ratio low power scopes, when I got an e-mail from Geoff from Burris saying something along the lines of “we’ve got this whole Burris blog thing going, do you have any interest in writing a guest post on what to look for in a low powered optic?  In return we will say thank you and link back to your website”.  I asked what I can say and what I can’t if I agree to put something together and he came back with what effectively amounts to “you can say whatever you want, but I would really appreciate not getting fired over this”.

In general, I have to commend Burris folks like Geoff and Sky for still talking to me after all the crap I’ve given them over the years.  They are good people and I have a lot of appreciation for their ability to take criticism and use it to make better products (or it might simply be masochism; they are not fessing up to the details).


That having been said, I think Burris gets a few things wrong and a lot of things right with LPVOs (low power variable optics) being a category really get right.  That mostly goes for Steiner too, so I threw a couple of references in there for Steiner P4Xi, assuming that is not enough to get Geoff fired.

Here is a link to the Burris blog post in question.

I like ARs and I like sorta “general purpose” scopes.  In the past, a general purpose scope was something along the lines of a 3-9×42, since everyone always assumed that a “general purpose” scope meant a medium magnification variable on a hunting rifle.  I bet that ARs of all sorts are outselling traditional botl action hunting rifles by a good ratio right now, which is forcing a re-definition of what a general purpose scope really is.  As the available erector ratios go up, scopes like the the 1-8×24 and similar are becoming the new norm for general purpose use.  Still, they have their limitations and I am extremely curious how it is going to develop further.



 

 Posted by at 11:09 am
Sep 112018
 

The new Tangent Theta reticle is finally out and it seems to be a really well conceived design.  I saw a couple of versions of it earlier on, wasn’t allowed to talk about it.

Tangent Theta got a lot of criticism in recent years for persistently staying with the reticle designs they had.  I am not quite onboard with that criticism since I am pretty happy with their original reticles, but the new Gen3 XR is, undoubtedly, a more modern design.

It seems to offer meaningfully more additional features, without being overly busy, so I expect it to do well.  All of this, of course, is pending actual test with the reticle in the scope.  So far, I’ve only seen the drawings.



 

Once you step away from the small floating dot in the center, you get 0.2 mrad hashes that are all of different length, so you always know where you are.  At every 1 mrad you have another dot, which will work well for those of us coming from Mil-Dot, Gem 2 MD and Gen2 XR.

Also, note the 0.5 mrad dots below center and below 1 mrad line.  That is where they are most useful.  I applaud Tangent Theta for resisting the urge to plaster extra dots everywhere.

All in all, I like what I see.

 Posted by at 3:18 pm
Aug 282018
 

One of the nice things about the whole gun and optics world is that you get to meet a large variety of people who are exceedingly good at what they do.  That is a great thing for people like me who are always trying to figure something out.

Some years ago I ran into David Tubb at SHOT Show and he was careless enough to give me he contact info.  I try to avoid abusing it, but I do reach out every once in a while when I have a question about guns, precision, etc.  If you do not know who David Tubb is, here is a link to his brief biography.  He forgot more about precision shooting than I will ever know and as soon as I can figure out how to convince my wife, there is a Tubb Adaptive Target Rifle in my future.  That is an exceedingly clever design.



A little while back, I decided to ask him about all the different weirdly constructed barrels out there.  We see all sorts of carbon fiber barrels out there and I use one of those made by Proof Research (and it works exceedingly well).

However, now there are all sorts of other designs out there.  Tacom has their structured barrel, for example.  So, I called David to pick his brain a little and see if he has any wisdom to share.

He mentioned that the “straightjacket” method originally used by Teludyne looks very promising.  I did some research and figured that a company called Dracos (part of Falkor Defense) is selling AR barrels, while Teludyne converts existing boltguns barrels to their straight jacket technology.


Best I can tell, this is a new take on a tensioned barrel, where you turn down the actual steel barrel to a very thin wall thickness, center it in a much larger diameter aluminum tube and fill the empty space between with some sort of a non-metallic (I think) material.  I am not sure what the material is, but sounds like some sort of a concrete-like substance.

End result is a very thick barrel (close to 1.5″ OD) that is incredibly stiff, comparatively light, and supposedly long lasting.  Apparently, some third party testing determined that the chamber stays a lot colder with a straightjacket barrel than it does with a conventional design.

That seemed like an interesting idea to me, so I figured this is worth doing an article on.  I went on Dracos website and discovered that the barrel runs close to $900 which is a bit out of my “just playing with it” price range.  However, they have blemished (cosmetically) barrels on there that still carry the full warranty.  Since I have just de-comissioned my LR-308, I figured I can pick up a 6mm Creed barrel and install it in the same upper.  The twist in that barrel is a little on the slow side for the caliber: 1 in 9″, but I live in California where we can no longer order ammo online.  I can, however, reload with whatever bullet I want.  With that in mind, I sent them an e-mail asking about bullet recommendations.  Basically, I was looking for the heaviest bullet they could stabilize in that barrel.  That was mostly me being cautious.  The best bullets on the market I know of are made by Badlands Precision and both of their 6mm offerings work in the 1-9″ twist, with the 84gr ICBM being of most interest to me.  Still, I figured they must have tested their barrels with a good range of bullets out there.

That is when they dropped a bomb on me: “using handloads voids your warranty”.  While in principle I understand why they have that policy.  In practice, for calibers like 6mm Creedmoor, is there anyone out there who only uses factory loads?

Anyway, the customer service people at Dracos were exceedingly nice and polite.  They cancelled my order and I am generally walking away from this experience with an overall good impression of the company.

The only centerfire caliber where I shoot almost exclusively factory ammo is 5.56, so I’ll keep an eye on their website and next time they have a 223 Wylde blemished barrel, I’ll pick one up and do some experimentation.

It will be very interesting to see if with a barrel this stiff I can lean against stuff with the barrel without changing POI.

 Posted by at 3:39 pm
Aug 252018
 

I have been playing with the plex version of this scope for a little bit now and have published a first look article a while back.

Now, the good people from SWFA sent me a prototype with the BDC reticle to play with.  The specific reticle in this scope is not quite the same as what will go into production models, but it is extremely close and the subtensions will not change.  The tree in the reticle is designed around the 55gr M193 5.56×45 load, so I took it to the range and spent some quality time shooting at plates out to 500 yards.

Here is what the reticle in this scope looks like (left) next to the original plex reticle:


BDC Reticle

Plex Reticle

 

 

 

 

I have not yet had a chance to try them side by side in low light, but I suspect that the BDC reticle will do really well, given that I had no problems whatsoever with the thinner plex version.  In the picture with the BDC reticle, the plates you see are at 300 and 400 yards and it was a rather warm and hazy day at the range.  Still, I could see the plates well enough to hit pretty much everything I aimed at out to 500 yards using MEN and IMI 55gr ammo.  For the record, the berm int he picture with the plex reticle is 100 yards away.

I did some off hand shooting with the BDC reticle, with the scope set on 2.5x.  The thick lines really help with quick target acquisition and the eye is naturally drawn to the primary aiming point.

There are a couple of features that this BDC reticle has that are not going to make it into production scopes.  Here is a close up, so that you can see what I am talking about:

The “M193” on the top left is not going to be there.  Also, the small numbers “5” and “10” on the bottom right of the tree are not going to be there.  It is sorta self explanatory once you read the manual that wind hashmarks are for 5 and 10 mph winds.  Also, I am kinda conflicted on whether I like the numbers 200, 300 and 400 next to the tree.  I wonder if it would be better to just use 2, 3 and 4 instead.

The hashmarks worked pretty well.  The shooting range where I was testing the scope is in a narrow valley, wit frequent wind gusts that can change direction.  The wind changed from almost nothing to around 8mph during my time there and the hashes seemed to be accurate (or at least they matched my read of the wind well enough to hit plates).

I sighted the scope in to be dead on at 200 yards and the holdover worked nicely.  The two hashmarks on the horizontal line are 2MOA away from center and the thick bars start 6MOA away from center, so there are reasonable lead references there.  All my shooting using the tree was done at 10x.

While the scope with the BDC reticle on it is on my AR, the scope with the plex has been moved to a heavily butchered Mosin Nagant to see if the eye relief gives  me any trouble or if the zero shifts.  So far, it is stayign zeroed and despite shooting from variety of unorthodox shooting positions, I have not gotten hit by the scope.

It is too early to make any profound conclusions, but so far I like this little scope.  I think it is a good match for plinking ARs, walking varminters and micro action boltguns (CZ527 et al).

I’ll leave the plex reticle scope on the Mosin for a bit to see how it does, but now I am kinda curious how it will do a 458SOCOM.  Perhaps, I will try it there afterwards.

 

 Posted by at 10:19 pm
Aug 202018
 

August 20, 2018

Sig being sorta new (still) to the optics world, I take my sweet time before I publish publish reviews of their products.  I spend a significant amount of time using the optics I review and the newer the brand the longer I take.  I am sure the guys at Sig do not like it, but I think a little extra diligence is worth my time.

I’ve been doing sort of a market overview of different 4x prism sights and I think Sig is the last one I needed to cover for it to be fairly complete.  Check out the video below and then the spec table and some additional commentary immediately after.


First of all, I just noticed that I made a mistake on Elcan FOV in the video.  It is 6.5 degrees, not 7.  The spec table below is correct:

 

Sig EO

Bravo4 4×30

Trijicon

ACOG 4×32

Elcan

Specter OS 4×32

Leupold

HAMR

4×24 (discont’ed)

Hensoldt

ZO 4x30i

Browe 4×32
Length, in 6.25 5.8 6 5.7 5.47 6.3
Weight, oz 18.5 9.9 (w/o mount)

14 with mount

18.6

with mount

14.8 2

1.16

17
Eye Relief, in 2.2 1.5 2.75 2.8 2.56 1.5
FOV, ft@100 yards 53 (10 deg) 36.8 (7 deg) 34.2 (6.5 deg) 31.5 (6 deg) 42 (8 deg) 36.8 (7 deg)
Click Value 0.5 MOA 0.5 MOA 0.5 MOA 1 MOA 0.2 mrad 0.5 MOA
Price $800 $1000 $1250 $1299 $1395 $1100

 

Most of the comparison was between Sig and Elcan, but I also had the Leupold HAMR on had for a little bit, so I had them side by side.  Optical quality was similar, but Sig is definitely the larger sight.  I do not talk much about Browe, but it is effectively a re-hash of Trijicon 4×32 with a bit more clever electronic integration and the things I do not like about the 4×32 ACOG carry over to the Browe optic.

I think the only 4x prism sight I have not messed with yet is the newish Bushnell Accelerate which really competes in a different price bracket.  I will try to get my hands on one before I move to 3x or 5x prism scopes that seem to be getting somewhat numerous.

One of the reasons I like sights like this is the balance. In the picture below, Bravo4 is next to Burris RT-6 which is one of my favourite inexpensive 1-6×24 scopes.  There may not be all that much of a difference in weight, but the weight of a prism scope is further back, so it effects the balance less.

In a nutshell, I liked the Bravo4 a lot.  It does a lot of things well and very few things badly, but the outstanding feature I keep on coming back is that enormous immersive field of view.  If this is the type of scope you like, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

It is not replacing Elcan on my rifle yet, largely because I really like to shoot pretty far out with it and Elcan is a better precison scope between the two.  I also like the dual mode illumination system of the Elcan, where with a bright center dot I can use it the Byndon aiming concept and with dim full reticle illuminatoin I can easily use the whole reticle at night.  That having been said, I already have the Elcan.  I’ve had it for a number of years and I have a lot of trust in it based on experience.  If I were just starting out now and given that Bravo4 is around $400 less, this would have been a very difficult choice.

I will, however, take the Sig over the 4×32 ACOG.  Wide FOV and comparative ease of getting behind it, really give Bravo4 an edge.  In all fairness, it is a newer design, so it better have something on its primary competitor.

An accurate, but lightweight AR is probably the best platform for a scope like the BRavo4, Spectre OS or ACOG.  This AR is set-up with an utlralight Brigand Arms handguard so that the balance point would be right at the back of the magazine well:

I am very curious to see what kind of aftermarket support Bravo4 will get, but I already see a beefier dual lever mount out there and I am sure more accessories will come.  I would really like to see a lower red dot mount.

With all that, my criticism of Bravo4 is really minimal.  I like this sight a lot and it easily earns my recommendation.

 Posted by at 9:47 pm
Aug 062018
 

Given that writing anything takes me forever these days, I figured I’ll go over most of it in a video.

The Mark 5 HD is an interesting design in that it really brings into question whether it was intended to replace the Mark 6 3-18×44 or whether Leupold is planning to carry on with both scopes.

As I say in the video further down, in terms of optomechanical performance, I definitely prefer the newer Mark 5HD.  Mark 6 is a couple of ounces lighter and offers wider FOV.  Outside of that,  I do not see why you would be going with the Mark 6 over Mark 5.



Most of the testing of the Mark 5 HD was done on my AR-15 chambered for 6.5Grendel.  The gun is accurate and this scope is really at its best on precision gas guns.

Here is my customary comparison table.  There are quite a few other short scopes that I have not added to the table, largely because most of those are either a lot more expensive (Kahles K318i) or have substantially different magnification range (EOTech Vudu 5-25×50).

Tangent Theta TT315M is in there because I have it on hand and it is my reference standard for scopes in this magnification range.

Sig Sauer Tango6 3-18×44 Nightforce ATACR F1 4-16×42 Leupold Mark 6 3-18×44 Tangent Theta TT315M 3-15×50 Leupold Mark 5 HD 3.6-18×44 Vortex PST Gen 2 3-15×44
Length, in 12.4 12.6 11.9 13.8 12 14.3
Weight, oz 37.6 30 23.6 27.8 26 28.1
Main Tube Diameter 34mm 34mm 34mm 30mm 35mm 30mm
Eye Relief, in 3.74 3.35 – 3.54 3.8 – 3.9 3.54 3.54 – 3.82 3.4
FOV, ft@1000yards

32 – 5.8

10.44 @ 10x

26.9 – 6.9

11.04@10x

36.8 – 6.3

11.34@10x

38.4 – 8.4

12.6 @ 10x

28.4 – 5.8

10.44 @ 10x

41.2 -8.6

12.9 @ 10x

Exit Pupil, mm 12 – 2.4 11.5 – 3.5
Click Value 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad 0.1 mrad
Adjustment range 27.6 mrad E: 26 mrad

W: 18 mrad

E: 29 mrad

W: 14.5 mrad

18 mrad

12 mrad

E: 29.1

W: 23.3

E: 22 mrad

W: 11 mrad

Adjustment per turn 12 mrad 10 mrad 10 mrad 6 mrad

double turn

10.5 mrad

triple turn

10 mrad
Parallax Adjustable Adjustable Adjustable Adjustable Adjustable Adjustable down to 20 yards
Zero Stop Yes

Locking turret

Yes Yes Yes Yes, Zerolock Yes
Reticle Location FFP FFP FFP FFP FFP FFP
Reticle Illumination Yes

w/Level

Yes Optional Yes Optional Yes
Price $1500 $2500 $2200 – $3400 $3200 $1900 – $2300 $1000

The comparison table does not reveal anything revolutionary.  Compared to the field, the two Leupold scopes are short and light (ish).  Sig Tango6 is also short, but needs to go on a diet.  That having been said, Tango6 has a built in electronic level that is very well executed, in my opinion.  I am wrapping up with the test of a 4-24×50 Tango6 and I really like the level.  Another thing to pay attention to is how much difference there is between FOV at 3x and 3.6x (or 4x).  Magnification is multiplicative, so keep in mind that 3.6x is 20% more magnification and 3x and, all other things being equal,  20% less FOV.

Lastly, notice that I added the Vortex PST Gen 2 3-15×44 into the table.  It is a lot cheaper and a bit bigger than other scopes here.  However, its optical performance is dangerously close to most $2k scopes out there.  It has a good reticle, decent turrets and well sorted out illumination.  And it focuses close enough to use on airguns and rimfire trainers.  How it does in terms of durability remains to be seen, but I have been keeping track since I started recommending it to people and it seems to be doing well.  Just some food for thought.

I did not talk much about low light performance.  Honestly, there isn’t much to tell.  It performed very nicely and did not exhibit any weird flare or other strange artefacts.  H59 reticle is not great in low light, but then again, to me it is not great in good light either, so there is that.

Fundamentally, if the reticle selection was a bit more up my alley, I would have the Mark 5HD on my 6.5 Grendel permanently.  I know David Tubb is going to have his DTR reticle in the Mark 5.  That would be interesting, so perhaps I will pick one up.

Here is a snapshot of how compact the Mark 5 (center) is compared to Tangent Theta TT315M and Vortex Razor AMG 6-24×50:

 Posted by at 3:55 pm
Jul 062018
 

I am fibbing a little. This is not my first look at this scope, since I spent a couple of days with a prototype. However, this the first time I see the production reticle.

I mounted the scope on my light-ish AR chambered for 5.56×45. This gun has very light stock and handguard, but the barrel is not a pencil weight and the receivers and BCG are of standard weight. With the new 2.5-10×32 SS Ultralight in a light Aerotech mount, the whole rifle, with the sling, weighs in at around 7.6lbs.  The fact that the scope itself weighs in at less than 10 ounces is kinda cool.

With dedicated light weighted receivers, lighter weight barrel and lighter BCG, I can probably make a nice hunting AR chambered for the Blackout or something similar, weighing in right around 6lbs with the scope.  That is an appealing thought right there…


I will spend more time working out the turrets, but my initial impressions are that the tracking is accurate and the feel is surprisingly good for something with covered turrets.

One of the things I check first is if the turrets match the reticle and that is what I did with this scope briefly after sight in.  The reticle is a basic plex design with 12MOA opening between the thick lines.  I did a quick test of 6MOA adjustment and 12 MOA adjustment with the elevation turret and so far so good.

The reticle is roughly the same thickness as other standard plex reticles out there.  Thick line is 0.8MOA and thin line is 0.2MOA at 10x.  That is very close to similar reticles from Leupold, Sightron, etc.

2.5x

5x

10x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll take better reticle pictures when I have the scope on a tripod.  These are sorta handheld with a cellphone, so the quality is not great.  However, this give you an idea of line thicknesses.

While we are on the subject of reticles, after some harassment, SWFA fessed up that they will add a second reticle to this line-up in a few months, designed to work with 223Rem at 10x.  Here is what the reticle will look like:

Upcoming BDC reticle

I’ll run some basic ballistics and see how the BDC works with common AR cartridges.  I checked how it does with 223 and it should be spot on with typical 55-60 grain bullets.  I will tabulate what I come up with for other AR cartridges.  One thing I really like about this design is that the holdover lines are thinner than the primary aiming point.  That is a very good compromise between holdover tree and low light visibility.  The primary aiming dot is 0.4MOA, the lines to its side and above are 0.3MOA thick and the lines in the holdover tree are 0.2MOA thick. Thick bars are 1.6MOA thick which should make for excellent low light visibility.  It looks like a clever enough design and I will spend some time working up how it fits different calibers.

The turrets are capped and resettable with 0.25MOA clickls.  Sighting in was very uneventful, which is always a good sign.

One outstanding feature of this scope is the slim eyepiece.  Eye relief is a bit on a short side which works well for ARs and micro action bolt guns, but I would not put it on a boomer.   Despite comparatively short eye relief (which you need to maintain good FOV with a slim eyepiece), eye relief flexibility is quite good and the scope is rather easy to get behind.  I spent some time shooting offhand and sitting and had no problems getting the right sight picture.  Generally, the market is not awash in 2.5-10x ultralight scope, so finding comparables was not easy:

SWFA SS Ultralight 2.5-10×32 Sightron S-Tac 2-10×32 Leupold VX-3i 2.5-8×36 (2.6-7.8x actual) Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 Sig Whiskey3 2-7×32
Length, in 10.9 11.8 11.4 11 11.2
Weight, oz 9.5 16 11.4 13.4 14.8
Main Tube Diameter 1” 30mm 1” 1” 1”
Eye Relief, in 3.35 – 2.56 4.2 – 3.6 4.5 -3.6 3.8 3.5
FOV, ft@1000yards 41.2 – 10.5

21 @ 5x

38.4 – 9.1

18.4 @ 5x

37.5 – 13.7

21.4 @ 5x

72.2 – 13.2

21.1 @ 5x

45.4 – 13.1

18.34 @ 5x

Reticle Illumination No No No No Yes
Click Value 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.25 MOA 0.5 MOA
Adjustment per turn 15 MOA 15 MOA 15 MOA
Adjustment range 70 MOA 100 MOA 67 MOA 110 MOA 110 MOA
Parallax 100 yards 100 yards 100 yards No No
Reticle Location SFP SFP SFP SFP SFP
Price $300 $300 $400 $750 $290

Of the scopes in this table, I have the ultralight SS and Razor HD LH on hand, although the most direct competition is Sightron S-Tac and Leupold VX-3i.  The new SS is definitely the lightest of the bunch.

Side by side with the Razor HD LH, the Vortex is a better scope optically (as it should be given the price difference), but SSUL is no slouch and resolves well.  There is less color pop with it though.  The only other 32mm scope I currently have on hand is an older Bushnell Elite 6500 1.25-8×32.  The SSUL seems similar to that scope in terms of optics.  I’ll do some more testing and see how it all works out.

From a usability standpoint, there is no tunneling of any sort and the scope is easy to get behind, so offhand shooting at 2.5x works quite nicely for me.

Here are the Razor HD LH and SWFA SS UL side-by-side:

SWFA SS UL 2.5-10×32 and Vortex Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32

Note the difference in eyepiece diameters.  Another thing to note is that with the SS, I can use two separate rings instead of a single piece mount.  With Razor HD LH on an AR, I have to use a single piece mount since it has to be positioned fairly far forward.  While in principle it shouldn’t matter much whether you use a since piece mount or two rings, there are a couple of advantages (and disadvantages) to using separate rings.  The disadvantage is that the picatinny rail better be machined well.  The advantage is that with two separate rings, I can use the scope as a carry handle which is quite convenient.  It also frees up a lot of rail space if I want to add a red dot sight at 45 degrees (which I might) or any other accessories.

So far, I like the little scope.  Obviously, it being a new design, durability is not yet known, so I will keep track of how these do and beat this one up a little.

 Posted by at 4:21 pm
Jun 302018
 

A little while back, I got a chance to play with a pre-production model of the new Leica Tempus red dot sight.  I only had a day with it before it had to go back, so rather than experimenting with equipment, hooked it up to me 10mm carbine and headed to the range.

I spend a lot of time with different red dot and holographic sights and at one time or another, I have had damn near all of them in my hands.  Still, new ones keep coming out and I mostly gave up on trying to keep up.


I have developed some preferences, of course.

With holographic sights, I really like Vortex UH-1.  It is built like a tank and is my choice for applications where I may want to run it with a magnifier.

On handguns, I have had exceedingly good luck with Docter and Shield.  Shield’s diminutive RMS and RMSc are my favourites for handgun use, although Doctersight III is doing quite well on my 10mm Glock as well.

On carbines, I am really fond of Shield SIS, in addition to the aforementioned UH-1.



Leica Tempus is a different approach than the SIS and for some applications, I expect it to be an exceedingly nice option, although I will not make any overarching conclusions until I have spent some time with a production piece.

What I did so far was gran a few other red dot sights I had on hand and look at them side by side with the Tempus.

Leica Tempus, Shield SIS, Shield RMS, Shield RMSc, Doctersight III

Tempus is a little bigger than typical compact red dots like the Doctersight and Shield with a substantially larger window.  On a carbine, the bright red dot was exceedingly easy to pick up.

In the picture above, the Tempus is on the carbine, Doctersight III is on a long slide 10mm Glock (the slide was cut for me by Winkle Design, who I can not recommend enough.  Fantastic quality), Shield SIS and RMS are sitting on the bench, Shield RMSc is on my Glock 43.

The TNW carbine has a very heavy bolt that seems to slam hard in both directions, which I thought will make a good impromptu durability test for the Tempus.  No issues after a couple of hundred rounds.

I purposefully avoided looking at any of the published specs, in order to form an unbiased first impression.  The dot size in this one was 2 MOA, but 3.5 MOA is also available.  I’ll try to get a 3.5 MOA one to play with when production units get here.

I have no idea how long the battery lasts.  I’ll test that.  It does have auto shut off.  Dot brightness is manually adjustable from very dim to very bright.  Easily bright enough for a bright California day.

Whatever voodoo Leica did with the aspherical lens worked.  The dot is very well defined, distortion is virtually non-existent and, at 50 yards, it has the least visible parallax I have ever seen on a reflex sight.

Like with all red dot sights, there is a little bit of a color cast, but it is not bothersome.

Doctersight III and Leica Tempus ASPH

The mounting pattern is the same as for the Doctersight, but the footprint is different since the aluminum body of the Tempus is larger.  ADM Doctersight mount worked fine, but the plate on my Unity Tactical slide, wouldn’t.

The Tempus works off of the rather common 2032 battery, which I like.  I try to stay away from sights that use strange batteries.

To give you an idea of the difference in window size, here is the Tempus side by side with Shield SIS:

Shield SIS and Leica Tempus

With the Shield SIS, the body of the sight is my coarse aiming tool: at very close distance, whatever is visible through the window is toast if all I want is a center of mass shot.  I do not even have to look for the dot when I go fast.

With the Tempus, when you speed up, the body of the sight almost disappears and all you see is that bright dot on the target.  Both methods work.  When I get a production Tempus, I’ll take it to a carbine class with me and see how it holds up and how I get along with it on a longer term basis.

One last thign to mention is that the Tempus comes with a protective cover that snaps on and makes it look a little more like an Aimpoint style tube-type sight. Illumination control buttons are accessible with the cover on. It might help with glare in bright light and, in general, is not a bad thing from the standpoint of protecting the sight. It barely adds any weight and gives just a little more protection from the elements.

In a nutshell, my “one day impression” of the Tempus is very positive.  Stay tuned for more.

 Posted by at 6:40 pm
May 192018
 

A few days ago I received a very polite e-mail asking for scope advice.  If memory serves me right, the gentleman who sent me the e-mail, was debating whether to keep his Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 that he got a screaming deal on or to pick up a similarly priced 1-6x scope of some sort.  The platform is a lightweight AR-15 chambered for 6.5 Grendel.  I think.

The catch is that I very briefly skimmed through the e-mail, but since I was about to get onto the plane I filed it off as “this deserves a detailed response, so I should do it when I have a few minutes”.  Well, I finally got a few minutes and I can’t find that e-mail to read through it carefully and answer it appropriately.  I must have accidentally deleted it.



To the gentleman who contacted me: I will answer based on my rather vague recollection.  If that does not cover it, please send me a note with more details.

For a hunting AR, I can think of few scopes better than the Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32.

 

In the grand scheme of things, for a civilian there are three reasons to have a 1-6x scope on a rifle:

  1. You want to use the rifle for self-defense/tactical classes where there is a need to use it like you would use a red dot sight.
  2. You are going to take the rifle hunting where you are shooting driven game or it is a big caliber boomer you use on DGR.
  3. You want your setup to look cool.

Outside of these three, it is often difficult for me to justify the compromises involved in having true 1x on the low end of the magnification range.

Now, for a rifle used as a plinker, the compromises are comparatively minor, since you will do most of your shooting during the day and you are mostly just having fun.  However, for a hunting rifle, you want to think carefully before you put a 1-6×24 scope on there.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, please keep in mind that I happen to have Razor HD LH 1.5-8×32 as sort of a permanent scope on my hunting AR chambered for 458 SOCOM.  However, since I also use this rifle to test scopes, it has had a few 1-6x and 1-8x variables on it (I am on the last leg of testing HiLux CMR8 1-8×26 on it right now).

There are a few reasons why you should think carefully before you put a 1-6×24 or something similar on your hunting rifle.  Unless you are planning to spend a fair amount of money, most of these scopes are not all that good in low light at 6x.  That is partly because of the smallish 20-26 mm objective (and corresponding small exit pupil) and partly because most of these are really optimized for low magnification.  Higher end models are, naturally, quite good at all magnifications, but they are pricy and exit pupil restrictions still hold.  The amount of light that gets to your eye at high magnifications where eye pupil size is not the limiting factor is proportional to the diameter of the objective.  At 6x in low light, a 32mm scope delivers ~78% more light than a 24mm one.

Another problem is with the reticles.  Most low range variables scopes out there today are really not designed for hunting and the reticles reflect that.  Razor HD LH, on the other hand, was designed for hunting and the G4-BDC reticle is configured with that application in mind.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 12:29 pm
May 132018
 

I spend a lot of time messing with scopes that qualify as LPV: Low Power Variable.  This term really came about when decent quality 1-4x scopes finally came down in price to the point where mere mortals can buy them.

Now, the market is absolutely flooded with LPVs of all sorts made on every continent except for Africa and Antarctica.  As is usually the case, the lowest priced ones are not very good and even some comparatively expensive ones are not great.  The first really excellent one was probably S&B Short Dot 1.1-4×20 which came about some time in mid-to-late 90s when Hans Bender was still the CEO of S&B and found the project interesting.  The basic idea was to make a scope that effectively worked like a red dot sight on low power and could be dialed up if the situation required a precision shot at a distance where a standard issue Aimpoint wasn’t quite sufficient.



That meant that at low power you needed a very visible reticle (either very bold etched design or very bright illumination or both) and a magnification of 1x or close.  There are other considerations, but fundamentally if you have a flat and relatively distortion free FOV with a very visible aiming point, you can run the scope on 1x just about as fast as you can run an Aimpoint or a similar red dot sight.  As far as red dot sights go, my favorite is Shield SIS, which I prefer to the Aimpoint and Trijicon, so I spend a fair amount of time practicing with it.  As I am about to publish another article on LPVs (this time on 1-8x designs that are sorta state of the art at the moment), I got a chance to compare how they do on 1x compared to Shield SIS.   When done right, they do really well.

While the industry has really gone toward very high erector ratio scopes, with 1-8x being the current preferred configuration, it is always important to remember that the reason these scope exist is their performance at 1x.  Everything else is secondary.  When designing a very high erector ratio scope, exit pupil and performance at 1x are often compromised.  Alternatively, I have also seen designs where in order to keep 1x performance viable, high magnification performance is compromised.

Now, as LPVs evolve they get better across the board, but some compromises will always remain.  For example, consider that an award for the SDMR scope just went to Sig Tango6 1-6×24 FFP scope, despite the fact that there is a slew of 1-8x scopes available.  I am not privy to how that decision was made, but if I were a betting man, I would bet that they went with a 1-6x scope because of price and performance on 1x.

The specific Sig scope that won the award is very similar to the current production scope and I am sure the production models will incorporate its features soon enough.  The SDMR scope has different outside finish, BDC-type reticle and brighter illumination.  It will also be assembled in the US.  I have a fair amount of experience with Tango6 scopes and like them.   Naturally, I also like that they seem to be running discounts on them every once in a while.  Here is a link to the configuration I like at the moment.  This is probably similar to the scope selected for the SDMR program.

I am going to stay away from a discussion of FFP vs SFP reticles since I covered it here, but every time I hear someone talk about reticle in LPV scopes someone comes up with: “Well, I only use it at 1x and 6x”, or whatever the top power is.  I do not necessarily agree with that approach because with the smallish 24mm objective lens diameter, there is a good reason to dial the magnification down to 4x or so for low light use.  That is really the reason I lean toward FFP designs for 1-6x and higher erector ration scopes.

However, if I could get a large enough exit pupil on 6x, I would absolutely agree that all you need is 1x and 6x, assuming that you can switch between them quickly enough.

Now, we are getting to the real reason I am writing this.  Most of us do not spend a lot of time clearing buildings and running high speed drills.  However, with the state of the art AR-15 these days being both light and accurate, I see more and more people really push the distances at which these guns are shot.  Once distance shooting becomes more important a decent LPV is a viable option, but not an optimal one.

Enter the 1x/6x or 1x/10x concept.  I have been talking on and off about what I call a poor man’s 1x/10x setup that I have been using on my 308Win AR for years, which is nothing more than a SWFA SSHD 10×42 scope with TPS’ CORA ring that supports a miniature red dot sight at a 45 degree angle.  In this picture, I have a Docter Quicksight on it, but that was mostly an experiment in how a very short sight window will work.  Quicksight is really designed for shotguns and for a carbine application, I would lean toward something like Shield RMS or Meopta Meosight or something similar.

In the past, I have tried this same setup with the same scope with other red dot sights, like Leupodl Deltapoint and others.

Interestingly, this whole setup weighs about as much as a good 1-6x or 1-8x scope, although it is bulkier.  It looks a little out of place on a 16″ carbine, but works surprisingly well.

It does offer me a vastly superior level of high magnification performance.  There is also some redundancy in that if the primary scope breaks, I still have the red dot that is brought into action by rotating the rifle just a little bit.  No need to re-adjust my hold on the rifle to make adjustments.

Now, 10x is a bit more than I would want in a general purpose scope, but that is what I had on hand and it works fine.  If I were going for more of an ultimate compromise, I’d be looking at a high quality 6x scope and the one that Cameraland has an exclusive one is probably the best one ever made.  Doug from Cameraland has somehow convinced S&B to make a run of PM II 6×42 scopes for him.  There are not cheap, but if you want the best 6x scope in the world, this is pretty much it.  Add a compact red dot sight to it in a 45 degree mount and you have the capability of low range variable, except with 6x performance that absolute smokes every LPV ever made.

 Posted by at 2:39 pm